Tag Archives: poem

The swimming pool is 100!

Swimming Baths Opening 1914

The official opening on 1st June 1914. Those standing at the front are (l-r): R.W. Thorp (Architect and Bootham Old Scholar, 1899-1900), Arnold S. Rowntree (Secretary of Schools Committee and Old Scholar 1883-89), Francis C. Clayton (Old Scholar 1855-58) and T. Edmund Harvey (President of OYSA and Old Scholar 1887-91).

The Bootham swimming pool will be one hundred years old on Sunday. On 1st June 1914 the new Bath was handed over by T. Edmund Harvey, President of OYSA, to the school. According to the magazine, Arnold S. Rowntree ‘was glad…to have the opportunity of embracing the bath to his bosom, and of thanking as heartily as possible all those who by their generous contributions had enabled the Association to make this noble gift to the School.’ He hoped the the bath would be of help ‘in increasing the health and vigour of all those who passed through its doors.’

Swimming Baths 1914To finish, here is the first verse from a poem by Alfred Morgan Hughes (Old Scholar 1905-07) about the appeal to Old Scholars. The poem is called ‘The Building of the Bath’ and it was published in ‘Bootham’ magazine in March 1915.

“Frank Clayton, good old scholar,

By John Ford’s tomb he swore

That the ninety boys of Bootham

Should suffer dirt no more.

By John Ford’s tomb he swore it,

And named an opening day,

And sent blank banker’s orders forth

East and west and south and north

To summon in the pay.”

John Firth Fryer 1840-1914

John Firth Fryer

Today (28th February) marks the 100th anniversary of the death of John Firth Fryer, Bootham’s headmaster between 1875 and 1899. He started as a pupil at the school in 1854, and apart from a year at the Flounders Institute at Ackworth training to become a teacher, he remained at the school until his retirement in 1899. During his headship, he oversaw changes including teaching becoming departmentalised, permission being granted by the committee for the hire of a piano for practice during leisure time (which rapidly became the purchase of two pianos, hymn singing on Sunday evenings and the introduction of concerts), and the end of earlier customs such as no plates at breakfast or tea. Unfortunately his headship finished with the fire in 1899 which destroyed much of the school.

He seems to have been a keen footballer for a while, according to his obituary (in ‘Bootham’ magazine, May 1914): “When, however, the game [football] was sanctioned and John Ford himself gave the initial kick…in September 1862, no one proved a more enthusiastic player than J. F. Fryer, until an unlucky kick under the knee temporarily incapacitated him and made it undesirable for him to keep it on.”

His poem about football, ‘A Lay of Modern York’ was reprinted with his obituary in 1914, and its ending is particularly poignant considering what would follow later in 1914. Here are the last two verses:

“Thus onward speeds the conflict,

With various fortune blest;

First one side – then the other –

The poor ball gets no rest!

First to left and then to right,

Now here, now there, the ball is sped.

Anon one side the victory sees

An then its hopes are all but fled.

In short, so various is the scene

In this so happy, playful strife

As not remiss to represent

The strange vicissitudes of life.

 

Would that all strife as harmless were as this,

Would that all sanguinary war would cease,

All kingdoms of the happy earth rejoice

Beneath the reign of universal Peace.

The man of war his sword to ploughshare beat,

His deadly spear to pruning hook would turn;

Nations in battle fierce no more would meet,

No more with rage against each other burn;

And thus no longer war, but Peace delight to learn.”

J. F. Fryer

4th November 1862, 20, Bootham, York