Saturday, 15 June 2013

Scheyville Government Agricultural Training Farm

In 1910, Scheyville, the Government Agricultural Training Farm was set up on the outskirts of Windsor on part of the Pitt Town Common which had been a Government Labour Settlement during the 1890s.  The farm (2,500 acres) was established by Francis William Schey (1857-1913), politician, union leader and public servant. It was originally a Government Labour Settlement during the 1890s depression, to provide basic upkeep in return for labour before closing in the 1900s.

During the 1900s the Australian Government established a subscription to raise money to purchase a  Dreadnought battleship for Britain. When Australia set up the Navy the money was not required and instead was used to sponsor British boys to come to Australia and learn basic agricultural skills and was known as the Dreadnought Scheme.  

Horsedrawn plough at Scheyville Training Farm circa 1926
Courtesy State Records

Various crops and vegetables were grown at Scheyville and students also learnt shearing, dairying, sawmilling, blacksmithing, saddlery and wheelwrighting and then to find employment on rural properties. Unfortunately the work was hard and the boys were often unsuited to rural life. Many of the boys were young, homesick whilst some were taken advantage of.  When the scheme folded in the 1930s, over 5,500 boys had migrated to the farm.

Group photograph of immigrant boys and farm workers at Scheyville Training Farms
Courtesy State Records 

During World War 2, Scheyville was used for training and then afterwards was occupied by migrants, mainly from Europe, who arrived in Australia in large numbers after the war. The migrant hostel provided lodgings until they could become established with employment and housing. On the whole, migrants had good memories of their time at Scheyville. The Migrant Hostel closed in 1964. You can read about the memories of migrants and their experiences at Scheyville on the Migration Heritage website Field of Memories.

The locality where the hostel was located, now bears the name Scheyville. Several buildings still remain and the farm now forms part of the Scheyville National Park.

For more information check the National Archives of Australia finding aid, Good British Stock and website Field of Memories


  1. One of my oldest friends was a Schey and mentioned that there was an area in Sydney named after her family, I'll send her the link.
    Great work on the blog
    Thanks Michelle

  2. My dad was a "Dreadnought Boy", lured here as a 16 year old... You can read about it here: Cheers, Catherine

  3. My father was also as Dreadnought boy from Birmingham. He came out on the "Diogenes" in 1925/6 and went to Scheyville. Then he was "farmed" out to "cockies" in New South Wales who treated him very poorly, but he did still manage to have some fun when he got over the shock of his new environment. Wish he'd written down something about his journey out and his life at Scheyville.

  4. My great uncle Charlie Wells was a Dreadnought Lad. He arrived in Australia in September 1915, and must have been part of the last group of boys to leave England before the Dreadnought Scheme was curtailed because of the First World War. Sixteen year old Charlie traveled here on RMS Osterley, along with five other lads of the same age. William Horrop,Sidney Bingley, Robert Racquet,Stanley Tiffin and James Gibson . Whether the six lads went to Scheyville Training Farm is uncertain, but I do know that Charlie finished up on a station north of Inverell, called Arrawatta. Here Charlie eventually became a milkman,delivering milk to the town. He met Rene,who he would eventually marry, and they would have four children; Elizabeth (Betty) John,Shirley and Posse. Charlie Wells died in 1956.A great many of his relatives still live in the Inverell area.