Ancestry UK

Hull & District Migration Training Hostel, Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire

The Hull & District Migration Training Hostel was opened in April 1929 at Grovehill Road, Beverley, and occupied government-owned premises previously used as an instruction centre for apprentices during the First World War. The hostel provided accommodation and training for boys who wished to emigrate to Canada or Australia.

A visitor to the hostel in July 1929 reported that:

In a few days the first batch of ten boys who have just undergone their three months' intensive course the Hull and District Migration Training Hostel, at Beverley, will be aboard either the C.P.R. steamer Mount Royal, or the Cunard liner, Letitia, their way to Canada.

The hostel has only been open since the 29th April last, and the boys who go out Friday and Saturday next will constitute the first batch of young colonists that have been trained at the hostel. Incidentally it should be mentioned that the hon. secretary, Mr Griffiths, has come from Newcastle to Hull, the Tyneside port having so far taken a greater part the movement.

When I arrived four new boys had just commenced their day of probation. There is no pressure or compulsion, and, if during the period of training, it is found that a lad has no vocation for colonial farm life, he is sent back home again. Even when lad has crossed the seas he is not lost sight of. The British Emigration and Colonial Association at Montreal look well after the boys' interests and furnish periodic reports to the hostel from which the boy came whilst the young colonist, of course, is always free to write home, or to the matron or superintendent, or even to a member of the committee of the board of management which meet from time to time at the hostel. The chairman of this migration committee is the Lord Mayor, Councillor Pearlman, who takes keen and active interest in the movement

Of the 26 boys now in residence, 20 have selected Canada as their future home, the choice of the remaining six being Australia. Mr Griffiths tells me that there is no pressure or persuasion brought to bear enabling a lad to make a choice. Sometimes Canada and at other times Australia figures as the more favoured colony. Newcastle, for instance, from which port 300 boys sailed, Australia led for one year only to be passed in popular favour by Canada the following year. The hostel at Beverley has accommodation for 50 boys, whose period of training takes place at the neighbouring farms. At the present time the boys are working at 14 different farms, the most distant of which is about four miles, whilst the nearest is practically on the doorstep. — within 20 yards in fact.

In every instance the young colonists are taught to milk, and although the majority of the lads are town-bred they prove very adaptable, whilst the local farmers who treat them well speak very highly of the majority of the lads.

In addition to the ordinary farm duties, the "young adventurers" are taught other things too, which are calculated to be of interest to them, for instance, all are taught how to do their own washing, and a right good job they make of it, too, whilst the training in the use of tools and how to knock a rough fence together is bound to stand them in good stead at some time or another. Naturally the training and preparation vary slightly according as to whether a lad is going to Australia or Canada.

When a boy enters the hostel he is weighed, measured and medically examined, and it is surprising what an improvement takes place in the lad's physique during the three months' training, the honorary medical officer being F. G. Dobson, of Beverley.

On entering each boy is served out with pair of good strong farm boots, grey flannel trousers, shirt and overalls, canvas shoes for indoors, and, when necessary, a smart suit of clothes. A good proportion of the boys, however, come from good homes and possess one or more suits when they join up.

The food is of the very best, varied and plentiful, it must needs be to appease the wonderful appetites of these growing lads, whose ages range between 14 years and 18½ years.

The boys rise at 6 a.m. and after morning ablutions they are given a run in the open, followed by a busy spell of physical exercises. Breakfast is served between 7 and 8 a.m., after which the lads are sent out to their training on the various farms. As rule the farmer provides his young labourers with dinner, but where this is not possible the boy takes a "navvy's snack" With him, whilst a good hot dinner awaits his return. Tea is served at 5.30 p.m. all the meals being drawn up to a considered diet scale, and varying according to the season and the weather.

After tea, recreation is indulged in. There are books, games and magazines in plenty, whilst provision is made for such outdoor games as cricket and football. There is a large gymnasium shed which will become better appointed as times goes on, and here take pace the frequent boxing tournaments in which many of these young settlers distinguish themselves greatly.

Lights-out is the order for 10 p.m. though the boys may retire as soon after tea as they like if they feel inclined to rest after a day the fields.

The dormitories are beautifully clean and well-ventilated, the boys sleeping on plank beds, military style, on a good wool paliasse with sheets and blankets, ad lib. At one end of the dormitory the assistant superintendent, Mr. Thompson, has his room, and through the glass doors at either end he can see at a glance whatever is taking place in either dormitory at any time.

Nothing seems to be left to chance as illustrated by the typed list of "fire duties," fire drill being a regular feature of the training. The superintendent, for instance, is "chief of the fire-brigade" with the assistant super, second in command. The head Prefect has charge of the extinguisher, the matron of the telephone, and so on, those without special duties having to parade in the main corridor.

Sunday afternoon is the visiting day, the boys being allowed a week end on the completion of half term and several days at home also before sailing to Canada or to Australia. Whilst in training those young pioneers are given ninepence each per. week pocket money, and in necessitous cases they are provided also with landing money. Ail the lads travel as read 3rd class passengers, their fares being paid for them. In Canada, unlike the adult labourers, the boys are guaranteed work all the year round" whilst the hostel receives periodic reports from time to time. Each boy on going out is also provided with a complete over-seas kit free of charge, suitable for the climate to which he is going.

If bound "Westward Ho" he is given lighter boots than if making for the Land of the Southern Cross, for the floors in Canada are highly polished and it is the custom here wear over shoes. "Where does all the money come from?" Well, is a fifty-fifty deal, the Government making a grant equal to half of the total outlay. The Hull Corporation also contributes £250 per year, the Beverley Corporation £25, the Hull Board of Guardians and the Sculcoates Guardians £80, in addition to which the hostel is open to receive private contributions.

In being shown over the place the writer observed that the boys lacked a billiards table and a wireless set, the mention of which fact might suggest something to some philanthropic champion of the Empire Scheme.

Whilst all the lads are surprisingly hale and hearty, the writer noticed also the neat little sick bay in cases of emergency. The building is centrally heated and possesses an up-to-date kitchen with modern boilers, geysers, ovens, etc. The boys are also equipped with baths and lavatories, the baths being also equipped with shower baths.

Swimming, too, is encouraged and freely indulged in, and as befitting future colonists the near-by river Hull is made to serve excellent swimming pool, though even here again the swimming, like the games is always under proper supervision.

At the present time, there is every indication of the hostel movement spreading. Fortunately for the future expansion of the movement the Migration Hostel at Beverley also possesses about 2,000 square yards of land adjoining the present building, and until such time as this land is needed for other purposes it is to be made to produce vegetables, etc., to help appease the almost insatiable appetites of these young colonists.

The hostel site is shown on the 1926 map below.

Hull & District Migration Training Hostel site, Beverley, 1926

Hull & District Migration Training Hostel, Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire, 1929.

Hull & District Migration Training Hostel dormitory, Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire, 1929.

Hull & District Migration Training Hostel inmates, Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire, 1929.

The names of the first arrivals at the hostel were:— A. Atkinson, 8 Claremont Avenue; J. Dalton, 3 Smailes Terrace; Gordon Doyle, 745 Holderness Road; Charles Hatchen, 6 Water's terrace; George Jantzen, 5 Elizabeth's Terrace: G. Mitchell, 72 Walker Street; G. Stephenson, 10 Lorraine Street; John Kirby, St. Georges Road; and Harold Topliss, 246 Perth Street.

Due to lack of funds, the hostel closed in 1934. The front part of the building is now used as retail premises.


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