Jarrow March: Wakefield To Chesterfield
The next morning found them on their way to Barnsley. Here thousands of people had lined the streets, offering their support to the men of Jarrow, as they marched toward the Townhall. Here they were met by the Mayor of Barnsley and his dignitaries waiting on the stairs of the Town Hall it was here the Mayor proclaimed: “Everything that Barnsley can do for you will be done.
After a nice hot meal of potato pie, the men enjoyed some light entertainment before retiring for the night to Baths Hall in Race street. Years later Baths Hall would once again lend its-self to others needing overnight accommodation. This was to be evacuees of mothers and children from Romford. The evacuees were being escorted to Voluntary Billets in Barnsley.
On the 16th of October, the men arrived in Sheffield some 13 miles further south of Barnsley. Here Mr. E Whittaker chief Conservative agent spoke of his feelings about the march.
“I say this march is a good thing, no matter whether my head office and other people like it or not. And there is one thing I like about it above everything else and that is politics don’t enter into it. There can be no politics when people are fighting for their bread and butter. From the bottom of my heart, I wish you every success. For you have brought to the notice of the people, not only of Great Britain but to the whole world, that you are fighting for the right to work and the means to live”.
That night the marchers settled down to a night’s sleep in Pomona Street council school.
On awaking the next morning the men learned of some Scottish marchers also sleeping overnight in the same school. These marchers 50 strong had left Inverness some three weeks previous passing through their hometown of Jarrow some days before they themselves had set off. Because of lack of organization the Inverness marchers had met with great hardship on the way their ranks were now down to a dozen or so men.
Arriving in Chesterfield on the 17th October over halfway to their goal the marchers reflected on the journey so far. It was remarkable how almost everywhere they had received warm and sincere welcomes with offers of free food and accommodation. The march so far had lent itself to donations which would pay for much-needed clothes by the time the men reached London their own clothes would be threadbare from continuous day and nightwear in all conditions. This was their second weekend away from their hometown and like Ripon, they rested here in Chesterfield until Monday.
During the march, there had been a number of times where their ranks could have been penetrated by the Communists. Here in Chesterfield, one such group had set up a meeting in the same market square claiming support from the marchers. This was not true of the vast majority of the marchers and a quick rebuff was given from the march leaders.
Chesterfield was their first disappointment the men received no welcome and were housed in a distant school as far from the town centre as was possible. The Chief Constable gave the impression the marchers were meddlesome and were only being given attention because all eyes followed the marchers.
Follow the Marchers: Chesterfield-Nottingham.