Contents Our Memories Commercial Course



This course was hastily arranged at Wymondham as the original hosts Norwich City Technical College were unable to provide the facilities. These students were the same age as the Thetford transferees, a small group of 16/17 year olds who were extremely successful in helping the College staff establish the successful transition of the younger 11 and 12 year olds into the boarding routine. The Commercial group however were the only group able to go home every week-end which made them somewhat remote from a lot of the activities of the College. They did however join in and contribute where possible to the sporting prowess of the College.

Below are extracts from various Norfolk Education Committee Council Minutes which show the course being established.

It was reported that arrangement were being made for 20 students between 15 and 16 years of age to be accommodated at the Technical College , and conveyed daily to Easton in the Committees coach as from September , 1951.

Monday, 3rd Sept, 1951
14. Commercial Courses.    The Chief Education Officer informed the Sub-Committee that he had been notified by the Norwich Education Committee that it might not be possible to admit some twenty County students for a commercial course at the Norwich Technical School. The Sub-Committee agreed that, if necessary arrangements would be made for these students to receive their training at the Wymondham College.

27th September, 1951
3. Matters arising.  The Chief Education Officer informed the committee that since the Norwich Education Committee were unable to arrange for Norfolk students to take the Commercial Course at the Norwich Technical College a residential course for 12 students had been started at the Wymondham College and as a temporary arrangement two members of the Education office staff were giving instruction in shorthand and typewriting subjects. The committee approved the arrangements made for the training of these students.

19th Nov 1951
(c) Commercial Courses.    With reference to minute 3 of the meeting of 27th September 1951, the committee agreed to the appointment of a full time teacher in commercial subjects and authorised the Special Sub-Committee appointed under Minute 5(a) to interview and appoint.




This sheet of 1952 staff autographs was provided by Pat Bailey (nee Freeman) who was a member of the 12 Pioneers who established the 1951 commercial course


Below are some memories of the Commercial Course 1952-53 sent in by Lilian Smith (nee Aldis):

Such a long time ago.but it is said that as one ages one cannot remember what one did yesterday but can recall happenings.of fifty years ago.  I will put it to the test.

 I was 15 in 1952 and about to leave Cromer Secondary School for the world of work.  I was undecided about which career to pursue and Miss King, our Religious Instruction teacher, mentioned a Commercial Course which the Government had set up at Wymondham College a year earlier.  This sounded quite promising so, along with Thirza Hipkin and Pamela Cork, took the necessary exam.  We passed and so began the year which mapped out my future. 

Patricia Freeman had joined the Course in 1951 and was one of the pioneers.  She was a tower of strength and helped me through the first weeks there when I was all at sea and very nervous.  She was my mentor 

It was a Boarding College but we on the Commercial Course boarded Monday to Friday and were home every weekend.  We were ferried to and fro by Harry Wymer in a blue Bedford bus or charabanc as it was termed then.
I quite enjoyed those journeys; it was an interval between home and college and time to get acclimatized.  I do not remember much about the mundane process of packing and unpacking; which must have been a bit of a bore..

 First impressions of the College were not very encouraging.  Coming from a new Secondary Modern School and being confronted with a maze of black nissan huts did not do much for our morale.  It did, however, teach us not to judge by appearances .  The teaching was first class  (forgive the pun) and we were treated with respect as young adults.  Teenagers had not then been invented! The lessons were never dull; perhaps as it was all a novel experience   Being a Commercial Course our main subjects were Shorthand, Typing and Bookkeeping.  Although I have never looked on maths as one of my strong points I enjoyed Bookkeeping I think because of its neatness and order.  The other lessons I remember were English and Geography; two of my favourite subjects.  Being absent at weekends meant not taking much part in the extamural activities of the College.

We were not expected to pay to attend this Commercial Course which I for one took for granted at the time  but on reflection realise we were very privileged to receive such a good grounding this Course provided absolutely free.  It 
was learning on a new level.  Perhaps I was too young at the time to fully appreciate it.

 We were not cosseted youngsters.  We had been through the war and knew what austerity meant, but living in the nissan huts was a whole new experience.  The space between the outer corrugated iron sheets and the inside lining was populated by creatures which we would hear scurrying about at night.  Did not speculate what they were; I for one did not want to know.  I do remember Jill Williamson sitting guard in the Common Room by a hole in the  bottom of the lining waiting to clobber any creature unwary enough to poke out its head.  There were about 20 of us girls in the dormitory sleeping in spaces divided  by wardrobes. Two beds to each space.  At the top of the dorm. were the bathrooms, toilets etc. and at the bottom the common-room. The teacher in charge of the dormitory had a private room.  

As far as I can remember the meals were not very exciting but adequate.  I do remember carrots especially in salads.  Whenever I grate carrots they come out shredded but at Wymondham they were piled on the plate grated fine.  Forgive my ignorance but I still do not know how that was achieved.  Perhaps someone will enlighten me.  (Small point!).



Joan Aldous (Quelch) - aided and abetted by Jeannie Reeve - sent in the following memories of their time on the Commercial Course in 1955/56. This was previously on the 50's Miscellany page.

Though ours were the early days of 1955/56  - we were the Commercial group, the Secretarial Course - the 50th Anniversary book still prompted many memories - boarding for the week and going home weekends - and yes, we certainly remember Old Harry, but more particularly his "bus"!  We would often stop at a shop on the way from Norwich to Wymondham, purportedly for Harry to see his lady-friend, but we could get out (and buy a bag of apples for the week) and get some fresh air, as the exhaust used to come up through the floor of his bus and we would feel quite ill by the time we reached College - but we never complained!

We well remember the dormitory nissen hut and the noise there'd be in a hailstorm! And if we were naughty we had to sleep in the boot room!  How cold it was going from there along the open verandas to the classrooms and dining hall; especially when it snowed.

Although we were worked quite hard, having to attend "Prep" from 7 'till 9pm, a definite highlight was the mug of cocoa and large jam doughnut for Supper!  We were really quite amazed by this, that we should be given such a treat!

Mr. Seeley's photo triggered another memory - I think he accompanied us on a field trip to Germany, organised by Mr. Staveley, the Geography Master.  We were taken into a village cafe, when an old man spat on the floor as we entered, muttering "ach, Englanders", which was a revelation for us 15 year olds!  That aside, such a trip would be a valuable experience. 

Our English Master, whose name escapes me, would try to introduce the noise of a commercial office in which he thought we would eventually be working, by moving up and down the isles, talking, singing and banging the desks with the board rubber, whilst we were to concentrate!  Mrs. Joyce Excell was our House Mistress and Miss Maloy, from Canada, on exchange with Miss Able, was our Tutor.  At the final end of term we all thought we'd have a midnight feast to celebrate, smuggling in such party food as tins of fruit!  At the appointed hour, we all crept into the Common Room at the end of the dormitory, shutting the door firmly behind us.  We were well away, the noise probably getting louder, when suddenly the door burst open and there stood a very stern Mrs. Excell in her dressing gown!  We quietly retreated to our beds before she exploded, not realising that she could see the light under the door! 

We may not have been long-term pupils at Wymondham College (I reckoned I learned more there than I did in the whole of my schooling!), but we certainly have fond memories, both of the place and the people! 

Group Photo 1955/56 Relaxing in the sunshine Bathing Belles! - outing to Gt Yarmouth Swimming Baths Penelope, Olga, Monica, Rita, Jean and Joan attending the WC 60th Anniversary Thanksgiving Service held in Norwich Cathedral on 13th October 2011 Six ladies from the Class of '55 having Christmas Lunch in December 2013








Wymondham College Remembered