Brian Inman – Orcades – 1956

As the English Winter gave way to Spring Brian Inman, just 17 years of age, left Birmingham in anticipation of a great adventure sailing to Australia. Brian clearly remembers the 5 course lunch he sat down to on the first day on board the RMS Orcades. He and the 17 lads in his group would do justice to that meal and every other put in front of them. The scheduled 5 weeks at sea in such luxurious accommodation was to be a highlight in the lives of these lads.

Brian remembers Greek immigrants being ferried to the ship in small boats and a stop in Port Said. Passengers were not allowed off the ship as the ‘Suez Crisis’ was developing. Following the invasion of Egyptian Sinai by Israel and the occupation of the canal zone by British and French paratroopers, the canal was subsequently closed to shipping for some five months. An unexpected engine problem meant the 5 week voyage extended to almost 8 weeks due to a lengthy stop in Colombo for repairs. None of the lads were unhappy about that!

Brian finally arrived in Sydney to be met by the Big Brother Movement and taken to Gunning House at Homebush. He recalls spending around four months there before moving to a boarding house at Dulwich Hill. He worked for a short time for window cleaning companies before joining the Australian Army in 1958 to fulfil National Service obligations.

On discharge from the Army Brian started his own window and office cleaning business. He provided a quality service and, as Sydney began to build ever taller buildings to accommodate an expanding workforce, so his business grew. The acronym ‘O H & S’ had yet to be coined and regulations were few in his industry. No special certification was required to operate the likes of a bosun’s chair and cradles on high rise buildings. Brian finally sold what had become a large and very successful business and moved to New Zealand where his parents had settled after they immigrated to Australia in 1963.

After running a taxi in Auckland for some years Brian moved back to Australia in 1988, entered semi-retirement and built his own house on acreage at Nambour. He made his first trip back to the UK in 2002 and was surprised his memories of Birmingham were distorted by the spacious conditions we enjoy in Australia. The Birmingham streets were much narrower that he remembered and houses, including his then family home, very pokey.

Brian now lives with his wife Dawn in a retirement village on the Sunshine Coast. They have three sons and seven grandchildren. Brian was not aware that the Big Brother Movement still existed and was interested to learn about the BBM Youth Support scheme when we interviewed him for this article.

The Orcades voyage to Australia in 1956 with those 17 lads aboard was one of ten voyages made that year by ships bringing Little Brothers. In total, 182 arrived that year. If you want to read more about the numbers of ways and means that 12,500 Little Brothers arrived in Australia, Click Here.

6th May, 2016

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