1 ... what the 'blue swimming pools' (near Tomlinson Hall) were? David Mills remembers that West House boys used to play 'dodge the golf ball' in them. They had steps down to the bottom and were reckoned to have been used for hydro therapy. Elsewhere, next to Dorm 26, there was a brick-sided static water tank - presumably a source of water in the event of a fire .... unless you know different ....
"Re the Swimming Tank. On the (1963) plan the square between 18 and 20 was a concrete "swimming pool" painted blue with steps into it. I don't remember golf balls but I do remember tennis balls" - Paul Stochaj.
Here are three photos that show the pool:
Master Sergeant Don Kavanaugh of the US Army with two friends in 1944 or 1945. Note that there is no covered way at this time. Water tower in the distance and Tomlinson Hall (19) to the right.
John Case and Chris Hollis c1960 in a photo taken by Mike Thorogood between huts 18 and 20. Evidence from other photographs indicates that the pool was demolished around 1963. Fry Hall is in the background. It looks as if the brick facing was rendered with cement at some point.
The late Gladys Dolan (Matron) in a 1950s photo.
"The concrete water tanks were originally static water tanks from the days of the old USAAF hospital. In addition to the one mentioned there was another two beside the road leading from Hut 25 and Admin. They were a water supply for fire fighting. Many still survive on present day RAF stations (of the few stations that are left!)." - Keith Swetman
2 ... if anything interesting was found on the occasions that the pond was drained?
"I was one of the people who emptied it in 1988. The short answer is that while we didn't find anything of any major importance, we did find a substantial number of abandoned woodwork and metalwork projects in the muddy depths. Given the fact that our collective enthusiasm for CDT was mainly born out of having scary Andy Seeley breathing down our necks, I assume that lobbing the finished articles into the pond was a final (if somewhat muted) act of rebellion for all concerned! I'm sorry to report that we didn't find any trace of Miss 'Benito' Willetts, the ice-skating scourge of the early eighties! I believe I have some video footage of this occasion - I will have a hunt for the tape and get back to you when I have some more news." - Steve Fox
There is a photo of the (nearly) empty pond and an accompanying article in the 1980s section of this Topography page. The following items were recovered:
half a bottle of cider
2 hockey sticks
1 golf ball
some model boat/aircraft remains
"The pond was cleaned out on a previous occasion during my time at the school (1955-62). Many golf balls and a very rusty semi-automatic pistol were certainly recovered. If I remember correctly some of the golf balls were used in a sketch in a sixth form review in which Chalky White took part some time in the late 1950s." - Keith Swetman
3 ... whether any of the 16mm cine films taken by Mr D.R. 'Doc' Staveley (Geography) in the 1950s and 1960s have survived?
4 ... when corporal punishment was abolished?
Corporal punishment was finally banned by Parliament in state schools in 1987 (by a majority of just one vote).
5 ... whether the remarkable paintings that were once on the walls in the old library have survived. Does anyone have recollection/photographs of them. General opinion is that they originated from the hospital days when the hut was a laboratory.
6 ... how many of the old refectory tables have survived? They were made by pupils and woodwork teachers in the late 50s/early 60s. It would be interesting to see a picture of them now; particularly close-ups of the well-designed joints.
7 ... in the same vein (writes Dennis Herrell) , ...after finishing 'O' levels back in 1958 (I think) when I was in 4a, Kevin Hayes and I undertook the making of a gong stand for the new building that North was to go into (Lincoln Hall). The gong itself was, I recall, approximately a foot in diameter, made of brass with a rim maybe 2 inches deep. To be precise, it was hollow cylinder 2 inches long, capped at one end. I think Seeley had found it. Hayes and I made a gong stand constructed from oak in the form of an H with top bar such that it appeared as a squared A, and the gong was suspended between the top and centre bar. We also made the mallet for striking the gong. In my last years in Lincoln it was used to sound mealtimes. Do you know if it still exists? Probably not....it would have fallen apart from the use of the foul-smelling cows-foot glue that we used in those days!
8 ... what happened to the concrete boat that Dr Joyner was building? I have heard stories and rumours but I would like a definitive answer. - Anthony Wright ("Ant" or "Scruffy" from 1975 to 1982
9 ... how we were affected by the harsh winter of 1963? "Being at a loose end I was browsing the site and looked at the 1963 magazine (sad I know!). Reading about the harsh winter and the High Street being used as an athletics track started me thinking. Didn't we also have a days long power cut? I have vague memories of changed timetables and prep by candlelight. Also I seem to recall staggered meal times as some of the new halls had all electric kitchens and so couldn't cook whilst others had gas cookers and so cooked for the houses in shifts. Does anyone recall this?" - Charlie Smith
10 ... if anyone scaled Tacolneston? Over the years stories have circulated about the TV mast being climbed by College pupils in the night, usually at the end of term. Do you know if this really happened? The mast is 502 feet (153 metres tall).
I am sure that it was done - at least once. If I remember correctly someone tied a school scarf to it as proof, hence "questions being asked". Someone must have a recollection as I don't think it was a solo effort.
I am constantly amazed by the tales that turn up on the web site - can't help feeling that I missed out on lots of "opportunities" and the inventiveness of some of the capers and audacity of some of the inmates is really impressive.. I was in the 57-62 mob. I sometimes wonder if I walked around for 5 years in a non-alcohol daze - except for some Sunday afternoons - or whether on leaving I tried to forget everything as soon as possible.
Perhaps you could throw down a challenge to the current, or recently-current breed as we shouldn't incite rebellion in the camp. "What are your stories? Can you match the calibre (non-academic) of previous generations?"
I saw the article about the Mast and can confirm that it was scaled. I can be so sure because I was one of a few that did this several times during the summer terms of 62 and 63. There was a group of 3 maybe 4 (Peter Green, Roger Postle? and myself) from Norwich House and later 2-3 from what used to be North/South (possibly Colin Greenfield?).
We took great delight planning our trips, blacking our faces and muddying the plimsolls SAS style so as not to be spotted. At the Mast we initially scaled an 8ft chainlink fence then climbed inside the mast on a service ladder. There were 3 sections – the middle one being enclosed. I am terrified of heights so climbed only to the top of the swaying enclosed section – about 2/3rds up. I recall watching Peter Green go right to the top. He had to go round a trap door(locked?). I vaguely remember the scarf thing, but cannot be sure whether it was we who left it or a 2nd group. There may have been others doing it, but we kept our ears to the ground and suspect we were the only ones during that particular period.
I recall on one of the return trips we were about to cross the A11 at about 2.00am when a car approached. We all dived into a nearby ditch. But to our horror the car stopped close by and let out 2 oldish ladies evidently returning to a nearby house after a night out. One of the group (of 4?) immediately panicked and made a run for it. The ladies heard, turned and screamed. Then the rest of us got out of the ditch and ran like hell amidst more screams. I guess the sight of four blackened, dripping ‘beasts’ emerging from the ditch was too much to bear!
Many years later I told an ex BBC engineer of our exploit and he said that they often carried out test transmissions in the small hours and that we were extremely lucky to return unscathed (and fertile).
Nick Wright (Nicholas William Wright, West 59/60; East/West Annexe 61; Norwich 62/63)
11 ... which is be the largest state boarding school in Europe? "There are various items around the 'net telling us about WC being the largest state boarding school in the UK, but the second largest in Europe (Wikipedia). Can anyone find the exact details about this? I've been looking, but not far enough, obviously." - Chris Thatcher
12 ... any more about this?
Back to what would possibly have been about 1979 and my earliest months at Wymondham. I have vague recollections of a 'fleeting' visit to the school site by a Lotus Racing Car + Driver one evening??? The 'fleeting and the 'vague'...are possibly accounted for by the youth of my then 11 years .... but equally, it could have been because car, driver & engine roar, seemed to be no sooner there than they were gone. (If so, no wonder - the site hardly cried out for an exuberant & lengthy demonstration of power and acceleration did it!).
Does anyone else recall this visit? Does anyone have any records? And, more pertinently perhaps, does anyone want to verify or dispel the myth that has stuck around in my mind ever since... that the driver was a young Brazilian from Sao Paulo - then cutting his teeth in Formula 3000 with a Norfolk-based team??
It maybe that the query gets exposed to ridicule and I find out that this was actually no more than a Go-Kart built as part of a student's engineering project or something! (Strange that no mention was ever made by any staff at the time - either before or after). The 'Senna' link may also be the product of a very hazy memory and the wishful thinking of youth. That, or I've got my times wrong. He didn't arrive in Norfolk until 1981. Whatever ... someone may be able to set the record straight!
Will Cook 1979-1986
The driver of the racing car was Louis Schaeffer (although I think it is spelled somewhat differently!) and I too remember the visit. I remember especially Mr Seeley getting excited at the quality of the welding! I seem to remember they had some difficulty starting the car outside of the engineering block but eventually got it going and Louis drove it down to Lincoln Hall and back.
If my memory serves me right Louis was indeed Brazilian and I believe the car was actually Formula Ford or something of that ilk I'm afraid I've used up all my knowledge of the event now! Hope this helps!
13 ... For the past 50 years or more I've often wondered what happened to the Colt 45 pistol that was found (circa.1958) in the pond .....
..... adjacent to the workshops during a pond clearance of non pond related material. Most of the material was golf balls from the golf course era but the pistol could only have been from the military hospital era. The establishment of the Heritage Trail and its military connection causes me to seek a solution to the "pistol mystery".
The pistol was cleaned and found to contain a clip of live ammunition. I cannot recall who dredged it out nor can I recall who cleaned it. I do recall vividly that on a Sunday afternoon when I and others who were allowed to use the college bicycles, took it a spot close to a waterworks at Highoak between Wymondham College and Wicklewood to "test fire" it !!
The pistol was tied to a small tree in a hedge and a string was tied to the trigger. Some galvanised iron buckets found in the hedge were stacked into one another and placed in the line of fire. The string was pulled, the spent shell ejected perfectly, the bullet shot out with loud pistol like report and to my amazement a hole was made through the base of the stacked buckets. From that day I never enquired or heard a word about the incident.
I often wondered what happened to the pistol and its remaining live rounds but as fifty five years have elapsed since the "test firing" I'm sure somebody knows the answer........however if the pistol had exploded the story could have been very different and the fate of the pistol would have been recorded in detail.
I'm not sure where my enquiry should be posted, maybe you can forward it to the appropriate place but I am curious.
Tim Briston, 1951- 1958
PS. as for hospital evidences from the 50's...... Small amounts of the padding were still on the wall of building no. 37, it had been the padded cell. Taps on the sinks in the side rooms of huts 36 and or 38 could be turned on and off with elbows rather than hands, operating theatre style. On at least one tree in the woods grown out names etc of recovering patients were still visible.
14 ... Do you know what the three white buildings are on the WC Spitfire print?
I am still on my quest to find out about the 3 white buildings in the above print.
Looking at the photo of the college in the "first 50 years " shows a 1967 shot of the 5 new houses and the Admin and Butler 26 are shown but no white buildings ?
Also there is nothing on the "original plans " in the same booklet.
The print was dated for 1986 so why did they add the buildings or move them there in the intermediate 20 years ?
Is the artist Mr Chedgey still in touch with the Old WC to answer if he added these for effect ?
Or any old WC ( 67-86 ) who can remember these buildings being installed ?
Bill Atkins has kindly provided the answer - they were portakabins and can be seen here!
If you know the answers, please get in touch.
Wymondham College Remembered