Belgian refugees

  1. Brief history

    The start of the war saw an influx of refugees from Belgium to Britain. In September 1914 the British government offered "victims of war the hospitality of the British nation." The British Government accepted the responsibility for the reception, maintenance and registration of Belgian refugees, while at the same time sought out assistance in housing the refugees with local authorities. The Belgian refugees remained in Britain until after the end of the First World War, when most returned to Belgium.

  2. What's available

    We have the following records relating to Belgian refugees in the city:

    • Minutes of the Belgian Joint Board for Manchester and District, May 1916 to Jul 1917 (ref GB127.Council Minutes/Belgian Joint Board for Manchester and District)
    • Records relating to the First World War accumulated by the Manchester and Salford War Records Committee, 1915 to 1920. This large collection includes papers concerning Belgian Funds Committee (Manchester and District) (ref GB127.M138/Boxes 1-34)
    • Manchester Public Libraries Correspondence File "71335B Belgium Refugees". Correspondence regarding the provision of books from the Foreign Library for the Belgian wounded who were recovering at the Middleton Road Hospital and Belgium Refugees 21 Oct 1914 to 21 Jan 1915 (ref GB127.M740/2/8/2/254)
    • Photograph of Belgians who had been German Prisoners of war recuperating in Southport 1918 (ref GB127.M498/2/5)
    • Some photographs of Belgian refugees are held in the Documentary Photographic Archive.

    Salford City Archives hold minutes of the Belgian Refugees Committee: Irlam 1914-1915 (ref U8/AMI).

    An excellent introductory bibliography about Belgian refugees in Britain has been produced by Brent Museums Service.

  3. How to access

    Resources marked with GB are available in the search room at Central Library, please make an appointment.

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