(Published 1948 – Paterson Press Ltd, Perth, Western Australia)

Only the most skilled of word-smiths could condense a book of some 190 pages into 8 or 9 and still retain the essence of the narrative. I am no such practitioner. This extract is my best effort. Please take it for what it is.

Ruby’s book is a delight to read, her beautifully descriptive writing style perfectly illustrates the terrible hardships; the fleas, the flies, the searing summer heat, the freezing sodden winters, the shortages, unreliable labour, lack of funds, sicknesses, endless battles with authorities, their inability to store food or even clothes; together with their exhilarations, achievements, the joy of childbirth, welcoming and nurturing the children and the growth and successes. None of that emotion can be captured here.

I doubt that most people who read this could never imagine let alone could ever endure the personal hardships experienced and sacrifices made by all those men, women and of course children, especially in the very early years of the Pinjarra Farm School.

The first two chapters deal with Kingsley’s life as a boy to the eventual formation of the Child Emigration Society at Oxford University, and his marriage to Ruby. (The essence of these two chapters have already been captured elsewhere on this site – see ” Kingsley’s Story”)

Chapter 3 is entitled “We Arrive in Australia”

Kingsley and Ruby arrived in Albany aboard the “Afric” on April 15, 1912 to be greeted with the news that the Titanic had just sank in the North Atlantic. They took lodgings in Albany and immediately set out (on their bicycles which they had brought with them) on a search for suitable Farm School land in the vicinity. Discovering none, they set off to Denmark on the bi-weekly train. Upon arrival they then travelled 8 or 9 miles to the north to inspect heavily wooded properties. Finding Denmark “too primitive”, they set off to Perth and lodged with the Fairbairns in Cottesloe.

It was during this time that they met with such people as Sir Arthur Lawley, and they established a local Child Emigration Society committee.

They were invited to Bridgetown by the Brockmans and viewed the locale favourably and spent many hours in the local Land Office with Mr Brockman, searching for suitable land. Again finding none, they ventured to the Warren River near Manjimup. Kingsley applied for, and was granted, 1,000 acres of land in the Warren River district. But the remoteness of the place, the fact that there was no nearby railway, and it was too far from a doctor, led them to continue to look elsewhere.

Looking for land was very arduous considering that this was 1912 and Western Australia was very much in pioneering mode. Travelling was slow and difficult and as usual funds were short. The Fairbridge’s presently went to Pinjarra with an offer of 160 acres of land 3-4 miles south of the town. The land had been rented to Mr Freeman and used as a training farm for teenage boys sent out to Australia by the Ragged Schools of Liverpool. The scheme was a failure and the land the Fairbridge’s took was neglected and run down.

They moved onto that property on 16th July 1912. Mr Freeman (Jnr) was still occupying the property. Much work was undertaken; especially house cleaning, orchard pruning and stocking wood. Mrs Daisy Bates arrived from Perth to assist Ruby during her advancing pregnancy. On the 7th August 1912, they all celebrated the opening of the Farm School. They found help in a 19 year-old youth named Loughlin, and Mr Cox of Coolup kindly provided supplies of fruit and vegetables.

Work was terribly hard and the winter weather was bad. Pushing himself too far, Kingsley suffered a serious attack of malaria which wouldn’t even respond to the usual quinine. Eventually he became somewhat better, leaving his sick bed to farewell Ruby who was scheduled to travel to Perth to have their first baby. However, Ruby considered the trip to Perth far too arduous and enlisted the help of the local Dr Pope who ordered a nurse from Perth to assist with the birth. The nurse missed her first train and subsequently arrived some 3 hours after the baby was born (a girl – Barbara).

Winter turned to spring and relative ease. Ruby records those spring months as being some of her happiest and most restful periods spent at the Farm, new baby and all.

The next job was to erect buildings in readiness for the arrival of the first children from England. The Fairbridges were under colossal pressure from the Society in England to accept children before the buildings were ready. The Society was also reluctant to send the necessary money for Farm improvements. A cable arrived to say the first party of 13 boys was leaving England in December. In January 1913, the lean-to dining room was completed. Frenzied work continued to make the place “habitable” for the first party. Kingsley journeyed to Fremantle to meet the “Australind” and to escort the boys back to Pinjarra. Mr Duncan McLarty lent a wagon and horses to transport the children from Pinjarra to the Farm.

The first children arrived – “a more incongruous, desolate little bunch of humanity it would be hard to imagine” – with little more than the clothes on their backs – “everything was dirty. The Guardians had just fitted them up for life in an English workhouse”. Now a household of twenty, much of the cooking and washing was done outdoors due to lack of space. Kingsley had huge battles with the Society in Oxford for funds which were not forthcoming. The Society appeared not to trust Kingsley’s power of discernment and demanded accounts be rendered “to the last farthing”. The Western Australian Education Department had promised a school and teacher but these did not materialise. Schooling was provided informally. Adapting to the Australian climate and bush (not to mention the primitive conditions at the Farm and the hard work required) was very difficult for the new arrivals. Kingsley did some hard negotiating with a local builder (even pledging his own money) for the necessary structures.

That first summer was unbearably hot. Indoors it was hard to find anywhere that registered below 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Kingsley suffered further bouts of malaria and fever. To help speed recuperation, the Fairbridge’s took a ten-day holiday to Toodyay and stayed with Mr and Mrs Clarkson. Upon their return, the boys (under the direction of the “Captain”) entertained the Fairbridges with a concert, and in their absence had worked very hard to clean up the Farm. Soon after this, the Fairbridge’s own private quarters were erected together with a big new dining room into which the boys moved their beds to avoid the oncoming April showery weather.

Ruby proceeds to describe “The Day’s Work” – an account of daily life. This chapter is an extract taken from a letter to London written by Kingsley and dated February 14th, 1913

“Nine boys sleep in three tents a little way from the house; three to a tent. Two of our little rooms in the house are occupied by two tinier boys in each.”

“5.30am Walter Wickham arises to shoot birds doing damage in the orchard … at the same time, Arthur Keane (aged 13) brings in the 2 cows and milks them, strains off the milk, washes the equipment … meanwhile Arthur Lodge (aged 12) prepares the fowl’s food (boils water to mix bran and pollard) … and the same time John Wickham cleans the manager’s house and readies the kitchen”.

At 6.30am the younger boys arise. Bathe and dress. Breakfast is at 7am. Porridge or sweet corn with sugar and fresh milk, bread and butter and home-made jam with cocoa or tea. Grace is said at all meals Navy-style “Thank God. Amen”. Kingsley has the worst-mannered boys at his table. Their manners quickly improve. After breakfast Walter and John Wickham do the kitchen washing up. Others wash up plates, knives & forks. Still others go off to make all the beds. Duties are rotated.

At 8.15am is parade. Captain Q drills the boys until 9am. Each boy then works until 11.30am called “Telling of Details”. Work includes “Emptying and purifying the Rears and Urinals, washing bathroom basins, weeding the orchard, garden work, driving to Pinjarra for mail and food (under supervision), helping in the kitchen and washing clothes, scarifying the orchard and orderly duties. Looks nice in practice but it was all subject to quarrels, injuries and sickness (real or imaginary), going missing etc (that bit is really worth reading in the book – times never changed up to the 1960’s!).

11.30am is lunchtime. Meat dish, vegetables, pudding (stewed of fresh fruit) followed by washing up again. An hour’s play or letter writing followed lunch.

1.30pm. The Manager reads to the boys for an hour. At 2.30pm reading is over and the 9 smaller boys have an hour’s play while the older ones are occupied with farming jobs. 3.30pm is boxing hour where the boys can whack each other in the ring. A popular time. At 4.30pm it’s time for the second daily bath (much needed after all of the above, especially in the hot weather).

5.00pm. Supper time arrives. Taken alone under the supervision of the cook or matron. With plenty of good food, regular exercise and an out-door life, the boys thrived, adding weight and stamina. Wash up again and baths are filled for next morning.

6.00pm. Parade for all boys. Sometimes drill but often sports. On Saturdays the staff and farm hands might join in the sports. After Parade is evening prayer. Bedtime is 6.30pm. The Manager does the rounds at 7.15pm and wishes them goodnight. 7.30pm Silence.

Chapter 6 of the book is entitled “The School Grows”.

Kingsley became a delegate for the Murray branch of the Farmers and Settlers Association and also the political Country Party. He tried to extent opportunities for Farm Schools interstate. The Oxford Committee wanted Kingsley to take another party of children and offered some funding. This offer was accepted and a probable party of 18 boys was due in July 1913. Much work ensued including the making of stretchers for the new party to sleep on. The orchard had a good crop and an experimental shipment of 25 cases of apples was sent to London. Farm-made jam won eight first-prizes at the Pinjarra Horticultural Show. An increasing work pressure saw Kingsley write to London requesting a capable assistant – one who could eventually become the Head of a Farm School. No-one volunteered or was found. The Committee offered him an ex-clerk with no farming experience. Getting local staff was also difficult and when you did get them their tenure was usually short. Kingsley also wrote to London for reliable female staff – two were found and sent but neither lasted very long.

Farm life continued to be very arduous, not least keeping the orchard (18 acres) pruned and sprayed, and cutting paddocks by hand-sickle (there was no machinery). It was a back-breaking job for all to get the land in anything like tractable condition. Cutting oats was a novelty and terribly hard but the boys were not to be beaten and presently they were able to gaze in wonder at their first wonderfully shaped stack. In these days, due to a shortage of farm hands (and lack of regular schooling), the boys quickly became incredibly adept in the arts of farming. The boys took on more and more responsibility and by this time all could drive, ride, swim, milk, chop wood, and know the value of money – not merely mechanically – they knew why things must be done in there certain ways.

All this time battles with London continued but glowing reports from the local State Children’s Department and extensive reports from Kingsley and graphic farm photographs finally put things right.

Difficulties in finding suitable teachers (the State finally acknowledged their responsibly) was portrayed by Ruby (rather humorously) – they left for the most trivial of reasons for example they didn’t want to take a meal with the boys or eat off an enamel plate! The “ex-clerk” assistant for Kingsley arrived in August 1913. An excellent man but not versed in farming (or indeed the colonies) he took upon schooling instruction for some of the younger or more backward boys.

The second party of boys arrived and settled in far more easily than the first (conditions had improved) and learnt well from the boys from the first party.

Towards to end of August 1913, one of the senior boys accidentally drowned whilst bathing in a pond. He dived in and got caught in debris on the bottom. He was Arthur Keane. This was a distressing time. Kingsley himself dived into the pond fully dressed, recovered Arthur and unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate him.

London asked Kingsley to receive a third party of boys. The battle for a local school continued including a petition to the Premier of Western Australia. Confident of success with the school negotiations, planning commenced for a new building – to house a party of girls – which had been a subject of discussion for quite some time.

1913 was an exceedingly busy year and, according to Ruby, it must be regarded as the formative year in the history of the Farm School movement.

Chapter 7 is entitled “Kingsley Fairbridge: The Man”

Ruby writes here about Kingsley’s love of the African “veld” and how he knew he’d never see that again despite is meaning so much to him. It was a part of him, in his blood. There is some irony here as the children who would come to the Farm School probably might never see their homeland, England, ever again.

He wrote much of his book (his autobiography) on the voyage to Australia. He continued to write by the fireside at Pinjarra and on long and tedious train journeys to and from Perth. His manuscript was submitted to various publishers, war came, nothing happening, and in the end he didn’t live to see it in print. People and publishers didn’t understand Australia and saw little reason to publish. It was not until after his death that Ruby (on returning to England) showed the manuscript to Sir Humphrey Milford of Oxford Press. It was eventually published.

This is an important chapter in the book that gives a great insight into Kingsley and his poetry, much of which was composed during his recurring attacks of malaria.

Kingsley also wrote a novel called “The Afrinkader”, from which he hoped to make money but probably never did. He also was a frequent contributor to local publications regarding agricultural interests.

The chapter is heavy laden with examples of Kingsley’s verse. The chapter itself is something like Ruby’s obituary to her husband. It was written many years after his death.

Chapter 8 –Camp, Fish, War

New Year of 1914 heralded the first Mandurah Camp. The boys went on a two-week camping holiday. Kingsley went over beforehand with a few boys and built a bush sitting room and bedroom. The boy “patrols” (groups of 5 boys) built bush “humpies” which varied in magnificence according to effort. Each patrol was issued with its own utensils, frying pan and billy, and daily rations. Mr McLarty again lent his wagon, horses and driver to convey they group to Mandurah, and off they set with blankets, cooking gear and kerosene tins. The distance was 16 miles. Not all rode on the wagon (there wasn’t room). Some of the older boys and Kingsley walked the distance, setting off before dawn to avoid the heat of the day. The road was convict build, of stone and sand.

Fremantle in those days was a far bigger and more important centre that the then fledging Perth. However, the “road” between Mandurah and Fremantle was a mere sand track.

The people in the small fishing village of Mandurah were rather incredulous to see this group, especially the bare-footed boys, and helped enormously by providing gifts of cake etc. Mr Greatorex, the Rector of Pinjarra, camped next to the Fairbridge group. It was for all a delightful holiday (as they continued to be across future years).

Next year’s Mandurah Camp saw the estuary mouth silted up and the estuary was teeming with fish. One evening Kingsley and Snowy Wilkinson caught a 58-pound kingfish and a 130-pound tiger shark. The king fish was cut and dried and made good fish pies etc, back at the Farm, for some months.

The Farm conditions improved and more importantly the attitude and condition of the boys. The then Governor of Western Australia, Sir William Ellison MacCartney wanted to take one of the boys into his service. This he did.

At the beginning of 1914 money was coming in more readily. Then the outbreak of war seriously diminished funds from the Home Society however local generosity and kindness warded off potential disaster. Still, correspondence over financial hardship between Kingsley and the Home Society continued resulting in little relief. In May 1914 Rhodes Fairbridge was born. Having to attend to two babies plus supervising catering, cooking, laundry, clothing repairs and the boy’s health took a toll on Ruby.

By 1915 each man on the farm, one by one, enlisted into the army until the only man left was Kingsley. Despite his wish to do so, he was refused enlistment due to his history of malaria. The Government still hedged on a school but influence brought to bear by individuals (plus two hundred pounds raised courtesy of the Trotting Association running a Benefit Meeting – The Fairbridge Cup) added credibility to the viability of the Farm, and the combined efforts finally bore fruit. The school was built in July 1915 and the Government supplied a teacher and furniture.

In England, everyone’s efforts were absorbed by the war. The Committee instructed Kingsley to close the Farm and realize the assets. He met with the Premier (of Western Australia) and persuaded him to allocate a State grant, arguing he could keep the children far more cheaply than if they became wards of the state (which they would have become had the farm closed). Friends and neighbours gave generously. Perth ladies held sewing bees and made clothes for the children. The Grant and the gifts bore the Farm through the crisis. In a report to the London Committee in 1916, Kingsley was able to report that despite terrible hardships, they were surviving.

That winter two football matches were held against Pinjarra. They lost one and won one. Within another season the Farm football team was to rank as the best in the district!

In 1916 the third Fairbridge child was born – Elizabeth.

During this time, the Farm had many visitors from Perth (they had room as all the men had gone to war) which lightened life for all. Kingsley grew more involved in public affairs and in 1916 was persuaded to stand for Parliament as the Country Party member for Murray-Wellington. He was defeated by a narrow margin by the sitting Member, Mr W.J. George, the Minister for Works.

One esteemed visitor to the Farm was Professor Shann. His words: “My first meeting with Fairbridge was in the old tin-and-jarrah sheds in Irwin Street, Perth that first housed the infant University of Western Australia. To the chagrin of its youthful band of professors, those sheds continued to house them for 18 long years. Mutual friends armed both Fairbridge and myself with letters of introduction, and he sought me out with his fine head titled at the most persuasive angle”. Kingsley invited him to the Farm for a weekend where he partook in sports and farm life. He continued “That weekend on the muddy, rather ramshackle old Farm School passed all too soon, it seemed at the time. But, in retrospect, I know it now as one of those highlights in life that never pass and never fade in brightness”.

Chapter 9 – We Carry On

Towards the end of 1918 Kingsley wrote again to the Home Society in London (he’d written many times of course in the intervening months and years) anticipating the end of the war and better times ahead. England was war-weary and suggested they send “tired soldiers”, the notion of which was rejected by Kingsley on various grounds. The Farm at this time had no money and no real support from England. They had to raise money locally. He planned to visit England and set about writing many letters to almost every person he’d ever known in England, plus he wrote letters to all friends and well-wishers in Western Australia to which almost everybody responded generously.

Dick Fryer-Smith was demobilized and returned to run the Farm in the Fairbridge’s absence. At last good news arrived in that the British and Western Australian Governments were cooperating through which the British Government was willing to match the W.A. Government’s subsidy of 6 shillings per week per child.

In 1918 their latest child, Wolfe was born.

The Fairbridge’s were booked to sail on the “Ormonde” which was due to depart in the middle of August (1919). Kingsley was offered a couple of well paid but unrelated jobs but turned them down. One was with the Forestry Department of New South Wales. At the Farm, some of the boys were ready to go out to work and offers of employment had been received from neighbouring farms. All of the boys in fact could have gone out to work which would have resulted in the closure of the Farm. Foregoing better wages, on the eve of the Fairbridge’s departure, all decided to stay and keep the Farm going. Next day at noon they sailed for England.

Chapter 10 – Peace, England and Reconstruction

The journey back to England was far from pleasant with influenza rife on the ship. The ship was crowded to capacity being its first passenger voyage since the cessation of war. Nine people died on the voyage. Passengers had to wait in queues for food for the children due to a shortage of stewards (most of whom were ill). The congestion and the heat resulted in tensions running high and tempers being frayed. At last they made Plymouth. Whereas Ruby was pleased to enjoy some sort of “civilization”, the children were homesick for the simplicity of Farm School life.

A London Committee was formed with Sir Arthur Lawley as Chairman. The change in headquarters from Oxford was a strategic move and indeed Oxford was practically closed-down (due to the war). Kingsley had an opportunity to meet with the Prime Minister, Mr Gladstone, which he did, to further his Farm School case. His case was fabulously successful and the British Government’s Overseas Settlement Committee granted 20,000 pounds provided that the Western Australian Government continue its grant. Like any good suspense novel, at the eleventh hour the W.A. Government decided it couldn’t continue its pledge but intervention and advice from the Agent-General for W.A. in London saw the grant restored albeit it at slightly reduced value.

The chapter describes in detail fund raising efforts, children’s’ sicknesses, the eventual hiring of a nanny, difficulties in local accommodation, and planning the much looked forward to return voyage to Australia.

They set sail on the “Themistocles” and this time the voyage was enjoyable. They sailed via the Cape thus avoiding the heat of the Red Sea

Chapter 11 – Another Start

The “Themistocles” landed the family in Albany still a very small town. The very same customs official greeted them as if they were all old friends. They left the next day for Perth and thence took the train bound for Pinjarra. The date was August 1, 1920. Returning to the Farm from Pinjarra railway station, they journeyed through freezing winter winds and rain on the old sulky, along pot-holed “roads” with water lurching up to the axles. Arriving back to the Farm they were greeted with smiling faces and roaring fires. The English nanny was somewhat horrified with her Australian baptism! Life was too hard for her and she soon took up a position in one of the more comfortable houses in Perth.

Home of the boys who had remained on the Farm during the absence went off to outside employment. The Farm had to be kept in order for selling purposes. Negotiations regarding the Paterson property (which had started before they had left for England) were well underway. Members of the Perth Committee inspected the new property and approved of it and a partial purpose was arranged.

The new land was located by going north from Pinjarra on the road to Perth for three miles and turning eastwards along a gravel ridge, sloping down to the South Dandalup River. The landscape was fine. The new land would overcome various disabilities attendant to the old Farm – bad roads, road-making in swamp country, the road running through other people’s properties (they benefited from your road-building work), and of course the ultimate limitation of there being only 160 acres and the inherent inability to expand on that due to the surrounding lands being already taken up. They had been offered 3,200 acres of the Paterson estate which included main road frontage and watered by an all-seasons river. The soil was excellent and the scenery exquisite, especially the backdrop of the Darling Ranges which offered waterfalls, bathing and picnic spots.

Upon the first visit to this site, Kingsley decided that this was the place for his Farm School and even mapped out the direction the cottages would run based on natural drainage, where the school would be, and where the office, dining room and kitchen would be located in the future. So they planned but the execution of the plans took much longer than expected however he was fortunate to see much of the plans carried out in his lifetime. Hikes in timber prices, railway strikes, and two young inexperienced men send by the London Committee as his assistants hampered efforts to build the Farm.

In November 1920 Kingsley moved into camp on the new property taking with him two boys and the two “new” men. The new camp consisted of some rough bush shelters and chaff-bag stretchers on which to sleep. The failure of being able to attract any tenders to build the buildings (plus the soaring timber prices) took on a new and very positive twist in that an old builder friend (Mr Hendry) decided to undertake the work and he and Kingsley designed buildings and scratched around for second-hand materials from wherever they could. They decided that traditional Australian settler’s houses were ugly and were heat-traps (generally built of weatherboard and iron). A chance visit to a shingled-roof residence nearby which was cool in summer set part of architectural design. Other design influences were drawn from the readings about “pise de terre” constructions, and memories of South African farmsteads. They experimented with rammed-earth building technology.

As soon as enough land had been cleared, work commenced on the construction of a big central kitchen and servants quarters. Mr Hendry now had a large number of men working for him. While all this work was going on, two parties of children with more matrons to look after them arrived at the old Farm. Due to accommodation shortages (it was required for the new matrons) Ruby and her four children temporarily moved into a small furnished house at Cottesloe Beach.

Kingsley alternated between the new Farm and the old, and spent a lot of time procuring goods and services. He also travelled up to Perth and back many times, “goods” class (travelling “goods”, the railways made you sign an agreement that they couldn’t be responsible for your safe delivery to your destination).

About the beginning of March (1921) the kitchen and servant’s quarters were almost completed. A start was made on Kingsley’s own house plus on the two-story jarrah office and the children’s cottages. The latter were pushed ahead quickly with the excepted arrival of fresh children. There was much congestion at the old Farm.

All the while, the work and the travel were being to take their toll on Kingsley’s health. Many setbacks were experienced. Ruby stayed in Cottesloe with the children. Kingsley lived in one half-finished cottage, then in another, and then in the office. So much activity continued throughout the winter. Materials being carted into the new Farm took its toll on the main road to Perth (now, the South Western Highway) so much so that it became impassable in places to ordinary traffic.

By July 1920 five or six cottages had been completed, as well as the office and sleeping quarters for the secretary and store-keeper. The old Farm was then evacuated. Towards the spring of 1920 there became a cottage available for Ruby and the children to move into, which they did. The population of the Farm increased and now included girls. A “Cottage Mother” system was established.

Kingsley continued with his mission and travels and was castigated by the London Committee for spiralling costs and the fact that he was away from the Farm frequently. However on a trip to Melbourne, he was to meet with the Australian Prime Minister, Mr Hughes, who expressed sympathetic views to the Farm School movement. This meeting led to obtaining a grant from the Australian Federal Government. Kingsley was also delighted with the Victorian countryside and decided he was determined to build a Farm School there.

In the early autumn of 1920 the family house was ready. Later this was known as “Fairbridge House”.

The day before the arrival of a new batch of children, a group of youngsters – some veteran’s of three years residence – were heard discussing the event. “Some more of those Pommies coming tomorrow”, said one. The others agreed that it was so. (Interesting, Ruby defines “Pommy” as one fresh from England with rosy cheeks like pomegranates).

The local Committee was critical of Kingsley and his design of buildings and his attitude towards the children. He said “I don’t want them to be sickened of the work, but to learn with pleasure”. He was an obstinate man and this obstinacy once again saved them from potential financial ruin in 1922. In January 1922 he went to Sydney and Melbourne and met with Government officials who rejected his proposals that they had previously looked on with favour. In desperation, Kingsley wired Sir Arthur Lawley saying that unless requested Government funding was forthcoming he would be forced to return all of the children to England. This ploy had an immediate effect and the Australian Government made a conditional grant of five shilling per child per week for a certain number of years. Kingsley immediately arranged to set sail for England to secure a similar contribution from the British Government. He left for there alone in August 1922.

Chapter 12 – Do Dreams Come True

Kingsley was due back on December 31, 1922 but the ship (“S.S. Persic”) was a day late. Ruby was jubilantly looking forward to his homecoming but at the same time gravely concerned about his health. The trip to England and the good company there had rejuvenated him somewhat. But he knew he was not well and pledged to diminish his pace. A local doctor diagnosed sciatica and lumbago – both curable. The trip to England was successful in that considerable financial pledges had been secured. The financial headquarters of the Society were transferred from Oxford to London where Sir Arthur Lawley was still Chairman.

Kingsley was sick though. He walked with the aid of a stick, he was stooped and grey and yet delighted with the Farm School progress , the progress of the children and the abundance of vegetables and fruit.

Great preparations were being made for the reception of one hundred Barnardo children. A double in numbers. Eight new house-mothers were required. The children arrived in Albany, given a magnificent luncheon and generally feted. They caught the train to Perth and there (the next day) were lunched, taken to the zoo and driven around Perth. They arrived at the Farm later on in the day exhausted. Dining room supper was taken by hurricane-lamp (still the Farm had no electricity) and many very tired children ended up in the wrong cottage that night!

With some feeling of security about the future of the Pinjarra Farm School, Kingsley looked at establishing another in either Victoria or Tasmania. Work continued at Pinjarra by increasing stock herds, purchasing more horses and paddock fencing. A tractor was hired and ill as he was, Kingsley shared the work with Mr Watts, the young man who had been in charge of the Farm School when he was recently in England.

In June 1923 Kingsley was persuaded to take a 2-3 weeks holiday in the goldfields for health reasons. He spent time in “dreary places” such as Leonora, Malcolm and Murrin Murrin. He also spent some more cheerful times on local stations. The holiday was not really a success. He hankered for the Farm. Back again on the Farm he was now in a state of semi-invalidism but he kept his hand in on every department of the work. At this time there were 200 children on the Farm.

By Easter of 1924, Kingsley became definitely worse. Professor Nicholls of the Perth Committee suggested he go to England to obtain the best possible medical treatment. Berths were booked on the “Euripides”. Before going he underwent exploratory surgery with a view to removing whatever was causing his bouts of intense pain and thus ease his sea voyage. After the operation his situation was very grave. He lived for three days, conscious the whole time. He died as the Cathedral clock was striking midnight on Saturday the nineteenth of July, 1924.

Epilogue (1924 to 1948)

Just prior to Kingsley’s death, Mr Potts had been appointed to act on his behalf during his planned absence in England. The Perth Committee however dismissed Mr Potts and reinstated Mr Giles (Mr Giles had worked on the Farm before). Mr Giles’ wife, a former cottage mother, therefore became Head Matron. The Reverend Frank Hanlin was later appointed Headmaster by the London Society. Mr Hanlin relinquished his position some 7-8 months later and Mr Giles carried on as before as Manager.

A contentious matter arose as to who should appoint senior farm staff. Sir Arthur Lawley visited from London in 1927 and the matter was settled in general accord. After Sir Arthur’s return to London, Colonel Heath was appointed Headmaster (or Principal, as the Head of the Farm School then came to be called).

By 31 December 1928 there were 341 children at the Farm. Various grants were received and the following additions were made to the Farm: Seven new cottages, a hospital containing 12 beds, a new dining room, a two-storied house for the Principal, a cottage for the Farm Superintendent, a new bake-house, additions to the laundry, a new water supply, electric light installation, and a 12-stall milking shed.

A steady stream of children (as young men and women) left the Farm for outside employment. Until they attained the age of 21 however, these people remained the responsibility of the Farm School Principal. In 1927 the Old Fairbridgian’s Association was formed to care for boys and girls leaving the School. The Association organised its own Mandurah Camps. The Association received much needed gifts which formed the start of the Benevolent Fund. One of the Association’s first needs was a Clubhouse for the use of boys or girls coming home for various reasons.

Mr Thomas Wall was the benefactor who provided funds to build the Church. The architect was the talented and generous Sir Herbert Baker (a South African). Special bricks had to be made and the brickwork style was new to Western Australia. Three old boys from the Farm helped build the Church. They were Percy Quartermaine, Fred Rogers and Snowy Wilkinson.

Another building somewhat similar in design to the Clubhouse was erected to house 32 of the older boys. The building was funded by Mrs Scratton and therefore known as the “Scratton Memorial”. When boys and girls attained the age of 14 years, they became known as “trainees” and undertook domestic and farm training for the next 2 years or so, to equip them for outside work. A Domestic Science centre was build through funds provided by Lord de Saumarez. “Evelyn” and “Saumarez” cottages were where the older and trainee girls lived.

The Farm was visited my many distinguished guests throughout these years, not least were the Duke and Duchess of York (later King and Queen) (1927), and the Duke of Gloucester (1934). The Duke of Gloucester planted an oak tree and unveiled a memorial to the late Lord Wenlock (Sir Arthur Lawley). Interestingly, another famous benefactor of the Farm was Rudyard Kipling who Kingsley knew at Oxford University.

The improved financial position of the Society enabled the establishment in 1935 of the Prince of Wales Fairbridge Farm School on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Also in 1935 the Fairbridge Hostel was opened at Holland House, Holland Park in London. The Hostel assembled and housed children prior to their departures to the colonial Farm Schools. During the war years a country house “ Bennington” in Hertfordshire was used for this purpose. Between 1935 and 1936 a movement started in New South Wales for the opening of a Farm School in that state. This was at Molong, near the town of Orange. This farm was ready for occupation in 1937.

In 1936, after 8 hard years, Colonel Heath resigned. At the time there were more than 700 boys and girls under the age of 21 who were wards of the Society. Colonel Heath took up duties at the Northcote Farm School in Victoria. This Farm School was at Bacchus Marsh and run along the same lines as Fairbridge. In 1936 Mr Dallas Paterson took up duties as Principal at Pinjarra. Mr Paterson later resigned and was succeeded by Canon Watson who acted in the role until the appointment of Mr Massey. Mr Massey’s Principalship lasted 8 months. Canon Watson subsequently acted in that role again, throughout the war years, until his sudden death in 1944.

A ship carrying evacuated children to Canada was torpedoed during the war. After this tragedy the British Government would allow no more children to travel overseas. With no incoming children to take their place as the older ones left, numbers at all farm Schools diminished.

At one stage during the war empty cottages were used by Guildford Grammar School children who had been evacuated from their school as the Americans had requisitioned their buildings for use as a hospital. During World War 2, 55 girls and 513 Fairbridge boys served in the armed forces. In early 1946, Fairbridge hosted some Dutch children (with some parents and teachers) who had been brought to Australia from wartime concentration camps in Java, Indonesia. At the Farm they were rehabilitated and awaited transport back to Europe .

After Canon Watson’s death in 1944, the W.A. Council decided that for the time being a Principal was not required (because of much diminished numbers). Mr and Mrs Grant who were then working in the store and the office assumed the roles of acting Principal and Matron.

Due to changes in British laws relating to Child Emigration (particularly in respect to education standards), all the Farms that were being managed independently (from a legal point of view) ceded control to a central body – Fairbridge Farm Schools Inc., in 1947.


Illustrations reproduced from the book:

RF001 Front dust jacket of the book.

RF002 “Peach tree after pruning”, “Kingsley, myself (Ruby), Loughlin, Dolly, and the springcart”.

RF003 “Sleeping Quarters for the new arrivals”, “Open-air sleeping room, constructed later”, “Many fires”, “Ploughing between the apple trees ..Barbara and Freddy”.

RF004 “Mr McLarty’s wagon bringing us home from camp”, “Snowy and the 58lb kingfish”, “K.O. Fairbridge versus F. Jenkins” (boxing), “Our winter bathing pond”.

RF005 “Minding pigs”, “Barbara”, “Building a humpy – Rhodes, Wolf and Elizabeth”

RF006 “Vine covered stoep in summer”, “Shingle roofs and pise walls”

RF007 “Entrance to the new Farm”, “First line of cottages 1921″, “Our own home at last”

RF008 “A boy’s pet”, “A man’s job”

RF009 “The Order of the Bath, Christmas Day at our Mandurah Camp”, “The Waterfall up in the Hills”

RF010 “Clearing blackboys”

RF011 “Care of horses”, “Music hath charms”, “Cooking”, “Milking”

RF012 “Sunday morning”, “And Sunday afternoon”

RF013 “Planting”, “Hoeing”, “Harvesting”

RF014 “A practical job”, “Bedtime stories”

RF015 “Learning how, “Out on the job – A visit from the After-Care Officer”

RF016 “Other Farm Schools of Fairbridge” – Molong, Vancouver Island and Fintry

RF017 “The Three Princes”, “The Duke of Gloucester with Colonel Heath and Mr Joyner”