When I was a schoolboy, my father was tenant of a public house in Jarrow. As newcomers to the Town, we soon realised that this was a place apart, where whole streets had been flattened by German bombs, where grass grew where once people had been born, lived and died because a would-be invader fought against us; where grass grew because the very house foundations had been blasted away. The people of Jarrow had been through the same mill as most other British towns and cities, but their fortitude was perhaps of a different brand, having first been the crucible from which the steely determination of the Jarrow marchers was cast.
Their aim was honest, to simply publicise the way and the manner in which they felt their own town had been cast upon the industrial scrap-heap, and to civilly ask the Government of the day to give them aid and help. On October 5th 1936, they set off, and marched for 22 days, and 280 miles; to London. Despite huge publicity, and a groundswell of approbation on the march itself, they did not meet the Prime Minister, the hoped-for jobs did not re-appear until re-armament brought increased industrial activity to the mines and the shipbuilding sector of the North-East.
Switch forward sixty-five years, and a second ‘Jarrow March’ sets off as HUNDREDS of activists are planning to recreate one of the most iconic protests ever to be held in the wake of rising unemployment.
To mark the 75th anniversary of the legendary Jarrow March, a new generation of crusaders are planning to follow in the footsteps of the 200 jobless men who made their way on foot from South Tyneside to London in 1936.
Somehow, I don’t think we do ‘Iconic’ any more!