The Ten Pound Pom

The Ten Pound Pom is a project I undertook in 2017 to document stories from my grandfather's life. Over the years he has told us bits and pieces from his interesting journey, but none of it is documented anywhere.

I thought this a great shame as he seems to have lived nine lives: from growing up in Kentish Town, being evacuated to London during the second world war, sailing around the world with the Merchant Navy, meeting my grandmother on the Hobart wharf in 1953, and later marrying her before moving to Tasmania as a ten pound pom.

The following stories are extracts from the final book.

*please note there are several posts still to be uploaded*

Evacuation to Luton

When World War II started on September 1,1939 the family were all transferred to Luton together as part of ‘Operation Pied Piper’. The evacuation program was designed to protect civilians in Britain from aerial bombing by moving them from areas of high risk to safer locations.

The scheme relocated more than 3.5 million people during World War II. Ted, his mother, and brothers were five of them.

“We were more or less forced out in case the Germans bombed London,” Ted said.

“I don’t know how families were allocated; they just put us on trains and off we went. You could have been anywhere.”

After staying in Luton for some time, Ted’s mother decided to go back to London as there had been no bombing before Christmas. After returning to London, Ted’s mother worked in an ammunition factory. She only got to see her children occasionally.

“I maybe saw her half a dozen times in four years, not very often,” Ted said.

“All the women used to work like anything back in them days, because all the men were out fighting.

“About September of 1940 they got a bit serious and they constantly bombed for the next nine months. She stayed and worked through the whole thing.”

Although 30 miles was a long way for young Ted, it wasn’t a great distance for German planes dropping bombs. Luton was technically a safer location than London, but bombing still occurred

“There was a shelter in our backyard, and I spent a lot of nights sleeping there when the sirens went off,” Ted said.

“We had our air raid shelters at our school, and often the sirens would go o during the day. A number of houses were bombed, and people were killed.”

Ted didn’t see his father during World War II. Having had some army experience, his Ted Senior was enlisted and stationed in the southern part of England.

“My father I never saw at all for all of the war,” he said.

“Even though he was old they put him on the anti aircraft guns. He was in the army from 1920 until around 1929 so he knew what was going on.”

When Ted’s father left the army he got a job as a bus conductor.

“Pity he didn’t conduct an orchestra, he might have earned more money,” Ted joked.

“But this was right through the depression, so how lucky was he to have a job! There was something like 60–70 per cent unemployment. It was very high.”

During the war, and for a fair while afterward, England implemented a rationing system to deal with food shortages caused by a decrease in imports. As the country put itself back together residents were issued ration books for food staples such as butter and sugar.

Living through these conditions gave Ted an appreciation for things, and a ‘waste not want not’ attitude. Something his grandson Brodie would later experience.

“One memory that stands out to me was the time I put a bit too much tomato sauce on my plate,” Brodie said.

“Because Pop grew up in the war and didn’t like waste he made me lick the plate clean!”

Although times were no doubt tough during the war, young Ted supported himself admirably through a series of small regular jobs.

“I was never short of money because I had a paper round seven days a week — I earned 4 and 6 a week,” he said.

“I also had a job for the lady I was staying with, plus the lady next door to her, doing their shopping. They each used to pay me 2 and 6 a week. I had more money than some people who were in work! With that I managed kept myself in clothes.”

A pineapple?

When he returned home from his trips, Ted would often bring back gifts from his travels. His brother Terry remembers some of them.

“Ted always brought presents for Mum on his trips, and he bought her a butterfly tray from Rio which she loved,” he said.

“It was kept in the family and passed to Bob, then Terry. Terry passed it on to Ted on his last trip to the UK."

“Another time, when Ted came home, he brought a pineapple with him.”

“I had never seen one as it was just after the war. Mum said I could take the pineapple to school to show the teacher and the other children. Children from other classes came it to look at it.”

To Australia

Ted’s long passage to Australia began with a train ride. The moment became a significant memory for his younger sister, Annie, who was born after World War II ended.

“My first memory of Ted is of waving goodbye to him at a station,” she said.

“I was about three and with my nan and my mum. I still have an image in my head of him leaning out of the train window and waving to us as it pulled away.

“I felt quite sad but had no real understanding that he wouldn’t be coming back for 26 years.”

Ted and his younger sister, Annie

Ted and his younger sister, Annie

When he reached the port Ted boarded the Mooltan, which would take him to his new life in Australia.

As the ship reached the Suez Canal in Egypt, Ted looked out at the water and saw a face he didn’t expect to see.

“Ray must have known what time my boat would be coming through, so he came alongside it in the motor torpedo boat,” he said.

“He couldn’t come aboard — that was one of the rules of the Egyptians — but he tied up to the ship for a little while to say goodbye."

Ted's brother, Ray, in a boat tied to the Mooltan in the Suez Canal

Ted's brother, Ray, in a boat tied to the Mooltan in the Suez Canal

Welcome to Australia

It was a six-week trip to Australia, with the first stop in Fremantle. By the end of October 1953 Ted was in Hobart with his new wife, Tessie.

Within a week of his arrival Ted was working at Electrolytic Zinc (EZ), where he’d had a job organised prior to leaving the U.K.

Ted’s son, Teddy, recalled his father working hard during his early years.

“During my childhood I can recall Dad working many jobs to support his family,” he said.

“He worked at the Zinc Works full-time, then worked at Willings Butchers at night, and also worked weekends painting with his best mate Bill Trappes.”

Ted worked at EZ until April 4 1986 when the company automated a lot of its functions and downsized its workforce — going from 2,300 employees down to 500.

Ted accepted a redundancy but wasn’t quite at retirement age.

“You couldn’t get a pension until you were 65 so I had to keep myself for nine years, which I managed to do,” he said.

She ran away with the ice cream man

Ted and Tessie raised their five children in the house at 4 Tootonga St, Chigwell — Ann, Teddy, Pam, Phillip, and Peter,

For eight years they also raised Mollie’s son, Tony — the boy who Ted read about in Tessie’s letter all those years before.

“Tony came to live with us because his mother ran off with the ice cream man,” Ted said.

“In other words, a chap was going around the streets in a van selling ice creams, and my sister in law thought he was a bit of alright, and ran off to Melbourne with him!

“But she forgot she had five children, which she left temporarily behind. We took the eldest because all of ours were very young.”

Tony was only eight years old when he moved in with the Wests, and stayed until he was sixteen.

“Tony went to Melbourne when he was 16 and started work at the PMG, and he’s still there, 48 years later!” Ted said.

Tony (second from the right) with Pam, Teddy, Phillip, and Ann on the front lawn at Tootonga Street

Tony (second from the right) with Pam, Teddy, Phillip, and Ann on the front lawn at Tootonga Street

When the kids left the paddock

Ted’s children had plenty of space and opportunity to play, including in the legendary back paddock.

“In the back paddock there were kids running around everywhere!” Ted said.

“Probably every house had at least three to four children, and they’d all play together in the back paddock and on the school grounds.”

Eventually, the time came for the children to start moving out. Eldest daughter Ann was the first to go, much to the disappointment of Ted and Tessie.

“When I was 19 I wanted to move into a flat in Moonah with Sue le Fevre, and Mum and Dad weren’t so keen for me to move,” Ann said.

“I wasn’t allowed to take anything with me. Eventually, a few weeks later Dad turned up with some furniture.”

Ted agreed that the idea took some getting used to.

“We probably weren’t happy to start with, but once we got used to the idea and realised there was a bit more room in the house it didn’t matter,” he said.

By the time their youngest, Peter, left , Ann said it was a very different story.

“When Peter moved out Dad helped him move!” She said.

“He was 18 and wanted to get nearer to town. It just shows you the difference between the oldest and the youngest.”

Ted said having more space was nice, but he did miss having the children around.

“It was peaceful, but sorry in a way because I did enjoy the children being around,” he said.


Ted and Tess enjoyed the peace and space that came with an empty house, but, not having children around, it also felt as though something was missing

Eventually that gap would be filled when Ted and Tessie’s kids had their own children. The role of ‘Poppy’ was one that Ted has enjoyed.

“Having grandchildren was lovely, and there were lots and lots of grandchildren!” He said.

“We had about three families going at the one time. I used to go and pick them up from school and take them home to our place until their parents finished work.

Grandson Damien recalls Ted ferrying him to and from his chilly Hobart athletics meets.

"I'll always cherish when Pop took me to Cross Country races early on freezing cold Saturday morning's in winter," he said.

"He'd take me rain, hail or shine, whether it was down at Grove in the muddy apple orchards or as far as Symmons Plains or Ross. I probably didn't appreciate back then as a 14 year old, but I certainly do now."

Ted said he didn't mind being 'Pop's taxi'.

“I was happy to help; all the grandchildren were pretty good.”

Ted and Tessie with some of their grandchildren in 1995

Ted and Tessie with some of their grandchildren in 1995

Return to the motherland

Ted finally returned to England to see his family in 1979 — 26 years after his voyage on the Mooltan.

It was the first time Tessie met his family, by then the couple had already celebrated their silver wedding anniversary.

“I went for eight or nine weeks, it was great,” he said, “Peter came with us – he was only 13 then.”

Now 29 years old, this time Ted’s sister Annie was old enough to understand the significance of the occasion.

“The next time I met him I was 29 when Bob and I went to Heathrow to meet Ted and Tess on his first visit back home,” she said.

“There have been a number of visits since then, the last one a few years ago when we took photos outside the houses he grew up in."

“We had a good trip up the ames, with Peter, and Tower Bridge opened in our honour!”

Ted was still working when he and Tessie first visited in 1979, and when he took
a redundancy in 1986 the pair saw an opportunity for another trip.

“Tessie and I thought about our next trip, which was in 1987,” he said, “we went for five months; and that was wonderful.”

“We travelled a fair bit – we had a month in Europe, a fortnight in Ireland, travelled right around the outskirts of England by car. It was Tessie’s second trip out of Australia."

Ted and Tess in Scotland on their big trip in 1987

Ted and Tess in Scotland on their big trip in 1987

Ted with his immediate family in England for his mother's 80th birthday in 1989

Ted with his immediate family in England for his mother's 80th birthday in 1989

“I went again in 1989 – it was my mother’s 80th birthday that year – I went just for a couple of months."

“In 1992 I went again, on my own. Tessie was having trouble walking, so she got herself a walker – they’d only just come into fashion then."

After several solo trips by Ted, Tessie decided she would join him on the next one.

“She’d made her mind up she was coming the next time I went, so I took her in 1995.”

Ted’s nephew Stephen recalled some memories from one of Ted’s later visits to his birth country.

“When Ted came to the UK in 2011 we took him to a country house at Audley End with Ann,’ he said.

“The grounds are beautiful but vast and we were not sure how Ted was going to get around, but they had a motorised scooter and Ted was soon racing away, with us hardly able to keep up.”

He continued: “when we went to ride the London Eye the queues were huge but Ted ‘sweet talked’ the lady in charge and suddenly we were whisked to the front of a 60 minute queue!”

Many of Ted’s English relatives have also made trips over to Australia to see his new life and home. His sister, Annie, commented how she was thankful to have travelled to see Ted and his family in Hobart.

“It was great to have made at least one trip to Tasmania and see where he lived,” she said.

“I know mum was glad to have done that too, many years earlier. She had always worn a brooche Ted had given her when he was in the Merchant Navy."

“I remember the first morning I was in Tasmania the local radio announced my visit! I had a lovely time and was really pleased to meet all the family.”

Between visits, and through all of his years living in Australia, Ted has kept in contact with his family through letters and the phone.

“I still keep in contact with the phone; because if I didn’t they wouldn’t!” He said.

Ted and his mother at the summit of Mount Wellington in Hobart, 1982

Ted and his mother at the summit of Mount Wellington in Hobart, 1982