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Ward Family, Assisted English Migrants, 1961


Image: Asset

Source: Museum Victoria

James and Mary Ward and their three children, Patricia, David and Jennifer, were part of the assisted British post-World War II migration to Australia. The Wards migrated to Australia in 1961 under the 'Bring Out A Briton' scheme, which offered subsidised ship fares, accommodation and employment opportunities for British migrants from 1957 until 1982. They were sponsored by the Burke Road East Malvern Methodist Church and settled in Malvern, Victoria. Mary Harriet Needham (1921 - 2011) and James William Ward (1921 - 2004) met in Scrooby Top, England, at the ages of twenty-one. Mary was born in Sturton-Le-Steeple Nottinghamshire, but moved to Scrooby Top when she was three along with her parents, five brothers and two sisters. Working as a nurse during the War she met a 'handsome man called Jim Ward', whom 'she got to know and began walking out with' (Ward and Ward, 2001: 11). James was born in Middlesbrough and posted to Scrooby Top with the Royal Air Force during World War II. After three years of courting, they married on the 23rd of June in 1945 at St Wilfred's Church in Scrooby Top. Their first child, Patricia, was born in the following year.

The Wards returned to Middlesbrough, where they had two more children, David, in 1949, and Jennifer, in 1951. James worked in the laboratory of the Imperial Chemical Industries (I.C.I.) plant, at Wilton, situated immediately outside of Middlesbrough. He was employed by I.C.I. for over twenty-one years, where he was considered 'a careful and conscientious worker of the highest integrity' (Mulhern, 1961, per. comm.,13 Oct.).

The Ward family left for Australia on the 7th of November in 1961. Many years later in Australia, James and Mary describe how they felt it was 'a good opportunity for a new life and future for our children' (The Star, 24 Jan 1995: 14). Having grown up in Middlesbrough, the birthplace of Captain James Cook, James had a strong interest in Australia, 'through Captain Cook's voyages' (Ward and Ward, 2001: 12). Mary wanted to give her children a better future and thought it was important to migrate whilst her children were still young. They looked forward to '[a] land of sunshine (a big appeal) of good work opportunities, wide-open spaces, unusual birds and animals' (ibid, 2001: 12).

Jim and Mary applied to Australia House in London to emigrate to Australia under the assisted migration scheme. After they were accepted they heard about the 'Bring Out A Briton' scheme from their church minister, who introduced them to the idea of sponsorship from the Methodist Church in Australia. In July of 1961, they received an aerogram from Rev. Johnson, Convener of the Victorian Immigration Committee, Methodist Church of Australasia, verifying 'that the church would find a sponsor and an offer of accommodation' and ensuring them of a warm welcome (Ward and Barlow: 2011, 2).

James and Mary Ward and their three children left Yorkshire and arrived at the Tilbury docks, London, on the 7th of November in 1961 to board the S.S. Stratheden. Mary thought the 44,000 ton Peninsula and Oriental (P&O) ship S.S. Stratheden was 'big and beautiful' (Ward and Ward, 2001: 13). The Wards arrived in Melbourne, after a five week journey via Aden, Bombay, Singapore, Perth and Adelaide, on the 13th of December 1961. They were greeted by members of the Burke Road Methodist Church wearing 'Bring Out A Briton' badges, including the Secretary of the church 'Bring Out A Briton' committee Alex Barlow, his wife Betty and family. When arriving at their temporary home, they were met by many others of the Church community and the Ward family felt 'very overwhelmed by such a reception' (ibid., 2001: 15).

The Church's support included temporary accommodation for assisted families in a nearby house. Mary and James Ward lived at 371 Wattletree Road, East Malvern, from the 13th December 1961 until the 2nd of December in 1962 (Barlow, 1964: 1). Whilst the Wards were sad to leave England, they felt very welcome in Australia and particularly with the members of the Burke Road Methodist Church. Mary felt that whilst they had 'left our loved ones and our friends in England. Here was our new family and we felt at home' (Ward, 2001: 15). The Wards bought a house in the area and remained in the church community, welcoming other British families sponsored by the Burke Road Methodist Church. The Ward and Barlow families remained close friends and in 1973 the Ward's youngest daughter, Jennifer, would marry Bill, the eldest son of Alex and Betty Barlow. The Burke Road Methodist Church was closed and demolished in 1984, replaced by flats for the elderly of Malvern. Unsurprisingly, the Wards 'felt this loss very deeply' (Ward, 2001: 16). This is one of many similar examples of the role of the Methodist Church in supporting British migrants through the 'Bring Out A Briton' sponsorship scheme.

Nineteen years after their arrival in Australia, James and Mary applied for Australian citizenship. They received their citizenship at the Malvern Town Hall, on Thursday, 2 October, 1980 (Birrell, 1980, per. comm., 29 Sep.). In 1990 they bought a home in Inverloch, attracted by the village lifestyle, and became foundation members of the Inverloch Historical Society, of which Jim was Treasurer. In 2000, they were invited to attend the official Inverloch Australia Day Ceremony in recognition of their migrant heritage and as residents of Inverloch.


Barlow, A. G. (1964) 'Secretary's Report on Bring Out a Briton Committee's Operations, Methodist Church, East Malvern: July 1959 to May 1964'. Unpublished Manuscript. Museum Victoria, Victoria.
Barlow, A. G. (1972) 'Minute book and associated papers for the Bring Out A Briton Committee of the Methodist Church Burke Road, East Malvern: 8 July 1959 to 15 March 1972'. Unpublished Manuscript. Museum Victoria, Victoria.
Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (2001) 'Immigration: Federation to Century's End'. Commonwealth of Australia, Australia.
Gosbell, E. J. (1963) 'A cloud of witnesses. Burke Road, East Malvern Methodist Church Golden Jubilee Record 1913 - 1963'. McKellar Press Pty Limited. Malvern, Victoria.
Hammerton, A. and Thomson, A. (2005) 'Ten Pound Poms: A life History of British Postwar Emigration to Australia'. Manchester University Press, United Kingdom.
'To Australia They Came' The Star, 24 January, 1995.
Ward, M. and Barlow, W. ( 2011) 'The Voyage Out: The story of the Ward family's emigration to Australia in 1961'. William Barlow, Victoria.
Ward, M. and Ward, J. (2001) 'Scrooby Top to Inverloch: England to Australia'. Norman Deacon Publishing, Inverloch Historical Society. Inverloch, Victoria.

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