With the cessation of hostilities after the end of WW2 in 1945, a number of Immigration Schemes were introduced by many countries keen to replace a depleted workforce and to reinvigorate their respective economies.
In the lead of such activity was Australasia, specifically Australia.
The normal cost of a sea passage to Australia in 1947 was about £120 and the Australian Government, in conjunction with the UK, subsidised £110 of this meaning immigrants were only paying £10 to get there. It must have been one of the most successful planned emigration schemes ever and who hasn’t frequently heard, even now-a-days, the phrase ‘Ten Pound Poms’. Some claim the term was misleading since, as Scottish and Welsh migrants are quick to insist, the word ‘Pom’, whether used in a derogatory or affectionate sense, refers to English migrants exclusively! However, it resulted, during the 1950s and 60s, in over 1 million Britons emigrating to Australia with some 25% deciding that life in Australia was not for them and returning home. However, 50% of the ‘returnees’, within a few years, reversed that decision and went back ‘down under’. They were known as the Boomerang Poms!
1968 was the peak year of emigration, with 600,000 Britons heading for Australia. It was really a “Win-Win” situation with the passenger liner companies joining in the bonanza which boosted passenger traffi c to sunnier and warmer climates.
An early vessel utilised, was New Australia (formerly the Monarch of Bermuda) which was specially reconstructed after fire damage as an emigrant carrier by the UK Ministry of Transport to carry 1,538 passengers. Many thousands of ‘Ten Pound Poms’ also sailed from the United Kingdom on board P&O - Orient Line ships to their new life down under. Many of them thrived, quickly settling in to their new way of life in an exciting, easy-going, friendly new world.
As the demand for the assisted passage scheme grew, and commercial shipbuilding resumed after the War, investment in new, faster and more economic ships increased the capacity and speed of the passage to Australia. Amongst others, P&O utilised the Arcadia and Iberia on the service in 1954 while Orient Line placed the Orcades, Oronsay and Orsova to be available to meet the demand for the emigrants requiring travel to Australia.