Disability News

Pictures of how disabled people trained to work in factories

A man in a wheelchair soldering

An archive of photographs of disabled people being trained for work and independent living have been released.

The pictures trace the history of Queen Elizabeth's Foundation of Disabled People from its creation in 1932 when it was first set up as a residential training college for disabled people in Surrey.

Over the years it has provided training for both work and ways to more easily live independently in four centres - the Cripples' Training College, Dorincourt, Lulworth Court and Banstead Place.

Today the foundation serves more than 1,000 disabled people across the country in three centres.

Cripples' Training College

Founded in 1934, the Cripples' Training College aimed to "demonstrate the possibility of fitting many cripples for absorption into industry".

A man with a crutch at his work station with a man watching 1930s

It was set up by Dame Georgiana Buller, the then Chairman of the Central Council for the Care of Cripples. She wanted to give disabled people the chance to have a profession other than "traditional crafts".

Large group doing woodwork 1930s

On its opening on 1 November 1934, the college received its first 16 trainees for courses including engineering, house painting, gardening, cooking and clerical work.

A wheelchair user playing pool 1940s

When World War Two was declared the college was officially recognised as part of the Disabled Section of the Munitions Training Scheme of the Ministry of Labour and National Service. Because of this they started to provide training in engineering, welding, and tracing.

A double arm amputee doing gas welding

Over the years the courses offered changed according to the job market and by the 1940s this included spray painting, pottery, bookbinding, needlework, and leatherwork.

1969 arm amputee paints a car

By the time the 1970s came around training included bookkeeping, shorthand, and telephone switchboard operating.

A woman using a computer

In 1982 the first computer programming course was offered and by the 1990s all courses lead to NVQ or other awarding bodies' qualifications.

A man with a wood plane attached to his arm


Four men, three wheelchair users and a man with dwarfism playing pool

On 1 November 1958 Dorincourt opened as a centre providing training for both work and independent living for 22 men and 21 women.

five wheelchair users working

Dorincourt was suited to people with disabilities who couldn't find employment in open industry, either because they needed to work under special conditions, or could not live in lodgings because of their disability.

A man's hand

The two main workshops were light electrical work, and pottery. In 1984 Dorincourt became less rigid in its structure - people no longer had to live in the hostel to work in the factory, and those who lived in the hostel were free to work elsewhere.

A woman pulling herself out her room in her wheelchair

In the early 1990s Dorincourt became a residential arts centre offering "flexible and exciting opportunities to young disabled adults as an alternative to employment".

A man making mugs, his hand turns back on itself

Dorincourt now provides care, therapy, life coaching, and skills training to help pursue independent living for disabled people.

Lulworth Court

A group of wheelchair users going on a vacation to Lulworth Court

Based at Southend-on-Sea, Lulworth Court offered disabled people accessible seaside holidays.

A man in a wheelchair being carried down on to the beach

Originally opened by the National Association for the Paralysed it was taken over two years later by the Queen Elizabeth's Foundation and ran until 1999 when it shut due to a lack of funding.

A man in an iron lung has his first seaside holiday
Image caption A man in an iron lung for 25 years enjoys his first seaside holiday

Banstead Place

Five boys playing sports outside. Two are wheelchair users

Set up in 1956, Banstead Place was set up to train those categorised as "young chronic sick" in all activities of daily living.

A woman from Banstead handing money over in a shop. She is a wheelchair user

Its role has changed over the past 20 years and the centre is now a specialised centre for acquired brain injury rehabilitation.

Seven young people from Banstead, six in wheelchairs

It has kept its historic focus, however, and focuses mainly on support for younger adults.

Young people having rehabilitation
A wheelchair user getting food off a plate a woman is offering to him

As well as offering training for independent living, Banstead Place ran a mobility centre which provided support to its residents looking to drive cars or scooters, or use assistive technology to help them in their daily lives.

A man using an electric wheelchair crossing the road. A car with mobility logos on the side is parked at the lights
A woman driving using her feet

In 1990 the department moved to Queen Mary's Hospital for Children in Carshalton where it remains today, providing assistance with wheelchairs, scooters and assistive technology.

A woman demonstrating how an adapted car works. They are looking at an old computer screen

All photos courtesy of Queen Elizabeth's Foundation for Disabled People.


From BBC