Jarrow born poet and playwright, Tom Kelly, tells us about the work with schools on the Jarrow Crusade 80th Anniversary Project which took place in February and March 2016:
"In February and March I really enjoyed working with Jarrow school children on the Jarrow Crusade Project with Matt Perry, Newcastle University history lecturer and author of the definitive book on the march, 'The Jarrow Crusade: Protest and Legend' and South Tyneside Librarian, Catrin Galt.
"At Jarrow's Library we worked with year 5 children from Jarrow Cross and years 4 and 5 of Jarrow St Bede's (my old school, many moons ago).
"Catrin had the children look at census records and discover where specific marchers lived in Jarrow while Matt gave information on the reasons for the march, the route and what they encountered on the way and on arrival in the capital. He then answered their every question, from what tunes the harmonica band played to who were the eldest and youngest marchers? They were fortunate to have a man that knows a great deal about the march.
"My role was to have the children carry out creative writing by describing and visualizing and for the children to imagine what it was like in Jarrow in the 1930s and what it would feel like to be a marcher, or be a child at that time, whose father or grandfather was on the march. The children wrote diary entries, short stories and poems. They were completely lost in the past, learning of the lives and times of those in the town in the 1930s.
"In March, Catrin and I visited St Joseph's RC School, on Jarrow's Fellgate Estate and discovered that these year 2 children had already carried-out a great deal of work on the march prior to our visit. They had created a video where they marched around the school yard singing a song and had a display on the classroom walls on the Crusade.
"Catrin had a map with the route of the march which we discussed and asked how many miles were specific towns from Jarrow? And I used the photographs Catrin had unearthed of Jarrow homes in the '30s as a starting point for discussing children's lives and producing creative writing, once again they produced short stories, poems and diaries.
"An additional 'bonus' was that a number of children had relations that had been on the march.
"Some of this work produced by the Jarrow school children will feature in a commemorative pamphlet on the Jarrow Crusade which will be published in October.
"Some may say, "Why another Jarrow Crusade project?" Seeing the keenness of the pupils loving learning about the past was so rewarding and underlined that older people may know a great deal of their past in Jarrow but their children and grandchildren still need to understand and appreciate of the importance of Jarrow's history and feel pride in their town and those who marched for a better life."
Feedback from schools
Feedback from schools has been extremely positive: