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UCL Ear Institute & Action on Hearing Loss Libraries


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Archive for the 'Deaf Sport' Category

Weeding brings happy discoveries… International Games for the Deaf

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 2 February 2018

We are in the process of weeding our grey literature collection for the Action on Hearing Loss part of the collection.  There is a wealth of good material, but it is hidden beneath a mountain of old photocopies of articles, mostly of dubious worth to our holdings.  At one time the library catered many groups of people who were unable to use an academic library, so we had speech therapists as well as ENT doctors and teachers of the Deaf using the material.   The Ear Institute part of our Library covers ENT fully and comprehensively, while UCL’s Language and Speech Science Library covers speech and language, and the Institute of Education covers, well, education!  Therefore the Action on Hearing Loss collection focuses on Audiology, Sign Language, Deafness and related areas.

The sort of things we are removing are broadly old and never consulted articles about, among other things, aphasia, stuttering and speech problems, and voice, dating from the 1950s to the 1980s.  Many of these are online now, or held in print form elsewhere.  In the process we are making happy discoveries, and we will gather some of the historical items into archive boxes to better preserve them.

As examples of what we have found, material that was indexed on the card catalogue but would have been hard to search for by topic, in 1958 George E. Robinson, Superintendent of Liverpool Adult Deaf and Dumb Benevolent Society, donated programmes for four International Games for the Deaf, London (1935), Stockholm (1939), Brussels (1953), and Milan (1957).   These will now be put into an archive box together.

Top, the reverse of the Brussels programme, next the London programme showing the Prince of Wales who was patron of the games, then football teams in 1953 and the cover of the Brussels programme.


Hull Deaf F.C. 1913

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 19 October 2017

Hull Deaf football Club in 1913 – in honour of Hull’s year as City of Culture.  If you can name any of the players, please do!


The Bolton Deaf F.C. Team in 1905

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 23 September 2016

The Bolton Deaf Football Club in 1905, pictures fourteen members.  I thought it might be interesting to try and trace as many of them as we can.  I immediately recognized Ernest Ayliffe in the back row, so I will leave him out as he has already featured in these web pages.  He took over as Bolton missioner after Ernest Abraham left for Australia, assisted by John Shannon.  Shannon left for Chester in 1911, and Ayliffe for Liverpool in 1914 (Ephphatha p.630).

James Hayhurst:  He was born in France, circa 1882, a British subject, and in 1905 he would have been 23/4.   In the 1901 census he was living at 8 Latham Street, and is described as an apprentice clog maker, ‘Deaf and Dumb from childhood’.

Bolton DFC 19051901 – James Hayhurst Class: RG13; Piece: 3627; Folio: 33; Page: 24

Ernest John Yarnall was born in 1883, son of George, a mill furnace man at an ironworks, and his wife Ann, both of whom were originally from Staffordshire.  He was apprenticed as a carpenter in 1901, and was living in Bridgman St. with his parents and sister Edith.  The 1911 census tells us he was now a joiner, and had been deaf aged 10 or 11 months.  In 1909 he married Annie Haslam, born 1880 who was deaf when aged three.  I think Ernest died in 1954, but that needs checking.

1901 census Class: RG13; Piece: 3625; Folio: 136; Page: 7

1911 census Class: RG14; Piece: 23413

Samuel Haslam was a younger brother of Annie.  They were born in Bradshaw where their mother Mary was a farmer.  In 1901 Samuel was a wheelwright.  Curiously he is not marked as deaf on the 1911 census, but the census information is not always complete and there can be degrees of deafness of course.

1901 census Class: RG13; Piece: 3615; Folio: 11; Page: 11

Samuel Irlam: He was Bolton born in 1889, and his mother, brother James and sister-in-law Sarah Ann were all deaf.  He would have been about 16 when the photograph was taken.  On the 1911 census form his mother wrote under infirmity,  ‘Born from birth,’ ‘B from birth’, and ‘Deaf from birth,’ which is what she really meant.  For her grand daughter she wrote ‘alright’.  Samuel attended the Royal School in Manchester when William Nelson was headmaster, as did J.T. Hamer, Herbert Penn(e)y (try both spellings) and Joseph Griffin.

1911 census Class: RG14; Piece: 23321

A shortage of time restricted what I could research here – I hope to come back and add some more of the players, but if anyone has some information they can contribute, please put it in the comments space below.

Update: Our friend, historian Norma McGilp, has added this information she gleaned from the Manchester School records –

Manchester Deaf Institution records

James Hayhurst born 1880 – admitted 6 Aug 1890 – Bolton – father Warper.  His brother, Allan Hayhurst (not in school record) (born 1875) m Clara Brindle – son Allan Brindle Hayhurst (1913-1981) of the BDA (Sec/Treas).

Joseph Taylor Hamer – born 26 April 1887, adm 22 Jan 1895, Turton, father dead.

Herbert Penney born 15 Sept 1885, adm 13 Aug 1894, Bolton, father tailor.

Ernest John Yarnall [Yarnell] born 3 Jan 1883, adm 12 Feb 1890, Bolton, father Furnace-man.

Samuel Haslam born 28 Feb 1881 – admitted 7 Aug 1889, Bolton, father farmer (siblings – Robert Haslam b 6 Nov 1877 adm 2 Aug 1887, Annie Haslam born 16 Apr 1880, admitted 2 Aug 1887).

Samuel Hamer born 16 Dec 1882, adm 4 March 1890 Ramsbottom, father labourer.

James Smethhurst b June 25 1880, adm April 1889 Macclesfield, father tailor.

Joseph Smethurst b 11 July 1883, adt 4 Aug 1891 Bolton, father labourer.

Joseph Griffin born April 18 1885, adm 13 Aug 1894, Broughton, father Musical Instrument maker.

Samuel Irlam born 11 May 1887, adm 7 Aug 1894, Bolton, father ‘Beetler at a croft’ (brother David Thos Irlam born Aug 7 1878 adm 1 Apr 1891, Hallwell, father a crofter).



Historical sketch. British Deaf Monthly, 1896, 6, 31-36. (photos of missioners)

History and work. Ephphatha, 1922, 52, 630-631.

The Messenger, vol.7 1904 p. 150 (photo)


Heia Norge! Norwegian Deaf Ski Club at Barum, 1919

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 28 February 2014

In celebration of Norwegian success at the Winter Olympics, I just came across this picture of the Christiania (Oslo) Deaf at their ski club in Barum 1919 and decided to post it.

Norway Barum 1919

More Norwegians from Christiania (no snow here!)…Norway barum 2 click onto the images for a larger size.Barum 001

Norway Deaf AthletesFinally some Norwegian Deaf athletes – I suppose from 1919 or so.  The photos are probably connected with Selwyn Oxley’s visit to Scandinavia when he went to several Deaf Institutes.

Om det finnes noen som gjenkjenner disse folk vaer så god å skrive til oss (på norsk om du vil).

[We have been very busy so no time for a proper blog entry again!]


“Silent Chess Champions” in Belfast, 1913

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 22 March 2013

The following image and story is from the Belfast Evening Telegraph for Monday 4th August 1913.

A party of twenty deaf mutes, who arrived in Belfast on Friday.  The following “conversation” which took place – on paper, of course – between our photographer and one of the company will explain their mission:- “Could you give me a few details as regards your visit?” “We have come to play the Belfast deaf and dumb in a games tournament.  We are the holders of the London Federation of Working Men’s Social Clubs’ Chess Challenge Cup.  I hear the Belfast Deaf are hot stuff at chess, but I have no doubt we can lick them.  I am a Belfast man myself, but I have been away for fourteen years and hardly know the old place.  They are giving a party here to-night, and I hope to meet a good many old friends – and see a bit of the town meantime.  We are staying here till Monday evening, when we go over to Glasgow on the same errand – to lick them at chess, etc – and then we go on to Edinburgh, also on the same errand, returning to Belfast to-morrow week en route for London.”  “How many men compose your team?”  “Nine.”  “And how many are Irishmen?”  “Only myself; the others have never been out of England before.  In profession they are analyst, engraver, photographer, saddler, compositor, and bookbinder.  The rest are independent.”  The names of the group are:_ Back Row – Messrs. J. Hast, F.B. Caulfield, W. Baird (hon. Secretary), G. Howe, J. Longman.  Front Row – Messrs. E.T. Gausden, A. Padkin, C.H. Rymer. -. Jones, and H.H. Windsor.Silent Chess

Click on for a larger size.

John Taylor Lyon, Missioner to the Deaf in Stockton 1918-26

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 18 January 2013

John Taylor Lyon became missioner superintendent to the South Durham and Cleveland Mission to the Deaf and Dumb, in 1918.  Based in Stockton-on-Tees, he travelled widely in his area, trying to keep in touch with the local deaf people.  His brief obituary – more of a notice that he had died – gives us little information, but from online records I can say he was 57 when he died, so was born around 1869.  It says, “His conciliatory attitude and spiritual mindedness welded the Mission into one united family, while his never failing tact was always available for settling the slight differences of opinion which are inseparable from all organisations.”

I know he was married, and they had a son, Frank Taylor Lyon, and he was living at 9 West End Terrace, Yarm Road when he died, but I cannot find either of them in the online census record.  If you can, please do comment below.  There may be a record of him in the local mission’s annual reports, or in local archives, however we have hardly anything – only some account sheets from the 1950s.

He died on 1st December, 1926 after some years of ill-health.

Note: While looking for something else my eye was caught by the same name, a J.T. Lyon of Aberdeen, playing as a fullback for Scotland in the second Deaf football international between England and Scotland, on 2nd April 1892.  Is this the same person?  It is!  He was a pupil I have discovered, at Donaldson’s School (from information on our old index cards).  The game, which was played on the West Manchester football ground, had a remarkable 2,500 spectators. The game was 3-2 at half time, then despite fog they came out for the second half and England scored twice again then had a free kick which caused Lyon’s fellow fullback Moodie to storm off. He was persuaded to return and England went on to win 7-2.  Dissent on the sports field is clearly not new!

The Late Mr. J.T. Lyon. British Deaf Times 1927, vol 24 p.11

Updated & extended 15/9/2017 & 19/9

James McLean, Deaf Cardiff City footballer

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 15 June 2012

Sports are sociable activities that bring people together so it is no surprise that they have featured very strongly in the history of Deaf people in the U.K., as we have noted in previous posts. However there have not been many who have also competed at the highest level. One problem is playing to the whistle.

the perception that an inability to speak or hear clearly automatically causes difficulties for all involved, may well have conspired to deny many talented deaf footballers the opportunities a few others have had. (Atherton, 1999)

A player who did play professional football was James or William MacLean (sometimes given as Mclean) of Cardiff City. There is a very small mention of him in Atherton et.al. (2000),[*] where the information came from his daughter. He played with Cardiff from 1923-6.

Click for a larger size larger size.

This newspaper article, from a photo in the library collection, is typical of its age (1920s) in its tone. They do not know Mclean’s first name and seem amazed that he could learn to speak.

[* Atherton et al give his name as William on one page (58) and James on another (59) and have his surname spelled McLean. I imagine that perhaps he was James William or William James but that his family used a different christian name from that his colleagues used.]

For more on professional Deaf footballers –

Atherton, M, Russell, D. & Turner G.H., Deaf Footballers in the Professional Game, Chapter 6 in Deaf United. Forest Books, 2000

Atherton, M. Kicking down the barriers: Deaf players in professional football. Deaf History Journal, 1999 Vol. 3 (1):21-27

Atherton, M. PLAYING TO THE FLAG: A HISTORY OF DEAF FOOTBALL AND DEAF FOOTBALLERS IN BRITAIN The Sports Historian, No.19,1 (May,1999), pp. 38-60

See also http://www.friendsreunited.co.uk/soccer-football-league-division-one-cardiff-city/Memory/29e20a7b-eb4f-4542-be56-a00b015377b1



First Deaf Motorist and inventor of the wing mirror, Arthur James Wilson

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 27 April 2012

WILSON, Arthur James (1858-1945)

A younger version of Wilson appears on a picture in an earlier item on the National Deaf Club.  Here we see him in middle age.  He was born in Camden Town at 43 Arlington St, on 17th of February 1858, the son of a schoolmaster.  Catching scarlet fever aged 12, he became totally deaf.  His education continued at home, and Dimmock tells us that he composed an article at the age of 14 that appeared in A Magazine intended chiefly for the Deaf and Dumb (we have this journal in the library)For a time employed as an engraver, his eyesight not being strong enough Wilson became a journalist.  With the aid of the Rev. Samuel Smith he helped found the National Deaf and Dumb Teetotal Society .

Wilson was a keen cyclist, and organised races and hill climbs in the late 1870s on one of the heavy tricycles then in vogue.  He raced in Ireland, from which came the offer of a position in Dublin on the Irish Cyclist (Dimmock).  Marrying a hearing lady in 1887, he moved back to London as manager for the Pneumatic Tyre Company.

In 1896 Wilson was the first Deaf person to purchase and drive a motor vehicle, and he was reputedly the inventor of the wing mirror.  He became wealthy and was acquainted with the Prince of Wales, getting him interested in cycling, and taught King George V to cycle.  He was an important figure in the development of Deaf Sport in the London region, which led to the establishment of the British Deaf Amateur Sports Association in 1930 (Dimmock).

Wilson was a founder of the Federation of London Deaf Clubs in 1918, and President of the Midland Counties Institutes for the Deaf (later Coventry Institute for the Deaf) as early as 1915 shortly after it was founded.  His business fell into a decline after the Great War and was wound up in 1929.  He died in 1945  in Leamington Spa.

DIMMOCK, A.F. Arthur James Wilson, otherwise Faed, 1858-1945. British Deaf History Society Publications, 1996.

See also annual reports for Coventry & Warwickshire Association for the Deaf.

Wilson and the Hospital Motor Squadron

Wilson’s Benevolent Fund

Mr. Arthur J. Wilson, Ephphatha (First series) 1898 Vol.3 p.113-4

“Resisting intemperate habits” – York Deaf and Dumb Mission football club

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 3 February 2012

York City F.C. was founded in 1908 as an amateur side, eventually becoming professional. However the team folded in 1917, probably because of the pressures of the war. This photograph from the collection of Selwyn Oxley is however the team from the Deaf Mission in York, playing on the York City ground in January 1916. (Click onto the photo for a larger resolution). It looks to me as if they were using a municipal ground at the time – but if you know better do tell us.

We do not have many records of the mission but it was founded in 1884 at a meeting in York’s Guildhall. It was originally known as The York and District Christian Mission to the Deaf and Dumb. In the words of the first annual report – not produced until 1902-3, early on it had “a chequered existence”, before being reconstituted with the input of the ‘Deaf Mute’ Mr. M.I. Stewart Fry in 1901. These sorts of Christian mission to the Deaf were widespread in the late 19th century as we have noted in earlier items. The objects were usually very similar, in this case,

“the religious instruction of the Deaf and Dumb; to see as far as possible to the educational wants of Deaf-Mute children; to help the Deaf to bear patiently their daily burden; to encourage them in resisting intemperate habits; to help the needy; to find work for the unemployed; and to minister to the sick. In short to do to the Deaf and Dumb what the churches and various charitable agencies do for those who can hear and speak.”

The relationship between sport and the Christian missions was strong, with the Victorian idea of ‘muscular Christianity’ (though curiously St. Paul said “bodily exercise profiteth little” 1 Timothy 4:8). The photocopy we have of the first report was owned by Fry (see his picture in the article on the National Deaf Club), who left in 1903 to go to London. He has added a hand-written note in the copy, dated 1937, that he went to work at another firm “as a litho artist”. What became of the York Mission in the long term I am not sure. Some missions mutated, some will have folded, some still exist.

The York and District Christian Mission to the Deaf and Dumb, Annual Reports.

3rd International Deaf Games / Taubstumme Spiele, Nurnberg 1931

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 9 December 2011

In 1931 the 3rd ‘Silent Games’, or Deaflympics were held in Nurnberg from 21st-24th of August.  The first had been in 1924 in Paris, and the most recent was in 2009 in Taipei http://www.deaflympics.com/games/

The Swedish magazine for the Deaf says there were 6,000 spectators on the last day.

Beautiful Bauhaus style poster of the games from our collection

I can find very little in British sources about the games. The most successful Briton appears to have been Cyril Reynolds. He came 3rd in the 200m, an event he had won in 1928. The British team was lead by the Rev. Vernon Jones, of whom more in a later entry. The British Deaf Times also points out the “Two men from Leeds, one from Sheffield, and one from Barnsley represented Yorkshire in the third Olympiad”.  Many of them  were competing both in field and track sports.

From a Finland Swedish magazine for the Deaf I read that the Polish competitors were turned away at the borders. This was of course in 1931, at the beginnings of Nazi rule. Deaf people were to suffer greatly on the following years.

The British Deaf Times, Vol.28, September-October 1931, p.117

Tidskrift főr Dővstumma utgiven af Finlands Dővstumfőrbund, 1931, No.9, p.71-4

Tidning főr Dővstumma, 1931 No.9, p.91