LCC School for Blind Girls, West Norwood, London, London
In May 1900, the London School Board purchased Elm Court, a large private house with an extensive garden and orchard, on Elmcourt Road, West Norwood (or Tulse Hill). On 2 June 1902, after the necessary alterations had been made, the premises were opened as a residential home/school for blind girls aged from 12 to 16 years. Initially, there were twenty girls resident, plus two or three day pupils, but the accommodation for boarders was eventually increased to about forty-five. At the outset, the property's former billiard room and coach-house were used as school rooms, until arrangements could be made for the girls to attend a blind day centre.
One of the home's aims was to fit the girls for earning their own living and for half of the week, they received technical teaching. Chair caning and basket work were taught by a mechanic, and knitting, sewing, wool rug-making and typewriting by the ordinary teachers. The girls learnt cooking and laundry work at one of the Board's domestic economy centres. They also made their own beds, and performed many other domestic duties in the home.
In the classroom, the girls enjoyed reading and writing, and created their own Braille books. They particularly enjoyed being read to, something which often happened in the evening, while they worked at rug-making or knitting. At meal times and other odd times, the matron would read aloud some story of adventure, or of domestic interest, or from a newspaper. Below is an account, typewritten by one of the girls, of a day in her life at Elm Court in around 1903:
The establishment appears to have closed at the time of the Second World War, during which the buulding was destroyed. In 1960, the new Elmcourt school for delicate children was opened on the site.
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.
- The Ancestry UK website has two collections of London workhouse records (both name searchable):
- The Find My Past website has workhouse / poor law records for Westminster.
- London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road, London EC1R OHB.
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- None identified at present.
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