The photograph is of the Deaf Friends’ Club’s first Dinner held on 9th February 1907 at the Cáfe Marguerite, Oxford Street, London. Thirty-six male members attended it. Melinda Napier donated the photograph from the collection of a National Deaf Club memorabilia to the Deaf Museum.
What was the Deaf Friends’ Club?
It was the first private deaf club ever founded in the UK and was wholly run by the deaf themselves without any usual assistance from either churches or missioners. “Several Oralists used to meet on frequent occasions in continuance of the close friendship formed whilst at school. There was no particular place where they could appreciate the opportunity of regularly meeting together for social intercourse.” As there was no central meeting place in London for the men who had formed friendships in oral schools, a first meeting was called for 18th September 1906. The result was that they resolved to set up a new independent club, “The Deaf Friends’ Club”. Membership was to be confined to gentlemen only. But soon more and more non-oralist deaf men joined and soon the Club was no longer confined to the “Oralists” so a suggestion was made that the title be altered. It was decided at the Annual General Meeting on May 12th 1909 to alter the name of “Deaf Friends’ Club” to “National Deaf Club”.