Bolton School Former Pupils

Barbara Drage (nee Jary, 1932-1945)

Barbara recently shared with us her story and memories of her family and time at Bolton School, including during the war.

“We, the Jary family, came to Bolton school in 1928. I came in a washing basket on the back seat of the car. My father, W F Jary, was appointed as Head of Science on the day that I was born. He was planning the science labs in the new building. We lived at 197 Chorley Road, which was Bolton School previously; the new building was endowed by Lord Leverhulme. In 1939, the old building was taken over by ARP – Air Raid Precautions – we moved to 44 Devonshire Road. The girls’ quadrangle was tunnelled for air raid shelters. My dad was the air raid warden and had to organise a rota for night patrol. Actually, the only bomb in the district was a buzz bomb in Atherton.

"Meanwhile, where Bill Jary was the chemistry teacher, his younger brother, Geoff, taught biology and was he who wrote 'Albert goes to Bolton School'. He was a talented dare devil and bought me a Hornby train set. After several years he left to take a head of department job elsewhere.

“Bill Jary had a biology garden beyond the playground of Beech House with a pond and many interesting plants. It was a beneficial learning facility, but was used to grow vegetables during the war years.

“Miss Drury was head of Beech House; she was strict but fair and kind. Our arithmetic lessons always began with a test, 10 mental arithmetic, and English lessons always began with a spelling test, swap with your neighbour for marking. There were no married women teachers, my mother had to stop teaching when she married, though a Mrs Blackenberg came once a week and we made calico aprons and embroidered the top fold. I do not remember any other needlework at Bolton School.

“When a boatload of refugee children from the Spanish Civil War arrived, the boys and girls co-operated. A large empty house, Water Millock, was taken over. The boys had a cart and collected old tables and chairs which they repaired and renovated, the girls cleaned and scrubbed and collected soft furnishings. Many of us gave clothes and toys – the children had nothing, but they gave concerts of singing and dancing to pay for the English lessons and food. At the start of the Second World War, Dorothy Varley, Headmistress, took in a German Jewish refugee girl, Helga Peltz. We did our best to give support and friendship, Helga went to Israel when that country was formed, hoping to find news of some of her family.

“My interests at School were sports, music and domestic science. I fondly remember Miss Kirkham, who introduced us to English country dancing on wet games days, Miss Faulkner, whose cookery classes were not easy with wartime food rationings and Miss Ricketts, Head of the Music department, who taught me to play the violin but class music was request singing from Folk Songs for Schools.

"At Bolton School, music had been a large part of my life.  Margaret Davies (now Walsh) accompanied me for School concerts, our parents were friends and so were we, but afterSschool she went down the academic road and I became involved in many practical things.

"We had a very talented VIth form; we formed a glee club under the direction of David Hill. Keith Bond was the organist and choir master of Christchurch, Heaton, whilst still at School, Roger Hayward, Geoffrey Platt and Bunny Whittle were also in the choir and it reached a very high standard. Some of this year sadly did not survive the war.”