FolkWorld Inc. hires the iconic Fairbridge Village each year as the Fairbridge Festival venue. The village is managed by the not-for-profit organisation, Fairbridge WA, a major youth charity in Western Australia.
Fairbridge Village (now nationally heritage listed) is a unique area consisting of rural land, timber cottages and a chapel dating back to the early 1900’s. Today Fairbridge Village runs a myriad of services and programs for young people.
The festival site is unique on the Australian festival circuit. Fairbridge Village was originally Fairbridge Farm School, a combination of orphanage, school and Imperial social engineering project set up as part of a grand colonial vision by Kingsley Fairbridge in 1912. Founded with the mission of taking deprived children from the orphanages and streets of Britain and giving them a healthy life in the Colonies, (while ensuring that the Colonies continued to be populated with sound Anglo-Saxon stock, as was the prevailing ethos of the time), the Farm School functioned until the early 1960s.
Well over a thousand children, many of them from the Dr. Barnardo’s Homes, were shipped to Australia as part of the Child Migration Scheme. Not all of those children’s stories were happy of course, as anybody who saw the ABC TV documentary “The Leaving of Liverpool” a few years ago would have seen, but by and large the inmates of Fairbridge seem to have escaped the worst excesses of some of the destinations of the Child Migration Scheme, and many Old Fairbridgeans hold their former home in great reverence and affection.
The child migrants took up residence in a complex of wooden dormitory cottages, equipped with dining and school facilities and an architecturally significant red-brick chapel, all completed between 1921 and 1938 and still preserved largely intact.
These unique buildings are in the throes of a major renovation program, and provide the artists’ accommodation and several of the performance venues for the Festival.
Further information on the history of Fairbridge WA and Fairbridge Village can be found on their website on the Who We Are and history pages, and in the autobiography “Fairbridge Kid” by John Lane, available from the Village.