"I didn’t realise it at the time, but I was greatly inspired by a group of fierce, academic women who taught me at my senior school - Bolton School Girls’ Division."

Sally-Anne Huang - Old Girl and Headmistress

Read more testimonials

Old Girl’s School Books Donated to Archives

Thursday, 06 February 2014

Ella Smyth from Year 8 has a family connection with Bolton School which spans four generations. Not only is her uncle James Foster an Old Boy, her great-grandmother Nora Allsop attended the Girls’ Division!

Sadly, Nora passed away in 2011 at the age of 97; she would have been 100 years old on the 19th of February this year. She left her school books to her daughter, who has in turn donated them to Bolton School’s archive. Nora’s daughter Kathleen Foster visited the school today with her daughter, Nissa Smyth who is also Ella’s mother, to hand over their treasure-trove of memories.

Nora was a Bolton School pupil from 1925 to 1932. As such, she saw the Girls’ Division move in 1928 from Park Road to the brand new main building on Chorley New Road, which is still in use today.

Nora received a scholarship to attend the school, when at the time there were only three available in Bolton. In the 1920s, pupils had to purchase school books out of their own pocket even if they received a scholarship, so Nora was able to keep hers for the rest of her life. The books, many of which have been stamped by the school, span a wide range of subjects: there are novels, plays and a set of poems, but also science and maths text books. Kathleen remembered that her mother took maths to A-Level, and also that she loved poetry and was an avid reader.

However, Nora’s passion was for sport. During her time at school, she captained the lacrosse and netball squads, and was on the cricket team. An album of photographs, which the family have also donated, includes pictures of the 1930 sports teams and photographs from Sports Day 1931. Nora also took part in the girls’ Camp at Cloughton, North Yorkshire, in 1931.

The photographs also shed a light on the 1930 Girls’ Division Swiss Tour. Nora and her classmates visited the area around Lake Thun and Lake Brienz in central Switzerland. There were opportunities to meet local girls, take boat trips on the lakes, see the numerous waterfalls in the region, and even walk on a glacier!

After leaving Bolton School, Nora went on to become a primary school teacher. Although she gave up her post when she married Albert Heath in 1939, as was the norm at the time, she returned to teaching during the Second World War and continued long after its end. She finally retired from the post of Deputy Head at Lord Street Primary School in Horwich in 1974.

The books and photographs will now be added to Bolton School’s archive. “I think Grandma would have liked that,” Nissa commented. “After she looked after them for her whole life, they have now come back to the school.”


Share or bookmark with:

Nissa Smyth, Ella Smyth, and Kathleen Foster present Nora

Nissa Smyth, Ella Smyth, and Kathleen Foster present Nora's photo album to Eric Fairweather, the school archivist

The 1930 Netball Team - Nora is on the far left of the front row

The 1930 Netball Team; Nora is on the far left of the front row

Girls on the glacier with their guide during the 1930 Swiss Tour

Girls on the glacier with their guide during the 1930 Swiss Tour