Carshalton remembers the Spanish Civil War
It is 75 years since child refugees arrived in Carshalton after fleeing the Spanish Civil War.
In August 1937, 23 young evacuees found refuge in Carshalton after they were forced to flee the Basque town of Bilbao following the nearby bombing of Guernica.
To commemorate the 75th anniversary of their arrival, Sutton Archives has set up an online exhibition of photographs of the children and teachers who spent the war and beyond in Carshalton.
The bombing of Guernica is considered to be one of the first aviation raids on a defenceless civilian population.
In total 4,000 children were evacuated to Britain from the Basque region and arrived together on a ship meant for 800.
The group spread across the UK and in Carshalton, a local Basque Children's Committee was set up to raise funding.
They persuaded the Carshalton Urban District Council to house 23 children in the Oaks Mansion.
Most people were welcoming of the Basque children however one Surrey County Councillor thought they should be put into camps.
The children helped to raise the much needed money to feed and clothe themselves by putting on concerts and displays of traditional dancing.
By the start of WWII most of the evacuees had returned to Spain however around 400 children remained and 10 years after they first arrived, the Carshalton group were the last remaining Basque colony in the country.
Councillor Simon Wales, lead member for resources on Sutton Council, said: "The story of the Basque refugees in Carshalton is a fascinating and little known one.
"As the Spanish Civil War begins to slip out of living memory, it’s important to commemorate the lives of the evacuees and their unique link with the people of Sutton."
To view the gallery and to find out more visit http://tinyurl.com/ce93ufu.
Do you remember the refugees? Tell us your story, call 0208 722 6358 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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