The journey and life in Britain

In 1937 4,000 children fled the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and arrived on British shores. This was the largest single influx of child refugees in British history. Marking Refugee Week 2019, we have created an online exhibition showcasing items from our Spanish Collection documenting the children's journey, their experiences and the support they received from the British people, with a unique scrapbook on the 'colony' in Worthing as its centre piece.

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The children travelled to Southampton on the Habana - a ship built for just 800 - on 21 May 1937 and arrived at their destination two days later.

In Southampton they were accommodated in an enormous nearby camp with the help of local volunteers and organisations including trade unions and the Salvation Army.

Soon the organising committee ensured that the children were dispersed throughout the country in around 80 camps or 'colonies'. Their experiences were diverse.

This flyer includes an account from one of the nurses who helped ensure the safe arrival of the children. And here is an example of a newsletter created by the children themselves.