The Fairbridge Society was an organisation that sent children from the United Kingdom to Australia as unaccompanied child migrants. Formed from Kingsley Fairbridge's Child Emigration Society in 1920, the Fairbridge Society ran Pinjarra in Western Australia. It sent children to New South Wales to the care of Fairbridge Farm Schools of New South Wales. In 1987 it became Fairbridge Drake Society Incorporated.
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.
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.
The organisation became known as the Fairbridge Society, and went on to establish more farm schools in Canada and Australia. The Fairbridge Society did not run the Fairbridge Farm School at Molong in New South Wales, but did send children to it, via the Fairbridge Farm Schools of New South Wales.
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.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'The Forgotten Australians - Fairbridge Farm School, Molong', in Migration Heritage Centre New South Wales, Migration Heritage Centre New South Wales, NSW Government, 2010, http://www.migrationheritage.nsw.gov.au/exhibition/fairbridge/fairbridge-transcripts/; Coldrey, Barry, Good British stock: child and youth migration to Australia, This is a research guide published by the National Archives of Australia. It contains detailed historical information about Australia's immigration policy and child and youth migration to Australia. It also has information about relevant archival records in Australia and overseas relating to child and youth migration., National Archives of Australia, 1999, https://www.naa.gov.au/help-your-research/research-guides/good-british-stock-child-and-youth-migration-australia; Hill, David, The Forgotten Children: Fairbridge Farm School and its betrayal of Australia's child migrants, Random House, North Sydney, 2007, 338 pp; Hyde, Penny, Investigating Molong's Fairbridge Farm School, ABC Central West NSW, 1 March 2013, http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2013/02/28/3700718.htm; Molong Historical Society, Fairbridge and the Molong Community, Migration Heritage Centre New South Wales: NSW Government, 2010, http://www.migrationheritage.nsw.gov.au/projects/fairbridge-farm-school/; Old Fairbridgians Association, History of Fairbridge Farm School Molong NSW, Old Fairbridgians Association/Molong Historical Society, http://www.users.on.net/~quincejam/farm.html; O'Neill, Cate; Rosser, Debra, Fairbridge (c. 1909 - ), Find & Connect web resource, Find & Connect web resource project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2013, http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/ref/wa/biogs/WE00270b.htm.
Prepared by: Debra Rosser, Cate O'Neill, Naomi Parry
Created: 14 August 2013, Last modified: 19 March 2015