Coal to Newcastle from Down Under

Ulgham WI

October saw Ulgham WI being well educated.

Alan Fendley began by giving us the various definitions of a Geordie.

He said that he was a true Geordie as he had been born on the north bank of the Tyne.

This evening was about Newcastle, Hexham, Morpeth, Rothbury, Alnwick and Warkworth, but not the ones so well known by us, rather these places ten thousand miles away in New South Wales, Australia.

Captain Cook discovered Australia and in 1787 the British Government sent 11 ships, known as the First Fleet, under the command of Captain Arthur Phillips to colonise the new land and set up a penal colony.

On this voyage were 550 male and 120 female convicts.

The largest number were in the 16 to 25 year age group, and 85 per cent were opportunist thieves. Alan said that the nickname POM stood for Prisoner of his Majesty, although I understand other people have different views.

Also on that voyage were some Tolpuddle Martyrs, Luddites, Chartists and Jacobites.

The standard sentence for these convicts was seven years, but the ticket was a single.

Most stayed in Australia. One, Dr Redfern, became the Governor of New South Wales.

Less than ten per cent of those on the first journey were from the North East, yet a second Northumberland was being created and the juxtaposition between Newcastle Upon Tyne and Newcastle New South Wales was uncanny.

The second voyage included free settlers. Coal was the main industry and Australia was in need of skilled pitmen.

Among the settlers were miners from Wallsend.

The miners’ picnic was a big occasion in both locations. Newcastle is the largest coal exporting harbour in the world, and where does this Australian coal go

Some comes to the Tyne dock. Now that really is coals to Newcastle.

Alan gave a knowledgeable and detailed talk.

A shy and retiring character he was not. Well, he is a true Geordie.