Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 712,116         Comments: 2,598

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

2598 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by Bradley on 26th November 2016  

Gerald, teachers weren't allowed to enter the shower area, yes. But after a swimming lesson we would go to the changing area, take off our trunks and make our way to the shower room. He would have been able to see if someone immediately got changed without having a shower since he's usually just outside the changing room so can see when everyone leaves after getting dressed. But everyone did shower, there was never a time when someone tried to avoid it.

Comments by Evan on 23rd November 2016  

Harold1, I didn't really like the idea of doing PE without a top but got used to it and think it helped. At my school we showered wearing swimming trunks as it was a communal shower room and not in cubicles, so I can't quite answer your second question.

Comments by Sterling on 21st November 2016  

Keith John, I remember the big snow was the only time we had indoor PT due to the Weather. However we only missed one session. I also recall it was we boys who cleared the snow from the pitch and also the driveway and footpaths of the nearby girls School.

Comments by KeithJohn on 21st November 2016  

I would just like to tell you about one of my experiences at school, it was the winter of 1962/63, there was snow around 12 to 18 inches widespread around the country, I lived in a Midlands city and my secondary modern school was on the edge of it.Did all that snow stop us getting to school? no it didn't, nor stop us having outdoor PE, we had a football pitch behind the school and the snow had been cleared by the caretaker/groundsman and his small team.

Our PE kit was blue hard cotton shorts, black plimsols, no shirt or underpants to be worn, I was 14 then and it was to be my last winter at school as in the summer I would be 15 and leave to work then, we ran bare chested around the football pitch to warm up, -5 to -10 I ask you warm up!!!

Our chests hurt with breathing frosty air and our nipples stuck out like organ stops!, then back to the equally cold gym and discard wet freezing plimsols and do gym barefoo, then a very lukewarm shower after. Would I go through all of it again? Yes I would! I was proud of my fitness then and kept up it up through my life, I am in my late 60's now and I think that all that PE we did, helped prolong my life, where as some of my schoolfriends who ducked out of exercising are sadly no longer with us,

Recently my doctor gave me a brief exam and reckoned my fitness was on par with a late 40, early 50's male who exercised regulaly at a gym! todays schoolboys seemingly have it easy, at the high school near me the boys doing PE outside rarely wear shorts in winter unless its football and some I have seen wear gloves!

Comments by Kenton on 20th November 2016  

Thanks for your reply Evan, it sounds like your school got it right then. It also clearly worked for you if being a skin for PE ultimately helped your confidence. I do know what you mean about being shy though, it was the same for me when I first did PE in skins. The reason was that I used to get teased about my freckles (not just on my face but also my chest, shoulders and back). Looking back it seems silly but I guess teenagers can get sensitive about many things!

Comments by Sterling on 20th November 2016  

I have read of a College XC Coach in the United States who was sacked for continually allowing some of young men to train on Campus grounds with their vests off! If I recall correctly, he had received a number of warnings.lol
Apparently it's in convention of Campus Rules! I'd imagine many of team would be bigger guys than himself. Try telling someone 6,4' to put their sweaty shirt back on while training a blistering hot day!
However forcing someone to train shirtless would also be quite wrong, I feel, nowadays!
We live in a new world today. In the last couple of decades we have had the advent of both the Internet and Camera Phones! Therefore Communal Gang showers may no longer be suitable.
Lads going back to class stinking of a sickly sweat\ cheap deodorant pong is disgusting. Heaven help the poor Teachers!
Ladies locker rooms had cubicle showers decades ago. Men should be afforded the same privacy, if they so wish!

Comments by Bradley on 20th November 2016  

I can tell that gymnastics lessons were a lot harder in those days! However, that isn't to say that there weren't hard PE lessons when I was in school.
There certainly were some lessons (e.g. treadmill on highest setting followed by high intensity on the rowing machine followed by running on the spot, repeated many times) after which I was completely exhausted and sweating like a pig.
Gymnastics was usually used as a way to calm down after a long day of school as it was always the last lesson of the week. Everyone always looked forward to it.

Comments by Evan on 20th November 2016  

Kenton, I'd have to disagree with you as I do think that the less confident 'shirts' gained confidence. I noticed they played better. The reason why some people asked to be shirts was: they were fat or shy, to put it simply. As someone who was skinny I was far from confident but I didn't ask to be on the shirts team because my friends didn't ask- peer pressure! I know that I was very shy at the start and made it worse at first but helped my confidence in the long term.

Comments by Jay on 20th November 2016  

Hi John,

Bench rugby was good fun and dead simple too. Teams were skins v vests. We moved 2 high jump landing cushions (goals) either end of the gym and then placed a bench next to each. Each team had 5 players, one goalie on the bench and 4 players. The idea was to run and pass, as you would in rugby, make it to the goal and try to score. The other team would try to block a pass and take possession of the ball.
Happy to talk further, Jay

Comments by Rob on 20th November 2016  

Bradley, I hope my rather protracted explanation helped you to understand what we had to do in gymnastics in the late 1950's and why we always had to be shirtless. From the many comments on this site it is clear that we were typical of most schools for quite a few decades when we did what we were told without argument,and I am still of the opinion that many lads today would benefit from this regime. Clearly, our gymnastics lessons could not have been described as relaxing, although they may have succeeded in releasing any built up aggression we may been harbouring. Maybe, in today's world, the chance to do some relaxing exercise to calm us down is equally desirable.

Comments by Kenton on 19th November 2016  

Hi Evan, it was interesting to read your account of team games in PE. It sounds like on the one hand the teachers were very sensitive towards boys who felt uncomfortable about taking their shirts off. At the same time, I can't help wondering if that was actually a good thing in the long run. Presumably those boys who always kept their shirts on for PE never gained greater body confidence, while those who did it in skins were already confident to begin with. Might it not have been better to keep the teams random so that every boy experienced being a skin at some stage?
Btw we had shirts vs skins for team games at my school in the 1990s, teaMs were picked by the teachers and, while some boys ended up playing shirtless more than others, it didn't seem to matter.

Comments by Gerald on 19th November 2016  

Just saw Bradley's post about showers. Were teachers not allowed to enter the shower area? If sol how did they ensure that everyone showered?

Comments by Harold1 on 19th November 2016  

Bradley and Evan. Would any of you care to share whether you felt that shirtless PE or showers after PE were unfair or unnecessary? I think that in today's world most young people don't exactly feel comfortable with these things. I remember going to the beach one day and my nephew didn't want to take his shirt off and preferred to keep it on for swimming in the sea. This seems to be the dominant opinion these days?

Comments by Bradley on 18th November 2016  

Rob, thanks for the clarification. We rarely did gymnastics at school. Usually, gymnastics consisted of more relaxing exercises and sometimes of different routines. Not very difficult. However, we did also have a gym at school with treadmills and spin bikes and rowing machines which was used very frequently.

Comments by Rob on 17th November 2016  

Bradley,thanks for explaining about the cross country grounds.By gym,I am referring to gymnastics just like in the photo; schools did not have gyms equipped with treadmills and rowing machines, etc.until much more recently. All dressed in just shorts and plimsolls,our lessons began with vigorous physical exercises to strengthen all part of our bodies, including press ups and squat thrusts for arms, and other exercises for stomach muscles, including lying on our backs, arms outstretched and lifting our legs up at 45 degrees , together and apart and then lowering them to six inches, and further together and apart repeatedly. we also did various exercises with medicine balls to strengthen arms,legs and stomach muscles.We then went on to use the equipment, either the vaulting horses or boxes or ropes,beams,etc. All lessons were very intense and when we stopped for a moment I can still remember feeling the sweat trickling down my sides, back and chest; in fact, my whole body and feeling really good about it, eagerly looking forward to getting under the showers.

Comments by Evan on 16th November 2016  

Hi everyone, I've posted on here once before. The whole conservation about PE clothing brings back memories. At our school, which I left a few years ago, PE was done in t shirt and shorts, except for team games where it was shirts vs skins. However, teachers never directly forced anyone to remove their shirts. Instead, they asked first if anyone objected to taking it off. A small minority would always object, these were the same people each time and usually the ones who weren't particularly able at PE! Then a few more would be selected to join the shirts team, and the other half of us were skins. Honestly, it was nowhere near as big a deal as others here are making it out to be, it was a bit embarrassing at some times but not really a major issue.

Comments by John Lavender on 15th November 2016  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

Jay: What was ' Bench Rugby ' exactly? It does sound good! Would you care to explain briefly on here and also maybes email me with more details?

Comments by Harold1 on 15th November 2016  

Bradley and Harry, thanks for your responses. much appreciated. It shows how much attitudes towards PE have changed over the years- in my time, shirts were never worn for PE, trunks weren't worn for swimming either. If you were judged to have not worked hard enough you had to stay back after school. Even at home, shirts didn't make much of an appearance during warmer weather and we were all told to go outside and play football and get active. I think it was better back then when we were comfortable and confident, as well as more active.

Comments by Charles on 15th November 2016  Crjalexander@hotmail.co.uk 

Which school did you attend. email me if you prefer

Comments by Bradley on 15th November 2016  

There was a facility in the cross country grounds (it's a privately owned grounds which the local schools used, it's not just some random field in the countryside!) where we showered but the showers were awful. The building where the showers were was basically a shack and there were about ten shower taps available and they were all cold. It wasn't a proper shower- just a quick one to get the mud off and get rid of the sweat.

By gym, I'm not sure what activities you're referring to. Are you describing gymnastics, such as jumping over hurdles, forward and backward flips, sequences et cetera, or are you referring to the gym where people lift weighs, do cardio, treadmill etc... I was referring to the former, which wasn't too intense I have to say. There was, however, the treadmills and cardio activities and sprinting which did make us very tired and sweaty.

Comments by Jay on 13th November 2016  

Harold mentioned about differentiating between teams well, depending on what house you were in you wore black or white shorts and the timetable always was so that there wouldn't be a clash. I'm in my very early 30s and our lessons were always done "skins vs vests" for games like basketball, bench rugby. We did strip outdoors too, normally for athletics, softball. We did fitness sessions either indoors or outside on the yard or field but these were done with the whole class stripped off. I do agree about comments that not everyone wanted to be picked to strip off, certainly it was a suprise when our first skins team was picked and duly made to strip. Even being very average physically, I found myself being picked out to strip off most of the time. No one knew why some were picked to strip more than others, it just happened. Like plenty of others we were worked hard and it was the norm to see lads vests sticking to bodies. I was really pleased not to have experienced that much, only during the basketball and fitness inter house competitions when one house wore a vest for one half but stripped for the other half. We presumed this was to allow the girls to see all the lads stripped at some point during the match ups

Comments by Rob on 13th November 2016  

Bradley,thanks for explaining the circumstances necessitating your having to run without a shirt but such a pity that you all had to go through the trouble of getting a bus to the field, taking your shirt off,running and then putting your shirt back on.Were you not sweaty after the run and have to take a shower when you returned to school? Also, when you had swimming lessons you only wore trunks and were nude in the showers afterwards so you weren't shy, yet you preferred to wear a shirt in the gym.You obviously weren't made to sweat as most of us were in the past, or you would have found a shirt very uncomfortable and hence the reason we were always barechested and glad to be so.

Comments by John Lavender on 13th November 2016  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

Michael :
I have emailed you . Thanks for your enquiry.

We officially had a Top to wear for Gym/PE but many of us took any opportunity to do it shirtless including running the Gauntlet at the Start of the lesson (if we were two of the last to get changed).

If it was an ordinary lesson then we went commando ; if we had Wrestling Included (usually just a couple of Bouts with opponents picked at random) , we were told to bring and put on our Trunks under our shorts then we took off the Shorts and Tops for the Fight.

We normally played 'Skins v. Vests' for any team excercises, or Killerball ( a sort of indoor Rugby with very few Rules).
Also if we had a game of British Bulldog during the session any boy who was Shirtless was the First Catcher and if you got caught you dumped your top in the corner of the hall and went shirtless for the rest of the lesson.

I went to an independent Grammar School in the early to mid 1960s.

Tim: Thanks for that note, Yes, I am of the same age-group as yourself. Great Minds think alike!

Comments by Tim on 12th November 2016  

In answer to John Lavender - I live adjacent to 250 acres of common land. I aim to run most mornings in Spring. Summer & early Autumn, on a combination of surfaces. For a change I can add in a canal tow-path & farm lanes & tracks. I aim to get out before 7.00am. The area has it's own micro-climate - at 7.00 it can be warm enough to strip off & run topless. I'm in my mid-60s BTW.

Comments by Bradley on 12th November 2016  

Rob, we didn't wear shirts because apparently a lot of parents complained about shirts getting muddy from cross country and then having to get all the stains out. It wasn't forbidden and a small number of guys did wear shirts for various reasons.

We got changed at school in the PE changing room and then got on the coach wearing PE shorts and our school uniform shirt, which we removed upon arrival. There is a tap available at the field under which you could quickly wash the mud off before getting on the coach.

No one forced us to wear tops at the gym. It's not really considered appropriate and no one did it. I personally preferred to wear a top and so did everyone else.

Comments by Dave on 12th November 2016  

Well I can't see what's the reason to wear any top for PE.Boys have more freedom of movement not wearing shirt and it is much safer for gymnastics for instance.
They are shirtless for swimming lessons too.What is the difference?
And as you've written starting the lesson having no shirt on can stop the problem of fearing who will be the ones having to take off their shirt off for team games.No shirts only coloured bibs and the "problem" solved.

Comments by John Lavender on 11th November 2016  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

These Postings on this Thread are quite Interesting; does anyone on here still Run, either On Tarmac, Cross Country or Trail , or even more Extreme events like obstacle Races, and Run topless?
What sort of reactions do you get?
Eve though my Grammar-school days are well behind me I still remember them quite fondly and do still run without a Top quite Regularly.
My main Running is Training off-road and Parkruns, and also Obstacle Courses.

Comments by Rob on 9th November 2016  

I was at a boys grammar school in the late fifties and never experienced shirts v skins as we were told when we arrived for our first PE lesson that when we got changed we must take everything off including pants and socks and come back into the gym wearing just shorts and plimsolls.This wasn't a problem for me or other boys in the class and was our kit from then until we left.We would sometimes get changed expecting a normal lesson to be told we were going out on a cross country run, so we went out barechested, as normal. We accepted this and got used to it in the same way as nude showers. I am pleased to see that this site has finally acknowledged that shirts v skins was a bad idea. Naturally, if boys are allowed to start off wearing shirts and then half of them are told to take them off, the shy ones are bound to be embarrassed being seen barechested by other boys wearing shirts.This causes them stress waiting to see who's going to be picked to be a skin.I am glad that we all had to be barechested all the time and able to move around freely without any embarrassment.If we were split into teams we used to have coloured bands to wear.I cannot understand why the system of shirts v skins persisted when schools could have been like us and so prevented the misery endured by many boys who could have gone on to enjoy being barechested well beyond their schooldays.

Comments by Sterling on 8th November 2016  

Young men today aren't soft, but a product of their surroundings.
We certainly didn't live in well insulated boxes with central heating. So ice on the inside of School Dormitory windows didn't have parents arriving with pitch forks!
I remember the toilet block was so cold the water froze in the toilets!
The old, overcrowded building provided limited hot water!
After cursing the PT master in younger years, we thanked him when we got older and realised he was conserving hot water so teams and older lads could have a hot shower at the end of training! Happy Days

Comments by William on 8th November 2016  

Harry, That's a very interesting comment, thanks. So it was really all about choice. I was a shy and skinny 11-year old and, given the choice, I would have worn a gym vest, something under my shorts, and I wouldn't have showered in the nude with a lot of other boys. It sounds as if you were more confident. But I had no choice and it was surprising how quickly I adjusted and got to like the freedom.

It also meant that, when the inevitable happened and some joker sneaked up behind you and pulled down your shorts, you yanked them back up and laughed it off, whereas the shy me would have been mortified. Of course, if it happened when you were up a rope or hanging on to wall bars you couldn't pull them up until your feet were back on the floor.

I benefited from not having the choice to remain shy but not every boy did. Some changed carefully so that they were never naked in the changing room, whereas the confident ones couldn't have cared less.

Comments by Harry on 7th November 2016  

William, some of the boys at my school disliked being in the skins team out of shyness and feeling self conscious about their bodies. I suppose I was fortunate that I enjoyed it more. You're right, of course we all did swimming without a top but maybe it made a difference that it was the same for everyone whereas in the gym only some boys had to go bare-chested. Perhaps that's a problem for my generation as opposed to yours - we're not required to do PE like that as a matter of course and therefore some boys are uncomfortable with it. Personally I wouldn't have minded if the regular uniform had been just shorts and trainers with no top.

Comments by William on 7th November 2016  

Harry, You would have liked our gym lessons: no vests and teams differentiated by inch wide coloured sashes worn over the shoulder, so that teams would be skins, reds, blues etc. No extra layer to make us hot. You suggest that some boys would not like gym without vests. A few days ago I think Bradley said he could think of no reason for not wearing vests. Could one of you explain why please? I really don't understand since all men/boys are bare-chested for public swimming.

Comments by Rob on 7th November 2016  

Bradley, thank you for explaining about speedo jammers. When you did cross country did you go in the coach already stripped off? It's a sign of the times that you had to have a coach to take you to a field rather than run there.So you are telling me that you didn't wear shirts because if you fell over you would have got your shirts muddy and wouldn't have had time to wash them before the next lesson in the gym.Why did they make you wear a shirt in the gym anyway? I know personally it was much more practicable and comfortable without.Finally, I bet also the coach got more than a little muddy inside .

Comments by Bradley on 6th November 2016  

Harold1, I recently finished school so I can answer your question. Most of the time we did wear tops for PE lessons. Yes, it did cause them to be sweaty so they were put in the washing machine after a few lessons. Teams were differentiated using bibs. Cross country, which took place three times a year, was done in a field a few minutes away from the school by coach and was done shirtless because there were sections which were very muddy and slippery and you were guaranteed to fall over.

Comments by Harry on 6th November 2016  

In reply to your question Harold1, I was at school six years ago and the answer was both - sort of! We did wear T-shirts for our PE lessons but there were a large number of boys in the class so sometimes we had to divide into four or even six teams. When that happened some boys put bibs on over their T-shirts, some stayed as they were and some had to play with no top at all. Personally I liked to be on the shirtless team, it felt more natural and comfortable but some boys didn't see it that way. From reading these comments it looks like I would have enjoyed doing PE 40-50 years earlier!

Comments by Harold1 on 6th November 2016  

I can remember those days during PE lessons when we would be exhausted and sweating. Wearing a shirt would have been a nightmare since all the sweat would stick to it and would probably sweat more when wearing one.

Does anyone know whether schools do PE lessons shirtless? And if they wear shirts, how are teams differentiated? Surely bibs would add even more clothing and lead to even more discomfort and sweating?

Comments by Bradley on 6th November 2016  

Rob, sorry I think you misunderstood me when I wrote about wearing speedos. I was talking about speedo jammers, not speedo briefs. For example,


They are a lot tighter and streamlined than normal trunks and are the best for swimming competitively. They cover the leg and thigh hair so there is less friction with the water, allowing for slightly faster swimming. Olympic swimmers wear them, although it's a more expensive version for them!

Comments by Bradley on 6th November 2016  

I don't wear speedos to get an advantage. At swimming competitions, everyone wears them so not wearing one would be a disadvantage since you will be a little bit slower. It's also the same reason that everyone wears swim caps on their heads- the friction between the hair and the water slows you down ever so slightly.

Hope that answers your question

Comments by Gerald on 5th November 2016  

Thank you Rob and William for the explanation.

Comments by Rob on 4th November 2016  

Gerald, yes normally the purpose of wearing underpants is to stop sweat, and other body fluids, from reaching your trousers, but in the gym we used to sweat profusely and unless we all had a change of underwear it was better to wear nothing under our shorts, which were easy to wash,than to replace our sweaty underwear after showering. I never heard anyone complain about not being able to wear anything under their shorts and never felt embarrassed about it.We were all boys and having to strip off and wear just shorts and plimsolls both in the gym and outside, including cross country runs made us feel relaxed about ourselves and more confident.

Comments by William on 3rd November 2016  

Gerald, You were expected to sweat during gym, which was why you had a shower nude afterwards. What's the point of a shower if you then put sweaty pants back on? The crotch is the last place you want an accumulation of stale sweat, which was why wearing pants in gym was considered unhygienic.

Comments by Gavin on 3rd November 2016  

Charles - that was the experience of quite a few of us, thanks for speaking up. Nothing soft about wearing a jockstrap, indeed quite commonsensical!

Comments by Rob on 3rd November 2016  

Bradley,learning to swim at your old school obviously made you keen to get more involved in the sport.In your quest to
go faster by wearing Speedos does that mean you also have to shave your body hair before competitions?

Comments by William on 3rd November 2016  

Charles, You are right, there is nothing soft about a jockstrap but we never saw them. I doubt whether most of us knew what they were, but then I was at school a few years before you. Neither did I see the white nylon shorts that some contributors have described. Ours were cotton like those in the photo

Rob, The photo is exactly like the gym lessons I had at grammar school. As it was taken in 1959, we can be pretty sure from the many comments below that the boys were wearing nothing under their shorts; and it doesn't seem to bother them to judge from the boys on the ropes and the beam. The reason I think is that we were all in the same boat. If I had been the only boy to do a handstand with my legs held, I might well have been embarrassed to have everything under the shorts on display; but the fact that we all did it was a great antidote to feeling awkward. I didn't understand at the time but this relaxed approach gave us confidence.

We became attached to our shorts and really tried to make them last! We grew into them. Rolling the waistband to keep them up also pulled up the legs and made them a tighter fit, which was just as well for a boy of 15 and it made the shorts feel good. I can hear the youngsters saying that this all sounds a bit dodgy, but we really didn't think anything of it.

We all understand why today is so much less relaxed, although I had not realised that there are schools today where the pupils never have showers, but have we thrown the baby out with the bath water? It is hard not to feel sorry for some of the young men today who seem to be so inhibited that they do not remove their chlorine soaked trunks when they have a shower after swimming.

I can't pretend that gym and games were all fun at school. Sometimes we were dreadfully cold but I would rather have had the physical hardship than leave school with hang ups about bodies and body image - not that we knew what body image was.

Comments by Gerald on 3rd November 2016  

Interesting to read these comments, takes me back to my childhood!

Looking back, the no pants rule was very unnecessary. William, I don't quite understand your point about pants being unhygienic. Surely, the purpose of wearing underwear is to stop sweat from reaching the shorts/trousers? Personally, I always thought it was a stupid rule and I'm glad today's teens don't have to put up with it.

I don't think schools are too soft, just less harsh. Wetsuits in swimming is a good way to encourage more people who may be self conscious to take up swimming. Jockstraps/underwear are important for safety. I do think that today's teens are as confident and strong as we were, just that they didn't have to deal with unnecessarily harsh rules for PE

Comments by Rob on 2nd November 2016  

William,we've just described the same gym kit and how we wore the same shorts from the first year until we left.We were sometimes sent out on a cross country run in our gym period, admittedly usually only between April and October,and we also did athletics in the summer term. All this was still in just shorts and plimsolls; did the same apply to you? In the winter we played football and wore a shirt but with nothing on under our shorts it was certainly very cold at times. Nude showers were obligatory after all the above activities, but like you and many others we accepted it without question and got used to it. However,apart from the cold, I can say that I actually enjoyed it most of the time and it didn't do me any harm, but I don't think most of today's lads would cope with it, which is a pity because it would do them good in many ways.

Comments by Charles on 2nd November 2016  

Nothing soft about wearing a jockstrap when you are 16+ years ... just common sense ... Went to school in 60-70s

Comments by William on 1st November 2016  

I have just seen this item and was staggered by the number of comments. I can confirm what most of the others have said about gym and games at boys schools in the early '60s. For gym I wore plimsolls without socks, no vest and shorts with nothing underneath, which made 20 star jumps a bit of a laugh. Any boy wearing pants would be told to take them off because it was unhygienic to sweat in pants. Nude showers after gym were compulsory and supervised by the gym master. Our shorts were baggy in the first form but it was a tradition to hang on to shorts for as long as possible, so by the fourth form we had to roll over the waistband to keep them up because the elastic was weak. We wore nothing under shorts for cross country, athletics, rugby and hockey, no matter how cold it was. Sometimes after games our fingers were so numb that we could not do up shirt buttons but it did us no lasting harm. We had to get on with it and not make a fuss. Jock straps, wet suits for swimming and games only in good weather would have been unimaginable. How soft schools have become!

Comments by Rob on 1st November 2016  

Bradley, times change because when I was young lad, my parents used to encourage me to take my shirt off and get the sun and fresh air to my body as it was good for me. I used to play outside with other boys and in the summer we often took our shirts off.I later got the impression that our parents were keen to ensure that none of us got rickets as I know my grandmother suffered from it as a child.At primary school any sort of PE was done in our ordinary clothes without taking anything off, but when I went to the boys grammar school at the first lesson we were told to change into just shorts with nothing underneath and plimsolls, no socks and stripped to the waist.This wasn't a problem for me as I had been used to going shirtless for some years and was our kit throughout our school years.It is evident from this website that this was also the norm at most schools for many years.

Comments by Sterling on 31st October 2016  

Similar to Toby our uniform listed a white vest. But from day 1 our PE teachers both insisted on bare chests, regardless of weather conditions!

Mums insisted we wore vests in winter so most ended up being used as underwear.
We used bibs to distinguish teams, but vests were prohibited.
Having PE outdoors first thing on a winter morning was pure lunacy. From Mum insisting on a vest under 3 or 4 layers to going without a vest for an hour on frozen ground.
Always followed by a cold shower.
Prisoners were treated better.