About this project
The Centre of Archaeology was part of an important new project exploring a unique historical Second World War location with a dramatic link to the Holocaust. Cumbrian based charity Another Space, which produces and manages the Lake District Holocaust Project, received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The project involved an archaeological survey and dig at the site of Calgarth Estate, home to three hundred Jewish child Holocaust Survivors on their arrival in the Lake District in 1945.
The survey and dig was carried out at the Lakes School in the summer of 2019. The school stands on the former site of the wartime workers housing scheme of Calgarth Estate. The estate was originally built in 1942 to house workers at the nearby Short Sunderland “Flying Boat” factory at White Cross Bay, and was gradually demolished over time until it finally disappeared in the mid 1960’s.
The archaeological work was led by the Centre of Archaeology’s Professor Caroline Sturdy Colls and Associate Professor Kevin Colls, and included cutting edge technological survey methods to identify what remains of the estate below ground. This was followed by excavations that focused on uncovering the remains of hostels. Each of the six hostels on Calgarth Estate housed fifty people in small, individual rooms, and each room had a bed, chest of drawers and bedroom furniture. For the child Holocaust Survivors, who had spent years in terrible conditions, these hostels were utterly luxurious.
Calgarth Estate stood from 1942 to around 1964. It was home to two hundred families and three hundred single workers. It had a school, shops, entertainment hall, and laundry. The single storey houses were nicknamed “Shorts Palaces” by the residents and had indoor bathing and central heating facilities, still rare for working class people in the Lake District in the 1940s. The estate was eventually demolished and Lakes School opened on the site in 1967, and most of the former residents were rehoused on the then newly built Droomer Estate in Windermere.
Trevor Avery, Director of Lake District Holocaust Project says:
“This is an amazing opportunity for everyone to become involved in a project that is literally unique in the UK, and it is here in the Lake District. The story of Calgarth Estate in the Lake District and its connections with the flying boat factory at White Cross Bay is fascinating. Added to that, no other location in Britain has such a strong, physical connection to the Holocaust and makes this of national importance”.
The Lake District Holocaust Project was established in 2007 to commemorate the links between the 300 child Holocaust Survivors who came to the Lake District in 1945, and the community that welcomed them. In 2018 alone, the story has featured in Who Do You Think You Are? with Robert Rinder on BBC One, Paul Rose in the Lakes on BBC Two, and a programme dedicated the story was broadcast in Open Country on Radio Four. The project also appeared on the BBC's Digging for Britain in 2020.