Blue plaque honour for leader of the Jarrow Crusade

Former Jarrow Mayor and councillor, Joseph Bede Symonds.
Former Jarrow Mayor and councillor, Joseph Bede Symonds.

One of the men who helped lead marchers on the Jarrow Crusade is to be honoured with a blue plaque.

The memorial will pay tribute to former Jarrow Mayor and councillor, Joseph Bede Symonds.

An image of the Jarrow Crusade as the marchers made their way to London.

An image of the Jarrow Crusade as the marchers made their way to London.

He was also instrumental in organising the Jarrow Crusade, which saw 200 local people march from Jarrow Town Hall to London in October 1936 to deliver a petition to Parliament demanding work for the poverty-stricken town. Joseph Symonds was the first person to sign the petition.

The plaque will be unveiled by the Mayor of South Tyneside, Councillor Ken Stephenson, at the entrance to Jarrow Town Hall in Grange Road this Friday at 2pm alongside members of Mr Symonds’ family.

The Mayor said: “Joe Symonds was a remarkable man who was committed to improving the lives of working men and women and fighting for the right to work.

He campaigned tirelessly for improvement to health and housing in Jarrow and across the country and was awarded an OBE for his efforts.

“One of his most inspiring achievements was helping to lead those proud people of the Jarrow Crusade more than 80 years ago in protest at the unemployment and poverty being
suffered by the people of the town during the 1930s.

“They set off on foot for the 300 mile journey with such hopes, only to be met with disappointment when they reached the capital.

“Despite this, Joe Symonds and his band of marchers captured the imagination of a nation.

"They represented the strength of community spirit and their stories, hopes and aspirations continue to resonate with people today.

“Jarrow Crusade will always be remembered proudly by the people of South Tyneside and this plaque is a fitting and lasting tribute to Joseph, his life and the valuable role he played in
helping to shape the history of the borough.”

Mr Symonds lived in a council house in Hedworth View and was extremely active in politics.

When plans were mooted for a bridge over the River Tyne, Mr Symonds campaigned for a tunnel instead to safeguard the many decent council homes that would have been destroyed otherwise.

He was Mayor of Jarrow in 1945 before serving as MP for Whitehaven from 1959 to 1970.

The Blue Plaque to Mr Symonds is the first to be unveiled under a new scheme in South Tyneside in which members of the public were invited to put forward nominations for the
recognition of individuals or structures and their importance to the history and heritage of the area.

Jarrow born poet and playwright Tom Kelly nominated Mr Symonds.

He said: “I met Joe in the early 70s and will never forget his passion for the work of the Labour Party in Jarrow during the 1930s.

"He and the other leaders worked tirelessly to save the town. I am more than delighted the plaque is to be displayed where the Jarrow Crusade began.”

St Hilda’s Colliery Band, which won brass band World Championships multiple times, and John Dagnia, who built Cleadon House in 1738, are also set to be commemorated in the
future as part of the scheme.

Councillor Alan Kerr, deputy leader of South Tyneside Council with responsibility for Culture and Leisure, said: “We have a rich and proud heritage in South Tyneside and through this

More about the Blue Plaque across South Tyneside can be found here.