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Saturday 18 July 2015

Lowick and District’s Response to the Belgian Refugees 1914 – 1915 - part 12 - (final part)

 This is a continuation of the Lowick and District’s Response to the Belgian Refugees 1914 – 1915 - part 11 and the final part.
Alternatively, see all the previous parts of the Lowick and District’s Response to the Belgian Refugees 1914 – 1915, together.

Thank you. That demonstrates the practical difficulties faced by local officials and the never ending paper work.

References to Belgian refugees almost disappear from the local papers. A chance comment made by the Rev Smith, in his report of ‘Christmas in Lowick’, in the Berwick Advertiser of the 31st December 1915, reveals that they had left the area. It would seem that they went without any fanfare.

A list of parishioners, dated New Year 1919, kept by Father Corcoran of St Edwards Roman Catholic Church, Lowick, stated that all but one Belgian family, the Van Hoofs at Lowlynn cottages, had left the area for Newcastle, London and Poole. In November 1918, Theresa Julia Van Hoof, visited Lowlynn: she was working as a servant in Newcastle and was presumably a relative.  Did the family remain in England?

By 1920, the overwhelming majority of Belgian refugees had returned home, actively encouraged to do so, by both Governments. Few signs remain of their presence, other than an occasional memorial tree planted by grateful refugees. 

Thomas Boal’s knowledge of Flemish no doubt accounted for the accuracy of the details in the newspaper.  We have been able to confirm that both of the South Berrington families returned safely to Mechelen, the Van der Meirens back to 53 Horse Cemetery Street. The Van Puyenbroeck family first went to Glasgow.  Mauritius, aged 7 at the time, told his sons about the cold winters, being snowed in, and having to re-learn Dutch when he returned home. Maybe they sailed soon after. The Steffen and Van Horenbeck families also returned to Mechelen.

Despite the constant water supply problem; the many cottages declared unfit for occupation and the various demands on their purses, local people certainly did their bit. 

Primary Sources
Newspapers - Berwick Advertiser, Berwick Journal, Newcastle Daily Journal, Yorkshire Evening Post.
Northumberland Constabulary Registration of Aliens File (held at Woodhorn)
School Log Books and Registers – Ancroft Log Book and Register; Beal Log Book; Cheswick Log Book and Register; Lowick Log Book and Register (all Berwick Archives)
Parish Registers – St John the Baptist, Lowick - Burial Register (transcript Berwick Archives)
St Edward’s Roman Catholic Church, Lowick – Baptism Register for Haggerston and Lowick; Register of Death (contains lists of communicants and parishioners) (held by Rev David Tanner, Glanton Roman Catholic Church)
Glendale Rural District Council Minutes ( Berwick Archives)
Belgian Refugee families – details confirming safe return of four families provided by Mechelen Archives; photos by descendants of two of the families.

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