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Concert at the Emilgation Depot.

From ‘The Western Daily Mercury’- 21st November 1878

There are, at the present moment, upwards of four hundred emigrants in the Emigration Depot, Baltic Wharf, Plymouth, waiting to go on board the ‘Blair Athol’, bound for Sydney. The vessel, however, had to be put back for repairs, and in consequence the intending voyagers have had a longer stay in the depot than is usually their lot. They are expected to leave in a day or so, but in order to relieve the tedium of this temporary stoppage and necessary detention, as well as the afford them a pleasant musical evening to cheer their spirits, and give them a happy reminder on their way of the “Old Country”, a private concert was determined upon. This was the work of Mrs. Watson, the matron, and Mr. T. E. Hill, the depot master, to whose instrumentality the entertainment is entirely due. The depot is a huge and admirably adapted building for the purpose to which it is applied. The arrangements are such as to meet every requirement, and an air of health and cleanliness pervades throughout. The sexes have, of course, wards allotted for their exclusive use, but in the day-time there is a large hall and courtyard, where they can mix and indulge in any kind of amusement they may think fit with which to beguile the hours away. It should be mentioned that the Government regulations provide for the care and safety of emigrants after they have once placed themselves under the charge of the appointed agents. They are, therefore, kept under supervision, and are not allowed to separate and roam where-ever their fancies might lead them, especially when in a large town with which they are altogether unacquainted. This state of semi-confinement is necessary for several reasons, and although it may be irksome, the monotony is relieved in many ways, and the duration for detention made as brief as possible. On Sunday the adults were allowed out, but during week days they have to submit to the rules framed for their own comfort and guidance as well as the convenience of the authorities. There may be instances of individual complaint, as in the case of “An Emigrant,” whose letter was given insertion to yesterday, but these are very few indeed, and attributable more to the irritability of the individual and his vexation at delay rather than any well-founded cause. Their comfort is well attended to, and a glance inside the depot is quite sufficient to secure one that they are happy enough as a whole. The men and women are cheerful enough, and the youngsters romp about to their heart’s content. The anticipations of their future home and the voyage out are subjects upon which they speculate and discuss in groups, not the slightest feeling of discontent being manifested. In providing an entertainment for the edification of the emigrants, Mr. Hill secured the kindly services of several ladies and gentlemen residing in Plymouth, and the concert was last night given in the large mess-room, which was decorated for the occasion. A platform was erected in the centre of the south side of the room, and the emigrants were seated round, forming altogether a most interesting group. Mr. Hill, the Government contractor, was present, and he, in conjunction with Mrs. Watson, did all in their power to add to the evening’s enjoyment. The entertainment opened with a pianoforte duet by Miss Watson and Mr. W. C. Hour, after which Mr. George Crawys sung “While the Silver tints the Gold.” Recitations, violin, cornet, and concertina soles, and such songs as “Tom Bowling,” “Our Sailors on the Sea,” “The Anchor’s Weighed,” together with characteristic, comic, and sari-comic songs succeeded. The programme was largely extended by the number of encores which were accorded. The ladies and gentlemen who voluntarily gave their services in this kind and laudable undertaking were:- Miss Watson, Miss L. Pugh, Miss Willis, Mrs. Watts, Miss Broome, Miss Cooper, Miss R. Platford, Miss R. France, Miss M. Carroll; Messrs. W. E. Hour, H. Barons, G. Crawys, R. Lightfoot, Berge, I. Short, Meadowcroft, J. Ryan, W. Crawys, J. Ferrance, Friend, Ashworth, W. Morgan, C. O’Conner, Campbell, R. France, and J. Forsyth; Mr. Hill officiated as general conductor, and Mr. W. E. Hour as pianist. To select for commendation any particular one would be invidious as well as unjust, and to particularise all could, to give justice, only he done at such a length as the pressure of other and important news would not permit. In every way was the concert a success, an united effort being made to afford the detained emigrants a pleasurable recollection of the country which they were about to leave, and give them on their voyage out a “God-speed” conveyed in the song of hope and kindly farewell, which the entertainment of the night was intended to meet.

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