The Scrapbook

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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This annotated scrapbook with press-cuttings and photographs on the colonies for Basque refugee children set up  in Worthing and run by Mr and Mrs Omegna, includes printed ephemera of the Worthing Committee of Spanish Refugee Children (Secretary, Kate Thorneycroft), cuttings from the Worthing Herald, the Worthing Gazette and other titles documenting fundraising activities and related events, with photographs of groups of children. Enclosed in the volume is a card wishing Mr Omegna happy birthday signed by the Spanish girls.

It has been on quite a journey. It was originally donated to the International Brigade Memorial Trust by María Teresa Grijalba, one of the refugee children who was resident at Penstone House. She later emigrated to Venezuela and, when she visited the UK for the unveiling of a blue plaque at Beech House, donated this scrapbook, originally maintained by Mr and Mrs Omegna, to the IBMT. This was, in part, because of the señoritas at the 'colony' was Cayetana Lozano Díaz and that it was there, in the summer of 1937, that she met James R Jump, who then went on to join the International Brigades. The scrapbook is incredibly fragile and until now we have been unable to make it available to the public.

Thanks to a Local Initiatives Fund grant from Islington Council, we have been able to digitise the album in full.