CHILD REFUGEES FROM BILBAO AND BASQUE CAMP AT NORTH STONEHAM NEAR SOUTHAMPTON.
About Thursday or Friday, 6th and 7th May, 1937, we received a report that about 2,000 refugees from Bilbao were coming to the town.
On Sunday evening, 9th May, we had the formal Opening, by the Spanish Consul in Southampton and a Conference of the Spanish Exhibition (from London) which continued from 10th to 15th, inclusive. The discussion at the Conference centred round the possibility of the children coming to Southampton, and I was requested to telephone the National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief, in London, the following morning (Monday, 10th ) and get information, so that any assistance possible could be rendered.
I telephoned the Joint Committee and also wrote to Mr. Sams the organiser on the 10th. The Committee were still negotiating with Government Departments and could not say anything definite, but asked us to provisionally sound local organisations who could help with a camp etc.
We telephoned again on the Tuesday and early Tuesday evening, I received a message from Sams asking me to meet him the following day, Wednesday (Coronation Day) in Southampton about 12 noon.
On the Tuesday, we got into touch with the Secretary of the J.O.C. Boys Brigades, and made enquiries regarding sites for a camp and the possibility of getting large houses. We were able to get an offer from a Mr. H.C. Cole of Southampton of a large house at Moorhill, West End containting 12 bedrooms and many large rooms on the ground floor.
On Coronation Day, with Messrs. Brinton and Sams, Mr. Cole, Mr. J.M. Pavey, Asst. Secty. Development Committee, Southampton Co-operative Soc. Ltd., I spent the afternoon and evening inspecting various possible sites for a camp.
The understanding then was that the 2,000 children might arrive on Monday, 17th May.
It was decided to hold a "practical" small gathering on Thursday evening, 13th May. I interviewed the Mayor, who whilst willing to help, could not see his way to take the chair at such a gathering, but gave the free use of a room in his suite for the Conference.
On Thursday afternoon, I introduced the National Joint Committee representatives to Mr. G.H. Brown (Farmer) and it was decided that the camp should be at North Stoneham, with the large house at Moorhill as the "Infirmary" for the Camp.
I sent out invitations from the Joint Council for the "practical" Conference, and this was attended by representatives of Boys Brigade, Boy Scouts, Round Tablers, Rotary Club, Trades Council, Labour Party, Co-operative Society. The main business was the setting up of the Camp at North Stoneham.
On the following evening an all-in Conference of Political, Religious, and Social organisations was held and one of the Conference rooms at the Civic Centre was packed to overflowing.
Notice for this was sent out by us, but in the name of the National Council Committee, and signed by Mr. Henry Brinton.
We assisted the Committee representatives with many local enquiries regarding assistance, supplies etc.
In order to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, some names within this file have been redacted. While we have made every effort to comply with the Act, there may be other named individuals within this file who are still living. We will remove any names immediately we are made aware that this is the case or if any offence is caused to living relatives.
Copyright: Trades Union Congress and Labour Party. Reproduced with permission.