Category: Basques in the UK (page 2 of 2)

British Peace Museum Hosts Basque Exhibition

The Peace Museum in Bradford, Yorkshire, is the only museum dedicated to the history and stories of peace, peacemakers, and peace movements in the UK. It is currently hosting an exhibition titled “Los Niños Vascos: Basque Children in Yorkshire 1937,” which opened on February 18 and runs until March (see a report on the opening event here).

Huddersfield plaque 2

Plaque commemorating Basque refugee children in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England. From the website of the Basque Children of ’37 Association.

The exhibition has been produced by the Basque Children of ’37 Association UK and tells the story of child refugees from the Spanish Civil War who were evacuated and brought to Britain. The opening event also included a screening of The Guernica Children, a film produced in association with the BC’37A and an informal Q/A session with Carmen Kilner of the Basque Association.

There is a short but moving account of the opening in local newspaper Telegraph &Argus: “Spanish Civil War Refugee is Guest of Honour,” which tells the story of Maria Luisa Incera, who escaped from Franco’s bombing of the Basques in the Spanish Civil War in 1937 and fled to England as a refugee before settling and making a life for herself.

The latest book by the Center’s Xabier Irujo, Gernika, 1937: The Market Day Massacre, details the events that prefaced the need to evacuate children from the Basque Country during the Civil War.


The Humboldt-Basque Connection

Sheep on Humboldt

Sheep graze along the Humboldt River in this historical photo

Northeastern Nevada Museum

Iker Saitua, PhD student at the Center for Basque Studies, recently published another amazing story in the Elko Daily Free Press. A terrific article combining history, family stories, and his own personal experience. The main protagonist of the article are the Humboldt brothers.  Because, did you know that the state of Nevada was almost called Humboldt? Click here to read it!

You may also find the following book interesting: Selected Basque Writings: The Basques and Announcement of a Publication


Basques in Liverpool: The Hispanic Liverpool Project

The Hispanic Liverpool Project is an initiative of Dr. Kirsty Hooper, formerly of the University of Liverpool and now an associate professor and reader in Hispanic Studies at the University of Warwick in England.

While Dr.Hooper herself specializes in the culture and literature of Galicia, the Hispanic Liverpool Project seeks to record the experiences of all communities originating in the Iberian Peninsula and as we can see, Basques were prominent among such networks.


Lime Street, Liverpool, in the 1890s, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Quoting the website, “Through the Hispanic Liverpool Database (coming soon!) and Hispanic Liverpool Forum, the project gathers, records and interprets the stories of the people who inhabited those networks, the trading connections they forged and exploited, the places they lived, worked and are remembered, and the traces we can still find of them today, in Liverpool and elsewhere.”

The importance of Liverpool as the major British port and the fact that it served as a key point of embarkation for transatlantic crossings, especially the Liverpool-New York passage, were key in attracting Basques to the city. While many Basques were just passing through, others stayed. The grandest of these operated shipping and shipbuilding companies, while others started up smaller businesses such as tailors or shoemakers, and interestingly, in a parallel to the New World Basque experience, a  network of Basque boarding houses was established in Liverpool.

Eulalia Abaitua

Eulalia de Abaitua, photographed by Charles Reutlinger.

In the “Stories” section of the website, check out the biography of Eulalia de Abaitua (1853-1943), a pioneering Basque photographer who famously recorded daily life in nineteenth-century Bizkaia. Although born in Bilbao, she was raised in Liverpool, married there, and first studied photography in the city. Abaitua’s work is discussed in Miren Jaio’s A Collection of Prints, published by the Etxepare Basque Institute and available free to download here.

For more on the Basque presence in Liverpool in general, see “Los vascos de Liverpool” by Koldo San Sebastián in the online journal Euskonews. And Helen Forrester’s historical novel, The Liverpool Basque, examines the experience of Basque newcomers to the city.

Today, Basque language, society, and culture classes are offered through the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Liverpool, and the Center’s own Xabier Irujo currently occupies the Manuel Irujo Chair Fellowship at that same university.

Books in the Center’s Diaspora and Migration Studies series address many of the same themes and issues that the Hispanic Liverpool Project is concerned with.

Basque Children of ’37 Association UK

The Basque Children of ’37 Association UK seeks to preserve the memory of the experience of almost 4,000 children who were evacuated to the UK in 1937 from Bilbao.

Basque refugee children aboard Habana 2

Basque refugee children aboard the SS Habana, from, the website of the Basque Children of ’37 Association UK

In the spring of 1937, following the bombing of Durango and Gernika and with Franco’s troops on the brink of entering Bilbao and thereby defeating Basque resistance to the military uprising, the children were evacuated to the UK for their own safety. They were shipped aboard the SS Habana, which sailed from Bilbao on Friday, May 21, dropping anchor the following evening at Fawley, at the entrance to Southampton Water. On the morning of Sunday, May  23, the ship docked at Southampton, and the children were initially accommodated in a large camp at North Stoneham, Eastleigh. Later, they were dispersed to numerous “colonies” throughout the country.

Basque refugee children donation appeal

Funding appeal for Basque refugee children, from, the website of the Basque Children of ’37 Association UK

Some of these Basque refugee children were taken in by the Attenborough family in the city of Leicester. Two of the Attenboroughs’ sons would later go on to achieve international renown: Richard (1923-2014), as a film actor, director, and producer, who won the Best Director Oscar for the movie Gandhi (1982); and David (1926- ), as a broadcaster and naturalist, responsible for creating some of the most highly regarded nature and wildlife documentaries in the history of the genre. Here, in a site devoted to remembering Richard’s life, under the “Oral Histories” section, Albert Hall and Betty Holyland specifically recall the Attenboroughs’ experience with the Basque Children’s Refugee Committee in the late 1930s. The Attenboroughs’ involvement in taking in both Basque and (later, in  World War II) Jewish refugee children is also noted in a short bio of Mary Attenborough.

The Basque Children of ’37 Association also serves as a forum for discussion and to promote dialogue between the children themselves, their descendants, researchers, and any interested persons. It provides a bibliography and a photo gallery on the Basque refugee children and their experiences.

Additionally, there is a touching portrait of life for some of these refugee children in a series of photos here, together with a short accompanying text marking the 75th anniversary of their arrival in Carshalton (at the time in the county of Surrey, now a suburb of London).

The CBS publication  War, Exile, Justice, and Everyday Life, 1936-1946, edited by Sandra Ott, addresses the themes of  war, occupation, and exile during the turbulent period from the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War to the conclusion of World War II. This collection of essays attempts to convey the upheaval from the perspective of ordinary people’s lives, examining the human impact of war and displacement.


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