The Norwich School

The Dyers’ relationship with Norwich School dates back to the 1940s, and was the result of a devastating wartime air raid.  On the night of the 27th June 1942, German bombers attacked the Cathedral, and owing to its proximity 36 incendiary bombs fell on the School, setting light to several buildings. The Head Master and boys tackled fires in the Physics Laboratory, bicycle shed and Manual Instruction Room. Six firebombs set fire to the ceiling of the arcade and although three stirrup pumps were used, the fire service had to put it out. The school’s lodge was not so lucky; it was also hit while the Head Master and his pupils were tackling the other fires.  A wartime report in The National Archives records how the Grammar School was “saved by the energy and courage of the Head Master and boys (fortunately it was not holiday time)”.

The school had suffered heavy bomb damage and funding to rebuild it was insecure.  However among the school’s governors at the time was HH Judge Norman Daynes (Prime Warden 1946-1947), an old boy of the school. He was committed to rebuilding the Company after the pressures of the War and also had the vision to see that the Company could play a role in securing the future of the school. As a result there are records held by The Company that detail the projects we have been involved in.

It seems that rebuilding work began in 1947, and a  letter dated 10/2/1948 from the Dyers to the school proposed a ‘substantial contribution’. The first major undertaking was the completion of Dyers’ Lodge for increased teaching space; the records include the plans. In the same decade the Dyers supported the Rowing Club, a boarding house and the conversion of a redundant chapel into the Library. There were also ad hoc gifts eg redundant curtains from the Hall went to the Music Room. Perhaps what was especially valuable in the aftermath of the War was the establishment of a Deed of Covenant in 1955 providing a regular grant from the Dyers for the school’s projects.

As a result a firm bond has developed between the Company and the School. From 1955 the Dyers provided 3 governors, and Judge Daynes, whose vision had been the driving force, was Chairman of Governors until his death in 1966. The Dyers have continued to provide support during the changes to the school’s constitution as it moved first to being a Direct Grant school then to being Independent.

The Company’s Charitable Trust continues to be a major benefactor with contributions towards the costs of capital projects, scholarship awards, means tested bursaries and an annual science prize.  The school choir performs at the Dyers’ annual Thanksgiving Service at St James Garlickhythe. The Company once gifted the school two grand pianos which are celebrated with an annual Dyers concert every December.

There are copies of the material referred to, as well as a Summary of Benefactions 1948-63, in the Archives.