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The Bristol School Board Kingsdown Institution for Deaf Children, 10 Kingsdown Parade (1898–1933)

The Bristol School Board Kingsdown Institution for Deaf Children was the first state-funded residential school in Bristol; all previous boarding schools for the Deaf had been privately run institutions. The Kingsdown School opened in 1898 in what had previously been Kingsdown High School for Girls, established in 1868 and also known as Marlborough House Girls’ School. No photographs or drawings exist of either school.

Although capable of taking 42 boarding pupils, the Education Department restricted the school to just 31. Even so, the school quickly became overcrowded, and a new drill hall was eventually added in 1904. By 1909 the school was accepting day-pupils as well as boarders, and the 1911 Census shows 43 boarding pupils aged 4 to 15.

The first Headmaster of Kingsdown was Octavius Illingworth and, with his wife serving as Matron, he remained in charge for 20 years. So far as teaching the Deaf was concerned, Illingworth was a pure Oralist. But in 1900 permission was granted to the school to run classes in manual methods for those pupils for whom the Oral System was not appropriate. The manual classes do though conflict with a report that stated that ‘the use of Signs in School should be restricted as a matter of discipline.’

The Kingsdown Institution for Deaf Children close in March 1933, at which point the day pupils transferred to Morrfields Deaf Council School near Lawrence Hill Station; many of the boarding pupils were sent to other towns and cities to continue their education.