Visitors are invited to take a trip back in time to find out more about the extraordinary woman who founded Shropshire’s Derwen College back in 1927.

As part of Heritage Open Days’ focus on Extraordinary Women, the specialist college, near Oswestry, celebrates the work of its inspirational founder Dame Agnes Hunt, with home-made cake and a journey through the archives on 6th and 15th September.

From Shropshire to Tasmania and home again, visitors can discover the travels, tales and adventures of the extraordinary Agnes, who started Derwen College in Gobowen more than nine decades ago.

Early in her childhood Agnes developed a disability that left her in permanent pain. Despite this, she travelled the world, including living in the bush in Tasmania, before returning to the UK to train as a nurse. In 1900 she opened a convalescent home for ‘crippled’ children where she promoted the benefits of open-air treatments for disabled children. Agnes later went on to co-found the Orthopaedic Hospital in Gobowen, near Oswestry, treating older patients, soldiers and civilians injured in the First World War. In 1927, at the age of 61, Dame Agnes founded the Derwen Training College, also in Gobowen, where physically disabled young people could learn a trade and become partially or wholly self-supporting.

Derwen College’s Marketing and Business Development Manager Tonia Davies said the college was looking forward to sharing the amazing story of Dame Agnes Hunt.

She said: “Derwen College is excited to be part of Heritage Open Days’ Extraordinary Women campaign. Dame Agnes was one of Shropshire’s most extraordinary and inspirational women, and Derwen College would not be here without her. There have been many changes at the college – and in specialist education – over the years but Agnes’s values still hold strong.”

Heritage Open Days is England’s largest festival of history and culture, bringing together more than 2,500 organisations. Every year in September, places across the country throw open their doors to celebrate their heritage, community and history offering visitors the chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences for free.

Join Derwen College for a talk with home-made refreshments on Thursday 6 September between 2pm-3pm or Saturday 15 September between 11am-midday. The Orangery Restaurant is open from 10am to 4pm for visitors wishing to order lunch.

Derwen College is a specialist residential and day college which works with young adults with learning difficulties and disabilities, providing inspirational learning, development and care. The college has an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted grading and provides work experience for students in its leisure and shopping area that includes the Orangery Restaurant, Garden Centre and Shop, and Garden Café.

Booking for the Heritage Open Day event is essential. Contact Helen Edwards on 01691 661234 or email