Peter Sagar told the story of how the Northeast coalfield developed over the centuries and how the mine owners had developed into a cartel, who used the infamous bond system to tie miners down to one pit for a whole year as a way of ensuring that wages could be kept down. Peter then explained how it was this system that the miners were striking against and how, although they couldn't get rid of it in 1765, the strike did start the process whereby the bond system was removed in the 19th century. Peter also outlined the way that a radical identity developed in Northeast England over the 150 years after the Pitmen's Great Stand.
Peter then performed the song We Are Strong, specially written for the occasion, which can be found at the page of music and writing on this website.
David Hopper, secretary of the Durham Miners' Association then spoke forcefully of the challenges facing ordinary working people, especially young people today. In a well-received speech David spoke of his fears and remembered miner's struggles of the last 35 years.
The final speaker was Shane Enright, Trade Union Campaign Manager from Amnesty International UK. Shane skilfully linked the struggle of the miners in Northeast England 250 years ago with struggles of trade unionists across the world today, including a moving section about the teachers' union in Bahrain.
The speeches were followed by food and a great performance by the Smokin' Spitfires, which got many people up and dancing. Their performance began with a short, poignant snatch of Gresford, the miners' hymn, written in the 1930's by Jarrow pitman Robert Saint.
Everybody seemed to have a great time and it was a great start to the weekend!