I give various talks about the Together Trust’s history to groups of people who want to know more about the charity. One of the more familiar names of the various different homes we have run is that of Bethesda, which was open from 1890 to 1958 in Manchester and 1959 to 1999 in Cheadle, Cheshire. Having little time to devote solely to this service during these talks I thought it was time to put the original Bethesda in the spotlight...
|The Bethesda Home for Crippled and Incurable Children, 1904|
The ‘Bethesda Home for Crippled and Incurable Children’ as it was first known, was located at 20 George Street, Cheetham Hill, Manchester. This home was officially opened by Mr. Oliver Heywood, the English banker and philanthropist, on the 4th January 1890. The property had formally been known as 'Woodside Cottage', having been bought from a Mr Matthew Ferguson. It was used to care for the destitute children in the city, who were also disabled in some form, and allowed them to recuperate and live in clean pleasant surroundings, benefiting from professional care for as long as they needed it.
|Admission Form to the Bethesda Home. Identifying information has been removed.|
The home also taught its residents how to develop skills to overcome their disabilities. One of Bethesda’s most interesting stories was that of a small boy called Teddy who was admitted into the home in 1902. Born without any arms he used his feet and toes to carry out day-to-day activities. He became extremely adept at drawing and painting and was admitted to the Manchester Municipal School of Art, soon developing a career as an artist with the Queen of Norway admiring and purchasing one of his pictures. Later on he married and returned to the Society helping out at several of the Charity’s homes.
|Painting by 'Teddy', 1920's.|
By 1920 the home had also became a school, under the direct control of the board of education. The building was extended to admit more children and in 1928 a Sunlight Annexe and Sun Parlour were added to the main building, following the discovery that sunlight helped to cure rickets in children.
|The new sunlight annexe, 1928|
At this point its object was "to receive, provide for and educate on Christian principles, cripple, maimed paralysed, or generally incurable poor children - boys under ten and girls under fourteen years of age - who may be deemed suitable by the Committee." The home was evacuated temporarily in 1939 and the building was requisitioned and used as an RAF hospital for the duration of the War. Inhabitants were transferred to another of the charity’s homes, the ‘Seaside Convalescent Home’ at Tanllwyfan, Old Colwyn and did not return to Bethesda until 1949. In 1958 the building was sold as it had become increasingly costly to run and its facilities less adequate and the home was transferred to the Belmont Estate, Cheadle.