A PLAQUE commemorating the famous Jarrow March has received a facelift.
Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn and the Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Fay Cunningham, performed the unveiling of the refurbished plaque at Jarrow Town Hall.
Originally given to the marchers by the former Jarrow Borough Council, the plaque was badly in need of repair.
But members of Jarrow and Boldon community area forum stepped in with a £468 grant towards the refurbishment costs.
Coun Jim Perry, forum chairman, said: “The Jarrow March remains very much in the hearts of local people, so I’m delighted to be able to pay homage to their memory with this plaque.”
Coun Cunningham said: “The Jarrow Crusade was a defining moment in the history of the borough, the region and the country as a whole. The plaque is a testament to the marchers’ efforts to highlight poverty – an issue as relevant today as it was at the time of the march in 1936.”
Following the closure of Palmers Shipyard, the town’s main employer in the 1930s, 74 per cent of all workers in Jarrow were unemployed.
As the march was launched, most of the town’s working population was still on the dole, sparking crippling poverty and record infant mortality rates.
After novelist JB Priestley visited Jarrow in 1933, he wrote: “I have seen nothing like it since the war. There is no escape anywhere from its prevailing misery.”
Priestley added: “Wherever we went, there were men hanging about, not scores of them, but hundreds and thousands of them.
“The whole town looked as if it had entered a penniless bleak Sabbath.”
It was against this desperate backdrop that the Jarrow Crusade – as it was originally called – was organised, with around 200 men setting off from Jarrow Town Hall on October 5, 1936, to march to Westminster to demand work for the town from Stanley Baldwin’s government.
The marchers covered more than 290 miles, but received little support from the powers-that-be when they reached London.
Employment in the town only rose significantly when Palmers Shipyard was reopened as part of the war effort.