Sunday, 24 June 2018

Looking for British Home Children from Ashton

Application for British Home Child to work on a Canadian farm
This afternoon I have been thinking about the story of British Home Children and whether there were any from Ashton

Now for a British audience and I suspect for some Canadian and Australian readers the term British Home Child may still be unfamiliar.

These were the children and young people sent from Britain and resettled in parts of the Empire from 1870 until relatively recently.

Many were from orphanages, some even from the streets and a few from broken homes.

They were taken by charities and found work and homes in Canada and Australia as well as other bits of our overseas empire.

The motives for the resettlement were mixed, ranging from a genuine belief that this would be a clean start to darker calculations on the comparative cost of maintaining the children in care in Britain or sending them off to the farms of Canada, the sheep ranches of Australia or into service.

And for some pondering on that ever present sense of social upheaval, sending the very poor and destitute far away transferred the problem somewhere else.

Those who were sent were not always the “social problem” the charities worked to save, and the lives the youngsters lived out were less of a promised new start and more a time to endure.

Often  theirs was a harsh, dangerous and unpleasant existence.

Some were exploited others abused and many also suffered from the loss of family, family history and an identity.

Naturally they did not talk of what they had gone through nor was it possible for many of them to find out the truth of their backgrounds.

Report on my great uncle, who went to Canada in 1914 aged 16
Likewise for many of their children the discovery of what happened to them has been a searing revelation of the extent of the suffering and the degree to which the charities and government agencies have drawn a thick carpet of fudge over what happened.

But during the last few decades the story has come out into the daylight and there are a growing number of organisations aimed at researching and publicising what happened

One of the most effective of these groups is British Home Children, started by Lori Oschefski*

And so I have decided to explore the chance that there may have been children from Ashton who went and in the process push the story out to a wider audience.

Pictures; from the collection  of Andrew Simpson

* British Home Children,

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