Saturday 10th, July - Durham Miners' Gala

For the last few years an increasing number of NMMA members (not to mention many badge collectors from the TUBCS) from all over the UK have been attending the Durham Miners Gala. This year it was decided to bill this now annual gathering of members under the heading of an official meeting.

Although there was no organised formal swap meeting as such members used John Kitching's "Memories of the Durham Coalfield" display in the main marquee as a meeting point. Luckily for all the weather stayed fine for the best part of the day.

The Browner Lodge Banner is played onto the Gala field.

Marching amongst the banners this year was John Kitching who arriving with the Browney Lodge Banner, Bob Bowerbank will the newly commissioned banner for Coxhoe Lodge plus Warwick Taylor who headed up the contingent of Bevin Boys with their banner. Matty Kitchen from West Yorkshire was also spotted arriving onto the field with friends and family arriving with the N.U.M. Kellingly Colliery banner. After the parade John Kitching and Bob Bowerbank also attended a short banner dedication ceremony in Durham Cathedral where their respective  banners received their inaugural blessing off the Bishop of Durham.

Arrival of the new Coxhoe Lodge Banner onto the field.

One nice touch organised by John Kitching for the NMMA's first "official" meeting at Durham was the free issue of a special tin button badge to all attending NMMA members. This large 55 mm diameter badge not only commemorates the NMMA's 2004 Durham Gala Meeting but also the 20th Anniversary of the National Miners' Strike of 1984/85.

Special NMMA Gala Meeting 2004 & 1984/85 Strike Commemorative Badge.

It was good to see at least 20 NMMA members (plus families) plus several other mining memorabilia and badge collectors at this years "Durham Big Meeting". As well as local members others had travel from as far away as Burton-on-Trent, Dorset and Bristol. John Kitching yet again had a great display of North Eastern mining memorabilia in the main marquee. In addition it was good to see the return of at least three stands selling mining lamps, checks and badges not to mention the odd check or two. The Durham Mining Museum also had a very good stand selling their now famous range of Durham related mining history books in addition to a newly commissioned and  very comprehensive range of authentically reproduced historic colliery disaster reports.

One of this years Gala stalls was of particular interest to badge collectors. This stall holders were selling off (for charity) a considerable hoard of original 1984/85 tin button badges which had been retrieved from the stock clearance of a local and now defunct badge producer. There were over 30 different badge designs represented in the hoard with more than enough examples of most badge types to go around.

John Kitching's Gala & Strike Commemorative Enamel Badge (actual size 38 mm).

The Gala also saw the launch of a further splendid enamel commemorative 1984/85 Miner's Strike Badge. This latest badge, issued by NMMA member John Kitching, was both a commemorative issue for the 2004 Durham Miner's Gala 2004 and the 20 Anniversary of the Strike. Another limited edition mining collectable which was available at this year's Gala took the form of duplicate makers tags from the Coxhoe Lodge Banner. 

Obverse & Reverse sides of one of the limited edition Coxhoe Lodge Banner Tags (actual size 40 mm dia.).

This banner is the first one to be produced by the well known makers Chippenhams of Norfolk which  carries traditional makers discs sewn onto its upper and lower corners. This tradition is in keeping with that employed by the original premier banner makers "G. Tuthill" of London. One hundred tags were produced of which eight were sewn onto the banner. A large proportion of the remainder were presented and distributed around the local community by the Coxhoe Banner Group. The rest were made available for sale at the Gala.  The tags' obverse carries a copy of the Coxhoe Lodge banner's motto "THE PAST WE INHERIT. THE FUTURE WE FORGE" plus "COXHOE BANNER No.1". Future banners from Chippenhams will be sequentially numbered No.2, No.3 etc. with the Coxhoe banner being the first in the new numbered series. The reverse side of the tags bears the banner maker's signature "CHIPPENHAM OF NORFOLK. BANNER MAKERS".

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