When the Jarrow marchers descended upon Radlett eight decades ago

Jarrow Marchers on their way to London to present a petition to the Government in 1936. Photo PA

Jarrow Marchers on their way to London to present a petition to the Government in 1936. Photo PA - Credit: PA

Cigarettes, tea and cake were hastily organised in Radlett eight decades ago, when the Jarrow marchers descended upon the village - to the surprise of locals.

The Herts Advertiser has this week looked back at the historic march, 80 years ago, when the Jarrow Crusaders walked into St Albans - and then Radlett - on the last stages of their epic 300-mile march to London.

Nearly 200 protesters set off on foot during October 1936 to illustrate the plight of the people of Jarrow by delivering a petition to Parliament demanding work for the poverty-stricken town.

Reference to the hurried arrangements in Radlett, made on Friday October 30, 1936, was published in a Herts Advertiser report on November 6 that year.

It said: “The Jarrow Crusade of unemployed, after leaving St Albans on Friday morning, made their first halt at Radlett.”

There, the 195 marchers were joined by MP for Jarrow, Miss Ellen Wilkinson, and entertained with a light meal at the Radlett Congregational Church Hall.

But, it transpired that “owing to a misunderstanding between Miss Wilkinson and her agent, no reply was sent to [Rev. K. MacFarlane] Harley’s invitation to entertain the men en route, with the result that no arrangements were made for their halt in Radlett.

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“It was not until an advance party of the marchers arrived that it was known that Radlett was included in the programme as a stopping-place.

“Mr Harley immediately gathered together a few friends and, in spite of very hurried arrangements, they were able to offer the men the hospitality of the Church, through the Church Council, and provide cake, ham sandwiches, cigarettes and tea, while one local firm, Messrs. G. Hill and Son, provided a crate of oranges to be divided among the men.

“With Miss Wilkinson in their ranks, the marchers left for Hendon via Elstree.”

Upon reaching Radlett, the men were met by “members of the Metropolitan Police and they escorted the Crusade through the district”.

• The Herts Ad would like to thank St Albans Library for its assistance in tracking down archive information on the Jarrow Crusade.