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Dyson and Colman among alumni celebrated at Gresham’s School exhibition

PUBLISHED: 17:21 25 September 2018 | UPDATED: 17:28 25 September 2018

Norwich born actress Olivia Colman . Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Norwich born actress Olivia Colman . Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

From James Dyson to Olivia Colman, a new exhibition will celebrate the contribution that Gresham’s School has made in the field of design, engineering and the arts.

Gresham's School, Cromer Road, Holt Credit: Richard BatsonGresham's School, Cromer Road, Holt Credit: Richard Batson

The Inventing the Future Exhibition runs from Saturday, September 29 to Sunday, October 14 and is a free exhibition celebrating the accomplishments of its 20th century students.

The school, located in Holt, North Norfolk, was founded in 1555 and after beginning life as a small grammar school underwent a cultural revolution in the early 1900s, tripling the pupils it sent to Oxbridge and championing modern languages, literature and science.

Perhaps most notable of the alumni is the inventor James Dyson who attended the school from 1956 to 1965 and some of his early vacuums will be on display.

Other artefacts include the 1934 original manuscript The Liberal Fascist from the poet WH Auden about his thoughts on education at Gresham’s and actress Olivia Colman’s Golden Globe statuette which she won for her role in The Night Manager in 2017.

Cromer-born inventor Sir James Dyson Picture: David Parry/PA WireCromer-born inventor Sir James Dyson Picture: David Parry/PA Wire

Works from prominent Greshamians such as poet Stephen Spender and his artist brother Humphrey, composer Benjamin Britten and Gerald Holtom, the artist who created the famous symbol of international peace, will also be on display.

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Gresham’s educated Christopher Cockerell, who invented the hovercraft using two empty coffee tins and a vacuum cleaner fan, is represented in the exhibition alongside Frank Perkins who developed the diesel engine.

In the field of arts and culture the school provided the springboard for Auden, Spender, Britten and Nicholson.

More than 15 key artworks by the leading British painter Ben Nicholson are also on show.

The 1934 original manuscript The Liberal Fascist from the poet WH AudenThe 1934 original manuscript The Liberal Fascist from the poet WH Auden

Douglas Robb, headmaster of Gresham’s School, said: “Gresham’s is an historic and vibrant co-educational school.

“We pride ourselves that a Gresham’s education enables young people to develop in a huge variety of areas, the school has a tradition of producing outstanding achievers in all walks of life, including architects, diplomats, engineers, musicians, actors and sports men and women and much more.

“We believe that this celebration of some of our greatest alumni will inspire future generations to come to study and thrive here.”

In 1903 Gresham’s School moved from its ageing premises at the Old School House in the centre of Holt to a greenfield location on the outskirts with state-of-the-art science labs and purpose-built boarding houses.

Gerald Holtom created the famous symbol of international peaceGerald Holtom created the famous symbol of international peace

Over two decades the school roll went from 40 pupils to 240 and a ‘cultural revolution’ occurred, though more than 100 pupils and staff lost their lives in World War I.

Simon Kinder, Gresham’s School’s head of history, said: “The small provincial grammar school emerged at the dawn of the Twentieth Century as one of the most progressive, creative and innovative public schools in Britain and it was within this vibrant educational crucible that the pupils who were to go on to invent the future were to be shaped.”

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In the world of journalism and broadcasting the school boasts the BBC’s first Director General, Lord Reith, Cecil Graves, another Director General, and Philip Pembroke-Stevens who was foreign correspondent for the Express and Telegraph.

Pembroke-Stevens was expelled from Germany for his critical reporting of Nazism in 1934 and later shot reporting on Japanese invasion of China in 1937.

Inventing The Future (Cromer Road, Holt, NR25 6EA) runs from Saturday, September 29 to Sunday, October 14 from 9am to 5pm with free entry.

To find out more information on the exhibition and to attend one of the free talks visit the website.

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