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Blind Veterans UK

Categories: Education, Social Welfare

This charity was founded at the start of WW1 by Arthur Pearson, the newspaper magnate who became blind in later life, as The Blinded Soldiers' and Sailors' Care Committee. February 1915 it opened the Blinded Soldiers and Sailors Hostel at 6 Bayswater Hill, the house having been lent by Mrs Lewis Hall, but this was too small to be anything other than a temporary arrangement.

From British History On-line "St. Petersburgh House, no. 8 Bayswater Hill, was the home of the conveyancer Lewis Duval (1774-1844) and then of his niece's husband the Vice-Chancellor Sir Charles Hall (1814-83). .... The site of nos. 6 to 8 Bayswater Hill was advertised as suitable for high-class flats or a hotel in 1912."

The American philanthropist Otto Kahn (1867-1934) offered his house in Regent's Park, St Dunstan's Lodge, and the charity moved in on 26 March 1915. It was renamed as St Dunstan's Hostel for Blinded Soldiers and Sailors. 1916 Pearson was knighted for his services to the blind, and became the 1st Baronet of St Dunstan's. The operation quickly expanded into a nearby property and to premises in other British towns.

When, in 1920 Otto Kahn requested the return of his house, the operation was moved to St John's Lodge, also in Regent's Park, which had been used as a hospital since 1917. Various other sites were used but the HQ remained at St John's Lodge, which received some bomb damage in WW2, by which time the charity was called simply St Dunstan's. In 1948 St Dunstan's headquarters moved to 191 Old Marylebone Road and then in 1984 to 12-14 Harcourt Street. 2012 the name changed from St Dunstan's to Blind Veterans UK.

Information from the magnificent Lost Hospitals of London.

St Dunstan's Lodge was designed as Hertford Villa by Decimus Burton as part of John Nash's design for the Park. In 1830, when Lord Hertford acquired the clock from St Dunstan in the West (which was being demolished) the house also acquired a new name. Damaged by fire in 1936 it was demolished. The new house on the site was named Winfield House (for the Woolworth lineage of the owner). The Daily Mail (with lots of photos) informs: ""It was built by the famous American socialite Barbara Hutton in the 1930s. She was dubbed the 'poor little rich girl' because of her troubled life and lived there for a period with her husband Cary Grant." In 1955 it became the US ambassador's official residence, which it still (2018) is. It lies inside the Outer Circle at the north east of the Park. 

St John's Lodge was designed by  John Raffield and built in 1812, the first house built in Regents Park, and is now one of only two of the villas remaining from John Nash's original plan. The adjoining gardens (which are lovely) have been open to the public since 1928. See a memorial there. Since 1994 the house has been leased by the royal family of Brunei. It lies to the north of the Inner Circle.

This section lists the memorials where the subject on this page is commemorated:
Blind Veterans UK

Commemorated ati

Blind Veterans UK

Site of Blind Veterans UK's first training centre. The charity was located he...

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Sir Arthur Pearson

Sir Arthur Pearson 1866 - 1921 Founder of St Dunstan's (Blind Veterans UK) li...

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