Fairbridge Farm School opened in Pinjarra, Western Australia in 1913. More than 1,000 child migrants were sent from England to the Farm School after World War I, and another 1,520 children after World War II. From the 1960s the Farm School also accommodated some wards of state. Fairbridge Farm School Pinjarra closed in 1981.
Fairbridge Farm School Pinjarra was the first site of the Fairbridge Society's scheme to bring poor children from the cities of England to farm schools in countries of the British Empire.
Fairbridge Farm School Pinjarra was run under the auspices of the Fairbridge Society in England. In 1983, a new organisation, Fairbridge Inc, was formed and took ownership of what is now Fairbridge Village, Pinjarra.
Fairbridge Farm School, Pinjarra was established in Western Australia by Kingsley Fairbridge. Fairbridge and his wife, Ruby, arrived in Albany on 15 April 1912 and chose the site for a farm school near Pinjarra in July of that year.
On 1 January 1913, through the auspices of the Child Emigration (later, Fairbridge) Society in England, the first 13 child migrants (all boys) arrived from Britain and were admitted to the farm school at Pinjarra.
In 1920 another site in Pinjarra was purchased. With 3,200 acres of land at the new site, Fairbridge Farm School was able to expand. More than 1,000 child migrants were sent to Fairbridge from Britain after World War I.
The 'fairbridgekids' website has historic photographs of the various buildings at Fairbridge Farm School, many of which were constructed in the 1920s and 1930s. They include: Belfast Cottage (built 1921), Clive Cottage (built 1930), Cook Cottage (1927), Darwin Cottage (1923), Evelyn Cottage (1935), Exeter Cottage (1921), Fairbridge House (1922), Forrest Cottage (1928), Glascow Cottage (1923), Heath House (1928), Hudson Cottage (1923), Jenner Cottage (1923), Kitchener Cottage (1927), Lawley Cottage (1927), Lister Cottage (1923), Livingstone Cottage (1927), Middlemoore Cottage (1932), Nelson Cottage (1923), Newton Cottage (1923), Nightingale Cottage (1930) and Wolfe Cottage (1921).
On 19 July 1924, Kingsley Fairbridge died in Perth but the farm school that was named in his honour continued. From its earliest days, Fairbridge Farm had used media, public speaking events and other mechanisms to bring the farm school to public notice and attract donations and support in Australia and in the United Kingdom. In 1927, the Duke and Duchess of York visited the farm school at Pinjarra, the first of a number of visits by members of the British Royal Family.
In 1938, the objectives of the Fairbridge Farm School at Pinjarra were described by the Royal Commission on Youth Employment and the Apprenticeship System as 'cultural education' for primary and post-primary school girls and boys, and 'vocational instruction in farming methods for the boys and domestic science training for the girls'. The Commissioner (p.lxix) reported that Kingsley Fairbridge's 'principle was that in order to make successful migrants, who would settle down to rural pursuits, it was advisable to bring children away from the home country at an early age and so settle them in a new country at a time when their minds had not yet become impressed with the environment of their native land'.
The Royal Commissioner recommended (p.lxx) that the Government pay a maintenance allowance of 10 shillings per week for each 'destitute orphan boy' at Fairbridge provided the school undertook vocational and general education and training to the satisfaction of the Education Department. It was not clear from the recommendation that this should be extended to girls at Fairbridge but as it was aimed at agricultural training it was probably not intended to subsidise girls. In any case, by 1940, this recommendation had still not been implemented.
After the end of hostilities in World War II, Dutch children who had been evacuated from internment camps in Java were sent to Fairbridge. This was organised by the Netherlands Indies Welfare Organisation for Evacuees. It is unclear how long the children stayed there, but newspaper reports from 1945-1946 suggest that the children were under the control of 'Dutch authorities' while they were at Fairbridge and may have left by June or July 1946. The 1946 documentary film 'Welcome Neighbor' included scenes of the children at Fairbridge.
Emigration of British child migrants ceased during World War II but by 1947 the program had started up again, with 1,520 children sent to Fairbridge Farm School, Pinjarra.
In 1956, the 'One Parent Scheme' started. Children were sent out to Fairbridge Farm School, Pinjarra ahead of their parent and stayed at Fairbridge until they could be reunited with family. In 1960, this was extended to a 'Family Scheme' that included children with two parents emigrating to Western Australia.
In the 1960s, Fairbridge began to admit children referred from the departments responsible for child welfare and in 1961 the Big Brother Movement began to send young men aged 17-18 years to Fairbridge.
The Fairbridge Farm School, Pinjarra closed in 1981. Many former residents of Fairbridge have shared their experiences and memories (bad and good) at government inquiries, in books and in oral histories.
In 2021, the Commonwealth and Western Australian governments have agreed to be a funder of last resort for this institution. This means that although the institution is now defunct, it is participating in the National Redress Scheme, and the government has agreed to pay the institution's share of costs of providing redress to a person (as long as the government is found to be equally responsible for the abuse a person experienced).
Sources used to compile this entry: Report of the Royal Commission on Youth Employment and the Apprenticeship System, Royal Commissions Held in Western Australia, Parliament of Western Australia, 28 February 1938, http://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/intranet/libpages.nsf/WebFiles/Royal+Commission+1938/$FILE/RC1.pdf. p.lxix.; 'Motion - Child Welfare Department. Maintenance of Children', in Hansard Archive 1870 to 1995, Parliament of Western Australia, 4 December 1940, https://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/Hansard/hansard1870to1995.nsf/83cc4ce93b5d4e0b48257b33001cfef6/BF96AA998FE9A93748257A4E0010E9F2/$File/19401204_Assembly.pdf; 'Dutch day nursery', The West Australian, 18 December 1945, p. 9, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article44835411; 'Back to health [Dutch children at Fairbridge]', Western Mail, Charles Harper, J.W. Hackett, James Gibey, for the Western mail office, Perth, 14 February 1946, p. 22, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article38570376; 'Dutch evacuees meet Lord Mayor', The West Australian, 3 May 1946, p. 6, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article50339232; 'Lochiel Cameron writes of Dutch Evacuees [Fairbridge]', Western Mail, Charles Harper, J.W. Hackett, James Gibey, for the Western mail office, Perth, 27 June 1946, p. 28, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article53244429; 'No title [Dutch children at Fairbridge]', Western Mail, Charles Harper, J.W. Hackett, James Gibey, for the Western mail office, Perth, 14 February 1946, p. 23, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article38570368; 'They film W.A. for worldwide display [Dutch children at Fairbridge]', Sunday Times, 27 January 1946, p. 14, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59348646; Chate, A.H; Graham, Bruce; Oakley, Glenda, Date it!: a Western Australian chronology to 1929, Friends of the Battye Library (Inc.), Northbridge, Western Australia, 1991; Fairbridge Village, Fairbridge Western Australia Inc, http://www.fairbridge.asn.au/home/; fairbridgekids: A History of Fairbridge Farm School, Pinjarra, Old Fairbridgians Association, http://fairbridgekids.info/; Hill, David, The Forgotten Children: Fairbridge Farm School and Its Betrayal of Britain's Child Migrants to Australia, William Heinemann,, North Sydney, New South Western Australiales, 2008. The Forgotten Children has some information about the history of Fairbridge Farm School Pinjarra.; Information Services, Department for Community Development, Signposts: A Guide for Children and Young People in Care in WA from 1920, Government of Western Australia, 2004, https://signposts.communities.wa.gov.au//pdf/pdf.aspx; Senate Community Affairs Committee, 'Inquiry into child migration', in Parliament of Australia website, Commonwealth of Australia, 2001, http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/completed_inquiries/1999-02/child_migrat/submissions/sublist.htm.
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 15 March 2011, Last modified: 7 December 2021