East  Twickenham  Centenial Group

Richmond & Twickenham First World War Belgian Refugee Project


East Twickenham Belgian Refugee Project researches the history of the Twickenham-Richmond 1WW Belgian Refugee Community, working to make this known through publications and public commemorations. 
It acts for the East Twickenham Centennial Group in partnership with the Friends of Cambridge & Warren Gardens




The Belgian Refugee Community of Twickenham-Richmond in the First World War

              1914 - 1919


  Belgian Shops.Richmond Bridge Parade


                                                                     This website is currently being updated


  Are you proud of Richmond-upon-Thames and its history ?

  Do you have a Belgian refugee relative you want to remember ?

  Are you researching the subject ? Are you seeking information or would you like to compare notes ?


  Would you like to honour the courage and enterprise of 1WW Belgian refugees who lived in Richmond and across London ? 


  Find information and further contacts on this website

  Support our Belgian Project by joining the East Twickenham Centennial Group  FREE





                                            Richmond upon Thames' forgotten story from the First World War.

Richmond upon Thames has a unique history.  Our area gave a home to 6000 1WW Belgian Refugees:                       so many that they changed the face of our towns and made parts of them entirely Belgian.

 Belgian Workers.Pelabon Factory


"The Belgian Village on the Thames"   -  East Twickenham, Central Richmond and Richmond Hill   -   provided the heart of Belgian settlement which spread out to Central Twickenham, Teddington, Kew and East Sheen. The Hamptons, Mortlake and Barnes had Belgian settlements of their own, loosely connected with Twickenham-Richmond.

 The Belgians came here to work in a vast munitions factory  beside the river in East Twickenham near Richmond Bridge.  Its founder, dynamic Franco-Belgian engineer Charles Pelabon, Pelabon escaped from Antwerp on the very day it fell to the invading German army, and dedicated himself to the war effort. Within only three weeks he was producing shells for the Belgian and Allied armies.

The Pelabon Works started in TEDDINGTON, then three months later moved to its East Twickenham home. (The very large and modern Richmond Bridge Estate development now takes up the whole of Pelabon's factory site.)

  Pelabon Works.RMA.Front Exterior


 Richmond-Twickenham's Belgian history is unique. Refugees went everywhere in the country, but only Richmond-Twickenham developed a community so large, so compact and so vibrant.

When the war ended, the Belgians "melted like snow, leaving so little trace", and by 1945 they were completely forgotten. Their story has come to light by sheer chance.


                  The  Belgian  achievement and the distinctiveness of Richmond upon Thames 

                                                                   need  to  be  remembered  for  ever                                                               




 Our Objectives .....

 To tell everyone about  "The Belgian Village on the Thames"

 To dig out more of the forgotten stories of Belgians in Twickenham-Richmond

 To find out about Belgian refugees in other parts of Richmond Borough

 To seek out descendants and connect them together

 To connect all interested people across the world

 To connect researchers from other parts of the UK, Belgium and beyond 

 To commemorate the Belgian community within Richmond upon Thames

 To ensure that "The Belgian Village on the Thames" is never forgotten again



Click on The Belgian Story tab for more about The Belgian Village on the Thames</p

Contact Information

Small Map

c/o SWLEN (Room 16)
13 Rosslyn Road
East Twickenham