On their own - Britain's child migrants

The voyage

huge group of children on board a ship
Barnardo's party on 'SS Sicilian' in about 1920. Reproduced courtesy Barnardo's.

"One thing that amazed me was that we were treated the same as everybody else on board by the passengers and crew. We were treated as human beings." LP Welsh

The voyage for many of the children was a time of fear but also of excitement and adventure; new friends were made, new sights seen and new places found to explore.

Before leaving, the children were fêted with tea parties, mayoral receptions and even visits by royalty, popular entertainers and powerful benefactors. The migration organisations ensured maximum publicity of the departure to promote their work.

While the separation from home and family was hard, many children had left behind a life of hardship and neglect. The ceremony of departure inspired expectation and hope for their future.

Preparing for the voyage

Pre-departure preparations for child migrants included medical examinations and intelligence tests at Australia House, clothes fittings and instructive lessons on the colonies.

group of children on the deck of a ship
Second Fairbridge party on 'SS Oronsay' 1938. Reproduced courtesy Molong Historical Society.

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