LCC School for Deaf and Dumb Boys, Anerley, London
The residential School for the Deaf and Dumb Boys, at Versailles Road, Anerley, was officially opened in May 1903 by the London School Board, shortly before the Board was abolished and its responsibilities taken over by the London County Council.
A report at the time described the new establishment as follows:
The school buildings consist of class rooms, workshops, and four homes. There are two large asphalt playgrounds that many a public school might envy, and besides these there is a large cricket ground, and a garden where the boys cultivate their own plots,. The little kingdom within a kingdom consists of nine masters, sixty boarders, twenty day boarders, and four foster mothers, all under the charge of Mr. and Mrs. J. 0. White. The boys are taken at the age of thirteen for three years, their parents contributing from one to five shillings a week towards their maintenance, according to their means, while the Government grant is five guineas a year for each child.
In the Central block is the assembly hall, with the class rooms opening into it. It is a lofty and spacious hall, with huge German stoves at either end, and overhead hang rope ladders, trapezes, rings and other gymnastic apparatus, ready to be lowered when book work is over. The little classrooms look trim and orderly, each with its allotted space for desk and form. One misses the old familiar blackboard, whose place is taken by large slates affixed to the walls. A peep into a teacher's room reveals a case full of what look like school books, certainly the uninitiated would never think they had any particular value. Yet this is only collection of the kind in the kingdom. It consists of something like 2,000 volumes dealing with the teaching of the deaf, in half-a-dozen languages, the oldest volumes dating from the 16th century. Prominent among them is a standard work by Henry Baker, F.R.S., son-in-law of Daniel Defoe, with pages of notes and diagrams in the author's small, clear handwriting, in an excellent state of preservation. It goes without saying that this unique collection is well insured. It belongs to the National Association of Teachers of the Deaf, and is known as the Arnold library.
Across the courtyard are workshops, destined to be a source of income to the institution in the near future. In the carpenter's shop are ranged eight double benches with tool racks alongside, and here 16 boys are being taught the mysteries of the craft by two practical men. Their first business is to make absolutely accurate drawings, and when they have learned to do that, there is not much waste of wood. A carved corner table made by two of the boys is quite a work of art. Some very clean specimens of joinery work done with the saw only were shown to a representative, and in cutting and carving picture frames the youngsters can give points already to many a man in the trade. The metal work section is not yet quite organised, but shoemaking and tailoring are in full swing, and, of course, the lads do all the repairs for the school. After the workshops come the homes, which are four in number and are named after prominent members of the School Board — Lawrence, Reay, Stanley, and Moberly. Each has its dining-room communicating by a window with the kitchen, and a play-room with slates for drawing, in which the boys may give play to their imagination. Some of them have never seen the sea in their lives, yet there are tolerably correct crayon pictures of ships in full sail, lifeboats in stormy seas, and so on. Upstairs are three little bedrooms, each with its five neat little iron bedsteads and chair cupboards. The situation of the teacher's room is regarded as a masterpiece of strategy. Through two windows and his glass door he can see right into all three rooms. Each home is in charge of a foster mother, who looks after the cooking and mending, and any medicine that may be required — there has been no doctor in the place since Dec. 1. The masters, nine in number, have comfortable quarters of their own. The school is an experiment, and a bold one, but Mr. White has no doubt whatever of its success, and he has had about 12 years' experience of work among deaf mutes in all parts of the country, from Edinburgh to Margate.
The School site is shown on the 1910 map below.
The home closed in 1957 and the boys were transferred to the Oak Lodge School at Wandsworth Common. previously used just for girls.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.
- London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road, London EC1R OHB. (The Ancestry website also has LMA records relating to workhouses and other institutions — more details.)
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- Pritchard, D.G., Education and the Handicapped 1760-1960 (1963, Routledge & Kegan Paul)
- Watson, J, Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb (1809)
- Watson, Thomas J., A History of Deaf Education in Scotland 1760-1939 (Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of Edinburgh, 1949)
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.