Thursday, 25 September 2014

Emigration during WW1

The First World War ended many established services that had been set up by the Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges and Homes. Activities such as the five workshops were closed naturally as the apprentices of age went off to war. Other homes were shut down in an attempt to save money. The final closure saw the halt of the emigration service. 


Emigration Party outside the Town Hall
The last child emigration party to leave the Manchester homes occurred on the 13th May 1914 when 13 girls sailed on the S.S Virginia under the charge of Miss Harriet Smethurst. The final boys’ party of 23, sailing under the guardianship of Mr. Thomas Ackroyd, had sailed on the S.S. Alsatian 4 weeks before on the 11 April. The children varied in age; the youngest just being out of primary school and the oldest being 18. As always the party docked in Halifax before making the long journey across country to Belleville, Ontario.


Working on a farm
Although this was the last party to be emigrated by the charity, it was not the end of the work in this service. By 1914, two years after the resignation of Robert Wallace, the Marchmont Home was being run by a Mr. And Mrs. Knight, under the ownership of a group of Trustees of the Manchester Refuges including James Fildes, Edwin Gaddum and Brian Crossley. The charity still had responsibility for the welfare and supervision of the children already placed in Canada and reports continued. The emigration books that remain in the archive show reports for children up to the age of eighteen and sometimes beyond.


Alfred's 1918 emigration report, aged 17
Occasional emigrations of older working children, over the age of 14, occurred in the early 1920s to Australia and New Zealand through the Liverpool Sheltering Homes who would continue to supervise them. These emigrations were requested by the child, who had to have written permission from their parents or guardians and provide appropriate documentation regarding their identity and schooling. The work in Canada however was over and Marchmont was finally handed over to Barnardo’s in 1925, whom closed the service down in August of that year.

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