Image 3: From left to right: Coun. Rennic, Coun. Riley, Ellen Wilkinson, Paddy Scullion, Mayor Thompson, Coun. Hanlon. Hyde Park, London, 1st of November 1936. Image from Bede Gallery, Dougan & Reddish 1976, 90.

The first half of the 20th century was another period of labour deep crises and actions against social injustice in the North-East of England and in the areas affected by the capitalistic system.

In 1934, mismanagement and economic competitivity led to the closure of the shipyard founded by Palmer in Jarrow. According to The Town that was Murdered, a book written by the political activist Ellen Wilkinson, the percentage of unemployment in Jarrow reached 72.9 % in 1935. The year after, around two-hundred unemployed workers who had been reduced to poverty by international politics and economic crises marched to London’s Parliament. Ellen Wilkinson was one of the leading characters of this march, which is today remembered as the “Jarrow Crusade”.

It has been remarked – with good reasons – that the recent mystification and commercialisation of the “Jarrow Crusade” might overshadow its historical significance and deepest meanings. The march cannot simply be understood as a successful isolated event which had nothing to do with politics and which was marked by an English and religious-like character. It rose from a context of political protests and hunger marches, precisely while Chaplin’s Modern Times was denouncing in cinemas the struggles and unbearable living conditions of industrial workplaces. In fact, the so-called “Jarrow Crusade” constitutes an important expression of the international social struggles, contradictions and political tensions of the time.

Virtual Museum | Jarrow and its Museum | The excavations at St Pauls and the new local Museum | The monastery and the medieval landscape | Jarrow and the Industrial Revolution | Modern Jarrow | Jarrow in the first half of the 20th century | Jarrow across the 20th century | Jarrow in the late 20th century | The new local Museum and Gyrwe’s farm

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