40
/ 100

Old Bill Fraternity

The Old Bill Fraternity was a subscription scheme for products made by blind veterans.

The Old Bill Fraternity was a subscription scheme for products made by blind veterans.

When we were first founded, around 60% of blind veterans learned a craft - basket making, mat making and carpentry were popular choices. The men receieved support from what was then the St Dunstans Sale Department, they would supply the materials and then buy back the items from the craftsmen. However, sales were seriouly affected in the economic downturn of the 1920s and stocks of goods piled up in our warehouse. 

To remedy the situation, a subscription club was started, helped along by using Bruce Bairnsfather's famous 'Old Bill' cartoon chartacter for advertising. Bruce bespoke designed a new cartoon especially for this service. The subscription meant that members regularly received items made by blind veterans, purchasing five shillings worth of products a year. The Old Bill fraternity continued sucessfully into the 1930s, with members including the late Queen Mother and the then Prince of Wales.