Newcastle University historian Dr Matt Perry is taking part in a series of events to make the 80th anniversary of the Jarrow March on 5 October.
The Jarrow Crusade saw 200 local people march to London in October 1936, to deliver a petition to Parliament demanding work for the poverty-stricken town. The marchers set off on foot for the 300 mile journey, only to meet with disappointment when they reached the capital.
Dr Perry, a Reader in Labour History said: “Even 80 years on, the Jarrow Crusade remains an inspiration to people fighting for justice. We live in a world of widening inequality and great injustices so the issues raised by the marchers all those years ago are, unfortunately, still relevant now.”
Marching into history
Commemorations begin on Saturday 1 October, with the opening of The Jarrow Crusade: Marching into History exhibition at South Shields Museum & Art Gallery. As part of the exhibition, there will be opportunities for schools to participate in educational activities regarding the march.
The exhibition features the responses of local schoolchildren to the march. Earlier this year, Matt Perry, poet Tom Kelly, filmmaker Gary Wilkinson and South Tyneside libraries worked on a four-week programme of study and creative writing at Jarrow Library with St Bede’s and Jarrow Cross primary schools. The youngsters found out about the lives of the marchers and talked to their parents about how Jarrow has changed over time. Some pupils even discovered that they were the descendants of the Crusaders. The scheme culminated in the children making their own banners, badges and petitions to re-enact the march.
On 3 October, Dr Perry will give a free talk Ellen Wilkinson in 1936: It wasn’t all about the Jarrow Crusade at 7pm at Newcastle’s Lit & Phil. Dr Perry has written a biography of Ellen Wilkinson, who was the Labour MP for Jarrow at the time and featured prominently during the march.
On the anniversary of the marchers setting off from the town, 5 October, Dr Perry will take part in an event at Jarrow Town Hall hosted for families of the crusaders by the Mayor of South Tyneside in Jarrow.
Leader of South Tyneside Council, Councillor Iain Malcolm, said: “The Jarrow Crusade is deep rooted in South Tyneside’s rich history and the actions of the marchers on that fateful day are remembered with real pride by the people of Jarrow and the Borough.
“The Jarrow Crusade marchers represented the strength of community spirt which is still present within the town today, and their stories, hopes and aspirations resonate with people 80 years on.
“We are proud to be commemorating the crusade’s milestone anniversary this year with events across the Borough and we would encourage everyone to discover more about this historic event.”
Then on 20 October, Dr Perry will give a free public Insights lecture at Newcastle University. His talk Commemorating the Jarrow March: why the march remains relevant today, which will examine its enduring appeal.
Photograph courtesy of Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums
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