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10pound poms

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Scots families tell how they set off in search of a better life and found their dream in Australia

 

Jan 30 2010 Annie Brown

OVER a 25-year period, almost one million British people left for Australia on the £10 Pom scheme -a small price to pay for the prospect of a better future.

This week, the passenger lists from the 1950s of those who took up the assisted scheme have been posted online and, with them, the background of the migrants who helped transform Australia.

Among them was the mother of the Kylie and Danni Minogue, Carol Jones, who made the journey on SS New Australia in April 1955 with her parents, David and Millie, leaving behind their life running the local post office in Maesteg, south Wales.

Carol was just 12, trained as a dancer and went on to marry accountant Ron Minogue and settle in Melbourne, raising their daughters Kylie and Dannii to become stars.

Between 1947 and 1981, more than a million Britons took advantage of an assisted passage scheme introduced by the Australian Government.

 

Around 170,000 Scots used the scheme to lure skilled workers to the build the country.

Alistair Thomson, who co-wrote the Ten Pound Poms, said that the Scots, like Kylie's Welsh forebears, desperately tried to avoid being categorised as "Poms".

He said: "Scottish and Welsh migrants vigorously asserted that they were not Poms , especially when the term whingeing Poms started to get bandied about. They wanted to be disassociated from the English who they claimed moaned the most and who certainly suffered most abuse."

Some of the Scots had come from backgrounds which were much poorer than the English and the suggestion is that they moaned less, because they had given up less.

Alistair said: "The Scots did mix more with other groups and nationalities, particularly through football clubs. Football was a great bonding influence for them.

"There was also animosity towards the English because of what was viewed, rightly or wrongly, as their sense of superiority. But the Italians and the Greeks also suffered racism in Australia. The Scots were lucky."

The 10-pound scheme started in 1947 and although it officially finished in 1982, it petered out in the Seventies because of the changing economic climate.

In 1962, David King's parents Davy and Mollie took their five children aged five to 17 from Possilpark to the promise of a new life in Australia.

It wasn't an easy decision, Davy, a 45 year old upholsterer had 10 brothers and sisters in Glasgow and his mother was in hospital dying of cancer just as he was they were about to leave for Australia.

David said: "They decided there would be better opportunities for us there than there would be in Glasgow but it was a big sacrifice for my parents. My dad had to be forced to leave by the rest of the family because he wanted to stay with his mother. They left a lot behind but they did it for us. It was hard for my dad, my grandmother died when we were on the boat."

As Davy mourned, 13 year-old David and his siblings were in the midst of what they saw as a fantastic adventure.

David said: "We were so excited. We didn't have that much to miss in Scotland and so much to look forward to in Australia."

But as their ship, the SS Oriana, travelled from Southampton to open waters, sea sickness hit the passengers.

The older boat, the Fairsea, was dubbed the "fair sick" by Scots passengers. On the Oriana, it was bad enough.

David said:"It was horrible for the first couple of days. Everyone was running for the toilet. The queues were long and that sickness was bad."

Gradually, as their sea legs improved, so did the trip. David said: "It was like a holiday, a £10 cruise. There was a swimming pool, snooker tables and parties for the adults atnight. We'd never even eaten in a restaurant before. We had a great time."

The ship docked in Italy and Aden, and travelled through the Suez Canal. Next stop was India before Perth and then Melbourne.

David said: "It was a big excitement for us - the world seemed so much more exotic. We had hardly been out of Glasgow before."

When they arrived in Perth, it was a Sunday and in heat of 40 degrees Celsius, the devoutly Catholic family had to search the streets for a chapel.

David said: "The heat was incredible.

It was so intense. We had never felt anything like it. There was no air conditioning and that heat is my most vivid memory of landing in Australia."

The Kings were bound for Melbourne where Davy had a brother Jimmy, who was in the Australian air force and had built up a great life for himself in his 10 years in Australia. The migrants were taken off the ships and placed in camps with hostels and tin prefabs.

Conditions were cramped but they were free until they got their first job, and there was a canteen which served breakfast lunch and dinner.

David said: "It wasn't the best, it was stinking hot at night. A lot of people wanted to go straight back home. We had arrived in February and that was the hottest month in Australia, so for days on end, it didn't drop below 40 degrees."

One strict stipulation of the £10 fare was that migrants couldn't return within two years or they would have to pay the full return ticket price.

Some people hated Australia instantly and so intensely that they never left the camp, waiting it out until their two years was up.

For the 10-pound Poms, there was a 25 per cent return rate but then half of them went back to Australia, realising it had been better after all.

Most returned to their own countries because of family ties. It was the other side of the world and felt like it.

There was no phoneand letters took a week. It took a month to get there and it was expensive. As one migrant said, Australia was "awfully familiar and awfully strange".

They spoke the same language, the cities where the migrants settled were not the culture shock of the bush, but the heat was intense and the space vast.

The Kings only stayed in the camp for a few months before Davy got a job and a home for his family, complete with a fridge.

They settled in Dufftown, outside Melbourne, and were surrounded by other Scots.

David said:"It was a little bit like a mini-Scotland. We used to have Hogmanay and Scottish events.

"But it was better in a lot of ways. When I was in Scotland, we were taught to hate Rangers supporters and Protestants and we never mixed with them. In Australia, that was all forgotten and we were all just Scottish Australians. The guy across the road was a Rangers supporter and my dad and him used to put a table in the middle of the road and have a drink together on New Year's Eve."

David and two of his brothers joined the air force and his youngest brother went to university and became a teacher.

David said: "That would never have happened if we had stayed in Scotland.

The environment was much better than it was in Possilpark. We would have ended up in dead end jobs. In Australia, we had more choices and more opportunity. If I had stayed in Scotland, I don't think I would have been as well off now."

David now co-ordinates a teaching programme between China and Australia. He was able to afford to retire at 55, but went back to work because he missed it.

He and his wife Margaret have raised two daughters in a lovely three-bedroom home and he believes conditions in Possilpark, one of Glasgow's most deprived areas, would never have matched up.

His dad died two years ago at the age of 92. Mollie died four years ago when she was 80.

David said: "I think they had been happy but I do think they would have liked to have gone back to Scotland and finished up their life there.

"But they were glad their family grew up, out of trouble and with a good life. For £10 they bought us a great future."

 

Found this quite interesting, anybody else got any 10pound pom stories, any family members that were one? :wubclub:

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Guest guest37336

Fascinates me this type of thread Stacey,:idea:

 

I know from previous ones that are a few on here, Bob being one of them if memory serves.:unsure:

 

Good thread matey.:jiggy:

 

Cheers Tony.

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Yeah i had a feeling bob was one but wasnt 100% sure. I dont think i know any of them, i'll have to ask gran and grampa if they know any. Found the article really interesting especially since they were from glasgow. Bit of a shame that the english got all the racist comments and the scots and welsh didnt get much, is that similar nowadays?? i only recently found out we're not classed as poms! I think people back then were even more brave to move, its not like you could do the same sort of research as we all can lol

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Guest guest37336

The scheme is still running Stacey,:shocked::yes::idea:

 

Aeroflot, :shocked: are doing a deal at the moment, a tenner is all, only one way mind, as they can't guarantee a return flight until the wreckage as been found and the plane reassembled.:yes::biglaugh:

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We met up with a £10 pom for lunch at the weekend. The lady had been here 50 years. I felt so sorry for her in some respect. Her and her husband came across on the boat which took five weeks. Arrived in Melbourne in winter, and realised it wasn't exactly how the brochures portrayed the place with the images of sun and beeches. From what I could gather there was no skilled visa process, so you can come over unskilled. Which meant lower payed jobs which her and her husband had. Also, I think travel costs weren't as affordable then. So in effect, even though she wasn't keen on the place, they couldn't afford to go home. Even holidays back to the UK had to be a favour from the bank manager.

 

It put some of the sob stories (not meaning that to be flippant) into context. At least today, we have a choice if we're not happy to up and leave as affordability isn't as much of an issue. My girlfriend and I have not had the greatest of starts to life here in Melbourne, but when you consider what others have been through by comparison, we have no reason to feel sorry for ourselves.

 

This old lady is such a character, she is proudly English and in her own little way rebels against being Aussiefied. It's amazing even after all these years her accent is in tact. She's now a widow having lost her husband 20 years ago. Though she has her son and grandchildren which is comforting. I couldn't help thinking what it must of been like when the lady lost her husband. She spoke glowingly of him and I get the impression they had a really strong bond. I suppose, when you're both away from home and stuck in a foreign land you don't necessarily like. Then if the pressure doesn't break you, it can only make you stronger.

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Guest JK2510

Working as a community care assistant I have come across a few £10 poms! English accent 100% even after 50 years of living in oz!

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My husband works with one! Only let on he was from the UK about a month after they had been working together, has a strong Oz accent and you can't tell. I love that story Afro, puts things into perspective.


And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive at where we started, and know the place for the first time.

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Here I iz...Came over in 1963 to Smellbum. What a brilliant adventure ever since.:yes:

 

What one tends to forget is that £10 was a week's wage then

What is that equivalent to this year?? Hmmmm??

 

Cheers, Bobj.

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