The Residential School for Jewish Deaf Children

19 December 2018

Recently, Norwood archivists uncovered amongst its treasures papers referring to the Residential School for Jewish Deaf Children (RSJDC). The school was run by an independent charity and provided a residential home for Jewish deaf children. It was established in 1865 by a committee of Jewish men who were concerned for the education of their own deaf children. With the financial backing of Baroness Mayer de Rothschild the committee purchased 15 Mount Street in Whitechapel and named it the ‘Jews’ Deaf and Dumb Home.’ To cope with the growing number of admissions, the Home moved three times between 1866 and 1875 before settling in Wandsworth at Nightingale Lane in 1899. You can see a picture of the school in Nightingale Lane here.

It had one final move to Talbot Road in Tottenham before it closed in the 1970s as a result of the Education Authority restricting admittance to the school. Thereafter, officers of the centre were able to find a house in Woodford, Essex which adjoined the Woodford School for Deaf children for the remaining pupils.

At some point, the charity was chaired by Dr Henry Behrend who was also President of Norwood in 1871. The Jewish Deaf Association revealed that during the 1970s Norwood agreed to assist the struggling charity and assumed the administration of the school; committee minutes confirm that the centre was formally placed under the auspices of Norwood in January 1976. Although it remained a separately registered charity, the Honorary Officers and Committee members were all from Norwood.

There are several references to the centre in Norwood minutes:

Although the Woodford centre was eventually closed on 31st December 1976 due to poor uptake, it is another example of the exceptional efforts Norwood has always gone to support children in the community.

We’re pleased that we’ve finally solved the mystery surrounding this institution and it’s added another section to Norwood’s long and varied history.