Nightingale House
Open Air School
Fort Road, Bermondsey, SE1 5SA
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1928 - 1939

Open Air School (TB)

In 1928, as part of a third wave of open air schools created by the LCC, two new establishments were set up for tuberculous children in the poorer areas of London.  One of these was in Bermondsey.

The Nightingale House Open Air School was officially opened on 28th June 1928 by Dr F. Barrie Lambert, the Chairman of the Special Services Subcommittee of the LCC.  It had cost £7,500 to build and equip.

The School had a substantial 2-storey administration block on the south side of Fort Road, between Dunton Road and Balaclava Road.  The School occupied a large quadrangle behind this, about an acre (0.4 ha) in extent, surrounded by five wooden classroom pavilions of the by-now standard pattern.  The open air dining facilities and the rest shed could accommodate 125 pre-tuberculous pupils.

The School worked in close cooperation with the Bermondsey Tuberculosis Dispensary.  The Tuberculosis Officer for the Borough had been appointed as its Medical Officer, and a part-time nurse from the Dispensary also attended.  Each day the temperatures of the children were taken.  Rest periods were observed and regular meals provided, for which parents paid according to their means.

The children could be required to remain at school until they were aged 16 years.  However, they underwent a special medical examination at the age of 14 and, if found fit, were allowed to leave and find suitable employment.

Presumably, like many of its counterparts, the School closed at the start of WW2 in 1939.

Present status (February 2013)

Bermondsey suffered especially severely during the Blitz and, by the 1950s, most of the area around the School was wasteland.  The administration block had been left standing, but as a ruin.

Comprehensive redevelopment of the Longfield Estate soon erased this evidence of the School, and even changed the line of Fort Road to obscure its location.  Surviving landmarks, however, indicate that the School site is now occupied by Fawkham House and the open ground behind it.

Fawkham House

The approximate site of the School was where Fawkham House stands now and the area behind it (above and below).

Fawkham House
(Author unstated) 1929 Open air school for Bermondsey.  British Medical Journal 2 (3522), 31.

Franklin G 2009 Inner-London Schools 1918-1944:  A Thematic Study.  Portsmouth, English Heritage, p.70.


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