The Path From “Slumdom” to The Great Goal: Good Health

Good health is the great goal in life, according to a delightfully glum children’s game made for The Infant’s Hospital.

It’s a treacherous path, however, to get there. Starting from the bottom at Slumdom, you must bypass bad feeding, set back, teething, a crowded home and get by sleep. Around each corner there are dismal pitfalls: lack of sunlight, rickets, falling temperature and ‘chill’. If you get past anxiety corner, you face pneumonia, meningitis and ‘desperate chance.’ To reach the sunlight you have to follow medicine lane.

‘Puzzle in the form of a maze showing the path from ‘Slumdon” by Science Museum, London| Source

The Wellcome Collection museum and library give the lowdown on how this edifying puzzle came to be

By purchasing this puzzle you could have fun, learn how to avoid ill health and raise money for a worthy cause – the Infant’s Hospital in Vincent Square, London. The hospital was set up in 1903. Prior to the establishment of the National Health Service in 1948, all hospitals relied heavily on charitable donations. The subject of this game acknowledges the link between poor housing and poor health – a major element of public health policies in the inter-war period (1918-1939). Each of the holes represents a barrier to ‘good health’ and gives us an idea of what these were at the time. They include pneumonia, lack of sunlight (which causes rickets), crowded housing, bad diet and meningitis.

The Infant’s Hospital, now part of the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, trained doctors and nurses specifically in child care and researched the causes of infants’ deaths.

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