The first project organised by the East Twickenham Centennial Group is about the story of the First World War Belgian Refugees in the area. It is part of the programme of events across the country to mark the centenary of World War 1 and has three parts:
- Helen Baker and Val Coltman are researching the history of the Belgian refugees - how they got here, their lives in the borough, their impact on the borough - and of the Pelabon munitions works. They'll be publishing articles revealing what they find and will produce a local history booklet. Click here to find out more about the history of the refugees.
- the Group want to commission a new public work of art to commemorate the story of the refugees; the plan is for a carved stone memorial to be placed in Warren Gardens, very near the site of the Pelabon works. To find out more about the proposed work of art, and how you can help us get funding for it - no money or time needed on your part! - click here.
- the Group will be producing an original drama performance based on the lives of the refugees and on poems, songs and music written about the Belgians. Look out for more details of this during 2015.
As the project progresses, we will update these pages. Look out also for news stories like these:
- launched in June 2015, a new Belgian beer commemorates the refugees - and helps fund our project!
- readings from King Albert's Book by leading actors from the Richmond Shakespeare Society on Monday 13 April 2015
- talks by Helen Baker to the Twickenham Society on Thurs 12 Feb 2015 and to the Borough of Twickenham Local History Society on Monday 2 March 2015.
- a report of the remembrance service on 11 November 2014 for the fallen Belgian soldiers buried in Twickenham cemetery
- an article by Helen in Richmond History, the Journal of the Richmond Local History Society, 2014, available also online here. The article looks in more detail at when the refugees arrived and where they settled in the borough and the relations between Belgians in Richmond and those in Twickenham
- a talk by Helen at Richmond Museum on 9 October 2014, as part of their WW1 programme
- tell the Council you support our planning application for the memorial - before 26 September 2014
- an article by Helen in The Richmond Magazine July 2014 with more information about the social and cultural life of the refugees
- the piece Helen and Val did in March 2014 for the St Margarets community website, which has some more information about the streets where the Belgians lived.
- Helen's radio and TV interviews in February 2014
- wreath-laying at the Belgian graves in Twickenham cemetery in November 2013.