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20th February 2017  

Excitement across East Twickenham !!  

-   First World War Belgian Refugee Memorial Project

wins £8000 grant from Heritage Lottery Fund !!


HLF 1WW Then & Now

The HLF agreed that this forgotten story needs to be made known across the entire community. Part of HLF's grant from its First World War Then and Now programme will go on extra research, but most will fund multi-media publicity.

At the opening event on Saturday 1st April, our community-funded memorial to the Belgian Refugees will be unveiled in front of more than 250 people including local residents from all walks of life and others from across the Borough Richmond upon Thames.

Brouge, Belgium: Kristoffel Boudens

Memorial Finished by Kristoffel Boudens

Finishing the Belgian Refugee Memorial

They will be joined by refugee descendants from UK, Europe and the USA, and by Belgians living in the UK and Europe.The event will involve over 30 children and young people in spoken and musical performances relating to the principal messages from the Belgian refugee history: memory, international friendship, reconciliation and peace.

Brussels: Researcher meets Belgian Refugee descendant

Researcher with Teddie Labeye.2013

Helen Baker with 93 year old Teddie Labeye, son of a Twickenham refugee

The commemoration event itself will begin to “Tell the Story” because an HLF-funded exhibition will be on display. This will then move on to a 3 month residency at Twickenham Museum.

A shortened version of the story will be shown on a permanent interpretation board beside the memorial, which will be partnered by another showing what happened when the famous Belgian munitions factory in East Twickenham became the equally famous Richmond Ice Rink. Text and graphics for the second board will be contributed largely by the Richmond Environmental Information Centre, drawing on information from their own HLF-funded “Best Ice Rink in the World” project. 

REIC will be supported in this by Twickenham Alive.

 Most Famous Ice Rink in World

Book produced by Richmond Environmental information Centre: 2015

Over the following two years ETCG will recruit a team of volunteers to continue its research at Richmond Local Studies and The National Archives in Kew.

Lara Bond, Richmond Local Studies, advises volunteer researchers

Richmond Local Studies.Laran Bond advises Volunteers


The aim will be to re-create a picture of what the functioning “Belgian Village” was like.

The project will bring refugee dscendants from across UK and Belgium    to share their family memories with local residents. Volunteers will collect old photos, newspaper clippings, photographs and family keepsakes.

During the project and at its end, the Belgian refugee story will be taken around and about the Borough with illustrated talks, guided walks and children’s workshops.

St Stephens School, Twickenham: Belgian Refugee Project 2015
faclitated by artists Jane Porter and Sue Perkins; 
planned and commissioned by Richmond Arts Service

St Stephens children.Belgian Refugee Project.2015

Mosaic created for The Frame, Diamond Jubilee Gardens, Twickenham


The aim will be to bed the story so firmly in local consciousness that it can never be forgotten again.

All information gathered will be digitally recorded, and an on-line interactive database will be created where everyone can access and contribute information.

ETCG would like to thank National Lottery players and the Heritage Lottery Fund and for their kind support. Stuart Hobley of HLF London told us:-

"The impact of the First World War was far reaching, touching and shaping every corner of the UK and beyond. The Heritage Lottery Fund has already been able to invest more than £83.5 million into more than 1,650 projects that are marking the global Centenary. We are enabling even more communities like those involved in the “Belgian Refugee project” to explore the continuing legacy of this conflict and help people understand how it has shaped our modern world".

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