The Pitman’s Parliament Project

Redhills: Durham Miners Hall is one of the finest trade union buildings in Britain. Built in 1915, it is still the headquarters of the Durham Miners’ Association. The Durham Miners’ Association was once a powerhouse of the Labour movement, building houses for retired miners, welfare halls in almost every pit village, and libraries and hospitals through its members’ subscriptions.

Over an intensive week of workshops with professional musicians and a textile artist, students explore the many stories to be found in the famous red bricks of the Miners Hall, the wooden benches of the Pitman’s Parliament, and the powerful brass bands of the world-famous Durham Gala.

There are also workshops led by archivists from the Parliamentary Archives, who travel to Durham with some of Parliament’s artefacts, relating to the Durham Coalfield. Together with actors, students are able to re-live some of the debates surrounding the 1842 Mines and Collieries Act, which prevented children under the age of 10 from working in the mines.

Across this week of vibrant workshops, students create a multi-media performance which is presented at the end of the project in the Pitman’s Parliament itself.