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The Pioneer Health Centre in Peckham, also known as the Peckham Centre, running what became known at the Peckham Experiment, was founded in 1926 by two doctors, Innes Pearse (1889-1978) and her colleague George Scott Williamson (1884-1953). It closed down in 1929 and reopened in 1935 in new purpose-built premises. Families paid a shilling a week for membership, which gave them free medical consultations of various sorts and access to a wide variety of recreations, but no medical treatment. The purpose was to observe how their health progressed and to discover what factors were involved in good health and wellbeing. After closing down again during World War II the centre reopened, but was forced to close again in 1950, this time for good, because of lack of funds, due to a complex range of factors. In a 1938 publication, the founders stressed that health and wellbeing were not synonymous; health, they wrote, operates with a cumulative deposit account and wellbeing on a diminishing current account.
Two blue plaques commemorate the Pioneer Health Centre: an English Heritage blue plaque at 142 Queen's Road, Peckham, London SE15, the site of the centre's original building, and a plaque put up by the London Borough of Southwark at the site of the second building, now converted to a block of flats, and situated round the corner from the Queen's Road premises, in Frobisher Place, St Mary's Road, Peckham.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ (Clinical research ed.)

Publication Date