James Dyson opens £18.75 million building he paid for at Norfolk school

Sir James Dyson speaking at the opening of the Dyson STAM Building at Gresham's School in Holt. 

Sir James Dyson speaking at the opening of the Dyson STAM Building at Gresham's School in Holt. - Credit: Peter Landers / Oliver Blair

It was conceived to be a place for pupils to 'be different, embrace failure, discover their mojo, believe in their ideas and ignore the naysayers'.

These were the words of Sir James Dyson - Britain's second-richest person - upon returning to his former school, Gresham's in Holt, on Saturday to officially open an £18.75m building he paid for.

The Dyson STEAM Building - announced in 2019 - is a place where pupils can absorb themselves in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and art and design.

Inside the new Dyson Building at Gresham's School in Holt.

Inside the new Dyson Building at Gresham's School in Holt. - Credit: Peter Landers

Speaking to students assembled at the opening, Sir James said: "Young people shouldn’t have to choose between science and the arts at an early stage of their life.

"We need a generation of engineers and scientists who are up to the challenge, and equipped to solve the problems of the age."

Sir James said Gresham's students were already "blurring the divide between disciplines in a most creative way" in the new centre.

He said: "From robotic projects, to AI, to software, camera human recognition and structural design, they are carving out a rich future for themselves with advances in the most exciting technology space.

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"The art being produced is ground-breaking and inspirational.”

Inside the new Dyson Building at Gresham's School in Holt.

Inside the new Dyson Building at Gresham's School in Holt. - Credit: Peter Landers

Sir James unveiled a plaque at the centre with a dedication to his father, who taught classics at Gresham's when he was a student there, before he died of throat and lung cancer.

It reads: 'To my father 1916 - 1946 - wartime soldier and Gresham’s teacher'. 

Sir James said he had always wanted to engineer and make things, and encouraged the students to be curious.

He said: "I fear that making things might look complex from the outside, and put people off. I want to challenge that. When you open one of our robots – for example – they do look impossibly complex.

Sir James Dyson unveils a plaque at the new Dyson Building at Gresham's in Holt.

Sir James Dyson unveils a plaque at the new Dyson Building at Gresham's in Holt. - Credit: OLIVER BLAIR

"But most complex things can be broken down into a series of problems to be solved. By breaking down complex assemblies, into a number of separate tasks, the complexity becomes manageable.

"The same is true of your journey through life. Don’t let anyone tell you that something is impossible. Break down the challenge into simple objectives."

Inside the new Dyson Building at Gresham's School in Holt.

Inside the new Dyson Building at Gresham's School in Holt. - Credit: Peter Landers

Inside the new Dyson Building at Gresham's School in Holt.

Inside the new Dyson Building at Gresham's School in Holt. - Credit: Peter Landers

Inside the new Dyson Building at Gresham's School in Holt.

Inside the new Dyson Building at Gresham's School in Holt. - Credit: Peter Landers

Inside the new Dyson Building at Gresham's School in Holt.

Inside the new Dyson Building at Gresham's School in Holt. - Credit: Peter Landers

Inside the new Dyson Building at Gresham's School in Holt.

Inside the new Dyson Building at Gresham's School in Holt. - Credit: Peter Landers

Sir James Dyson, speaking at the official opening of the Dyson Building at Gresham's School in Holt.

Sir James Dyson, speaking at the official opening of the Dyson Building at Gresham's School in Holt. - Credit: Oli Blair

The new Dyson Building at Gresham's in Holt.

The new Dyson Building at Gresham's in Holt. - Credit: Peter Landers

The new Dyson Building at Gresham's in Holt.

The new Dyson Building at Gresham's in Holt. - Credit: Peter Landers