Project Description

Ellen BYLES (nee Wilkinson) was born at home in Sheffield, England, on 25 April, 1896. Her mother died of typhoid when Ellen was very young and she was brought up by her aunt and uncle. Her father re-married and Ellen went to live with her father and stepmother.

She left school at 13 years of age and her first job was in a scissors’ warehouse. She had various other jobs until her sister, Maggie, got her a job in the toy factory where she was then working. They decided to run away and went to their mother’s family in Thorpesley.

The early part of the interview covers her childhood in the UK, her employment in Sheffield until the age of sixteen, her life in London from the age of 17 and her activities with the Land Army during WWI when she worked on farms.

She married Harry John Byles on 22 December, 1919 and they migrated to Western Australia in 1922, on the Berriman – the last free voyage for ex-servicemen. Under the Group Settlement Scheme they moved to the Peel Estate with 20 other families and lived in tents while houses were being built. The men cleared the lots. They were dissatisfied with the conditions and hardships there and moved to Yelverton, Group Settlement 61, five years later where they stayed for 28 years.

Ellen tells of their life in Yelverton developing a dairy and bringing up her family and their interactions with the small community. The children schooled in Metricup and the family went by train to Busselton every Saturday for the day.