Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People was founded as ‘The Cripples’ Training College’ in 1934 by Dame Georgiana Buller and Stanley Evans. With the support of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (then Her Royal Highness the Duchess of York) the College was officially opened on the 27th June, 1935. The initial purpose of the College was ‘to demonstrate the possibility of fitting many cripples for absorption into industry by means of occupations other than the traditional crafts, with the advantage of shorter training, a more elastic qualification at the end of it, and with an even better prospect of obtaining and holding a job afterwards’. In simpler terms, to provide employment training for people with disabilities. Over the years QEF opened a sheltered workshop, a holiday home, a rehabilitation and mobility centre, and although centres have changed purpose over the years, QEF is still committed to helping people with disabilities achieve their goals. Read more about QEF’s history.
In 2015 QEF celebrated its 80th anniversary. Due to some extra funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund we were able to undertake a one year heritage project which aimed to widen knowledge and understanding of QEF’s work, and to explore changing attitudes towards disability and employment. We digitised over 1000 photographs, numerous film reels and 1000s of pages of documents, and recorded oral histories from past beneficiaries and staff members, all of which are available to view online. We also worked with actors with disabilities to take a performance about disability and technology to fifteen schools in Surrey, which you can watch on our YouTube account. QEF’s physical archive is being stored at the Surrey History Centre in Woking, and you can explore the records online below.
To view our Heritage Project go to Exploring Surrey’s Past where you can browse our historical photographs and oral histories.