Saturday, 13 May 2017

Oaklands School

 (DISCLAIMER: As an overall nice human being, I do not force entry, vandalize, steal, or disclose means of entry or location if it isn't obvious. I do this to protect locations and respect them. Trespass without forced entry is a civil offense rather than a criminal one, which isn't worth acting on unless one causes damage, steals, has ill intent, etc. I simply photograph and leave everything as I find it. I do not condone breaking and entering, and I do not condone what I do. I'm a danger to myself and a terrible role model )

A curious addition to my "message request" portion of my inbox, buried among the "How did you get there" questions from people, and the "You're not a real explorer" comments from annoyed urban explorers, is the curious question of where I went to school. And of course I ignore these questions because they're always from complete strangers and always disturbingly blunt. Like "Hi. Did you go to Priory School in 89?"

Weird, right? I mean who does that? Who writes to complete strangers with "Did you attend this school?" Why does anyone care? Stop fixating on my jailbait self. I'm above the age of consent now. That makes it okay to fancy me. Have you seen my arse? I haven't, but I'm told it's glorious.

So how does this wrap up? You've seen the title. Am I finally going to tell you, and show you, where I went to school?
No I'm not. I'll show you exactly where I didn't go to school. Here's Oaklands!

Raptor and I paid Oaklands a visit on a particularly gloomy day. With abandoned playgrounds being creepy enough without help, visiting on a gloomy day should have made it much creepier. but I'm well aware that if I'm in a creepy abandoned playground, the creepiest thing in that playground is me. So while trudging around in the wet, rather than being creeped out, it just made me reconsider my choices in footwear.

 These steps are eerily reminiscent of steps in the playground where I did go to school, but thats a very obscure connection. The only reason it takes me back down memory lane is because when I was in Primary School, around the age of six or seven, a girl died on big stone steps very much like these. She was a year younger than me, and we weren't close because at that age, girls are icky. And I hadn't given her much thought in recent years until I saw these steps. It's strange how the mind works. I wonder what she'd be like today.
I guess we're all sandcastles. You, me, the places I explore. It's all very temporary. And that's precisely why I do what I do.

 We're right in the view of residential properties, so I had to be stealthy. This is a challenge for me because I look like some sort of magician.Unfortunately appearances are where my similarities with magicians end. I cannot disappear.

 These poles likely supported a climbing frame or something back in the day.

To muddy my initial research of the place, an exterior noticeboard reads "Friends of Oakmeadow."
I believed at first that this school was Oakmeadow, but it turned out that the schools closure was due to merging with another school, Longmeadow. The names Oaklands and Longmeadow were imaginably amalgamated into Oakmeadow, with plans to close Oaklands and move all of the students to the Longmeadow campus. However, while Longmeadow was being prepared for the additional student influx, Oaklands briefly changed its name to Oakmeadow and remained open, presumably to not confuse anybody. It finally ceased to function as an educational facility in 2009, although this noticeboard makes mention of time tables in September 2011. Maybe I was misinformed of the date it closed, or maybe the noticeboard was keeping parents updated on the times to be at the new primises at the beginning of the school year.

 Slipping inside, I felt very uneasy and paranoid, being in a residential area and in a school, where the doors are mostly glass and the windows are huge. An innocent dog walker could walk by and spot me, and then it's all over. I rely heavily on a marvelous side effect of society called the someone-elses-problem effect. If anyone did see me lurking around, they probably assumed that I was meant to be there and as such I vanished from their perception in a puff of apathy.
So I guess I can disappear. I just don't do the magic myself. 

Here is the headteachers office, immediately to the right hand side after entering the school, along with the toilets.

As a nice added touch, the alphabet decorates the walls of the children's toilets. A child is at school to learn, after all, even while they pee.

The children attending Oaklands would have been between 4 and 10, so I felt a little bit like a giant, with sinks below waist level.

This is a very unusual urinal, in the middle of the toilet room, and pretty much just a little raised box.

One of the cubicle doors was chopped off at the top and given a little out-of-order label. Consequentially the chopped door allowed me to get my camera in there and see just how Out-of-Order the toilet was.

Consequentially to being out of order, this particular toilet is the cleanest one in the entire school, and most certainly cleaner than the toilets in some pubs and clubs, and still with a full roll of toilet paper.

In a few years time, once the British public wise up, and use  their new waterproof unrippable £5 notes to put toilet paper companies out of business, this cubicle will be like a museum.

Across from the childrens toilets was the so-called repro room. Now, I had no idea what this was when I first started writing it, and I still dont. I assumed "repro" was short for "reprogramming" and this was where they sent all of the children to be indoctrinated if they were non-conformists or right-hemisphere dominant kids. "Keep to the footpaths, kids, it's easier to walk on." "But no flowers grow on the footpath, Miss." "Right, Brian, we've warned you about lateral thought processes! For that metaphor, go to the reprogramming room!"

Poor Brian. So young and unaware that his whole life has already been mapped out. Get spewed forth from the education system, get a job, and work for a corporation until he's too old to work anymore, and reprogrammed to think that all his bigger dreams are childish and foolish. Luckily for him, I don't think that this "repro" room is for reprogramming kids. There's a big sign on the door forbidding unauthorized access. I googled, in an attempt to find out what a repro room could be, and google seems to think it means "Reproduction."

Is this where the teachers came to shoot their DNA into each other???

Hmm... cosy.

The hallway had these little benches with coat hooks, They were reminiscent of that other school I explored that one time, although that school was for older kids.

So this would have been where the students left their coats and bags before commencing to the classrooms for their indoctrination education.

All of the classrooms are connected via this central hall which also looks like it serves as a gym. It's very unusual to have a central gym that leads to classrooms rather than standard hallways.

A sign on a nearby door states that what was once the dining hall is now a temporary place of worship. I did a little research into this curiosity and found out that after the school closed, the Methodists used this area as a church while their own building underwent some work. The dining hall became the house of God for roughly a year.

Presumably then this sink produces holy water.

The dining hall connects directly onto the kitchen.

Moving widdershins around the main hallway, the first classroom belonged to Mrs Brooks.

The majority of the furniture has gone but the students work remains.

Next up is the classroom of Mrs Doyle.

As a nice added touch, every classroom had decorative tiles around the sink.

The students had apparently made a display on Peter the Penquin but all that had been taken down.

There's some student artwork on the floor.

The next room apparently belonged to Mrs Derry, and it's mostly featureless.

There is, however, a letter on the inside of the cupboard which gives Mrs Derrys class their own code to access the new photocopier. I've actually never heard of a school requiring each classroom have their own personal photocopier code. Presumably its to regulate the use of the photocopier so that if things get photocopied that shouldn't be, such as posters advertizing a Hitler Youth meeting, the offending student or teacher can be found.

The next room belonged to Miss Bywood, and the door had seen better days.

So had the room. It seemed a bit strange that Bywoods room was so trashed in comparison to the other rooms.

On the door was a map of the school. And it was through this that I learned about who taught in which classrooms, and of the mysterious Repro room. According to this map only two rooms remain at the end of this eerie hallway.

The hallway is lined with numbered hooks. Numbered hooks are an important part of our countries education system. They remind youngsters early on that they are just a number.

Decorating this hallway is loads of old school work, including a reading tree that once again refers to this place as Oakmeadow.

Up here, the school was a bit more untidy. A lot of the students work has been ripped off the walls.

Curiously there used to be a sink here, but this has been removed. It's the only sink to have been removed in the entire school.

There are some toilets for nursery students.They have these weird dipped cubicle walls, perhaps to ensure privacy while still ensuring that the child can be rescued if they accidentally lock themselves in.

The presence of toilet paper is an ongoing one in abandoned places. It's the one thing guaranteed to always be left behind. People like me will be in for a treat once everyone starts using £5 notes. I just hope they leave the water running.

Shortly before one makes it to the nursery rooms, there is a staff room which is perhaps the most immaculate room in the building.

I assumed that the classrooms would be trashed by former students, but if thats the case, why was the staff room spared?

All this computer equipment was an interesting find.

The next room was apparently taught in by Mrs Clode. It seems to have some of the old gymnastics equipment in here.

In one corner of the room, some of the classrooms rules were still hanging on the wall, regarding the manner in which the students spoke to each other.

The last one "Use good words" is particularly amusing.

The final room was listed on the map but didn't have a teachers name to it. It was simply titled Hillside Nursery, and it presumably was for the youngest students.

As a child I was very confused about why Winnie the Pooh had the same voice as the snake from Robin Hood. Whereas Tigger just terrifies me.There's always been something creepy about him.

On the floor there's some photos of the students working.
But really, thats it for Oaklands school.

As mentioned, it was briefly renamed Oakmeadow, while Longmeadow was prepared for the merge. Longmeadow was then renamed Oakmeadow and all of the students, and presumably the staff, were moved to the new premises. The fact that the church later used the school but seemingly touched none of the work on the walls is indicative that there are perhaps plans for the building, and someone presumably still has ownership of the keys.

I'm not sure when Oaklands opened but I do know adults who went there as children. Ultimately, as with most educational establishments, there will be some sad nostalgia from the former students and staff to see the condition it is in now. But as a regular trespasser and poke-around-er of the unwanted and unused, sometimes repetitively to see just how much things have deteriorated, I've come to terms with the temporary nature of just about everything. We're all just sandcastles. And that is why life is for enjoying, and dispensing with the useless priorities that make us take things too seriously.

The human race has long had its concerns of complete obliteration at your enemy-of-the-year and it's long had its science fiction stories of robot uprisings. Let me tell you exactly whats going to happen.

The human race is obsessed with customizing itself. Whether this is simply shaving certain parts of your body, dying your hair, getting tattoos, or having plastic surgery to look more like a cat. It's a trait present, minor and large, in every human being. In addition to that our technological breakthroughs continue to happen. Prosthetic limbs. Prosthetic organs. Head transplants. The first animal grown in an artificial womb. It's all happening right now. And with the internet existing as this big data cloud around us, the human race is becoming more and more dependant on technology. What's the next step?
Humans are unique among other animals in that we are the only thing, apart from micro-organic life forms, that destroys the world we live in. We continually contaminate our water, poison our air and over-process our food so that we're literally consuming garbage. Surely if we had any intelligence we'd be using this as a clue to question the universe. After all, a virus doesn't know that the world it is destroying is a living body. The body to them is the universe. So what is our universe? At face value, humans are either a virus of some colossal organism or we're completely unnatural. And I don't believe we're unnatural. The other thing to consider is that we're an evolutionary stepping stone towards electronic life, and that what we're doing is all just part of the plan. The human race continually creates without first asking if it should. But what its creating is an environment where the only thing that will be fit to survive is a machine.
Humans, with our biology, are flawed. We get sick. A strong enough blow to our heads can cause irreparable brain damage or death. And of course our need for sleep is detrimental to whatever corporation employs us, since they can't make us work for too long. And then of course, sometimes we can't work for them anymore because we simply get too old. How selfish of us.

The transcending of biology is not something that I want to see happen. I love nature. But in a sense I see this as a natural step for humanity over the next few hundred years. All we need to do now is figure out how to upload the human mind onto a computer, design a body for it, and away we go. And I'm sure that the powers that be will see this as a perfect opportunity to create worker drones. Now you can work for 24 hours without rest, at minimum wage. Vote Tory.
But it's more than that. This is our upgrade. We can avoid injury and death by backing ourselves up. Our default programming of Consume, Reproduce and Destroy will become obsolete. We'll all be designing our own bodies and from there the possibilities are endless. Everything that you can imagine will be possible.

Thats if we don't blow ourselves up first.

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And look for me outside shops with my pen, next time our local rag tells us that rooftoppers will bring about the end of humanity. I will sign the paper for you.

Thanks for reading. Stay awesome!


  1. "Repro room" is probably "reprographics". In later years, this would have just been where the photocopier and paper were kept. But up until the 80s it would have been the home of the Banda machine, with all its messy solvent and sweet smells.

    1. Reprographics was totally what I thought it was, but my cynicism for the education system and my sense of humour demanded that I call it the reprogramming room.

  2. Was going to suggest reprographics too but you beat me to it. I've no idea what the Banda machine is though, so your comment was worth more than mine would've been :)