Pullen Press Release 13 July 2012

Pullen Ships Set Sail – Press Release | July 2012

New exhibition is launched by Business Secretary Thanks to the Support of Hertiage Lottery Fund

On Friday 6th July a new exhibition by Down’s Syndrome Association, Pullen: Ships of Reality and the Imagination, was formally opened by Business Secretary and MP for Twickenham the Rt Hon Dr Vincent Cable MP.

Some forty special guests gathered for a private viewing of the exhibition at the Langdon Down Museum of Learning Disability, which the charity opened at its offices in Teddington earlier this year.
Dr Cable spoke briefly before formally opening the exhibition, describing his memories of visiting Normansfield 20 years ago when the building was derelict, and the campaign to restore the historic building to its former glory. He paid tribute to Dr John Langdon Down, the Victorian physician who first identified Down’s syndrome and who built Normansfield, highlighting the importance of his work in humanising the way that people with learning disabilities were treated – ideas which were revolutionary in his day.

This new exhibition features artefacts made by James Henry Pullen (1835- 1916), whose life and achievements are considered to be significant in the history of learning disability. He is believed to have had the condition savant syndrome and was famous in his day for his great talent for mechanics and drawing. His drawings were given to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and he enjoyed the patronage of King Edward VII, then the Prince of Wales.

Pullen: Ships of Reality and the Imagination features some of Pullen’s greatest work, including his intricately detailed model of Brunel’s paddle steamer the SS Great Eastern. Also in the exhibition is the Princess Alexandra, a 40 gun man-of-war which Pullen completed in 1862.
The exhibition is the culmination of 6 months work, which was made possible thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Down’s Syndrome Association was awarded a Your Heritage grant totalling £45,900 to prepare the exhibition and a series of talks and activities designed to educate the public about Pullen’s work and learning disabilities.

Pullen: Ships of Reality and the Imagination is now open to the public, and can be visited on Saturday mornings between 9.30am – 1.30pm and Monday afternoons from 2 – 5pm.

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Contact Information:

For all enquiries contact Sarah Terrazas on 0208 614 5100 or at sarah.terrazas2@downs-syndrome.org.uk

Notes to editors:

About Down’s Syndrome Association

  • The Down’s Syndrome Association is the only organisation in this country focusing solely on all aspects of living successfully with Down’s syndrome. The national office is based in Langdon Down Centre, Teddington, Middlesex with over 20,000 members across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • The work of the DSA covers providing information and support for all people with Down’s syndrome, their families and carers, and the professionals who work with them. We champion the rights of people with Down’s syndrome and strive to improve knowledge of the condition in the wider community. Website:www.downs-syndrome.org.uk

About Langdon Down Centre

  • The museum is situated in the former home of Dr John Langdon Down and his family who brought a revolutionary and enlightened approach to the care of those with all forms of learning disability from 1868 until 1970. The museum contributes to the public understanding of learning disability through events and educational activities.
  • The Grade II* Listed theatre is a rare example of a private Victorian theatre containing original painted scenery and other ornate fixtures and fittings.
  • The Langdon Down Centre building contains the Down’s Syndrome Association, Down Syndrome International, the Normansfield theatre and the Langdon Down Museum of Learning Disability.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

The Pullen project received a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £45,900.

Using money raised through the National Lottery, Heritage Lottery Fun (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported over 33,000 projects, allocating £4.9 billion across the UK. Website: www.hlf.org.uk.