On the reverse of the picture, which is the size of a carte de visite or visiting card, is a plan; the cabins occupied by the Beggs family appear to be indicated with red ticks.

My great-great Aunt Rose’s photograph album consists mostly of portraits of members of her family, but it does include one picture of a ship, Brunel’s SS Great Britain. This has the caption:

S.S. Great Britain 1868
September 1868. We all returned from Ireland in the Great Britain.

The ‘we’ is the Beggs family; the caption was probably inserted by Rose’s husband Frank Beggs, a boy of seventeen at the time of their long journey back to Australia.

From the Geelong Advertiser, Tuesday 8 September 1868, page 2:

The following old colonists, late residents in Geelong and the "Western District, returned to the colony by the steamer Great Britain;—Hon. Niel Black, of Glenormiston, Mrs Black, Masters Archibald, Stewart and Niel Black, and servant; Mr and Mrs F. Beggs, of Beaufort, Misses Elizabeth, Charlotte, Maria, Clamma, Gertrude, Masters F., H., R. and J. Beggs; Mr. and Mrs D. Stead, of Ballan; Mr Robert Richardson, formerly Inspector of Police, Geelong; Mr Fairfax Fenwick, of Chevy; Mr Alex. Hunter, and Mr George Staveley of Geelong, also Master E. G. Staveley.

The SS Great Britain was a steamship designed by the famous Victorian-era engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Launched in 1845, until 1854 she was the largest passenger ship in the world. The Great Britain made her first voyage to Australia in 1852 and operated on the England–Australia route for almost 30 years. Still afloat, she is now part of a Bristol maritime museum. (The Great Britain was not Brunel’s famous SS Great Eastern, a different vessel.)

The Beggs family left Australia for Southampton on 26 January 1865 on the ‘Bombay, a steamship of 608 tons. The passenger list includes Mr and Mrs Beggs, a daughter and son aged over twelve years old, three daughters aged between one and twelve, two sons aged between one and twelve, one infant daughter: eight children altogether.

In 1866 the Beggs’s youngest child, Gertude, was born in Ireland during their stay there.

The photograph album contains many portraits of the Beggs’s relatives and friends from Ireland, presumably people Frank Beggs and his family met at the time of their 1860s visit.

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