Pictures from the archive: (click on an image to see a larger version and to view the gallery as a slideshow.)
See below for more images.
Founded in 1951 by local schoolteachers Joyce Pearce OBE, Ruth Hicks and Margaret Dixon to help displaced children after World War II, the charity took its name from Miss Pearce’s family home Ockenden in White Rose Lane, Woking. From these humble beginnings it worked for 50 years helping refugees from around the world.
The initial object of the charity was to receive small numbers of Eastern European teenagers from post World War II displaced persons camps in Germany, and to support them through their secondary education. Although the charity remained small in scale and personal in ethos, within a few years world events and the increasing numbers of refugees world wide would lead it to widen both its remit and its scope, first to help children and students outside Europe during the 1960s, then to play a leading role in the admission and resettlement of Tibetans fleeing oppression and the Vietnamese Boat People.
The archive of Ockenden International, formerly the Ockenden Venture (SHC Ref 7155), is a major acquisition numbering over 100 boxes and some 40 archive films. In particular, it is an important source for the study of the reception of refugees into the United Kingdom from the 1950s to the 1980s. The records were taken from the attic of the charity’s offices in Woking and include minutes, annual reports, correspondence, papers of the founding members, personal files and a large photographic archive. These record in detail the development of policy, life of the refugees and staff in the Ockenden houses in Woking, Haslemere and elsewhere, and overseas projects in Asia, the Middle East and northern Africa.
Birmingham Archives’ Iron Room blog includes an article about Ockenden home, Westholme, in Bourneville, Birmingham. Read about it here: https://theironroom.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/the-ockenden-venture-westholme/
Click here to read a poem ( pdf) written by Vietnamese refugee, Le Con (b.1919). Le arrived in England in Nov 1979, aged 60 years old and was initially placed at the Ockenden reception centre at Sunshine House, Gosport.
Click here to read an extract (pdf) from a letter about Ockenden, written by Tibetan refugee, Ugyan Norbu, who came to the UK in the 1970s.
Keith Shaw-Ashton worked at Keffolds in the 1960s and wrote and article about Ockenden for the Readers Digest. Read a response that came from India. The transcript is available as a pdf () document. Click on the small image to see the original letter.
More pictures from the archive: (click on an image to see a larger version and to view the gallery as a slideshow.)
For more information about the Ockenden Archive, please contact Surrey Heritage, email [email protected] or telephone 01483 518737.
Click here to download a pdf () copy of the Ockenden bibliography.
Ockenden has always been a subject of local pride in Woking and the Woking Community Play Association staged a specially written drama, The Vision, to celebrate the inspiring history of Ockenden. The Vision was based on the tales from the charity which was founded in 1951 by three school teachers Joyce Pearce, Margaret Dixon and Ruth Hicks. The charity went on to achieve international status, in particular for their work with the Vietnamese Boat people and for helping refugees and displaced people. The play was written and directed by Rib Davis, well known local Oral Historian and playwright.
First the play, then the exhibition and now the book!
“The Vision Book – A Suitcase Full of Recollections”