The ‘Little Spain’ Shop – Eastbourne and the Spanish Civil War

Eastbourne has a wider and longer connection to radicalism than simply Friedrich Engels – and our series on Radical Eastbourne will begin to outline some of this rich ‘hidden history’.

The ‘Little Spain’ Shop – Eastbourne and the Spanish Civil War

by Mike Anderson 

In the period of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), Eastbourne had a ‘Little Spain’ shop in Cornfied Road which operated for two weeks to raise funds for Spanish refugees. It was opened by the Carnival Queen and among the local worthies who supported Aid for Spain was Sydney Caffyn. Was this the first charity shop in Eastbourne?   A pastor from the Spanish Reform church gave a talk on the Holy Trinity vicarage lawn in support of the Republic which he said had given people freedom from the tyranny of the Catholic Church. Nearby Herstmonceux Castle (owned by Tory MP Sir Philip Latham) gave refuge to 20 Basque boys.

Spanish Relief Effort. Eastbourne Chronicle Saturday August 27th 1938

In terms of the Spanish Civil War and East Sussex more generally, from memory I identified more than a dozen International Brigaders from or connected with Brighton/Hove. I did get a Brighton bus named after Dr. Reginald Saxon who was a pioneering medic in the Spanish Civil War although I understand that it’s since been withdrawn from service or renamed.  The South East film archive has a film made by Ernie Trory (Sussex CP Organiser) showing two Brigaders being welcomed back to Brighton Station and a march to the War Memorial on the Old Steine to lay a wreath.

1938: Ex-prisoners of war from the International Brigade, foreign volunteers who fought with the Republican government during the Spanish Civil War, arriving back in Britain. (Photo by London Express/Getty Images)

Mike Anderson 
Mike is part of a group has formed to campaign to commemorate the Sussex International Brigaders with a memorial in Brighton – for more information see here thanks

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