NOBODY’S CHILD

"Nobody's Child" Cassie is an eleven year old girl who has been in a children's home since she was four years old. Very bright, Cassie excels in most subjects and can play Brahms and Mozart on the piano at the age of only six. Because of her age nobody wants to adopt her. Mrs Cummings the manager of Auton House is a wicked woman who treats Cassie and the rest in her charge badly and beats her with regularity. One day she is sent to clean out the toilet and bathroom and Mrs Cummings comes along to inspect them. Running a white glove over everything and looking for dirt. When she doesn't find any she then reaches up on the door - Cassie is only three feet six inches tall and was unable to reach up to the top of the door and Mrs Cummings sets about her with a cane. She beats her so badly that Cassie runs at her forcing her back where she hits her head on a wash basin. Cassie in her panic rushes out and runs away.- It is there that she meets Don a ex docker who takes pity on the girl - rea

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It was here that the marchers received their worst reception since the crusade began. They were decidedly unwelcome guests. They were forced to sleep on a stone floor on the site of an unfinished building. They were pleased to leave the place the next morning. It was Saturday the 24th October when the men marched into Northampton.

They reached Northampton at the same time as the (BVS) Where Ellen Wilkinson left to arrange things in London. In Bedford there was only 185 of the original men left, some were so weak that they could hardly stand. They were replaced by other men. Taking a days rest the men found shelter. They left the next morning marching 19 miles to Luton it was pouring with rain. The men were cold and wet and hungry but carried on. Ellen Wilkinson had talks with Stanley Baldwin in the House of Commons where Baldwin told her of the recent decrease in the number of unemployed in Jarrow quoting figures. Wilkinson placated by telling the House that the figures given was not a true reflection and that they had been amalgamated with other towns. She urged Mr Baldwin to meet with the Marchers to discus a solution to the unemployment problem in Jarrow; Baldwin declined the offer. As the March neared its conclusion the men contemplated their return home. They didn’t know what to expect. The final day saw them march 8 miles. They marched to the Marble Arch to the accompaniment of the harmonica players through the rain which had been relentless.

The marchers retired to their overnight accommodation in London’s east end.

On Sunday the 1st of November the crusade descended on Hyde Park where a public meeting was held. Joining them was the (BVS) Blind Veteran’s Society who was also campaigning for the unemployed. The media played down the actual figures saying that there were some 3.000 demonstrators. In reality there were 50.000 who had come to give support.

The following day there was another meeting in Farringdon Street in a Methodist Church. Canon Dick Shepherd spoke of plans for a contractor to make steel tubing on the Palmer’s site on the Tyne. This was meant to give the impression that the unemployment crisis was indeed over and that they could all go back to their homes because there was now plenty of work for them. This pleased the government who thought that this wouldn’t need them to take action.

Ellen Wilkinson challenged this and said that these were just pipe dreams and were something in the future not now and that they were no substitute for government intervention. On Wednesday Ellen Wilkinson presented over 11,000 signatures from people in Jarrow to the Prime Minister. They pleaded with her Majesty’s Government to take immediate action to resolve the unemployment crisis in the North East of England.

Runciman said “The unemployment situation at Jarrow while still far from satisfactory has somewhat improved in recent months. “ A Backbencher called the government complacent. On the morning of the 5th of November 1936 the men took a train home. The march was over. It was not seen as a victory for democracy by those in government. In fact it was deemed a failure by all accounts. But it lived long in the minds of the North Eastern people.

It took another three years before a company called Jarvis Initiatives took on over one hundred men and another 500 in metal based industries. Some said that the Jarrow Crusade was not a waste of time but paved the way for social reform.

Don Gapple looked out and wondered what his grandfather would have thought of all of this now.’ He looked down at his watch it was now six thirty the first fishing boats from the Ouseburn in Newcastle made their way past Swan Hunters Shipyard then the men that own the charter boats in Jarrow came down to set sail.

 

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