The Boy's School (the "Old School")

Oatlands School - DrawingOatlands School by Keith Charles

The "old School", as it was commonly referred to. was built as a boys school in 1883 to help relieve the overcrowding at the original school further down St Mary's Road (now the Village Hall).

Mr Jesse Colman had been at the original school but moved with the boys to take over the role of Headmaster at the new building. Jesse Colman resigned in 1896 and devoted his time to "The Teacher's Tricycle & Bicycle Company" which he has started earlier at the corner of Vale Road and Oatlands Drive. This became "The Oatlands Motor Company" and moved to York Road, later to become "Weybridge Automobiles Ltd" - the noted Rolls Royce dealers.

Jesse Colman was followed by Mr C E Clift and during his time the famous Brooklands motor racing circuit was constructed at Weybridge and opened in 1907. The school log book entry for April 27th 1910 reads: "Motor racing and flying at the Brooklands Track this afternoon have proved too strong an attraction for some boys - Eight who were present this morning are absent this afternoon.".

Zeppelin Raids - 1915Having seen the school through the difficult times of the First World War - the admissions register shows many children with the comment "Father Soldier" and there were several children evacuated from London to Oatlands "to escape air raids" as the German Zeppelins bombed Britain - Mr Clift retired in 1921 after 24 years in the post, during which time he had seen the overall academic level of the school rise markedly. Whether the impending influx of the girls and infants from 'down the road' (scheduled for the following year) was a factor in the timing of his decision, we will never know.

Mr W Swallow then took over as headmaster and, following building work to provide increased facilities, the girls and infants arrived in 1922 and the school remained, from then on, as a mixed junior and infants school.  on 1924 many of the children heard their first ever radio broadcast at the school when a local wireless enthusiast lent the school a 4-valve receiver and erected a temporary aerial and the all-important 'earth' so that they could enjoy 'a lecture to schools' entitled "Climbing Mount Everest" - Mr Swallow noted that "...reception was very good." - whether that comment applied equally to the reaction of the listening audience is unknown.

The school log books end in 1926 and, currently, we are unable to say with any certainty who followed on, or when, in terms of teaching staff. We know, from the personal memories of some members, that the headmistress in the mid to late 1950s and into the 1960s was Miss Phylis Donald (and that, at various dates the teachers included Miss Gearey, Miss Harris, Mr Eden, Mr Mewis, and Miss Fryer - with Miss Stowe in control of the playground) and that, at the time of the closure of the old school the headmistress was a Mrs Price but, apart from that, we know little more except that the school had trenches dug at the edge of the playground during WWII for the children and staff to shelter in, should there be air raids.

If anyone can help us fill in the gaps in our knowledge we would be very happy to talk to you...

Boys School Plan - 1907The surveyor's report of 1907 contains a plan of the school, and  we believe this to be unchanged from as it was built. The dimensions of the schoolrooms were given as Main Room: Length 57' 3", Width 20' 3", Height 12' - Class Room A: Length 18', Width 15', Height 12' There was accommodation for 143 at 10 sqr ft per child and it states that the school was capable of enlargement "with some difficulty".In actual fact the classroom was extended towards St Mary's Road and a "lobby" was added to the northern side when the girls and infants moved there in 1922, The main room then had a 'concertina type' divider halfway down its length with a door to the playground serving the southern half - thereby providing three separate teaching areas. A girl's toilet and a new boiler room (plus improved heating) were added at this time against the north fence. A black-painted, corrugated iron bicycle shelter was also added against the north fence at some time.

Two more classrooms were added in later years - one, in the centre of the playground, doubled as a dining hall and had a narrow "kitchen" at the northern end (meals were delivered by Surrey County Council van in the 1950s/60s and it is not known whether the kitchen ever actually prepared food on the premises after the cessation of rationing - schools were a special case and a meal at school would have made the weekly allowance go further), and a further classroom tightly squeezed into the angle at the north-western corner (as shown in the photograph below). The dates for the construction of these extra classrooms are currently unknown,beyond the fact that they were both there in 1954.

Oatlands School - Miss Friar's Class - 1961?Miss Fryer's Class - 1961(?)

The 1907 surveyor's report described the boy's urinals in this way "Slate back, 9' 0" long. Slate divisions and channel. Small gulley, partially blocked with debris. Only flushing arrangement is a water tap about 4' 0" above channel. Cement floor. Very wet and smells badly" and recommended "Proper flushing system required, also larger larger channel and gulley and greater fall to floor". The flushing system was improved (but froze solid in winter), the slate was replaced with ceramic and, doubtless the size of the channel and gulley were enlarged but, as a male pupil from 1957 to 1964, to the author's mind, little else changed and the wet concrete floor and the smell were part of its "charm". The tap was, for some reason, retained in its original location and served as a convenient 'target' for those boys with a competitive nature...

The last pupils moved 'across the road' to the "new school" in 1983 and the old buildings were eventually demolished to make way for the houses of "Old School Mews".

We would be very grateful to receive any more information relating to the schools of Oatlands - photographs (particularly showing the buildings or staff), ephemera (e.g. school play programme) and memories - everything is of interest in helping to construct a complete picture of our schools thriugh time. Please use the contact form to get in touch with us initially.

Please Note
We have been unable to locate Keith Charles the artist who created the drawing at used at the top of this page - consequently this illustration is currently used without permission, We would very much like to obtain formal permission for its use as, although we have other images that we could have used, this one shows the school as those of us who went there best remember it...

If you can help to put us in touch with Keith Charles, please contact us.