Year 10 Historians visited London on 6th June to experience the horrors of pre-anaesthetic and antiseptic surgery, learn about public health problems in 19th Century London and visit the superb Holocaust exhibition at the Imperial War Museum.
Our first visit was to the Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garrett at Old St. Thomas’ Hospital. After a browse around the apothecary taking in such delights as a cross section of a 19th Century Londoner’s heavily polluted lung and a frightening array of Victorian surgical instruments, we settled down to a commentary while the admirably stoical Niall Pearson-Shaul had his leg amputated. Reeling from the harrowing experience, students then took part in a guided walk, stopping at key sites relating to London’s tragically recurring relationship with Cholera in the 19th Century.
Our bus acted as a four wheel time machine as we hurtled across to the Imperial War Museum in Lambeth for an Introduction to the Holocaust exhibition prior to visiting the exhibits. Perhaps the most poignant aspect of the exhibition was the display of hundreds of pairs of shoes, many belonging to murdered infants, on loan from Auschwitz. Subdued, we trooped back to the museum classroom where students manifested their incredulity at what they had just seen through touching observations and perceptive questions.
We journeyed home with thoughts of great individuals and technology enhancing the human experience mixed with the sobering reality of the darker and more self-destructive tendencies of human nature.