Arrival at Plymouth Harbour, England

By Averil Staunton

Plymouth Harbour was the port of embarkation for all Australia bound Orphans. The steamer crossed the Irish Sea twice weekly from Dublin with the voyage lasting 2 days. This would have been the first time the orphans would have been on the open sea; no doubt some of them were seasick.

This first section of the girls’ long voyage to Australia was considered the worst part of the experience. There were four parliamentary enquiries between 1848 and 1854 to investigate the often dreadful conditions for impoverished passengers. The steamers plying the route had an open deck for less well-off passengers and they were often frozen and drenched at Plymouth.

On arrival the girls would have met officials and members of a Ladies’ Association formed to take care of them and meet any needs before embarking on such a long voyage. The following days were spent in the Depot where their papers were examined and their boxes checked for correct clothing.

A Medical Officer would have ensured they were vaccinated against small pox and that they were in good health and fit to travel.  Representatives of the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners would have organized them into ‘messes’, a Navy term for a group of people gathered together to eat aboard ship. Their hair was checked for lice and they were instructed to take a bath, which was not popular at that time!

You will see an extract from this list later in the course.


Course: Remembering our Heritage – Ballinrobe Workhouse

Course instructors

No instructors available.