Introduction to Mile Oak

A retrospective walk down Mile Oak Road

By Chris Wilkes

If we were to walk down Mile Oak Road, say 100 years ago, from the top of Portslade High Street to Mile Oak farm, this is what you would have seen.

A dirt track
On the corner of the High Street stands a large building which was built around 1906,  it is now the Portslade Community College Sixth Form Centre. You begin your walk from here, north along the Mile Oak Road which is literally a dirt track, a little narrower than what it is today.

Brasslands Drive
There are mainly trees align each side of the road, especially the west side, and there are very few properties in this part of the road. The oldest properties are around where Brasslands Drive is now, most of them being built between the years 1910-1925.

Little in the way of urban development
You would hardly encounter any buildings on the east side of the road. In fact you would see very little until you would reach the area opposite to what is now the entrance of Chalky Road, where the Alms Cottages are, these date from between 1895-1900.

War Time Demolition
Keep walking north and you will find an old house (this was knocked down in the mid 1940s), which was connected to Portslade Paddocks. This house replaced with the petrol station that was built or opened in 1948. The petrol station later became the Mile Oak Garage, and has now been built over with residential housing in the last 10 years.

Portslade Paddocks
Opposite this old house you have Portslade Paddocks (dating back at least to the 1880's), which covered a vast area, this land was sold around 1935-36, and was later turned into housing, becoming Sefton Road, Beechers Road, Stanley Avenue, and Chrisdory Road

The White House
On the same side as the old house (west side), you come to the second oldest house along Mile Oak Road. This is the big white house between Sefton Road and Chrisdory Road road which was built 1903/04 and still stands. There are no other houses in that area at that time.

Mile Oak Farm
Carry on going north, there is now very little to see apart from open down land and farm land, until you reach 'The Elms' a house built in 1900. Past The Elms you see Mile Oak Waterworks, and then Mile Oak Farm in its relatively early days.

This page was added on 04/08/2007.
Comments about this page

Foxhunters Road connected Stanley Avenue and Beechers Road.  The jumping field, as we knew it in the 40's, was at the bottom of Stanley Road and the horses' field was behind what is now the Mile Oak pub. There was a building on that land sometime before 1944, which was just a part of walls in the late 40's, my brother said it had been a sausage factory. I remember the old Mile Oak garage, a huge black wooden building, with one petrol pump at the entrance. One had to walk down a slope off Mile Oak Road to the left going north. Inside the building was a central "office" area. My father used to go and chat with Mr. Butcher (I believe his name was). When were the original Mile Oak shops built?  I can remember Mile Oak as it was before the building boom. I think there were two detached houses just prior to the Waterworks.....had friends who lived there. I remember the cottages at the top of Chalky Lane, there were two opposite and two beside the Lane, all buildings very old.  Remember also the "Hole in the Wall", which actually was a hole in the wall, the old flint stone wall which would have been between Mile Oak Road and the Paddocks. Remember also parts of walls in the Paddocks area, as a kid, walking through the short cut between Mile Oak Road and Beechers Road. I lived at the top of Beechers Road, number one. What about the old wood cabin, supposedly from Canada, that Mr and Mrs Painter lived in a the bottom of Christory Road? I also recall the row of trees at the bus stop at Brasslands Drive, my brother told me once there was an oak tree there and that it was a mile to Mile Oak.....hence the name, think he may have been guessing. We used to play at the farm with the kids when we were young. I loved Mile Oak in those days.

By Bonny Cother (Veronica Bentley) (17/09/2007)

The point must be made that Mile Oak Road was, and always has been, part of Upper Portslade as was Valley Road. Mile Oak only existed to the north of Chalky Road. My mother still remembers the houses being built in Drove Crescent and Valley Road which were built on the market garden area of PortsladeOldVillage. The boundary between PortsladeOldVillage and Upper Portslade was at Crossways. This also served as a parish boundary between St Nicolas church and the church of The Good Shepard.

By Stuart Hutchin (09/02/2008)

Hi Stuart, thanks for that last comment - very interesting. Does your mother remember anything about Portslade Paddocks before it was sold and replaced with houses (now Beechers,Foxhunters, Sefton Rd etc) around 1936/37? Or Mile Oak in general around that time. I would be very interested to know. Also any more information on the market garden area of Portslade Old Village would be great.Thanks.

By Chris Wilkes (17/02/2008)

My parents bought a bungalow at 6 Beechers Road, Mile Oak in 1944. I arrived in 1945. 'Upper Portslade' did not exist at that time, I am sure. My parents were Maisie and Leslie Robins and we lived next to Mrs Kane and her family. There was a terrible house fire one night at the Kane's bungalow and we were evacuated for safety and stayed at the Salter's house (Sefton Road) till the next day. Sadly the Kane's were not insured. I was only about 4 years old at the time and not sure of the facts, but Mr Kane died soon after, and the three sons went into the army (Pat, Richard known as Tinker, and Donald). Mrs Kane went to live for a while with Mrs Rene Jackson in one of the old cottages near the chalk pit opposite the top of Chalky Road. The Kane's bungalow was practically rebuilt and the next family were the Harvey's. They moved to Broadwater early 1950s. The other side of us at 4 Beechers Road was Jack and Peggy Humphrey, they moved early 1950 to Stanley Avenue where they remained for the rest of their days. I remember quite a few of the families in Beechers Road, including the Cothers and the Christmases but the children were a little older than me. Further down on their side was Miss Fox and Miss Mosely, I think they were retired nurses. Then was old Mrs Fisher, very arthric, she would ask me to wind the clock for her. Further down was Mr and Mrs Blyton who I believe were related to Enid Blyton.
I knew the field at the bottom of Beechers Road as the Paddock - there was a big street party there to celebrate the coronation.

By Val Booker (nee Robins) (09/03/2008)

Regarding Val Booker's remark on Upper Portslade: As far as I can remember (and I was born in Stanley Avenue in 1939) Upper Portslade existed long before Mile Oak was developed during the mid-1930s. As far as I know, Upper Portslade must even include the Old Village at least. I remember as a child that we spoke of The Old Village as being in Upper Portslade. I certainly do remember the big fire at the Kanes' bungalow and can remember going down to Sefton Road to watch.

By Pat Peeters-Bunting (20/03/2008)

Well Pat Bunting you are right, Mile Oak came later. I remember the Kanes, Mrs kane wearing her widows weeds when her hubby died. After the fire they moved into the old cottages on the Mile Oak road, just about in front of the chalk pit. I used to live on Mile Oak Road on the corner of Sefton Road .During the war we had the Canadian soldiers in the house next door, I remember getting care packages from Canada. In the field where the Pub now is, there used to be an old factory, I thought it was called the Pickle factory. If I can remember mum used to work over there bundling wood. I remember the Paddocks, there were lots of soldiers in the grounds but I can't remember if they were British or Canadian. The Paddocks also provided us kids with the prettiest snails we had ever seen they were pink and yellow; sounds like I have been sniffing glue but they were different colours . I remember the Wilikns twins the Rowlands, Thomases, Salters, and the Lasts, Christmases, Cothers, and Daughtreys. Have a few more in this old brain. Cheers from IdahoUSA

By Lynne {PAbbott} Neidhardt (02/04/2008)

Wonderful site and very interesting. I used to visit Mile Oak in the 1950s and 60s but haven't been for a long time, it seems to have grown a great deal, when I was 19 in 1960 I had a friend who lived in Mile Oak and one day he was accidentally shot and killed on the hills behind the village, my memory isn't what it could be for I cant remember his name! Does anyone remember it? I would be so grateful. He was in the TA with me at Hove.

By Alan Frost (02/04/2008)

A small comment for Alan Frost. You have jogged my memory. I seem to remember a boy getting shot on the Southwick Hill in the early 60s. Would that be the same one as you mentioned? If I remember rightly, either he or his girlfriend lived just up from my parents in Stanley Avenue. They were together up on the hill when this boy was shot. But unfortunately I can't remember any details.

By Pat Peeters Bunting (03/04/2008)

Chris there are a few of the older Mile Oakians who are planning a get together July 27-28th, if you are interested, and anyone else who was a kid in the 40s-50s and early 60s. Contact BonnyCother@yahoo.com for follow up details. Please subject as Mile Oak Revisited. I am sure a good get together will unravel many stories from Mile Oak as we knew it. David Elliot has recently posted a couple of old postcards. Thanks for your walk down Mile Oak road.

By BonnyCother/Veronica Bentley (03/04/2008)

Hello from Mexico. What a great site this is, lots of memories of my hometown. I think the Mile Oak Garage building was the last remaining construction that was previously part of The Paddocks. I have an old racing magazine from 1905 that clearly shows the doors, windows and roof just as I remember them when the Gillingham family were there running the garage in the 1970s.

By Peter Scarratt (04/04/2008)

Hi Peter
We are organizing a get together of Mile Oak kids from the 30s 40s and 50s. If you would send a photo copy of the old racing magazine from 1905 showing the garage it would be great to have for our get together.
Send to Bonnycother@yahoo.com.
I remember going down a lane into the old black garage building, with an office in the centre. The petrol pump was at the entrance to the garage. That was about 1950 as I recall. My father was friends with the owner.

By BonnyCother/Veronica Bentley (05/05/2008)

Reguarding Val Booker's comment (Kane's) I'm Martin the son of Pat, i have read some of the comments with great interest and have passed on website details to Don whom I'm sure will add more details.

By Martin Kane (08/05/2008)

Please disregard my earlier information re Mile Oak Revisited. I was incorrect with the birth years, we are focusing on the 30's 40's and early 50's. Those who lived in the "original" Mile Oak, see David Elliot's note with flyer detailing the get together. I apologize for any confusion my previous note caused, Bonny

By BonnyCother/Veronica Bentley (10/05/2008)

Val Booker, there is a message for you from Don Kane at the following message board web page, he wants to get in touch with you. I have told him about the get together, hope you can make it also. Please let us know if you plan to attend.

By BonnyCother/Veronica Bentley (13/05/2008)

To Martin Kane, did you know Clive Barnet, the son of Joan Stanford is in the  Margaret River area of West Australia? I know your father and Donald were good friends with Joan. Clive's son is also a Martin. I knew your father and Donald cause they used to live in Beechers Road before the fire in their house.
I have posted a note to Donald, to encourage him to come along to the Mile Oak Revisited, to see old friends.

By Bonny Cother/ Veronica Bentley (16/05/2008)

It was really good to see my old friend Bonny again after so many years.  What a lovely lady.  The memories came flooding back.  Sadly such a short visit.  Hurry back, Bonny - you are welcome at this house any time.

By Tony and Marion Clevett (27/07/2008)

Would love to hear of anything connected with Mile Oak Garage and the petrol station as this was my Grandparent's and the my Father's Garage, Sadly no more. My Grandmother is still alive and I am sure she would love to hear any stories.

By David Gillingham (03/08/2008)

David Gillingham - are you talking of the original Mile Oak garage? If so contact David Elliott as he may have access to photos of the entrance to that garage. Also if this is the garage you are referring to, where is your grandmother living? Mary Elliott would love to meet with her and get some background information on the life back then.

By BonnyCother/Veronica Bentley (07/09/2008)

I have been reading all the comments here on the Mile Oak site and also the Portslade one. If I may introduce myself - my name is Tony Hall, I was born in 1950 and lived in Lucerne Close by EasthillPark. I went to St Nicholas Infants & Junior Schools before going to PortsladeCountySchool for Boys leaving in 1965 when I joined the Royal Navy, going to HMS Ganges the boys training establishment. Later in life I joined the Police before retiring here to sunny Spain. Mum, Dad and my sister still live in Portslade and I get to visit a couple of times a year. Sad part is that after leaving in 1965 I lost contact. Now when I visit I don't know anybody, let alone recognise a lot of the area. I do remember a lot of how it was though and the fun times I had. Going to the girl's school to play football and rugby; going to the LCC reform school to use the swimming pool, and the cross country running. So many fun times. I remember one of the lads at school, same age as me was a Gillingham and when he left school he worked ant the Mile Oak Garage and I think eventually took it over from his father. Look forward to hearing from anybody that may remember me.

By Tony Hall (05/10/2008)

Tony Hall - The lad you mentioned in your comment is my Dad (Roy Gillingham). I will see if he remembers you. I will add his response later this week.

By David Gillingham (17/10/2008)

Was there a factory that made potato crisps up the village at one time, maybe late forties?

By Den King (22/10/2008)

Yes there was, just about everyone in the old village area was filling up those little blue twists with salt. For Smiths I believe?

By Pete Winstanley. (03/01/2009)

Just for the record: The Edwards family lived in the white cottages on the left of the old chalk pit at 279. Doreen, my mother, and Bob (Robert Edwards). My mum actually worked for a while at the Foredown Hospital. We lived there from about 1953/4 through to about 1968 when my mum developed DVT and my dad moved us to a flat above his garage at the bottom of Brunswick Street East - I never went back to Mile Oak for many years after that, it must have been in the 70's and I was in the Brigade of Guards by then. I remember coming down from London one day to visit Mile Oak getting the bus from Western Road and asking the bus conductor for 'The hole in the wall' - he obviously hadn't got a clue what I meant!    I don't think that my dad actually knew anyone at all in Mile Oak strangely enough - I don't even have any memories of him going down either Mile Oak or Valley Road shops although myself and my mother did all the time. I do remember him having an allotment over near the Graham Avenue shops, it was on the left before where the shops are now. I have happy memories of going to the allotment with him on crisp winter days all wrapped up then going back home for Sunday dinner and listening to 'Forces Favourites' and 'The Navy Lark' with Bill Pertwee and Lesley Phiilips "Everybody down..." was the watchword as poor old HMS Troutbridge hit the pier again!  As I have said on other Mile Oak threads, I still have pretty early memories of being pushed in my maroon coloured pushchair down to the Valley Road shops and the sensation of the wheels going over the joints in the paving slabs.

By Paul Edwards (11/05/2009)

I have been reading your letters to each other. Does anyone remember me? Does anyone know the whereabouts of Diane Creaney, or Carol Bide, or Bobby Collins - ie St Nicholas Junior school and Mile Oak Girls School 1953-54?

By Maureen Harvey (nee Cannons) (15/01/2011)

Maureen Hi. You might try www.friendsreunted.co.uk I have had a lot of luck with it- you can do a global search for any name and date. It's now free to join/register and they have all the schools on there including ours and also armed forces.

By Paul Edwards (19/01/2011)

I've just stumbled on this page. I see that in 2008 Tony Hall was writing about Roy Gillingham. Well, I remember them both. They were in the same year as me at St Nicholas Primary (my name was Diana Green then and I lived in Mile Oak Gardens). I went to Hove County when I left, then to Lancaster University and a career in the civil service and journalism. I live just outside Chichester nowadays, but drove through Portslade the other week as a diversion on the way back from Brighton. So many memories, though distant ones. Very best wishes to anyone who remembers me - and those who don't!

By Diana Whitty (21/04/2011)

Do any of you old Mile Oakers know what was on the land that Southon Close occupies now. I recently visited a friend who moved in about 48 years ago when the houses were new. Also does anyone know where Brian Cox is?

By Den King (25/07/2011)

My memory is fading as regards Southon close as we left there in 1966. A lad by the name of Paul Allen in our class lived up there. I think there were some houses on the right as you walked up, then they stopped, then it was wide open as there were no houses south or west of that point (about 50/60 yrds to the north edge  of the Chalk-pit). You then turned right (roughly west) and you could walk up a field then a line of bushes (all over grown now). Then through a gap and then into a sloping upward field running around the front edge of the Pit, we called 'Up the horses' where Linda Packer had the ponies , Mandy, Ajax, Welshy and Mockbegga, owned by Mr Huges, and where I first learnt to ride. The grass was totally eaten down and very short all over because of the ponies, just a few gorse bushes. You could easily walk right up to South Downs Way with the stables on the right chalk pit on the left. Up the slope to the track of the SDW, no gate except the one on the right at the top that leads out onto the main down lands with the pylons running across it, north west I think they ran. I have often wondered if the old stable hut where the tack was kept are still there - certainly some serious growth in the last 40 years. Hugely overgrown. Now of course there are houses built all round the end of Southon Close and it's no longer possible to get though without a machete. Linda Packer is on the main Mile Oak pages here so may be able to help you more. 

By Paul Edwards (21/10/2011)

Maureen Cannons, sorry to be tardy replying to your note. I was in UK for some time this year. Visited Julie Lay....Christmas, we spoke of you when visiting fond memories of our school days and the class reunion you organized. Hope all well for you and yours. Julie now in the Cotswolds, I am still in Florida.

By Bonny Cother (28/10/2011)

Hello, I was wondering if anyone has or knows anymore information on the White House? Any pictures or history would be gratefully received! I bought the White House 5 years ago and love it! 

By Alex Platel (23/07/2017)

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