St Vincent's School for the Blind, Liverpool, Lancashire

The Liverpool Blind Asylum was founded in April 1841 by the Very Rev. Dr. Thomas Youens. The Asylum's first premises were in Islington district of Liverpool. It moved in 1851 to St Anne Street, then again in 1866 to 59 Brunswick Street. Its object was 'to afford to the Catholic blind an elementary education and instruction in those branches of industry which shall be found suitable to each pupil's capacity.' The Asylum could then accommodate nearly 200 adults and children.

In June, 1899, the Catholic Bishop of Liverpool, Dr Whiteside, laid the foundation stone for a separate children's branch of the Asylum at Yew Tree Lane, Leyfield, West Derby, Liverpool. A report of the occasion recorded:

The Brunswick-road institution, it may be stated, has been enlarged several times to meet the requirements of the inmates, who now number 176, whose ages range from two to 72 years, this being the only Catholic blind asylum in the country. After careful consideration the committee resolved to build a branch school in the country, to be named St. Vincent de Paul's School of the Blind, and they secured a pleasantly-situated piece of land at the rear of Rice House, Yew Tree-lane, West Derby, where building operations have already commenced. The architects are Messrs. Sinnott, Sinnott. and Powell, Harrington-street, Liverpool, and the contractor for the work Mr. M. Fogarty, Old Swan. The new branch school will be a long two-storeyed structure, intended for the reception of boys and girls under 16 years of age, who will be sent alternately for a month to a more healthful and brighter home than that provided in the Liverpool institution. The principal front will be at the north-west of Yew Tree-lane, and there will be a large entrance and roomy corridors, leading to the right and left, giving access to the schoolrooms, day rooms, parlours, sisters' rooms, &c. The building which will be of plain Gothic design, in brick, will also embrace kitchen. laundry, and dining room, one half of which will be used as a temporary chapel, with dormitories for 26 children and an infirmary with six beds. The total cost of the new school, inclusive of furniture, will be about £4000, the money being borrowed from the Liverpool School Board at a reasonable rate of interest.

A report on the institution in around 1906 noted that:

The Home for the Blind, which is managed by the Sisters of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, is an unpretentious building, and not very modern. It is somewhat extensive, and accommodated at the time of our visit 120 inmates, of whom thirty-three were men, thirty-two women, and fifty-five children under the age of 2D (contd.). sixteen. Reading is taught on what is known as the Braille system; and the work . provided for training purposes consists of mat-making, basket-making, and rug-making, etc. Briefly the children are taught all that is possible for the blind to learn. The women are employed at knitting, sewing, and fancy work. An annual sale of work is held in the institution. <.

Children are received from Boards of Guardians. There is no uniform. scale of payment, some Boards paying more than others—the highest being £14 per year.

The Sisters seemed to be very kind and sympathetic in their manner towards the inmates, who looked happy and comfortable. We were delighted at the excellence of the singing of a small choir of young lads and girls, who rendered one or two part songs with great taste.

The Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul continued to run the establishment until the late 1990s.

The School now forms part of the Catholic Blind Institute.

Records

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Bibliography

  • None noted at present.