Tag Archives: Rowntree

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.”


Parents’ Day, handwriting and the school in 1919

Last Saturday was Parents’ Day, a lovely day with lots going on and good weather!

I created a display in the John Bright library, with a small sample of what we hold in the archives. A few highlights included:

Specimen of writing Joseph Rowntree 1848 - Copy

An example of handwriting from Joseph Rowntree, 1848

P1050113 - Copy

A photograph of the John Bright Library from the 1919 prospectus

P1050120 - Copy

A photograph of the metal workshop, again from the 1919 prospectus

First World War: Dunkirk Ambulance Unit Appeal

DEAR MR. EDITOR,—The response to an appeal for help from friends of the School for the Ambulance Unit at Dunkirk has been most generous. We have sent nearly 5,000 articles of clothing and blankets, etc., from Bootham, and £300 has come in cheques to be spent as necessities arise. May I take this opportunity of again thanking all those who so kindly and readily sent assistance urgently needed? With the rapid extension of hospital work the wants of the Ambulance continue to be great.

Yours sincerely, ELLEN H. ROWNTREE.

From ‘Bootham’ March 1915

Anglo-Belgian Ambulance Unit – help needed

You will, with us, have watched with interest and sympathy the arduous training at the Jordans Camp, and the accounts of the first expedition of the Anglo-Belgian Ambulance Corps. Eighteen Bootham Old Boys are now serving at Dunkirk and are having a terribly hard and anxious time. They receive several hundreds of men from the front daily, most of them in a shocking condition from wounds and exposure. The only place for them so far is on straw in station sheds, with an entirely inadequate supply of blankets, and no clothing to replace their dirty and worn things. Help is urgently wanted, and I am sending this appeal particularly to those who have a personal interest in Bootham, and would wish to support an undertaking so enthusiastically served by Old Boys. Money is needed, flannel shorts (washed, old or new), “helpless case shirts,” vests, warm bed-jackets, socks, small pillows, blankets, handkerchiefs, belts, etc. Anything of this kind that can be collected by friends of Bootham will be gratefully received by me here and forwarded regularly to Dunkirk.

Ellen H. Rowntree.

P.S.—There are interesting articles in this week’s Friend by H. W. Nevinson (for many years a war correspondent) and Philip Baker. Mr. Nevinson concludes :  “The amount of excellent work which the party has already put in is remarkable—I have never known a whole set of young- fellows so keen, so resourceful, and of such a temper that it is a real delight to associate and work with them.” Old Boys from Bootham are : Joseph Baker, Philip J. Baker, Donald Gray, Will Harvey, Victor W. Alexander, Corder Catchpool, Richard E. Barrow, Stephen Corder, Maurice Stansfield, Charles Gray, Harry Gray, Colin Rowntree, Laurence Rowntree, Donald Eliott, Wilfrid S. Wigham, Basil Priestman, John W. Harvey, Robert H. Horniman.

From ‘Bootham’ magazine, December 1914

See the earlier post about the Anglo-Belgian Ambulance Unit’s arrival in Dunkirk.

1914 Annual Report: self-sacrifice and earnestness

The 1914 Annual Report was approved by Committee, and included the following statement by Arnold Rowntree: ‘It will be the desire of all that Bootham shall take its right part at this critical period in the history of our country. We hope that something of the spirit of self-sacrifice and earnestness which is manifesting itself in the nation in so many ways will be found amongst the boys. Special ambulance lessons are to be taken, there is a desire to sacrifice personal pleasures for the sake of those who are in need, and the School are making themselves responsible for the maintenance of a Belgian family. But beyond the mere desire to relieve present anxieties, we trust there may be amongst the boys the determination to work hard that they may equip themselves for the great task of reconstruction that lies before us, reconstruction based upon a truer understanding of God’s will and a greater determination to carry out that will in every department of life. It is the earnest desire of the Committee that strength and wisdom may be given both to the staff and to the scholars to meet this time of stress in a courageous spirit, and to turn it to good purpose.’

Bootham as a Hospital – Ellen Rowntree’s perspective

In the December 1914 edition of ‘Bootham’ magazine, Ellen Rowntree (wife of Arthur Rowntree, Headmaster), described the events of the summer.

Mrs Rowntree - Copy

The summer term ended with its usual cheerful doings, picnics and examinations, triumphs of scholarships and swimming medals, river parties and cricket matches, and preparations for camp and holidays, with no suspicion of the great cloud hanging over us. Painters, carpenters, and charwomen were let loose upon the School, and the Head was finishing off the last of his papers, when the cloud burst over us and the shout of the war news rang down Bootham. We shared with the nation those first days of breathless tension and uncertainty, when all ordinary work and plans fell into the background and all that mattered was what should be done at once. This demand was speedily met for us as, consequent upon the rumour of a terrible disaster in the North Sea, the School was asked for as a hospital. Available members of the committee were consulted, and after hurried meetings with military and Red Cross authorities, the Headmaster arranged, greatly to their satisfaction, that fifty beds should be ready by noon next day on the ground floor of the school. Workmen were turned out, and a large body of willing helpers set to work to turn out cupboards and desks, sweep and scrub, beat mattresses on the masters’ grass, and carry beds down from the top landing. Old boys passing through from camp reversed waistcoats in time-honoured fashion and laboured with twice the zeal of packing-days. In a day the whole place was bare and spotless, the classrooms, gymnasium, and dining-room fully equipped wards. A continuous stream of motors brought medical extras, spare blankets, surgical furniture, county ladies, hard-worked officers and busy doctors to inspect and advise, and St. John Ambulance nurses, who made the beds, covered tables and desks with white oilcloth, set up charts, and arranged bandages and splints. The art room was transformed into an operating theatre. Gas was brought in through the window and well-protected sterilizers set up on the platform. Powerful lights were focussed over the operating-table in the centre, and in a corner stood a large sink with taps. The Reeves’ studies were for the use of nurses, and the masters’ common room was turned into a consulting-room. By degrees bedrooms, too, were made ready, and when we left for a fitful holiday Bootham was fully prepared for 106 patients. It was with mingled relief and disappointment that, as time went on, it was found unnecessary to retain the School as a hospital. The Government wished educational institutions to remain undisturbed, and as ample accommodation had been provided elsewhere for immediate needs the St. John Ambulance reluctantly withdrew and Bootham resumed its normal state. E. H. R.