History GCSE / National 5: The Jarrow march of 1936

Sophie is studying history at secondary school in Jarrow, Tyneside. She goes on a journey of discovery to find out how the Jarrow March of 1936 paved the way for the Welfare State.

In 1936, 207 unemployed men marched almost 300 miles from Jarrow in the North East to the Houses of Parliament to protest about poverty and unemployment.

The Jarrow March became a key moment in British history. Despite the men receiving a cool welcome in London, the march paved the way for the introduction of the welfare state in 1945, with a promise never to return to the conditions of the 1930s.

Sophie is from Jarrow on Tyneside and she investigates the story behind the march.

As Sophie sets out on her own journey to discover its origins, she is shocked by the conditions faced at the time by the people of Jarrow.

She pieces together evidence from contemporary interviews and archive material to build a picture of why protesters took action, and what they achieved.

She meets historian Dr Matt Perry from Newcastle University who explains why the Palmers shipbuilding company was shut down in 1934 because of a policy by the National Shipbuilders Securities, led by James Lithgow.

Ellen Wilkinson, Jarrow's Labour MP at the time, backed a plan to open a steel works on the site, but this was blocked by the steel industry.

Sophie also meets today's Jarrow MP, Stephen Hepburn, who personally knew some of the marchers. He explains how difficult it was for the men who marched to parliament.

She also goes to the The Geffrye, Museum of the Home to discuss the artwork The arrival of the Jarrow Marchers by Thomas Cantrell Dugdale with curator Emma Hardy.

Teaching notes

Students could be asked to compare the impression of the impact of the Jarrow march given by the Labour MP and the impression given by the painting.

Which do they think is a more accurate view of the impact of the march?

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching History. This topic appears in OCR, Edexcel, AQA, WJEC KS4/GCSE in England and Wales, CCEA GCSE in Northern Ireland and SQA National 4/5 in Scotland.

More from Exploring Protest

The Guildford Sit-in
video
The Peterloo Massacre of 1819
Exploring the past - the history of protest in the UK