Shrewsbury House
Open Air School
Grounds of Shrewsbury House, Shrewsbury Lane,
Shooters Hill, SE18 3EG

Medical dates:

Medical character:
1908 - 1929

Open Air School
Following the success of the experimental open air school in Bostall Wood over the summer of 1907, the LCC decided to establish a number of such schools the following year, these to be more permanent.

Accordingly, the Council acquired a 21-year lease on part of the grounds of Shrewsbury House in Shooters Hill, some 3 kilometres from Bostall Wood.  The house itself accommodated a children's convalescent home - the Wyndham Home - but the school would be established in part of its gardens.

 Shrewsbury House Open Air School (also known as Shooters Hill Open Air School) opened in 1908 with about 75 'delicate' pupils with heart or lung problems, or malnourishment.  There were three classes and the teaching staff was made up of a head teacher and 3 assistants.  A nurse, a cook, a helper and a school -keeper were also employed.

Located on top of a wooded hill, with fine views of Kent and the winding river Thames, the school consisted of a number of open-sided structures knows as 'Doecker sheds'.   These were made of canvas and were impervious to rain.  One side was removable, while the others had windows.  The 'sheds' were light, portable and inexpensive - at £120 each when new.  Each held from 50 to 60 children.

 Originally the school was only open during the summer, but from 1913 it operated all year round. 

In 1915 the house and its grounds were sold to a local worthy, Frederick Halse, who eventually built himself a new mansion in 1923 a little to the south of the original house, which was demolished in 1925.

In 1928 the northern part of the estate was sold to the LCC to create a new public park.  Most of the remaining groups were soon developed for housing, but the school site was not part of these plans.

When the original lease expired in 1929, the school decamped to a new site purchased by the LCC adjacent to Charlton Park.

Present status (May 2012)

In 1933 the new Shrewsbury House was purchased by Woolwich Borough Council for £9,000 for use as a library and a museum (the latter was never realised).

During and after WW2 the house was used as a Civil Defence Control Centre.

In 1968 the building became a community centre.

Shrewsbury House
The 1923 building is now Shrewsbury House Community Centre.

Shrewsbury Park  Shrewsbury Park
The site of the school within the grounds of the house is not exactly known.  It may now be part of Shrewsbury Park.

Ayres LP 1910 Open Air Schools.  New York, Doubleday.

Jefferson EFE 1957 England's First Open Air School.  London, Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society.

Johnson AV 1914 Open-Air Schools.  British Journal of Nursing, 6th June, 499-500, continued 13th June, 523.

London County Council 1911 The Organisation of Education in London.  LCC Education Offices.


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