On their own - Britain's child migrants

Transcripts of Quarriers letters

detail of stamp and 27 Sep 1961 datestamp from airmail envelope

The following letters from the exhibition were sent to Mr Munro, the Superintendent at Quarriers, by child migrants en route to Australia in the 1960s.

All letters lent by Quarriers.

Letter from boys aboard 'SS Orion' at Aden, September 1961

In this letter the boys enthused about seeing ancient ruins in Greece, swimming and travelling along the Suez Canal.

detail of hand written letter on P&O Orient Lines SS Orion letterhead paper

Dear Mr Munro

I hope you are keeping well. We had a lovely time in Greece, we saw some of the ancient ruins and some statues. It very hot in the Suez Canal, we saw a whole lot of brick buildings with earth and straw roofs. I am being taught how to swim. I have not been seasick so far.
The Bay of Biscay was as calm as could be.

Love from Eddie

Dear Mr Munro

I hope you are keeping well for we are fit as fiddles.
We can all swim and I can swim under water. We get to Aden tomorrow at 5.00am and we are getting to go shopping and I hope to buy a cheap radio.

With love from Hugh

Hope you can read the letters but I didn’t want to help them. It is at the moment 90 (degrees) and everyone is feeling the heat very much. We don’t seem to have any energy for anything. The boys continue to behave and be a credit to you all.

Yours Sincerely
(Signature unclear)

Letter from the boys travelling on 'SS Orion' in 1961

A letter about visiting Greece and the lovely hot weather they were enjoying.

Dear Mr Munro

I hope you are keeping well.
This is just a small note to tell you how we are getting on. We have been all round Greece. We travelled 454 miles in one day (he means the ship did!). Please tell Dr and Mrs Davidson we are all asking for him. This is all for now.

Love Matthew

hand written letter

Dear Mr Munro

I hope you are keeping well after all the work you done for us. We are having a nice time on board ship. There were 300 boys and girls (Greek). Tell Mr and Mrs Davidson we hope he had a nice holiday. We travelled 454 miles in one day.

Love Richard

Dear Mr Munro

I hope you are keeping well. There were 300 Greek passengers came on board when we stopped at Greece. I am enjoying myself. I like the swimming very much. The weather is lovely. That is all for now.

Yours sincerely


Letter from the boys onboard 'SS Canberra' in June 1963

The boys were taken with their visit to Naples. Almost all of them refer to the hustle and bustle of Port Said, with little boats coming out to the ship to sell goods and watching passengers throwing coins into the water for the local boys to retrieve.

Dear Mr Munro

Just a short note to let you know of our tour through Naples. We left the ship at half past nine for our bus which was taking us all the way. We also visited Solfatara which is a small volcano, at that time the weather was very hot, it was 75 degrees.
We stopped at Port Said, but we did not get off, alongside the ship drew little boats filled with all sorts of goods, some of the native boys were diving under the water for money thrown in by the passengers.
Our next stop is at Colombo in Ceylon. At the moment we are halfway through the Suez Canal.
We also visited the museum which was full of statues dug up from Pompeii which was covered by lava. We are all keeping fine.

Yours Sincerely

Tim Cassidy

Dear Mr & Mrs Munro

Just a short note to let you know how much…we are getting on. We have had very hot weather so we just enjoy ourselves. We stopped at Napes and went on tour round the beautiful city. Today we stopped at Port Said and on came people selling their poor expensive goods. We are sailing on a beautiful ship and the cabin accommodation is excellent. We go nearly every night to the pictures and I enjoyed them very much.

Yours sincerely


Dear Mr Munro

I hope you are having a good time at Scotland and when I went to Egypt there were lots of wee boats coming towards the ship selling wee…of toys, bags and carpets and lots of …things. And it was a very hot day and …day. Every …body …was bringing ropes up.

Love from Alex

Dear Mr Munro,

Here we are delayed in the …lakes half way through the Suez. The convoy coming north has taken from 6am to 4pm to pass through so we are still waiting.
The boys seem to be enjoying themselves now. Jackie was very depressed for the first two days but has now made one of two friends and appears much happier.
They are all hoping to see something …to buy so are trying to save. …go to school for an hour each day but I don’t think they are overworked as it’s mostly games or drawing. They also have an hours’ TV at the children’s session after tea. I think most of the folk at Quarrier’s with whom they were friendly will be hearing from them all, as they have needed no encouragement to buy postcards.
This is just a short note from us all. I shall write a fuller letter later.

With kind regards to you,

Carol Reid

Dear Mr Munro

I am having a lovely time on the 'Canberra'. I have got a pal his name is Tony. We went ashore at Naples. We get good food on the ship. The steward is very nice. We went to a volcano.

From Billy

detail of hand written letter

Dear Mr Munro

I am having a good trip on the ship 'Canberra'. At Naples we went on a tour of the city and I saw some of the American Navy in the harbour. I could see Vesuvius from the ship and today the temperature was 98 degrees.

Yours sincerely

Jack Cassidy

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