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Harborough Museum

F Gardner translation card

F Gardner translation card

Post-war Polish community shopping in Welford.


This leaflet was produced, probably in the 1950s, for F Gardner’s grocery store in Welford. During the Second World War, people from countries including Poland, Czechoslovakia and Estonia were driven from their homes and travelled very far to find a safe place to live. After the war, there were many Polish families living in the area in the Sulby resettlement camp, which was then located between Welford, Sibbertoft and Husbands Bosworth.

During the war many Polish men joined the British Armed Forces and did not return to Poland. There were around 200,000 Polish people in Britain after the war and these camps were designed as temporary housing for them.

Most of the camps contained large Nissen huts made of semi-circular corrugated iron panels with brick work visible in the front entrance porch.  These were desperately cold and were only heated by large black-leaded coal or wood-fuelled cooking stoves and paraffin heaters.  Even so, communities prospered, children went to school and local jobs were found. Vegetables were grown to supplement the post war diet.

F Gardner translation card
The translation card from F Gardner’s shop in Welford, showing Polish and English text. This can be seen in the ‘Villages’ case in Harborough Museum.


Welford is on the border of Northamptonshire and Leicestershire and appeared in the Doomsday Book in 1086 AD, known as Wellesford.  Being between Leicester and Northampton, it was a popular coaching stop during the 17th and 18th centuries and was further enhanced by the construction of the Welford arm of the Grand Union Canal.

The trade from being a coaching stop meant Welford had many shops including pubs,a wheelwright, coal seller, bakery, butchers, tailors and more. But many villages, as more people moved to growing towns the shops disappeared. The parish church of St Mary the Virgin dates from the 13th Century and was a ‘Chapel of Ease’ of the nearby Sulby Abbey.  It is said that an ancient tunnel joins these two places together.

Welford is very popular with walkers. The Jurassic way passes through the village and to this day many walkers make use of the village’s facilities.

A photograph of Sulby Hall.
Sulby Hall is about 1905. It was first built in 1793-95 and was a hospital during World War One.

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