Friday 13th April 2012
Henshaws' Asylum For The Indigent Blind opened in Old Trafford, which opened in 1837.
The life-story of a philanthropist who set up a charity to help blind people will feature in an exhibition marking the organisation's 175th anniversary.
Henshaws Society For Blind People started when Oldham businessman Thomas Henshaw left a £20,000 legacy for the creation of an Asylum For The Indigent Blind in 1810. The donation would be worth about £1.1million today.
Henshaw wanted "to maintain and afford such instruction to the indigent blind of both sexes capable of employment as will enable them to provide, either wholly or in part, for their own subsistence and to afford asylum to the impotent and aged blind".
It took more than 26 years to set up the charity, and the asylum, at Old Trafford, which opened in 1837.
Now, the charity has been awarded £30,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to host an accessible exhibition telling the story in Thomas Henshaw: One Man's Vision.
A charity spokesman said: "After the discovery of a tea chest with artefacts and objects pertaining to the legacy of the charity, the team at Henshaws wanted to share the history and interesting stories found in an all-sensory exhibition.
"The display will trace the story surrounding Thomas Henshaw's legacy and the rich history of Henshaws. It will explore the charity's history and the history of visual impairment as well as commissioning new contemporary artworks. It will feature the fascinating stories from people who have been part of Henshaws throughout the years."
The exhibition is planned to open at Gallery Oldham later this year and then go on tour.
Sara Hilton, head of HLF North West, said: "We at HLF are delighted to be able to support this exhibition. Henshaws Society has a fascinating heritage, and through this collection they will be able to tell the story of the development of the charity. By creating a multi-sensory exhibition, this project will offer an insight into the history of visual impairment that can be accessed by all members of the community."