Commemorative Plaque

The Unveiling of a Commemorative Plaque at the site of the Former Polish Hostel, Fairford, 30th May 2009.

 

On a beautiful summer day about 200 Polish visitors, attended the unveiling of the Polish Hostel commemorative plaque at the Pitham Path Gate on Leafield Road on Saturday 30th May. The plaque was funded by the Polish Ex-Combatants Association of Great Britain and was the brainchild of Mrs Alicja Swiątek Christofides. Alicja and several other people attending the ceremony had been born in the Polish Hostel at Fairford. The plaque was placed at what used to be the main entrance to the Hostel thanks to the generous support of the Ernest Cook Trust, who now owns the land.

 
 
Until Saturday, 30th May, there was nothing at all in the pretty rural landscape just outside Fairford, to indicate that between 1947 and 1959, over 1,250 Polish people were housed here.
 
 

A  plan of the site of the former ‘Polish Hostel’ at Fairford.

 

The commemorative plaque is by the gate to Pitham Path, this view is looking towards the gate and main road.  Barracks once stood where the rape now grows.

 

So it was a particularly significant event on Saturday when over 200 Polish and local people came to commemorate 50 years since the closure of the camp, with the unveiling of a plaque and a reception with an exhibition of photographs, accounts and background history at the beautiful, newly- restored historic building which is now Fairford Community Centre.

 

Maurice Jones, the Town Crier,  introduced speeches by  Joe Cusack, the Mayor of Fairford; Czesław Maryszczak, Chairman of the Polish Ex-Combatants Association of Great Britain and World Federation; Nicholas Ford, Secretary to the Trustees of the Ernest Cook Trust; Father Philip Beisly, parish priest of St Thomas of Canterbury in Horcott; June Lewis Jones, President of the FHS.  Geoff Hawkes

Mayor of Fairford Joe Cusack, Mr Czesław Maryszczak,  Nicholas Ford, Father Philip Beisly and local historian June Lewis Jones

 

Mayor of Fairford Joe Cusack and  Mr Czesław Maryszczak, Chairman of the Ex Combatants Association of Great Britain and also of the World Federation.

Past residents and friends who came to take part in the ceremony

 

Our special guest on May 30th was Mr Czesław Maryszczak, Chairman of the Ex Combatants Association of Great Britain and also of the World Federation. The others who gave speeches at the event near the site of the former chapel were the Mayor of Fairford (Joe Cusack), Father Beisly (the current Catholic priest  at the Church of St Thomas of Canterbury, where most of the couples at the former camp got married), and a representative from the Ernest Cook Trust, which owns the land where the hostel had been and who gave permission for the erection of a plaque. Also, there were two representatives from Fairford History Society, one of whom was the local historian, June Lewis Jones, who will now enlarge the section about the Polish Hostel in the forthcoming new edition of her book, ‘The Cotswolds at War’.

 

Unveiling of the plaque.

After the ceremony

 

The photographic exhibition of life in the camp

 The photographic exhibition of life in the camp created great interest and excitement as people recognised them selves from years gone by.

 

The day was a time of many re-unions. The reception and exhibition provided an opportunity for people to talk, remember and add photographs to the project. Thank you to everyone who attended, some even from the USA and Belgium, and to those who lent photographs and recollections in order to record this important piece of history of the Polish people in the UK. It was also interesting for local English people, some of whom remembered the camp and who contributed their memories to the archives.

 

The day will be remembered not only for the warm sunshine but for  many emotional reunions of people some of whom had not seen each other since the camp closed in 1959.

 

NEW PLAQUE

Sent in by Alicja  Świątek Christofides

 

After fresh discussions with the Ernest Cook Trust, the landowners of the Fairford site where the former Polish Resettlement Camp was situated between 1947 and 1959, a new engraved granite memorial was erected at the end of June 2015 to replace the original. Alicja Świątek Christofides was asked to arranged this by the Ex-Combatants Association in GB (SPK) Trust Fund which she was able to do after having fresh discussions with the landowners, the Ernest Cook Trust.

 

Thanks to permission being granted by the ECT, finance from the Polish Ex-Combatants SPK Trust Fund, as well as the generous offer of free installation work from local master craftsman, Nick Mustoe, the engraved stone plaque has been inserted in to the wall which once surrounded the camp, by Pitham Brook Path near the spot where the chapel once stood. This spot was the focus of the commemoration ceremony in 2009 to mark 50 years since the closure of the camp.

 

Many former residents and their families, not just from the UK but sometimes also from Canada and the USA still come to visit the site, which marked an important stepping stone to a new life after the traumas of WWII.

 

 
  Page 1  Fairford camp
  Page 2  General Anders visits the camp
  Page 3  Article contributed by Alicja Świątek Christofides
  Page 4  Article contributed by Alfred (Fredzio) Ostaszewski
  Page 5  Fairford cemetery.
  Page 6  Current Page
   

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