Throwback Thursday: Turbulent history of national children’s home in Harpenden

PUBLISHED: 16:52 24 January 2019 | UPDATED: 16:52 24 January 2019

The National Children’s Home and Sanatorium in Harpenden. Picture: John Cooper

The National Children’s Home and Sanatorium in Harpenden. Picture: John Cooper


Our Throwback Thursday highlight aims to show just how much the town has changed and evolved over time, using old pictures of what it used to be like.

Founded by Dr Thomas Bowman Stephenson in 1869, the National Children’s Home and Sanatorium has a history more turbulent than Shakespeare’s Globe.

Originally based in a small cottage near Waterloo Station in London, it was moved to a larger site in Bethnal Green two years later, before relocating again in 1913 to a 300-acre site in Harpenden.

It housed both boys and girls, who were separated by a large central grass oval.

After leaving school, the boys would most likely undertake apprenticeships and the girls might become secretaries or seamstresses.

The sanatorium is characterised by its beautiful gardens and a distinctive veranda. Children at risk of suffering from tuberculosis were taken here, where it was thought that the fresh air would hasten their recovery.

This picture is from the collection of John Cooper, an author who pens pictorial history books about Harpenden.

He has written A postcard from Harpenden, Harpenden Through Time, Harpenden: The Postcard Collection, and Harpenden: A Village in Wartime, which was published on October 15, 2018.

Do you have an old picture to share? Let us know at enjoyhapendenmore@archant.co.uk

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