Hazelbury Road Open Air School reminiscences pg2

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Hazelbury open air school was opened by Edmonton Borough Council in 1938 next to the other Hazelbury schools. It was planned for 170 mainly tubercular children but later catered for other delicate children, especially asthmatics. It took over part of the former Hazelbury secondary modern school in 1972 and had 139 children aged 5 to 16 on the roll in 1973. (see British History Online)

Click here to see a photo taken in 1938 of “pupils of the newly-opened Hazelbury Open Air School, Edmonton, attending a open air class wearing bathing costumes”.

Originally, the road on which the school is situated was called Hazelbury Road at the Lower Edmonton end - hence the name of the school - but Haselbury Road at the Upper Edmonton end. Today, the whole road is called Haselbury Road (info from Lower Edmonton website).

The School and its Purpose

Jeff (1948-1953): Above is my recollection of the school layout. The school was set back from the road with access being by a long driveway that had a high brick wall on one side.

Peter M. (1937-1939): The layout is not as I remember it but it was a long time ago.

Brian (1941-1948): Your layout drawing of the school is exactly how I remember it.

Pauline (1961-1965): I don't remember a wall but I do remember an evergreen hedge which I think ran along its length.

Jeff (1948-1953): I believe the high brick wall closed off the driveway from the adjacent houses on the north side; there was a hedge, I think, between the driveway and the school gardens on the south side.

Tony (1952-1954): I loved that long wall and hedge on the drive into the school. It gave a superb sense of seclusion. It was nice in later years on my visits to see Mrs. Male to walk down it instead of riding in a bus. It took quite a while and was something to savour as an entrée to arriving.

Jeff (1948-1953): There was an asphalt playground marked out for a netball court although I don’t remember netball ever being played on it. To the south of the playground was the school field.

Pauline (1961-1965): I recall the playground and field having a hedge boundary in which were two arches you went through to go out on the field.

Jeff (1948-1953): To the north of the playground was the assembly/dining room with a corridor behind running the whole length of the building. Opening onto the corridor were the nurse’s station, the kitchen and offices. At the driveway end of the assembly/dining room was the headmaster’s study with another office at the other end.

At the ends of the corridor were the doors into the building. Outside the doors were short (10 feet?) roofed-over walkways to separate buildings containing the boys’ toilet on the driveway end and the girls’ toilet on the other end. At each end after the toilets came the areas where pupils took a one-hour nap every day after lunch. These were shed-roofed buildings maybe 20’ deep and 60’ long. They were completely open on the long side that faced the field. However the field could not be seen from them because between these buildings and the field were the classrooms.

There were four classrooms, two at each end of the playground. Each pair of classrooms had a common wall so that they formed a single building at each end of the playground, each with one classroom facing the playground and one facing in the other direction. Each building had a brick wall facing the sleeping sheds with a semi-circular lawn with cherry trees between. The other two walls of each classroom had continuous windows running the length of the wall from waist-height up to the ceiling. The windows were constructed concertina-fashion so that they could be pushed back to open up the whole length. Because this was an open air school, these windows were open year-round, only closing the windows to keep out lung-damaging fog or closing the window of one wall when necessary to keep out rain or snow. The wall of the assembly/dining room facing the playground was similarly constructed.

The classroom facing the playground at the driveway end was for the youngest kids (ages 6 to 7?) taught by Mrs. Blight. The classroom that backed onto it was for the oldest kids (13 to 14 years old?) taught by Mr. Moscrop and later by Mrs. Male. The classroom facing the playground at the other end housed Mr. Robinson’s class (ages 7 to 9?) and attached to it was Mrs. Male’s classroom (ages 10 to 12?). All four classrooms were raised above ground level, with an asphalt ramp with steel pipe railings leading up to the door.

Beyond the classrooms and sleeping sheds were gardens: vegetable gardens at the driveway end and flower gardens at the other end. Bordering the school beyond the flower gardens was a row of Lombardy poplars.

Between the field and the playground was a row of peach trees. The field was shared with a school that fronted on Hazelbury Road.

Margaret (1948-1951): Here is a photograph from my husband, Roy, who attended the Hazelbury Infants’ School which was across the field from the Open Air School. It shows the May Day celebrations there, possibly in 1947, with the Open Air School buildings in the background. (click on the photo to see a larger, annotated version)

Jeff (1948-1953): Thanks, Margaret. I see from the photo that there are small windows above the wall to wall windows. I had forgotten about those; I think they were operated with a winding mechanism. Were they the type that needed a pole to operate? I’ve forgotten.


The Layout of the Grounds

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