Bolton School Former Pupils

Two Heads' Years (1925-1960)

The retirement of Mr Lipscomb did not affect the sequence of School camping because his two successors, Percival Smith and Richard Poskitt, were both camping enthusiasts.  What did affect the story, however, was the appointment of H V Brookes (1919-1963) and H A Porter (1931-1970), each not just a teacher of skill, but a camper of fame needing a chapter of his own; HVB’s 2000 camping-nights-dairies, taking over from Heads and taking charge of the main camps including Scouts camps too; HAP running Scout camps and supporting the Junior School camps too.

The site at Aber, with some minor alterations, continued until 1939, even when they lost Headmaster Percival Smith at South Stack.  The one-armed Sergeant Hammond joined Somerville, who was valiantly deputised for by his wife on one occasion.  Hammond, a veteran of the Boer War, had a splendid reputation as a cook, and manufactured the camp postbox, in use until the 1990s.

!930 was the first Junior School camp (called Grasmere or Far Easedale); it began with 30 boys, under Mr Walsh with a separate team of Staff (Messrs Jary, Jenkins and Porter) and its own Senior Boys group.  The Senior School camp at Aber had 65 boys and seven staff – Headmaster Gwynne Jones, Messrs Auty, Brookes, Sayer and Jenkins.

We should note the photo of 1932, a year of a German tour as well as the camps.  In 1933 the new Headmaster, F R Poskitt, introduced a new tent for examinees who should not lose camp because of the new syllabus and timetable (though some staff have brought marking to the camp for the same reason!).

1937 is the first year with a campfire.  (Recent campers may like to know how long they have been going.)  New staff now included Messrs Howard and Ross, and the following year Bagot, Hodgson and Gaughan.  The storms proved too strong for the marquees at Aber and Grasmere, although the Head and Mrs Poskitt braved the weather nobly.  A trip to Paris by twelve members of M6B was very timely in the circumstances of approaching war.

By 1939 the camp moved to Borrowdale, for the last camp of the old kind, discovering what became a famous bathing spot near Stonethwaite called Black Moor Pot.  A first mention comes here of a camp at Stratford for theatre visiting, and a hedge-cutting camp at Cholmondely, where the neighbours were German Jews!

But the wartime took over in 1940 with agricultural work camps at Kirkham, 60 boys potato picking at Parbold under W Jary, and another party strawberry picking near Wellington. 

This pattern was followed each summer until 1945.  The annual reports involve discussions of the merits of 'Quality' versus 'Quantity', and an extra 1d to nine pence ‘plus a midday meal’ at Breck Hall Farm, Kirkham, obviously a choice billet.

One curious comment also refers to evening ‘black-out’, and others to sleeping in sheep- and pig sties.  The weight-lifting camp must be recreational.  Forestry in Patterdale introduced a new activity.

1946-47 was a time of real change, as staff came back from the war.  The Ingham treks began in the Wye Valley, Galloway and Arran; overseas to Ballycastle with the Headmaster and H V Brookes; these, mixed with agricultural camps involved nearly two dozen staff.

The death of Sergeant Somerville brought in Sergeant Hickey to Grasmere.

It needs to be remembered at this point that there were calendar problems controlling the programme.  Most important was the pattern of exams and holidays.  Easter gradually became a very busy time for trips, once exam-free.  Bolton Holidays were the favourite, but gradually not exam-free. 

It should be clear that the Bolton Town Holiday Week (later a fortnight) was determined by the cotton textile industry, starting on Friday evening before the last Saturday in June.  This was a wonderful time for travel and holidays because, apart from a few local people, we had national freedom of access and travel facilities to ourselves.

It was followed by 'black fortnight' back at School before the Long Holiday of some six weeks began, then the new school year in September before a town holiday long weekend at the end of that month, then nothing until Christmas.

Here is are some documents dated 1946 from thew Ministry of Food with instructions on how to deal with rationed food items for agricultural camps: