Open Air Schools Memories
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In the 1960s, I went for a year to a school which was a big house in Harborne Birmingham called Baskerville 1962 to 1963. I was there because I had a weak heart. But a lot of children had asthma and other ailments a lot of us children were from the back to back slum houses round the city centre. There were boys dormitory and girls dormitory.  They were good to us and the food was good, withow our own sweet tins which we had every Wednesday and Saturdays. We also had schooling there in class rooms,

and school trips out to cinema and other places. I have a lot of happy memories from that school.




This letter was written to the Kentish Mercury in 1907:
"Your article about the Open Air School at Bostall Woods tempted me to follow some of the Deptford and Greenwich children one morning, and I must say that I was delighted with my visit. About 100 arrived upon the breakfast scene before 9 o’clock, having travelled by workman’s car with tickets supplied to them by the County Council. The breakfast consisted a large plateful of porridge with golden syrup, washed down with a cupful of warm milk. The first morning the nurse with her spoon had to be called into requisition for some of those who thought that they had had enough, but they take it readily now and, like Oliver Twist, ask for more. Marching to the school ground, the children were arranged in classes according to the standard they were in at school, and really enjoyed sitting on forms under the trees. After half an hour at this, the bell rang, and away romped the little ones to play as they wished in the magnificent recreation grounds of the Co-operative Society, who have lent them for this experiment the large open space surrounded by every kind of tree, apple, nut, etc., with blackberry bushes, ferns and brushwood of every kind. Another half hour’s schooling, and then off to dinner, which consisted of roast beef, two vegetables, and a jolly good finisher of plum pudding. Three hours' schooling is all that is required during the day, which lasts from 9 o’clock until 6, when a substantial tea is provided before the home journey. Donkey rides, swings, 'kiss in the ring' and other games are indulged in. Large sheds can be used in inclement weather, and there are tents and a concert platform. Many of the poor little pinched white faces are becoming quite bronzed. Of course many of the children are poorly clad, and gifts of clothing and boots, or donations towards the meals (neither which are provided for in the Council grant) would be gratefully received by the head mistress, who would also glad to receive visitors at the school to judge for themselves what a happy time the little ones are having. Wild flowers grew in abundance, and a better outing could not be found  than a day in Bostal Woods, which are close to the school. That the children love their teachers there is no possible doubt, they are often back in their places before the bell rings."


BRENT KNOLL Open Air School


for memories of Forest Hill, please go this page




I was sent to an "open air" boarding school in Broadstairs, Kent when I was about six/seven years old. Not exactly sure now of details as my Father died then years ago and my Mother has dementia. The place was called Fairfax House, not sure of the road, but it was opposite a school - they had a Christmas party for us and gave us presents.

I am now 65, so this was about 1957/58.




I went there for about a year in 1952 they REMOVED  the windows every day summer or winter and we sat there in coats and gloves.

I was probably sent there because my father and another friend of the family who lived with us at the time died of tuberculosis.




My mother taught at an Open Air School in the Brynglas area of Newport (South Wales) in 1946/1947. I was briefly a pupil there because of illness. Pupils were collected by bus that passed through the centre of Newport on the way to the school. I think that the school was open only in the summer months and was for primary ages.





Do you have any information on the open air school in Burnley, Lancashire? My mother attended this school and she is often talking about her schooling but I am having difficulty finding any information. The school was near Bank Hall in Thomsons Park, Burnley.



I attended the open air school Burnley from 1944 to 1947. I moved with my family to Australia in 1950 to start a new life at age 13, and here I still remain. I have no photos of the school as film was in short supply [as most other things ] in the war and post-war years. The head mistress was Miss or Mrs Mckay. There was a teacher named Miss Read. I remember being happy at that school. We used to go for organised walks in Thompsons Park which was next to the school. A bomb hit Thompsons Park in 1943 or 1944.





I was in the open air school in Clftonville.  I think this would have been about 1960-1962.  I was born in 1954 and at three months old. It was found I had TB. I was in hospital for approx 18 months. When I started school, I had a lot of chest infections. It was decided to send me to an open air school so it got me out of the London smog.






I am coming up to my 76th Birthday and I attended Doncaster Open Air School. I had TB and it was decided that I go to that school to get stronger.


 I remember having to have a 'nap' on camp beds after lunch, yes it was of raw vegies, between lunch and the nap,  I was given huge dollops of Cod liver Oil and Malt, a thick treacle like substance. I loved my time there, about 2 years, the only downside being that some friends were sometimes never seen again, I suppose they were either too ill to come to school or they died. We used to go on walks to Hexthorpe Flats and had to go through a tunnel where there were bats, that used to scare me to death, though I never did see a bat, maybe the boys told us about them to hear us squeal as we ran through the tunnel.


I used to be driven to school by bus provide by the council, I think, the lady who drove the bus was Doris Landers, a lovely lady.


I had the 'Sunshine Treatment' also, which is ironic now because you will see that I live in Australia, have done for the past 45 years and we try to spend as little time as possible in the sun to prevent 'Skin Cancer'.




I remember being sent to the open air school when I was 3 years old. I lived on Weston Road in Balby at that time. I remember a green and cream bus used to pull up outside my house and I went on the bus to the school every day.   I remember very little of my time there, I remember the smell of the soap used in the toilets.  When I smell carbolic soap I am taken back to my time there in 1955.  I'm not sure why I was sent there. Maybe it was a nursery? I know at that time my dad was in hospital and my mum had to visit and work.  I also remember being given a spoonful of something that tasted malty every day and milk. I also remember having to lay down for a rest in the afternoon and been given a scratchy grey blanket!





Although all records say this school closed in 1939. I went there about 1950 after coming out of convalescent hospital for TB patients.It was behind the Jewish hospital. We used to be picked up by bus every morning we had breakfast when we got to school had a few lessons in the morning then lunch time we had a dinner. Then we all went into the biggest hut and had to go to sleep on the little canvas beds. After that we had tea and then was dropped back home on the bus.


There were two square wooden huts and one larger one. The bottom half was made of wood and the upper half was open to all the elements with canvas curtains that could be closed when the weather was really bad.




for memories of Forest Hill, please go this page



Burnley Council also built an open air camp school at Hest  Bank in Cumbria . Initially this was a summer camp, but soon became an all year round residential school. 





I can describe our daily routine : naughty things we used to get up to. The perks we got by being choir boys - walking with the girls after the weekly choir practice before going back to school. Remember  the head Miss Buckley, Miss Maguire who gave me extra maths tuition and enabled me  to get into grammar school.


Others I remember well were: Finky, the German Nurse, the english teacher who taught me"friends, Romans country men".


I believe the regime of the Open Air school during the four years I was there set me up for life with excellent health.Not only this but the extra interest shown to me gave me great confidence to take advantage of my subsequent education


I was sent there not only for physical health reasons (where I was grossly under weight but for mainly psychological reasons : Dr Haas of B'ham gave me extensive tests and recommended Hunters Hill to get me away from a very negative home environment with my parents arguing constantly  this lead to what was called escapism where I escaped from reality into fantasies in order to cope with this negative environment






I was resident at the Itchingfield School for two terms in 1951 or1952.

If I remember rightly the school used to be an army camp situated on the edge of a wood, prior to its use as a school.

We used to go cross country running through the woods,I have such happy memories of the school.






I was in Laleham House School for Delicate children, Cliftonville, Margate from 1954 to 1957  as a severe asthmatic.  It was a large building with dormitories and school rooms where we had lessons in the morning, an hours bed rest, and spending the afternoons on the beach at Walpole Bay. I believe it was for short term help but I know I spent 4 years there in normal term times returning home for the school holidays. I was placed there by the Kent County Council.





I remember as a child going into an open air school in Malvern I believe. Would have been in the 1950s. It was for both boys and girls, although separated. I was put in the corner of the dormatory, as it wasn't very warm. I don't know why I was sent there, and would like to know the reason why. I wasn't there a very long time, but still traumatic for me. 




I had the misfortune to be admitted to the Malvern one in 1948. Same applies to my cousin. We had to sleep outside and snow would be on our beds and freezing cold I was trying to lie with my feet under me to try and keep warm and other children were crying most of the night.




Due to asthma, I lived at Malvern open air school in 1945/46. (I am now 83)  I can remember seeing beacons lit on v j day (victory over Japan day) on the hills. I can also remember wearing clogs, eating toothpaste at bed time, we were hungry!  Also,  there was a rifle range behind the school, we used to collect the spent bullets when it was not in use. 




I was sent to Malvern Open Air School on the 23 Feb 1960 my 8th birthday. Although I remember the day really well I’m not really sure why I was sent there. I was put on a coach by my mom in a town called Oldburuy and told to be good. My mom had got me a dressing gown to take for my birthday. I had at the time 2 other sisters younger they did not go. I was there for 3 months in that time we had one Sunday visit from our parents. My hair had been cut really short and a little signet ring I had on had been filed off and I think my mom found it difficult to recognise me.


I only have a few memories one of the windows having shutters but no glass and always being open the leaves would blow on and it was really cold. We always went to church on Sunday. If we received any parcels from home the staff put them in a big box to be shared with everyone. I can only remember the name of one person and it was a boy and I’m sure his name was David. I don’t remember my time with any happiness just sad at being taken away. On my return home I found it very difficult to be back at school still not understanding why I had been sent away.


In recent years I tried to find my medical records for that time but was told they no longer exists. I would love to hear from anyone who was there in Feb 1960.





I went to a Open Air School because I was classed as delicate meaning nervous from the age of 11 up to the age 16 .6

Remember having sun ray treatment at the local hospital, just round the corner.

Having to have a sleep on a afternoon, plenty of great dinners, all fresh produce cooked on the premises by two cooks.

Mrs Carr school secretary, who we went to see if we didn't feel well

Plenty of walks,  not a lot of pressure put on the school children, small classes.

We were a great mixture of children, from children with severe illnesses to children who suffered from anxiety and tress

We were sent to Cliff House when we were older for two weeks that was at Shelley.

Our parents came and visited us at the weekend

Again plenty of good food, exercise, and country walks.

But Moorlands Open Air school will always be in my heart.

It was a great school, brilliant teachers although I didn't learn much except to be aware of others who suffer and  are still suffering as children.

My school wasn't like any other, as we got older we got wiser and got up to all sorts of tricks, but then our teachers used us too, delivering leaflets to other schools e.t.c






I was sent to the Open air School, at Newport  House Almeley Herefordshire in about 1942 and have very vivid memories of it, but I can find no record of it. I was there for about nine months, my parents were allowed to visit once a month.  Newport House  was a sanatorium and the open air school was in the stable buildings. There were many evacuees there from the bombing in London. 




I was at Northfield from 1960 to 1967. Miss Hinchcliff was the head,she taught me how to read and how to tie my shoe laces.

I am surprised that there is so little information about the school.






I was sent to Oakbank open air school in Sevenoaks in 1950 with my sister who was 3 years younger.The memories I have are not pleasant, I'm 77 now and will remember that dreadful year for the rest of my life! I came from a large family,we had no money, I had no clothes to take, and only saw my mother once in the time I spent there.


I was at Oakbank open air school in Seal in Kent from 1958 until 1960

It was a school mainly for asthmatics and other chest illnesses

I have some good memories and some bad, there was a nurse at the school

Who was very cruel at times, I had a lovely   teacher called Miss Pearce

She was so kind to us, she would take us into the village of Seal and treat

Us to tea and cakes at the copper kettle

My dormitory was on the bottom floor of the school the girls dormitories

Were on the top floor, the building itself was magnificent and there was

Lovely woodland walks  all around the school  

The headmasters study was huge we would all gather there on Sunday nights

For evening prayers, I think the school was run by the Church of England

It was a very strict school and you were punished if you misbehaved  

I remember having to clean the bathrooms and toilets and mop the floor in my bare feetif I was being punished after misbehaving.




I attended an open air school in Nottingham,on St Matthias Road.

I went there when I was about 6 or 7 and stayed there till I was 11 and then I went to an ordinary secondary modern school where they didn't know what to do with me ! Education was quite poor at the open air school ! It was probably about 1946 or 47 when I attended and I left about 1950. The school was called Rose Hill and it was divided into 2 parts, one side was for handicapped children, the other side was for children with illness, I suffered chest problems,  tonsils,a mastoid in my ear. I loved it there,we slept outside on small beds with blankets and pillows after lunch for one hour each day and the classrooms were bungalows set in a garden, the windows were open most of the time but we had a stove which kept us warm.


Rosehill open air school was on the site [the site of the current Rosehill School] at St Matthias Road. The garden was full of rose bushes on a hill, hence its name I suppose. The headmaster was Mr Sunley I believe, he was a very nice man. In the winter we slept indoors with the windows open in the classroom.  My teacher was Mrs Griffiths,she told us stories while we rested on the beds !  The school was divided in two because some children were autistic or had Downs or some other things wrong with them, in those days they were called mentally retarded. In the street where I lived other children that went to normal schools used to say I was mentally retarded because I went there !  I was still friends with them though. I did well at secondary school  after I left there.  At Rosehill we were only taught the basics in arithmatic, reading and writing so I failed my 11 plus at secondary school, I worked most of my life as a bookkeeper and some nursing and I have travelled quite a lot so it didn't affect me at all. I think it must be a lot better for children today.






I have just completed a memoir that I've been helping my father-in-law to write. He spent the whole of the Second World War years at Strinesdale Open Air School in Oldham. He didn't have TB but was sent there because the Corporation didn't have anywhere else for him to go: his mother died in 1936 and his father was called up immediately the War started. 




I just thought I would mention Styal Residential Open Air School which constantly gets mixed up with Styal cottage homes which is now the women's prison. Styal Residential Open Air School was directly adjacent to the old cottage homes /prison and was established in the 1950s. I attended 57-59 aged five and six. Sadly when looking on Google street maps all you can see of the open air school is the foundation ground level imprints but the old cottage homes are still next door and still a women's prison. It was a disgrace that these fine Victorian buildings and school were demolished. After the open air school closed it became The Bollin Cross school as close to the river Bollin. This school was more for behavioural problem children where the open air school dealt with sick and poorly kids. For my crimes it was chronic asthma. I loved every minute there and hate to hear of the abuse that was dealt out at the Bollin school and some towards our open air school. I never witnessed any abuse and the teachers, nurses and home carers were all great substitute parents.







This description is taken from the Todmorden Advertiser 13th April 1934


The Open Air School was open throughout the year and there was no difficulty in filling the 50 places available. The children admitted are those suffering from some physical disability which prevents their obtaining proper benefit from the ordinary elementary education They are brought to my notice either by the teachers, school nurses, etc., or are discovered at routine medical inspection. A fee of 2s. 6d. per week is charged for each child at the school but this is remitted in necessitous cases. During the year the average length of stay was about seven months and the average gain in weight nearly 5lbs. The work of the school was mostly ably and efficiently carried out by Miss Dewsnap and her staff and I take this opportunity of again expressing my appreciation of their efforts.


The building is erected on the northerly side of the old Recreation Ground at Ferney Lee, and faces almost due south. It is built mainly from an old army hut purchased specially for the purpose. The school is designed to accommodate 40 children, but can if necessary take 65 children. There are two class rooms and a large dining and rest room, all of which can be thrown entirely open on the south side. In front of these rooms is an open verandah, 10 feet wide, with glazed roof. Adjoining the dining room is a large kitchen complete with gas cooking stoves, boilers, and everything necessary for providing three meals per day for the scholars and staff. There is also a bath room containing three shower baths, and two slipper baths, with suitable dressing cubicles. Separate cloak rooms for boys and girls are provided, fitted with lavatories, and specially arranged fittings for towels, toothbrushes, mugs. etc., for each child. A drying room is adjoining the cloakrooms to dry and air clothes during wet weather. There is also a teachers' room and a tool shed. A large kitchen garden has been laid in which vegetables for use at the school will be grown. Altogether the building looks very bright and cheerful. 



I was at the school in 1948/9 for 6 months ,along with my twin sister. We spent 6 months there , & I thoroughly enjoyed it. Boiled fish was the meal we remember hating! Never upset my school career- I ended up as a University lecturer. The variety of diseases that children came with was an eye- opener for me-- my sister was recovering from a mastoid & wouldn't go there without me! I was the only fit person there.Never remember going to Church ever . We were not the only ones from the Manchester area- I remember  Ernest cycling from Stockport to come & see us & we had a local neighbour 's daughter , Elizabeth, also resident at the same time, but,yes, a lot were from Liverpool. Great staff of young nurses , teachers I don't remember. My co- pupils , like me, must be all close to 80 years, if they are still alive. Good to know the school lasted much longer & that it's reasons for existing at all were probably addressed by the reforms of the new Labour government tho' the current policies of the Coalition & Tory govt.s probably mean the school will be due a come- back!





I was in there 1960, initially for 6 months which was extended to12 months. I never really got over the shock of being left behind as my parents walked away. That part of it hurt, rejection, anger, bitterness even hatred affected my life for the next 25 years until I met a wonderful Christian girl, my wife, who helped me to understand. 




I was at Torpenhow when I was about 10/11, in about 1960, possibly part of '59. It was home to I suppose some 50 boys in the Wirral area of Cheshire/Lancs. In general I was content enough, though with hindsight the education there probably held back any academic abilities I had.Plenty of fresh air, regular supervised walks to the nearest RC church, a nice garden, walled I think, to work in & pleasant young nurses. Visits from interested family no problem, except sometimes the distance/cost was a limiting factor. Still remember some of the names of the kids & have wondered how they all made out on discharge, before it closed down well after my time. My dorm had about 16/20 kids in it & was quite fun as I recall. 



Hello all, I spent approximately 5/6 years (1952/1958) in Torpenhow due I believe to having Asthma/Bronchitis. I was one of approximately 80 children (chiefly boys). Upon reflection I realise there was no other way to care for us kids with any type of congenital or other seemingly serious illness. I recall a warm, caring environment although I did miss my brothers and sisters who were unable to visit me often due to cost but we did get back together and with time, my ailments are well managed and I am happy to say I enjoy a healthy life living in Western Australia. I often think of the Matron who I might add I was very fond off and even today when thinking of her valuable genuine nurturing, she was the best. I also often wonder if the two close friends made whilst in Torpenhow are aware of this site. If so, I hope they have the same good memories and are enjoying good health. Of course, it would be nice to know if they have remembered myself and the good (sometimes naughty) times we had together. 






I am attempting to write a personal history for my grandchildren and have memories of being in a children’s open air school called Wren’s Warren which I believe was in or near Sutton Valence, Kent.

I think I was between 5 and 8 which would put it as around 1946 – 48 as I was born in July 1939 and after I returned from being evacuated to Halifax for part of the second world war.  I can remember being in a low bungalow type building with wide open doors with lines of beds and being in bed for most of the time.






Attended this open air school from about 1940 to 1942. The school was not residential we were collected by school bus that travelled around Worcester and the suburbs picking up and returning children.



Worcester open air school was at the top of midland road in wylds lane I can remember the smell of the Worcester source factory it always made me feel bad. I went there from age 5 till about 9. Windermere drive was fields then this was 1952



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