A scarborough man emigrates to Australia

Many Scarborough people left the town to live in the Empire. One such man was Mr F.A. Legge who sailed with his wife and 9 children for Australia in 1884. In 1934 he wrote about his voyage and life. He still lived in Melborne but his children were now spread across Australia.


The voyage was in a sailing ship - the Harbinger. These were still quite common on long voyages. Steam had not yet totally taken over. Steam of course needed a continuous supply of coal whilst sail was powered by the a more freely available resource - the wind.

There were two sailing ships on the Orient line - Harbinger and the Hesperus. The speeds varied of course according to the winds. On one day they travelled just 48 miles. Yet when they turned the Cape of Good Hope they travelled at 326 miles.

The trade winds held up well and they averaged 250 miles per day for the rest of the voyage. The sailing ship the 'Lightning' could manage 420 miles per day.


Who could not see the beauty of the voyage. Mr Legge wrote "a moon bathing our ship and her garments in silver. A ten knot breeze. Who could not be a poet".


The voyage was not without loss. A man died of TB on the way. They buried him the next day with an old sail wrapped around the body and 20lb of shot. With the tilting of the plank they committed his body to the deep.


The upper class passengers kept themselves to themselves. They stayed on the poop. They showed no emotion as was the fashion. The main passenger decks were full of the middle and lower classes who were full of emotions as they ventured forth into a new life and new country. They were saying goodbye to their native land with no real prospect of ever returning.


They had a black cook on this voyage who was a real despot. On one occasion he threw the cooks mate overboard and dangled him by his legs.


Most of the people on board looked curiously as the coast of Australia came into view. A few Australians were on board and they warmed to the site - "Home Sweet Home".


What was strange was that they had spent so long on board the ship. Yet when they arrived they scarely had a chance to say goodbye to the men who had "guarded them from disaster". They were away to their new lives stepping into a new city and a new world. The voyage had ended but the journey just begun.


Asked by a colonial his first thoughts - he declared "First,sand; second, strange looking dogs!". But the words of the old hymn came to mind "I've reached the land of corn and wine".


Sources
- The Scarborough Evening News 6th July 1934


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