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Monday, 28 May 2012

18. Bert's Brothers and Sisters in the 1920s

Bert's sister, Doll, had married in 1917, during the War. Her husband, Frederick Mayell, had worked on his family's market garden before setting up his own in Eastwood, where he and Doll lived. As well as vegetables for market, Doll raised chickens for meat and eggs, doing the processing herself. Their son, Frederick John, was born in 1918 and their daughter Megan in 1921. As the 1920s progressed, this family did well, able to feed themselves comfortably and make a profit.

Syd married in 1921 and lived not far away in Rochford, Essex. Stan married in 1922 and lived in Southend-on-Sea.

3 Ray boys outside Brookfields' glasshouse 1920s.
Bert's mother's home 1920s
Bert's mother was trying to make ends meet with what she could, with family help, grow, and earn in housekeeping jobs. Her family helped out by taking a lease on Brookfields, using money from their father's estate. Charles Higgs moved into the house with his family, and a room for Emily.

In 1923 the two youngest boys, Fred and Les, responded to advertisements to migrate to Canada under the Canadian Harvesters' Scheme designed to provide English labour to help harvest Canadian crops. The scheme focused on men with agricultural experience .The men who went were restricted to harvesting work. They were expected to save enough in the summer to tide them over the long Canadian winters without working in the towns or cities where they would have competed with Canadians for jobs.

Les and Fred left on the SS Antonia in August 1923. The scheme was not a success. Many men lasted only weeks. It was, in fact, very difficult for young men to adhere to the scheme and survive the long winters without working. Les and Fred lasted for three years, but were back in England in December 1926. They seem to have caught up with not only their siblings but their Keen, Chitty and Higgs cousins in Hounslow.

Their thirst for adventure and new lands, however, was not quenched. In April 1927 they set sail together, on the SS Bendigo, for Australia, landing in Sydney in June 1927, where they quickly found work in a nursery at Miranda.

They wrote to Bert, urging him to migrate.  In 1929 the nursery offered to sponsor Bert and Nell to Australia. They decided to try and were accepted as "Ten Pound Poms".

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