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EVENTS 1950 -1996 /

1950 /

The Institution Brass Band is formed and the following year, performs to great public acclaim at Birmingham Central Hall.

1951 /

Pupils attend the Festival of Britain, accommodation is added at the Cowley Retirement Home (including a sitting room) and a handicraft class established for residents.

1954 //media/pages/library/tl-lickey-grange.jpg

Pupils transfer to Lickey Grange, a new senior school classroom block and the Carpenter Road premises are given up, having been used by the charity for over 100 years.

Image: Lickey Grange School.



1958 /

/media/pages/library/tl-mechanical-dept.jpgThe technical department at the Harborne site is designated as a Technical College and new buildings are added. It is formally opened in June and known as the Queen Alexandra Technical College for the Blind.

Image: Mechanical department.


1959 - 1960 //media/pages/library/tl-queen-mother.jpg


A new assembly hall, library and indoor swimming pool are built at the Lickey Grange school, later opened by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in 1961.


Image: HRH Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.


1963 /

Queen Alexandra College is invited by the Department for Education to become a Vocational Assessment Centre for Blind Adolescents, providing pre-vocational assessment, further education and training. By 1964 there are 40 resident and 10 day students.

1965 //media/pages/library/tl-elizabeth-gunn.jpg

The Elizabeth Gunn Centre on the Harborne site is opened, built using a substantial bequest. It provides workshops for Radio Services which, at the time, maintained 1400 mains and battery wireless sets issued to blind people and for the Occupation Centre. This provided work for 18 people and also supported another 15 people at home.

Image: The Elizabeth Gunn Centre today


1970 /

Pre-school peripatetic teaching to counsel and advise parents of children in the Midlands is introduced.

1977 /

The number of pupils at Lickey Grange school declines for the first time and the following year, ordinary schools began to integrate children who are partially sighted. However, numbers continue to decline and the school is eventually closed and the site sold in the early 1990s.

1978 /

Brib Housing Society established with the aim of providing suitable accommodation for people with multiple disabilities.

1979 /

/media/pages/library/tl-cycle-mechanic.jpg£350,000 funding appeal launched to modernise Queen Alexandra College . Over £100,000 is launched in the first year and the target is reached by 1985. New subjects are added to the curriculum, including for the first time, bicycle repairs.

A disastrous fire at the Lickey Grange school destroys two classrooms and the gym. These buildings are rebuilt by 1981.

Image: Cycle mechanic training.


 1980 //media/pages/library/tl-oakwood-house.jpg

Oakwood - a 16 place hostel for people with multiple disabilities is opened as part the brib housing society, offering independent living for residents. Later extended, this building now forms part of the residential provision at QAC.

Image: Oakwood House.




1983 /

Plans are drawn up by the brib Housing Society for a sheltered housing scheme for blind people at the Harborne site,  opened in 1991.


1984 //media/pages/library/tl-engineering.jpg

QAC offers City & Guilds vocational courses and pioneers the new certificate of pre vocational education. Courses are offered in ‘Telephony’, ‘Reception’ and ‘Information Processing’. ‘Cycle Mechanics’ is expanded to meet demand and ‘Business Studies’ is introduced for those who are self employed.

Image: Engineering training.


1985 /

Lickey Grange school widens the range of services provided to include psychological/developmental assessment, pre school nursery, physiotherapy and speech therapy. Premises are also adapted to accommodate wheelchairs.

1986 /

A new hostel (specially adapted for wheelchair users) for 14 students is opened. The Engineering and Cycle Mechanics provision is relocated to the former Industrial Training Centre for the Blind and the vacated buildings provide space for a computer centre, mathematics room and, for the first time, a College library.


1990 /

Brib launches ‘Blind aid’ to raise funds to develop QAC and Birmingham Focus on Blindness buildings, including the upgrade of the Elizabeth Gunn Centre to create a purpose designed day centre for visually impaired adults with multiple disabilities.


1991 /

A sheltered housing scheme for blind people is opened at the Harborne site by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Today, this site is leased to the New Outlook Housing Association and continues to provide managed accommodation for blind and disabled people in the same buildings.

The decline in pupil numbers at the Lickey Grange school is such that it is no longer financially viable and is closed. The site is sold for redevelopment.


1992 /

Charity concert by the CBSO held at Symphony Hall, showcasing visually impaired musicians, raises over £33,000.  Particular thanks to Angela Wood for organising the event.

1993 //media/pages/library/tl-lowvision-centre.jpg

A Low Vision Centre is established, offering assessment and training for people with low vision and supplies specialist  equipment, advice and information.

A mobile vision service and Talking Eyes (an Asian language talking newspaper) are also launched.

A Resource centre offers a wide variety of specialised items such as watches, clocks, measures and scales and reading and writing devices.

Image: Low Vision Centre.


1994 //media/pages/library/tl-albert-weedall.jpg

Cowley Home for Blind Women is demolished and new purpose built accommodation is provided on the same site, known as the Albert Weedall Centre. This site is now leased to the New Outlook Housing Association.

Image: The Albert Weedall Centre.



1996 /

A major review of brib’s structures and operations is commissioned.

Birmingham Royal Institution
for the Blind has
devolved its operations
into three distinct charities.

Birmingham Royal Institute For The Blind. Birmingham Focus on Blindness. Queen Alexandra College.