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Britain Australia Bicentennial Committee

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0101 ICS 144
Held at: Institute of Commonwealth Studies
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Full title: Britain Australia Bicentennial Committee
Date(s): 1984-1990
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 14 boxes
Name of creator(s): Britain Australia Bicentennial Committee
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Britain Australia Bicentennial Committee (BABC) was set up in 1984 by the British Government through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to supervise the British involvement in the Australian Bicentennial. It was chaired by Sir Peter Gadsden. Initially a steering committee was set up, which later became the BABC. In 1985 the Britain Australia Bicentennial Trust was set up to deal with the public money raised, at this time the BABC also set up a number of National Task subcommittees and regional subcommittees.

One of the tasks of the BABC was to make a recommendation for the UK gift to Australia for the Bicentennial. Several ideas were put forward for consideration, notably a re-enactment of the voyage of the First Fleet under Admiral Arthur Philip, This was decided against, although the re-enactment fleet did sail from the Isle of Wight, 13 May 1987 and arrived in Australia 26 Jan 1988, without the support of the BABC. The UK gift to Australia was eventually decided on as the sail training schooner STS Young Endeavour, proposed by Arthur Weller. The building of STS Young Endeavour, was supervised by the Schooner Trust, supervised by Weller. The Bicentennial events in the UK were widespread including balls, banquets and church services, notably at Westminster Abbey led by Archbishop Robert Runcie, 14 Jul 1988.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of the Britain Australia Bicentennial Committee (BABC), 1984-1990, including papers relating to the setting up of the BABC notably letters from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Mar 1984; the steering brief given to Sir Peter Gadsden, 5 Mar 1984; list of proposed members of the steering committee and related correspondence; financial papers; correspondence on the Duke of Kent becoming President of the BABC; papers on gaining charitable trust status for the Britain Australia Bicentennial Trust and steering committee papers including early minutes. Agendas and minutes for BABC meetings 1985-1988; weekly reports of the Executive Secretary, Ann Beeching, Feb 1985-Apr 1987; newsletters, 1986-1988 with related papers and correspondence.

Papers of National Task subcommittees including the Agricultural Subcommittee; the Education Subcommittee, (chaired by Thomas Millar Head of the Australian Studies Centre, University of London); Science, Technology, Industry and Medicine Subcommittee; the Social Subcommittee and the Maritime Subcommittee including a proposal for the gift of a schooner, by Arthur Weller, 1985, minutes of the Schooner Trust and proposal for the First Fleet re-enactment. Papers of regional committees including City of London committee; Bath and West Country committee including on a proposal for an Australian Centre in Admiral Arthur Philip's dwelling house in Bath; East Anglia committee, including correspondence on George Eve; Midlands committee; North East committee including on a Civic Service in Newcastle Cathedral, 1987; Northern Ireland committee; Lincoln committee, including on the Britain Australia Studies association national conference 'Australia Towards 2000', Jul 1988; Liverpool committee, including exhibition Leaving Liverpool on emigration from Merseyside; Whitby committee and Scotland committee.

Papers relating to the STS Young Endeavour, including minutes of the Schooner Trust, correspondence of Weller, Apr 1985-Jun 1986 and the initial proposal, 1985. Papers relating to other possible gifts to be given to Australia including proposal by Thomas Millar, to set up an Australian Centre, 13 Aug 1986. Papers relating to the First Fleet re-enactment including correspondence with Jonathan King and Wally Franklin; papers related to the event in Portsmouth for the sailing of the Fleet, 13 May 1987 and papers relating to doubts expressed by Weller regarding the financial viability of the re-enactment. Papers relating to a Bicentennial service held at Westminster Abby, 14 Jul 1988 including agreement made with Archbishop Robert Alexander Kennedy Runcie to preach at the service and draft of the service with notations. Papers relating to other events to celebrate the Bicentenary including a banquet at Guildhall, London; an exhibition to be held at the British Museum (Natural History) entitled 'First Impressions: the British discovery of Australia', 1988 and the Mansion House Hawke dinner, 21 Jun 1989. Papers relating to the Australian Bicentennial Authority (ABA) including correspondence between BABC and the ABA, Apr 1984-Mar 1988; papers relating to the possibility of setting up an Australian tableau at the Chelsea Flower Show (aborted); transcript of speech by Barry Cohen MP given at the Royal Commonwealth Society, 26 May 1986 and the ABA Annual Report, 1988; Papers on the Arthur Philip Trust, including on staffing; papers relating to the Britain Australia Bicentennial Trading Company Ltd including reports and accounts and papers relating to its dissolution, 1990; and papers concerning the closure of the BABC office at the Royal Commonwealth Society, Jun 1988.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Original order

Conditions governing access:

Open although advance notice should be given. Some items are closed under the Data Protection Act. Enquiries about access should be made to the Library staff.

Conditions governing reproduction:

A photocopying and digitisation service is available, at the discretion of the Library staff. Copies are supplied solely for research or private study. Requests to publish, or to quote from original material should be submitted to the Information Resources Manager.

Finding aids:

Catalogued to file level (see link to repository catalogue).

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Received by the ICS, 2005.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Records of the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies contain papers on the Britain Australia Bicentennial Committee (ref: ICS 143).
Australian Bicentennial Celebrations papers (ref: ICS 113)

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Entry compiled by Sarah Drewery.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Feb 2008

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