New website will explore 150 years of Polish immigration (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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New website will explore 150 years of Polish immigration in Waltham Forest
Bronwyn Goodwin, Share UK web developer (far right), meets members of the Polish community at The Mill to discuss From Poland to Waltham Forest (Image: Mark Burton)
Descendants of Polish immigrants from the mid-1800s are being asked to contribute to a new website documenting 150 years of Polish immigration in Waltham Forest.
The Heritage Lottery funded ‘From Poland to Waltham Forest’ project is looking to find descendants of workers at the Lebus Factory to start collecting stories, photographs and letters for the website.
The furniture factory in Ferry Lane, Tottenham Hale, was a major employer in the borough in the 1900s employing many Polish Jews who fled Nazi-occupied Europe in WWII.
More than a thousand employees helped the allied war effort by turning their hands from making Arts and Crafts furniture to making war planes and supplies like ammunition boxes and stretchers.
Share UK, a non-profit community organisation in Higham Hill Road, Walthamstow, received £40,000 of funding to collect people’s stories about the history of the Polish community in the borough and put them online.
Share UK Chairwoman, Esther Freeman, 38, said: “This is not a political project but I hope it will help people understand that Polish people really have a long history here and it’s much more complex than Poland joining the EU.
“This is a project about communities and how they've come together and what they've contributed to Waltham Forest.
“I hope the non-Polish community will better understand that and the Polish community will feel more integrated.”
Anyone with connections to the Polish community of Waltham Forest in the mid-1800s to the present day is invited to attend a group discussion on Tuesday night at The Mill in Coppermill Lane, Walthamstow, from 7-8pm.
This will kick off the year long project which will result in a website where people can upload their own stories, photographs and letters to build a picture of 150 years of Polish immigration in the borough.
For more information, contact Esther Freeman on firstname.lastname@example.org
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