Powerfully poignant photographs reveal incredible remains of abandoned memorabilia in neglected club for WWII Veterans

The abandoned memorabilia include veterans' banners, Polish flags, paintings, books and documents belonging to the post-war Polish community in the city. Matt/Lost Places & Forgotten Faces/Facebook

Incredible photographs of priceless Polish historical memorabilia abandoned in a neglected club for Polish WWII veterans have been published by a British explorer of abandoned ruins.

The abandoned memorabilia from the Veterans' House in Manchester, UK, include veterans' banners, Polish flags, paintings, books and documents belonging to the post-war Polish community in the city.

The forgotten items were found at the former Veterans' House in Manchester, UK.Matt/Lost Places & Forgotten Faces/Facebook

The hand-embroidered veterans' banners decorated with patriotic slogans would have accompanied Polish veterans at all ceremonies and are objects of immense pride to ex-combatants.

The author of the photographs, Matt, published them on his urban exploration Facebook page ‘Lost Places and Forgotten Faces’.

The club had a large concert hall, games room, information office, lounge, library, restaurant, welfare offices and later a Saturday school was opened.Matt/Lost Places & Forgotten Faces/Facebook

He told TFN: “I was in complete shock and awe with not only how many items were still in the building, but also what the items represented.

“It was incredible to see it all, almost like finding a lost treasure.”

The hand-embroidered veterans' banners decorated with patriotic slogans would have accompanied Polish veterans at all ceremonies and are objects of immense pride to ex-combatants.Matt/Lost Places & Forgotten Faces/Facebook

Matt has a Polish girlfriend, so the discovery had an added interest and poignancy.

He said: “It's was shame to see the state of the place, not only the vandalism but the amount of books and religious materials still left sitting in there.

It is not known why the Association of Polish Veterans left all the things behind.Matt/Lost Places & Forgotten Faces/Facebook

“I could see as well that much of it was still in very good condition, and needed to be salvaged and given back to the Polish community before it was lost forever.”

Matt's photographs were immediately shared by Polish internet users, eventually reaching Polish diplomatic authorities in the UK.

Matt/Lost Places & Forgotten Faces/Facebook

Matt/Lost Places & Forgotten Faces/Facebook

Matt/Lost Places & Forgotten Faces/Facebook

Matt/Lost Places & Forgotten Faces/Facebook

Matt/Lost Places & Forgotten Faces/Facebook

The Polish Consulate General in Manchester said yesterday that its staff were at the site.

Matt’s photographs have come just in time to save the abandoned items. The building has been sold to a developer and in April 2002, planning permission was granted for the re-development of the site, which includes demolition of the building.

After being bought by the Polish Veterans’ Association in May 1949, by 1996 the building was suffering from structural issues, resulting in one section being closed. Due to a lack of funding for maintenance, the rest of the building was sealed by the end of 2007, and has remained derelict ever since.Matt/Lost Places & Forgotten Faces/Facebook

Why the Association of Polish Veterans left all these things behind after the sale of the building remains unclear.

Matt said: “It seems that when the building closed, the community was never given the chance to retrieve these items. I feel it's not too late for them to be collected, and placed in Polish churches and museums for future generations to enjoy.”

Urbex photographer Matt told TFN: “It's was shame to see the state of the place, not only the vandalism but the amount of books and religious materials still left sitting in there.”Matt/Lost Places & Forgotten Faces/Facebook

The building was originally the Moss Side Unitarian Free Church, but it became the Polish Veterans’ Club in May 1949 when the Polish Veterans’ Association bought it with money collected by members.

The club had a large concert hall, games room, information office, lounge, library, restaurant, welfare offices and later a Saturday school was opened.

By 1996, the building was suffering from structural issues, resulting in one section being closed. Due to a lack of funding for maintenance, the rest of the building was sealed by the end of 2007, and has remained derelict ever since.

The Polish Consulate General in Manchester says that its staff are now at the site.Matt/Lost Places & Forgotten Faces/Facebook

The club’s members were some of the 150,000 Polish soldiers and their families decided to stay on the Islands. They decided not to return to Poland for fear of repression by the communists.

The Polish Veterans’ Association was divided into regional branches and opened veterans’ clubs and Saturday schools in cities including Glasgow, Manchester, Sheffield and London.

The clubs allowed Poles to meet together, strengthen the Polish community in the UK and maintain their Polish culture.