In 1904/5 a group of Gypsy Travellers arrived in the UK. They would have travelled by boat and landed somewhere on the north east coast, maybe even in Scotland. They travelled south from Brough in Cumbria, through Malton in North Yorkshire, Wakefield in West Yorkshire, through Sheffield, then most likely across the Derbyshire Peaks and Dales and the Staffordshire Moorlands to Leek. From Leek to Doveridge near Uttoxeter, down to Royston in Hertfordshire and to Epping Forest just north of London. We know they took this route because they were photographed at various point along the way, often accompanied by police officers escorting them out of the area.
The photographs clearly show that they are the same people travelling in the same horse-drawn caravans, which look different to British Gypsy Traveller caravans. The captions on the photographs describe the group as ‘Greek Gypsies’ or ‘Macedonian Gypsies’ but most often ‘German Gypsies’. We think that they very probably were from Germany and would have been Sinti Gypsies.
Germany was the Sinti Gypsy community’s heartland, but they were persecuted badly there. By 1899 the German police had started to crack down on their way of life. It is no surprise then to find them here in the UK, looking for safety. Just 30 years later, at least 130,000 (maybe as high as 1.5 million) Sinti Gypsies were massacred in the Porajmos – the Romani Holocaust undertaken by Nazi Germany.
We hope the Sinti Gypsies who passed through the South West Peak Park found safety and that they lived out their lives here in the UK.