Book is on a crusade to capture a look at British life today

Stuart Maconie, who has written Long Road from Jarrow. Image by Niall McDiarmid.
Stuart Maconie, who has written Long Road from Jarrow. Image by Niall McDiarmid.

The Jarrow Crusade has become the first chapter in a new book which takes a fresh look at modern Britain.

Broadcaster and author Stuart Maconie began his latest work in the town - first visiting a family fun day at Monkton Stadium, which was attended by the then new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, before setting out from Christ Church.

The front cover of Stuart Maconie's book, Long Road from Jarrow.

The front cover of Stuart Maconie's book, Long Road from Jarrow.

He began his walk to retrace the route of the march on October 5 - anniversary of the day in 1936 and which saw 200 men make their way to London as they protested against mass unemployment and poverty during a time of inequality, injustice and the rise of fascist tendencies.

The bestselling writer, who presents radio shows on BBC 6Music, has previously penned books including Pies and Prejudice: In Search of the North, the autobiographical Cider with Roadies and The People’s Songs, a history of Britain through its music during the last seven decades.

Long Road from Jarrow will hit book shop shelves and released through online stores and on Kindle from July 20.

In his last blog post of this journey, he said: “I walked from the top to the bottom and into the heart of England.

Like the Marchers, I learned something from those long days, evenings and nights that no amount of TV news or opinion pieces or well-meant documentaries could have given me.

Stuart Maconie

“I looked it in the eye from morning till night and I never grew tired of it.

“Like the Marchers, I learned something from those long days, evenings and nights that no amount of TV news or opinion pieces or well-meant documentaries could have given me.

“I learned about England now, about England then, and about England’s long shadows of history and people.

“I hope I can do it justice.

An image of the Jarrow Crusade as the marchers made their way to London.

An image of the Jarrow Crusade as the marchers made their way to London.

“Sometimes it baffled me, sometimes it irritated sometimes, but I realised that, to quote that old saw, yes, it is my country right or wrong, and when it is right it is kind and hard-working, patient and dependable, rugged and gentle, mysterious and alluring, charming and funny.”

On his route to London, Stuart travelled down the country’s Eastern spine, through the cities of Leeds and Sheffield, and into quiet corners, industrial hamlets and hidden suburbia.

Publisher Ebury Publishing, which is part of the Penguin Random House company, said: “Stuart takes in the entertaining, sad and stirring stories from the streets, pubs, cafes and curry houses en-route.

“Weaving together a collective story of modern England and its people – from the young political campaigner at a Jeremy Corbyn rally in Jarrow, to anti-austerity weekends in Darlington, and a Barnsley cabbies’ history of the Miners’ Strike, Stuart highlights the natural contradictions; the poverty and affluence, natural beauty and urban blight, revival and decline – that lie at the heart of modern Britain.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on stage speaking at a celebration of the Jarrow March at Monkton Stadium, Jarrow, last October.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on stage speaking at a celebration of the Jarrow March at Monkton Stadium, Jarrow, last October.

“Revealing a nation eerily familiar to the thirties in its political turbulence, global instability, football-mania and food banks, yet at the same time wholly unrecognisable, with its pound shops, electric cars, boutique hotels and smoothie bars, Long Road to Jarrow is a journey to uncover what Britain really thinks and feels, and a timely and vivid exploration of an 80-year-old protest that still vibrates with potency and resonance today.

Stuart’s blog can be read at https://maconiejarrow.wordpress.com/ and a hardback copy of the book is £16.99 and the Kindle version is £9.99.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with a young supporters at the Jarrow March at Monkton Stadium, Jarrow, last October.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with a young supporters at the Jarrow March at Monkton Stadium, Jarrow, last October.