My dad, Laurence (Larry) BAMFORD was born at home at 15 Adlington St, Macclesfield, Cheshire in 1910 to Sam BAMFORD and Lily HEANEY and he was the eldest of their 3 children. At the time, his father was working as a Silk Dyer Journeyman.
Dad’s brother was born in 1913 and his sister, Lily in 1921. Sadly in 1926, their mother, also named Lily died from breast cancer. Sam was very unlucky to lose his second wife so young as he had already endured that loss in 1907 when his first wife, Elsie HALL died of Pleurisy and Peritonitis only 4 months after their marriage. So cruel.
I learnt that Dad attended St George’s C. E. School, Macclesfield when I was given this photo and I’ve very recently found details of his schooling (thanks so much, Cheshire Archives). He attended St George’s school from Infants and moved into the upper school in 1918 when he was 8.
He left school in early 1924 soon after his 14th birthday. Later, his brother and sister also had their education there. I noticed that Lily was described at “Lillian” which surprised me as I had not heard or seen anything to that effect. While Dad didn’t get a secondary education, he was very literate and one of his sayings was that “you learn something new every day”.
The family is listed at living at 75 St George’s St in Macclesfield in the St George’s CE school register from 1918 – 1925 and I notice that Dad’s home address on the passenger list in 1927 was the same. But by the time, Lily went to the senior school in 1929; they were living in “Fern Lea” in Saville St.
Dad mentioned working for an electrician before he left for Australia. He must have owned a pushbike as he often talked about riding on Roman roads in order to impress on me how old England was and Australia wasn’t. Of course, that was several decades before the information that the First Nations people were here 60,000 years ago became widely known.
My grandfather, Sam was a volunteer in both WW1 and WW2 with St John’s Ambulance and in WW2 with Heavy Rescue as well. I have one photo of Dad and his father in a group photo with St John’s volunteers taken about 1919 – I’ve no idea what a boy of 9 or 10 could do to help. It was among the many things he didn’t talk about!
By this time the BAMFORD family was involved in the Salvation Army; I know that Sam played in their band for over 50 years (see Salvation Army post link). I have a programme and photo of the Celebration of Brother Bamford’s 50 years with the band in 1957; so he must have joined in 1907; perhaps after the tragic death of his first wife. I believe that Dad played the cornet in the years before he emigrated to Australia. This, however, came to an end when Dad decided to emigrate to Australia in 1927 thru a programme promoted by the Salvation Army but partly paid for by the Australian government and the young man himself.
Sadly, I never asked Dad why he left his family – it must have been such a huge decision to leave home in a silk and cotton town at 17 years old and cross to the other side of the world only with the boys he travelled with on the ship. As far as I can understand, the programme was devised because Australia needed farm workers and the Salvos got involved as they wanted to find useful occupations for boys on the streets but Dad didn’t fit that description as he had a family, a job and a home. There are no other Macclesfield boys on the passenger list so he didn’t travel with anyone he knew and certainly never mentioned any of the other boys nor did he keep in contact with any of them.
The passenger list for Dad’s ship, the Ormonde informs us there were 34 English boys, 1 Scot, 4 Irish and 1 “other countries” travelling under the group name, Salvation Army Lads. On board were boys involved in other schemes to work as farm labourers.
The opportunity to emigrate to sunny Australia was promoted in the well known Salvo journal, the War Cry so I presume that’s where Dad learnt about the scheme. Still it must have needed a lot of courage to tell his recently widowed father he wanted to go to Australia as a Salvation Army farm labourer. There is a family story that I didn’t hear about till about 15 years ago that he left because his father was marrying again but he never once talked about his reasons for leaving every one behind. He believed you never looked back but always looked forward.
My research shows the boys had around 12 weeks of farm training on Hadleigh Farm in Essex before shipping out. When they landed in Brisbane, they were taken to the Salvation Army’s Riverview Farm for training on milking, saddling horses etc. .
My research shows that the British, Queensland and Australian governments were all contributing to the cost of running Riverview Farm and there are some critical reports written at the time and freely available online in the National Archives of Australia. We had the opportunity a few years ago to visit Riverview which is still owned by the Salvos but hasn’t been a training institution for a long time. It was a very special day for us to walk around the place where my father first worked and lived in Australia – some of the buildings are still there. The farm is bordered on one side by the Bremer River.
The records held in Queensland State Archives show that one of the boys, Patrick Walsh drowned in the river a couple of days after their arrival which must have been incredibly difficult for the boys as they started their new lives in Australia. I wonder if Dad could swim as I don’t think there would have been many opportunities in Macclesfield but I could be wrong.
After 3 or 4 months of training, the boys were sent out to Queensland farms and because this programme was funded by the governments including the Australia, the Salvos had to send reports to Canberra and these reports are in the National Archives of Australia and available freely online. Dad was sent to Queensland town of Murgon to work on the farm of Mr. P. Smythe, Boat Mountain Road, Murgon.
If this is your ancestor and you have any memories of this English lad coming to work on your farm in 1927, I’d love to hear from you.
I don’t know how long he stayed in Murgon but by 1933 (dates on photos in his handwriting) he was working in Mt Isa; he never mentioned mining so I presume he was working on a property. The few photos in my possession seem to indicate that. They are mainly dated from 1933; I also don’t know how he decided to go further NW from Murgon to such a remote place. He may also have worked somewhere between his time in Murgon and Mt Isa.
From the few photos I’ve have of dad’s time in Mt Isa; it’s obvious he must have enjoyed swimming (see above) and as there is the following photo of the Mt Isa Swimming Club on their way to nearby Paroo.
By 1937, he was back in Brisbane working on the Brisbane river (why, I’ve no idea as he had no river or sea experience) and certainly had some adventures there.
One of Dad’s favourite sayings was about charity being cold so I presume he was talking about his experience with the Salvation Army. Interestingly, he never mentioned going back to England (not that we could afford any holidays let alone going overseas) nor did he refer to England being “home”. He believed in adapting to life in his new country
I’m so grateful to the National Archives of Australia for their free digital newspapers, TROVE as I was able to learn more about my dad’s life in Brisbane before he enlisted.
Several years ago, an aunt told me that Dad had been shipwrecked before the war and had written to his father in Macclesfield asking him to send copies of identity documents. I found that difficult to believe as I understood that he’d not been to sea before his war service. To my surprise when searching on Trove some time later, I found out that she was right!
Later that month, the Marine Board held an Inquiry into the shipwreck and the lawyers of the Insurer and Owner questioned whether the boat or the Master had certification to go out to sea or should only have been in the Brisbane River and who exactly was the Owner. A few years ago, I was able to find the minutes of the Marine Board inquiry as a result of a research trip to the Queensland State Archives in the Brisbane suburb of Runcorn.
The Minute book does not record the minutes of the Inquiry but records that the Inquiry heard from the “Man-In-Charge”, Albert WILLIAMS and G H H on the morning of 27th June. In the afternoon, Dad, Alfred W. A…… and G. W. HURST gave their evidence about the events of that night.
On the 3rd July, the Board met to consider the evidence. The lawyer for the Owner wanted to have more of the crew of the pilot boat, the Matthew Flinders brought to the Inquiry but that was deemed too difficult as it was leaving port soon.
The Board met again on 5th July and adopted the Findings of the Inquiry and decided they would be made public on Wed 12th July. I don’t have a copy of the Findings so I’ll have to wait till I get back to the QSA one day.
Dad was back in Brisbane as a witness for a court case in March 1940 when there was a case regarding the payment of the Insurance on the ship.
Also in TROVE, I found 6 articles in Brisbane’s The Telegraph in September 1939 – just 2 months before Dad enlisted for WW2. They reported on a very nasty court case in Brisbane in which Dad was a minor witness; the husband accused his wife of adultery (which was the one of the few reasons a couple could be divorced at that time) with the Boatswain of the MV Atlantic that Dad was working on (see above).
The husband claimed that his wife had been seen leaving the Boatswain’s cabin by crew and other people on board. Her lawyer claimed all the evidence had been manufactured and that the husband was violent, drank heavily and had affairs. His lawyer claimed she’d left him a few times but come back, that she drank heavily and upset his clients. The jury found that the wife hadn’t committed adultery so the husband couldn’t divorce his wife. (I’ve decided not to publish the newspaper reports as I don’t feel its right to publish information about someone else’s ancestors)
I wonder what happened with a result like that as they couldn’t get divorced, therefore, they couldn’t marry again – what an unhappy situation. Before 1975, there were a number of grounds for divorce but proof was required that in many cases was difficult to find. Here is a history of divorce in Australia. In 1975, the Whitlam Govt brought in No Fault divorce and the only evidence required was a 12 month separation.
Dad spent the war working up and down the east coast of Australia and Papua New Guinea while moving from one RAAF base to another and was demobbed in early 1946. When I found out from his RAAF file (I paid to have it copied by the National Archives of Australia several years ago and now it’s available free online at NAA) that he was based at Pt Cook near Melbourne for nearly 2 years from June 1940, I assumed that’s when he and mum met as Mum was Melbourne born and bred and they married in June 1944 in Melbourne. Six months after their marriage, he was sent on his longest trip which lasted nearly 12 months which must have been very hard on the newly weds. I plan to write a further blog post about his wartime experiences.
Something that has only occurred to me in the last 5 years is that by the time I was born, some twenty years after his arrival in Aust, Dad had lost his northern English accent. I’m guessing that in order to assimilate into Aust society he decided to lose his northern accent. In fact, he had quite a plummy English accent and expected me to speak well too.
The other day while watching ABC’s Casey Briggs’ showing us the statistics and charts relevant to the Covid crisis, I suddenly remembered another of Dad’s sayings. He often said, “There are lies, damned lies and statistics“. This was followed by “you can do anything you want with statistics to prove your own point of view”. Initially, I thought this quote was attributed to Mark Twain but limited research on my part found this interesting opinion from the Dept of Mathematics at University of York.