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The Great Depression had a significant impact on Great Britain, both economically and socially:

  • High Unemployment: Unemployment rose dramatically during the Great Depression, reaching a peak of over 3 million people in 1933. The unemployed included both skilled and unskilled workers, leading to significant social and economic problems.
  • The Decline in Manufacturing: The Great Depression had a severe impact on the manufacturing industry in Britain. Demand for British goods fell sharply, leading to factory closures and job losses.
  • Agricultural Crisis: The agricultural sector was hit hard by the depression, with falling prices and reduced demand for farm products leading to significant financial difficulties for farmers.
  • Economic Policies: The depression led to a shift in economic policy in Britain, with the government implementing measures to protect domestic industries and promote exports.
  • Political Consequences: The depression had political consequences, including the rise of extremist political movements such as fascism and communism.
  • Social Consequences: The depression had a profound social impact, with poverty and deprivation widespread, particularly in industrial areas.

Overall, the Great Depression had a profound and long-lasting impact on Great Britain, leading to significant changes in the economy and society. But, while the Great Depression had severe consequences for the British economy and society, the impact was generally less severe in Great Britain than in other European countries.

This is due in part to the fact that Great Britain was less dependent on exports than other European countries, particularly Germany. Great Britain’s industrial base was also more diversified, with a larger service sector and a less concentrated manufacturing sector, which helped to buffer the impact of the depression.

Additionally, the British government’s response to the depression was relatively swift and effective. The government implemented a range of measures to support the economy, including the introduction of tariffs to protect domestic industries, the devaluation of the pound to make British exports more competitive, and a series of public works programs to create jobs and stimulate demand.

Document / archive

Summary of the Hunger Marchers’ progress across the country for the National Hunger Marchers’ demonstration in Hyde Park, 12th October 1932 (HO 144/18187)

Hunger marches are a form of social protest that arose in the UK during the early 20th century. Often the marches involved groups of men and women walking from areas with high unemployment, to London where they would protest outside parliament.

The term « hunger march » was coined in 1908. In the first two decades of the 20th century, there was relatively little unemployment in the UK, but it could still become a severe problem in various areas after disruptive changes to the local economy. Hunger marches became much more prominent in the 1920s and 1930s during the Great Depression in the United Kingdom.

Many of the UK hunger marches were supported by the British wing of the Communist Party.

The marches were often brutally oppressed.

With unemployment at 2,750,000, the 1932 National Unemployed Workers’ Movement organized « Great National Hunger March against the Means Test ». The 1932 Hunger March, which started in Scotland, gained 100,000 marchers and ended in a riot in Hyde Park, London.


  • Hunger Marches
  • Economic recovery
  • Bankruptcy
  • Exporting economy
  • Gold Standard
  • Tariffs
  • Unemployment