Child refugees get to tell their story

Basque child refugees

One of the photographs from the Los Niños archive at Southampton University.

A University of Southampton project to preserve the memories of children who arrived in Southampton over seventy years ago fleeing the Spanish Civil War has been awarded a £47,000 grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). This follows special events in 2007 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the arrival of nearly 4,000 Basque children, fleeing attacks by Franco's fascist forces.

Recordings will be made by thirty of the Spanish refugees and added to the archive for Los Niños ('The Little Ones') at Southampton University. The project will create a travelling exhibition, which will tour museum and library venues around Hampshire, following an initial exhibition on the University campus. Working with the Basque Children of ’37 Association and Hampshire Archives and Local Studies, the information collected by the project twill be used to produce an education pack for use in local schools and to create an on-line exhibition on the University’s website.

3,840 Basque children arrived in Southampton on 23 May 1937 and were accompanied by 80 teachers, 120 helpers, 15 Catholic priests and two doctors on their voyage to Britain. They were sent to a makeshift camp set up at North Stoneham, near Eastleigh, before being resettled elsewhere, including special homes throughout Britain set up by local volunteers. Most were repatriated to Spain at the end of the civil war in 1939 and an estimated 250 remained in Britain at the end of the Second World War. The Basque Children of ’37 Association UK says 'As time goes by and more and more of the children enter their eighties, it is difficult to stress how important and urgent it is to record their memories and preserve them for future generations. The project builds on the increased interest in this event following the 70th anniversary commemorations in Southampton and Eastleigh.

Contact: Sue Wilson, Communications, University of Southampton,
tel: 023 8059 5457, email:

13 February 2009

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