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Photograph album from on board NEW AUSTRALIA

Date: 1955
Overall: 22 x 330 x 232 mm, 1.45 kg
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Vaughan Evans
Object Name: Photograph album
Object No: V00001546

User Terms

    Photo album containing 88 photographs taken by Vaughan Evans in 1955 aboard migrant ship SS NEW AUSTRALIA and his arrival in Sydney.
    SignificanceThis collection of photographs taken by 'Ten Pound Pom' Vaughan Evans on SS NEW AUSTRALIA relates to a significant period in Australia's immigration history, when the Australian Government assisted more than one million Britons to emigrate after World War II in a bid to 'populate or perish.'
    HistoryBorn in England in 1924, Vaughan Evans served in the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm during World War II. After the war he worked as an assistant hull underwriter for Bland Welch and Co at Lloyd's of London until 1955, when he agreed to take over Prudential Assurance Company's Australian marine insurance portfolio in Sydney and migrated to Australia. Having always wanted to travel to Australia or New Zealand, Evans took advantage of the Australian Commonwealth Government's post-war assisted migration scheme and paid £10 for passage in a six-berth cabin on D-deck aboard the migrant ship SS NEW AUSTRALIA. The British migrants under this scheme were later nicknamed 'Ten Pound Poms'.

    NEW AUSTRALIA was built by Vickers-Armstrong and launched 17 March 1931 as the MONARCH OF BERMUDA. It served Furness, Withy & Co's New York - Bermuda run until 1939 when it was requisitioned for war service as a troopship. After the war the vessel underwent refurbishment for passenger service at Liverpool, where it caught fire, burnt to the waterline and was declared a total loss. The wreck was then purchased by the Ministry of Transport and rebuilt in Southampton as the migrant ship NEW AUSTRALIA. Managed by Shaw Savill & Albion Line, NEW AUSTRALIA embarked on its first voyage from Southampton, England to Sydney, Australia on 15 August 1950. NEW AUSTRALIA continued serving as a migrant ship until January 1958 when the vessel was sold to the Greek Line and renamed ARKADIA.

    On 19 January 1955, a calm and sunny winter's day, Vaughan Evans boarded NEW AUSTRALIA at Southampton port, south England, and waved goodbye to his girlfriend and neighbours as he sailed for Sydney. It was the migrant ship's 18th voyage to Australia. On board were 504 crew and 1,584 passengers - 400 of whom were children (at that stage, the smallest number of children ever for NEW AUSTRALIA).

    On 22 January, three days after leaving Southampton, NEW AUSTRALIA passed through the Straits of Gibraltar. On 24 January, the vessel arrived in Malta and anchored in Valletta harbour while about 250 RAAF servicemen, some with families, boarded the ship. When the ship reached Port Said on 27 January it was swarmed by 'bumboats' selling bags, wallets, fabric, baskets, food and other goods. Shortly after NEW AUSTRALIA joined a convoy of ships and entered the Suez Canal.

    On leaving the canal at Port Suez, NEW AUSTRALA steamed down the Gulf of Suez, the Red Sea, and eventually navigated the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb to arrive in Aden, Arabia (now Yemen) on 31 January. After mooring in the main harbour, the passengers went ashore by motor launches at a cost of 2 shillings and 4 pence return. Evans visited Ma'ala Bander in the hope of seeing Arab dhows, and in his diary he notes, 'delight of delights, there were scores of dhows … dhows of all sorts could be seen, supported on legs, being built, repaired and some in decay'. On 2 February NEW AUSTRALIA crossed the Arabian Sea and arrived at Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) on 5 February. While the ship completed bunkering and watering, Evans went ashore by launch and walked about the city, taking photographs and buying souvenirs.

    Around this time, the hot and cramped conditions on D-deck began to take their toll on Evans and other passengers. In his diary Evan writes:

    '... my own cabin is one of the least desirable - it is on the lowest accommodation deck ('D' deck); it is on the starboard side - the hot side; it is immediately opposite the toilets and so we have the doubtful benefit of the late night serenades of the semi-drunks; and it is immediately under the galley, so from just after 5 o'clock every morning we are kept awake by the noise of churns and crates being dragged across the bare steel of the deck immediately above our heads, by the galley-slaves wearing hob-nailed boots' (Thursday 3 February 1955 - transcribed from Vaughan Evans' diary held in the Mitchell Library, Sydney).

    While travelling through the tropics, many passengers including Evans, could not face the stifling hot cabins and took to sleeping on the ship's hard wooden deck. Despite this, Evans goes on to note the positives such as 'ample washing facilities including showers, baths, drying and ironing rooms for clothes, cooled drinking water on tap, a well-stocked and not unduly expensive ship's shop, a barber, liberal bar hours ... a swimming pool on 'E' deck, and a library'.

    On 7 February NEW AUSTRALIA 'crossed the line' and three days later Evans saw the Southern Cross for the first time. On 13 February, Evans awoke at 6.30 am and saw the west coast of Australia - 'Low, sandy and scrubby, but Australia never the less'. After mooring alongside F-Shed in Fremantle harbour, passengers were able to collect mail and go ashore. Evans was greeted by Leslie Shenton - a member of the Shiplovers Society of Western Australia with whom Evans had been in correspondence - who took him on a tour of Perth and the district, before reboarding.

    Leaving Fremantle NEW AUSTRALIA entered the Southern Ocean and after crossing the Great Australian Bight entered Port Philip Bay and tied up at Station Pier, Melbourne. The next day Evans was given a tour of Melbourne by Mr Funder of Prudential's Melbourne General Branch and introduced to other Prudential staff. That afternoon NEW AUSTRALIA passed through Bass Straight and into the Pacific Ocean.

    On Sunday 20 February NEW AUSTRALIA passed under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and made fast by No 23-Shed, Pyrmont. Vaughan Evans' 32-day voyage from Southampton to Sydney had come to an end. He was met by Mr Reg Wyatt of Prudential and taken to 'Williams' Private Hotel' on Campbell Parade, Bondi, which the company provided for the first month. Evans later described the bed-and-breakfast accommodation as 'one of the most bug-ridden places you could ever imagine. [The landlady's] idea of breakfast was a continuous pot of curry' (Vaughan Evans, June 1984).

    After a few weeks (and a few pay checks, having arrived in Australia with only £20) Evans explored his new homeland, taking bus rides through Sydney and railway excursions to the Hunter Valley, the Shoalhaven, Snowy Mountains and Bathurst. Evans was posted to Prudential's Melbourne branch in September 1955 and stayed there until Easter 1959, when he returned permanently to Sydney. He worked for the Prudential Assurance Company until his retirement in 1984.

    Evans' passion for maritime history continued while living in Australia. He was an advisor and consultant on maritime history issues to Federal and State governments and institutions, and as such both advocated and gave shape to the formation of the Australian National Maritime Museum. Evans was a founder of the Australian Association for Maritime History and also its long-time newsletter editor. His extensive personal library, donated in 1986, formed the nucleus of the ANMM library's holdings. Evans was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 1988 for his role in raising the standards and profile of the discipline of maritime history. He died in 1993.

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