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Discovering Phoenix & St. Clements

Discovering Phoenix & St. Clements

This HLF funded project saw Eastside Community Heritage working with young people from Phoenix School, Bow, on a voyage of discovery to learn more about the local heritage of the area.

We collected ten full length oral history interviews recording the experience of past students and staff of the school, as well as former staff and patients from the former mental health hospital of St. Clements (across the road from the school). The young people received training in performing audio and video interviews, before interviewing more local people about their experiences of these two iconic buildings in Tower Hamlets.

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Stewart talks about the changes at Phoenix school

Phoenix School sits on the original site of the Bow Open Air School, which opened in 1922 and closed 1939. The site was bombed extensively during the Second World War, and later a new school was planned. Phoenix School opened in 1953, and became a school for “delicate” children with health conditions. Phoenix School is now a specialist school for children with Autism, and celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2013. Former staff and pupils shared their memories with us.

Schoolhall garden 1962

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Phillip talks about uniforms at Phoenix school

The St. Clements Hospital site has an even longer history in the area. The building originally opened as a Victorian workhouse in 1849, before becoming the City of London Union infirmary in 1874. It then became the Bow Institute of the Long Term Sick from 1912 until 1934, when it took on its most current guise of St. Clements Hospital; a hospital for those suffering from mental illness. The hospital closed in 2005, and the site is now awaiting redevelopment. Former staff and patients from the mental health period of the site shared their stories with us.

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Naomi remembers her training and later work at St. Clements

The project culminated in a “60 years of Phoenix” whole school assembly and photographic exhibition, a short video documentary, a mini “Discovering Phoenix and St. Clements” Exhibition and a learning resource for teachers on how to engage children with Autism in heritage projects.

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George remembers a hot summer re-wiring the electrics at St. Clements

Classrooms northend of school circa 1960

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Myra remembers establishing the Friends of St. Clements Social Club

Mini Exhibition

This downloadable exhibition tells some of the stories collected for the project. The four pictures are designed to be printed at A3 size for optimum quality.

Download Mini Exhibition 1

Download Mini Exhibition 2

Download Mini Exhibition 3

Download Mini Exhibition 4

Education Resource

This downloadable resource is designed to provide ideas for engaging young people with Autistic Spectrum Disorders in heritage projects.

Download the Education Resources Pack