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The March of the Unemployed
Generous Hospitality at Rushden
Rushden Echo, 17th November 1922, transcribed by Kay Collins

The March of the Unemployed - Generous Hospitality at Rushden – New Boots for the Men
An unemployed doctor, a schoolmaster out-of-work, and other well-educated men are said to have been amongst the 300 unemployed marchers who came into Rushden on Friday evening. About 75 per cent were ex-Servicemen. If they are as well looked after along the line of route to London as they were in Rushden they will have cause to remember a sympathetic public.

Organised in a proper manner, the party have both advance guard, who keep on ahead, making arrangements through the police with the local governing authorities for the reception and sleeping of the men, and a rear guard, who do the various “fatigue” jobs incidental to such a march. The advance party found a responsive public at Rushden. Inspector Hankins quickly placed the facts before Mr T Swindall, J.P., who summoned an emergency meeting of the Council and other bodies, with the result that when the unemployed column of marchers arrived they quickly forgot their discomforts of marching in the cold drizzle by the ample meat tea efficiently served in the Alfred-street Schools by the Rushden Co-operative Society at net cost. At several sittings all the men were soon regaled to the full. They were enthusiastic in their praise of the people of Rushden for the generosity shown. Not only were the men well fed (supper and breakfast being provided), but the Rushden Boot Manufacturers’ Association kindly assumed responsibility for good boots for the men, repairs and new boots being undertaken and given. The men all wore distinguishing marks of red ribbon.

One or two unavoidable “casualties” occurred. As the men were marching down Higham-road a horse bolted and one of the men was unable to get clear, his hand getting injured. Some were suffering slightly from the exposure, and one or two cripples needed special attention.

Divided into two parties, half the company adjourned to the North End Schools and the remainder stayed at the Alfred-street Schools, where concerts were given. Mr T Swindall, addressing the men at the Alfred-street Schools, said that although Rushden people were sorry to see so many men suffering unemployment, he hoped the demonstrators would have pleasant memories of Rushden. (Applause) On behalf of the town, Mr Swindall wished them success in their venture.

A concert, arranged by Mr G W Coles, J.P., was given, Mr John Spencer, J.P., presiding. Items were given by the Rushden Temperance Band (conducted by Mr Fred Robinson), the Adult School Choir (Mr F Ingram conducting), Mrs Norman, Miss M Sail, Mr Walter Smith, and Mr Bert Hodgkins. A concert was also given at the North End Schools.

To the call of the bugle in the morning, the men arose, and were given a substantial breakfast. Dr Muriset held an examination, and after the departure of the men behind their band (at 10.30a.m.) the Sanitary Inspector (Mr F S F Piper) had the schools disinfected in the interests of the health of the schoolchildren.

Rushden Echo, 8th December 1922, transcribed by Kay Collins

Unemployed Men at Rushden - From the North to London – Local Hospitality
Unemployed marchers, numbering 21, came into Rushden on Monday on their way from the North to London. The “advance guard” reported at the offices of the Rushden branch of the Boot Operatives’ Union, and, by the kindness of the Salvation Army authorities, the men were “housed” in the Salvation Army Hall for the night. From funds the men had collected, they had tea at the Waverley Hotel.

The Salvation Army members gave the guests an entertainment and a hot meat supper. The Rushden Co-operative Society gave the men breakfast and a grant, and the marchers also received £3 3s. from the local branch of the Boot Operatives’ Union. After breakfast the men walked up to the offices of the Boot Operatives’ Union to thank the officials for their help. The men then sang “The Red Flag” before marching off. It is said that the whole of them are ex-Servicemen and that at least two are life-long abstainers, several having held good positions before they joined the Forces. One man had lost the sight of an eye, an he had received 22 wounds in one of his legs.

Asked by a Rushden resident if they did not think their journey to London was foredoomed to failure, one of the men said that might be so as regards any benefits which they themselves would immediately derive, but their object was to draw the attention of the younger generation to the hardship suffered through unemployment, the result of war. He and his colleagues hoped thus that the children of to-day would avoid the causes which would make them the

Broken Men and Women

of to-morrow.

During the course of the entertainment to the men in the Salvation Army Hall, Adjt. Fitzjohn said that unemployment would not entirely cease until Christian unity amongst the Churches was attained to a greater degree than at present, and until the spirit of Christianity was introduced into the industrial world.

The following was the programme arranged by Sergt.-Major and Mrs Dix and given at the hall, Mrs Dix presiding: March, the band; selection, Y.P. Songsters; recitation, Bandsman Rowthorn; vocal duet, Sister E Giles and the Sergt.-Major; instrumental duet; selection, the band; vocal solo, Bandsman Oliver; selection, the Y.P. Band; selection, “Bless the Lord, O my soul,” the Songsters; instrumental quartette, Band-master Giles and party.

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