A warm welcome to a special family of new members

We are very proud to announce the grand children and great

grandchildren of our Founders Kingsley and Ruby Fairbridge have

now joined and are financial members of the Old Fairbridgians

Association. Welcome home to each of you. In particular we hope

you will find your membership interesting, rewarding and

informative.


The Fairbridge Farm School Register 1913 to 1981

Also known as The Bible” is back!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wow!

This huge, impressive looking leather bound register, contains the hand written notes of the party number, the ship, the arrival date at Fairbridge Farm school Pinjarra Western Australia, of every boy and girl who came to Fairbridge Farm School as Child Migrants between 1913 and 1961 (more than 1500 children) and all the details of the children who came in the assisted parent scheme up until 1981{another 1800 children}.

For several decades Child Migrant Old Fairbridgians and their children and grandchildren have been denied the any opportunity to view or access this register. It appears it has been held by one person for all of this time, a period thought to be in the vicinity of forty years. It does not appear to be in a very good state of repair and has been written in during this period of time.

Your committee had for some months been asking the person we thought was in control of the huge register for its return to be displayed in the OFA Museum. A document and information since obtained, indicate it was delivered not to us but to Fairbridge WA. Inc.

and then delivered not to us but to the Battye Library. Finally, through significant efforts it has been secured by the Old Fairbridgians Association Committee for display here in your museum.

For the first time ever it has been made available to all those Child Migrants, their families and the general public. The register has been carefully placed by us in a security locked table top glass cabinet and the first time it was available ever, for public viewing was the 26th November 2011.

For many of us it is the single most important object in the museum collection.

It has been noticed by museum staff that for people, particularly Old Fairbridgians and family members it has been a moving and emotional experience to stand and view, feeling for the first time the absolute importance of this object to that part of their childhood and to the rest of their life.


Message from Mike Barnett.

Earlier this year I had asked about the history of Darwin because the CEO of Fairbridge

WA Inc. was trying to tell me at a meeting, that Darwin would be restored the way it was

originally and stating that the multiple bedrooms had been that way in the 50’s. He did not

accept my version that in the 50’s it was a single long dormitory. My view is

that the history of  Fairbridge should be told accurately and the cottages which are

heritage listed for a good reason should not be changed at a whim. Our Fairbridge Farm

School village is a National treasure and needs to be shown some respect.

Darwin cottage

This is the way the cottage looks now. All work on restoration and maintenance of all

buildings appears to have stopped in the Village. This photo was taken at the end of

December 2011 .

I REMEMBER By Jim Arthur of Darwin cottage

The renovations you speak of probably started in 1950, when the contractor (Mr Bert

Lanah?) turned up to do Darwin. We had to move to ….. I thought it was a double storey

down near Scratton but that does not show on the map (Did one burn down in that area?)

Other than that it could have been Cook. All the work being done in the area was a great

time for us to remove many large sheets of corrugated iron which was shaped into very

good canoes. If we could not appropriate putty, then tins of paint, dried out in the sun and

were then used to block the holes. In the river, especially going up to the orchard it was

like a regatta on the Thames so many sheets of iron on the water and when I think back all

we were getting was rock hard pears. I don’t reckon you could have stewed them, talk

about bellyaches. Once the dam was dropped for winter we used to sink our canoes in the

pool just under the bridge in the very fast water and get them out the following summer.

When Darwin was completed the dormitory was real swish we had windows, and I had sort

of got used to just chicken wire across the length of the house at the end of the dormitory a

separate section for three beds for the older boys, a real nice verandah, but we still had the

outside lavvy.


MUSEUM MUSINGS

We are currently approved for two Government grants. The first is a $4,400 Australian

Government grant recently approved for a significance assessment of our museum

collection. A successful submission of this will see us on track for a succession of future

grants to build an iconic world class Child Migrant Museum.

We have appointed Dr. Brian Shepherd to conduct the assessment and he began the project

the week before Christmas, on site at the Fairbridge village.

Dr. Shepherd is a highly respected museologist whose doctorate is in Childhood studies.

He also comes highly recommended in his capacity of Museum consultant.

The second is a $9,100 grant from Lottery West for computer equipment and programs

which will be placed in our museum. This will enable the OFA to digitalise its whole

collection, to access rapidly information being sought by our members and their families

and basically become far more professional than the OFA has previously been. The OFA

Museum curator, Mike Barnett, is currently involved in implementing these grants.

2 new cabinets already in situ in our OFA Museum were donated to us from the Army

Museum in Fremantle, coordinated by George Braithwaite.

Lots of new items from the past donated back to the museum for all to see and share.

Interesting research currently being undertaken in the museum about the numbers of

children who were returned to the UK. So far the story has been confirmed from two

different sources. “Some were declared unfit or unsuitable for the Australian climate.

“Unsuitable” usually meant they misbehaved. Those sent home were noted in reports to

Fairbridge UK, a few were mentioned in The Fairbridgian.” One member told me. Another

named the names of 2 children giving me a good lead to begin some more research. Why

would I like to find out more you may well ask? Well because the numbers suggested run

between more than 40 on the one hand and more than 120 on the other. May be members

out there have the information already and if so would you like to let me have whatever

information you have so as to put this story to bed or, to at least have firm facts.

Concurrently with these projects we are working towards two more grants. We are hopeful

of an Australian government Grant in 2012 for a preservation assessment of our OFA Child

Migrant Museum.

We are preparing a case for State Government funding towards a “Strategic Interpretation

Master Plan”. This will involve putting together a team of specialists which will also include

a Heritage Architect. I expect the cost of this individual project will be in the vicinity of $35,000.

It is possible that a lottery West special grant could be obtained for $25,000 of this total.


 

 

 

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