HUNGER MARCHES

History Revealed - - JARROW CRUSADE -

The ‘hunger march’ was pri­mar­ily a protest phe­nom­e­non of the early 20th cen­tury. The term was first used to de­scribe an event of 1905, but they be­came more pop­u­lar and vis­i­ble with the grow­ing hard­ship of the 1920s and 1930s. Un­em­ployed men and women would (usu­ally) walk en masse from their home city to Lon­don, to protest and pub­li­cise their con­di­tion, and to ask for gov­ern­ment aid. Many of these marches were or­gan­ised by the Com­mu­nist Party of Great Bri­tain and were much more rad­i­cally minded than the Jar­row march, which de­lib­er­ately re­jected the ‘hunger’ tag. 1905 RAUNDS TO LON­DON The first hunger march: 115 un­em­ployed army boot­mak­ers from the Northamp­ton­shire vil­lage of Raunds walked to Lon­don to protest at War Of­fice com­plai­sance in the un­der­cut­ting of wages. The marchers, led by James ‘Gen­eral’ Grib­ble, in­ter­rupted a speech on women’s suf­frage and were ejected from the Houses of Par­lia­ment. They were given a heroes’ wel­come by 5,000 of their towns­folk on their re­turn, though. 1927 At a de­mon­stra­tion RHONDDA VAL­LEY that be­came TO known LON­DON as ‘Red Sun­day in Rhondda Val­ley’, AJ Cook called for a march to protest about dire con­di­tions af­ter the Gen­eral Strike. Min­ers from all over South Wales made up the 270strong con­tin­gent, which en­joyed pop­u­lar sup­port, although the TUC, the press and the gov­ern­ment were hos­tile, and women who knocked doors in the Rhondda to col­lect for the march were ar­rested. The marchers won some con­ces­sions over cuts in ben­e­fits. 1932 NA­TIONAL HUNGER MARCH The Com­mu­nist Party-led Na­tional Un­em­ployed Work­ers Move­ment (NUWM) was be­hind many of the hunger marches of the 1920s and 1930s. The 3,000 marchers, who came from the most eco­nom­i­cally de­pressed re­gions of Scot­land, north­ern Eng­land and the Welsh Val­leys, were met by a crowd of 100,000 on ar­rival at Hyde Park. The gov­ern­ment mus­tered 70,000 po­lice­men, who used force to stop the marchers’ pe­ti­tion reach­ing par­lia­ment. Se­ri­ous vi­o­lence en­sued. 1936 BLIND HUNGER MARCH The Na­tional League of the Blind had pi­o­neered protest marches in the years af­ter World War I, and though less well re­mem­bered than the Jar­row cru­sade, its 1936 march was an im­por­tant stage in the fight for dis­abil­ity rights in Bri­tain. A con­tin­gent of blind peo­ple led by GA Costance from Swansea trekked to a rally in Hyde Park, where they met blind marchers from other parts of the coun­try, in­clud­ing Leeds and Manch­ester.

Un­em­ployed min­ers marched in 1927 with less fan­fare, but greater suc­cess

Most marches were seen as threats to pub­lic or­der

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