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Dreadnought Old Boys Plaque/ April 2013
Dreadnought Old Boys Plaque/ April 2013

Photographs supplied by Peter F Williams

The plaque commemorates the 5595 British boys brought to Australia under a farm apprenticeship programme known as "The Dreadnought Scheme" and their contribution to Australia`s development.

In 1903, the new Commonwealth of Australia agreed to pay £200,000 per year towards the expenses of the Imperial Squadron in the Pacific, but had no special naval vessels of its own. When in 1909 Germany’s aggressive naval building program threatened Britain’s naval supremacy, the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Sir Allen Taylor, convened a meeting in the Sydney Town Hall to establish a fund to purchase a Dreadnought (battleship) for presentation to Great Britain. Over the ensuing year some £90,000 was subscribed from towns, shires, organisations and individuals throughout New South Wales. However, by the middle of the year, the Deakin Government had decided to establish an Australian navy and the proposal to present Britain with a battleship seemed unnecessary.

The question arose what to do with the subscriptions, and some were returned to identified donors who wished for their money back. Most did not, and the Dreadnought Trust was established to dispose of the remainder, some £80,000. After discussion, it was agreed with widespread public support to donate around half to the Government towards the establishment of a naval college at Jervis Bay to train young Australians for the new navy; and the other half was placed in a fund to bring young men from British cities to be trained as rural workers on New South Wales farms.

During the latter months of 1910, the Trustees of the Dreadnought Fund entered into an agreement with the NSW Government to bring out British boys between the ages of 16 and 19 ‘of good character and physique at a rate of about twenty every fortnight and to pay the Government £5 for each of the lads sent to the training farm’. The first ‘Dreadnought boys’ – twelve in number – arrived on 21 April 1911 and were followed by 27 others on 15 June. Overall, by February 1915, 2557 boys had arrived, and when the last group arrived in September 1939, the total number of Dreadnought boys brought to the state had reached 5595.


Address:Kendall Lane & Argyle Street, The Rocks, 2000
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -33.859091
Long: 151.208422
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:Landscape
Approx. Event Start Date:1911
Approx. Event End Date:1939


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Saturday 28th April, 1984
Front Inscription

Dreadnought Old Boys Association

In 1909, as a contribution to naval defence of the Empire a fund was established for New South Wales to purchase a Dreadnought Cruiser for  the Royal Navy.

When the plan was abandoned on the formation of the Royal Australian Navy, part of the fund was used to bring British youths to this country under a farm apprenticeship program known as "The Dreadnought Scheme."

The first contingent arrived on the S.S.Tanui in April 1911

This plaque commemorates the 5595 Dreadnought Boys who passed this way on their arrival in Sydney between 1911 and 1939, and their  contribution to Australia`s Development.

Many served and some died in two World Wars. Recruited for farm labour, they branched into a wide range of occupations. A number ultimately  achieved community leadership and distinction. Despite early adversities we who now survive recall our youthful venture with satisfaction, and here  record complete affiliation with our adopted land. 

28th April 1984

Source: H, MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au