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Writer and broadcaster Stuart Maconie to discuss his own Jarrow March at Customs House show

Stuart Maconie
Stuart Maconie

One of Britain’s most respected writers and broadcasters is marching back to South Tyneside.

In October 2016, Stuart Maconie retraced the route of the famous Jarrow March to London, to mark the 80th anniversary of the original protest march by 200 men against the mass unemployment and extreme poverty faced by the town.

Stuart Maconie

Stuart Maconie

As he replicated their journey, he found his route through a divided, post-Brexit country echoed 1936 in many ways.

Now he’s heading back to South Tyneside with his live show, Jarrow: Road to the Deep South, which comes to The Customs House on Saturday, May 12, at 7.30pm.

Part of a UK tour, taking in venues lining the Jarrow Crusade route, it will also form part of The Word’s WRITE Festival.

Based on his book, Long Road from Jarrow, the show is a described as a ‘hugely entertaining, impassioned and enlightening reflection of his journey through Britain.’

I was thinking of doing a long walk that had a narrative and could link up places, and instantly thought about the Jarrow walk which covered about 80 per cent of England.

Stuart Maconie

“The live shows are light-hearted and quite chatty rather than a lecture,” he said.

“There is a lot of serious stuff in them, but I don’t expect people to want to listen to an hour and a half of rickets or diphtheria and the 1930s recession.

“I know I’ll have to leaven it a bit.”

The original marchers carried a petition to the Government requesting the re-establishment of industry in the town following the closure in 1934 of its main employer, Palmer’s shipyard, which collapsed under the pressure of the Great Depression.

During their journey, they received sustenance and hospitality from local branches of all the main political parties, and were given a broad public welcome on their arrival in London, more than three weeks after they first set off.

“Several things aligned for me: it’s British social history, northern industrial culture, and there are pop culture elements from TV’s Our Friends In The North and Alan Price’s 1974 top ten hit Jarrow Song,” said Stuart.

“And I like walking.

“I was thinking of doing a long walk that had a narrative and could link up places, and instantly thought about the Jarrow walk which covered about 80 per cent of England.

“I then saw that the 80th anniversary was approaching, so thought I’d do it day by day as they did it and stay in the same towns, so I could produce this snapshot of then and now.”

Maconie is a best-selling author of travel, culture and social history books, as well as a prolific TV and radio presenter and DJ, co-hosting the daily Radcliffe and Maconie Show on BBC 6 Music, as well as presenting The Freak Zone, also on BBC 6 Music.

He has won the Sony Radio Award for Music Broadcaster of the Year and as a writer and journalist, has written for Q Magazine, Elle, The Times and The Guardian and was anassistant editor for NME.

His books include Pies and Prejudice, Adventures on the High Teas, Cider with Roadies, Hope and Glory and The People’s Songs. His work has bene compared with that of Bill Bryson, Alan Bennet and John Peel.

Tickets for Jarrow: Road to the Deep South are priced from £16 and are available from the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or online at www.customshouse.co.uk.

Stuart Maconie’s blog about his Jarrow march can be found at https://maconiejarrow.wordpress.com.