FOLLOWING on from last week’s wonderful May Fair photographs taken in the 50s and 60s, today we turn to a more contemplative selection of pictures from the Derek Evans Studio archive.

Vaughan Jenkins and John Seage feature in these photos taken at Wessington Court’s specialist school for the deaf in Woolhope, near Hereford, in the mid 1950s.

Both boys were profoundly deaf and were sent to the boarding school as three and four-year-olds from Port Talbot, Wales.

Decades later, they describe what life was like there for the boys.

Vaughan vividly remembers his first day.

“My first day there, I was only three. It looked enormous to me.

"My father said, ‘This is going to be your school’, and I was shocked. There were a lot of children running around and I couldn’t quite believe it really. I felt fine, and when it was time for my parents to go I was too busy playing, and my parents had left. And then it hit me.

“In one photo the teacher was trying to teach me maths. She was asking what does one plus one equal, and I was trying to work it out and I kept getting it wrong and I was getting so frustrated and I lost my temper. And you can see in that photo, my hand is on my head, and, oh, finally I understood it and I smiled.”

Vaughan continues “They were very strict. The headmistress was a very strict woman and we weren’t allowed to sign. None of us could use British Sign Language (BSL), we were taught orally. If we were caught signing, we would have to write 100 lines.”

John agreed, saying “The old-fashioned hearing aids were really heavy and didn’t help at all.

"I’m profoundly deaf and couldn’t hear at all. They would cut up strips of paper and make us say puffing sounds. We’d have to blow out to make the pieces of paper move, but it was no good at all. I have got no voice whatsoever.”

Vaughan and John still keep in touch after all these years.

“We play bowls, indoors games, and years ago we used to play football and cricket.”

The school closed in the mid 1960s when the headteacher (who was also deaf) retired.

Thankfully, times and attitudes to disability have changed and this week is Deaf Awareness Week (May 6-12), which is raising awareness and challenging perceptions of hearing loss and deafness across the UK.

Wessington Court became a privately run home for disturbed boys in 1966, and closed in 1983.

Vaughan and John, who still live in Wales, feature in the

Herefordshire Life Through A Lens

film Carousel at the Courtyard Centre of the Arts until Thursday, May 16.

Herefordshire Life Through A Lens is a project by Herefordshire Councils Archives and Libraries and a team of local volunteers working to digitise the thousands of images taken by Herefordshire photographer Derek Evans. It is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

  • Were you at pupil at Wessington Court's school for the deaf? Share your memories by emailing