2 years ago

There was an open-air school on Clapham Common

Learning on the Common! The children of the ’30s were sent to school outside to deal with the TB pandemic in London.

Credit: Getty Images

COVID has really gobbled up the past few years, so it’s quite hard to imagine there were other pandemics before 2020. But the past 2 years haven’t been the first time that we’ve dealt with widespread illness. In the 1930s London was struck with a Tuberculosis outbreak. And how to counter it? Open-air schools.

The thinking behind the schools was that fresh air promoted ‘fitness’ and grow strength within the children, which would stave off bugs and germs. Though we now know that is a floored theory, there was actually some reason behind it. Ventilation at the open-air schools were much better than indoors and thus the spread of TB was significantly reduced.

Credit: Pinterest

Springwell House Open Air School on the North side of the Common housed classes of children who were taught in classrooms structured like bandstands, slightly raised and with 3 sides open to the elements. The children took naps outside and during the winter months frozen ink pots were replaced with chalk boards so lessons could continue.

Many children were sent to these schools if they had asthma or repeated bouts of bronchitis, with the aim to increase their respiratory strength and reduce their risk of TB. The classes weren’t divided by age, but rather by ability as many of the children at school would have had lots of time off due to illness.

Credit: Pinterest

We’re glad that the children of Clapham weren’t sent to do their times tables on the Common during Covid!

Subscribe for Latest News, Events & More!

Privacy Policy