The journey to Mile Oak

Donald Kane writes that in 1935 he lived at 216 Mile Oak Road, moved to Brighton and then back to Mile Oak and into 8 Beechers Road.  8 Beechers Road subsequently caught fire late one night, as he discovered when coming home on his first leave from training at Catterick. He was put up by Joan and Ray Stanford on all his leaves from Germany. He remembers that his brothers George (known as Tinker) and Patrick the youngest lived with Joan for some years in the 1914-18 timber army hut on Mile Oak Road, opposite Sefton Road.

Donald well remembers the journey to Mile Oak and the following is from his notes together with additional information from others. 

Starting in the Old Village you went west up the steep hill (High Street), in those early days the metal foot bridge crossed the road. As you reached the top of the hill there was a small island with a lamp post on it at the junction of Mile Oak Road, High Street and Mile Oak Road – Southwick.  

To your left at the top of the hill was the Senior Boys School, continuing north there were a few bungalows on the right, and a small twitten that led back down into the Old Village, further on was a laundry on the left just before the corner. Still going north you would pass Brasslands Drive on the left and immediately after there was the entrance to the ‘bad boys school’ as it was known.  It was in fact the London County Council reform school – it had quite extensive grounds and its’ own swimming pool.

Opposite Brasslands Drive you could look right across the valley to Broomfields Farm. 

Continuing on you went down a slight dip, passed quite a few houses on your right (Donald lived in one of those houses), moving on and up the other side of the dip where there was a farm on the left, you then went down the winding hill into Mile Oak.  At the bottom of the hill was the chalk pit on your left and some old cottages and on the right some houses set well back from the road. 

After them was Chalky Road  which disappeared into the distant farmland most of which was Broomfields Farm – in the summer you could see haystacks on the horizon.  Chalky Road  was aptly named as it was unmade but at the bottom of the slope there was a proper footpath that led up to the girls school.

We then come to the ‘hole in the wall’ which was just a missing section of flint wall – the balance of which I believe is still standing. From the ‘hole in the wall’ was an unmade path that led down to the bottom of Foxhunters/Beechers.  Originally there was a large air raid shelter, on the site of the Paddocks, which I cannot remember ever being used. Over the wall in the Paddocks was an eight bedroom mansion which all of us boys used to play in – the mansion was pulled down by the Canadian Troops for safety. They brought a tank in to demolish it. There were also tennis courts that once belonged to the Paddocks when it was thriving. 

Moving further north you would come to the small row of shops – grocer, greengrocer, post office,  and  a fish & chip shop, you went down two steps to more shops that were empty for years.  Opposite these shops there used to be a building used as a theatrical store and prior to that used as a pickle factory. The area behind this building is what we all knew as the Paddocks (not specifically correct) and where on November 5th there were extremely large bonfires.

As you moved north there was Sefton Road on your right, a nursery on your left selling flowers and further on Wrappsons Nursery with Chrisdory Road on your right. Once past Chrisdory Road you were out in the country with a few scattered houses on the left and then the pig farm with a path running up the side of it to the downs, round the corner were two more houses and a timber house on the right.  Next came the waterworks with a footpath just to the south of it which led up to the reservoir and the dew pond.  Then lastly was Mile Oak Farm, once past that you were in open country where you could walk (if keen) to the Dyke or Fulking.

An item of interest was the bomber crash landing in 1944, it is believed to be a USA Air Force Flying Fortress B17 or B24 Liberator. The bomber was returning from a sortie to Germany and was riddled with bullet holes. It just missed the girls school and landed just short of the trees at the bottom of Stanley Avenue. The crew were all OK and were taken to Porstlade Police Station, before they could put an armed guard on the plan certain boys entered the plane and obtained various souvenirs.