Agnes Hunt memorial stone under cherry blossom

TES Winner Speciaist Provider of the Year 2021

Derwen College’s history starts at Dame Agnes Hunt’s Baschurch home, fifteen miles from Gobowen.

Dame Agnes Hunt aged 12
Dame Agnes Hunt aged 12

As a child Agnes developed osteomyelitis in her hip. As a result she was in permanent pain and found walking difficult.

Despite this, she trained as a nurse and opened a convalescent home for children from Shropshire Infirmary. At Florence House in Baschurch, Agnes extolled the benefits of open-air treatment.  

Agnes formed a professional partnership with Robert Jones, a renowned orthopaedic surgeon. Together they devoted their knowledge and skill to the service of people with physical disabilities – which led to the development of the Orthopaedic Hospital, Oswestry. 

This, however, was not enough for Agnes Hunt. Despite receiving expert treatment, many patients were left with disabilities. This prevented them from taking their place in the industrial world.

She purchased a farmhouse adjacent to the Orthopaedic Hospital called ‘The Derwen’. Here Dame Agnes founded the Derwen Training College where physically disabled young people could learn a trade, suitable to their disability, and become either partially or wholly self-supporting.

Ninety years on

Agnes Hunt was a visionary, but the facilities at Derwen now would exceed even her most ambitious dreams.

As you can imagine, a lot has changed over the 90 plus years since Dame Agnes Hunt established (what was then known as) ‘Derwen Cripples’ Training College’.  Those changes include the terminology we now use.

Agnes used descriptive language that would not be deemed appropriate today. Through the history timeline we wanted to include quotes and references to give you a sense of time and place – and to do that we have used Agnes’ own words.

Derwen Timeline

Our history timeline highlights key achievements and developments at Derwen College since it was established in 1927.

1866

Agnes Hunt is born

Dame Agnes Hunt aged 12

Agnes Gwendoline Hunt was born in 1866 Although in her book ‘This is my life’, Agnes says she was born in 1867, her birth certificate states..Read More

1900

The foundations of Derwen College and RJAH Orthopaedic Hospital are set

Despite her disability from osteomyelitis, Agnes trained as a nurse.  In 1900 she opened her home, Florence House in Baschurch, as a convalescent home for ‘crippled’..Read More

1926

Dame Agnes Hunt

In 1926 Agnes Hunt became Dame Agnes Hunt when she was awarded Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the Birthday Honours...Read More

1927

Derwen Training College Founded June 1927

Derwen Training College Founded June 1927

In 1927, what we now know as Derwen College, was initially set up in ‘a couple of vacant huts in the grounds’ of the orthopaedic hospital...Read More

1928

Chair of Governors / Trustees: Sir Watkin Williams Wynn

Sir Watkin Williams Wynn served Chair of Governors / Trustees from 1928 to 1949

1929

Mr Rhaiadr Jones and his wife are appointed Manager and Matron

Mr Rhaiadr Jones

In Dame Agnes’ own words, her prayers were answered early in 1929 when Mr Rhaiadr Jones and his wife were appointed Manager and Matron of..Read More

1932

22nd January Prince George lays Foundation Stone

22nd January Prince George lays Foundation Stone

On 22nd January 1932 Prince George visited Derwen College. During his visit, His Royal Highness performed two ceremonies – to lay the foundation stone of..Read More

1939

Military Hospital

The Derwen was requisitioned as a military hospital from 1939 to 1946. At that time Derwen even had its own operating theatre.   There were..Read More

1948

Patient Referrals 1948-1966

From 1948 to 1966 there were very few students at college with many referred patients on rehabilitation programmes from across the North West, West Midlands and..Read More

Changes as a result of the formation of the National Health Service

On 5th July 1948 management of the Orthopaedic Hospital was taken over by the Birmingham Regional Hospital Board as part of the new National Health..Read More

Dame Agnes Hunt dies aged 81 years old

On 24th July 1948, Dame Agnes Hunt died aged 81. Agnes was truly a pioneering woman who left behind her an amazing legacy. In a..Read More

1949

Chair of Governors / Trustees: Lord Kenyon

Following Sir Watkin Williams Wynn’s retirement, Lord Kenyon served Chair of Governors / Trustees from 1949-1992.

1952

Work starts on Agnes Hunt Village

In 1952 work began on Agnes’s final dream – a housing development purpose-built for the disabled. ‘Agnes Hunt Village’, was started following an appeal by..Read More

1966

Mr Jim Kendall leads Derwen College into a new era

Mr Jim Kendall shows the HRH The Duchess of Kent around the dressmaking workshop

In 1966 Mr Jim Kendall, an Orthopaedic Consultant, returned to the College as Medical Director having previously worked at The Derwen when it was a..Read More

1971

Swimming pool built

Swimming pool built

The swimming pool was built in 1971 at a cost of £15,800.  Forty-six years later, in 2017, we raised £50,000 – enough to replace the..Read More

1982

Concert Hall destroyed in fire

Concert Hall destroyed in fire

After a fire completely gutted the concert hall in 1982 a fundraising effort went in to full swing and in the same year a new..Read More

1986

The Derwen College Garden Centre opens

1986: Derwen Collge Garden Centre opens

The Derwen College Garden Centre has changed a lot in the years since it first opened in 1986. The Garden Centre was the first part..Read More

1989

Walled Garden presented to the college from Shropshire Horticultural Society

Walled Garden presented to the college from Shropshire Horticultural Society

The Walled Garden, which was presented to Derwen College from the Shropshire Horticultural Society in 1989, continues to change and develop in order to provide..Read More

1990

Expansion and development of Derwen continues under David Kendall

Tiffins

Following Mr Jim Kendall’s retirement, in 1990 Mr David Kendall was appointed by the Governors as Director of the College and continued to increase student..Read More

1992

Chair of Governors / Trustees: Mrs E. (Paddy) Hughes

Following Lord Kenyon’s retirement, Mrs E. (Paddy) Hughes served Chair of Governors / Trustees from 1992-2004.

1999

Orangery Restaurant opens

Derwen at 90

The Orangery Restaurant is a training restaurant for our Hospitality and Food students.   Situated on the ground floor of the original Derwen farmhouse, The..Read More

2004

Chair of Governors / Trustees: Mr Eric Adams

Following Mrs E. (Paddy) Hughes’ retirement,  Mr Eric Adams served Chair of Governors / Trustees from 2004-2005.

2005

Chair of Governors / Trustees: Miss Irene Gull

Following Mr Eric Adams’ retirement, Miss Irene Gull served as Chair of Governors / Trustees from 2005-2012.

2006

Derwen College is the first Ofsted Outstanding Specialist Independent College

Derwen College is the first Ofsted Outstanding Specialist Independent College

In 2006 Derwen College became the first Specialist Independent College for learners with Learning Difficulties and Disabilities to be awarded an Ofsted Outstanding grading. *..Read More

2008

Young’s Farm Shop opens

Young’s Farm Shop opens

The farm shop provides an outlet on site for us to sell our range of dc handmade jams, chutneys, breads, cakes, gifts and cards. Since..Read More

2012

Ruth Thomas appointed as Principal and CEO

Ruth Thomas

In 2012 David Kendall retired.  Ruth Thomas is appointed as Principal and CEO.

Chair of Governors / Trustees: Mrs Kathleen Kimber

Following Miss Irene Gull’s retirement, Derwen College’s current Chair of Governors / Trustees, Mrs Kathleen Kimber, was appointed in 2012.

Derwen College is awarded a second Ofsted Outstanding result

Derwen College is awarded a second Ofsted Outstanding result

In 2012 Derwen College was award a second, consecutive, Ofsted Outstanding result * Image is from 2016 – Derwen’s third Outstanding Ofsted result You can..Read More

2013

Bradbury Food Centre opens

In 2013 the Bradbury Food Centre opened and provides kitchen facilities for students on the Hospitality and Food pathway. Students work in the Food Centre to..Read More

2014

Derwen@Walford opens

Derwen@Walford opened in September 2014. It is one of our three satellite sites and is based at Walford, near Shrewsbury. Students at Derwen@Walford have the..Read More

2015

Derwen@Craven Arms opens

Opening its doors in September 2015, Derwen@CravenArms is a satellite site of Derwen College, based in Craven Arms, South Shropshire. Undertaking a range of work based..Read More

2016

Derwen College receives third consecutive Ofsted Outstanding grading

“We are immensely proud of this result. The outcome of the inspection highlights the unique work that goes on here at Derwen College. Inspectors were..Read More

2017

Premier Inn Training Centre opens

As you wander down the corridor past the well-appointed bedrooms kitted out to the latest design, you may be mistaken for thinking that you have..Read More

2019

Meryl Green is appointed as Principal and CEO

Meryl Green is appointed as Principal and CEO

Meryl Green is appointed as Principal and CEO of Derwen College in 2019. In 2019 she also marked 20 years in the specialist education industry..Read More

A brand new state-of-the-art hydrotherapy pool opens

A brand new state-of-the-art hydrotherapy pool built to support students at Derwen College officially opened in September 2019. The grand opening saw attendees including local..Read More

2020

Derwen @ Telford opens

Derwen @ Telford opens

Derwen@Telford opened in September 2020. It is the latest of our three satellite sites in Shropshire. Students at Derwen@Telford have the opportunity to access a..Read More