TRADITIONAL colliery brass bands and members of former mining communities are gathering as part of an annual celebration of socialism.

The 135th Durham Miners’ Gala is underway as tens of thousands of people stream through the streets of the historic city.

Representatives from ex-pit villages from across the north of England and trade unions are joining together in a show of solidarity for the biggest left-wing event of its kind in Europe.

Villagers carrying mining banners, accompanied by brass bands, are set to parade from the Market Place down to Elvet Bridge, past the County Hotel on Old Elvet to Durham Racecourse by the River Wear.

There, visitors can enjoy food and drinks, a fun fair, stalls and sideshows before the speeches start at around 1pm.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn will once again be addressing up to 200,000 people as he closes the speeches.

As well as Mr Corbyn, the line-up includes North-West Durham MP Laura Pidcock, Unite leader Len McCluskey and shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti.

Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey, Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, Dave Ward, general secretary of The Communications Union, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union and Doug Nicholls, general secretary of the General Federation of Trade Unions will also be taking to the stage.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “The Durham Miners’ Gala is one of the milestone events of the union movement and I’m looking forward to attending The Big Meeting.   “Now more than ever it’s important we all speak out on behalf of public services, and the dedicated people who work for them in the North-East and beyond.

“These amazing employees have done a brilliant job delivering services despite years of cuts and austerity.”

A number of road closures and parking restrictions are in place to allow the parade to follow its usual route through the city centre and drivers are urged to plan their journey accordingly.

A spokesman for Durham Constabulary said: "Thousands of families are expected to pack the streets for Durham Miners’ Gala and extra police will be on patrol to make sure the traditional event passes off smoothly.

"The colourful celebration of Durham’s coalfield communities is expected to attract families from across the region and beyond.

"Police and other agencies have been working closely with organisers for months to ensure the popular event takes place without incident and officers will be on hand at key points across the city to keep the public safe throughout the day."

10.30am – Thousands arrive in Durham city centre to celebrate heritage at Durham Miners' Gala

Brass bands have taken to the cobbled streets of Durham to celebrate the 135th event.

 11.00am – Crowds gather in the market square to enjoy musical entertainment

Guests stood in the market square to listen to music as they prepared to march

The Northern Echo:

11.05am - Jeremy Corbyn is making his way to Durham Miners' Gala

The politician will address the crowd later in the day when he closes the speeches

 11.30am - Mining supporters share their stories

Gareth Hawkins, of Seaham said: "It's a very proud day I'm a miner's son and a miner's grandson and this is for my grandad."

11.45am - Jeremy Corbyn has appeared at Durham Miners' Gala

Corbyn was seen on the balcony of the Durham Marriott Hotel Royal County where he greeted supporters

The Northern Echo: The 135th Durham Miners' Gala. Picture: TOM BANKSThe 135th Durham Miners' Gala. Picture: TOM BANKS

1.00pm - Northern Echo reporter Gavin Havery spoke to Corbyn about the mining community.

Mr Corbyn said: "I'm very impressed with the Durham Gala it is incredible, it is the spirit of the mining community long after the pits have closed.

“It’s a fantastic expression of working class unity and solidarity. It’s that sense of solidarity and unitary that will defeat austerity and defeat this Tory Government."

1.30pm - The speeches are underway at Durham Miners' Gala 

The line-up includes North-West Durham MP Laura Pidcock, Unite leader Len McCluskey and shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti.

Jeremy Corbyn will close the speeches.

The Northern Echo: Jeremy Corbyn at The 135th Durham Miners' Gala, probably the largest trade union event in the world. Picture: Tom BanksJeremy Corbyn at The 135th Durham Miners' Gala, probably the largest trade union event in the world. Picture: Tom Banks

2.00pm - Unite secretary, Len McCluskey, tells crowd ‘don't let this chance slip’

Addressing the 135th Durham Miners’ Gala today Len McCluskey the general secretary of Britain and Ireland’s largest union, Unite, urged the labour movement ‘don't let this chance slip’, prepare for a Corbyn-led Labour government.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “When I last spoke here I couldn’t help but burst into song, just weeks after we came so close to winning a Labour government. ‘Oh, Jeremy Corbyn’ was the tune then. Two years on and it looks like we’ll be fighting another general election within months. And the same tune is on my lips. I haven’t lost my belief.

“Theresa May will be gone and Boris Johnson will be prime minister in less than a fortnight. I was thinking of making a joke about Boris here, but there’s absolutely nothing funny about him. In fact, the joke is on us.

“At a moment of national crisis, our next prime minister is not going to be chosen by the British people, but by a reactionary rag tag brigade of Tories, entirely unrepresentative of the country. They will foist on the rest of us a man who’s shown utter indifference to the de-industrialisation of cities and towns in the North East and across the country, and such contempt for working class people and the poverty forced on them by his party’s austerity programme, that he’s pledged tax reductions for the rich.

“Here in the North East, there are more working people in low-paid, zero-hour, caring, hospitality and other precarious jobs than elsewhere in the country.

“And let’s be clear here – these problems arose while Britain was in the European Union and they will not be solved either by leaving or remaining on their own. The issue is what sort of government we have here in Britain, whether it puts the people first or is enslaved by neo-liberal dogma.”

Turning to Brexit, McCluskey railed against those who divided the people of the country by simplistic labels instead of understanding the desire for change: “I reject this new division of the country into ‘Remainers’ and ‘Leavers’. I reject the call for a culture war pitting the big cities against the rest. I reject a choice between Nigel Farage on the one hand and the City of London on the other. 

“It is only Jeremy Corbyn who seeks to bring this country together. And it is only Jeremy Corbyn who will stand up for this country, instead of toadying to Trump and blundering into more disastrous wars.

“Two years ago was a vindication for everyone who stood by Jeremy and by our radical manifesto, a fantastic new vision for our country. We gave people the chance to believe that another world really is possible. We gave them hope.

“People still want a better future for themselves and their children, decent secure jobs with an end to the scandalous abuse of agency labour.  We cannot – must not – let this chance slip.”

2.10pm - MP Laura Pidcock receives standing ovation for speech

She said: "The Government should be ashamed.

"They are frightened of us because we have a leader who stirs the soul of people."

The Northern Echo: Jeremy Corbyn and Laura Pidcock at the 135th Durham Miners' Gala, Picture: Tom BanksJeremy Corbyn and Laura Pidcock at the 135th Durham Miners' Gala, Picture: Tom Banks

2.20pm - Jeremy Corbyn has taken to the stage 

Corbyn recieved a warm welcome from the crowd who sang his name.

He said: "The green industrial revolution will be the creation of jobs across the country particularly in the North-East - high skilled unionised jobs - 400,000 jobs where people are proud to be working."

Some very vocal members of the opposition were led away by security.

Corbyn also said he will not tolerate anti-Semitism, islamophobia or racism in any form.

He ended the speech by saying: "I urge you do not allow our movement to be divided.

"Do not allow our message to be distracted. Keep your eyes on the prize if getting rid of this government and getting a Labour government dedicated to the redistribution of power and wealth in our society."

The speech saw a standing ovation as the crowd chanted 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn' to the tune of Seven Nation Army by White Stripes. 

4.30pm - Crowds are leaving the site as the Gala draws to a close

The speeches are over but the celebration is set to continue into the night