Monday, September 11, 2017

Welcome Wall - Simmons Family

'Passengers'  Exhibition at the Australian National Maritime Museum 
In one of history's great migrations, more than six million people have crossed the world to settle in Australia.  At the Australian National Maritime Museum, the Welcome Wall stands in honour of all those who have migrated to live in Australia with names of individuals and families permanently engraved in bronze.
Looking out onto the harbour from the Australian National Maritime Museum 
Located outdoors on the museum's northern boundary, the wall faces Darling Harbour and Pyrmont Bay where some of the many new settlers arrived.
Accessible all year-round,  it's lovely to stroll along the bronzed panels and learn more about the migration experience as well as reading the names engraved.
Welcome Wall Plaque 
In 1950, my husband Jim was a three year old and he travelled on the SS Chitral with his mother and father, Rose and Don Simmons and his sisters Patricia and Christine from England to Australia. From the memoirs of Don Simmons :  " .... The families saw us off at Snow Hill Station, Birmingham. Rosie's dad rushed down the steps just as the train was pulling out. We were bound for London and the Tilbury docks. I remember little of what happened until  we boarded the P&O ship 'Chitral' on her final voyage.... The food and services were satisfactory. The journey took a full six weeks - largely due to a need to fix the engines in place... This caused a delay in Port Said and allowed me to see Pete ( Don's brother who was in Egypt doing National Service) ... I allowed us to be conned by a tout into making a trip by taxi to a native village. I can remember the hectic confusion and outright poverty of this place - the beggars and salesmen, dirt, flies, victims of elephantitis and bad smells. We retreated as soon as possible... We stopped at Colombo but couldn't afford to go ashore. We started out with about sixty pounds as I remember. The Indian Ocean seemed endless..."(Simmons, R.D.: Up There and Down Here, p65-66) 
Rose Simmons on board SS Chitral with children, Patricia, Christine and James (Jim) 1950 
Yesterday on 10 September, 2017 ( approximately 67 years after leaving England), the Simmons family was acknowledged on the Welcome Wall. (There were two more children born after arriving in Australia and  it can be questioned, as Rose was pregnant with Susan when they left England, whether her name should appear there too) 
Panel 78, "Welcome Wall" 
The ceremony was very moving and especially significant for those whose names were unveiled yesterday like Jim and his sister Chris. Some of the stories of the families whose names are on the wall were told by descendants and the contribution by migrants to many Australian communities was recognized. 
Chris and Jim (Simmons) at the Welcome Wall 
Yesterday there were about 300 names unveiled in the second of the ceremonies held this year and I too was fascinated to hear and read the stories of so many people from various parts of the world. I know a little about the stories of those who come from UK and China, but it was so interesting for instance, to hear about families from places like Malta and the Ukraine and why they decided to settle in Australia. 
Jim and Wilma Simmons at the Welcome Wall 
 The Australian National Maritime Museum in Pyrmont, ( Darling Harbour) Sydney is a great place to visit. We particularly enjoyed the permanent exhibition, "Passengers" which brings to life the stories of migrants, their journeys, their struggles and their successes. 
Australian National Maritime Museum display

The Australian National Maritime Museum was  built more than 20 years ago as part of the amazing Darling Harbour and Pyrmont redevelopment. Opened in 1991, the Australian National Maritime Museum is a beautiful building on the harbour. It is acknowledged that it is on land traditionally owned by the Gadigal people who originally found a rich source of fish and shellfish in the sheltered waters of Darling Harbour and Cockle Bay.
Australian National Maritime Museum, Murray Street, Pyrmont. 

1 comment:

  1. Carolyn Simmons LoganSeptember 21, 2017 at 11:42 AM

    How exciting to see your new blog post, Wilma! And how wonderful for Jim and the family to be acknowledged and honoured in this very special way. I would say congratulations are in order indeed. 2017 is turning out to be quite a year for Jim - first the Welcome Wall, and now his soon-to-be-celebrated big 7-0! Please give him our very best wishes.
    Much love to you both.


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