Wheelchair, Children's Rest School of Recovery



Please note: This object uses outdated language in relation to disabled people / disability. ID: A wheelchair with a black metal frame. It has one small rear wheel and 2 large front wheels, with wooden armrests and a canvas seat. It has a wooden platform between its front wheels. This wheelchair was used by children at the Rest School of Recovery on Greenbank Lane, Sefton Park in the 1920s. The School was a boarding school for children with disabilities and long-term health conditions. It was also known at one time as the School of Rest and Recovery for Invalid Children. Sir Bert Massie, a prominent disability rights campaigner from Liverpool, attended from the age of 5 in 1954. He remembers the wheelchairs at the Rest School: “The school had a number of manufactured wood and wicker wheelchairs, and I enjoyed using these because I could go much faster than when I walked. They had two large wheels at the front and a small wheel at the back in a central position, which meant the chairs were unstable and could be easily turned over, but that was great fun.” Sir Bert went on to campaign and advocate for the rights of disabled people, holding many important posts. Notably, he became the chairman of the former Disability Rights Commission until 2007, when the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) was established to succeed it. He was one of the EHRC’s founding commissioners and remained on its board until 2009. It still exists today. Sir Bert was also a governor for Motability, a charity that, vitally, enables disabled people in the UK to lease cars, scooters, and electric wheelchairs through the mobility allowance of their disability benefit. Sir Bert personally recalled his time at the Children’s Rest as challenging and recognised that social attitudes towards disability had much to do with his and other students’ treatment there in the 1950s. “Although it was the most violent institution in which I ever stayed, there was also kindness and compassion. In many ways it was of its day and behaviour that would now attract the attention of the courts was viewed as matter of fact and normal.” The building that once housed the Rest School of Recovery is now occupied by Greenbank College, who redeveloped it in 1982. The college offers inclusive, accessible learning and skill-based training for young people in Liverpool, supporting over 200 students a year. 1, 2. A Life Without Limits, Bert Massie, 2019