Pupils learn about their heritage by delving into history of Jarrow Crusade

Tom Kelly with Jarrow Cross Primary School pupils researching family history at Jarrow Library.

Tom Kelly with Jarrow Cross Primary School pupils researching family history at Jarrow Library.

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Youngsters have been learning more about their heritage by delving into the world of the Jarrow Crusade.

Schoolchildren have been taking part in a project as part of the legendary event’s 80th anniversary celebrations taking place later this year.

Matt Perry with Jarrow Cross Primary School pupils researching family history at Jarrow Library.

Matt Perry with Jarrow Cross Primary School pupils researching family history at Jarrow Library.

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.

Those proud men set off on foot for the 300-mile journey with such hopes, only to meet with disappointment when they reached the capital.

Over recent months, children from the town’s Jarrow Cross and St Bede’s primary schools have been taking part in ‘Who were the Marchers?’ sessions, looking at genealogy and census records at Jarrow Library. Their research is being used as part of information gathering on the original marchers who made the long trek south, where they lived and to get an insight into what life was like in the town in the 1930s, to support the creation of a new exhibition, Marching into History.

The exhibition exploring the history of the Jarrow Crusade will take place in South Shields Museum and Art Gallery, from October until February, next year.

The youngsters, alongside pupils from St Joseph’s RC School, have also enjoyed creative writing on the crusade, with some of the children’s diary entries, short stories and poems, to feature in a commemorative pamphlet being published to coincide with the anniversary in October.

The schools have been supported by Jarrow-born poet and playwright, Tom Kelly, Dr Matt Perry of Newcastle University and author of the definitive book, The Jarrow Crusade: Protest and Legend, as well as South Tyneside’s local history librarians and Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums.

Coun Alan Kerr, deputy leader of South Tyneside Council with responsibility for culture and heritage, said: “The Jarrow Crusade is deep rooted in the borough’s rich history.

“While the actions of the marchers may not have had the desired impact at the time, they live on in our hearts and memories and are remembered with real pride by the people of South Tyneside. The event not only instilled a great strength of community spirit which continues in the town today, but has been hailed as a defining moment of that decade.

“It’s wonderful to see our young children showing such enthusiasm and interest in learning about their past and discovering more about this chapter in our history as part of the celebrations for such a momentous anniversary.”

The Who are the Marchers? project is part of a programme of events and activities taking place to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Jarrow Crusade in October.

Other events include a talk by Newcastle University academic, Dr Matt Perry on Wednesday, June 1, from 7pm to 9pm, at Jarrow Library, as part of the Jarrow Festival.

In this talk, Matt will explain why the Jarrow Crusade remains so relevant today 80 years on and what we can learn from a deeper knowledge of the Jarrow Crusade and from the stories of the marchers themselves.

The talk is free however booking is essential. Call Jarrow Library on (0191) 489 7786 to reserve a place. The event is supported by the Big Local Central Jarrow.