History of the Cambrian Foundation

Concern for the education of the hearing impaired throughout Wales goes back over a long period. Since 1893 the education of deaf children has been compulsory in England and Wales, although in Wales, as in England, considerable voluntary effort was exerted on behalf of the deaf many years before.

It was in 1846 that an agent of the Cambrian Educational Society was perturbed to find considerable numbers of deaf, particularly those without speech, were apparently without education and with little prospect of getting any.

Conscience became aroused and a Public Meeting was called by the Mayor of Aberystwyth on the 1st February 1847 when it was unanimously agreed that ‘an institution for the education of the deaf and dumb children of Wales be established in Aberystwyth.

Temporary premises were taken – a house in Pier Street – and Mr Charles Rhind (London and Ulster) was appointed the first Principal.

The school opened with two day boy scholars on the 24th July 1847. In the following year it was reported that 8 children had been admitted. At that time no child was eligible before 9 or after 13 years of age.

In 1850 it was decided to move the School to Swansea – Swansea being a place more easily accessible, was of growing importance and blessed with having so many gentlemen of wealth and influence. The school was removed to Picton Place, Swansea the 7th April 1850

In 1851 the ‘Graig Field’ was leased from Swansea Corporation and a building for some 50 children and staff was erected on the site. Interestingly, it was reported that Mr Rhind, included by the prospect of more lucrative work, had tendered his resignation. As that total salaries of Principle, Assistant, Matron and Servants etc announced to £146 per annum it would appear that Mr Rhind found little difficulty in finding a more lucrative post.

In May 1857 the establishment was moved from Picton Place to the Graig Site. At that time children were coming from Pembrokeshire, Cardiganshite, Monmouthshite, Breconshire and Glamorgan.

Income was dependant on donations or subscriptions and the School was recognised as a Welsh Charity. In 1888 the School had 50 on its roll and in 1898 Her Majesty the Queen acceded to a request that the established be styled as The Royal Cambrian Institution for the Deaf and Dumb.

In 1941 Swansea was subject to intense enemy bombardment from the air. Hundreds of people were killed and practically the whole of the centre of the town was demolished after three consecutive nights of enemy action. The Institution occupied a considerable area in a prominent position over-looking the town and its escape was miraculous. The building did suffer minor damage, lights and water supply failed and the children were sent home. And they remained home until September.

Many months of anxious enquiry and numerous visits to properties all over Wales followed and in September 1941 the School evacuated to Brynwern Hall at Newbridge on Wye and Brynafon, Rhyader. These two buildings housed about 90 children.

Waiting lists were increasing and it became apparent that after the War residential accommodation would have to be found for some 150/200 deaf and partially deaf Welsh children. While the school remained evacuated negotiations commenced for the purchase of Druidstone at St Mellons. This mansion with five cottages and 30 acres of land was purchased in 1946. Within twelve months Druidstone was involved in an extensive fire and in view of the considerable damage it was decided to abandon this particular scheme and purchase another property. Mountain House at Chepstow was purchased and the cost of adaption was found to be too much. The Trustees found themselves unable to meet growing demands and the Welsh Joint Education Committee with the support of the Local Education Authorities in Wales, took over the responsibility for the education of the deaf in 1950 after a period of 100 years of voluntary effort.

A magnificent school at Llandrindod Wells was opened on the 17th October 1950 with 157 residential pupils and this School remained until approximately 1973.

Deaf children are now educated principally in Main Stream schooling and within the Hearing Impaired Units

As a result if these changes the Foundation known as the Royal Cambrian Residential School for the Deaf ceased and The Foundation was then administered in the name of the Cambrian Educational Foundation for Deaf Children. On the 23rd January 1957 it became a registered charity.

The Cambrian Educational Foundation promotes the social, physical, academic, and vocational needs of the hearing impaired young people living in Wales. Applications are processed to us through Teachers of the Deaf, Social Workers, Local Authority Disability Team, Audiology Departments at Hospitals, parents and from the hearing impaired young person.

Over the years this Foundation has helped a very large number of hearing impaired young people who have benefited from tuition, books, educational travel and computer equipment with its appropriate coursework software.

Our income is derived from interest Investments, Legacies, and donations and it is the policy of the Foundation to distribute 90% of its annual income for the benefit of the hearing impaired.

The need to support deaf children remains. The Foundation acknowledges that deafness is not a ‘recognisable’ handicap and that the person can often feel isolated in a hearing environment and sometimes disadvantaged in the classroom. The Foundation remains active to support the hearing impaired individual in gaining appropriate qualifications to enable them to become well qualified useful citizens of the community.

Registered Charity no. 515848

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