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South London Gallery

The South London Gallery (SLG) presents a small exhibition co-curated by the SLG's youth forum, the Art Assassins, and one of the gallery’s heritage volunteers. The display will include a selection of artefacts and oral histories relating to the heritage of health and wellbeing in south London from the mid-19th to mid-20th century, focusing on two former local organisations.


Health and Wellbeing in South London
11.00am to 6.00pm
FREE - More information

Over the past year, the Art Assassins have been working with an historian-in-residence, heritage experts and artists to explore the history of the Peckham Experiment. This pioneering health movement was founded by doctors George Scott Williamson and Innes Hope Pearse, who believed that through a holistic approach to healthy living, well-being and social interaction, disease and illness would be reduced. In 1926, they opened the Pioneer Health Centre – a social centre for families – very close to the South London Gallery. Initiated twenty-two years before the establishment of the NHS, the Peckham Experiment offered bespoke on-the-doorstep healthcare and support for the whole family.

The Camberwell House Lunatic Asylum opened on Peckham Road in 1846. Although some private patients were admitted, the majority were classified as paupers.  In the 20th century, as new ‘treatments’ for the mental health patients emerged – such as electroconvulsive therapy – they were introduced at Camberwell House. There also remained an emphasis on the benefits of sport, however, and patients were able to use the tennis courts and putting green in the grounds. The hospital did not join the NHS but remained independent until its closure in 1955.

Group of people looking at illuminated slides
The Art Assassins with Ross Macfarlane looking at the archive of the Pioneer Health Centre at the Wellcome Library © South London Gallery


South London Gallery
65-67 Peckham Road
London SE5 8UH

South London Gallery 

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