Jarrow Constituency

The Jarrow constituency is split into the following wards:

  • Bede
  • Boldon Colliery
  • Cleadon and East Boldon
  • Fellgate and Hedworth
  • Hebburn North
  • Hebburn South
  • Monkton
  • Pelaw and Heworth
  • Primrose
  • Wardley and Leam Lane

 

The Jarrow Crusade

In 1936 at the height of the Great Depression a Government body named National Shipbuilding Industry Securities closed Palmers Shipyard and left an incredible 70% of Jarrow men out of work.  The Palmers yard had been Jarrow's major source of employment, and the closure compounded the problems of poverty, overcrowding, poor housing and high mortality rates that already beset the town.

The idea for the Crusade came from a local man called Davey Riley, who persuaded first the local Labour Party and then the town council that the town needed to take its case to London to persuade the Government of the day to bring jobs back to Jarrow.  The town council, which was composed of all the political parties and people from various backgrounds in the town, resolved unanimously to support the March and give it the backing of its citizens, from the bishop to the businessman, so that it could be a success.  

Hunger marches had been prominent since the late 1920s, generally as protests against the hated Means Test and cuts in welfare benefits.  For instance, there was a nationwide hunger march against the Unemployment Insurance Bill in 1934, where more than 500 people marched to London from South Wales.  

But the 1936 Jarrow Crusade was different.  Unlike the previous hunger marches that had already taken place this was an appeal for work, not charity.   The Jarrow Crusade caught the imagination of the people of Jarrow straight away, as it did with the rest of the public as it travelled almost 300 miles south to London on 5th October 1936.  Two hundred men were selected to march and a petition was signed by 12,000 townspeople.  The Jarrow Crusade was not political or a plea for charity, it was a dignified and peaceful demonstration for jobs.  Jarrow MP Ellen Wilkinson was with them as they came south to petition parliament.

The men marched military style, with the famous Jarrow Crusade banners proudly held aloft.  They raised the hearts and spirits of everyone they came across during those bleak days of the depression.  They delivered a message of hope for the people who needed hope, right across the country, at that time.  However, when the men reached London, their pleas for work were ignored, and they were sent home with a pound in their pocket to pay for their train fare.  When they got back to Jarrow, they found not only that their dole had been stopped but the dreaded means-test men were waiting at their front doors.  

Being out of work today is heart breaking but back then it was even tougher.  Unemployment benefit was meagre, but even to get that small amount, workers had to undergo the humiliation of the hated Means Test where faceless bureaucrats would assess which of your personal belongings were saleable.

The 280-mile march put Jarrow on the map.  Even today the marchers are remembered worldwide.  In Jarrow, the story of the crusade is passed down from father to son and from mother to daughter.  The Crusade created a strong sense of pride and community spirit which continues to exist in the town today.        
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Proud reminders of the famous 1936 Crusade are evident across the town centre, such as the Town Hall display, a statue outside Morrisons supermarket and has also had local ales named after it.  

Meet your MP

 Stephen-Hepburn-MP

Stephen Hepburn has served the Jarrow Constituency as MP since 1997.

He was last elected to serve in June 2017 and won the seat with a conclusive 17,263 majority.

 

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