The Fairbridge Society was founded by Kingsley Fairbridge (1885-1924), the first Rhodes Scholar from South Africa to attend Oxford University. In response to what he saw as many 'poor children, grubby and exhausted from lack of fresh air and food' in English cities, Kingsley Fairbridge established the 'Child Emigration Society' in 1909.
The organisation became known as the Fairbridge Society, and went on to establish more farm schools in Canada and Australia. The Fairbridge Society ran the farm school at Pinjarra, with a local Western Australian board, from 1913 until the institution closed in 1981.
In 1998, the archives of the Fairbridge Society were 'held and administered' by the University of Liverpool. In their 1998 evidence to the Inquiry into the Welfare of Former British Child Migrants, Fairbridge stated that the Fairbridge Society ceased in 1982, that it was operating under a different constitution but that it continued to own the records of the Fairbridge Society.
In 2011 in Britain, Fairbridge became part of The Prince's Trust.
According to the Fairbridge Society's website, Fairbridge had been shocked to see 'workhouses filled with children, orphanages bursting at the seams, and the overall waste of young lives not able to reach their potential'. The Child Emigration Society was to pursue Fairbridge's 'vision splendid' of
'little children shedding the bondage of bitter circumstances and stretching their legs and minds amid the thousand interests of the farm. The aim was to provide children with a sense of self worth, and the training and skills necessary for their future in the sparsely populated rural areas of the British Empire.'
Kingsley and his wife, Ruby, travelled to Western Australia in 1912, and soon established the world's first Fairbridge Farm School at Pinjarra. Kingsley Fairbridge died in 1924 in Perth.