Our timeline below highlights just some of the key achievements and developments at Derwen College over the past 90 years.Derwen College’s history starts at Dame Agnes Hunt’s Baschurch home, fifteen miles from its current location in Gobowen. 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 years since Dame Agnes Hunt established (what was then known as) Derwen Cripples’ Training College – that includes written and spoken English.
Agnes used descriptive language that would not be deemed appropriate today. We wanted to include quotes and references in this timeline to give you a sense of time and place – and to do that we have used Agnes’ own words.
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 she was born 31st December 1866 in London, to parents Rowland Hunt and Marianne (nee) Humfrey. One of 11 children, Agnes grew up at Boreatton Park, Baschurch, Shropshire. Early in her childhood Agnes developed osteomyelitis and as a result was in permanent pain and found walking difficult. In her book ‘This is..Read More
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’ children, and extolled the benefits of open-air treatment. By 1903 she had formed a partnership with Robert Jones, a renowned orthopaedic surgeon, based in Liverpool. Agnes Hunt and Robert Jones devoted their knowledge and skill, to the service of the ‘crippled’ and led to the development of the Orthopaedic Hospital, Oswestry.
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. Transcript of Agnes’s DBE: “George the fifth by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India and Sovereign of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire to Our..Read More
In 1927, with the approval of the education authorities, and the financial assistance of the Shropshire Orthopaedic Hospital, a house adjacent to the hospital called ‘The Derwen’ was purchased, along with 35 acres of land. 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. Derwen College was set up so that physically disabled people could learn..Read More
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 the college. Dame Agnes continued to devote herself to Derwen until her death in 1948. Rhaiadr Jones was to remain at the college until 1966.
On 22nd January 1932 Prince George visited the college to lay the foundation stone of the Village Settlement Scheme officially opening Derwen Training College. Dame Agnes Hunt was congratulated on the great work she had done by Prince George. During World War II the college became an emergency 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 no students at college during this war-time period.
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 Wales.
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 Service and was called the Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital. The college continued as an independent charity.
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 memorial to her written shortly after her death it is said she ‘left an inspiration for others to carry out her vision’. Her ashes are interred at the graveyard in Baschurch. NB: Although her funeral Order of Service says she was born in 1867, her birth certificate confirms that Agnes..Read More
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 The Rt. Hon. The Lord Kenyon of Gredington, Chairman of the Board of Governors from 1949 until 1992. The foundation stone of the memorial was laid by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Kent. The bungalows are still used today and at the entrance to the ‘village’ is a memorial..Read More
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 military hospital. He was instrumental in moving from the medical model to a further education college focussing on work based training. With work shops in a variety of specialist skills, students learnt trades such as metalwork, woodwork, upholstery, making surgical goods and dressmaking. During this time the College changed its..Read More
The swimming pool was built in 1970 at a cost of £15,800. Forty-seven years later, in 2017, we raised £50,000 – enough to replace the heating system for the pool to ensure our students can continue to use the pool for recreation, sport, therapies and even training for Duke of Edinburgh’s awards. If you would like to join with the fundraising please visit www.supportderwen.org.uk The swimming pool now…
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 concert hall was built. The hall is still in use today as a very busy Student Union. It is the main social area for students to spend their leisure time and also the location of the Summer and Christmas shows.
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 of Derwen Enterprises – which saw Derwen take on a more commercial environment. Derwen Enterprises provided work placements for students at the college. You are still able to pop into the Garden Centre for a range of seasonal plants, trees and seeds. Gardening tools and gift vouchers are also available..Read More
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 our students with learning opportunities. To celebrate our 90th birthday in 2018 a border in the Walled Garden was designed using plants to represent the ethos and values of the college. Plant meanings have been used for centuries to convey particular sentiments and the scheme should provide a display that..Read More
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 numbers. David established Derwen Enterprises, a programme of work experience and supported residential development for young people with disabilities. Derwen College developed customer facing outlets moving away from the workshop style of work experience. Through fundraising activities, grants from numerous benefactors and legacies Derwen saw a rapid increase in facilities..Read More
The Orangery Restaurant is a training restaurant for our Hospitality and Housekeeping students. Situated on the ground floor of the original Derwen farmhouse, The Orangery is a great venue for events such as Afternoon Teas, family get-togethers and parties. Open Sunday to Friday, you can visit The Orangery Restaurant for breakfast from 10am, light lunches and weekday specials. Sunday lunch is very popular and booking is essential.
In 2003 Derwen College became the first Specialist Independent College for learners with Learning Difficulties and Disabilities to be awarded Ofsted Outstanding * Image is from 2016 – Derwen’s third Outstanding Ofsted result You can view all of Derwen College’s Ofsted reports here.
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 opening, the farm shop has been moved to the Garden Centre. You can still purchase a range of local food from specialist and artisan suppliers, as well as products made by Derwen College students. The original Young’s Farm Shop building is still open and is now used as Derwen College..Read More
In 2012 David Kendall retired. Ruth Thomas is appointed as Director.
In 2012 Derwen College was award a second, consecutive, Ofsted Outstanding result * Image is from 2016 – Derwen’s third Outstanding Ofsted result You can view all of Derwen College’s Ofsted reports here.
In 2013 the Bradbury Food Centre opened and provides kitchen facilities for Hospitality and Housekeeping students. Students work in the Food Centre to produce bread, jams and chutneys. We use Derwen grown produce where possible and sell on-site at the Garden Centre shop.
[email protected] opened in September 2014. It is one of our three satellite sites and is based at Walford, near Shrewsbury. Students at [email protected] have the opportunity to access a broad ranging curriculum, these include: Arts and Design, Horticulture, and Fitness encompassing Independence, Health & Wellbeing. Students work on projects in the local community enabling them to hone their team working and social skills whilst undertaking real work experience.
ColegDerwen is a satellite site of Derwen College, based near Higher Penley, Overton. Opening its doors to learners September 2014, it’s curriculum is prominently linked to Arts & Crafts, upcycling of furniture, conservation, horticulture and encompassing independence, health & well being. Students access the local community taking part in projects, whilst working on their team and social skills. You can find out more about [email protected] Ashdale House by visiting their pathway page.
Opening its doors in September 2015, [email protected] is a satellite site of Derwen College, based in Craven Arms, South Shropshire. Undertaking a range of work based activities in employability skills and appropriate work experience. Students access the local community in Craven Arms for projects, work experience, team and social development.
“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 clearly impressed by the culture we have developed so that all staff have very high expectations of students and, as a result, students are supported and challenged to achieve their very best – and they do” said Meryl Green, Principal. You can view all of Derwen College’s Ofsted reports here.