Jarrow March: Ferryhill to Ripon
Darlington was the marchers’ next stop. Here the men expected a cool reception and were surprised indeed to find a warm friendly welcome from the people. On arrival, the men were given a dinner to be proud of, which was followed by rice pudding. After dinner, the men gathered for their usual meeting and were pleasantly surprised to find the Mayor of Jarrow, Alderman Thompson, and his wife had come down to offer encouragement.
The Alderman spoke of how their talents had been in great demand from 1914 to 1918, and he felt that Jarrow and its people needed the help of the nation if unemployment was to be reduced and poverty were to be stamped out. All that the people of Jarrow were asking was their right to work.
I wonder what those proud men and women of by-gone days would think about to-days workforce if they were here to offer an opinion? While some people hold their heads high as they make a life for themselves and their families, a great number of individuals just do not. They quite simply will not work and would rather rely on unemployment benefits… A thought for another day maybe.
While the men marched, Ellen Wilkinson attended the Labour Party Conference in Edinburgh to speak of unemployment. A Council Executive opened the debate saying there were hundreds and thousands of homes where there would be no food on the table or, a small amount of bread and dripping given to the children and the adults would have to go without. Areas that were particularly bad were the North East, The North West, Scotland, and Wales. Unfortunately, after all, had been said and done, the Executive Committee refused to take action.
Many things were happening around the country at the time, I do not intend to outline every possible march that had taken place. Such groups did exist and one such organization was called The National Unemployed Workers Movement. This movement was Communist and lead by Wall Harrington. Another movement called The Fascist Movement was being led by Sir Oswald Mosley. Unlike the Jarrow March, some of these other marches were poorly organized and often ended in violence and bloodshed. Not what the doctor ordered so to speak.
On the 8th of October, the marchers left their borders in county Durham behind and headed into North Yorkshire. Unsure of the reception they would get the men continued their march south. By late afternoon some 16 miles further they arrived at Northallerton, and their unspoken fears diminished to nothing. The people here were as friendly and generous as those in their own county. Many lined the pavements shouting words of encouragement. A meal was provided in the Town Hall and overnight sleeping arrangements had also been offered.
Leaving Northallerton on the 9th October they arrived at Ripon, a distance of approximately 17 miles, later that day. Here the men spent the weekend and handed over the box containing the petition with its 11,000 signatures to civic dignitaries for safekeeping.
Ripon is a cathedral city in the Borough of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England. The cathedral itself dates back to 672AD. Boasting a beautiful Cathedral, Canal Basin, a thriving market, a Law, and Order Museum plus a Workhouse Museum where visitors can see for themselves the hard times and suffering the poor endured back in the 18th century. Ripon is also known as one of the smallest cities in England and has lots to offer the visitor. There is much, much more to see and comes highly recommended.
Follow the Marchers: Ripon to Wakefield.