Category Archives: Activities

Stories from the Archive – Leisure Activities (Part 4 – Swimming)

In February 2016 I gave a talk about the archives as part of the Thursday lunchtime Recital Room series. I’ll put the talk on the blog in a series of posts. Click here for the previous installment.

PH.03.003.002a 1900s scrapbook page 2 Going to Marygate Baths

In terms of swimming, until the school swimming pool was opened in 1914, the school swam at the open air pool in Marygate. Sidney Kemp Brown remembered the opening of the new pool. “The school of course did not wait for the official opening before starting to use the bath, and No. 12 bedroom claimed the first bathe, decidedly ‘unofficial’ and taken at dead of night while the ‘tank’ was being tested, before even the glazed lining tiles had been laid. There was of course no filtering plant; the water got steadily dirtier and biologically more interesting until it was impossible to see the bottom, and then the whole lot had to be emptied and the bath filled afresh with cold, which took several days to warm up.”

Opening of Swimming Bath 1914

Opening of Swimming Bath 1914

Stories from the Archive – Leisure Activities (Part 3 – football)

In February 2016 I gave a talk about the archives as part of the Thursday lunchtime Recital Room series. I’ll put the talk on the blog in a series of posts. The third installment is below. Click here for the first installment (about Arthur Rowntree’s views about leisure activities) and here for the second installment (about cricket).

John Ford

John Ford (Headmaster 1829-65)

According to the 1923 School History, Football was introduced to the school by John Ford on 13th October 1862. According to James Edmund Clark, “John Ford had been on pilgrimage to Rugby, to behold the scenes familiar through the life of his great favourite, Dr. Arnold. Finding how rarely serious harm resulted there, he decided to remove the embargo at Bootham. So one day, soon after twelve o’clock, the bell summoned us to “collect.” The lines were unusually straight and wondering, for at the head stood John Ford, with the “forbidden thing” in his hand. Had anyone smuggled it in? No! he told us all about it, gave us our first ball and himself the first kick, straight as an arrow between the lines.” H.M Wallis does point out though in his chapter in the 1923 School History that the rules were somewhat vague, although this is unsurprising at a time when the rules of the game were still being codified, and there would have been many versions around. He says “we knew not whether to put the ball over or under the bar, or if handling was allowed.” It is however possible that a version of football had been played at some earlier point – George Scarr Watson, who was at the school between 1853 and 1858 mentioned that a broken rib or arm had put an end to football before his time – he saw it later as a “merciful dispensation of Providence. How many journeys to witness cup finals I have escaped; also colds and chills and pneumonias caught in watching that astonishing game.”

Arthur Rowntree, who was a student at the school in the 1870s and went on to become Headmaster, remembered the first football match with an outside team—”we played in ordinary clothes and counted the enemy snobs for changing.” He also remembered how there were 60 boys in the school when he started, and they all played football together in ordinary weekday clothes—North v. South, Senior v. Schoolroom—and thankful we youngsters were if we touched the ball once during the hour.”

PH.03.003.026a 1900s scrapbook page 26 Football

1907

Gradually the game became established, and when the magazine started in 1902, football team reports appeared. The team notes were written by the captain, and were notable for their honesty. An extract from 1903 gives an example:

“We began the season with an unusually young and inexperienced line of forwards. They improved as the season went on. But as three of them are to be with us next season we may be excused mentioning a few of their faults, in hopes of still further improvement—-

  1. Standing in an impossible position to receive a pass and staying there.
  2. Receiving a ball facing wrong way, so that the opposing half easily forces them towards their own goal or into touch.
  3. Slowness in taking advantage of openings in front of goal.
  4. Lack of strenuousness.
  5. Want of pace.”

 

 

100 years since the death of Silvanus P. Thompson

Leavers Photograph 1867 (Silvanus P. Thompson is on the back row on the left hand end)

Leavers Photograph 1867 (Silvanus P. Thompson is on the back row on the left hand end)

12th June marks 100 years since the death of Silvanus P. Thompson, who was born in York in 1851 and went on to become an eminent physicist. His father taught at Bootham School, and the family lived in Union Terrace. Silvanus attended Bootham School between 1858 and 1867, and returned as a teacher between 1870 and 1875. During his career he was appointed Professor of Physics at University College Bristol, then Finsbury College in London, and was made Fellow of the Royal Society, President of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, President of the Physical Society of London and President of the Röntgen Society.

Silvanus P. Thompson greets Arthur Rowntree (Headmaster) in 1914

Silvanus P. Thompson greets Arthur Rowntree (Headmaster) in 1914

Silvanus P. Thompson would have benefitted from the science teaching and activities at Bootham School. The school was equipped with laboratories, regular lectures were given by teachers or visiting scientists on everything from Anatomy, Mechanics, Fossil Zoology, Physics and the Menai Bridge. The school had a flourishing Natural History Society and natural curiosity was encouraged. During a speech at the school 1902 he talked about the “many memories some of us have of the mysterious operations, the photography, the bird-stuffing, and the chemical explosions which went on.” He approved of how students were taught “not to be afraid to try, to put forward their strength, to make experiments. This character, this sturdy independence, this originality of effort, which the school has fostered, may we not hope that it will long flourish?” He argued that the pressure of examinations should not be allowed “to spoil in the future those features of originality, those sources of independent life, those influences which have developed the School along its own lines? Are we to have a school of which the primary consideration is that it shall score in taking off prizes at outside examinations? I sincerely hope that will not be so.” That thread of encouraging curiosity, looking for the best in each individual and enabling them to make the best use of their talents has continued throughout the history of the school.

Stories from the Archive – Leisure Activities (Part 2 – cricket)

In February 2016 I gave a talk about the archives as part of the Thursday lunchtime Recital Room series (click here for the full programme). I’ll put the talk on the blog in a series of posts. The second installment is below. Click here for the first installment (about Arthur Rowntree’s views about leisure activities).

I’ll start with sport. Cricket seems to have been played from the very early days of the school. Here are some of the rules of the cricket club about 1834 when the school was still at the Lawrence Street site – the question of who paid for broken windows appears to have been particularly important.

  1. That the Club shall pay for no windows broken by non-subscribers.
  2. That all non-subscribers playing when a window is broken, shall pay 1d. for a 1s. window, and 3d. for a 3s. 6d. window.
  3. That the Club will pay for no windows broken at single wicket, or when less than four subscribers are playing.
  4. That if a subscriber breaks a window or bat, or loses a ball, he shall pay half, and the Club the other half, but if a non-subscriber he shall pay all.
  5. That the balls or bats shall not be lent to play at any other game but cricket, under penalty of one penny.
  6. That if any other subscriptions should be afterwards wanted, those subscribers who do not pay them shall be subscribers no longer.
  7. That no non-subscriber shall play when there are more than eight subscribers playing, unless he is particularly wanted to make sides.
  8. That whoever throws any of the bats shall be fined the sum of 1d.
  9. That none of the bats and balls shall be used, except there are two subscribers playing.

 Lawrence Street site (by Edwin Moore)

Lawrence Street site (by Edwin Moore)

Walter Sturge, who was at the school between 1844 and 1846, therefore was at both Lawrence Street and Bootham, didn’t play cricket until the school moved to the Bootham site, suggesting that at some point after the rules had been written, cricket was banned.

George Scarr Watson, at the school between 1853 and 1858 remembered that “Cricket was permitted; but we played no outside matches, and had to be content with the mild excitement of playing against ourselves. No flannel cricketing suits relieved the monotony of our black jackets, waistcoats and caps. No brilliant blazers, ribbons, ties or badges transgressed the Quaker rule.”

The earliest minute book we have for the cricket club starts in 1865 and runs till 1867, and the first outside match listed in that is against Ackworth in May 1865, although all the matches listed in that minute book are either internal matches, matches against Old Scholars or against Ackworth. The next record we have is a score book that runs from 1886, which contains a much wider range of opponents.

The cricket team setting out to Ackworth, 1924

The cricket team setting out to Ackworth, 1924

Stories from the Archive – Leisure Activities

In February 2016 I gave a talk about the archives as part of the Thursday lunchtime Recital Room series (click here for the full programme). I’ll put the talk on the blog in a series of posts. The first installment is below.

Arthur Rowntree

Arthur Rowntree (Headmaster 1899-1927)

Today I’m going to talk about the leisure activities of the school over the years. Inevitably the talk cannot be a comprehensive survey of all the leisure activities that students have taken part in, but hopefully it will give a sample of some of the activities, their development and the stories within those activities.

In January 1915 Arthur Rowntree, the Headmaster at the time, gave a talk to the Friends’ Guild of Teachers about Leisure. He argued that:

“Everyone coming to school ought to learn two things: to cultivate what he likes and to cultivate what he dislikes.”

“The leisure-hours of the modern boys’ boarding school ought to be well filled. If it is a twentieth-century characteristic to plead for leisure hours unfilled, then let me ally myself with the nineteenth century in maintaining that not one percent of the boys needs unfilled leisure time.”

“And let us remember that hobbies, beginning in small ways and developing until they unite with higher interests and involve considerable intelligence, encourage individuality in the boy, and last through life as a part of that true education which is an influence deepening and enriching human life everywhere.”

 

Shakespeare

Saturday 23rd April 2016 is the 400th anniversary since Shakespeare’s death.

100 years ago the school celebrated the Tercentenary Year. The July 1916 edition of Bootham magazine mentions that during the fourth week of May the school marked the event.  A holiday was given on 23rd. On 24th, Mrs Liddiard gave recitations from Shakespeare in the Library. On June 1st Mr Paton, High Master of the Manchester Grammar School, gave a lecture on “Shakespeare’s Boys”.

A Winters Tale 1936

A Winter’s Tale, 1936

Since then the school has performed a number of Shakespeare’s plays. The earliest recorded performance is scenes from A Winter’s Tale in 1936, which was performed on the grass in the school grounds. Over the years plays such as Richard II, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing and Romeo and Juliet followed. Most recently, a production of A Winter’s Tale in 2014 included live sheep!

Romeo and Juliet photo 1973 lr

Romeo and Juliet, 1973

First World War: School News March 1916

From Bootham magazine, March 1916

Natural History

“The interest in natural history seems at present less in amount than in previous years, though those who are working at the various subjects are keen, and the work reaches a pretty high standard. Ambulance work, house matches, and the bath are mentioned by various members of the committee as matters which occupy some of the leisure at one time given to natural history. There has also been considerable difficulty in arranging excursions owing to increased train fares. Walks to Askham, Hobmoor, and Wart-hill have to a certain extent replaced longer journeys. It is worth pointing out in this connection, however, that quite good natural history work can be done without going far.”

Air Raid Preparations

“The frequent and successful air raids that have been carried out in this country so recently have made the possibility of their arrival over York a very real one, and we are accordingly making preparations to receive them. Weekly air raid practices have been instituted, which comprise a general rush downstairs with whatever clothing can be laid hands on, but the prospect of any prolonged stay in the box-room during the night is not a very pleasant or a comforting one.

On February 19th about twenty of those who had gained First Aid certificates underwent a very novel experience, when they offered themselves as subjects for the air raid practice held by the St. John Ambulance Association in York. About ten o’clock at night they were asked to place themselves in various parts of the city, bearing labels telling them of their injuries, and there they waited until the ambulance found them, bandaged them, and then motored them back to the hospital for proper medical treatment. Luckily for the success of the test the moon was at its best and the night clear, and no great difficulties had to be met with, while the experience was thoroughly enjoyed by all of us who underwent it.”

Memories from the Archives – Part 7

In January 2015 I did a talk as part of the Thursday lunchtime recital room series. It was entitled ‘Memories from the Archives’ and I talked about a number of memories from Old Scholars. I’ll share the photographs and text from the talk in several parts on the blog. Below is the final part of the talk. Read the previous part here. On Thursday 25th February I will be doing another talk as part of the Thursday lunchtime recital room series, see here for the full programme of talks (the talk starts at 1.05pm, entry via the front door of No.45 Bootham).

PH.03.004.005b 1910s scrapbook page 5 Swimming bath opening interior

The new swimming baths, opened in 1914

Henry Kenneth Fisher was at Bootham between 1909 and 1914, and remembers the then-new swimming baths. They were opened in 1914, so it was the centenary of the baths two years ago. “Then in my last year came the cutting down of the trees to provide for the building of the long awaited swimming bath. The teams of magnificent horses that dragged away the tree were the subject of my first photographs and I still have them. What a joy that splendid new bath was after the horrors of the old open-air Marygate Baths where the water was covered with leaves, soot and algae, and the surrounding slabs were so slimy as to constitute a veritable ‘death-trap’ to the unwary.”

Old Lodge 2

The old Lodge (on Portland Street) after the bombing raid in 1942.

Moving a little further forward, Douglas Stewart Jackson, who was at Bootham between 1939 and 1943, recalled his time at school during the Second World War. He remembered that: “I don’t think life at school was affected to any great extent by the war. The school staff may have had different feelings about the situation, some were called up for service in the forces and some pupils got involved in routine jobs that could be handled safely by those with a limited knowledge of the work and necessary safety precautions. A couple of us became ‘school electricians’ and having learnt the skill required to change lightbulbs, moved on to mending fuses and attempting to find and repair the cause of the problem. I do not recall either of us receiving an electric shock, but I am sure we did many minor jobs that would have been considered far too dangerous by the modern ‘Health and Safety Executive’.” He goes on to remember the air raid on York in 1942. It happened while the school was closed for the Easter holidays, and the main damage to school buildings was the destruction of the old ‘Lodge’ (the Bootham term for the health centre) at the school end of Portland Street. Douglas says that “At about this time there was discussion regarding ways in which pupils could become involved in activities which could help the people of York to overcome some of the adverse affects of the war. This was looked upon as a Quaker equivalent to the Officer Cadet Training Corps run by most boys schools. It started off with a series of practical training classes in bricklaying, cement and concrete manufacture and on a more basic level an attempt to salvage a high proportion of the undamaged bricks on the site of the Lodge. I thoroughly enjoyed this training and I think it was some of the most useful skills learnt at Bootham.”

This has just been a few snippets from the memories of a few people about their time at Bootham, but I hope that it has given you an idea of the extra detail and insight that can be gained from people’s memories, particularly if you then integrate that with other records.

 

First World War: School Camp 1915

PH.03.004.016a 1910s scrapbook page 16 School Camp 1915

“This year, owing to the war, it was impossible to have our camp at Robin Hood’s Bay as on former occasions. Mr. Knight and Mr. Sturge therefore spent a Wednesday afternoon hunting round Kirby Moorside, and arranged for a suitable site near Gillamoor in Farndale. We accordingly applied to the military authorities for permission to camp there, but were told that we could not camp east of the main line. Another site was chosen on Widdington Grange Farm, overlooking Linton Weir and the lock. This site, which was lent to us by Mr. Tesseyman, the farmer, had formerly been an old plantation. The advantages of this place were manifold. It was much nearer York than either Robin Hood’s Bay or Farndale, and the equipment could be taken by boat up the river to the place. We lost the bathing in the sea, but we obtained a very good substitute. Round a bend below the camp was a sandy beach, which shelved into the water, forming an ideal bathing place as far as swimming and safety were concerned.

…Before we began to pack another difficulty had to be solved. Many of our tents and some of our camp equipment had been lent to the F.A.U., and were at that moment doing useful service in France. However, several of the campers lent tents, so that this seemingly difficult problem was soon solved.”

From Bootham Magazine, December 1915