In 1912, Kingsley and Ruby Fairbridge set sail from England to Western Australia, where their dream took root, establishing the world’s first Fairbridge Farm School in 1912, aiming to give underprivileged kids a brighter future.
Kingsley Fairbridge’s passion began at 12, solidifying in 1903 during a visit to England. He saw struggling children and wanted to make a difference. In 1909, his vision turned real as Fairbridge Farm Schools opened in Pinjarra, offering children a chance to thrive.
From 1913 to 1982, Fairbridge helped 3,580 children, where they learned skills, from farming to crafts, and gained a fresh start. The school’s unique cottage system fostered strong connections.
More than 100 years on, his legacy endures. The Village remains in Western Australia, a living memory of his dream. Fairbridge Western Australia Inc. continues his work, providing programs in line with his vision including camps, education and family-centred accommodation. Today, his spirit lives on as the seeds he sowed a century ago continue to blossom.
Fairbridge Chapel was designed by architect Sir Herbert Baker in 1928 and completed in 1931. The chapel resembles earlier architectural styles Baker had developed in South Africa, fitting with Kingsley’s origins. The building was largely the gift of Thomas Wall of English Ice Cream fame, who donated £6,000. Construction was carried out by builders, Sumpton and Sons, along with unemployed Fairbridgians’ who helped dig the foundations.
The first foundation stone for the chapel was laid on 14th February 1931 by A E Joyner. Dedication followed 10 months later on the 12th December 1931, by the Bishop of Bunbury. The Chapel is 56 feet long and 25 feet wide and was built using local materials including brick, jarrah, and karri and a shingled roof. The most prominent features of the chapel are its high ceilings, glass stain windows, and dramatic chandeliers. The glass stain window at the western end of the chapel was placed by the Old Fairbridgian’s Association in memory of its founder.
Kingsley’s grave lies a short distance from the chapel, with views of the rolling hills that lay backdrop to the church. A Pipe Organ was donated by a London hotel and shipped over to Western Australia. The organ can still be heard playing in the chapel today. The chapel roof has been restored thanks to the team at Fairbridge and funding from the Heritage Council of WA, and Alcoa of Australia.
The Fairbridge chapel is open to the public 7 days a week from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. The chapel is available free of charge for school and community groups.