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History

The History of DSS and DGS


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Parts annotated thus (?) are uncertain or may need changing.  If we can confirm all the facts I shall submit it as a Wikipedia article.


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The following paragraph in italics is a copy of:

  History of Norfolk by Francis Blomefield
The Hundred of Diss (source)

The charity school was erected first at Palgrave, in Suffolk, in 1711, and two years after removed hither. Mr. Briars, rector of Diss, preached a sermon, which was published at the first meeting of the gentlemen and clergy for encouraging this school, which he dedicated to Charles Bishop of Norwich, (whose chaplain he was,) in which it appears that the rector of Palgrave began it, at whose request that parish set apart a large room belonging to the town for that purpose, and subscribed with him 10l. per annum for its maintenance, the neighbouring gentlemen and clergy had then subscribed between 20 and 30l. besides casual gifts, which then came to about 12l. The school was opened the January before. Ten boys of that parish were taught and clothed, six more taught but not clothed. This school is now [1736] kept at Diss, where the master hath his dwelling in part of the late Gild-hall, and keeps his school in another part: there are now [1736] ten boys clothed and taught.

The grammar school is kept above, in the same house, where the master hath lodgings, and 10l. per annum; but this is at the voluntary contribution of the parish.

[sic]

 



The school:

Diss Secondary School (DSS) was preceded by an establishment know as Robinson's Ladies School.  It was opened ca1850 and was run by Miss Elizabeth Robinson and her sister Rose.  At the time of the 1881 census, Miss Elizabeth was still in charge, at the age of 70, but 2 years later her very much younger sister Mary Ann had taken over
†8. (? more info needed, where was this school)

It seems the ladies school was never overpopulated, census returns show the pupillage varying from two to as high as seven.   This school closed around 1904-08.  Was this the reason then why the secondary school was considered
†8 (?) ?

The school was built on land donated by Francis Taylor MP father of Rear Admiral A.H.Taylor†1
(?) in 1908, on the Shelfanger Road, adjacent to Aldrich's brush factory†2.   It was called Diss Secondary School.

Miss Dixon was the Matron of 'Uplands', a large house
in the 1920s on Walcot Road for boarders.  Uplands Way is one of the entrances to Diss High School, the former secondary modern and comprehensive school.   'Uplands' was also used in those days for the domestic science classes†6.

The Uplands was a hospital for mentally disturbed German prisoners of war during WWI.

When the school acquired a large field further along Shelfanger Road in the 1930s a lot of work was carried out by boys in the 5th and 6th forms.  it was a tremendous task.  Poplar saplings were planted around the entire perimeter.  A cricket square was marked out, a football pitch was prepared and a wooden cricket pavilion constructed with the help of the woodwork master.  The grassy area near the school buildings was reserved for hockey and the annual sports day
†3.

In 1936 there were just over 200 pupils.  The school was co-educational and some pupils paid fees.  Most of the intake came from the Church School or Council School(?).

Uplands in 1939 was used for schooling of evacuees
†4, 8-11 year olds from Edmunton and Gravesend.  Later on it was used as a nursing home for WWII injured personnel (?) and an anti aircraft battery during (?).

In 1941 due to the influx of wartime evacuees to the area from larger cities and coastal ports the school had for the first time 2 forms for each year
†5.

Uplands in the 1950s was converted into flats for teachers at the Secondary Modern School that was built in 1953
†9.  It was at this time the school became Diss Grammar School (?).

In the early 1960s there were still about 200 pupils but in 1965, with the closure of Eye Grammar School the number rose to 350
(citation needed ?). Not all Eye pupils came to Diss some went to Stowmarket.  A major extension to the school was built, covering the well-loved grassy area and adding another two storey block and a covered walkway to the original Victorian style group of buildings.   A new grassy area to the south of the school was purchased†11(?) and this led to an escalation in detentions for boys: 'stone picking'†6.

When the comprehensive school was formed, the grammar school became an anachronism, fell into disuse and was finally pulled down to make way for 'up market' housing.
†10

In the 1980/81 school year pupils and teachers started to transfer to the now-renamed Diss High School or to the Sixth Form College both in Walcot Road.  DHS operated on both sites for existing pupils and the new 1st years were the DHS proper.  The old DGS buildings were called 'Taylor Hall' for this short period.  According to current anecdotal information the merger was not easy†12.

DSS / DGS survived for 70 years. Plans to turn the building into a community centre came to nothing and it was demolished in 1991.   Amazingly the Eye Grammar School buildings still survives as the town's primary school.


Footnotes:
†1 - Rear Admiral A.H.Taylor CB OBE OStJ DL JP (b1886 d1972) was named on the speech day programme as Chairman in 1963. His sons were Commander P.H. B.Taylor OBE DL (b1916 d1989), J. M. B. Taylor (b1927) and Reverend Canon Ronald Enfield Bisset TAYLOR (b1929 d2009).
†2 - Aldrich's brush factory - remember that whistle.
†3 - Louis Carr DGS 1929-35, The Old Dyssean, Issue 21, Jul 2011 , Pg 6.
†4 - George Tilby, The Old Dyssean, Issue 2, July 2001, Pg 2.
†5 - Kath Bass nee Pipe.
†6 - Seth Reeder DGS 1962-67.
†7 - Majorie Watts DGS 1921-21, The Old Dyssean, Issue 3, Jan 2002, Pg 14.
†8 - The Old Dyssean, Issue 6, Aug 2003, Pg 3.
†9 - Sally Lee (nee Pollard) DGS 1969-76, lived there in the 1950s.
†10 - It's true, the houses are north of the market. <g>
†11 - This may have already still have been owned by the education authority, see 1950 overlay map below.  
†12 - See Facebook group - 'Diss Grammar School'.


Many thanks to all the contributors.

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Thanks Google Maps.




The map opposite shows an actual
Diss Town map dated ca1950
laid over the Google Map 2011.



If anyone has an old map of the area to verify this please contact the Webmaster.
 

 

The map opposite attempts to show crudely the outline of the school grounds in green and the buildings in blue just before closure.

The area to the north and east of the water towers, was the original 'well loved grassy area' and the area to the south of the map was acquired pre 1965 to replace the well loved grassy area once it had been built upon to extend the school buildings.

Overlayed map

Thanks Google Maps.

 

   

This is a map of the sport's field to the north of the school along Shelfanger Road c2011.  Louis Carr in his memories (see above) refers to the boys building a wooden pavilion.  That pavilion was  I suspect still there in the 1960s(?), I can remember at green wooden building.  The pavilion shown opposite looks much more substantial, the hard patch to its south could be the site of the original(?).

The sport's field was used for athletics, hockey, cricket, football, softball, rounders and occasionally touch rugby never rugby(?).  If you didn't 'do' sport because of: injury, punishment or a note from your mum, you probably spent countless boring, cold, hours rolling the cricket pitch with Reggie blowing his whistle and bellowing from afar 'Don't dig your heels in boy!" Tennis and basketball were reserved for grass and hard courts within the school grounds.
 
Playing Field

Thanks Google Maps.



 
Where the gates were
2000s

 For more pictures
see the
photo galleries.
 
Facade 1990s
1990s

 

 Facade 1990s
1990s


Click on
individual pictures
to enlarge.
 
 
Gym &amp; science blocks
1990s

1940s
1946
Acknowledgements given in main gallery.
 
 
 
 
Thanks everyone.

North Wing
Pre WWII
 


There is a 5 minute video of the school in our Film Theatre taken just before it was demolished in the 1990s.


DGS stripe