When free time meant digging trenches

IT has been calculated that, in the century and a half since 1850, more than 50 preparatory and boarding schools and colleges existed (for long or short periods) in and around Seaford.

Some were founded elsewhere but for a variety of reasons were moved here. One school for young ladies, for instance, left the temptations of Brighton for the more refined attractions of Seaford. The principals of other establishments, needing to expand, were lured by the large open spaces available for building; sea air and quiet surroundings drew yet more from less healthy sites.

Unlike day schools, which concentrated on a few hours' education daily and then sent their pupils home, boarding schools acted in loco parentis the full 24 hours throughout each term. As well as basic classroom facilities, they were responsible for all meals, sleeping accommodation, medical care, religious instruction, moral welfare and every other aspect of childhood and adolescence normally received in a home environment

How to fill the free time of their active young charges was another problem. solved in a wide variety of ways. Stamp-collecting, acting, sports, model-making, pet-care, lantern lectures, debating, hare and hounds, sailing, music-making...

Seaford College from 1891 had an Engineer Unit of Cadet Corps, founded by Colonel FW Savage, who had purchased Corsica Hall for 13,000 five years earlier as his new public school. In smart uniforms with 'pill-box' caps, the boys learned how to dig trenches, build redoubts and assemble bridges in the mixed terrain around the school. They were

issued with Martini-Henry rifles and trained in precise military drill, and their rifle-shooting team was up to Bisley standard. Groups of them can sometimes be seen on 'crowd control' in old

photographs of public gatherings in the town centre.

A Combined Cadet Corps formed in November 1951 continued the association with the Royal Engineers.

For short breaks) the college boys' favourite walk was on Seaford Head - 'over the Roman', as they named the area once occupied by the Roman cemetery. Established since the Second World War at Petworth, the college still retains its Seaford and 'Roman' references.

A number of schools set up their own Boy Scout and Girl Guide groups. The photograph shows the boys of Tyttenhanger Lodge camping out in the school grounds off Eastbourne Road, and is one of a set featuring other spare-time activities, including work in the kitchen garden.

Tyttenhanger is a village near St Albans which was the school's original site. The move to Seaford was made in 1921; following closure and demolition 42 years later, the Kingston Green estate was developed there.