The National Institutions for Persons Requiring Care and Control

The National Institutions for Persons Requiring Care and Control (NIPRCC) was a charitable trust founded by missionary and philanthropist Harold Nelson Burden (1859-1930) in 1902. The NIPRCC was responsible for the funding, maintenance, and direction of a network of institutions for the care and treatment of individuals with mental disabilities, located in Bristol and its surrounding areas.

Motivated by the poor conditions he observed while serving as chaplain of Bristol’s Horfield Prison in the 1890s, particularly those of prisoners suffering from alcoholism and mental disability, Burden established the NIPRCC in 1902 to advocate for institutional solutions to the housing and care of vulnerable individuals. In the following years, the NIPRCC became a key player in changing government policies on institutional care, in great part due to Burden’s involvement in the 1904 Royal Commission for the Care and Control of the Feeble-Minded. The subsequent Mental Deficiency Act of 1913, which mandated the removal of those with mental disabilities from the country’s prisons and workhouses, ultimately supported the NIPRCC’s aim of institutionally separating such individuals into newly built ‘colonies’.

The first institution to be certified under the 1913 law was the Stoke Park Colony in Bristol, established by Burden and the NIPRCC in 1909. Built on the site of Dower House, an eighteenth-century manor bought from the Duke of Beaufort in 1901, the Stoke Park Colony was held up as an exemplary site where individuals with mental disabilities could be given both medical care and occupational training, such as lessons in weaving, gardening, and carpentry. In 1917, the Colony was granted an extended licence to house 1,528 ‘inmates’, making it the largest licenced institution in the country.

In the years following the establishment of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1948, many NIPRCC institutions, including the Stoke Park Colony, were handed over to the Ministry of Health. The NIPRCC remained active in its original form until the mid-1950s, before changing its name to the Burden Trust. The Trust remains active today as a non-fundraising charity which provides grants for hospitals, medical research centres, retirement homes, and schools.