All ready for a wedding.
The flight from London to Melbourne was particularly good considering the last time Maureen & I flew to Australia, which was not long after we were married in 1970, we were also travelling ‘staff travel’, and we were ‘off-loaded’ in Hong Kong and we were stuck there for about four or five days.
As a couple it was inconvenient, but with two children an ‘off-load’ would have been a problem.
The wedding went well, and we all had a great time, and the children just loved the beach.
After the wedding we stayed with Maureen’s aunt & uncle who had emigrated from the UK in 1951. They were very hospitable and during one visit to the city via the old ‘red rattler’ we thought we would check something out.
The above shows Chelsea station, although part of the Melbourne network living in Chelsea gave the feel that you were in a small town rather than a major city.
Note the level crossing to allow the train to pass through . . . it was quiet, and the beach just a couple of minutes’ walk from the station.
inside of a ‘red rattler – I think the red rattlers was discontinued in 1985.
We arrived at the terminus in Melbourne, which is in the heart of the city.
Walking around the city we passed the Migration Services centre (I am not sure what the exact name was in 1978), but this was what I wanted to check out.
From memory this office could give you permission to stay in Australia permanently.
I queued and when it was my turn an Italian-Australian asked
‘What de u vant’
I said ‘I’d like to stay in Australia, please.’
‘What skil av u ?
‘I work for an airline.’
‘We don-t-a need you.’
‘But I can fly a B747!’ said, I lying to my back teeth.
‘We plenty pilot we don-a-need you – NEXT!’
A Vietnamese chap behind me with limited English was smiled at, and asked to sit down – PC had not been invented in at that time . . .
After our holiday we arrived home in November 1978, and now I had to settle back into the routine of shift work and selling frozen food, and it was cold after the beautiful beach weather of Australia.
To add to the cold weather mortgage rates were about to go up in early 1979 to just under 12%, we could no longer afford to live in our house or even in Congleton because of the cost of petrol and the proposed mortgage hike.
In March of 1979 the Prime Minister, James Callaghan lost a vote of confidence in the House, and he was forced to call a general election.
As all this was happening Maureen and I were discussing our future and we both considered that since our last visit eight years earlier, Australia had change in a positive way. The living standard of the average man had increased considerably, but Maureen & I had the feeling that we were going backwards in the UK, because we were being forced to move closer to work because of the high mortgage rate and the cost of petrol to get to work.
Discussion in Parliament anticipated that the mortgage rate in 1980 would reach 15%.
By July 1979 petrol prices for 2-star petrol had jumped to £1.40 per gallon (£7.13 today). The fall of the Shah of Iran in 1979 caused oil prices to skyrocket.
Instead of moving closer to Manchester airport we decided sell up and migrate to Australia – if they would have us.
The decision was made easier for me than Maureen, because I woke up one morning and found myself looking forward to retiring, I was only 33!
I had to do something!
We booked a meeting with the Australian High Commission branch office in Manchester and arrived at the appointed time.
Chatsworth House in Manchester, where the Australian Migration offices were located.
The meeting started a little ‘coldly’ because the person that we were meeting did not like living in England and told us so.
He complained about the way the British park their cars on the wrong side of the road. In Australia one would not dream of parking a car facing the wrong way.
He then told us that he was being posted to Germany and he was looking forward to the Munich beer festival because he did not like English beer.
We did not feel as if the meeting was going well.
He then asked if I had a criminal record, and in a fit of trying to lighten the meeting I replied that I did not think that I still required one. There was a long, long silence.
At that time migration to Australia was based on a point system, the applicant had to reach a certain number of points in total.
Points were given for being able to speak English, the education level of the applicant, the number of children, the age of the applicant, job skills of the applicant, the amount of cash that we were taking and so on.
He then told us that if it was up to him he would not allow us to migrate because I was unemployable and at the top end of the age group, and he expected me to go on the dole as soon as we arrived in Australia.
But, under the points rule he had to sanction our migration because we were paying our own way and did not require government support – at that time the £10 POM had finished, and it was now a £50 POM system, which was not available for us.
We had our interview on the 9th April 1979 and it was 15th October when we received permission to migrate.
On the 24th October, our passports arrived, which contained the visa to live in Australia. We had until 20th September 1980 to arrive in Australia, any later and we would not be allowed to migrate.
On the same day we put the house up for sale.
I took this picture in 2008, during a driving holiday in the UK.
When we lived in this house the front living room window was a picture window from ceiling to floor giving us spectacular views over the valley. The bow window must have been put in by the new owners.
The house was sold in two days, on the 26th October 1979. We could start packing . . . Australia here we come!
The legal process began at the speed of a snail.
Late November / early December the mortgage rate increased to 15% and our buyers withdrew their offer.