|LOST HOSPITALS OF LONDON|
Kingston Day Open Air School
Grange Road, Kingston, KT1 2QZ
|1920 - 1950s
Open Air School
In 1920 Kingston Council purchased Elmfield House, an 18th century mansion with extensive grounds near Kingston town centre. The building served as a central clinic - medical, optical and dental - for the local schools. Additionally, the ground floor was adapted as a small school for physically disabled children. Much of the grounds were used for gardens set up by the pupils of the local primary schools.
After a few years, Surrey County Council purchased the site to form the basis of a new campus for the Tiffin School. In 1928 the clinic and the School had to move out to very unsatisfactory temporary premises, but the Council worked to create a purpose-built clinic facility beside the Hogsmill River, a few hundred metres to the south. The site would include a proper new school - the future Kingston-upon Thames Day Open Air School.
During WW2 the School moved to a very large old house in Gloucester Road, where about 50 to 60 pupils attended. After the war it transferred to its new purpose-built buildings in Grange Road.
The site contained a U-shaped building, with single-storey classrooms in one wing and a two-storey Council office building in the other for the Health and Education Departments.
The Open Air School had two classrooms - one for boys and girls under 11 years of age and another for those aged from 11 to 16 years. Both classrooms had windows which could be opened concertina-like to the weather. The school hall was located on the ground floor of the Council wing. The cloakrooms, changing rooms and WCs were located in the single-story base of the U-shaped building.
The pupils were collected in the morning from their homes in either cars or converted ambulances, and returned home by them after school. Many of the children suffered from heart problems, asthma or cerebral palsy, or were recovering from polio or tuberculosis.
At break times the children received free milk and a spoonful of malted cod liver oil, after which they were allowed to run around and play. After lunch they all had to rest on angled stretchers (with their heads higher than their feet) which were placed outside in the open air. On rainy days the rest hour was held in the hall; during this time the children were not allowed to speak but made to lie still with their eyes closed.
The Open Air School operated up to the 1950s, by which time it had become the Bedelsford Day Special School, a special school for the physically disabled.
status (July 2013)
The 1930s Council building in Grange Road is still in use by Bedelsford School. The area probably occupied by the Open Air School, to the west side, is now a play area.
Now Grade II listed, Elmfield House, the first site of the Open Air School, is still part of Tiffin School.
The second site in Grange Road is now Bedelsford School (above and below).
The former Council office building (above and below).
13th June 2014)
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