KESWICK HALL, College of Education

Welcome to Keswick Hall, Norwich, England, the former College of Education

Keswick Hall, south of Norwich, Norfolk was the educational portal through which aspiring teachers passed on route to becoming school teachers. The building, the property of the Gurney family, became the home of the Norwich Teacher Training College from 1948 until enforced closure in 1981.

 

 

The college itself began in 1839 as the Norwich Diocesan Training Institution with a superintendent, six female and four male students. The college had a long and distinguished record with a history of overcoming difficulties, meeting new needs and providing teachers and headteachers who have had, and still have, an influence on countless hundreds of thousands of school children

 From its inception, the college was sustained by the Church of England. Even when the Board of Education (now the Department for Education) had largely become responsible for much of the funding the Church of England maintained control, in much the same way as Voluntary Controlled Schools operate today.

 

 
 

The 1920s and 30s saw a period of austerity and uncertainty as far as the college was concerned.

In 1934 for instance - “We passed a somewhat anxious Autumn…. (the Board of Education considering)… advising the closure of the College, not that we cannot hold our heads above water financially, bit… (we do not possess) ‘study-bedrooms’.  Miss Winnington-Ingram (the Principal at the time) goes on to say “…I was appointed in 1924, and we had 14 very strenuous and eventful years together, which have seen the enlargement of the College to 130, with all the consequent additions (of accommodation).

   

In March 1942 the Board of Education issued an ultimatum - a year to resolve all the problems, or the College must close.

On April 29th 1942 however the matter seemed to be abruptly settled when the college was bombed!

The Daily Mirror of May 1st 1942 tells (shown here) part of the story. The ‘school’ mentioned was in fact the College in College Road, Norwich. 

 

“Next day” wrote Miss Duff “ we assembled ourselves and sent everybody home who could go home – they wouldn’t all go. Everyone had either a coat or a dressing gown and a pair of shoes. In the context of the survival of the college the disaster seemed conclusive. Miss Duff continued, “I enjoy a fight but I know when I am beaten. The main building was burned out on Wednesday night, which I fear settles the question of our future. We hope to carry on this term and distribute our…students among other colleges.”

However, a few days later there seemed a ray of hope when a letter from the Board of Education enquired how the college planned to continue. With that the College authorities changed their attitude like a phoenix, rising from the ashes.

 

Loans of equipment from other colleges, gifts from previous students as far away as Texas and Melbourne and the provision of three Maycrete temporary buildings meant that Norwich Training College could at least survive! 

And survive it did…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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