Films

Sheffield Peace March



Archive: Yorkshire Film Archive
ID No.: 3143
Title: Sheffield Peace March
Date: 1936
Film-maker: Mr Pickersgill
Colour: Black & White
Sound: Silent
Duration of complete item: 10min.
Themes: Pre-war Build-up; Parades & Campaigning

Summary:

A film made for the Sheffield and District Workers Film Society that shows anti-war protest marches through the streets of Sheffield in 1936.

Description:

The opening intertitles read 'Peace Week, 1936' and 'March for Peace – Men, Women and Young People hold Mass Meetings Against War'.

People gather outside Sheffield Town Hall to prepare for the march. They carry protest placards with titles such as 'Construction not Destruction'. The marchers are filmed from the top of a tram as they process through the streets. There are members of the Labour Party, the Communist Party and Trade Union workers on the march, who carry protest placards with signs such as 'Sheffield Workers Unite for Peace' and 'Re-armament Means Profit to Big Business'. The marchers finally gather at the bandstand in Endcliffe Park outside Sheffield to listen to speakers including Sheffield local Councillors Mrs. Cummings and Mrs. Birch.

The film shows newspapers headlines including 'French Bid - Britain Pledge to Maintain Sanctions' and 'Four Point Police Plan'. A further headline stating 'Paris Fears' is intercut with shots of a large cannon and then protestors gathered in the park.

Another shot of the cannon precedes scenes of children playing on swings before another intertitle reads 'German Anger with France'. A succession of shots then show the cannon, flames, leafless trees and a skull in the dirt. The film concludes showing street scenes in Sheffield, and intertitles 'The Voice of the People, No More War.'

Context:

From the mid 1930s political developments in Europe were threatening to build into full-scale war. In response, the British Government began to shift towards re-armament of the country, though many people in Britain opposed this development.

The Women's Union in Sheffield along with members of the Labour party and trade unions at this time campaigned for peace and supported the view that Britain should not seek to increase its military capability.

Further to this, Mr Reeve, the President of the Hallam Labour Party Division in Sheffield, had a letter published in the local newspaper, the Sheffield Independent. The letter referred to the Government White Paper that requested that Britain re-arm. 'It means signing a blank cheque for upwards of £3000,000,000…This policy will chiefly benefit the armament manufacturers…Labour will be diluted and health, education and social services must suffer…With this purpose we appeal for support of the Peace Week in Sheffield (26 April to 2 May)'.

The Sheffield Peace March film concentrates on the Women’s, Youth and May Day demonstrations held that week, where people came to support and hear different speakers talk about why women were protesting. Among them Councillor Mrs Cummings. The Sheffield Independent Newspaper reported an excerpt from her speech that encapsulated the Women’s Peace Movement aims. 'This is one of the most important days since women suffered and died to get the vote…We demanded our rights as citizens then. Today we demand the rights of our children. We are out to protest against the war.'

Sheffield Peace March (1936)

Sheffield Peace March (1936)

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