Did you know Walthew House has existed since 1865? Read on to learn more about our journey to the present day.
A meeting called by a leading member of the town’s community in 1865.
John Walthew, who became Mayor of Stockport in the early 1870s, and his wife invited the town’s blind people to tea. The Walthews of Wood Hall, Reddish, had first hand experience of the disability, as their daughter Louisa was blind and deaf.
After this first meeting, regular weekly gatherings were arranged, at which volunteers read to and generally helped the blind people.
In January 1867, the town’s blind, deaf and residents without speech were invited to a meeting at Stockport Sunday School to draw up detailed plans for support. The meeting was chaired by James Sidebottom JP, appointed to carry out the project.
To help finance the work, Mr Sidebottom pledged a donation of £50 per year. There were a number of other subscriptions including £10 per year from Mr Ephraim Hallam.
The meeting agreed the main aim was to give people with sensory loss the chance of an education and work experience.
The committee set up workshops where clients made goods and a shop was opened on Wellington Road South, Stockport, where they were sold. A schoolroom was also established.
In the early 1870s, the committee decided it needed its own premises and bought a site in St Petersgate.
The foundation stone of the building – called the Institute for the Blind, the Deaf and the Dumb – was laid by Louisa Walthew on 14 September 1872 and the building built at a cost of £3,500.
The three storey building included two shops to sell the goods made there, large work rooms, two living rooms, a library, a committee room and a reading room which had some books with raised letters.
Most of the cash for the centre was raised through bequests, including one of £2,000 from James Ollershaw, who had lived in Stockport before moving to Jersey and £500 from Henry Marsland, who had lived in Woodbank.
The gentleman responsible for the initial thrust to the project, John Walthew, remembered The Institute when he died in April 1889. He left £500, which was invested to provide a regular income.
The St Petersgate base was used until the late 1960s but by then it was clear that new premises were needed.
To adequately cater for the wide ranging needs of its clients the St Peresgate property was old to fund the construction of
the Institute’s present base in Shaw Heath.
This was opened in 1970 and named Walthew House.
It was decided that an extension to the existing building was required and a phenomenally successful fund-raising appeal co-ordinated by the Institute Chairman Colonel Haldon Hole – was launched and raised £100,000 with nearly all the money coming from within the Borough.
Building work on the extension began in October 1987, the labour was provided free of charge by Manpower Services Commission.
The completed extension was named the Haldon Hole Wing, as a tribute to the chairman’s work and was officially opened by her Royal Highness, the Princess Royal on 4 March 1991.