Bolton School Senior Boys

Treasure Trove of Memories from Hartshorn Family

Brother and sister David and Nancy Hartshorn left Bolton School in the 1960s. They have since emigrated to Australia, but today they returned to their old school to donate a wealth of items and memories to the archive.

The siblings were the second generation of Bolton School pupils in the family: their father, John Hartshorn entered the Boys’ Division in 1928 and was joined by his brother Peter in 1931. Their experience of Bolton School would have been very different to that of pupils today.

The school was then much smaller, with just 340 pupils. John would have witnessed the Boys’ Division’s move into the main building, which began in 1929 and ended with the opening of the south wing in 1932. John became a member of the 19th Bolton (Bolton School) Scout Troop when he joined the school. His scout knife, originally engraved with ‘J. Hartshorn’, was passed on to his son David when he too joined the Scout Troop. As David’s middle name was also ‘John’, they were able to add another letter to make the knife his, and ‘D. J. Hartshorn’ can now be seen on the knife’s grip. This wonderful memory of not one but two Old Boys is one of the many items which have been so kindly donated to the archives, along with a number of woggles which John was given during various scout camps in the 1930s, including one from Scandinavia!

John was part of the Blackburn House cricket team, and played piano and percussion in a number of school concerts. He was also involved in the school’s productions of Macbeth in 1934 and The Tragedy of Pompey the Great in 1935. Photographs of these productions were included in the family’s donations.

In 1955, he helped to revive the Old Boys’ badminton team and continued to play enthusiastically throughout his children’s time at the school and beyond until he left Bolton in 1968.

Peter was as involved in school life as his brother. He was a member of the Scout Troop, played the cello at numerous concerts, was the Dramatic Society’s electrician and performed in the 1939 production of Richard of Bordeaux. He was also a Monitor in his final year. He excelled at sports, representing Blackburn House in gymnastics, swimming and P.T. competitions as well as being the House P.T. Instructor. His passion was for swimming, and he both captained the school’s swimming team and swam for the scout troop team; when he went on to Manchester University, he became Secretary of the team and was awarded a Full Maroon for swimming!

He achieved Class II Honours from the School of Engineering in 1942, before he was commissioned as a Sub-Lieutenant R.N.V.R. in May of the same year. Sadly, Peter was reported missing, presumed killed on active service, in August 1943.

He is remembered on the school’s Memorial Boards alongside the other Old Boys who lost their lives in the First and Second World Wars. Mr Poskitt, who was the headmaster at the time and knew Peter during his years at Bolton School, sent a personal letter of condolence to the Hartshorn family following this news. He remembered Peter fondly as a good student, expressed his sadness at his loss and offered his thoughts and prayers to the family. This condolence letter, which offers an amazing window on the school during the Second World War, has now been donated to the school’s archives.

David and Nancy Hartshorn followed in the footsteps of their father and uncle, and both joined Bolton School in the 1960s. They spoke fondly of their time in the Boys’ and Girls’ Divisions, and were delighted to come back and enjoy a tour to see all of the changes since their days as pupils.

The Hartshorn donations also included Bolton School magazines and theatre production programmes from the 1930s, and a Girls’ Division uniform hat and Boys’ Division uniform blazer from the 1960s. They also gifted a variety of clothes, bags, suitcases, and even fur coats and stoles to the school’s drama departments for use as costumes and props.

David and Nancy Hartshorn (centre), pictured with Laura Firth and school archivist Eric Fairweather

David and Nancy Hartshorn (centre), pictured with Laura Firth and school archivist Eric Fairweather