Jarrow Crusade

Details of the Jarrow March sent from the Ministry of Labour to the Home Office, 26th September 1936 (MEPO 2/3097)



Jarrow & Hebburn E.E.

6 OCT 1936

March of unemployed from Jarrow to London.
Commencing Monday 5.10.36

A March has been organised for the purpose of drawing the attention of the Government to the Unemployment position in the town, and in the hope that by this means the position of Jarrow will obtain wide publicity and sympathy of the general public resulting in the establishment of industry to provide work for unemployed men.

Most of these men were formerly employed in Palmer’s Shipyard, which closed down in 1931. The Steelworks which at one time employed approximately 2,500, closed down in 1921, but the blast furnaces, which employed 1,500 up to 1921, re-started in November, 1926 until October, 1928. They afterwards re-opened in 1929, and finally closed down in May, 1930. During the latter two periods approximately 400 men were employed.

The March has been organised by the Mayor and Council of Jarrow, and the principal person responsible for the organisation, etc. is Councillor D. F. Riley, member of the Jarrow Borough Council. A separate office in the Town Hall has been opened to deal with the project. Thousands of letters appealing for financial support have been sent to various parts of the country and to most of the Local Authorities. The Mayors and Chairmen of Councils of various towns on Tyneside have attended several meetings convened by the Lord Mayor of Newcastle to consider what steps should be taken to support Jarrow’s appeal. In addition, a petition has been signed by residents in Jarrow and adjacent towns. This petition to be placed before the House of Commons draws attention to the serious unemployment situation existing in Jarrow.

A notice is displayed in the Town Hall requesting men who are willing to join in the March to register their names. I am given to understand that the number of Marchers will be determined by the amount of financial assistance received. It is attended that the men should be well-cared for and that sufficient money should be in hand to enable them to return to Jarrow by rail. At present, it is estimated that approximately 200 men will participate in the March. It is extremely difficult to obtain reliable information, but the following has been obtained, partly from reports appearing in the local press and from conversations I have had from time to time with people who are taking an active interest in the organisation of the March:-

a) The Local Medical Officer of Health has agreed to examine each man in order to ensure that he is physically fit to take part in the March.

b) It is hoped to be able to provide a pair of boots with special inner soles, and iodine socks, for each man.

c) In some towns en route arrangements have been made with the Local Authorities for sleeping accommodation, and in some cases the provision of a meal, but in others it appears that the men will have to depend upon ‘casual wards’ for sleeping accommodation.

d) To stress the non-political nature of the March, two agents representing the Labour and Conservative interests will travel three days in advance of the Marchers to confirm the arrangements that have been provisionally made, and also to arrange for public meetings to solicit support.

e) It is understood that assistance of medical students for the purpose of first aid has been promised in certain towns.

f) A motor ambulance will accompany the Marchers.

g) A field kitchen has been provided and a lorry will convey all the necessary sleeping equipment, which will enable the men to march without being called upon to carry packs. The lorry and field kitchen will proceed in advance of the Marchers in order that meals will be ready for the Marchers on their arrival at the schedule stopping places.

Special Meetings are being held, at which it is expected that all those participating in the march will attend in order that the rules which have been agreed on by the Committee can be explained to the men. It is understood that the committee will take steps to ensure that the rules are strictly complied with and that all the men guilty of misdemeanour will be sent home. Every effort is being taken to ensure that the men conduct themselves in an orderly manner and thus contribute to the success of the March.

Miss Ellen Wilkinson, M.P. for Jarrow, and several members of the Council, intend to accompany the men on their March.

According to the press, a special fund is being created by the Organising Officials of the Jarrow more work march to London to provide for the wives and children of members of the Jarrow Council during the march. This action is being taken to prevent the councillors and aldermen taking part in the march from having to accept Public Assistance Benefit as any public representative who accepts relief automatically loses his office. For this reason also, while the ordinary members in the march will be accommodated in the casual wards of the towns through which they pass on their route to London, the members of the council will be placed in separate lodgings.

Recently, the North-East Public Assistance Committee recommended to the Durham County Public Assistance Committee that allowances should be paid to the dependants of men participating in the March. According to a report published in the “North Mail” on 25th September, 1936, it would appear that the committee decided that in the case of the Jarrow Marchers relief should be paid to their dependants.

On arrival in London arrangements have been made to hold a special meeting at the Farringdon Memorial Hall, London. The following persons have been invited to address the meeting:-

Bishop of Jarrow
Sir John Jarvis Bt., M.P.
The Lord Mayor of London
Lord Snell, Chairman of London County Council
Miss Ellen Wilkinson, M.P.
Councillor R. I. Dodds, Ex-Mayor of Jarrow.

(sd) J. Robinson, Manager

Return to Thirties Britain