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The Children arrive at Sketty Park House

A report from the Herald of Wales, 3 July 1937:


 

Sketty Park House
Basque Refugees in Swansea: Rushed Preparations at Sketty Park. 

 

80 Youngsters Approve of Their New Home: "O.K. Mister."

Except for one found studying in bed an elementary English-Spanish phrase book, the whole of Swansea's Basque children were safely asleep in their new quarters at Sketty Park by about 9.45.

Since they had arrived quite unexpectedly rather more than 24 hours before the tentative  time - the borough estate agent himself, Mr and Mrs Saunders, and arranged buses were able to reach High Street station only just in time - this result was one upon which a great many voluntary helpers were entitled to congratulations, especially as the arrival of the food supplies and the completion of the electric light installation had been planned for today.

Sketty Park House 2
Several members of the Spanish community in the area, also co-operated with fine spirit to achieve it, including one from as far afield as Merthyr, whose Welsh was so good that there was some excuse for thinking she was purely Welsh.

The Children's response to their welcome was also such that some of the helpers not only thought their strenuous improvisations amply rewarded, but found that they were very near to tears.

There are 80 children, between the ages of five and fifteen. Only about ten of them were over twelve. It may not be possible to complete the registration of them today, but they are believed to be all from Bilbao and its neighbourhood.

"Poleece."

A high impression was formed of them by those who catered for them last night. Some are very educated, and a few once, to judge by the clothes remaining to them - those in which they stood - in quite good circumstances.

Their breakfast was at eight a.m.; they had little food during the day, and yet their discipline as the longed-for and eagerly watched food was being prepared, was very good. One who particularly endeared himself was a sturdy youngster who has lost father and mother, and who constituted himself a policeman in the kitchen preparations. "Poleece", he said he was, and his orders, when they were playfully directed at the hosts were: "Mister, Vamoose!"

Another child who touched the hearts of Swansea helpers who saw to their dormitory needs - the beds were ready, but had not been made up - tested the mattress approvingly, after camp life, which is not good for them, by bouncing upon it, and announcing: "OK, Mister!"

A few of them felt cold in our climate and needed an extra blanket.

With the 80 children there were two teachers and two helpers, an Abercrave Spanish woman, who has been at Abercrave for about 30 years, has been at the camp near Southampton as a voluntary worker and returns there today. She was, of course, like the representatives of the local Spanish community, of great help last evening. The young Swansea Spanish woman appointed as liaison to live with the visitors, Miss Aleman, of Port Tennant Road, took up residence at once, and her family put up overnight several of her nationals who came from afar afield to assist.

While members of the Estates Department staff and of the Education Staff, directed by Mr H.S. Cann, tackled, with other volunteers, the considerable task of the improvised Welsh meal - great quantities of café-au-lait were the first need - the arrival of the Spanish cook, who is to provide native food, was expected.


Read how the children's stay was funded ...

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Last modified on 28 February 2022