Comments from people involved with the Elisabethville project.

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BL055 on 11/5/2011 said:
I have just heard about this new site......having been involved a little with the Birtley Library project in 2009 I have carried on researching the "Birtley Belgians" and now have many links with descendants of Elisabethville refugees living in the UK and Belgium.

Keep looking for my updates as I am going to come back again, and again with the latest news on new researches, and the stories from the Belgians which haven't been recorded elsewhere.

Here's one. Jeanine in Mortsel, near Antwerp was born in 1922 to a couple married at Chester-le-Street in March, 1917. Her family have never forgotten Elisabethville and she tells many stories about their life in England.

Her mother worked in the butcher's shop in the colony and appears in photographs which are in the local libraries, etc. Her son Roland Bergeys, is a writer and musician and we plan to have a drama about Elisabethville ready for performance in spring 2012.

Bill Lawrence
11 May 2011

Anonymous on 11/5/2011 said:
I too was involved with the Project, as an 'expert' - meaning the person in the North-East at the time who knew most about the subject, having published a book on the subject ('Arms and the Heroes')in 2006. I am very glad Beamish has taken this subject up, as it is a part of our local history that should not be forgotten. Perhaps those 'Birtley Belgians' did live in their own village and were not allowed as much contact with the Birtleyites as they may have wished, but they certainly endeared themselves to the locals and built up many lasting friendships. The one thing i would love to see above all things is Beamish Museum taking over the only two remaining buildings from that saga – the Foodstore and the Butchers, which the present landowners would love to demolish in order to erect (profitable) housing on the site – and re-erecting them on their own site as a permanent museum to those great folk. And let us never forget that 85% of the workers in the factory had been badly wounded fighting at the Front against Germany and could not return there ... but were able and willing at least to make themselves useful making shells for the forces fighting to liberate their country from the oppressor.