Demolition in 1977

The website Missing  has a section on Industrial Schools  which shows that the original name for the school was Brighton Town and London County Council Industrial School for Boys. It then became the Portslade Industrial School. From 1933 it became the Mile Oak Junior Approved School for Boys.

The Home Guard used the square rooftop parapet of the main building for air-raid watch in WWII. The photographer of these pictures Bernard Langrish was among the guard before he was called up for full active service.

I was attending the Portslade Secondary School in the High Street in the early 1970s. As part of our P.E. curriculum, groups of us were given the chance to use the small swimming pool on the site to take lessons with our sports teacher Mr Parkin. Facilities were very basic in the unheated pool area. The adjoining communal changing room was just large enough for about twenty boys to to struggle into costumes while trying to maintain some sort of male dignity

The school site was cleared in 1977 and is now an area of modern housing.

Comments about this page

  • To all concerned. I was so happy to see these photos
    of Mile Oak approved school for boys. As I was there from 1945 until 1950. It brought back wonderful memories of the best years of my life. Also a tear to my eyes thinking of those
    wonderful years, I only wish I could turn the clock back. I wish to thank the person for sending these pictures through. I will treasure them, for the rest of my life. My fondest regards to all, Trevor Whitworth.

    By Trevor Whitworth (21/11/2007)
  • Wonderful memories. I worked there up until closure and these photographs are a reminder of that period of my life. Thank you for the opportunity to see them.

    By Steve Redhead (12/12/2007)
  • As I was an old boy at Mile Oak Approved in 1946, it saddens me to see it being demolished. I do believe the building was still standing in 1980 so when they started the demolition, I would like to know.  I left this school in 1950 which is 57 years ago but looking at the picture now, of it being demolished, I can reconise every window and door.  As to where they lead, I guess all the teachers have now passed.  But what fine memories I have of them – wonderful days which will never leave me. I am now 71 years young but as yet I have not been able to contact the old boys. Although many have died, surely I’m not alone alive? One or two of the old boys have answered my emails but neither attended while I was there. So once again, I will write my email and wait.
    My nicknames were Jap, and Pick Lock. My house was Jellico. My email address is

    By Trevor Whitworth (13/12/2007)
  • Mr Redhead – I remember my Mum (Joan Scarratt) often mentioning your name during the time she was working there. Do I remember right that you were in charge of a House? My Mum, now retired, loved working there.

    By Peter Scarratt (23/03/2008)
  • Peter Scarratt, I remember your mother well, I also think I played football for Portslade with your brother (Alan?). I wasn’t in charge of a house; I was a teacher (P.E.). I am sure your mother could relate a story or two about the school. Thanks for the reminder.

    By Steve Redhead (31/03/2008)
  • Hello Steve Redhead. How are you?

    By barry taylor (15/02/2009)
  • I recall one of the teachers was called Mr Masser. He looked after the school band. I absconded many times and was punished. I also worked on the farm and I think the farmer’s wife in 1942 or 43 worked as a cleaner in the house. Another of the teachers was called Yeates nicknamed Moppy.

    By Jon Marshall (13/05/2009)
  • I was in Mile Oak approved school for some years at the start of WW2. I hear it’s now destroyed, the headmaster at that time was a Mr Beal. I wonder if anyone has any pictures of the children to share_
    I now live here in Switzerland.

    By Jon Marshall (13/05/2009)
  • I do recall the Home Guard very well. They used to stay overnight in the gym, I also remember one night, one of the soldiers firing his rifle accidently. The gym was situated on the far side of a square from the front of the school.
    If there is anyone who recalls these years, I would like them to please email me.

    By Jon Marshall (13/05/2009)
  • This shows the craftshop where Mr Fordham presided. When the new teaching block was opened in 1967 this became Pevensey House common room. When I was teaching there, there was a bench where shoes were cleaned: this was littered with designs and names picked out in nails. I understand that at some stage shoes were repaired on this bench – what stories it could tell!

    By Clements (20/01/2010)
  • This picture is looking across the back quad and shows that the junior dormitory for Pevensey House has now gone. However it is possible to see the Pevensey landing and the door to the toilets (only two!). When I attended for interview in 1966 there was a notice pinned to one door “UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT”. Mr Kane told me that the king pin of the house did not allow any other boy to use the first toilet, but had left the school that morning.

    By P J Clements (22/01/2010)
  • This view is taken from where the kitchens had been and shows the gymnasium behind and the changing rooms where Mr. Kane summed up the individual behaviour grades for the last week which determined how much spending money each boy would get, and also, if the grades were high, to be given the privilege of going beyond school bounds without supervision on Saturday afternoon.

    By P J Clements (22/01/2010)
  • This shows the main approach to the front quad and shows the dining room with Pevensey senior dormitory above. It shows the last air-raid shelter. The space to the left is where the other shelter had been. This was demolished by a team of boys and took them an age which is why the second one remained until 1977 demolition. The hut on the right once housed Mr. Wilkes’ (Gubby) Maths room and Mr Yeates’ (Jasper) Art room. Later it became a second craft room where Mr Fordham dreamt up other major projects. I remember particularly the wooden four man canoe, from scratch, not a kit!- quite magnificent.

    By P J Clements (23/01/2010)
  • This photo shows the west side of the school from the adventure playground. It shows the gable end of Mr. Fordham’s Craft shop, which became Pevensey House common room when the new school building was opened in 1967. Beyond are the dormitories of Arundel House and at ground floor level the ‘wash-lavatory’ as it was called. The tower contained offices and staff bedrooms. The playground was built in Craft lessons and as far as I was concerned was a marvellous obstacle course for lads under my supervision to do a race against the clock.

    By P J Clements (23/01/2010)
  • This photo is taken across the back quad looking at the windows of Bramber House corridor. The central main door to the quad was never opened in my time there as a glass display cabinet was kept on the other side and a couple of easy chairs for visitors to the school. The top row of windows on the second floor is where Matron Molly Harvey had made her home. I visited Molly at her retirement cottage in Shoreham in 1997. It was the following Christmas that we failed to receive a card from her. She was a talented artist and several of her canvases adorned the walls of the school after she had left in 69.

    By P J Clements (23/01/2010)
  • Hello Mr Clements. I have in my hand a copy of the 1973 school magazine of which you were the Editor I believe. I hope this message finds you and your family well. As a newly qualified teacher I very much respected your advice. I still look upon them as the good old days. Mile Oak was certainly a good grounding for a ‘rookie’.

    By Steve Redhead (28/04/2010)
  • Hello Steve. Isn’t this a wonderful website. It’s 37 years since I left for Chipping Sodbury School and only last week did I look at that magazine once more, trying to remember faces for the many names. Looking at the errors contained I wish we had had access to modern word processing then. Thank you for your kind words. I hope time has treated you well. It is good to read comments from those who appreciate what Mile Oak did for them.

    By Patrick Clements (05/06/2010)
  • Hello Patrick, so pleased that you replied. Time has treated me very well. Married a former housemother from Mile Oak. Maybe after your time. Still happily together with two well adjusted children. Doctor and Banker. Occasionally visit the old site and reflect on a very happy period in my working life. Email address:- Regards Steve.

    By Steve Redhead (18/08/2010)
  • Hey Trev, its been a long time. Wouldn’t change a thing of what I done…..

    By Jim Riley (14/03/2011)
  • Revisiting the site, I realise that I identified the above photo wrongly. The trees in the foreground and their shadows mean that this is of the “Front Quad” which had a roundabout with flowered segments which were the pride of the groundsman Mr. Dudeny. The school bus habitually parked there under the cedar trees (destroyed by the famous hurricane). The picture shows the front door, not the back. To the left is the office and to the right Mr. Kane’s office, the staffroom and the staff dining room. Above are the windows for Bramber House and the sickbay. Thinking of the groundsman, Mr. Kane, at morning assembly announced that Mr. Dudeny had found that someone had broken into his greenhouse overnight and taken quite a few tomatoes. He was concerned because only yesterday he had sprayed the tomatoes with an arsenical compound! All the eyes in the hall swivelled to unwittingly identify the culprit who looked very sickly! I am pleased to add that John Fi……. developed no adverse conditions.

    By Patrick Clements (11/06/2011)
  • Hi Jim Riley. Yes it took a while for John Lomey to collect his thoughts to remember my nick name. I was in the boxing team as a reserve as I was the smallest kid in the school even a nipper when I left easter 1950. John Lomey left Christmas 1950 eight months after me. I also went to chelsea barracks with the lads Masters Chitty, yourself and John Lomey and the guy who was boxing instead of me. Mr Wilson was always matching us but the guy always beat me to the punch, but I can’t remember his name. John thinks it may have been Roberts. There was a couple of other boys names I forget. Anyway I got in touch with John and lots to talk about. As there is still nothing of me still skinny with bad health. Had a bypass and lost my Thai wife to a lightning strike in 1999 which was my second wife of 12 years. Ok its always nice to hear from the old boys. I’m 75 october this year 2011 – you must be around the same age. Maybe you can remember me. Nick name Picklock & Jap. Obviously I remember the the names of the team, well some of them. Only real thing I was good at was running and gymnastics. All the best. Regards Trevor Whitworth.

    By Trevor Whitworth (02/08/2011)
  • Where do I start? I have four and a half years of comments starting from 1954. I believe I was the longest serving boy, left alone when all friends had gone. Had to stop schooling at 15 and worked with Fred and Mr Minter in the boiler house. The rest of my life was OK but not so sweet as those years at Mile Oak.

    By Danny Featherbe (09/03/2012)
  • Dear Trevor, I have just by luck manage to find this site and I also went to Mile Oak. It was about 1957 to about 1959 I always remember Mr Kane who caned the boys when thay had run away from the school. Mr Inwood was our house Master and Mrs Lovegroves. I was in dormitory three which is by the toilets you mention. I have just turned 68 now. Reply if you get this message. Charlie.

    By Charlie Keeble (19/03/2013)
  • I don’t know if my comments got through. Please reply.

    By Charlie Keeble (20/03/2013)
  • Hi, can anyone please help with info? What was the Industrial school, Portslade, and why would a 13 year old boy be in there in 1911?

    By Jackie (05/04/2013)
  • I was at the school about 1956 to 1958 and the dormatories were 1, 2, 3 and 4. Mr Inwood and Mrs Lovegroves were our house mother and father. There are some boys names I remember: Ronny Little/Keith Clenshaw/David Stagg/Duffy. I arrived just before Christmas and remembered Mr Inwood drowning all the pigeons (because he did not like them round the school) while all the kids were on Christmas holiday. I remember all the teachers” names that everybody  talked about. I still have some photos of boys but I can’t place their names. Who can I send them to? Please reply

    By Charlie Keeble (06/05/2013)
  • I was in that sick bay with scarlet fever, or was it German measles, can’t remember now. That was a very lonely time for me.

    By Danny Featherbe (22/04/2015)
  • I started at dorm. 1 and finished at dorm. 4. All done in four and a half years and still they wouldn’t let me go home.

    By Danny Featherbe (22/04/2015)
  • Charlie – Please send to me on facebook or email  You never know one might be me!  All my personal photos were torn up by someone when in dorm. 2.

    By Danny Featherbe (22/04/2015)
  • Hi Jackie, the industrial school is the school in the pictures.  He was a naughty boy -  it was a naughty boys’ school.

    By Lee Mack (04/05/2015)
  • Hi my name is Dave. I was at Mile Oak school from January 1971 to June 1972. I was in Lewis House and my housemasters were Mr Lewis and Mr Linniker and the two female staff were Miss Curtiss and Miss Warwick. The headmaster was Mr Kane and the deputy head was Mr Fordam, the teachers were Mr Yeates, Mr Bassett Mr Lunmley, Mr Redhead, and Mr Winspear.

    By Dave Garrard (19/08/2015)
  • I went to Portslade School and the sixth form when it was on the approved school site, between 1977 and 1979. It was still standing then as I know we had a long school photo taken in its playground, facing the building. It was knocked down some time after that, maybe the early to mid 1980s.

    By Sue Austin (05/11/2016)
  • Yes, remember well. The faces from the past still drift through my mind from time to time. Four and a half years I lived at this place and because I came under a care and protection order I still weren’t allowed home. I was sent to a London Hostel, in fact. I loved every minute of Mile Oak it was the only home I really had and I missed it so much when I left.  Sadly most of them I knew would be dead now. I was there 1956.


    By Danny Featherbe (01/03/2017)
  • Yes, Sue Austin is right. There was no way that the school was demolished in 1977. I went to the 6th Form in 1979/80 and it was still standing then, though it was becoming derelict. We used to play football  in the schools old playground but I think that in this day and age, it would have been a major health and safety issue, due to debris and broken glass laying around. If my memory serves me correctly, about halfway through the school year, we were advised to no longer play there. 

    By Dave Thompson (22/01/2018)
  • Well here I am, making it to 76 years old and still dream of my home, my friends and my lovely teachers and masters, sadly only meeting once more in my memories complimented with a tear or two. Mile Oak I will never forget until my dying day.

    By DANNY FEATHERBE Sat. 10th Oct. 2020 (10/10/2020)

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