A memorial to commemorate nearly 4,000 Basque children evacuated to the UK 85 years ago when the Spanish Civil War broke out has been installed in a park.

The children, accompanied by teachers, priests and helpers, docked in Southampton on the Habana in May 1937.

They were sent to a campsite set up at North Stoneham, Eastleigh.

The memorial was unveiled at Town Quay Park by the Spanish Ambassador to the UK, José Pascual Marco, and the mayors of Southampton and Eastleigh.

The polished marble tablet featuring engravings and a sculpture has been installed in the park next to the quayside where the children arrived from Bilbao.

The 3,862 children were transferred from the camp to homes – known as colonies – around the country as places became available.

On 19 September 1937 the last children – about 100 – left the camp and it shut having been their temporary home for nearly four months.

The memorial has been supported by the Association for the Basque Children of the UK 1937 (BCA37UK), Friends of Town Quay Park and Southampton City Council.

The unveiling, which took place at midday on Saturday, was postponed from 19 September due to the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

Spanish Civil War

  • On 17 July 1936 the Spanish military, supported by right-wing nationalists, stage a coup against the elected Republican government, which was backed by most of the left
  • Within a few days they achieve control in some parts of Spain while Republican forces put down the uprising in other areas
  • General Francisco Franco emerges as the main Nationalist leader, while the civil war becomes a proxy war among European powers
  • Hundreds of thousands of people die before Franco’s Nationalists win the war in spring 1939
  • By 1940 about 470 of the refugees who came on the SS Habana remained in the UK, with some fighting for British forces during World War Two