An Extra Special Visitor

October 16, 2015 3:44 pm

Lincoln UTC often reports of visitors, unique tours and hosting businesses from a variety of backgrounds and from across the UK. Today one of the most special visits took place at Lincoln UTC.

Today I am writing as just Holly, the marketing officer of Lincoln UTC because, today, was one of my favourite meetings I have ever arranged.

I, along with all my colleagues (both staff and students) share a passion in what has been built. In the foundations and just the start Lincoln UTC. I report on news from classrooms through to visiting delegates. I report on MPs, Lords and Chief Executives: all of whom have found the time to take an interest in the development of Lincoln UTC. I am at many, if not all, the events: talking to anyone that will listen about Lincoln UTC and in turn constantly listening to what the team, here, do on a daily basis to report back to the general public. But I have a secret passion, not just for what Lincoln UTC does, but for the why we are here and how did Lincoln UTC start. I am the history that engineering firms are built upon and the Lincolnshire Bailgate area is steeped within.

Lincoln UTC’s home, this permanent location, is built within the walls of Lincolnshire’s educational heritage. We see it everyday in the terracotta archways, the circle windows, the fireplaces still tiled in the original tiles. We walk across it’s halls and we know, as the building tells us, our walls were built in 1897 and extended in 1911. It is the facts of brick and mortar. But today, the walls of the building came alive as we, the Principal, Vice Principal and I took time to have a cup of tea with Norah Johnson.

Norah is celebrating her birthday today: a lady never reveals her age. Needless to say, Norah is in her prime. However, this was not the reason for her visit. Today she came to meet us because this was her school. Norah was studying here during World War II and travelling from her current home, in Ripley, she came to tell us all about the walls of Lincoln UTC.

This was an all girls school first and during the course World War II, with some termly Boarders living in quarters around the corner (now private housing) and weekly boarders spending Monday-Friday here to save the travel. Norah went to day-school and entered with the girls entrance to the right of the building. Coming through our Latin doorway ‘Learn Or Leave’. The Old Café as we now call it is where our students sit and eat lunch, this used to be the school hall. Mr Vincent’s English Classroom was part of their library. Our Maths classrooms were once home to Art lessons for Norah and the Reception here was dedicated to their music lessons. While my favourite part to Norah’s recollections followed when I asked the question: What was Dr Mackenzie’s office?
“That was the Headmistresses’ Miss Savill’s second office, she had two. One downstairs to receive guests and interview pupils. This was her main office and outside was a line of chairs, if you were naughty you were sent there and made to sit on the chairs. All the school would know you had been naughty”.
Norah left school at 16 and a half years old to work within the Civil Service as the War across Europe still continued.

I sit now in the second office of the once headmistress of 1911. I can look out of my window at the Bomber Memorial Spire and only imagine the world Norah has described. Or how precious the copy is which I have on my desk of the newspaper clipping which reported the crash of the plane on Greestone Steps in 1941: Norah was in school the next day and she lived the motto ‘Keep Calm And Carry On’ which her and Britain certainly did.

How privileged I feel at being allowed just a small view of that time, words can not pay homage too. I will hope our paths cross many more times with Norah and her family [pictured right to left, Richard, Sally, Norah, Dr Rona Mackenzie and me]. To hear about more stories of Norah’s school and life. This is a visit I will never forget and one I hope you have enjoyed as much as I have.

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