Johnny's Journey


Drag to explore Johnny's Journey

Great Depression

Hunger Marches

Cable Street

Spanish Civil War

Through the 1920s, Britain's economy was already struggling to pay for the effects of World War I. Then, in 1929, the US stock market crashed. World trade slumped, prices fell, credit dried up, and many countries protected their domestic market by taxing foreign imports. The value of British exports halved, plunging its industrial areas into poverty: by the end of 1930, unemployment more than doubled to 20 per cent.

Public spending was cut and taxes raised, but this depressed the economy and cost even more jobs. Finally in 1931 the pound was devalued by 25 per cent, helping exporters by making their goods cheaper abroad, and helping to start the recovery.

Through the 1930s, poverty and unemployment blighted large areas of Wales and northern England. Around London, however, some parts of the economy thrived: the suburbs enjoyed a building boom, helped by cheap interest rates.


Hunger marches to London took place in 1922, 1927, 1930, 1932, 1934 and 1936 . They were organised by the National Unemployed Workers Movement in response to the Great Depression which saw unemployment rise past 2.75 million in 1932. The largest march took place in 1932. Fearing widespread unrest the Metropolitan Police mobilised a force of 70,000 to meet the 100,000 who converged on Hyde Park. Violent clashes followed. Johnny Longstaff took part in the 1934 National Hunger March.


The Battle of Cable Street took place in the East End of London, on Sunday 4 October 1936. It was a clash between the Metropolitan Police, sent to protect a march by members of the British Union of Fascists led by Oswald Mosley, and various anti-fascist demonstrators, including local anarchist, communist, Jewish and socialist groups. Some estimates suggest up to 100,000 people were involved.


The Spanish Civil War took place from 1936 to 1939. The Republicans, who were loyal to the left-leaning and relatively urban Second Spanish Republic, in an alliance of convenience with the Anarchists and Communists, fought against the Nationalists, a Falangist, Carlist, Catholic, and largely aristocratic group led by General Francisco Franco. The war has often been portrayed as a struggle between democracy and fascism, particularly due to the political climate and timing surrounding it. In early 1939, the Nationalists achieved victory, and ruled over all of Spain until Franco's death in November 1975.