Evacuation to Wales in WW2

button-theme-evacEvacuation to Wales in WW2

Many thousands of people, along with vital institutions and priceless historical objects, were evacuated to Wales for safety in the Second World War. Wales was conveniently close to many of England’s major cities but far enough from occupied France and Belgium to be at low risk of invasion.

Wales’ rural nature meant that most of the country was of little interest to Luftwaffe bomber pilots. Holiday resorts on the North Wales coast had ample accommodation for civil servants performing vital work, such as collecting taxes and controlling food supplies.

HistoryPoints has featured many places which are connected with this colossal relocation of human life and activity, as you can see in the list below. Click on the town name to see our page about that location, then click on the WW2 Evacuation to Wales icon to return to this page.

If you visit any of the locations, you can use your smartphone to scan our QR codes to receive the relevant web page on the spot.

Arts
Bangor University - PJ Hall was adapted to store National Gallery paintings
Bangor - the BBC’s popular comedy series It’s That Man Again was broadcast from Penrhyn Hall
Conwy - paintings moved to Bodlondeb and Guildhall from Williamson Gallery, Birkenhead
Llandudno - the BBC Theatre Organ was moved to the Grand Theatre and played for hours to fill up radio airtime
Rhyl - romantic novelist Roberta Leigh began writing by torchlight under the bedclothes while an evacuee
Blaenau Ffestiniog - some paintings stored in Manod quarry needed extra-low railway wagons to return to London in 1945
Aberystwyth - items evacuated from London to the National Library of Wales included originals by Shakespeare and da Vinci

Education
Bangor - University College London has wartime science labs in a shop in High Street
Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel - Lake House School of Sussex occupied the hotel from 1940 to 1943
Conwy - St Mary’s Convent School relocated from Lowestoft to a house in the Morfa area
Conwy - evacuees were taught in Tabernacl Chapel as local schools were overwhelmed
Betws-y-coed - the Royal Oak Hotel was the wartime base of Dulwich Prep School
Betws-y-coed - stables buildings were classrooms for Dulwich pupils during the war
Llandudno Junction - seven evacuees from across England passed the 11+ here in 1942
New Quay - London Nautical School had lessons, PT and dances in the Memorial Hall
Vale of Neath - school for deaf and blind children evacuated to Aberpergwm from East Anglia

Government
Llandudno Junction - the Minister of Food often stayed at the Station Hotel while his ministry was in Colwyn Bay
Llandudno - the Imperial Hotel was the Inland Revenue’s wartime HQ, with office for future PM Jim Callaghan
Colwyn Bay - Britain’s wartime food supply, including rationing, was controlled from the town
Rhyl - wartime home of the mechanical traction section of the Royal College of Military Science

Industry
Beaumaris - aero firm Saunders-Roe, ex-Isle of Wight, employed Tecwyn Roberts, later of NASA’s manned flight project
Bangor - Belgian and Dutch diamond polishers moved in to a tailor’s shop in 1940
Bangor - Daimler relocated aero-parts manufacture to Bangor, including in the Crosville bus depot
Y Felinheli - Dow-Mac moved engineers from Suffolk to assemble tugs for vital war operations in the Persian Gulf
Caernarfon - NECACO made parts for many of the RAF’s most famous aeroplanes
Colwyn Bay - Belgian and Dutch diamond polishers moved from southern England to a hardware shop
Abergavenny - the Wendy Boston teddy company’s founders moved to Wales after air raids on Birmingham

Military
Holyhead - Dutch Navy vessels which had escaped the Nazis’ clutches operated from the port
Bangor - the naval training ship HMS Conway moved from the Mersey to the Menai Strait in 1941
Conwy - Royal Netherlands Army soldiers were billeted at the Morfa after escaping their homeland’s occupation
Llandudno – Royal Artillery’s Coast Gunnery School moved from Essex to the Great Orme
Pendine - experimental small-arms firing range relocated here from Kent in just three weeks

People
Beaumaris - Charles Henry Bean, evacuated from Liverpool, joined the army and died aged 19 in 1945
Bangor station - nearly 2,000 evacuated children and their teachers arrived in a few days in September 1939
Bangor library - where the WVS received and medically checked evacuated children
Llanfairfechan - Prof David Thoday and his wife housed six refugee families at Llys Owain
Conwy - isolation hospital created for skin-disease treatment after influx of child evacuees
Conwy - Belgian tailor and family returned to where they’d been refugees in the First World War
Hawarden - blind and infirm people from Birkenhead were housed in the former rectory
Lampeter - Polish refugees who settled in the area are buried at St Peter's Churchyard
Cardiff - Wally’s Delicatessen was founded by a Polish Jew who had fled from the Gestapo’s clutches
Cardiff - a child evacuee was fatally struck by a train near Radyr after collecting milk from a farm

Safe houses
Llandudno - Evans’ Hotel was earmarked by MI5 to hide double agents if the Nazis invaded
Colwyn Bay - a secret BBC studio was established at Penrhyn Buildings to continue broadcasts after an invasion
Llanrwst - the Eagles Hotel was earmarked by MI5 to hide double agents if the Nazis invaded