Bolton School Former Pupils

Jenifer L Broughton (nee Barlow, 1953-1959)

Jenifer wrote to School recently with her memories:

"I always remember my first day at School: I was elated, and excited at the prospect of being in such a beautiful building.  I skipped and danced down the corridor – only to be reprimanded by a member of staff and told to walk sedately.

"Our year was the first to wear the new winter uniform of pinafore dresses and berets.  Up until then, gymslips and velour hats were the uniform.  At the start of the Autumn term, girls were allowed to wear the summer checked dresses until half-term.  Of course, new girls would be in winter clothes, but I was lucky enough to get a summer dress from a friend so didn’t stand out too much!  We had indoor shoes as well as outdoor ones, and kept our outer garments in roomy lockers on the ground floor in the cloisters.  For science we wore green overalls and for domestic science white ones.  I was never good enough to be in any sports teams, but I loved lacrosse (I can still smell the linseed oil!) and used to practise tennis every lunchtime ‘under the arches’ at the back of the School.

"It always amuses me that boys and girls were strictly segregated, although both Divisions were so close physically.  We had separate uniforms and separate bus stops and, as far as I remember, very limited communication between Upper Sixth Forms.  There were a lot less girls when I was at School, with three forms per year and a Lower and Upper Sixth.  I started in IIIA; the other forms at this lever were III1 and IIIa.  Although they were, in theory, equal, we became convinced that III1 was the highest grade, followed by IIIA.  Later on, I think at UPIV level, we had the initial letter of the form teacher as a prefix.

"There were eight houses to which we were allocated when we started School.  They were named after hill or mountain.  I was in Chiltern, and deportment girdles in wine velour were handed out each term.  I won one only once and had the misfortune to have to share it!  I didn’t join many clubs, but I did enjoy Scottish dancing, which I still do regularly, and the Film Club.  It was so odd to go back to School at night and go up to the Library to watch, for example, Scott of the Antarctic and Mr Hulot’s Holiday starring Jacques Tatti.

"With the end of the Summer term coming after the Bank Holiday fortnight, all exams were finished before the two-week break, leaving ten days or so to fill in before term ended.  Looking back, I think that it must have been a difficult time for the staff, but I do remember doing a variety of things.  In French we did crosswords – they were quite hard.  The most memorable time was spent with Miss Bromiley who had been a missionary in China.  She brought in her Chinese clothes and told us all about China.  She also wrote our names in Chinese.  Somewhere in my scrapbook I have a piece of paper with my name in Chinese on it!  We went on a trip (with Miss Hamer, I think) to the Blue John mines in Castleton, Derbyshire.  We went in one cave holding candles (I think it’s now lit by electricity) and another where we travelled along in boats.  On another occasion we had a trip round the Lucozade factory and were given a tasting session at the end of the visit.  Another memorable visit was to a cotton spinning factory where we found the clatter of the machinery very loud and wondered how the women worked there under such conditions.

"I always enjoyed the Carol Service and Speech Day.  At my very first Speech Day I remember two awards in particular: the Horne Prize for Classics and the Dymond Prize for English.  I imagined the winners received horn spoons and goblets and jewellery respectively!  Music has always played an important part in my life and my love affair with choral singing began at Bolton School.  Miss Slinn was the music teacher who took the School Choir and the Small Choir.  I thought she was a wonderfully inspirational teacher and she sang with the Hallé Choir in Manchester!  I never managed to get into the Small Choir, but remember singing Mozart’s Requiem mass with the Choir of the Boys’ Division, conducted by the Music Master there.  I didn't see the music again until 1992 when I sang it with Thurso Choral Society and Orchestra here in Scotland.  Next Saturday we are having a 'Come and Sing' day in Wick and are singing it again.  Since leaving School I have always been in at least one choir, sometimes two – madrigal societies, university choirs, Gaelic choirs – and owe my enduring enjoyment of choral music to my early days in Bolton School.

"Two particular events during my time at School made a great impression on me. In 1956 we were invited to write to penfriends in Hamburg with a view to exchange visits.  It was an exciting time for a 14 year old who had never been abroad, so I decided to join the group going to Germany.

"We travelled by train from Bolton to London and I can remember sitting for hours on my case in the train station waiting for the boat train.  We crossed the Channel in the evening or night and travelled by train the next day very tired.  I was staying with a girl called Lieselotte Lehmann who had a young brother and they lived in a first-floor flat in the suburbs.  Her father had been an officer in the army and they had an Alsatian dog called Ajax.  Lilo's father wrote a long letter to my father but it was in German so we never found out what was in it.  I wish I'd had it translated, as it would make interesting reading today.

"We were there for two weeks, and managed to go on visits some days, but had to go to school with the German girls.  We went by train each day.  The school started at 8.00am and finished at 1.00pm when we went home to lunch.  There were three breaks during the school day: the first five minutes, the second ten minutes and the third fifteen minutes. Our girls spent the time arm in arm parading in the school grounds!

"We went to visit the docks in Hamburg one day and had a trip round with commentary.  It was very impressive; there were many large cargo ships.  I can still remember the size, 200,000 tonnes.  I soon learnt to count in German.  We also visited the local market, which had a wide range of fruit and vegetables.  There seemed to be a reasonably high level of prosperity so soon after the end of the war.

"The other event was a dance and reception in 1958 that we held for Hungarian refugee children.  Many schools in the Bolton area joined forces to provide entertainment for the children who looked so lost and overwhelmed.

"I have been back to events at School occasionally, but not as often as I’d like, as it’s over 500 miles from here, but I hope to attend the celebrations next year and meet up with some of my fellow pupils of the 1950s."