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MIMA School of Art & Design

Hidden history of the invalid carriage continues to be uncovered

17 September 2019 @TeesUniNews

 

Vintage photographs and video footage of invalid carriages and their users can be seen at Disability North as part of a research project by a Teesside University academic and artist.

Simon McKeown, with some of his collection of invalid carriages
Simon McKeown, with some of his collection of invalid carriages

Simon McKeown, who is an artist and Reader at the University’s MIMA School of Art, has amassed the largest national collection of invalid carriages. The carriages, which were three-wheeled and often blue, were granted to disabled people before their use was replaced by the current Motability scheme.

Simon has been conducting research for National Lottery Heritage Fund project The Carrying of Passengers is Forbidden, which aims to uncover the hidden history and heritage of the invalid carriage and its users.

He is now sharing some of the photographic images and videos which he and his team of volunteers have uncovered.

The exhibition of newly unearthed images and video will take place at Disability North, Gosforth, a charity which provides information, advice and support for disabled people and their families.

Disability North's Chief Executive, Victoria Armstrong, is looking forward to the exhibition being hosted at the Dene Centre. She said: 'Simon's exhibition provides a great insight into invalid carriages and their associated narratives which form an important part of the social history of disabled people in England.'

Some of the images on display come from Simon’s family photograph album. His grandfather was an invalid carriage user, from the primitive hand-cranked versions of the 1940s to the motorised vehicles of the 1970s.

Simon's exhibition provides a great insight into invalid carriages and their associated narratives which form an important part of the social history of disabled people in England

Victoria Armstrong, Disability North

Simon said: 'There is a lot of fun, humour and love in those photographs, along with views of several invalid carriages.

'It is hoped that this exhibition will help tell the less obvious story of these vehicles and their users, not just one of disability but families and a different kind of normality, one provided to families up and down the country by the NHS.'

During the 1970s, the vehicles were a common site across towns and cities, with over 25,000 on the road.

Simon is giving a talk about the exhibition and invalid carriages at Disability North at 3pm on 17 October. He is also asking people to share their family stories related to the vehicles, as well as photographs or other related items.

The Carrying of Passengers is Forbidden exhibition can be seen until 1 November at Disability North, The Dene Centre, Castle Farm Road, Newcastle. More information about the project