The Downs

The Downs is an anchorage off south-east England, located between the coastal town of Deal in Kent and the Goodwin Sands. Migrant ships sailing to South Australia often anchored there, sometimes for up to 20 or 30 days, while awaiting favourable easterly winds that would take them into the English Channel. Many reports of voyages list the departure date from ‘The Downs’, rather than ‘England’. The prolonged beginning associated with anchoring in The Downs may have helped immigrants to get their ‘sea-legs’ in preparation for their long and arduous voyage. The Downs is named after the range of chalk hills that runs through Hampshire, Surrey, Kent and Sussex and can be seen from the anchorage.

Links to maps:


Parsons, Ronald, Migrant Ships for South Australia, 1836-1866, (1999), Gould Books, Gumeracha, p. 32

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