Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools

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Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 264,364         Comments: 796

Burnley Grammar School
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There's pleny of room in the modern-styled gymnasium for muscle developing, where the boys are supervised by Mr. R. Parry, the physical education instruction.
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, December 1959

796 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by Bill on 17th November 2014  

Andrea, I do remember girls hitching their uniform skirts further up, I guess it was because miniskirts were the fashion in those days.
I also went to an all-boys secondary school, but we had an all-girls school close to ours. We used to meet to chat up before and after school, sometimes during breaks. It was then that the girls used to hitch up their skirt further up. Probably to look more attractive for us boys.
Nice memories. :)
But I think they put them back to near knee length once they entered school. Like you said, it was school rules.

James, I don't remember if it was school rules to wear shorts up to that age, but I think it was common for boys up to about that age, 14, to wear shorts as school uniform. They were knee length anyway and made from thick material. It was probably more comfortable to wear them than long trousers, especially in warm wheather.

Comments by Andrea on 16th November 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Bill,

Our skirts were supposed to be knee length (ie. touch the ground if we knelt down) but we quite often tried to get away with wearing them shorter if we could!

With regard to pe kit at Primary School, as at your school, both boys and girls used to wear a T shirt and shorts or a PE skirt (girls had the choice - I had shorts). We did have to change together though, which involved stripping down to vest and knickers / underpants, before putting on our pe kit. At my (all girls) secondary school the pe kit was polo shirt and gym knickers.

Comments by James on 16th November 2014  

Bill I also wore shorts to school and they were mandatory up to the age of fourteen;I guess they were the equivalent of poor girls like Andrea having to wear short skirts.
I do agree with you that we became accustomed to wearing them all the year round as they were an every day item of clothing.
Like you I wore knee stockings to keep my legs warm but these still kept my thighs cold and exposed to the bitterly cold weather.
It was exceptionally humiliating as during the seventies most boys as young as six were wearing long trousers.
I remember my mum saying'if a boy's short pants aren't cut well above the knee brief and trim therefore he may as well wear long trousers.'

Comments by Bill on 15th November 2014  

Andrea, I do remember most girls wearing miniskirts, or just short skirts, during the mid-sixties to mid-seventies, even as school uniforms. It was normal back then, even in winter.
If I remember well, some did wear tights in cold weather, though not all. As you say, some schools forbade this. Poor girls.
I also remember wearing shorts all year round till about age 14, and as part of
school uniform.
I also wore woolen socks as part of school uniform, but this still left your knees and part of your legs exposed. But I don't think this affected us much since we were used to it.

Another thing which only a few posters commented about is the custom in some primary schools where both boys and girls were made to do PE lessons in just underpants/knickers.
I wonder how common this was. At my school we always wore white shorts and t-shirt for PE, both boys and girls. But I did hear about other schools doing PE in just underpants.

Comments by Andrea on 14th November 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

When I was at school we weren't even allowed to wear tights with our normal school uniform, let alone our PE kit. In winter we had to wear long socks; my legs used to get frozen cycling to and from school in frosty weather!

Comments by Barry on 13th November 2014  

I agree that lads have gone soft. My 17 year old wears tights under his running shorts for winter Cross Country events, and long johns under his jeans when the frosts come. I suspect he also sleeps in them!

Comments by Tim on 12th November 2014  

Replying to Gary's comments we've been through the 'soft youth of today' bit before.

I'll simply say that a few weeks ago I saw a group of school boys (mid-teens) in Mid-Wales going back to school after rugby training. All were in 'traditional' rugby gear and none of them looked unhappy about what they'd be wearing and doing. I think a lot goes down to peer pressure, the attitude of the school, etc.

I'm lucky to have 250 acres of common land adjecent to me: much used for football & running. Its interesting to see how the lads who start off the summer in long, baggy shorts do move into shorter ones (and go topless) as the season progresses.

Whatever people say about the 'short' shorts of the late 60s onwards - well, they were the 'fashion' of the day - just find a picture of Bobby Moore receiving the World Cup to see them!

Comments by Simon on 10th November 2014  

In reply to Bill,yes there were less severe punishments than canings.The slipper was frequently used and quite often we often had our legs smacked when wearing short trousers but the cane was the most painful.
Yes it did sting and was administered by a female teacher on my behind after coming out of the pool.
Your account of events from your friend was very similar to my own which I found very embarrassing and humiliating.

Comments by Andrea on 9th November 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

In reply to Bill, yes there was corporal punishment when I was at school. The Headmistress would use the cane (which I never had) and one of the PE teachers would sometimes use a plimsoll (which I did receive on one occasion!).

At primary school (up to age 11) boys and girls used to change together for PE, but we were never naked, just down to vest and knickers / underpants before putting on our PE kit.

At secondary school we had to get naked for a shower after PE, but of course this was supervised by female PE staff. This was a real culture shock when we first started secondary school, but we just had to get used to it!

Andrea

Comments by Gary on 8th November 2014  

Re Dan's comments. The only time we would see each other naked was when in the communal shower. I was not too worried but I understand that some boys were coy,but as you say we also jhad a few lads who were keen to show off all & sundry i think to brag how big they were.

On another tack, the lads of today seem very soft and cannot stand the cold. Today I have seen a young lad who has just come from playing football. Long shorts, long socks up to above his knees so hardly any flesh uncovered. As we say "in may day" it was thin nylon short shorts and just below knee length socks and freeze. Furthermore goalies did not wear track suit bottoms.

One of the bad things about "the good old days" was in the winter having to wear scratchy wollen underwear, before the days of softer fibres.

Comments by Bill on 8th November 2014  

Simon, thanks for answering my questions.
I find canings were too harsh in such a situation, especially if the boy was still wet. Were there any less harsh punishments for minor misbehaviour?
From what a friend who went to a similar boarding school told me, the most embarrassing and humiliating moment was at the beginning of the swim class when the boys had to line up for roll call and instructions with their hands at their sides facing the female teachers and any visitors present. They were not even allowed to cover with their hands. But once in the water it wasn't so bad. Was it the same for you?
But I don't think he mentioned that they were ever caned during the swim classes, just a few hand slaps on their bare behinds when necessary I suppose, or possibly a slippering.
That caning you got must have really stung. Was it a female teacher that caned you?

Comments by Simon on 8th November 2014  

Bill,I don't mind answering your questions.
There were about 30 boys in our swimming class.
The visitors were mainly prospective parents and school staff.
The punishments and canings were quite infrequent but I did receive the cane once for disobeying an instruction.

Comments by Dan on 7th November 2014  

Although we did PE bare-chested and often barefoot as well the only time we were naked was when having a shower afterwards when no females could see us.
Many boys were quite coy about revealing their private parts although others were only too keen to show them off to all and sundry.

Comments by Bill on 7th November 2014  

Simon, I hope you don't mind me asking questions, but I am curious about it since I was never in such a situation.

You said that there were many visitors and spectators who had access to the pool. Who were these visitors and spectators?

How many boys were there normally in each swim class?
Were the canings and other physical punishments common or rare during these swim classes?

I must agree with you that in your situation as you describe it couldn't have been more humiliating for the boys.

Comments by Simon on 6th November 2014  

Bill,we didn't have swimming galas at school but there were many visitors and spectators who had access to the pool although it was secluded and could not be seen by the public.
Female teachers and instructors supervised our swimming lessons and also had access to our changing area and showers.
Yes I did find it humiliating and embarrassing being extremely coy but some boys were quite brazen about it.

Comments by Bill on 6th November 2014  

Andrea, I don't think that girls had to worry about that, only boys were made to swim nude.

I had friends who went to a boarding school and not only did the boys had to swim nude but they also had female instructors and sometimes female teachers present too, at least in juniors up to 12 years old. I can't imagine that this would ever happen in girls swim classes, especially with male teachers or instructors.
Which is why I believe what some posters here say that they had nude swim classes for boys, even in the presence of female staff sometimes.
What I am surprised at, and which I was not aware of before, is that some say that they even had swimming galas in the nude in front of spectators.

BTW, did you have corporal punishment when you was at school? We certainly did when I was at school.

Comments by Andrea on 5th November 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Like Bill I wish we had had a pool at our school, but not if it had meant having to swim in the nude - compulsory showers at secondary school were enough to deal with!

Comments by Bill on 2nd November 2014  

Simon, did you get used to having viewers and female teachers at the pool, or was it a constant embarrassment and humiliation?
I guess the fun of swimming at that age would have counteracted some of this.
I wish we had a pool at our school, though I don't know how I would have reacted to nude swimming in the presence of spectators. I suppose it would have been mortifying at first until one got gradually used to it.
I think starting at a very young age would have helped.
Having to swim nude in front of viewers close to the age of 14 as in your case, when most boys would be into puberty with some hair is a bit far I think.

When you mention viewers and spectators, were these school staff or other guests or the public?
Were you allowed to wear trunks when there were spectators, as in galas and competitions?

Comments by Simon on 2nd November 2014  

Andrea,
We were allowed to wear our swimming trunks and long trousers at the start of the new term in September.
I would have been about 14 and 1/2.

Comments by Andrea on 2nd November 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Simon,
Did the change to wearing long trousers and being allowed to wear swimming trunks coincide with the start of a new school year?

At my secondary school we had to wear 'gymslip' style dresses for our first two years, but from the third year the uniform was a skirt and blouse?

Similarly my ex told me that at his school the 'no underpants' rule applied in pe for the first two years, after which they were supposed to wear athletic supporters. He said that this seemed rather random as some boys could have done with them earlier, whilst others didn't really need them at that point!

Comments by Simon on 1st November 2014  

Bill,we were allowed to wear swimming trunks when we were about fourteen depending on what date our birthdays were about the same time we were promoted to wearing long trousers.
Yes,we were viewed by onlookers passing the pool but we also had a large window above the pool in a viewing gallery where we could watched without the spectators being disturbed.
Our privacy was hardly a matter of paramount importance especially as we were supervised by one male teacher and two females.
To answer your question about canings I remember two boys holding me under the water for a while to see how long I could hold my breath.
They were duly taken out of the pool and received summary punishment with cane by one of the female teachers which left vivid marks on their buttocks.

Comments by Bill on 1st November 2014  

James, did she cane you herself?
Were there ever punishments in the swim class?

Simon, did you actually ever have viewers through the clear glass area?
Up to what age were you forced to be nude for swim class?

Comments by Simon on 31st October 2014  

In reply to peterc,I did swim naked and definitely would have preferred to have worn trunks but that was not allowed for some reason.
Although our changing area and showers had frosted glass we were far from being concealed in the pool that had large clear windows that allowed anyone to view us if they so wished.
In reply to Bill of course there was teasing but that was mainly if a boy had received a recent caning and the marks were still visible.

Comments by James on 31st October 2014  

I do think the teachers were trying to humiliate the boys by calling them out. The one time i was called out was when i had missed a detention through no fault of my own. The female teacher was not interested in excuses. She was furious and nearly exploded. I got the cane as a result.

Comments by Matthew on 31st October 2014  

To Bill. I took it to mean that the boys teased those who had to get out of the pool to be spoken to by these young women. There would have been plenty of other opportunities to find any boy in the school. It seems to me that it was quite deliberate on the part of these women to choose to find a boy in that situation.

Comments by Bill on 30th October 2014  

James, you said "I remember a lot of teasing with some of the younger good looking female teachers who came in and we had to get out of the pool to speak to them without towel."
In what way did they tease you?
Like the previous poster I am curious to know if these female teachers just found an excuse to have a look at the boys and embarrass them, at least the ones they chose to talk to.
Were you ever called out of the pool by one of these young female teachers, what did she say to you to tease you?

Comments by James on 30th October 2014  

Matthew, i remember often being interrupted in swimming and pe lessons by other teachers popping in to speak to individuals, quite often as detentions had been missed that was a serious issue.

Comments by Matthew on 29th October 2014  

To James. What was so urgent that good-looking young female teachers had to come into the pool area to speak to naked boys who had to get out of the pool to hear what they had to say?

Comments by James on 29th October 2014  

I am curious to know if schoolboys wore short trousers like myself at secondary school where shorts were optional.
My mum who used to buy our short trousers found mistakenly the legs of them too long shortened them and hemmed them again up to about 3cms from the crotch so that when I sat all my thighs were on display.
There was no problem in the first year of school but as I entered my second year the length of my short trousers remained almost the same and as I was showing more and more flesh much to the bewilderment of the onlookers.
It never dawned on mum that I had grown up and although I looked younger than my age these short trousers were obviously too short and not fitting for my age.
It took me three or four months to feel comfortable and be accepted in such short pants at the beginning of the year.
I had the jitters and felt extremely nervous every morning I got dressed in these short trousers.
I can tell you I had difficulty to sustain the bland stare of the teachers and the other students especially the younger ones sometimes with their chuckles and mockeries which were hurting me deeply.

Comments by James on 28th October 2014  

Bill, boys were up to 13. I remember a lot of teasing with some of the younger good looking female teachers who came in and we had to get out of the pool to speak to them without towell. The main females didn't worry us as they had often seen us in the nude, ie matron. Parents could sometimes watch the house galas and some did. All god fun

Comments by Bill on 27th October 2014  

James, up to what age were the boys?
I assume being a prep school the boys were not in their teens yet.
I find it strange that the boys were embarrassed if a female teacher came into the pool area during swim class though the house galas were done in the nude, which I assume had mixed spectators present.
Were there any females, like mothers, sisters or teachers present during the nude house galas?
What about inter-school competitions, were these also done in the nude?

Comments by James on 20th October 2014  

I attended as a boarded quite a traditional all boys prep school in the early 70's. Swimming at all my time there was done naked and when parents were being shown round we just got in the pool. House galas were all done naked but we did have to wear hats to show our house colours. We never thought anything about it and was never an issue. Sometimes female teachers would come in the pool area if they needed to speak to someone. Always embarrasing if you had to get out and always got a lot of teasing if it was the nice french teacher

Comments by Toby on 19th October 2014  

Bill, sometimes there were female staff present but these were confined to sports teachers, matrons or house mistresses. We did not bat an eye lid if they were in the pool area as they had seen us nude before and it did not matter to us.If other females turned up however we would get covered up pretty quickly. As a boarder there was not much privacy and we were used to it. My housemaster always used to say the boarders were were much less inhibited than day boys

Comments by Bill on 19th October 2014  

Toby, did you also have to swim nude when there were female staff, teachers or other females present?
What about swimming galas and competitions, were you allowed to wear trunks?
How did the boys feel about the nude swim rules, did it bother them?

Comments by Robert on 18th October 2014  

Both long and short grey flannels were permitted at my secondary school. Shorts were in the minority, but I had to wear mine until they were worn out, because they were nearly new when I moved schools, and my parents said they were not well off enough to just waste good clothes. I couldn't wait to get rid of them, and gave them really rough treatment. They lasted only a couple of months!

Comments by Paul on 18th October 2014  

In reply to Gary I was aware that some parents and schools used the height of a boy as a criteria whether to promote him to wearing long trousers.
As in my case this was done by my age and I thought this was much fairer as a boy may not have reached the desired height usually 5'3" by the time he had left school.
Most boys would have found it amusing to see boys wearing short trousers as they were really meant for junior boys so for a big teen to be wearing those would have been shocking and some might thought it sissy as the peer thinking was that if you were already in high school then they should have been in long trousers.
I guess it depended on the kind of short trousers too and brief tight fitting shorts I considered totally unsuitable for a teenage boy to have to wear.

Comments by Paul on 17th October 2014  

What I meant to say was two teenage boys entered the waiting room with their mother.

Comments by peterc on 17th October 2014  

Shane, my school was very similar to your's. Not many boys did pe in just underpants but when they did - I didn't - it wasn't seen as a big deal. The problem with forgotten kit was showers and the need to share someone else's towel, or drip dry. Simon - did you have to swim naked or would you have been bothered if you had to?

Comments by Gary on 17th October 2014  

Of course my previous message should have read as not tall enough to wear longs. I do not suppose nude bathing would be allowed these days. At primary School PE was for boys in their normal grey school shorts and vest (singlet design which everybody wore all year) and for girls vest & knickers. They had to remove their dress or skirt because girls did not wear trousers those days (up to the year 1961)

Comments by Andrea on 16th October 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

In general I agree with Bill that we were far less self-conscious about what we wore or didn't wear for PE in primary school.
Certainly our primary school didn't have changing rooms so the boys would be one side of the classroom and girls on the other, with no screens or anything between the two.

There was always a teacher on hand to ensure that there was no silliness and in our final year a few girls who had started to wear bras rather than vests were allowed to change separately in the toilets.

I also agree with Gary that things like the no underpants rule couldn't be enforced nowadays. When my son was at high school he just used to wear his normal underwear under his shorts.

Comments by Toby on 16th October 2014  

When i was at prep school, we did pe in just shorts and always swan naked. As a boarder, we often used the pool at weekends and were always naked although the older boys could wear trunks if they wanted. Always felt odd when at home had to wear trunks for swimming

Comments by Gary on 16th October 2014  

I must agree with you Bill I would be embarrassed if I had to appear in public at a swimming gala naked. Especially if other boys sisters were allowed to attend. Perhaps it was mums & dads only.

Re the comments on long trousers, I wore shorts until I was 13 as did many boys. In my case mainly because I was considered by my dad to be tall enough for longs. The shorts were by today's fashion really short & tight. Well above the knee. No saggy waistline showing your pants as most wore tight white briefs. How fashions have changed.

I must admit that when I was eventually bought some longs I really felt that I had grown up and was "now a young man"

Comments by Paul on 15th October 2014  

In reply to Andrea stating that most boys wore long trousers reminded me of when I attended the dentists during my school days.
While waiting for my appointment two teenage boys entered the waiting wearing their school uniform with their mother.
What intrigued me was that both boys were wearing short trousers and they both looked perfectly comfortable wearing them and left an impression on me.
They were wearing a small boy's clothes but looked really stunning and sharp in them.
The shorts they wore were also not baggy but were really shockingly short -above the knee and maybe around mid thigh.
It was fascinating to know that these boys had to wear such a uniform and I guess they thought nothing of it and I liked how they got naturally tanned and toned legs and could show them off.
It was like their uniform was your typical high school uniform from the waist up and the only difference being instead of long trousers these were replaced by short trousers and knee socks.

Comments by Simon on 13th October 2014  

In reply to Bill,I'm sure most boys would have preferred to have worn swimming trunks,me included,rather than suffering the embarrassment of appearing naked for their swims.

Comments by Gary on 13th October 2014  

Shane, what years were you at school. Were there many occasions when boys forgot their pe kit, or was the possibility of doing pe in pants a big enough deterrent? I am sure the underpants rule would not be applied today.

Comments by Shane on 12th October 2014  

I went to an all boys school, all boys did PE in their bare chest and bare feet, white shorts and no underpants. If you forgot your shorts, you had to do it in your underpants, this was for all boys from 11 to 16. Our gym teacher insisted that all boys had to have naked bare chest and naked bare feet when doing PE, there were about 40 boys to a class.

Comments by Bill on 12th October 2014  

I don't think it bothered us back then what we wore or didn't wear for PE in primary school.
We even changed in class in front of each other for PE. Like someone else said it was more innocent time than it is today.
The body self-consciousness would only come later in secondary school.
Like Phil mentioned at his school, I had several friends who went to a boarding school with a pool where the junior boys, up to age 11 or so, had to be nude for swimming class. They even had female instructors up to that age for swimming.
I don't think anybody, including parents, made a fuss or bothered about this in those days.
Some earlier posters even mentioned that the boys also participated nude during swimming galas and competitions in front of parents and guests and school staff and teachers.
I don't know how common this was, but maybe someone who experienced this, or knows about it, can tell us more.

Comments by Andrea on 5th October 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

In response to the question from Another Person Named Phil, when my son was at High School(he left 4 years ago)his pe shorts were long and quite baggy.
When we were first married, I can remember my ex wearing white nylon shorts for football. As you say, they didn't leave much to the imagination when they got wet (although he did wear a jockstrap under his).

With regard to skinny-dipping as children, when I was with my mum and dad I always had to wear a swimming costume. However occasionally when I was playing with some of the local children in the summer, we would sometimes splash about in a shallow river in just our pants! I did that up to leaving primary school at 11, but by the following summer I had to make sure I was wearing a swimsuit top!

Comments by Another person named Phil on 1st October 2014  

James, I am sure that the TB queue was mortifying for you. As you say fashion and also for us school rules dictated the type of shorts worn.

Our school swimming lessons were in a public pool (although hired exclusively for us) so at least we wore swimming trunks for those lessons unlike many who have contributed saying they were not allowed to were anything in the pool.

Comments by James on 27th September 2014  

In reply to Phil,it was the early seventies,1971 to 1976 and we were co-ed but PE and games were fortunately separate.
I do agree the shorts in the photo were more substantial but he type of shorts that I described were quite fashionable at that time.
I remember being called in from my sporting activities to receive my TB inoculation without any time to change and had to queue in front of girls whilst I became the object of fun and ridicule.

Comments by Another person maned Phil on 26th September 2014  

In reply to James, what years are you referring to. My secondary schooling was 1961 to 1966. Boys only so I do not think we were worried about wearing minimal clothing. Was your school co-ed, if so I presume pe was boys only.

Reading the about the flimsy shorts, brings back memories for me.White light thin nylon with slits, with the same shorts being worn outdoors. If it was raining, then we might as well have been wearing nothing!!

The shorts worn by the boys in the photo, look more substantial and slightly longer, than we wore. However, we put up with what we had to wear, no questions asked. Furthermore, I do not know of parents complaining as I am sure they would these days. Is it long shorts & track suits these days?

Comments by James on 25th September 2014  

Rob,I'm sure you did hate wearing your shorts if they were anything like the ones we used to wear.The shorts were very trim and the thin,white nylon made them translucent.We were not allowed to wear any form of underwear under them and even white briefs would have been clearly visible.They were so light and flimsy I couldn't tell I was wearing anything.Deep side slits made them more impractible and they were held in place by elastic no wider than a rubber band.Hope this helps!

Comments by Bob on 24th September 2014  

I hated the white t-shirts and shorts we wore for Pe when girls could wear coloured tops and black shorts that did not reveal their underwear. If the top was not snow white, boys were made to go topless back in the mid 1980's. We should resolve that state sanctioned child abuse must never happen again.

Comments by Jamie on 21st September 2014  

I had similar experiences. It was never a big deal for me and my friends (up to say 15) to strip off in front of my mum and da or my friends parents. They would often come in when we were having showers etc. However totally different rules for my sisters or girls generally. After rugby, if we were muddy when we got home, we would strip naked in the utility room and tiptoe to the bathroom. No one bothered at all

Comments by Phil on 20th September 2014  

Phil, the family i wnet away with were family friends who had a son my age, approx 12. They were both teachers and pretty strict. It was just normal that we would swim naked where possible, ie in secluded bays. We both did that at school so no big deal. We sometimes went on a yaght and we spent the whole time naked if it was warm enough. Just me and my friend. His parents, like mine, would not have dreamt of going naked. We always were smothered in sun cream so quite careful

Comments by Another person maned Phil on 19th September 2014  

Re your going with a friends family & getting an allover tan, did your parents have no concerns that you were fully exposed in the company of your friend's parents? Or was it a case that in those days people did not worry or have inhibitions?

Comments by Geordie on 19th September 2014  

With reference to Alex & Alan's comments those days of fun and innocence are gone forever. When we went on summer Scout camps in the days when Scouting was for boys, a skinny dip in a nearby river was not uncommon sometimes even when it was raining. (Health & Safety what was that?) Although there were always 2 strong swimmers boys or adults watching from the riverbank. Also being exposed to moderate sun no worries about the lack of Vitamin D.

Comments by Alan on 18th September 2014  

Alex makes the memories flood back. At my prep school we went away to a village in Wales camping every summer. The only female there was the nurse, all others eith boys or masters. We were actively encouraged to strip off nsked for swimming, often in lakes out in the wilds of no where, ie no passers by. A few boys never wore anything the whole time they were there and got great tans. We did wrestling in the evenings and generally in shorts butoften these got wripped off if you were losing. All very acceptable then and it was great fun.

Comments by Alex on 13th September 2014  

Following George and Geordie's reflections on the loss of innocence; I don't know what it's like these days, but years ago boys of a certain age were keen to flex their developing muscles and prove their strength and daring.

In the 70's I took part in a school soccer trip abroad. Everyone was paired off with a friend since we would be sharing rooms; a good job as when we arrived at the 'pension' we found nearly all the rooms had double beds! After the initial objections the situation was seen as a new experience and machismo took over, pyjama tops were for sissies and there was a lot of running around in various states of undress to see what others were wearing. By lights out most of the 28 boys were tucked up in bed with silly grins on their faces and wearing very little. It transpired the next morning that the 15 year old naturist and his friend had slept naked, but since both of them had girl friends and very manly reputations nothing much was thought of it; and some people were rather envious.

On the second night most of the boys had organised a wrestling tournament and were caught happily romping on the beds in pants or pyjama bottoms. Winners from one room fought winners from another until it was time for lights out, the accepted forfeit was for the losers to sleep nude next to the victors.

This entertainment continued the next night; one group of four pushed their two beds together to make a bigger surface and had a naked tournament, inviting those from other rooms to come and fight them in the same state. The master on duty had seen everyone in the showers anyway so no-one was bothered until some boys became 'over stimulated' during their battles.

No damage was caused, nobody was forced to fight, nobody was bullied; it was just seen as fun,- what in those days was called 'horse play' and a part of growing up.

Incidentally, one of the evening meals was a large helping of steak and chips, but it was not until we were on our way home that we were told that the 'steak' had come last in the 3:00pm at the horse race track!

Anybody else remember school trips abroad?

Comments by Geordie on 12th September 2014  

In addition to my last comment & reading those of Phil, I get the impression form the modern day youth that they would not sport an all over tan even if they had one because peer pressure would make them think it was strange to have been outside without any clothes and expose the entire body to sunlight either privately or on a naturist holiday.
Do families still do this & with teen age children?

Comments by Phil on 11th September 2014  

Reading George's comments reminds me of my days at my public boarding school in the late 70's. PE was just shorts and swimming for the first 3 years naked and then optional after that. It was always quite amusing when we did swimming after the summer holiday break. Whilst we had no trunks on, we all had white marks where we had worn our trunks on holiday. A couple of the boys however had all over tans and we were all very jealous. Whilst only young, they did look really fit and healthy. I went on holiday with one of them and his family and i also got one.

Comments by Geordie on 8th September 2014  

Having read the comments by George, I agree that it is a shame that we have lost the age of innocence and freedom. I too recollect that when we were in pe with loose shorts & no pants that we exposed everything. However, we never worried about it we all knew what we have got and we were naked in the changing room & showers(communal of course)

I clearly understand the reluctance of any teacher these days being near students in any state of undress. I wonder if the modern day youth has become too inhibited. It was not so long ago that all public swimming pools had single sex communal changing rooms which now have all disappeared with swimming pools having very small cubicles with hardly any room to change in.

Comments by LN on 7th September 2014  

I attended primary school in the 70's. PE kit included a T-shirt, but randomly at the start of one lesson after I had been there some time, our teacher asked boys to remove shirts. From then on we didn't bother putting them on. I remember being self conscious at first, but soon got over it. After a few lessons which were mixed, some of the girls went bare chested too. In my innocence at that age it was the first time Id seen girls stripped off, but it soon became a normal sight.

Comments by Andrea on 7th September 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

I guess that the equivalent of short trousers for us girls were the 'gymslip' style dresses we had to wear for the first two years of secondary school. Of course as we got towards the end of our second year, our mums didn't really want to buy us new ones as we wouldn't get much wear out of them. Mine still fitted me quite well, but some girls were really starting to outgrow theirs towards the end!

Seeing mention of underwear being banned for 'hygiene' reasons reminds me that we weren't allowed to wear tights with our school uniform for similar reasons. Cycling to school in winter was certainly chilly!

Comments by Paul on 7th September 2014  

I agree with Andrea that most boys wore long trousers at secondary schools but some preparatory schools insisted on a uniform with shorts without using age for the criteria to promote boys into long trousers.
I went through adolescence wearing short trousers when much younger boys were wearing long trousers.

Comments by George on 6th September 2014  

I was at secondary school from 1948 to 1956. We were certainly "deprived" in the sense that we never had swimming lessons because the only facility was the open air baths about a mile away. However, P.E. was done almost completely naked, i.e. in thin elasticated shorts and no top (or even no plimsolls in the gymnasium. Underwear was strictly forbidden for hygiene reasons, and quite frankly, this still seems an eminently sensible idea today. It was a boys' school, so none of us was ever embarrassed. (Most of the boys enjoyed the freedom of the extremely loose shorts, even though they exposed everything if you were upside down hanging from the wall bars. This does make me wonder why nudity for boys' p.e. was never practissd in schools if it was often the norm for swimming. I remember us lads being quite amazed at one of our classmates (aged about fourteen)who sported a superb all over tan; naked he looked incredible. Even the teacher was impressed; he let the lad strut round the changing room in the buff so that we could all get an eyeful!

When I became a teacher myself some years later p.e. kit was less Spartan, but even then I can remember one boy who also evidently came from a naturist family and was similarly tanned and also was no shy about briefly being naked while changing, but by this time I was uncomfortable about it, and did not encourage him. (This was the early 60s.) How sad that we have been compelled to lose our innocence!

Comments by Andrea on 6th September 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

When I was at Junior School the boys all wore short trousers. I went to an all girls Secondary School, but from what I remember from seeing Secondary School boys on the way to and from school, most were wearing long trousers.

Comments by Paul on 6th September 2014  

We wore short trousers at my school and to maintain smartness our school maintained'the finger tip rule'which meant short trousers must not be longer than where the fingers reached when standing.
There were about 60 boys in the choir aged from 11 to 17 and every one of them were compelled to wear black short trousers and white knee socks for each of their concerts.

Comments by James on 4th September 2014  

I don't know if boys these days think this way but back in my school days short trousers were definitely an obvious marker of inferior junior status which is why we hated having to wear them.
My school had a similar rule that shorts had to be worn until you were aged 13 and 6 months but there was an additional provision which allowed boys to graduate to longs when they reached the height of 5feet 3 inches so we used to queue up at the matron's office at the start of each term to be measured hoping we had reached this magic figure.

Comments by Mike on 3rd September 2014  

I was stripped to the waist for games and PE from starting school at the age of five until A Levels at 18+.
We wore white shorts for indoors and black or navy blue for cross-country.
Although going barefoot wasn't obligatory most of us did so.
The winters then seemed to be colder but we soon got used to being bare chested.

Comments by Daniel on 23rd August 2014  

Spence, The girls were so used to seeing you exercise barechested, indoors or out, it wouldn't have bothered them.

We were barechested for PE and Games lessons from the age of 9 through to the end of A levels at 18. The cold winters were tough to start with but after your first year you knew what to expect.

Comments by Spence on 21st August 2014  

David, thanks for replying. Presumably, if you did ballroom dancing with the girls, you wore ordinary clothing and not PE kit. If you wore PE kit, the girl would have had to touch your bare shoulder when doing the waltz etc. Probably more embarrasing for them than you.

Comments by Allen on 21st August 2014  

BCG vaccination was a parental option at my (private, boys) school. Most, but not all, went for it. If my memory is correct, it was done at age 14 in 1967. It was administered on the "production line" basis with boys lining up in the North entrance lobby outside and leading into the the medical room. Jackets and shirts were removed when you had advanced to that point, and the needle was applied behind a screen not for privacy's sake, but to stop you seeing what was being done to the chap in front.

I recall that it was a case of alphabetical order, and, as I am a "W" I had had plenty of accounts of how ghastly the process was from nearly everybody else (from A to V). The fact that the chap immediately in front of me fainted and was carried out unconscious was not a good sign and did not reassure me either.

This was no ordinary injection and it was not done with a normal hypodermic, rather what looked like a pair of surgical lances, one to cut deep into the main muscle of the upper arm (which you had to hold up horizontally while the medic did the business from behind you) and the other to proddle about a bit in the hole it had made for half a minute or so, presumably administering the active ingredient. Ye gods did it hurt, and not just while it was being done! The tools were not disposable: being more or less the last in the queue of 120, I suspect they were coming to the end of their useful lives by the time they got to me, and as for the sterilization between bodies, this seemed to be achieved only by standing the instruments in alcohol!

Nobody was allowed to do PE or games for a week afterwards because the wound had to be kept dry and protected from knocks. Mine duly went septic and kept producing pus in some quantity for about six weeks before it finally healed over. so I was off games for the rest of term - whoopee!

Most chaps had a clearly visible scar as a result of this procedure, which in my case at least remains as such nearly half a century later. It was a very unpleasant experience indeed, but at least I've not had TB and it was the best excuse ever to get out of games!

I will reminisce about the terrible experiences of PE and games anon, whether anyone is interested or not!

Comments by David on 20th August 2014  

Hi Spence,
In the 1960's most houses where we lived didn't have central heating or double glazing, that is why our parents insisted we wore vests and jumpers even though they kept us in short pants up to 12-13, so in a way you got used to the cold.
The school had central heating so was actually warmer than home - but it was noticeably cooler first thing in a morning especially when it was really cold in winter until the heat built up.
Regardless of the time of year the boys PE kit was white cotton shorts and plimsolls, bare-chested, no underwear and no socks. This applied from us being 11 year olds up to leaving at 16.
In winter if you had a lesson first period - you could have goose bumps and be shivering, we all were on occasion - but if you moaned about it, you were considered a wimp.
When the lesson began you soon forgot about the cold and soon were warmed up if not sweating.
We weren't particularly noisy either - we were young, relatively fit and light footed.
The classrooms round the sides had solid wooden walls to about 4' 6" (137cm) then wooden frames with glass to the ceiling.
When we were doing lessons our in class you didn't particularly notice any PE class in the hall, so it was reasonably soundproof.
PE was generally always done separately with girls - there were only a few occasions during my time there when we had to share lessons. Boys PE was generally more focused on physical fitness than the girls from what I saw. I can't even remember what we would have done together -probably practiced ballroom type dancing.
Yes girls could wear cardigans or track suit tops if they were cold. The boys kit list also included a track suit ironically - that was a waste of our parent's money because we never got to wear them.
When we had a games period - it was done about 300 metres from the main school in an annexe by the school playing field. There were a couple of other classrooms and a sports changing room and shower block each for boys and girls.
Now that was cold in winter! After slogging away at cross country or whichever sport you were doing - as soon as you stopped whatever it was - the cold was bitter. Talk about being numb! you looked forward to a hot shower just to get some feeling back into your fingers and toes.
Hope that answers your questions.

Comments by Simon on 20th August 2014  

Like Daniel, I was at school in the 80s and boys' PE kit was very much at the teacher's discretion. In my first year of senior school we all wore a vest for PE, as specified in the official uniform list along with shorts and trainers. However the next year we had a different PE teacher and at the first lesson he made it clear that we were required to do it bare-chested. There were one or two murmurs of protest but he then announced that any boy wearing a vest in 10 seconds would get detention for the whole term! Without hesitation everyone did as they were told and our vests remained unused for the rest of the year. For outdoor PE you still wore a football top but you frequently ended up losing that too as the teams were often shirts and skins.

Comments by Spence on 19th August 2014  

David, one wonders what it was like for the teachers and pupils in the classes adjoining the gym, with the noise created by 30 teenage boys running about and presumably exercising their vocal muscles as much as the rest of their bodies. Perhaps the classrooms had thick walls.

How cold was it in the in the gym in winter? Did you have lessons with the girls on cold days? If so, were boys shivering and covered in goose pimples while the girls were fully covered apart from bare knees. Were girls allowed to wear extra clothing in the gym on cold days? I assume boys were not allowed additional kit whatever the temperature.

Comments by Daniel on 17th August 2014  

David's comments were spot on. Though I was at school in the 80's this was how you did PE. Although officially our uniform kit sheet stated boys required a vest, our teacher had other thoughts.

At the start of our first PE lesson our teacher randomly picked me to face the class, remove my vest and run to the back of the gym drop it on the floor and run back and made it crystal clear it would never be worn again. A couple of minutes later my classmates were told to do the same thing and the vests remained there until picked up at the end of the lesson. From then on all lads were bare top for their time at school.

David is absolutely right in pointing out no one (girls aside) paid any attention to lads exercising indoors our outdoors in all weathers, it was considered 100% normal. The gym was a suntrap all the year round and with our teacher being very demanding it wasn't unusual for lads of all ages to sweat especially during fitness sessions and basketball games for which one team would have a coloured sash to identify the teams.

Unlike David, though cross country was always performed with vests off regardless of the temperature and one team had their sach on for identification during House competitions.

Comments by David on 15th August 2014  

I went to a mixed Secondary Modern school in a small village school on the outskirts of a city in West Yorkshire between 1961 - 1966 probably with about 300 pupils in total & each year's intake would have about 30 girls & 30 boys.
On my first day after the register was taken our first class was double PE for us boys and it was taken in the School Hall. The hall was used for morning assembly & gym with apparatus to the sides hinged to open out. A number of the classrooms in the school were off the main hall. So while the girls went off to do their lesson, we boys were told to go & change into our pe kit which consisted of white cotton shorts & plimsolls with no socks & no underwear. It felt a bit strange wearing so little but that was soon forgotten because the lesson was quite intense and I actually enjoyed the freedom without the restriction of clothes.
Then the bell rang for the next lesson. We were directed to sit in the middle of the hall cross legged on the floor. All the classroom doors opened & the pupils came into the hall & in an anticlockwise direction walked round the edge of the hall to their next class.
We were on view to the whole school but no one seemed bothered in the slightest - them or us and like Michael said in his post earlier- it was considered healthy & manly in those days and wasn't just our class - it was any double pe. Sometimes the PE teacher decided to do the lesson in the playground so again you were on open view to the passer-by but it was never something you thought about - you were more concerned making it through the lesson without upsetting the teacher & all that entailed!!
Discipline was strict, and any transgression was dealt with swiftly with the pump administered on the spot and in front of the class.
This happened quite often.
For team games half of us were given coloured bands to distinguish sides.
One of the best games I remember was pirates - the sea was the floor & you had to avoid being caught by jumping across the various apparatus and mats laid about and not falling into the sea whilst being chased by the opposing team. The chasing side started with two people & as you were caught you joined their team - great fun.
When we occasionally shared PE with the girls it felt quite normal since we did swimming together anyway so had got used to wearing minimal clothing. The girls kit was knickers, gym-slip, vest, T shirt, socks & pumps. In winter I was sometimes quite envious of them but in warm summers I think they might have been a bit jealous of our freedom.
Outdoor games & cross country was done with a football top in House colours or it could be shirt v skins if the teacher decided. I can't remember if anyone did cross country without shirts but you could take your top off if you wanted.
Boys were only ever called by their surnames even amongst their friends, and the girls by their first names.
I only ever knew of boys being given the pump or cane - I think girls got detention or lines. We did PE twice a week plus a double games lesson & a swimming lesson
We boys had to shower after games lessons & swimming so everyone got used to being naked in front of others pretty quickly & it was no big deal.
I did come across a You Tube classic- typical of boys PE at the time. It's only a short clip of about 30 seconds (Starts around 1m 30secs- but just as I remember it).
Go to YouTube & enter:- Teacher Gwyn Evans

Comments by Allen on 12th August 2014  

BCG vaccination was a parental option at my (private, boys) school. Most, but not all, went for it. If my memory is correct, it was done at age 14 in 1967. It was administered on the "production line" basis with boys lining up in the North entrance lobby outside and leading into the the medical room. Jackets and shirts were removed when you had advanced to that point, and the needle was applied behind a screen not for privacy's sake, but to stop you seeing what was being done to the chap in front.

I recall that it was a case of alphabetical order, and, as I am a "W" I had had plenty of accounts of how ghastly the process was from nearly everybody else (from A to V). The fact that the chap immediately in front of me fainted and was carried out unconscious was not a good sign and did not reassure me either.

This was no ordinary injection and it was not done with a normal hypodermic, rather what looked like a pair of surgical lances, one to cut deep into the main muscle of the upper arm (which you had to hold up horizontally while the medic did the business from behind you) and the other to proddle about a bit in the hole it had made for half a minute or so, presumably administering the active ingredient. Ye gods did it hurt, and not just while it was being done! The tools were not disposable: being more or less the last in the queue of 120, I suspect they were coming to the end of their useful lives by the time they got to me, and as for the sterilization between bodies, this seemed to be achieved only by standing the instruments in alcohol!

Nobody was allowed to do PE or games for a week afterwards because the wound had to be kept dry and protected from knocks. Mine duly went septic and kept producing pus in some quantity for about six weeks before it finally healed over. so I was off games for the rest of term - whoopee!

Most chaps had a clearly visible scar as a result of this procedure, which in my case at least remains as such nearly half a century later. It was a very unpleasant experience indeed, but at least I've not had TB and it was the best excuse ever to get out of games!

I will reminisce about the terrible experiences of PE and games anon, whether anyone is interested or not!

Comments by Michael on 7th August 2014  

My mixed grammar school was steeped in traditional values, and boys being shirtless for games was in no way viewed as indecent. In fact, it was viewed as 'healthy' and 'manly'.

So, it was entirely routine for groups of boys to be put in teams of 'skins' and 'shirts' for games, either indoors, or out of doors in good weather.

Not that it made much difference indoors, with one side of the gym being made up entirely of glass panels and open to view to anyone passing by outside. From what I can remember no-one ever gave us a second glance.

So, none of us boys was concerned if we were chosen for the 'skins' team, as we deemed it irrelevant in itself. We wanted to start the game as quickly as possible, and were far more interested in who else was in the same team, and hence how likely we were to win.

No male at the public swimming baths covers their chest, and few men feel it necessary to cover up at the seaside, whether on the beach or walking along the promenade. On my local housing development in sunny weather, many of my male neighbours routinely do their gardening, car washing or even local shopping errands shirtless.

On sunny days I cover myself up because I'm fair-skinned and tend to burn easily. Otherwise I'd happily walk down the street shirtless without a second thought.

Comments by Monty on 6th August 2014  monty1962@outlook.com 

Yes I got my BCG in 1976 and remember it well. Not a very pleasant experience. Some (though not me) had appallingly bruised and swollen arms as a result of the carelessness or incompetence of the nurse jabbing the needle. I believe that when it started in the 1950's it was a very valuable way of preventing TB but by the time it ended, in 2005, it was no longer really needed because TB had been all but eradicated, at least in this country.

I remember that although it was generally compulsory one boy in my form was exempted on medical grounds. He didn't say why but the rest of us presumed it was because he was very weedy and would probably faint in terror at the sight of the needle. But maybe like Phil he had some kind of immunity.

I must say that I am a bit puzzled by Phil's comments about exposure of the upper body being "disgusting". It made me wonder if times changed so radically between 1976 and 1989 (and 2014) that taking your shirt off in public now induces feelings of panic and paranoia.

I consider male shirtlessness so normal that I generally wouldn't even notice it. This got me thinking that maybe things have changed and it is less prevalent in contemporary Britain, I just hadn't noticed the change. So I've just been in to town and deliberately kept my eyes open to see if there was anyone baring "nipples and navel", as Phil describes it.

Now it is a warm sunny day today but the town is small (population 5,000) and almost deserted mid afternoon. But almost the first person I saw was fellow of about 20 wearing long trousers, a cap - and no shirt. He wasn't carrying a shirt with him either. He walked right past me and exhibited total unconcern. Walking round the corner the very next person I saw was a youth of about 14 on a mountain bike, wearing what I think are called "jogging pants" and trainers, but nothing else - no hat, no shirt. Again exhibiting total unconcern.

This confirms my belief that for the vast majority of males, even today, taking your shirt off in public is no big deal. Why should it be "disgusting" to be asked to temporarily remove your shirt in school when it is considered normal to do so in a public place on a warm day? I must say Phil I am at a loss to understand your comment.

I will be the first to admit that a sight of an overweight, heavily tattoo'd member of the English working class revealing mounds of naked pink flesh while sizzling in the summer sun is not a sight which holds any aesthetic appeal. But surely it is, on the whole, a good thing if people feel so comfortable in their skins that they think nothing of exposing their upper bodies - just like the lads in the photo here? (....so I arrive back on topic by a roundabout route!)

Comments by Andrea on 5th August 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

I think I was about 14 when I had the BCG jab; we all had the pre-test first but unfortunately I was amongst the ones who didn't already have the immunity and so had to have the big needle!

We were allowed to keep our blouses on until we got into the medical room and then remove them while we had the injection. I think we were pretty much all wearing bras by then, so weren't actually topless when we had the injection.

I went to an all girls secondary school, so don't know what happened with the boys, although I can't really see that wearing a vest would get in the way.

Andrea

Comments by Phil on 3rd August 2014  

I remember the BCG Tuberculosis jabs back in 1989 when I was 16. I was lucky I had a pre-test on my arm and had plus +1 TB immunity so did not need the jab.

Girls that failed could take their shirts of in the medical room and have the injections done with their bras on.

The boys that had to have the innoculation had to take of their jumpers, shirts, ties and vest and were made to stand outside in the school foyer for up to 15 minutes waiting for the jab in the medical room.

Imagine having to stand their in a school with your nipples and navel showing. They said it was to "save time" but this topless rule did not apply to females.

Today with all the equality and diversity legislation this would not be allowed. Absolutely disgusting!

Comments by Roy on 30th July 2014  

I certainly remember the BCG vaccine against TB.

Comments by Andrea on 29th July 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

I can't recollect having medicals at Primary School, but we did have one not long after starting at Secondary School.

I can remember having to strip down to my vest and knickers in a room next to the medical room and then go in to have my height and weight checked by the school nurse. She also checked hands for warts and feet for verrucas. The worst bit was having to lift up my vest so the doctor could use his stethoscope, which I can remember being cold!

Some of my classmates told me that they had to unfasten their bras so the doctor could check how their breasts were developing, but I wasn't at that stage yet!

Does anyone remember the dreaded BCG injections from Secondary school?

Comments by Monty on 26th July 2014  monty1962@outlook.com 

I remember medicals in primary school where we all had to stand in a line outside the head's office - which the visiting doctor was using - in our awful white 1970's Y fronts. My primary school was co-ed and I remember girls walking past us - though I think they had their medical exams separately, and I don't recall seeing them have to stand in a public corridor in their knickers - I doubt they had to, as in those days girls were thought to have a greater need for privacy than boys. None of us boys thought it odd and we even horsed around a bit in front of the girls. I don't recall feeling even slightly embarrassed at this.

I remember nothing of the actual medical and I was spared a medical at my public school because only boarders had to have one when they joined the Upper School, and I only became a boarder in the sixth form. I remember other sixth formers telling the new boys to watch out for when the doctor said "How do you like school dinners?", because this was inevitably the prelude to having your testicles grabbed and being asked to cough. The same doctor had been visiting the school for years and must have used that line hundreds of times. Actually I think it was a good idea of the doctor's - most 13 year olds would have found this experience a bit awkward, even in the 70's, and I think this helped reduce the embarrassment a bit.

(Apologies for straying off topic a bit)

Comments by David on 26th July 2014  

We had our yearly medical exam and had to line up stripped to the waist outside the medical room.
I could never understand why we had to have our eyes and ears tested while stripped to the waist but that was the rule.
Then still stripped to the waist we went individually before the doctor and nurse.

Comments by David on 26th July 2014  

The school I attended had a typical uniform of navy blue blazer,stripped tie and long trousers.However what intrigued me was that included in the uniform requirement were short pants,knee stockings showing the house colours and garters to hold them in place.The shorts were invariably brief and trim and after being tried on and purchased were deposited in the wardrobe,hopefully never to be worn.
At my first visit to my new school the majority of boys were wearing their school uniform and only a few were wearing shorts,even some of the older ones.I never found out why and didn't enquire,i just thought it was their parents quaint custom.
I never got into trouble at school until I went into the library,when it wasn't my turn,I liked reading and went in to avoid going out in the cold.When the teacher came in although I tried to hide I was caught and told to see her after lessons.I awaited my punishment with trepidation and after waiting for the bell after the last lesson expecting lines or even the cane.After being giver a stern lecture and told to straighten my tie I was told"you will wear short trousers for six weeks".I was devastated and confessed to my parents who could do nothing to get me out of my predicament.

Comments by Andrea on 20th July 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

At my all girls secondary school in the early to mid 1970s we had those divided games shorts (culottes)and a long sleeved cotton shirt for outdoor PE in winter.
Indoor PE kit was always navy gym knickers and a white T shirt or polo shirt. For the first couple of years our outdoor kit in summer was the same as the indoor kit but from the third year we were allowed to wear a games skirt over the gym knickers if we wished.

We only had swimming lessons for the first couple of years and had to wear a regulation navy blue swimming costume.

Comments by Barney on 20th July 2014  

To Jeff
I agree with your final sentence. I think that these days there is too much inhibition. We never thought twice in secondary school about minimal wear for pe or games. Perhaps it was better for being single sex school. Only one female teacher who never went near the pe classes.

Comments by Jeff on 20th July 2014  

From the posts here it seems that schools had different requirements for PE kit. Some schools had white shorts and vests for both boys and girls, as at my school, some schools required both boys and girls do PE in just underwear, others had bare chested in just shorts for boys. Still others required that no underwear be worn under shorts.
I can sympathise with Monty and others here who had to wear just tiny white see-through shorts which they found embarrassing, especially in mixed classes or with female teachers present.

What I find interesting here is Matthew's and others' accounts of having to do swimming classes, and even galas in front of spectators totally naked. I don't think anything could be more embarrassing than that, especially in the presence of female teachers and other female staff and spectators. I can't imagine me having to do that at school.
But I suppose it is like Matthew said, one gets used to everything, and at that age, primary school age it wouldn't have mattered so much. But at an older age into teens, as he mentions, it would have been very embarrassing and humiliating.
But I guess they were more innocent times, unlike today. One wonders if they were in fact better times for kids than today's uptightness and fear of exposure.

Comments by Dave on 19th July 2014  

We were always stripped to the waist for PE at my school and even the boys who were wary of it soon got used to it.
By the time we reached sixth form many lads had got hairy chests and some thought they were better than the lads with hairless chests!!!

Comments by James on 18th July 2014  

Andrea

I remember wearing those nylon shorts for the first time,albeit with a slight degree of trepidation.We all wore the same white shorts for running,athletics and gymnastics.They were very short and were worn without anything underneath which would easily have been detected due to their transparency.Our mixed school must have offered an alluring site for many female onlookers.

Comments by Matthew on 16th July 2014  

Adrea, yes, i think there were allowances made for more developed boys. They just didn't participate in the galas and i don't blame them. Most of us were just young boys and didn't mind or even think of it as being odd. I would add that if a girl had appeared, then that would have been totally different and we would all have freaked oout.

Comments by Barney on 16th July 2014  

In answer to type of school. Secondary was all boys. Primary was mixed. For pe boys just removed their shirts & in those days we all wore singlets which were kept on for pe. Girs removed skirts & did pe in regulation navy blue underwear. No equality for girls those days. Boys I knew form other primary schools told me they had to remove their shorts and do pe in their briefs & singlet, just like the girls.

Comments by Monty on 15th July 2014  monty1962@outlook.com 

Andrea,

I can't speak for Barney, but I found the tiny white see-through shorts EXTREMELY embarrassing. My birthday is in November so I was old for my year, and as well as that I developed earlier than most of my classmates. During the course of my first term in the Lower School - i.e. Autumn 1974 - I shot up massively in height and by the time of my birthday in November 74 it was impossible for me to wear the shorts without pants, as the rules technically required. Not only was it hugely awkward that everything was pretty much visible through the pants themselves, it was actually physically impossible for me to prevent things from hanging out of the side of my shorts....you can understand why I started breaking school rules by wearing pants underneath from about the time of my birthday. I am just relieved I was not compelled to remove them! (If the PE master noticed than perhaps he had compassion on me!)

Monty

Comments by Andrea on 15th July 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Barney,
Those see through white shorts must have been pretty embarrassing - I thought our white polo shirts were bad enough, but at least we had a bra underneath them when we developed! Was it an all boys school, or were there girls around too?

Matthew,
Was any allowance made for the boy who had started to mature earlier than the rest? When I was at primary school there weren't any changing rooms so boys and girls had to change together in the classroom. A few girls who had started to develop in the final year were allowed to go to the toilets to change in privacy though.

Andrea

Comments by Michael on 14th July 2014  

It was always perishing cold in our gym - no matter how warm it might have been outdoors. Considering that one side was a huge expanse of glass, it must have been a work of machiavellian genius on the part of the architect, (or the north facing aspect) that accounted for the constantly chilly temperature.

To make matters worse, the showers were always cold and we were allowed insufficient time to get properly dried afterwards. Thus, we hurried to our next lessons exhausted, wet and shivering, and feeling in no fit state to give the subject our full attention.

If all that, three times a week, was supposed to be healthy, then give me a sofa and a plate of chips anytime.

Comments by Barney on 14th July 2014  

Dave
Our pe kit was shorts no pants or top, plimsolls no socks indoors.

Outside again no pants but with a tee shirt and bare top, but Autumn/Winter terms a tee shirt or other type top no specific uniform.

The shorts were were white,very short & tight which & thin. I think that this was insisted upon to deter us from wearing pants which would have been seen. Furthermore I expect the tightness was meant togave us support because we never knew about any athletic support or told about it. So in winter extremely chilly and heaven help you if it rained (see through)

Scout camp we wore shorts normally for me my school ones because my parents could not afford too many different types. Pants were worn but because my shorts were white of course my pants showed. However, in that day and age we all wore white briefs so no one cared.

Scout uniform was khaki shorts so no problem nothing showed in public.

Comments by Matthew on 14th July 2014  

Monty, i know, you could not imagine it now. There was probably only one or two boys who were 14, the majority being 12 - 13. Plus all the junior school. We were all generally pretty immature although there was one lad who had developed more than most. My school was one of those that was clinging on to the old public school image, ie cold showers, no heating but slowly changed after i had left. Very strict and a harsh regime so you abided with what was required without hesitation.

Comments by Monty on 13th July 2014  monty1962@outlook.com 

Matthew,

Without wishing to doubt you in any way, I have to say your account seems very unusual. Was it really the case that boys as old as 15 had to walk up naked to receive their swimming prizes from the headmaster's wife? In England, in the 1970's?

My mother was Akela of a Cub Scout Pack in the 1960's and 70's and as an older teen I sometimes went with her on Cub camps. I am quite sure that cubs - that's to say, boys up to the age of 11 - were quite unabashed about being naked in her presence. In fact, I remember a county cub swimming gala when I was a cub where she came into the changing rooms and gave a pep talk whilst surrounded by dozens of naked or semi-naked little boys. No one batted an eyelid. But the point is we were little boys - pre pubescent - and the account by a previous poster of a line of naked 11 year olds receiving swimming prizes from the headmaster's wife at a no-trunks school swim meet is one that seems quite normal for the 1970's and before.

I do think it was a very different matter once puberty was reached, however. Although unabashed about public nudity in front of other males, I would have been mortified to have been naked in front of females any time after the age of 11, and I cannot think of any occasions in my youth when this happened to me or anyone I know.

I boarded in the sixth form, and the only females we ever saw were the housemaster's wife and the matron. Neither of them every saw any of us naked, as far as I'm aware, although we had daily communal showers (no cubicles or curtains) and even the bathrooms had multiple baths in the same room. We thought nothing of the housemaster talking to us while we were in the showers, but the housemaster's wife... that was inconceivable.

The only episode I can think of is when years later I was in the army in Germany in the early 1990's and went to a public swimming pool. Whilst changing in the large open plan changing room a cleaning woman barged in and started mopping the floor. I was rather startled - though I think I was decent, as it happened - but there were also half a dozen (German) teenage boys getting changed. I was curious to see how they would react to the intrusion of a female so I remember observing their expressions - with one exception they reacted with total unconcern. The exception was one lad who seemed to make a point of dropping his towel and trying to make eye contact with the cleaner whilst completely starkers, in a very brazen way, to signify (I think) his disapproval - a sort of "what are you looking at, then?" attitude. (All wasted effort as she didn't so much as glance at any of us but kept plying her mop).

But Germans are different....

I do entirely agree with you about attempting to cover up making things worse. I once swam in a pool (not at school) where nudity was the rule in the water and I vividly recall a boy of about 13 cupping his genitals in a way which did nothing except attract attention. He didn't seem to be made any differently to anyone else so he achieved nothing except ensure that people noticed him whereas if he hadn't made such an elaborate display no-one would have given him a second thought!

Apologies if this is a bit off topic but many fascinating reminiscences have been raised by many posts here.

Comments by Matthew on 13th July 2014  

Jeff
When females came to watch the house galas, it was fine and no one really minded. The one exception was the odd new boy who tried to cover himself up. In fact, that made it worse. The headmasters wife always handed out the prizes at the end and you had to go and collect any silver ware still butt naked.
We did have corporal punishment but it was the last few years of it - late 70's. Cane and slipped. Gym master always preferred to dish out the gym shoe which was mighty painful and left marks.

Comments by Barney on 11th July 2014  

Monty

I agree with your final comments. In all my years at school & Scouts it was all boys and we did not think about it being odd seeing each other starkers. Like you during PE when we paired up to perform handstands & other exercises we often saw each others equipment & thought nothing of it.

Yes lads were expected to be wearing the mininmum of clothing especially at camp. With regards to impropriety, one was never alone with either a teacher or Scout leader.Thinking about it the Leader was protected from any allegations because the Scout leader always had at least one assiatnt with him. You were always togther as a group. So without thinking about it there was safety in numbers and yes in the context of camp, the one NOT stripping off was thought to be odd for not joining in. I know when we had hot weather at camp,some boys would jump into a river butt naked without thinking. It took me some time but eventually after over coming my shyness,I joined in.
In fact I loved going to camp, and got to enjoy the freedom of being away from my parents so I could join in with the others and experience the fun. I did not have to wear pj's although they were packed in my kit & I could go to bed andsleep in my pants or if I dare like the other boys with nothing on.

Those were days of freedom, unlike the these days when evryone seems afraid to do anything in case they infringe some rule.

Comments by Jeff on 11th July 2014  

Matthew,
Were the boys embarrassed to swim naked in front of female teachers during school galas, especially at the age you mention when the boys were in their teens?
Also, did you have corporal punishment at the school?

Comments by Dave on 10th July 2014  

Hi Barney!

What was your whole PE kit? Were you allowed to wear shirts? What did you wear at scout camps for physical exercises?

Comments by Monty on 10th July 2014  

Michael,

Thanks for your comments. I had always assumed swimming trunks under shorts was a late innovation so it's interesting to hear a different story.

The no-underpants rule with PE shorts was sensible if you were going to take a shower afterwards, but as we never had time for a shower after PE it seemed pointless and, by the time we were in the Upper School, positively embarrassing with the very short semi-transparent nylon white shorts we had to wear. I distinctly remember at one boy stripping his underpants off to put his shorts on for PE right up to the age of 16, when he was really far too old to be doing this with any degree of comfort or decency. But no one thought it odd. And I am sure he was not alone, although I remember him in particular because on one occasion someone slapped his bare arse as a jocular insult, as he was getting changed, which he reacted to with extreme annoyance (as anyone would).

Barney's remarks reminded me how very different things were back then. I was in the scouts from 1975-1979 and there was a culture of casual nudity at our scout camps, encouraged by the scoutmaster (though he didn't participate in it). I should stress that I was unaware of any kind of impropriety which was, I believe, far from anyone's mind - it was just considered natural. Although I wasn't shy, I thought it a bit odd that others like to spend so much time undressed. Looking back it seems ironic to recall that I was teased for NOT going naked with the suggestion that I was being "unmanly" or even "queer" !

It was certainly a different world then. I look back on those times with pleasant nostalgia and I am convinced that neither I nor anyone I knew was treated improperly or abusively. It was all a far cry from the hysteria of the present day, which cannot be good for the psychological health of modern youngsters.

Comments by Barney on 9th July 2014  

I attended a secondary modern school between 1961 & 1966 and during all that time we never wore any suppport for either pe or games. It was not suggested to us. We did not have naked swimming lessons as these were at a public pool. Although only the calss was present. However there were the showers and a pe maaster patrolling the changing rooms during the prepubic years. WE never thought anything strange. I think it was an era when most young men who became teachers had served in the forces possibly only as National Service. They along with our dads were used to the attitude of all fellas together and living & changing in in full view of each other in the huts/barracks where there would be several men together. Also most of my classmates were in one of the local Scout Troops or other organisations and would often go camping there would be up to 6 boys in one large tent so we were used to getting undressed together to say nothing of the primative Latrine toilets which had no privacy.

But times have moved on. Are youngsters now "softer" and more inhibited. Finally, I remember the whole class lining up for the regular Medical Exam. Down to underpants ( briefs of Course) no designer boxers, and dropping for the doctor often a woman. What do others think?

Comments by Andrea on 9th July 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Michael,

Re PE underwear.My ex told me that at the start of his third year at secondary school in the early 1970s their pe teacher sat all the boys down in the changing room and told them that they should start to wear an 'athletic supporter'(jockstrap) for pe and games lessons, or risk 'doing themselves an injury'. For the previous two years they had not been allowed to wear any underwear under their shorts.

He said that most boys did as they were told and he continued to wear one for sports into adulthood.

It's interesting to read that in other schools it wasn't considered necessary at all, or that teachers spoke to certain pupils when they thought it was becoming necessary.

In some cases there was a similar situation in our school with bras. Several of my classmates started to wear them after being 'advised' that it was time by our pe teacher!
He

Comments by michael on 7th July 2014  michaelabbey@rocketmail.com 

Monty
I was very interested to read your full account of your games and pe experiences.
Although I went to school in slightly earlier times, my memory of events is quite similar. In particular with regard to the prohibition of what I took to be our everyday underwear for sports.
In fact nobody ever checked what we were wearing and many boys soon took to wearing swimming trunks as a support. A major difference was that we were never instructed to wear a jock strap, not even by our most unpleasant sports master. Some boys, however, were advised to wear swimming trunks if they were in school teams and seemed to be in need of them!
It was only later when some senior boys took to jock straps instead of swimming trunks - rather than the reverse as you describe.
In any event it is interesting to read your comments on this subject as the majority of commenters had nevr it seems worn any kind of underwear / support which was not the case at my school.
If you or anyone wants to email me I would be pleased.

Comments by Matthew on 5th July 2014  

The swimming was always done naked for lessons either as a class or one to one. We did have galas for years 4 and 5, ie 12 to 14 years olds. If they were house galas they were always naked and some female teachesr watched, especially the sports teachers and house mistresses. The school galas were not done naked as we had to wear black trunks

Comments by david mayne on 5th July 2014  

To dave.yes we were allowed rugby shirt to wear for rugby and football, cross country running was a plain white teeshirt.for the gym class we were told only shorts. no trainers or teeshirt.we had to wear white cotton (rugby style) for outdoors and white nylon shorts for gym class.everyone seemed to wear umbro.As i said before no underwear was allowed.just swim trunks,nothing or some class members began wearing a jockstrap/athletic supporter.As were developing more of the class became aware of chest hair and were embarressed when walking back to the changing rooms passing the girls.

Comments by Monty on 5th July 2014  

An interesting and nostalgic photograph. At my school in the 70's we would have looked exactly like this in PE.

We often played "shirts v skins" tag games. One boy took off his vest and chased the others - when he "tagged" someone, the tagged boy had to take off his vest and join his team. As the numbers of skins increased it became harder and harder to avoid them until the last boy with a vest was caught. At that point, he became the "tagger" and the game began in reverse - but this time everyone he caught put his vest back on until everyone was fully clothed again.

I remember it being quite fun and energetic and I don't recall anyone thinking it odd or uncomfortable that we ran around shirtless.

We didn't shower after PE because there was always pressure to get to the next lesson. One day our regular PE master was replaced by a very sporty South African rugby coach who really put us through our paces. We were all dripping with sweat - much more so than was usually the case. At the end he said "right you'd better get a shower" - but we pointed out we wouldn't have time. (There were showers in the gym but they were rarely used). "Oh - well I'm afraid you'll have to smell for the rest of the day then." And we did - I remember wishing we did have time for a shower - we must have been about 15 then.

This was at an independent school in the English midlands. There were in fact 3 sub-schools on site - Prep, Lower and Upper. I joined the Lower in 1974 and left the Upper in 1981. On my first PE lesson I was getting changed into the (rather small) split-side nylon white shorts when another boy said "you can't wear underpants under your shorts." I was a bit surprised but did what I was told. Funnily enough the no-underpants rule was never enforced by the PE master and I suspect it was a rule in the Prep school. (Most boys, unlike me, had started in the Prep School).

I do remember one boy climbing the rope and all of us standing below watching him - he was quite some way up - and his equipment was clearly visible hanging out of his shorts. I remember feeling rather embarrassed on his behalf but if he or anyone else noticed anything they didn't say. We would have all been about 12 and he hadn't started puberty.

When I went into the Upper School I kept my underpants on beneath my shorts but some of the others I think continued to go commando right up to the end of compulsory PE at 16, though there was I'm sure no rule either way.

It was different for rugby where jock straps were compulsory. We had a rather unpleasant Lower School master who used to check we were wearing jock straps by going along a line of boys and pulling our shorts out from the back to look down them. I told my mother this and she just said "well you'd better make sure you always wear your jock strap!"

Later in the Upper school some boys took to wearing swimming trunks for rugy instead of jock straps but this was technically against school rules and I always wore a jock. I remember a classmate being tackled so severely when we were about 17 that his shorts were ripped to his knees and he was left lying bare-arsed on the grass (like me he was one who never wore trunks only a jock). No-one passed any remarks on this.

Swimming was done in an open air pool adjacent to the gym and we wore trunks, but interestingly this had not always been the case. I remember leafing through the huge bundle of school rules and found one which said "Sixth formers may wear swimming costumes". So clearly at some point trunks had been a sixth form privilege and junior boys swam naked. This was confirmed to me later by a (very old) boy. I don't know when this practice stopped; probably as early as the 1940's. (There were lots of bizarre rules which still persisted - e.g. I remember carrying an umbrella was a sixth form privilege - so it was the first thing I did when I became eligible).

I recently met an elderly couple on holiday who remarked that their three sons had been at Berkhamstead school in the 70's - the last one left in the early 80's - and the wife told me all her sons swam naked in school but the practice was ended before the last one left. Her husband said "I knew they swam naked but I never knew it had stopped before the youngest left." She said "I didn't tell you because it wasn't important."

I asked her what she thought about the practice and she said "I think it was very practical - they didn't have to worry about leaving mouldy kit around". She said neither she nor her boys thought there was anything odd about this. She did add that for swimming galas when spectators were present they did wear trunks.

Apart from Berkhamstead I think compulsory nude swimming for boys also persisted at Newcastle Royal Grammar and Manchester Grammar into the early 1980's. These must have been the last schools in the country to abandon the practice.

Much of the reason was probably conservatism. Our school uniform was originally tweed but when Queen Victoria died it was changed to mourning black. We were still wearing that when I was there! Although I gather this has now changed. I calculate that we were therefore mourning Queen Victoria for nearly 100 years!

Comments by Dave on 5th July 2014  

Hi David Mayne?

Were you allowed to wear shirts for inside and outside PE?

Comments by Ben on 4th July 2014  

Matthew,
When you say that the "swimming was always done naked" was this only for swimming lessons or also when there were swimming competitions or galas in front of mixed spectators?

Was it a boys only school or mixed?

Comments by david mayne on 2nd July 2014  

I visited a normal secondary school in the mid 80's.Upon our first p e lesson we were told that our bodies would develop and that we would have to shower.it was common for the teacher to be in the changing room making sure you all showered and not just run through.We also had to wear white shorts inside and outside.We were told to wear a swim costume or no pants which was awkward when it was a wet rugby lesson.One day the teacher told us we were not allowed to play football as the pitch was frozen and said we were to go swimming instead.those that chose to not bring swim trunks to wear were told to just wear their shorts.The horror on their faces I can remember now.The teacher said yes they were see through but we were all the same and hget on with it.

Comments by Matthew on 30th June 2014  

Familiar with many of the memories. I boarded when i was 11 - 13 but lived near the school. In the summer holidays i was given extra swimming lessons by the schools sports teacher at the school as my mother worked in the office. I went there a few times a week. I always got changed in the cubicles but swimming was always done naked and that was the routine for my lessons. Had to work on strokes outside of pool normally for about ten minutes and then did swimming. He was very good as he would teach actually in the pool, in trunks. He would support you on tumble turns turns. Never thought it was odd and i certainly improved.

Comments by NickK on 14th June 2014  

John Lavendar - thanks, I have sent you an email.

Comments by Mike on 12th June 2014  

Jeff
It was a prep school in the 70, and up to the age of 13. She supervised us in the showers in the boarding houses also as she was a house mistress there. The housemaster used the cane and she used a slipper. She said she just wanted to leave a mark on the backside to remind other boys to behave. Always on a bare backside

Comments by John Lavender on 12th June 2014  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

To NickK

my email is

finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com

if you want to correspond.

Just highlight the address, copy and paste into the 'to'

box on your blank email form and that should do the trick; look forward to corresponding.
John

Comments by Archie on 12th June 2014  

Jim Scotsguy

What was the most trivial thing you were belted for? I was strapped on several occasions for wearing white sports socks with my uniform instead of normal black socks, which was very much the fashion in the 80s. Many of us got our hands and on occasion backsides warmed for doing this.

Comments by NickK on 11th June 2014  

John Lavendar - Many thanks for your reply. All very interesting. I have Yahoo mail and so cannot open your email address but would like to chat if there is some way round this.

JC - interesting about the boxing - we too were made to fight hard and swift retribution followed from the PE master if you didn't give it your all.

Comments by Jeff on 10th June 2014  

Mike,
Up to what age where the boys supervised by the female teacher in the showers?
And what did she spank them with when they misbehaved?

Comments by JC on 9th June 2014  

NickK,

Yep we had boxing too from 11 to 18. All boys were stripped to shorts without exception and made to really go for your opponents. We were kept fighting in the ring until the teacher reckoned we were sweating enough.

Comments by Mike P on 9th June 2014  

At my prep school, our pe/swimming teacher was female and was always present when we showered after pe. We were all boarders and it was fine and was often more preferable than male teachers being present. She was strict but let us have warmish water whereas the male teachers generally forced us to have cold showers. After a while everyone becomes oblivious to it and was just normal. She could however dish out punishments to boys who messed around, generally on a bare backside.

Comments by James on 9th June 2014  

Jeff

When we participated in all boys team events such as cross country running,there were not enough changing areas.Some of us had to use the girls'changing rooms and these were always supervised by female teachers.

Comments by Andy on 9th June 2014  

It was the cane when I was at school across the backside normal.I managed to avoid it but should of had it at least twice!Had detention a few times including P.E. One lad in my classes got the cane for wearing pilmsolls for indoor P.E were not allowed anything on your feet had to be in barefeet.

Comments by Archie on 8th June 2014  

Sam

Yes, we were tawsed on our hands and our bare backsides. Also slippered on the backside.

Comments by Jeff on 8th June 2014  

Anyone had female teachers supervising boys showers after PE?

Comments by NickK on 8th June 2014  

Michael, we had something similar at my all boys grammar school. In the first two years there would be boxing on the occasional lunchtime. Anyone who wanted to box (and I remember a couple of occasions when, similar to your school, boys who had been fighting or had a grudge would be sent into the ring) could do so - stripped to shorts, big heavy gloves, just on gym mats with no ropes! Like you, it was basically a slugging match with no real skills, until one boy was exhausted and conceded defeat.

The thing I most remember were the crowds of boys who crammed into the gym to watch the spectacle and the noise levels which were terrifying! Lord of the Flies stuff! Great days.

Comments by John Lavender on 8th June 2014  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

To NickK

Re: wrestling

Hello nick, thank you for your query.

The Bouts were uncoached; we just were paired-up with a Random Opponent , one bout at a Time, usually towards the end of the Lesson , and usually if we did not have A Killerball game in that Lesson.

We were just told to grapple -the Bouts lasted around 5 minutes if one of us did not Submit. No Wrestling Holds were taught and it was pretty much unregulated.We ended up with some pretty sore places on our Bodies!

We did not get to choose our opponent but to be fair we were usually matched against someone of similar Build/Height so it was not usually a Mis-match.

Perhaps email me direct if you fancy corresponding further - your Call. My email is shown above this post on the logo.

Comments by Michael on 8th June 2014  

Boxing was not part of the curriculum at my old grammar school, but from time to time I did notice there were pairs of boxing gloves hung up in the PE equipment store.

One day they were used by two boys who had been found quarrelling, and who, after being separated, were invited to sort out their differences under proper supervision in the gym, by means of a boxing match.

Neither boy had previously been given any formal instruction in the sport of boxing, so it was basically a slogging match. It lasted only until one boy got too tired to continue, and admitted defeat.

At that point the PE teacher, who had been refereeing the match and ensuring fair play, ruled that his opponent was the winner.

I think that 'elf & safety' regulations would rule out such a means of settling disputes today.

Comments by Sam on 7th June 2014  

In our school pumishment was usally the cane across the hand(not the one you wrote with so you were not stopped from working). This could be very painful but no tears.

The slipper might be administered in PE. Across a tight backside so that the teacker could see that no pants were being worn. Did any schools use the belt,cane or slipper across a bare backside?

When you think about it we suffered the punsihment and dare not tell our parents because we would get another clout from them for getting into trouble in the first place.

Comments by NickK on 7th June 2014  

John Lavendar - interesting post about the PE activities you had. Some of them sound familiar. Was the wrestling something that was properly coached and the moves and holds taught, or was it just get in there and wrestle an opponent? Did you get paired off to do it or was there one match and others watched? And did you ever get to choose your opponent?

Comments by James on 6th June 2014  

Archie


Yes,I was slippered a couple of times in front of girls which was more embarrassing but one of the punishments I frequently received was to be made to spread my legs wide so the strap could access my inner thighs.Brief school uniform shorts and games shorts helped to facilitate this kind of punishment and was the most painful.

Comments by Jim Scotsguy on 5th June 2014  

Archie,

I was a good pupil but even then I had to take the long walk to the front of the class on a few occasions. I did my best to avoid the belt but in those days it was used regularly- some teachers used it in most lessons. I think very few boys would have gone through school without receiving a belting.

Comments by Archie on 5th June 2014  

James

Did you get slippered in front of girls? How were you dressed during the slippering?

Comments by James on 5th June 2014  

Sam

They were white and they were gym shorts but also we wore nylon shorts in our house colours,mine were yellow.

Comments by James on 5th June 2014  

Archie

I was slippered for forgetting my kit,it was done in public and was very embarrassing.

Comments by Sam on 5th June 2014  

James
You mention of nylon shorts.were these white? iI remember a lad in our class wore white nylon shorts for football one day in the rain. They became very see through. He never wore them again.

Why on earth were shorts made in white nylon and why did people buy them because even in the dry pants which were always briefs in the mid sixties could be seen through them

Comments by John Lavender on 5th June 2014  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

At our Grammar-School in the 1960s we had no shirts v. skins unless we were playing Team-games or unless you were one of last 2 Lads to get changed for PE ,in which case you had to remove Tee-shirts and Run-the-Gauntlet as Punishment (some of us were deliberately slow so we could do this and then do PE Shirtless).
If we did Wrestling we were told beforehand to wear Swimming trunks under our Gym-shorts so we knew when we were going to do it, and could just strip-off the Shorts and Shirts when we were starting the Wrestling. We didn't do Wrestling all that often but we looked forward to it as Proper Wrestling was on the TV , usually on Saturday Afternoons.
We didn't do Weight-training but did a lot of stuff with A Medicine-ball, a proper heavy one, probably about 10kg or whatever that was in old money.
We played Killerball , Skins v. Vests , virtually every PE Lesson ,mostly with an ordinary [Leather] Football or Rugby Ball (the game was very like Rugby , only Indoors) but occasionally we were "treated" to playing the Match with the Medicine-ball. Which did wonders for your Upper-body Strength..

Comments by Charlie on 5th June 2014  

Our swimming teacher always found it amusing when we came back after the summer holidays and we all had white marks where our trunks had been. It looked like we were wearing trunks. A few boys including myself one summer managed to get an all over tan when on holiday so the teacher got a bit of a surprise when he saw us withput the normal white marks.

Comments by Jamie on 5th June 2014  

We did wrestling after school once a week. It was optional but i really enjoyed it.I was pretty skinny at about age 12 or 13 and it was really good exercise but hard work. We just wore our white cotton shorts for it, no top or shoes. If it was hot, we would do it outside.

Comments by Archie on 5th June 2014  

James

How were you slippered? Was it done in private or in front of the class?

Comments by Archie on 4th June 2014  

Jim Scotsguy yes I did but I was early to mid 80s. Did you get belted much?

Comments by Jim Scotsguy on 4th June 2014  jimbirnham728@gmail.com 

Archie,
Did you attend a school in Scotland? Your experiences very much mirror mine from the late 60's.

Comments by George on 4th June 2014  

We occasionaly did some wrestling in pe and we had to wear swimming trunks for that instead of shorts. Don't know why but that was the rule. The strange thing was that you were allowed to wear swimming trunks to wrestle in, but not for swimming. That was the 70's for you. After a lessons wrestling, every boy had marks all over their tops where they had been grappled.

Comments by James on 4th June 2014  

Archie

I rarely forgot my kit but it was punishable by the use of the slipper.A supply of shorts was kept in case of this eventuality and these were polyester,nylon satin shorts.

Comments by Archie on 3rd June 2014  

James

What happened to lads who forgot their kit for a mixed gym lesson?

Comments by Archie on 3rd June 2014  

Our gym shorts were black, so it was quite easy for masters to see the waistband of any white briefs sticking out the back which wasn't too unusual an occurrence especially during heavy sessions of circuit training and the like.

They would also occasionally go along a line of boys to pull back their shorts to do a "pants check" if they were being particularly mean!

Comments by Sam on 3rd June 2014  

Archie, I see your question to another writer. My experience was that we only wore white shorts, no pants from age 11 to leaving school at 16. I think white because any underpants which were always briefs would be seen. We were not told about any type of support and so did not know about it or wear jockstraps, relying on tight shorts for any support which sometimes left nothing to the imagination. However, as far as I remember no one thought anything about. It was an all boys school and there was no embarrasment and and then we stripped off and had communal showers at the end of the lesson with no inhibitions.

What were othe peoples experiences?

Comments by James on 3rd June 2014  

Archie

We were not allowed to wear anything under our shorts for mixed gym lessons or any other sporting activities.I simply wore shorts until I left school.

Comments by Archie on 2nd June 2014  

James

When you were in mixed gym class were you allowed to wear anything under your shorts? We weren't allowed to wear anything under ours until we were older when we could wear a jock or speedos under, though many of us wore briefs - we got belted if we got caught! I do remember that some lads didn't wear anything underneath even when they were a bit older notwithstanding they were a bit too big for their gym shorts....

Comments by Lorry on 30th May 2014  

Yes, meant wearing trunks was not on the Agenda. This was the practice at my school and many others. I did not wear trunks from early prep school from age 8 to about 15.
My sisters teased me a bit as they thought it was amusing that they were allowed to wear costumes and we wern't. I got my own back when we all forgot our swimming kit but i could still do my swimming lesson

Comments by mark on 30th May 2014  

Simon, I remember getting teased for having to wear shorts

Comments by Sam on 29th May 2014  

Matthew your comments about whther the Teachers should have also been naked are interesting. Possibly logical but I should think unlikely.

Comments by Simon on 29th May 2014  

Lorry,did you mean "wearing trunks was not on the agenda"?
Why were you teased by your sisters,I was teased by sisters for wearing short trousers?

Comments by James on 28th May 2014  

An awful as I think the treatment of boys in games and swimming in school was up to the 1980s,it may still surprise you to hear that I actually have no problem with naked swimming in principal but it has to be a free choice of any boy to do so.What right does anybody have to force nudity on teenage boys at any level?That goes for showers too.The reasons for naked swimming at my school were that you couldn't wimp out with the excuse that you had forgotten your kit.Having said that many lads still didn't bring a towel and ended up borrowing from a friend or getting dressed damp.Our classes used to involve about 36 boys at times and I would readily admit that maybe 10 of them loved it but they were the minority.I rememeber at the end of one lesson coming out of the pool and getting a loud bawling at for some minor reason by my games teacher.I just cannot begin to explain how utterly small and pathetic it made me feel to be shouted at while naked in front of my fully clothed adult teacher,as a boy of 14,while he was looking me up and down.During a lesson of about 70 minutes the boys would not be in the pool for the whole time and for periods would be required to stand at the edge in line watching in the pool doing various swim tasks.I always remember wandering where to put my hands.To cover or not.When we lined up at the start of the swimming periods at the side of the pool,as our names were ticked off the register,I was struck by how many of my classmates would put their arms behind their backs,maybe somewhat defiantly.We had a female school matron who had seemingly unrestricted access to the pool where boys or girls were swimming.She appeared on numerous occasions and I clearly recall us saying to us boys one day that there wasn't a lad in the 12 years she had worked there who she hadn't seen in his entirety.We all new what that meant.About 3 times a year wee would have the matron check the soles of our bare feet prior to our lesson,when we kneel in a line along a bench.Not one of us liked it.Oh!and guess what,we were ready to swim at the time,so naked.Now why did we have to be naked to have our feet looked at?On numerous occasions rumours circulated that we would be getting our penises checked out by her too.It stayed a rumour,thankfully.The simple fact is that there were a lot of boys who never got used to this behaviour by our school teachers and staff.Boys could be stripped,poked about,looked at etc.as if we had no care about it.But girls,well it was a world of difference.No naked swimming,nice swimwear of their choice,voluntary showering and nice gym kits too.They could wear their trainers in the gym,boys were bare feet and bare chested.Many were mixed so it mattered.The boys were to be "meat" to be checked over.Lots of boys didn't like taking their shirts off and going bare chested but were given no choice.

Comments by Matthew on 28th May 2014  

Sam, in an all-male context, trunks would probably have been considered unnecessary. By the same token, though, the teacher should not have needed them either.

Comments by Lorry on 28th May 2014  

Sam, you have to remember, this was a totally different era. The cane was used daily and i was not aware of parents complaining about this. Mine certainly didn't and in fact if i got the cane at school, i got further beatings at home. Not wearing trunks for swimming was just not even on the agenda. It didn't register as anything unusual as this is what we did. Always got a bit teased by my sisters but this was the norm. I did go to a private school and in the 70's, this was the way it was. Nowdays, i appreciate, we are a million miles away from where we were

Comments by George on 28th May 2014  

Jeff
We did sometimes have females come in to the swimming area. It really depended who they were. If it was one of the sports teachers or medical staff, never a problem. We were oblivious to them. The rule was that no trunks until year 3, ie about 15. Not compulsary and quite a few, especially the boarders stayed nude.
We did have house galas and these were all done nude if you were year 1 or 2. Only school staff watched. Not sure about galas outside school but i assume that trunks were worn

Comments by Sam on 27th May 2014  

I have read so many of the comments about nude swimming. This was something I did not experience. Does anyone have any definitive reason why nude swimming for boys was insisted upon in it seems many schools. Were there any parents that objected?

Could you imagine it happening nowadays assuming swimming lessons are single sex.

Comments by Jeff on 26th May 2014  

George, did you ever have any female teachers or staff present during your nude swimming?
Some of the earlier posters here said that they even had to be nude at swimming galas in front of parents and other mixed spectators.
Were the boys allowed to wear trunks after the 2nd year at school?
Was it a boys only or mixed school?

Comments by Matthew on 26th May 2014  

Thank you to James for your theory and thank you to Lorry for confirming what James suspected.

Comments by Lorry on 26th May 2014  

Matthew, we often had visitors wandering around the school and the teachers generally preferred us in the pool when they came into look at the pool. Also, some female teachers sometimes used the pool after our lessons had finished and they seemed to enjoy watching the last part of our lessons knowing that we were a little self concious.

Comments by James on 26th May 2014  

In reply to Matthew,I'm sure Lorry became accustomed to the conditioning of wearing no trunks during his swimming lessons but probably what caused so much alarm would be if a female entered the swimming pool area.

Comments by Matthew on 25th May 2014  

Sorry for doubting you, Lorry. But, if the school policy was no trunks and it applied to every boy, why were you quick to get into the pool if somebody entered the pool area?

Comments by Lorraine on 25th May 2014  

Yes, I am a boy, or man. Lorraine for some reason was a name used in my family for relations of some ancient uncle. A bot odd i know. Called Lorry now. Sorry for the confusion

Comments by George on 25th May 2014  

At weeekends at my boarding school in the late 70's, all the 1st and 2nd years in the secondary school had to swim naked. It always amused me that we had goggles, flippers, floats, even watches, but no trunks.

Comments by Jamie on 25th May 2014  

Similar to me. The swimming coach at my private secondary school gave private swimming lessons to any first year boys whose parents thought this would be good. We did these on a saturday afternoon and it was normally me and another boy. As nude swimming was the norm, the private lessons were done like this. We were only about 14 and thought nothing of it. As there were only two of us we always got changed next to the pool instead of the changing rooms. A lot of instruction at side of pool. The ooach sometimes got in the pool also, with trunks on, especially if he was teaching things like tumble turns where he helped us get on the right position. It wasn't the thing to be shy in those days

Comments by John on 24th May 2014  

As you can see from 14:00 boys had to be barechested for PE in Netherlands too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adqr4Iu3ibM

Comments by Matthew on 24th May 2014  

Another comment on the posting by "Lorraine". Not wearing trunks was "quite normal and it would have felt odd to have to wear trunks". So why the need to "get into the water pretty quickly" if someone entered the pool area?

Comments by Matthew on 23rd May 2014  

Strange comment from "Lorraine". I thought that was a girl's name.

And a comment to James. How many were there in your class? The process you describe must have taken ages considering the amount of times the doctor and his assistant moved up and down the line.

Comments by Lorraine on 22nd May 2014  

In my first and second year of secondary school in the early 80's, i had extra swimming lessons with the pe teacher. These were often at lunchtime or after school and the agreement was that the pe teacher would see when the pool was free and tell me to meet him there. As we were not allowed to wear trunks, having kit was never an issue. Towells were always hanging around. The initial part of the lesson was standing out of the pool as he would make sure my arm and leg actions were ok. As i had never been allowed to wear trunks at school, this was quite normal and it would have felt odd to have to wear trunks. How things have changed. I would however add that when someone came into the pool area, i got in the water pretty quickly.

Comments by Andrea on 21st May 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Showers were compulsory when I was at secondary school in the 1970s. As they were often cold, we used to spend as little time in there as possible!

At primary school, we didn't have proper changing rooms, let alone showers! In fact come to think of it, as we didn't have a shower at home (just a bath)the first time most of us ever had a shower was when we started secondary school. The only exception was the shower you were supposed to go under before getting in the local swimming pool, but that was different as you went in that in your swimming costume. Most of us didn't bother, but we did have to walk through a sort of foot-bath thing, filled with a horrible smelling chemical!

Comments by Jeff on 21st May 2014  

What about obligatory nude showers after PE?
Some schools had them, some didn't.
We didn't have them in primary, but had them in secondary, although not exactly obligatory.

Comments by James on 19th May 2014  

It's a bit off topic but if you only had to be bare chested during the first part of your school medical you were lucky!

I was at a boys grammar school and had a rather different experience to those described. It also happened to a number of friends who went to schools close by and we had the same doc who was a former military man. We had a medical in the autumn term of each year.

Medicals were done class by class and we had to report to the gym where the doc and two male assistants were waiting. A class list - surnames only (naturally) was read and we were told to get into alphabetical order. There was then an instruction to strip with an additional line that any little boys could keep their underpants on for now but the men in the class should strip completely. Naturally no one wanted to be deemed a 'little boy' and by that stage we were all used to taking off underpants for PE and having a communal shower so everyone stripped.

We were then examined by the doc who basically did one body part at a time, I can't remember the order but it started at the top so may have been mouths and worked down. One of the assistants accompanied the doc along the line making any notes.

Once chests and backs had been checked we had to stand up on benches and we were checked for hernias then our penises were checked to make sure our foreskins retracted - a few lads disappeared and returned trimmed, there were a few each year.

Lastly we were ordered to stand legs well apart and bend forward so our elbows were on our knees. On the next pass our testicles were checked from behind with the hand coming through our legs and we were ordered to cough, that was where the second assistant came in, he stood in front of us keeping our heads well down and making sure we were steady.

That over our buttocks were spread for a visual inspection in the first couple of years, in the third year that did not happen and didn't thereafter. There was an additional pass of the line and buttocks were spread and a finger inserted for a good feel around, again while we were held steady at the front by the orderly.

That over we were allowed to get dressed.

It was how I thought school medicals were done and was amazed to find out they weren't all!

Comments by Peter on 18th May 2014  

In reply to the messages where boys had to wear brief,short pants,my mother did the same but with horribly skin tight lycra shorts,from spring to autumn as soon as I got home there would be a pair of bike shorts laid out on the bed for me to change into,no underpants allowed.
Catalogue time was hell,she with a friend's mum would go through the catalogue and pick every pair of lycra shorts and show us the page and tell us we would be wearing them in a week or two.

Comments by Tom on 15th May 2014  

One thing that puzzled me about the annual medical exam at school was why we always had to be bare-chested throughout the whole procedure. Basically you were called into the medical room one at a time and straight away one of the nurses would check your name and tell you to take off your shirt. However, the first part of the exam just consisted of an eyesight test and I never really understood why I had to strip to the waist to have my sight checked. Then you had to sit down and wait for the boy in front of you to emerge from the doctor's office before you went in for the full examination and stripped down completely. I remember finding it a bit odd at the end of the exam when the doctor told me 'you can get dressed now' - to an extent I could but of course my shirt was still in the next room! When you left the doctor's office there were still a few tests to be done like checking your heartbeat and pulse rate but you remained bare-chested for those as well. It wasn't until everything was completed that you were allowed to put on your shirt and leave.

Comments by Jon on 15th May 2014  

At my school all the boys had to do PE stripped to the waist but as the lessons were single sex the only time the girls saw us bare-chested was at the annual medical when the boys had to queue to see the doctor/nurse while stripped to the waist.

Comments by stephy on 11th May 2014  

at me and my brothers school, the boys were never made to do PE shirtless, not even for shirts and skins. Though I wish they were!! Our only opportunity to see the boys with their shirts off was the yearly medical. We loved every second because while we got to wear our usual pe kit, the boys had to strip off and go barechested halfway through the exam, giving us plenty of time to check out their bare bods :3 These were always supposed to be carried out separately for boys and girls, but I guess the teachers organized it this way to save time, not that im complaining haha!

Comments by mark on 10th May 2014  

This may be true Michael, but shaming overweight children won't make them want to lose weight, it often sparks a weight increase as they will take refuge in food.
Its the parents who fill their kids full of rubbish, therefore thats where the need for education rests.
Yes we have an epidemic of obesity in the UK but the reasons are complex and go far beyond overeating. If it were that simple then it may be relatively easy to fix. But it is not

Comments by Michael on 9th May 2014  

I would have been glad of a bit of extra weight, if only to help insulate myself from the perishing cold of that gym and the icy showers I endured after each session. But, there was little chance of any of us gaining extra fat, with our high activity lifestyles and barely adequate meal portions.

In contrast, today's youngsters spend much of their time slumped in front of a video game, munching high-calorie saturated-fat junk food. It's no wonder the nation is heading towards an obesity crisis.

Comments by mark on 9th May 2014  

I remember when I was a school very few(if any) children were overweight. But it is a very different story today. It can be deeply traumatizing for an overweight child to be made to go bare chested in PE. I guarantee that someone will laugh at them. So there are many more considerations today than many years ago. And this is not about Political Correctness, it is about sensitivity. Laughing at an overweight child in PE etc can actually cause them to eat more as a refuge from their humiliation.

Comments by Jeff on 7th May 2014  

Thanks John Lavender for the video.
I don't see anything wrong in boys doing shirtless PE.
After all that's the way they, and all males, are when swimming in public, both at pools and public beaches.
So what's the big deal, or fuss being made by this Maltomon?
Talk about swimming, I wonder what he would say if nude swimming was still done in schools. He would probably be in hysteric fits.
I wonder if any readers here ever had nude swimming at school, besides that mentioned by Martin I think.
I still find it hard to believe, though it obviously was true in some schools.

Comments by John Lavender on 5th May 2014  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com  http://www.topix.com/forum/education/TRVBQQPF7V57T2G29

I have just seen a Comment on the URL Shown above from sender "MaltaMon" (Dorval , Canada) Thus:
"I like to fantasize about boys going BOTTOMLESS for PE. That's the only kit I'm interested in."

If I were Malatmon,presumably here in the UK. I would change his/her Username. Sharpish. Coincidence can be Dangerous!

Comments by John Lavender on 5th May 2014  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_gb0CUzwX0

Hi I don't know whether if this is a re-post in terms of the URL but there is a good Video at this URL:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_gb0CUzwX0

IMHO there is NO BREACH OF PRIVACY on this Video because
1.the Class were Obviously Aware of the Filming
AND
2.there is No suggestion of any untoward Activity.

This is actually a very informative Video.

Comments by John Lavender on 3rd May 2014  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

To Maltamon a Question.

How is bare-chestedness for Boys in PE a breach of Privacy?
Please explain.

Comments by John on 28th April 2014  

As more of you wrote that some of us are usually more self conscius in our teens than later but I agree the ones who wrote that shirtlessness is really not a big deal. There are many teens who chose to be shirtless doing sport in parks or bike rides...etc in the spring and summer months. I think they wouldn't really care if it were still a usual PE kit. There would be some who would feel shy first but most boys don't really care what they have to wear or not to wear for PE I think. So I don't think that shirtless PE has been declined over they years by the boys requests. They care less than teachers or parents think.
So I can't see the reason of Maltamon's phobia of shirtlessness for sports.

Comments by Maltamon on 27th April 2014  

Comments by Jeff on 27th April 2014  

About the picture.
Does the picture state if it is a primary or secondary school?
By the boys ages it is either a late primary or first year secondary school. Most likely the latter since we had neither a proper gym or PE instructor in primary school.
PE in primary was usually playing games and doing exercises in the school yard under the supervision of our class teacher.
We only had proper gyms with qualified PE instructors/coaches in secondary school.
As for PE uniform I remember it was the same in both schools, just white shorts and white T-shirt. Never remember being shirtless, though this seems to have been common in some schools.
As for undressing and changing into PE gear, this was usually done in class, boys and girls together, in primary school. In secondary we changed in the gym, with separate classes for boys and girls.

About showers, we didn't have any in primary school, and although there were showers in the gym changing room in Secondary I don't remember anyone using them.
I know this was not all the same for all schools, especially private(fee paying) schools where the regime was more strict, with compulsary showers after PE both in Primary and Secondary schools.

School swimming pools were also rare, again mostly existed in private schools. I was not aware that boys had to swim nude in some of these schools, as late as the 70s and 80s, until recently through the Internet.

Comments by Simon on 26th April 2014  

The reason I remained in shorts was slightly obscure to me.At age thirteen I had reached the rite of passage where boys at that age usually reached the transition of being promoted to wearing long trousers but my mother exercised her authority and decided to keep me in shorts for a further two years.This decision continued the effect of being ostracized by my contempories.Fortunately,I wore co-ordinated briefs with my shorts,so I didn't have the embarrassment of my underwear showing.I resigned myself to the fact that it would be a long-standing arrangement to remain in short trousers.

Comments by Pete on 25th April 2014  

The photo is one of nostalgia for me and reminds me of the time when I moved from Junior to Secondary school. Due to boundary changes it meant that the boys I had been class mates with in Junior School would be going to a different school to me be cause I was now in a different catchment area. So I started at at Secondary school as the new kid becuase all the other boys came from a different Junior school and already had their friends with them.

That was not too bad until we came to the first PE lesson when we had to strip down and for me this was with boys I did not know which made me feel uncomfortable at first.

However, over a period I got used to it.

In addition, because I was quite small, dad kept me in grey shorts for some years, which made me feel quite young when I felt I should be growing up. At least I was not still in shorts in the 4th or 5th form such as some previous accounts show. It must have been uncomfortable for these lads as their bodies developed, to be have such constriction caused by tight shorts with presumably with tight briefs underneath.

Comments by Andrew on 25th April 2014  

This brought back many memories.Shorts were compulsory for boys at infant and middle school. At secondary school we had to wear shorts for the first two years, after that long trousers were allowed. But many mothers insisted on their boys wearing shorts until age 16(mine included) The shorts were grey and very short. Teasing could be merciless especially if you had strict parents who smacked your legs and bottoms a lot.
I remember that teachers at infant and middle school smacked boys bare legs frequently. Thus leaving embarrassing red marks or handprints. When I got home with marked legs, my mother would give me a spanking. After that she would quickly have me in my pyjamas ready for an early bedtime. My friends also got the same.
PE was done in the gym bare foot and barechested throughout my school career. Boys did it in their underpants until secondary school and then we wore white shorts without underpants. As I got older i started to feel very exposed dressed like that. I was the tallest in the class as well.

Comments by David on 22nd April 2014  

I thought I was the only one who had a mother who shortened shorts! By the time she was finished the inseam was never more than two inches and sometimes less and they were always very fitting.

I didn't matter whether they were for school or home, I tried them on in the shop to make sure they fitted and as soon as we got home the sewing machine came out and they were altered.

I went to a particularly strict grammar school where shorts were compulsory in the first three years and 'at the parent's discretion' in the fourth and fifth forms. Needless to say I wore them until the end of the fifth form but I was not the only one - there were five of us out of eighty boys in the year.

Only when I started sixth form did I get a pair of longs. I was never allowed jeans and had a formal pair of longs for church and the like but at home shorts were the norm until I went to university.

There was a bit of teasing at school but given that we all wore shorts for three years everyone could remember what it was like.

In the fourth and fifth form shorts were also sometimes used as a sanction and a boy who had been sent to the headmaster and caned might be ordered to wear shorts for as long as a month after the caning making it obvious the boy had been in trouble. At least for the shorts wearers we escaped that humiliation.

It was strange really, for most boys having a striped bottom to show in the changing room and showers was a trophy which we were all proud of (though I for one had a different demeanor while actually being caned!) boys who were put back in shorts hated it more than getting the cane so it was probably a most effective punishment.

Comments by Simon on 21st April 2014  

Martin,thank you for your reply,I saw it as a travesty wearing trim,snug fitting tight short trousers,while going through adolescence,a rule rigidly imposed by my mother,simply for her own gratification.This not only had the effect of a very juvenile appearance but caused considerable ridicule and loss of dignity.

Comments by Martin on 20th April 2014  martin.hill32@hushmail.com 

Simon, you are definatly right, back in the 1970's (and the 1980's as well) girls probably had some input on what they wore but boys certainly didn't. We were 'dressed' by our mums and had to like it or lump it! If your mum decided you were going to school in shorts, that's what you did, although in many primary schools (including mine) shorts were compulsory for all boys, and looking at my old school photos from that era they were extremely short and quite tight fitting, unlike the rather baggy ones from a few years earlier! Some schools also allowed or required boys to wear them at secondary school for the first one or two years, but usually we were in 'longs' by age 13 at the latest. This died out incredibly quickly, changing fashions I guess, but in the 1982 junior school photos from my school (Shears Green) ALL the boys (even the 11 year olds) are wearing little tiny grey shorts, but by 1985 almost all are in long trousers! It may have been a change of headmaster as I think Mr Hale retired about then and that was when the nude swimming lessons died out as well!

Comments by Simon on 19th April 2014  

Sorry about the spelling error,I meant to say,I was not allowed to stand with my hands in my pockets.

Comments by Simon on 19th April 2014  

My mother controlled my clothing and made me wear short pants.Basically my mother was very contolling of my clothes,my looks and my presentation.She would buy my clothes and often choose what I was to wear each day.This was the 1970's and boys'shorts were pretty short and long socks were"in" but my mother was intense about it.I was always dressed in really short shorts.I did not even own a pair of long trousers until I was through my first year at High School aand then it was because the school wrote her several letter explaining that the boys'uniform did not include shorts.I remember being acutely aware of my bare legs as I sat in the school assembly.The only bare boy's legs along lines and lines of grey trousered legs,except of course for girls who wore dresses.It was not until I was fifteen that I was bought a pair of jeans and even then I was rarely allowed to wear them.She would buy shorts,that I think when even when bought were a size too small and even then she would actually use her sewing machine to fold the leg cuffs up to even make them shorter.Think these denim shorts that girls wear these days,well that was me,a boy in the 1970's.When we went shopping she would make me try on several pairs of shorts,they had to be tight across my bottom and make comments about how nice it looked.It's not like any of my clothes were kept long,I was always bought new clothes.She would have the advertising catalogues from the shops and look through them and then we would go on a shopping expedition but again the clothes had to be tight fitting.I would have long socks held up by elastic garters to just below my knees.The other thing she would do is sew up all but one of my pockets,as I was not allowed to stant with my hands in my pockets.She used to constantly comment on how nice I looked and how bad the other kids looked.If I pointed out how every one else was wearing looser clothing she would snap at me or make some derisive comment or say"well we are not everyone else".

Comments by Martin on 19th April 2014  martin.hill32@hushmail.com 

In reply to Laura: I was being slightly sarcastic in my 'H&S' comments, I realise full well that the use of H&S as an excuse is more often based on lazyness or over-enthusiastic interpretation than actual fact!!! I also appreciate that the VAST majority of teachers give 110% (or possibly slightly more) to the job, the only ones who don't of course, are maths teachers for whome the idea of giving 110% is a mathematical anathema (just a joke, people!) I am also impressed that you have maintained dress standards for PE in your school and that the showers have not been consigned to an equipment storage area as has happened in so many schools! I suspect though that you maybe teach at either a Private fee paying school, or a highly sought-after secondary who can use their status as 'leverage' to persuade parents to make sure their children conform! I do HOPE that this is just me being cynical and that you can tell me I am wrong....

Comments by Laura on 17th April 2014  lcclinton4@yahoo.co.uk 

Someone recently asked about dealing with health and safety in PE today. I teach at a girls' school, and I do have to spend some time doing risk assessments. These are not too onerous though, and do help to make one think about un-necessary risks. H&S does not stop us doing anything I want to do, and this includes rope climbing to the ceiling, use of wall-bars and vaulting equipment. H&S can be used by some lazy teachers as an excuse not to teach proper PE!

Questions were also asked about clothing. While I know there are far to many schools allowing, or even insisting on tracksuits and teeshirts, plently still insist on proper kit. My own girls wear white sleeveless leotards indoors for gymnastics, and gym knickers and vests for other indoor lessons, atletics and cross country. Indoors they always go barefoot.

We also still have communal showers, a grand total of eight shower heads for a whole class!

Comments by Michael on 16th April 2014  

I could never see the point of most of the activities in my old Grammar School gym, which was similar to that shown in the picture.

For example, not being called "Tarzan", I could never understand the purpose of rope climbing, with its attendant risks.

Even if a thick coir mat was placed under the rope, it would have done little to break the impact of anyone falling from high up, close to the lofty ceiling.

In all my adult life, I have never needed to climb a rope, so the risks I took in that gym, could hardly be justified as providing useful experience for later life.

I could say the same for the vaulting horse pictured, which seemed then as now, to be nothing more than a short cut to getting a broken neck.

The only thing which got me to use these instruments of torture, among others, was my stark fear of the gym teacher. I was always more afraid of him, than any of the gym equipment. The greater fear overcame the lesser, so despite my grave misgivings, I found myself climbing ropes and using the vaulting horse; miraculously (and no thanks to the teacher), without serious injury.

It was not a pleasant experience overall, looking back.

Comments by pat on 16th April 2014  peachhouse641@yahoo.co.uk 

Comments by Martin on 16th April 2014  martin.hill32@hushmail.com 

In answer to Kev, My Primary and Secondary schools were all lucky enough to have separate gym's rather than using the school hall, however my memory is that they were all rather smaller than the one shown on the photo. The one at Primary was a fairly modern ground floor building, probably post war and was compact but quite nice, it had full width full height windows on both walls so it was also very light and airy, although the window frames were metal and could be slightly draughty in winter although the gym was kept nice and warm. At Primary, as I have stated before boys and girls had lessons together and we all wore the same, nothing but white shorts (or blue knickers for girls) neither boys NOR girls wore tops and we all went barefoot in the gym, and showering naked was mandatory for everyone after the lesson! We were very lucky, the school had (still has) it's own indoor swimming pool, and until the mid 1980's we were (apparently) the only 'County' Primary school in Britain to have mixed nude swimming lessons! (but only with our parents permission.)
At Grammar school the gym was older and similar in size, and again had full height windows down both sides behind the wall bars. Lessons there were boys only, and again we wore only white shorts and had to shower after the lesson. Any outdoor sports or athletics were done with white t-shirts, shorts and PE shoes, except for 'Games' which were done in the proper kit! You are correct about H&S, there wasn't any!!! Generally though we very rarely had all the equipment out at once as seen in the photo, I think the picture is rather 'staged', usually we would all queue up and use one piece of apparatus at a time, closely supervised by the teacher. In all the time I was at school I remember one first-year boy breaking both wrists when he fell off the wall bars, a minor concussion from 'missing' a vaulting horse and a couple of broken collar bones, none of them were in my class though, our class must have been very cautious (or just lucky!)

Comments by Kev on 12th April 2014  

Looking at the picture, I see that it is dated 1959. I attended secondary modern in the mid60's and our P E was in a hall similar to this one. In fact ours was the main school hall used for assemblies and all general school gatherings with the climbing rpoes and frames being locked to the side walls when out of use.
Just like these lads we used the equipment with very little thought of safety. There was block wooden floor and possibly a few mats to cushion any falls. However, I do not remember any accidents.

what of today. I suppose every lesson is preceded by a Risk Assesment and the rules for health & safety must be a nightmare.

As for clothing I suppose it is all track suits And T shirts and I should think that the communal showers of yesteryear are long gone. Does any one have any info on how

P E is nowadays?

Comments by Pat on 11th April 2014  

I remember well these type of PE lessons in the 60's. Does any one know what is included in PE these days or is it mainly games. which we had as a seperate period in the timetable. On looking at hte phot I am sure our shorts were quite a bit shorter and tighter and there was no set uniform. Boys wore white, black or navy blue. What is worn nowadays?

Comments by scotty on 9th April 2014  

Do any of you fellows out therer remember wearing the string briefs & singlets and can they still be bought

Comments by Gordon on 6th April 2014  

Interesting comment from Ron. I was at grammar school from 1959 to 1965. For the first two years there I was in short trousers. I used to wear interlock trunks all my time at school, and I used to tuck my vest and shirt tail into my underpants. I found that the underpants stayed up better that way. I always seemed to suffer from loose elastic, and looking back I think it was because Mum used to wash all the whites by boiling them, and this weakened the elastic. Once in the summer of my second year at grammar school, I must have been 13 then, changing after swimming I decided (can't remember why)not to tuck my vest and shirt into my underpants. When I started to walk home I could feel my pants slipping down and I think I realised they must be showing below my shorts, but there was nothing much I could do about it. Just before I got home I ran into four boys a bit older than me who jeered me because of my grammar school uniform. They were just walking away when one of them shouted "Your knickers are showing", then another one of them ran up behind me, caught hold of the legs of my trunks and pulled them down hard. As you can imagine this caused them great amusement. I didn't know what to do, I ended up running home as fast as I could with about six inches of my underpants dangling down below both legs of my short trousers. It must have been a hilarious sight!

Comments by Ron on 2nd April 2014  

When I moved up to my Secondary School I knew that it had a policy of shorts for boys until age 13, so was prepared for the indignity, and accepted it as all my classmates were in a similar position (1960). However. I did not realise that I was going to receive a detention for allowing my underpants to drop below my shorts - well actually I didn't allow them, the elastic was not up to much and they generally worked down as the day went on. Arriving home late and being quizzed by my older brother as to the reason, he said he used to tuck both his vest and his shirt into his trunks, so that on the approach of a master, he could easily hike them up so they did not hang below his shorts. This seemed a good idea, so the following day I did just that, only to receive another detention, not for having my underpants showing below my shorts, but because, having been pulled up, were showing above my shorts! Arriving late for tea at my Grandparents, I again explained the situation. My Granddad smiled and later produced a pair of braces, suggesting that I clip both my shorts and underpants into them. ( He explained that when h was a lad, underpants did not have elastic waistbands, so they were kept up along with his trousers by this method).

Next day, with my trunks carefully clipped up with my shorts, so they neither showed above or below, I took a few jibes from my mates about my braces, but all in good part! The problem arose when i was informed that if I wanted to wear braces they should not show (ie keep my blazer on), and they should be maroon to match the uniform, although why this was necessary if they were not to be seen has alluded me to this day!) Unfortunately, my Grandad's braces were blue/grey striped, so I go another detention!

Strangely, my grandsons constantly have their underpants showing above their school flannels today and nobody gives a hoot! How things have changed!

Comments by Phil on 29th March 2014  porterhouse65@hushmail.com 

Like some of the previous posts, I had to change schools when we moved due to my dad getting promotion, I was 12 and happy in my C Of E Secondary school where every boy my age wore long trousers, this was 1961.

Imagine my horror when told that the school I was going to had a "shorts" policy to age 14 and I had almost two years to be in shorts, I was taken to the only store in town that did the school uniform and sorted out with shorts and shirts and socks, we were allowed to wear short or long socks, but they had to be grey, I opted for short ones, but hurriedly went into long ones during my first winter.

I remember my mum having me stand in my underwear in the changing cubicle in the store and have my underpants measured to see if they would show below my shorts, luckily they didn't, but later on in school life she bought me some new underpants and they did.

I was glad when I reached 14 and ditched the shorts, although I did wear casual shorts at home.

Comments by Steve on 28th March 2014  

Like many other on this thread, I was condemned to wear short grey flannels for the first two years at Grammar School in the 1960s (until age 13), and how I longed to be allowed long pants! Because I was skinny, and didn't put on any weight these shorts seemed to last for ages, despite my growing taller, and inevitably meant it was virtually impossible to keep my underpants from showing below. Today's saggers would have been proud!

Comments by James on 27th March 2014  

At my primary school that I attended it was customary for all boys to wear short trousers.I was certainly no exception to this custom and some boys even wore them at secondary school.
My parents attached great importance to the 11 plus and I studied hard to pass so I could attend the local grammar school where boys wore long trousers.Alas!I failed and I would have to attend the secondary school.
My parents were very disappointed and after a short time I was taken to the school outfitters to buy my new uniform.
I was looking forward to trying on my first pair of long trousers but I was devastated when I was told to try on shorts instead.Realising there was no alternative,I slipped my new shorts on and we left for home.I realised I was to be kept in shorts for an idefinate time and my tantrums and periods of sulking took no effect on my parents.I was to spend my schooldays in shorts and I had to accept it.

Comments by Richards on 25th March 2014  

When I was 12 (in 1975), and having just finished my first year at the state grammar school in the town where we lived in Lincolnshire, my father took up a three year posting as an agricultural adviser in Malawi. It was decided that I would attend a local boarding prep school for one year (well, my parents decided - I had no say in the matter) with a view to moving to a nearby public school afterwards. As soon as I knew what was happening I went into a major sulk, as I enjoyed my grammar school and I knew that the prep school was much stricter about dress and appearance than the grammar school. My appeals to be allowed to stay at the grammar school, and live with grandparents nearby, fell on deaf ears. So it was that, at the start of September 1975 I was dropped off at my new school, looking rather different to how I had the previous year. I was now short trousered and short haired, a real embarassment for a nearly 13 year odl lad in the mid 70s.

Comments by James on 18th March 2014  

Hi folks,
Certainly an unusual thread and reminds me how different attitudes were in the 1970s and 1980s when I was growing up.
My recollections are vague, but I do remember doing PE in only vest and pants at primary school. I also remember "shirts" and "skins" football matches in the secondary school.
I can remember the odd sunday bike ride in the early 80s when I wore only swimming trunks, because it was so hot.
What inspired me to do that was seeing grown men openly doing things like washing cars, mowing lawns or painting the outside of the house in only pants or trunks. Once saw a group of young men playing football in the park: all were shirtless and one wore a speedo in place of shorts.
Hard to believe now.
I can even remember a coach trip from Torquay to Dartmoor where a man remained shirtless all day and wore only grey Farah slacks.

Comments by Alan on 13th March 2014  

Having read some of the comments, I well remember my time at school and in the gym in particular, like the boys in the picture I was bare chested and just wearing shorts and white plimsolls along with the other boys in my class.

Ten minutes of warm up exercises, running on the spot and press ups etc, then the vaulting horse and parallel bars, we even had a trampoline and rings to use. Two PE teachers in attendance to make sure there were no slackers, woe betide you if you did, it was three on the backside with a plimsoll and extra time in the gym after school.

Scrabbling to get the best of the hot water in the showers after a heavy gym session, it always seemed to run out a few minutes into your shower,then dress in double quick time, grey shorts, white shirts, school ties properly tied and not loose like today's schoolboys, no fancy trainers, black shined shoes were the order, as regards underwear it was as others have stated the ubiquitous white trunk underpants, not to be seen below the hem of the school shorts leg,my headmaster would turn in his grave to see that boys today show their underpants above the waistband of their trousers at times !! If new underpants were bought for me, my mum used to sew up the hem so they didn't show, we were allowed to wear a vest in winter, but other wise that was it.

Grey long socks with a blue stripe and woe betide that they fell down,that was a yellow mark, three marks and it was the plimsoll.
Like most I had garters that left a mark on your leg, do any guys remember the snake belt? well that was the one we had to have.

At 13 we could graduate to long trousers, but my family along with a lot in those days weren't flush with money so I still wore shorts as they still fit me, I didn't get a growth spurt until well into my 14th year.

I enjoyed PE and games, not being all that academic I was more of a "hands on" boy and preferred woodwork and metalwork, I still have a metal coat rack I made and a wooden table lamp I made on a lathe.

Great times, I wonder if today's schoolboys will have fond memories of their schooldays? One doubts it.

Comments by Pete on 12th March 2014  

It is interesting reading about old time PE & it brings back memories. Also I am intrigued how fashion goes round in circles. We see pictures of footballers many years ago wearing Long shorts. Then in the 196o's era it han changed to very short shorts thinking of those worn during 1966 World Cup & now we see the footballers of today wearing longer shorts. The same with the pants I always wanted to wear briefs not the trunks and in time these were the fashion. However, now the trend over the past few years has returned to wering Boxer style pants. Will the circle start again & we return to short shorts and Briefs/slips.

Comments by James on 11th March 2014  

How I loved gym sessions like this as a boy at school They were such great fun all the time being pushed to try harder and do just that bit more. We used to start them full of energy and almost crawl out of the gym at the end for the icy cold shower that was waiting and after that somehow we got our energy back to carry on with the day. Other gym activity included circuits, killer ball, pirates and crab running. Outside there was rugby, cross country and cricket in the summer. I wish I could do it all again!

Discipline was strict, it had to be in the gym and on the field. There was a sign by the exit to the rugby field which read card = cane, yellow = four, red = eight and it was enforced for any unsportsman like behaviour. Most lads never did it and few did it more than once. A large plimsol was also in use for more minor things like being caught wearing underpants or not getting properly under the (icy) showers.

Comments by Martin on 6th March 2014  

What memories this thread has brought back! Like many, I was compelled to wear short grey flannel trousers for the first two years at Grammar School, which I found both embarrassing and cold. This was 1960, and many of my former mates who went to Secondary Modern school wore long trousers straight away, which made the situation worse.

George C, how I recall those creamy white interlock trunk underpants. They were very comfortable, but were quite long, and had poor elastic, which meant that even though my shorts were not that short, they would often show below them, however low I let my shorts slip. The girls gave me hell!

It was a great relief to finally get into long trousers (age 13), although we were not allowed to wear a belt to keep them up. Most boys had to wear them loose (to allow room for growth I presume), which meant braces were absolutely essential. I still remember getting detentions for not having the correct colour (maroon to match the uniform), and always felt uneasy at showing them in public, although it was the norm. Ironically, fashion seems to have come full circle, with many pop stars wearing braces in public, and footballers showing long drawers below their shorts.

Comments by James on 5th March 2014  

Like John and myself,I'm sure many boys had to face up to the galling prospect of wearing inordinately,brief short trousers,well up to the age of adolescence and beyond.To add to the wearers'discomfort,the shorts were co-ordinated with long knee stockings,tightly gartered below the knee which always left deep indentations in my legs.I realised at the time,I would have to accept the dogma and stigma of being so inappropriately dressed in such a ridiculous and anachronistic way but I'm sure it was done mainly for aeshetic reasons.

Comments by John on 21st February 2014  johnno1546@live.co.uk 

When I started at secondary school in 1959 I was in short trousers, there was a uniform policy which stated that boys to age 13 wore shorts, I was in a children's home and they provided all my clothes, some were hand me downs, but my school uniform was new, PE was done just in shorts in the gym, plimsolls worn outside only and a vest, no underwear to be worn, swimming lessons done in the nude, it was an all boys secondary school and a lot bigger than the primary school I had been in up to 11.

If anyone wants more information or to discuss recollections of school email me at johnno1546@live.co.uk

Comments by George C on 15th February 2014  

I was at a school in the early 1960's which had a uniform policy, but it allowed either long or short trousers, so it was up to parents when you went into long trousers. At that time it was quite normal for boys to stay in short trousers until 13, or sometimes older. I myself did not get my first pair of long trousers until after my 14th birthday. We were not self-conscious about wearing short trousers because so many other boys did. And we were not cold in the winter. My school short trousers (grey, terrylene) came down to about one or two inches above my knee. Like all the other boys in short trousers, I wore long grey socks. I think they were woollen, they certainly must have had a high wool content. They kept the legs nice and warm, but had one drawback. They were held up by garters. My mother made mine from black elastic. Garters had to be just the right amount of tightness. If a garter was too slack, the sock would fall down. If it was too tight, it acted like a tourniquet. Also in the winter most of us wore a gaberdine raincoat which would come down below our knees.

In the summer we would wear casual shorts, though not, of course, to school. I can remember having some khaki and some of a blue cotton material. Only after going into long trousers and jeans did I appreciate the freedom which summer shorts gave. They were lighter and shorter than my school short trousers which was good for the summer, but it could give a problem with underwear. Some of us wore underpants similar to modern boxer shorts, but a little longer and baggier, and they were made of a softer and slightly heavier material than boxers. They were called interlock trunks and they were always white. They were very comfortable, but while they remained safely out of sight underneath my school trousers that was not always the case when I wore summer shorts. An ill-advised hitch of the shorts, or loose underpant elastic, would usually result in a band of white appearing below the hem of my shorts. During the summer months, on the estate where I lived I was an embarrassingly easy target for gaggles of girls who would chant
"London is in England, Paris is in France,
We can see George's underpants."

On the subject of blazers, although my school's uniform policy required a blazer with the school badge on it, there was an option to buy a plain blazer. Mum then sewed a badge, available from the school outfitters, onto the blazer. Most of us did this. You could spot the son of affluent parents. He would be the one wearing the "proper" school blazer.

Comments by Christopher Hall on 10th February 2014  

I also agree with the comments ambrose made below about inequality for teachers, he is absolutely right. I am sure that male teachers would NEVER be allowed to supervise changing rooms with girls in them, but (at least at primary school level) it would seem acceptable for female teachers to supervise the boys. It certainly USED to be like that, I doubt it is allowed these days! The only exception I have heard about is the Shears Green primary school mentioned lower down the thread, where it appears the (male) head teacher used to supervise the nude swimming lessons, where boys and girls of all ages used to swim together naked several times a week! It seems from the huge number of comments and memories on their facebook page that he also insisted on the children doing mixed PE and dancing lessons wearing nothing but gym shorts, both boys AND girls going completely topless even when they were 11 year old. I suspect that these days there would be law suits flying around very quickly!

Comments by James on 10th February 2014  

Unlike Michael,where short trousers were compulsory up to the third year at his school,it was at the whim of my parents that imposed a strict rule of enforced wearing of short pants.The difference being that at his school shorts were quite obiquitous,where at my school I was the only pupil in my class still wearing shorts.

Comments by Christopher Hall on 9th February 2014  

I know exactly what Michael means, the Grammar school blazers were always much more ornate (and therefore much more expensive) than the ones worn by boys at the Secondary Moderns, then there was the sports kit. So many fancy sports to buy kit for all having to be bought at the schools 'official' shop, even white gym shorts had to be the 'approved' brand! There has been some talk on here of some schools not allowing swimwear, I am sure mothers were really impressed at the amount of money that saved by not having to buy any swimming trunks? Oh, but wait, you would still need trunks in case you went to any swimming competitions and guess what, they would have to be from the approved suppliers and probably with the school badge embroided in!
At least the boys at Secondary Modern school could wear 'generic' blazers, sports and swimming kit, bought at a fraction of the price, I am sure they enjoyed their sports and activities just as much as we did!

Comments by Michael on 9th February 2014  

My parents were proud to have me attend the town's grammar school, and they would never have thought to object to, or even query, the rules regarding uniform. Because of this the (rather old-fashioned - even for those days) uniform list was followed in every detail, and one of the items stated that all boys should wear regulation grey short trousers for at least their first two years at the school.

This meant there was no argument or even debate on the subject, at least in my home. In any case my parents had far more important matters to consider, not least of which was affording all of the uniform on the list.

The blazer alone was a significant amount of money in the early 1960s, so any economies which could be made on other items, were very welcome indeed. In this light, short trousers made good financial sense as well as complying with the school's regulations.

On the other hand my younger brother 'failed' the 11+ and attended a secondary modern school, which had 'optional' uniform, allowing him to wear long trousers from age 11.

Accordingly I found myself in the strange situation of wearing shorts to school until I was nearly 14, at the same time as he was wearing long trousers. To my dismay, this sometimes led to people assuming I was his younger, not his older, brother.

Comments by James on 9th February 2014  

I do agree with Christopher Hall that we had "NO real input"on what we wore for games and physical activities.As you say the school dictated what we wore and it would have been futile to object as possible retributions would follow.
Before I attended my new secondary school the list for my uniform arrived and my Mum noticed,with glee that I could stay in short trousers for another four years.No amounnt of persuading or cajoling would make her change her mind.

Comments by Christopher Hall on 9th February 2014  

To quote James "the option for boys to wear short trousers was for the parents not for the pupil"!
You are not wrong there! When I was at school we had absolutely NO real input about what we wanted to wear, parents (well Mums) told you what you were going to wear to go to school, teachers told you what (if anything) you were going to wear for games, pe, showers, swimming etc. Even parents had no say once you were at school, everything was flagged up as 'school rules' so there was no discussion and no dissent allowed! How things have changed!

Comments by Christopher Hall on 8th February 2014  

Hi Roy,
Evidently you are a little older than me, but I think it depended on the school. As I said, at my boys only Grammar school, MOST boys started year 8 (what used to be called second year) in shorts, including me. However the number gradually dwindled during the year and I think the last die-hards were in longs by the start of year 9. At the Secondary Modern school however, all the boys wore long trousers, even the year 7 'first years'! And yes, we were a little bit jealous, especially when we got teased for wearing shorts by boys who were two years younger than us!

Comments by James on 8th February 2014  

It was no fun wearing shorts at secondary school espiacially as only four boys were still in shorts out of 250 boys and the teasing was almost continuous and unmerciful.
To clear up the misunderstanding,the option for boys to wear short trousers was for the parents not for the pupil,I hated wearing them and found them humiliating and bitterly cold in the winter.
As I had a 26 inch waist I could be kitted out in shorts which were more suitable for a more junior boy which had the desired effect.When standing straight my finger tips touched the hem of my shorts which left an inseam of one inch.When told to 'wrap up warm' a waist length anorak was worn which of course left my legs bare and open to the elements.
t

Comments by Roy on 8th February 2014  

I agree with Christopher Hall in that when I was at school in the early 1960's all boys in what is now Year 8 would be wearing long trousers.

Comments by Christopher Hall on 8th February 2014  

I didn't realise it was an option, I thought you meant they all had to wear shorts! I think it was brave to wear them to leaving age!
I went into 'longs' in my second year at Grammar school, it got really cold probably about February and as a thirteen year old I pestered my mum into letting me have long trousers although some brave souls hung on until the end of the second year. I do remember that the 'official' uniform shorts we wore at grammar school were quite a bit longer than the ones I had worn at Primary school, but they were still fairly short! There was some rule that the leg of your shorts had to be at least one hand width below the bottom of your blazer, but I don't remember any teachers actually checking it though! Also, long grey socks and black shoes with shorts, except in summer when we could wear short socks and 'proper' sandals, but we weren't allowed to wear sandals if we wore long trousers! So many pointless rules!

Comments by James on 8th February 2014  

In reply to Christopher Hall,the uniform requirement was shorts optional,with no upper age limit.One boy wore shorts right up to leaving age,one up to his second year,myself and another boy up to their third year.

Comments by Christopher Hall on 8th February 2014  

I really dont buy James idea of boys at secondary schools wearing shorts to leaving age, I was at Grammar school in the late 1970s and while the first-year boys (what would now be called year 7) all had to wear shorts, and many of the boys in the second year also wore them, however nobody was in shorts by the time we were 14. Frankly, I cant see boys at ANY school being prepared to wear shorts at that age as most people walked home from school in those days and kids from other schools would tease them to death for wearing shorts!
And the one inch leg length that James mentioned, junior school boys certainly wore very tiny shorts that barely covered their underwear, but I dont think 12 and 13 year old boys at any secondary school would have been prepared to wear them that small!

Comments by Jools on 7th February 2014  

Debbie, I am grinning at the idea of all those little boys running around the campsite every evening wearing nothing but pyjama jackets and with all their bottoms and willies visible, it would have been quite amusing to watch but of course in those days I suppose there was no girls in the cubs, except for leaders of course. I can't help wondering if your brother (or any of the boys) were embarrased by having to go with no pants on in front of the leaders, especially if one of them was his teacher.
An intersting thread, and all this has come up from someone saying that the boys and girls at a primary school in Kent all used to swim together completely naked in their school swimming lessons!
I see you have put your email address, can I mail you direct to chat?

Comments by Debbie on 7th February 2014  debbie.richards@hush.com 

No problem Jools
It was about 1984 as he was born in 1974.
Yes the Cub leaders were female, there was three of them as far as I can remember and the main one, the Akela was a teacher at his school. My mum and dad knew they went naked because when they were going to camp they all had to get a letter signed by mums or dads to allow them to go, it always had a kit list on it and I am sure the kit list said they should only take a pyjama top to wear in bed. I remember mum packing his kit for camp and asking him if he was going to bother with swimming trunks, he took them with him but I don't suppose he wore them!

Comments by James on 7th February 2014  

Hi Jools,

I'm from the Midlands,yes I did wear boxers but went on to wear Y fronts when I went on to Secondary Modern School where shorts were optional right up to leaving age.
My parents chose shorts as it was a family tradition.
The fashion,as you say was for shorts to be very brief as it seemed pointless to wear knee length shorts with stockings.

Comments by Jools on 7th February 2014  

Hi again Debbie, thanks for telling us all that information about what your brother wore at cubs, how long ago was that?
I am sure you said the cub leader was female, I am still wondering if your parents knew knew he was going naked at camp and what they thought about it.

Comments by Jools on 7th February 2014  

James. I am not sure where you are from, but surely in the 70's little boys all wore Y front undies rather than boxers? I don't think those would have shown below your shorts. I do agree though that in those days boys shorts did get very short indeed, and they all seemed to wear them at junior school and sometimes even after a they started secondary school. As a girl, I remember our skirts were getting longer in those days!

Comments by ambrose on 6th February 2014  

Dave, the point I was making was the inequality that existed so far as staff were concerned. The men were not allowed to supervise girls changing areas, but it was perfectly legal for the ladies to walk in on adolescent boys when they were undressed!

I, and several other non PE specialist male teachers refused to take mixed sports clubs during lunchtimes and after school since we couldn't control what went on in the girls changing rooms: and the girls were just as bad as the boys at bullying and horseplay if there was no one supervising them!

Comments by Debbie on 6th February 2014  debbie.richards@hush.com 

I asked my brother about this, (he's not really 'little' any more), he said that at cub meetings they sometimes took their tops off when they were playing games but they always kept their shorts on, but he said that when they were at camp they were always sent to wash and get ready for bed after flagdown and before they had their supper, he said there was a 'sort of' pack rule that they could only wear a pyjama top or a t-shirt, and Akela always encouraged them not to wear any pyjama pants when they were at camp, while vests, underpants and socks were also not allowed. He said that once they has got undressed and had supper they had an hour or two of playtime before going to bed, he said that the younger boys went to bed earlier but the older boys could play on the field for a lot longer before they had to get into bed.
Normally during the day they wore normal camp stuff like t-shirts and shorts but when they were playing in or near the river they could wear trunks if they wanted to, although they often went in with nothing on.

Comments by James on 6th February 2014  

Hi Jools

I used to wear short pants to school and cubs and later scouts usually without underwear mainly because shorts were much briefer in the seventies with an inseam of about an inch.Any underwear would have shown under my shorts.

James

Comments by Jools on 5th February 2014  

LOL Debbie!
I looked down and found your older message. I like the idea of the cubs only wearing pajama jackets in bed, that's so much more comfortable. You also said "I think there was some sort of old pack tradition that they didn't wear pants or underpants at camp." Did they have to go like that all the time at camp? I think its a great idea, did the leader ever get them to take their tops off and go completely naked? Little boys always look so cute when they are nude ;-)
I just wonder how the leader persuaded the boys to run around at camp without any pants on, and of course how they persuaded the boys parents to let them, certainly wouldnt be allowed now!

Comments by Dave on 5th February 2014  

Ambrose, I am surprised that female staff were allowed to supervise the boys toilets and changing facilities at the secondary school where you worked. Although this was common in many primary schools, including mine, it never happened at my secondary school that I can recall. But I suppose it could have happened in some other secondary schools.
As for PE it was also normal to change in front of the class teacher, be they male or female, in primary school. We changed for PE in just white T-shirt and shorts, both boys and girls. But there definitely were some other primary schools who did PE in just underpants, as some other posters recall.
It was different in secondary school of course, but there could have been exceptions, especially in private schools, that is non-state schools.
It was the same with nude swimming I suppose, where it was more likely for junior boys to have female teachers supervising and teaching, but less likely with older boys.

Comments by Debbie on 4th February 2014  

Hi Jools, I was just having a look back at this page and saw your question. I put another message longer ago which explains it, but my brother wore grey shorts at cub meetings like all the other boys but I think there was some sort of old pack tradition that they didn't wear pants or underpants at camp. I know they weren't allowed to wear them at bedtime and they were only allowed to wear a pyjama jacket, but I have no idea why that was. Didn't seem to bother him though.

Comments by Andrea on 4th February 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

There was no nude swimming when I was at primary school in the 1960s. The boys wore swimming trunks and we wore one piece bathing costumes.

For pe. I generally a pe skirt or shorts and a T shirt. As there were no changing rooms we had to change in our classroom along with the boys, so by the final year I got quite adept at putting on my pe kit before removing my school skirt! I was still flat chested when I left primary school so changing into the T shirt wasn't an issue (I generally wore a vest anyway), but a few of more more 'developed' classmates were allowed to go to the toilets to change.

Secondary pe came as a bit of a shock at first, our pe kit was gym knickers and a T shirt and showers were compulsory!

Comments by ambrose on 3rd February 2014  

Iain's memories show one of the inequities of teaching during the 60's/70's/80's.

At the Midlands state secondary/comprehensive where I worked, female staff were allowed access to supervise the boys toilets and changing facilities, but male staff were prohibited from the girls facilities.

One notable occasion proved the point when a female PE teacher went into the boys shower room to quell an argument that had developed into a brawl. (The male member of staff had been called away to attend to an injured boy.) There was alarm and horror as the mostly naked 15 year old boys saw who had entered the room and several complained to the Headmaster of their embarrassment at the female intrusion. However, the Head was forced to support his female teacher since according to the regulations at the time she had not infringed any rules.

It was more usual for the ladies to knock and ask if anyone was changing if they had to enter the room to use the only telephone in the sports block!

Comments by Jools on 3rd February 2014  

Question for Debbie, you said your little brother didnt wear any pants at cubs? It seems a bit strange that, boys not wearing pants at cubs, were they allowed to wear their underpants? What was the reason for it?

Comments by Jools on 3rd February 2014  

I am amazed at all these stories of girls and boys doing naked mixed swimming lessons at school and of all doing pe wearing nothing but a pair of shorts. It was nothing like that at MY junior school but I wish it had been, Im a girl but I would have LOVED to go topless or nude at school, even with boys there!

Comments by Iain on 1st February 2014  

It was an indoor pool and is ((as far as I know) still there and still in use, other staff members did very occasionally come in, either to take the lesson or to speak to the p.e. teacher.
Galas and competitions were nude when they were 'school' only, if our parents were invited or we were swimming against other schools we usually wore trunks. I think even for junior boys, nude swimming galas and competitions in front of mixed spectators would be pretty unlikely!
When we were very young we had our p.e. and Games lessons taken by female teachers who obviously also supervised us in the changing rooms and when we went in the showers, but as far as I can recall we had male teachers only by the time we were about 10.
I don't know how common this was at other schools though, ours was a private school and I think few 'state' primary schools would have had much in the way of changing and showering facilities!

Comments by Dave on 1st February 2014  

Thanks Iain. Was it an indoor or outdoor pool, and did any other teachers or school staff watch watch the nude swimming lessons besides the swimming teacher?
I heard that in some schools they also had swimming galas and competitions in the nude, especially junior boys, in front of mixed spectators. Could this be true?

I am also curious to know if any schools had compulsory showers for boys after PE under the supervision of female teachers.

Comments by Iain on 1st February 2014  

In reply to Dave, we also had to swim nude at school, it was compulsory for all Junior boys and the lower school boys in the Grammar school, ie up to about 14. That was Royal Grammar School in Newcastle, it was an all boys school and I am sure we had a female swimming teacher in the junior school but we certainly had a male teacher by the time we were 11 and went into the lower school! I don't think we gave it much thought at the time. I started there in 1967 and I think the nude swimming went on until the early 80's.

Comments by Cynthia on 26th January 2014  

During primary school, I remember how during sports we would all take of our shoes and socks and we girls would participate in our skirts and vests, which we all wore under our blouses on the necessary days, while the boys removed their shirts and were made to take part with bare chests, wearing only their shorts. I don't know how they felt about it really. Some were fine, but some seemed more shy than usual.

Comments by oldscotsguy on 26th January 2014  

I attended an all boys secondary school and if we ever forgot our swimming Speedos then we had to do the class naked. I only forgot once but some boys were regularly naked.

Comments by Dave on 26th January 2014  

Debbie and Martin, thanks for the clarification.

Tim, did you have female teachers supervising, or present, during the boys nude swim classes?

Anyone else had nude swimming classes in British schools?

Comments by Debbie on 11th January 2014  

I am a little bit confused here by Mathews comments, it seems that it was Dave who was seeking information about the mixed nude swimming that Martin mentioned. I had a look at the facebook links that Martin gave and they certinly did seem tohave mixed nude swimming at his old junior school and there are lots of people who remember it. I think it maybe wasn't such a big deal back then, my little brother didn't think there was anything wrong with not wearing any pants when he was at cubs.

Comments by Tim on 10th January 2014  

These comments bring back many memories. At my all boys prep school in the 1970's, it was the norm that you did swimming in the nude, no question. This had been going on for years and went on until the 1980's. I only started at the school when i was 10 and it was a slight shock to do swimming in the nude but I soon got used to it. It also gave the pe teacher the perfect opportunity to inflict a sharp cane to the bare backside which always left a red mark.

Comments by Matthew on 7th January 2014  

Have you not read Dave's perfectly clear explanation below about exactly when swimming took place and whether it was obligatory to wear a costume? If you have I can only conclude that you have a gratuitous and unhealthy interest in this topic.

Comments by Martin on 7th January 2014  martin.hill32@hushmail.com 

Hi Dave, Let me clarify....
I went to Shears Green Primary in Kent, a mixed County Primary school in the South East UK.
They had nude swimming between about the late 1960's until (I think) about 1988. Nude swimming was ALWAYS voluntary and was in extra lunchtime and Saturday sessions but NOT in regular planned swimming lessons, (we HAD to wear swimwear for them!) Nude swimming was open to all, from 7 to 11 years old and when I was there it was girls on monday lunchtime, boys on friday lunchtime and mixed (boys and girls) on wednesday lunchtime. For the same-sex sessions I think we just had to turn up, I don't think we needed our parents permission, but we needed their permission for the 'mixed' nude swimming (not every week, we only needed to get the form signed once!) Saturday morning was 'clothing optional', ANYONE could go and it was up to us whether we wore our swimwear or swam nude.
This was the ONLY school I attended (or taught at) with nude swimming, as I have already stated mixed nude swimming must have been incredibly rare although apparently it wasn't unusual for boys to swim nude at prep and private schools.
I have included a couple of facebook, friends reunited links so you can look for yourself and read the comments from the very large number of kids who took part over the years!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/445297598902917/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/2232710443/ http://www.friendsreunited.com/shears-green-county-junior-school/Discuss/9b5c582f-4f9b-40f0-9be8-8695265ccc0c

Comments by Dave on 5th January 2014  

Martin, are you saying that all the primary schools you went to and taught at as a teacher all had mixed nude swimming?
Do any of these schools have a Friends Reunited site? I bet they have a lot of old memories to talk about.
I know there were some schools which had obligatory nude swimming for boys, maybe for girls also, but never heard of mixed nude swimming at school.
Were the other schools the same as the one you mentioned, that is voluntary and optional swimsuit, or obligatory nudity?

Comments by Martin on 21st December 2013  martin.hill32@hushmail.com 

Comments by Christopher on 21st December 2013  

That must have not been very nice for your brother, Theresa. How would he respond?

Comments by Dave on 20th December 2013  

Martin,

Could you make things a bit more clear?
You said they were nude mixed swimming lessons at school. Was it both boys and girls in the nude, or boys only?

Was the nudity compulsary or optional?

Comments by Matthew on 20th December 2013  

Let's get some facts straight. In the majority of schools, primary and secondary, from 1946 onwards, swimming lessons were single sex only. Further, nude swimming was very rare. Likewise this obsession with boys wearing or not wearing underpants has become ridiculous. Almost all schools wore just shorts indoors and full sport's kit out doors. This is based on practice in several school from 1946 to 1960. Many commentators here are showing an unhealthy interest in this site and perhaps would find more satisfaction on another site.

Comments by Theresa on 20th December 2013  

My brother and I were in school about 30 years ago, and yes, it was in England. The other girls certainly did tease the boys, and while the boys tried to appear confident, it was obvious that they all felt slightly exposed. The girls were interested in the boys bodies, but where interested in teasing them just as much. Outside in winter, boys did PE separately, and I can't remember what the boys wore. The girls normally wore tracksuit-like trousers, shirts and jumpers. In the Summer, girls wore shorts and blouses, and boys wore shorts and sleeveless vests.

Comments by Spence on 19th December 2013  

Theresa
What period are we talking about here? Recently?
You say you teased your brother. Did other girls tease the boys? What was the boys' reaction?
Were the girls really that interested in the boys bodies and what did each gender wear outside?

Comments by Dave on 18th December 2013  

Hi Theresa!

Was it England? I've thought they have single sex PE lessons a secondary schools.

Comments by Martin on 18th December 2013  martin.hill32@hushmail.com 

Yes, mixed nude swimming lessons at my Primary school were for real, with crowds of boys and girls up to the age of 11, swimming together stark-naked twice a week! We also had boys only and girls only nude swimming lessons every week as well, I always went to the mixed sessions and I also went to the boys only sessions with my friends on fridays.
Shears Green Primary School in Kent, look it up on fb or friends reunited!

Comments by Martin on 18th December 2013  martin.hill32@hushmail.com 

You think THAT would cause an outcry these days? I remember taking a letter home from Primary School when I was about 9 asking my parents for permission for me to swim naked in the mixed nude swimming lessons we had twice a week at school! Imagine how that would go down these days!!! As I recall, almost everyone who asked to go to these sessions managed to get their parents permission, most of the boys in my class wanted to go and I think we all managed to get it 'signed off' by our mums!

Comments by Theresa on 17th December 2013  

I remember when I went to secondary school with my twin brother. Gym was mixed and while we girls wore shirts and gym knickers, which were really just tight shorts, boys wore just shorts, with no shirt. He was a shy boy, and I always teased him about it, by telling him about my friends' opinions of his body and constantly commenting on his physical development.

Comments by Yorkie on 16th December 2013  

Reading the last person's comments you can imagine the outcry if a teacher pulled out the back of a pupil's shorts these days.

However, I suppose this wowukd not apply as I suppose that underwear is worn. Possibly jockstraps are worn because the modern boxer shorts which I think most lads wear would give no support.

Comments by Stuart Beech on 13th December 2013  stuartbeech65@gmail.com 

I have read with interest the posts about the wearing of PE kit, I would add my experience at an all boys senior school between 1959-1964, we had blue rough cotton PE shorts, no underwear and always a quick underwear check in the changing room, the teacher pulled the back of your shorts away to check, if we were in the gym it was barefoot and bare chests, like the boys in the picture, if we had PE outside we wore white plimsolls and a white vest, if there were team games, one team went bare chested.

Another thing we had were compulsory medical examinations at age 11 and then at 13, the leaving age being 15. These examinations were always done prior to PE lessons, so we were just in shorts and lined up against the wall waiting to go in individually in the large gym storeroom converted temporarily for physical examination days, inside was a desk where a nurse sat and checked you in then did the eye and hearing tests and then you waited until the boy in front of you had been examined by the doctor behind a curtained off area, so there was a steady stream of boys getting examined.

If anyone would like a bit of a comprehensive description of the PE activities we did or the medical exam, or have any memories from their school days then feel free to email me at stuartbeech65@gmail.com

Comments by Debbie on 13th December 2013  

In answer to Benny, I am sure this was often the case at Primary school level, but I think it pretty unlikely it happened at Secondary school (ie age 12 and above)however back when I was younger I think relativly few Primary schools would have had 'proper' changing rooms and showers anyway, most kids changed in the toilets, cloakrooms or in their classrooms. As I stated before, my younger brother was in the Cubs when he was at Primary school, in a Pack where all the leaders were female. When they were on camps or sleepovers, my brother said they had to get undressed and ready for bed after flagdown, but before they had their supper, which I am guessing was probably about 7:00, they all had to wear a pyjama 'top' or a t-shirt but they weren't allowed to wear any pants, he said that after supper they all ran around the camp with bare 'willies' playing games for a couple of hours before they went to bed! I used to tease him and his friends about going 'bare' at camp and the leaders seeing them like that, but they seemed very unconcerned! I don't think kids that age (8-11) are too bothered, or they weren't in those days!

Comments by scotslad on 13th December 2013  

I response to Garry's comments, did your wife say what she wore for pe class?

Comments by Benny on 13th December 2013  

Talking about compulsary group showers after PE, a friend once told me that at his primary school it was usually their class female teacher who supervised the boys during their showers after PE. Was this common in some schools in England?

Comments by Yorkie on 12th December 2013  

I agree with James. As I suggested in my comments on 2nd Dec. I think boys have become too soft hiding behind towels in changing rooms in case they are seen naked. We certainl;y had no concerns, yet they have no inhibitions in wearing low slung trousers advertising their fashionable boxers.

Comments by Gary on 12th December 2013  

It's interesting to hear how things were for girls. Vest and knickers sound good to me - at a boys school we never saw them! My wife says she never had communal showers - the girls had shower cubicles or didn't bother till they got home. When I first started going out with her and she came to watch me playing football and was amazed that we all showered together afterwards.

Comments by Debbie on 12th December 2013  

Sorry, that reply should have been to MARK, not MARTIN as it was Mark that was questioning the need to wear pyjamas, I am inclined to agree with him!

Comments by Debbie on 12th December 2013  

In reply to Martin: My younger brother was in the Cubs when he was at primary school, in a cub pack that was based at the school. There was about 30 of them in cubs but it was all boys in those days, the leaders were all female, a teacher and a couple of 'mums'. They used to go to camp a couple of times a year and sometimes had 'sleepovers' in the gym on fridays after cubs. It was no secret that the pack had a pyjama 'tops' only rule at bedtime and that they weren't allowed to wear anything from the waist down, everyone at school knew! I have absolutely no idea why they had that rule but apparently it had always been like that! I used to tease my brother about it but he always said he wasn't bothered! That was in the 1970's.

Comments by James on 11th December 2013  

This is just how I remember PE, it was great fun and I used to really look forward to the classes. We used to have two double lessons and also a compulsory lunch time session and those days were the best, somehow it was easier to work in class on other things when we'd done gym, had a good run or played rugby.

I'm not saying it was all easy, it wasn't and high standards were set in terms of timing and effort and also sportsmanship, not something you hear much about these days. Not trying hard enough or fooling around got the slipper or if it was serious the cane. The slipper was usually given there and then in the gym, the cane was 'saved' until the end of the lesson to give you 'something to look forward to' and given in private on your bare bottom. Every boy including me who left that office after getting the cane did so in tears.

Like I think everyone else posting, underpants were not allowed and we always had cold, communal, compulsory showers after each class. No body minded, it's how it was and I look back on it all as great fun.

Sometimes these days when I see younger lads dancing behind their towels in the gym changing room I really do wonder what they are trying to hide. Are lads today too soft?

Comments by Mark on 11th December 2013  

I just found it weird that my boarding school had opted for a shirtless PE kit, naked showers after PE, and on the other hand we had to wear a full set of pyjamas to bed ! Maybe someone can explain the logic of this ?

Comments by David on 8th December 2013  

During my time at secondary school (1967-74) we weren't allowed to wear our ordinary underwear for PE and showers were compulsory. For the first couple of years we all went commando but later on we were advised that some support was necessary. A few bought the Litesome supporters recommended, but most of us just wore our swimming trunks under our shorts

Comments by scotslad on 8th December 2013  

It is interesting reading how things were in other schools. At my primary the boys wore their white pe shorts. No top. In fact I never did pe from ages 5-17 wearing a top. Girls at primary wore their vest and regulation navy blue knickers. I cannot recall any ever going topless. As noted previously, topless or even in a vest would not be tolerated these days. I spoke to my wife about her experiences. She confirmed that she too did primary school pe in vest and knickers. When she went to the girls only senior secondary school the vest and knickers were the usual kit for girls in the early years. As a girl developed then they started to wear an Airtex blouse over their bra. They wore the regulation knickers all the way through school. My wife was 13 1/2 before she wore a bra,so did pe until then in a vest. She says that she never thought anything about it.

There was never any suggestion of nude swimming though-they all had standard navy school costume.

Comments by Yorkie on 8th December 2013  

During my time at secondary school up to 1966 when we when all our class were 16 years old there was never any mention of Jockstraps & we were not told to buy them. Consequently everything hung loose during PE & games & no boxes for Cricket either & we survived

Comments by Martin on 8th December 2013  martin.hill32@hushmail.com 

BTW: in addition to my other comments, Shears Green Junior School in Kent is still going strong and STILL has the same indoor swimming pool! (I saw the photo, how many memories it brings back!) They have a very nice website for the school these days, however boys and girls doing swimming lessons completely naked and everyone doing PE and country dancing 'topless' with none of us (including the girls) allowed to wear anything except a single very thin pair of shorts, is unfortunately very much a thing of the past having died out in the late 1980's or the early 90's when Mr Hale retired as Headteacher! Bit sad really!

Comments by Martin on 8th December 2013  martin.hill32@hushmail.com 

Comments by greywolf on 8th December 2013  ju0884@aol.com 

Scotslad, Gary, Michael and others.
I noticed your comments.
For sure everyday underpants were not allowed for sports because of the hygiene factor. We were all encouraged to wear our swimming trunks for support, especially when we first got selected for the rugby team. A Litesome jock strap was usually the preserve of cricketers or older boys.
Of course we only had one pair of trunks or one jock so these often remained at school during the week as they might be needed several days running. This made a bit of a nonsense of the thoughts about hygiene!

Comments by Gary on 7th December 2013  

I'm thinking back, Scotslad. I think we were told on our first day that we couldn't wear any of our uniform for sport and that included socks and pants. The reason was to avoid sweating in them and having to put them on again afterwards so it made sense. Certainly the games master used to come through the changing room and keep an eye on us changing but I don't remember anyone not obeying the rule so I don't think there were actual checks. Canings weren't public - you had to line up outside the headmaster's office and then go in individually. He had a gym horse which you bent over. You always had to bare your arse though which would be questionable nowadays but I don't think there was any funny business. It was so you couldn't put any padding down your pants. He did use to stripe us and it stung. I don't know about other schools.

There were a couple of schools outfitters where you bought all uniform and sportswear. The jockstraps were Litesomes - that was the only brand I remember in those days and all the footballers used to wear them so it was a bit of a right of passage to start wearing one. Me and a friend went in to buy a couple when we were 14 and felt like proper men the first time we put them on. My grandsons had never seen one. Times change don't they.

Comments by Martin on 7th December 2013  

Comments by scotslad on 6th December 2013  

Thanks,Gary for your input. Can I ask, were there ever "underpant checks"? If so, how was this done? We're the canines given in private or in front of gym class? A friend of mine went to school in Newcastle area but the tawse was used in his school. Was it only in a private or boys only school that the cane was used?
We had to buy our Litesome jock straps from the PE dept. Was it same with you. I still remember my first purchase. Thanks.

Comments by Gary on 5th December 2013  

Interesting reminiscences. I was at a boys school in Newcastle on Tyne in the 1960s and we had many of the same rules. For games and PE you couldnt wear the same underwear as you wore under your clothes. Once we were in our teens boys started wearing jockstraps but the younger boys just went commando. Football was often skins vs shirts so the vests came off no matter how cold it was. Showers were compulsory after sport - communal and naked. We had an indoor pool and swimming was always naked although the teachers were men so it wasn't that we were being watched by women. We never thought anything of it even by the time we were 18. Happy days to be honest apart from the bare arsed caning! The boys today seem a lot more concerned about being seen wihout clothes than we ever were.

Comments by Jeremy on 3rd December 2013  

I had no problems about going stripped to the waist for PE but being barefoot was a different matter.

Comments by Yorkie on 2nd December 2013  

Having read the recent comments and as pupil in the 60's I agree that no one seemed bothered those days about the no pants rule and bare tops or School teachers walking through the changing rooms as we were changing. Nowadays a teacher doing that would be answering to the authorities.
I would be interested to know what is De Rigeur these days.
I expect that any exposure of flesh is frowned upon even though I assume that PE or whatever it is called is held separately for boys & girls.

As I say as a pupil of the "old school" system boys only, I think it was better because since Co- Education boys have got softer & are influenced by the girls. Have the boys lost their machoism?

Comments by scotslad on 1st December 2013  

We had a swimming pool at school and if you forgot your Speedos then you were told to do without. I only ever forgot mine once!

Comments by Larry on 1st December 2013  

Anyone experienced nude swimming at school in the UK?

Comments by scotslad on 29th November 2013  

i attended a boy's only secondary school in Scotland from 1965-71. We were only allowed to wear white cotton shorts for pe, no top or underwear. In the early years there were checks made to ensure the rule was applied. I cannot recall anyone being caught as frankly it would have just been stupid to try. We had a swimming pool at the school and in later years were allowed to wear swimming speedos in school colours under our shorts for support. Some boys wore the Litesome jock straps which were popular then.

The normal punishment for any crime was "the belt" ( more properly called the tawse, but always known as the belt). It was used regularly by teachers with, in many cases, significant force.

This may all sound a bit weird from the perspective of 2013 but I can assure you it was just treated as life by us back then and not given much thought.

Comments by Neil on 27th November 2013  

Comments by Fred on 25th November 2013  

Just come accross this thread and thought I would add my two-penn`rth.
The gymn at my small prep school was little more than a wooden shed with a very splintery floor and practically no equipment at all, Apart from cricket,all games and PE were done in footbal/rugby kit. It was all rather grim, but we just put up with it - there was no use complaining and I am still around today, so it can`t have done us much harm.
I left there in 1967 at age 13 and went to a much larger school and that had a gymn much as we see in the photo above, I think it had been built a year or two before. Although these lads look a bit younger we used identical kit.
A great deal of talk here has been on the matter of chastisement. At prep school, the gymn-shoe was the weapon of choice and this was used very enthusiastically and when I moved on, the cane was still in use, but was gradually on the way out, but not before I had had my share! Quite honestly I don`t remember any of that being a problem, again it was just how it was
Another topic much discussed here along with some horror stories is the matter of underwear or lack of it. At prep school it was nothing at all, I think it was just custom, I don`t remember it as a rule and there were certainly no "inspections". After age 13 or so we soon all acquired a jockstrap,mostly the old Litesome cotton one. it was a kind of rite of passage thing I suppose. Again I don`t think there was a rule as such, it was just custom.

Comments by Simon on 24th November 2013  

In reply to Sam's message,we too were stipped to the waist,wearing only our shorts with nothing underneath.This rule was rigoursly enforced and could lead to embarrassment and consternation,especially wnen our games and gymnastic lessons were shared with the girls.On one such occassion one boy decided to pull my shorts right down much to his amusement.

Comments by Eastender on 23rd November 2013  

Sam
I was also at Secondary school in the 1960's. Like you our PE was done stripped to the waist, but were you like us without underwear, and was it an all boys school?

Comments by Sam on 21st November 2013  

In the 1960's at my school we did all our PE stripped to the waist.
When we did cross-country many lads went barefoot as well.

Comments by Tim H on 5th November 2013  

@Adam - No need to apologize! Life is made too complicated now!

Comments by Adam on 4th November 2013  

To Tim H perhaps I should have said "politically correct rather than "left-wing."

Comments by Tim H on 24th October 2013  

Just a few comments - to Adam I agree with pretty much everything you say but would leave out the word 'left-wing'.

To Michael - we weren't a particularly 'sporty' Grammar school and I can't recall jockstraps being required or underwear being prohibited, but by the end of the 1st year it was being suggested by teachers that we wore swimming trunks for 'support' if we wanted.

Back in September, a fine day, chatting to a lady in the gym car park. We commented on the weather allowed us to go to the gym, and home, in lightweight gear. Then we started talking about wearing shorts and about how many men wore them as a natural thing nowadays, followed by a comment as to how the shorts got shorter & shorter as the summer went on! The lady then made, what to me, was a telling comment. She said 'its been nice to see lads playing in the park these fine summer days - just in shorts - so much more natural'.

Comments by Maltamon on 20th October 2013  

Comments by michael on 17th October 2013  michaelabbey@rocketmail.com 

I note Adam's reaction to Maltamon's long post.

I do not see that games kit and even the 'games' themselves can ever be entirely unisex. The favourite topic of going bare chested is a point in question.

Away from that familiar road a subject which has sometimes featured on this page is the practice of boys wearing their swimming trunks as underwear. As someone who was at school in the distant 70s I well recall that many of us wore these for comfort during pe, rugby etc and not being allowed to wear them would have seemed extraordinary. I'm sure we would have sneaked them on!

I dont know if there are those out there who agree with my observation.

Comments by Paul on 17th October 2013  

I do hope that Maltamon is a troll, I would hate to think that anyone really believed the nonsense posted. Boys and girls are different beings who have different capabilities and skills and they need different challenges.

The sooner that is believed again the sooner we will be able to restore some sense to our quite mad society.

I played rugby at school and loved it. It was a boys school so I have no idea what girls did but I wouldn't change my school days for anything. I also was caned on a number of occasions and I deserved each and every stroke. I also have many happier memories, they were great years and boys ought to be allowed to have the same now instead of all this femin-socialist nonsense and drivel.

Comments by Adam on 16th October 2013  

Maltamon's comments are typical of the left-wing nonsense which is increasingly common in our modern society.
Why should games etc be "unisex" whatever that means and why should pupils have choice about what games they play at school?
If you are told to do certain games at school then you should have to do them.
That also includes what clothes you wear for PE etc(including boys doing games bare-chested.)

Comments by Maltamon on 15th October 2013  

People often say the cane done them no harm. Thankfully the cane was abolished in state schools in 1986 and in private schools in 1999. Often teachers refused to hit girls for quite serious offences but beat boys for much lesser misdemeanours. If a girl was hit it was usually a light tap. Our headmaster at primary school did not hit girls at all.

Likewise, bare-chested pe is a form of sex discrimination. True boys bodies are less defined at 5-9 years of age. This is also true of girls. At that age they have not developed breasts and are below the criminal age of responsibility for indecent exposure. However, parents would go mad if girls were forced to go topless.

In my view all pe kits should be unisex no matter what the age.

No boy/girl should be forced to pe in underwear and knickers. All schools should have a spare kit policy.

No boy should be forced to do swimming in brief style shorts. All should have the option of swimming in wetsuits or rash vests and long bermuda shorts.

All pupils should either be allowed to wear tracksuits over t-shirts and shorts or have compulsory sports trousers in the school to cover bare-legs to protect modesty and protect from the sun or cold weather.

Both boys and girls should have the same colour pe uniform. There should be no white shorts and T-shirts for boys. Girls would kick up a fuss if you could see their underwear under their sports gear.

There should be no compulsory football boots for boys. If girls doe pe in trainers then so should the boys.

The showering poicy should only be optional or recommended. There should be no compulsory showers or situations where girls have optional showers and boys mandatory showers.

There should also be no compulsory change of underwear or dictation that boys wear swimming trunks under shorts.

Football and rugby should at best be optional for boys if not phased out altogether in schools. All PE subjects should be gender nuetral.

Overall, PE kits must be unisex. Publis sector unions in school are quick to demand the end of sex discrimination against teachers but they are more relaxed about gender bias against male pupils. State sponsored mysandry may have been acceptable in past days when we had male conscription and illiberal divorce laws but in today's post feminist pluralistic society such rules have no place.

Comments by Peter on 15th October 2013  

To Roger G.
Was the boy doing the handstand on the box "imported" from an older class for the photograph? He looks bigger than the other pupils in the photo. To me, that boy on the left of the group of four standing watching seems to me to be thinking "I don't want to have to do that. I thought I was coming to this school to learn Physics and Chemistry and Latin."

Comments by Richard W on 14th October 2013  

Rob, I suspect that if a boy made it clear he was that unhappy about doing PE barechested, his parents would send him to a school where shirts or vests were permitted. But I'd be surprised if many boys of that age were terribly bothered about it. I think it's a different matter when a boy reaches puberty, suddenly he may be more self conscious about having a six pack, whether his chest is more defined than other boys and several other body issues, especially if they do PE in front of girls. So I don't think a barechested uniform should be enforced for teenage boys, but at a younger age I can't really see that it matters.

Comments by Roger G on 14th October 2013  

Remember Mr Parry as am one of the boys(class3m?) in this photo (taken when BGS moved to the 'new'school in Kiddrow lane).We also did cross country races in snowy conditions also lightly clad,it did us no harm in fact toughened us up.Happy days!

Comments by Rob on 8th October 2013  

But if the boys are unhappy with it they probably can't do anything.

Comments by Richard W on 7th October 2013  

Can't really see why this is such a big deal, we're talking about primary school children not teenagers. When I was that age the boys and girls had swimming lessons together, naturally the boys were all barechested while the girls were not. Does it really matter if that's the case in the gym as well? And as John pointed out, if parents are unhappy about their sons having to do classes with their tops off, they can always send them to another school.

Comments by Tim H on 7th October 2013  

Ofsted report from St Michaels, Bamford, Rochdale ...

http://clc2.uniservity.com/GroupDownloadFile.asp?GroupID=677164&ResourceId=1936957

Comments by John on 7th October 2013  

Hi Rob, lots of things are enforced in school, you ahve to wear a uniform, you have to go to classes etc etc. Why should it be different for boys going barechested in PE? It's a policy that has it reasons (H&S, discipline, gender indetity, ..) as has any other policy. If you're not happy, go to another school that doesn't have has a different PE uniform!

Comments by Rob on 6th October 2013  

John, boys may not need shirts for PE, but it cannot be right to force them to go without one. There is no need for that either.

Comments by Maltamon on 6th October 2013  

I have found the offending school. All other St Michael's schools across the country allo boys to wear t-shirts and shorts but this one in Rochdale:

http://www.stmichaelscemidd.rochdale.sch.uk/our-school/school-rules

8. For P.E. boys are expected to wear shorts. Girls should wear knickers and vest (young infants and all Reception children), shorts and white t-shirt or black leotard (older infants and juniors.) Children will do P.E. in pumps or bare feet.

How do they justify this rule. Boys are expected to wear shorts and possibly pumps on their feet but says nothinh about knickers and vest for boys.

Why cant boys wear shorts and t-shirts? If girls can wear black leotards why cant boys wear black leotards with shorts on top like at professional gymnastic academies?

It seems the dead hand of Cyril Smith MP is still alive in working class male Rochdale and we all know what that "liberal MP" done to boys in children homes!

I wonder what the female teachers who often run these primary schools would do if they were forced to turn up to lessons in just a pair of shorts.

They would be going straight to their Trade Unions, go on strike and sue the local authority under the Equalities Act 2010. Well Sex Discrimination laws apply to all services and Education is a service. Equal protection for males and girls doesn't come into force at aged 18, children are covered as well.

Comments by John on 6th October 2013  

If the school rule is that boys do PE barechested that that's the way it is. Stop going on about it as if it was a bad thing. Boys are not girls they do not need a top for PE, let them grow up into healthy men!

Comments by Rob on 5th October 2013  

Look at rule 8 of the the school rules section of the St Michael's Church of England Primary School. They also seem to require boys to do PE without shirts, whereas girls can chose between shorts and shirts or leotards. The youngest wear vest and pants, but boys have to wear less than that all the way up to year 6

Comments by Maltamon on 5th October 2013  

Comments by Stuart on 20th September 2013  

I went to boarding school in the 1960s and there was no such thing as privacy. It was a shock on day one but at the end of a week it was normal.

We all slept in open dormitories for twenty of which there were five on each floor along with a further big open washroom that had basins, communal showers and toilets which had no partitions either though once we were about fifteen there were waist high partitions on the toilets but certainly no doors at any time.

Sports kit was white shorts and plimsolls or rugby kit or cricket whites as appropriate. If it wasn't rugby or cricket then be it gym, track, field, cross country or any other game it was white shorts and plimsolls. Like everyone else of my generation, underpants were not allowed either and trying to wear them resulted in a sore bottom.

Ridicule was the cure for shyness. I have to say I got over being shy very easily but I think some lads probably hated it before just accepting it.

Sports masters generally applied the plimsoll vigorously to bare bottoms, other masters used the cane in the privacy of their studies again to bare bottoms.

It was how things were and I've never thought it did me any harm and I liked school and was very happy there.

I do wonder about how boys grow up today. They seem uncertain of their identity and who they are, we didn't have those problems and I think we were better off with the perceived privations and discipline of the time than the boys of today are with their mollycoddling.

Comments by Dave on 16th September 2013  

I remember doing cross-country along the streets near to our school.
All us boys were stripped to the waist and no-one thought anything of it.

Comments by Paul on 12th September 2013  

I went to a boys boarding school where we swam naked. I'm not sure why it was insisted upon but it was just normal and group nudity was not unusual.

We slept in open dormitories, showered in communal showers, took off underpants for sport and showered in (different) communal showers afterwards often having two or three showers a day and to top it all off, we were caned on our bare bottoms.

After a couple of weeks I didn't think anything of being naked with my peers so swimmming certainly didn't bother me.

Comments by Gar on 11th September 2013  

Cornwall, the nearest thing to a difinitive answer to the compulsory naked swimming years read;

http://voices.yahoo.com/the-demise-high-school-nude-swimming-us-8669909.html?cat=4

"Although almost non-existent today, institutional male nude swimming in the U.S. got its start at the YMCA in the 1890s. At the time, men wore wooly suits, which shed fibers, clogging the then sensitive water filters. It became traditional and mandatory for men and boys to swim au natural at these facilities, and many believe schools copied the policy of this respected institution."


".......one reason was discipline, and that boys were not expected to be bothered by nudity. "Nude swimming for boys was a no-nonsense, practical, easy, conforming and cohesive, method of handling 30 exuberant boys in one hour." Nudity had a calming affect for even the most boisterous boys."

Still others credit the military. Schools in the 60s were largely administered by the World War II generation, and during the war, there was little respect for male privacy. Many believe they transferred this norm to schools. And even in the early 70s, one man remembers a selective service physical where "long lines of naked guys being inspected for everything from flat feet to eyesight and hearing in a shockingly open environment."

".....Threads Clogged the Drains? Oh, Come On, This is the 60s"

"Although almost non-existent today, institutional male nude swimming in the U.S. got its start at the YMCA in the 1890s. At the time, men wore wooly suits, which shed fibers, clogging the then sensitive water filters. It became traditional and mandatory for men and boys to swim au natural at these facilities, and many believe schools copied the policy of this respected institution.

READ in full;
http://voices.yahoo.com/the-demise-high-school-nude-swimming-us-8669909.html?cat=4

Comments by Cornwall on 10th September 2013  

I still cannot understand why so many schools especially boys boarding schools insisted on naked swimming. Is there a definitive answer?

Comments by James on 6th September 2013  

I remember my pe and swimming lessons very well. From about age 9 - 15, PE was always in just white pe shorts. No question, that was it. If you didn't have your shorts, you just did it in your underpants.
Swimming was always done naked. For new boys, the walk down from the changing area to the end of the pool before a lesson was always odd as you felt very exposed but once you got used to it it was fine. As a boarder we had to swim naked at weekends as well although the older boys generally wore trunks. We never thought anything of it and in fact enjoyed it. At weekends we were often supervised by a female games teach or a housemistress and this was no problem. Any other female however might have been different.

Comments by Alan on 22nd August 2013  

My first experience of barechested PE actually came when I was 16, probably much older than most of the others who have posted their recollections here. Basically I moved to a different school for the sixth form and I was surprised to find that PE was still compulsory. It didn't occur to me that I might need specific PE kit either - at my old school nobody had bothered too much about what you wore. There was an official PE kit but any kind of top/shorts/trainers combination was usually acceptable.
At my first PE lesson I discovered this was no longer the case. All the other boys wore a vest in school colours, white shorts and socks and running shoes. Thankfully my shorts were white but my coloured t-shirt and socks immediately attracted the PE teacher's displeasure. He demanded to know where my vest was and seemed less than impressed by my plea that I hadn't realised I needed one. I wasn't even sure what he meant when he ordered me to 'do it in skins' - I'd never heard that term at my old school! Most of the other lads were laughing as the exasperated teacher barked at me to take my t-shirt off, as well as the offending socks. I felt very self conscious as I went out to the gym in just shorts (thank heavens I hadn't had to take those off too!) and trainers. It wasn't that I was embarrassed about my upper body, but it felt weird to be the only barechested boy among a group I hardly knew yet and I was very aware of standing out as the new boy.
Before the next PE lesson I got hold of a school vest and wore it as we went to the gym. However, before long I had to take it off again - we were split into teams for a game of basketball and this time I understood what the teacher meant when he announced that my team were skins. The good thing was that this time I wasn't the odd one out, all my team-mates had to go barechested as well. I got talking to one of them, who told me 'skins' games had been regular practice all the way through the school and he said that had encouraged him to make sure he kept in shape and looked after his body properly. To be honest, the results were pretty impressive! I could see the logic of that and I decided to try and do the same over the next two years. Looking back, I think it's a pity I didn't have to go barechested before then and a pity for today's young men that they're never required to at all.

Comments by Pete S on 17th August 2013  

Hello Donald,

I remember the first time I went barechested at school as it was a warm September's morning and that was OK. The school very kindly rostered 2 double games lessons and 2 double PE lessons each week. We weren't so fortunate at the end of week when we were taken outside and stripped down in the pouring rain, something we'd get used to - but that was a suprise at the time.

Comments by Loz on 16th August 2013  

@ Laura, it was certainly the case at the Woodlands school in Coventry, a fact reported by local journalist Chris Arnot in his various remeniscences of his schooldays there. It was (and still is) an all boys school.

In our junior school we had an outside pool, not much more than a tank really. I can recall in all weathers going out across the tarmac playground in bare feet and swimming trunks. There was due to some architects oversight only one changing room in the school, that was reserved for the girls, the boys changed into their trunks in the corridor, modestly protected only by a hasty arrangement of stacked chairs. After the swim, boys and girls showered together (in our costumes) in the sole changing room.

Comments by Chris r on 13th August 2013  

When I was at school, gym class was always done barechested and barefoot. The teachers made us dress like this so that we knew our place, and it certainly made us feel uncomfortable, especially when we did class with the girls. I remember trying to cover my navel and nipples in my first class, and the other boys were embarrasses as well, though the girls loved it.

Comments by Donald on 12th August 2013  

To Pete S

How did you feel when u found out you had to do P.E barechested for the first time?

Comments by Pete S on 11th August 2013  

Our lessons were done with either all barechested or half the class left in vests depending on our teacher's whim.

At the start of every PE lesson our teacher made us lads line up just in vests and shorts and then picked who he wanted to strip and then your vest came off. It was exactly the same outdoors too it didn't matter what the sport was. There was a "core" group of 4 lads in every class (I was one in my class) who he always kept stripped regardless until we left at 18.

The way the school was built half the classrooms overlooked the yard and fields so you were assured of an "audience" when stripping to the waist.

Comments by Tom on 9th August 2013  

In reply to Stuart, I had a PE teacher who made me and another boy do an entire term in shorts only. Our old teacher hadn't minded us wearing T-shirts instead of regulation PE vests, or the wrong colour shorts or socks - but this one certainly did, as we soon discovered at the first lesson. He announced that, as we clearly found it difficult to remember the correct kit, he'd make it easier by restricting our kit to white shorts and nothing else, bare chests and bare feet.
The two of us also had to do a punishment in just shorts which involved running several laps of the gym and then going straight to the swimming pool, where we had to swim lengths, then climb out and do press ups on the poolside, dive back in for more lengths and repeat the press ups. It was exhausting and also embarrassing as our shorts were fairly see through when wet.
The kit restriction also partly applied to outdoor PE - we were permitted to wear trainers or football boots in addition to shorts, but we still had to do each lesson bare chested. Which wasn't a lot of fun when it was cold or raining! I was relieved when the term ended and I was very careful to bring the right kit after that.

Comments by john getty on 9th August 2013  pdsjohn@aol.com 

Ron Parry shown in the photos was a cruel bully of a man who relished in beating young kids (11 upwards) on the bare buttocks with the rubber sole that he had cut off a large gym shoe.
He was particularly nasty to overweight kids and delighted in making them do things that were clearly beyond their capabilities like watching them struggle to try and climb a rope while he belittled them in front of everyone else. He also liked to make a class of the younger ones parade through the showers naked while he stood and watched.
As a fat kid he often picked on me but I got the satisfaction of upstaging him once. We were obliged to watch play table tennis when the school got a new table. As he beat one kid after another and crowed about how good he was and how poor they were I made a comment that I thought he was pretty rubbish, only beating kids who had never played before. I meanwhile although out of shape had a table at home and played at every opportunity ( and I was good).
He challenged "the fat boy" to a game. I started slow and he got five or six love ahead. Baying at me that I should have kept my "gob shut" he posed at every point won.
I then got annoyed at him and went on to paste him by 21 to ten. Everyone there cheered and he glowered at us all. He insisted on a rematch saying my win was a fluke. I won the second and third games so he made it best of ten.
I then began to let him win (narrowly) because I knew that if I didnt he would have been even meaner towards me in the future. He won the set by one point (as I had had enough- I knew he couldnt beat me and that was enough for me) and he boasted it to all concerned. I often wondered after if he really knew which of us was best?

Comments by Laura on 7th August 2013  lcclinton4@yahoo.co.uk 

I don't have any direct experience of schools that required their pupils to swim naked as a matter of routine, but my senior school did require this of lower school girls (11-14) who forgot their swimming costumes. If we forgot our regular kit for PE lessons, we used to have to take part in our underpants, but obviously this wasn't suitable for swimming. I was actually one of the first girls in my class to forget my costume, and that day I had no idea what would happen. I approached my gym mistress with some trepidation, but I was so shocked when she simply told me to strip naked and fiel out to the pool with the rest of my class. A classmate was stood behind me and she told a similar tale of woe, with the same result. We undressed next to one another and tried to hang back but it was still obvious to the whole class that while they had their costumes on, we were totally bare.

Comments by Cornwall on 6th August 2013  

I have read on several occasions about boys of all ages having to swim naked & I wonder why schools had this rule. Can any comment whether there is any benefit in discarding swimwear?

Comments by Loz on 6th August 2013  

Comments by Steve James on 5th August 2013  

In response to Stuarts comments:
I attended boarding school in the Midlands during the late 60's.
I recall only too well, the sadistic treatment of boys by one or two of the prefects.
If you antagonised them or gave them any lip, you would either be placed on 'Prefect's Detention' or your name could mysteriously end up on the Head's caning list!
Prefects Detention was held every Thursday before prep. Once, during my fourth year, for what I thought was a minor indiscretion, I was put on this 'weekly detention' for three consecutive weeks one spring term during the bleakest winter in Warwickshire!
The treatment handed out on these detentions varied according to which prefects were on the rota.
You had to report in just your PT shorts, no vest and in bare feet, whatever the conditions outside. Then Running Laps of the sports field was a very common theme. Push-ups in the cold mud was another.
These two prefects had a particularly nasty reputation and for good reason. On two detentions I and one other boy were not only made to run laps but also included swimming two lengths of the adjacent school outdoor training pool between each lap.
Normally swimming two lengths of 25 yards was not unduly arduous for healthy fourth formers but you can imagine how extremely cold the pool was at that time of year, typically 42 to 48 F.
Those prefects would delight in 'reading the thermometer' and taunting us boys with how low it read. The pool was officially closed in the winter term but that didn't deter them!
To make matters worse they would point out that as our school swimming lessons were always done naked and insisted that we removed our PT shorts prior to entering the water! On jumping in, the shock made us gasp for breath! Completing each swim in such cold, felt never-ending. Other boys only doing the laps were then coerced into running off with our shorts so we were left to run back across the sports field naked, wet and frozen!
The session always ended getting cleaned up with a shower but the hot water supply would mysteriously always get shut down beforehand!
I could hardly wait to become a Prefect myself!

Comments by Stuart on 4th August 2013  stu151@hotmail.com 

Comments by alan camboy on 2nd August 2013  

I was at schools in east anglia in the 60's.

At junior school we wore underpants only for gym - nice and simple with no problems with forgotten kit.

At secondary school it was white shorts only no footwear underpants or vests for gym. Outside we were allowed appropriate tops and footwear but the no underwear rule still applied. I remember two boys found wearing underpants in football being made to take off their shorts and pants on the playing fields. They were told to leave their shorts on the touchline and walk back to the changing rooms to deposit their pants with their other clothes then return put on their shorts and carry on. The humiliation they endured meant they never wore underpants again nor did the rest of us.

Comments by Laura on 1st August 2013  lcclinton4@yahoo.co.uk 

Lots of really interesting comments on here. I note that nearly all are from men, and thought it might be interesting to offer a female perspective.

I was at primary school from 1985-1993, and my school required all pupils, boys and girls, to undress and do PE in just our underpants/knickers. This continued right until we left at age 11. My senior school was private and girls-only. For indoor lessons we wore gym knickers and a white cotton vest. Underwear knickers had to be removed and this was checked from time to time. All indoor lessons were done in bare feet. We wore the same kit for athletics in summer and for cross country in winter. Other outdoor sports had full kit as appropriate. If we forgot our indoor kit, in the first few years we had to take the lesson in just our knickers; after that we were allowed vests or bras too. The same principle applied outdoors too, but obviously it was unsafe to play hockey barefoot, so we would generally be sent to slog round the quagmire of a cross country route around the school playing field and grounds.

Comments by DAVID on 1st August 2013  djohnmesher@yahoo.co.uk 

In reply to comments made by Cornwall it was an all boys p.e class. On one occasion we all thought that we would be doing something else and did not bring our gym shorts but our PE teacher said doesn't matter. You can all do it in your pants. On occasions I and a few other classmates would purposely forget our shorts so we could attend the lesson in our white Y fronts. It was no problem and just accepted

Comments by Tony on 1st August 2013  

As Stuart pointed out, Boarding School rules were often far from logical. At mine boys would be reprimanded for failing to wear a vest under their uniform shirt, during winter term. On a winter morning we would begin the day warm in our vest, shirt, pullover and blazer. (We also had anoraks for outdoors) Then we'd swap the protection of the heated classroom and five layers of clothing for the unheated changing rooms. There we'd strip naked and put on only a thin pair shorts and proceed onto the frozen, wind swept playing fields. Vests were now prohibited! After an hour of freezing hell we'd often be subjected to a cold shower. Boys got the slipper for wearing underwear under their thin shorts and were reprimanded for failing to wear a vest under their uniform. Happy Days (I think not) Cold Days, but I never got colds or flu in my teens. I believe this was due to the minimal protection from the elements. So maybe the Games Master done us a favor!

Comments by Cornwall on 30th July 2013  

Stuart re your comments 28/7. It is strange to think you were comppelled to run in just shorts, but at bedtime forced to cover up in the dorm. Illogical especially as most lads seem to sleep in boxers these days.

David re your comments, was the PE lesson boys only & what was the reaction of boys who had to participate in pants, presumably briefs those days as boxers not generally in fashion.

Comments by Simon on 29th July 2013  

I was at a state day school in the sixties and the rule for PE and cross-country was stripped to the waist and barefoot.
For games we were allowed to wear a shirt for rugby but for soccer and also hockey we had to go bare-chested.

Comments by DAVID on 29th July 2013  djohnmesher@yahoo.co.uk 

I went to Grammar School in the 1960s and you always did PE stripped to the waist. If you forgot your kit you were made to do it in your underpants and bare feet. Felt good though

Comments by Stuart on 28th July 2013  

Comments by Tommy on 13th July 2013  

Roy stated it was "virtually obligatory" for lads to be shirtless in the 50s and 60's for games/PE. It certainly was for me.
We had a uniform list, remember those? No vest or T shirt was mentioned. I was taught at a Christian Brothers Secondary School in Northern Ireland. Vests were not even permitted under uniform shirts. Shirtless was compulsory year round. One set of bibs (two squares of fabric connected with string) was distributed during matches. Daily morning cold showers only stopped around 1960.

Comments by Roy on 10th July 2013  

When I was at school in the 1950's and 1960's it was virtually obligatory for boys to do PE etc while stripped to the waist.
I fact I was stripped to the waist for PE from day 1 until I left school when nearly nineteen.
It certainly toughened us up and after I got used to it I quite enjoyed going bare-chest even in the cold winters we seemed to have in the fifties and sixties.

Comments by Ted on 8th July 2013  

Interesting, nostalgic memories. I went to primary/secondary schools in 50s/60s. Fortunately/unfortunately no bare chests, just white vest and shorts, no forced nude showers or spankings in gym, or long country runs. But every teacher had a thick spanking ruler on their desk which was used liberally in class.
What I am curious about here is the mention of obligatory nude swimming for boys in some schools. Some even mentioned female coaches or teachers with the nude swimming boys. I am curious to know how prevalent this was, and which schools had obligatory nude swimming in their pools. Can anyone elaborate please?

Comments by Henry on 7th July 2013  

When I was in school, we had to do gym class indoors with the girls until the beginning of sixth form. The girls wore leotards and leggings, but we boys were only allowed to wear shorts, with bare feet and chests, and no underwear. Our leg, armpit and chest hair was on full show. Though some liked to show off occasionally, we all felt quite exposed, but the girls enjoyed it. Occasionally they would try to tickle our sides, armpits or stomachs, just to make us feel more vulnerable.

Comments by James on 28th June 2013  

Sorry! I meant to say teasing.

Comments by James on 28th June 2013  

In reply to Deb R,we had a compulsary school uniform,although short trousers were optional.My parents insisted I wore the full uniform to school including short trousers which meant I was the only boy in my class wearing short trousers.I was subjected to much ridicule and reasing,mainly from the girls and called names like"nappy pants".

Comments by Tim H on 18th June 2013  

@ Deb R - Thanks for your fascinating (& not unexpected?) comments!

Comments by Deb R on 16th June 2013  

A girls view here... A boys kit should either be a vest or preferably bare chest. Why? Well firstly a vest is easy and quick to put on and take off to make up two teams. There's nothing wrong with making boys show their chests to perform exercise. Well it's far more manly and I think gives boys a sense of worth and a pride in their bodies. The doors to the gym had re-inforced glass and I remember always making a point of passing the gym as often as possible (including taking messages to other teachers) to see boys stripped down and, more often than not, sweating - regardless of their age. I must have spent hours watching them barechested on the field/yard or in the gym! It's a shame boys are no longer treated like young men and what can be more manly than being stripped to the waist for PE/Games lessons?

Comments by Jon on 15th June 2013  

I remember when my class did rock climbing on a field trip, none of us brought our PE clothes. As a result, the teacher made all the boys strip off their school shirts and do it in just our shorts while the girls in our class go to sit out and watch. Certainly must have been quite a show for them getting to see all of us barechested and pouring sweat as we strained up that wall.

Comments by Rob on 15th June 2013  

Comments by Graeme on 7th June 2013  

I can't understand why boys have inhibitions about doing PE stripped to the waist.
I always was stripped to the waist and couln't wait to go bare-chested where ever possible.

Comments by James on 2nd June 2013  

We used to get strapped on the bare back in PE which was very painful and left marks. We had a very strict PE teacher who used many forms of punishment including caning the bare backside. Boys were often sent to him by female teachers to be caned which he carried out by in his office next to the gym. We always had to wear our pe shorts and no tops but as the female teachers were often present, we kept our shorts on. Still hurt but taught us a lesson.

Comments by Paul on 2nd June 2013  

At first I thought Gymnastics were brutal. These sessions were around two hours and were intense. I didn't like it at first, and one time sprained my neck whilst doing head stand. Luckily, like most we were quite fit and thin, so this training wasn't too bad. After a while we got used to it and being topless helped keeping cool, even though being really skinny, still made us sweat so much that our mats were covered in it. Most of us were really skinny, and which was normal, due to very little food and intensive activities. Our shorts were blue, not white, and hardly stayed on around my tiny waist, being elasticated, not string. I don't think pupils could take that punishment today!

Comments by Archie on 30th May 2013  

I remember now - they called it a "double whammy"!

Comments by Archie on 29th May 2013  

Still an interesting discussion going on here. As we did PE shirtless our PE masters occasionally punished us by clapping their hands together with us standing in between - so one hand hit our chest and the other our back. Done properly it gave a bit of a sting! They had a name for it, but can't recall what it was. That was obviously only done for minor annoyances rather than for real misbehaviour.

If we were being actually punished we would have to put our hands up and/or bend over for a dose of the belt (tawse).

Comments by Justin on 23rd May 2013  

While I agree with Roy about the kind of punishments that have been described, I can't see why they are different from other practices that were clearly quite common years ago. In other words, why would it be acceptable to cane a boy on his bare backside but not to hit his bare back or front torso? Surely both are painful and humiliating forms of corporal punishment that nobody should have to endure, certainly not children or teenagers. I'm glad to say when I did PE in the 80s none of those punishments were deemed acceptable - we got extra press ups, laps of the pitch or something like that.

Comments by John Lavender on 22nd May 2013  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

@ John : Our PE Teacher didn't employ that Punishment method, but for a Minor offence it was 20 press-ups or squat-thrusts.
Greater mismeandours earned a 'scragging' by the rest of the lads - around 20 - in the class. lasted about 5 minutes , enough to make you think twice before repeating the Transgression. We were in plain-white Tees for PE although we did do 'Skins vs. Vests' for Killerball games. As I pointed out previously quite a while ago, some of us wanted to be barechested all the time and took any opportunity to do the lesson stripped to the waist.

We had 'Running the Gauntlet' as well as a slow-change Punishment. Some of us slow-changed deliberately so we could do it! Occasionally the Runner would stop dead and land a Punch on one of the other lads doing the Back-slapping. A brawl would sometimes break out and that was always good fun! You could always get the score evened up if you were on the Opposing Team in the Killerball game at the end of the lesson. The PE Master telling one team to get into Skins was always the sign that we were going to play it.Used to look forward to that!

Comments by Roy on 22nd May 2013  

If teachers today used any of the methods described by Adam and others it would quite rightly be described as child abuse and dealt with accordingly.

Comments by John on 20th May 2013  

I thought only our PE teacher was the only one to use such painful punishment methods. I can confirm it hurt like hell, when he whipped your back with his cord, and yes, it happened that the cord swung around your body to hit your chest or tummy. As we were always barechested for PE, indoors and outdoors and he also had a unique way of making sure we changed in the least amount of time. The two last boys out of the changing room had to run the gauntlet at the entrance of the gym hall, where the other boys would wait in two lines and hit the boys' bare backs as they passed by. I can assure you, boys at my school got changed within a few seconds!

Comments by Chris on 19th May 2013  

John's comment sent a shiver down my spine. My PE teacher also used the cord of his whistle in that way and, boy, did it sting! One of my worst memories is a PE detention when I was made to take off my vest and do various exercises, but if I failed to complete them correctly or within a tume limit, the whistle cord would come out. He must have had plenty of practice because he managed to aim the cord so that it wrapped around and landed on my chest or tummy! Not a nice man.
Even without that painful 'bonus', it was quite common to be bare-chested for PE punishments, sometimes outdoors as well as in the gym.

Comments by John on 18th May 2013  

Really? Caned on their backs? What kind of offence merited that punishment? Seems extremly harsh too me. At my school in the 70ies we got caned on our backsides but our PE teacher sometimes whipped boys on their backs with the cord of his whistle. Very painful indeed, but we never got the cane on our backs!!

Comments by Adam on 18th May 2013  

I was a day boy at a state secondary school in the sixties and on our first day there it was made clear that you did PE etc stripped to the waist both in the gym and outdoors whatever the weather.
It was no use complaining.Those who did had to do punishment press-ups outdoors for up to an hour still bare-chested.
For the very few who still objected it was not unknown to receive corporal punishment-usually the cane on the bare backside but sometimes a boy would be caned on his bare back.

Comments by Jamie on 17th May 2013  

Yes, the picture brings back memories. I was a boarder at a prep school. We always did pe in just white cotton shorts and plimsolls. If it was sunny, we would go outside and do our lesson on the grass or in the playground. If we went to the tennis courts, we had to walk along the road all stripped to the waist. No one ever gave it a second thought.
For swimming, we had to do the lesson naked. Again, all normal and everyone got on with it. It was a lot easier as you just had to remember your towell.
As a boarded, even at weekends when we went swimming, most boys were naked although we could wear trunks. The ones who wore trunks were generally the weedy one. How things have changed.

Comments by david pattison on 16th May 2013  david.d.pattison@gmail.com 

I went to BGS from 1959 to 1964.
My memories of Mr Parry are of him taking Detention Class in the afternoon.....and doing Gym work as part of detention :-)

Comments by Rob on 13th May 2013  

When I went to secondary school we were supposed to wear a vest for PE but there was one lad (who had come from a different junior school) who never wore a vest for PE.In fact he never wore one at all.
Gradually more and more of us followed his example and very soon we were all stripped to the waist.

Comments by Neil on 7th May 2013  

We used to do PE stripped to the waist whatver the conditions and I think that the girls used to look forward to seeing hunky young lads stripped to the waist!!!!
Also when we did cross-country many of the locals also used to look forward to seeing us all bare-chested and sweaty!!

Comments by Mark on 7th May 2013  

I too well remember doing PE outside stripped to the waist and barefoot with snow on the ground.
It certainly toughened us up and we certainly used to go about bare-chested whenever we could.

Comments by Toby on 3rd May 2013  

My PE teacher was a keen disciplinarian. Our uniform (or lack of) consisted of brief shorts (no underwear), vest and plimsolls or footie boots. Vests often discarded as a punitive measure or to distinguish teams (shirts vs. skins).

Very similar to my school, also during the 1970s but in southern England. We often did shirts vs skins, but I also remember having to remove my vest as a punishment. On one occasion I got into trouble for cutting corners on laps of the playing field and was made to do them again, this time in just shorts and bare chest. For PE detentions we were always in 'skins', which could be in the gym or outdoors. I never really thought about it at the time but I suppose the idea was to make you feel small and less sure of yourself.

Comments by John Lavender on 25th April 2013  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com  http://s1053.photobucket.com/user/hagi52156/media/PE.jpg.html

There is also a UK photo on this URL, Lads Shirtless.

Comments by Dave on 23rd April 2013  

Great scene.It brings back memories.Especially of outisde lessons in cold weather clad only in a vest.Are there any other european old movies which have a PE class scene?

Comments by pierce on 20th April 2013  

This is a very interesting forum which provokes many memories, some good, some bad. However my overriding memory of P E 1970s Northern England is the extreme cold. My PE teacher was a keen disciplinarian. Our uniform (or lack of) consisted of brief shorts (no underwear), vest and plimsolls or footie boots. Vests often discarded as a punitive measure or to distinguish teams (shirts vs. skins).
I recently watched a movie which also brought me back to my teens.
A scene in the film shows lads in a traditional vest and shorts uniform. The thinly clads boys are racing in a snowy park while their teacher and spectators are wrapped up in heavy coats, much like my own PE teacher wore.
Deep End was filmed in 1970 and stars John Moulder-Brown and Jane Asher.
It gave me a chill recalling those harsh winter PE sessions with snow on the ground, biting northern winds and, worst of all, sleet or driving hail stones. We suffered it all but were stronger for it, compared to todays youth who live in over insulated homes and are so susceptible to viruses and colds .
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sN2kFPVu_A4

Comments by James on 13th April 2013  

viewpoint James! From what you say I'm assuming the boys always went bare chested for PE (as well as detention). Do you think that made you more keen to work hard in PE and develop a good body, knowing the girls would be watching and commenting on it? And did most of the boys in your class feel the same? We sometimes did PE bare chested (vests versus skins) but never in front of the girls and that was only up to the age of 16.


Hi Darren, The boys did indeed go bare chested for all PE/Games lessons (and Gym detentions)and I think it did give a certain motivation for boys to put the extra effort in. It was amusing that girls from all different year groups looked forward to seeing us exercise especially on the colder days. The detentions were the worst as it was just you and the teacher so it made more difficult not to put the required effort in.

Comments by Darren on 7th April 2013  

Interesting viewpoint James! From what you say I'm assuming the boys always went bare chested for PE (as well as detention). Do you think that made you more keen to work hard in PE and develop a good body, knowing the girls would be watching and commenting on it? And did most of the boys in your class feel the same? We sometimes did PE bare chested (vests versus skins) but never in front of the girls and that was only up to the age of 16.

Comments by James on 7th April 2013  

Darren, the girls used to see us barechested indoors and outside through until I left at 18 and it made no difference even when doing co-ed classes. It was always good natured banter with them remarking on how we looked, discussing it in the classrooms and us wanting to impress them at the slightest opportunity. One of those girls, who later became my wife, still reminds me about a 2hr detention I was given by the PE teacher in the gym and watching a 16 year old me dripping with sweat as the session dragged on.

Comments by Darren on 5th April 2013  

Interesting how the film focuses totally on the boys even though it's a co-ed class, the girls seem very much in the background. Have to feel sorry for poor Nick, he gets criticised for his lack of ability even though it's the other boy (with the strapping on his leg) who stumbles during the routine! The boys look about 13 or so, I can't help wondering how they felt about being bare chested in front of the girls. Not sure I'd have been comfortable with it at that age (at my school PE classes were single sex).

Comments by Tim H on 5th April 2013  

An interesting piece of film - does anyone know the date? It refers to Key Stage Three which would be late 80s/ early 90s/

The commentary sounds a bit dated but as an example of gym in the UK the 80s its pretty good.

Comments by Pandy on 4th April 2013  

Here's a fairly recently gymnastics class which features the boys shirtless & in shorts while the girls don black leotards

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_gb0CUzwX0

Comments by Alexander on 3rd April 2013  

Shirtlessness is still de rigueur in several armies around the world.
I have found some pictures of Russian soldiers exercising in what they call uniform no 2.
And judging by the leafless trees in the background you can certainly tell that not all of these pictures were taken on a warm summer's day !

http://www.flickr.com/photos/62386222@N06/8615811441/in/photostream/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/62386222@N06/8616923656/in/photostream/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/62386222@N06/8616930006/in/photostream/

Comments by Dave on 2nd April 2013  

Hi Paul!

Where is this photo from?Is this was taken from a school's website?
Yes it seems there are still some schools where shirtless PE kit is a rule.

Comments by Paul on 1st April 2013  

Compulsory shirtless PE seems still to required in some countries today. This photo apparently is of a Polish school:
http://tinyurl.com/c7ck22x

Comments by Paul on 1st April 2013  

In reply to Tim,I had to change into shorts when I returned home from school,as the wearing of short trousers was not allowed at school.Under my parent's insistence and to keep me dressed identicaly as my younger stepbrother,I had to wear shorts for evenings,weekends and holidays.I prefered wearing long trousers,but as this ritual continued I became quite blase about wearing shorts and became indignant about the derogatory comments.

Comments by Tim on 31st March 2013  

My father used to keep my and my four younger brothers shirtless nearly all the time.
As soon as we got home from school we had to strip to the waist and remain shirtless for the rest of the day.
We soon got used to it and by summer time we were all quite sun tanned.

Comments by Donny on 18th March 2013  

have a look at this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yQth3QEXtA

Comments by John Lavender on 18th March 2013  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

@ Dave: Yes, good video.
I do think PE should again be mono-gendered and should much more concentrate on Hard physical work in class (at least 5 1-hour sessions per week)with special emphasis on combatting over-weightness and muscle and general physical developement. PE Teachers should also be gender-specific.
Boys PE should concentrate much more on the forthcoming roles in life of the Boys, in both Sport and Personal Lives.
This might mean some howls of anguish from the "New Breed" of PE Teachers but I think after a few years result in a much better physical fitness profile of the population.

Comments by Dave on 16th March 2013  

If you watch this video you can see (from 5:15) that all the boys are barechested for massed P.T. None of them seems uncomfortable and unhappy because of the kit they have to wear even in mixed exercises.

http://yorkshirefilmarchive.com/film/childrens-day-leeds

Comments by Simon on 15th March 2013  

I attended a state Grammar School in the early sixties and altough the official PE uniform did specify a singlet many boys didn't wear them and always did PE stripped to the waist.
More and more of us followed suit and eventually we were all bare-chested in the gym.
Again a few lads went topless outdoors for cross-country and again more and more lads bared their chests and eventually we were all stripped to the waist.
Some were even barefoot both in and out of doors.

Comments by morgan on 6th March 2013  

Ambrose wrote;
When I was a pupil I thought the dress code for PE was at the whim of the teacher. We were never allowed underwear and were often without shirts; communal showers were compulsory.

Like Ambrose I experienced similar 'whims'.
I entered Boarding School in 1970, aged 15, when my parents moved abroad due to my Father's work as an engineer.
The regime there was brutal.
I soon discovered that some of the items listed on the Games Kit, which my parents purchased, were completely surplus to requirements.
Both games masters were sadists.
Every day of the school year began with a two mile run around the grounds and through the local village. This was year round in just a thin pair of shorts and trainers.
We were predominately shirtless for games including table tennis and cricket. Bare soles and chests in gym, except in teams when it was bibs vs skins. Only one set of bibs were ever issued, despite a huge supply in various colors.
Bare soles and chests outdoors were our games masters whims.
In the evenings other whims included open ended circuit training sessions with no set finishing time.

Some boys hated it and others tried to impress their hardness.

Comments by George on 5th March 2013  

Archie let me reply to your latest questions.

In the normal course of events I didn't catch that many boys up to things they shouldn't have been around the school. Those who I did catch, usually the smokers who for some reason thought a corner outside the gym was a good place to smoke were invited inside for the cane. Smoking got six on the bare bottom without exception.

In such circumstances a boy would be told to take off his blazer and drop his trousers and underpants before bending over a hurdle we kept there for just that purpose.

Also, close to the sports complex were the music rooms. The head of music was a delightful lady in her late fifties and coming up to retirement. As a colleague she was great fun and often the life and soul of a party.

As a teacher, she was mercilessly baited by the boys and unfortunately she used to rise to it. Her lessons often used to descend into chaos and she could not regain control. It was a pity because she really knew her stuff, she taught me to play the piano which was something I had always wanted to do and she was a superb teacher.

Needless to say, I and my colleagues used to pass by the music room and there was a large glass panel in the door which was at the back of the room and we could observe the class without being seen.

With her tacit agreement we would often pause for long enough to determine who the ringleaders were in any particular class and then quietly enter the room and summon them out for a 'discussion'. That usually had the effect of sobering up the whole class in an instant.

The boy or boys summoned for a discussion made their way to the changing room where they were invited to explain their behaviour, I never yet heard a satisfactory explanation and so delivered a just punishment. A first offender got four, a second offender six and a repeat offender eight, always with the cane.

The boy or boys would then be escorted back to the music class, usually with tears in their eyes and told to take a seat at the front where everyone could see them. Usually I delivered a warning that I was close by and that there was plenty more of the same available for anyone who wanted it as an alternative to working hard for the rest of the lesson.

I also used to deliver the odd warning in my classes that any boy I caught misbehaving in music classes was guaranteed a sore bottom.

Comments by Ambrose on 5th March 2013  

It's unfortunate that my original observations on how PE training and supervision has changed seem to have deteriorated into a prurient discussion on caning naked bottoms.
George's original response confirms that we were trained to be naked around boys; in my case in an inner city secondary modern/comprehensive school rather than a single sex private school. The rational behind our training was that we would not appear aloof to the pupils, and that nudity was not something to be shy about. Showering naked together was for no other purpose than to encourage cleanliness and confidence in pupils and to dispel any sense of unnecessary modesty; nobody saw any ulterior motives, and of course any touching was strictly discouraged.
It was not until the 80's that the situation changed, for whatever reason, and nowadays a teacher appearing naked in front of pupils is likely to lose his job for supposed indecency. How have standards deteriorated to this neurotic state? Are their now more teachers with an unhealthy interest in their pupil's bodies?

What are the views of older or retired teachers, or of pupils who saw their teachers naked?

Incidentally, at my school only the Head was allowed to cane;and although we used the slipper, no pupil was ever punished on a bare backside!

Comments by Pete on 5th March 2013  

I'm glad I didn't go to George's school; swimming naked, pe stripped to the waist, no underpants - none of that would have bothered me, but that 20 - 25% of boys at any time bore the marks of caning suggests to me that the custom was widely practiced. I wonder if there was any standardisation to caning or whether the number of strokes was on the whim of the master administering the punishment. Wearing underpants in pe, for instance, would hardly be the most serious "crime" that a boy could commit yet did it make any difference in relation to other contraventions of school rules?

Comments by Adam on 5th March 2013  

When we played football etc.stripped to the waist the teams were identified by wearing different coloured shorts.

Comments by Archie on 4th March 2013  

George - thanks for your latest reply. Slightly off topic, but I was wondering how you dealt with lads who were being caned or slippered but who were not already in PE kit - perhaps, if you caught a boy doing something and made him report for punishment at a particular time.

Presumably you still caned/slippered their bare backsides? Did they keep the rest of their uniforms on with just their trousers and pants round their ankles, or did they have to strip entirely? Did they just bend over and touch their toes or did you have them bend over something?

Did you often slipper or cane other than during a PE lesson?

Comments by George on 28th February 2013  

Archie, no lad was ever slippered or caned in the pool area, it only ever happened in our office or the changing room. Any lad leaving the pool area, if he was not going straight for a shower put his shorts on even if it was only to drop them a few minutes later for the slipper or cane.

Lads often had stripes from the cane across their bottoms when swimming but we saw them when lads were in the showers too. In the earlier years, I suppose it was common to see 20-25% of bottoms sporting marks of the cane, in later years it was much less common and of course eventually it would have died out.

In 1975 the school left local authority control like many others when faced with the comprehensive choice and we were lucky enough to be in a place that had sufficient demand for private education, so the cane remained for quite a few more years than it might have done.

The headmaster however foresaw a day when it would be banned and he encouraged a reduction in its use so that withdrawal would not cause a problem which in the end it didn't. I think in the last year it was legal, it was used twice on senior boys who had bullied junior boys.

The following year two senior boys who had bullied a junior boy were expelled on the spot and that's what happened to boys who ultimately would have been caned and as we were out of local authority control, there was nothing to stop it.

Personally, I still think the cane was the better solution as I doubt most school boys who overstep the mark appreciate fully what they are doing and how much expulsion will impact on their education and therefore life opportunities in a way that a sore bottom for a few days never could although I recognise it will never be reintroduced.

Comments by Archie on 27th February 2013  

John:
I looked at your link and searched a bit online and think that the garment you mention is similar to the slips our masters (and my father) wore, though theirs were the very skimpiest kind. Most of the pictures online have fairly full fronts to the garments, and a 3/4 back whereas our PE teachers had much smaller front areas of cloth whilst their buttocks were totally bare save for a very tiny triangle of cloth at the top of their arse cracks. The strings were very narrow - say 1cm - but did tie at the sides.

George - again, really interesting to hear your answer. Did you ever slipper or cane lads when they were naked in the pool area? Presumably it was a usual enough sight to see lads with cane lines on their backsides during swimming classes?

We had the no underwear rule at school as well, though I have to admit that I (like many of my classmates) flouted it as we became older. We didn't always get away with it and the belt then made an appearance, even in 5th and 6th forms!

Comments by John Lavender on 27th February 2013  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com  http://www.ipernity.com/doc/acaciaap/11504851/in/keyword/410236/self

Hi Archie, I think you are referring in your post a few days ago to an Item of swimwear originating in Germany, named in that language as 'Dreieckbadenhose', translating Literally as 'Triangular bathing wear'
Here - the URL shown - is a photo. The Garment has ties around each hip.
If you want to correspond further off-thread, just email me.
John

Comments by George on 27th February 2013  

Archie, I was twenty one when I started teaching.

Usually for a swimming class we were either in the water or not, it wasn't usual to get in the water in mid class but except as below, I took my shorts off at the pool side if I did. Whether you were in or not depended on the level of the class, if they were beginners it was more common to be with them but less so once they were swimming well. You might get in to demonstrate a new stroke with the boys on the poolside but then get out to observe them, you can't actually see much when you're in the water with them.

If I jumped in spontaneously usually because a boy was in difficulty I didn't stop to take my shorts off.

As to what I wore under my shorts, certainly never underpants and nor did any other master I taught with which I know because we shared an office. I had a jockstrap for playing rugby as a team member but having worn it a few times I found I preferred not to and no one else on the team wore one or for that matter wore underpants. How things have changed now where you see a second pair of shorts appearing down the legs of some rugby players, presumably when you don't see anything they are going commando, much more healthy.

Comments by Archie on 27th February 2013  

George - that's really interesting. So when you were at the side of the pool you had your rugby shorts on and you took them off to jump in? What did you wear under them?

How old were you when you were teaching like this?
Archie

Comments by George on 26th February 2013  

Archie, in the main, we didn't go in the water with boys during swimming lessons though when we did, we were naked. The pool was available to masters and boys during lunchtimes and everyone swam naked during those times. Masters from other schools varied a bit, I can remember one or two who used to come with trunks under their shorts but most were naked in the water.

We also usually taught with bare chests, my usual kit was a pair of black rugby shorts and a pair of trainers. It was a good incentive to stay in shape! I kept a rugby shirt handy for leaving the sports area of the school but didn't see the need to wear it in the gym or out on the fields unless I was a referee or similar.

Eastender, your account typifies all that is wrong with boys today. I can't imagine the poor lad was warm in all his gear, much healthier had he been in shirt and shorts.

Cold weather was often an excuse for wearing underpants when lads were caught. They never actually thought that even it it was cold they would still sweat in the usual places while running, one layer of clothing might dry on a cold day, two would have no chance so, had it been permitted, they would have been wearing cold, damp underpants that would get colder in the wind whereas without them, the sweat would dry off immediately. Similarly if they rolled on wet ground, one layer of kit would dry in a few minutes, two would not dry at all. I suppose these days they don't roll on wet ground in case they catch cold or get dirty.

Of course, there was always hightened vigilance for underpants on cold days and any boy caught failing to take them off left the changing room with a warmer bottom than he might have wished for but he certainly could no longer complain of cold!

Comments by Archie on 23rd February 2013  

I found George's post really interesting, particularly the fact that he (as a PE teacher) was naked in the pool along with the boys. George - did that apply to all the teachers, whatever their age, and also to the ones from the other schools?

Whilst we swam naked, our teachers didn't - the head PE master who was a bit Captain Mainwaring in apperance always wore his tracksuit (he didn't get in the water) but he made the younger PE masters who must have been in their mid 20s strip down and wear a sort of swimming slip.

The best way to describe what they wore is that it was like a triangle of dark cloth to cover their privates with strings round the side and back - a sort of cloth gstring I suppose. They must have been leftover from rationing or something! My father actually wore similar when he used to take me to private swimming baths as well.

I don't suppose the teachers could complain as at least they were covered unlike us boys.

I don't recall our teachers ever showering with us though.

Comments by Eastender on 21st February 2013  

I have written previous comments about how inhibited boys have become these day and how they have become softies. Today I have senn a boy who had clearly just finished a football match. He was with his dad and the boy I should think was about 8 or 9yrs of age. Apart from his football shirt he was wearing quite thick padded shorts & showing underneath were what appeared to be a further pair and football socks looking like tights. The only part of his body showing was his knees,just. Perhaps he was a goalie & nowadays they seem to be proteced from head to toe. How many times were we hit with a real leather football which stung when the weather was cold & frosty. When will the youth of today start to toughen up again?

Having read the previous 2 contributors comments we certainly in my day have nor worries about changing in one room. Most os us went to Scout camp & there you had to dress & undress & all sleep together in a tent with no room for privacy.

Comments by George on 20th February 2013  

What an amazing picture and a collection of comments. If I may, I will add my own perspective which is that of a PE teacher and I don't think I've seen another similar contribution.

I qualified in 1966 so a little after this picture was taken but things hadn't really changed. The picture may have been of my own schooldays just as easily and it is a good example of how PE was taught for may years afterwards.

I joined the staff of a boys grammar school on qualifying and taught there for many years. There were about 800 boys on the roll and I was the junior PE master though my colleague was only a few years older than me. Other masters coached various teams according to their skills and interests. The school had only been open about five years.

We had an excellent gym which was beautifully equipped with all the kit you see in the picture and far more besides. It was carefully looked after and the gym was so big you could divide it in to two so that we could have held two separate classes had we wished. In practice that rarely happened as we generally planned outdoor and indoor lessons to avoid teaching two classes in the gym together but on the occasions we did when the weather was very bad (I'm not talking about a bit of snow or rain here) we generally took both classes in the gym for circuit training.

Team games played were rugby, cricket, basket ball and volley ball and we competed at all levels in these along with swimming. The school had its own pool which was a real luxury though it was used by other schools too so we didn't have unlimited access to it. The other thing we didn't have either compared to the better schools today was any highly specialist skill in individual sports. I knew more about rugby than most and was therefore the expert, I had played at county level in the first XV but no more. As such, in many things we were relative amateurs compared to today.

Training had covered many things about all sports, a lot about football which was great if you taught in a school that played football! We also covered a lot about muscles, anatomy and building strength.There was quite a bit of emphasis too on safety and discipline.

Safety was of paramount importance. We had never heard of risk assessments but of course we did go through the process without having to do all the paperwork we do now. No one expected a fat boy (yes, we called them that then) to shin up a rope and hold position in the same way as a muscular boy without an ounce of fat. We tried to design exercises that challenged the whole class and I think in the main we did it.

Learning to play as a team was important too from all points of view and we sorted out quickly who were the good team players and who were not. Competition was also important, we played sport to win and I think that was healthy and good. I really dislike the current culture of everyone wins a prize, it devalues achievement.

So, what of discipline as it's touched on so often. Yes, I had a very large plimsoll and a cane, in fact in the office I and my colleague shared, we had several of each. PE can be a dangerous subject, any boy endangering himself or others by mischief, misuse of equipment or horseplay could expect a very sore bottom for his trouble. The first time it would be the slipper and if he repeated his stupidity it was the cane. Almost always they were given in the office but very occasionally when an example needed to be made, in the changing room. Whether it was in the office or the changing room, it was always on the bare bottom which was permitted in the rules for use by any master but of course few actually did. Yes boys cried and hated it, they weren't meant to like it and standards certainly slipped when it was withdrawn. There were usually quite a few sore bottoms in any class at the start of the year but after the first half term when the boundaries were established, it was rare to cane a boy though there were probably still two or three slipperings a week. Of course we also saw very clearly when a boy had been caned as week by week they took off their underpants and I would say we whacked less than many masters.

PE kit was in keeping with the times. For rugby there was a shirt, shorts, socks and boots, for cricket usual whites and for anything else there was a pair of white shorts and plimsolls or later trainers. Bare chests were the norm. For swimming there were no trunks unless it was a competition in which case, we had a box full for the boys to use. This certainly wasn't only our school, when boys from other schools used the pool, they didn't have trunks either. All this was quite normal until the early eighties.

Underpants were certainly not worn either. Any boy caught wearing them was in line for the slipper. The reasoning behind this was about hygiene. It had applied when I was at school, in training hygiene was emphasised alongside two other things the first of which was I suppose a crude attempt to educate boys about their bodies growing and changing and if they saw other boys developing hair, having their testicles drop and their penis grow then they wouldn't be alarmed if it happened to them and the second was that there really was an expectation that there would be a third world war and again, all men would be called to arms. In that case there would be no room for shyness so it was better that boys got over that now. This was also the thinking behind communal showers which did no one any harm.

We also used to be encouraged to shower with the boys and it was said it was a way of keeping order. As teachers, we had no private shower facilities so we did use the showers with the boys at times though it was more normal to shower with the older boys than the eleven year olds. Male staff who coached did the same thing and no member of staff wore trunks in the pool either.

Boys might have been uncomfortable at the start having to take off their underpants and shower in a communal shower and swim naked but I don't remember any boy being uncomfortable after after the first three or four weeks.

I stopped teaching PE in the late 80s - it's a younger man's subject and moved into school management as it became known. I missed it, I love watching the boys achieve more than they ever thought they could, it was great to see the smile and sense of achievment on a boy's face when he won, beat a record or just did something better than he ever imagined he could.

Comments by Ambrose on 19th February 2013  

When I was a pupil I thought the dress code for PE was at the whim of the teacher. We were never allowed underwear and were often without shirts; communal showers were compulsory.
When I went to teacher training college in the swinging sixties we were given instruction which included showering with pupils as the best way of supervision. I was required to help out with PE in my secondary modern training practice schools, even though this was not my specialist subject. In all four schools the younger boys wore only shorts for gym, older boys sometimes wore pumps; and swimming trunks under their shorts, never pants. Outdoors it was usual to wear a shirt as well, but in all cases showers were compulsory and taken naked. At the end of the morning or afternoon it was not unusual for the teachers to join the boys naked in the showers.
When I started my first job I taught a few periods of PE and some games after school. I was told that the county advisor had instructed that all normal clothes be removed before PE kit was worn, and boys should shower whenever possible: so we were under orders. It was common for the 5 or 6 men teaching sport at various times to shower naked with the boys; and this practice continued throughout most of the 70's. It was not seen as inappropriate, and nobody was unhappy with the situation at the time.
It would be interesting to know who discouraged the practice and why,since thousands of teachers must have been trained to supervise classes this way. Parents are now neurotic about others seeing their child naked and demand privacy when changing. Pupils even wear swimming trunks in the showers! Staff now feel wary about being in the same room when pupils are undressing, although this is the best way of preventing bullying or horseplay which parents have complained about.
What was so wrong with the old ways?

Comments by John Lavender on 17th February 2013  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

The 'Sticking Vests' syndrome is arguably THE most potent reason for doing gym / running without a top. Several people I know , as well as myself, have done half-marathons and shorter road-races as such, it is even more of an option if you are someone who sweats quite readily.
Doing Gym stripped to the waist is healthier than being wrapped in 2 or more layers, does not infringe any so-called 'Human Rights' and if truth be known, and pupils were asked, would probably be Preferred by Boys in Senior School. Does any school actually ask them what they Prefer, seeing as we are supposed to be in a Democratic Society?

Comments by Eastender on 12th February 2013  

I have contributed in the past & agree with many writers that I do not think many of us had inhibitions about the minimal clothing for PE. I was at Secondary school 1961 to 66 & some of our teachers had been in the war or National Service & they continued with the discipline & machoism they had experienced & that every expected in those days. Admittedly we never were running around with no clothes & trunks were worn for swimming but usally brief & showed your bump but we did have communal showers after PE where you would stand around chatting to each other whilst in the buff with out a thought until the teacher came in and hurried you up.
Without wishing to digress too much I think that having to have community showers & seeing each other naked prepared people for the time when they left school.I went to work in an office but some of my friends who I met up with had jobs in factories. I know of one lad who told me that from day one all the men changed into overalls in a communal room & he had no problems with that. However, a few weeks into his appretinceship,came the "Initiation" when at the end of the day he was taken by the older men and he ended up being stripped & losing some hair(not from his head) As he said at the time at least our schoolday experiences of changing rooms helped him through that event.

Can you imagine anything like that happening at work today?

Comments by Robin on 12th February 2013  

Stephen, like you and James, we also played Pirates - usually as an end-of-term treat, but it seems the rules we used were slightly different. We were a class of 30 and the game started with three boys, chosen by the teacher, as 'IT' or the pirates, and as the rest of us were tagged, we were then 'out'. This went on until there were only three left uncaught who were the winners, and became the pirates for the next game. Our indoor kit consisted of white shorts and t-shirt but whether the shirt was worn or not depended on the activity - in this case, the pirates were shirtless so they could easily be seen.

Comments by James on 11th February 2013  

Stephen,we also played Pirates,but wore our shorts as the gynnasium was on the ground floor and and we could easily been overlooked.However,the swimming pool was built on the first floor and the changing rooms and shower area was next to the pool.We were told it was unnecessary to wear trunks and we had to swim in the nude.I thought swimming was great fun,I was totally unabashed and fount it invigorating.
James

Comments by Stephen on 11th February 2013  stevenkilt@gmail.com 

Comments by John Lavender on 8th February 2013  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

Steven: What was the game 'Pirates'? Explain the way it was played please. Did you need two teams dressed differently to differentiate?
Did you play Killerball as well?

Comments by James on 8th February 2013  

Stephen,our school like yours had a strict uniform policy where boys had to wear short trousers and minimun clothing for games.A shorts only rule was enforced by liberal use of the cane and regular inspections were carried out.Boys caught wearing underwear were given six strokes of the cane.

Comments by Steven on 7th February 2013  stevenkilt@gmail.com 

Comments by Justin on 27th January 2013  

Steve, I can't see the logic of that system. We also had shirts against skins basketball matches at school but if you were a skin you went bare to the waist at the start and stayed like that until the end of the game. I can't imagine it would have been much fun starting on the skins team and having to put a shirt on halfway through the game when you were already hot and sweaty.

Comments by Steve on 21st January 2013  

For inter house basketball competitions we were split into teams of skins vs vests. At halftime we had to swap over so the skins team put their vests on while the other team removed theirs. For PE/Games the boys would all be made to go barechested and teams picked out by the colour of the shorts black or white) This didn't cause any problems.

Comments by Thomas on 20th January 2013  

Agree with Dave - bibs are the best system for telling teams apart in PE. When I started at school we had these coloured sashes that you wore over one shoulder and diagonally across your chest. They were a nightmare as they were often too loose and hampered your movement when you tried to throw a basketball, for instance. It wasn't long before the school replaced them with bibs, they fitted much better and were also easier to make out in a split second when you were trying to find a team mate.

Comments by Dave on 18th January 2013  

If all the boys had to be barechested it is much more easier to have bibs over your shoulders and chests. The vests,rugby top,white shorts,black shorts...etc thing is too complicated for a team game I think.

Comments by Simon on 18th January 2013  

Sam,it would have been much easier to identify opponents if we had been allowed to wear vests,but our kit was dictated by our teacher and as I mentioned the only item of clothing we were alllowed to wear was a brief pair of satin shorts.

Comments by Sam on 17th January 2013  

Simon, what was it like playing in games where the teams were distinguished by different coloured shorts? Did it get confusing? I ask because we sometimes had a similar system at my school, usually when two classes had to share the gym because of bad weather. In the gym we wore white shorts, for outdoors we wore black shorts, so if there were two classes together that meant four teams - vests, football/rugby tops, skins and white shorts, skins and black shorts. But it was always a bit chaotic when the two skins teams were in direct opposition. Normally it was so straightforward if you were playing skins - you could see easily who was wearing his top and who wasn't when you needed to pass. But in these games, when every player was bare-chested, I remember looking around for someone to pass to and being bewildered by a sea of bare skin! By the time I'd checked to see whose shorts were white or black the ball had usually moved, or the pass had been made to the other team by mistake. Maybe it was just me but skins against skins didn't really seem to work!

Comments by Guy on 16th January 2013  

We always did PE and cross-country stripped to the waist.Also we went barefoot in the gym.A few lads would do cross-country barefoot as well.

Comments by Simon on 15th January 2013  

Welcome Lars! We also went without vests and also bare foot with no underwear,just brief satin shorts.For games our teams were identified by the colour of our shorts,blue,yellow,red and green.

Comments by Edward on 14th January 2013  

Looking back, I never questioned whether underpants should be allowed for games and gym. I went to school in the late 1950's/early 60's, and wore cream woollen trunks which had no elastic. They were kept up by tapes which my braces hooked through, so once my trousers were off there was no way that my pants would stay up, so it never dawned that it was odd not to wear underpants for sport. From what I can remember, most of the boys in my class wore similar underwear, except for a few who had progressed to 'Y' fronts, and these were generally derided! How things change!

Comments by Lars on 13th January 2013  

nice bodys....

Comments by Lars on 13th January 2013  zarrer@hotmail.de 

Hi, I am lars fom germany, 19 jears old, and I like verry much your comments to this picture. Unfotunatelly we had pe lessons not always shirtless. For some games with two teams, one team took off there shirts, so I could see the nice chests of my class mates!!!
Since I am bisexual, I like the nice bodys while they play games or do sports!!
I specially liked the comment, where somone wrote, that they wear only the shorts and nothing else!!

bye Lars

Comments by Malc on 7th January 2013  

Kevin, I remember doing dancing at primary school when both boys ang girls were dressed in normal uniform. What it would have been like being with secondary school girls while I was bare chested, I can only try to imagine.

During dances like the waltz, the girls would presumably have had to put their hands on the boys' bare shoulders. What was the temperature like in the hall during these lessons? Were you covered in goose pimples?

Comments by Mark on 6th January 2013  

Kevin:-Did you really have to do ballroom dancing while bare-chested?

Comments by Gordon on 5th January 2013  

Reading these accounts I now realise how lucky I was as a scoolboy. I went to a grammar school in the south in 1959 where there was a very relaxed attitude towards sporting dress, though not to uniform in general. For football I think we were told we ought to wear some form of support, and most of us wore swimming trunks under our shorts, but no-one ever checked. I don't remember any strict rules about dressing for gym or cross-country, we were just told to put on gym shorts and plimsolls. Some boys never wore a vest anyway and they would go bare-chested in the gym, but most of us who did wear vests kept them on for gym and for cross-country runs. The same applied to underpants. In all the six years I spent at the school I can't remember any time when anyone was even told off, let alone punished, for wearing underwear in the gym. Vests could not have been more visible. I wore old-fashioned baggy white trunks which had a habit of slipping down after a bit of vigorous gym exercise or cross-country running, and an inch or two of underpant-leg would very often show (for other boys wearing the same style of pants, too), so it must have been obvious that we had kept our underwear on. I can't see what the problem was! We sometimes did cross-country runs in cold weather and the gym was never well heated. You can call me a southern softie if you like, but I think I was fortunate to be in a school where this relaxed attitude was taken. With a variety of different styles of vest, and with our sagging underpants, we were not the height of sartorial elegance, but did it matter? At least we were comfortable.

Comments by Kevin on 5th January 2013  

The uniform the te picture was exacty the same for us in the early 50s. This was not a problem because we quickly got used to it. We had PE twice a week plus a games afternoon. Being a co-ed school the girls alternated with the boys for use of the gym, the other lesson taken outside, whatever the weather. When it was wet sometimes the female teacher would arrange for the girls to share the hall with the boys, so the lesson was spent learning ballroom dancing. This was the only time when some of us got embarrased about being topless. As 11 year old we weren't that keen on getting too close to girls, especially girls dressed in navy blue knickers and white aertext shirts. As we got older these shared lessons were often more enjoyable, with us boys jostling to be partnered with the more developped girls.

Comments by Andrew on 4th January 2013  

The comments from Ed are so accurate! Bare chests and icy cold communal showers were my experience too. Add in the slipper and the odd dose of the cane and it summed up PE sessions which in spite of those things were still great fun.

The general shyness of the current generation amuses me, do they think they have something different and need to hide it? I'm glad I grew up when I did and not in the current time.

Comments by Dave on 3rd January 2013  

"I suspect that Eastender is right about a possible rebellion if boys were required to go bare-chested today."

I think boys wouldn't really mind. They are shirtless for swimming lessons. What is the difference?
I think some parents and teachers are the ones who take it like a problem not the boys themselves.

Comments by Doug on 3rd January 2013  

Eastender,you raise interesting comparisons.
As a teenager at school,I received several detentions for having my shirt coming untucked. Like many of my mates,I started to tuck my shirttail into my underpants, and this cured the problem,although the elastic of my drawers was usually showing above my trousers. Surprisingly, my teachers never picked upon this,and I still use this method to keep my waist tidy. Braces were not allowed, nor were belts, so I guess we were the first saggers!

Comments by Neil on 2nd January 2013  

I suspect that Eastender is right about a possible rebellion if boys were required to go bare-chested today.
In my day you had no choice and wouldn't dare rebel.

Comments by Eastender on 2nd January 2013  

To Robert the last messenger & all others.

It is extraordinary the 2 extremes we see today. As you say pop groups & others showing their braces. Then the opposite trousers slung so low they show more underwear than anything else. Free advertising for certain companies. On the other hand when old men used to tuck their shirt in their pants and the elastic showed over the top of the waistband,it was thought funny. Of course they did not show off "designer" labels

To return to the topic of PE, I expect that if a school tried to introduce shorts with no pants & no tops these days, there would be a rebellion. Do schools provide showers with individual cubicles these days?

Comments by Robert on 2nd January 2013  

Hi Eastender

You raised and reminded me of another interesting aspect of life in the 1960's. Like you I received a strong word for removing my blazer when I was wearing braces, although many of my mates did so as well. I was given the option of taking my braces off or putting my jacket back on. I had to suffer the heat of my blazer as my braces not only kept my trousers up, but also my underpants, as elastic then was of suspect quality! It did not strike me at the time that braces were considered as underwear, not to be seen, or I might have been more embarrassed. As it was, my dad and Granddad both wore braces, uncovered,and nobody batted an eyelid.

How different today,when I see many pop group members playing in their braces. It must have had an effect though,as I am now loathe to let anyone see my braces, although I am in my 50's,but my grandson has no such qualms.Lucky lad!

Comments by Robert on 2nd January 2013  

Hi Eastender

You raised and reminded me of another interesting aspect of life in the 1960's. Like you I received a strong word for removing my blazer when I was wearing braces, although many of my mates did so as well. I was given the option of taking my braces off or putting my jacket back on. I had to suffer the heat of my blazer as my braces not only kept my trousers up, but also my underpants, as elastic then was of suspect quality! It did not strike me at the time that braces were considered as underwear, not to be seen, or I might have been more embarrassed. As it was, my dad and Granddad both wore braces, uncovered,and nobody batted an eyelid.

How different today,when I see many pop group members playing in their braces. It must have had an effect though,as I am now loathe to let anyone see my braces, although I am in my 50's,but my grandson has no such qualms.Lucky lad!

Comments by Ed on 1st January 2013  

I remember gym sessions like this and they were great fun, never mind bare chests and no underpants, we learned skills and gained strength from these sessions.

I don't really remember the gym being cold and if it was, we didn't stay cold for very long. The changing room was a different matter, the windows were always wide open no matter what the weather so it was like stripping off outside in winter. The showers were always cold too so freezing in the winter but they did no one any harm and any boy who was not properly under could be sure of a sore bottom and then sent back in. Communal showers were the norm too and no one seemed to question them or mind, we were there to get washed and when dirty and sweaty I was always glad of the shower.

Going to the gym these days makes me laugh, the showers are all in very private cubicles but of course you have to strip to go in and you come out naked too so what's the point of the cubicles?

Comments by Michael on 31st December 2012  

Being stripped to the waist was nothing unusual for us as it marked out the teams in "skins versus shirts" games. The problem was more connected with the chilly temperatures usually encountered in the school gym.

Our (most unpleasant) PE teacher, who was warmly clad, used to tell us to run around to get warm, but this wasn't possible if we had to stand on one side waiting for our team's next turn.

If we dared to suggest we were cold, he called us softies, and compared us with previous years of classes which had been composed of much hardier pupils, who did not feel the cold as keenly as we did.

He might have had a point, because by that time (mid 1960s) a fair number of us lived in centrally heated homes. Living standards were improving, so it was all the more of a shock to encounter the icy, spartan conditions of the school gym.

Comments by Paul on 31st December 2012  

I well remember the winter of 1962/63 when despite it being the coldest winter in living memory we still had to do PE stripped to the waist both in the gym and outdoors.
Personally being stripped to the waist didn't worry me at all but I know some lads didn't like having to go bare-chested.They were left in no doubt that like it or not you stripped to the waist and got on with it.

Comments by Andy on 30th December 2012  

Comments by Guy on 28th December 2012  

I will never forget the first time I had to be bare chested for PE. I was 14 and up to then I'd always done PE in a vest and shorts, as did every boy in the class. At the start of the new school year in September we had a new teacher for PE but nobody thought anything of that, we just turned up and got changed into our usual kit. The teacher arrived and, after introducing himself, informed us that we were all incorrectly dressed for his gym lesson. From now on our kit was to be white shorts (and socks and trainers). There were a few puzzled looks and one boy actually asked 'what do we wear on top, sir?', to be told 'Nothing. No tops - take them off' and at that point the penny dropped. I remember my heart pounding with nervousness and hoping that I'd somehow misunderstood. But one by one boys began to strip off their vests and move out to the gym and I reluctantly realised I had to do the same. Some boys didn't seem that bothered, mainly the ones who were already displaying signs of defined pectorals and six-pack stomachs. Meanwhile I felt as if I was totally naked, standing in the gym with my chest bare - it was a new experience and one I wasn't comfortable with.
Like Chris, I tried crossing my arms so that they covered my nipples. That was fine while we were lined up in the gym but of course I couldn't run like that so eventually I had to give up and put my arms down. I just imagined that everyone else was looking at my chest, although I'm sure some of the other boys were just as nervous and uncomfortable as I was.
Later I learned from a friend in another class that they'd had PE in their usual kit; it was only my teacher who made boys strip to the waist. We were still allowed vests for outdoor PE, but never in the gym - that was how it stayed all year and it took a while before I got used to it.

Comments by ROY on 27th December 2012  

I knew that I would have to be stripped to the waist for PEas soon as my parents received the uniform list for Grammar School(in 1959.)
On my first PE lesson all us boys just stripped to the waist and went into the gym without any problems.
Nobody tried to hide their nipples(or belly buttons) and within a few days we all accepted that we did PE bare-chested without any worries.

Comments by Chris on 27th December 2012  

Hey everyone let's share the experience after finding out you have to be bare chested for P.E lessons in the 1st lesson. Was it terrifying? Was it embarrassing? Did you try your best to cover your nipples? (like I did) In the 1st lesson I tried my best to cover my nipples because I was embarrassed... Upon finding out, the demented P.E teacher forced me to lift my arms up and ordered one of my classmates to cover them for me! I felt soooo weird! The nxt lesson I never tried something like that again.

Comments by Eastender on 26th December 2012  

Sorry my typing went awry in my last comment. To make sense, he middle phrase should read:

(remember, these were youngsters) but boys always kept their shorts on and did not take part in pe in their pants.


The remainder of my comments are then as written

Comments by Eastender on 23rd December 2012  

In response to comments by Nick. I was at a Junior Scholl up to 1961. Pe for boys was norn=mal grey shorts but we wore our vest. Girls did pe in their underwear. Very rarely during a hot summer boys might remove their vest & even sometimes the girls (remeber these were young sters) would be bare top but boys always kept it being unfair for the girls . Equality was not a concern. However, I do remember that one very hot summers day I took of my blazer. The headmistress was horrified because I was wearing Braces on my trousers. She made me put my jacket back on saying men/boys did not show their braces. But then as I have written above girls were in underwear for p.e. Definately a different era then. But who worried?

Comments by Nick on 20th December 2012  

Max. Music and Movement was broadcast on the radio by the BBC schools service. Schools usually recorded it - the programme was played back to us in the school hall via a loadspeaker mounted in a huge wooden panel. We had Music and Movement in the junior years at primary school. The girls wore knickers an vests and the boy had to strip down to grey school shorts. I think we were all barefoot. I remember some of the boys asking if they could wear vests as the girls did - the response was that they could but the shorts would have to come off so they were wearing just pants. What a strange and distant world! But one thing I will always be grateful for is that I was introdued to Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kije through M&M in Juniors 3 (quite elightened when you think about it!).

Comments by Archie on 20th December 2012  

Responding to Tony's question:
"Archie
How does it feel to be shirtless? aren't you ashamed the fact that other boys will see your chest & nipples? How was your 1st lesson shirtless?"

Tony - it was more than 30 years ago that I was first shirtless in a PE class, so the memory of my feelings is a bit hazy. I don't understand why any of us should have been ashamed at being shirtless, given that most if not all of us would have been swimming at some point in our lives prior to the age of 9 when we started at the school! I really don't see the fuss with lads having to strip to the waist.

Comments by Simon on 20th December 2012  

We only wore minimum clothing for all our physical activities,which were often shared with the girls.We only wore a vest for cross country runs,just brief,satin shorts were considered adequate.

Comments by Max on 19th December 2012  

Nick, your memory's clearly better than mine! You're right, now I think about it the class was called Music and Movement. Did you have the same thing at your school and was it also boys and girls in the class together?

Comments by Tony on 19th December 2012  

Archie
How does it feel to be shirtless? aren't you ashamed the fact that other boys will see your chest & nipples? How was your 1st lesson shirtless?

Comments by Archie on 18th December 2012  

They probably saw the dancing as a PE activity - no idea why else we'd have to get changed. No matter what we were doing in PE we had to get changed - even one day I remember having to strip down to shorts in order to sort through applications for tickets for sports day afternoon teas! If you were sitting out the class for any reason, such as illness, you stil had to get changed and sit at the side.

Bizarrely the only time I remember Having clothes on in the gym was one day in about fourth year when we were taught how to put someone in the recovery position and give mouth to mouth (on a dummy). We were told simply to take off our shoes and leave them outside the gym and just to go in in our stocking soles, which caused some anxiety amongst those of us who were wearing non- regulation white socks as they were so obvious to the PE teacher taking the class

For outside games - rugby, athletics, cricket etc - we wore the appropriate kit. For outside PE lessons we wore the same as indoor PE but were (again bizarrely) sometimes permitted to wear our school jumpers back to front. I never really understood that! That wasn't universal and as we were older we got to wear an athletics vest, though again if the weather was good we'd probably be made to go shirtless. The school was in a residential area (though wi playing fields out front) and we sometimes had to do road running around the nearby streets - sometimes but not always shirtless

Comments by Jon on 17th December 2012  

Archie,thank you for the answering.

What did you wear for outdoor lessons?

"The girls for some reason did that wearing their gym tunics (basically skirts with a sort of dungaree style top half that they wore as school uniform on days they had gym), but we boys still had to strip down to our PE kit."

I've never heard about boys having to be shirtless for dancing practice.I think it was rare as well as swimming nude.

Comments by Nick on 16th December 2012  

Max. Could it have been Music and Movement?

Comments by Archie on 14th December 2012  

Answering Jon's questions:

"what was the boys' reaction for having to be shirtless for PE and naked for swimming lessons?"

I remember when we started at the school at the age of about 9 when we were told that we were to be shirtless and have no underwear on for PE - our parents presumably knew we were going to be shirtless as only shorts were specified on the kit list. It was a bit strange the first couple of times as we weren't used to being naked in front of each other, but as others have testified it is something you soon get used to. By the time we starting swimming lessons we were pretty comfortable stripping off for gym - and the showers afterwards - so the idea of being bare in front of each other wasn't quite so bad. It was still strange to start with, but I got used to it quite quickly and it stayed that way until I left school just before my 18th birthday.

"Was there any reason given for kit rules?"

Just the usual - hygiene, not wanting us to wear sweaty underpants for the rest of the day etc. For swimming in the buff there wasn't ever really an explanation - it's just how boys swam at school.

"Was there any PE lesson where you shared the hall with girls?"

This happened only rarely, such as when a teacher wasn't available to have two separate classes. The only organised joint sessions were when we were taught country dancing together in advance of school dances, which would be a couple of times a year. The girls for some reason did that wearing their gym tunics (basically skirts with a sort of dungaree style top half that they wore as school uniform on days they had gym), but we boys still had to strip down to our PE kit. Presumably this was due to the teachers not thinking too much about the inequality, but no reason was ever given.

Comments by Michael on 13th December 2012  michaelabbey@rocketmail.com 

Archie
I was interested to read your comments.
We were not allowed pants either under our white PE shorts, or under rugby kit. Later we were encouraged to wear Speedo type swim trunks for comfort and those who were in the various teams usually did. Any boy who was obviously lacking support underwear was given some 'advice' by the sports teacher.
Later again some lads wore a jockstrap although they were a minority.
At that time I do not remember being stripped to the waist for any of our sports lessons but corporal punishment was meted out.
I've included my email if anyone wants to comment apart from on the forum.

Comments by Max on 13th December 2012  

Charles B's post reminded me of my own junior school days (late 70s/early 80s) when we did a class that was kind of a cross between gymnastics, dance and a bit of drama too - I forget exactly what it was called but it was girls and boys together. Girls could wear a leotard or t-shirt and shorts, for boys it was just shorts and bare chest. Everyone went barefoot and it was quite warm in the hall so that wasn't a problem. You could wear any colour shorts you liked so a lot of boys opted for red as they supported Liverpool. Those who wanted could also wear the same shorts for swimming, which was once a week at a local pool and also mixed. That was how it stayed until the age of 12 when we moved on to senior school and had more 'traditional' PE lessons, with a proper uniform and boys and girls separate.

Comments by Jon on 13th December 2012  

Archie, what was the boys' reaction for having to be shirtless for PE and naked for swimming lessons?
Was there any reason given for kit rules?
Was there any PE lesson where you shared the hall with girls?

Comments by Archie on 10th December 2012  

At my independent school in the early to mid 80s, we had gym wearing fairly skimpy black shorts, no underwear, bare chested and white plimsolls. Later on when we were seniors we were allowed to wear jockstraps or speedos under the shorts, but lads regularly got caught wearing underpants instead. We must have been one of the last UK schools that still had swimming in the buff as well. Corporal punishment was still used regularly in the form of the tawse and, in PE, the slipper (really a gymshoe).

Comments by Howard on 9th December 2012  

I'd rather see boys in short shorts than girls in short shorts.By what is happening all around these days,whatever the girls are wearing would make whatever that's described here of what the boys have to wear as very mild and un-ludicrous.Mine is a hot country and boys are still wearing knee length shorts n berms despite the girls wearing short tight to a horrific extent,often even torn,now thats true ludicrosity.If u looked at K pop girls u'd see truly absurd shorts.And no,the cold weather doesnt stop them.My may be a hot country,but im aware in both asian n american countries during winter some girls still wear their absurd hotpants,abeit maybe with stockings,but thats still absurd,as compared to a sensible winter pants for winter.If u look at japanime,u'd see girls in so-called bloomers,which are no different from colored briefs,doing PE in them.In comparison,satin shorts would be very mundane n covered.
Hence i strongly encourage boys,who still have their tight short shorts with them,to continue wearing them,maybe not in winter,but definitely in summer.It's our right and freedom to stay cool,and we either use it or lose it.Don't let short shorts get labelled as feminine clothing,cos that would really be ludicrous.Many people are getting misled,especially ignoramuses in asia,who follow weird trends blindly without understanding how it came about,and forgetting a true image of a lady isnt in short shorts;short shorts are supposed to be masculine and should remain as such.

Comments by Richard I on 6th December 2012  

Boarding school on the freezing fylde coast was my fate in the seventies. Naked bathing would have meant instant death in our outside pool so even school normally sadistic games teachers didnt insist upon that!Once you joined Big School and puberty descended, litesome jockstraps were standard underwear for all games. We all bought our straps from the school shop so embarrasing shopping trip with your mother was avoided!

Comments by Charles B on 4th December 2012  

At the primary school I went to in the 70's (up to the age if 9), boys went bare top. It wasn't unusual for some of the girls to do the same. They weren't forced to, but weren't made to put their t-shirts back on either. From what I remember, it was always the same ones and all very innocent. Teachers were all female.

Comments by Simon on 28th November 2012  

I too remember those shiny,satin shorts of the late seventies and early eighties.They came in various colours,but had a similar style with side slits as previously mentioned.These shorts were worn without underwear and they were ludicrously brief and tight fitting.They were worn for a variety of sports including gym,which on some occasions we shared with the girls.One cross country running event which was held in the cold winter of 1981,I was asked to hold the finishing tape for two hours wearing nothing more than shorts and vest.Teachers complained of the bitter cold,when wearing long coats,scarves,hats and gloves.

Comments by Eastender on 22nd November 2012  

Following on from Andy's comments, we were supposed to wear tight white shorts (nylon) and they were really quite see through. however, we had some rebels who wore shorts with splits & I remember one lad who purposely made the splits larger & nothing was left to the imagination. Following suitable punishment he never wore them again. As Andy says in an all boys enviroment & our was a boys only school no one worried about what showed.

I still think that lads for all their so called machoism are very inhibited witnessed by trhe long shorts worn br proffesional footballers.

Comments by Andy on 20th November 2012  

I remember those satin shorts - I had a pair of Adidas ones. We were not allowed to wear branded kit at school and so they were automatically banned. I remember one lad putting a pair on for gym one day and they really did leave nothing to the imagination not in may ways that it mattered in a class of boys.

He was ordered to remove them, the plimsol was applied to his bottom and he was ordered to find a pair of suitable shorts from the spares box. The comment from the PE teacher went something like 'just because you are a knob lad doesn't mean we want to see yours hanging down your shorts'.

Laughs all round, one red faced and red bottomed lad duly reprimanded!

Comments by James on 17th November 2012  

We wore satin shorts for all sports,which were extremely flimsy with side slits.They offered very little protection from the cold weather and the brevity of these shorts left very little to the imagination.

Comments by Tom on 17th November 2012  

As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of the severe winter of 1962/63 I well remember having to do outdoor PE stripped to the waist in the ice snow and freezing fog.It was no point in complaining.
I also remember a few months later being bare-chested for games in the middle of a mini heatwave.

Comments by Dave Stewart on 16th November 2012  mcwilliam@armymail.mod.uk 

In reply to Nicks question i was 15 at the time

Comments by Steve on 15th November 2012  

I remember in the cold winter of 1962/63 having to do outdoor PE and games while stripped to the waist.

Comments by Nick K on 6th November 2012  

Dave. How old were you when this happened?

Comments by Dave Stewart on 5th November 2012  

I went to a school where for PE and Football it was white nylon shorts and either a white vest for PT or a blue shirt for football. All were very thin and offered little protection. At the time the norm was for no underwear under the shorts and most PE went topless also. At the begining of secondary school we had the no underwaer rule enforce by changing practices! After a couple of years though it seemed it was not being enforced. It was one frosty morning for football and I kept my white pants on under my shorts for football as it was so cold. Even though my pants were white you could see them through the material and the other lad was even less dicsrete as he wore blue pants.
Today was the wrong day for it and another lad and myself got picked out before we had even started to a game.
It turns out that our teacher had been turned down for promotion the day before and we two seemed to be an excuse.
The teacher made the rest of team huddle up against a wall whilst we both had to explain why were wearing pants.
I think my excuse of saying it was cold did not help either.
We were both ordered to take our footbal shirts off which we did and we stood there arms folded teeth chattering and the breath in front of mouths.
We got the lecture about hygenie etc as the rest of the team sniggered and shuffled around trying to get warm.
He then told us to take our shorts off and our pants and put our pants on our heads and run round the perimeter of the pitch and put our pants on the goal posts and then run back. The last one back would get an extra 5 strokes for being last.
We bent down to pick our shorts up and were told no we could have our shorts back when we had run round the pitch. The rest of the class were laughing there heads off by now.

we both set off bollock naked except for our pants on our heads and socks and football boots. As we got to the other end and dumped our pants at the goal posts we said we would run back and cross the line together so that neither of us could loose.
We ran back freezing cold by now and crossed the line with rest of the class chearing and laughing at us.

The teacher was unimpressed and told us to run round again as we had not put the effort in and one of us was not trying.
We both set off again my skin now blue and everything numb from the cold. I came across the line last.
We both were told we had detention after school for that me to get six wacks and the other lad just one.

we both got our shorts back on quickly and finished the lesson freezing and numb.
It was even worse when we walked back into the changing room and a bit of warmth as every bit of my skin felt it was stinging then.

After school we went for detention and our punishment which was just in our nylon shorts only.

we also had to spend the rest of the week after school each day cleaning the changing rooms in just our shorts.

i never wore pants again under my shorts.

Comments by Simon H on 1st November 2012  

Brings back memories. For a couple of years we had light nylon shorts with an inner cotton liner so no underwear was needed. The kit changed back to quite heavy cotton shorts with no lining, and a horrible seam stitching. Underwear was still prohibited.

Like many contributors, a white vest was listed for outdoor games but never worn. The reason proferred was previous pupils wearing their normal uniform vest, which was also white.

Strange how these were insisted upon in winter under layers of clothing!

The cold got right into ones bones. The master would be well wrapped up with overcoat and hat. Cold Showers also featured alot during my Grammar School Days.

Comments by Joseph on 28th October 2012  

What great memories this picture brings back. I loved school and I loved games and gym even more. Getting out of the classroom for a couple of hours twice a week was a treat that I and I think most boys looked forward to. One class was outside sport, rugby and cross country in the winter, softball, cricket and athletics in the summer. The other was inside and usually a hard gym session just like the one in the picture, rope climbing, the vaulting horse, circuits, press ups and lots more, all aimed at helping us to grow up healthy and strong.

Yes, the PE teachers were strict (but so were all teachers in those days), a size twelve plimsol dealt with any misbehavior very quickly and effectively. Plimsols and shorts were the kit - no underpants, for rugby you got a shirt, socks and boots too but still no underpants, we didn't have cricket whites. Showers were always freezing cold but good and refreshing after hard exercise and we left the sessions feeling fantastic, looking forward to the next one.

Great and very happy days.

Comments by Phil on 21st October 2012  

Of course in the fifties and sixties and into the seventies my mother did not have an automatic washing machine. Clothes were worn for several days before changing and that included vests and underpants. In the current time it's unthinkable that underpants would not be changed at least once a day but just as there was then the cane in school, times have changed. Taking off underpants for PE when there was often copious sweating and dirt if playing rugby made perfect sense. The fact that it was, it would seem a universal practice demonstrates the sense of it.

All these years later, I still sweat in the gym and like most men, I dont' wear underpants now either. Old habits die hard!

Comments by Nick on 21st October 2012  

I was at school in the late 60s / early 70s and like many others we had a no pants rule for games. Like Rob we were told it was for hygene reasons and a complete change of clothes was required. Younger boys wore nothing under the shorts but from about age 13 a Litesome jockstrap was worn.
I remember occasionally doing gym in skins at junior school, but at the senior school we had shirts in house colours so there was no need for skins to distinguish teams.
The reason for not wearing underwear for sport is just as valid today as it was then so I don't see why schools don't keep the same rules.

Comments by Rob on 20th October 2012  

Of course in the immediate post-war years(the forties fifties and early sixties)there was more discipline in the schools and generally in society.If you were told you had to go about at school in particular for games etc while stripped to the waist you just got on with it.In fact after a while most lads rather enjoyed the freedom of going around while bare-chested.

Comments by Eastender on 19th October 2012  

The last person to comment confirms what I wrote a long time ago. Back in the era of the 60's no one seemed concerned about the "no pants rule" that was it & we were told it was for hygiene reasons . I suppose in the modern day it would not be "correct" to ask boys to particiopate in pe without underwear. I have also mentioned previously that our tight pe shorts gave us support. Whereas the modern day trend for wearing boxers if worn under shorts would seem to give no protection or support unless lads are compelled to wear some form of athletic support for protection. About time ladds were encouraged to be manly again.

Comments by Rob on 18th October 2012  

Paul and Ben are absolutely correct. There was nothing remotely strange or suspicious about doing PE in shorts with no underpants and no shirt. It was explained in our very first lesson that the body sweats much more during strenuous exercise and therefore a complete change of clothing was required. That made perfect sense to me, and still does. We had the option of bringing another pair of pants to change into but nobody ever did. It felt a bit odd at first but after a few minutes, I found running around just wearing a pair of shorts with nothing underneath gave me a sense of freedom and was quite exhilerating, and became something I looked forward to every week.

Twenty years on, I was really quite shocked to find out in a chance conversation with my son that he and all his peers wore their PE shorts on top of their pants. How can that be healthy or hygenic?

I, too, am glad I grew up then and not now when some people have been brainwashed into viewing everything - including things they know nothing about or have no experience of - with suspicion and paranoia.

Comments by Jon on 18th October 2012  

If you look at photos and videos about school life you can see that from about the late 1930's early 40's (especially in the UK but in other countries as well) most schools in Europe changed boys PE kit into shorts and no shirts.In the UK it lasted as far as the late 80's-early 90's, in other european countries till about the 70's I think. I wonder how it had become so widespread. A school isn't in connect with every other schools. So was it a federal recomnmendation from a health establishment?

Comments by Ben on 13th October 2012  

Paul's point is correct, yesteryear should not be judged by today's norms. Where would we be if it was - would a judge and hangman be tried for murder? Would a police officer carrying out a judicial birching be tried for assault alongside teachers who quite correctly caned misbehaving schoolboys?

I think life was good growing up in the fifties and sixties. I was never aware of anything that might remotely have constituted abuse unless getting the cane for misbehaviour or being instructed to take off underpants before rolling round on a muddy rugby field was abuse but actually it was common sense. I'd rather have grown up in that age than the current one with all the sensitivities and paranoia.

Comments by MARK on 11th October 2012  

I agree with Paul that what is acceptable in one age may not be at another time.In the fifties the country had just come through a major war and there was still conscription.Boys accepted that you did PE stripped to the waist and just got on with it

Comments by Paul on 10th October 2012  

I don't think that it is possible to judge another age by the norms of the current time. I never had the slightest sense that I was being abused at school whether it was taking my underpants off for PE or getting the cane on my bare bottom.

Comments by Roy on 10th October 2012  

Leo is probably right and it was not confined to boys as witness the revelations about Sir Jimmy Savile and other so-called celebrities.

Comments by Leo - a Survivor on 9th October 2012  

Just read this thread. Naked swimming, no underpants under shorts, no tops, members of staff peaking down the fronts of boys' shorts. Penises shrivelling in the winter cold. Staff 'supervising' queues for the shower.

Don't you think this adds up to something just a little more sinister than training for a 'stiff upper lip'?

It's called paedophilia, which was, and may still be, deeply embedded in the British education system.

Comments by Jon on 7th October 2012  

If you type the word "gymnastics" ,"gym", "physical education"..etc. you can see that on most of the pictures boys are barechested for PE and gym clubs even in the presence of girls.

http://www.friendsreunited.com/Search/SearchByKeyword?keyword=gymnastics

Comments by Roger on 29th September 2012  

When I srarted at secondary school in the late fifties our official PE uniform was vest and shorts.
We had come from two different primary schools.At one the boys had done PE bare-chested while at the other one the boys wore singlets.
The bare-chested group started to remove their vests for PE and go stripped to the waist and soon afterwards the other lads started to go topless as well and eventually the games master made us all go stripped to the waist both in the gym and on cross-country runs as well.

Comments by Malcolm on 19th September 2012  

I remember Ron Parry!!!! The only person ever to send me off in any Team Sport (I retired from playing Rugby aged 43). Mind you, I did call him a c**t!! (Aged about 15 during a house soccer match Brun vs Ribblesdale)

Comments by IAIN on 19th September 2012  

We also did PE stripped to the waist.We seemed to be divided into three groups-those who enjoyed being bare-chested,those who hated it and the majority who put up with it.
I certainly toughened us up being stripped to the waist outdoors in all weathers.

Comments by Michael on 12th September 2012  

There was a marked contrast in the way our PE master treated his select group of favourites, as opposed to the less adept pupils, including myself.

After experiencing an accident in the gym, which left me winded, fighting for breath and barely conscious, he did nothing except order a group of boys to carry me back into the changing room. This they did - dumping me on the floor and leaving me alone to recover in my own good time.

But, on those occasions when one of his favourites had suffered a mishap, he was most attentive and sympathetic.

He spoke quite civilly to his select group and I never saw him punish any of them physically, but he just barked orders at the less able group and regularly used his gym shoe on us.

It was not a good way to encourage youngsters to enjoy sport - but things were very different in the 1950s and 1960s.

Comments by paul on 10th September 2012  

It was the same, two PE teachers, both different. The other was biased towards the sporty, fit boys. God forbid if there was a fat/useless boy, as would be humiliated in-front of the class. Example on the horse, you were supposed to jump it. He was made to jump it, but ran into the side instead, moving it a little(couldn't jump on the spring-board), with everyone laughing, and repeated it until he got bored.
However the "elite" group would be in the same 'dorm. Normally 8-10 of us ate, trained and slept together. Apart from classes, where we were split.

Comments by Rob on 9th September 2012  

Interesting comments about PE teachers being ex-military or police. We had two teachers - both were very strict but completely different. The younger of the two had always been a teacher and everyone hated him - he was a real bully. The older one was ex-Army, affectionately known as 'Sarge', and was liked and respected by all. Once he'd established the regime for his lessons - the rules about kit, all instructions (orders!!) to be obeyed immediately and without question, etc (and it didn't take long with us newly arrived 11-year-olds to comply!) and everybody knew where they stood with him and that he was not to be messed with, then he relaxed a little bit with us. It didn't matter if you were not one of the real 'sporty' types (unlike the other guy who wasn't interested in you if you weren't in a school team) - you still got praise if he could see you were putting 100% effort in, and would find ways to reassure you and boost your confidence. He seemed to really understand boys our age - you could go and talk to him about anything and he was the one who let those of us who liked the rough stuff play Killerball and have wrestling tournaments at the end of term - the perfect PE teacher as far as I was concerned.

Comments by paul on 7th September 2012  

At my school, we were always topless, except for football and rugby. In the gymnasium, our PE Teacher was ex army and although hard was a great instructor. I was at boarding school and every morning would start with a 6-mile run around the grounds - topless, in all weathers. In the gym, all events were conducted with just shorts - no trainers, because of the floor.
The gym was cold - even in summer, the excuse is to keep moving, not getting cold. We got used to it, all sports were done this way, but even when freezing outside running was still topless. In the gym, we saw how our bodies looked during drills. For example during the rings I had to stop and hold my arms until I couldn't hold it. The whole body shaking as I held it. My team mates urging me to suck it in whilst each of us were pushed, seeing each other push themselves- resulting in really sweaty skinny boys.
Also when we worked out, it kept us cool as well as confidence in our bodies. Most of us were rake thin and really fit, as a result of limited food and daily runs, both in the morning and cross country race once a week.
Gymnastics required stamina and strength and seeing your class-mates work out, competing with one another helped team spirit and body conditioning.

Comments by John Lavender on 24th August 2012  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

@ Barrie (Comment No. 300)
At our Grammar school we had plimmies, white Shorts and white Tees as PE Kit but one or two guys started to turn out Barechested, and indeed we tried several times to get our PE Master to change our kit to just Plimsoles and Shorts, coloured to differentiate between the two 'houses' at the school, but to no avail.
That was a shame, because I, and several others enjoyed going barechested, and took any opportunity to do gym as such. No one had any hang-ups about it and I think we were all the better for it. I run Barechested whenever I can, it's a great feeling.

Comments by Barrie on 23rd August 2012  

I was at secondary school in England in the sixties and the official PE unifrom was vest shorts and plimsolls.However one boy started going bare-chested and more and more boys followed suit so that very soon we were all stripped to the waist.This started off indoors but eventually all of us were stripped to the waist for cross-country as well with some lads even going barefoot as well.

Comments by Jimscot on 5th August 2012  

I attended a boys only senior secondary school in Scotland netween 1965 and 1971. The pe kit was white cotton shorts and white gym shoes (pumps to some!) No top or underwear. The pe teacher gave us these rules on day 1-I had been top less at primary, so no change there. He also undertook "underpant checks" which to the modern reader may seem horrific but were the order of the day. We lined up at the start of the lesson and he would walk along and pull out your waistband and have a look. It was all over in a second but looking back it was terrifying. I cannot remember any boy being caught but the punishment was "the belt"- tawse applied with vigour to the hands- so boys just did not go there. There was also a swimming pool at the school, so later we were allowed to wear our school swimming speedos under our shorts. Some boys chose to wear a "Litesome athletic supporter" which you could buy from pe dept.

The gym was a cold, musty place but you soon warmed up after a few circuits, benchlifting, press ups star jumps etc. Any boy who was deemed not to be working hard enough would be warned and if his work rate did not improve, he was belted.

It was tough but those were the rules!

Comments by Tim H on 3rd August 2012  

Two years since I last posted on this!

Briefly - yes, we were naive back in the 60s, but possibly for 11 -12 year olds that was no bad thing. The 'no underpants' rule - remember that 'working class' boys often went without underwear into the 50s (or later) and those of us who did possibly only changed it twice a week (yuck!) - so the smelly, sweaty comments are real. Our fathers wouldn't have complained about 'no underpants, no tops' - you didn't complain about rules in those days (certainly minor things like this); remember that they would almost certainly have served their 'time' in the Forces - no complaining allowed there (and National Service only ended in 1963, so this could have been regarded as 'toughening us up' for that).

For what its worth I still prefer shorter shorts, and running on some common land this morning it felt mild enough to strip my vest off - a great feeling.

Just random thoughts from a grumpy old soul ...

Ah, Happy Days!

Comments by Eastender on 2nd August 2012  

To Nevin I agree & have always thought that perhaps we were naive & had no thought about homosexuality. Teachers checked us to see if we wore pants perhaps pulling out the back of our shorts or somewtimes the front. Yep no one complained & after all we were all naked toghther in the communal showers so who cared?

Comments by Nevin on 1st August 2012  

Underwear was strictly forbidden under our gym shorts. It seems to have been a common rule in the UK, pre-1970. At the same time coaches in the US insisted on jockstraps or supporters being worn, while as strapping teenagers we had nothing in the way of support.
One PE teacher would carry out checks by pulling the front off our shorts right out and having a good look. It sounds Creepy now but back then we had communal showers and were often queuing up naked to shower. We never considered homosexuality then, we were so naive.

Comments by Daniel on 26th July 2012  

As many have commented in the fities boys were stripped to the waist as a matter of course and as has been said it made us concerned to keep our bodies in good shape.

Comments by MARK on 23rd July 2012  

Being stripped to the waist for games did indeed make us concerned about our bodies and our physiques.By the time I was eighteen I was quite well built and muscular with a hairy chest to match and I certaily was not ashamed of my body.

Comments by L. Baird on 21st July 2012  

Despite the inclement Scottish weather we wore only shorts and pumps (slip-on sneakers) on the playing fields and during cross country running.
Today my Grandson wears a tracksuit on the playing field to shield his legs from the elements, despite the fact they are only permitted outside on a fine day. They use the gym at any hint off rain. In my day we used the field whatever the weather, the Games Master being the only person in a tracksuit, the boys stripped to waist. The spartan regime toughened us up. Being shirtless made us care more about our appearance and physique.

Comments by Mark on 17th July 2012  

If you were doing PE in the gym going bare-chested was not too bad as I suppose you didn't get too cold.But it was a different matter having to do outside games and cross-country etc stripped to the waist in the cold winters we seemed to have in the fifties and sixties.

Comments by Oldschoolboy on 16th July 2012  

Fascinating discussion here. Like some of you here I was at a prep school in the mid sixties, our gym was just a wooden shed with very little equipment but we still had to work hard. As for p.e we were dressed much as in the photo and the no underwear rule applied as it did for field sports.
It seems unbelievable today that we had absolutely no protection particularly in cricket when all we had were some ropey pads and cotton gloves with bits of spikey rubber strips on the fingers and knuckles - absolutely useless; hockey was similar, I think we were allowed shinpads for that and that was it.
The miraculous thing is that I cannot recall any serious injury. I am sure that no-one today is allowed on the same field as a cricket or hockey ball without the array of armour such as helmets, boxes, thigh pads etc. And quite right too!

Comments by Eastender on 16th July 2012  

Noting the comments re running & pe in winter outdoors, there was also the opposite participating outdoors in what were hot summers!!! with no thought of covering up or knowledge of possible skin cancer. But then you were out in the sun to do you good. In response to Dominic & others despite running etc in the cold & wet we all survived & I think were healthier or is that looking back at life through rose tinted spectacles in the knowledge that we had no other option

Comments by Dominic on 16th July 2012  

At our Boarding School, in North Yorkshire, we had to do cross-country every morning in just shorts, socks and trainers. This was the case right through winter, vests were never permitted. Even in upper sixth at 18, with many hairy chests on show, we ran shirtless. Other outdoor sports were vests versus skins. This was despite temperatures well below freezing, with added wind chill and snow or driving rain. The was still the case when my younger brother left in 1975.

Comments by Harry on 15th July 2012  

Comments by James T on 14th July 2012  

John's comment is interesting. Our PE teacher (ex army) occasionally stripped to the waist during track and field sessions in the summer term every year until I left at 18. This chap was a really good teacher who encouraged you rather than put you down. As a 11 year old I started at my new school a couple of months into the autumn term and was told he'd pick the two teams, vests and skins at the start of each PE lesson which unfortunately, for me anyway, was to be a cold Novembers morning. Probably because I was new I was made to stand in front of the class and take off my vest first. I'd soon discovered that certain boys, myself included, were picked to strip down a lot more often than others regardless of weather or time of year both indoors and outside. I remember the girls finding it amusing watching boys take their vests off to join the skins teams and there was good natured banter in the classroom especially when it came to the tutor picking inter house teams. For inter house competitions like basketball,it was skins and vests so if you wore a vest for the first half, you'd take it off for the second. Fitness competitions were done with all the boys barechested and distinguished by different coloured shorts and cross country competitions were skins and vests which made a change from everyone being made to run barechested....if your team was lucky enough to be picked to wear a vest!!

Comments by Joshua on 3rd July 2012  

I was at school in the sixties and there was no way that PE teachers would strip off to lead lessons. We boys however were stripped to the waist for all lessons both inside and out of doors whatever the weather.Again it was no good objecting.This only resulted in doing press ups outside for up to a hour while still stripped to the waist.This was if you were lucky!!!!If you drew the short straw you were canedon your bare backside before being sent out to do the press ups stripped to the waist

Comments by west country man. on 1st July 2012  

I attended a boys only prep/public school in southern England in the late 40s/early fifties. Regarding PE kit, no underpants were allowed for PE. Rugby, or Cricket, at pain of a beating; later on older boys would wear jock straps. No bare chests here either, apart from sometimes in midwinter on the Rugby field ! The Headmaster announced 'no boys will wear bathing slips in future' - thereafter swimming was nude, followed by communal showers. It did not seem to bother anyone. Genitals, rather disconcertingly, tended to float upon entering the water. I also remember standing in line waiting for permission to enter the pool. I learnt to swim on the poolside naked, balancing upon a wooden trestle to practice breast strokes - a somewhat humiliating and uncomfortable experience. Trunks would only be worn for competitive events, and for the annual medical inspection, when they would be removed in the presence of the doc. Corporal punishment was carried out by house prefects, usually in the changing rooms, with boys attired in PE kit, then shorts dropped for hits on the bare backside with a gym shoe.

Comments by Nick on 29th June 2012  

Comments by Eastender on 28th June 2012  

In reply to John Lavender. I agree we had no worries or cares in the pre P/C days. Our pe teacher wore full track suit. but we had no worries about shorts only & no pants or changing & showering together. My problem is these days if I go to a public swimming pool to check & see whether it is (as is becoming the norm) mixed family changing so I do not forget & start getting changed in a mixed area.The cubicles are so small Not like at the gym & pool where changing facilities are separated by gender & you can just go in strip off & change without a worry. At school our swimming lessons were held at a public pool,although the session was exclusive to our school however, we never had the opportunity to experience the freedom of swiming naked. Kid today talk about freedom but I do not think they are as free of worries as we were.

Comments by John Lavender on 27th June 2012  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

Our PE master was a Police Sergeant. He often led our lessons stripped to the waist with either tracksuit bottoms or nylon PE shorts on, always going Commando.
He regularly played for the 'Skins' Team when we played Killerball in gym lessons and refereed our wrestling bouts when we had those. Sometimes in swim trunks only if he didn't have his trackie bottoms or shorts with him. Those were the only time we saw swimwear at school as we swam naked in lessons, which he also took ( also naked) when the regular swim teacher was not available. We did see more of his physique occasionally as he was a big guy and the shorts were sometimes a bit of , as they say these days, a 'wardrobe malfunction' but that was just looked on as a bit of harmless fun... Attended Grammar school in the N-E 1963-68, well before the P.C. era. Happy, innocent days..

Comments by TIMOTHY on 26th June 2012  

This photo brings back memories of the fifties and sixties.In all the schools I attended there was a strict policy of being stripped to the waist for all games lessons.This was both in and out of doors.Also for cross-country runs many lads were also barefoot.One boy normally wore a medallion and chain around his neck.Some masters allowed him to keep it on but normally he had to remove it.We had to be striped to the waist outdoors even in the winter of '62/3 with lying snow on the ground!!!

Comments by Roy on 24th June 2012  

To Eastender:-Actually Dickie Bird(cricket umpire)said much the same thing only yesterday.

Comments by Eastender on 24th June 2012  

Without wnating to digress too much from the topic in the picture of PE, but picking up the thread of the latest comments. Dare I say the words bring back some form of National Service for both male & female. Not neccessarily armed forces as such becuae these days the services need people with qualifications, but some form of discipline & use the Corps perhaps to assist in times of flood or other national emergency.

Comments by Bill on 23rd June 2012  

I agree that modern day youths need toughening up.In my school career we had to do PE stripped to the waist as a matter of course and we didn't dare complain.It would certainly do the youths we see hanging around street corners in hoodies good to do tough physical exercise while stripped to the waist.

Comments by Andy on 21st June 2012  

Stuart, we didn't have morning runs but had too endure a cold shower every morning with matrons or prefects ensuring we stayed under the ice cold water. We had cross country and orienteering 3-4 times a week. The uniform was vast, shorts and slippers. This was year round. I remember running in quite deep snow and driving wind and rain.
I attended a military academy, mainly for the offspring of forces personnel. We had vests but teams were shirts vs skins. We had daily PT so went shirtless a lot. I had no problem with that. There was emphasis on toughening boys up for future military service. This included the use of CP, but only occasionally, and cold showers every morning, which I hated. One rather quirky uniform requirement was year round short trousers in the first three years. At the beginning of our fourth year we got long trousers with our uniform but no longer got a pajamas top, only bottoms. We had to sleep bare chest in Senior dormitories. This rule was enforced and any boy caught wearing a PT vest to bed would be slippered or caned. The pajama bottom were lowered for this. The Dormitories were very cold in winter. The condensation would often freeze up on the inside.
We were being conditioned to succeed during times of war. Today in South Korea teens receive much harsher treatment at military boot-camps. Teens, who spend too much time playing computer games and not studying or playing sport, are sent to camps during school holidays.
The teenagers complete grueling physical training without shirts for hours on end. This is often done in sub zero temperatures and in driving rain & snow.
Instead of rioting or stealing,like their UK counterparts, these lads are being conditioned to succeed.
We could do with boot camps for gangs of teenage 'chavs' who intimidate residents with their hoods up and faces obscured and their hands plunged inside their tracksuit pants, fondling their bits in public.
BRING BACK THE CANE!

http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/7917966-photos-unbelievable-military-training-program-for-spoil-children-in-korea

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-korea-bootcamp-pictures,0,7173885.photogallery

Comments by Paul on 21st June 2012  

I went to boarding school in Yorkshire in the 1960s/70s. We had to run six mornings a week at 6.30am in shorts and plimsolls whatever the weather. I cannot remember the run ever being cancelled. There were always duty masters assigned to the run but others ran too, masters being bare chested was not at all unusual and for many it was the norm.

As with others, underpants were not allowed with shorts and there was a painful penalty for being caught wearing them. The master who was head of athletics and gym was also the master of discipline so in addition to a collection of plimsolls he had a collection of canes which he was not slow to use. He was both a golfer and a squash player so the swing of his right arm packed a lot of power as I and many other boys discovered, in fact that was probably all other boys as I don't remember anyone who didn't get the cane fairly regularly.

Comments by Julian on 18th June 2012  

Peter you are so right.No bare-chested teaher went on the runs with us.

Comments by Neil on 17th June 2012  

Like Julian I was at a southern boarding school and experienced early morning runs while stripped to the waist.I did not enjoy it but it was no use complaining.You simply had to get on with it.

Comments by Peter on 17th June 2012  

To Julian and Ronny. Did a teacher accompany you - stripped to the waist - on these morning runs? No? I thought not!!!!

Comments by Tyrone on 16th June 2012  

Having read your comments Andy, I wonder whar would be said today if such a harsh punishment regime was used. Also I agree with your points about no sex education, & like you there was not alkk from my dad about puberty. We did not seem to worry about the changes in our bodies & I wonder if too much is made these days about growing up & growing into sexual maturity is jsut an excuse for bad behaviour. We were more diciplined by our teachers and better for it.

Comments by JULIAN on 16th June 2012  

Ronny:- I take your point as we were in the south of England

Comments by Ronny on 15th June 2012  

Julian you say you ended up quite enjoying it. I cannot imagine that. I attended grammar school from 1959-1964. It was brutal. During the 'big snow' we were still punished with unbelievable cruelty, by still having our morning run. We experienced arctic conditions in Northern Ireland in early 1963. I was 15.
The Christian Brothers had us dig a track around the playing fields so the morning run could continue. I will never forget it. We had overcoats and hats while clearing the snow but still had to strip to shorts and slippers every morning. It was shorter than the forest trail but I still doubt if any army would subject its soldiers to such treatment.
We were almost frozen and boys even developed chilblains.

Comments by JULIAN on 15th June 2012  

Yes,I had to do compulsory morning runs in the 1970's at boarding schoolin England.The boys were all stripped to the waist and barefoot.At first I dreaded it but eventually got used to it and ended up quite enjoying it

Comments by Stuart on 14th June 2012  stu151@hotmail.com 

In the 1960's/70's some boarding schools made all boys do an early morning run every morning, irrespective of weather, often wearing minimal kit.

Did anyone go to a boarding school that had compulsary early morning runs, if so how far did you run and were you made to run shirtless or even in just shorts. Did you get used to it, or did you dread being woken up, knowing you had to take off your warm pyjamas, put on just shorts and go out into the freezing cold ?

Comments by Andy on 14th June 2012  

Same here, white plimsolls, white shorts, no underpants, special kit for rugby.

I agree the no underpants was on the surface a hygiene thing and quite sensible, rolling around on a muddy rugby pitch in anything you might have to wear for the remainder of the day or working in the gym and sweating underpants off made sense. I played rugby until I was about 35 and even though the shorts were brief and we were all adults, it was universally underpants off when changing and at the gym I go to today, underpants off is the norm right across the age groups in the locker room though of course today's fabrics are far better than white cotton.

I think there was also something about control too, it was a discipline of having to do something none of us liked very much but we had to comply or take the painful consequences. We were warned to comply and that there would be checks. The checks happened about every three weeks when we would be asked in the changing room if anyone was wearing underpants and it was sensible to own up. Wearing them cost four whacks of the plimsoll, next we had to turn to face the wall and bend over. It was obvious immediately through thin white shorts if anyone was wearing underpants. If anyone was caught they got eight whacks along with the boy on either side who had failed to turn them in on being asked if anyone was wearing underpants.

I think there was also something almost useful in an age when there was no sex education at school and certainly my father never told me anything about how my body would change as I grew older. Being in communal showers with other boys was reassuring. You weren' the only one who had hair beginning to develop, penis growning and testicles dropping so in the absence of formal education, at least knowing you weren't the only one helped a lot.

Comments by mike on 14th June 2012  michaelabbey@rocketmail.com 

I went to secondary school in the 60s and we had a no underwear rule except that we were allowed to wear our swimming trunks underneath. In fact if we were in one of the sports teams, especially rugby, we were encouraged to do this. I know that this was the case at other schools.
Ours was boys only by the way.

Comments by DANIEL on 14th June 2012  

Sid:- It was the 1960's but co-ed.

Comments by Sid on 13th June 2012  

Daniel: Great to have a reply. You were one of the few schools it seems where underwear was allowed. What era was this. My secondary education was in the 1960's & as with a lot of schools all boys.

Comments by Mark on 13th June 2012  

We weren't allowed to wear underwear and iany bo tried and was found out he received six strokes of the cane and had to do press ups outside for up to an hour while strtipped to the waist and barefoot.

Comments by DANIEL on 13th June 2012  

Sid:- Yes I was allowed to wear briefs under my shorts.

Comments by Sid on 12th June 2012  

Daniel & Mark follwoing on from most peoples comments were you allowed to wear anything under your shorts?

Comments by DANIEL on 11th June 2012  

Like Mark although our uniform for PE was vest and shorts many lads didn't bother with a vest and went about stripped to the waist.Nothing was said and this meant that more and more of us started to do PE bare chest.

Comments by Mark on 11th June 2012  

Although according to the rules our PE kit was singlet and shorts many boys were always stripped to the waist.Nothing was ever said about them being bare chest for PE and more boys joined them being bare chested.

Comments by Eastender on 9th June 2012  

For the more recent readers I will repeat some of my previous messages of Nov &December 2011. We were told the reason for no underpants was for hygiene reasons. In more detail, We were advised that we would be working hard during pe & exerting ourselves & we had to have no pants & showers were to follow the lesson to prevent us sitting in subsequent lessons with sweaty underwear(how gross). However, as far as I can recall pe was usally the last lesson of the day so the reason were unfounded.
We wore very short shorts (compared today when track bottome seem to be the norm )& invariably white & left nothing to the imagination. But hey no one seemed bothered We were all boys & young men together. How times have changed. What do you think?

Comments by James on 9th June 2012  

I have always wondered why the no underpants rule was so strictly enforced and it would seem univeral, it certainly was at my school and being caught wearing underpants always resulted in a sore bottom. Other rules were enforced rather less. Ideas anyone?

Similar to others, white shorts, bare chest and plimsols in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Comments by Dessie on 8th June 2012  

We wore shirts, shorts and plimsoles for regular PE. Punishment PE was help on tuesday evenings for lads considered deserving. It was circuits in the gym. An hour of hell. We had to be barefoot and barechest and the no underwear rule was strictly enforced, unlike regular games.
It was always followed by a long cold shower. Coach would observe to make sure we stayed under. Always felt sorry for the PE teachers son. He came by car with his Dad who made him do punishment PE every week.

Comments by Tyrone on 25th May 2012  

I know that most of us who have left comments experienced pe in the 50's late sixties. I know things have changed with regards to pe kit inasmuch as nowadays it is tops & shorts & underwear allowed. I know that we were put through a strict regime, as many of us has said with cross country runs etc. but what of today is it easier. aAre the physical demands the same? Any present day students able to comment?

Comments by Keith on 25th May 2012  

I think that being stripped to the waist did instil discipline in boys particularly when being bare-chested on cross country runs in neighbouring roads

Comments by Tim on 23rd May 2012  

In the fifties and sixties I for one certainly did cross-country both stripped to the waist and bare-foot.Many of the other lads did the same.By the time we left school a few of the lads(myself included)had developed hairy chests and were quite muscular.

Comments by Oldschoolboy on 22nd May 2012  

Judging by the comments posted here, it srikes me that a lot of you suffered under the cohort of ex military people who were recuited into teaching after the war. We had a few in our school who were definitely somewhat unhinged and fortunately for me were not part of the PT department. When I left school (all boys) aged 18 in 1972 things were becoming a little more relaxed and the last swishes of the cane were dying away (I can still feel it however!)
PT was still done much as we see in the photo, we had singlets and shorts with coloured stripes on the side, as juniors no underwear was the norm but I don`t remember it being a rule as such, after age 13 or so we all wore the old cotton Litesome jockstrap, again there was no rule, we just did. Communal showers were the norm as well and I don`t recall any problems.
When I look back, it was certainly pretty spartan, but on the whole it was a good time.

Comments by Thumper on 21st May 2012  

Back inthe 60's we were required to wear shorts and tennis shoes.NO underclothing was permitted, but a shirtcould beworn. You COULD NOT wear your street clothes to PE, and if you did,you were not allowed to pass on the course, but to strip off NAKED and do PE that way..Not many forgot their shorts and shoes because of being afraid to disrobe. I cannot remember of any time that the familyor school administration had any problem with that. And yes, this was an all male class, with no chance of women coming into this area.

Comments by Tyrone on 9th May 2012  

Dave & Roy,
I have looked at most of the previous peoples comments & the only conclusion I can come to having read them, is that we are nearly all from the era when we were not so inhibited about our bodies. As you say rules were rules & that was that. I know my parents were told that we did pe with no underwear & no top. No one queried it. Furthermore, most senior schools were single sex so there was not the logistics of running separate classes for pe & no risk of anyone of the opposite sex seeing any one changing. As for showers one big open area with several shower heads & no worries about seeing each other undressed let alone without a shirt. It was all part of growing up. Nowadays boys are too inhibited.

Comments by Peter on 9th May 2012  

I went to an all-boys school in the 19970s. Like the boys in the photo, our PE was always done stripped to the waist. It was no use "forgetting" kit to get out of the lesson because the teacher had a supply donated by boys who were leaving or who had grown out of theirs. The teacher in the picture is wearing a tee-shirt and socks whereas our teacher wore track pants and a tee-shirt and sometimes a tracksuit top. I always felt that what was good enough for us should have been good enough for him.

Comments by Dave on 8th May 2012  

"I wnet with the family to a swimming pool of course teen boys just wear short. so what is the difference in doin pe this way?"

There is no difference.
Do they wear shirts for mixed swimming classes? No. That's why I can't see why boys are allowed to wear T-shirts nowadays in most schools for PE.

Comments by Roy on 8th May 2012  

Tyrone:-if teachers tell boys to strip to the waist for PE then they should be stripped to the waist with no questions asked.As you say you often see lads stripped to the waist in streets etc so what's the problem.

Comments by Tyrone on 8th May 2012  

I am assuming teenage lads would resent it if they were asked to go bare top for pe these days. However, at the weekend when I wnet with the family to a swimming pool of course teen boys just wear short. so what is the difference in doin pe this way?

Comments by Tom on 6th May 2012  

In my time boys were stripped to the waist for PE as soon as they started at junior school when they were seven.This went on until they left secondary school at either sixteen or eighteen.

Comments by RF on 4th May 2012  

GD:While still in primary school we used to see the boys from the nearby secondary school running bare-chested.We knew that when we went there we too would be stripped to the waist for games etc and we regarded it as perfectly normal.

Comments by G D on 3rd May 2012  

Having read the various comments , i can tell you in the sixties our P E was shorts, plimsolls & nothing else. Our shorts were white & the teacher said so we could not wear anything underneath without it showing, bearing in mind we all wore briefs those days.

One boy tried to keep his pants on Fool! The teacher was not daft. On the whole we enjoyed pe & I think enjoyed the freedom of wearing less clothes bearing in mind that for the rest of the day it was strictly uniform blazers & shirts & ties & we were only allowed to remove blazers if extremely hot weather. Anyone else eperince this?

Comments by Mark Jones on 3rd May 2012  

To Sid:-This was in the fifties/sixties and we worfe nothing under our shorts.We wore house shorts which were white.

Comments by Sid on 2nd May 2012  

To the 2 peopl;e named Mark, you say stripped to the waste for pe what era. I presume the pe kit was shorts & nothing worn underneath. In our school the colour of shorts was determined by the "House" you were in. White , Blue,Black. Were yours the same?

Comments by MARK JONES on 27th April 2012  

Yes Mark Smith I was bare-foot as well as stripped to the waist.

Comments by Mark Smith on 27th April 2012  

Mark Jones:-Were you barefoot as well as stripped to the waist?

Comments by Pete S on 27th April 2012  

Dave, T-shirt's aren't better. It's the designer clothes and PC brigade at work who'll tell you otherwise because they're making money. A vest, or better still, a bare chest are still the most effective tops. Boys, if given the chance would relish the opportunity to strip to the waist for exercise. It would also solve these "issues" (excuses!) once and for all.

Comments by Mark Jones on 26th April 2012  

Again I did PE stripped to the waist in the sixties.Thought nothing of it.Boys stripped to the waist.End of story.

Comments by Cornish on 21st April 2012  

At Junior school during the period 1957to 1961 pe mainly was indoors except for hot summer days & for boys was in vests(singlets) & grey school shorts which every boy wore irrespective of the time of year. However, the girls wore a vest & had to remove their skirts & do pe in their underwear. As far as I can recall, there was no complinats about the inequality between boys & girls de rigeur. That just how it was.

Secondary school was a different regime boys only school & pe was indoors & out depending on the weather, & was short tight white shorts (no underwear which would have shown through) & bare top, but we wore plimsolls with no socks. Finished off with communal showers. NO worries or thought about boys seeing each other naked. But it seems this is an issue for lads these days.

Comments by Dave on 20th April 2012  

I don't think boys really care about having to be shirtless for P.E. so I can't see why most schools changed that. Even vests are vanishing from nowadays schools and they wear T-shirts for gym. Why T-shirts are better?

Comments by Borstal Boy on 18th April 2012  

Yes I was sent to Borstal when I was sixteen and yes I wa stripped to the waist when at Wormwood Scrubs for assessment and at Portland when serving my sentence and working as a gardener

Comments by Barrie on 18th April 2012  

Like Craig my first experience of being stripped to the waist was also on my first day at primary school aged about 5 when I had a medical.Afterwards I started doing PE stripped to the waist both in and out of doors.This continued throughout my school career until I left at the age of nearly 19

Comments by Tim on 18th April 2012  

Borstal Boy:- Judging from yourI/D you susequently served a sentence of Borstal Training. Am I right and if so did you have to do PE and/work while stripped to the waist

Comments by Borstal Boy on 18th April 2012  

When I was fourteen I was sent to a detention centre for three months.On my first morning there I had to do thirty minutes P E while stripped to the waist and barefoot.This was outdoors at 6 a.m. and was followed by a cold shower.I had previously been stripped to the waist for P E since I was about nine or ten but this was something else!!!

Comments by Craig on 18th April 2012  

My first experience of being stripped to the waist at school was on my first day at primary school when we had a medical.I then did P E stripped to the waist reegulary so when I went to secoonday school and learned we had to do gym etc stripped to the waist I just got on with it.

Comments by Darren on 17th April 2012  

I also remember having to do P E stripped to the waist at school.Also as punishments I had to stand outside in freezing weather stripped to the waist and barefoot for at least an hour.

Comments by Roy on 17th April 2012  

I also had to do PE outdoors stripped to the waist in the hard winter of '62-63 with snow on the ground

Comments by Jack on 17th April 2012  

At my school in the sixties some boys engaged in unofficial boxing fights and for those they were always stripped to the waist.(Up till then I had believed that only professional boxers stripped to the waist for fights).

Comments by Sam on 17th April 2012  

I also was always stripped to the waist for P E and again I enjoyed the freedom of being bare-chested.Again it was normal and all the other lads were stripped to the waist and many including myself were also bare-footed.

Comments by Jonny on 17th April 2012  

I remember in the hard winter of 1962-63 having to do P E stripped to the waist outdoors and with several inches of snow on the ground.It was tough but you got used to it.

Comments by The Iron Man on 17th April 2012  

Perhaps Hardman goes a little bit too far but I don't think that the young thugs would come back for a second helping especially if they were caned and/or birched for breaches of discipline and at the beginning and end of their time inside.

Comments by Roy on 17th April 2012  

I can also remember occasions when in the sixties in Summer term in periods revising for O Levels and A Levels boys had to go outdoors for the lessons stripped to the waist.Again we thought nothing of it

Comments by Hardman on 16th April 2012  

Further to Mark's comment I can see nothing wrong in making these young criminals be shirtless nearly all the time.It would be a good idea to adopt in our own YOIs.When they arrive to be processed these youths would have to strip to the waist and would remain stripped to the waist thereafter for all activities.This would include several hours of labouring a day and also for meals and for sleeping.They should also have their heads shaved.

Comments by Jonny on 16th April 2012  

We had a Sports day in the Summer Term when all the boys taking part were always stripped to the waist.Again this was normal and we thought nothing of it.

Comments by Tim H on 16th April 2012  

There was a 'whimsical' documentary on BBC4 las week - 'Leotards & vests' - about the British way of keeping fit. There was a section on school PE at the start, with some nice vintage footage. Its still available on iPlayer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01g6g2k/Leotards_and_Vests_The_Great_British_Workout/

Cross-country in just shorts - no top or shoes - yuck! It sends shivers down my spine just to think of it!

Comments by John on 16th April 2012  

I loved being stripped to the waist for PE.It was what you did in the sixties and I also went barefoot.

Comments by John on 16th April 2012  

The file name "Sportunterricht" makes me think it could be German. Seems plausible, as I read an article elesewhere about boys being made to do PE shirtless there in an attempt to clamp down on discipline issues. I have no confirmation of that however.

Comments by The Ox on 16th April 2012  

In my schools (primary and secondary) it was normal practice for all boys to do PE and cross-country stripped to the waist and bare-foot.Nothing was thought of it.

Comments by Dave on 16th April 2012  

John, is it a PE lesson at an actual german school? We are not allowed to have permission for the album so we don't know any information about that picture. But yes it seems quite recent

Comments by John on 15th April 2012  

Shirtless PE in Germany apprently. Photo seems to be quite recent.

http://i1053.photobucket.com/albums/s463/hagi52156/Sportunterricht.png

Comments by Sid on 15th April 2012  

In reply to Nigel's comments, we had no inhibitions about our bodies. I cannot recall any comments about being shirtles or remarking on other boy's physiques. In fact performong handstands supported by another lad with feet up in the air left nothing to the imagination.

I still thimk as I put in a comment some time ago for some reason lads seem to have more inhibitions about their bodies & it seems these days that comunial showers & changing rooms create a problem for lads. Any current pupil care to comment?

Comments by Roy on 14th April 2012  

Yorkie,it was co-ed but PE etc was organised separately for boys and girls.

Comments by Nigel on 14th April 2012  

For those who experienced shirtless P.e before. Do you guys make fun of other boy's body or nipples? We had a friend whose nipples are always hard and we call him harry-hard nipples. He always tried to cover them, but the P.E teacher 'insisted' he perform star jumps, to our amusement.

Comments by yorkie on 13th April 2012  

Roy when you say all boys was this a co ed school or all boys?. I did not know that schools insisted on running barefoot. We wore plimsolls but no socks.

Comments by Roy on 11th April 2012  

When I was at school in the fifties and sixties all boys had to be stripped to the waist for PE. In addition we had to do cross country runs both stripped to the waist and barefoot.

Comments by KB on 10th April 2012  

I was at primary school in the early to mid 1970's and remember both boys and girls did PE bare top.

Comments by yorkie on 22nd March 2012  

in response to your question Dave, pe indoors white short shorts plimsolls no underwear, no top & outdoors athletics etc the same the only concession was football when we wore any old t shirt or if could afford it a "proper" football shirt & again very short shorts usally the same ones we used for pe except for a few better off boys started wearing colours of their favourite football team. Swimming was once a week at the local public swimming pool used exclusively for school lessons when we wore what are now known as "Speedo" type trunks none of the modern type baggy
shorts that kids wear these days.

Comments by Dave on 22nd March 2012  

Yorkie, so what was your PE kit indoors and outdoors?

Comments by Yorkie on 20th March 2012  

I was educated in the 60's up to 1966 at an all boys school. No female input or domination.We took part in PE & football & sports, with the minimum of clothing even during the coldest winter. Having read previous comments we had no problems about using communal changing rooms & shower was not even thought about as being strange. In fact it was all part of the camaraderie of growing up & continued until we left school at 16. Things have certainly changed over the years but why are guys these days so inhibited about their bodies & have to have seperate cubicles for changing & showers?

Comments by Tuskerman on 16th March 2012  

I was born in Canada in 1954 into a world that was dominated by women (the supposed men in my world were apparently oblivious to that fact).

So, why were girls not forced to perform PE almost naked? Why were boys subjected to swimming naked within the eye-shot of girls?

Gender equality is a myth contrived by females in order to subordinate us even further!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Comments by Jake on 14th March 2012  

Comments by Pete S on 11th March 2012  

In reply to Marks earlier comment about punishment...If we didn't perform to the teacher's expectations we were taken out of a lesson to be given either laps of the field (anything between 10-15 laps being the norm), or a fitness session outdoors on the yard regardless of the weather. Obviously punishments were done with stripped to the waist and could be quite brutal during a freezing winter.

Comments by John Lavender on 4th March 2012  finswimmerjohn52@yahoo.com  http://www.northern-lights-finswimming.co.uk

@ Victoria : I think there are probably a few of the Boys who were in the photo who have subsequently seen the photo and may even have commented. Over 70,000 hits [and counting] makes the page popular by any-one's standards.
I would speculate that the local paper was anxious to publicise 'their' Grammar school and that the Gym was probably thought to epitomise the Modernity aspect.
The photographer/reporter from the local Paper probably took two or three Photos and just selected the best; I think he would probably be interested only in the Teacher, as far as names or personal details were concerned.

Comments by Stuart on 4th March 2012  

Judging by other posts, at my senior school, we had a pretty relaxed approach to PE and cross county kit. In the gym we wore shorts, plimsolls, socks and a vest. For cross county we were allowed to wear PE or rugby shorts, plimsolls/socks, and a rugby shirt/vest/t-ehirt mix.

What's interesting is that while a lot of boys wore all of the kit allowed, a small number always wore less, so half a dozen boys always did PE striped to the waist, and a couple chose just shorts/bare feet. For cross country some of these boys ran shirtless, and one lad always ran in nothing but shorts, so even if it was raining and freezing cold he never wore a top or any footware.

I wonder if other people had similar classmates who chose to not wear items of kit, even if they would have been allowed to, and if anyone else ran cross county shirtless and with bare feet ?

Comments by victoria horsfall on 3rd March 2012  sootyhorsfall@hotmail.co.uk 

does anyone know names of boys in the photo

Comments by Gareth on 28th February 2012  

I went to a catholic high school in Newcastle in the 80's. the PE Kit was white shorts, white socks and a long sleeved house shirt depending on what house you were in. However the house shirt was only worn for outdoor games like football and rugby. Indoor PE and basketball was strictly bare chest. As an 11 year old kit i remember being mortified at having to take my top off in the gym, though this shyness soon wore off. I think it was healthy and made you very body conscious and by the time you got to what was then 5th year or 6th form you kind of felt proud about showing your body off to the mates and in 6th form i rmember a few of the lads had developed hairy chests and they got so much respect, they were kind of seen as 100% all man! so funny thinking back. Regardless if pe was indoors or outdoors it was strictly no underpants under the white shorts, so different from my kids today.anyone else at st Cuthberts in the 70s or 80s?

Comments by Mark on 17th February 2012  

Apparently a shirtless outfit is still de rigueur in some countries in eastern Europe. I recently saw this documentary on Russian intitutions for juvenile delinquents. The boys are not allowed shirts for sleeping, exercising, work in the brickyard kilns and a number of other activities. I wondered if it is all right to treat these youths so harshly although they are criminals.
Here is an excerpt:
http://www.systemtv.fr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=104&lang=en&Itemid=0

Comments by Sid on 17th February 2012  

Jim,
I agree completely with your comments. These days the lads have it too easy. I do think that nowadays they are mollycoddled.
As I have logged previously, historically I am sure all things considered we were better for having to paricipate in pe & games wearing virually nothing except short flimsy shorts & no top or pants. With all this excercise I can only remember one obsese lad. Furthermore, I am sure we did not s "suffer" from the colds & sicknes that now seem so prevelant. The cold never hurt us nor did the sun in the summer.
We did have swiiming lessons but we wore trunks. It may have been an interesting experience to swim naked

Comments by Jim on 17th February 2012  

Crikey, kids these days don't know they are born.

They can wear what they like for school sports of which they have an endless choice if they bother to do any exercise at all.

No freezing cold gyms on Winter mornings and cross country runs wearing practically nothing in the frost and snow.

No corporal punishment to worry about.

We were subjected to a pretty tough regime in the 1950's/ early60's but I am sure it was much more stimulating than school life today which seems totally boring in comparison.

Looking back it was really great fun trying to outwit the very strict teachers knowing what the consequences could be if you failed.

Also as a result of all the sport and physical exercise obesity in children was unheard of. We were really pretty healthy despite the austerity of the times.

Materially kids are so much better off these days but are they physically and spiritually. I am not so sure.

I can't remember much of the Latin I was taught but the phrase ' Mens sana in corpore sano ' springs to mind.

Comments by Steven on 16th February 2012  

We had a similar system for PE at my school to what Pete described, with different coloured shorts as part of the kit. It was white shorts if your surname was in the first half of the class register, black shorts for boys in the second half. Then for football or basketball in the gym both groups were divided again as shirts or skins, so there were four teams in total. For full size football games we all wore black shorts and half the boys played in skins.

Comments by Pete S on 10th February 2012  

Malcolm,

This was in the mid 80's and we lived at time near the England/Scotland border. We remained barechested for football, each team distinguished through different coloured shorts (black or white depending which class you were in) The only form of rugby played was touch rugby on the yard or when inside and it was teams of 5 against 5.

The other school operated a barechested or skins policy indoors but usually played vests vs skins for football but went barechested for cross countries like us.

Comments by MALCOLM on 5th February 2012  

Regarding Pete S's post. What decade are you talking about here and what part of the country?

Do you know whether boys in other schools nearby had to be ouside barechested in all weathers or was your school the exception?

Did you wear shirts for football/rugby.

I went to an all-boys school in London in the sixties where shirts were optional inside all year and outside in the summer for PE but shirts were always worn outside for football or winter PE.

Comments by Pete S on 4th February 2012  

The school uniform listed our kit as a vest, shorts, ankle socks and plimsoles. However after changing for our first PE lesson we were to find our teacher thought differently. After being taken outside and lined up on the yard he walked up the line letting us know what was expected in terms of effort and when he reached the end of the line randomly picked a boy and made him face the class and take his vest off. Regardless of the activity,the time of year or the weather,indoors or outside, we remained barechested until we left. As you moved up the school there was no shortage of girls watching and eyeing you up, indeed that's how my wife first saw me.

In response to Robert's excellent comments regarding his grandchildren, given the current financial climate I am surprised that boys aren't being encouraged to exercise barechested or in vests. Parents would save a small fortune!

Comments by James on 27th January 2012  

We wore shiny,satin shorts for outside games without underwear and anyone would easily have been noticed as they were so brief and would have been caned.They were worn mainly for aeshetic reasons.They offered no protection from the cold and I remember some boys crying because of the cold when wearing these skimpy little numbers.

Comments by sid on 26th January 2012  

I think Robert's comments about his grandchildren wearing long johns bears out my previous ideas thatboys & youngmen of today are softer & cannot cope with cold weather or strict regimes

Comments by Robert on 26th January 2012  

What an evocative picture. I was at school in the early 60's, and had forgotten the PE regime. It was bare-chested, or a white singlet at best (no cosy T shirts) despite the lack of heating, and no underpants, for whatever reason. Looking at today's footballers, I must have been a trend-setter, because for some time I got away with wearing trunks (like tight boxer shorts of today), which usually showed a few inches below my skimpy PE shorts. This failed when we were allowed to wear coloured shorts, but I still had my white trunks on, which were then very obvious. The cane soon put a stop to that fashion, but I did still get away with white Y fronts under darker PE shorts. Strange that today my grandsons (15 and 17) often wear long johns under their shorts when training for football with no adverse comments. Must be sheer bliss!

Comments by Mike on 23rd January 2012  michaelabbey@rocketmail.com 

I can report the same experience ( more or less )as Malcolm. At school in the late 60's we were told "no underpants" but boys who played in school teams were encouraged to wear swimming trunks underneath. Definitely a more comfortable experience. Also a great feeling of security on the rugby field!
More senior boys often took to a jockstrap although they were not commonplace.
Definitely the gym equipment was just like the picture.

Comments by Sid on 21st January 2012  

Well Malcom in response to your comments I do not think we really thought about no pants being uncomfortable we just got on with it.Howevr, our shorts were short
& tight so nothing flopped about.

As for jockstraps they were never mentioned & I don't think we knew what they were.

Comments by Malcolm on 20th January 2012  

Interesting photo and comparisons with more recent experiences. The gym shown was similar to ours but I don't remember playing in skins.
I am supprised that many older boys were expected to play games wearing nothing under their shorts, surely this must have been uncomfortable to say the least. At school in the 1970s we had a strict no underpants rule for games (gym, rugby, running etc) but older boys wore a jockstrap, again school rules.

Comments by Philip on 18th January 2012  

This is just how I remember gym and school and it was great fun. Working on bits of apparatus with the gym teacher helping and demonstrating there were loads of challenges. He was strict which was only right as we could have had some bad accidents if there was no control. I don't remember a single accident in the gym and we didn't have risk assessments. Like others, I remember pirates and killer ball.

We certainly didn't wear shirts or socks for gym, brief white shorts and no underpants and either barefoot or plimsols. Showers had water pumped straight fromt he arctic and they were communal and compulsory. If we didn't behave there was the slipper, a size 12 black plimsol, the strap or the cane depending on how bad we had been, they all hurt!

Comments by Andy on 15th January 2012  

Sometimes we did indoor P.E in just short no shirt but not that often but indoors always had to be done in bare feet.

Comments by sid on 15th January 2012  

To continue with this topic, as I have said I think previously PE without tops was accepted in our day.
Why does there seem to be such inhibition now & boys have to cover up.
During the summer countless lads are seen posing in the swimming pools or on the beach & even walking down the street topless.It does not make sense to me considering that there seems to be no inhibition in showing off designer underwear(in many cases more than the named waistband) by almost wearing low slung trousers.

Comments by Cornelius on 14th January 2012  chuibers@gmail.com 

Dave,
i don't think it was compulasary at that time, it was more a habit for me.

Comments by Cornelius on 14th January 2012  chuibers@gmail.com 

Dave,
I was transferred to that school for gym, and we had shirtless gymnastics (as a habit, no questions asked).Must say that it was good for me also to be like that, I improved a lot in the performances

Comments by Dave on 13th January 2012  

Hello Cornelius!

Was it compulsory or voluntary being shirtless for gym? What was your compulsory PE kit inside and outside?

Comments by Cornelius on 13th January 2012  chuibers@gmail.com 

Interesting topic here. Just to mention that i did my gyms shirtless as well on atheneum classes in the netherlands during 1970 -1973. (Stedelijke scholengemeenschap), it was great gymn though, and i learned a lot. Perfect!!

Comments by sid on 5th January 2012  

Well Derek reading your account it must have been mortifying for you. I suppose that as most schools are now co ed swimming without trunks would be considered a complete no no & would reult in absolute shock horror even if the lessons were boys only

Our school used the local Municipal Swimming Pool although not open to the public during our lessons we wore swimming costumes in the design of what would now be called speedos.

Was it better in the "good old days" when we could go into the local countryside & just be all boys together swimming without worryinh about wearing anything?

Comments by Sid on 3rd January 2012  

Well James it must have been worse for you when you had to share the lesson with girls. At least our school was all boys & all male teachers so to a certain degree it was all males together

Comments by Derek on 3rd January 2012  

At Berkhamsted School for Boys in the 1950's we had excellent gym lessons in the normal curricula of the day. On any particularly hot day in the summer, with no notice, the master would take us to the school pool as a treat. We had no swimming gear with us so we swum naked, age about 14-16. As kids we just assumed this was normal practice.

One day we were having a naked swim, when the Head Master, assuming the pool would be out of use in the middle of lessons, walked in with prospective parents, a couple, who had brought their son and their two teenage daughters in school uniforms complete with hats. To say that we made for the safety of the water quickly was an understatement.

Comments by James on 2nd January 2012  

Dave,Inside we wore the shorts which I described,no vest and barefoot.Outside vest and satin shorts.Bit chilly in winter dressed in skimpy kit.

Comments by Dave on 2nd January 2012  

James, what was your whole PE kit inside and outside?

Comments by James on 2nd January 2012  

In reply to Sid's comments,we too wore shorts without underwear in the seventies up to my leaving age of sixteen.We wore brief satin shorts,which were fashionable in that era for games,cross country running,and yes we did share the gymnasium with the girls when it was too cold for them to go outside for their games.These shorts were very shiny and filmy and anyone foolish enough to wear underwear would easily have been detected.I felt quite ridiculous wearing miniscule shorts at adolescense.

Comments by Sid on 1st January 2012  

I have recently discovered this site & find the history interesting because it is my era i.e. boys schools in the mid 60s. I have just caught up with the previous comments & I am surprised by the comments made by Dick 26 Sept 2010. re the fact that up 18yrs of age boys only wore briefs for pe. I assume pe lessons were seperate genders. Perhaps Dick can advise & what year was this. I cannot see it being allowed in more recent years besides in more recent years haven't boys changed to boxers which could present a problem. At least we were allowed if nothing else to wear shorts although they were very tight.

PE & sports were very physical but had the effect that by the time we left school we seemed to be more manly than todays youth.

Comments by Eastender on 26th December 2011  

Re comments by will & the Welsh Marshes. It seems in the sixties normal for no underpants &teachers did check us to see if we were wearing any.Perhaps it was the era but no one seeemed to think anything about it. It just semed the norm. We were more nieve or just not so inhibited abiut our bodies.

Comments by Will on 25th December 2011  

Very similar to the late 60s on the Welsh Marches - pe with shorts, and no underpants, and the master lined us up in a row in the gym, and put his fingers down each shorts at the front, to make sure we weren't wearing underpants - I think he got quite a thrill out of it - cheeky ******

Comments by Robin on 24th December 2011  

Comments by James on 16th December 2011  

We wore short trousers at secondary school and they were compulsary.I had my first girlfriend at thirteen wearing short pants and my second girlfriend at fifteen still in short pants,although her younger brothers half my age were in long trousers.I finaly wore my first long trousers at sixteen.

Comments by peter on 11th December 2011  

I was at a Northern Grammar School in `59 onwards. It was as has been described here; the H Teacher ran it like a public school.

I loved going bare chested but was very shy too. There was no bullying, body image issues like the girls had and still do. And now the lads have it too.

There were some sights as you can imagine. Who cared? To this day I go without a shirt whenever possible. Feel sorry for the girls! . .

Comments by Paul on 9th December 2011  

I certainly remember pe in the 1970s in just shorts, in the gym and on the playing field in the spring and autumn term. I particularly recall playing soccer with no top and barefoot when it felt really cold in October with cold grass covered in dew. I remember other boys playing cricket in summer barefoot and barechested wearing pads to protect against the hard ball - but that was for pe not games (which had different kit rules). I also remember communal showers and one time when I accused another boy of using my towel. He denied it but let me share the one he was using. It was only after everyone had left the showers that I saw my towel (with the same pattern) hanging on the radiator - someone else had covered it with his. Hoe embarrassing was that?

Comments by Michael on 8th December 2011  

We were often sent out in the snow to do cross country runs wearing only thin white shorts, singlet vests, white ankle socks and white plimsolls. Nothing else.

At the turning point of the run, the PE master would be seen, sitting parked up in his big Ford Zodiac with the engine running, all toasty warm with his flask of coffee and the radio playing. The clever part was that he didn't park there on every occasion, but of course we never dared risk taking any short cuts in case he was there.

As we ran past in the freezing cold, he would mark off our names on his register. This was to ensure nobody had dropped out part way. Only by exerting ourselves to the utmost, could we hope to cover the distance in the time allowed.

By the time we arrived back at school, he would be there, waiting, with his gym shoe in hand. No mercy was shown to anyone coming in late.

I was late, once, because an elderly lady called me into her house to change a light bulb. Always obedient,
I had done so, hoping a minute or two wouldn't make any difference. But, even that small delay put me past the deadline and earned me the wrath of the gym shoe.

Comments by Simon Casey on 8th December 2011  

Thats just the way it was. Coaches and Games Masters where feared and games were hell instead of being fun, which they should be. At my prep vests and rugby shirts were purchased by parents re uniform list. However it was made clear on the first day that we'd never need the vest and rarely be using the rugby top. We soon discovered we'd receive a severe pinch to the nipples if we failed to try hard enough. Hence the reason for bare chests indoors and out in all weather. We used the playing fields year round, a very unpleasant place when snow covered and still no vest, underwear or sock. Those plimsolls were designed for dry indoor use only, yet we only wore socks and boots for rugby. I'm shivering remembering it.

Comments by eastender on 8th December 2011  

Just a further thought . The history of pe is interesting . When you think of all the comments regarding outside activities in the snow cross country runs, games & even naked swimming & nowadays the schools all close at the meerest hint of snow!!

Comments by eastender on 6th December 2011  

in response to the comments by collin 17 nov we did not wear any top but I recall our shorts were very short I am sure shorter that those in the photo.

We were told the no underwear rule was for hygenic reasons although showers were available.
I remember one boy told us he was going to flout the no pants rule aand was prepared to risk the consequences. He must have been a masochist. We all knew that the teacher would see the outline under his shorts (no boxers those days only briefs which showed up) He was made to go back & remove them & was slippered.

That was the way of the world

Comments by Simon Casey on 4th December 2011  

I also had a spartan regime in an now infamous prep school I attended as a boarder. Bare chested morning runs and cold showers par for the course. We had one sadastic games master who adopted a particularly harsh pumishment routine. He would regularly slipper boys after they had showered. He would have a line of still wet boys clad in only towels waiting in the corridor outside his office. In the depths of winter he would wedge open the outside doors to allow the elements in. The corridor was like a wind tunnel and we would shiver with the cold awaiting the slipper. One at a time we would be called in remove our towels and bend over a trunk for several whacks of a size 11 plimsoll. I received many a stinging rear in this fashion.

The cold wait was almost as bad as the slipper.

It prepared me well for a prefect with CP rights at my next school.

Comments by Ben on 1st December 2011  

This is how I remember PE at school in the late 1960s/ early 1970s. Gym classes were great fun with sessions just as this one divided into groups to work on pieces of apparatus be it a horse, ropes, bars, wall bars or any of the rest. Sometimes we played killer ball or pirates both of which were fast and furious but great fun. The two pe masters were both strict but encouraging and as long as you did your best they were happy but they always pushed you to your limits, great education.

I don't think anyone was embarrassed about being topless, white cotton shorts were the only gym kit we had and defintitely no underpants. Showers were cold and communal but no one was bothered about things like that, I laugh when I go to the gym these days and the showers are in cubicles.

Discipline was strict, any misbehaviour was dealt with swiftly by use of a long brown strap than hung in the changing room for all to see and four to six strokes of it sobered up any bad behaviour very quickly. For anyone stepping out of line too often there was the cane which over thin gym shorts was not something you wanted to repeat.

Great days!

Comments by eastender on 28th November 2011  

The history in this picture is interesting. It brings to mind my secodary school days (all boys)in the 60s. I can still clearly remember my father had been to an open evening for parents of boys due to start in the following September & when he came home spoke about the uniform & thnme said " for pe it's shorts & pilmsolls no socks or underpants. This was just accepted as the norm also communal changing room & showers. I do not recollect any problems perhaps a bit of towel flicking but generally the whole concept of w=exposed bodies seemed to be a great leveller. Football was any old footie shirt & no particular loyalties so no oneupmanship. The shorts were short & no such things outside such as tracksuits not even in winter just very short shorts. Only one boy got modern with white nylon shorts, but after the first time playing rain after becoming see through he changed back

Also in this era most boys at secondary school were still wearing grey shorts for uniform including the cold winter of 1963 & did not go into longs until they were about 13 & this signalled the beginning of puberty.

Comments by John on 27th November 2011  

This photo brings back a host of memories. I went to a Grammar School near Birmingham in the early sixties (I won't name it because I don't want to upset the current school management, which I have no doubt is excellent). I hated PE with a passion. The PE teacher was "strict" and had a predeliction for administering the slipper for petty offences; being the last to get changed, for example. I once got five whacks for this mesdemeneour. To be truthful, this never really bothered me. However, on occasion he humiliated me. Initially gym kit was a pair od short shorts and gym shoes. However, in the second year we were instructed to wear swimming trunks underneath. After one lesson he decided to do an inspection. We were ligned up and told to drop our shorts. The other boys did as they were told. I was mortified. I was wearing nothing underneath. He insisted that I dropped my shorts and I protested that I wasn't wearing anything underneath. My protestations fell on deaf ears. I dropped my shorts and stood in the line fully exposed. The walkway to the girls gym was opposite, although thankfully noone saw me. This humiliating experience is still vivid in my mind. Thank you for the opportunity to share it. This is a History Site and this is the experience of a Grammar School pupil in the early sixties. By the way, I love the site!

Comments by OD on 26th November 2011  

Aaron, may I ask how does it feel to perform P.E shirtless? Were you embarrased at first? If so, is it because of exposing your belly, chest or nipples?

Comments by Dave on 26th November 2011  

I totally Agree with you Aaron in all the things you've posted.
Yes, the photo were taken in 1959 but why can't anyone posting about present experiences if it is similar to the photo.And you've written your opinion of the photo either. Yes you're right to correlate discipline and shirtless PE kit as well as being barechested it's much more hygenic and there isn't anything for restricting movement especially for difficult gymnastics exercises. T-shirts are not beneficial for gym.
I encourage you to write more posts even if it's connected with present day experiences. Past and present experiences have a place in here together.

Comments by Aaron on 25th November 2011  

Matthew sorry to offend you! I assume you meant me in your last comments. I am a young man who is interested in photography and history and that's why I wanted to view the 1959 PE photograph. A photograph can capture the mood of the time. everyone has noticed the minimal same kit and for that reason,the kit is not focal point of the lesson but the activity is. and you can see that the boys looked dedicated,enthused and engaged in the activity they were doing they looked relaxed and comfortable in each others presence. Of course I did read the posters comments,some said forced shirtless the norm pre 1980's,alot said they found it beneficial, some aked if it is still practised in some schools or would it never be brought back on a big scale. I responded to these comments being a boy of 18 who probably would be among few my age to have had both compulsory shirts and compulsory skins in my school time.I was a bit longwinded in my descriptions but I was only reiterating the consesus that maybe the old Style PE lessons were better wth the fulfillment and discipline that it gave boys,and that I started upper school forced to wear shirts and the apathy and discipline problems forced a change in policy to bare chest for boys and the better behaviour and enjoyment that came from it and that the modern equality pc brigade which promotes same rules for everyone is not necessary the best in some areas. I should have commented only on the picture I am sorry.

Comments by Matthew on 25th November 2011  

This forum is to discuss the photograph of P.E. in 1959. Some comparison with modern day lessons is justified but all the relevant points have now been made so can we stop these long-winded diatribes that have nothing to do with the photo at all. This is a history site. If you have some facts or experiences to add about P.E. in 1959 please share them. If you want to comment on current practice please find a more appropriate site. Thank you.

Comments by Aaron on 24th November 2011  

I am 18 and I think I have been really lucky cos I have experienced both compulsory shirts and compulsory strip to waist in my school time. looking at comments for 50s,60s,70s,and 80s most were shirtless PE. Most boys my age and younger have not done shirtless but I do know some who have had to be shirtless forced on them like myself.This is because of bullying over plain shirts,and competing and stealing replica shirts and other discipline troubles. they wont bring it in on big scale cos of fairness and equality society which is pc. I have to be honest and say as a Lad who has had to do both shirts and shirtless, I definitely prefer bare chest PE/games. you are cold at first but because of that you have to get stuck in which didn't happen with alot with shirts on. The more you put into sport and PE the more you get out of it, no bullying over cheap or expensive shirts I found. The problem we have with equality is people interpret it wrong they think to treat people fairly means exactly the same things for boy or girl, I think equality means whats right for boys or girls even if it is different. I read other week about a boy 14 whose parents were angry at their son PE Kit being changed to no tops but their argument focused on girls should do PE in bras and girls might see their boy shirtless. but there is no need for that girls are probably Ok in their lessons and do well and behave well in their present kit. What they should be looking at is it better for their boy? yes,not so much bullying over replica or cheap shirts not getting into trouble for forgetting kit and a better lesson for their son, and I guess some mothers of girls at that school will be against boys shirtless cos they think boys are getting special treatment. See what I mean! eqality should be about fair treatment for a person is asking a boy to wear a pair of shorts and no shirt unfair treatment? is asking a girl to wear full kit unfair treatment? No to both. Bullying is unfair to a boy or a girl
though. But you see the full kit for girl and minimal kit for boy helps to prevent bullying both very DIFFERENT types of kit for DIFFERENT people. Also the thing about girls seeing their boy without shirt is amazing the young people near me go round together boys and girls, the boys in summer always shirtless in front of girls. You would think PE kit wouldn't bother them. Just one more thing I noted from comments pre 80s boys called by surnames by teachers.we were always called by first names both boys and girls, but in last 2 years some boys in our year asked the head if boys in our year could have a vote on being called by surnames in class, registration etc. This was cos they were lots of boys with same first names in my year. some got blamed for things wrongly they were 5 Daniels and 3 with my name. The vote was 75% for 25% against.Girls were called by first names and all other boys in school by first names but our year boys then got called by surnames from then on but it was democratic and right for us and it was right for the other boys and girls to be called by first names. See what I mean about difference can still be equal.Our year group boys didn't feel unfairly treat. When people called me by surname I knew they meant me. As there were a few in my PARTICULAR year group with same name.

Comments by John Lavender on 23rd November 2011  finswimmerjohn52@yahoo.com  http://gymkillerball.blogspot.com/2011/11/killerball-in-gym-lessons-at-grammar.html

@ London

Yes, agreed.

PE: Single sex lessons, same-sex Teacher.
Minimal kit, with emphasis on fitness, co-ordination,
discipline and ability to play in teams or as an alternative, encouragement to try-out individualist sports such as Triathlon or Cycling.

Comments by london on 22nd November 2011  

I was at secondary school ( all Boys )in the 60's & there was the no shirts & pants rule for pe & games

Reading the last set of comments I think it better to stop football shirts being worn to stop the one upmanship & to protect those who cannot afford the latest style. Would it be better to run pe as a single sex lesson & so return to plain short shorts not long ones like the latest football fashion & possibly ditch the boxers for briefs or slips

Comments by Aaron on 22nd November 2011  

I am boy 18. At primary school we had mixed PE lessons with woman teacher. Boys wore any colour shorts (not white!)strip to waist and bare feet. girls slapped us on chests but we just let them. girls didn't have showers and went straight to class after, boys had to get showers cos we stink more!the woman teacher supervised us but we didn't bother cos that was rule from beginning at that school. At upper school we had PE indoor and games outdoor lessons. We had football shirts shorts or socks of pro clubs like chelsea and man u,Leeds etc, some had basic plain kit including socks,this went on for a while but in my last 2years at the school the head was angry at expensive kits being stolen and boys in plain kits got picked on so he ordered bare chest for all boys. I didn,t mind cos I did it when younger some had never done it before and they were fourteen. Girls watched but It is better as boys don't have fallouts over footie teams etc. not much kit to remember boys forget stuff more than girls anyway. Most boys get used to it after a while.Should make boys bare chest in more schools my parents said cos thats how they remember it thats why mum never bought me PJs like sisters she said you don't get bedclothes cos you are a boy you sleep in just your underpants.

Comments by John Lavender on 17th November 2011  finswimmerjohn52@yahoo.com 

To help people avoid having to scroll right through the thread on this very evocative photo, I have c&p'd my post from May 2011 , below, surrounded by >> and << . Anyone with any experiences of Killerball in Their School? Would be interested to hear - just email me.

John

**Comments by Rob, 31st July 2010
Not at all, David! As a special "treat" in the last PE lesson of each term we played a game called Killerball whereby the two teams (consisting of the boys from each of the two classes which were put together to do PE) had to score goals at the opposite end of the gym. Any tactics were allowed to get the ball in the goal - there were no rules at all! My class usually lost so rather than just use brute force and strength we hatched a plan at the end of one term whereby everyone but the biggest, strongest boy in my class was secretly paired up with a boy in the other class except their smallest, wimpiest kid. When the whistle sounded, we all went for our targets and just started fighting with them, meaning our strongest member was free to grab the ball, and only having to deal with their weakest team member, just keep scoring! It sort of worked, but backfired on us in a way because we were never allowed to play it again - I guess the teacher thought our tactics, original, inventive and intelligent though they were (in our opinion!), were just too violent to be allowed in school for a bunch of 13 year old boys even at that non-PC time!

I suspect the specifics of these sort of games and their names varied by region or part of the country - I lived in London - were there similar games in other areas?**

>>Yes they were. We played a similar game in gym class @ our Grammar school (in Gateshead upon Tyne) when I was a pupil there, 1963 - 1968.
Our Gym teacher was a serving Sargeant in Durham (as then was) Police in Gateshead.
Our variation was played between teams of Skins and Vests.
(Technically we had plimmies, white shorts and white tees as PE Kit but when we played games we divided into 'Skins' and 'Vests' - there were just two 'houses' in the school.
Most guys wanted to play in 'Skins' and indeed we tried several times to get him to change our kit to just Plimsoles and Shorts, coloured to differentiate, but to no avail.
The rules/no rules for your game were very similar to ours; sometimes our teacher would join in as well.
The goals were a mat laid at each end of the gym, and sometimes the matches would last a half-hour to 40 minutes. We played this most weeks in PE lessons.
Also, the last four guys to enter the gym for each lesson used to be told to "Run the Gauntlet" as punishment for being slow; they would be made to strip off to the waist, and then made to run down an avenue of the rest of the c
lass in two columns, who had to slap them on the back as they passed them. Some of us deliberately changed slowly to enable us to do gym without a top and get a 'gauntleting' as a way of warming up for the lesson and the 'Killerball' game!>>

Comments by Ken from the country on 17th November 2011  

perhaps we should return to opportunities for single sex activities camps etc so boys can be less inhibited & as prev writers have said indulge in n.e. & even activities without the restriction of clothing. Who remembers swimming naked in rivers with no thought for elf & safety which today has ruined the "Spirit of adventure" Them boys may not be so inhibited & have more confidence & not worry about exposure

Comments by Colin on 17th November 2011  

I was at secondary school in the 1960's, and the picture is very reminiscent. We were allowed, no, expected, to wear a white singlet, and very short shorts, with no underwear. To this day, i do not know why underpants were not allowed, as both my sons and grandsons have worn briefs under their PE shorts. I wore trunks (old fashioned name for boxers) under my shorts,and got away with it for a few weeks, before the elastic weakened, and they showed below my shorts. I got the cane for disobeying the no underwear rule!

Comments by John Lavender on 16th November 2011  finswimmerjohn52@yahoo.com 

Dave (post on 15.11.2011)

See my reply below to Ron who posted earlier on this year on 16.06.11 .

We had t-shirts, shorts and plimmies as Gym Kit; no rule on underwear, but most of us would have just LOVED to go shirtless in Gym and we took any opportunity so to do. We were at Grammar School 1963-68. Our PE Teacher was a Police officer who encouraged us to go shirtless if we wanted to and the only time we HAD to wear a vest was if we played Killerball and we were "Vests" team; only two houses in our school. One had mid-green as a colour and the other sunshine-yellow. I would loved have worn Coloured shorts as an identifier but we only had white.
see my earlier post (02.05.11) about our Killerball games, much missed.

John

"@Ron. Yes I think there is a general adversity amongst boys, particularly those who have hit puberty, to Nipple Exposure (hereinafter referred to as 'NE'. This seems to go back about 20 years; before then it is generally accepted that youngsters were less embarrased about body exposure, certainly in Schools PE/Gym sessions.

The same is also true of other scenarios like the Scouts. In the pre-1980's era, in fact going back pre-WWII, going barechested (and indeed in a lot of camp scenarios, completely naked) was perfectly acceptable, because it was a 100% male environment, there was no PC to speak of, and in fact a lot of kids were eager to go to camp, not only because it was a release from the by-and-large dreadful inner city conditions, but it was bonding opportunity, you could indulge in NE or even nudity and no one bothered.

Some kids just could not wait to go for that reason and also the staff (Scout-Masters and Patrol-Leaders) were supportive; the SM in our village at the time I was at junior school, was also involved in the School itself and was a Naturist , and indeed most of the time at camp I understand he was naked or wore shorts at most. This was considered manly and anyone allegedly wearing more than shorts was generally considered to be "soft".

The parents were generally fine about this, and it is only recently when (ironically) the children of the 50s and 60s baby-boomers have started to go to senior school or scouts that this aversion to NE has manifested itself.

Gender equality has also played its part; if Scouts were male-only then I think we would probably have similar attitudes to NE as in the years before the 1980s.

I personally now wish I had joined-in the fun, a good friend of mine at the time tried to temp me to try it; I wish I had."

Comments by Colin on 16th November 2011  

I was at secondary school in the 1960's, and the picture is very reminiscent. We were allowed, no, expected, to wear a white singlet, and very short shorts, with no underwear. To this day, i do not know why underpants were not allowed, as both my sons and grandsons have worn briefs under their PE shorts. I wore trunks (old fashioned name for boxers) under my shorts,and got away with it for a few weeks, before the elastic weakened, and they showed below my shorts. I got the cane for disobeying the no underwear rule!

Comments by Dave on 15th November 2011  

Most of your posts prove that boys doesn't really mind having to be shirtless for P.E. So I can't see why most schools stopped that rule. It is much more logical and healthier being barechested for P.E. I can't see the real purpose of shirts.
Why do boys wear T-shirts in many schools for PE nowadays? Why most schools have stopped shirtless PE lessons? Any ideas?

Comments by Graham on 15th November 2011  

Comments by Oldschoolboy on 15th November 2011  

I was at school in the late sixties/ early seventies and have a vivid memory of a rugby session at the start of term. The master was a barrel chested welshman who began proceedings by having us stand in a circle round him and go through the warm-up routine, this ended with us all on our backs, feet towards the centre doing various excercises one of which was both feet up, legs straight(good for the abdominal muscles) at which point anything worn under our very short shorts was clearly on display. After this he announced that he "couldn`t help noticing" that some of us were wearing unsuitable underwear or worse, none at all and the correct item was a jockstrap and woe betide any one not having one next session.I can`t remember what the punishment was to be but I don`t recall any one not complying.

Comments by Phlip on 9th November 2011  

This is an excellent pic which reminds me of my schooldays. I went to boarding school at the age of seven in 1967 and stayed through prep, junior and senior houses until I was 18.

Sports kit was consistent throughout my time, for gym work we had a pair of white shorts, for outdoor PT, running etc. we added a pair of plimsols, for rugby we had a shirt, shorts, socks and boots, underpants were not allowed at any age and checks were made. Wearing underpants resulted in a slippering on the first occasion and the cane on any subsequent occasions. Swimming was always naked.

The sports pavillion was set away from the school buildings and the rule was no sports kit on the school side so we always got changed in there. There were changing bays for about twenty so space for about two hundred boys to change in ten teams and one huge communal shower so no room for anyone to be shy. There was never hot water in the pavillion so showers were always freezing.

The various teachers were strict and unbending, standards were high and nonsense was not tolerated and dealt with swiftly. That said, the sports staff in particular were generally good fun and always went the extra mile to encourage you and get you performing.

For academic work we had monthly tests and there was something called the average marks rule. If your marks in any test fell below your previous average the result was the cane unless your average was over 90%. It certainly was an incentive to keep performance up but of course the harder you worked the higher your marks got and the more you risked a caning. I got quite a few but in the end left with some very good results. Imagine that being applied these days.

Comments by James on 5th November 2011  

When I was at school we wore satin shorts with side slits.They were very revealing and had a shimmering affect.

Comments by old bristolian on 3rd November 2011  

in our day there was nom inhibition in doing pe commando there couldn't be whaat with thim white nylon shorts ( very short) doing excercises in pairs especially handstands you saw everything & showered together afterwards. are boys more effiminate now & no longer men & embat=rrassed to be naked in showers together?

Comments by To London Lad on 2nd November 2011  

London Lad, I'm 13, and yes, modern schools have it A LOT better!

Comments by london lad on 1st November 2011  

he modern schools do boys now wear underwear for pe?

Comments by Matthew on 30th October 2011  

How sad that people had such awful experiences as those described in the recent posts but it seems to have happened outside of P.E. lessons. Thankfully,I think most of us have happier memories and enjoyed our P.E., as those in the photograph seem to be doing.

Comments by Mal on 29th October 2011  

As I've stated before,I experienced morning cold showers and daily cross country runs whilst stripped to the waist.
Like 'Jon' I went to an all-boys boarding school where the PE staff insisted PE was done barechested both indoors and outside regardless of the weather.
As caning had recently stopped at the school we got seriously gruelling 'punishment hours' in the evening. The PE master was an old sadist, of that I'm now convinced. Any boy would rather have accepted a good caning than get 2 hours
one evening, never mind an ongoing nightly affair as in 'Jons' case. We had ours in the gym bare barefoot, no vest allowed.
Guys behaved to avoid these. There was a huge climate of fear during my time because of this one man.
I once had a two hour session and I was the only one being 'punished'. Although the cane, strap and slipper had been stopped while it was still legal and going on throughout most private public schools in the UK, the school had 'volunteered' to give up whacking and replaced it with something much worse.
That sadist still used the neck strap of his whistle to whip the legs and torso with at will. If one was taking too long to change after games he'd lash you with this cord. It stung like blazes and left a nasty raised stripe.
Can you imagine two whole hours with this nutcase whipping you if he decided you were not sweating enough or doing squats quick enough. Two hours with one drink of water half way. I do not recall anyone having two in a row but do remember the nurse excused lads off lessons the day following one and they'd stay in bed all day. Brutal.

Comments by Simon on 17th October 2011  

I went to an all male boarding school in Scotland in the mid 1970's. It was a strict regime and quite hard, especially for the new boys.
Every morning we would do a 2 mile run wearing white pe shorts and plimsolls. When it wasn't frozen, we also had to, immediatly after the run, do 4 lengths of the outdoor pool which was so so cold in the winter. We took off our shorts and plimsolls, did the swinm and then dashed back to our House to try and get warm. The thing I remember was that in the cold days of winter, our housemaster and his wife, who were all wrapped up, used to check religiously that every boy had done the run/swim and finished it off with a cold shower. There was no hot water in my House although some of the other Houses had hot water. My House was always very popular though, for some reason. These were harsh times but really only in the winter. In the summer, we all enjoyed it and had a lot of fun.

Comments by Matthew on 15th October 2011  

For a video version similar to this photo see the P.E. scene in the excellent "P'Tang Yang Kipperbang", set in a 1950's grammar school. It is followed by a Head's caning as mentioned by Stephen with an hilarious voice over by the cricket commentator John Arlott. The film, a touching and at the same time funny rite of passage story, is available on DVD.

Comments by Stephen on 13th October 2011  

yes that could be the school I went to in the 1960s White shorts and plimsols a Boy found in underpants did it bare for a few times. Showers were compulsory the only tiem a jock strap was allowed was when you played rugby against another school It ws common to see things hanging out of shorts when you were in the 4th 5th and 6th forms. In the winter cross country runs were shorts only to come rain , hail or snow. A boy who played up went to the hea dand came back with a hot bottom.

Comments by Elliot on 13th October 2011  

Comments by JohnT on 12th October 2011  

Ahh, school PE lessons ... I went to school a little later than many others her (mid 1970s - mid 1980s) but I think I just caught the 'tail end' of the old regime, as my state schools (in the 'grim north') were rather old-fashioned with many staff (including the venerable PE teacher) having been there decades and very stuck in their (traditional) ways.

There was no uniform at my old Infant school (it was a poor school in a poor area) and this was reflected in the PE kit - boys simply did indoor work (there were no outdoor facilities) stripped down to underpants and in bare feet. Unthinkable today, but very common back there and then. I vaguely recollect being allowed to keep my white vest occasionally, but really, we never questioned or thought about it - we simply did as we were told!

Moving up to Juniors we got our first taste of 'proper' PE involving apparatus work like in the photo. Again, the school didn't have a uniform, but we were expected to bring and wear 'suitable' shorts (i.e. proper gym shorts not casual wear). We were allowed to wear black plimsolls indoors and a vest, and a few boys did, but I never bothered, largely spurred by a 'PE mad' friend of mine who always insisted on doing everything bare chested and in bare feet (he used to keep telling me how better it was).

Moving up to Seniors, and I finally got my first taste of having to wear a proper school uniform. The school also had a set PE kit for both indoor and outdoor sports. Outdoors was generally a rugby kit in school colours, although for athletics and cross-country our indoor kit was worn.

Indoors, the kit was ostensibly 'shorts only' and we were permitted to wear the same shorts as our outdoor kit (plain black). However, the rules did permit the wearing of a plain white vest and clean plimsolls or trainers for indoor work, but this was generally frowned upon by the teacher. However it didn't stop some boys from wearing the whole lot (which I always thought wa stupid). Some boys never wore anything for indoor work except their shorts (i.e. bare chest and bare feet) so classes ended up with boys in a mixture of kit. Although I was a rather scrawny boy who was rubbish at PE I always took the class very seriously and did my best, and this (along with my insistence on being bare chest and bare feet) always seemed to impress the PE teacher who was very supportive. Whereas those who wore vests and trainers and generally didn't put any effort in, were the ones who ended up having to do laps of the field in the freezing cold and pouring rain after school!

I miss those old lessons. Like others here I agree that contemporary school PE lessons are ridiculously 'soft' and lax. Yes, back then the gym was always freezing cold, and the lessons (especially circuit training) was relentless ... But at same time there was a certain 'macho' atmosphere with boys wanting to show off and prove that they were 'men' and could perform the various activities as well as the teacher (who, for an old man, was amazingly adept and fit).

But it's all gone now, along with those freezing cold dusty old gyms with their deadly wooden wall bars and medicine balls. Now we have school teaching soft non-contact sports and aerobics ... Shudder ...

Comments by Jon on 7th October 2011  

Our all-boys boarding school wasn't in Scotland but the PE staff insisted PE was done barechested both indoors or outside regardless of the weather or time of year. If you were seen to misbehave or not apply the required effort you were punished with a 2hr remedial session under the lights on the school yard from 7-9pm, obviously stripped to the waist and the term of your punishment could range from one night upwards to 2 weeks, determined by the PE staff. Now I can tell you this was a nightmare during the winter months!

Comments by Mal on 1st October 2011  

I experienced morning cold showers and daily cross country runs whilst stripped to the waist. Sheer hell in winter. However I've read of even harsher regimes in Scottish boarding schools where boys had to submerge themselves in a cold bath first thing every morning. Has anyone experienced such a thing?

Comments by norfolk on 28th September 2011  

yes I remember Buckmore Prk. Is there still a Scout Campsite there?

Comments by John Cunningham on 20th September 2011  

I attended an all-boys Kent grammar school in the late sixties/early seventies. As I recall, our PE kit was white shorts and shirts, with dark blue shorts and red and black hooped shirts for games. Having an open air pool, at least when I started, we always had to wear trunks for swimming. i was never much good at sports, but I cannot remember our PE or games teachers being anything like the hard disciplinarians mentioned here, but they still kept order and had a great deal of respect from us.
Mention of swimming in the nude reminds me of Buckmore Park at the time, a scout campsite, where at that time there were certainly some all-male nude bathing sessions!
It would be considered highly improper now, but little was said at the time, though we scouts were quite rude about the individual who insisted on it!!

Comments by Peter Crossley on 10th September 2011  mulga241@bigpond.com 

Yes, I remember Mr. Parry being my PE teacher back in 1962. The gym equipment is very familiar. Google Sam Hanna, the woodwork teacher. A keen photographer and I believe the first person to film Man U in colour back in 1957! Now beat that.

Comments by Phil on 6th September 2011  

I did p. e. in just a pair of shorts when I was at school over 40 years ago. We were all the same, no shirt, footwear or underwear, so there was no need for embarrasment. We enjoyed being able to get out of our uniforms and the cold didn't bother us in the winter, even cross-country running was done in just shorts. I think boys were tougher then and didn't have silly hang-ups about their bodies.

Comments by Mike on 28th August 2011  

I remember ehat I hated the most which was SHIRTLESS PIGGYBACK RIDES! When it was really cold your nipples would get hard. It would not feel good being carried with your hard nipples on soomeone's bare back

Comments by Ryan on 27th August 2011  

Comments by Scott on 27th August 2011  

Our classes at secondary school weren't like that, but when I was at infant school in the mid 1980s we did gymnastics in mixed classes with boys in blue vests and briefs (none of us wore boxers at that age) and girls in vests and knickers. However in the summer when it was warm the boys were allowed to tak their vest off and just do gym in their briefs. This practice stopped when we went to junior school (age 8 to 11) and we did gymnastics barefoot in shorts and a t-shirt, still mixed.

At secondary school in the early to mid 1990s we did gymnastics barefoot in white shorts and a green rugby top. For everything else it was that plus socks and trainers/football boots. Shirts v skins must have been frowned upon by then as our rugby tops were reversible - turning them inside out revealed a yellow hoop on one side only. If you were picked for hoops in team sports you took your top off and turned it inside out to wear. In cross country in the summer you were allowed to take your shirt off if you wanted - not compulsory - but those of us who did did it more to pose in front of the girls in the fields we ran past than anything else!

Comments by Simon on 24th August 2011  

Our kit was listed as a vest and pair of shorts but we were to find out it was anything but. After changing for our first lesson we all trooped out onto the field and lined up. Shortly after the teacher turned up he looked along the line, pointed and shouted "You, out to the front" and then "Right then vest off!" After dropping my vest on the ground we were told this would be our PE kit. One boy mumbled something and was given a cold shower at the end of the lesson for his troubles.

So it was our vests were off for all PE/Games lessons (then 5 periods at week, 1 double and 3 singles and though for some reason we had to put our vests on in the changing room just to take them off a few minutes later) regardless of temperature or weather.
During the winter the girls tried unsuccessfully to monopolise the gym and on numerous occasions when they were outside, their teacher would "accidently" forget extra netballs or equipment and send a couple of girls to collect these from the storeroom at the bottom end of the gym. It always seemed to be timed so they'd enter the gym as our vests were coming off!

Comments by Jim on 24th August 2011  

Michael, were you forced to perfoem P.E shirtless?

Comments by Michael on 19th August 2011  

The picture reminds me of my old grammar school days. I was academically inclined but not physically adept - brains not brawn you could say. Which is why I suppose, I went to a grammar school in the first place.

Because I wasn't confident at football or gymnastics or indeed anything of the sort, the PE teacher took a dislike to me. He could have done what teachers are supposed to do, i.e. help me to develop my skills so I could begin to enjoy the activities. But no; all I got was sneering contempt, humiliation and the gym shoe on my backside. Accordingly, the school gym was a torture chamber to me, made worse by being bone-chillingly cold most of the time.

I couldn't get out of that gym quickly enough. I could have enjoyed some sport during my adult life but my experiences there put me off permanently.

Comments by Keith on 15th August 2011  biggyin@hotmail.com 

we had awfull thin seethru nylon pe shorts at my school, only a few lads wore anything under them, and every now and then the lessons would change from football to swimming, and when this happened we only had white shorts, so all the boys had to wear there white football shorts in the pool, which got very seethru when we got out of the pool and stood on the side for diving practice. everything visable

Comments by Pete on 14th August 2011  

I don't understand how Toby could forget his PE shorts if he was a boarder. Even if he had the world's worst memory, he and his shorts would surely always have been on the same premises.

Comments by Matthew on 13th August 2011  

The boys in the photo are doing apparatus work. At Colne Grammar we did this in one of our two PE lessons each week. We divided into small groups each working on one piece of apparatus until the teacher shouted "Change", when we moved to the next. I never did master climbing a rope! The last lesson of the term was always a free-for-all game on the apparatus called "Pirates". Does anyone remember the rules?

The 'box' on which the boy is doing a handstand could be used for other, more sinister, purposes at Colne. We had to spend wet lunchtimes, unsupervised, in the gym. The bigger boys would take the top off the 'box' and see how many smaller boys they could get in before replacing the top, sitting on it and banging their heels for the rest of the lunch hour. For obvious reasons the trick was to be last boy in; I learned how to wedge myself behind the wallbars.

Come to think of it, the bigger boys had another use for the rugby posts during dry lunchtimes. As the teacher called the register one afternoon she asked, "Where is D*******?"
back came the response from a small voice at the back, "Please Miss, he's tied to the rugby posts." Compassionately, he declined to add what we all also knew, that as well as being well and truly trussed, D******* was tearfully looking at his ankles round which resided his trousers and underpants. Such incidents were not uncommon but had completely disappeared by the time I left.

Comments by Matthew on 12th August 2011  

I forgot to mention swimming. Again we got off lightly compared with others on this post because we always wore swimming trunks. Forgetting them, however, meant borrowing a pair of grotty ones from the pool. The entire school had to attend the annual inter-house gala as spectators. One year a boy competed in white trunks. All went well as he went up to do his "neat dive". After he emerged from the water and walked back towards us down the length of the pool an excited buzz arose. We could not understand this because the trunks did their job from the front. As he passed we realised what he didn't - his wet trunks were completely transparent at the back leaving no detail of his bottom to the imagination. I don't think he got into trouble but he never wore tham again.

Comments by Toby on 12th August 2011  

I attended a coed (mixed) grammar school in Devon between '61 and '68 and most of the memories on here reflect my own experiences at school. I was a boarder but the school also admitted day pupils. One of the luxuries at our school was the size of the grounds - about 20 acres or so - which meant there was a keen policy of outside PE and exercise in general. Back then, our PE kit consisted of shorts. Oh, and plimsolls if the activity required them. No underwear was the rule, and strictly adhered to.

There was no way you cheat as the shorts were slightly transparent - pants were visible a mile off. Generally no-one cared about being shirtless, especially in the summer, or even being barefooted for that matter. In winter, depending on how cold the day was, a sports vest was allowed.

I don't remember having a jockstrap, things just 'floated' about freely inside the large baggy shorts. I don't ever remember it being a problem though.

The swimming pool was built during my tenure (can't remember what year, but mid 60s approx.) There was no swimming kit so the swimming was done naked, but generally there were no spectators so no-one was bothered in the slightest, it just seemed perfectly normal. The only time some of the boys got slightly embarrassed was when the PE master was off sick and the girls female PE tutor deputised the swimming lesson.

On one infamous occasion, and I can't think why it was allowed to happen, the pool was shared by both the girls and boys swimming lessons - with the boys at one end doing diving and life saving, and the girls at the other end doing their thing. I just remember feeling at the time that it was deeply unfair that the girls could wear a full one piece swimsuit while we had to be naked.

The girls' puberty enhanced upper bodies didn't exactly help matters, especially as a hormone ravaged teen, either. This fear was borne out as one boy (who I shan't name and shame!) got out the pool and walked straight up the other end to complain to the PE mistress who was taking both classes, and confronted her. As he was admonishing her about the injustice - both of them standing at the poolside near the girls - he developed a huge.. er.. state of excitement shall we say, in full view of the pool and 12 or so giggling and whistling girls, ending with a firm rebuking from the mistress and told go back and carry on diving and not to be such a baby. I seem to remember him being popular after though..

The gym PE was generally just shorts only with no plimsolls. If you forgot your kit, I'm afraid it was birthday suit unless you bunked it - moi, guilty as charged, but hey ho.. hehe, nothing changes, eh?

Generally, I look back fondly of my time at Colyton. I think I was happy for the whole six years there, and lucky to be educated in such a forward thinking and modern grammar school at the time. It was a strict school, yes, and there were times when I found it hard, but I wouldn't change a thing if I'm honest.

Yeah.. I miss those days now.. Oh to be young again!

Comments by Matthew on 10th August 2011  

I attended Colne Grammar School, near Burnley, in the 1950's. The photo could have been of our school. Like them we wore only white shorts for PE with no underpants. However if we forgot our kit we just did not do the lesson; there was no question of having to do it in underwear. Although this was quite a change from the junior school, where we did PE in our ordinary clothes, the big shock came at the end of the lesson when we had to strip off and run through the cold shower holding our towels above our heads. If you forgot your towel you dried yourself on your shorts or any thing else that came to hand At this time, many of us did not have a bathroom at home but we still did not appreciate the icy cold water. We did not feel embarrassed at wearing no shirt or vest for the lesson but were very shy of being seen even in our underpants when we changed. I remember getting the cane when I was 12 on the same day as we had PE and having to stand awkwardly in the changing room as the rest of the class examined the stripes on my backside. Compared with other comments here perhaps we had it easy because I cannot remember anyone being slippered by the PE teacher. \we played Burnley Grammar at football I think.

Comments by Alex on 19th July 2011  

I was at school in the 1970's, we too has a no pants rule for games. At junior school we wore nothing under our shorts and at the senior school we were required to wear a jockstrap. A jockstrap was on our kit list we were told to wear them by the games teachers.
I expect others had similar rules.

Comments by jake on 13th July 2011  

why dont they do it today

Comments by Mike on 7th July 2011  michaelabbey@rocketmail.com 

This picture has stimulated a load of comments including some mention of the old 'no pants' rule for boys which was certainly the case at my school.
I think this is often misunderstood as a 'no underwear' rule as the wearing of some form of support is widely accepted as necessary. This was definitely so at my school in the 70's where the 'no pants' rule applied. But boys like me who were involved in sports teams soon fell into the habit of wearing a pair of swimming trunks underneath our shorts. This usually began at a time when an apprehensive youngster was first selected for the rugby team. A few words of sound advice often followed and a pair of trunks which had seen better days were packed in the kit bag.
I dont think that a jockstrap was usually a boys first support underwear unless maybe he only joined the cricket team.
I dont know if this corresponds with others experiences but maybe it does.

Comments by Chris on 6th July 2011  

During outdoor games the school's cricket pavilion was often used for changing in and only had one changing area . On some occasions when the boys' games session finished first we were ordered out of the changing rooms by our games master in various states of undress in order for the girls to take priority for showering and changing. We were then lined up outside mostly naked or almost-naked waiting for the girls to finish before we were allowed back in.You can imagine how exposed and self-conscious we all felt as the girls left the changing room. We were petrified but the girls loved it of course and took their time walking past and inspecting us in all our glory!

Comments by Tom on 23rd June 2011  

Comments by John Lavender on 17th June 2011  finswimmerjohn@yahoo.com 

@Ron. Yes I think there is a general adversity amongst boys, particularly those who have hit puberty, to Nipple Exposure (hereinafter referred to as 'NE'. This seems to go back about 20 years; before then it is generally accepted that youngsters were less embarrased about body exposure, certainly in Schools PE/Gym sessions.

The same is also true of other scenarios like the Scouts. In the pre-1980's era, in fact going back pre-WWII, going barechested (and indeed in a lot of camp scenarios, completely naked) was perfectly acceptable, because it was a 100% male environment, there was no PC to speak of, and in fact a lot of kids were eager to go to camp, not only because it was a release from the by-and-large dreadful inner city conditions, but it was bonding opportunity, you could indulge in NE or even nudity and no one bothered.

Some kids just could not wait to go for that reason and also the staff (Scout-Masters and Patrol-Leaders) were supportive; the SM in our village at the time I was at junior school, was also involved in the School itself and was a Naturist , and indeed most of the time at camp I understand he was naked or wore shorts at most. This was considered manly and anyone allegedly wearing more than shorts was generally considered to be "soft".

The parents were generally fine about this, and it is only recently when (ironically) the children of the 50s and 60s baby-boomers have started to go to senior school or scouts that this aversion to NE has manifested itself.

Gender equality has also played its part; if Scouts were male-only then I think we would probably have similar attitudes to NE as in the years before the 1980s.

I personally now wish I had joined-in the fun, a good friend of mine at the time tried to temp me to try it; I wish I had.

John

Comments by Ron on 16th June 2011  

Is the reason for shyness and self conscious behaviour with boys told to be barechested down to the fact of exposure of the nipples? Are barechested boys shy about their nipple exposure?

Comments by Will on 15th June 2011  

I was at a home counties high school late 60s. My junior school head was a kindly batchelor who as far as I can remember never hit a kid his voice was enough! He warned us what lay in store at the comprehensive When we went there it was a total culture shock. The cane ruled as did the slipper in PE. The head was ex military as was the PE teacher and his sidekick. I hated sports of any kind ( but later got into weights) By the time we were about 15 I quite liked cross country as we were left to do it, and I could have a fag on the way round. Guess who got caught one day? The PE teacher ordered me to his room not to get changed He produced this enormous worn out black plimsol more sole that upper around size 11.I was forced to touch my toes there followed 6 hard whacks that sounded like gunshots across the shiny PE shorts we wore in those days. The whole of my backside was on fire for the rest of the day and still very sore the day after. When I emerged there was a crowd of lads and several sniggers and knowing looks, although I was damned if I was going to shed a tear for that. It was as if he was whacking a carpet! I realised when I grew up that most of these teachers were pervs. You got slippered for the slightest thing.After I left school and grew into a large bloke I always vowed if I ever came across that pervy [removed, admin] I would deck him. Turns out he dropped dead at 44! I still smoked as well.

Comments by mark on 25th May 2011  

i went to a mixed school in the early 80's. the boys pe kit was white t-shirt, white shorts and white plimsols. no underwear.the master checked we were not wearing underwear by looking down our shorts. any boy caught wearing pants had to strip naked and was whipped across the backside with a wet towel.if you forgot your pe kit the first time you had to do it in your pants. the second time with just a towel around your waist even outside sports. if your towel came down you had to carry on naked.

Comments by Richard on 13th May 2011  

As for everyone else the photo brought memories of my time in the gym at Grammar school in 1959/66

I can remember the first time to this day. All us new 11 year old first formers had to sit on the floor and we were made very clear as to the rules for kit which were clean white shorts and plimsolls ( shoes never to be worn in the gym), no underpants to be worn and a shower afterwards was mandatory. Breaches of these rules would be punished by a tanning.

Our PE master was a superbly fit athlete and fine gymnast and strict disciplinarian.

The next time in the gym one of the boys stupidly wore his briefs and was caught doing so. Six of the best with the slipper followed in the changing room afterwards. Shorts and briefs pulled down in front of everyone. I can see the boy's face now it was deep beetroot red with embarrassment. I vowed never to infringe the rules after seeing that spanking and never did.

Similar punishment was meted out as promised for unwhitened plimsolls and dirty shorts and not showering many times during my time there.

We were all supremely fit after all this physical excercise along with regular cross country runs unlike today's overweight kids.

Yes it was a harsh regime but I value the disciplne to this day; and, yes, no doubt we were terrorised by the masters but today, of course, it is completely the other way round with the kids terrorising the teachers.

They said at the time corporal punishment was abolished that violence begets violence but society and schools today are much more violent than ever was the case in my day and I think this argument needs to be revisited.

The kids today also most definitely need the physical excercise we had.

Comments by Jamie on 6th May 2011  

Reading the last few comments brings back things I have not thought about for years, probably 30 years. At my prep school and the first few years of senior school, we were forced to do wrestling in pe lessons. Half the class really enjoyed it and the other half detested it as they basically got pummelled by the stronger kids. Whilst I was not one of the stronger boys, I really enjoyed wrestling and was quite good at it. If you had a hard match, your top was basically scratched and red raw at the end. As a boarder we were much better as we were always practising in the evenings. During the lessons we were never allowed to wear tops although after school some boys would wear shirts (not me) and it was much easier to wrestle them as you could get hold of something. In those days, boys were boys.

Comments by Rob on 3rd May 2011  

Fascinating stuff, John.

As we only played such games once or twice a term, we looked forward to them with a mixture of apprehension and great excitement. I guess we enjoyed them because it was an occasion when we could legitimately be rough and tough and a little bit violent - we also sometimes had wrestling matches in PE at the end of term which had much the same effect - boys were allowed to be boys, back then!

Was that such a bad thing? It's interesting to look back now and analyse what would have looked like violent mayhem to any adult watching - although there were literally no rules in Killerball, there was an imlicitly understood code of conduct which didn't need to be stated out loud. Yes, it was quite acceptable to knee an opponent in the stomach, elbow him in the chest or sometimes even dish out a good old fashioned punch on the nose, and you expected such things to occasionally happen to you - and if you spent the rest of the lesson with a nosebleed, then so be it - it was that risk and bit of danger that made it so exciting. But...if anyone had done something "out of order" like kneeing another kid in the nuts, or girly hair-pulling, or unnecessarily or repeatedly picking on weaker boys who were no threat to anyone scoring, then even their own team mates turned on them to let them know in no uncertain terms that their actions were not acceptable. Would it be the same today? I doubt it.

Comments by John on 2nd May 2011  finswimmerjohn52@yahoo.com 

>>Comments by Rob, 31st July 2010
Not at all, David! As a special "treat" in the last PE lesson of each term we played a game called Killerball whereby the two teams (consisting of the boys from each of the two classes which were put together to do PE) had to score goals at the opposite end of the gym. Any tactics were allowed to get the ball in the goal - there were no rules at all! My class usually lost so rather than just use brute force and strength we hatched a plan at the end of one term whereby everyone but the biggest, strongest boy in my class was secretly paired up with a boy in the other class except their smallest, wimpiest kid. When the whistle sounded, we all went for our targets and just started fighting with them, meaning our strongest member was free to grab the ball, and only having to deal with their weakest team member, just keep scoring! It sort of worked, but backfired on us in a way because we were never allowed to play it again - I guess the teacher thought our tactics, original, inventive and intelligent though they were (in our opinion!), were just too violent to be allowed in school for a bunch of 13 year old boys even at that non-PC time!

I suspect the specifics of these sort of games and their names varied by region or part of the country - I lived in London - were there similar games in other areas? >>

Yes they were. We played a similar game in gym class @ our Grammar school (in Gateshead upon Tyne) when I was a pupil there, 1963 - 1968.

Our Gym teacher was a serving Sargeant in Durham (as then was) Police in Gateshead.

Our variation was played between teams of Skins and Vests.
(Technically we had plimmies, white shorts and white tees as PE Kit but when we played games we divided into 'Skins' and 'Vests' - there were just two 'houses' in the school.
Most guys wanted to play in 'Skins' and indeed we tried several times to get him to change our kit to just Plimsoles and Shorts, coloured to differentiate, but to no avail.

The rules/no rules for your game were very similar to ours; sometimes our teacher would join in as well.

The goals were a mat laid at each end of the gym, and sometimes the matches would last a half-hour to 40 minutes. We played this most weeks in PE lessons.

Also, the last four guys to enter the gym for each lesson used to be told to "Run the Gauntlet" as punishment for being slow; they would be made to strip off to the waist, and then made to run down an avenue of the rest of the c
lass in two columns, who had to slap them on the back as they passed them. Some of us deliberatedly changed slowly to enable us to do gym without a top and get a 'gauntleting' as a way of warming up for the lesson and the 'Killerball' game!

Comments by Domonic on 28th April 2011  

I must admit, I have happy memories of my pe and swimming lessons although it was a strict regime for boys but like a holiday camp for the girls. At my prep we did pe lessons all together in a massive gym with the girls wearing skirts and tops and the boys just pe shorts. If it was cold outside the girls could wear jumpers but nothing extra could be worn for the boys. At swimming which we did separtly, the girls could wear simming costumes but the boys were not allowed to wear anything. If pe was cancelled at short notice, we would do swimming but as the girls did not have their swim wear then they could watch, but only after we had all got in the pool. Alos, the boys had to shower, the girls did not have to.

Comments by Philip on 21st April 2011  

I was a boarder at my prep school which was virtually all boys except for about 4 girls. PE lessons were always bare chested (except the girls) and if we played team games, one team would be given a coloured sash type thing to wrap around our tops.
We did early morning swims in the indoor pool - always naked as the girls were in a different house. Our swimming lessons were always done naked but quite often the 4 girls would be waiting outside for us to finish and would take great delight in watching us.
I had swimming coaching as I was in the school team and there was a right ho ha as to whether we should wear trunks or not as there was a lady coach. There were about 8 of us and I think 6 of us stayed in the buff as we just didn't have trunks to wear and 2 wore shorts. It didn't seem to bother the coach and she trained us very well and put us through our paces. We all got really fit as she really pushed us and it was a lot of fun. I would add that when we did galas, we wore trunks, although evry small ones.

Comments by Andrew on 18th April 2011  

We had a very traditional pe teacher in the mid 70's. It was an all boys boarding and day school. From the age of about 8 to when we were 15 you only wore white shorts and plimsolls for pe. Swimming was also done naked and no boy ever questioned this as it was as normal as it was basically our uniform for sport.The only time that shirts could be worn was if we played tennis but as no one ever had shirts with them, few ever bothered wearing them. Generally it made boys much more confident and no one had any issue as going for showers after pe.

Comments by Carl on 17th April 2011  

What kind of humuliation will the P.E teacher devise?

Comments by Tom on 17th April 2011  

Comments by Michael on 14th April 2011  

In response to Carl, yes it was embarrassing doing PE like that,especially if you were a very skinny boy. You felt very bare and exposed in skimpy shorts,but you just had to endure it for two lessons a week for your whole time at school. You were also liable to receive corporal punishment for any misbehaviour or slacking,supplemented by any other humiliations devised by the PE teacher. School PE could be an ordeal,probably intentionally so in order to toughen boys.

Comments by Carl on 11th April 2011  

To everyone who shared their experience here, don't you guys feel embarrased wearing only shorts in P.E? Aren't u ashamed that your nipples are revealed and wouldn't it be hard if it was that cold?

Comments by James on 9th April 2011  

...And I thought being made to do laps of field in the pouring rain was bad! I was 12 when during an outdoor fitness session when I made the fatal mistake of answering back. Our teacher really didn't "do" comments and had already made me remove my vest when he turned and said "You'll not be saying that after I'm finished" After the lesson ended I was told "press ups and laps of the field for you tomorrow". The following morning it was chucking down and I thought my punishment would be put back....erm no. I was taken out of my English lesson and down the changing room. Having changed my teacher just laughed and led me out onto the school yard, which ironically the English block overlooked. After being told to get my vest off I was made to start my press ups and shortly after was completely soaked. Then came the run - 13 laps round the field. After finishing I thought that would be it but was made to do another lot of press ups in one of the puddles that had formed on the field before I could finally go in. I never stepped out of line again and was never picked to wear a vest again at school.

Comments by Ben on 7th April 2011  

Comments by Nick on 5th March 2011  

Comments by Mark Stewart on 18th February 2011  

I was at school in the late 70s, early 80s and I remember having to do P.E in my barefeet if I forgot my plimsols.

It was that period when trainers were just beginning to be widespread for sports and gym and I remember one year we had a new gym teacher who didn't approve of trainers and wanted us to wear the old-style rubber plimsols. In the first lesson, he made each boy run across the hall and he would blow a whistle for us to stop and anyone who skidded, i.e had insufficient grips, had to take off their trainers and socks there and then and go barefoot. The second lesson, he just made all the boys in trainers - including me - do the P.E lesson barefoot. At this school, the gym hall doubled up as the canteen and the floor was always filthy and we didn't have showers, so you'd be slipping on squashed peas left over from lunchtime and the soles of your feet would be filthy and you couldn't even wash them afterwards. You'd never get away with that now.

On other occasions at secondary school, where we had quite a strict P.E teacher, if we forgot our trainers we had to do it barefoot. Or if we were doing gymnastics with crash mats. If we forgot our whole kit (which I never did). he had a horrible stinky, unwashed one, vest and satiny shorts and the kid had to wear that. Ultimate humiliation. I had to do P.E barefoot on a few occasions and have never forgotten. I hated it

Comments by Philip on 1st February 2011  

I attended an all boys prep boarding school in the 1970's. We did early morning runs and in the summer we also had to swim 10 lengths of the outdoor pool, all before breakfast. We ran from the boarding house in white pe shorts and plimsolls, stripped off to do the swim and then ran back to get changed. It was quite fun but in the early weeks of the summer term it could be freezing cold.
In our house swimming competitions, we always swan without trunks as no one was allowed to wear anything. My mother has a picture of me and three other eleven year olds receiving our medals totally in the buff from the housemaster wife. We had no inhibitions and everyone treated it as normal. There were of course some dodgy teachers but they were harmless.

Comments by James on 7th January 2011  

I was at a prep school in the mid 1970's which was boys only. We had a very stricy pe teacher who had been at the school for years and only white shorts were alllowed. This was never an issue and it is all we knew. We often did pe displays in front of the parents and we were always stripped to the waist.
For swimming we were not allowed trunks but I always remember that our swimming pool had individual cubicles which we all got changed in and then came out naked. I was quite a keen swimmer and had extra swimming tuition from the swiming coach at lunchtimes as I could never do the tumble turns. She was an excellent coach and taught me the tumble turns got me into the county team. I cannot imagine now a situation where a teacher would be allowed to do a one to one swimming lesson with a naked 12 year old but that was the way it was and no one minded. By the way, I always felt a bit odd as the swimming coach would not let me change in the cubicles. Odd what you remember.

Comments by Ron Wood on 14th December 2010  ron@stptax.com 

I wasn't the worlds best student but remember my school days fondly & admired most of teachers - Mr Bentley who encouraged us to bring the old 45's to music lessons - Buddy Holly he could take but Conway Twitty wasn't his favourite.Poor old Benny Goodman came in for some stick although he was very poular & took his football pretty seriously & dressed for the part as a referee.I remember he was in tears when it was announced he was leaving BGS.School camps were a ball except for the food which was pretty average.I had to most of my studying again after leaving school as I pretty well wasted years 3 - 5.Still keep in contact with a few of my old friends although it's difficult to find a common thread as we've been in Australia for 35 years.Still working full time as a Tax Agent in the South West of WA.

Comments by Morgan on 7th December 2010  

The difference in my day was that by the time you where 16 your body was in the best shape it could possibly be. Given the Physical Training we endured no boy was fat or felt shame wearing only a pair of shorts, or swimming naked. We did not have a high fat diet or lead a sedentry lifestyle like todays teens

Comments by Dave Stuart on 6th December 2010  

I went to a secondary school in the 70's and for PE it was supposed to be white nylon shorts and white top and plimsoles (no socks) underwear at first seemed to be allowed as long as you brought a change of underwear. The first lesson in the first year all the lads appeared in the gym and some of us had T-shirts and some had proper vests. I had a T-shirt and found that my parents had bought the wrong thing. Our gym teacher had us all strip out tshirts and vests off so we were all now identical. I didnt mind too much and it didnt seem strange. We used to have to two gym periods a week and one games period which was normally football or rugby. For games it was red shirt and white shorts. Parents saved money so i wore the same nylon PE shorts for games as I did PE. Most lads had white cotton shorts though.
We only had a few PE and games lessons into the first term when we were herded into the gym and given a lecture about hygenine and trust and that some teachers had reported to the gym teacher that we were clearly not showering after gym and that lads had not actually changed their underwear or brought a spare set.
The outcome was simple and probably just - no underwear full stop.

PE was just white nylon shorts and plimsoles and games the red shirts and for me and few others white nylon shorts no underwear. The shorts were thin enough and transparent enough to ensure that you could not get away with wearing pants under the shorts.
This was no too bad except during winter when we would freeze and shiver and doing a cross country run in just shorts on freezing january morning was torture. I hated getting back frozen cold and being made to have a shower - the water was cold but bceause our skin was cold it felt as though it was burning standing under the water. A few people would conviently forget their kit or bunk off PE to avoid cross country etc especially when really cold.
In the second year we had an assistant PE teacher who came up with a way of putting a stop to the practice of "Sorry I forgot my kit Sir" It was a cold morning for our gym and I decided to forget my kit, hoping I could sit on the side of the gym instead. Our assistant teacher had other ideas and me along with another lad, had to do PE in just our pants instead. Having to strip down to pants in front of the rest of class was a bit humiliating as the others all laughed> it was more emabrrasing at the end of PE to be told to hang our pants on the wall bars and go and have a shower and we would could collect our pants after detention after school, great now had a detention also. The teacher said he was gettting fed up with excuses about forgetting kit and from then on anyone who forgot their PE or games kit would do the lesson in whatever they had brought or totally naked!
This happened on a Tuesday and we had PE again on the Wednesday afternoon. Wednesday lunchtime came and three of what you could only decscribe as school bullies for my year collared and told me to hand my PE kit over and threatned me with a beating if I grassed them up.
I dreaded the moment I went over to the gym and explained i had forgotten my kit again> i was told just to get into the gym and wait as the other lads got changed in the changing room. Everybody was in the gym sitting on the floor when the teacher asked me to step up and explain to the class why i ahd not changed. I sheepishly said I forgot my kit. The teacher addressed the rest of the class and wanted to know what he had said the day before. I was soon stripped off totally naked with my hands trying to cover myself with everybody laughing> the next hour was pure hell. I never forgot my kit after that! It happened to a few other lads over the years but it was just a different way of instilling discipline.

Comments by Rob Taylor on 24th November 2010  taylorrob5@gmail.com 

This photo certainly brought back memories. I could have been in the same photo just 4 years later. It is amazing how times have changed and what was acceptable then just would not be now. I suppose it is partly fashion and partly sensitivity. My friends and I at 12 and 13 yrs looked forwards to P.E. Much better than maths or chemistry! At 15 and 16 there was a definite split. Those who were sporty still liked P.E and all the training associated with school teams. However, lots of boys were no longer interested and worked out sophisticated avoidance tactics. At that age the P.E and games staff seemed not bothered as long as they has a core of fit boys for their teams.
I can remember exactly getting my first parcel of P.E. kit from the school shop when I was 12. Cotton shorts, light blue singlet and 'plimsols'. The letter home prescribing P.E. kit emphasised brining a towel and how important it was to shower. I have no negative memories about the showers. We were supervised through them, mostly to see that we got in and out quickly and were not late for the next lesson. Games was different. There was this big bath which we all jumped in to. Only some of the more 'developed' boys used the showers or walked naked from the changing room. The rest of us were just slightly modest. At 14, 15 and 16 things changed a little. Before then we had a no underwear rule to abide by. The teachers did not have much problem in checking, it was usually obvious. At the older ages there was a strange, very English way of signalling a different rule. At around14/15 the annual letter from the school shop had a different, longer, list of kit requirements. This was triggered by a wider range of sports but also by the demands of puberty. Boys P.E. Kit now included a Litesome Supporter. So you had to buy one or as it was suggested two. There was now a compulsory requirement for a protective box if you played cricket. Probably the most awkward point came when you had to go to the shop with your mum and the lady who ran it asked for your size! As neither mother or boy had any experience of such items it could be horribly embarassing. Looking back, I never did the washing so presumably we both got over it.

Swimming was a summer term activity. We only got to wear trunks when competing with other schools. Hard to believe now, although it was an all boys school so I guess the teachers were not bothered. I don't remember caring about this but I dropped the activity when I was 14. Surely they would have changed the convention after then? I did have a run in with a rather sadistic teacher, not from the P.E dept., but someone who covered. I was 13 and still in the shorts but no pants era. I think the P.E staff were annoyed with this teacher because I was pretty keen and good at P.E. As part of the lesson we had to run around the school field although it was a wet and cold day. I had ended up on my backside covered in mud but finished OK. Then we had to go into the gym, our plimsols were covered in mud and left outside the building on racks. So we were barefoot with just shorts. I was really upset when I was told, along with 4 other boy, to take off our shorts as they were a disgrace for being so muddy. Then we had to go through the last 20 minutes of the gym lesson naked. I don't think I cared about being naked so much as the injustice of the decision. The teacher was an arrogant bully. That is the problem with education. It radicalised me. I complained to the Head Teacher...about the decision to force me to go on rather than shower and clean up. You know what? He agreed. Was that when the rot started or did he realise he might have a problem teacher. Whatever, nothing came of it although I felt emboldened to go to the Head whenever I had a complaint. He must have regretted being sympathetic. Overall tough, wierd but life forming without regrets.

Comments by Steve James on 13th November 2010  

Despite the seemingly harsh environment I experienced with PE at school. I soon began to excel at both cross-country and track.
I had a very slim build well suited to wearing the briefest of shorts and actually learnt to embrace exposure to the elements so often encountered during these activities.
The PE Master would coach his best boys from 4th to 6th forms persuading us to put in extra time after lessons. His attitude to this training was even more intense than the regular PE to which so many boys found abhorrent. However he would not accept a weak performance from any of his 'elite' team and we certainly got to realise this.
Being too 'lightweight' for football or rugby I was consequently selected to be one of the 'lucky' boys to represent the school for cross-country on a regular basis.
We would be entered into various inter-school events throughout the Midlands mainly on Saturdays during autumn and winter terms for cross-country and occasionally track races and athletics.
Sir would coach us with intensity with the aim to gain kudos both for himself and the school.
Sir maintained the ethos of 'shorts only' strip for all training as well as all of these competitions as he argued that seeing us performing so lightly clad made us seem superior in the eyes of the opposing teams giving us the advantage.
On so many occasions we shivered and froze our balls off for the good of the school!
I recall more than one time where the boys we were competing against were made by their teachers to very reluctantly strip down to only shorts because the visiting team had done so.
If we performed well, Sir was jubilant. A poor result and every boy suffered as the ongoing training and coaching regime intensified fourfold in preparation for the next event!

Comments by Dan on 12th November 2010  

I can't see why PE kit contains shirts nowadays.What's the purpoese of shirts for sports?
Isn't freedom of movement important for gymnatstics for example?

Comments by Morgan on 12th November 2010  

I recall the prefects having pyjamas and dressing gowns! The staff quarters where adequately heated whilst us boys would shiver. Complaint was not an option. In my case I received a greater trashing a during home leave if I was seen to be a sissy. Certainly it was a harsh regime but we didn't have crime as a result!

Comments by Alan on 12th November 2010  

Yes, I remember the local school outfitters who supplied the games kit for my prep school. If we wanted just pe kit which consisted of white cotton shorts, white socks and plimsolls, we had to strip off and he would fit the appropriate size. We all liked them tight which he allowed. He lost a load of business as my school year (age 12) were asked to trial cotton briefs for pe as apparently they were better fitting. Only wore them for a year as they got ripped and basically they were hopelss and we went back to the shorts. We never wore shirts for pe in all the time I was there and swimming was naked and the only time trunks weer allowed was on open days.

Comments by Mark on 11th November 2010  

Well Morgan, now that you mention that the school was for children of military personnel, that rings a bell.
It seems that in several armies around the world, officers used to wear pyjamas whereas for the lower ranks nudity was the rule for bed.
Strange how this tradition found its way into a British boarding school.

Comments by Morgan on 10th November 2010  

Mark,
The boarding school I attended in the late 60's was attended primarily by the children of military personnel and had a major discipine ethos. One house master regularly carried out inspections late at night. Looking back on it I believe he was a sadist who had a thing for punishing boys. He would give an entire dorm six stingers with the slipper if he found a lad in the dorm had slipped on a vest or shorts to combat the cold. I often wonder if some of these men where at all suitable for such positions. It was rumoured that boys in a dorm with a different head of house where allowed to share beds enabling them to have two sets of blankets and gain head from each others bodies. I would not be surprised if this was true given the gentleman in question however. He was one of those games masters who took a little two much interest in lads showering and drying properly and insisted on marching us into the freezing cold for outdoor games and used the gym in fine weather.

Comments by Mark on 9th November 2010  

Morgan, I am familiar with shirtless PE and naked swimming classes but I have never heard of boarders having to sleep naked, although I wouldn't be surprised if this was the rule in some boarding schools at that time.

Comments by Morgan on 7th November 2010  

Perhaps if schools today adopted the sporting and discipline traditions of my day then we wouldn't have a disfunctional society or require ASBOS! At my Boarding school I remember in winter the condensation freezing on the inside of the glass in the dormitory. We still had to sleep in the buff and we didn't have heavy quilts like today, just a sheet and blanket. The heating never worked properly so if you doddled around and didn't get to the showers quick smart you had a freezing cold shower first thing to wake you up, and often you're bare backside would feel the rath of a size 12 plimsole! It toughened us up and made men out of us! We also swam in our birthday suits and the pool was freezing cold. Two morning a week week we had swimming first thing (which made us very alert for the day's clsses) plus two afternoon swims. Any of the masters could use the slipper and for more serious infractions we had to report to the deputy head at the end of classes. A lad sent to the deputy head had to return to his dorm to strip off then proceed through the drafty corridors to queue outside the office. Standing naked with your hands on head in the corridor for all to see was as much a deterent as six welts of the cane on the bare behind. I can say it didn't do me any harm, even though it was harsh even by the standards in those days. I have hardly ever had a cough or wheeze in my life and I put it down to those formitve teenage years!

Comments by Steve James on 6th November 2010  

By the time I reached the 5th form, most of us boys were more conscious about our bodies and how we looked. Rules for PE kit were the same as for the younger boys in that we wore nothing but white shorts and plimsolls for PE, Athletics and cross-country even in the autumn and winter terms!
Black shorts were reserved for games , football, hockey and rugby. It was fashionable at the time to wear all trousers and shorts as low as possible below the waist but PE shorts looked silly if pulled down low or with the waistband folded over.
Myself and a few other boys found the answer to looking and feeling good in our shorts.
The local outfitter's in the town had always supplied both the school uniform and all other school kit. They also offered a tailoring service for alterations, repairs etc.
The owner was oldish but he knew what we wanted, we could select our shorts, I remember mine were thin white nylon split sided athletic shorts, he would adjust the fit and lower the waistband to whatever level asked for. Perfect! The only downside was you had to stand on a table wearing nothing but the new shorts as he fiddled about taking measurements and putting tailors pins in place. I remember he kept getting me to take them off and on again several times as I stood there butt naked!
The cost was nominal and it soon caught on with many of the other boys, there was developing competition between most of us to get the lowest, briefest fitting shorts that you could get away with even extending into the sixthform!

Comments by john on 6th November 2010  

Although I was at secondary school about 10 years after the date of the picture, the gym class looks remarkably similar, both in terms of the kit being worn and the equipment being used.
Our indoor pe kit was white shorts, white plimsolls or bare feet, no shirt and for the first two years no underwear allowed. At the start of our third year, the pe teacher sat us all down and advised us to purchase a 'Litesome Supporter' (jockstrap) from the local sports shop.

For outdoor games in the winter we wore rugby kit and in the summer it was shorts and an athletics vest.
Showers were compulsary after pe lessons. The outdoor games changing room didn't have showers, but instead had one of the old style communal baths. You definitely didn't want to be last into that after playing rugby on a muddy pitch in mid-winter!

Ours was an all boys school, but my sister, who went to the local girls school wore a leotard for indoor pe and a hockey shirt and coulottes outdoors. At my wifes school on the other hand the indoor kit consisted of navy 'gym knickers'and a white polo shirt. She said that vests or a bra were allowed under the polo shirt (and that for some girls the change from the former to the latter was prompted by the pe teacher suggesting it was time).

Comments by martin on 6th November 2010  

Had to wear white nylon pe shorts,very smooth and sensual next to the skin,when worn solo.soon got excited in them ,wore them in bed and enjoyed them ,,then we had to wear a jockstrap.i liked the jockstrap..visible through our shorts.

Comments by Mark on 31st October 2010  

It is certainly not uncommon in sports schools outside the UK. Just watch this video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYBH6ADBd1Q&feature=related

Comments by Lucas on 29th October 2010  

It seems shirtless PE is still a rule in some schools:

http://www.topix.com/forum/education/TVMSMCSKPM64DHE3O

Comments by Mark on 27th October 2010  

And then think that this outfit was actually condoned by parents! I once asked my mum why I wasn't allowed a warm shirt for PE like my sister and her answer made it very clear: because your sister is a girl and you are a boy.
The school policy was even extended to some house rules: our sister wore pyjamas to bed whereas even on the coldest of nights me and my brother slept in the buff.

Comments by Steve James on 24th October 2010  

Comments by Michael on 28th September 2010  

Yes, the photo brings back fond memories. I attended a grammar school in the 1960's. Although there was a long inventory regarding sports and PE kit, all the indoor lessons were conducted with the students barechested and barefoot. We were permitted only a pair of white shorts for gymnastics. Occasionally we could wear a singlet vest during the winter months but this was always at the discretion of the PE master. Outside activities were performed with a white vest, shorts and plimsolls. Lost or forgotten kit was never tolerated and I remember having to run barefoot around the rugby pitch as a punishment for my amnesia.

Comments by Dick on 26th September 2010  

gym kit for us in school up to aged 18 was simple.

Boys were only allowed to wear white briefs - nothing else

Girls were allowed navy blue knickers and white T Shirts and a bra if needed

Comments by Mark on 14th September 2010  

By the way barechested PE and naked swimming classes later on made that me and my brother both chucked our pyjamas at a very early age.
When we were 8 or 9 we started sleeping shirtless and by the time we reached 14 or so we both slept in the buff.

Comments by Mark on 13th September 2010  

Our shorts were a lot smaller than the ones in the picture.
I remember one teacher who used to make fun of the new boys who sometimes broke out in gooseflesh. "We have a few plucked geese again in here" he used to say.

Comments by peter s on 17th August 2010  

Remember these scenes well, around that time too. Gym teacher used to open all the windows in the coldest weather. We were always topless in there, I was so skinny I envied others who were more "manly" looking. I don`t envy them now. I was also amazedat the lack of self consciousness in general. Good school.

Comments by cass on 8th August 2010  

ron parry remember him well snigger snigger- mate of that pygmy grimes as I bitterly recall

Comments by Rob on 31st July 2010  

Not at all, David! As a special "treat" in the last PE lesson of each term we played a game called Killerball whereby the two teams (consisting of the boys from each of the two classes which were put together to do PE) had to score goals at the opposite end of the gym. Any tactics were allowed to get the ball in the goal - there were no rules at all! My class usually lost so rather than just use brute force and strength we hatched a plan at the end of one term whereby everyone but the biggest, strongest boy in my class was secretly paired up with a boy in the other class except their smallest, wimpiest kid. When the whistle sounded, we all went for our targets and just started fighting with them, meaning our strongest member was free to grab the ball, and only having to deal with their weakest team member, just keep scoring! It sort of worked, but backfired on us in a way because we were never allowed to play it again - I guess the teacher thought our tactics, original, inventive and intelligent though they were (in our opinion!), were just too violent to be allowed in school for a bunch of 13 year old boys even at that non-PC time!

I suspect the specifics of these sort of games and their names varied by region or part of the country - I lived in London - were there similar games in other areas?

Comments by David Wood on 19th July 2010  woosmull@gmail.com 

Rob (2nd May 2010) has clearly had a sheltered upbringing. British Bulldog is a game in which one gang of blokes attempt to stop (by almost any means) another gang of blokes getting past them. Last man standing is the winner. Never played it against girls though. That might have been more interesting!

Comments by Tim H on 18th July 2010  tim@photrek.co.uk 

Strange how this photo brings back so many memories!

I can't remember what we wore for games at Primary school in Lincoln in the late 1950s. Moving on to a Grammar School in the 1960s it was white shorts and tee shirt with plimsolls (no socks) for PE. For football and cross country it was black shorts and a rugby style top with boots or plimsolls. No underwear until we got older - I can't remember any checks on what we wore under our shorts - most people wore briefs. (Our school wasn't particularly sports orientated).

In PE some of us started wearing vests and then went down to being barechested. When I went there shorts were baggy and lasted us as we got older, but by 1966 many of us had switched to the new shorter style becoming popular then.

The school wasn't sports orientated - if you were good at games, fine - if note you seemed to be forgotten - or so it seemed.

And, yes, I think PE & games like this did make us 'better' people.

Comments by Jim on 4th July 2010  

I attended a boys only school in Scotland from 1965 -1971. We had always worn just white gym shorts in primary school. Primary school was mixed school and we had mixed pe classes- the girls wearing white vests and navy knickers.
It was no change when we went up to the secondary school. As I say we only wore white shorts, no tops or underwear. It may seem somewhat strange now but we had "underpant checks" where the pe teacher checked that we were not wearing underpants. The reader must remember that this was some 45 years ago and what is considered inappropriate now was acceptable then! Remember this was a time when corporal punishment in schools was also acceptable ( and even encouraged!) and I can assure you the "belt" was in daily use!
After any pe, swimming or games class compulsory showers following, naked in an open shower room supervised by the teacher. I admit all this was a bit of a shock at first, but we were all treated the same and it was soon the norm for classes.

PE was fairly hard work with lots of circuits, press ups, sit ups etc. I never really enjoyed it but it was accepted.

I appreciate that times have moved on and what was acceptable practice then would not be tolerated now-but I dont think it ever did any of us any harm!

Comments by Sidona on 25th May 2010  

At my secondary school (RC private) in Buckinghamshire in the mid 1950s, the specified PE kit was white shorts and PE vest; on economy grounds, those of us who regularly wore underwear vests, i.e. virtually all of us back in those days, got into the habit of substituting our normal everyday vest for the latter item. After I had been at this school for a couple of years, the PE staff decided that it would be healthier for us to do PE topless and took a vote among us on the matter. Not surprisingly, toplessness got a 100% vote. With this garb, "Shirts and Skins" was obviously out, so we had coloured sashes to distinguish teams when necessary. Although we were expected to wear vests between the changing room and the gym, this rule was honoured more in the breach than the observance and we soon got into the habit of "forgetting" to put our vests back on under our shirts after PE. As we had PE every day of the week, generally in the mornings, we ended up minus our vests for much of the school week and soon most of us didn't bother coming to school in a vest at all, much to the concern of most of our parents, who felt that all children should wear vests all the year round, regardless of climate. There was no prohibition on the wearing of underwear, although for the first couple of years, most of us freeballed. At one point, probably when we were 12 or 13 and one lad got accidentally kicked in the "privates", the PE master advised us that we should think about wearing some form of support, and mentioned a thing called a "jock-strap". I don't think any of us had ever heard of this item of clothing, and i don't think any of us took the trouble to obtain one, but most of us took the hint, and from then on we tended to keep our underpants on for PE.

Comments by john on 11th May 2010  

in my school we had to wear a jockstrap for all sport. It was compulsory ... I don't remember anyone having a problem with it either. Showers were communal ... don't remember anyone having a problem with that one, too.

Comments by Crow on 7th May 2010  

British Bulldog? A game where half the people in it line up facing a line of the other half, and each has to run through to pass the other side. The other side have to stop them. That's the aim whichever side's perspective you take. I only played it a few times. It's supposed to be really physical but it's actually psychological and needs agility, I got through by looking straight at one spot like I would be breaking through there, then turn sideways mid run and pass on the other side of the heaviest person in front of me. They couldn't respond fast enough so I got through. Once you engage in direct conflict you can't acheive the intended aim so I figured that wasn't really the point, just figure out how to pass, and do it.

Comments by Trevor on 4th May 2010  trevor01@blueyonder.co.uk 

Comments by Rob on 2nd May 2010  

What was British Bulldog?

Comments by JWB on 1st May 2010  

In 1959 the school had just moved to new premises.
I was there 1960-67. The gymnasium was not a favourite place. I won't speak ill of the dead but games teachers, like maths teachers, never seemed to have much understanding of the less able. However, I do remember dazing Ron when I sat on his head in a violent game of British Bulldog.

Comments by Will on 20th April 2010  

Comments by Mark S. on 16th April 2010  

When I was at secondary school in the late 1960s and early 1970s, boys' PE was done bare to the waist in very short black gym shorts and black plimsolls.No socks were allowed and it was forbidden to wear anything under your shorts.
Cross country running was done in the same kit. As it was a built up area,we had to run along residential streets, round a local park and back to the school past houses and small shops,exposed to public view throughout.

Comments by James on 20th March 2010  jamrob@hotmail.com 

The official kit was trainers, black shorts and white vest, but it seemed they forgot to tell our PE teacher. After changing we were taken outside, lined up and told to strip to the waist. Wasn't interested in your ability so long as you gave 100% and you were barechested.

I remember not giving 100% and found out the hard way one lunchtime when it was pouring with rain I was outside and having to do 15 laps round the rather large school field stripped to the waist. Lesson learned, I didn't make the same mistake again.

There's to much feminism in the school system today. Teach boys to become men and stripping to the waist indoors and outside for PE would help to do just that and maybe take away some of the edge youngsters have these days.

Comments by Thumper23 on 7th March 2010  

We were always shirtless and the school provided shorts. No UW was allowed, and if inside, barefoot, but shoes outside. One day one of my classmates arrived at PE without his outfit, and the instructor told him street clothes were not allowed, and to strip to his underwear for class. He was freeballing, so did the class naked. Remember back in the late 50's, it was all male classes. Everyone gave him a bad time, and he NEVER forgot it again. We also did our swimming at the YMCA, and that was nude also, so nobody had a problem with that

Comments by Tony Marsh on 24th February 2010  tonymarsh1946@aol.com 

Thanks for posting the photo of the Gym at Burnley Grammar School , it has brought back many memories . I was a pupil at the school from 1957 until 1962 and had many hard work outs in the gym under the supervision of Ron Parry , an excellent P E teacher. Basket ball was a relatively new sport in Burnley and I represented the school in local matches.An all boys school,in which the P E kit formed part of the school " uniform ". The stripes on the side of the shorts indicating which house you belonged to . Brun ( my house ) dark blue , Pendle red , Calder green , Ribble light blue . Happy days.

Comments by andrew on 6th February 2010  

What amazes me is this photo was from 1959 but 25 or so years later my uniform was much the same still. Tshirts and socks were listed on our uniform but for gym were still rarely worn- even 25 years on that was still the way.

20 years on again, brings us upto date and the simple shorts and plimsolls only uniform really does look like its from another era, but does capture the simple uncomplicated essence of all a gym uniform needs to be.

Comments by Mark on 9th January 2010  

Apparently the outfit is not uncommon in Continental Europe.
Here is a video of some boys training at a Belgian sports school in 2009:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7H3efxhm1Ig

Comments by Rob on 6th January 2010  

Yes, Neil - my son also went to an all boys school: barefeet was always an option for indoor PE lessons but apart from that the kit was white shorts and white t-shirt. Only a few weeks after he started the mum of one kid in his class packed his football shirt by mistake but he received no punishment - the teacher wasn't angry - he just said "If you haven't got the right shirt for the lesson, then you don't wear any shirt". After that more and more boys seemed to "forget" their shirts, soon joined by my son, and they never wore tops for PE again. He loved it because it meant that all he had to take were his shorts, which he used to roll up and stuff in blazer pocket!

Comments by Neil on 5th January 2010  

Comments by mick on 3rd January 2010  

my pe shorts were short.white nylon,a bit see through,my jockstrap was visible underneath,also the waistband,wore umbro nylon shorts,white for football,very smooth,and soft next to my skin.looked good in them,plus a jock.

Comments by Rob on 3rd January 2010  

Mark is right - shorts had got much shorter by the 60's and 70's. By the time we were aged about 13 or 14 I remember some boys had 3 or 4 inches of bare skin between their belly button and the top of their shorts - not good when we forced to do boxing or wrestling and the rule was "no hitting below the belt"! Anyone else experience that? I still agree it's exactly what today's kids need, though!

Comments by Tim on 29th December 2009  

This photo brings back many memories! Our official kit was a white vest, black shorts, socks and trainers. We were always made to remove our vests and go bare chested for all PE activities (from cross country, footie, rugby to basketball, fitness and athletics)regardless of the time of year or weather. This lasted until we left school after 6th form and A levels.

Comments by Mark on 12th December 2009  

The shorts in the picture seem quite large compared to those I can remember. I think we all had a couple of inches of bare skin below our belly buttons...

Comments by mark on 2nd December 2009  

My school switched from being an all boys school to being a mixed 6th Form College while I was there. A novelty was the arrival of the school's first female pe teacher, who helped out with the boys classes as well as 6th Form sports. It was team teaching, but I couldn't help wondering how she felt having to deal with 30 fourth or fifth formers in barefeet and no tops. That was in the 70s.

Comments by pogue on 25th November 2009  poguemahone@ukonline.co.uk 

I attended the school (Burnley Grammar)1975 -1980 Ron Parry was still the head of sports- he died I believe earlier this year.Nice bloke who cared for the school and the boys.you were only known by your surname as a pupil then.His school nickname was gay paris - never proven - but I never hung around in the showers. he once made me run twice round the grass track in the snow in bare feet and shirtless because my strip wasn't school regulation- he'd not get away with it nowadays.Other nicknames of the time were- bertie yoghurt- nobbie stokes- posy cowell- don juan (donald wain)- hitler and himmler the dinner ladies. takes me back.

Comments by Peter on 11th November 2009  

This shows you how important&#65279; uniform is for school discipline. I am sure that boys play up much less when having to do PE like this, shirtless and barefoot, it puts them in their place and sends out a message about who is in control, the PE master!

Comments by Toby on 21st October 2009  wettoby@hotmail.com 

I was at a boys' school in the late 1970s/early 1980s and the PE kit was all white: T-shirt, shorts, socks & plimsolls. PE was never done shirtless or barefoot. The same kit was worn all year round no matter what the weather, including for outdoor athletics.

There was a "no pants" rule, which was strictly enforced at first, but after a few years was not, and boys started wearing pants and even swimming trunks under their PE shorts, which were very transparent.

Any boy who forgot his swimming trunks and towel would be made to swim in his PE shorts and use his T-shirt to dry himself.

Comments by Crow on 4th October 2009  

Comments by Richard on 25th September 2009  

Comments by James on 22nd September 2009  

My most abiding memory of this was after I moved to a new school at the age of 11.

My first PE session (a double!) took place on a cold Thursday morning in November. There'd been a sharp frost overnight, and so after assembly we changed into our kit (white vest and black shorts)and were told by the PE teacher the session would be outside.

Once we outside and in a line on the field the teacher looked along the line and told me to go in front of the class. Moments later I was told to strip and drop my vest on the ground. A couple of minutes passed then my new classmates were also made to strip down. There were no moans or groans, just a line of vests.

The teacher alternated the sessions so either the whole class were bare chested or half would wear their vests. I do remember being one of four or five lads who he very rarely picked to wear a vest and as a result almost permanently bare chested, irrespective of the temperature or if we were indoors or out.

Inter class competitions were done this way too, but differed for basketball and football. If you wore a vest for the first half, you stripped for the second and vice versa, allowing the girls to see both classes representatives bare chested during the match.

Comments by john on 28th August 2009  

at my junior schools we had to wear white nylon shorts solo,no vest, and plymsols.at the senior schools i ad to wear a jockstrap ,plus a crcket box for cricket,and nylon pe shorts.nylon umbro shorts for football,and a jock.we all showerd off after sports/pe nude.we had a medical once a year,wearing our shorts only,but had to take them off for the doctor.

Comments by Stuart on 27th August 2009  stu151@hotmail.com 

Comments by Paul on 27th August 2009  

At grammar school in the 1970s we did pe in white shorts - no tops, no pumps or socks. It could be quite cold in winter. I remember a couple of times the teacher telling us to wear our school jerseys into the gym to warm up (I remember the prickliness), but then we were told to hang them on the wallbars and carry on the lesson barechested. If you forgot your kit (which thankfully I never did) you had to do pe in you underpants! If you forgot your towel you had to try and share someone else's or "drip dry" as the teacher put it. Not being so keen on semi-naked piggy backs and wheelbarrows, climbing ropes and wallbars, vaults and trampettes (though they were quite good), or "circuit training", I was glad when I went into the 6th form and no longer had to do it.

Comments by Stuart on 22nd August 2009  

I went to comprehensive in the early 1970's. Our kit was blue shorts and trainers for gym. No shirts, socks or underwear. For outside sport and cross country rugby shirts and socks were worn but no underwear. We also had a sports hall called a games barn. It was very cold in winter but we had to play five a side football shirts vs skins. The PE teacher always picked which team would be skins. The class was divided into four teams. Two would play while the other two watched and between each round the skins team would quickly put their shirts back on in the hope that in the next game they would be shirts. We had coloured bibs but these were only used by the girls. Every PE class was followed by a shower.

Comments by Joseph on 21st August 2009  

When I was at primary school, I remember being impressed by the lads from the nearby secondary school who had to run cross country stripped to the waist in all wheathers. I thought they looked tough and was looking forward to doing the same kind of exercise. This was in Kingston upon Hull in a built up area. Too bad for me that I went to another secondary school.

Comments by Ned on 20th August 2009  

Were compulsory shirtless cross country runs common?Did boys have to run through streets either only in shorts?I think they did because there are schools which are far from the countryside.

Comments by Mark on 18th August 2009  

Funny when you come to think of it. I clearly remember a winter cross country run in Hertfordshire with a teacher all dressed up and twenty-so shirtless boys shivering their ass off.

Comments by Craig on 13th August 2009  plankton53@yahoo.co.uk 

This brings back happy memories. I was at school in Scotland in the 70s and our gym kit was shorts and gym shoes only. We were not allowed tops or socks indoors. For anyone who forgot (or didn't have) gymshoes it was barefeet. And some boys chose to do gym barefoot.
Outdoors we wore rugby top, shorts, trainers and rugby socks. Occasionally, depending on the teacher's mood, we would go outdoors without tops, and sometimes wearing shorts and shoes only. I remember once wearing shorts and school shoes (black leather) for field activities as I had forgotton my trainers. I was lucky not to get the belt as some boys did for forgetting kit. I don't recall anyone being barefoot outside but it might have happened.
If we had been outside for part of the lesson and were finishing off inside (sometimes we had a double period) we all had to go in barefeet - shorts only - as the rule was no outdoor shoes in the gym.
I remember feeling awkward initially about wearing so little in the gym, even embarrassed, but we were all the same and soon didn't even think about it. It was the norm for everyone, and I even came to enjoy it
I was quite shy about my body and I think my PE experience helped me to come out of my shell.
I think we've gone too namby pamby these days. Boys don't know what they are missing.

Comments by HOWARD on 16th July 2009  

I went to a comprehensive in Cheshire in the 1980s where a lot of kids were from poor backgrounds. P.E. had to be done barefoot and all ball games were played shirts v skins. Like most of the lads I preferred to be in skins. You would be in trouble if you forgot your whole kit but if you just bothered to take your 'kecks' it was ok.

Comments by Pete C on 21st June 2009  

This is similar to my experience at a boys school in Lancashire - though we were barefoot. I recall doing pe outside too, only in shorts, playing football on the school playing field. In theory you were allowed to wear plimsolls, but boys often didn't bring them since you weren't allowed to wear them in the gym.

Comments by Ned on 6th June 2009  

According to the links shirtless PE is still a practice in some schools:

http://community.tes.co.uk/forums/p/70311/3346822.aspx#3346822

http://community.tes.co.uk/forums/t/579.aspx?PageIndex=1

http://community.tes.co.uk/forums/t/579.aspx?PageIndex=1

Comments by Michael on 6th June 2009  

When I was at secondary school in the 1960s boys had to do P.E. in just black gym shorts and plimsolls with no top. Boys were not allowed to wear anything under their shorts. I believe that this minimal P.E. kit was common practice in British schools from about the 1940s until the 1980s. I don't know if such requirements have existed at any schools in more recent times.

Comments by willy on 27th May 2009  

This is so like my own school in NE England at the same time: I left in 1960. Gym kit was white shorts, only. No tops, socks, shoes. No underwear was allowed until in the games master's judgement puberty had advanced sufficiently to need support, when briefs or a jockstrap were permitted, provided they were specially for gym/games and not one's ordinary underclothes. Infringement of this rule led to attention with the "slipper" - a large black gymshoe which stung badly. (As we always had a shower together after the PE session, it was easy enough for the master to check our physical development.)

Comments by Wayne on 21st May 2009  

Comments by Ben on 14th May 2009  

Hi!

Is this still a practice there?What is the name of the school?

Comments by Howie on 14th May 2009  

This photo brings memories of grammar school I attended in the United States. Our PE uniform was blue shorts, no shirt
and no shoes. The teacher was also shirtless,maybe as an example.The idea being that shirtless was part of a boy's life.

Comments by Peter on 29th April 2009  

Yes, an excellent picture.I also grew up with gym simlar to the picture.We all wore white shorts for what was then known as P.T and we were not permitted to wear any underpants under our shorts.P.T. was followed by a shower or nude swim in the schools pool.I think that as kids we were much healthier with the no underwear rule which was followed for all sports both at school and at home.Incidentally I grew in Cape Town.

Comments by Ben on 26th April 2009  

Hi Aidan!Is it still a practice there?

There is a video on youtube of a Pe lesson.It is a teacher training video.It seems not too old.
Boys wear white shorts only and girls wear leotards.
It seems it is still a practice in some schools:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zoa5QBBiEbs

Comments by aidan on 24th April 2009  aidansmith@fsmail.net 

I went to St Cuthberts, an all boys school back in the 1980s, shirts were a strict nono in the gym and it was compulsory for lads to go topless, only a pair of white shorts was allowed. basketball was normally played shirts vv skins. think back it was quite liberating and enabled you to become body conscious , not a bad thing though think it must have been quite difficult for the fat guys

Comments by Gabriel on 12th April 2009  

Which grammar school was it?Name?

Comments by d. bromley on 7th April 2009  

I went to a Comphrensive school in the early 1990s and we were reguired to be shirtless for indoor pe. I loved it -it gave a realy sense of freedom.I think its a shame schools dont seemed to have continued with the practice.

Comments by Jon on 7th March 2009  

Hi Nick! Which school was it? Thanks for your answering!

Comments by Nick on 19th February 2009  

Comments by K on 30th December 2008  

I've heard there are still some schools in the U.K. which require shirtlessness for PE.Which are these?

Comments by Alan on 20th December 2008  

I attended a northern grammar school in the 1970s and our pe kit consisted of shorts and plimsolls only.

Comments by John on 27th November 2008  

Yes, takes me back. At my school we did all indoor PE shirtless and in bare feet. Only a pair of black shorts was allowed to be worn. Outdoors in winter was in rubgy kit; in summer and for cross-country we were allowed to wear a white vest (singlet) and plimsolls, but nothing more. For summer athletics and track-and-field on the grass we we encouraged to go with a shirt and be in bare feet.

Comments by Ben on 26th November 2008  

Same for me, I went to a strict comprehensive school in Yorkshire. Indoor PE kit was just a pair of white shorts, no top, no shoes, no underwear.
Outdoor games was a pair of black shorts and trainers but no top and outdoor PE and cross country was white short and plimsoles. We had outdoor PE throughout the year and can even remember being sent outside once with snow on the ground only wearing a pair of shorts.
I wasn't too keen on the cross country runs as we had to run through our neighbourhood to reach a field. You always had quite a few people looking at you, and yes the girls liked that.
Shame they stopped all that, it sure would toughen some of our teenagers up and instill a kind of gentle discipline.

Comments by Harry on 30th September 2008  

Same for us in our school. We always had to be topless for PE and the girls enjoyed watching.

Comments by Greg on 4th August 2008  

i attended a Grammar School in Hertfordshire in the 60s and it was the same for us. our games kit consisted of a pair of white shorts and a pair of white plimsolls. All PE, both indoors and outdoors, was performed shirtless. We were also barefooted indoors and outdoors on the playing field. We wore plimsolls for out door PE on the playground, and cross country runs were performed in the same way. This was the case all year rouns and in all weathers. I have to chuckle when I hear of modern schools either having no games/PE at all or reserving it for good weather.

Comments by Stephen on 10th June 2008  

Nice picture, taking me back to my PE lessons, which for us boys were always shirtless and probably much more demanding than today. We even did cross country runs in winter without tops being allowed.


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