Our Heritage

Supporting people with visual & hearing impairments since 1833.

Our Heritage

The Wilberforce Trust traces its roots back to 1833 when the Yorkshire School for the Blind was opened in memory of William Wilberforce, who had died that year. The school was set up in one of York’s best-known historic buildings – the King’s Manor in the center of York, once the residence of the Abbot of St Mary and today part of the University of York.

See the Borthwick Institute Archives for more on the Wilberforce School for the Blind.

Philippa Crowther & William Wilberforce

History Timeline

Proud of our past, building for our future


The Wilberforce Memorial was set up in response to the death of William Wilberforce. The founding members decided to build a school for the education and training of the “indigent blind”.


The education of the blind is made compulsory sixty years after the Trust first addressed this vital issue.


The Wilberforce Home opens on 4th August.


Tenants move into community based supported housing and our first rehabilitation officer is appointed.


First sensory sessions are run and the Living and Learning Zone classes start.


YorSensory formed under contract with the City of York and our sensory services hub is launched.


Our Mobile Outreach unit is launched; operating across the City of York and the breadth of North Yorkshire.

2018 – 2019

Plans created for new apartments, A Living and Learning Zone and gardens.

Connect with us

The Wilberforce Trust is dedicated to helping those with visual impairment, sight loss, hearing loss and other disabilities across York, North Yorkshire and the surrounding areas.