Welcome to RNC website image
The original
Hereford campus

Victorian Philanthropist, Dr Thomas Rhodes Armitage met like-minded American visionary, Francis Joseph Campbell. Armitage was focused on offering blind students a good education which would lead on to worthwhile employment, while Campbell, a music teacher in several blind schools, had been forced to flee the US after voicing his opinions on anti-slavery. He arrived in England after he was spared hanging due to public sympathy for his blindness.

Thomas Rhodes Armitage
(2 April 1824 - 23 October 1890)

Francis Joseph Campbell
(9 October 1832 - 30 June 1914)

Campbell and Armitage resolved to create a ground-breaking college in England and on 1 March 1872, the Royal National College for the Blind was established (first referred to as 'The Royal Normal College and Academy' - 'normal' referring to teacher training).
a picture from the 1800s showing male students being taught piano tuning

Within a year the College had outgrown the original Crystal Palace site and moved to Upper Norwood.

The curriculum was liberal and advanced for its day and included a large amount of physical education. Roller-skating was much practised and an early report mentions tobogganing after a heavy fall of snow. In those early days the atmosphere was full of life and excitingly experimental.

[The Upper Norwood site was bombed in 1940 during the Blitz and its grounds became Westow Park. The park includes the remains of garden terraces created for the blind and an ornamental archway. The name 'College Green' within the park also commemorates the College.] 

In 1887, Doctors Campbell and Armitage founded the Guild of Past Students 'for the purpose of mutual aid, especially in the first entry into life'. The Guild is still going strong today.
1909 - 1937
In 1909, Francis Campbell was knighted by King Edward VII and retired three years to be succeeded by his eldest son, Guy Marshall Campbell.
In 1929, Guy was succeeded by his widow, Louie Bealby Campbell until she retired in 1934.
William Stone took over but retired three years later in 1937.
1940 - 1946
During the war years, the College was evacuated to Great Maytham in Rolvenden, West Kent. However, with imminent threat of invasion, staff and students had 24 hours notice to move to Dorton House in Aylesbury. 
The College never returned to Upper Norwood after it was bombed out but, instead, moved to Rowton Castle near Shrewsbury in 1946.
Postcard supplied by Mark Cuthbert-Brown (Shrewsbury):

a black and white postcard of Rowton Castle with text: RNC Rowton Castle
1953 - 1958
Work was underway to enlarge the site at Rowton Castle, but a fire broke out destroying many of the buildings including 38 pianos and organs.
In 1955, the College acquired Albrighton Hall near Shrewsbury and adapted it for older boys and young men. 
In 1958, Hardy House was obtained as a new residential building for girls previously based at Rowton Castle. The building included six kitchenettes, where girls were taught domestic skills which today forms the basis for the ILS syllabus taught to all RNC students.
After 29 years as Principal, Dr Langdon retired and was succeeded by Alfred Lidster, who had previously been the College's Bursar.
In 1978, the College moved to its current site in Hereford. A year later, the work experience scheme was expanded, enhancing the emphasis on employment, dating from its conception by Dr Armitage, and this ethos remains the focus today.
The Independent Living Skills (ILS) Department was set up to offer a tailored programme to develop independence alongside academic studies.
2000 - 2007
The College led specialist education into the 21st century after being awarded Beacon Status for Excellence in 2005.
RNC's talented staff were recognised nationally by the National Star Awards including the ILS team who won the Outstanding Team award in 2006 and RNC's teacher in charge of performing arts who won the Outstanding Teaching and Learning Practitioner award in 2007.
2008 - 2010
In 2008, RNC opened the world's first Football Academy for the Blind.
Two years later, the College's state of the art sport centre, thePoint4, was the host venue for the IBSA World Football Championships.
2013 - 2014
RNC celebrated a number of student successes including Juan Greggor who won Total VI Dressage at the National Riding for the Disabled Championships in 2013/14.
Alex Green won the inaugural West Midlands Young Enterprise Journey Award in 2014.
RNC launched a Neworking Academy and Sports Academy in 2014

facebook link instagram link linked in link tiktok link twitter link youtube link

Leave Feedback