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The Jewish Deaf School in Balham

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 11 November 2011

JEWISH DEAF SCHOOL, Nightingale Lane, Balham, London (1865- 1965)

Henry A. Isaacs (1830-1909) later knighted after being Lord Mayor of London in 1889/90, had sent his two deaf daughters Louisa and Sarah to the Rotterdam deaf school where the Oral method was used.  He and two other members of the Jewish community decided to form a Jewish School for the deaf and managed to get the support of Baroness Mayer de Rothschild.  They bought a house for the school at 15 Mount St in Whitechapel in 1865.  The school was started with 3 or 4 pupils who were taken from the Old Kent Road school.  Initially they were taught by the Rev. C. Rhind using manualism, but the school committee was quickly persuaded by Isaacs that Oralism was better.  Shortly after, under the headship of the Rotterdam trained Jewish Teacher of the Deaf William van Praagh, the school became the first in the U.K. to introduced the Oral method of education.  Shortly after 1865 it seems Isaacs wrote a pamphlet on oral education, Sound versus Signs, which laid out his views on oral education, based on how his daughters were taught.  (We do not have a copy, and neuither does the British Library.  It would have been privately printed so if anyone has a copy, we would appreciate a scan of it.)

In its first few years the school moved several times.  In 1875 it went to Walmer House in Notting Hill the former episcopal palace of the Bishop of Norwich, before ending up in Nightingale Lane in 1899 (see Weinberg).

The school closed in 1965 due to a decline in the number of pupils.

Jewish School – view from the garden circa 1910-20

Annual Reports in the RNID Library – 1884, 1910-1912, 1914, 1915, 1921, 1928-1932, 1934, 1935, 1938, 1945, 1949/50, 1954/55, 1960/61

DENTON, E. The former Residential School for Jewish Deaf Children, Nightingale Lane, Balham, 1865-1965.  The author, 197-? (photos)

RNID Library location: B13977(REF)

RNID Library location: WTG BVF G(REF)

“Sir Henry Isaacs.” Times [London, England] 5 Aug. 1909: 9

The New “Jews Home”, British Deaf Monthly, 1899, Vol.8, no.93, p.174-8 (pictures)

WEINBERG, J. The history of the Residential School for Jewish Deaf Children, 1865-1965.



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