Bolton School Former Pupils

Phillip Taylor (1957-1968)

Phillip, a retired Engineer, wrote to School in March 2014 with his memories of life at Park Road.

"'Have you heard yet?'  'Have you heard yet?'  The playground of St. Andrew infants' school at Four Lane Ends echoed to this cry in the summer of 1957 from those who had taken the examination for Bolton School Juniors. I was fearful of what my letter might say since in response to the examination question to write an essay on any subject of interest, I had foolishly chosen to describe breaking into a property to help myself to the contents therein!  I had become mortified the day after the exam at what I had written and, in truth, was petrified, fearing a letter to my parents from the police rather than an offer of a Bolton School place!   My angst became even greater the day I saw some boys jumping around in glee having received an offer of a place.  Indescribable relief for me finally came the following with day the postman's delivery of a letter with positive news. My parents were as delighted as I was amazed. I convinced myself that my mother's persistence in helping me at home with English had won the day, the School authorities perhaps believing that with an apparent ability to string words together coupled with a vivid imagination, I might just be a worthwhile cause if only they could redirect my thoughts to more noble endeavours!

"Mother was extremely well organised and a flurry of activity saw name tags sewn into clothing, pencils, ruler, erasers, bags, gym kit and new shoes all gathered well in time for 11th September 1957. We even had a trial run on the buses a few days before. Everything was prepared.

"Recollection of my first day at Park Road is enduring.  In later years I came to realise the significance of initial impressions when forming opinions of people and so it was with the warmly smiling Miss Afflick who I took to immediately.  She was to be my Prep 1B class mistress and quickly demonstrated her mastery in care and compassion whilst declaring clear unambiguous expectations concerning school rules behavioural expectations. My parents were similarly impressed by Miss Afflick which served to further assure me I was in good hands.  Valiant efforts to impress with maths resulted in my being second in the class at the end of term; pretty good, so much so that I rushed home and announced  ' I am 'twoth ' (tooth) in maths, Miss Afflick says so! ' .  If it was good enough for her it was for good enough my parents!

"I immediately saw similarities in style and expectations to those of my mother and this together with her being my first form teacher at Bolton School ensured that Miss Afflick, affectionately nicknamed 'Dame Afflick', left a lasting impression.

"Nicknames were direct and unsentimental at school. If you were fat you were 'Tubby So and So'. Weasel sounded a bit like Lewis backwards. All served to engender great camaraderie. You couldn't do much with Taylor so I was usually referred to as 'Tats' or simply 'PJ' which I was happy with. Some were exceedingly clever and some really simply yet highly amusing; my pal Nigel Barker always being referred to as 'Doggy Barker'.  Beat that!  

"Teachers always addressed us by surname only, expecting Sir or Madam in return.  Out of earshot  Sirs were 'Pops' and Madams 'Mas'. 'Ma Afflick' didn't roll off the tongue well so she alone became 'Dame Afflick'. Ma Darlington was form mistress in Prep 2B and Pop Nelly (Mr. Nelson) master of Prep 3, Ma Wood Lower 2 and Pop Bish  (Mr. Bishton) Upper 2B. The Junior School Headmaster Mr. Harrison, a pleasant and popular man, not too overpowering in stature for us young ones, was naturally Pop Harry!

"My family knew Mr Bishton outside school since he had relatives close to my mother's family farm in Shropshire.   The protocol however always remained, surely amusing to any onlooker when the relative tranquillity of the rolling Shropshire countryside was disturbed by shouts of 'Sir' and 'Taylor Come Back'! Unbelievable to think that we even went on holiday in School uniform.  No trainers or Ronaldo emblazoned sweat shirts in those days!

"Recalling Bolton Junior School brings back a kaleidoscopic flood of memories of a happy school; the collection of yet more leaf and petal pressings following further biological forays into Queens Park with Mrs Wood; playground capers with confiscation of balls deemed to be of greater than permitted diameter according to the less than generous card disc pinned to notice board and interruption of our wintery fun on glass-like slides by teachers with tubs of salt. This only served to embolden the intrepid slide makers to restart their valiant endeavours when the next snow arrived. We were not going to be beaten by those working against us! The orderly queue for break time drinks and Wagon Wheels, twice the size of today's;  frantic searches in the locker rooms for the lost pair of either indoor and outdoor shoes; admonishment for running a ruler along the radiators... 'Sorry Sir, I didn't know it would make such a noise!';  the mystery of the dead body (presumed to be a time expired teacher) believed to lie behind the locked door at the top of the stairs;  the school plays when costume clad teachers took to the stage to entertain us with hastily written songs and limericks using our antics as the subject matter and our laughter at the humorous, the outrageous and positively ridiculous - well meaning and taken in good spirit by all.

"Lunch was a ritualistic affair; firstly the march in double file along Chorley New Road to the Senior School past Drury House, that ominously dark, towering and doubtlessly haunted Victorian structure that must surely have been the set for many a Hitchcock thriller; sitting five aside those same tables and benches that survive today with a table monitor at one end; our daily inquisitive stare at the table monitor's method of dividing a rectangular cottage pie into eleven equal portions.  We all acknowledged that the process would be much simpler if the table monitor did not exist, but alas he remained to ensure that nobody spoke whilst he had food on his plate or, even when finished, to others still eating. I recall excellent food but we all struggled with cabbage boiled to a pulp. Yet we were a stoic bunch and every pupil demonstrated an unwavering commitment to reducing the school's stockpile of cabbage to manageable levels! Light relief, accompanied by sniggers, came on those occasions when the Grace fell victim to a spoonerism or was fluffed; one of the most memorable being .... ..'and may the Lord make us truly Needful of the Minds of others'!

"Back to the classroom: I was always wary of the stern looking Mrs. Cooke, Prep 1A class teacher, who never smiled and peered directly forward through dark rimmed spectacles. I had written an essay entitled  'A Day in the Life of a Cave Man' and was shocked one day to learn that owing to teacher absence it would be marked by her in my presence. Alone with her in the classroom I was mightily relieved to find her softly spoken and for her to give me 9 /10 for the essay.  Her only objection was that I had written '...  and then I sat on my log to eat some pig '. She crossed out 'pig' replacing it with 'pork'.  I almost objected on the grounds that a cave man was unlikely to have the word 'pork' in his vocabulary let alone much else!  I decided to keep my powder dry and that surviving a session with Mrs Cooke was achievement enough!  I still ponder that thought today!

"We learned pecking order rules quite quickly, and especially so in the queue for the school bus in Park Road.  'Bolton Transport' as it was known provided a double decker to run into town to Trinity Street station before resuming normal duties on the service 34 to Albert Road. The buses were usually Leyland PD1s with Northern Counties bodywork and being of early post war vintage were not exactly the cream of the fleet. Bolton Transport's denying schoolboys the use of more modern buses was a tacit indication of their view of our status as passengers, clearly considering us to be well down the list.

"Our acceptance of and adherence to school rules is amply demonstrated by our attitude to school caps which were to be worn at all times whilst within the Bolton boundary. A group of around six of us, with caps firmly in place, frequently took advantage of the pleasant walk on a sunny day through Queens Park towards Spa Road to travel home from Bolton on the bus to Leigh. The Bolton boundary was at Four Lane Ends at which point our well rehearsed daily ritual of whipping off school caps in perfect unison as the bus crossed over the A6 must have provided an amusing spectacle for fellow passengers.

"On reflection Bolton School Park Road was simply a pleasant place to be.  It shaped young minds to uphold the virtues of self discipline, self sufficiency, determination, fair play and self belief without arrogance. We knew we were receiving a sound academic grounding even though we had no other experience to compare it with. The teachers cared. Those teachers who ensured good discipline and adherence to house rules were the same ones who, in times of uncertainty, willingly offered a listening ear and encouragement to us seven and eight year olds at no cost.

"Bolton School has never aspired to mediocrity. Upon leaving School in 1968 to read Metallurgy at university and develop a career as a Chartered Engineer I took with me a strong sense of values and a desire to see fair play at all times.  Unfortunately the world business and commerce often provides a stage upon which other less noble agendas are played out, challenging ones integrity and values. More than once I found myself drawing on personal reserves woven into my make up by both my schooling and my parents. Values developed and honed at Bolton Senior School and closely guarded throughout my life clearly had their roots cultivated at Park Road. How fortunate we were."