The history of UK’s first school for blind people
Personal stories and objects reveal the history of the UK’s first school for blind people, in a new exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool.
Founded in 1791, Liverpool’s Royal School for the Blind, in particular its buildings and the everyday lives of students, is central to The Blind School: Pioneering People and Places.
The exhibition features unique objects from the Museum’s own collection alongside loans, personal stories and a film made in partnership with visually impaired and blind students from St Vincent’s School for Sensory Impairment.
The exhibition is curated in partnership with Accentuate’s History of Place project, which explores 800 years in the lives of deaf and disabled people, the exhibition highlights accessible interpretation including audio description, BSL and multisensory features.
It is estimated today that there are one billion disabled people in the world. Yet the history of deaf and disabled people continues to be overlooked, despite their stories being intrinsic to the environments we live in and around every day. The Blind School: Pioneering People and Places, explores what the architectural legacy of the School can reveal about the lives of those connected with it.
The Liverpool Blind School was founded by the blind abolitionist and human rights campaigner Edward Rushton, along with a number of his blind and sighted associates.
Rushton had first hand experience of slavery through working on slave ships. His compassion for, and proximity to enslaved people led him to contract a disease which cost him his sight. As a result of his experiences of blindness and poverty and realising the poor treatment and life chances of many less wealthy blind people, he founded the school to offer training and skills.
The exhibition gives us a moving insight into the daily lives of the pupils, the strict rules that they had to follow, how they crafted superb objects for sale and their leisure pursuits.
Central to the story are the three purpose-built buildings that housed the school during its history and how changing attitudes reflected the changing architecture to meet the needs of pupils.
The Blind School: Pioneering Places and People is part of History of Place, a national project run by Accentuate, to explore the deep connections between the histories of deaf and disabled people and the built environment.
The Pier Head is on the waterfront close to Liverpool city centre and the Liverpool One complex. Follow signposts for the Albert Dock from the motorway and other main routes into the city centre. You may want to use AA Route Planner to plan your journey.
There are car parks in the nearby Liverpool ONE complex opposite the entrance to the Albert Dock. Q-Park Strand Street has 2000 underground spaces, Q-Park Gradwell Street has 560 multi-storey spaces and Q-Park John Lewis has 580 multi-storey spaces. The entrance to the Strand Street car park is opposite the Albert Dock and is accessible from the centre of the road in both directions. The Gradwell Street car park is opposite BBC Radio Merseyside and the John Lewis car park is located opposite the Paradise Street bus interchange and the police station.
Blue badge parking spaces
There are six blue badge parking spaces directly opposite the museum entrance, by the Great Western Railway building. These are about 30 metres from the entrance and need to be pre-booked. To book a space call 0151 478 4545.
A complete access guide for the Museum of Liverpool is available on the Disabled Go website.
Get the latest information about local train services on the Merseyrail website.
James Street station is the closest and is only a couple of minutes walk away. This station is served by the Wirral Line trains only.
Moorfields station, which is served by the Northern and Wirral Lines, is about 5 minutes walk away.
Liverpool Central station is about 15 to 20 minutes walk away and is also served by the Northern and Wirral Lines.
The museum is about a 20 minute walk from Liverpool Lime Street station - Liverpool's mainline train station.
The nearest bus station is at Paradise Street, near the Liverpool One complex. Some bus services also drop off at the Pier Head, right by the museum.
Full details of bus services are on the Merseytravel website .
The Mersey Ferries terminal is right next to the museum at the Pier Head. An hourly service runs throughout the day from Seacombe and Woodside on the Wirral, with a more frequent commuter service before 10am and after 4pm.
National Express coaches stop at Liverpool One bus station, just across the road from the Albert Dock.
Coaches bringing private groups can drop off at the Pier Head, close to the entrance to the museum.
* 10 am - 5 pm Monday - Sunday