Skip to content

Jarrow to Ferryhill

The church of saint Mary and saint Cuthbert
St Mary and St Cuthbert Chester Le Street – Image: webshots

The day was October 5th, 1936. Leaving their local Town Hall the marchers made their way to Christ Church for their service before embarking on what was destined to become a unique moment in history. After the service, the marchers exited the church to be confronted with great crowds as they embarked on their journey.

As well as the 200 men who made up the rear of the marchers, the local brass band, the Mayor, the Town Clerk, and two men carrying an oak box containing the petition signed by 11,000 residents of Jarrow, were upfront. Miss Ellen Wilkinson, Councilor Joe Hanlon, Councilor David Riley, and Alderman Joe Symonds, were also among those at the front.

Their first stop would see them at Springwell (Gateshead) for something to eat. Arriving at their first overnight stopping place, Chester-Le-Street, some 12 miles further on from their start point, the men took tea, and later after a meeting in the market square, they retired to the Church Institute. The floor of the institute was rather dusty and hard but this did not deter the men from sleeping.

The next morning, 7th October, found them in good spirits and ready to hit the road. Their destination this time was Ferryhill located 7/8 miles south of Durham City. This time the journey was a little harder, with the bus that carried their equipment having great difficulty surmounting the hills. The marchers on the other hand continued at a steady pace and had no such difficulties. Part of the way they added to their ranks a stray black Labrador dog whom they adopted as their mascot and rightly named “Jarrow”.

Ferryhill Old Marketplace
Ferryhill Old Market Place County Durham – Image: webshots

Arriving at Ferryhill, a town that relied heavily on the coal industry and going through serious economic suffering of its own, the men received a warm welcome and some much-needed food. The next morning saw them tucking into a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs. By now, the doctors had their fair share of foot blisters to treat and two health problems of a more serious nature. A young boy had a seizure, an older man developed a septic heel and doctors agreed that they should both return home.

In the here and now walking is considered to be good for many health ailments from keeping fit, and high blood pressure to depression back then, however, for the marchers It was considered a must to keep on living day to day (2023 Shahd).

Follow the Marchers: Ferryhill to Ripon.