Open Air School
49 Shroffold Road, Downham, Lewisham, BR1 5PD
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1930 - c.1970

Open Air School

During the late 1920s, the LCC created a major council housing development - the Downham Estate (named after Lord Downham, a former LCC Chairman who had died in 1920) - in an undeveloped area on the borders of Lewisham and Bromley.

The Estate was populated with residents from inner-city slums, and there was a need to accommodate the delicate and undernourished children among them.  Thus, the Estate was deemed a suitable location for an additional open air school - a mode of care and treatment which was seen as very successful in other deprived areas.

By 1930 the LCC had established nine schools on the Estate, including the Downham Open Air School for 130 children, by open land on the north side.

The School was later renamed the Woodlands Open Air School.

Unlike many of its contemporaries, the School survived the disruption of the war years, and was still in operation as an open air school up to the early 1970s.

Present status (February 2013)

After the School's eventual closure, the site was retained in education use.  It is now the location of the New Woodlands School, a special school for 12 children aged from 4 to 14 years with behavioural, emotional or social difficulties.

New Woodlands School
The New Woodlands School site, looking quite fortified.  The open air school pavilions were located behind the current fencing.

New Woodlands School
The main entrance on the western side.

New Woodlands School
The eastern side.

New Woodlands School
New Woodlands School.

New Woodlands School  New Woodlands School
The School from the north, where some woodland survives.
Franklin G 2009 Inner-London Schools 1918-1944:  A Thematic Study.  Portsmouth, English Heritage, p.70.

http://collage.cityoflondon.gov.uk (1)
http://collage.cityoflondon.gov.uk (2)
http://hansard.millbanksystems. com
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