Royal Earlswood Hospital donates arts to Down's Syndrome Association

ART and artefacts providing an insight into one of Surrey's Victorian institutions are to be the focal point of what is believed will be the UK's only museum dedicated to learning disability history. Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has donated hundreds of items from the former Royal Earlswood Hospital in Redhill to a new museum at the Down's Syndrome Association headquarters near Teddington in Middlesex. The trust, which now manages NHS learning disability services in the area, has stored most of the collection since the Royal Earlswood closed in 1997 and its own museum had to relocate. Freda Knight, curator and chairman of the Royal Earlswood Museum Committee, said: "Many of the long-stay hospitals had their own museums which were disbanded once they closed. Royal Earlswood is particularly important because it was the first hospital of its kind in the country and all the others took its lead. That is why we have been determined to preserve these important works for future generations." Highlights of the collection include around 60 pieces of work by James Henry Pullen. Around 200 other items demonstrate the varied everyday life at the hospital. Fiona Edwards, chief executive of Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Royal Earlswood Hospital has played a huge part in shaping the way that care and support for people with a learning disability has developed over the past 200 years."