Thousands of people descended on Durham to celebrate the return of the Durham Miners Gala on Saturday.

The historic event marked its 136th anniversary as it was held for the first time since 2019 due to the pandemic.

This year’s event looked to celebrate key workers that tirelessly worked throughout the pandemic, with many local and regional key workers being invited as special guests to the event.

Read more: Durham Miners Gala LIVE: Thousands flock to event - updates

Brass bands and banners from the North East and across the UK walked the streets of the city centre, with crowds of up to 200,000 joining in.

There was a party atmosphere in the bright sunshine from early on as people celebrated the work of trade unions and miners’ associations, while also protesting against the current Conservative government.

The crowds then made their way to The Racecourse where high-profile union leaders gave rousing speeches, encouraging people to join unions and to campaign for better pay and working conditions.

The Northern Echo: Crowds of people flood into Durham for this year's Miners Gala. Picture: NORTH NEWSCrowds of people flood into Durham for this year's Miners Gala. Picture: NORTH NEWS

The most highly anticipated speech of the day came from RMT union chief Mick Lynch, who has risen to prominence for his role in the recent three-day rail strikes and his shrewd responses to government ministers.

Taking to the stage, Mr Lynch told those present that “we are back, the working class are back,” before adding: “Working-class men and women having to go to foodbanks, using state benefits while working 40-50 hours a week – it cannot stand, it cannot be tolerated any more.”

The Northern Echo: RMT Union chief Mick Lynch. Picture: NORTH NEWSRMT Union chief Mick Lynch. Picture: NORTH NEWS

In another powerful speech, Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite, told the Durham Miners’ Gala that profiteering by employers was the main cause of soaring inflation.

Adding: “Well let’s send a clear message – no more. We won’t let the rich and powerful take us for a ride yet again.

The Northern Echo: The Miners Gala was attended by all of the family. Picture: NORTH NEWSThe Miners Gala was attended by all of the family. Picture: NORTH NEWS

“We won’t let them put one hand in our pocket and the other up our back.

“We must now organise; we must mobilise and crucially we must act together.”

Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn attended the Gala and got a good reception from the crowd that attended.

City of Durham MP, Mary Kelly Foy and several other Labour MPs also attended the event, which has become the largest trade union-backed event.

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