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“The Busty’ Banner unveiled

2

July 2019

In November 2018, Stewart K Bell representing the Benevolent Committee of the Province of Durham was delighted to present a Community Support Grant to the “Morrison Lodges Banner Group”. The group was set up to restore the existing Morrison Miners Banners and commission a new Morrison Busty Miners Banner to be carried at the Durham Miners Gala thereafter to be displayed in the local Annfield Plain Library. The Morrison Busty Colliery, known locally as simply ‘The Busty’ was nationalised under the National Coal Board (NCB) until its closure in 1973 after 51 years. The word “Busty” comes from the coal seam which ran for miles throughout the surrounding area and was worked by several different mines.

 

In some areas banners were lost, or even thrown away, such was the despondency in some mining communities. Yet for more than 150 years the banners had been an integral part of the solidarity of mining communities. So important were they that many pit union branches had a “banner man” – an official union position. It was the banner man’s job to look after the branch banner, keep it safe and in good repair, make sure it was ready for use when needed.

 

Uniquely, in Durham area there was a drive to preserve and continue the culture of the mining communities through the banners, even though the pits had gone. Where original banners existed they were restored, if they were too fragile to use they were replaced.

 

Every year newly restored or replicated banners appear at the Durham Miners Gala where they are given special treatment. In 2018 after being marched to the Big Meeting, they were paraded to Durham Cathedral for a banner blessing ceremony conducted by the Bishop of Durham. The event was attended by over 1,000 people, each banner being led in by a brass band, whose music resounded around the cathedral.

 

Group Chairman, Michael Millmore contacted Stewart to join the distinguished company of the Mayor of Durham, Katie Corrigan and the Mayor of Stanley Town Council Carole Hampton for the unveiling event of the banner in its new home. The new banner features a religious imagery of the reign of peace, depicting a lion and lamb plus the child who shall lead them, from the Book of Isaiah, on the other side the miner’s leaders Arthur J Cook and Thomas Hepburn.

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