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Information on the UCL Ear Institute & Action on Hearing Loss Libraries


Stoke, Story, Staffs…

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 13 April 2012

In a previous entry we noted the role of A.J. Story in the start of the National Bureau for Promoting the General Welfare of the Deaf. Story was first head of the North Staffordshire School for the Blind and Deaf, sometimes known as the Stoke School for the Deaf. It was the first residential school for deaf children founded under the Elementary Education (Blind and Deaf Children) Act 1883, established in 1897 at The Mount, Hartshill, Stoke-on-Trent. Below we see a lesson at the school in a curious outdoor classroom. (Fresh air was clearly considered to be stimulating, and there are other photographs in our collection that show outdoor classes.)

Outdoor class at Stoke School probably around 1920

Later the name was changed to the Mount School for the Deaf. While we do not have any of the school records, we do have a selection of records from the North Staffordshire Society for Promoting Spiritual and Temporal Welfare of the Adult Deaf & Dumb and of the Blind (1868-1911), which became the North Staffordshire Adult Deaf & Dumb Society for Promoting the Spiritual and Temporal Welfare of the Adult Deaf and Dumb, and the North Staffordshire Deaf and Dumb Society.

Staffs annual reports -and a striking image of 'The Glass Wall'





The North Stafford Blind and Deaf School, Stoke-on-Trent. British Deaf Monthly, 1897, 6(70), 228-230. (with photos of school and its first headmaster, A.J. Story)

Staffordshire Mission annual Reports – 1885, 1886, 1902, 1909, 1912, 1914/15, 1924/25, 1933/34, 1935/36-38/39, 1947/48-54/55, 1956/57-59/60, 1961/62, 1963/64, 1978/79-79/80

Photos in reports 1933/34-37/38, 1952/53, 1954/55, 1957/58-59/60

The Glass Wall – A Century of Progress 1868-1968

Leo Bonn, founder of the National Bureau for Promoting the General Welfare of the Deaf

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 13 April 2012

Leo Bonn was the founder of the National Bureau for Promoting the General Welfare of the Deaf, now called Action on Hearing Loss. Bonn had what we might assume to be age related deafness. The following account is from his unpublished memoirs (p. 19). The quotation is as found in our library records, however I am unable to say where Bonn’s unpublished memoirs are now, but they are perhaps in the possession of his family. Note his mention of A.J. Story (for whom see both a previous and the next entry)

Before we bought Newbold we stayed for a season at Brighton and as I found my hearing getting worse I asked Miss Hare, a teacher of lip reading, to give me some lessons, she interested me in the cause of the deaf and after examining the question with the help of Mr. Story, head of a big school for the deaf at Stoke-on-Trent, who moved me by his enthusiasm, I promised to devote a certain sum of money to starting a clearing house to look after the interests of the deaf. This was to be called “The National Bureau for the Deaf”.

The first meeting took place at 22 Upper Brook Street, in our dining room, where I took the chair, about 100 people were present, all more or less interested in the deaf.

It would take too long to go into the different vicissitudes of the bureau. For the yearly meetings I was nearly always able to secure good speakers like Lord Fletcher Molton, Lord George Hamilton, Sir Frederick Milner, Lady O’Hagan, some of the Guinnesses (whose name I forget) and who helped to attract the public. Until the war it did very well, I felt I had to be the rallying point, for there were many different interests to be reconciled. I was founder, and remained for sometime President, Chairman all in one, too much for my time, I felt younger men ought to take on the direction, so I resigned. The Bureau is still alive, doing fairly well, the name has been changed to “The National Institute for the Deaf”.

Bonn was the son of B. Bonn of Frankfort-on-Main, born 3rd August 1850. He married Ida Amalie Eltzbacher in 1889 and they had one son and two daughters. A director of the Union of London and Smith’s Banks Ltd, 1900-13 and director of the London and Liverpool Bank of Commerce Ltd, 1886-1913, Bonn died on 28th November 1929.  You can read a short biography of him in the Dictionary of National Biography.

Lord Charnwood and the National Institute for the Deaf, 1924-35

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 10 February 2012

Lord Charnwood

Lord CHARNWOOD (1864-1945), was born Godfrey Rathbone Dawson in Hampshire in 1864.  He was the son of a Hampshire barrister of Quaker stock.  One of his brothers Sir Francis Benson became a noted Shakesperean actor, while the eldest brother was the great arts and Crafts designer, William Benson.

Although the National Bureau for Promoting the General Welfare of the Deaf was formed by Leo Bonn in 1911, it fell into a period of quiet and relative inactivity due partly to the First World War. The need for a national umbrella organisation for all the various deaf related charities and institutes still existed however.  The response came by giving the Bureau a new name and putting it on a more solid basis in finance and administration. In March 1924,  Lord Charnwood became the first President of the re-constituted body, the National Institute for the Deaf (N.I.D.). It was  a post he held until 1935 when it was taken up by the Duke of Montrose.  Charnwood had been introduced to charitable work involving the Deaf by A. J. Story, and became involved with the work of the National College of Teachers of the Deaf as President in 1923. In his address to the Kingsway Hall meeting setting up the N.I.D. on March 19th 1924, Charnwood said,

I have two things that ought to be said about the deaf. Their misfortune is not one that instantly appeals to sympathy. Everyone sympathises with the blind. You do not instantly discover that the deaf are deaf. I confess frankly myself, that my inclination is to be irritated with the person who is deaf. It is not sufficiently appreciated that a person who is deaf from birth or from a very early period of life is really shut out, at any rate from the earliest and most important years of life, from the improvements of mental development which are open to the rest of us, even to the blind.

Though admirable work is done in many parts of the country, there does not exist at this moment anything like a central national organisation charged with looking after the general interests and welfare of the deaf.

Charnwood was a Liberal MP for a few years, then was called to the bar. He was deeply interested in Church affairs. “His own personal views on religion were set out in a very candid study of St John’s gospel, According to St. John (1926), and, in revised form, in A Personal Conviction (1928)” (Oxford DNB). He also wrote a highly acclaimed biography of Abraham Lincoln.

Obituary. Teacher of the Deaf, 1945, 43, 22. (photo between p. 20 and p. 21)

NID Annual Reports

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (entries for all three brothers)

All things bright and beautiful… Fanny Alexander and a disastrous fire

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 27 January 2012

Mrs Cecil Frances (Fanny) ALEXANDER, was also known by her initials C.F.A. (1818-1895)

Wife of the Bishop of Derry, and a hymn writer best known for All Things Bright and Beautiful, Cecil Alexander was born in Dublin in 1818, the daughter of John Humphreys,  a second lieutenant in the Royal Marines (later a major in the Tyrone yeomanry), and his wife Elizabeth Reed, a niece of General Sir Thomas Reed. Attracted with her friend Lady Harriott Howard to the Oxford Movement in the 1840s, the two began writing tracts with Cecil supplying the verse.

Marrying the Rev. William Alexander in 1850 she became deeply involved in parish work in Strabane, County Tyrone. Cecil, widely known as Fanny, was involved with her sister in the work of the Institution for the Deaf and Dumb at Strabane, which became the Derry and Raphoe Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, the proceeds from her early publications helping to fund this work.

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Sadly the Institution was destroyed by fire in 1856, and “the poor children, terrified by the flames, ran into shelter from which there was no escape, and several of them lost their lives” (obituary). The fire started at night and was discovered at 2 am on the 7th of May 1856. Six children were killed and their bodies badly burnt. At the time the Master of the school was Mr (later Rev.) George A.W. Downing, who later went on to teach in London and Manchester. Fanny’s father Major Humphreys presided over an investigation that followed the inquest, but no fault could be attributed to any individual.

Fanny wrote a poem about the fire, and she also wrote The Twin Mutes; Taught and Untaught, a moral fable, to raise funds to build an infant school for the deaf and dumb in Manchester, and the poem was published by Dr. Stainer. Unfortunately we do not have any records from the Derry Diocese Deaf and Dumb Institution as it seems to have been termed.

Among her lyrics were the famous ‘Once on royal David’s City’, and ‘There is a Green Hill far away’, see this link http://www.cyberhymnal.org/bio/a/l/e/alexander_cfh.htm

Harron, Michael, fires and fire fighting in Strabane during the eighteenth and ninteenth centuries.

Deaf history snippets.  British Deaf News, 1997, Nov, 9.

Memorial plaque

Obituary. Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1896, 4, 155-56.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Then and Now

A 19th century Deaf civil servant

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 20 January 2012

BATHER, Arthur Henry (1829-92)

Bather was the Honorary Secretary of the Royal Association in Aid of the Deaf and Dumb. Deafened by scarlet fever at the age of 5, Bather, who was a son of the Recorder of Shrewsbury and nephew of the Archdeacon, was a pupil of Charles Bingham, first at the Manchester Institution, then at his private school in Rugby. Bather gave a description of his school life to the famous Royal Commission  on the Condition of the Blind, the Deaf and the Dumb (1889), where he says

“As I had, fortunately, been taught to read before I came to school, I was able to continue in the grammatical use of language, and I learnt signs, as it were, only for amusement and as a ready means of communication with my schoolfellows, to most of whom a sentence at length would have been unintelligible” (see commission report p.694)

After reading law at a conveyancer’s chambers in London, he was appointed as a clerk in the office of the Accountant-General for the Navy in 1847. In 1854, at the start of the Crimean War he was placed in charge of the branch of this department dealing with claims for transport ships, an appointment which provoked an attack by a shipping company owner who assumed he would not be able to discharge his job. Defended by the First Sea Lord, the man later apologized and said “the claims of the company had never before been so expeditiously and satisfactorily discharged as they had been under Mr Bather’s administration.”

Bather remained in the Accountant-General’s office until 1890, only being denied the top job by his deafness. He held the post of honorary secretary and treasurer of the Royal Association in Aid of the Deaf and Dumb, of which he was a principal founder and supporter, for nearly 40 years. His brother-in-law Sir A.W.Blomfield was the architect of the church for the Deaf he helped build, St. Saviour’s in Oxford St. (sadly knocked down before the war), and his wife was a daughter of the Bishop of London. According the his obituary, it was no secret that the essays published by Bingham of pupils at the Manchester School, were principally the work of Arthur Bather.  His son Francis Bather FRS became a distinguished palaeontologist at the Natural History Museum.

Bather was neutral regarding Deaf education because of his RAADD position, declaring to the Royal Commission,

“The association is for the benefit of all. I believe our missionaries would say that those taught on the oral system find as great need as any others for help and interpretation with employers of labour and in the business of life, and that they are often utterly isolated and dreary until they have learnt the manual alphabet and signs, and thereby get into free communication with other deaf and dumb persons – the free communication with strangers among hearing people being in fact never yet attained.” (commission report p.695)

A Brief History of the RAD by Arthur Dimmock

Essays by the pupils at the College of the Deaf and Dumb, Rugby, Warwickshire; (with an introduction by H.B.Bingham [principal of the college]). London, Longman, Manchester, T.Sowler, Simms & Dinham, and C.Ambery, Birmingham, B.Hall, and Wrightson & Webb, (and) Rugby, J.C.Crossley, 1845.

Obituary (quoted from the Times). Deaf Chronicle, 1892, 1(11), 126-127.

Obituary. Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1892, 3, 123-27.

Report of the Royal commission on the blind, the deaf and dumb, &c., of the United Kingdom 1889.

WOODFORD, D.E. Arthur Henry Bather, 1829-1892. British Deaf History Society, 2002. RNID Library location: C7316 (REF).fsport

A founder of the National Deaf and Dumb Society

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 13 January 2012

James Paul,  (1848-1918) was born in Cardross in Dumbartonshire. As was so common until comparatively recent times, his deafness was a result of Scarlet Fever when he was five. At the age of 8 or 9 (the accounts differ) he became a pupil at the Glasgow Institution for the Deaf. Inspired by Kinniburgh’s work in Edinburgh, the Glasgow Society for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb had been founded at a public meeting on 14th January 1819.  He was a student there for seven years and the Principal Duncan Anderson said he was “one of the brightest of a clever band of scholars” (see his Obituary). It was common in the 19th and 20th centuries for Deaf children to be placed as apprentices or workers in trades wherever possible, with the idea of making them self reliant and Paul was apprenticed to a bookbinder. His talents were not satisfied by this however and he became involved in the Deaf community as an organiser and leader, and one way he expressed this was by founding the National Deaf and Dumb Society in 1879.

Religious work was central to many of the 19th century Deaf organisations, and the National Deaf and Dumb Society had the aim “to plant and maintain Missions and provide Missionaries to the Deaf and Dumb.” Although the society seems to got off to a good start, with a committee in 1882 including George Healey of Liverpool ( Missioner to the Deaf, at the Liverpool Adult Deaf and Dumb Benevolent Society from its inception in 1864, he was also Hon. Treasurer to the BDDA ), the Rev. Rhind (see a previous post) and the Rev. W. Stainer (chaplain to the Royal Association in aid of the Deaf and Dumb, St Saviour’s, Oxford Street and brother of the composer), after founding missions at Stockton-on-Tees and Ayrshire, it seems to have eventually folded, but I am not sure exactly when (if you have that information do let us know and we will update this).

Paul became superintendent of the Ayrshire Mission to the Deaf and Dumb upon its foundation in 1881 and through his efforts they obtained a building as their headquarters in 1894. They sheltered and trained yound Deaf women, but it was, accoding to his obituary,  “to the spiritual side of his work that he attached the greatest importance.” He spent the remainder of his life at the Ayrshire Mission, and his son was a missioner at the Victoria Mission to the Deaf and Dumb on Melbourne.

James Paul from The British Deaf Mute, 1895

British Deaf-Mute, 1895, 5, 42-43. (photo)

Semi-Jubilee celebration of the Ayrshire Mission: presentation to the Missioner. British Deaf Times, 1906, 3(29), 113-116.

Obituary. British Deaf Times, 1918, 15, 64.

National Deaf and Dumb Society, Annual report 1882-3 .

Deaf artist William Agnew

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 20 December 2011

AGNEW, William (1846-1914)

Educated at the Glasgow Institution for the Deaf and Dumb by Duncan Anderson (headmaster there from 1836 until his retirement in 1869), Agnew was an amateur artist who painted series of pictures showing Queen Victoria using finger spelling to communicate with a deaf woman on the Isle of Wight. The five paintings (none of which now exists) are the “Royal Condescension” paintings of 1883, 1889 and 1900 (for the differences between them, see Britain’s deaf heritage), “true Nobility” (1897) and “Post Office, Whippingham, I.O.W.”

Much of the following is from the British Deaf-Mute article of 1892. Agnew left school to become a bookbinder, and after nine year went to work for the ‘semi-mute’ printer Mr A.F. Strathern. In about 1872 Agnew went to work for ‘Messrs Moncrief, Barr, Paterson, and Co., an eminent firm of writers in Glasgow.’ He became involved in work to gather funds for an Institute for adult Deaf in Glasgow and West Scotland, and the Queen gave her name as a patron and a £50 donation. In 1891 a Grand Bazaar raised £6,000 and a site for the Institute was purchased for £4,500.

Agnew was a strong opponant of the oral system, “and most certainly he himself is a standing proof of how the sign-manual system can educate a man.”

Agnew died on 21st December 1914.

The picture, which was exhibited at the Edinburgh Exhibition of 1890, has the following details at the bottom :

“Royal Condescension, from the original painting by , 36″ by 24″, by William Agnew. This will doubtless prove a picture of historical interest. Some years ago a Deaf and Dumb Woman namned Mrs Tuffield resided with her parents, who had charge of the Post Office at Osborne, Isle of Wight, 1874. Her maiden name was Bective Groves, and on account of her husband’s cruelty, she had been obliged to leave him. In her usual kind of way Her Majesty the Queen was in the habit of visiting this Deaf Mute, and took great pleasure in trying to lighten her sorrow by talking to her by means of the Finger Alphabet. Her Majesty lately corroborated this story, and at the same time mentioned that she is not now so proficient in the Silent Language.”

[Click onto the picture to see it at a larger size]

The picture has Agnew’s signature at the bottom left and the date 1889.

Mr. Wm Agnew. British Deaf-Mute and Deaf Chronicle, 1892, 2(14),  19. (NB. RNID Library copy shelved under The Deaf Chronicle.)

Mr. William Agnew. British Deaf Monthly, 1902, 11(131), 533-534. (photo)

Margate school for the Deaf. Silent World, 1952, Sep, 104-07. (p. 106 refers to Queen Victoria’s interest in the school and the portrait of her at the ex-pupil’s bedside)

JACKSON, P. Britain’s deaf heritage. Pentland Press, 1990. pp.148-150


Editor, journalist, missioner – Ernest J.D. Abraham

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 16 December 2011

ABRAHAM, Ernest J.D. (1867-1940) (aka Tsenre Maharbra and Lucian V. Ralph as pen-names)

Abraham, who was a missioner to the deaf, lost his father Jonah, described as a “ship carpenter” in the 1871 census, when he was fourteen, to an accident.  However we now know that he did not die but received a blow on the head that changed his personality so that he became violent (see ‘Additional Information below).  Born in Greenwich in 1867*, Ernest was in a variety of jobs in the next few years, including one as an errand boy (see 1881 census), but was it seems informally ‘adopted’ by the Rev. John Jennings who was a deaf mute minister who began a relationship with Ernest’s mother.  In fact in the 1881 census Ernest’s widowed mother Sarah was shown as working as a domestic servant at the same address as Jennings, 5 Harcourt Road, Deptford, though from family information we can say they were co-habiting (Class: RG11; Piece: 714; Folio: 115; Page: 23).  These are the reasons he was to say his father had died.

Abraham’s mother had learnt to sign as her sister was deaf, and the children all learnt from her, and we must suppose, the Rev. Jennings.  Ernest was sent to a private college to get an education.  Jennings had founded both the South London Gospel Mission to the Deaf and Dumb, and a free school for deaf mute children in South London.  Abraham assisted him in the school, taking over when Jennings died in 1884 at the behest of the local Deaf; he was elected minister to the South London Gospel Mission, 1885; he edited The Deaf and Dumb World, which became The Deaf Mute World in 1887, then folded due to lack of money and Abraham’s ill-health.  He was appointed to the staff of the Manchester Society for Promoting the Spiritual and Temporal welfare of the Deaf and Dumb in March 1887 (his branch became the Bolton Mission to the Deaf). Marrying on 17th October 1891, Abraham then edited The Deaf Chronicle, which became The British Deaf-Mute in 1892.  He started and edited The Bolton Review in 1897.  Having previously (1892) applied for a post as missioner and been rejected, Abraham was eventually given a job with the Adult Deaf and Dumb Mission of Victoria and emigrated to Australia in 1901.  He hoped that the climate would help his health which was sometimes poor.  In 1903 in Australia he raised funds to build a  church and institute, and to found farm and home for aged and infirm deaf mutes in Victoria.  Abraham, although not himself Deaf, was thoroughly immersed in Deaf culture, and was a founder member of the Institute of Missionaries to the Deaf, the Guild of St John Association of Deaf Mutes, the British Deaf Mute Bureau.  In the 1880s and 1890s there was a good deal of rivalry between him and the Rev. Gilby.

In his unpublished memoirs, Gilby says of Ernest that “He wore clericals and lemon kid gloves with fur collar and cuffs; he was only about 20! […] he was a born advertiser, eaten up with the modern spirit.  And so his magazine beat mine to a frazzle.”Ernest JD Abraham

Gilby was graceful about his old enemy and says they had agreed to bury the hatchet, but clearly there was some lingering resentment.


I am grateful to Fiona Subotsky, a relative of Ernest’s, for the information below.  I have corrected a few things in the text above as a result.


More on Ernest Abraham, by Fiona Subotsky

According to my late aunt Freda Powell’s written account, Sarah Theodosia Clark (her grandmother and my great-grandmother) was born on 24 January 1848 as one of three children of Thomas and Sarah Clark, née Sutton, who owned a pork butcher’s shop in part of Tooley Street (then known as Thornton Street), Bermondsey, London. ‘When she was a child her younger sister Eleanor, of whom she was very fond contracted a childish ailment which left her deaf and dumb. Together they learned the deaf and dumb language so that they could still do things together.’ Her father died, and her mother married again – a Mr Mason, and had further children. His business went downhill, and as a result ‘servants had to be let go, Eleanor was apprenticed to a tailor and Sarah took over the running of the house’ (which by this time was in Greenwich). In the 1861 census, Eleanor is noted as ‘born deaf and dumb’. In the 1881 census, still with the Masons, Eleanor is noted as a dressmaker and ‘deaf and dumb from birth’.

Sarah made the acquaintance of Josiah Samuel Abraham, who had a good job as a ship’s carpenter in the local John Brown’s Shipyard, and they married on 9 September 1866. The children were Ernest Douglas (b. 1867 ), Stella Theodosia (b. 1868), Thomas Edward (b. 1871), Eleanor Maria (b. 1873, my grandmother) and Edward Alfred (b. 1875). Unfortunately after a strike the shipyard removed its business to the Clyde and Josiah had to work as a foreman in the guano factory. There he fell (probably pushed) from a ladder and sustained a severe head injury, which required an operation at the Greenwich Seamen’s Hospital. He was nursed by Sarah as the hospital was really only meant for seamen. When Josiah returned home he was suspicious of his wife and violent, which included hanging Ernest out of the window by his feet ‘with threat to let him drop if they all did not do exactly as he wanted’. ‘It took four male attendants to subdue him’ and he was admitted to Maidstone lunatic asylum. Freda then notes ‘My grandmother was very ill with brain fever for some time and by the time she recovered and collected her children from various relatives, Josiah Abraham was dead’.

Recent family research supports much but not all of this story. There is a record of Josiah’s admission to the Seamen’s Hospital and he was admitted to Maidstone Hospital in 1877. He did not die until 1918 by which time he had been transferred to Bexley Asylum.

Freda continues that Sarah gained training as a District Nurse and Midwife and because of her knowledge of the deaf and dumb language was recommended as a nurse for John Jennings, a Nonconformist missionary who had throat cancer. Sarah ‘found in him a wonderful person, kindly and gentle with a great heart’. ‘Their [necessarily common-law] marriage was very happy and he became a loving father to all of Sarah’s children, the five Abrahams as well as the three William [b. 1879], Mabel [b. 1882], and Beatrice [b. 1884] that Sarah bore to him.’ All the children learned the deaf and dumb language and my grandmother Eleanor remembered teaching the deaf children’s Sunday school class to read and write. She also recalled staying with her aunt Eleanor Clark ‘who although deaf and dumb, had a successful tailoring business in Greenwich, making uniforms for the officers and cadets of the Greenwich Naval College’.

Ernest was sent to a private school and then theological college, but did not complete training as John Jennings died in 1884 and his family disputed the will. In the 1891 census, Ernest, now in Bolton, has with him his siblings Stella and Edward Abraham, and half-sister Beatrice Jennings. The rest of the family is with Sarah Jennings in Dulwich Road, Lambeth, where she is working as a laundress.

By 1901, Ernest is in Bolton with his wife and 2 children, while elsewhere in Bolton is his mother Sarah Jennings as a retired monthly nurse, with Stella Abraham, and Mabel and Beatrice Jennings. Next door is Thomas Abraham with his wife and 2 children.

Later the same year Ernest Abraham and his family sailed for Australia on the SS Austral. They were joined some years later by Thomas, Stella and Mabel with their families, and there are many descendants in Australia, some of whom altered the surname to Braham.

We are grateful to Fiona for permission to use this information and for the picture of Ernest’s mother, Sarah Theodosia Clark/Abraham/Jennings Sarah Clark Abraham Jennings

*See the Free BMD web pages: Births, June 1867, Abraham, Ernest Josiah D., Greenwich 1d 743

[Article updated 9/6/2015]

ABRAHAM, E. A world of deaf and dumb, or a land with 1,000,000 deaf-mute inhabitants. Contains short account of the Bolton, Bury and Rochdale Branch of the Manchester Adult Deaf & Dumb Society. 1888.

Marriage. Deaf Chronicle, 1891, 1(2),

British Deaf Monthly, 1901, 10, p. 193 (photo with wife and children)

Resignation of the Bolton missioner. British Deaf Monthly, 1901, 10(114) p.121; 10(116), 169.

FLYNN, J.W. No longer by gaslight: the first 100 years of the Adult Deaf Society of Victoria. Adult Deaf Society of Victoria, 1984., particulary p.163-5

FIRTH, G.C. Chosen vessels. The author, 1989. pp. 22-23.

GILBY, Rev. F.W.G, Seventy four years among the Deaf and Dumb.

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

Oak Lodge School 1905-

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 9 December 2011

OAK LODGE SCHOOL, Wandsworth (1905- )

Secondary school for deaf children in Nightingale Lane, Clapham.

From the information card in the historical collection we read the following:

“This LCC School was with Ackmar Road, Fulham, visited by Queen Elizabeth on Wednesday November 20th 1945. It is almost unique in being next door to the Jew’s school (2 Schools next to each other!) Its Dressmaking Dept made one of the King George Coronation Dresses and one for Mrs Lloyd George and under its present head Miss Lucy, it is noted for its excellence of its folk dances. Previously was under a Yorkshire Deaf Teacher, Miss A.M. Hopson and since its inception in 1905 and up to the 1939-45 war, more than 1000 girls passed through its doors.”

Girls making pastry

During the Second World War the school was evacuated to the Handborough area of Oxfordshire.  It was one of the LCC show schools and visited by Overseas Conferences of Teachers etc. The school is still going strong today.


Oak Lodge School. Magazine (BATOD), 1998, Jan, 29.

STUBBS, H. Hearing aid built in. Education, 1968, 131, 607.

Oak Lodge Wandsworth May 1921