Ottershaw School History
Ottershaw is located the Surrey countryside approximately 30 miles south west of London between Chertsey and Woking. The school (closed in 1980) was in Ottershaw Park, an estate which dates back to 1761 when the first mansion was built. The school was established in 1948 by Surrey County Council (SCC) as a boarding school for boys of 12 to 18 years of age. It was the first of its kind in the country to be entirely in the hands of a Local Education Authority. SCC had purchased the estate in 1945 after the war, during which time much of it had been used by the Ministry of Defence as a vehicle park and Mobil had used the mansion as their headquarters. Prior to the war it had also been a boarding school for boys (Ottershaw College).
The first boys and masters arrived in 1948 and were led by headmaster Arthur Foot CBE. He had previously taught at Doon School in India where he had made an outstanding contribution for which he had been awarded the CBE. The school grounds occupied 148 acres - containing classrooms, labs, workshops, playing fields, and of course the mansion itself.
The growing number of boarders at Ottershaw School meant the Mansion could not cope and in the 1950’s this led to the building of what is now Tulk House. This was built in two stages, the first block, West House, being completed in 1952 to accommodate about 60 boys, followed in 1961 by a connecting block, Tulk House (named after the first Chairman of the Governors, Mr J A Tulk). The school was divided into four Houses (North, East, West & Tulk) of approximately 60 boys each. The four Housemasters looked after the boys welfare and in addition each boy was also allotted a Tutor whose duty it was to look after the boys’ work. The school was only open to boys resident in Surrey, but boys who were a son of a member of H.M. Forces or one whose parents were normally resident abroad could also attend. In addition to normal academic work and sport, boys also had to perform daily duties around the school via Duty Squads. These included Servers (who laid tables and brought in food at meals), Clearers (who cleared tables after meals) and Sweepers (who swept floors, changing areas and stairs). Outdoor squads took care of pitches and playing fields, gardening and paths. Others took care of workshops and other school buildings or collected laundry, rand school bells, delivered post or took care of sports equipment.
In 1964, Mr Foot retired and Alan Dodds was appointed as the new headmaster. Mr Dodds was a Cambridge graduate, a JP and was founder of the Boarding Schools Association. Mr Dodds successfully saw the school through a rapidly changing educational climate until its sad closure due to cuts in education in 1980. In 1981 the site became a residential estate and remains so to this day.