While Jarrow (Saxon: Gyrwe – ‘marsh’ or ‘fen’) is not normally considered to be a tourist destination The town of Jarrow is steeped in history dating back to AD 750 when it was Gyruum, and name changes at intervals throughout time with Jaruum in 1158 and Jarwe in 1228. Local residents and those in the farther flung areas of the north of England know differently. This is chiefly because of the presence of the Venerable Bede in the 7th Century AD. Another reason it remains in the imagination of Northerners is because of the Jarrow March, but more of these subjects later.
In modern times Jarrow became a centre of coal mining and shipbuilding. In the present day about 28,000 people live here, and it is part of the Metropolitan Borough of South Tyneside. As in many other places Jarrow now is a centre for service industries, with 63% of all employed people working in this sector.
The Venerable Bede
The Venerable Bede was, and is, of great importance to the Christian Church in this country. His home was in the monastery of St Paul, where he wrote ‘The Ecclesiastical History of the English People’, and reputedly translated the Gospel of St John into Old English. These were among many other scholarly works. This religious foundation was thought to be, at the time, the only important European place of learning north of Rome. Unfortunately, over the years, the monastery was plundered by the Vikings, and became a victim of Henry Vlll during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. However, part of the monastery can still be seen, because it is built in to the present church of St Paul. An amazing artefact to see when visiting there is the world’s oldest stained glass window, dating from 600AD. Nearby, is Bede’s World, where life as it was in Bede’s time can be experienced.
The Jarrow Marches
The most famous of these took place in 1936, when the residents of Jarrow decided that they could take no more of the terrible poverty and unemployment. A petition was taken to London requesting that a steel works be built to replace one that had closed. They were accompanied by their remarkable Labour MP, Ellen Wilkinson. While their plight was brought to national attention by the march, nothing much was done by the government. A ship breaking yard was opened in Jarrow, and a steel company in Consett, but industry only began to prosper at the outbreak of World War ll.
The famous novelist, Catherine Cookson, chronicled the way of life in this and the surrounding areas, the experience of poverty and deprivation being drawn from her own observations and experiences.
Jarrow is supported by good transport systems and can easily be accessed from Newcastle by Metro, Bus and Car.
For travel by bus and metro visit the Nexus Website http://www.nexus.org.uk/