Refugees

Ockenden "Refugee children need your help"

Surrey has a long history of receiving and welcoming refugees, from Huguenots escaping persecution in the 16th century to displaced persons from the two World Wars. Local newspapers held at Surrey History Centre contain a wealth of information about the reception of Belgian refugees in Surrey during the First World War.

In 1938, Surrey villages, including Albury and Holmbury St Mary, housed over 100 displaced men, women and children from the Sudetenland. The Spectator appealed for clothes or money for these Sudeten refugees and, within a week, £120 had been donated by its readers.

In the 1930s and 1940s, a number of schools and homes, including Stoatley Rough in Haslemere and Weir Courtney in Lingfield, were opened to accommodate Jewish children escaping Nazi oppression. More information can be found here: Kindertransport and Stoatley Rough School.

Read how one man commemorated the wartime discovery made about his childhood home in the village of Rowledge.

To learn more about those who were able to escape oppression and make a new life for themselves in this country, read about Surrey as a place of refuge.

Biafran refugee children, Ockenden Venture annual report, 1968 (SHC ref 7155/-)

Biafran refugee children, Ockenden Venture annual report, 1968
(SHC ref 7155/-)

Refugee charity, The Ockenden Venture, was founded in Woking in the 1950s, and is best known for helping children from German DP camps and Vietnamese boat people escaping the Communist régime. Read more about how this small organisation helped hundreds of refugees. See Surrey Heritage’s online HLF project exhibition about Ockenden.

Discover how Polish refugees came to Surrey after the Second World War.

Find out about Belgian refugees who came to Surrey during the First World War

Refugee Week was founded in 1998 and is an annual festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees. Held around World Refugee Day on 20th June, Refugee Week is an open platform, with hundreds of organisations and individuals holding events across the UK every year. Find out more https://refugeeweek.org.uk/

The History and Contributions of Refugees to the UK (pdf PDF), a resource from the Refugee Week archives that contains a useful historical timeline of refugees in British history.

Listen to archivist Jill Hyams’s Refugee Week 2020 talk about the Ockenden Venture, an extraordinary refugee charity, whose extensive archive is held at Surrey History Centre.

Ockenden Venture, an extraordinary refugee charity.Download a pdf (PDF) copy of a transcript for this video.

One thought on “Refugees”

  1. John Court says:

    Missed the Basque refugees who were certainly in Oaks Park, Carshalton/Banstead and Culvers (Island?) Carshalton. The Basque refugees fled Spain after the bombing of Guernica. Some of the refugees lodged in houses around the camps. The used to be quite a bit about them in the Sutton Archives and I believe they did a small exhibition in Honey Lodge, Carshalton. yourlocalguardian.co.uk June 21, 2007
    https://www.yourlocalguardian.co.uk/news/9868670.carshalton-remembers-the-spanish-civil-war/
    https://www.yourlocalguardian.co.uk/news/1492130.charity-we-showed-to-victims-of-spanish-civil-war/
    https://www.yourlocalguardian.co.uk/news/4706644.basque-refugee-stories-told-in-new-carshalton-exhibition/

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