Havens East

Havens East uncovers the forgotten stories of Basque child refugees who sought sanctuary in Cambridge and Norfolk during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).

Using rarely seen film footage and original photographs along with the voices of rescuers and refugees, Havens East helps us to better understand how and why East Anglia was a safe haven for many Basque children during the Spanish conflict.

Image credit: SS Habana. Used with kind permission of University of Southampton Special Collections MS404 A4164/7/1.

Welcome to Havens East

The hexagons throughout the site represent the hexagonal labels worn by the Basque refugee children and will guide you through the story of how the East of England became a haven from war.

Here you can find out more about the Spanish Civil War which overturned the children’s lives, their journey to England on a single rescue ship, their stay in Cambridge and Norfolk, and the story of one individual, a boy given the number 162. Who was he?

The Crisis

War – leaving families behind

The Journey

Narrow escape on the SS Habana


Adventures in two Cambridge hostels


The so-called refugee ‘bad boys’ and the amazing Poppy Vulliamy

Who is Number 162?

Revealed – the boy behind the number

Havens East

What can we learn from these stories?