Protest Stickers: Newcastle Upon Tyne

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Like most cities and large towns, the urban infrastructure of Newcastle is littered with stickers of all kinds (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

Like most major towns and cities, Newcastle upon Tyne in the northeast of England has a healthy tradition of protest. With a population of just under 300,000, it is not one of the largest cities in the UK, but ‘Geordies’ are famous for their good nature and friendliness. As I discovered when I visited in July, this doesn’t mean there isn’t contention and dissent in the city, which is demonstrated by the large number of protest stickers I found.

This was the first protest sticker I found in Newcastle, on Northumberland Street, in the city's main shopping area.

This was the first protest sticker I found in Newcastle, on Northumberland Street, in the city’s main shopping area (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

Animal rights was one of the most common themes of stickers that I found.

Animal rights was one of the most common themes of stickers that I found (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

I have seen similar stickers to this one in London. They criticise the British Heart Foundation for using animals in their research.

I have seen similar stickers to this one in London. They criticise the British Heart Foundation for conducting research on animals (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

This sticker also criticises the British Heart Foundation, but is less visually striking. Stickers are made using various methods and various levels of skill.

This sticker also criticises the British Heart Foundation, but is less visually striking. It references a different webite, so I imagine it was made by somebody different to the previous one. Stickers are made using various methods and various levels of skill (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

This sticker is also protesting against experimentation on animals, but not specifically in relation to the British Heart Foundation.

This sticker is also protesting against experimentation on animals, but not specifically in relation to the British Heart Foundation (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

This sticker also relates generally to animal rights, but focuses on the culling of badgers. It calls for culls to be sabotaged.

This sticker also relates generally to animal rights, but focuses on the culling of badgers. It calls for culls to be sabotaged (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

This sticker has been partially removed, but I think that the whole text probably read 'Animal Liberation- Human Liberation.' The raised, clenched fist is a fairly common symbol in protest circles. This sticker plays on that symbolism with the addition of a raised paw.

This sticker has been partially removed, but I think that the whole text probably read ‘Animal Liberation- Human Liberation.’ The raised, clenched fist is a fairly common symbol in protest circles. This sticker plays on that symbolism with the addition of a raised paw (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

This sticker has also been partially removed, but two clasped hands can be seen. This is often used as a symbol of solidarity, an important concept in protest movements.

This sticker has also been partially removed, but two clasped hands can be seen. This is often used as a symbol of solidarity, an important concept in protest movements (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

The second common theme in Newcastle protest stickers is anti-fascism. Anti-fascist groups seem to produce a lot of protest stickers, and the North-East anti-fascists are no exception.

The second common theme in Newcastle protest stickers is anti-fascism. Anti-fascist groups seem to produce a lot of protest stickers, and the North-East anti-fascists are no exception (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

Anti-fascists often campaign on specific issues that they consider related to fascism. This sticker is playing on the name of the English Defence League.

Anti-fascists often campaign on specific issues that they consider related to fascism. This sticker is playing on the name of the English Defence League (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

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In this sticker, anti-fascism is connected to class-based activism (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

This sticker focuses on the homophobic element of fascism.

This sticker focuses on the homophobic element of fascism. Around the circular anti-fascist logo is the words antihomophobe action. The words at the bottom of the sticker used to read ‘Eat Shit Nazi Scum.’ They look as if they were deliberately obscured, perhaps by a member of Newcastle’s far-right groups, or maybe just by someone who took exception to the profanity (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

The North-East Anarchists also have a presence in Newcastle's sticker landscape.

The North-East Anarchists also have a presence in Newcastle’s sticker landscape (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

In this sticker, the North-East Anarchists are criticising the banks, although I found this sticker a bit confusing- I had to read it a few times to figure out what it was saying.

In this sticker, the North-East Anarchists are criticising the banks, although I found this sticker a bit confusing- I had to read it a few times to figure out what it was saying (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

Left-wing politics is far from simple. This sticker condemns Bolshevism

Radical politics is far from simple. This sticker is by a group called Anti-Bolshevik Action, which appears to be advocating communism, but not the communism of Stalin, Trotsky and Mao. There are a myriad of complicated divisions between groups with similar beliefs (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

Not every group that puts up stickers in Newcastle is left-wing. This sticker from the North East National Front references Enoch Powell, an anti-immigrant politician to made the famous 'rivers of blood' speech in 1968.

Not every group that puts up stickers in Newcastle is left-wing. This sticker from the North East National Front references Enoch Powell, an anti-immigrant politician to made the famous ‘rivers of blood’ speech in 1968 (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

National Action is a national socialist group that calls itself "Britain's premier Nationalist street movement." THey reject more mainstream nationalist groups like UKIP and have the ultimate aim of a "white Britain."

National Action is a national socialist group that calls itself “Britain’s premier Nationalist street movement.” They reject more mainstream nationalist groups like UKIP and have the ultimate aim of a “white Britain” (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

As is often the case, stickers in Newcastle reflect a combination of local, national, and international issues. The Trade Unions and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) was formed to campaign in the general election in May.

As is often the case, stickers in Newcastle reflect a combination of local, national, and international issues. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) was formed to campaign in the general election in May 2015 (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

This sticker is calling for a boycott of goods from Israel, specifically oranges. The BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement aims to resolve the Israel-Palestine issue by exerting economic pressure.

This sticker is calling for a boycott of goods from Israel, specifically oranges. The BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement aims to resolve the Israel-Palestine issue by exerting economic pressure (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

In contrast to the previous two, this last sticker has a distinctly local flavour. 'Radge' is Geordie slang for rage or anger. It may be a criticism of the armed forces, because of the use of the RAF logo and font.

In contrast to the previous two, this last sticker has a distinctly local flavour. ‘Radge’ is Geordie slang for rage or anger. It may be a criticism of the armed forces, because of the use of the RAF logo and font. It also might not, but I liked it too much to leave out because I wasn’t sure! (Photo: Hannah Awcock)

Sources and Further Reading

Anon. ‘Newcastle upon Tyne.’ Wikipedia. Last modified 17th July 2015, accessed 19th July 2015. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newcastle_upon_Tyne

Tracing Turbulent London in North East England 2: Jarrow

Jarrow is in Tyneside, the name of the conurbation surrounding the river Tyne. Newcastle is also part of it (Photo: Graeme Awcock)

Jarrow is in Tyneside, the name of the conurbation surrounding the river Tyne. Newcastle is also part of it (Photo: Graeme Awcock).

As a national and imperial centre London is, and has long been, a key node in a whole range of networks involving the circulation of ideas, people, and materials. This fact was brought home to me recently when I visited the North East of England. Even though I was about 300 miles away from London, I found multiple connections to Turbulent London. Last week, I wrote about the grave of Emily Wilding Davison, a suffragette from Northumberland who died at the Epsom Derby in 1913. This week, I will be thinking about the ways that the 1936 Jarrow Marchers have been memorialised in their home town in Tyneside.

Jarrow is a small town, with a population of around 30,000. During the industrial revolution the town experienced massive growth thanks to heavy industries like coal mining and shipbuilding. The Palmer’s Shipbuilding and Iron Company shipyard was established there in 1852, and went on to employ as much as 80% of the town’s working population. This dependence on one employer meant that the town was devastated when the shipyard closed in 1933. Unemployment and poverty was rife, setting the stage for the Jarrow March, sometimes called the Jarrow Crusade.

The Jarrow Crusade was a type of protest called a Hunger March. Beginning in the 1920s, groups of demonstrators (normally men) would embark on long marches to London in order to draw attention to issues of poverty, unemployment, and hunger. On the 5th of October 1936, around 200 men set off from Jarrow carrying a petition asking the British government to re-establish industry in the town. 26 days later the men arrived in London, 282 miles away. The House of Commons accepted the petition, but did not debate it. Although they were immediately unsuccessful, the marchers helped develop the attitudes that paved the way for social reform after World War Two.

When I went to Jarrow I found 3 memorials to the Marchers. If you arrive via Tyneside’s Metro train system from the direction of Newcastle and look across to the other platform you will see The Jarrow March, by Vince Rea, unveiled by Neil Kinnock in 1984.

'The Jarrow March' by artist Vince Rea at Jarrow Metro Station.

The Jarrow March by artist Vince Rea at Jarrow Metro Station.

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The Jarrow March is one of the first things you see when you step off the train at Jarrow Metro Station.

Walking out of the station towards the town centre you have to walk through an underpass, one of several which is decorated with images made up of painted tiles celebrating the town’s history. One of these mosaics shows the Jarrow Marchers.

The image showing the Jarrow March in a local underpass.

The image showing the Jarrow March in a local underpass. A list of the places which the marchers passed through is included on the right.

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Like most underpasses, it is not the most pleasant place.

Finally, if you walk through the Viking Shopping Centre to the Morrisons Supermarket you will see the life-size bronze sculpture Spirit of Jarrow. The sculpture was commissioned by Morrisons, made by Graham Ibbeson, and named by 2 local residents. The marchers are depicting walking out of the frame of a ship, surrounded by scattered tools. It was unveiled in 2001, marking the 65th anniversary of the March. As in Morpeth, the varying ages of the memorials demonstrate that commemoration is an ongoing process, it has to be constantly renewed and maintained.

The Spirit of Jarrow is outside the local supermarket, very close to the town centre.

The Spirit of Jarrow is outside the local supermarket, very close to the town centre.

The statue in more detail.

The statue in more detail.

This plaque in the floor near the statue gives information about it.

This plaque in the floor near the statue gives information about it.

Although each representation of the Jarrow March uses a different medium, the content is very similar. All 3 show male marchers in flat caps, the ‘Jarrow Crusade’ banner, and a dog- Paddy the dog was apparently the marchers’ mascot. The fact that there are so many representations of the March within a small area suggests that this is an event that the local community are proud of.

A close up of one of the male marchers in Spirit of Jarrow. He is wearing a flat cap. stereotypical of the working class

A close up of one of the male marchers in Spirit of Jarrow. He is wearing a flat cap, stereotypical of the working class, and a badge declaring the marchers’ intention to march on London.

When comparing these memorials to the grave of Emily Wilding Davison, what really struck me was the difference that location makes. Emily is buried in a churchyard- out of the way, quiet and sedate. You have to consciously decide to go and visit, and for me it felt a little like a pilgrimage. In Jarrow, the memorials are part of the everyday infrastructure of the town and, like a lot of public art, they run the risk of fading into the background. When asking for directions whilst looking for the Spirit of Jarrow, one local woman had no idea what we were talking about. If you travel the same route everyday, you frequently stop noticing what is around you.

Another striking element of the Jarrow memorials was their representations of gender. Both The Jarrow March and the Spirit of Jarrow include a women carrying what appears to be a baby. The only woman permitted to join the march was local MP Ellen Wilkinson, and she only marched sections of the route. No children took part either. The memorials present the March as being more inclusive than it actually was. It is a reminder not to take memorials and other similar representations at face value.

The female marcher in the Spirit of Jarrow carrying a bundle that is probably a baby.

The female marcher in the Spirit of Jarrow carrying a bundle that is probably a baby.

The proliferation of Hunger Marches as a method of protest in the 1920s and 30s linked London to provincial Britain in a clear way, and the Jarrow March was no exception. Despite being almost 300 miles away, the people of Jarrow decided that London was where they needed to be in order to get their voices heard. London was, and still is, the political heart of Britain, and as such it interacts with the rest of the country in a whole range of complex and interconnecting ways.

Sources and Further Reading

Anon. “Jarrow Crusade Captured in Bronze.” BBC News. Last modified 5th October 2001, accessed 10th August 2015. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/1581572.stm

Anon. “Jarrow March.” Wikipedia. Last modified 29th July 2015, accessed 10th August 2015.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jarrow_March

Colette, Christine. “The Jarrow Crusade.” BBC History. Last modified 3rd March 2011, accessed 10th August 2015.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/britain_wwone/jarrow_01.shtml