A JUNIOR Miners’ gala - a minors’ gala - has been staged as part of a celebration of the North-East’s industrial heritage.

The banner parade with up to 200 children, a pit pony and traction engine, made its way through Beamish Museum in County Durham for the Old King Coal event, which runs until April 2.

The region’s proud mining past is being remembered during the five-day event at the open air museum, near Chester-le-Street.

Jonathan Kindleysides, head of industry at Beamish, said: “It was fantastic to see so many children from our local communities celebrating their mining heritage here at Beamish.

“It is so important that young people are proud of the place that they live in and its history.

“We have a rich mining past that we can use to build on and take our region forward.”

Visitors will be able to join a miners’ banner parade from The Town to The Pit Village on Saturday and Sunday at 1.30pm.

People can design their own flag and help make a banner, see the “Just One Spark” explosion demonstration, enjoy folk and brass band music and meet pit ponies during the weekend.

Banners from North-East pit villages and the Beamish collection will be on show around the museum, along with local history displays.

On Saturday, a memorial plaque will be unveiled to the victims of the 1896 Brancepeth Colliery disaster, which claimed the lives of 20 men and boys. The plaque, originally from Brancepeth Welfare Hall in Willington, has been donated by Spectrum Leisure and the community of Willington.

It will be unveiled by local historian Olive Linge and Councillor Fraser Tinsley in The Pit Village band hall, after the parade.

Mr Kindleysides said: “With the unveiling of the plaque, we will be paying tribute to those people who lost their lives in the collieries.”