During WW2 it’s estimated that around 3.5 million people were evacuated from big cities and areas that were expected to be targeted by enemy attacks, to more rural parts of the country to keep them safe.

Tiverton and surrounding villages were one of the areas evacuees were sent to. Some people with disabilities and pregnant women were evacuated, but most evacuees were young children. They were sent miles away from their homes and parents, usually packed off on a train with few belongings.

We have photos in our collection that show children walking up from the railway station in Tiverton to the Pannier Market. Here they were examined by a doctor, fed and assigned to a host family, people they would have known nothing about until they arrived.

A black and white photo of a young boy holding his arm up. A man, presumably a doctor is holding the arm and looking at the boy. There is a woman in a long white coat and hat standing behind them.

We’ve heard tales over the years from people who have fond memories of being evacuated to Mid Devon, having fun on farms and making new friends with local children, but not everyone was lucky to have a good experience. It must have been pretty scary to turn up in a strange town not knowing who you would end up staying with.

I love these photos of child evacuees being examined by Dr Nicholson in the Tiverton Pannier Market before being sent off to their host homes. I wonder what they were thinking.

You can learn more about the evacuee experience on our World War Two Day on Saturday 29th January.