[Voyage to Australia, 1912.] Autograph notebook of H. A. Butcher of Wrexham, containing account of voyage to Australia from England, in 1912. With details of 'A few friends we met on the "Orama" during our voyage to Sydney ex London October 25 1912'.

H. A. Butcher of Wrexham, Wales [SS Orama, 'Orient' line steam ship; Australia; Australiana]
Publication details: 
'[...] on The "Orama" during our voyage to Sydney [Australia] ex London [England] Oct 25. 1912'. [Disembarking at Melbourne, 2 December 1912.]
SKU: 15623

96pp., 12mo (15.5 x 9.5 cm.), in 'Note Book for Pen or Pencil Writing'. Comprising the account of the voyage on 75pp. at the back of the volume, and the names and details of fellow passengers on 21pp. at the front. Built in 1911, SS Orama was torpedoed and sunk in 1917 while serving as convoy escort. In good condition internally, on lightly aged paper, in aged and worn card covers. The front section is described inside the front cover: 'A few friends we met on the "Orama" during our voyage to Sydney ex London October 25 1912', and the 21pp. carry the names and details of dozens of fellow passengers, often with annotations by Butcher. For example, the first address, 'R Barclay c/o Mr. D Lindsay | 192 Dow St. Port Melbourne | Victoria', is annotated: 'One of our first Friends a young Scotchman going to seek his fortune nice fellow. Left his wife behind'. And the second, 'J. Dounie | Harbour Works | Colombo', is described as 'A native of Glasgow but spent 17 years in Colombo as manager of the Harbour Works very Jolly & very good hearted, a favourite with all.' Other descriptions are more succinct, with passengers described as 'The "Widow" with cash', 'The little Scotchman' and 'Our neighbour in Cabin 380 & 381'. One of the passengers, 'Hubert S. Ashdown | c/o GPO | Perth W.A.', pens a seventeen-line poem, beginning: 'When we steamed out of Tilbury | I thought I should ill be | And true enough I was | For in that little corner, my Mary got sorer | And food not a bit could I eat | The Orama she pitched & rolled such a lot | Of Australia or England I didn't care a jot | […]'. The account of the voyage, is preceded by a note on the inside back cover: 'H A Butcher | 40 Ruabon Rd | Wrexham | North Wales | England | Oct 25 1912 | On the "Orama" Ocean borne for Australia'. The account, written from a lower middle-class point of view, is interesting for the minor detail it provides. It begins: 'We left Wrexham Oct 24 3.30P.M. had a good journey to London where we arrived at 7.30 Put up at Russell Square & had a comfortable place Bed & Breakfast 10/- left Hotel 7.30 am in <?> for St Pancras Station arriving at about 8 am all was bustle and excitement. The Boat trains (2) were waiting on no 5 & 6 Platform we were fortunate to get a place in the first that left abt 9 am arriving at Tilbury about 11.30 Close to the Boat'. Details of the embarkation are given, with the medical examination described as 'a complete farce'. Descriptions are given of the cabins and meals. As the ship weighs anchor, they go on deck, 'which was packed like sardines in a Box, but about 1 30 the Bell went for visitors to leave the Boat but that was a long job. A last they were all off & we started to move off, the crowds on Board & the thousands on the Quay were soon shouting cheering & crying.' The progress of the journey is described (Gibraltar, Naples, through the Strait of Messina, Port Said, Suez Canal, Colombo, Keeling Islands), and of various scenes encountered and incidents experienced. During a storm in the Bay of Biscay, 'the majority of the Passengers were soon upside down, & any place was good enough to be sick in'. The complacent racism in the description of Port Said is not untypical: '11 am we are now nearing Port Said the Harbour full of ships & swarming with the Blackest Devils on hearth [sic]. The P & O SS Medenia [sic, for Medina] is now here she was at Tilbury when we left. We are now droping anchor & all the Coal Barges are here ready for coaling the Orama. & the Rowing Boat ready for taking us ashore. Later, after a great effort I managed to get into one of the Rowing Boats & went ashore Fare 6 pence each way & one penny for the Nigger Puller our Nigger was a good one & we had no trouble but some of the passenger [sic] had a narrow escape. We took no guide here but one of our party had been before & he was our guide. We were met on all sides with the remark Mr McGregor and Mam MCGregor This from the dirty Kids The people […] were a regular Pest. They would not leave you alone always pestering you with their wares. The place is a filthy dirty one in every sence [sic] of the word & overcrowded & untidy. The Tram Cars are Drawn by Donkeys. We visited the Temple & were requested to take our Boots off. This we refused to do so they than [sic] provided us with a kind of Rush Slipper we then went through the holy Temple & saw the holy People & of all the Poor miserable devils in the world these inside & outside the Temple beats all. Before the natives enter the Temple they have to wash their feet in a kind of a gutter in the yard provided for them. This Temple is certainly not worth a visit We passed through the market & several of the stores & soon had our fill of this dirty place'. On 21 November the ship reaches the Keeling Islands, and five days later it docks at Freemantle, where the passengers submit to another medical. The last 23pp. describe the Australian leg of the journey, including a railway journey to Perth ('the Railways are all first & second Class, neither of which are as good as the third Class at home'), then back to Freemantle, from which the ship sails to Adelaide and then to Melbourne. The account concludes: 'Sunday Dec 1 up about 6.30 rather cold on Deck. Breakfast at 8.30 Cold meat etc. etc. served Religious service in "Catholic" Chapel & Church, and some playing "Cards" in the smoke room. But everything very quiet on Deck and people seemed very sleepy. The people are mostly dressed in their best clothes, both Ladies & Gentlemen Up to now, we have had very little home news The Papers here only give very little home news. We heard at Colombo that the Government had a set back but cannot get any real account of what is taking place. All the Land that we have seen up to this point is a very poor lot of stuff & quite dried up All houses are one storey ones, some nice & some otherwise | Dec 2 up at 5.30 all excitement, as we are now safely anchored at Melbourne. Breakfast at 7, & then all hand shaking. We had no trouble with the Custom people our Boxes we got ashore about 9 am and arrived at Moores Ponds about 10.30 Very nice place, Caldecotts staying at No 1 Frances St. Archie & I went & had a look round Melbourne spent the evening quietly at home. | Dec 3. Raining very heavy up to 1.30. I went to see old friends at the Orama, & had lovely good <?>. Sorry to part with some of the old Friends, "Orama". Sailed for Sydney at 3.30, so good by "Orama".'