The Transports Human Cargo


Norwich Gaol became home for HENRY KABLE and SUSANNAH HOLMES in 1784, both awaiting transportation to Australia. They left Britain, never to return, but they made good in Australia. Henry became the new colony’s first Chief Constable. Susannah became known as one of the 100 most important women in Australia’s history. Their story lies at the heart of The Transports.

MARY ANN MEADOWS was a 21year old servant from Norwich who was transported for stealing a petticoat and night gown from her mistress, Mrs. Jennings. Mary Ann was 4’11 1/2” tall, unmarried, blue eyes, light brown hair, could read and write, 3 moles on left cheek, freckled, mole on right cheek, mole on chin, red mark on left wrist. In 1853 she married George Paynter.

REBECCA DAYNES was a 33 year old housemaid transported to Tasmania for 14 years in 1847 for stealing clothes. She brought her two year old son Edward with her. Rebecca was 4’9” tall, with a sallow complexion, sandy hair, hazel eyes,and five blue dots on the fingers of her left hand. She could read.

Our partner New Routes supports and empowers refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, and promotes cross-cultural integration and community awareness. Currently, its clients come from 29 countries and speak 19 different languages. New Routes provides many types of activities, including mentoring for adults and youth, a homework support club, an international families club, craft & conversation and story projects. Here's a picture of a youth trip to the House of Commons.


 In the 16th century many protestant refugees came to Norwich from the Low Countries, bearing news of atrocities in Ghent. Known as the Strangers, they were expert weavers and were responsible in part for the city’s growing wealth. In 1567 the mayor of Norwich, Thomas Whall – the Farage of his time - made inflammatory statements about them, that the Walloons had “sucked the living away from the English”, and he placed greater restrictions upon them. But he failed in his attempts to foment attacks on the refugees. The fine folk of Norwich knew the value of these migrants.

ANAS (name changed to protect identity) aged 28, worked as a dentist at the University of Damascus for five years before he was forced to leave. The Syrian government regime put him on their hit list. “Being in the medical profession in Syria is very dangerous. The regime thought we might be against them,” Anas said. In July, 2015, he made his move. Knowing that his wife and one-year-old son wouldn’t be able to make the dangerous trek, he promised he would arrange a safer, legal route when he was settled. The part he remembers most vividly about the journey has become an unwavering image of the European refugee crisis: the boat ride in small, plastic dinghies packed with terrified children and adults.

Anas had learned English in school and heard there were opportunities in the medical field in Britain, so he made his way here. After being granted a Leave to Remain (a legal immigration status that grants protection for five years), he bounced around refugee camps across the country for months before finding John (name also changed). John had a flat in Norwich with an extra room and had signed up to host a refugee through the website Homes for Syrians. Anas moved in, and started studying for an IELTS exam so he can work or study in the UK. He hopes to find a job as a dental trainee or receive a scholarship for a masters programme in dentistry. As soon as possible, he wants to bring over his wife and baby. This story comes from the Eastern Daily Press 3.9.16

Norwich Salah El Nagar

Salah El Nagar is an Egyptian Writer and a poet, who now lives in Norwich. He came to the UK as a refugee because he suffered persecution in his home country for writing about human rights. Salah is related to Dr Ahmed Subhy Mansour, an Egyptian American activist and Islamic scholar with expertise in Islamic history, culture, theology and politics, who has been in exile in America since 2001.  Salah was forced to leave Egypt because of his support for Dr Ahmed Subhy Mansour’s teachings. Here are two extracts from his story Appointment with Life.

The arduous trip to Europe on a ship in the Mediterranean Sea took five days and one night, in the dark of the raging sea. I lived Einstein’s theory of relativity as five days seemed like five years. I had studied the physics of the dark sky but I did not find more darkness than the sea, which was accompanied by the symphony of crying women, children screaming and the waves hitting the ship. Five days of anxiety, insomnia, fear and grief. For five nights I did not know the taste of sleep.

Then, later, Salah crossed the Channel. My lucky night came on the 14th October 2015. I was an unwelcome guest in a lorry on a ship. I stayed thirty six hours, lying still in the same position, sharing a one metre by two metre box with one other person, both unable to move an inch. Our eyes were wide open, alert to the movements of the lorry. We had to mute our breathing to avoid the sniffs of the dogs. Eventually, we heard the announcement on the ship that we would arrive at our destination in ten minutes. We shook each other’s hands with happiness as if we had just won a prize. 

Read here Salah's story Hope and a Bear.

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New Routes