Drama group creates film to mark 80th anniversary of Jarrow March

Members of Ocean Arts have made a film to mark the 80th anniversary of the Jarrow Crusade.
Members of Ocean Arts have made a film to mark the 80th anniversary of the Jarrow Crusade.

A drama group is set to premiere their very own film marking the 80th anniversary of the Jarrow Crusade.

Ocean Arts, a group for adults with learning disabilities, began working on a play to commemorate the anniversary at the beginning of the year.

Members of Ocean Arts have made a film to mark the 80th anniversary of the Jarrow Crusade.

Members of Ocean Arts have made a film to mark the 80th anniversary of the Jarrow Crusade.

Members of the club, based at CustomSpace in the Captain’s Row, South Shields, decided to go in a different direction when local film-maker Dean Walsh offered his services.

Now their film is set to be premiered at Jarrow School, in the town’s Field Terrace, on Thursday, September 15, from 7pm.

Martin Wray, director of the group, said: “The development of the story we wanted to tell came from the drama group members themselves who, having been given their roles, decided themselves how their character was to be played.

“There were several weeks of history lessons including one given by local historian Tom Kelly so that people understood the industrial and social conditions of the times.

Members of Ocean Arts have made a film to mark the 80th anniversary of the Jarrow Crusade.

Members of Ocean Arts have made a film to mark the 80th anniversary of the Jarrow Crusade.

“We had to turn the clock back 80 years so that everyone could imagine what it was like to live in Jarrow at the time of great unemployment and hardship.”

The group used a number of locations around South Tyneside to create period settings for their film.

The black and white movie was filmed in places including the North East Maritime Trust, Kennedy’s pub in Tyne Dock, St Michael’s Church in Westoe, and back lanes near South Eldon Street.

Ocean Arts member Jonathan Horncastle said: “In this group we all have learning disabilities, and it has been amazing to use our acting skills to mark an important event like the Jarrow March.”

Martin added: “The overall atmospheric effect of the film, the acting and the story is a remarkable achievement for adults with learning disabilities, and everyone is delighted that they have been able to make such an important contribution about this famous historic event.

“When deciding where the film could be presented it was decided that it rightfully should have it’s first showing in Jarrow and we were really grateful when the head of Jarrow School agreed to allow us to use her school.

“Along with the cast and their families we have also invited leading cultural and political members of the community to attend, but it is also open for members of the public to come along too.”