February 28, 2009

Bill Charlton: Bellingham memories. Australia bound

Northumberland, history, memories, Bill Charlton, immigration, travel

By Bill Charlton

Australia bound
With our emigration application approved, and after the medicals etc, we were given six weeks to prepare to go. It was a very big decision time for us. Do we or don’t we go, was the question. We decided to go, and after two years (which we had to stay in any case as immigrants to claim the assisted passage) we’d either stay or return to the UK. We argued that if we didn’t go, we may have regretted it for the rest of our lives.

So I spent the time making packing cases in the back yard at the Croft over the Easter holidays in 80°F temperatures. The year before over the Easter Holidays we’d had 12 inches of snow – a big contrast.

We left with about half a Ton of cases which went ahead of us leaving for Tilbury Docks where we had to board the P.& O. Liner S.S. ORSOVA. We left on the 1st of May 1965, we stopped at Gibraltar, Naples, Port Said, Aden, Ceylon, Fremantle, Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney.
The Charlton clan on the S.S. Orsova, 1 May, 1965 bound for Van Dieman's Land

Sydney Immigrant's Camp
We went straight into the ‘National Camps Corporation Hostel’ for immigrants called ‘Bunnerong Hostel’ in Matraville Sydney. I Named this edifice Stalag Luft 3. We spent 2 years there and made lots of friends while we lived in Camp before moving out to our own house in Caringbah which a southern suburb of Sydney.

Both my parents came out to visit us in 1969-70 and also to see their new granddaughter Susan. While they were with us they both said that we had made the right decision to stay in Australia.

My first job was with the I.C.I. Chemical Plant which was near the Camp and paid good money for shift work, which I did for one year. Having saved a bit we bought a Morris Oxford car to get around a bit and to look at getting a different job away from Chemicals.

I started a new job with Thiess Bros as a fitter on earth moving equipment and spent the next 20 years of my working life there, progressing to ‘Charge Hand Fitter’ having 17 fitters and apprentices to look after. It certainly kept me quite busy plus ordering all parts required to carry out repairs.

Everything was big in Australia!

While on Holiday in 1986, the Company was taken over by a Consortium and we were all made redundant and paid off. I got other work driving a truck for a year, then leaving to work and maintain forklift trucks for a couple of years before selling our house and moving up north to Coffs Harbour and going into retirement

No regrets
Bill & Pat Charlton. From Bellingham
to Coff's Harbour with no regrets

We have never regretted making the move from UK to Australia, and are very happy in the house we have in Coffs, I now play lawn bowls as a recreational sport. I used to play golf but with a gammy knee I’m a bit restricted now. Once I did a good bit of fishing but I ended up selling the 15ft boat we had as every time I wanted to go out fishing the seas were too rough. Gardening, cutting grass and home maintenance keep me busy now.

Photo archive

Part of my retirement is discovering old photos.
Here's one I found recently of Cyril Scott (left) and me having a pint at the Rose & Crown in Bellingham about 1953 - judging by the style of the jackets!

Looks by the glasses that it's nigh time 'te git them in again'!

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