Polish History in North East England

Here's a list of good online resources / facts for those interested in Polish history in our region. 

  • http://www.polishresettlementcampsintheuk.co.uk/morpeth.htm Krystyna Wójcicka's notes on The Common Camp (home to exiled Polish families following World War II) in Morpeth, Northumberland. 
  • My article about the Common Camp exhibition in Morpeth can be accessed here: http://www.2b.nepco.org.uk/assets/issues/47_kolor.pdf 
  • There are a number of Polish war graves in St Mary's churchyard Morpeth; details of the church's location and history can be found here: http://www.parishofmorpeth.org.uk/stmary.htm Details about the inscriptions on these Polish war graves can be found here: Inscriptions of Morpeth St Mary's Polish war graves  
  • Durham Town Hall contains a display case containing items of clothing and a violin thought to have belonged to the Polish born Count, Joseph Borruwlaski. Read more at the link provided.http://www.englandsnortheast.co.uk/DurhamCityMarketPlace.html 
  • Lech Walęsa, the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1983, famous trade union leader and former Polish president (1990-1995) paid a visit to the North East in May 2008. He addressed the North East Chamber of Commerce at Durham University while on an organised visit to the region lead by One North East, Durham University and the TUC. See a humorous article here from local coffee bar 'Kaffeccino' supposedly awarding Walęsa with a golden ticket: Lech Walesa Kaffeccinos Article
  • I recently heard that the Charlotte Square Synagogue in Newcastle city centre used to be known as 'The Polish Synagogue'. (I'll try to find out more). 
  • According to some online research I've been doing, a boat called the 'ORP Piłsudski', commandeered by the Polish Navy in World War II, was stationed in the North East of England for some time. 
  • On March 27th 1940, the Lord Mayor of Newcastle received a letter from the Polish Ambassador in London thanking the city for its kindness to Poles in World War II.
  • In the 1960s the famous geordie councillor T Dan Smith employed a Polish man called Konstantine Konrad (known as 'Kon') who lived in Fenham, Newcastle, as his personal driver and messenger.
  • The department Marks and Spencer began life as a Penny Bazaar in Leeds. Many North East locals believe that it started in Newcastle as Newcastle is the proud home to the only surviving M&S Penny Bazaar today. The link is, Marks and Spencer was started by the Polish-born merchant, Michael Marks, in partnership with Thomas Spencer (his employer who loaned Marks £5 in 1884 to start the firm). Michael Marks arrived in Leeds penniless and unable to speak English - an example of true Polish entreprenuerialism, and one that, in the presence of the Marks and Spencer Penny Bazaar, Newcastle reminds us of today.