Building Name

Henshaw’s Blind Asylum and Deaf and Dumb School, Old Trafford, Manchester

1836 - 1837
Chester Road
Old Trafford, Manchester
GMCA, England
New Build
Demolished 1972
David Bellhouse

The Blind asylum and the Deaf and Dumb school stand at Old Trafford, Stretford; and though separate institutions, are in one pile. The blind asylum originated in a bequest of £20,000, in 1810, by Thomas Henshaw, Esq., who also bequeathed £20,000 for a bluecoat school at Oldham; but his bequest for the blind asylum required to be all appropriated for support only, not any of it for building, and the out at interest and accumulate till 1835: and a sum of £9,000 was then raised by subscription for the erection of a building. The deaf and dumb school was established in 1823; stood in Stanley-street, near the New Bailey; and, on account of the situation being deemed unhealthy, was removed thence, in 1839, to the new joint-building at Old Trafford. That building was erected in 1836-9, by means of the £9,000 raised for the blind asylum, and of another £9,000 raised for the deaf and dumb school; is in the Tudor-collegiate style; stands a short distance backward from the road; measures 280 feet in length, and from 50 to 120 feet in width; consists of two wings for the two institutions, with a central chapel used by both; and presents a very pleasing frontage, crowned with octagonal turrets. The income of each institution is about £2,000 a year. [John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72)]

HENSHAW'S BLIND ASYLUM AND THE DEAF AND DUMB SCHOOL - The interesting ceremony of laying the first stone of an edifice, of which these two institutions are to form the wings, and the chapel for their joint use the centre, took place on Wednesday last. The site of the building, as most of our readers in this neighbourhood are aware, is a plot of ground adjoining the Botanic Garden to the north, or town-ward side. Though the weather was cold and windy, with slight showers of rain, there was a numerous assemblage of ladies and gentlemen on the platform, to witness the ceremony. The very fine band of the 17th Lancers was in attendance. and played several airs in a masterly style. The whole of the children in the Deaf and Dumb School, about fifty in number, were accommodated on a side platform. The choir of the Collegiate Church commenced the ceremony by singing the Old Hundredth Psalm. The Very Rev. the Warden of the Collegiate Church, then offered a prayer. …..  The master mason then advanced to the stone, which was not a foundation one, but the south-west comer-stone of the centre of the edifice. the part destined for the chapel, and nearly on a level with the ground, the cellars and vault forming the basement story being below it. The only memorial deposited was a plate, apparently of Britannia metal, bearing the following inscription: This stone, the first of a building to comprise an Asylum for the Blind, endowed by the late Thomas Henshaw, Esq.; a School for the Deaf and Dumb; and a Chapel for the joint benefit of both institutions. Was laid on Wednesday the 23rd day of March, 1836 by William Grant, the cost of the building being defrayed by private benefactions. Richard Lane, architect: David Bellhouse, builder."

The plate, having been deposited, face downward, and a slab of slate placed over it, the latter cemented by mortar, William Grant, Esq. then came forward in front of one platform, and proceeded to address the assemblage in front of him.   ….. [Manchester Guardian 26 March 1836 page3]

MANCHESTER SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF AND DUMB – OPENING OF THE NEW SCHOOL AT OLD TRAFFORD - Wednesday last being the day appointed for the opening of the institution for the deaf and dumb at Old Trafford, which is now completed Internally. the neighbourhood of the old school in Stanley-street, Salford, was crowded by spectators who assembled to witness the procession of the Authorities, the committee. friends, and subscribers of the school, the master and children, and the other public bodies who had offered their aid in giving attraction to the ceremony. …… (details of proceedings. Procession included Richard Lane, architect and David Bellhouse, builder) ……..

The building, or rather wing of the edifice—for the Deaf and Dumb School is the right or west wing of what appears one building, of which the Blind Asylum forms the corresponding wing, and the chapel for the two institutions the centre—fronts to the north, and will have two carriage entrances from the Stretford road. The first stone of the whole was laid by William Grant, Esq. on the 23rd March, 1836; so that the Deaf and Dumb School has been completed, and great part of the other institution and chapel erected, within fifteen months. The edifice, which is a very handsome one in the early or Perpendicular English style of architecture, displays a front of about ninety-five yards in length; and externally it will form one of the finest ornaments with which the suburbs of Manchester are being graced in various directions. But having before noticed its exterior. we will content ourselves with a short description of the internal accommodations or the Deaf and Dumb School. The basement storey contains boys' and girls' baths and lavatories at different parts of the building, with separate staircases, from their rooms above; wash-house, brew-house. bake-house, laundry, larders, stores, and in the basement of a square projecting building at the back, insulated on three sides. are two large rooms, each about 53 feet by 27 feet, which are to be used for play rooms in wet or inclement weather. On the ground floor. the entrance opens into a neat groined entrance hall, leading through double arches to the principal staircase, at the foot of which, parallel to the front, a corridor extends the whole length of the building. To the right of the hall are the parlours for young ladies who are private pupils. and opposite them is the matron's room; and at the west end of the building is a large kitchen, 30 feet by 20. and 15 feet in height, lighted by a large oriel window; with sculleries behind. To the left of the hall are the rooms of young gentlemen. private pupils of the establishment; opposite them is Mr. Bingham's room, the window of which commands view of the playground. The square attached building behind forms two large rooms of equal size - 53 feet by 27 feet, and 15 feet in height; that to the left being the school room, and that to the right the dining hall. Behind the schools there is to be kitchen garden, and playground beyond, to the extent of the land in the occupation of the institution. which is 200 yards from front to back, by about 60 yards in width; so that the playground will be about 80 yards by 60. The land comprises 11,724 square yards, the chief rent being £87 9s 10d. The land to be occupied by the Blind Asylum comprises 10,825 square yards, and its chief rent is £80 18s 11d. The second storey or the Deaf and Dumb School contains a spacious committee room over the hall, and five bed rooms In front, with a dressing room for the private pupils. Behind are two large rooms for the convalescent patients (the sick wards are in the attics); and over two school rooms are two rooms for boys, and two for girls' dormitories. A corridor runs through this storey from east to west. having an entrance door from the west end, direct into the east gallery of the chapel, part of which the scholars are to occupy during divine service. The attic storey contains, besides the sick wards, the servants' bed rooms.  The estimated cost of the building is £5,606; that of the Blind Asylum, £5,797; and of the chapel, £3,600: total cost of the edifice, £15,003. The Blind Asylum and chapel will probably be opened next spring or summer*.  [Manchester Guardian 28 June 1837 page 4]

* The first admissions to the Blind Asylum were not made until 1839

Reference    Manchester Guardian 26 March 1836 page 3 – foundation stone
Reference    Manchester Guardian 28 June 1837 page 4 – opening of Deaf and Dumb School
Reference    Bradshaw’s Manchester Journal, No. 7 12 June 1841 page 97- 99
Reference    Bradshaw’s Manchester Journal, No. 21 18 September 1841 page 327- 330
Reference    Bradshaw’s Manchester Journal, No. 23 2 October 1841 page 363-365
Reference    John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72)