Dear Members,


Welcome to our latest newsletter.


For the first time since 2019, we were able to hold our Annual General Meeting without the assistance of Zoom. On 16 July, 35 of us gathered at the Lisbon Sports Club, Belas, to review and approve the Chairman’s Report and Annual Accounts, have a good lunch and learn about the history of the Lisbon Sports Club. We extend our gratitude to the members and staff of the club, particularly Patricia Pedro, the Club Captain, and, of course, to the chairman of our AGM, Filipe Lowndes Marques.


Our two main articles in this issue are both contributed by members of the Society’s Council and both are on the topic of communications. Our Secretary, Curtis Stewart, has written about the cable telegraph station in Horta, Faial in the Azores, while our Webmaster, Andrew Shepherd, contributes an article on the Marconi company in Portugal. Please don’t forget that we’d welcome articles contributed by members and others, both for the newsletter and for the Annual Report.


Our next event will be a guided tour of the Prazeres cemetery in Lisbon on 17 September. Information is provided in this newsletter and members will also be receiving a separate email with further details.


With best wishes,


Edward Godfrey

NEWS see more News here

AUGUST 13, 2022

Report of Annual General Meeting,16 July 2022

Meeting held at the Lisbon Sports Club


JULY 20, 2022

Article in The Times on the Treaty of Tagilde


EVENTS see more Events here

SEPTEMBER 17, 2022

Visit to Prazeres Cemetery

 Saturday, 17th September, 2022, at 11.00

ARTICLES see more Articles here

Companhia Portuguesa Rádio Marconi

Author: Andrew Shepherd



Year: 2022

Subject Matter: British Companies


The Submarine Telegraph Cable System and Horta, Faial

Author: Curtis Stewart



Year: 2022

Subject Matter: British Companies


British Women in Portugal during WW2

Most of the young, single British women in Portugal left for home when WW2 was declared. However, many married women remained and they set up several organisations to work on the “war effort”. This was despite initial disapproval from some British and Commonwealth men, who established a Red Cross Committee without the participation of any woman. The Women's War Work Organisation was set up in September 1939 by Lady Selby, wife of the British Ambassador, and was subsequently renamed as the Women's Relief Work Organisation. It had no formal statutes and developed as needs arose.  Any British woman could work for it or contribute financially.  Among its first activities were the provision of first aid courses and truck-driving lessons for women.



In 1941, Lady Campbell, wife of the new ambassador, arrived in Lisbon. She established what came to be called the Lady Campbell's Fund for the Suffering Children of Europe. The Campbells left at the end of the war but she paid several return visits to Lisbon until her sudden death in 1949, during one of those visits. An obituary in the Anglo-Portuguese News talked of her great charisma, leadership skills, sense of humour, skills in the art of sewing and immense energy and dedication. The Fund worked with Polish child refugees in France and in 1946, sent a considerable amount of food to children in Poland.



At a general meeting of the Women's Relief Work Organisation in June 1941, it was reported that about 200 women were affiliated to the organisation. Since its founding, members had made 9,222 garments and 3,547 bandages, which had been sent to various institutions in the UK or been distributed in Portugal among refugees, shipwrecked sailors or individuals working to support prisoners of war. Its Refugee Clothing section, created in April 1941, had distributed 2,000 pieces of clothing offered by the British community within two months of its establishment. Among the beneficiaries were 110 refugee children who were being hosted at the holiday camp run by the newspaper, O Século, in S. Pedro do Estoril.



In addition to Lisbon, Women's Relief Work Organisation groups were formed in Sintra, Carcavelos, Estoril, Coimbra, Praia da Rocha, as well as in Madeira and Cape Verde. The Estoril group met daily, on weekdays, in the house of Marguerite Bucknall, mainly to knit warm clothing and make bandages for British soldiers. In July 1941, Denise Lester made available part of her school to establish a centre for British refugees to meet. It is recorded that, in the six months it was open, 5,085 cups of tea were served!



In July 1942 the organisation held a grand fair at the Hotel Aviz (illustrated), in Lisbon, where Calouste Gulbenkian had a suite. The hotel offered the refreshments and the event was attended by over 700 people, raising £450. Much of this was sent to the UK to fund mobile canteens run by the Women's Voluntary Service (now the Royal Voluntary Service), which was also working in Portugal.



In April 1943, the organisation was in charge of looking after 450 Allied prisoners, many of whom were wounded, who had been exchanged for the same number of Italian prisoners. The organisation was also responsible for the reception in Lisbon of 900 British civilians, who had been stuck in France. In 1944, many English children who had been sent to the US at the beginning of the war, arrived in Lisbon and were looked after by the organisation while they awaited transport to the UK. One of these was Shirley Williams, who became a British MP and government minister and was one of the so-called “Gang of Four” who left the Labour Party to found the Social Democratic Party.



By the end of the war, it was calculated that the British women had made and distributed 67,000 pieces of clothing. In 1945, following the German surrender, the organisation merged with the Women’s Voluntary Service.



Source: Ana Vicente: Segunda Guerra Mundial: mulheres inglesas residentes em Portugal. In  Feminae Dicionário Contemporâneo, pages 852-854


The British in Portugal

The Bleck family has made significant contributions to life in Portugal and the Bleck name is to be found in many walks of life. Unlike some British families in Portugal, who have retained their British nationality, the Blecks are now all Portuguese, so it is perhaps not widely known that the original Bleck arrived here from England.


Joseph William Henry Bleck (pictured) was born in Malta in 1854. One source suggests that he came from a Polish Jewish family. By the time of the 1881 British census, he was living in Fulham, together with his wife, Sofia, and two children. He was already active in Portugal, having in 1878 received a concession to build and operate a railway from Lagos to Vila Real de Santo António in the Algarve. This project never came to fruition.


In 1910, Bleck, having seen the beginnings of the oil industry in England, registered “The Lisbon Coal and Oil Fuel Company Limited”, to act as an agent in Portugal for the Shell Company. Initially establishing facilities in Arealva on the south bank of the Tagus, he then acquired land at Banática, further to the west, where he constructed warehouses; oil at the time being shipped in drums. The first ship docked there in August 1916. Bleck’s other business interests included a partnership with Jorge O’Neill and the Companhia Portugueza de Phosphoros that produced matches. He became president of the British Chamber of Commerce in Lisbon and was Consul-General for Greece in Portugal. Bleck died in 1918 at his home in Dafundo, close to Cruz Quebrada, where there is a street named after him.


Bleck’s second daughter, Edith, married into the Lancastre family, with her husband, the second Count of Lousã, also becoming a partner with Jorge O’Neill. Charles Henry, the eldest son, took over the family business, while the two younger sons, William, serving as an interpreter with the French, and George, distinguished themselves in the British army in WWI.


Charles opened an office for the Lisbon Coal and Oil Fuel Company in Rua de São Julião in the centre of Lisbon in 1919 in order to receive orders and expanded distribution through agents throughout the country by train and ship, including the Azores, Madeira and Cabo Verde. At the beginning of 1923, overwhelmed by other business activities, he left the management of the company, to be replaced by Tyrell Michael Shervington, who was killed in the plane crash that killed the actor Leslie Howard in 1943.


Charles was well-known for his sporting activities, which included equestrianism, fencing, hunting, rowing, cycling, motor racing, and aviation. Bleck was also a keen sailor. He regularly competed against the King’s yacht and also won regattas in France. He was commodore of the Club Naval de Lisboa (1911) and of the Lisbon Naval Association (1914). In 1912, he was a founding vice-president of the Portuguese Olympic Committee, which was set up by some private individuals, given the lack of interest on the part of the government. He is said to have spent his own money to ensure Portuguese participation at the Games. During WWI he carried out several important missions for both Portuguese and British governments, carrying secret documents between the two countries. The former home of Ricardo Espírito Santo near Boca do Inferno in Cascais, which hosted the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in 1940, was originally built for Bleck. Charles Bleck died in Sintra in 1934.


Carlos Eduardo Bleck was the first son of Charles and his first wife, Helena Pedroso dos Santos. Following in his father’s footsteps he was an active sportsman, representing Portugal in the 1928 Olympics, where he finished 12th in the six-metre sailing class. But he was best-known as an aviator, being the first Portuguese to have a civil pilot's licence and making the first solo flight from Portugal to India (Goa) in 1934 and from Portugal to Angola and back with a co-pilot in 1930. Bleck founded the Companhia de Transportes Aéreos (CTA) in 1945, offering scheduled flights between Lisbon and Porto as well as charter flights, with a fleet of six planes. With the establishment of TAP as a state monopoly in 1945, and that airline’s opening of Lisbon-Porto services in 1947, Bleck concentrated on charter flights, but closed the company down in 1949. He was a member of the TAP board. A supporter of the Estado Novo, he had an unfortunate accident in a plane called Salazar. Bleck died in 1975.





Which mid-size English city, whose city hall is pictured, has been the birthplace of several important people in the port wine trade of Porto?

The answer can be found at the end of the Members' News section.

Did you know?

In Newsletter 14 we told the story of how Paul McCartney had written a song on a drunken evening at the Penina Golf Resort in the Algarve and had then given away the rights to the song to the hotel band he was playing with. Musician friends have now told us that that was not the only McCartney song that was written in Portugal.


McCartney wrote the music to Yesterday at 57 Wimpole Street, London in the flat of his girlfriend, Jane Asher, which was in the attic of her parents’ house. Her father was a consultant at the Central Middlesex Hospital; hence the Wimpole Street address. Lennon and McCartney wrote I Wanna Hold Your Hand at the same address.


The music went without words for many months. It became known as “Scrambled eggs” and some words were jokingly added to that title: Scrambled eggs/Oh my baby how I love your legs/Not as much as I love scrambled eggs.


In May 1965, after finishing the shooting of the Beatles’ second film, Help!, McCartney and Asher decided to visit Bruce Welch, who had a villa in Albufeira on the Algarve. Welch was a member of the Shadows, which, as those of us of a certain age will remember, was originally the backing group for Cliff Richard. The couple flew into Lisbon Airport (Faro Airport did not open until 1966) and took a taxi to Albufeira, a long journey before the A2 was built. While Asher slept, McCartney mulled over possible lyrics for the song. According to an interview he gave in 1967, it was Lennon who had come up with the word “Yesterday” to replace “Scrambled Eggs”.


After arriving at the villa, McCartney borrowed a guitar from Welch and gave the first performance of Yesterday.

Members' News

Our Vice-Chairman, Mark Crathorne, has made two recent media appearances. On 2 June he was asked by RTP to provide live commentary on the Queen's Jubilee celebrations. You can see the broadcast here. Mark also participated in the recently recorded film on the Lines of Torres Vedras on the ‘History Hits' channel


St. Julian's School is interested in contacting members who attended the school in the 1930s and 1940s in order to get their reminiscences about their time at the school. If you would like to participate, please contact and we will put you in touch.


Answer to the Quiz: Kingston upon Hull

John Croft, from Hull, joined the Porto firm of his in-laws in 1736. John Croft II further developed the business and created the earliest known Vintage Port in 1781. The name of Croft, of course, lives on, although no family members are now involved. Joseph James Forrester was born in Hull of Scottish parents. In 1831 he joined his uncle’s firm in Porto. He produced two maps of the Douro valley, was a critic of what he saw as the bad practices of the port industry, and played a major role in overcoming the outbreak of powdery mildew that afflicted the Douro region in the 1850s. He was the first foreigner to be made a Baron. Frederick William Flower was born in Leith, but his family moved to Hull. He sailed to Porto in 1834 to work with a wine exporting house. Flower is well-known as a pioneer photographer in Portugal. Frederick William Sellers was born in Sculcoates, a suburb of Hull. Running away from home at the age of 15 he eventually made his way to Porto in the late 1830s. In Porto he met and married Anne Wilcock, whose family also came from Hull. Sellers bought port wine for the family company in Liverpool.  His son, George William II, founded his own port wine shipping firm. Another son, Charles, is well-known for his book “Oporto, Old and New”, about the port industry.


If members know of other Anglo-Portuguese families from Hull, please contact us at




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