This film is part of Free

Jarrow Carnival

Thirteen years before the famous Jarrow Crusade, here we see the other side of Tyne siders: their humour, inventiveness and ingenuity.

Non-Fiction 1923 13 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


A snapshot of the resourcefulness and imagination of the working class communities of a famous northern town. This Jarrow Carnival of 1923 is an amazingly spectacle, even by the usual entertaining standards of northern carnivals of the time. Both the bewildering variety of fancy dress and themed costumes, and the incredible number of jazz bands, reveal the diverse influences of the British Empire and Afro-American jazz alike.

Jarrow is of course much better known for the Crusade of 1936, when 200 men from the town marched 300 miles to London in protest against unemployment. This march, supported by the borough council, achieved a legendary status that the many hunger marches organised by the more radical National Unemployed Workers' Movement haven’t. This carnival took place just before the sharp decline in orders for the main local employers, Palmers Ship Yard, which eventually went bust in 1933. Charity raising carnivals like this were common in northern towns at the time – and continue to be – and show little to suggest any association with the religious events of Easter or Whitsun, but perhaps a connection with Mayday.