Mile Oak Approved School

Photo:Me in 1955 at Littlehampton

Me in 1955 at Littlehampton

From the private collection of Fred Ricketts

A naughty boy

By Fred (Wilfred) Ricketts

Nine years old in 1954

I was sent to the Mile Oak School from London in 1954 when I was nine years old, and was there for three and a half years, Any letters that I received from home were always addressed Mile Oak LCC school. I think it was called that because the London County Council sent naughty boys there. I know that it was a fantastic building and why it was ever pulled down I do not know. I think that maybe we could do with more schools like it today. I certainly never got into trouble again after I left there.

Remembering the teachers

When I was there the houses were called 1 and 2 on the west side, and 3 and 4 on the east. I was in dormitory 2, the Housemaster was Mr Montgomery.  The best teacher there was Gilbert Wilkes, he was the PE teacher as well. I also remember Mr Shaw, he was the science teacher, a great old man with his stories, and Mr Wilson who taught music. Other teachers were Mr Stevens (Lippy], Mr Fordham (Woody), Mr Inwood (Boney) and of course there was Matron Harvey (Molly). The head master was Mr Kane, always sucking on his false front teeth.

Church on Sunday

I remember the green Bedford bus took half of us to church every Sunday, the other half walked and then got picked up along the way. I remember the allotments where we grew carrots, spuds and onions, the couple of rabbit hutches, the covered air raid shelters, football on the back field, cricket on the front field. There was dancing with the teacher training women, and the Devil's Dyke trips and the trips to Wynham fishing. I would love to hear from you if you were there at the same time as me.

This page was added on 03/03/2012.
Comments about this page

There is a great deal of information about the approved school on this website, but I've been unable as yet to find anything about its exact location in Mile Oak (?). Someone mentioned a housing estate. Can anyone pinpoint where it was, and which streets/houses now occupy the site? Thank you.

By Alan Hobden (06/03/2012)

Hi Alan. The school was sited between Brasslands Drive and the, now new, estate which would be Edgehill Way. It would have sat on the land at the end of Lodge Close (if you look on a local map ). I recently went by there and I think some of the original building is still there? I used to live in Mile Oak Gardens as a child and walked past the school every day.

By Lorraine Luke (07/03/2012)

I was just a lad of 11 when I joined Mile Oak and, on the first day's parade for classes, someone whacked me with a stick, it was Freddie Rickets looking as he is above. If you read this Fred and you are still alive, cast your mind back to Mrs Williams. She got us all singing "Good bye Freddie good bye, We'll see you again but we don't when blah blah". You were leaving next day. Get in touch.

By Danny Featherbe (09/03/2012)

Just down from the school gateway was "the hole in the wall" - this was just our school terminology or was it also used by the locals?

By Danny Featherbe (09/03/2012)

Hi Danny, I remember it well. Mrs Williams would rap a wooden ruler across your knuckles, if you were not listening to her. Am trying to get your email address from this site. Will be in touch, good to know you are still alive.

By Fred Ricketts (11/03/2012)

Many thanks for the aerial photograph Frank Piner. For those who want to locate the old school site Google Earth is the best way. There are a number of land marks to reference off. 1. The power grid pylon lines, 2 strings. 2. The bridle path that formed the back boundry. Both of these are visable from the aerial photograph. There are two more boundries that can be traced, first the old drive footpath appears to still exist in part at least and forms the property line between the houses on Mile Oak road and extends upto Edge Hill Way. 2. From Brasslands Drive/Mile Oak Road intersection is on the right-hand side and curves up to fields and a bridle path at the back. This is again a property boundry and was the southern boundry of the school front playing and sports field -Mr Beal's pride and joy. The main building of the school stood in what is now Top Hill Close 50° 50" 46.42N 0° 13" 42.13W. I hope I have copied the coordinates correctly. Peter.

By Peter Little (24/03/2012)

Peter Little, "Did you spend a lot of your time with the young farmers club at Mile Oak?"

By Danny Featherbe (10/11/2012)

Well lads, you all came four years and later after I left in 1950. I was only nine years old when I joined the school in 1946 but I did hear it became a kindergarten after I left and in the late '60s and early '70s it became a nursery, meaning you had ladies in the building such as cooks nurses and baby minders, teachers etc. I noticed the difference when I visited in 1951 and 1952 as things were tough there in the '40s believe me: ten parades a day and always hungry and I did hear in the '70s you had the women singing a lullaby to get you to sleep. Now the young criminals today get five pounds out of the poor box and a slap on the wrist. My- how life has changed for the worse. 

By Trevor Whitworth (14/03/2012)

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