It was on Monday 5th October 1936 when some 200 unemployed men set off from Jarrow – a north of England town on the River Tyne in County Durham – to walk to London. Before they set off there was a special service of blessing at Christ Church in the centre of town – a gathering that was attended by many of the local dignitaries. The aim of the protest march – which was also called the Jarrow Crusade – was to draw the attention of Britain’s nation in general, and the government of the day in particular. Jarrow, and many other towns, had been hit hard by the closing of much heavy industry as the nation’s depression of the 1930s hit them hard. The men set out on their walk carrying a petition of over 11,000 signatures. With them all the way was their Member of Parliament Ellen Wilkinson. She will come to the fore when they all arrive in London.
In the meantime, we’ll leave the Jarrow Crusade – its men and Ellen – to pass through the towns and cities along their route where, in each one, they were welcomed by cheering crowds of well-wishers lining the streets – well-wishers who offered support and sustenance.
Their near 300 mile journey arrived in the centre of London on Saturday 31st October 1936 – and we’ll pick up the story again then.