The Belgians in Elland


This year we commemorate the centenary of ‘The Great War’ and to promote local history Calderdale Libraries have uploaded every available issue of the Halifax Weekly Courier 1914-18 to .

You can also buy a CD of the newspapers at Halifax Library.

This article is from the 2nd January 1915 edition:-

‘A couple of Belgian refugees who, with others, are resident in a house in Elizabeth Street, Elland, were married at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, West Vale, on Wednesday, by Father Kealy. In order not to attract attention the event was kept as quiet as possible but this did not prevent people assembling both in the vicinity of the house and at the church. The bridegroom is Mr. Walter Rene Albert Bogaert of Dudzeele and the bride is Miss Elodia Valeria Josephine Deconinck of Antwerp. The bride was given away by her father. Prior to the outbreak of the war the bridegroom followed the calling of a sculptor. Motor-cars were placed at the disposal of the couple by Councillor J.S. Smithies and Mr James Garnett. Councillor Sam Lumb, Chairman of Elland Council, and Mr P.H. Whitwam, the town surveyor, were present and acted as witnesses. It had been the intention of the young couple to be married in Antwerp last September but the invasion by the Germans upset all their arrangements  and instead of a wedding feast they were glad to escape to England. So hurried was their flight that many valuable belongings were left behind including Miss Deconinck’s wedding dress.


The wedding service was conducted in English. The bride was smartly attired in a blue dress and wore a large fur over her shoulders. There was no elaborate ceremony. Upon return to Elland the couple were photographed and after a repast they were conveyed by motor-car to Leeds and presented to Mr. Balfour, the Belgian consul.’




The Ellanders in Belgium


Skip forward to 1936 and this article features in the Elland Echo:-

‘A part of 25 boys of Grace Ramsden’s School, returned home on Saturday after an instructive motor-coach tour of Belgium, Holland & Germany.

The party left Elland on June 6 by train to Dover. Many of the party thought the continental scenery monotonous  but were recompensed by the ferry journeys and the bright colours of the houses. Wednesday was spent journeying to Brussels. Next morning the party inspected the city, most of them buying lace. Friday saw the party on the beach or buying souvenirs to take home. Before the boys left Belgium, a team met an eleven of Belgian boys in a soccer match and the Elland lads were successful, winning by four goals to two.’

We have many local stories from the 1936 Echo on CD, which is available (for a small donation) at our History Room in Elland Library.



David J. Glanfield

Greater Elland Historical Society


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