Bow Road
Open Air School
49 Bow Road, Mile End, E3 2AD
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1922 - 1939

Open Air School

The Bow Road Open Air School opened in 1922 as part of the second wave of open air schools built by the LCC.  It provided education for weak, tuberculous and malnourished children.

Although the neighbourhood was a congested one, the School occupied two large gardens along the backs of Nos. 49-53 Bow Road, east of Harley Grove.

Shelter during wet days was provided in ex-Army wooden huts, otherwise the lessons were conducted outdoors.  Physical education classes and organised games also took place.

 During cold days, blankets and gloves were provided to keep the children warm, although everything - the beds, clothes and blankets - would get damp.  In winter the ink in the ink wells froze.  Heating, however, was not permitted.

The children slept for two hours every afternoon, either under the trees or, if it was raining, in a covered shed.

Three excellent meals were provided each day and the children, who had been underweight, managed to put on 3.3 kilos over the school year.

In 1938 there was a plan to rebuild the School at a cost of £9,148 and to install electric lighting in the class shelters and rest room.  However, no means of heating would be provided.

Before building work could begin, the School closed on the outbreak of war in 1939.

Present status (February 2013)

During the war the area was heavily bombed, and the School was destroyed in 1944.

After the war the school was rebuilt in 1951.  It was named the Phoenix, signifiying its rise from the ashes.  Treatment had become available for tuberculosis, but the School continued to take delicate children with chest and breathing problems.  The classrooms were heated, but not during lessons when the children were in the rooms.

Today the Phoenix School is a specialist school for communication and interaction, focusing on pupils on the autistic spectrum.

Phoenix School
Signage for the Phoenix School.

Phoenix School
The 1951 Phoenix School building is considered an architectural gem of the 1950s period.

Phoenix School  Phoenix School
The site of the Bow Road Open Air School is at the back of the 1951 building and is partly occupied by the new wing.

 Phoenix School
A new wing - the Bow Building - was added to the east of the 1951 building.  It opened in February 2013.
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