Talk: Our Belgium Guests: The Reception of Belgian Refugees in West London, 1914-1915

Posted on: 14th April 2015

Belgian Red Cross Fund PosterToday Belgium is well known in the UK as the birthplace of the fictional characters Tintin and Poirot, but one hundred years ago it was the country whose invasion by German troops in August 1914 precipitated Britain's involvement in the First World War.

The Germans overran much of the country and many thousands of Belgians fled to the safety of Holland, France and Britain.  Over 200, 000 refugees escaped and arrived in England in the autumn of 1914. Such a large sudden influx of foreigners was a challenge for the government in London but also for the local communities in which they were settled.

Highlights of the talk include:

  • How the government managed the sudden arrival of so many refugees
  • Drawing on the experiences of Hanwell, Ealing and Ruislip amongst other local places, how the refugees were housed and money was raised to support them
  • The life of the refugees, including education for the children, health, welfare and employment  
  • How the host population responded to the refugees, their language, religion and customs

Peter HounsellDr Peter Hounsell- retired senior library manager, local history enthusiast and author of several books including “The Ealing Book” and “London's Rubbish: Two Centuries of Dirt, Dust and Disease in the Metropolis”- gives a thought provoking talk about how our local communities coped and the lessons that we can learn.

This talk organised by Ealing Libraries is the latest in a series of talks commemorating the centenary of the First World War.

Join us on the evening of Thursday 07th May (lecture starts at 6.15pm) at Ealing Central Library (tickets cost £3 members/ £5 non-members) and reflect upon this often overlooked and forgotten part of our history. 

 Further information regarding how the Local History Centre can help you with your local or family tree research, listings of local history books available to buy, latest local history blog postings and planned future talks can be found on their information page.