Post-war memories of Seaford College

Seaford College Pre-Preparatory School in 1952
Seaford College Pre-Preparatory School in 1952
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Graham Kew’s article about Seaford College in Mill Road brought back many memories of my time there.

I initially went to the pre-preparatory school, in Wykeham Road, as a day boy in 1952, where the headmaster was Mr Washington-Jones.

In 1955 I moved up to the preparatory school, in Mill Road, and thence, as a boarder, to Lavington Park, Petworth, in 1958, where I remained until 1963 – some 11 years at Seaford College.

The Rev Roy Morgan was the headmaster for my first couple of years at Mill Road, but then Theodore Cook took over in my final year there.

As a day boy at Mill Road, I had much more freedom of movement.

I would get an early number 4 bus down from High Salvington to West Worthing Station – later cycling – walk along to Herbie Brown’s newsagents and confectionery shop opposite the station (where I would purchase several Waggon Wheels to keep me going until lunchtime), and then proceed down Downview Road to the school.

It was still early by the time I arrived and the boarders had not finished their breakfast, but this allowed me to have a couple of games of snooker with one or two of the early-arriving day boys.

We still used dip pens, inkwells, and blotting paper in those days. Ink-soaked blotting paper pellets used to be fired across the classroom when the backs of some of teachers were turned.

Mr Armitage taught us French – he was pretty relaxed – Mr Cook taught Latin, and Mr Slade Gooding taught English and/or geography.

Then there was Mr Brownrigg – nobody messed with him.

In 1957 we had a Norwegian teacher, Mr Ohlson, who had a bad limp and struggled to keep order, but I think he only stayed a year – children can be very unkind.

Opposite the woodwork hut, near the playing field, was a large concrete quadrangle with raised sides.

Water gathered in this and froze in the winter, which we would use as “slides” – there were the occasional broken bones as a result.

We would play cricket amongst ourselves up against the northern wall of the playing field.

The ball would frequently fly up over the wall and into the neighbouring garden, and we would have to climb up over it, or sneak in the side entrance of the house, to retrieve the ball, hoping that the occupants would not see us.

There was a double fives court on one side of the playing fields. On the front was a large plaque with the names of the fallen. I wonder what became of that when the land was built on.

This was only 10–12 years after the Second World War had finished and, while none of us had any recollection of the war, it still influenced us through our parents’ attitudes and the comics of the time, which carried strips depicting British troops always overcoming their German adversaries.

This led to mock soldier battles at break times, when two opposing forces would start at the opposite ends of the bushes at the school’s Downview Road end, creep through the shrubbery to avoid detection, and finally have a shoot-out when the two sides encountered one another.

Cricket bats were the preferred item representing a machine gun. At the end, both sides always claimed they had been victorious.

The photo of the school chapel at Mill Road also had memories for me.

I recall one incident in my final year where I was a chorister and stood next to headmaster Theodore Cook singing a hymn at a morning assembly.

By that time, the Wykeham Road school had closed and boarders as young as six were accepted at Mill Road.

At one point, Mr Cook abruptly stopped the hymn and asked a small, new boy in the front row – who was not looking at his hymn book – why he was not singing.

The boy was unabashed and confidently replied: “Actually, sir, I can’t read”.

• If you have any memories or photos from your own schooldays which you would like to share, please get in touch. Send your memories and photos to James Connaughton, via email to james.connaughton@jpress.co.uk, send them by post or pop into Cannon House, Chatsworth Road, Worthing, BN11 1NA. Telephone 01903 282351.