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".

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".

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.

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.

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.

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

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


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

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.

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.

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

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

Lulworth Court

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

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.

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

Banstead Place

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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