Kingsley Fairbridge (5 May 1885 – 19 July 1924) was the founder of a child emigration scheme to the British colonies, and the Fairbridge Farm Schools. His life work was the founding of the “Society for the Furtherance of Child Emigration to the Colonies”, which was afterwards incorporated as the “Child Emigration Society” and ultimately the “Fairbridge Society”.
Throughout his life, Kingsley Fairbridge never lost sight of his aim to provide assistance to children who had very little chance of a successful life in the overcrowded cities of Britain.
In March 1912 Kingsley Fairbridge and his wife Ruby sailed for Western Australia with 2000 pounds. A property of 160 acres was purchased near Pinjarra about 60 miles (97 km) south of Perth, with the Western Australian government agreeing to pay 6 pounds for each child towards the cost of the passage money.
After several months of clearing of the property, as well as building basic accommodation (mainly tents), the first party of 13 boys, aged between 7 and 13, arrived in January 1913. In July they were followed by a second group of 22 boys.
There were severe financial difficulties during World War I until the government provided a grant that assisted the school through the war period. In August 1919 Kingsley Fairbridge went to England and managed to raise a sum of 27,000 pounds for the development of the school. The British Government’s Overseas Settlement Committee provided 20,000 pounds on condition that the Western Australian Government continued its grant of 6 shillings per week per child.
Kingsley Fairbridge died at the early age of 39 of a lymphatic tumour and was buried at his school. The Fairbridge Farm School continued under a principal. At the time of Kingsley Fairbridge’s death, 200 children were at the school, and enrolment gradually reached a peak of 400.
The Old Fairbridgians’ Association of Western Association was formed in 1930 to serve as a benevolent organisation to enhance the welfare of Old Fairbridgians, those children whose home for part of their lives was at the Kingsley Fairbridge Farm School near Pinjarra in Western Australia.
The Old Fairbridgians’ Association hosts a Founder’s Day in honour of Kingsley Fairbridge. Each year on the Sunday closest to Kingsley’s passing (July 19 1924) many Old Fairbridgians make a pilgrimage to Fairbridge Farm and remember Kingsley and also meet up with old friends over lunch in the Clubhouse. All Old Fairbridgians and friends of Fairbridge are very welcome.
This year the Founder’s Day is being held on Sunday July 17, commencing with a service in the chapel at 11.00 am to commemorate the death of Kingsley Fairbridge, followed by lunch in the Old Fairbridgians’ Association clubhouse.
For more information on Kingsley Fairbridge and the Fairbridge Farm School, go to the Old Fairbridgians’ Association website: http://www.fairbridgekids.com/ofa.htm