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Rushden Echo, Friday November 19, 1909, transcribed by Debra Arkell, Australia
Rushden and Swineshead Families
On Their Way to Australia.

In The Mediterranean
Trying Experiences in The Suez Canal and The Red Sea.

Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Perkins, of Rushden, Mr. and Mrs. J. George Perkins, of Swinehead, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Perkins, of Rushden, with their families, numbering 14 in all, who left England in the summer for Australia, have now arrived at their destination and are beginning to feel thoroughly at home in the Antipodes. Mrs. W. H. Perkins has now written an exceedingly interesting letter [in the form of a diary] to Mrs. Elstow, of High-street, Rushden, from which we cull the following:-

After having had to spend a fortnight at Southampton for repairs to the ship, we left there on Saturday, August 14. We had a good night’s rest, and woke up on Sunday, feeling that we must make the best of the day. We get no service – only an hours’ singing and benediction in the evening. We got the ice broken and came into closer friendship with our fellow-passengers.

Monday, we had a cool, rough day, and a few were missing from meals.

Tuesday, about half the passengers are in their cabins. To-day is cold, and the vessel is rolling, very trying to many.

Thursday, all is excitement, and many passengers remain on deck to be first to see the forts at


We get a view of some lighthouses, and mountains in the distance. Porpoises swarm the water. We are eager for a view of the fort, but, as we wait a thick fog comes on, and we lose sight of everything .The fog horn is blowing every minute, and is answered by other vessels .The fog last two hours, and lifts very quickly , only we are 30 miles past the fort.

Sunday, August 22 - Most of the folks are in clean blouses, &c.,in honour of the day. We have Church service, prayers, and lessons read by the first mate. After 5p.m. we have solos, and hymns, including “Eternal Father, strong to save,” “Abide with me,” “Sun of my soul,” and several others. Our food has been very good. For breakfast, bacon and liver; dinner, soup, beans, potatoes, roast pork, plum pudding.

Monday, August 23 - The day is calm, and the sea is like a lake. The amusements this morning included a tug-of-war, with a whist drive in the afternoon.

August 24 - Lovely day, and all well. Temperature, 85 degrees at night, 110 later. Most of the passengers

Sleep On Deck.

Children’s races were held to-day, Len and Sis winning prizes of chocolates and biscuits.

August 25 - The funeral took place of a German lady who had died.

August 26 - We notice the difference in the colour of the water as we reach the mouth of the Nile. As it rushes into the sea, the stream is mud-coloured, with deep blue water on each side of the current. Land is near, and we are busy with glasses, looking out on mountain and light-house, vessels are coming alongside, and behind we have small boats coming with various fruits, &c., to sell us. Here we take on 600 tons of coal and we are all black with the coal-dust. The natives carry the coal on their shoulders in rush bags from the coal boat to our ship. We get a good supply of water melons, limes, lemons, and pomegranates, also boxes of Turkish Delight. We shall always remember our stay at Port Said.

August 27 - We wake to find we are in

The Suez Canal.

The stations on the banks seem anything but English. No chimneys are seen in the houses, which have flat roofs. It is rather stifling. The Arabs are on the look-out and run along the banks for coppers, and children run as well. Some will dive into the Canal for money. The banks have a few shrubs planted here and there. The sand is in some parts grey, some is a light colour and some is orange, but it is rather dreary and could not be cultivated. It takes 24 hours to travel down the Canal, and we shall be glad to get to the Red Sea.

August 28 - We get a view each side of the Canal of mountain peaks, including Mount Sinai. We would like to wait and explore, but must pass on.

August 29 - Sunday – Very hot, 110 degrees, 90 at midnight. We seem to be in a brook of perspiration, too hot to enjoy the service on deck and the singing. We have good choice of fruit at table – stewed pears or prunes, apples, &c, for tea.

August 30 - We feel the heat very oppressive, and it is impossible to work. We cannot sew, as the needles stick, and the perspiration is rolling off us. If this is tropical heat, we can understand how it is that the English-folk in hot countries do so little for themselves. We do not expect to get used to it. This our third day

In The Red Sea.

Several swallows are flying around, and alight on deck for water.

August 31 - A most oppressive night, with lightning. We hope to have a storm to clear the air. We are all famished for drink. The children have a rash, which the doctor says will prevent worse illness. After dinner to-day a girl aged 15 died, having been exposed to the sun. This caused quite a shock amongst us, as she was working before breakfast and was buried before 8p.m. We all intend to carry our mattresses on deck to-night, but the captain advises us to get to bed as it is blowing up a sudden squall and probably the sailors may have to take down the awning, so at 10p.m. we turn in – to perspire and long for morning. Our chief officer says he never remembers closer nights through many years of experience. The nights are mostly cool, to prepare one for another day. We hope to get fresher nights in the Indian Ocean.

September 1 - To-day there is a lovely breeze, and we shall get through quite pleasantly. We have got to the twelve small islands in the Red Sea, called the Twelve Apostles by old sailors. The neck of the Red Sea is called Hells’ Gate. We shall get through to-night, making five days in the Gulf of Suez and the Red Sea.

[Another portion of this interesting letter will be published in next weeks’ “Rushden Echo.”]


November 26, 1909

Rushden and Swineshead Families On Their Way To Australia

‘’Gods Own Country’’ - No Squalor, No Poverty.

[Second Instalment]

In last weeks’ “Rushden Echo” we stated that Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Perkins of Rushden, Mr. and Mrs. J. George Perkins, of Swineshead, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Perkins, of Rushden, with their families, numbering 14 in all, who left England in the summer for Australia, had now arrived at their destination and were beginning to ‘feel thoroughly at home in the Antipodes’. Mrs. W. H. Perkins has written an exceedingly interesting letter [in the form of a diary] to Mrs. Elstow, of High-street, Rushden, from which we cull the following

Further Extracts:-

September 2 - Most of the males and several of the females are sleeping on deck. The heat is still trying. We had arranged children’s races, but they are postponed in consequence of the heat. We all feel that a cool night and a good sleep would revive us again.

September 3 - Just a slight breeze. We are still wet with perspiration and get our “Turkish baths’’ cheap! About 11a.m. the wind is blowing up and spray is dashing over the vessel, so that the port-holes have to be closed. 12.30, and the dinner bell, but the sea swell, wind, and rolling have turned half the passengers sick, and they require no dinner to-day. It is hardly possible to believe that a high wind and a bit of tossing could alter folks so quickly.

September 4 - We have had a very rocky night, and no one can take breakfast – some being ill, and the rest refrain out of sympathy with them. The deck has been flooded several times to-day by waves.

September 5 - Sunday - No service today. The officers are kept busy. We can only stay one end of the deck, and the sea washes over the sun-awning occasionally. The passengers are ill, and there is no singing to-day. We can wear our usual clothing, there being no sun.

September 6 - To-day is cool. Most of the passengers are improving. A lot more came down for dinner. We can parade the whole of the deck, and sleep well. The nights are cooler.

September 7 - All well, and we had a shower.

A Flying Fish

got washed in a port-hole. We often, see them now in big shoals. They are white, about seven inches long, and the wing four inches. We travelled yesterday about 270 miles. One more rolling day and we have a prospect of seeing a finish of the Indian monsoon.

September 9 - We have a nice morning, lovely and cool. Slight showers of rain fall. To-day we hear of “crossing of the bar.” All the young fellows who could be caught have had to go through the ceremony of what they call “washing in the Southern waters,” and a fine spree some have had. Some of the girls are equal to it, and dress for the occasion. They have officers’ permission to carry off all they like for a drenching under the hose. To-day is “pudding day”, and we enjoy the stewed rabbit for dinner. Marmalade and buns disappear. All appetites are improved.

September 10 - High wind all night. The boat is rolling and pitching, the sky is heavy, things are rolling about, and there are lots of rumbles. We are all fairly well, and glad we are having clouds instead of sun, making a difference of 30 degrees in the temperature. The lights have to be turned on at 6p.m. The piano is much used every evening. We get one

Weekly Concert.

A very rocky night.

September 11 - We feel the rocking.

September 12 - Sunday - It is a fair service, but we miss the quiet of home. We spend the evening in singing hymns.

September 13 - Showers during the night. Cool and dull.

September 14 - Weather heavy, interrupting the sports which have been arranged, including tug-of-war, needle races, and three-legged races. They are drilling a Company of boy scouts to make time pleasant. We have to be content without post or newspapers, but the days pass quickly. Nine or ten more days and we shall have the excitement of touching land again. The races have been run. There was good sport, especially tilting the bucket.

September 15 - A rough night, and downfall of rain all day. There is nothing to do but to read or do fancy work. We see one or two seagulls most days. No big fish are to be seen. We get a good rocking – the Bay of Biscay is nothing to the Indian Ocean.

September 16 - The feature of the day is the sports. The wind is still high and the awning is all taken down. A rough night is expected. The sea is boisterous – a sight to be remembered. This afternoon we have sports, which are fine fun.

September 17 - A nice day. The temperature at night is 85 degrees. The days are cloudy and breezy.

September 18 - A nice fresh morning. We are requested to wear our

Political colours

We contest the “Oswestry Grange Ward” and “Votes for woman.” The candidates address their supporters, and it is a big joke. Several birds are flying around with very long tails. We are just about passing Christmas Isle - a small British island.

September 19 – Sunday - Another good Sunday. We enjoyed the singing to-day.

September 20 - Children’s races are heartily taken up, and are enjoyed by the big folks as well.

September 21 - The voting took place to-day, and when the poll was declared the result was even. Our purser has to give the casting vote, and the Liberals win.

September22 - Rather a quiet day. We have a concert in the evening, the most comic we have yet had.

September 23 - A whist drive is held in the afternoon, and a dance in the evening. The doctor is still busy, treating a scald and a case of injury by an accidental fall. We caught sight of a small sailing boat and also land birds.

September 24 - A very warm day. A tug-of-war was held.

September 26 - Sunday - The day passed much as previous Sundays. We are eager for our call some time tomorrow at Thursday Isle, and can only talk of landing.

September 27 - We sighted land early this morning. All the passengers are up,

Sight Seeing.

The coast is rocky. There are several islands and some light-houses. We are not able to land as the harbour is small.

The diary, which ends at this point, was posted at Townsville on October 14. In the course of a supplementary letter Mrs. Perkins writes:-

We are expecting to land at Brisbane on October 6 or thereabouts. We have only had three or four day’s rain since leaving home. We caught just the end of the Indian monsoon. We have had a good voyage, good treatment and diet. We take anything we care to from the table for the children’s lunch or supper. The time has passed quickly and we can hardly realise it is October. The temperature at night is never under 80 degrees in the cabin. We get lots of amusements, concerts, sports, etc.

Our captain, doctor, and purser, are all Australians, and they give us their word that we are going to Gods’ own country. They say there is

No Squalor - Nor Poverty

there. We have wondered lots of times how Rushden friends were getting on. Give our kind regards to all inquiring friends. We have had a long rest and have been very free from care. On landing we shall be surely unsettled, but not very long, according to report. We shall miss the friends we have made on the boat, who have been very sociable. We shall post this at Townsville. Lots of people come to meet the boats to see if there is a chance to meet old home friends, and they give a cordial invite to any from their country. The flowers and fruit are splendid. There is every expectation of being surrounded by plenty. We stay at Townsville three or four days to take off cargo.

Standing: George, Henry, Mark, Frederick, Charles
Middle: Joseph & Martha (Nee West)
Seated: Emma, Miriam, Mary (Polly) & Walter

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