Our History

The Foundation of Royal Blind & Development of Services

In 1793, Royal Blind was founded by the Reverend Dr David Johnson, Dr Thomas Blacklock and Mr David Miller. Established during a time of progressive societal attitudes towards the provision of care and support to disabled people in Europe, it became the third foundation dedicated to improving the welfare of blind people in the world.

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Nicholson Street Workshops

As a result of increasing public support, Royal Blind purchased permanent premises at No. 58 Nicolson Street in 1806. Male trainees from Shakespeare Square continued to learn handcrafts producing mattresses, mats, brushes and baskets which could be purchased by the public visiting the showroom.

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Education (1793-2014)

An educational unit was also established by Royal Blind in 1793 providing rudimentary mental arithmetic and recitation of scripture lessons to compliment instruction in handcrafts. In 1875, the educational unit amalgamated with The School for Blind Children, founded by Mr James Gall in 1835, based at Craigmillar Park, Edinburgh.

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Care for Older People (1825-2014)

Royal Blind began providing residential care for blind women in 1825 at 1 Hill Place, Edinburgh. The facility welcomed an initial intake of 25 women from working age to elderly. In 1876, Hill Place residents were transferred to the Craigmillar premises following the amalgamation of royal Blind's Education Unit and The School for Blind Children in 1875.

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Accessible Media (1891-2014)

In 1891, a department of the Royal Blind School began commercial Braille production at Craigmillar Park. Early production concentrated on the production of religious and educational materials in Braille, pioneered by Louis Braille in 1829, involving cells of six raised dots depicting letters of the alphabet.

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Scottish War Blinded (1915-2014)

In Scotland, it had been recognised by the Royal Blind Asylum and School by March 1915 that there was a “duty devolving upon them as a Scottish National Institution to do something to meet the needs of Scottish soldiers and sailors who had lost or might lose their sight in the war”.

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