May 132012

    is for Asturias!

The ship upon which my Father and  Grandmother emigrated to Australia in 1949.

Thanks to Alona for thinking of this Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge   

Lots of possibilities here as we go through the alphabet!

Anyway back to the Asturias. This ship carried a lot of ‘Ten Pound Poms” from England, during the 1940s and 1950s, ready to start a new life in Australia. There is a great website for anyone interested in this ship.

My Grandfather, Leslie Smith, had died during WW2.

It had been a dream of Leslie’s to go to Australia to visit his brother Frank, who had come to Australia aboard the ‘Largs Bay’ in 1934 and who had then settled in Sydney.

My Grandmother, Lilian Maud Smith decided that life in England wasn’t as good as it could be.

Australia was looking for emigrants and while usually, it would have been difficult for a widow and nine year old boy to be considered ideal emigrants, the fact her brother-in-law Frank was willing to sponsor them made the difference and Lilian decided to emigrate.

(Potentially there was also the desire to leave the continual advice from family and friends on the best way to rear a nine year old boy, but that is a bit of supposition on my part, due to a couple of comments overheard when I was younger.)

They left from Southampton on the 3rd May 1949. Life on board the ship was very different. Lilian must have been worried about the future and what life in Australia would be like but for Dad  it was a massive adventure!

At the time of leaving, there was still rationing in England and there was much reconstruction work being done. 

Dad saw white bread for the first time aboard the ship AND he could have as much of it as he wanted! He made friends with the stewards and it became routine for them to bring him two deserts! 

The food was one of Dad’s enduring memories of the voyage.
The other was the time he had roaming everywhere on the ship including down in engine rooms and just about any place he could fit. He had always been interested in mechanical things, possibly something he inherited from his father so he had a great time down in the engine room.

They arrived in Fremantle first on the 28 May and eventually sailed through the Heads into Sydney 4 June, a voyage of a month and a day. 

The National Archives website has the passenger list at Fremantle indexed.  All passengers were listed regardless of their eventual destination and over 879 000 names from 1 January 1921 – 15 January 1950. This should be the first place you look as it will give the name of the ship and the date of arrival in Fremantle which is information you will need to do further research. Other information about the emigration process will be held by the Commonwealth archive in the state of arrival or in Canberra.

So A is for Asturias the name of the ship that started it all for me by bringing Dad to Australia where he could meet and marry Mum and then there was me!


  5 Responses to “A is for Asturias”

  1. Loved the last paragraph – without our ancestors meeting up none of us would be here!

  2. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if Leslie hadn't died. He had completed his cabinet-makers apprenticeship and had started an antique restores apprenticeship when the war started.

    I think he would have visited Australia to see his brother but I don't think they would have stayed as there wouldn't have been the job opportunities for an antique restorer here although he could have worked as a cabinet-maker. I suppose it depends whether we think fate is meant to be and in that case maybe Mum went to England . Who knows?

  3. Fabulous post Helen, and I have to agree with Shauna, the last paragraph is wonderful.

  4. What a brave woman your Grandmother, Lillian Maud Smith, to travel all that way, into the unknown and with sole responsibility for a nine year old boy! ~~~ Lovely story Helen and perfect for Mothers Day 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  5. Thanks Catherine. Yes Lilian was a brave woman and worked very hard in Australia. They got a vegetable garden going and a good poultry shed. Lilian used to take string bags of vegetables in to her workplace to sell to the other workers and Dad used to sell carnations to the restaurants as ways of earning money. He would also collect bottles and also clean out the bakery stables behind their home.

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