Ending soon: On Their Own

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Story of Britain's child migrants is 'heart-breaking' and 'informative'

A ground-breaking exhibition at Merseyside Maritime Museum, which looks at the migration of children from Britain to the other side of the world, is ending soon. It is co-curated with The Australian National Maritime Museum.

Now is your last chance to see On their own: Britain’s child migrants in Liverpool, before it closes on 4 October 2015 to go on display in London.

Open for a year, the exhibition has attracted more than 180,000 visitors to Liverpool. It is free entry.

Visitors have found the exhibition both informative and moving, with comments including:

‘Heart-breaking. Shocking length of time it went on’.

‘I didn’t know that this had happened. It was very informative’.

Between 1869 and 1967 more than 100,000 British youngsters were sent to Canada, Australia and other Commonwealth countries as part of child migration schemes.

Some of them were considered too little to cross the road, yet these children were sent across continents and oceans for a life in another world. And despite assurances they’d return home, this trip would be on a one-way- ticket.

Merseyside Maritime Museum tells the heart-breaking story of those children whose lives were changed forever.

Ian Murphy, Deputy Director, Merseyside Maritime Museum, said:

“Through this exhibition, we’ve been able to highlight a little known chapter in history whose repercussions are still felt by those who were sent across the world as children. It has attracted a huge amount of interest and this is the last chance to visit, before it closes next month. The difficult experiences these young children faced need to be shared with as wide an audience as possible. Their experience is very much a living history, it is within our lifetimes”.

Some of the children were orphans and many came from families who were unable to care for them. At the time charitable and religious organisations sent them overseas, with the belief that their lives would improve as a result.

They were supported by governments for which these schemes supplied much needed population and labour. Siblings and friends were frequently split up on arrival and left isolated, facing long hard days of labour in extremes of climate. This isolation often led to a lonely, brutal childhood.

On their own: Britain’s child migrants tells their emotional stories and through detailed case studies, visitors will meet a number of child migrants and find out more about their different experiences.

In 2009 the Australian Government apologised to children who had suffered abuse in child migration schemes. In 2010 the British Government followed suit.

The exhibition has been developed by National Museums Liverpool in partnership with The Australian National Maritime Museum and has toured Australia where more than 350,000 people came to see it.

The exhibition is accompanied by an online exhibition resource which can be accessed via www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/ontheirown

A dedicated website has been set up which features oral histories and a message board: http://www.britainschildmigrants.com

The site provides useful links to former child migrant organisations, after care associations and genealogy websites. The online message board also offers the chance for visitors to respond to the exhibition and for former child migrants and their relatives to share their experiences.

Free entry
Open daily 10am-5pm
Merseyside Maritime Museum
Albert Dock
Liverpool Waterfront

L3 4AQ

Telephone 0151 478 4499



Notes to editors:

Merseyside Maritime Museum

Merseyside Maritime Museum is situated at the Albert Dock. It contains a variety of objects associated with the social and commercial history of the port of Liverpool. Highlights include ship models, maritime paintings, colourful posters from the golden age of liners and even some full sized vessels. There is also the major current exhibition Lusitania: life, loss legacy, marking the centenary of the sinking of the Lusitania and highlighting new research about the people involved in the ship’s story. While the current Titanic and Liverpool: the untold story exhibition tells the story of Liverpool's links to the ill-fated liner. 

About National Museums Liverpool

National Museums Liverpool comprises eight venues, including some of the most visited museums in England outside of London. Our collections are among the most important and varied in Europe and contain everything from Impressionist paintings and rare beetles to a lifejacket from the Titanic. We attract nearly 2.7 million visitors every year. Our venues are the Museum of Liverpool, World Museum, the Walker Art Gallery, Merseyside Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, Border Force National Museum, Sudley House and the Lady Lever Art Gallery.