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A County of Refuge

Refugees in Cumbria 1933-1941

Rob David


This well-illustrated book examines Cumbria’s response to the refugee crisis of the 1930s and early 1940s. Drawing on a wealth of archive material and oral testimony the author demonstrates that at that time many Cumbrians welcomed refugee groups from Spain, Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia.

Central to the narrative are the individuals, often determined women, who led Cumbria’s response. Much was also achieved by voluntary organisations which enabled many people to become involved with meeting the needs of refugees. The context of the refugees emerges from their back stories, and in addition the author draws on his own family’s experience as refugees from Germany. A special feature of the book is the analysis of the Enemy Alien Tribunal held at Whitehaven in 1939. The rare survival of records relating to this event has enabled the author to examine in detail the refugee experience in west Cumbria. Attention is drawn to the significant contributions of many of these refugees to the county, and at a time when refugee numbers are increasing and government and society’s attitudes are hardening against refugees, the book compares the attitudes of the 1930s to those of today.





Publication Date:

2020 June


Paperback; 245 x 174mm




Some black and white photographs