The hundreds of Hartlepool people who headed to a land Down Under

Violitt Allison and Kathleen Howitt.
Violitt Allison and Kathleen Howitt.

Back in the 1980s, Hartlepool had a club which was very big Down Under.

Who remembers the meetings of the Australian Family Reunion Club in the Grand Hotel?

I want to go over. The people are so nice and friendly and I like the climate

Kathleen Howitt

It was held every month and lots of members were there on the day the Hartlepool Mail sent its reporter round in January 1984.

Alice Ord was one of them and she was 82 at the time.

But she was planning her fifth 12,000 mile trip to Australia, to see her son, seven grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

She said at the time: “All the roots are going down out in Australia.”

Alice said her family had “done well for themselves.”

Up to 300 people would attend meetings to plot their trips and to talk to each other about places they have visited in Australia.

The secretary at the time was Eunice Hearne and she told us in 1984 that she had put people aged up to 93 on the long trail to an Australian holiday with relations.

Another person heading Down Under was Kathleen Howitt, 66, who said at the time: “I want to go over. The people are so nice and friendly and I like the climate.”

Jenny Lilley was a regular visitor to New South Wales and she said she loved it because “there are that many people around you from England.”

She said a visit to Australia made people feel as though they were “among their own people.”

Were you a member of the Australian Family Reunion Club? Email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk with your memories.