Witchford Village College is pleased to be supporting The Cambridgeshire Village Colleges Heritage Project. Soham-based Viva Arts and Community Group has received £65,500 from the National Lottery to deliver the community project, which combines oral history and research with travelling exhibitions, film and learning resources.
Established by education visionary Henry Morris, Cambridgeshire’s Chief Education Officer for three decades from 1922, the county’s village college scheme was revolutionary. The Village College is an institution unique to Cambridgeshire but the model has inspired educators worldwide. It was conceived to provide education for 11 to 16 year olds by day and educational and leisure facilities to adults at other times, thus serving the whole community. Morris famously described this as “raising the school leaving age to ninety”, and believed that education should be a lifelong process accessible by all those living in the villages and small towns around Cambridgeshire. This project will gather personal stories from people who knew Henry Morris, worked with him and, to a greater degree, benefitted from his vision for community learning.
“For many decades, tens of thousands of local people have benefitted from this county’s unique village college system.” says Rachael Polsom, Project Manager. “This is the first project to celebrate the county-wide heritage of the village colleges and we look forward to collecting people’s first-hand village college stories.”
Viva have the full support of the Henry Morris Memorial Trust who have generously contributed £5000 toward the project costs as well as full access to their archive. Witchford VC hold their own archive dating back to 1951 which was when the college opened in Nissen Huts on the site of the former RAF base at Witchford. We are very proud of our heritage and are very keen to involve our students in this project.
We would like to get in touch with anyone who was at WVC in the 1950s or who has connections with the college from that time. We would like to hear your stories and find out how WVC helped you. This project will find and gather personal stories from WVC and other village colleges across the county. Volunteers, including some of our students, will be trained and work together to present this heritage to the broadest possible audience through a community film, project website, a travelling exhibition (which we intend to host) and learning resource packs for schools.
Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said: “We’re delighted to support Cambridgeshire’s Village Colleges as they celebrate their heritage and share their stories with the community. Thanks to National Lottery players, local people can explore and play a part in preserving their village school’s important history.”
If you have memories of WVC from the 1950s please contact VCHeritage@wvc.tmet.org.uk