‘The landless man to the manless land’
Labour colonies and the Empire
in Working men’s bodies
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Many in the labour colony movement saw an obvious outlet for unemployed Britons in Empire settlement. Before 1918, a number of voluntary labour colonies co-operated with governments in Australia, Canada and other ‘settler societies’ to develop training for emigration. Race was an important part of the equation, with British movements and Dominions governments agreeing on the need for white settlers. After 1918, the British government took a more active role, developing training centres for unemployed emigrants under the Empire Settlement Act. While men were given heavy manual work to prepare them for farming careers, women were trained in domestic skills. While this process was scaled back after the 1929 crisis, British authorities always hoped it would resume.

Working men’s bodies

Work camps in Britain, 1880–1940

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