Bolton School is one of the oldest schools in Lancashire. It was re-endowed by Lord Leverhulme in 1915 on condition that the Girls’ and Boys’ Schools should be equal partners and have equal facilities. (1) Unlike the Girls’ Division, the Boys’ Division did not set up a junior branch of the League of Nations Union (LNU). However, their debates in the interwar period showed a keen interest in political matters, particularly international issues, as well as some more light-hearted topics. Even before the First World War peace talks had concluded, the boys debated ‘That no League of Nations can prevent the outbreak of future wars’ (1919); and two years later they suggested ‘That in the opinion of this House, the League of Nations is an idealistic dream.’ The proposer highlighted that the need for a unanimous decision made the League useless. The opposer argued that nothing was perfect and to give the League a chance. The motion was lost.
Further debates discussed disarmament (1921 and 1933), the need for a League army (1923), and in 1935 that ‘The peace of Europe depends on armed forces,’ a motion that was lost. At the height of the Munich Crisis in 1938 the Editor noted ‘in corridor and form room pacifist and militarist argued fiercely. Events moved so swiftly that Munich was signed before the Debating Society had time to decide whether Hitler meant peace or war.’ In 1939 three boys described their experiences at the Geneva League of Nations Summer School on the eve of war, still discussing League problems. (2)
(1) Bolton School. History
(2) The Boltonian, 1918-1939. Bolton School Archives.