Ruskin School & WTA The High House
Ruskin School

The High House, once a large property which lies on Station Road and junction of Pound Lane, Heacham. From 1903-25 the building was owned by Bellerby 'Harry' Lowerison and he was headmaster of his model school, the Ruskin School.

The Ruskin School Home was opened in Hunstanton in 1900. It had three storeys and was called “The Birdcage”.
Called Ruskin School Home, one important feature was that it was to be structured and run like a family. Lowerison involved the fellowship in the search for the new buildings in Heacham. They found “The Wilderness”, built in 1726, then called the High House. At that time Heacham lacked both electricity and gas. Outbuildings were converted into classroom and dormitories. There was also a large garden with fruit trees and a vegetable plot. Later, a paddock opposite the main house was purchased. (This appeared to be the area towards the fire station.) There were two tennis courts, a croquet lawn, an observatory, (the equipment for which was also gathered after a public appeal in the village) and a well, where the school derived its water.
He was appalled that there was no guaranteed clean drinking water supply to the village and that the main well in the village was located only 6 yards from the nearest cess pit and agitated for the erection of a water tower. The local ratepayers opposed this measure, and on one occasion during his campaign he was pelted with stones. He appealed over the heads of the local rural district council to the Local Government Board and in the end was victorious, the water mains being laid in the spring of 1912.
He designed its curriculum to be as natural as possible. This meant that the school could not be too large. Lowerison originally thought that 20 would be the optimum number of children, but in fact the school always exceeded this.. In 1901 there were 26, increasing to 36 in May 1902 and to 40 by Christmas 1906. The summer of 1907 saw 43, by spring 1909; this has risen to 50 where he now set the absolute ceiling. The school was still full at this level in the summer of 1910, but numbers were dropping by Christmas 1911. The school was so under subscribed at 38 pupils in July 1914 that Lowerison was worried it would go broke. However during the war the number of pupils increased, especially after London was bombed by Zeppelins and later Heacham. By the last year of the war they were down to the 20 originally envisaged. Much of the explanation for this larger-than-planned scale of the project probably lay in its finances. The fees were £12 a term.

When he put the house on the market after the school closed in 1925/6 it was in very poor condition, without basic utilities. His asking price was £5000 but in 1926 the property was purchased for £4,750, its new owners being the Workers' Travel Association (WTA).

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