Gone but not forgotten… Westerleigh School – Derelict in the UK

Westerleigh School/St Leonards College

There was a tremendous response to the old pictures we published a couple of weeks ago of St Leonards Congregational Church so we have dipped in to the Facebook site Derelict in the UK (https://www.facebook.com/DerelictintheUKOfficial/) once again to bring you these photographs of the now demolished Westerleigh School in Hollington Park Road.

The familiar frontage to the school.

Originally a manor house built in the early 1800s, the school was founded in 1906 and occupied a site that extended to some ten acres. The private school, in its heyday, catered for 360 pupils and employed more than 40 teachers.

Westerleigh saw many thousands of pupils pass through its doors, including world motor racing champion James Hunt and many distinguished figures from World War II, as well as Richard Mason, the last person reported to be eaten by cannibals in South America.

St Leonards College, situated on the same site, was founded in 1994 and achieved top ranking in Sussex for five years in GCSE grades A to C. Pitter-Patter Nursery and creche was also part of the complex.

The whole campus closed in the summer of 2004 due to financial difficulties.

These photographs were taken in 2015 before the demolition work began.

How many hungry mouths had passed through these doors over the years?

Do you have memories of Westerleigh School? Tell us about them in the comment section below.

13 thoughts on “Gone but not forgotten… Westerleigh School – Derelict in the UK

  1. My son James was at Westerleigh School going from his
    Nursery to his first primary school.

    We were both very sad when it closed.

  2. My daughter started there when she was 12 due to Broomham closing, she spent 4 very happy years there and did extremely well in her GCSE’s

  3. I went there and remember that hall
    In the photo where I spent most breaks writing out the list of mmm (manners makers man) in capital letters (I objected because I was female). This was always under the servere surveillance of Mr Wheeler. I have very fond memories of his brother, Mr Dick… at a young age I could feel his sweet demeanor. The dinner ladies looked after us well… the teacher who substituted step up With ‘close your mouth’, her name is on the top of my tongue… she has the room next to the Mmm room.. Mr Porter, my form teacher-a distanced, but amusing man… the lovely English teacher… again a name will
    Come to my head later… last
    But not least… Bing or mr Channing-Wright (often wrong in his approach) I named him
    Bad apple
    Due to a large mark on his head and it stuck
    For years (the name, I
    Mean).
    The students in my time (1978/80) were Stephen G, Sara (my fellow female
    Footballer (a short career) Mark B (in class with my younger brother)

    1. It was interresting to read you comments, I was at Westerleigh in the 50’s 54-58 when it was a small boys prep school. As my parents lived in the middle east I only went home in the summer holidays, the others I spent at the school with a couple of other boys and we were part of the wheeler family for Christmas and easter, alot of fun was had. In those day the school was mainly surrounded by fields so alot of exploring. every week we all had to sit down an write a letter home, in my case on a blue folding airmail letter.
      one other boy at about that time was James Hunt the racing driver.
      In a room below the gym we had a large hornby model raiway which i think belonged to the headmaster Mr Wheeler.
      There are obviosly lots of other memories from my time there.

  4. I didn’t go to this school but grew up in Hollington Park Road in the ‘ 60s and remember, as a child, all the grey uniformed children coming out of school at the end of the day – it might have been all boys. Fond memories. Sad to see it’s demise.

  5. I was at Westerleigh from 1969 to 71. Compared to awful stories from other boarding schools of that era I remember only good things and happy days. What I admire looking back is that every boy was given the chance to be in the school teams and get on the coach even though looking back I was rubbish at sport. The teachers were decent people. The food was really poor. Grey stale bread and odd -tasting butter that aged 9 I did not know was rancid but every weekday wooden trays of fresh doughnuts or sticky buns at teatime. Shame its gone but from a bygone age like the Manners Market Man that we copied from a wooden plaque on the wall as punishments. 13 rules of good manners which might be seen as sexist now.

  6. I was at the school for 2 years in the early 1970s. These were good years and I remember the Wheelers very fondly.
    Very sad that the school is no more.

  7. Mmm..yes I was there. Colonel Frith was the maths teacher and had fought in the Boeer war… Had us all standing at attention when he came in… Piano tutor rather too enthusiastic in inviting children up to his room… Mr Edwards teaching cricket.. etc..etc… Actually a very nice little school…but unfortunately I wasnt very good at anything other than sports…. always seemed bottom of the class and have suffered from it. They had a gorgeous matron though and I expect most folk were doing their best. Thank heavens, just before I got there, prefects of 13 years old had been banned from caning the juniors… Lucky I suppose to go there… Really didn’t understand any of it. Message to Platt… Humble apologies…I had no idea what I was doing.

  8. I was at Westerleigh between 1965-71 same time, for a period at least, as Richard T, but without your surname Richard, forgive me, I do not recall you. Just to be clear the name of the list of manners Jim Wheeler would make us write out. Is called “Manners Maketh Man” I should know as I feel he invented it for me! He even had me writing it out in French and Latin, sadly neither do me very good when it came to exams in those subjects.. Like one of the former pupils wrote about living in the Middle East, our parents, I had two brothers at the school, lived and worked in Turkey. The Wheelers were always kind and considerate in this regard although it did not stop me from feel the whip of Jim’s friend Mr Cane. The names of the teachers came flooding back as I read them and of course particularly Mr Dick who as a keen cricketer himself and 1st XI coach would have us bowling at a single stump with a strawberry perched on top as a reward for e hitting the wicket. Good memories, good people and a great launching pad for things to come.

  9. I was at Westerleigh from 1959 to 1964, and have generally happy memories of my time there. There was a scholarship board listing those who obtained scholarships to secondary school and I wonder if that was preserved, or if other records from the school still exist?

  10. I loved my time at Westerleigh, left in 1986. Mr Wheeler used to supervise air-rifle shooting in the Gym on Saturday mornings – which was so much fun. I remember Nana, Mrs Drake, Mrs Leigh, Miss Skelet?, Mr Porter, Mr Dick, Nicolas Wheeler, Peter Wheeler, Mr Warwick, Mr Channing Wright (Bing) Mrs Weakly? (South African), Mrs Talkington (French teacher and a bit frightening)…. and so many students, Chris Bennett, Jake Weller, Charlie Bannister, Elizabeth Wray, Ben Goodberry, David Sitwell, James Brown, Steven Rochefort, Helen Hollingsworth, Sarah Ensell, Sarah Reid, Sofia Ludwig?, Sarah Docherty, Daniel Vidal, Oliver something, and I remember Jane Dyson and Claire Crutchley in the year above – they were so beautiful! Really great times, such nice staff and students. Really sad to see these pictures.

  11. I was there as a day pupil in 74/75 as we lived in Silverhill. Fond memories of the Zip line over the pond and the rope swing. Didn’t enjoy Latin lessons though. It was a good school for activities in general. Very old fashioned teaching style in those days though. Very sad to see the building in such a bad state, what a waste.

  12. I do not have fond memories of Westerleigh of ’59 – ’64. I lived in fear of Mr. Wheelers cane, being beaten several time for reasons I could not fathom. Being late to school on Monday ( I was a seven year old weekly boarder) because the bus was late was one example, another is a mystery to this day, waiting for a bus on Friday, Mrs wheeler drove past, stopped and started screaming at me. I was doing nothing but waiting for the bus. On Monday I was beaten again. Jim Wheeler used to poke you in the ribs with the back of a pointed biro, you know, the ones with a pointed cap, every time he found a spelling mistake when checking your work. Little bruises appeared up your side (I was a bad speller).
    I remember being hit on my backside with a cricket bat for dropping a catch in cricket (that teacher did get sacked for groping T Willis in a piano lesson). My younger brother was punched by a teacher and knocked out of his desk. That was the last straw for my parents and he was removed from the hell. I had already left. By the way Peter Wheeler, nice job with the pier and the bite marks on my arm did fade.
    Finely, I must mention the food. You had to eat it all up and you stayed at the table until you did, and trust me, to say it was unpalatable is an understatement.

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