Notes from a 1920s meeting of the Cambridgeshire Society for the Blind, transcribed.

Cambs. Society with Insufficient Funds to Carry On

Larger County Council Grant Wanted

The unsatisfactory financial position of the Cambs. Society for the Blind was discussed at the Annual Meeting of the Society, which was held at the County Hall Cambridge on Wednesday and it was agreed to get in touch with the public health committee of the County Council with a view to securing a larger grant if possible, The annual Report showed that good work is being done among the blind. The President of the Society the Rev Dr E C Pearce, Master of Corpus Christi College was in the Chair, and there were also present; Ald. Mrs Adeane, Councillor, Mrs Mellish Clark, Mrs T G S Bland, T F Painter, Mr E W Eagleston, Mrs Stace (Hon Secretary) and Mr Alfred Hyde (Hon Treasurer).


The Chairman read a minute past at the last meeting of the Executive Committee of the Society stating that after a report of the financial position was read by the Treasurer, showing a deficit and the necessity of a larger grant by the County Council, it was agreed that the County Council be informed that the Executive Committee regret they will be unable to do the statutory work for the blind under the Blind Persons Act for the Council after the end of the current financial year. Mrs Adeane said there were a good many people who thought it would be a great pity if the voluntary side of the work was closed down altogether. The Chairman moved that the Minute of the Executive Committee be confirmed, and this was carried. It was agreed to communicate the decision to the County Council. The Chairman: Then we shall await developments.


The Chairman read a letter from Mr Ashley Tabrum (Clerk to the County Council) to Mr Hyde as follows: “In answer to your letter of the 4th instance, no amount has been settled as the grant to the Cambs. Society for the Blind for the current year. When the application for an increased grant came before the Committee they had accurate information and provision has been made in the estimates for a grant of £250 only. The Committee however hoped to confer with the Society as to future work and they are prepared to consider the question of an additional grant.”

The Chairman said that after that letter he thought it was for Mr Hyde to inform Mr Tabrum that the Executive Committee would be glad to meet the County Representatives at any time.

This course was agreed to, Councillor Painter remarking that he thought the balance sheet would explain a good deal that the County Committee did not know about.


The adoption of the Annual Report for the year 1925 to 1926 was moved by the Chairman, seconded by Councillor Painter, and carried. The report showed that the grant from the County Council amounted to £250. The number of blind on the register was 180, being 94 from the Borough and 86 from the County. There were 11 new cases from the Borough (seven men and four women) and 12 from the County (6 men and 6 women). There had been four deaths in the Borough and 6 in the County and 5 removals from the area. The children at school numbered three (two boys and 1 girl). The number of Home Teachers was two and the visits paid were Rural 1,238, Borough 1,515. There were 12 blind persons receiving instruction from the Home Teachers. Other figures in the report were; Number of voluntary workers 7, approved home workers 17, casual workers 6, and amount distributed to unemployable about £40, including value of garments, average number o persons relieved weekly 5. Pensioner’s details were as follows: Old age blind pensions 40, Old age pension 51, Royal Blind Pensions Society 9, Hetherington’s Charity 2, Gardeners Trust 2, Clothworkers’ Company 1, Metropolitan and Adjacent Counties Association one.

A whist drive organised during the winter resulted in a profit of £15. All prizes were given. As in other years a great difficulty had been experienced in finding significant employment for the workers. Mrs Jackson of Fowlmere for the second year in succession kindly entertained the blind class to tea in her garden in the summer. All thoroughly enjoyed the kind welcome and music which Mrs Jackson provided. A Christmas party was held to which all the blind in the Borough were invited and several from the rural area. Mlle. Cluzeau delighted all with her rendering of Bob Cratchett’s Christmas Party and other recitations, while a trio from the Masked Marvels supplied much amusement.

The home teachers continued to give every satisfaction and their visitors were greatly appreciated by the blind under their charge. The Society owed many thanks to all who had given assistance and gifts to help carry on the work of the Society and to those who had allowed collecting boxes on their business premises.


Mr Hyde submitted the statement of the accounts for the year ended March 31st last. The general charity fund account showed an income of £766 18s 3d. Which included £17 10s 5d annual subscriptions, £43 7s 3d donations, £312 2s 6d. Government grant £250 from the County Council and £100 legacy from the late Mrs Page-Wallace. Of the expenditure £735 12s 8d went in allowances for the blind and services for their benefit. The expenditure also showed £100 transferred to the Mrs Page Wallis legacy account. There was a deficit of £2 18s on this account. The shop trading account showed a deficit of £75 which was transferred to the general charity account. Mr Hyde said the overdraft at the bank at the present time was about £270. In reply to the Chairman Mr Hyde agreed that they were perfectly solvent on the social side. It was only on the County Council side that they were in debt. The Chairman: That shows the County Council are not supporting us as they ought to . Mr Hyde referring to the shop trading account, said that nearly every shop in the country showed a deficit every year.

Mrs Clark asked if they counted the shop trading as part of the private side for the work for the County Council side. The Chairman replied that he took it that it was the County Council side. The blind had got to get to work and the Society had to get rid of it. The Public Health Committee said it was a very expensive way of doing it and had information that the Institution at Norwich would get rid of their stuff for them. This was an entire misapprehension; The Institution at Norwich could not get rid of their own stuff and would not look at that of the Cambs. Society.

Mrs Adeane said they had dismissed the question of giving up the shop altogether and it seemed that that would do away with a valuable part of their activities in giving the blind something to do. Mrs Stace said that very often there was not a penny profit on the baskets not one society could make this pay. On the motion of the Chairman, seconded by Mrs Clark, the accounts were adopted.


A letter was read from Mrs Bromley, one of the home teachers asking for an increase in salary and stated that since she was appointed three and a half years ago her work had increased and she had obtained a certificate. Mr Hyde said he thought the Ministry had pointed out that Miss Bromley was not being paid what many other home teachers in many parts of the country received who were not so efficient. Mrs Bland said Miss Bromley was an excellent teacher and it was unanimously agreed to increase her salary by 10 shillings weekly.

The resignation of the assistant secretary was reported and it was stated this would mean a saving to the Society of £50 a year. Mrs Stace said she would manage without an assistant with the willing help she received from others. Councillor Painter asked if they could not do something in the way of propaganda or advertising to make the shop pay and the Chairman replied that he thought it would be throwing good money after bad. He did not think they could do anything, but if Mr Painter had any suggestions they would be glad to hear them. Mr Painter replied that he had not thought of any, but should see if he could do so.