Search This Blog

Monday, July 09, 2012

This Weekend We Are Going to the Durham Miners Gala

One of the many Durham Miners Association Banners - note Lenin in the center.

It is 8 PM here - Lulu is at the play Wicked with her students. I just got home from St Pancras Station. I bought train tickets on National Rail to Durham. Durham is a city about 3 hours north of London. It was the center of the "Coal Regions" of Britain. The first British coal miners' union was born there in 1869.

Even though Margaret Thatcher closed the mines in 1985 - the miners' unions meet in the city every year. At its peak - the Miners' Union Gala attracted 300,000 for the weekend - 7 times the population of Durham.

The movie and musical - Billy Elliot - was set in Durham. That is the story of the coal cracker kid that wanted to be a ballet dancer. Durham also has the National Coal Mining Museum there.

Our trip will start with a 1/2 mile walk to St Pancras Station. Many believe it is the most beautiful train station in the world. It includes a 5 star hotel rated as the top hotel in London by many magazines. London has done an $800 million renovation of the station for the Olympics. When built - the train house had the largest free span roof in the world. 

We will leave on a train on Friday morning at 9:30. The train to Durham takes 3 hours. Lulu was lucky enough to land us a hotel for Friday night. The parade will be Saturday afternoon. The miners with their colorful banners start their march from their original mines at 9 AM. During the parade - there is a judging of the union banners - made of colorful cut silk. In the afternoon - there is a church service to bless the banners at the Durham Cathedral - build in the 1200's. After all that action - Lulu and I will catch the 6:40 train home. 

St Pancras Station and Hotel - one can catch a train to Scotland - Ireland - Wales from here. The Eurostar departs here thru the chunnel to Paris. From there you can go anywhere in Europe. Our train leaves here Friday morning on National Rail.

Another miners' banner from wikipedia.

St Pancras Station - at one time the largest free span roof in the world. It is the gateway to the Olympics. It is 1/2 mile from our apartment - about 4 miles from Olympic Village.

Something old - something new. This is an electric city car waiting for someone at the St Pancras Station. In London if you buy an electric car you have free parking - no tolls - free charging - low registration fee - low insurance. Note - this car was parked where other cars fear to tread.

Here is our train tickets for the weekend. It is 260 miles from London to Durham. The train takes 3 hours. We will average over 80 MPH. Because we bought the tickets so late - they were not cheap. 213 pounds - about abut $320 total for 2 people. The train has free wifi - so I will be writing while floating on the rails at over 80 MPH.

No comments: