Bethnal Green Road, London, E2. Photo ©RogerDean 2014
Toilers In London; Or, Inquiries Concerning Female Labour In The Metropolis – The “British Weekly” Commissioners, 1889:
The Dacca left England in the summer of 1888 with over two hundred girls on board, bound for Brisbane. Our Commissioners visited the Emigrants’ Home the night before she started, and went down to Tilbury with Captain Almond, whose business it is to send away emigrants. The Queensland Government seems to be exceptionally fortunate in its selection of agents and supervising officers. It is impossible to speak too highly of Mrs. Blanchard, whose kindness to the girls makes them feel, although they have only seen her a few times before they sail, that they are leaving behind them a friend – almost a relation. Captain Almond has carried his labours on behalf of emigrants almost to a science, both in the Home at Blackwall and also on board the Government steamers. At the same time one feels that all is being done for the emigrants in relation to their new life in the new country, that the old country is being pushed altogether into the background. Our Commissioners say that it gave them quite a shock to watch over two hundred fine young Englishwomen hurrying away from the mother country without a sigh or a tear, glad to go, and determined that nothing shall bring them back again. When the tender reached the Dacca these girls looked like a garden of poppies, for at the Home is a small store, and there the maidens had bought straw hats trimmed with muslin, and ornamented with red flowers, for the modest sum of 9d. each. A prettier, healthier, happier set of girls it is quite impossible to see anywhere. “Unmarried women first,” sang out Captain Almond.
Then Mr. Wilkie, the manager of the Emigrants’ Home at Blackwall, sent the girls one by one from the tender to the big ship, where they were received by the doctor and the matron. The foreign crew helped the girls to carry their goods and chattels into the unmarried women’s quarters, which are shut off from the rest of the ship, and the girls streamed into their cabins. Each girl was supplied with a small sack containing enough clothes to last her for a fortnight, and many of them carried folding chairs, which can be had at the Home very cheap. A strong smell of roast beef pervaded the cabins, and no sooner were the girls off the tender than the cooks began to serve up a dinner provided by the Queensland Government.