Hungarian refugees at Bootham

I am hoping that Old Scholars and other readers might be able to fill in some pieces of the story regarding Hungarian refugees at Bootham c.1956-57.

An Old Scholar sent this memory in response to an email about Bootham’s initial response to the Syrian refugee crisis:

“As a pupil in 1956 we were asked to make wooden partitions between beds for the Hungarian refugees. I remember spending long hours in the workshop doing this. One of the Hungarian refugees graduated in medicine with us in Edinburgh.”

I found this reference in Bootham magazine, May 1957:

“The Lodge found a new use when refugees from the top storey of No. 54 were housed there while the floor was made safe. The ability of the floor to move fully six inches vertically when encouraged had apparently been brought to official notice.”

I’ve yet to find any other references in the records from the period, so if anyone can remember anything about refugees at Bootham in the 1950s, please do get in touch (

First World War: March 1915 magazine editorial

“In case anyone should suppose from this that we, from the editorial chair, regard the effects of the war on others, as well as ourselves, with something akin to tolerant cynicism, we would draw attention to the amount of really excellent work that is being done. Halfpenny newspapers may talk about shirkers, and misguided women may distribute white feathers, but for our own part we are genuinely amazed at the way in which everyone, from the greatest to the least, has shouldered the burden, each one taking upon himself that which appeared to him most necessary to be borne. At the moment we would like to draw special attention to the work of the Emergency Committee for the Assistance of Germans, Austrians, and Hungarians in Distress (convened by the Religious Society of Friends to aid innocent “Alien Enemies” in Great Britain rendered destitute by the war). It is not easy to find ways for reconstructing human society whilst war is still waging, but there can be no doubt at all that this Committee, which is assisted by several Old Scholars, is counteracting, as far as its scope and its means permit, the spirit of race hatred which has grown so terribly in the last six months. Even those who believe that every member of the German and Austrian Empires comes into the world with a double dose of original sin, if there really are such, must perceive the necessity of showing such benighted people that there is a sense of pity even in Englishmen; moreover, one direct result of the work of this committee has been the starting of a reciprocal committee to guard the distressed men and women of our own country in Germany and Austria-Hungary. But it is not for these reasons alone that we would commend the work; if it did not benefit any Englishman in the eyes of any German it would still be a work of purest Christ-like pity. The vast majority of those whose claims are considered are far less responsible for the present condition than you, O reader ! and than ourselves. Are they all to suffer, the guiltless with the guilty? And are we, then, so guiltless that we are their lawful judges? This, no less than many other things that our fellow Old Scholars are doing in these days, some of them working in secret, so that none of us know it, is a true work of love and of reconciliation. This is the way of hope.”

From ‘Bootham’ magazine, March 1915

Magazine now available online

Magazine website front page - Copy

Bootham Old Scholars’ Association has very kindly enabled the creation of a website giving access to digitised copies of ‘Bootham’ magazine, back to 1902. You can use the website to browse back issues or search for particular words or phrases. The magazine includes all sorts, for example accounts of trips, photographs, drama productions, Old Scholar news and so on.

Old Scholars can access the magazines via the Old Scholars website. Other enquirers should contact me ( for login details.

Lads Club Camp Diaries

Many thanks to Claire, one of the volunteers, for researching this post.

The first School Camp took place in 1905, on a farm “on the edge of the cliff near the middle of the sweep of Robin Hood’s Bay”, according to ‘Bootham’ magazine (October 1905 edition). There had long been plans for a holiday camp for boys from York. Before the first camp, much planning took place:

“Mr Sturge and Mr Spencer Smith had given much anxious thought to the careful planning of details. Preliminary tents had been erected in the garden of ‘49’; red and blue bunting had been wrestled with in the making of ‘B.S.C.’ flags; many solemn consultations were held on the merits of penny tin plates, and coloured linens for badges; the resource of the workshop had resulted in an excellent noticeboard; boiled puddings, cakes and vegetables had been sent in by masters’ wives and other friends; and many teas and chats on the engrossing subject had gone on in the Head’s garden.”

The camp was made up of staff, some boys from Bootham, and some boys from York.

We have in the archive a set of diaries for the ‘Lads’ Club Camps’ (as they become known), running from 1911 until 1968 (with some gaps). Here are some extracts from the diaries.

1911 – The very first diary entry was the 22nd July 1911, in Scarborough. Twelve officers and forty-five lads camped on this occasion.

Lads Camp 8 Lads Camp 10

1922 – The diary describes the layout of the camp along with the camp rules. “No smoking, no spitting about camp, preferably not elsewhere, barbed wire not to be climbed, use styles, no one to leave camp or go to the stream without notification to a commandant No washing in the water drawing bucket, iron basins provided, foul language and swearing discouraged, especially by officers!”.

Lads Camp 6


1933 – The camp took place at Thornton Dale, visiting “Farmer Elliott at Paper Mill Farm. Milk and butter were provided by the farm, water from the stream or spring on the hillside. Farmer Elliott allowed the lads to dam the stream “to make a deeper bathing pool”.

Lads Camp 16 Lads Camp 17


1954 – Camp was held at Bowbridge, Rievaulx. Nine days were spent there with, five staff, twelve boys from Bootham (officers) and twenty-three boys from across York.

Lads Camp 7

The “variety and quality of food was good, Friends of Bootham School donated tinned stuffs, biscuits, cakes and other luxuries”. The accounts give an idea of what supplies were needed.

Lads Camp 3