Bolton School Former Pupils

My Favourite Teacher by Mark Radcliffe

Mark Radcliffe left Bolton School in 1976.  He went on to become one of the country's most respected music broadcasters on radio and television.  

He recently returned to his old school to judge the annual battle of the bands competition and was reunited with his favourite teacher, Charles Winder, who is now President of the Old Boltonians' Association.  Here are his reflections on his schooldays: 

"I joined Bolton School Boys' Division Junior School, Park Road as it was known, aged 7 and moved up to Senior School, leaving after my A levels.  I have very fond memories of growing up in Bolton and of my schooldays.  

The Headmaster was a Mr Baggley but my favourite teacher was Mr Charles Winder who taught us English.  What made him special was his sheer enthusiasm for his subject, which rubbed off on all the boys, well, it did on me anyway!  Through the poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins, he inspired in me a love of words that I carry with me to this day.  He also instilled in me an enduring appreciation of Thomas Hardy.  If I am honest, he probably wasn't the trendiest of teachers but this didn't matter as he transcended this with an irrepressible passion for the English language. 

My school report said that my academic studies were suffering as a result of my over-healthy interest in music.  That was certainly true, but I think I did alright by it!  After leaving Bolton School, I went onto Manchester University.  All the time I harboured the ambition of being in a band, I still do if I am honest!  My band at school was called The Berlin Airlift and it was great to recently meet up with my old bandmates, Ross Warburton and Andy Wright.  The memories certainly came flooding back when we made a nostalgic visit to Lostock Tennis Club, where we played our first gig. 

I was a thoroughly happy lad growing up in Bolton.  I lived 10 minutes away from school, we ran wild in the nearby countryside and, as a large town, I got to see a good number of bands in the Albert Halls and the Institute.   I look at the town centre now and wonder why the market is full of established brands and shops outside the market are all charity shops?  I preferred it when there were stalls in the market and the big name shops were scattered around the town centre. 

I revisited Bolton School for the first time four years ago for an old boys' reunion and it brought back a range of conflicting emotions - what immediately struck me was how the dining room still had the same aroma that it had 30 years ago!

I think my Bolton School education gave me a sense of fair play and a good grounding in life.  There was a part of me which wanted to be anti-establishment and that's partly what inspired my love of music.  I liked to see my going to gigs as being separate from school and a chance to indulge a rebellious streak in me.  But, to be fair to Bolton School, they accommodated my interests and the establishment bit of me saw me taking up a position of Monitor (prefect) at the school.  What the school did well was allow you to pursue a range of interests.

Mark Radcliffe at Bolton School

Mark Radcliffe, back at Bolton School in 2010 to judge Battle of the Bands

Charles Winder

Charles Winder, Mark's favourite teacher