The Dreadnought Trust was one of the first organisations to be involved in youth migration in New South Wales.
The Trust was established in 1909 when a public meeting at Sydney Town Hall resolved to raise money to buy one of the latest battleships, the Dreadnought, for the British Navy.
The Dreadnought was the most heavily armed warship in history at that time.
The ship was fast (up to 21 knots), had a crew of more than 800 and boasted 10 12inch (305mm) guns. Armour plate 28cm thick protected its 160 m (526 ft) hull.
The Trust’s plans were thrown into confusion when in 1910 the Australian Government decided to establish an Australian navy instead of relying on Britain’s Royal Navy for protection.
This decision made the money-raising project irrelevant.
Instead, about half of the £90,000 raised was ultimately used to established a Navy College at Jervis Bay, on the NSW South coast.
The rest went into in a fund to bring British youths aged between 15 and 18 to Australia for training as desperately needed rural workers.
The first 12 Dreadnought boys arrived in Sydney in April, 1911. The outbreak of World War 1 in 1914 halted the scheme for several years. Almost 1800 boys had come to Australia, with the scheme.
Migration of boys resumed in 1921, pausing in 1930 because of the Depression.
A few more youths arrived before the scheme effectively ended with the start of World War 2. In total, about 7,500 boys had come by that time.
The Dreadnought Boys were trained in agriculture at NSW government farms at Yanco, Cowra, Arrawatta, Glen Innes, Grafton, and Wollongbar on the far North Coast. More than half the would-be farmers went to Scheyville near Pitt Town. Some boys went direct to employment.
The Dreadnought Association replaced the Trust in 1974 when a Dreadnought boy named Ray Moores advertised in newspapers, calling for a reunion of boys who had come to Australia aboard the same ship as himself.
From this single act the Dreadnought Association grew. Initially its main aim was to organise reunions and in more recent years, to collect, collate and preserve the history of the Dreadnought Youth Migration Scheme.
This blog is a part of that on-going project.