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Archive for the 'NID or RNID history' Category

Guild of St. John of Beverley stained glass windows from Ephphatha House, Ealing, 1928

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 30 June 2017

MemorialStained glass aIn our collection of artifacts, we have, bizarrely, three stained glass windows.  The windows were placed at 5 Grange Road, Ephphatha House, where Selwyn and Kate Oxley moved to when they got married in 1929.  Oxley’s mother bought the house on his behalf, originally as a home for the library of the Guild of St. John of Beverley.  The Guild deserves an entry of its own on the blog, for it was a repeating theme in Oxley’s life, & before his time it had its beginnings in the North of England with Ernest Abrahams and George Stephenson, among others.  When Oxley discovered it he seems to have taken it over, and as he wife mentions several times in her biography of him, Man with a Mission, he loved ceremonies and the associated ‘dressing up.’  Essentially it was a religious organisation, that particularly in the early years of the century, involved a sort of pilgrimage to Beverley, or at least annual services commemorating him and his ‘miracle’ healing a deaf man.

JesusI am not sure who the artist was, but Katherine Oxley says they were done by

a Hard of Hearing man, who had been in the employment of Messrs. Ward and Hughes of 67 Frith Street, Soho, above whose works the National Institute for the Deaf had at one time rented offices.
This firm had done work in All Saints’ Church, Petersham, Surrey, under the Vicariate of the late Rev. W.H. Oxley, and this was the last bit of work done by them as a firm, as soon after they suspended business.  The panels themselves are a work of art, depicting Our Lord healing the Deaf Man, and are flanked on each side by scenes portraying the miracles of St. John of Beverley and Francis of Sales.  The colours blended with a simple but strikingly effective beauty, especially when the rays of the sun caught them.

St JThey were unveiled in situ on the staircase by the Guild Warden, the Rev. W. Raper, ‘in his robes of office, carried the business through with a grave dignity’ (K. Oxley, 1953).  I have chosen the two smaller ones to photograph, as the St. John one is rather larger & harder to get out.

They were not in place too long before the Oxleys moved out of London.  I suppose that they came to us from Kate Oxley.

Oxley, K. A Man withe a Mission, 1953, Hill and Ainsworth

Oxley, Selwyn, The Seventeenth Annual Report of general Honorary Work Done for the Deaf… Year ending 1929Sales faces

The early NID Technical Department, Dennis B. Fry and Péter B. Dénes of UCL

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 23 December 2016

UCL has had an association with the RNID/Action on Hearing Loss Library since the early 1990s when the library moved into the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital alongside the then Institute of Laryngology Library.  However there is a much older association between UCL and what was then the NID.

Giant hearing Aid War time developments in electronics ushered in an era when mass hearing aids would be small enough to be convenient to carry around, and cheap enough for the state to introduce the Medresco hearing aid supplied by the new NHS from 1948.  The previous year the transistor had been unveiled by Bell labs in the US, an invention that would change the world.

For many years the NID had been concerned over the quality of hearing aids and they way they were marketed to the public.  They worked with manufacturers and suppliers to create an agreement whereby the supplier made no claims about curing deafness, as had often been the case with quack sellers, and broadly to not bully clients into buying unwanted devices.  They also created an approved list of suppliers who signed up to the agreement.  This was a slightly tortuous process, and for those interested a visit to the library to read NID minutes would be essential.  The list is attached here: NID approved list

Anechoic ChamberIn 1947 The NID set up a technical department, at the behest of the Medical Committee (Annual Report, 1947 p.9).  At the time they were in 105 Gower Street, and did not have facilities, so initially UCL helped out, and Dennis Butler Fry (1907-84) led the efforts to establish testing to show the ‘technical characteristics and qualities of the various hearing aids’ which were available, and then publish this scientific information to the public (Denes & Fry p.304).

Fry was born on the 3rd of November, 1907, in Stockbridge, Hampshire, son of Fred Cornelius Fry and Jane Ann Butler.

After five years of teaching French, first at Tewkesbury Grammar School and then at Kilburn Grammar School, in 1934 he was appointed Assistant Lecturer in Phonetics at University College London, where he also became Superintendent of the Phonetics Laboratory in 1937.  In 1938 he was promoted to Lecturer in Experimental Phonetics. In 1948, the year after the award of his Ph.D. degree, he became Reader in Experimental Phonetics.  From 1958 until his retirement in 1975, he was Professor of Experimental Phonetics, the first one to hold the title in Britain. (Obituary for Dennis Butler Fry, Arthur S. Abramson

The 1947 annual report records that with the co-operation of Sir David Pye, UCL provost and mechanical engineer who worked on jet engines during the war, they were setting up a special sound-proof room, and that technical staff would be trained at the college, all under the supervision of Fry.  Fry had served in the RAF during the war, at the Acoustics Research Laboratory, Central Medical Establishment, at Kelvin House, 24-32 Cleveland Street, London.  Together with his colleague Péter B. Dénes (1920-96), a Hungarian phonetician who became a British citizen, but spent much of his later working life in the USA.  The books of Fry and Dénes (usually written Denes) on phonetics are still in use today.  Fry founded the journal Speech and Language in 1958. He wrote two books with Edith Whetnall (they are pictured together below), The Deaf Child, and Learning to Hear.

Denes had left Hungary in the 1930s and studied first at Manchester, before moving to UCL where he worked with Fry.  In 1961 he went to the USA on the Queen Mary to work at the Bell Labs (1996 obituary, see link below).  In his obituary, Michael Noll says,

Although Hungarian by birth, Peter was very much British by citizenship and personality. His knowledge of European history and views on events in America led to many lively discussions with his many friends and colleagues. Peter chose to remain a subject of the Queen of England, but he also chose to live in the United States.

The room in the basement of 105 was eventually fitted out for technical testing, along with the anechoic chamber.  In those days the road traffic would not have been as bad as now, and I suspect it would not have been possible to use it today, because of vibrations.  The first technician seems to have been Mr W.J. Markwick, who is mentioned in the 1950 annual report (p.33).  The Technical department became one of the most important areas for the NID in the following decade.

I am sure this would be an interesting area for research.  Denes and Fry were both interesting people who made significant contributions to speech and language research.

Fry Whetnall

Denes, P. and Fry, D.B. An Introduction to the NID Technical Research Laboratory

NID Annual Reports

Abramson, Arthur S. Obituary for Dennis Butler Fry. Speech Communication Volume 3, Issue 2, August 1984, Pages 167-168

http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/wells/fry-obit.htm

Noll, Michael, Acoust. Soc. Am., Vol. 100, No. 4, Pt. 1, October 1996, p.1916 http://asa.scitation.org/doi/pdf/10.1121/1.417840