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Scythe from Fairbridge Farm School, Molong

Date: 1930s-1940s
Overall: 1500 x 920 mm
Medium: Metal, wood
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Peter Bennett
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Scythe
Object No: 00045299

User Terms

    The scythe was used by child migrants at the Fairbridge Farm School in Molong, near Orange NSW, from the 1930s to early 1940s. The Fairbridge Farm School at Molong was virtually self-sufficient, with a dairy, bakery, vegetable gardens, and poultry, sheep and cattle farms.
    SignificanceThe scythe is a highly evocative object that captures the essence of life at Fairbridge Farm School - hard, physical labour on an isolated agricultural property.
    HistoryBetween 1913 and 1967, more than 7,000 British children were sent to Australia by charities such as Fairbridge, Barnardo's, and the Salvation Army. The Fairbridge Farm School in Molong NSW (opened 1937) was one of three farm training schools established under Fairbridge principles in Australia. South African philanthropist Kingsley Fairbridge aimed to alleviate the plight of British slum children by sending them to farm schools in the colonies. The idea was to remove children from impoverishment, while simultaneously developing remote rural areas of the British empire with young white labour.

    Supported by the Western Australian government, Kingsley and his wife Ruby established the first Fairbridge Farm School at Pinjarra, south east of Perth in 1913. Fairbridge died in 1924, but the scheme continued. Children lived in cottages under a cottage mother, attended local state schools until they were 14, and then spent 12-18 months training in farm work on the property.

    The farming tools used at Fairbridge were donated by former child migrant Peter Bennett, one of the earliest recruits to the Fairbridge Farm School in Molong. Peter was sent to Australia as a six-year-old in 1940 from Middlemore Children's Homes in Birmingham, UK, sailing on SS AORANGI.

    The Suez Canal was closed during World War II and AORANGI was diverted to Canada, where Peter and the other 28 children in the party spent one month at the Prince of Wales Fairbridge Farm School in Vancouver awaiting another ship. They were eventually taken by ship from Canada to Australia - the voyage from the UK to Australia via Canada taking a total of almost 12 weeks. Peter stayed at Fairbridge until he turned 17 in 1951, attending the local public school in Molong and serving his apprenticeship on the farm. After leaving, he gained a trade certificate as a motor mechanic and eventually joined Qantas where he trained as an aircraft engineer.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Scythe from Fairbridge Farm School, Molong

    Assigned title: Scythe, Fairbridge Farm School, Molong, NSW

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