Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools

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Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 712,114         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 Mark on 3rd June 2016  

Hi Willy, yes we did pe at infant and middle in our underwear. We got changed in the classroom and boys stripped to underpants and stripped to pants and vest. Maybe the worst part was when we had to fike down the long corridor to the hall. It was cold, the floors were freezing and all the other classrooms had Windows so we could be seen all the way down.

Comments by Dennis on 2nd June 2016  

Paul I understand your logic. My era at school was also the "cold war" era and I suppose also that the majority of teachers had either served in the war or been part of National Service and as they had been used to living in barracks and undressing in front of each other along with communal showers, they would expect it to be the norm for the next generation.

This has died out now that the services are staffed by people who chose it as a career. Also with the advent of Political correctness it would be unheard off to expect lads to remove pants for pe and to go bare chested

Comments by Willy on 2nd June 2016  

Paul, Did the no trunks rule for swimming at your school apply to all boys?
I had some friends who also went to a private school where the no trunks rule only applied to boys up to 12 years old. After that age they could wear trunks.
Did you also have to be nude for swimming galas in front of spectators? I read somewhere that this was the case in some schools, though mostly for junior boys only. I can't imagine teenage boys swimming nude in front of mixed spectators, even though they be just parents and relatives.

On the subject of PE, it also seems to have been common in many primary schools for both boys and girls to do PE in just underpants only, though not at my school. I wonder if there are any readers here who had this rule at their school.
We did change in class though, both boys and girls, into our PE kit which was white shorts and vest.
In Secondary it was different because we had a gym with changing room and it was an all boys school.

Comments by Paul on 1st June 2016  

Dennis - not sure why we had no trunks for swimming, like everything else in those days we accepted it and got on with life - it was a lot more simple then and for me at least did me no harm.

Someone once hypothesised to me that in those days we were all being prepared for world war three and one thing we would need to be was not shy in front of other men so we were aclimatised at an early age to taking off underpants and communal showers. It makes sense I think. Fortunately there was no WW3 but I do think a lot of lads these days could do with being a bit more relaxed about another guy seeing them naked, it's harmless.

As for a student teacher punishing lads, I can't believe that was ever allowed. I saw a few over time and none ever administered more than a reprimand. They may report you to the relevant master who may well administer a sore bottom but they never did it themselves.

I also experienced the practice of kit inspection that involved bending over in white shorts - which were very thin and anyone wearing underpants would have been caught immediately. We were probably ordered to turn round and bend over at more than 50% of lessons so it wasn't worth the risk. The minimum consequence was six with the strap or four of the cane always on the bare bottom which was a high price for wearing underpants.

Comments by Matthew on 1st June 2016  

Rob. That ties in with why the student teacher that Dennis had was not seen again. A student teacher would not be authorised to administer corporal punishment. 1

Comments by James on 1st June 2016  

I have mentioned this before, but as the subject has come up again..
I was at school in the mid 60's. We also were told to wear nothing under our nylon shorts for PE or thicker shorts for rugby. Once we began to reach the age when this was a little uncomfortable/embarrassing the PE teacher told us that if we needed to be more comfortable, we should wear a jockstrap. Some of us had seen older boys wearing them in the changing rooms so it seemed to be a sort of step towards being grown up. I could never have brought this up in conversation with my non sporty parents for fear of getting into some sort of embarrassing discussion, perhaps having to explain what one was. The PE department had jockstraps for sale along with other bits of kit so I used some of my lunch money to buy one. I couldnt wait to try it out and the main thing I remember is that unlike other underwear, it did nothing to protect against cold draughts! The other thing was that if we got wet whilst out cross country running, the shorts became almost transparent and the jockstraps were more than obvious. I can remember a few of us embarrassing one classmate by pointing out how how much he was showing because he wasnt wearing any support. I didn't take mine home for washing. We often went through the showers still in shorts and jockstraps and straight into the swimming pool. This usually seemed to be lunchtime or after school. My jockstrap hung in my locker to dry till next time and everything else went home for washing.

Comments by Rob on 31st May 2016  

Matthew, I don't recall seeing our student teacher again.

Comments by Matthew on 30th May 2016  

To Dennis. I wonder if a student teacher would be authorised to administer corporal punishment. I'm inclined to think not and that may well have been the reason that this individual was not seen again.

Comments by Rob on 30th May 2016  

Dennis, I Don't know if any other gym classes were inspected that time; we may have been the only only one to have been selected.It was the only one I was ever in, and just my luck! We did have random kit inspections by our teacher who would line us all up in the changing room after we had got changed for a lesson and tell us to pull one side of the waist of our shorts out and down to show that we were not wearing pants. Fortunately no-one ever was, but on one occasion we had a student teacher for one lesson and he caught a boy wearing pants. He made him stand in the middle of the gym and told us all to stand round him in a circle, then told him to take off his plimsolls and then his shorts and pants. He then had to bend over and touch his toes and the student teacher whacked him six times with one of his plimsolls on his bare bottom. He was then sent off and made to stand under a cold shower for the rest of the lesson.

Comments by Dennis on 29th May 2016  

I was called away before I could finish my last message. I wanted to respond to Rob & Mark.
We did not have an inspector at our class, but most of the exercises were as Rob detailed. The teacher would be walking around and I suppose he may have been checking for underwear. One lesson a student teacher made us all bend over & I think his idea was to see if we were wearing pants which would have been visible through our white shorts. The next time he took a lesson he lined us up and pulled out the back of our shorts to see if we were wearing anything. unfortunately, for one boy he was and as Mark reports that lad paid the price with a sore behind. After removing the offending clothing. The student did threaten that next time (if there was a next time) the boys either side of any offender in the line up would also get the slipper. That student never came back to our school despite the fact we were told he would be visiting several times during the term.

However, what ever the rights and wrongs of those days and the strict discipline, we did not seem to care and I am sure
that we were not as inhibited as the youngsters seem to be today.

As Rob says that was how it was at that time.

Comments by Dennis on 29th May 2016  

Paul I attended an all boys school and like you there was a no underwear rule and no tops. After the first time we just got on with it.

Our swimming lessons were at a public swimming pool (closed session for the school)but we wore swimming trunks(the briefs type) I have read quite a few comments about swimming without trunks and I wondered why this was.


I understand your comments re the Gym. I used to Gym/Swimming pool where the showers were in cubicles,but the main male changing area was communal and as you say fellows would chat as they changed. The only time I felt uneasy was a few times a teenage lad would come in and start changing and my child protection training came to mind. There was never a problem and sometimes if a lad came in who was bashful would go into the shower cubicle in his pants and reappear in his trunks.

?The problem now is that I go to a pool where it is a changing "Village" IE mixed sex and I have to remember to keep in the cubicles for changing

Comments by michael on 29th May 2016  michaelabbey@rocketmail.com 

Thanks to all who have taken up my post.
I was interested to read them all and truly amazed that there was only one account of boys being advised to wear support for pe/games.
Not only at my school, but at many others, wearing swimming trunks as underwear for sports was quite normal. Thank you again to all those who have posted.

Comments by Roy on 28th May 2016  

At my school in the 1960s you did indoor PE stripped to the waist and barefoot.
For cross-country again you were stripped to the waist and although you were allowed to wear plimsolls a few boys were barefoot as well.

Comments by Mark on 27th May 2016  

Paul it was exactly the same at my school.We wore just white shorts for indoor PE, nothing else, and it was made clear that nothing should be worn under our shorts.
If anyone was caught wearing underpants, they were removed and the boy got his bare behind soundly spanked.
I tried it once for a dare and paid the price. Then at home I got a dose of the strap for good measure.
I never did it again

Comments by Rob on 27th May 2016  

I always thought it was the individual schools who decided on gym kit but it seems that the vast majority dictated that boys should wear just shorts,maybe plimsolls, but certainly nothing on under shorts and stripped to the waist. I had not thought before but in view of the widespread practice now wonder whether this was a government directive.In about 1959 when I was in a class of 15 year olds at a boys grammar school we had a school inspection and when we had a pe lesson an inspector was in the gym with the teacher. During the lesson the teacher made us do the exercise where we had to lie on our backs with arms outstretched and lift our legs up at 45 degrees and at his instruction move them apart and together several times then lower them to six inches off the floor and repeat the together and apart process. All this time the inspector stood in front of the class with the teacher. I now wonder if this was done to prove to the inspector that the school was carrying out the requirement to ensure that boys wore nothing under their shorts. To cap it all, at the end of the lesson, the inspector, accompanied by our teacher, was in the changing rooms, watching us all, naked in the showers. Nothing was ever said about this; that was how it was at that time.

Comments by Paul on 26th May 2016  

Private boys grammar school in the 1960's and early 70's. PE kit was white cotton shorts and plimsols for everything except rugby which was boots, socks, black shorts and a jersey in school colours. At an all boys school with it's own pool there were no swimming trunks on the list which I thought strange but soon found out why.

We were told in the first lesson that for any sort of games, gym or sport underpants were never to be worn and the strap and cane hanging on pegs in the changing room were pointed out as the consequence of disobedience. After taking off my underpants for the first time I wasn't bothered again by it and equally after the first communal shower I couldn't have cared less.

One lad decided to wear trunks under his rugby shorts after a few weeks and was caught on the first occasion. There were a few comments about him being cold - big mistake as his bottom was soundly warmed in front of the whole class and everyone else was warned that if they wore underpants or trunks their bottom would be warmed to a higher temperature!

Some lads hated the no underpants rule, it didn't bother me, I played rugby until I was 35 and never wore anything under my shorts and nor did most guys I played with even by the time I was leaving most of the younger ones took off their underpants, lycra shorts had not yet made an appearance - and don't they look awful.

I still work in the gym several times a week and don't wear anything under my shorts there either and nor do most other guys.

I might be totally against the grain here but I hate the shower cubicles at the gym, I used to enjoy the chat in the showers, it was always quite sociable where with cubicles no one says anything at all.

Comments by Andrew on 26th May 2016  

I attend school in the 80's and like others have mentioned we were not allowed Pants under our shorts, the message was spelt out quite clearly that nothing should be worn underneath when doing any activity at school and that included the school teams.

Comments by Andrea on 26th May 2016  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

My ex was at Grammar School in the 1970's and told me that they weren't allowed anything under their shorts for the first two years but were advised to wear a jockstrap for support at the start of their third year. He didn't mention swimming trunks though.

Comments by Dennis on 26th May 2016  

With regards to the latest postings, at our school we new nothing about jock straps and as I wrote it was only a friend who told me about "support". As someone else has written teachers thought it important that the air circulated without restriction.

Comments by Alex on 25th May 2016  

At school in the 1970s the only thing allowed under our sport shorts was a jockstrap.

Comments by John Lavender on 25th May 2016  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

Michael (and Peter if he's still reading this Thread) :
We normally didn't wear anything under PE Shorts but if and when we were going to do Wrestling as part of PE in the Gym we were told in advance to put Trunks on under the Shorts so we could just remove our Shorts and be ready if we were chosen to grapple.
We had Green or Red Trunks depending on which House we were in , there were just Two at our Grammar School.
They were just basic Nylon Trunks, not breatheable at all,and quite tight-fitting.
Of course, there were quite a lot of quite obvious 'Bulges' in our Trunks as we were all Pubescent or Post-Pubescent, and , Indeed quite regularly there was what some would have considered a very telling damp-patches on the front of the Trunks!
Our PE Teacher wasn't too bothered, we were all around the same age in our class; it was embarrasing for some of the Boys but he [The Teacher] just took us to one side and explained it was all perfectly natural and that we should not be embarrased.
Grappling was great Fun; I wasn't all that good at it but it was a good break from the usual excercises and Games in PE.

Comments by Dennis on 25th May 2016  

In reply to Michael, we were not given the option or told to wear swimming trunks under our shorts. In fact right up until I left in 1966 when I was sixteen we wore nothing underneath. ?there was not instruction about any form of athletic support. Whereas, a friend who attended another local school were instructed to wear some form of support. Swimming trunks we just for our weekly swimming lessons.

Comments by Dominic on 25th May 2016  

Michael - that is an interesting idea. The only sport I remember boys being advised or required to wear anything underneath was cricket where a "box" was sometimes worn. As I didn't play cricket at school I never knew much about this but I do know swimming trunks would never have been allowed. It was always thought that the air should circulate beneath our shorts and I don't recall any suggestion that anything needed to be kept in place in such a manner.
I have seen that American schools often required jock straps though I've never understood the benefit. I had no idea that any English school in the 60s might require anything restrictive under shorts.

Comments by michael on 23rd May 2016  michaelabbey@rocketmail.com 

I have been reading comments in this section for a very long time.
It amazes me that so few boys who went to school in the 60's ( as I did ) have not mentioned that they were encouraged to wear swimming trunks under their games kit. Certainly it was the rule at my school that we should not wear our everyday underpants, or vests for that matter. But there was no saying that nothing at all should be worn!
Usually it was those who were selected for the rugby team who first took to wearing swimming trunks. Sometimes the teacher would suggest to a boy that he should do so.
I would be most interested to hear from anyone who has had the same experience, whether from the 60's or any other era!

Comments by Rob on 23rd May 2016  

Dennis, I was at secondary school from 1955 to 1961 and my PE experience was also,like yours, the norm for those days, as we were not allowed to wear anything under our shorts for PE and football and we all had to shower together afterwards.I would have thought it would have been better that you didn't know the boys in your class,otherwise wouldn't it have been embarrassing being naked in front of your friends from junior school, especially the first time? Although,as you had to talk to your dad about it, perhaps it would have been better if you had a few friends to share the experience.

Comments by Rob on 23rd May 2016  

Kevin, good for you and for persevering. It's a pity there are not more dads about now who believe in making their sons grow up and become men. I hope you continue to enjoy soaking up the vitamins and other benefits of letting the sun and fresh air to your body.

Comments by Kevvin on 23rd May 2016  

We had two PE sessions a week, one was boys only and the other was mixed. The girls did usually like to come near the barechested boys, bump into us 'accidentally' or do partner gym work with us. That didn't apply to one of the other barechested boys whose family was really poor and he obviously wasn't allowed a top by his parents for financial reasons, even his shorts were old with holes in them and he smelled quite a bit.
I however got to like the girls attention as we got a bit older

Comments by Dennis on 23rd May 2016  

My experience at secondary school was in an all boys school. This was 1961 to 1966. As was the norm it seems for those days, pe kit was shorts, plimsolls and nothing else. At the first lesson the teacher informed us that we were not to wear pants under the shorts.

At first it seemed strange going into the main hall which doubled as a gym and although only 11 years old I missed the support of wearing briefs. However this soon passed and with it being the norm for the lesson and football I got used to it. Again going into the communal showers for the first time I was a bit apprehensive because when I went up to this school, my friends from junior school were in a different catchment area and they went to another school. This meant I did not know any of the boys at first whereas most of the class knew each other.
There was no choice but just accept it. There was no alternative. No good complaining because dad would say whats the problem you are all fellas together( bearing in mind that it was not long after the war and he like most dads and older teachers had served in the forces where everyone lived in barracks and huts and were used to all changing together.

Nowadays things have changed so much that I do not think there are any showers in schools, and a lot of pe or sports seems to be done in tracksuits not shorts, and heaven forbid if you were told to remove underwear before pe or sports

Comments by Rob on 23rd May 2016  

Simon, I was at a boys grammar school, somewhat earlier than you, in the late 50s. The uniform list included a white T-shirt for PE, which all boys brought to the first lesson, expecting to wear it.However at the beginning of the lesson before going to the changing room, the teacher told us all that when we got changed we must take everything off including pants and socks and come back into the gym wearing just pe shorts and plimsolls.At the end of the lesson we were told to go back to the changing room and take our shorts off and go in the showers which were communal. Thereafter,until I left the school at age 18, we were always stripped the waist in the gym and outside for athletics (when we often went barefoot) and cross country running.

Comments by Simon on 22nd May 2016  

Kevin, I was also at a school in the 80s where the PE shirt was optional for boys. What most of us hadn't realised until the first lesson was that the option was the teacher's, not ours! He was old school, very strict, and immediately made it clear what was expected by ordering one boy to stand up and take off his shirt. "That's the kit you'll be wearing in my lessons," he announced and informed the rest of us that any boy not wearing the 'correct' kit in 10 seconds time would be getting detention. Unsurprisingly there was a mad scramble as we all pulled off our shirts. From then on we did PE in just shorts and that was how it stayed for the rest of the year, no exceptions. The next year we had another PE teacher who did allow shirts to be worn, but by then we were all so used to going barechested that many boys just didn't bother.

Comments by Christopher on 22nd May 2016  

Kevin, were there girls in your class? If there where, did they treat you differently from the boys who wore shirts?

Comments by Kevin on 21st May 2016  

I went to a comprehensive school in the 80ies which must have with hindsight just changed its PE uniform policy for boys when I arrived. We got a letter with a uniform items that needed to be bought and I went with my parents to get them just before school started. We got the main uniform and then it came to the PE kit. White shorts and a green polo shirt. So far so good, but my dad spotted on the list that the shirt was optional for boys. He made it quite clear that he would not pay for the shirt, that I would go barechested; he wasn't into wasting money. My mom made matters worse by pointing out that I might be could doing PE stripped to waist which really annoyed my dad who insisted I needed to grow up to become a man.
Too cut a long story short, I wasn't given a PE shirt and had to go to my first lesson knowing I would be barechested zhich really worried my. As it turned out luckily I wasn't the only boy without a top, two other boys had to strip too. In the end I never ever wore a top for PE and actually enoy it in the end. My PE teacher made no secret out of the fact that he tought all the boys should be stripped to the waist and he did favour the small the group of us who were.

Comments by Steve on 21st May 2016  

Well, this brings back memories. This could have been taken at our school with the boys barechested. Our teacher was fanatical about us being stripped to the waist for every PE lesson. I'd started in the October following a family move due to my dad's job. When changing for the first time I was told to wear a vest. We were taken into the gym, my classmates all barechested, I was pulled out to the front and made to strip off facing the class as a welcome. From then on, in line with the rest of the school we were kept stripped regardless of the weather both in the gym and outdoors. After every summer hols our first session was always in the gym and were given a tough workout which bought us down to earth. To this day I can still hear him shout "If you're not sweating, you're not working." Needless to say everyone showed sweat at the end of each session.

Comments by Ron Wood on 25th April 2016  ron@stptax.com 

Brings back fond memories of BGS & Ron Parry.I was pretty good at gym so was treated OK by Mr Parry.
must have been quite cool though & that could be most of the reason we left the UK in 1967 for Australia.
Been back quite a few times but most of my relatives are here in Australia & Burnley not what it used to be.
I've left my email in case anyone might remember me.
Cheers Ron Wood

Comments by Roy on 24th April 2016  

For indoor PE we wore white shorts and plimsolls.
The same for outdoors although some boys went barefoot.
The same for cross-country.

Comments by Rob on 21st April 2016  

For indoor pe we wore just black or white shorts with nothing underneath and plimsolls. Outdoors we wore the same for cross country and athletics although we often went barefoot for athletics. For soccer we wore the same shorts, again with nothing underneath and football shirt with football boots and long socks.

We had two single periods for indoors and one double for soccer or cricket in the summer.

Comments by Andrea on 20th April 2016  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

There was nothing very technical about our PE kit!

Indoor kit was a white polo shirt and regulation navy blue knickers only. We could also wear white plimsolls, but most of us did it barefoot.

For outdoor activities such as netball or rounders we had the choice of a PE skirt (a short pleated 'wrap-round' style skirt or coulottes (a sort of cross between a skirt and a pair of shorts) and could wear a long sleeved top rather than the polo shirt if we wanted too. Outdoor footwear was either canvas hockey boots or plimsolls depending on the season.

From memory, we had two single indoor lessons per week and one double lesson outdoors, so we always knew which kit to bring for that day.

Comments by Emily on 19th April 2016  

Too technical? Ok, sorry.

Comments by Rob on 19th April 2016  

Emily, It's getting a bit too technical understanding the different items of clothing but I would have thought sometimes you might have needed something warmer for outside rather than wearing a leotard indoors. No need to explain.

Comments by Emily on 18th April 2016  

Hi Rob, looking back now I'm also surprised that it was acceptable! I think your sins had a much more normal PE kit though seeing as it was mixed I guess they had to.

For outdoor PE we had gym knickers and aertex tops. The funny thing was when we were outdoors we weren't allowed to wear our underwear knickers underneath! For our indoor lessons we just took our knickers off for showers then put them back in. Not cover nice, thinking back! Once we were in year 9 we had indoor kit too, which was a leotard.

Comments by Rob on 18th April 2016  

Emily,I'm surprised that it was acceptable to make you wear
just your knickers as recently as 1994 even if it was an all girls school.Our two sons had to wear t-shirts with shorts at a mixed secondary school from about 1985.But presumably you had to wear shorts and a top when you went outside so what was the point of making you wear knickers indoors because you would not have had a complete change of clothes. Did you have to take them off to have a shower and then put them back on again or did you have another pair to wear? I expect you and all your class looked forward to getting into year 9 and being able to wear shorts & a t-shirt for indoors pe.

Comments by Emily on 15th April 2016  

I've commented on one of the other photos here about my PE kit. I was at school much later than this photo, I started senior school in 1994. It was single sex like in the picture but we had to go barefoot rather than wear plimsolls. In years 7 and 8 Like the boys in the photo we did our lessons bare chested, but we weren't allowed shorts and instead had to do indoor lessons in our knickers!

Comments by Rob on 15th April 2016  

I was at an all boys grammar school in the late 1950s and we had to wear just pe shorts with nothing underneath and plimsolls, as in the photo.We certainly never felt cold as our pe instructor worked us hard and the sweat used to run down our bare chests. We all looked forward to getting back to the changing rooms afterwards, getting our shorts off and going in the showers together for a good wash.

Comments by Michael on 14th April 2016  

It's easy to forget how cold those gyms could be at any time of year. They were big spaces and, especially in winter, uneconomic and almost impossible to get warm.

But, the PE teacher made us work so hard we soon forgot about the low temperature.

Our uniform included plain white t-shirts, but as the lesson progressed, we became so hot despite the chilly conditions, that most of us asked for permission to remove them.

Comments by Andy on 4th April 2016  

Like most schools in the late 60's we did indoor pe in just shorts, nothing else (and with no choice but to strip). Also had to run cross country shirtless all year around - both of these were fairly universal I think.

We were always allowed to wear plimsolls for cross country (one lad didn't, but that was his choice), no one wore short trousers at school beyond 13/14 (and most switched as soon as they started secondary school).

In high summer at home boys mostly didnt wear shirts, and indoors often were barefoot. Outdoors I don't remember anyone always being barefoot, and the only times we were was when swimming in the lake/river or playing around on grass on a very hot day.

In the winter, homes had limited heating, so no one went shirtless,in fact the opposite and mostly we wore several layers even indoors.

Yes some parents used heavy coprporal punishment (one lad in my class often had belt marks on his bare back in pe for example), but no parent would have made their kids go around stripped off to just a pair of shorts.

Comments by Mark on 3rd April 2016  

It wasn't unusual to wear shorts at school until at least age 12 at school back in the 60s and 70s but I've never saw a teenage boy age 14 running around the street playing with friends barefoot and bares heated. Did you you ever see this James?

Comments by James on 3rd April 2016  

I wore shorts to school, where in primary school it was compulsory, wearing shorts at secondary school was optional, for PE we were always topless and barefoot.
I suppose it was no different for me at home.

Comments by Mark on 3rd April 2016  

If the onejack stories are true then to make a teenage boy go out in the street bare foot and without at shirt is a abuse. Given that these things he writes about happened only five years ago I suspect the stories are pure fantasy.

Comments by Alistair on 3rd April 2016  

One2jack, I was told to be stripped to the waist because my parents think that tops aren't necessary for young men in the home and that it would be better if I 'toughened up'. This involves remaining stripped during cold winters. They also think that it will encourage me to take care of my body and be more confident, which is true. Hoesntly, during the summer, it's s real advantage being stripped to the waist- I usually spend entire weeks with nothing more than a pair of shorts.

Comments by one2jack on 2nd April 2016  

james, phil: they don't insist that i wear shorts, but i'm just used to strip to shorts now



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