When I entered the museum I was immediately stuck by a life-size bronze statue
of a young boy and a smaller girl holding a suitcase. It immediately brought to
mind the first lines of "Doors Ever Open", "Little brown suitcase, sad little child's face",
the song on your web site, which I had written for my good friend and ex Barnardo's boy
Victor King. I spoke to the museum curator and he told me something of the history of
Fairbridge. It was essentially set up to give emigrant children some practical education
in task-learning, husbandry, metal work and wood work. It enabled them to assimilate and
fit more readily into Australian society and provided the skills needed in the harsh rural area
they had arrived in. From 1913 until 1982, Fairbridge Farm School assisted 3,580 children
who came to Australia under various child migration schemes.
The museum held lots of poignant photo's, records, letters and day to day mementoes.
I told the museum staff about "Doors Ever Open" and they asked me if I would to sing
the song in the museum, which I did to a small but appreciative audience. They asked me if
I could come back the following day when they were
holding an open day and various members of the Fairbridge Old Boys committee would be
present. Of course I was delighted to, and once again sang the song, this time to a full
house packed into the small main room of the museum. The song was very much
appreciated and several people stopped to talk to me about it after the event.
This is where I must confess to a degree of confusion or memory loss. I recall talking and asking specifically about
Barnardo's children and the controversial policy of sending children overseas to work and be adopted. I'm almost
positive that the curator confirmed that they had indeed taken in children sent over by Barnardo's in the UK, however,
subsequent research does not specifically mention that in the history of Fairbridge.
I sang the song at several concerts throughout Australia and on more than one occasion met ex Barnardo's boys who
came up afterwards to talk to me about it. It would certainly be of interest to me to know if any of these facts can be
confirmed or not.