Contents Our Memories The Club


The USAAF Hospital site included a 'Canteen' building - an E-shaped structure of linked wooden huts that was later giver the number 121 by the College but was known to all as 'the Club' from the sign, above the main door, that was inherited from the Americans.  The hospital's official reports (filed on the Pre-history page) include the following notes:

The clubhouse was a warehouse before the Red Cross staff took it over. Under their direction, it was completely renovated and refurnished . It was kept open from 1100 to 2200 hours every week day and from 1300 to 2200 on Sunday. It was equipped with a graphic arts room, a handicrafts room, a 1,000 volume library and a radio-phonograph. Each Sunday afternoon, "open house" was held at the clubhouse for girls from Wymondham or Attleborough, who came to the post by cooperation of local British organizations.

Concerts of recorded classical music were given each week in the American Red Cross Clubhouse on Sunday nights . Concerts were open to patients and staff of all ranks . The records proved so popular that people began to come around to the clubhouse on weekday nights after closing hours to play them. This habit was institutionalized into a Thursday night informal concert (after closing hours) in addition to the scheduled Sunday concert.

Four "event nights" were planned each week. One of these was a bingo party, one a classical record concert . The others varied from time to time, including card parties, games parties, dance band concerts, travelling entertainers, quiz nights, etc . On Independence Day 1944, the Clubhouse was turned into a carnival midway with a hula show, a boxing exhibition, a novelty zoo, a weight guesser, a fortune teller and games of chance (for cigarettes).

On Christmas Eve, the clubhouse was used as a headquarters for parties on every ward in the hospital . Patient and staff entertainers were dispatched from there for carol-singing and skits . Children of Wymondham and Attleborough, Norfolk, were entertained at a Christmas party in the Red Cross clubhouse of the 231st Station Hospital on 23 December 1944.

With acknowledgement to Jim Douglas for this aerial photo

The Club was used as a recreational facility from the earliest days of the College and prompted these recent recollections:

"Do any of the old fogies of early 50's remember having a Clubhouse where we would listen to Jazz and Winifred Atwell music or is this simply a dream in this old fogey's memory which hurts when trying to go back that far?"  - Derek Buckingham

"Indeed there was a Club House and there was Jazz and Winifred Atwell. My recollection is that Winnie Atwell poured forth from just about every window on site. The Modern Jazz Quartet were formed in 1952 and being a Lincoln-Ralphs late developer, I did not discover them until 2008. May I draw the attention of my Old Friend and Fogie Copper Knob Derek B to the Popular Music page where he will find a dissertation on 50's pop." - David Spinks

"Just read the message from Derek Buckingham about the clubhouse, don't remember much about the "jazz"  -  (reply from Spinks),  but do remember rushing to be first in to bag one of the two tables for a game or two or three of table tennis.  We also had membership cards, these from my junk in the loft, one signed by David Norfolk and the other by John Hall, but why did we need cards to get in?" - Maggy Skipp (nee Smith)

"I seem to remember that the Commercial Course operated within the confines of the Clubhouse, as at 4pm us lads of 13 years would position ourselves at the windows of Dorm 26 to await the passage of a certain beauty on her way back to Tomlinson, which of course would have been en route from the Club to the said Tomlinson. Or was it that this person would take a detour to enjoy the salutations of the boys of 26? - David Spinks

This is a 6th Form 'session'  c1957 in the Club; recognisable by the roof bracing. 

George Watson is drumming furiously at left, Mike Herring and "baby" Newman are jiving, and Roger Fiske is in the light jacket at the back.

By the late 1950s the Club had become a Common Room for North House (and perhaps South as well?).  It was pretty spartan and freezing in the winter months - no radiators, just a pot-bellied coke stove in the middle of the main area and perhaps the 6th formers had their own in a small room at the SW corner of the Club.  This photo shows 4 chimneys, so perhaps there were more? Either way, juniors didn't manage to get very close! 

There was also a brick fireplace on the west wall, with a Breugel print Child Play hanging above it. Coke was the fuel and there was a large stock of it in a heap at the back of the workshops. Unfortunately it was in huge chunks that had to be broken down (usually as a punishment) by mashing it with a section of steel scaffolding pole.  A nasty job on very cold days.

There was one table-tennis table and Dennis Herrell recalls ".... we had billiards/snooker as well as a dartboard, the latter being remembered as once someone gained a dart in the head while walking in front of the board - it was an accident rather than a form of Russian roulette. About the same time Roy Orbison was "crying" and Elvis had his Teddy Bear."

To be continued with the aid of your memories .........







Wymondham College Remembered