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Plymouth Government Emigation Depot.

From ‘The Western Daily Mercury’- 30th March 1870

The very extensive buildings which were at Lambhay Point, under Plymouth Citadel, known as Baltic Wharf, had been prepared by Messrs. Hilson & Co., builders, in 1870, for the reception of emigrants which were despatched from Plymouth under the auspices of Her Majesty’s Emigration Commissioners, or of the Hon. G. H. Verdon, the then Agent General for Victoria. The arrangements made for emigrants before embarkation were very complete. The people were met on arrival of the trains and steamers, and their luggage taken free of cost to the depot, where the emigrants were received and well provided for during their two or three day’s stay, before being embarked in a body by a steamer which came alongside to convey them to their vessel in the Sound or Cattewater. While in the depot their clothing was inspected as to sufficiency and cleanliness, they pass the ship'’ surgeon to guard against contagious disease being carried on board, and the system of messing and bathing admirably prepared them to fall into order without difficulty or confusion when embarked. The single women had a block of buildings fitted for their separate use, with mess rooms and dormitories, under charge of a matron. The single men’s berths, in two large rooms, were arranged on a novel principle, introduced by a Mr. Chant, despatching officer, and the married people had their own rooms, with berths enclosed, and so arranged as to ensure the maximum of privacy consistent with the comparatively small space necessarily available. Ventilation, and warming were well provided for, gas was laid throughout, and a plentiful supply of water, with fire cocks on every landing. To those concurred in the despatch of emigrants in large numbers, the depot, which was the property of Mr. Newton, could not fail to be an object of interest, all the arrangements being the result of many years practical experience, and the advantage to emigrants were great, for it is no small boon to an agricultural labourer on arrival at a strange sea-port to be well cared for and preserved from the plundering of crimps in low neighbourhoods, till he is safely embarked. About one thousand people could be provided for in these buildings, which were divided into mess rooms, dormitories, bathrooms, and lavatories, hot air rooms, kitchens, offices, depot master’s house, luggage stores, etc, etc. The rooms being on such a scale that in one alone, fitted for single women, 248 separate beds were provided, and room’s 40 feet square were classed as small ones. The ship ‘Corona’, which was due at Plymouth on April 18th, chartered by the Hon. G. J. Verdon, for conveyance of emigrants to Melbourne, was the first vessel which embarked her passengers from the new depot. The depot service was performed for many years at Plymouth by Mr. Arthur Hill, of Reading Abbey, efficiently represented by his depot master, Mr. Watson, and Mr. Hill has caused these buildings to be fitted up in a manner to reflect credit on Plymouth as a port of embarkation.

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