About Us

Norwich and Norfolk Deaf Social and Sport Club is based in a busy lifestyle of Norwich, Norfolk, where we attract all Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and many others people to our building as a community. We are all volunteer run club to supply you with entertainment, outings, meeting other people and much more.

On this website, you can find out more about the commitee members and also the location of the Norwich and Norfolk Deaf Social and Sport Club.

The History of the Norwich and Norfolk Deaf Social and Sport Club - written by Peter Gosse

The deaf association was founded around 1898. Initially covered both Norfolk and Suffolk under the title of Norwich, St Emunds Bury and Ipswich Mission to the Deaf & Dumb. Papers relating to the first 10 years appear to be missing both here in Norwich and in Ipswich. The first missioner/welfare officer was Arthur Hansell, 1898 - 1912 when he died suddenly. Rev A Payne who replaced him, served from 1914 - 1919, before moving elsewhere. George Fisher was appointed in his place, of whom more later.

In those days the missioner was a "Jack of all Trades". He interpreted, sorted out your problems, helped to marry or bury you, and found you a job amongst other things.

The first office and meeting place here in Norwich was a hut in the Cathedral Close that I understand was situated in the garden of the Dean. Later the deaf association moved into the room above the St Ethelbert Gate with the missioners desk being a table in one corner of the room. In those days all evening meetings ended at 9.00pm. The reason for this was that all gates into the Close were locked at 9.30pm and only opened to admit residents of the Close returning home returning home later.

It was some time during the 1920's, I am not sure of the actual date that the deaf association was divided into separate counties as Suffolk felt that they were not receiving their fair share of the missioners time and services.

During the 1920's a new home in Norwich for the association and centre was found in a rambling old building called "Tuck's Court", on St Giles Street, almost next door to the present Salvation Army headquarters. Church services were held at St Peter Hungate church, Princes Street, now a museum.

When it was agreed to build the present City Hall, it was also decided to demolish Tuck's Court to make way for a possible extension at the rear of the new hall. So the deaf association had to move again. I believe that this was around 1934/5

This time it was to 11 St Andrew Street, the former Board of Guardians office. It was next door to the Public Baths, which kept the building nice and warm, with the Central Library on the other side of the baths. The most popular game for men then was Bagatelle, played on a special table. The club won the league or KO championship at least twice. There was also a team of mixed deaf and hearing members competing in the Norwich Table Tennis League commencing in 1938. After the outbreak of the war the centre was only open for meetings in the afternoons or in daylight hours.

The Deaf Club began to organise an annual Children's Party for member's children and all EAS School children residing in Norfolk, at times there were over 60 children attending each year. All children were given a present that was paid for from club funds. All EAS School children who had left school in the year up to Christmas were sent an invitation to the Deaf Clubs annual party to "introduce" them to the older deaf and hopefully to become regulars. At its peak the party was held at the former Stuart Hall (now Cinema City) with an average attendance of 150 or more

During 1955 the missioner George Fisher retired as he was ill and nearly 70 years of age. A Charles Collins was appointed to replace him, unfortunately he was not as popular as George Fisher for reasons that I need not go into here.

It was in the early 1960's that the first new group, the Hard of Hearing Club was formed, meeting on Wednesdays on a weekly basis. It had no connection with the Deaf Sports and Social Club.

In 1966 the association and the centre moved again. This time just round the corner into Duke Street into premises by the river, opposite what is now the Art school. As the City Council wanted to demolish the deaf centre and widen the road.

This was to be a temporary move as the City Council had also decided that all the disabled groups, deaf, blind, physically disabled etc, should all be housed in one area, at or around the present Vauxhall Centre. The blind fought and won the right to stay where they were as most of them lived and worked in the same area around Magpie Road, the Blind Social Club is off St Augustine Street.

During the summer or 1969 there was a meeting at the deaf centre where plans were shown. Members were told that there would be large and small rooms as well as a billiard room. There would be a main car park and a second one underneath the proposed Vauxhall Centre. Later further changes were made to the plans of which we were not informed.

The changes were found when two of us went and had a look at the site and found that the deaf centre would all be small rooms about 22 ft x 20 ft, no large main room like you have now. So a meeting was held at Duke Street in a room approximately the same size to help deaf members better understand the problem. Members were very concerned with the news. I still have the papers about this somewhere.

It was agreed to write to the Lord Mayor and the deaf assn chairman outlining the members concerns and proposing alterations/improvements that were felt more in line with the plans. As a result some changes were made that resulted in the centre as it is now. The others were not taken up, as it would have involved altering the foundations etc. that were too far advanced. I was summoned to the home of the then Chairman Stanley Hesketh (he was headmaster at the Hewett School) and "told off" like a naughty schoolboy! At the same time it was admitted that some of what was proposed were "Good Ideas" and wondered why "they" had not thought of them themselves!

It was around this time the Deaf Club members petitioned the Deaf Association to be allowed to elect their own chairman. This was agreed and the first deaf chairman was Herbert Dore. A year later he stood down and I was elected chair, a position that I held until around the mid 1980's when my other commitments, Treasurer to British Deaf Sports Council, member on British Deaf Assn and Council for Advancement of Communication with Deaf People executive committees made heavy demands on my spare time. Alan Sowter led things & kept things moving.

In July 1972 we moved to the present centre at Johnson Place. The early weeks there were difficult as they tried to close the Deaf Centre at 9.00pm the same time as the Vauxhall Centre, with the Vauxhall Centre caretaker in charge. In the end they gave up and the deaf groups using the centre were allocated keys as before.

The first few years were difficult for deaf users, religious services were discontinued, requests for improvements in any way were discouraged. Example when the social club wanted a license, they were told while there was no objection they would not support it as some members might not want to see drinks being sold there!

The Rainbow club for Deaf/Blind moved in, there were several deaf with sight problems in those days that were members. It celebrated its 40th anniversary earlier this year and is still going strong.

The Senior Citizens Club was founded in 1980. Meeting on a monthly basis it celebrated its 25th anniversary last year.

The late Joyce Chapman took over from Charles Collins during the early 80's, then set up the Tuesday Group during 1983 with about 12 members, now it has about 40 members meeting on a weekly basis.

During the 80's an attempt was made to set up a Youth Club to meet on a fortnightly basis, it started with a trip on the paddle steamer from Horning. Meetings were held either at the Deaf Centre or Heartsease Youth Centre. A minibus was used to collect and return those members who lived outside Norwich, some as far as Gt Yarmouth. Sadly it did not really take off and closed down a couple of years later.

By then the social club had been successful in obtaining a bar license. Teams were entered in the local Darts and Pool leagues. This caused some pressure on the storage facilities. So when the deaf association received a legacy, this was used to refurbish the centre. The little used Billiard Table was sold. Part of the former billiard room became the beer store with new cupboards facing into the new TV lounge for use by the different groups. The Kitchen and Bar areas changed places to make the present arrangement.

Then the Marlborough Arms Pub on Spencer Street Norwich, donated a Short Mat Bowls Carpet to the NDCC just in time to replace the Pool league team. With the refurbishment complete, the user groups were invited to take on some responsibility by overseeing the cleaning of the centre and finding the cost of materials. By general consent this was later changed to a donation from each user group towards meeting the cleaning costs.

More recently (2002?) another attempt was made to establish a Youth Club/Young Peoples Club with more success. While catering for their own needs it also establishes a link between young people and the older group users including the Norfolk & Norwich Deaf Sports & Social Club. Indeed some of them now hold office in both groups.

Currently the NDCC is in use on an average of 35 hours activities, meetings etc. a week. There is a need to increase the hours to around 40 hours per week to help ensure the continuity of the centre. Ideas for new activities and interests for deaf and hard of hearing people at the centre are welcome as long as they are practical.