Oaklands as we know it today started life in 1902, when a small group of Sisters of Christ arrived in Southsea from Boscombe, Bournemouth. They established a convent school for girls in Grove Road North called The Convent of The Cross.
When war broke out in 1939, Bishop Cotter suggested the community evacuate to a safer location. The Grove Road site became a field hospital for wounded sailors and suffered some damage during the bombing of Portsmouth.
After the war, that building became the Portsmouth Eye and Ear Infirmary and the Sisters looked for a new home for themselves and the school. They briefly rented Crookley Park in Horndean, now home to Blendworth Carpets shop and cafe.
The Oaklands estate had once belonged to General Napier, who sold it to the Collins family. They had vacated during the 1939-45 war, and the house had been variously used as a home for evacuees, a guest house and, for a brief period, a Red Cross hospital. Over this time it had fallen also into disrepair.
The estate as the Sisters purchased it in 1946 consisted of the land around the White House as far as the Purbrook Way and several houses in Stakes Hill Road, which had been for the servants of the estate. Sister Ruth Mary, one of the Sisters of Christ, recalled how at the time, Stakes Hill Road was a muddy lane and parents remarked how silly it was to open a school for Portsmouth girls so far out in the countryside!
The school moved into Oaklands in 1947 and began to grow rapidly. The Sisters sold small parts of the estate in order to fund each building project. In 1959, the younger children moved into their own school, Holy Cross Junior School. This was the beginnings of St Peter’s Catholic Primary School as we know it today.
In 1966, the Convent of The Cross and the Portsmouth Catholic Grammar, St Teresa’s, merged and became Oaklands Convent School. Our school badge was created at that time.
During the 60’s Havant was one of the most rapidly developing areas in Britain and local schools were crowded. Selling some of the Oaklands land to enable the local authority to build Crookhorn College and the Purbrook Way gave the sisters the money they needed to build the gym and the hall blocks (now known as Romero block).
There was a desperate need for Catholic school places as there was no provision for Catholic boys and for girls, there were only fee-paying school places for those who did not pass the 11+ exam. The sisters approached the new bishop of Portsmouth and offered Oaklands as a comprehensive school.
An application was made to the Department for Education and Science for Oaklands to become a voluntary-aided mixed comprehensive school for students aged 11-18. In September 1971, with only a few months preparation, the number of students taken into the first year (Year 7) was doubled and the first boys arrived.
A building project to provide facilities for Maths, Science and Technology (Kolbe and Angelico blocks as we know them today) began- it was valued at £500,000. Kolbe block was home to a second dining room, and some science laboratories remained on the top floor of Thomas More block, then known as ‘A’ block. Estate land was levelled to provide playing fields for the growing school.
The later part of the 20th century saw a range of changes. Building projects included a specialised sixth form centre on the site of our current college building. There was a humanities building on the site of the current JP block, known as C block. Both buildings had a previous life as they were re-purposed from Thames Water authority, moved from their previous locations and reconstructed on site. Money was raised to build St Cecilia block, then known as the ‘music/drama room’ and a purpose built sixth form centre and humanities block were built.
From their arrival at Oaklands, the Sisters of Christ set about developing the school we see today. Our beautiful hall building the Romero block is loved as an auditorium by musicians in the local community and is a testament to their creativity and forward planning.