Bolton School Former Pupils

Elizabeth Mary Mahoney (née Young, 1936-1946)

Elizabeth, who now lives in Canada, wrote to School in December 2013 with her memories of life in the Girls' Division during the war.  

"School dinners, especially in war time, were not very good. The meat in the stews was very gristly. I could eat very little of them, and got home in the afternoons very hungry.  It was always a daunting honour to be invited to sit at the head mistress' table.

"For a reason I forget, all the boys at one time could not use their own dining hall, and had to walk over to the girls' school every day for dinner. Girls were forbidden to be out there at the back while they went by. Ah, but the Prefects' room had a window overlooking the back!

"Pink gingham summer dresses: our mothers bought the material and made or paid a dressmaker to make them. So the patterns varied a bit. The older fabric had pink and white stripes. The newer stuff had red and white small checks, but the effect was pink.

"When I started, we all had to wear beige lisle stockings with those dresses. (Black ones with the winter uniforms) I was so glad when we were at last allowed to wear socks.  Similarly, the green Eurythmics tunics were not flattering! But we had to wear them.

"The deportment girdle:  it had a white stripe along its middle. You were entitled to wear one if you walked with a particularly straight back. (I never got one).  The velour hat I hated it and I think most of us did. In order to make it comfortable and look half decent one had to make a big fold in the back of the crown.

"Lord Leverhulme's portrait hung in the Great Hall where we all gathered for prayers and announcements. So every day we all looked at him.

"The Excellent Book:  the marking system went from gamma minus all the way up to alpha plus. And at the very top was the rare mark, "Excellent". If you got four of those, then you could line up before classes started at the door of the Headmistress, waiting your turn to go in and sign the book. And your name would be read out at the next morning gathering in the Great Hall.

"Every pupil in the Junior School had a little notebook, in which she was supposed to record the wildflowers she found. She would bring in one example of each flower to show the teacher, who would verify and sign the entry. I THINK that a certain number of these would qualify one to sign the excellent book too.

"The chairs from the Great Halls [pictured right] were ordered from Gordon Russell, in about 1927. I bought a couple a few years ago. I discovered that they are just an inch or so smaller all round than the classic, and now valuable (?), Gordon Russell chairs. For children and adolescents that was fine. I now wonder how one or two of our teachers who were "broad in the beam" so to speak, managed to sit on them. They can't have been comfortable.

"On one of my trips home to see my mother I found my old lacrosse stick, and brought it back to Canada with me. Surprise! I was bringing it back to the very place where it had been made. Cornwall, Ontario."

Great Hall Chair and School Desk

Great Hall Chair and School Desk, on display in the Gordon Russell Museum