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Monday, 22 June 2020

Jarrow from Victorian times to the 1936 Crusade

There are several connections between Marley Hill & Jarrow which I will try to outline below. 
The John Bowes was built at Jarrow in 1852 to take
Marley Hill coal from Jarrow to SE England

(photo Tyne & Wear Archives)
The John Bowes was named after a leading partner of the Marley Hill Coal Company.   It was the first iron-hulled steam-powered single-screw water-ballasted bulk collier, intended to replace the wooden sailing collier brigs.   The effects were dramatic - it had twice the capacity of a collier brig, & took about 5 days for the round trip to London compared with a month.   It was not intended to require wind - but it was auxiliary-rigged as a topsail schooner.   In 1852, several railway companies were able to funnel coal to the SE from all over the country - the likes of the John Bowes kept NE coal extremely viable economically.

Charles Mark Palmer was responsible for the John Bowes.
I think the fully rigged ship is shown on the column side.

Palmer was an excellent businessman & an upstanding Victorian.   The statue was first erected at the Palmer Hospital, a few years before he died.   The inscription implies that he was doing the same as Andrew Leslie, who built much of the adjacent town of Hebburn for his workers.   While Tyneside industry & its workers benefited from Palmer, I think the social advancement was relative to the time.

Palmer's shipyard was a massive complex including its own ironworks.
It was fed directly with Marley Hill coal by the Pontop & Jarrow Railway.
The locos appear to be by Black Hawthorn & Chapman & Furneaux - more Tyneside employment.
More photos of Palmer's at Tyne Built ShipsJarrow Online.
On a route much improved by Palmer - this is a bridge on the 3 rail section of the Blackfell incline.
The distant hauler house was needed to bring loaded waggons up from the Team Valley.
John Bowes, who with his partners started to develop Marley Hill & adjacent collieries in the 1840s, seems to have recognized Palmer's business acumen & ambition.   John Bowes part financed the Palmer bros shipyard at Jarrow, having brought Palmer in to help manage the Marley Hill Coal Co in the 1840s.   Palmer was not content with sending MH coal down the Tanfield Way, which together with the need for keels was a huge bottleneck for getting coal to market, as well as requiring payment to the Brandling Junction or George Hudson's York, Newcastle & Berwick, the line's operators.

In 1854, at a time when landowning dynasties, colliery owners, financiers & others were trying to consolidate their holdings & strangle competition, Palmer connected powerful people & hence the railway from west of Marley Hill through Birkheads to the existing colliery & line at Kibblesworth, which was already connected via Springwell to Jarrow.    Moreover, all the collieries and line (the P&JR) were brought into one company, John Bowes & Partners - of which Palmer became a partner.   Coal & coke traffic from Marley Hill & the connected collieries boomed.

The Bowes & Palmer empires grew until the early 1920s, but this was followed by a worldwide slump in trade, at the same time as the industrial capacity of other countries was in place.   Jarrow relied heavily on Palmer's yard for employment, to feed workers' families, & many other businesses relied on it, but it closed in 1933 with a 40 year moratorium on it being reused for shipbuilding.

'Red' Ellen Wilkinson, Jarrow MP, building up backing for a 'Crusade' for jobs.
Ellen was an excellent orator & an active Labour MP.   (She previously represented Middlesbrough, whose residents have recently voted to erect a statue to her.)   She originally had communist leanings, but distanced herself from these because they alienated the public.   

There were a number of 'hunger marches' in the 1930s in Britain, and around the world.   The 1936  'Jarrow Crusade' was different because it originated from & was set up by Jarrow Council.

You may find it interesting to read a previous post on the Settlers Society on this blog.

It is notable that John Bowes & Partners continued to invest in their business during the 1930s, despite the resultant low dividends.   For example, we know that the complete roof of Marley Hill shed was renewed in the early 1930s, from the trusses that we recently replaced.   The company also worked with the Tyne Improvement Commission in the mid 1930s to replace the staiths at Jarrow with modern loading facilities.   Alongside the modernization plan, the Pontop & Jarrow Railway was renamed as the Bowes Railway.   Unfortunately, compared with the loss of Palmer's, new jobs elsewhere in Jarrow were small beer.

Stopping points on the Jarrow Crusade.
More detail at the National Archives.
The route of the crusade, which took a petition
for work to the reopening of Parliament.
A wet day early in the journey
Somewhere between Ripon & Harrogate - the marchers were well received in many towns, regardless of political affiliation
See Wikipedia for more information on the Jarrow Crusade.

The Jarrow Crusade was ignored by Parliament & did little good at the time.   The returning marchers found their 'dole' had been stopped, leaving the families even more destitute.   However, WWII restarted demand & jobs.   Later, several of the aims of the Jarrow Crusade were realized by the post war Labour government, in which Ellen Wilkinson became the Education Minister who implemented the 1944 Butler Act.

Crusade artwork at Jarrow Metro station
Crusade sculpture outside Morrison's in Jarrow shopping centre
There are many on line resources covering the Jarrow Crusade, such as a recent video featuring a Jarrow youngster, & Alan Price's Jarrow Song of 1974.

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