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Kenneth Walter Hodgson & “The Problems of the Deaf” (1953)

H Dominic W Stiles9 December 2016

Author of the famous book, The Deaf and Their Problems (1953), Kenneth Walter Hodgson is opaque in the records, with very little seeming to be found about him as a person other than records of the book.  The little to be found I discovered from a half page typescript of old library notes presumably from the 1970s, combined with the registration of his death.  As a few people have asked about him over the years, and we have been able to say nothing about him, I thought I would share what we do have.

He was born in West London on the 10th of June 1914, son of Walter Graham Hodgson, an electrical engineer from Birkenhead, and his wife, Emily Nott.  The information I have (from our very old library enquiry folder) tells us that he was educated at Sloane School, then Selwyn College, Cambridge as an Open Exhibitor in History, and then in King’s College, London.  He then taught for a few years in Liverpool slum schools until 1941, when he was called up.  That same year he married Dora Craven, and they had a son William Graham Hodgson, in 1942.*

Kenneth Hodgson went into the R.A.F. but suffered from poor health, and from 1944 he was teaching again.  He worked mainly with “handicapped and deprived children in poor districts.”  He then worked in a school for deaf children, but we are not told which one, unless he mentions it in the body of the text of The Deaf and Their Problems.  This work revealed to him a lack of literature available in England for candidates for the Diploma in Deaf Education.

The Deaf and Their Problems was intended to go some way toward meeting this lack in the “pure oralist”  tradition, then unquestioned by teachers of the deaf in England.  But the accumulation of evidence changed the book into an argument for experiment on much broader lines, including manual language.

The Deaf and Their Problems has an introduction by Sir Richard Paget.  A review in The Teacher of the Deaf for December 1953 (p.189-90), by Thomas J. Watson (1912-84), a teacher at Henderson Row and later at Manchester University as a lecturer, writing as ‘T.J.W.’, criticized the book:

In a book with such a title, one would expect to find a full discussion of the problems – educational, social and emotional – of deaf children and adults.  The title, however, is rather misleading, and one finds that two-thirds of the book are devoted to a history of the education of the deaf, and that only the first fifty-five and last sixty-seven pages discuss deafness and its problems.[…]
Mr Hodgson does present what appears to be some new material.  He is not, however, always careful about the accuracy of some of his statements. […]
How far it is justifiable to mix fact with comment is a matter of opinion, but it would be helpful if references were given for some of the statements made. […]
One cannot in fairness end a review of this book without saying that if the reader preserves an open mind, then both the history and the discussion of problems should be read and considered carefully.  The former will help towards a broader view of the present situation, and the latter will provoke thought. (ibid)

Conclusion HodgsonSome might say today that his historical section is possibly the most interesting part of the book.

The note we have says that some pure oralists tried to prevent publication of the book, though it typically and frustratingly offers no source for that statement, something which leads me to wonder if the note is based on information supplied by Hodgson.  The typescript page continues,

professional ostracism made continuance of work with the deaf impossible, and necessitated a return to the “hearing” world of education until a severe heart attack compelled retirement in 1969.  Since then, concerned with the teaching of spiritual philosophy and, with the founding of AMICI (Friends), to assist young people with drug problems.

He died in Surrey in 1983.  I did find a letter by him from 1957 in New Scientist, in which he says “our children remain handicapped and stunted by the arbitrary limitation of their teaching to speech as the only form of language.”

UPDATE: 27/10/2017 *The reference to him said he was a rowing international, and thanks to the comment by his son W. Graham Hodgson below we can now correct that as it was he who was the international rower.  Also thanks to David Reading for the interesting comment on Hodgson’s work in counselling.

If you knew him or have anything to add, please comment.

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 277

“Why do you sing so loud, aunty,” – Annie Webb-Peploe’s story, Deaf and Dumb

H Dominic W Stiles14 October 2016

Arthur“Why do you sing so loud, aunty,” said Jessie; “I like to hear you sing softly.”

“I want baby to listen to me,” replied her aunt hastily, and she continued her song even louder than before.

“Stupid little Arthur,” said Jessie.

“Poor little Arthur,” said Aunt Amy, with a heavy sigh.

(Deaf and Dumb)

Annie Molyneux, a prolific, if more or less forgotten Victorian author, was born on the 24th of February 1806 (not 1805 as so many bibliographical details say), daughter to John Molyneux (one of a remarkable fifteen children), and a descendant of Thomas Molyneux, who was born in Calais when it was still English.  Thomas settled in Ireland and the family entered politics, with some of his descendants and Annie’s ancestors becoming Irish MPs.  Annie married John Birch Webb, who became the vicar of Weobley in Herefordshire.  In 1866 he took the surname Peploe, so they became the Webb-Peploe’s.  Annie Webb-Peploe, or Webb in the earlier part of her life, is as I say, hardly known now, but if she is read or remembered, it is probably for the book Naomi: or, The last days of Jerusalem (1841), which is a particular genre of ‘conversion’ literature that Annie wrote a number of books on.  The main character is a Jewish woman who becomes a Christian.  It went through a considerable number of editions, including in the U.S.A., and was also translated to Danish in 1892, and German in 1900.  I did not spot any English edition quite that late, but Valman says that it continued to be published to the end of the century.  It might be interesting to draw parallels between her attitude to “the devoted and impenitent Jews” (Naomi, preface, p. v) and the Deaf people in her short story, Deaf and Dumb (uncertain date).  There is an interesting chapter in Valman’s 2009 book (see reference below), that discusses Naomi. Arthur at school

Deaf and Dumb* tells the story of a deaf boy called Arthur, and his sister Jessie who are orphaned as young children.  They live with their aunt who then sends the boy to be educated at the Exeter School.  The boy is at first educated ‘by signs’, then “when he became an intimate of the asylum it was considered time to cultivate his power of speech, which, strange as it may seem to some of our readers, is actually as perfect with those who are called deaf and dumb as with those who have spoken from infancy” (Chapter 2, page 3 – though the pages of the whole book are unnumbered).  She seems to have taken some trouble with the details of education at Exeter, but I am unclear as to what she means about ‘the art of speaking on the fingers – or dactylology’ (Chapter 2 p.6) – is she referring to sign language or fingerspelling?  The stress seems to be on becoming oral, learning to speak –

The author has heard a deaf and dumb lady read a newspaper quite intelligibly, and also converse with a mutual friend who was also deaf and dumb, and with whom she had been brought up at Braidwood’s establishment.  The tone of their voices was guttural and rather monotonous, but by no means difficult to understand.

Yes it is ‘preachy’ and in my view not terribly well written, but it is interesting.  I suspect the book dates from circa 1860-65 based on her name as it appears – Mrs Webb, and on the few details on her two fellow writers in the collection.  Our copy must I think be very rare indeed.

It is difficult to find out anything much about Annie Webb-Peploe, even though she wrote and published quite a lot over a long period.  She does not as yet appear in the ‘Orlando – Women’s Writing’ pages, unlike two of her three fellow writers who are published in the same volume, Frances Browne and Frances Mary Peard (the third being L.A. Hall).  Her three sons went into the army (Daniel), the navy (Augustus), and the church (Hanmer).  Hanmer was a member of the evangelical ‘Holiness Movement‘, and has an entry in the DNB (see below).  You can see more of her family details here.  She died in 1880.  It seems that she is ripe for some research by someone interested in Victorian literature.  I am sure there are Webb-Peploes around today who might have some family records that would add to the bare details, and a photograph perhaps.

I have saved the whole story as a pdf for those interested.  When opened, right click the file to put it the right way up.  Deaf and Dumb by Mrs Webb

Arthur and Jessie 1http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/n84051745.html

The Jewess in Nineteenth-Century British Literary Culture de Waard, Marco. Gender Forum 21 (2008) (Review)

Valman, Nadia, The Jewess in Nineteenth-Century British Literary Culture, CUP 2009

Online Books by Mrs. Webb-Peploe

https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Search/Home?lookfor=%22Webb-Peploe,%20Mrs.%201805-1880.%22&type=author&inst=

My Life on the Prairies

I. T. Foster, ‘Peploe, Hanmer William Webb- (1837–1923)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/47130, accessed 3 Oct 2016] – see also here.

 

 

John Wallis – the Sermons, and his Letter to Robert Boyle “Teaching a person Dumb and Deaf to speak”

H Dominic W Stiles1 August 2016

The Sermons (1791 edition) are not what I would call my literature of choice, but John Wallis was notable for us in his attempts to educate a deaf boy, Alexander Popham.  It was the cause of a huge row in the early Royal Society, as William Holder said that he had taught Popham, and this was not acknowledged by Wallis.Scanned from a Xerox Multifunction Device

A memoir of Wallis, with additional notes by the Rev. C.E. de Coetlogon, says:

About the year 1653 he published his Tractatus de Loquela Grammatici-Physicus, since reprinted many times; wherein he gives a particular account of the physical or mechanical formation of sounds used in speech, or expressed by the letters of several languages: a design which is not known to have been (before him) undertaken by any person; in pursuance of which, he hath undertaken, with success, to teach some dumb persons to speak.  To which is added, a letter of the Doctor’s to Mr. Thomas Beverly, concerning his method of instruction, which he says he had taught Mr. Alexander Popham, born deaf, to speak distinctly, and to express his mind tolerably well by writing, and to understand what was written to him by others, as he had also done to Mr. Daniel Whaley. (p.lvii)

SheridaneOur copy came from the library of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the celebrated playwright. Quite why he was interested in Wallis I cannot say – perhaps he bought his books in bulk, perhaps Sheridan was just interested in the ideas and use of language. Selwyn Oxley also bought a collection of Wallis’s essays on ‘The Doctrine of the Blessed Trinity, ex libris one John Bedford, and Number 61 of the Philosophical Transactions from 1670, which contains the letter of Wallis to Robert Boyle “concerning the said doctors Essay of Teaching a person Dumb and Deaf to speak, and to understand a Language” etc.’  Wallis does tell us that Popham may have been able to speak previously, having lost his hearing ‘by accident’ aged about five, ‘but doth scarce remember it’ (p.1093).   I attach the complete short essay here – A Letter of Doctor John Wallis to Robert Boyle Esq.

This is the first page below, sadly covered with Oxley’s spidery hand!

Wallis 2An audio file of a Royal Society talk by David Cram on Wallis and his dispute with Holder is to be found here.  Unfortunately there is still no video for some reason – see comments below – https://royalsociety.org/science-events-and-lectures/2012/wallis-holder-dispute/

Also, if you read the comments you will note that David Cram and Jaap Maat are writing a book on the notebook of Popham.

 

 

 

George Frankland, Deaf Journalist (1866-1936) “brilliant scholar, deep thinker and one of the finest writers of prose”

H Dominic W Stiles10 June 2016

George Frankland  was born to middle class parents in Liverpool on the 9th of September, 1866 (British Deaf Mute p.290, from which much of this is taken).  The article goes on,

It is not quite clear whether George’s deafness was congenital ; his mother considers it due to falls and shocks to head in infancy.  This, by the way, accounts for his poetic tendencies.  The deafness, however, was only partial.  Consequently, George was treated in most respects as a hearing child – to his sorrow often enough.  He was sent to the ordinary hearing schools, but owing to his infirmity, and the conventional methods of education, learned comparatively little. (ibid)

However he did learn to read at an early age, which led him to writing.

Life became more difficult when his father died in 1881.  George worked for a time for his older brother, as an office boy,  but found the work too little to kindle any interest.  He went to Liverpool School of Art, but “did not distinguish himself”, although he there came into contact with another deaf person for the first time, Mr. J.R. Brown, one of the masters.  John Rowland Brown (1850-1923) had trained under T.M. Lindsay c 1864-67, and later moved to Liverpool where he was an assistant master at the college for 30 years. “Returned to Ght [Graham’s Town] on retirement c. 1902 where he held a one-man exhibition in 1916.”  (p.129, Pictorial Africana by A Gordon-Brown, via Google Books)

In 1884 George came in contact with James Wilson Mackenzie (1865-95), a gifted young deaf artist, some of whose paintings are still to be seen in the Wirral.  He and his brother introduced George to the Liverpool Deaf community.

With money short and his father’s estate tied up in the court of Chancery for may years, and failing to make his way in the world of art, George pursued a literature, learning shorthand, playing the piano to some degree, was supposedly “a genius at the organ” (Fry, 1936), and becoming enthusiastic about chess.  He stayed with his brother, trying to follow his trade as a shoemaker, but again felt he was wasting his time with too little he could do.  When his sister moved to London to study the piano, George studied typewriting “at Miss Day’s, and, through Mr. J.R.K. Toms, whom he met there, came into contact with the London deaf.” (British Deaf Mute, p.291)

He bought a typewriter but did not have the speed for office work.  Poor George seems to have really struggled to find his niche, but he continued to write, and had a safety net of a small income from his father’s property when the estate was settled.  In London he attended St. Saviour’s church, and helped organise the Cricket Club.  Gilby says that in 1894, “It was during this year that our first real Cricket Club secured a ground at Neasden, and George Frankland became its first Secretary.  It ran for several years at Bishop’s Avenue, Finchley.  Many happy afternoons did we spend there while the ladies with my assistance got tea ready and made huge out of it which went towards the rent of the pitch.” (Memoir, p.132-3)

He became a full time reporter for British Deaf Mute and The Church Messenger/Ephphatha from 1893.  In his obituary, M.S. Fry recounts that Frankland was much the quietest of the small group of journalists who worked for Joseph Hepworth on the British Deaf Monthly and The British Deaf Times.  “A brilliant scholar, deep thinker and one of the finest writers of prose, and a most lovable man” (Fry, 1936).

FranklandBritish Deaf Mute, 1896, 5:290-1 (with picture)

Fry, Maxwell S., Obituary: the late Mr George Frankland, British Deaf Times, 1936 vol.33 p.104

Picture, British Deaf Monthly 1896 vol 6, p.36

Please note, I have followed the original article in the B.D.M. fairly closely.  Please chip in with any additional information.

“His lips sought her skin as the horse noses its mate. […] It was a strange proposal of marriage.”

H Dominic W Stiles17 March 2016

Clyne House 2Ann Denman was the nome de plume of Katie E.M. Croft, a teacher of the deaf at the Royal School for the Deaf, Manchester.  I cannot add any interesting biographical details about her as I have not definitely identified her date or place of birth or death, though it is possible she is Katharine Elizabeth M. Croft, born in Derby in 1895.  Unfortunately we do not have a complete record of the Royal School annual reports, which were very full and included pictures.  Miss Croft appears on the list of staff for Clyne House, the part of the Royal School for the juniors, under nines, from at least 1925 to the war.  She was one of the resident teachers, following on from the first resident teacher at the school, Irene Goldsack, who married Alexander Ewing.

Why are we particularly interested in her rather than Misses Elliott, Baker or Cross, her fellow teachers in 1925?  Well, she wrote a novel, A Silent Handicap, published by Edward Arnold in 1927.  The novel follows the lives of three children who were born deaf, an illegitimate orphaned girl, a boy from a poor background, and a girl with wealthy parents.   Our copy has a promotional leaflet with review excerpts, and Selwyn Oxley’s inimitable black inky scrawl.Croft 2 book reviews  He had a brief correspondence with Katie Croft, which is stuck into the front of the book.  First there is a three page letter from the 14th of March, 1928, then a couple of short notes congratulating the Oxley’s on their marriage, and Kate Oxley’s second book being published.  Oxley had sent her a Guild of St. John of Beverley badge.  He seems to have scattered them around, for I have come across other mentions of people receiving one.

A few quotations from the novel will give a flavour of the story.

“She’s deaf and dumb, you know,” said Mr. Searle, feeling sorry for the woman and the child.
“Fiddlesticks!” said the Doctor.  “You can train a puppy, why not a deaf child? […]” (p.8)

School work began with prayers.  Geoff stood sullenly between two children.  A grown-up person had pushed him there and shaken her finger at him, and as he had always associated a sound cuff with the breaking of the law as laid down by finger-waggers, he stood where he had been put and frowned angrily. (p.30)

Chapter 19, A Proposal, describes how Mary and Geoff, the two children in the excerpts above now adults, get engaged: Geoff has given Mary a watch as a present –

Her eyes sparkled.  She looked up at Geoff to thank him.  He did not wait for her thanks, but caught her in his arms, and rubbed his mouth against her neck and cheek.  He had never learnt to kiss.  His lips sought her skin as the horse noses its mate.  Mary bent back her head that their faces might meet.  She rubbed her cheek against his.

It was a strange proposal of marriage. (p.194)

This was the 1920s, and eugenics rears its head –

“You should say until Prince Charming comes,” said her father. […] He’ll be coming along and marrying you.”

“Marry me?  No one will ever marry me, said Sally, shaking her pretty head.  I shall not marry , Daddy.  I shall live for ever and ever with you.”

“I wish I could think so, but I can’t,” said Sir Patrick.

“Yes, I shall,” said Sally.  She had been reading a book on eugenics, and spoke with the finality of youth.  “Deaf people shouldn’t marry.”[…]

“Love and common sense don’t go together, Sally,” he said, but Sally had stooped to get a piece of coal from the box, and had not seen him speak. (p.231)

Katie Croft says in her letter to Oxley,

I wrote a “Silent Handicap” in odd free afternoons.  It is life as I have seen it. Life odd queer, inexplicable – worth living only in the measure of service for others.  I felt that my children would grow up and miss so much.  I was sorry for the poor deaf child unloved except by casual strangers – and sorry for the rich deaf child who seemed to have so much.  It is the things of the spirit that matter in life – and congenital deafness tends to bind one so to mainly physical pleasures.  Education can lift one until all things are possible but it also gives the power to realize ones own isolation.
I wrote, so that if anyone ever found my work worth publishing, those who read might have some knowledge of the lives of deaf children, and of the “Dockerty’s”* scattered up and down the country, who have given such ungrudging service often for so little salary.  Above all I wished to show how economically sound it is to spend money on the education of the Deaf.  Not only does education kindle into life that Divine “light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world” but it also makes the Deaf self respecting, self supporting citizens: a help not a drag upon the community.

Croft letter 1If you can add any information about Katie Croft, please do in the comments field below.  The novel is probably hard to find – at the time of writing there is one available on Alibris.  We have a loan copy as well as the one with the letters.

For a picture of Clyne House search here https://apps.trafford.gov.uk/TraffordLifetimes.

It seems that the house was a hospital during the Great War.

*Dockerty was a character in the novel

Thanks to Geoff Eagling for the update below.

Jack Clemo, “prydyth an pry”, deaf-blind poet and novelist (1916-1994)

H Dominic W Stiles4 March 2016

clemoThe Cornish writer Reginald John Clemo, commonly called Jack, was born on born March 11th, 1916, near St. Austell in Cornwall.  His mother Eveline Polmounter, daughter of a Methodist preacher, was pious, “a dreamy, sensative girl, naive, steeped in worthy religious books and cheap romantic novels, with little interest in the lives of the clay labourers beyond the farm” (Magnusson, p.12).  His father Reginald, belonged to a family that had a bad reputation but were very poor, working as clay labourers (ibid).  He liked to dress up, and he joined the chapel choir as he loved to sing, and there he came to know Eveline.  In 1909 Reggie decided to try his fortune in the Montana copper mines.  He returned after three years, having spent what he had earnt, and they married in 1913 (ibid p.14).  Their first child died as a baby, but then when war broke out Reggie went to work at a Woolwich munitions factory, then Devonport dockyard.  Shortly after Jack was born his father was sent to work in the navy, and he died on the 23rd of December, 1917, when the ship he served on as a Stoker, 2nd Class, H.M.S. Tornado, was mined off Rotterdam (not torpedoed as Magnusson says) (Spinks, see * below).

Cause of Death: Killed or died as a direct result of enemy action
Official Number Port Division: K.38321 (Dev)
Death Date: 23 Dec 1917
Ship or Unit: HMS Tornado
Location of Grave: Not recorded
Name and Address of Cemetery: Body Not Recovered For Burial
Relatives Notified and Address: Widow: Eveline, Gonnanarris Slip, St Stephens, Nr Grampound Rd, Cornwall

At the age of 18 months, Jack was able to recite the Lord’s Prayer, and aged four he was “reading vigorously” (Magnusson, p.16).  When he was five he had his first attack of blindness, diagnosed as iritis, and it took a year to go, but it changed Jack to a withdrawn introspective child (ibid p.17-18).  He started school but hated it, though he excelled at writing, and religious study.  He had a further episode of blindness when he was thirteen, which made him even more inward looking, but at the same time became inspired to write after meeting a girl called Evelyn at a cousin’s wedding.  She took it on herself to look after him, “stroking his hair and whispering softly throughout the meal.  The effect on a boy whose senses and emotions had been so starved was electric.  That day was born an obsession that that was to haunt his imagination for a long time to come.”

He began to write articles for Netherton’s Almanack, and pursued Evelyn until she ignored him, eventually sending back all his letters.  He fell into despair, and as he approached his nineteenth birthday became increasingly deaf (ibid p.38).   Although he had always been spiritual, at around this time he experienced a conversion, though not connected with any traditional religious group.

His first novel, Wilding Craft, was finallly published in 1948.  Here is a short excerpt to give something of his style –

When all was quiet and he knew Irma too must be lying up there in all her lovliness, awaiting sleep, Garth leaned over the sofa and noiselessly drew back the curtain from the window. Moonlight streamed into the room, for the the moon, just past full, was riding up behind Trethosa, the tree-tops cutting upon its silvery shrunken disc like black veins, unmoving, while shadows all over the valley and the clay ridges were becoming magical, the triangular shade of sand-dumps broken upon the folds of the pits, and the shade of drying-sheds and tanks groping out over the Fal and the marshland, over the first war-time instalment of flowers, insects, microscopic eggs and amphibian life.  Hardly a cloud up there among the stars, and no marauding apparition below. (Wilding Graft, p.278-9)

He won an ‘Atlantic Award for Literature’ worth £100 for this novel (Magnusson p.71).  It was a Rockefeller prize that helped young writers whose careers had been disrupted by the war (one winner being P.H.Newby, the first Booker winner).

In 1951 his poetry collection , The Wintry Priesthood, won a £100 Festival of Britain poetry prize.  Magnusson quotes this poem, The Two Beds, which shows his combination of the erotic-mystical and industrial, and if that sounds strange do follow up the links at the bottom of this page –

…you never saw
The clay as I have seen it, high
On the bare hills, the little breasts
So white in the sun, all the veins running white
Down to the broad womb with its scars.
And the scars meant, beyond fertility,
Purgation – symbol of the stained rock,
And the live water searching, cooling
Along the bare sinew; and then the heat,
The brief heat beyond the body; and at last
The cup for the new wine.  (But that is yonder
And this is faith).  So I had the open view,
While you groped in cramped seams, found no heavenly clue.

Clemo’s sight deteriorated iin the 1950s and by 1955 he was blind.

Spinks says of Clemo,

His early poetry is infused with an erotic view of the barren clay landscape of his home and God’s just demand for the surrender of the personal soul.  He praised the industrial invasion of the natural world as God’s grace claiming his own.  Though he derided nature, his verse has a haunting beauty of expression and the challenge of a personal, honest voice.

Having had a correspondance with Ruth Grace Peaty, he finally achieved a long held desire, when he married her in 1968.  In 1970 he was made ‘prydyth an pry’ or ‘Poet of the Clay’ at the Gorsedd – Cornwall’s unofficial national assembly.

He died in 1994 and is buried in Weymouth.  An archive of his manuscripts and papers is held at the University of Exeter – see link below.  In 2005 the cottage he had lived in for much of his life was destroyed by the Goonvean quarry.  Though we might consider this modern vandalism, in the light of his ideas of industry and nature mentioned above, one wonders whether he might have thought this a sort of poetic justice, appropriate for the landscape he knew so well.

WildingMagnusson, Sally, Clemo, a love story. 1986, Tring.

Portrait

Obituary

University of Exeter Archives

One of his manuscripts

Destruction of his home

Michael Spinks, ‘Clemo, Reginald John (1916–1994)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2011 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/54814, accessed 2 March 2016]

http://www.tolstoytherapy.com/2014/06/keeping-poets-alive-jack-clemo-cornwall.html

http://www.sense-of-place.co.uk/Rescorla/clemo.htm

*Marine War graves Roll -TNA Series: ADM 242/7; Scan Number: 0787

A web search will bring up more interesting items.

Roe Memorial House for the Adult Deaf, Derby 1936-?

H Dominic W Stiles29 August 2014

Roe Memorial House for the Adult Deaf seems to have been founded in 1936/7, at 93 Friar Gate, Derby.  It employed a resident superintendent who was

trained for work amongst the deaf, understanding their needs, and able to deal with them […] to help in the placement of a boy or girl on leaving school or to seek for work for an unemployed deaf man or woman, and generally to ensure that everything possible is done to enable the deaf to share in the opportunities open to those who can hear.

Roe House is also a Social Centre where the deaf can meet for games and recreation and where Religious Services are presented in a form which can be understood by a deaf congregation.  During the course of the year the Superintendent, who is provided with a car, has travelled some ten thousand miles up and down the County in connection with visiting and placement work.

Dr W.R. Roe (1849 -1920) who founded the Royal Institution for the Deaf in Derby and was headmaster of  the Derby school was the person being commemorated.  The house, now offices, has hardly changed on the outside.  Derby has been said to be the capital of the Deaf in England.*

Roe was also Vice Chairman of the National Association for Teachers of the Deaf 1905.  His son William Carey Roe succeeded him as headmaster.  Roe has left us a number of interesting works including his Peeps into the Deaf World.  In it we have items about former pupils telling us a little about them and how they were successful in life after school, as well at stories about deaf people around the world.  I am not clear when Roe Memorial House closed – if you know please leave a comment.WR Roe

Roe memorial house*Derby is described as “England’s capital city for deaf people” in the Derby Evening Telegraph, Oct 1999

Backing for sign language. Derby Evening Telegraph, 1999, 16 Oct, 14

Roe Memorial House Annual Reports 1938, 1942, 1949, 1954, 1955

Portrait. Teacher of the Deaf, 1913, 11(63), frontispiece.