Areas covered

Barley Mow  and 3 more

Birtley Belgians

Birtley Belgians are found across north-east England and Belgium.   They have a common origin among Great War refugees at the National Projectile Factory built at Elisabethville, Birtley in 1916.     The NPL was a response to “The Great Shell Shock” which found the army so short of ammunition guns at the front were being limited to less than 10 shots a day. Nearly 7,000 Belgian wounded soldiers, engineering workers and their exiled families came to a new village.   They made more than 2 million shells  - one of the most productive arms works in Britain – and were famed as heroes helping to end the war. Many of the Belgians met and married Britons – today across Belgium their descendants tell the family:                  “Vergeet  nooit   dat je een  Birtley  Belgian  bent” “N’obliez  jamais  que vous etes  un  Birtley Belgian.” “Never  forget  you’re  a  Birtley Belgian.”   There is a growing network of families from Elisabethville wanting to know more of this unique settlement.    Researchers in Britain and Belgium are sharing the new stories they find. We hope all the Birtley Belgians will find in this place:     “Het  Nieuws  van  Birtley” “Les  Nouvelles  de  Birtley” “The  News  from  Birtley”

Contact Person

Bill Lawrence

Organisation Address

United Kingdom

Key words