Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/689/12967
The Socialist 12 October 2011 |
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Marching in the footsteps of history
When the Jarrow March for Jobs leaves Leicester, not only will it be following in the footsteps of the 1936 Jarrow Crusade, but also Leicester's 1905 Unemployed March.
There were three leaders of the march. Amos Sheriff, who would become the city's Lord Mayor in 1922; the Reverend FL Donaldson, of St Marks' Church, who gained the nickname 'vicar of the unemployed'; and George 'Sticky' White, secretary of the Unemployed Committee, who as his nickname suggests, used a walking stick yet still marched to London and back.
On 4 June 1905, 470 unemployed shoemakers set off from Leicester Market Place to London. The news of the protest captured the hearts and minds of the public. As recalled by Sticky's son, George, who was 12 at the time, the crowd was "the biggest that had ever been seen in the market".
From the top of the steps of the Corn Exchange the leaders rallied the men to march to London to protest the conditions of the unemployed and to lobby the government in to passing the Unemployed Workmen Act. A plaque now lies in front of the steps to commemorate the event.
On the march, George joined his father, who like many of the unemployed men had been sacked for his involvement in the Boot and Shoe Workers' Union. He remembers singing songs and the marchers playing harmonicas on the route. The marchers spent their first night on straw in Market Harborough's cattle market. George was (un)fortunately caught truanting and sent back by train.
Arriving in Trafalgar Square, another great crowd greeted the marchers but the authorities, including the King and the Archbishop of Canterbury, refused to see them.
Yet when they came home on 18 June, they were greeted by 140,000 people and the news that the Unemployed Workmen Act had been passed.
Raffle! Win a framed photo of the original Jarrow march
Large framed photo of original Jarrow march as it came through Northamptonshire. This picture has its own history! In the 1960s it hung in the Whitehall office of a Labour government minister, then it was presented to a Labour activist of 50 years party membership who subsequently left Labour and joined the Socialist Party. £1 a ticket. Raffle drawn at Socialism 2011 on 6 November.
Contact Becci Heagney to reserve tickets: