The Hazlehursts: 'ten-pound poms'

Noni Hazlehurst
Courtesy Noni Hazlehurst

Actor Noni Hazlehurst followed a long family tradition by embarking on a career in entertainment. Her parents were both performers in England before migrating to Australia in the early 1950s under a program that gave rise to the term 'ten-pound pom'.

A good average family

Between 1945 and 1972, more than one million Britons came to Australia as assisted migrants. The Australian Government subsidised their fares, with the migrants asked to contribute 10 pounds.

Among these million migrants were Noni’s parents, George and Eileen Hazlehurst, from Lancashire, and their son, Cameron.

Before the war, George had performed in music halls and on radio. Eileen, or Lee as she was known, was also a variety performer and met her future husband when they were featured on the same playbill. During World War II, George served with the broadcasting service in India.

In December 1949, he applied for assisted passage through Australia House in London. The application was approved, with an immigration officer describing them as a 'good average family'. George, Lee and nine-year-old Cameron sailed for Australia on the Ormonde, arriving in Melbourne in July 1951.

In 1953, Leonie Elva (who came to be known as Noni) was born. She has become one of Australia’s favourite personalities and actors through her many roles in film and television, including Fran, Play School and City Homicide.

  • read caption below
    George Hazlehurst's migration application
  • read caption below
    George Hazlehurst's medical form

The records

The National Archives holds records about individuals and families, like the Hazlehursts, who migrated to Australia under various assisted passage schemes. These files generally include applications to migrate, medical details and sometimes photographs and letters from applicants.

The files of many of the so-called 'ten-pound poms' are held in Canberra. They can be found by searching for the series A1877 and the name of the migrant on RecordSearch or NameSearch.

The files of other assisted migrants are held in our state offices and are generally arranged by the ship and date of arrival – not by the name of the individual migrant. The Hazlehursts’ documents, for example, are in a large file relating to passengers who arrived on the same ship in July 1951. The file is held in our Melbourne office.

To find these records, you will need to contact the National Archives or visit a reading room. Knowing the month of arrival, the ship, and the state the migrant arrived in will make locating files much easier.

Noni Hazlehurst knew the ship her parents and brother travelled on, the Ormonde, and that they arrived in 1950 or 1951. A search of the paper listings for these years revealed that this ship made several voyages to Australia in this two-year period. It was then a matter of looking through the individual files for these arrivals to find George and Lee's application.

Not all British postwar arrivals came to Australia as Commonwealth-assisted migrants. Some were sponsored by friends or relatives in Australia or travelled as skilled migrants. In some of these cases, their migration records would be held by state government archives.

Other people paid for their own passage, and in such cases it is likely that the only records of their migration will be passenger lists. The National Archives holds passenger lists for all ports of Australia from 1924, and earlier arrivals in some states.

Click on the images on this page to see documents about the Hazlehurst family held by the National Archives. The file from which they come is listed on our RecordSearch database – see the table below. You can also find out more about records of British migrants with the links at the bottom of the page.

Selected records on the Hazlehurst family

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
ItemOrmonde – date of arrival 15 July 1951 – personal and medical documents of British migrants1950–51MP195/1, Ormonde 15/7/1951
Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017