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Description

During the summer of 1939, with war with Germany imminent, the government established plans to move thousands of children and others to the countryside away from the cities which were expected to be bombed by the enemy. War was declared on the 3rd September and the first evacuees arrived in Criccieth on that first day. The Town Council and voluntary organisations all worked together to find homes for the children. Henry Jones was a small boy and remembered, “One day, all the children of Criccieth went to the station to expect a load of evacuees who were due to arrive there. We didn't know much about evacuees, of course, and we didn't know what to expect, but what we saw was a hundred or more children coming off the train - kids of all sizes and ages with big labels fastened to their coats with names on them, a gas mask box and a small case each. They were then led like soldiers through Criccieth. Each house had to take one or two depending on the size of the house. I remember the Criccieth women crying when they saw these sad little children.” The children that arrived on that day were from Merseyside. Many lifelong friendships were established and some of the evacuees remained or came back to live in Criccieth. Dafydd Henry Williams remembers, “Who arrived at my home, 7 Bryntirion Terrace but a 7/8 year old girl from Birkenhead, Emily Jones. Three of her brothers, Rodney, Albert and Norman were lodged nearby. Emily stayed with us until 1949 but Albert and Norman did not wait long before returning home but not before Norman escaped once or twice and was caught trying to walk back to Birkenhead. Rodney, on the other hand, was the oldest of the four and after leaving school became a postman in Criccieth. ” (see the images) Some more affluent families made private arrangements. Nesta Lloyd who grew up on the Maes, and still lives there today, recalls, “The house where I live now was rented by the Collinson family from Liverpool. The father was a shoemaker and remained at home to run the business. I was very ill for a while and David, the son, brought me a toy duck which I still have somewhere. Recently a gentleman came to the house and it was David. He was passing through Criccieth and came to find the house he stayed in as a boy. He is now 87 and looks very healthy and fit. He remembered everything, even the duck! ” The children soon got used to each other though education suffered. The local children went to school during the morning while the evacuees went in the afternoon; changing over every week. There were private schools for the more well off children. One public school, King’s School , Worcester moved to Criccieth during September, the government having requisitioned their buildings. The teachers and pupils stayed at Caerwylan Hotel, next door at Glanislwyn and the Pines Hotel (see the image). Lessons were held at the “Towers” (24 Marine Terrace). The boys joined in the activities in the town including three buglers from their Officer’s Training Corp playing the last post from the balcony of the Memorial Hall on Remembrance Sunday. Criccieth has always been a welcoming town and during those dark days the community opened its arms to young and old.

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