Today, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, marks the 90th year of the laying of the school’s Foundation Stone by future Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. It would be another three years until the school was officially opened by the H.R.H Prince of Wales on the 18th of July 1929.
In 1926, the year of the laying of the Foundation Stone, Neville Chamberlain was the Minister of Health, which, at first glance, was an obvious choice for the university, yet it was Neville’s father, Joseph Chamberlain, who played a noteworthy role in founding the school in 1899, by supporting and providing grants to help establish the school. By 1926, the LSHTM had secured financial support from the Rockefeller Foundation in the amount of two million dollars for the building and equipment of the new school in Keppel Street. It was this support that Neville Chamberlain celebrated during his speech, proclaiming:
‘The ceremony I am about to perform marks the beginning of a building which was the result of a combined effort of the two great English speaking nations’
Additionally, Neville Chamberlain’s speech also referred to the school’s future:
‘We who are assembled here to-day and are looking forward into the future must indeed be lacking in imagination if we do not feel convinced that this great concentrated effort, this prolonged and sustained education of trained minds, and the following of the great maxim that prevention is better than cure, will here play a beneficent and noble part in the happiness and the health of mankind’
Other notable guests attended the ceremony, including: Professor Leiper Director of the Department of Parasitology at the LSHTM; Dr and Mrs Manson-Bahr, Sir Patrick Manson’s daughter and son-in-law; and Dr Andrew Balfour the first Director of LSHTM.
Later, guests were invited for tea and a luncheon was held in honour of the laying of the foundation stone, where guests enjoyed a French inspired five course meal at the Carlton Hotel.
You can view the mallet and trowel, used by Neville Chamberlain, along with the order of proceedings and the music programme for the laying of the Foundation Stone in ‘The Changing Face of Keppel Street’ exhibition, currently on display in the Keppel Street foyer.