Oxo Tower showcases history of disability charity

25 September 2017

  • exhibition includes some of the earliest films made by disabled people in the UK along with other unearthed material from the archives of leading charity Leonard Cheshire Disability
  • the free exhibition, ‘Rewind: 7 decades of stories from Leonard Cheshire Disability’, will run from Wednesday 4 October until Sunday 8 October, 11am-6pm every day

Le Court Film Unit member Brian Line and filmmaker Nick Dance filming in Basingstoke 1979The gallery@oxo at Oxo Tower Wharf London is hosting a multimedia historical exhibition, allowing visitors to step back in time and learn about the history of disability and care in the UK over seven decades.

Curated by Leonard Cheshire Disability, the exhibition boasts some of the earliest films made by disabled people in the UK about their own lives, along with photographs and stories from the charity’s archive to give visitors a glimpse into the past. 

One of the oral histories included in the exhibition comes from current Leonard Cheshire care home resident Carol, who reflected on the history of disability, saying:

‘When my mother was in a wheelchair, somebody pushed you. Now, I can drive myself about in this, as long as I don't kill anybody! I can go anywhere. It's really quite incredible.’

The recollections displayed in the exhibition also include the memories of people who lived and worked at Le Court, the first Leonard Cheshire home, founded in 1948.

There are stories of residents who edited the in-house magazine and of staff members who remember the beginnings of the Independent Living Movement in the 1970s and 1980s, which was founded by pioneering residents at Le Court. 

As well as learning about the charity’s history from 1948 to the present day, visitors can find out about famous founder, war hero and global humanitarian Leonard Cheshire.

The exhibition, which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is the result of the charity visiting many of its historic services in the South East, discovering their history and recording the stories of the people living in or involved with the care homes either today or in the past.

The project has unearthed a wealth of archive material including copies of an international magazine made by some of the charity’s care home residents in the mid to late twentieth century.

Leonard Cheshire Disability heritage project manager Annie Ward said:

‘We are thrilled to be able to share our charity’s fascinating history through this exhibition.

‘The inspirational films created by disabled people living at the first Cheshire home are a key part of our archive collection, as they give an insight into what life was like for disabled people in the 1960s — it’s striking to see what has changed over the years as well as how much further we have to go.’

The free exhibition, called ‘Rewind: 7 decades of stories from Leonard Cheshire Disability’ will run from Wednesday 4 October until Sunday 8 October, 11am-6pm every day. 

The venue is fully accessible and if you have any questions or specific accessibility queries please contact Annie Ward at Leonard Cheshire Disability at annie.ward@leonardcheshire.org.

Media enquiries

For media enquiries please contact Claire Farrell on claire.farrell@leonardcheshire.org or call 020 3242 0204.