Archive for October, 2011
Seventy-five years ago today, over 200 men started marching to London from the town of Jarrow, about 300 miles away, along with their MP, Ellen “Red Ellen” Wilkinson. They marched for 22 days, often in rain and wind, protesting the economic devastation caused to the North East of England by the closing of shipbuilding and related industries during the 1930s. They carried a petition with thousands of signatures in an oak box; along the way, sympathetic local organizations and town councils fed and housed the men. (There was also a group of blind men marching with the Jarrow marchers, with similar economic concerns; the event is sometimes called the “Jarrow and Blind Marches” for this reason.)
Their protest was not immediately successful; they turned in the petition to the House of Commons, but the Prime Minister refused to meet with the men, and no provisions were made for relief in the North East. Each man was given a pound for train fare home.
Here are some of the Jarrow marchers, in the Commons, thanks to the National Media Museum:
The last of the original Jarrow marchers died in 2003; this month, to mark the 75th anniversary of the event, a group called Youth Fight for Jobs is planning to recreate the march, bringing attention to unemployment during another economic crisis. Today there is a pub named for the marchers in Jarrow, and a several monuments to their efforts.