On their own - Britain's child migrants

The departure

First Fairbridge party 1938. Reproduced courtesy Molong Historical Society.

"I leaned over the railing and watched the ropes which held us to the dock. When they slipped into the water my heart sank with them." Mavis Appleyard

During the late 19th century, emigration was viewed as a solution to economic and social problems in Britain. For this reason, many charities were set up to support emigration.

The thousands of children who were sent overseas through child migration schemes came from all parts of the UK. They sailed from major ports such as Liverpool, Glasgow, London and Southampton. They had with them a trunk or suitcase full of clothing provided by the sending organisations. Most never returned to their place of birth.

For the children the departure was a time of uncertainty and separation, but also hope and anticipation.

Listen to sounds of departure below for a taste of what the children would have heard on the dockside before boarding their ships.

This will be replaced by the SWF.


large crowd, some holding banners with farewell messages, listening to a man speak
Farewell to boys emigration party to Canada 1905. Reproduced courtesy Barnardo's/Topfoto

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