Survey and Excavation Begins in the Lake District

This week, a team from the Centre of Archaeology has embarked on a two-week survey and excavation in the Lake District (UK), in an attempt to locate hostels where 300 child Holocaust survivors lived in 1945 after their arrival in Britain.

Centre of Archaeology team members digging a test pit as part of the search for the remains of one of the hostels in which the child Holocaust survivors lived (Copyright: Centre of Archaeology)

Thanks to funding received from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the project is being undertaken at the site of the former Calgarth Estate, now the Lakes School.

The school stands on the former site of the wartime workers housing scheme of Calgarth Estate. The estate was originally built in 1942 to house workers at the nearby Short Sunderland “Flying Boat” factory at White Cross Bay, but became a place of sanctuary for the child survivors after they were liberated from Theresienstadt in the Czech Republic. The site was gradually demolished over time until it finally disappeared in the mid 1960’s.

The project was initiated by the Lake District Holocaust Project and their organising charity Another Space.

The archaeological work is being led by the Centre of Archaeology’s Professor Caroline Sturdy Colls, Kevin Colls and William Mitchell, and it has already involved the use of cutting edge survey to identify what remains of the estate lie hidden below ground. Small test pit excavations have also been carried out and will be extended next week.

The survey and excavation will hopefully teach us more about what life was like for the children who came to the UK and lived in Calgarth. We have already found traces of the buildings they lived in and some personal objects.

Professor Caroline Sturdy Colls

The survey and dig will run until the 27th July and will see wide ranging opportunities for people to work closely with our team. Volunteers will learn about all aspects of excavation, conservation, and exhibition work. This week, students from the Lakes School participated in the work.

This is an amazing opportunity for everyone to become involved in a project that is literally unique in the UK, and it is here in the Lake District. The story of Calgarth Estate in the Lake District and its connections with the flying boat factory at White Cross Bay, is fascinating. Added to that, no other location in Britain has such a strong, physical connection to the Holocaust and makes this of national importance”.

Trevor Avery, Director of the Lake District Holocaust Project

A number of exhibitions are also on display in the hall at the Lakes School, including one about Professor Caroline Sturdy Colls’ work at Treblinka, where many of the families of the children who came to Calgarth were murdered.

Exhibitions open to the public in the Lakes School sports hall (Copyright: Centre of Archaeology)

Find out more information about visiting the site during the dig or read the Lake District Holocaust Project blog which will outline our progress.

The project has already received media attention across Cumbria, appearing on ITV Borders TV and BBC Radio Cumbria.

See coverage in the Westmoorland Gazette and The North West Mail

For further information, images and interviews, please contact

Trevor Avery, Director, at Lake District Holocaust Project on 07876433490 and