14 October—15 April 2018

Brave Poor Things: Reclaiming Bristol’s Disability History

Disability history and architectural history have a longstanding relationship which has influenced the social landscape, as well as the fabric of our cities and the lives of the individuals within.

Accentuate’s national project History of Place has explored 800 years of history over eight different sites around the UK. This has culminated in three exhibitions in Bristol, Liverpool and London.

M Shed’s exhibition tells the story of The Guild of the Brave Poor Things, founded in 1894, its members and its headquarters.

This pioneering building, which still stands today in Old Market, is thought to be the UK’s first purpose-built for disabled people in 1913.

The Guild was set up by Victorian philanthropist Ada Vachell (herself deaf from childhood due to scarlet fever) in 1896. It provided a social space and a hub for crafts and apprenticeships for disabled children and adults, based on the model of the original Guild created in London.

The Guild’s 100-year lifespan saw huge changes in social attitudes towards disability. But how far have we really come – and how much further is there to go?

Exhibition includes BSL interpretation, audio description, and tactile features.

Brave Poor Things: Audio described tour
Thursday 29 March, 4pm – 5pm
Limited spaces, book in advance.
A tour for blind and visually impaired visitors, led by Amy Evans, who wrote the script for the recorded audio description in the exhibition. Please book in advance by calling 0117 922 3571.

Help us hear the hidden voices

We’re looking for people to share stories or memories of Bristol’s disability history throughout March.

We want to hear anything from a short opinion, to histories of Bristol. If you know about disabled people’s history in Bristol, or have experienced living here as a disabled person and want to share any stories or opinions, then we REALLY want to hear from you!

Join us at M Shed to create an archive for the future on any of the following dates:

  • Every Thursday throughout March, 11am – 1pm
  • Saturday 10 March, 11am – 1pm
  • Saturday 24 March, 11am – 1pm

If you would like to contribute but can’t get to M Shed, please get in touch with Grace Swordy, project coordinator.

Find out more about the exhibition on our blog. Visit the History of Place website for more on the project.

Accentuate logo, History of Place logo, HLF logo