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10th September 2020

Wharflands Centenary

2020 sees Oakham celebrate a very important anniversary – the 100th birthday of Wharflands House.

Until the early twentieth century, Oakham school had only had one boarding house: School House. In 1910, it was joined by Junior House (now Chapmans). However, the early 1900s saw the number of pupils attending the school grow to a size that Oakham had never seen before. Therefore, more teaching space and a new boarding house was sorely desired.

A black and white drawn map of Oakham School from 1919. Wharflands can be see just as a black set of rectangles above station road.

Fortunately, in 1920 the Wharflands House and outbuildings came onto the market. The headmaster at the time was W. L. Sargant, who purchased the property and presented the buildings to the school.

As the Oakhamian of 1921 proudly states, the purchase of the land “was a complete success from the start”.[1] The “very roomy house” was opened in 1920 by Mr Jerwood with the stables being used for school purposes and the house being adapted to sleep 26 boys.[2] A small cottage was reserved for the housemaster.

The name of the house originated from the Oakham Canal Company that once brought coal from the Leicestershire coal fields.

Within eight years, the numbers of boarders continued to grow at the school and so four new dormitories and a large dining hall were built in Wharflands for the Winter 1928/ Spring 1929 term.[3] The OO Calendar somewhat praises this new development saying that:

“however much it may affront the artist’s eye externally, [Wharflands new extension] contains dormitories, studies and dining-hall which can only be described as luxurious – too luxurious, perhaps some would say who remember the more Spartan days of the School House bathroom with its lead floor, hip baths and exiguous supply of hot water.”[4]

A photograph of Wharflands House in 1932.

This expansion of Wharflands also enabled the OTC to have new “admirable quarters”.[5]

Following the 1928 building works, the old Wharflands house was now exclusively reserved for the housemaster and his family.

A taste of mid-twentieth century life at Wharflands can be found in some standing orders that we have within the archives. Boys would have to wash each morning, strip their bed and be reading for bedmaking parade at 08:20 am. Pillow fights were forbidden along with playing football in the Wharflands quad.

More improvements to the building of Wharflands came in 1960 (with the modernising of changing rooms and additional classrooms) and again in 1977 when the dormitories were converted into double bed sits and the said rooms were given a homelier feel.

“Each house now has a substantial number of double bed /sitters for its more senior boys, and the general standard of comfort has risen considerably”.[6]

A photograph of Whaflands House from 1977.

Today, Wharflands house has carried on its history of being a boarding house, however now the boys that board within its historic walls are in the middle school and many are flexi-boarders.

List of 1st boys in 1919 – 1920

  • George Frederick Manning
  • Frank William Burman
  • William Percy Christian
  • John Duncan
  • Arthur Enderby Ellis
  • William Samuel Manby
  • Norman Manby
  • John Burwell Marshall
  • Denis Frederick Chitham Pattinson
  • John Senior
  • Richard Senior
  • Frank Senior
  • Henry Peters Tyler
  • Claud Ellery Williams
  • Ralph William Albert Yates

Wharflands Housemasters

1920-37                Revd Frederick (F.H.) Jerwood

1937-59                Bertie (K.R.) Bowes (whilst Bowes was on war service, Chaplain Reverend R.C.O. Goodchild 1940-42 and the headmaster 1943-45, took over the running of the school).

1959-74                Jack (J.L.) Barber

1974-87                Malcolm (M.S.) Hardy

1987-2001            Val (V.J.) Harvey

2001-11                Nigel (N.S.) Paddock

2011-2020            James Cure

2020 – present Tim Dixon Dale

From top left to bottom right: F. H. Jerwood, J. L. Barber, Nigel Paddock, and Val Harvey. 

We would love to hear stories from current and past Wharfland boys about their time in the boarding house and the personalities that graced it’s rooms.


[1] Oakhamian Magazine, vol.37, Winter 1921, p. 38.

[2] OO Calendar, vol. 7, 1921, p. 8.

[3] Oakhamian Magazine, vol. 44, Winter 1928, p. 50.

[4] OO Calendar, vol. 10, 1930, p. 2.

[5] Ibid. p. 27.

[6] OO Calendar, vol. 40, 1978, p. 10.

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