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Reference 634, 1286/10, 359/811 and T95/56

Tyne and Wear has a long history as a host community for refugees and asylum seekers. While our records do not reveal the personal journeys and experiences of individuals from refugee and asylum backgrounds, they do mark the arrival of communities seeking safety in this part of the country.

Joseph Cowen (1831-1900) was a politician, journalist and founder of Newcastle's Evening Chronicle and Tyne and Wear Archives cares for his personal papers. The Cowen collection includes several correspondence and information files relating to European refugees including a broadsheet for the arrival of Polish refugees in Newcastle, 1851 and a letter from Cowen to Newcastles Evening Chronicle, appealing for the support of Polish refugees, 14 February 1852.

A notice by Joseph Cowen to support Polish Hungarian Refugees, 1851

Within the one of the photographic albums that belonged to Lord Mayor John Grantham, is an image of the arrival of Basque refugee children to the region in July 1937.

Basque refugee children arriving in the North East in 1937

 Basque refugee children arriving in the North East, 1937

The Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936 and lasted for three years. Some of the refugee children staying in Tyneside, did not return home for some time after.

Archives from the Ministry of Health collection reveals another unique story. On 19th October 1946, 17 Latvian refugees were stranded on the coastal town of Seahouses in Northumberland. They were taken to Elswick Grange, an institution providing poor relief in Newcastles West End.  Immigration Officers deemed their visit unofficial but support came through the Baltic Evangelical Mission for Displaced People.


Read this ...

Don Watson and John Cocoran, An inspiring example, the North East and the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939 (McGuffin, 1996)

Available from Newcastle City Library