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Watch this: 85 years on from the Battle of Bexley Square – why should we care?


SalfordOnline.com this week will be looking back to the events that led up to the Battle of Bexley Square in October 1931.

The five-part documentary shown below details the political and social background that led up to this momentous event in working-class history.

We look back to SalfordOnline.com’s 2011 documentary, in which News Editor Tom Rodgers, Local History Editor Tony Flynn and Steven North of Salford UNISON campaign for the historical red plaque now sited at Bexley Square.

We also look at the long-term ramifications of this most shameful day in Salford’s history.

On 1 October 1931, 10,000 unemployed men and women marched from Hyndman Hall on Liverpool Street, through the main city thoroughfares to the Salford Town Hall at Bexley Square, off Chapel Street in Salford.

As campaigners tried to hand in a petition protesting against means-tested benefits and unemployment they were met with awful violence from the very men charged with protecting their liberty.

Under the guidance of Major Godfrey from the Salford Constabulary, mounted policemen charged the peaceful protestors and plain-clothed officers wielding batons joined in the fracas.

Those present on the march included Walter Armstrong, Edmund (Eddie) Frow – who would go on to found Salford’s wonderful Working Class Movement Library – Jimmy Miller, better known as Ewan McColl, and Walter Greenwood, who would later immortalise these events in his classic novel, Love on the Dole.

We speak to Steve North about what has changed for working class people in Salford since the Battle of Bexley Square, the state of the benefits system in 2016 and how it relates to the poor and disabled, and what successive authorities have learned, or failed to learn.

In Bexley Square itself, the campaigning MP for Salford and Eccles, Rebecca Long-Bailey, tells us of her first interaction with the history of the Battle and her horror at how such poverty and oppression still exists in Salford to this day.

Part 1: The political and social history that led to the powderkeg of the Battle of Bexley Square

Part 2: Tony Flynn back in 2011 telling the story of the Battle and why it was so important

Part 3: Shame falls on Salford as the police collude to deny what happened at the Battle of Bexley Square

Part 4: UNISON’s Steve North on what councils have learned since the Battle of Bexley Square and the benefits system in 2016

Part 5: Rebecca Long-Bailey MP and the modern day battles we face in Salford

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Tony Flynn

SalfordOnline.com's Local History Editor and Senior Reporter.