Historic Durham Women’s Gala to be brought back to life

The Durham Women's Gala passing the County Hotel on June 15, 1951
The Durham Women's Gala passing the County Hotel on June 15, 1951

A historic Women’s Gala last held in the 1970s is being revived to mark the centenary of women’s suffrage.

Durham Women’s Gala will be held on Saturday for the first time in more than 40 years, with a host of celebrations and speakers, at Wharton Park, Durham City.

Procession for the Women's Labour Gala in North Road, Durham City, June 1948.

Procession for the Women's Labour Gala in North Road, Durham City, June 1948.

The gala, which started in the 1920s, is being brought back to life by Durham Women’s Gala Group to celebrate how much women in the North East have achieved and looks to the future at what still needs to be done.

The event includes speeches from high-profile female speakers including: Chi Onwurah MP, Clare Williams, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird, Roberta Blackman-Woods MP, Liz Twist MP, Helen Goodman MP, Sharon Hodgson MP and Jude Kirton-Darling MEP.

Organiser Maura McKeon said: “For the first time in over 40 years, Wharton Park will once again host the Women’s Gala. We can’t wait to welcome our fantastic line-up of speakers, musicians and not-for-profit groups on June 30, to celebrate all that North East women have achieved both before and after they acquired the vote.”

Taking place from 10.30am to 4pm, the free event offers a day of fun for all the family with a host of activities including: family crafts, mini golf, mini cars, football games (provided by the Foundation of Light), refreshments, including a fully licensed bar and a wide range of street food vendors.

There will also be live music from Ladies of Midnight Blue and the Mums in Durham Choir, who found fame on BBC2’s The Choir: Gareth’s Best in Britain.

There will be women’s section banners, voter registration, unions and not-for-profit organisations in attendance to raise awareness and fundraise.

The afternoon ends with a short service of celebration in St Cuthbert’s Church on North Road where banners will be blessed followed by refreshments in the church hall.

Those attending are advised that bag searches will take place upon arrival this may result in queues so allow for extra time. The following restrictions apply to the event: under 16’s must be accompanied by a parent/guardian over 18; no alcohol can be brought into the event and no glass bottles or containers.

Camping/deck Chairs are permitted except in the arena. Entry to the event is free.

The Women’s Gala is generously supported by UNISON, the Labour Party NEC development fund and Durham County Council.

For more information go to www.womensgala.org or search for @DurhamWomensGala on Facebook