William Morris School for the Deaf, Walthamstow
By H Dominic W Stiles, on 23 March 2012
WILLIAM MORRIS SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF, Walthamstow, London (1900-1969)
The William Morris School was a County Council day school founded 1900. In 1913 it was known as the William Morris School for the Deaf. It took boys and girls from age 5 through to doing vocational training, eg. boot making. It had accommodation for 20 pupils, teaching with the oral method, but with finger-spelling for backward pupils. They also took aphasic scholars. At that time the head was Mr J.J. Smith, but according to All about the Deaf in 1924 the head was Mrs J.J. Smith. Perhaps a family was involved, for by 1929 the head was a Mrs L. Smith, and the trades taught were listed as carpentry, leatherwork, bootmaking, for the boys of course, and cookery, laundry and basket-making for the girls. To modern eyes this clear division might seem strange, but at the time, and in the midst of the depression years, it was normal for working class children to have few academic possibilities, even more so for Deaf children. The school is listed in the 1939 version of All about the Deaf as The William Morris Deaf Centre, at Gainsford Road, Walthamstow, having as the ‘Director of Education’ S.W. Burnell who had been listed previously as ‘Secretary’, and the ‘Teacher-in-charge’ as Miss V.K. Mitchell.
In 1965 the school was situated in Hale End Road, Walthamstow. It was moved to purpose-built premises in Yardley Lane, Chingford, and re-opened in September 1969 with a new name – the Hawkeswood School – taking nursery and primary-age pupils.
We have not as yet identified a photograph of the school, but if we do we will add it here.
NID. All about the deaf. 1913, NID (RNID Library location: RNID Collection/Directories)
NCTD. List of schools, units, etc. for the deaf and for the partially hearing, 1965. NCTD. 1965. (RNID Library location: B4624)