A campaign has set up to commemorate the efforts of those who stood up to fascism and drove them from the streets of Stockton on September 10, 1933. Date and location are below:
Date: Sunday 9th Sept Location: Stockton Town Centre
On the 10th September 1933, a contingent of around 200 ‘Blackshirts’ from the British Union of Fascists arrived in Stockton-on-Tees. They had been bussed in from Tyneside and as far afield as Manchester to hold a demonstration and canvas for support in the High Street. Small towns with unemployed and disaffected people in the wake of the Great Depression were considered easy pickings for the BUF, who had seen the NSDAP (National-Socialists) in Germany recruit from such areas with great success. However; the BUF faced strong opposition from the trade union and socialist movements, prompting them to organise the Stockton march clandestinely to avoid a counter-demonstration. Nonetheless word of the fascist’s plans reached the local National Unemployed Workers Movement branch, who along with local Labour and Communist party members, lay in wait outside the Town Hall. After the Blackshirts marched across Victoria Bridge and entered the High Street, they were met with a 2000-strong crowd who began to block their path. Despite this setback, Propaganda Officer Captain Collier ordered his men to push through to the Town Hall and attempt to hold the meeting anyway before being drowned out and swamped by the opposition. The local police were taken completely by surprise – unable to control the crowds with their limited numbers, and in lieu of reinforcements were forced to order Collier to cancel the demonstration and leave the town. Managing to rally briefly on Silver Street, a brutal confrontation ensued. With the Blackshirts kettled by the counter-demonstrators and badly outnumbered the only option was to flee across the river to their busses.
The Battle of Stockton Campaign seeks to commemorate this event and raise consciousness of it in the local area. We believe that local people actively organising to reject far-right populism and hatred is worth remembering and celebrating as part of our identity as a town. To this end we seek to hold a commemorative event with bands, speakers and performances and to install a memorial plaque outside the town hall. So far, the Campaign has attracted widespread local support and has raised a substantial amount from a fundraising gig at the Georgian Theatre, along with our own ale from the Three Brothers Brewery.