London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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London County Council 1930

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for London County Council]

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such as protection by means of screens from the cold winds, and floor heating of the
classrooms to counteract the bad effects of sitting with cold and damp feet, but
possibly those ideas are too Utopian for the present time.
Holly Court
Dr. C. N.
During the year ending December, 1930, 186 children left this school and 141
were admitted.
The causes of leaving were as follows: certified fit 126; parent's request 22;
miscellaneous reasons 24; sent to convalescent homes 14. The chief reason for
children leaving at parents' request is that the latter fear the long tram journey
to the school, entailing sometimes transfers at dangerous places, such as the Nag's
Head. Another drawback is the considerable walk from the tram to the school
(15 minutes) up a steep hill. Other causes of leaving included mainly removals to
new estates.
The type of children admitted last year was generally of a poorer type than
heretofore, especially from a mental point of view. In spite of the distance the
average attendance was good, viz., 230 out of a roll of 247. The majority of the
children admitted suffers from general debility due to poor feeding, bad hygiene,
overcrowding and poor home conditions. In addition there are cases of anaemia,
enlarged glands, tuberculous glands, bronchitis, asthma, old tuberculous peritonitis,
fibroid lung, chorea and rheumatism rickets and children suffering from "nervous
Generally during the year the weather was wet—a distinct handicap considering
the muddy state of the paths and the often inadequate boot gear. In spite of this the
children were out of doors for teaching, eating and resting; and only on about six
occasions, during exceptionally severe weather conditions, was it found necessary to
have them indoors. The shelters are well protected and sides are apparently not
The menus are extremely varied, well thought out and thoroughly adequate;
fruit is given eveTy day, and a liberal portion of sugar provided. The children are
given very liberal helpings, discipline is wonderfully maintained at meal times, and
music is supplied by a gramophone.
Only six cases of infectious disease were noted during the year, no epidemics of
any kind, and in addition it was observed that there was a remarkable freedom from
colds, catarrh and chilblains. Physical exercise is provided for by 20 minutes'
"jerks" in the open-air every day—including deep breathing—and by gardening,
woodwork and other outdoor activities. In every instance there has been noticed a
great improvement in the mental condition, alertness and animal spirits of the children
and a satisfactory increase in the height, weight and facial colour.
Holly Court is a difficult school to administer, but praise is due to the excellent
work carried out by the sister-in-charge, particularly in the matter of attending to
minor ailments and the splendid discipline kept at meal times. The cases which do
best in the open-air schools are those suffering from general debility alone. Chorea and
rheumatism should, as a rule, be kept out. It would considerably facilitate matters
at Holly Court if more suitable means could be provided for conveying children to the
school. Far more children should be given the privilege of attending open-air
schools. There are hundreds of children residing in the crowded and often insanitary
areas of Hoxton, Somers Town, Finsbury, Islington, etc., of the debilitated type who
would benefit enormously by such a change.
The following cases are samples of improvement:—
1. Boy admitted September, 1928, with asthmatic attacks, lungs full of rales
and rhonchi. Poor condition. Discharged May, 1930. Lungs clear, no further
asthmatic attack, gained 8 kgs.
2. Boy admitted September, 1927, with chronic bronchitis and attacks of
asthma. Lungs full of catarrhal signs. Discharged October, 1928. Gained 10 kgs.
Lungs clear. No further attacks of asthma.
3. Girl admitted September, 1929, with enlarged glands of the neck and debility.
Discharged September, 1930. Gained 5 kgs. Glands normal. Great improvement
in general health.