Before the present Sports Hall was built, a fruit and vegetable garden ran the length of the east side of the College, between the water tower and the southern end of the tennis hard-courts. As well as providing produce for the school, it was also a centre of learning for agricultural science students.
From recent research we have discovered that the area had been cultivated and formed part of the Morley Hall kitchen garden until the Hall was sold by auction in 1921. The original extent (seven acres) is shown as number 133 on the map supplied with the auction Particulars of Sale and is referred to as 'Arable and New Kitchen Garden.'
The garden was cultivated again when the Emergency Teachers' Training College was established after the Second World War. Miles Baron was the Wymondham College Technical School's head of agricultural science from 1952 onwards and he told us recently that:
With regard to your query about pre-W.C. land cultivation activities, I can confirm that some such enterprise took place during the emergency Training College period. Unfortunately I can supply little detail concerning this.
In the July 1953 vol.1 of the Alliance I stated in Ag. and Hort. Notes page 33: ''On the college site the school has come in possession of a cultivated garden about two roods in extent, almost an acre of neglected orchard, and another small piece of land on which poultry have been run. Together these three areas form one large rectangular block of land one and a half acres in extent.'' This was the inheritance from the Emergency Training College era, plus a small wooden tool shed and a few tools.
Exactly what occurred in the Training College I cannot say, but after some time I was fortunate enough to obtain the help of Mr. W.E. Bushell, a skilled professional gardener of the ''old school'' who had previously worked in the Training College, and while I found him a willing and ever-helpful, loyal and expert friend I can only say that his comments on the Training College set-up were entirely negative.
As far as I know the Iron Horse originated from the Training College and I have supplied comments on this machine which no doubt you have to hand.
Top Gardens 1955 Miles Baron & Walter Bushall (1955) Water Tower view (1955) Top Ag. Sci. (1955) Potting Shed Greenhouse
The following photos show instruction being given in the spraying of fruit trees. Miles has lent his coat to one of the girls. Ray Martin and David Howard are looking on.
I have memories of a pile of stones intended for concrete when constructing the potting shed, a catapult and a certain headmaster out for a walk one Saturday evening. Three or so of us decided that the stone pile would be suitable catapult fodder, so we were at the back of the gardens, next to the wood, when we should have gone between the huts and the garden hedge, then left, past the potato patch and down to the "Park."
We were busy selecting suitable stones and putting them into the pockets of our SHORT trousers when Muz turned right coming out of the path through the woods and came along the back of the gardens. Catapults quickly got disposed of into the snowberry bushes as we walked along to meet our fate. Cannot remember what was said, maybe we were "looking for fossils" or something, but seem to remember we were told to go the correct way in the future. Turned left into wood path, left before end of path and back into the wood (we knew the woods like the backs of our hands in those days) and then worked our way back towards the potting shed to retrieve catapults. After that, resumed our planned expedition for the evening; cannot remember where to, but remember the "Fir Plantation" was one of the favourite places. I think this involved going across the track that led from Morley Hall out to the A11 onto what later became the Far Park but was then probably Out of Bounds, going to the far side of that field, and then some more! The Fir Plantation was, naturally enough, a pine wood, dry and dark inside but with pigeons to take pot shots at. Don't know that we ever hit any although we would climb up the trees to get to the nests.
Former Inmate (1950s)
Sadly over the years this area has been neglected and become overgrown. This picture was taken in the Autumn of 2002. The potting shed is still there but is now derelict. All is hidden from view by the high hedge that surrounds this once productive area.
What is to happen to this land? According to the official Wymondham College web site, one of the available activities for enthusiastic students in their 'spare' time is a Gardening Club. Which garden? Looks like a great opportunity to me. It is adjacent to the new cafeteria too.
From the College Newsletter, July 2008:
A WYMONDHAM COLLEGE ALLOTMENT!
In the light of increasing food prices and the credit crunch, the Geography Department thought it was high time that the Wymondham College garden was brought back into production! Our budget is limited though and so if you have any old garden tools (particularly spades, forks and rakes initially!) we would very much appreciate their donation to our cause. Please bring tools to Lincoln hall on the first evening back (Tuesday September 2nd) or to main reception on Wednesday morning. Pupils in Year 7, 8 and 9 will all get the chance to put in some hard graft during their Geography lessons next year, whilst also learning the basics of horticulture, and hopefully by next spring we will have some cheap produce to sell to you all! Keep an eye out for updates on our allotment project via newsletters and the Geography department website on the Virtual Learning Environment.
"Discussions with the school bursar concerning the garden have revealed the future plans for the garden site – it is to be the site of the new languages centre, due to be built at some point over the next few years once funding is acquired. Knowing this, a decision has been made to relocate the school garden to an area of waste ground behind the water tower rather than work hard to renovate the existing one only to see it dug up for services and then built on within 5 years. Unfortunately this will mean the loss of the last remaining mature apple trees around the old potting shed, and probably the potting shed too since it is too old to move. The new garden will retain its link to the old however, and will aim to reintroduce students of
to the joys of growing your own food and of improving their knowledge of horticulture. Wymondham College
Update Winter 2009:
Many thanks for all the kind donations to the allotment project so far. The current wish list includes…
Old CDs to use as bird scarers (we have lots but could use more)
Old carpet or tarpaulin that we can cover the ground/compost heap with
Any old gardening tools (especially trowels)
Spare compost, leaf mould, grass turves, etc
Horticultural fleece/plastic sheeting
Now that the gardening season has begun in earnest, we are out in the garden every Wednesday 4-5.00 pm, and every Friday 4-5.00 pm when it’s not an exeat, half term or end of term. Parents are very welcome to attend as well as students [and past students! - Ed.] from all years.
The next scheduled digging day will be on Saturday 21st March 2009 where we will be finishing off construction and filling of the raised beds, laying bark chips over the pathways, constructing a polytunnel, and courtesy of a generous donation from Mr Lacoste at Cley Nurseries, planting about a million seed potatoes! We’ll meet in the garden at around 12.30pm, and everyone is welcome, even if you’ve never picked up a spade before. Assume the session is going ahead unless it is pouring with rain, or check the school website for updates.
Update Summer 2009:
I was in touch last year about rejuvenating the old school garden. The most recent update is that since I last wrote we decided against using the old site since it will be built on in due course once funding is secured for the proposed International Centre, into which modern languages will go, along with some new media and IT suites, a space for the new school radio station 'Radio Wym', and other things.
Instead we were given a patch of land just in front of Kett woods. Judging by the rubble and beer cans and bottles we dug up, the site probably hasn't been used since the old staff accommodation chalets were there. Thanks to a generous grant from the PSA of £1500 the garden project has really made excellent progress and we sold our first produce to parents last Saturday - a selection of posh lettuces that raised a grand total of £10!
The Summer Fayre this year will be on Kett field and as a result the garden will be open to visitors and there will be a stall selling produce. Old Wymondhamians would be very welcome to come and talk to us about their memories of food and vegetable growing back in the day, to tour the new garden, and peek over the hedge into the sadly overgrown old garden, before buying some of our produce and helping us fund another year of fruit and vegetable growing.
Wymondham College Remembered