Rushlake Green Village Leaf

Inside - Osborne House

A Short History of Osborne House, by Rob Robinson

Osborne House was built on the site of the old Village School at the south end of Rushlake Green and it is the building with the blue clock, opposite the village shop.

The late Mrs Jean Osborne recorded the history of Osborne House as follows:

When it was confirmed that the village school at Rushlake Green was to be closed, Mr A. Collins (“Johnnie” to the villagers) suggested to Mr Osborne that the site would be ideal for some flats for the local elderly people to live, with all “mod cons”, which so many had never had.

Mr Osborne talked it over with Mrs H Dunn and a committee was formed which met at Stone House. Mr D Clarke, a local architect was consulted as to whether a a new building would be a better proposition than trying to make flats in the school building as it existed.

The Chichester Diocesan Board was approached for permission to get the scheme going, as the site is owned by the Board. The then Hailsham Rural District Council, and in particular, Mr Bowker who was the Treasurer, was asked for advice on the financial side. The National Federation of housing associations in London was consulted, as this was the first scheme to be developed in East Sussex. Advice was taken from what is now the DHSS about how the tenants could be helped to pay the rents as the scheme was to be registered as a Charity which would be self supporting.

All these meetings, the plan being approved and passed, took nearly five years. Eventually J G Robinson, builders from Eastbourne, and supervised by Mr Clarke started a new building on the cleared site in 1965. Mr A Collins laid the foundation stone.

In June 1966, six tenants moved in to the six single flats and five married couples and two sisters moved in to the six double flats. In the Community Room there is a Sanctuary from which Church Services are conducted, this being consecrated by the Bishop of Lewes.

The Victoria Diamond Jubilee Clock which had been bought by public subscription and put in the school building was carefully removed, conditioned and the face painted blue, and then put in the front of the building for all to see but not hear as it was the school clock.”

It is more than 50 years since “Johnnie” Collins came up with the idea of comfortable flats for local elderly people. So what has changed? The answer: “Not a lot”. Today Osborne House is administered by a voluntary committee of local people, under the name of Warbleton Housing Association Ltd and is a registered charity. When flats come available the Committee first seeks to find tenants with roots in the area and whose circumstances are such that they might otherwise have to move to another area.

The Committee is always keen to hear from anyone who thinks they may qualify, and who need accommodation now or in the future, so that they may be considered when a vacancy occurs. If anyone would like to know more then please contact the secretary in writing at the address below.

No salaries are paid to committee members which means rents are kept at reasonable levels. Happily there has been a period of full occupancy and it has been possible to fund an ongoing programme of general refurbishment and improvements.

One often hears the complaint of the lack of affordable housing in village communities and so we are indebted to those who have gone before and whose foresight and caring nature brought about Osborne House so many years ago – a legacy that we should value highly, and be sure that it continues to be available in the future.

Rob Robinson
Osborne House
Rushlake Green
TN21 9QL