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Hathaway Family, Assisted English Migrants, 1951

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Source: Museum Victoria

Stanley and Lucy Hathaway:
Stanley and Lucy (nee Simmons) Hathaway and their daughter Hazel were living in Coventry, in the West Midlands in England when World War II broke out. Stanley was a mechanical engineer and had moved to Coventry to work at a truck and later aeroplane manufacturing factory. He and Lucy had married in 1938 and she had followed him to Coventry soon afterwards.

Coventry suffered severe bomb damage during the War, most notoriously from a massive Luftwaffe air raid known as the 'Coventry Blitz' on 14 November 1940. More than 4,000 houses were damaged or destroyed, along with around three-quarters of the city's industrial plants which had a high concentration of armament, munitions, and aircraft production. More than 800 people were killed, with thousands injured and homeless. Nevertheless, the family remained in Coventry until 1946, having survived the bombings, and they were present for the Victory in Europe celebrations on 8 May 1945 for which Lucy made Hazel a special dress to wear.

The Hathaways relocated to Wing in a neighbouring country of Buckinghamshire in 1947 where Stanley purchased a hardware store at 44 High Street. Lucy had been working for the Singer Sewing Machine company as a sales representative and demonstrator. She continued her longstanding involvement with the Girl Guides. Their second daughter Merle was born in Wing in 1948, and prior to 1950 the family also resided in New Forest and Ringwood in Hampshire.

It was around 1950 that the family decided to migrate to Australia as they were being pushed out of business by another larger store. Stanley had expressed an interest in migrating to Australia many years earlier. The family sold up, and bought a caravan to live in. They applied successfully to the Assisted Passage Migration Scheme but had to wait about two years before departing. Putting all their belongings into storage, they purchased a second smaller caravan and went caravanning around England while awaiting the finalisation of their passage. On 17 November, 1951 Stanley, Lucy and their two daughters Hazel (aged 12) and Merle (aged 3), departed England on the 'New Australia', travelling via the Suez Canal and arrived in Melbourne in time for Christmas. The luggage and contents lists that Stanley kept show that the family were able to transport a number of goods in their homemade crate, including Lucy's singer sewing machine and Stanley's work tools.

They first stayed (probably for a few weeks) at the Bathurst Migrant Camp in New South Wales (one of the major migrant reception centres in Australia, accepting around 100,000 migrants between 1948 and 1952). The accommodation was basic - army surplus iron sheds and timber barracks which were unlined, unheated and offered little privacy. The family was then relocated to Ballarat in Victoria where an acute housing shortage had led to the establishment of a housing commission estate on the former Ballarat Common (now Wendouree West) under construction between 1951 and 1962. They were housed in Nissen tin huts but within six months they had purchased a block of land near Ballarat Grammar, where they designed a house, living in a borrowed caravan while it was built.

The family joined the Jubilee Methodist Church and Stanley joined the church choir and later the Civic Male and City of Ballarat Choirs. He had a high, sweet tenor voice and singing was one of his passions.  He also was a keen member the chorus of the Ballarat Light Opera Company (and probably its oldest performing member). Lucy worked as a volunteer for a local committee which would establish the McCallum House Centre for Retarded Children at Sebastopol (where Lucy became Supervisor for 17 years). Her mother Sarah Simmons joined the family in 1958 but was never very happy in Australia. She missed city life and hated the 'green' (countryside). The family remained staunch supporters of the English Royal family, collecting memorabilia relating to the 1954 Coronation, and the 1954 and 1983 Royal Visits. They also continued their involvement with the Brownies and Girl Guides. The couple relocated to Northcote in Melbourne in 1968 and Lucy became Supervisor of another children's centre in Epping. She went on to become Northcote's first female councillor.

After they both retired, Lucy and Stanley followed their daughter Merle to Buninyong near Ballarat, purchasing a block of land in the main street. They bought a log cabin kit home for which Stanley drew up all the plans and together they built the house.  Lucy and Stanley became Secretary and Treasurer of the Buninyong Labor Party, and joined the local Bowling and Senior Citizens clubs. They also took woodworking lessons. Stanley had a series of strokes over time and died in 1990. Lucy became active with various support groups and clubs, both community and church. As a child she had had rheumatic fever and in her 80's developed a serious heart condition. Against advice Lucy underwent a highly risky valve replacement operation around 2000 and she lived for another nine years, passing away in 2009.

Hazel Hathaway:
After Lucy and Stanley returned to Ballarat (Buninyong), Hazel rented a flat in Northcote while working at Fairfield Infectious Diseases Hospital. She retired before the official retirement age on a disability pension initially as she had had several serious schizophrenic episodes while at Fairfield. She then moved to Buninyong to live near her parents. She joined the Delacombe Salvation Army, Buninyong Bowling Club and Buninyong Senior Citizens Club and, especially after her father's death, became a constant companion to her mother. Hazel continued to have occasional schizophrenic episodes, and more intensive care meant she had to be admitted to a hostel in Sebastopol, which she hated. Diagnosed with bowel cancer, Hazel died aged only 65.

Merle Hathaway:
Merle attended Wendouree Primary School, Ballarat High School, and Ballarat School of Mines, studying sculpture, ceramics and photography. She married sculptor Michael Young in December 1969 and they travelled in Europe and North Africa for three years, particularly visiting galleries, museums and architectural sites. On their return in late 1972 they rented before purchasing the old Buninyong brewery in 1973 which they restored and which Merle continues to run as a business. She finished her art and education training, worked as an art teacher at Sebastopol Technical College for seven years and then held various education, arts and community arts positions in Ballarat. She furthered her qualifications in museum studies and tourism and went on to become Director of Horsham Regional Art Gallery and then Executive Officer of the Public Galleries Association. During her mother's final years as her health declined Hazel spent a great deal of time with Lucy.

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