Getting on with life


The Polish dream of returning to a free Poland could not now be realised, so by accepting their plight and having overcome most of the hardships and the heartache of maybe never seeing their loved ones again, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters left behind in a Poland firmly locked behind the iron curtain, families in the camp now concentrated on building a new life. Most were given more living space according to the size of the family, and people claimed a bit of garden by putting up little fences and gates around their huts. The unsightly Nissen huts were being disguised with climbing roses and flowers of every description and in the summer months everywhere was a blaze of colour. Most people also had an allotment where, besides growing a vast array of vegetables, many grew their own tobacco and in the late summer I remember row upon row of tobacco leaves strung up to dry in the covered walkways. A perfect place to dry out anything. The camp's authorities did eventually stamp out the practice.


The grotto in the summer

Mr. and Mrs. Szczych in their flower garden by their Nissen hut.

Flower and vegetable gardens were lovingly cultivated, not to mention all varieties of fruit trees.

I am sure in those days we could have won a Camp in Bloom Competition.


Mr.Chojnacki in his vegetable garden

Mrs. Jadwiga Balawajder Mother of Edmund  the 'camp photographer' who supplied me with many of the pictures on this site.

Regina Fiedosiuk and Teresa Bojarska outside a Nissen  hut covered with a rambling rose.


Although people came to the camp as total strangers, from all walks of life and from every corner of Poland, Northwick Park Camp transformed itself into a lively, vibrant and varied community. There were families that survived the war, mothers with children that lost their husbands in the war and men who fought in the war and whose families were left behind the iron curtain in Poland with, at that time, little chance of uniting.  In all there were about 900 young, middle aged, and old people living in the camp.


Zosia Hartman in her garden, 1954.

Zosia Kania and Bożena Wolbin in a garden full of flowers outside a Nissen hut.

Emilia Sklepkowicz 1951




The war tore apart thousands of families, leaving in its wake lone men, women and children. In the late forties and early  fifties the red cross helped to unite many displaced families but they were also the bearers of sad news for those who's partners perished, sometimes without trace, like those that were murdered by the Soviets in Katyn.  Life had to go on and so in time new families were forged giving the war torn people a new lease of life and hope


Mr and Mrs Zdanko and their 2 sons Jurek and Gienek in the covered walkway. 1955

Mr. and Mrs. Bojarski with Teresa and Jurek in their  home.

Christmas  with Mr and Mrs.  Bachryj with their children Jurek, Irena,Zosia and Marysia and friends. 1960

The Białosiewicz children in their Nissen hut Edzia, Jasia and Janek.




Enjoying a night out and dancing in the main hall.


Besides the once weekly flick show in the main hall, regular dances were held which were very popular and well attended by both young and old. There was always a Polish band plying waltzes tangos and fast polkas and in  the early 50s  people  from the neighbouring camp of Spring Hill would came to Northwick dances and I suppose vice versa. There was a lot of interaction between the camps  and when in 1958 Spring Hill camp finally closed, many residents came to live in Northwick and the dances continued. In the 60s life was getting better, people worked hard and became more affluent. Poles are known as hard workers and good savers. Some families were now in a position to move, leaving the camp to start new lives in a proper house, and the youth managed to changed their push bikes to a more advanced modes of transport



In somebody's car just inside the park entrance Jurek Bojarski, Rysiek Gembarski, Michael Robb, Rysiek Busz, Zbyszek Bystrzanowski and Unknown

Edek Balawajder posing in front of Northwick House

Janek Bołtryk with his Vespa

Jurek Biegus with his pride and joy.



Northwick Park