Families’ pride as Jarrow Crusade is remembered – 80 years on

From left to right, Margaret Lagan, Ken Findlay, Win Currie and Alec McDonald, of the Jarrow and Hebburn Local History Society.

From left to right, Margaret Lagan, Ken Findlay, Win Currie and Alec McDonald, of the Jarrow and Hebburn Local History Society.

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Relatives of the Jarrow marchers have told of their pride after the 80th anniversary of the crusade was commemorated.

Eighty years ago yesterday, 200 men set off from the town for London carrying a petition to the British government, requesting the re-establishment of industry in Jarrow.

Mary Finnigan, whose uncle, Harry Clarke, was just 11 at the time of the Jarrow Crusade, and walked two miles of it.

Mary Finnigan, whose uncle, Harry Clarke, was just 11 at the time of the Jarrow Crusade, and walked two miles of it.

There had been unemployment and poverty in the town during that period.

Yesterday, the 80th anniversary of the first steps of the 26-day march was marked with a civic reception at Jarrow Town Hall.

Family members of the marchers were invited along, including Mary Finnigan, whose uncle Harry Clarke was one of the youngest ‘unofficial’ marchers, walking for about two miles at the age of 11.

She said: “He was always very proud of it and had the greatest admiration for the men who marched all the way down. It’s wonderful they’re remembered like this.”

It’s wonderful they’re remembered like this

Mary Finnigan

Philip McGhee was there with wife Irene. Philip’s father, also called Philip, was on the march.

He said: “The end result, that the petition and march fell on deaf ears, was not unexpected. My dad spoke very, very well of the people who were welcoming on the journey down the country. They provided them with all sorts.”

Catherine Allan attended with sisters Rose Scullion and Joan Henderson, and was there in honour of their father, James William Hobbs.

Catherine: “It’s nice they are remembered like this, because what they did was courageous. They went to try to make a better life, but unfortunately it didn’t happen.”

Margaret Lagan, vice-chairman of Jarrow and Hebburn Local History Society, was there with chairman Ken Findlay, secretary Win Currie and treasurer Alex McDonald.

Margaret’s uncle Denis Cox was a marcher.

She said: “He was so disappointed at the reception they got in London. It’s a time to commemorate but not to celebrate, because they didn’t achieve what they wanted.”

The Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Alan Smith, said: “I’m particularly proud not just as the Mayor of South Tyneside, but as a Jarrow lad.

“A lot of people think the Jarrow Crusade was about going for handouts and charity, which isn’t true.

“It was a group of 200 men who walked down to London to say, ‘please give us jobs’.”