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THE historic headquarters of the Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) has won a £4.5 million grant from the National Heritage Lottery Fund towards the building’s much-needed restoration.
Redhills in Durham — known as the pitmen’s parliament — opened in 1915 and played a leading role in some of Britain’s biggest industrial struggles, including the 1926 general strike and the 1984-85 strike against pit closures.
It is the base for the annual Durham miners’ gala, Britain’s biggest celebration of the labour and trade union movement.
The last pit in the Durham coalfield closed in 1994. Despite the loss of subscriptions income, the DMA continued to operate at regional and local level, supporting former miners suffering the health effects of a lifetime in the coal mining industry.
It also worked in communities devastated by pit closures and established the “Marras,” a gala friends and supporters’ organisation to keep the gala going.
But Redhills fell into disrepair.
The £4.5 million grant will give it a new life and a continuing role both in the former coalfield and nationally.
Durham County Council is providing £1.1m toward the £7.25m project. The DMA is raising the remaining £1.65m from trade unions and other supporters.
Restoration work will start next year.
DMA secretary Alan Mardghum said: “Though the hall has been closed to the public due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Redhills team has been joined by a host of the region’s leading industry experts and consultants to develop detailed plans for the future of the miners’ hall.”
At its peak, the Durham coalfield had 304 deep coal mines employing 165,000 miners.
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