Benton Road Open Air School
Benton Road, Ilford, Essex IG1 4AS
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1929 - 1963

Open Air School
Soon after the formation of the Metropolitan Borough of Ilford in 1926, moves were made by the Education Committee to establish a local school for anaemic debilitated children under the principles of the open air movement.

A 1.7 acre site was selected in Benton Road, to the northeast of Ilford, just next to the Great Eastern Railway cutting holding the branch line from Ilford to Newbury Park and Hainault.

The Benton Road Open Air School for delicate and physically handicapped children opened in 1929. The one-storey building had cost £8,543 to build and furnish. It had three classrooms, each measuring 22 ft 6 in by 20 ft (6.9 by 6.1 metres) and accommodating 33 children.  The whole of the classrooms could be opened up on their south sides by folding doors.  

The kitchen had a serving hatch opening to the large dining room, which measured 32 ft by 22 ft 6 in (9.7 by 6.9 metres).  Midday meals were provided daily at a weekly rate of 2 shillings and 6 pence (£0.12).   They were prepared on the premises by the cook and two assistants.

The bathroom contained eight showers for the children with dressing boxes and a specially designed towel airer in the centre of the room.

A private 22-seater saloon bus was hired at an annual cost of £425 to collect the children living in the outlying parts of the Borough and to return them home after school.

The School was under the inspirational headship of Ethel Davis, who held the post until her death in 1962.  She was succeeded up to 1977 by the well-remembered James Ronald Causton (also remembered for having married one of his teachers -  'Sir' married 'Miss'!).

Soon after the change of Head, the School merged with the Stevens Road School in Goodmayes.  It moved to new premises in Barley Lane, north of Goodmayes, and was renamed the Ethel Davis School.

Present status (August 2013)

Following the move of the Open Air School from the site, the Benton Road premises were purchased by the local Catholic authorities, and rebuilt as St Aidan's Catholic Primary School.  This continues to operate and, although no longer an open air school, some of the structures in the grounds next to the School bear considerable resemblance to the pavilions that would have been there in its previous existence.

The Ethel Davis School in its turn merged in 2005 with Hyleford School to form Newbridge Special School.

St Aidan's Primary School
St Aidan's Catholic Primary School.

St Aidan's Primary School
The main entrance.

St Aidan's Primary School
The School from the east.

St Aidan's Primary School
The School from the west.

St Aidan's Primary School
An open air pavilion.
References (Accessed 21st September 2013)

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