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Battle of Stockton
Date10 September 1933
LocationMarket Cross, Stockton-on-Tees, United Kingdom
Result Anti-fascist victory; BUF rally in Stockton-on-Tees called off.
Belligerents
British Union of Fascists (Blackshirts)

Anti-fascists

  • Communist Party
  • Labour Party
Commanders and leaders
Captain Vincent Collier Unknown
Strength
200-300 2,000
Casualties and losses
~ 20 injured unknown

The Battle of Stockton-on-Tees, often referred to as the Battle of Stockton, took place on 10 September 1933 at Market Cross in the High Street of Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham, England. It was clash between members of the British Union of Fascists and anti-fascist demonstrators, including local communists and supporters of the Labour Party. The march was an early attempt by the BUF to rally support in depressed areas, but the anti-fascists protested and drove out the BUF supporters who had been shipped in from other areas.

Background[edit | edit source]

Stockton had been hit hard by the economic recession following the Great Depression. The BUF had made previous attempts to hold meetings in Stockton, but they were frequently heckled or attacked by anti-fascists. It was therefore decided by the BUF to make a show of strength. One reason given as to why Stockton was chosen for the rally was to base the growth of the movement on that of the Nazi Party, which rose from a grassroots movement in small towns that suffered economic hardship. Stockton was a small town, and at the time opposition was weak as there was only one Labour Party MP in Teesside at the time.[1]

The plan for the rally, however, had been leaked to local trade unions. Members of the Communist Party of Great Britain thus decided to set up a "reception committee" ready for the arrival.[2]

Events[edit | edit source]

The BUF arrived via a convoy of coaches during the afternoon of 10 September 1933, bringing in 200-300 members from Tyneside, Manchester and Lancashire. They parked on the southern side of the River Tees in Thornaby-on-Tees, then part of North Yorkshire. They then went to Stockton High Street, to the Market Cross area and attempted to hold a rally led by Captain Vincent Collier. However, they were attacked by up to 2,000 anti-fascist protesters who had hidden themselves in the side streets around the High Street, who then began heckling and spitting at Collier. Although there was little police presence at the start, the police later ordered the BUF to leave the High Street, so they went to Silver Street to protect themselves, but this ended up trapping them. Both sides then armed themselves with staves, sticks and pickaxe handles. The anti-fascists also used various missiles including stones, half-bricks and potatoes with razor blades inserted into them.[1][2]

More police officers arrived to separate the two groups and to escort the BUF back to their coaches, although some BUF stragglers had to out-run the anti-fascists. Reports claim that up to 20 members of the BUF were injured. Amongst them was Edmund Warburton, brother of John Warburton,[3] of Bury, who was hospitalised and later blinded in one eye due to a missile attack, most widely believed to have been caused by one of the razor-bladed potatoes. No arrests were made by the police on the day.[2][4][5][6]

See also[edit | edit source]

  • Battle of Cable Street - a later and larger battle between the London Metropolitan Police and anti-fascists in London in 1936.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "18/10/2011". http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b015zpdj. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "The Battle of Stockton - 1933". Stockton Borough Council. http://heritage.stockton.gov.uk/stories/battle-stockton-1933/. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  3. "John Warburton Fleet Street photographer who acted as a bouncer for the British Union of Fascists", The Daily Telegraph, 2 September 2004, p. 29.
  4. "John Warburton". Daily Telegraph. 2 September 2004. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/1470744/John-Warburton.html. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  5. Lloyd, Chris (17 October 2011). "The Battle of Stockton, 1933". Northern Echo. http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/features/blogs/staff/echomemories/9309751.The_Battle_of_Stockton__1933/. Retrieved 4 May 2015. [dead link]
  6. Lloyd, Chris (15 October 2011). "The Battle of Stockton, September 10, 1933". http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/features/blogs/staff/echomemories/9305571.Fascists_clash_with_hecklers_at_Stockton/. Retrieved 4 May 2015. [dead link]

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