About

The concept of the scheme was initiated by the Founder Kingsley Fairbridge for largely compassionate reasons and a vision that was supported by predominantly middle and upper class citizens in the United Kingdom.

The vision involved in the Scheme originally aimed at making children in the United Kingdom “useful” members of society. In reality it became a tangible expression of the social concerns of the middle class Britons of that period.

A further rationale for the scheme would have been to relieve the pressure on the social caring cost at home in the UK and secondly to colonise the British Empire.

It should be noted that other Farm Schools were established in Pinjarra, Western Australia, Canada and Rhodesia.

While the scheme undoubtedly helped the majority of those who went through the Farm School, there has emerged in recent years a darker side to the scheme,which has resulted in a class action now being taken against the Fairbridge Foundation,and the NSW and Federal Governments for physical, emotional and sexual abuse for the years spent at the Farm School in Molong NSW.

The scheme however has produced some notable citizens who have achieved a great deal in life. Kingsley Fairbridge would have been immensely proud of these OF”s. They include several medical doctors, headmasters, preachers, park administrators, authors of note, railway commissioners, several professors, several hospital matrons, social workers, a mayor, journalists, nurses, teachers, estate agents, bank staff, accountants, business millionaires, engineers.

Many OF”s served in the armed forces including two Air Commodores, WWII ,Korean and Vietnam veterans,and military intelligence personnel.

The scheme however was set up for all good reasons by the middle class citizens of the UK. However in practice the rationale in sending young children as young as 5 to a foreign land without loving parental support was fundamentally flawed.

The best intentions of the The Fairbridge Society in London for the most part simply failed to materialise.

The reality at the Farm School particularly in relation to very young children would have grave repercussions in the lives of many of those children in their adult years.

 

Indeed the older children benefitted the most and this is widely acknowledged by the actual old Fairbridgians themselves by the comments. “Only two years” and “You were a lucky one.”

On January 7th, 1940 a Public Meeting was held in the Dining Hall, and the Old Fairbridgian’s Association was formed with the following office bearers:

Chairman:  Mr. E.R. Heath
Secretary:  Ray Drury
Treasurer:  Evelyn Wickens
Executive Committee:

Mrs. Heath           Margaret Gillies
Norman Love       Reuben Gamsby
Miss. Needham    M. Beauchamp
Donald Gillies      Lionel Hallett

The first Old Fairbridgian boy, was Norman J.J.Love. He had come to Fairbridge in the first party in March 1938.  In May 1939 he left the Farm to work on Mr.Kingsmill’s property near Parkes.  The Fairbridge Society Council in London presented him with a saddle.  In July 1940 he returned to Fairbridge to be Dairy Foreman.  He enlisted in the Army  in 1941.  After the war he married Elsie Johnstone, another Old Fairbridgian.  He drew a soldier settler’s block near Dubbo.

The first Old Fairbridgian girl was Joan Eshlin.  She had arrived in the second party in June 1938.  Her first job was with Miss Blakemore, “Shirley”, Muronbung between Wellington and Mendooran.  She received a scholarship to Sydney Teachers College.  After completing her course she joined the A.W.A.S. After the war she returned to England, but came out again in march 1948, travelling as one of the escorts for a party of 28 Fairbridge children. She taught at Wellington and in 1949 at Broken Hill.

Some old Fairbridgians returned at every opportunity to the Farm School ,usually at the weekends if their job was not too far away,all had suffered from home sickness.

For many it had been “home”for up to 10-12 years,and as they had left their English homes at the age of 6-9 ,by the time they had actually  left Fairbridge they had spent more than half their life at the farm.

Some Old Fairbridgians returned at longer intervals,between jobs,on holidays or at times when they happened to pass by. Another group did not return for perhaps 10 to 12 years after leaving the Farm. By this time many had married,become established in their careers,and raised a family

By the year 1965 there was a total of 65 old Fairbridgians and their children at the Farm for Christmas.

The Association has had a relapse in the 1940s and ceased to exist. It was rejuvenated in 1956 ,mainly due to the efforts of Denis Silver, John Harris and Laurie Field. These 3 stalwarts today are active except for Denis Silver who for health reasons cannot attend the Executive meetings ,the Association owes a huge debt of gratitude to these 3 men.

The re-unions held by the Old Fairbrigdians are now on a biennial basis and always occur in Orange. In previous years visits to the Farm at Molong were possible during the 2 days of the reunion,but sadly this is now not possible now due to the private ownership of the land.

In fact entry now as of February 2011 is forbidden with a huge “trespassers will be prosecuted” sign on the heavily padlocked gate.  The purpose of this web site is to ensure that the farm memories and history are forever enshrined and barred to no one.

The establishment of the Fairbridge Memorial Drive just outside Molong is also another initiative of the Association,the Ulmus Procera Variegata {Golden Elm] trees form a magnificent avenue to honour family,passed loved ones and memories of the Old Fairbridgians that passed through the school.