Former Wymondham College headmaster pens book reflecting on its history to celebrate state boarding schools

A picture of Wymondham College taken in 1991.

A picture of Wymondham College taken in 1991. - Credit: Archant

A former headmaster has celebrated Norfolk's only state boarding school in a book reflecting on its 65-year history.

The Nissen huts at Wymondham College, which were used for acommodation until the 1960s.

The Nissen huts at Wymondham College, which were used for acommodation until the 1960s. - Credit: Archant

John Haden's Boarding on the State details the history of Wymondham College, where he held the top job from 1992 to 2000, and that of similar schools nationally.

It covers the college's early days in the 40 Nissen huts on the former military hospital site, where teachers continued to take lessons until the 1990s.

Mr Haden, 73, said: 'The teachers thought it was wonderful in a way because they had a huge amount of space. Each department had their own Nissen hut.

'We also had the happiest sparrows and pigeons - they used to come and roost on the huts every night to keep their feet warm.'

But in 1984 the hefty heating bills needed to keep the huts warm - about £250,000 a year, saw Norfolk County Council threaten to close the school.

It was thanks to the resounding success of a community campaign that saw parents and supporters raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for repair costs that the school, which is now under the headship of Jonathan Taylor, remained open.

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Mr Haden, who was also headteacher at the King Edward VI School in Lincolnshire, hopes the book will dispel negative stereotypes associated with state boarding schools.

'I kept diaries during that time, which I was able to look back through,' he said, 'and I got so fed up with listening to people saying boarding schools are such terrible places, so I decided to write this.

'There's been lots of stories about child abuse and awful treatment and, while it obviously has happened, it is not like that at most places and never was at Wymondham. Even in the Nissen huts all the kids were very happy.'

Its release coincides with the Boarding Schools' Association's 50th anniversary year and the 25th anniversary of the State Boarding Schools' Association, of which Mr Haden was the first chairman.

Boarding on the State is available from Jarrold's bookshop at £9.99 or online from Amazon.

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