Newcastle and the General Strike 1926


By Hugh Gault, published 19th November 2014

The nine-day General Strike of May 1926 retains a totemic place in the nation's history nearly 100 years later. The Chancellor of the Exchequer Winston Churchill was among those who attempted to characterise it as anarchy and revolution, but this was hyperbole and largely inaccurate for, as Ellen Wilkinson (then Middlesbrough East and subsequently Jarrow MP) put it, ‘British revolutions are made by British churchwardens'.


The coal industry had been particularly hard hit by Britain's return to the gold standard in 1925 at too high a level. With every ton mined at a loss, the coal owners demanded miners work longer hours for less pay while the miners felt they had no alternative but to strike. After saying that the country could not afford to give in, at virtually the midnight hour on 31 July 1925 the Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin agreed to provide a subsidy so that miners' wages...

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