Fairford History Society

Monthly Archives: October 2009

September 17th 2009: The Polish Hostel in Fairford

About 60 members and visitors gathered to hear Alicja Swiatek Christofides talk about the Polish Hostel in Fairford. Alicja was born in the camp and lived there until 1955. Alicja explained how and why the Polish exiles had come to this country after the Second World War and had been housed in the former

Alicja Swiatek Christofides

Alicja Swiatek Christofides

US Army Hospital at Fairford Park north of the town. Alicja feels very strongly that this part of Polish and Fairford history should be recorded and was instrumental in getting the plaque to commemorate the Hostel placed at the Pitham Path entrance on Leafield Road. About 200 people attended this event in May and because of the contacts made before and during the event much information has been gleaned about what life was like in the camp. Alicja showed a selection of photographs, the chapel with its ornate frontage, the ‘baraki’ and their gardens, and how the Polish people adapted to their life in their new surroundings. This was a safe, welcoming place compared with their terrible experiences previously. Eventually the lease on the land at Fairford Park expired and many of the Community moved to Swindon or to other parts of the country and even abroad.

To find out more about Fairford Hostel and the other seven camps in Gloucestershire visit www.polishresettlementcampsintheuk.co.uk.

Change in the Community

September 22nd 2009

About 200 year 7 students and teachers from Fairford’s Farmor’s School left their classrooms to investigate the topic ‘Change in the Community’. They visited several sites around the town. One of which was the Heritage Room in the Community Centre, the old Farmor’s School, where FHS had set up a display. Students were interested in the Timeline which is a permanent feature of the Heritage Room and a display concerning the Polish Hostel in Fairford. The students also visited the site of the Hostel adjacent to their School where nothing remains to be seen.

Some artifacts were also on display, including the original Town Crier’s hand bell, a paraffin lamp from the signal box at the former Fairford station and an old tin chest inscribed ‘Farmor’s Endowed School’ which was accompanied by ‘the cane’!

Several longstanding residents of Fairford attended and answered questions about the changes they had seen over the years.

The students ended their day with lunch at Walnut Tree Field followed by a debriefing session at the School.