NORWOOD COLLEGE SPORTS GROUND

Page updated on 7 November,2018




Norwood had use of, or probably owned, a field adjacent to the Fells Quarry on the approach to the Crimple Viaduct. A large sign board announcing the
Norwood College Sports Ground - Strictly Private - GWG CASS

was still in place in the mid-1950s though in my experience, the school never made use of the place but The Rocket of 1947 - see below - does mention it. The field would have been accessed via Fulwill Mill Lane at the top of Humphrey Bank. In those days it would have been a leisurely drive in The Chariot from Norwood, along Leeds Roard, then to the top of Humphrey Bank and turn left; a journey of about ten minutes allowing for the traffic lights at Scott's Corner. A postcard showing the field is included below.

The Rocket, no.4, February,1947, refers to the sports field by the quarry:

"The last term the Cubs have been to the quarry twice. The first time the Cub instructors hid treasure in the quarry and the Cubs had to find it. The second time the Pack was split into two groups, one the Robin Hoods, and the other the Sheriffs. The Sheriffs had to get their money to Mr Cass in the quarry without being relieved of it by the Robin Hoods".

The railway line between Harrogate and Leeds (and also Wetherby in those days) ran alongside Fells Quarry and so the Norwood Sports Ground was ideally situated for Charlie. After passing the quarry, the line went immediately on to the long Crimple Viaduct before it turned in a sharp curve towards Pannal and Leeds; the line also continued over points directly into Prospect Tunnel and hence to Wetherby. Additionally, the Leeds line also had a branch that passed beneath the viaduct and on to Starbeck. No wonder Charlie chose Harrogate for his school!

The owner of a postcard showing this Sports Ground was puzzled and this lead local histporian Malcolm Neesam to write about it and Norwood in an article, "Reasonable ground for doubt" in the Harrogate Advertiser. The newspaper article assumed it to be of the play ground in Leeds Rd adjacent to the school but the postcard actually shows the field area adjacent to Fells Quarry. The view is looking along Fulwith Mill Lane towards the bridge over the railway - in the 1950s this was a dirt road and not one used regularly by traffic. The signboard says,
- NORWOOD COLLEGE - SPORTS GROUND STRICTLY PRIVATE GWG CASS (then perhaps the school telephone number). However, the follow-up article on 14 May put things right!

Having only a reproduction from the Harrogate Advertiser there is no clue as to the publisher of the postcard.

Here is the article by Malcolm Neesam; it appeared in the 16 April,1999, edition of The Advertiser.:

“MALCOLM NEESAM'S BYGONE HARROGATE

Reasonable grounds for doubt

Norwood College

THE final version of this week's Bygone Harrogate article will require the help of those Advertiser readers who have knowledge of an old Harrogate school, a subject suggested by reader Mrs S Dunwell. This is because I possess scarcely anything about the former Norwood College, which once stood on Leeds Road, near the Stray junction.

Today, it may be hard to appreciate that the large tract of land between South Stray, Wetherby Road, Hookstone Road and Leeds Road was once held by only three owners. The great Award of 1778 had allotted the whole of what is now the Wetherby Road, Hookstone Road, Oatlands Drive plot, containing 154 acres, to Daniel Lascelles, Earl of Harewood. Shortly afterwards, the estate was acquired by Alexander Wedderburn, who set about laying it out as a model estate.

The land now occupied by St Aidan's School, some 27 acres, was allotted to John Coates, and the remaining plot of 88 acres reaching as far west as Leeds Road went to Thomas Russell, who also owned the old Dragon Hotel.

Apart from a few cottages, some of which still stand in what is now called Oatlands Drive, the only significant buildings by 1900 on all of this huge area of land were Wedderburn House, and Oatlands, now St. Aidan's School.

The first residential developments in the area between the Tewit Well and Leeds Road, were undertaken by Isaac Pickard, and were favoured by a number of private schools, one of which - Clifton College - featured in a recent article.

Advertiser reader Mr D Lewis has often loaned me interesting post card views of old Harrogate, but this one from his collection is a real puzzle. It shows what appears to be the Norwood College Sports Ground, possibly being a square or oblong field, surrounded by trees, some of which are pine. The caption reads: "Corner of Sports Ground from the south west. Norwood College, Harrogate.'" Now, I well remember Norwood College on Leeds Road, and its neighbouring sports ground, which lay between Tewit Well Avenue and Alderson Road. If my memory is correct, the sports ground lay in a declivity, which meant that if entered from Leeds Road * it was necessary to descend a few steps. This is still the case with the building erected on the site in the mid 1970s. The Harrogate Guide Books first appear to refer to Norwood College in 1940, when it is listed under 5 Leeds Road. The final entry occurs in the directory for 1971-2. Mr G W G Cass appears to have been headmaster from 1940 to closure in c.1972. The photograph shows a sports field, ringed by trees, some of which are pine, but as the field is flat, can it be the Leeds Road field? Also, if the school came to Harrogate in 1940, why does the photograph contain no sign of either Tewit Well Road or Alderson Road. Readers' comments will be welcome.”

* There was no access from Leeds Road;
Malcolm Neesam is referring to the gate on Alderson Road,
just opposite the first of the shops
– in the 1950s, it was a chemist.


Four weeks later, answers had been given to Malcolm Neesam and the 14 May,1999, edition of The Advertiser included these and some more interesting information.

“MALCOLM NEESAM'S BYGONE HARROGATE

Readers solve historical mystery

BYGONE Harrogate for April 16 1999 featured a post card supplied by Mr D Lewis which pictured the sports ground of the former Norwood College, the location of which, I guessed - quite incorrectly - must have been on Leeds Road, bounded by Alderson Road and Tewit Well Avenue.

Thanks to the many replies I have received, I can now provide Mr Lewis and other interested readers with a precise location of the Norwood College sports ground. The first thing to admit is that my original guess was completely wrong. There was a small field between Alderson Road and Tewit Well Avenue, but this was only a play ground, used by Norwood College at 'break' times.

The sports field of Mr Lewis’ postcard was located at some distance from the school, being reached by a walk along Tewit Well Road. Langcliffe Avenue, Rayleigh Road, Hookstone Road, the footpath south of Hornbeam Farm and Park - which led eventually to Crimple Farm - across the railway line, then doubling back round Fells Quarry, when the sports field was reached. *

This field may still be seen on the ordnance map, today being part of the playing field for Oatlands Junior School. I am most grateful to Advertiser readers Mr R J Poulter. Mr R Prattley and Mrs M R Barker who wrote to me privately and to Mrs J Metcaife, Mr M Anderson, Mr 0 G Norris and Mr B Toase, who phoned me and to Mr M Laycock who wrote to the paper, all with fascinating recollections of Norwood College. To all of these readers, my sincerest thanks.

Mr Norris relates that for a time, Harold Styan was gymnastics master at Norwood College. Mr Poulter has sent me a splendid pair of maps, which show the changes to the Crimple area and the Norwood sports field, from the time when he was a child in the 1930s and 1940s up to the present. Mr Prattley, who has provided the photograph of Norwood College and its Leeds Road playground, reproduced opposite, recalls the head master Mr G Cass, who lived on the premises.

The photograph is part of an advertisement, which dates from about 1940, and which includes the ominous words "the school has its own gas proof room".

Mr Cass was a railway enthusiast, who liked to meet parents, pupils or visiting dignitaries arriving at Harrogate Railway Station. On occasion, if the train was late, the top hatted (sic) station master suggested to Mr Cass that he would send an engine out to see if it could be of assistance!

Mr Cass also allowed the Harrogate Model Railway and Experimental Railway Society to use the cellars at Norwood College, so doubtless railway allusions often figured in the headmaster's speech.

* This seems a long way round!
Walking or driving straight along Leeds Road
then turning left into Fulwith Mill Lane could be easier.

Good satellite views of the former sports ground site are on Google Earth web site or on the Flash Earth web site. To the north-west of the railway bridge is Fells Quarry and the Norwood Sports Ground was part of the sports field. By panning the satellite view south-eastwards a wonderful view of Crimple Viaduct can be seen.




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