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Research Guides

Good British Stock: Child and Youth Migration to Australia

Lady Northcote Farm School

Lady Northcote had endowed Australian culture during the period 1904 to 1908 when her husband Lord Northcote was Governor-General of Australia. When she died in 1934, she left most of her money to charity, bequeathing virtually her whole estate of some £200,000 to the cause of child emigration. She was an admirer of Kingsley Fairbridge and his farm school initiative. In 1937 a farm school on Fairbridge principles was established at Glenmore, near Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, which was named after her.

The small number of files does not reflect the number of British children who came to this institution. However, a couple of the files are bulky and there is much relevant material, especially newspaper cuttings and lists which may be of interest to former residents, family historians and specialist historians.

Series: A445
Quantity: 22.5 metres
Recorded by: 1951–55: Department of Immigration (CA 51)
Northcote Training Farm, Glenmore, Victoria, 1944–50
The first matters raised follow from a joint letter of the Fairbridge Society and the Northcote Trust to the Secretary, Department of the Interior, 5 April 1944. The letter concerns the resumption of child migration after the war, and requests (i) whether the British Government is prepared to support schemes for the emigration of children from Great Britain after the war; and (ii) if so, whether the Commonwealth Government is prepared to assist in the settlement of the children in Australia. The reply is non-committal, but the correspondence appears to have prompted a major inspection at Glenmore on 8 and 9 May, 1944. Mr R H Wheeler and Mr W Garnett of the British High Commission spent two days on the task. There were 85 children at the home, and 76 had graduated to further study, employment or the armed services. There had been problems during the war maintaining the home: 'there had been trouble with the bigger girls and the state school teacher', and some of the past students who had returned for holidays and between jobs had misbehaved with the young women. In the wake of this, Colonel Heath had resigned as Principal, and Mr H Brown, formerly a House Master at Wesley had taken his place. Wheeler dwells on the staff difficulty at Glenmore as the source of trouble. On 10 May 1944, Wheeler and Garrett attended a meeting with the Trustees in Melbourne to discuss the financial situation at Glenmore and policy matters if and when full-scale child migration recommenced. There is also a detailed report of the Trustees, 12 June 1945, meeting and subsequent interviews with Mr A Calwell, the Immigration Minister. Meanwhile, in view of the declining enrolment, all children of school age had been sent to Molong. The dilemma with which the next range of correspondence for 1948 deals is the claim of the Northcote Trustees for Commonwealth funds to place the home in a position to cater for over 200 children, at a time when the numbers of child migrants were declining drastically. The Principal had been on a recruiting trip to the UK with only partial success, eg the National Children's Homes, who had sent children pre-war, and sent a few more to Australia during the 1950s, were turning against child migration in principle as a placement option for the deprived child. There are a number of newspaper cuttings in the file and details of the 1950 visit of Miss Vera Grenfell of the Northcote Trust in London to Glenmore. Subsequent papers are stated as having been placed on file A445, 133/2/74.
A445, 133/2/24
Series: A461
Quantity: 143.82 metres
Recorded by: 1934–50: Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Northcote Children's Migration Fund, 1934–38 [72 pages]
The first folio is a cablegram from Sir Stanley Bruce, High Commissioner in London, to the Prime Minister J A Lyons, announcing the Northcote bequest. The Dunstan Government in Victoria was, from the beginning, cool towards the venture 'in view of the large numbers of persons still out of employment in this state'. There was trade union opposition, evident in a letter, 11 August 1937, from the Town Clerk, City of Port Melbourne. He cites 'the acute unemployment problem' and opposes 'the action recently taken in bringing infants from England and settling them on a farm in Victoria'. The file contains a copy of the detailed agreement between the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs and the Trustees of the Northcote Children's Emigration Fund for Australia under the Empire Settlement Act for assistance with capital works and routine maintenance.
A461, B349/1/7
This series contains copies of Cabinet papers dating back to 1901.
Series: A6006
Quantity: 9.18 metres
Recorded by: 1976–81: Australian Archives, Central Office (CA 1720); 1981–94: Australian Archives, ACT Regional Office (CA 3196)
Financial Assistance to (1) Northcote Children's Farm School; (2) Australians stranded Abroad, 1949 A6006, 1949/06/04
Agendum 1095 – Northcote Children's Farm School – Glenmore, Victoria – Financial Assistance, Report by IDC, 1949 A6006, 1949/06/04
Series: C3939
Quantity: 38.7 metres
Recorded by: 1952–74: Department of Immigration, NSW Branch (CA 957)
Visit by Miss Vera Grenfell, Secretary of Northcote Children's Emigration Fund, 1965–66 C3939, N1965/75309
Series: A436
Quantity: 5.04 metres
Recorded by: 1945: Department of the Interior (II) (CA 31)
Northcote Children's Emigration Fund – Child Migration – Victoria, 1934–1941 [c.350 pages]
The first significant item is a copy of the statement: 'The Northcote Emigration Fund for Australia. Receipts and Expenditure for the period from the inception of the Trustees Activities in Australia to 30 September 1937'. Many newspaper cuttings and clippings from Hansard are throughout the file. The initiation for the farm school came from the benefaction of £200,000 of Lady Northcote 'to commemorate the happy years spent in Australia by her husband and herself'. Much of the correspondence in this extensive file concerns the following: The Trustees of the Fund were Sir Harold Luxton, Mr E H Wreford of the National Bank, Major R G Casey, General Sir Brudenell White, and the Federal Treasurer of the time. The Premier of Victoria, c. January 1937, made it clear that 'the Victorian Government is not prepared to accept any responsibility, financial or otherwise, in regard to the children concerned'. The 'Glenmore' property was donated to the venture by the Hon. W Angliss, MLC; Colonel J S Heath, of Fairbridge, 'a tall vigorous one-armed veteran of the war', was appointed first principal. The Commonwealth Government undertook to give up to £7,000 for capital expenditure and 3/- per child per week with a maximum of £1,000 in any one year. The British Government, under the Empire Settlement Act, made available up to one-half of the capital cost of establishing the farm school up to a maximum of £STG 14 000 and to contribute 5/- per head per week towards maintenance. These generous terms followed from the initial generosity of Lady Northcote, the support of the Rhodes scholars and the high reputation of the Fairbridge Farm Schools. The Victorian press gave exceptional coverage during the establishment of the farm school at Glenmore, and the following headlines give the flavour: 'Fairbridge and his Vision'; 'Agog for a glimpse of Melbourne'; 'Handkerchief drill, cold showers and odd jobs' and 'The youthful farmers of Glenmore'. There is much information on funding; monies from governments were tardy in arriving. There is a copy of the Trust Deed. In a file with so many newspaper cuttings, the last word might be given to them: 'this little colony of 28 English immigrants'; 'escape from the crowded English towns'; 'the children at Glenmore are a splendid type'; and 'a place where everyone has a second chance'.
A436, 1945/5/85 part 1


Chapter 3
Guide to the Records