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Scottish Deaf Day Schools

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 14 May 2020

Scottish Deaf Day Schools

1883 Greenock

“In the 1880s and previous there was a Deaf School attached to the Glebe School under Misses Galbraith and Fisher.”

1885 Dundee (see a previous blog entry)

1886 Govan

Then came the Elementary Education (Blind and Deaf Children) Act 1893 after which schools had to be registered and checked.

1894 Paisley

1896 Ayr

1904 Aberdeen

1910 Glasgow, Renfrew Street Special Hard of Hearing School

1911 Hamilton

Liverpool School for the Deaf and Dumb

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 14 May 2020


Originally known as The School for the Deaf and Dumb, established in Liverpool in 1825, in 1839 Oxford Street, Liverpool, premises were bought. In 1927 the name changed to Liverpool School for the Deaf and it moved to Lancaster Road, Birkdale. It became then the Liverpool School for the Partially Deaf (LSPD) in 1948 under the headship of Frank Denmark. He retired in 1956 and Mr Furness took over. There were further name changes, in 1957 to the  School for the Partially Hearing, Birkdale (SPHB), then in 1973 to Birkdale School for Hearing Impaired Children. The school closed on 23rd July 2003.

Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1889, 2, 69-79.

The centenary of the Liverpool School for the Deaf and Dumb, 1825-1925: a brief history of the school. Deaf Quarterly News, 1925 (80), 2-5; (81), 2-3. (photo)

Prospectus 1936 B11854 [in Liverpool archive box]

Annual reports 1825-1828, 1842-1854, 1856-1858, 1861-1872, 1877, 1884, 1909-1912, 1922-1927, 1929-1934, 1936, 1937, 1939, 1943, 1944, 1946, 1947, 1973-4

“The Constitution of the Deaf and Dumb” – William B. Smith, & James Hawkins – a Reader & an Author

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 3 February 2017

Three headmasters 1907William Barnes Smith (1840-1927) was a younger brother of the Rev. Samuel Smith, first vicar of St. Saviour’s, and missioner to the Deaf of London.  He was born in Leicestershire, and spent 54 years teaching up to his retirement in 1908.  His older brother was the Rev. Samuel Smith, of St. Saviour’s London.  William trained under Charles Baker of Doncaster, then worked under Andrew Patterson at Manchester before spending 12 years with Dr. Buxton at Liverpool.  In 1873 he was appointed headmaster of the Bristol Institution (see obituary).  He also acted as Secretary to the Bristol Mission for the Deaf after retirement.  His son Alfred G. Smith trained at the Fitzroy Square Training College, then became headmaster of the Osborne Street  School for the Deaf, Hull (Teacher of the Deaf, 1915, vol. 13, p. 27).

On the 20th of June, 1864, William B. Smith bought a copy of The physical, Moral, and Intellectual Constitution of the Deaf and Dumb: with some practical and general remarks concerning their education.  I know this as he wrote that in ink on the title page, pencilling ‘Liverpool’ underneath.  Later, he wrote his name and address inside the front cover – 5 Rokeby Avenue, Bristol .  He later gave the book to Selwyn Oxley.  This book, which had been published in London in 1863, was written by James Hawkins (1830- after 1891).  Hawkins was born in Wolvercut, Wolvercott, or Wolvercote, Oxfordshire, in about 1830.  I do not know how he came to become a teacher of the deaf (perhaps a thorough search of various surviving records might illuminate that), but by the 1851 census he was an assistant teacher at the Old Kent Road Asylum, along with George Banton, (b.ca. 1812), Edward J Chidley (b. 1819), Edward Buxton (b.ca. 1826), William Stainer (b. 1828), Charles Toy (b.ca. 1832), Alfred Large (b.ca.1835), and Emma Rayment (b.ca.  1829).

The present crude state of all physiological, as well as pathological science, necessarily renders very conjectural any remarks upon the origo mali, or the phenomena of disease.  The fall of Adam is one of the most favourite of the theories which are nursed by Divines and others, in an excess of Hutchinsonian zeal; and to this ‘excellent foppery of the world,’ as Shakespeare has it, they like to attribute every bodily affliction and mental evil that can happen to mankind.  Argumentative reasoning, however (of this kind especially), shows ‘an indiscreet zeal about things wherein religion is not concerned,’ as weak as it is undoubtedly fallacious, and affords them but a poor ‘coigne of vantage;’ for the majority of our inborn  and acquired calamities are ofttimes none other than the ‘surfeit of our own behaviour,’ the spontaneous results of injury done to the functions of the body, by throwing its natural and complex organization out of gear, and not, as many would make us believe, always direct constitutional imprints of the Creator’s anger on his creatures. (Hawkins, 1863, Preface, p.iii-iv).

Hawkins must have had a good education.  In his preface alone he mentions Paley and Malthus, as well as quoting Ovid and, perhaps ingenuously, “no cormorant for fame,” Peter Pindar.  The names of more classical authors are dropped in when opportunity allows.  He cites Niebuhr, who

called the office of the schoolmaster one of the most honourable occupations of life.  He could well have added, and one in which a thorough manliness of character is also most essential; for there is not one where all the manly virtues are more called into exercise.  Moral courage, unsullied reputation and integrity, sound religious principles, firmness of purpose and gentleness of demeanour ought ever to be his most distinguishing traits, if he aspire to any degree of eminence in his profession. (ibid, p.98)

It is all the more poignant then, that for some reason, by 1871, when he was living in Greenwich with Charles Henry James, Harbour Master at the Port of London, he was ‘unemployed’, and ‘formerly Assistant Teacher to the Deaf & D. Institute’.  I wonder what caused him to be dismissed.  Did his book upset people?  It would seem unlikely that a book published eight years earlier might cause his dismissal.  Is it possible he was tutoring Ellen James, who was deaf, though by then aged 25?  In the 1881 census he was a ‘wholesale stationer’ visiting the James family.  It looks as if something or someone destroyed his life as a teacher.  If you discover more about James Hawkins, who does not seem to have married, and who I cannot find after the 1891 census when he was a visitor in St. Pancras, please comment.

Here is a page from the text.  Click to enlarge.Hawkins 2


Obituary, Mr. W.B. Smith, The Teacher of the Deaf, 1927, vol. 25 p.35


Hawkins, James, The physical, Moral, and Intellectual Constitution of the Deaf and Dumb: with some practical and general remarks concerning their education. 1863, Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, & Green, London

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 758; Folio: 34; Page: 31; GSU roll: 824727

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 1509; Folio: 41; Page: 5; GSU roll: 1341364

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 139; Folio: 71; Page: 1; GSU roll: 6095249

*”This is the excellent foppery of the world that when we are sick in fortune—often the surfeit of our own behavior—we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars, as if we were villains by necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion, knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical predominance, drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforced obedience of planetary influence, and all that we are evil in by a divine thrusting-on.” Edmund in King Lear.

An old picture of the Old Kent Road Asylum – Margate branch

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 29 April 2014

This photo of a picture shows the Old Kent Road Deaf Asylum’s Margate branch, around the time that it opened in 1862.  Many thanks to @DeafHeritageUK for pointing that out to us.  It appears in 1917 in the Margate magazine in a short history of the school.  It first appeared in Samuel Smith’s The Deaf and Dumb Magazine, for March 1879 (p.41 of an article covering p.40-3).  It had been for hundreds of years the Workhouse, until a new Union Workhouse opened in Thanet in 1830.  It then became a boarding school run by Mr. Cuthill, as ‘St. John’s College’, then a seaside holiday home for workers of Price’s Patent Candle Factory.

Read more on Deaf History at the Deaf Heritage website.

Old Kent Road 001

Schools or Institutions for Deaf Pupils in 1897

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 3 August 2012

This week, lacking time for too much depth, we merely offer what we hope will be useful for those interested in the history of Deaf education in the British Isles, namely a list of educational establishments in 1897 from Silent Messenger. We cannot be sure that there were not more private schools that were not included on this list. Click onto the images for a viewable size.

Tabular statement of British schools for the deaf and dumb, 1897-98. Silent Messenger, 1898, 1(6), 90-93.

See also-

Historical table of the institutions and schools of the United Kingdom, 1900, and, School Board day schools or day classes, 1900.  In: FARRAR, A. Arnold on the education of  the deaf.  Francis Carter, 1901. pp. 86-89. (also gives total number of deaf pupils in the UK in 1900)

Historical table of residential institutions and schools of the United Kingdom, 1922.  In: FARRAR, A. Arnold on the education of the deaf.  2nd ed. National College of Teachers of the Deaf, 1923.  pp. 90-91. (with footnote giving locations and foundation dates of local education authority day schools).

General report on Schools for the Blind & Deaf, 1900.  Government Collection [Contains a list of schools from 1900]

Miss E. Carter’s Deaf School, Church Gate, Leicester

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 8 June 2012

Miss E. Carter‘s School at Church Gate, Leicester, was not as I first said here, comparatively short lived. It was started as early as 1884, with a deaf class in the local Education Board School in Milton Street, and fell under the auspices of the Leicester Education Committee, as we see from the Deaf Handbook compiled by the National Bureau for Promoting the General Welfare of the Deaf (1913, p.3).  In 1888, according to the British History Online website (see link above), another class was started at a school in Elbow Lane.   In 1894 a school in Archdeacon Lane became dedicated to the education of the deaf.  In 1903 the school moved to Short Street, in space hired from the Friends’ Adult School.  Exactly when after that the school moved to Church Gate, I cannot be sure, but suppose it was not long after.In 1913 the school held up to thirty pupils from the age of five, and they were taught with the Oral method. Miss Carter was a member of the National Association of Teachers of the Deaf – and she gave a paper at a National Congress in 1913, on the education of deaf girls.  I have struggled to find out more about her, like her first name, but I have discovered from Selwyn Oxley’s card index, that when she retired, Miss A. Metcalf from Tottenham was appointed, and the school closed at Church Gate, moving to a building called ‘Stoneleigh,’  in Stoneygate Road,* then on the outskirts of the town, in 1927.  It closed in the 1980s.

In the 1920s the Leicester Deaf Missioner was Leslie Edwards.  I looked  through a number of the mission reports, expecting to see mention of the school, but there was nothing that jumped out.

As well as local authority schools, there were quite a few small private schools across the UK in the 19th and early 20th centuries which obviously filled a need.  Some managed to thrive like Mary Hare’s, but eventually most of them would close when the leading teacher(s) retired.   These photos are from the Oxley collection so date from some time from approximately 1914 to the mid or late 1920s.

Click onto the pictures for a larger size.

Blog re-written 15/9/2017

UPDATE: 9/9/2019

The greater part of records concerning the Stoneleigh School for Deaf Children are held by the Record Office of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, while there are also some at the National Archives at Kew: although those at Kew cover the years 1935-1942. The National Archives’ reference is ED 32/968: no indication of what the material consists of was given on their catalogue.

The Record Office of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland has the Logbook for the Deaf School for the years 1955-1981 (reference DE 2275/3), the admissions register for the years 1932-1969 (DE 2275/8), the Summary Register (Deaf) for the period September 1959 to July 1964 (DE 2275/12) and the subsequent volume covering September 1964 to July 1969 (DE 2275/13).

These records are partially closed under the Data Protection Act, and you would need to contact the Record Office to discuss access; you will be able to see information relating to you, if you attended the school, but there will be restrictions on the information regarding other people you can see. Their email address is recordoffice@leics.gov.uk and their website is http://www.recordoffice.org.uk/.

*Stoneygate Street is a tautologous name, as ‘gate’ is Danish for ‘street’ and is a loan word from the time of Scandinavian settlement!

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)



The Reverend William Stainer, teacher of the Deaf

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 9 March 2012

STAINER, William (1828-98)

William Stainer was an elder brother of the famous composer, Sir John Stainer, who wrote the music to Good King Wenceslas among other more notable compositions. Their father William Stainer (1802–1867) was a schoolmaster at the parish school of St Thomas’s, Southwark, and his wife, Ann Collier (1803–1884), the descendant of an old Huguenot family which had settled in Spitalfields (see Dibble).  William helped his father in the school, teaching boys only a little younger than himself. He also attended lectures of Dr. Leeson at St. Thomas’ Hospital, before becoming a student at the Church of England’s ‘National Society for Promoting Religious Education’. In 1842 aged only 14, he began teaching deaf children at the Old Kent Road School (the London Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb, Old Kent Road).

Having gained experience teaching all age groups, in 1854 he left to became the Superintendent of the Adult Deaf and Dumb Society, Manchester. According to his biographical entry in the Deaf and Dumb Times,

he had not been long at work before he became aware that besides the exclusion of young children from the school caused everywhere by the minimum age for admission being fixed too high, the evil was especially magnified in the manufacturing populations of the north, where young mothers were so commonly called to leave there children and work all day long in the various processes of the cotton manufacture. The evil had struck other observers before him, but no one had grappled with it. He did so. He took council with influential persons; stirred up general interest in the subject; travelled over and canvassed the county; got up a great bazaar held at the Free Trade Hall in 1859, at which £7,000 were realised in five days, and this sum being augmented to £12,000 by numerous donations, the Manchester Infant School was started, built, and opened, and for the first seven years was conducted by Mr. Stainer himself.

Wishing to extend his work to the adult deaf, Stainer made representations to the first Bishop of Manchester, James Prince Lee for specially ordained priests to perform this ministry, but Lee refused. “Lee was stubborn, domineering and opinionated, and was greatly disliked for his personal dictatorial style” (see here). Not to be put off, Stainer went to study at St.Mary’s Hall, Oxford, then Salisbury Diocesan College, finally being ordained in 1872 by the Bishop of London, becoming the second chaplain to the Royal Association in aid of the Deaf and Dumb, at St Saviour’s, Oxford Street after the Re. Samuel Smith. He did not return to minister in Manchester, but was sent to the East End, something that coincided with the Elementary Education Act of 1870 and the realization that many uneducated children were deaf (Deaf and Dumb Times). Meeting with the School Board’s chairman Sir Charles Reed, Stainer undertook to start teaching them, holding the first class of five pupils on 14th of September 1874. The numbers increased to 400 pupils under the Metropolitan School Board by 1889, and 600 by 1898. They then established what became known as Stainer Homes to accommodate the children who lived some distance from the schools. A small fee was charged for board but other care was free.

In 1880 Stainer was blinded in one eye when closing some shutters and an iron bar fell on him.

Stainer gave generously, often from his own resources. He finally retired in 1896 after 22 years. He was a fluent signer and originally used sign language to teach, but “became more and more interested in the oral methodology” (Woodford).  He attended the (infamous) Milan Conference in some capacity, perhaps as an observer. The Stainer Homes were not to survive him and were sometimes poorly managed, finally being condemned by a Schools Board report in May 1898. [We may write about them in a future post].  Stainer died in 1898 and was buried in Highgate Cemerery.

Among other achievements we are told that he was one of the original promoters of the Conference of Headmasters, a promoter of The Quarterly Review of Deaf Mute Education, and “with Dr.Elliott, he was, in July 1885, founder of the College of Teachers, of which his brother, Sir John Stainer, then organist of St.Paul’s, was the first President.” Visiting the U.S.A. in 1887 he received an L.H.D. from Columbia College, Washington, an he was an Associate of the Training College, Ealing, and a Fellow of the Association for Oral Instruction, Fitzroy Square.

The Rev. Dr. Wm. Stainer. Deaf and Dumb Times, 1889, 1, 4-5. (photo)

Jeremy Dibble, ‘Stainer, Sir John (1840–1901)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/36234, accessed 24 Feb 2012]

Obituary. British Deaf Monthly, 1898, 7, 140-141. (photo)

Obituary. Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1898, 6, 75-79.

Obituary. The Silent Messenger, 1898, No.5 Vol 1 (New Series) May, p.69-7-

WOODFORD, D.E. The rise and fall of the Stainer’s Homes. Deaf History Journal, 1999, 3(2), 27-38.

Summery, The Deaf and Dumb Magazine, 1880, Vol.8 No. 87 p.46.

[Page updated 6/2/2015]

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

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