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History Lesson in Founders and Benefactors Assembly

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The Bank Holiday, Monday 7 May, was the anniversary of the death of Lord Leverhulme, who died in 1925. Marking the occasion, in what has now become an annual event, Headmaster Mr Philip Britton gave an insight into the history of Bolton School in his Founders’ and Benefactors’ Assembly.

Boys from Years 7-13 were reminded that the first record of Bolton School as a going concern dates back to 1516 – the same year that Henry VIII was looking for a son with his first wife! The Headmaster also touched upon Robert Lever endowing what was the Bolton Grammar School in 1644, the same year as the Siege of Bolton in the English Civil War – a scene which will be re-enacted on 7 July at Bolton School, and on the formation of Bolton School (Boys’ Division and Girls’ Division) as we know it today in 1915 by Lord Leverhulme. However, Mr Britton chose to focus on two more recent events in this year’s assembly – the building of the Chemistry block and The Tillotson Pavilion, both of which occurred sixty years ago in 1958. 

Sixth Form students Thomas Mair and Sa'ood Mulla delivered brief insights into what the world and Bolton were like in that year and noted that it was the year that Sir Ian McKellen left as Captain of the School. The Headmaster praised the tenure of Mr Poskitt who was Head from 1933-66 and effectively oversaw much of the building of the School that we recognise today. In 1957 the East Wing was completed which allowed an expansion of student numbers and the Chemistry Department determined to move out of the main school building (it was where the Physics Department currently is) and, thanks to the benefaction of local businesses, moved to its own stand-alone, purpose-built block. Two scholars that watched it being built went on to great things in the field. Professor Malcolm Stevens OBE FRS had a distinguished career and was awarded the Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his work in the fight against cancer; he now gives support to current pupils through the Stevens Bursary Fund, his intention is that other boys should enjoy the same educational benefits that he did. Professor Sir Harry Kroto, who died recently, was given a knighthood and the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his part in the discovery of buckminsterfullerenes, also known as “buckyballs” – carbon atoms found in the form of a ball. The Chemistry block which he watched being built now bears his name! 

Considering the Tillotson Pavilion, which now houses a fitness centre and the Sport Department, the Head told how this was opened by Fred Tillotson, who was the key benefactor in its construction. The School has been linked with the Tillotson family for many generations, including with Marcus Tillotson who lent his name to the School’s prestigious Tillotson lectures and in the present day, Peter Tillotson will shortly deliver a dedication to the large outdoor clock, which was recently installed on the Pavilion. The Head told the boys that they should embed themselves in a shared history. He also said that all the aforementioned and successful former pupils told him upon their return that it was not just the qualifications that they left Bolton School with that set them up for success but the attitude and approach to life that they had had instilled in them.

The assembly ended with the singing of the recently reintroduced School Song 'Forty Years On'. 

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