Historic footage of a blind children’s home in Northwood has resurfaced thanks to newsreel archive, British Pathe.
Sunshine Home in Northwood, now called the RNIB Sunshine House School, has been helping the UK’s blind children to thrive for decades – and footage from 1951 documentary, Lighten Our Darkness, perfect illustrates that.
At the time, the nursery school was one of just seven nurseries in the UK that was tailored for blind children.
The moving black-and-white footage is dubbed over by classical music and a poetic monologue from a female speaker, who perfectly describes the children’s actions and the meaning behind them.
Early in the video, children are seen using a playground in the same way visually-abled children would. Through both the physical help of staff and the training they have been through at the school, the young students were able to use swings, climb apparatus and even jump off it confidently. Children are also seen holding rabbits and chatting with them happily, clearly enjoying their own experience of life.
As the speaker aptly puts it: “Who among the sighted shall know the beauty of that other world, conceived within the hearts of those who see by touch?”
Children are also seen reading tactile books, touching flowers and getting themselves ready for bed in the evening.
Perhaps the only sobering moment of the video is when a young girl stepping confidently down the stairs of the house drops her soft toy as she walks and scrambles across the floor, struggling to retrieve it. Even in such a challenging moment though, the student is left to her own devices and eventually, through perseverance, finds her toy and continues down the steps.
To view the video, go to britishpathe.com/video/blind-childrens-home/query/Blind+Childrens+Home
To read about the school’s more contemporary work, go to rnib.org.uk/services-we-offer-rnib-schools-and-colleges/sunshine-house-school
Picture courtesy of British Pathe