by Grace Swordy, Project Coordinator for History of Place
The History of Place project highlights sites of importance within disability history, culminating in exhibitions in London, Liverpool and Bristol. You can read an introduction into the History of Place project in a previous blog.
The Bristol exhibition will be displayed at M Shed and will focus on the story of The Guild of the Brave Poor Things – a social space and hub for disabled children and adults.
What did the Guild of the Brave and Poor Things mean for the people of Bristol? What was the significance of the Heritage House building for the disabled community? Did this group create the first purpose built building for disabled people in England?
These are some of the important questions that volunteer researchers have been exploring at Bristol Archives, through libraries, newspapers and more over the last six months.
In 1913, the doors to the purpose built Guild Heritage building in Braggs Lane, Old Market opened; a new headquarters designed by Frank Wills and Sons. It had a large hall, a space for lectures, events, performances and girls and boys rooms where they delivered craft apprenticeships.
With wide doors and level ground floor, it was possibly the first purpose built accessible building of its kind in England.
To find this information, we’ve been looking through the records held by Bristol Archives including Guild record books, birthday books, photographs of Guild life and crucially, the building plans approved in 1912.
We have made some amazing discoveries and continue to draw out stories. But we need your help. We are looking for:
- People who have a connection or family connection to the Guild of the Brave Poor Things. We want to hear your stories, legends or memories, and if you wish, take an oral history.
- Objects relating to this history: craft produced by the apprenticeships, rugs, jewellery, watches, baskets, wheelchairs or crutches of the time, and much more.
Please ensure your information is either approved by all persons concerned, or based on evidence from a published source.
Please get in touch if you have any interest or thoughts on this project, we would love to hear from you. Help us bring alive the stories of those who inhabited or designed these buildings and provide new insights into the lives of disabled people across the centuries.
History of Place is a national project run by Accentuate and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
C/O Wecil Ltd
The Vassall centre
More blogs in this series:
- History of Place: An Introduction – read our introductory blog on the History of Place project and the Guild of the Brave Poor Things.