Pavilion - History

Heliotherapy, or sunlight treatment, was a key therapeutic measure used by sanatoria. It was believed that exposure to the sunlight, whether real or artificial, would aid recovery based on the principle that it would strengthen the patient and better enable them to fight off the disease.

One very notable part of the sanatorium buildings was the vita-glass sun pavilion, built in 1927 thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, and opened by the Duchess of Northumberland. It had the capacity to house 50 patients and was used primarily in the treatment of those with pulmonary TB. Vita glass is designed to allow ultraviolet rays to penetrate easily and the pavilion meant that the children could enjoy natural sunlight whilst being protected from the elements. The windows along the north and south sides could be opened fully to allow fresh air to circulate. The pavilion was one of the first of its kind in the country and something that the staff were clearly very proud of and proved to be a great success in the treatment of tuberculous children.

Stannington also made good use of artificial light therapy, initially used in the treatment of tuberculous ulcers and skin lesions. The first arc lamps were installed for this purpose on 1920 and were in continuous use for many years after owing to their success. In 1926 a much larger artificial sunlight department was opened with a variety of different types of lamp including a Finsen-Reyn lamp for the treatment of lupus, and mercury vapour, carbon, and tungsten-arc lamps.

Patients may have been required to spend time in the artificial light room for several minutes each day for as long as it was seen to be beneficial. For many patients with mild cases of tuberculosis, or where there were no surgical options, this may have been their main and only course of active treatment.


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