Jarrow Town Hall (with statue of local shipbuilding entrepreneur Sir Charles Palmer).
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In the eighth century, the monastery of Saint Paul in Jarrow (now Monkwearmouth-Jarrow Abbey) was the home of Bede, possibly born in nearby Monkwearmouth, who is regarded as the greatest Anglo-Saxon scholar and the father of English history. From the middle of the 19th century until 1935, Jarrow was a centre for shipbuilding, and was the starting point of the Jarrow March against unemployment in 1936. Jarrow had a population of 43,431 in 2011.
The Angles re-occupied a 1st-century Roman fort on the site of Jarrow in the 5th century. Its name is recorded around AD 750 as Gyruum, representing Old English [æt] Gyrwum = "[at] the marsh dwellers", from Anglo-Saxon gyr = "mud", "marsh". Later spellings are Jaruum in 1158, and Jarwe in 1228. In the Northumbrian dialect it is known as Jarra.
The Monastery of Paul of Tarsus in Jarrow, part of the twin foundation Monkwearmouth-Jarrow Abbey, was once the home of the Bede, whose most notable works include Ecclesiastical History of the English People and the translation of the Gospel of John into Old English. Along with the abbey at Wearmouth, Jarrow became a center of learning and had the largest library north of the Alps, primarily due to the widespread travels of Benedict Biscop, its founder. In 794 Jarrow became the second target in England of the Vikings, who had plundered Lindisfarne in 793. The monastery was later dissolved by Henry VIII. The ruins of the monastery are now associated with and partly built into the present-day church of St. Paul, which stands on the site. One wall of the church contains the oldest stained glass window in the world, dating from about AD 600. Just beside the monastery is "Jarrow Hall - Anglo-Saxon Farm, Village and Bede Museum", a working museum dedicated to the life and times of Bede. This incorporates Jarrow Hall, a grade II listed building and significant local landmark.
A much under-publicised fact is that the world's oldest complete Bible, written in Latin and to be presented to the then Pope (Gregory II) was produced at this monastery - the Codex Amiatinus - which is currently safeguarded in the Laurentian Library, Florence, Italy.
Originally three copies of the Bible were commissioned by Ceolfrid in 692. This date has been established as the double monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow secured a grant of additional land to raise the 2000 head of cattle needed to produce the vellum for the Bible's pages. Saint Ceolfrid accompanied one copy (originally intended for Gregory I) on its journey to be presented to Gregory II, but he died en route to Rome. The book later appears in the 9th century in the Abbey of the Saviour, Monte Amiata in Tuscany (hence the description "Amiatinus"), where it remained until 1786 when it passed to the Laurentian Library in Florence.
Jarrow remained a small mid-Tyne town until the introduction of heavy industries such as coal mining and shipbuilding. Charles Mark Palmer established a shipyard - Palmer's Shipbuilding and Iron Company - in 1852 and became the first armour-plate manufacturer in the world.John Bowes, the first iron screw collier, revived the Tyne coal trade, and Palmer's was also responsible for the first modern cargo ship, as well as a number of notable warships. Around 1,000 ships were built at the yard, they also produced small fishing boats to catch eel within the River Tyne, a delicacy at the time.
Palmer's employed as much as 80% of the town's working population until its closure in 1933 following purchase by National Shipbuilders Securities Ltd. (NSS). This organisation had been set up by Stanley Baldwin's Conservative government in the 1920s, but the first public statement had been made in 1930 whilst the Labour Party was in office. The aim of NSS was to reduce capacity within the British shipyards. In fact Palmer's yard was relatively efficient and modern, but had serious financial problems. As from 1935, Olympic, the sister ship of RMS Titanic, was partially demolished at Jarrow, being towed in 1937 to Inverkeithing, Scotland for final scrapping.
The Great Depression brought so much hardship to Jarrow that the town was described by Life as "cursed." The closure of the shipyard was responsible for one of the events for which Jarrow is best known. Jarrow is marked in history as the starting point in 1936 of the Jarrow March to London to protest against unemployment in Britain. Jarrow MP Ellen Wilkinson wrote about these events in her book The Town That Was Murdered (1939). Some doubt has been cast by historians as to how effective events such as the Jarrow March actually were but there is some evidence that they stimulated interest in regenerating 'distressed areas'. 1938 saw the establishment of a ship-breaking yard and engineering works in the town, followed by the creation of a steelworks in 1939.
The Jarrow rail disaster was a train collision that occurred on the 17 December 1915 at the Bede junction on a North Eastern Railway line. The collision was caused by a signalman's error and seventeen people died in the collision.
The Second World War revived the town's fortunes as the Royal Navy was in need of ships to be built. After 1945 the shipbuilding industries were nationalised. The last shipyard in the town closed in 1980.
In August 2014 a group of mothers from Darlington organised a march from Jarrow to London to oppose the privatisation of the NHS. The march took place in September 2014 and 3,000-5,000 people participated in the event.
Jarrow's needs for secondary education are currently served by Jarrow School, formerly Springfield Comprehensive. Springfield was merged with another of Jarrow's secondary schools, Hedworthfield Comprehensive at Fellgate, following a gradual reduction of the number of new pupils for the yearly intake of 11-year-olds to the point where keeping both schools open was no longer viable. As of 2008 plans to revamp Jarrow School have come into action. Building work was completed in 2009 turning the school into a modern learning facility with Specialist Engineering Status. The head teacher at the school plans to improve the school's grade point average, by improving the learning facilities, costing millions of pounds.
In 2011, Jarrow had a population of 43,431, compared to 27,526 in 2001. This gives Jarrow a similar population to Wallsend and Whitley Bay. The large increase in population is mainly due to boundary changes.
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The fact that only 2.9% of Jarrow's population is non White British, makes Jarrow the least ethnically diverse major urban subdivision in Tyneside and is less ethnically diverse than its surrounding borough, South Tyneside. Jarrow contains areas such as Fellgate and Hedworth, which border onto Greenbelt in the south of the town, which have very high White British populations. In South Tyneside, 5.0% of the population are non-White British, which is almost double the figure for Jarrow, also the borough has twice the percentage of Asian people compared to this riverside town.
Compared to the rest of the North East of England Jarrow does have an increased rate of unemployment, average unemployment figures in 2013 put the north east at 5.4% as opposed to Jarrow at 6.1%. In September 2016 1,680 people living in Jarrow were in receipt of Job Seekers Allowance or Universal Credit, 370 people aged between 18 and 24 were on receipt of benefits in September 2016 down by 30 from last year, a drop of 7.5%.
Jarrow is served by three stations on the Tyne and Wear Metro: Jarrow station in the centre of the town (on the Yellow line) Bede station in the Bede industrial estate (also on the Yellow line), and Fellgate station (on the Green line) to the south.
The nearest major airport is Newcastle Airport, about 15-18 miles away depending on your road route, or around 45 minutes by Metro.