`

Pit banner parade to return after 30 years

June 16th,1984.  Yorkshire Miners Gala and Parade in Wakefield.
June 16th,1984. Yorkshire Miners Gala and Parade in Wakefield.

It will be the first time since the dying days of the coal mining industry that banners representing the district’s collieries will be marched again through the streets of Wakefield.

An event organised by With Banners Held High (WBHH) will celebrate the culture of the trade union movement with a week of events beginning on Saturday, May 12.

2017's event did not include a parade at Unity works.

2017's event did not include a parade at Unity works.

The festival, Collective Spirit, will include, a banner exhibition, performances and workshops, and a benefit gig at the Red Shed. It will conclude with the WBHH parade, starting at Wakefield Cathedral at 9.30am, where the colours of the district’s pits will be marched through the city for the first time since the 1984 miners gala.

WBHH chairman Martyn Richardson, from Ackworth, said: “Wakefield has a rich coal mining heritage that was an important industry. A lot of places in the area lost out when the pits went and there was nothing put back in their place.

“The miners’ strike was arguably the most important industrial dispute of 20th century and, for all the flaws of how it was operated and the outcome, you can’t deny how it brought an entire working class together. I know there are nuances and not everyone supported the strike but nevertheless it was the ultimate display of collectivism and I think today we struggle with that.

“We are trying to have some resurgence of that community spirit, a collective spirit, for the entire trade union and labour movement.”

Speakers will include shadow chancellor John McDonnell, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady, and Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett.

Meanwhile the organisation is looking for the whereabouts of Sharlston Colliery’s banner, which has not been seen for a number of years. Anyone with information can email withbannersheldhigh@outlook.com.