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On their Own: Britain's Child Migrants: Medallion tells of the leaving of Liverpool

LIVERPOOL.- Liverpool is linking up with Australia to tell the emotional story of child and youth migration.

From 1860 until the 1960s migration schemes saw youngsters and teenagers separated from families and sent to the ends of the earth to begin new lives.

Many were orphaned or had come from poor families who could no longer look after them and it was felt Australia and Canada provided better opportunities and a standard of life.

Youth migration schemes shared similar aims as child migration, recruiting rural workers and populating the empire. Youth migrants were usually slightly older and had more choices about what happened to them, meaning that they were more easily able to move on with their lives without regret.

Children sailed from Liverpool, Glasgow, London and Southampton. While many found happiness, others suffered abuse and exploitation.

National Museums Liverpool has partnered with the Australian National Maritime Museum to develop a touring exhibition which opens in Sydney this autumn.

Liverpool stories and artefacts will form part of the "On their own - Britain’s child migrants" exhibition.

Fourteen-year-old Everton schoolboy William Nevin left Liverpool behind in 1911. Bound for New Zealand, he never saw his home again.

William married, had children and was successful in business. But he never forgot about his family and kept one Liverpool thing with him throughout his life – a medallion awarded to him at Major Lester school in Everton for being a star pupil. That medallion is one of the artefacts set to appear in Sydney.

William’s niece Phyllis Clark from Woolton said: “Because he was successful at school he was chosen to go to New Zealand. It was seen as an honour. So one day these men arrived in bowler hats from Alfred Holt shipping company and off he went. The family had never even heard of New Zealand – it was like they were taking William to the moon.

“We were given the medallion two years ago by William’s family in New Zealand to return to Liverpool. William had died in the 1970s. He’d kept it all his life as a memento of his roots. And in some ways the medallion is one of the reasons why he left Liverpool behind – he excelled at school which is why he was chosen to go.”

National Museums Liverpool and the Australian National Maritime Museum have just launched an online message board – – for people to share their memories and experiences of child migration.

Rachel Mulhearn, director of Merseyside Maritime Museum, said: “From the late 19th century Britain sent more than 100,000 children to Canada, Australia and other Commonwealth countries. It was believed they would have a better life working in the clean expanses of the British Empire where they were the source of much-needed labour.

“While many had happy experiences and began new lives, the separation for some from the homes and families often led to a lonely, brutal childhood. Today many former child migrants and their families are still coming to terms with their dislocation.

“The "On their own" exhibition will tell some of the stories of children who migrated and of their families left behind.”

"On their own" opens in Sydney, Australia and is set to come to the Merseyside Maritime Museum in 2011.

In November 2009 the Australian Government issued an apology to children who suffered in institutional care. The British Government also apologised to former child migrants in 2010. "On their Own" will tell some of their stories.

Liverpool | National Museums Liverpool | Australian National Maritime Museum |

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