St Saviour’s Deaf Church is the only purpose-built church for deaf people ever to have been constructed. It features two pulpits, one for a preacher, the other for a sign language interpreter, and no pillars so that everyone can see what is happening.
It was opened in 1925 for a congregation which had previously met in central London since the 1870s. It was long regarded as symbol of equal place of deaf people in the church and society. It closed in 2014, when it was finally sold due to lack of funding. The congregation continues to meet at other sites.
Our programme kicked off in April 2016 at the Acton Vale Community Centre for those who were once members of St Saviour’s Deaf Church. Some participants, now in their 70s, have been associated with the deaf church since they were teenagers, and discussed their recollections from 50 years of deaf church history. Below you can view a film made by a group of young deaf Filmmakers as part of this programme. The group interviewed Stanley, an elderly man who used to attend St Saviours Church Acton, before it’s closure. This film was also shown as part of the display “Without Walls” at the Victoria and Albert Museum London.
For more films from our BSL Oral Histories collection, visit here.
Some detail in our timeline comes from British History Online. Visit here (and scroll) for more on St Saviour’s.