M Shed

Brave Poor Things: Reclaiming Bristol’s Disability History

14 October until 15 April 2018

Open Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm   plus Bank Holiday Mondays and Mondays during Bristol school holidays.


M Shed
Princes Wharf
Wapping Rd

Disability history and architectural history have a longstanding relationship which has influenced the social landscape, as well as the fabric of our cities and the lives of the individuals within.

Accentuate’s national project History of Place has explored 800 years of history over eight different sites around the UK. This has culminated in three exhibitions in Bristol, Liverpool and London.

M Shed’s exhibition tells the story of The Guild of the Brave Poor Things, founded in 1894, its members and its headquarters.

This pioneering building, which still stands today in Old Market, is thought to be the UK’s first purpose-built for disabled people in 1913.

The Guild was set up by Victorian philanthropist Ada Vachell (herself deaf from childhood due to scarlet fever) in 1896. It provided a social space and a hub for crafts and apprenticeships for disabled children and adults, based on the model of the original Guild created in London.

The Guild’s 100-year lifespan saw huge changes in social attitudes towards disability. But how far have we really come – and how much further is there to go?

Exhibition includes BSL interpretation, audio description, and tactile features.

Find out more about the exhibition on our blog. Visit the History of Place website for more on the project.