Sir Brooke Fairbairn was a successful businessman and philanthropist. He was the elder son of Sir William Albert Fairbairn and his wife Christine Renée Cotton Croft. The baronetcy had been created in 1869 for William Fairbairn, a prominent Scottish shipbuilder and structural engineer who also built railway locomotives.
After Stowe, Sir Brooke did his National Service with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, after which he entered the haberdashery business, joining Fothergill and Harvey, Lancashire Weavers. In 1967, he set up his own business, J Brooke Fairbairn & Company, which imported and converted furnishing fabric. He was a passionate Railway enthusiast: when the business started to grow, he bought Newmarket railway station as premises for his company.
Sir Brooke dedicated much of his energy to his charitable and voluntary work; he was on the Council of Barnardo’s for more than 30 years and saw the charity reach a landmark of helping more than 50,000 children. He was also Vice Chairman for Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Channel Islands Associations for the Deaf. From 1990 to 2002, Sir Brooke was an Honorary Steward at Westminster Abbey.
Sir Brooke’s enthusiasm for trains never waned and, after his children left home, he set up a vast train set which occupied an entire bedroom in his house.