Clitheroe Royal Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1602         Views: 149,725         Comments: 714

Clitheroe Royal Grammar School

Led by Stuart Bennett (Captain), right, the cross-country team returns from a practice run around the nearby country-side.
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, November 1959

714 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by James on 19th September 2018  

Tony H & Charles,

I also found it devastating to wear short pants to school and like ourselves,I'm sure others would found it so.
When complaining about the absurd brevity of the shorts,that was the fashion of the time and the longer style of shorts were out.
I agree they could be 'brutal'wearing them in cold weather,but as you say it used to'acclimatise us when
participating in sports in bitterly cold weather.
I remember my thighs were red raw in the winter and my legs were brown as berries in summer.
Knee stockings had to be held in place by tight fitting garters and the tops had to be turned over to show the bands of colours.
The worst part was was your bare thighs were red rawe

Comments by Frank C on 9th September 2018  

Similar memories Roy the teachers would move the crates next to the radiator it tasted dreadful!

Comments by ROY F on 8th September 2018  

When I was at Junior School in the 1950's the heating was very primitive to say the least and I remember the milk freezing with the cream being forced out of the top of the bottle.

Comments by Charles on 8th August 2018  

Ross. Yes, we used to jump in puddles and try and splash as many other kids as poss. At school our socks dried on the radiators and we went barefoot

Comments by TimH on 5th August 2018  

Ross - you had radiators! What luxury!

In junior school in the late 50s it was coal fires, and at Grammar School it was?? Some sort of central heating, I suppose - hardly very effective. I recall for a period in 4th form that a window was missing from one class-room.

Comments by Ross on 4th August 2018  

Ahh yes I remember those cold soaking wet rain days. Walking to school I thought it was a brilliant idea to slash the puddles. Not so much liked it when I arrived at school and was told along with half a dozen others to take my socks off and work in bare feet while they spent the morning drying on the radiator.

Comments by Andrea on 23rd July 2018 

Yes, on a wet day it was certainly possible to see who had walked or cycled to school as opposed to those who had caught the bus.
Getting wet on the way home wasn't too bad, but sitting in wet socks all day when it had rained on the way to school was not fun!

Comments by Ben on 23rd July 2018  

From what I remember, I was at school in the 60s, our socks were woollen so were quite warm and they reached almost to the knees, with those elastic garters some also mention.

The uniform shorts were alo quite long, reaching to knees or below length, and they were of thick material, so I don't remember being bothered about the cold wearing them.

As some others mention I also wore school shorts till I was about 14 and many other boys also wore them till that age.

Also as someone mentioned in a previous post the girls wore long white socks and short skirts and don't remember them wearing tights in winter so they were probably not allowed also. So it was probably more tough on girls than boys who could also wear long trousers anyway, but not girls.

Comments by Charles on 22nd July 2018  

Andrea. Another downside to wearing shorts was that socks were often soaked by the time I got to school. Until sec it wasn't much of a problem as we all put our wet socks on the radiators to dry. I can still see the steaming radiators but our socks dried.
At sec we didn't have a set classroom so we couldn't dry our socks. It was very uncomfy being in the wet socks.
Girls at comp had to wear white socks, either ankle or knee length. Tights weren't allowed.

Comments by Tony H on 20th July 2018  

I have posted previously that I had to wear grey shorts for school until I was about 14. In hind sight I suppose the only benefit was when we had to wear shorts for pe and outdoor games, my legs were already somewhat acclimatised to the cold and so it was not so great a discomfort when going outside for football.

Comments by Andrea on 19th July 2018 

James & Charles you have my sympathy regarding having to wear shorts in the cold winters.
Unlike some schools, mine didn't allow girls to wear tights with our skirts, just long socks. As I had to cycle to school my legs felt like icicles some days!

Comments by John on 19th July 2018  

Thanks for your posting on the topic of naked swimming. I still think that lad’s anxieties over having to swim naked were unnecessary, after the first lesson of having to swim naked lads got used to not wearing swimming trunks and it was no problem.

You’ve given excellent reasons why it is safer and healthier to swim naked; so I still think that schools that had compulsory naked swimming for boys were right and that the policy should never have been stopped. Rules can be character building when you are growing up, and naked swimming can help to reduce the chances of lads having body image issues.

Comments by James on 18th July 2018  

Charles,Yes,I agree"I agree winters were brutal with shorts"
When most boys would wear long trousers and girls could wear tights we would have to suffer the indignity of wearing shorts.
I considered it an outdated convention to keep boys in shorts at our age,but my parents were quite proud of keeping me in shorts despite my age and insisted that I should go the"full term"in shorts.

Comments by Tom on 18th July 2018  

John, it is not a fear of swimming naked, it is about being self-conscious and shy about showing your naked body.
As most who have had this experience at school are saying they soon got over this shyness and enjoyed swimming naked once they got over it.

Swimming naked is in fact fun and has a feeling of freedom.
According to experts it is also safer to swim naked if you get into difficulties while swimming without the hindrance of trunks.
It is also more comfortable to swim naked than when wearing trunks or speedos, they are either too tight or too loose.

The argument is probably whether it was right to force boys to swim naked whether they liked it or not.
There may have been several reasons for it in schools. Among them was tradition, that boys were more manageable and behaved better when naked in a large group in a pool environment with just one or two instructors, no worries about boys leaving wet swimsuits to rot in a changing room locker or having to take home wet suits in their school bag.
These are some of the reasons which sound very logical.

Comments by Tony H on 17th July 2018  

Thanks for the information re support.

Comments by John on 17th July 2018  

From the majority of comments regarding schools which had a naked swimming rule for boys it appears that lads had no problem with it after their initial shock of the very first time that they were made to swim naked. This would seem to indicate that any fear of swimming nude is only in the mind and has been put there by society’s stupid and incorrect association of nudity with sex. There is no reason why swimwear needs to be worn at all at at a boys’ school.

Any fear of swimming naked was an irrational fear. I think that the schools that had a naked swimming rule were right to adopt that policy and should have continued with the rule as there was nothing wrong with it it.

Comments by Charles on 17th July 2018  

To James. Gosh yes the winters were brutal with shorts. I had a long walk across open parkland and in winter my legs were so cold.
I had forgotten about the garters digging into the legs. At night when I got home and took them off there was always a deep ridge in my legs.

Comments by Gavin A on 16th July 2018  

No we didn't have any female instructors although sometimes the Housemaster's wife oversaw our swimming lessons. Didn't bother us in the slightest. For inter-school tournaments we always wore speedos (navy blue was only allowed)

Tony H
No need for support under water ... that is the beauty of water buoyancy and why swimming naked is so much more natural

Comments by Tom on 16th July 2018  

Gavin A,
Did you ever have female teachers, instructors, or other female staff present during your nude swim classes?

Did you have swim galas or competitions in the nude in front of mixed spectators?

Comments by Tony H on 16th July 2018  

Interesting reading about swimming lessons. I attended an all boys school 1961 to 66. We were bussed to the local municipal swimming pool for lessons. It was a private closed session during school time but we wore trunks now known colloquially as "speedos". (which now appear to be out of fashion)I do not know how I would have felt I we had to swim naked. However I suppose like on the comments on this page I would have got used to it after all we had a communal changing room. Furthermore at school after PE we had to have a shower which again was in a communal situation so I suppose the swimming would not be a problem. I just wonder if how it was not having any "support down below"in the water

Comments by Edward on 16th July 2018  

Gavin A and Jack.

At the independent boys school I attended in the early 1950s naked swimming was mandatory. It was daunting at first but I did become used to it. My extra swimming tuition was also taught in the nude with a male instructor. Nothing was worn under any sports gear either. After Cricket there was more skinny dipping. Different days.

Comments by James on 16th July 2018  

Charles,I think we were in a minority wearing short trousers at 14 years old and in case slightly older.
They were not compulsory at my secondary school that I attended and my parents took the option to keep in shorts despite my age.
It would mean that a much younger boy could be in long trousers while I was still shorts at 15.
Of course those long grey stockings had to be gartered to keep them in place that left ridges in my legs,which I found uncomfortable,but the worst aspect was wearing them in the cold winter months.
I never had a logical explanation why I had to wear short trousers when most of my contemporaries wear in long trousers.

Comments by John on 15th July 2018  

Gavin A,
My school didn’t have it’s own swimming pool so once a fortnight we were bussed to the local pool. We had to wear speedos and it was a co-ed senior school so girls joined us lads for swimming lessons.

I was aware that nude swimming was compulsory at some schools though. My cousin’s boys only senior school had weekly swimming lessons for boys from age 11 to 18 and they always swam nude, costumes were forbidden. I discussed this with my cousin and he said that after the first lesson all lads completely forgot that they were naked and concentrated on swimming. So I wouldn’t have been bothered if I’d been made to do swimming nude as long I was amongst other lads. I wouldn’t have liked being forced to swim naked with girls around.

For Indoor PE we were always stripped to the waist and wore white shorts and there was a strict no underwear rule. Plimsols were allowed in the gym, I wouldn’t have liked to do gym in bare feet like some guys have described. I was perfectly happy doing PE shirtless, I would have hated having a hot, sweaty shirt sticking to my back.

Comments by Gavin A on 15th July 2018  

Initially it was a shock! But then I was not alone, for there were another 17 of us newbies at the age 10 who were equally taken aback. But in all honesty it was never a problem after that first day. We all realised we had the same functional equipment down below and very soon got over any inhibitions we might have had. What was your own experience at school?

Comments by John on 15th July 2018  

Gavin A,
How did you feel about having to swim naked at school?

Comments by Charles on 15th July 2018  

Hi James
I vividly remember those grey shorts and long grey socks.
At secondary school, shorts were optional. They had been compulsory until then.
I was kept in shorts until 14, which i really didn't like. I wore garters to keep the socks up. Boy who wore shorts had to keep their socks up as we werent allowed to have them run down.
PE was always done in bare feet throughout school. At secondary we had white shorts and tshirt and strictly no underpants.

Comments by JSC on 14th July 2018  

Thanks Gavin A

When you said bare feet etc for everything I thought you meant outside as well. I presume that in your school PE was just inside then, and that games meant outside.

I attended two state comprehensives where the terms PE and games were synonomous.

The PE activities for both were quite similar.

Outside sports were rugby, footie, and cross country in the winter. Athletics and cricket in the summer. 'Normal' kit for those activities was worn although we didn't wear shin guards for footie or a mouth guard for football. We just wore our underwear underneath as well, including cricket. Cricket whites were only worn by the school team. I wasn't a member of the team so I didn't have to own any special stuff for cricket. Just our normal outdoor pe kit of white plimsolls, and white socks, shorts and t-shirt, which was either a house colour or white.

Inside was gymnastics in the winter and various potted sports in the summer. Bare feet usually compulsory and bare chest optional in my first school. Bare feet optional in my second school. I never saw bare chests in that school except when we changed, obviously.

In my first school, bare feet and chests were compulsory for the boys' gym team. The boys did no gymnastics in my second school, although it was available as a special lesson for the less behaved 'backward' boys.

Cross country, hockey, rounders outside in the winter. Netball, rounders, tennis and athletics in the summer.

Inside was gymnastics and dance, and also potted sports all year round, from what I saw. This was all performed in leotards and bare feet in my first school except when they shared a lesson with us, in which case it was gym knickers, white aertex top and bare feet.

My second school was similar, except the girls could wear skirts, and were also allowed tracksuit bottoms in the winter and also when they had their periods. Most preferred gym knickers and white aertex top.

The girls also had a dance/aerobics club. This was 1980, 81, and 82. That seemed to be any old leotard or unitard, leg/ankle warmers, bare feet and red toe nails. Not sure if the red nail polish was compulsory or not but it was ubiquitous, as well as 'poshed up' hair.

Again, bare feet indoors was strictly compulsory in this school for the girls. The boys weren't expected to go barefoot for anything, but it was fully optional, which I did a few times when I felt like it. That was in a plastic floored sports hall. The floor was quite dusty, but nothing like as bad as the assembly hall in my previous school.

The girls sometimes did PE in the dining rooms (there were two) in that school. Again, bare feet, so that was probably a little unpleasant for them, like in my previous school.

Girls were also expected to go barefoot outdoors if they had no footwear. This was in the summer months, not winter. I saw girls playing tennis on tarmac courts and performing athletics on grass in the late spring and summer in their bare feet. This didn't seem to be a hardship for them and I'm sure that most of the time they went barefoot optionally rather than compulsorily.

Like you, we got used to bare feet pretty quickly. For my first year in my first secondary school, bare feet were optional for the boys, and a friend and I gave it a go at the end of that first year. I enjoyed the freedom and appreciated the practicality of it, but the gym had just been polished and varnished in readiness for the next school year, and the soles of my feet itched like hell after that lesson. No damage done, though. My friend was OK and had no problems.

At our first PE lesson the next year, we were told that bare feet were now compulsory. Luckily, my feet must have been already toughened up a little bit and I had no varnish problems that day, or ever again. The wood floor was absolutely freezing though, but by the next lesson I was used to that too.

Nobody else had any problems, or at least didn't complain if they had, although a few boys would moan a little bit and ask if they could wear their plimsolls (later on, trainers). The answer was usually 'no' although sometimes we would be allowed to wear them if we wanted. I remember reverting back to plimsolls and trainers the first couple of times, but then stayed barefoot after that. I'd decided that there was simply no point wearing footwear indoors, at least in the gym. We were never told in advance what the activity would be, which was a pity because if I'd known that a lesson was to be indoors I could have left my plimsolls, trainers, and socks at home, and maybe even my shirt too, and saved space in my school bag, and also a little weight. Yeah, I know it's not much weight, but it is when you've haven't started your growth spurt yet.

We were also sometimes indoors in the hall in that school, and it's floor was filthy. Again, bare feet was compulsory and our feet would get extremely filthy after lessons in there. I used to suffer a bit of mild itching on my soles, but nothing more than that. I think it was just sensory overload. I only went barefoot in there because it was compulsory. I wouldn't have gone barefoot by choice unless it meant I could have left most of my kit at home, as I said earlier.

Sorry for the long post. This subject seems to be one of those things that seems simple until you actually detail it and then you realise just how complicated it really is.

Comments by Gavin A on 13th July 2018  

Gavin A

You had to have bare feet and chest for everything? Yes in the gym

May I ask how long it took for you and your schoolmates to get used to that? Very quickly it was no big deal as I recall

Also, what activities did you do in PE? Everything from boxing to vaulting horse, rooes to games like Swedish handball .. you name it

Comments by Gavin A on 12th July 2018  

Gavin A

You had to have bare feet and chest for everything? Yes in the gym

May I ask how long it took for you and your schoolmates to get used to that? Very quickly it was no big deal as I recall

Also, what activities did you do in PE? Everything from boxing to vaulting horse, rooes to games like Swedish handball .. you name it

Comments by JSC on 12th July 2018  

Gavin A

You had to have bare feet and chest for everything?

May I ask how long it took for you and your schoolmates to get used to that?

Also, what activities did you do in PE?

I experienced a short period of fairly strict PE in my school 'career', which I enjoyed, but nothing as strict as at your school. I would have been up for more if I'd had to do it though. I needed that physicality at the time. In fact, I suspect most young boys do. I wasn't the only one who liked obeying the rules, let's put it that way. I was 11 to 13, and this was the late 70's.

I don't feel that way about it all now, so it's interesting to me to look back and remember how different I was then.

Comments by Gavin A on 11th July 2018  

We swam in the nude at school. I was also a boarder in an independent boys school in the late 60s early 70s. All PE and running was always done in just white shorts. Older boys, for very obvious reasons, were allowed jockstraps.
We had a swimpool and all swimming was done naked and swimtrunks were not allowed.

Comments by Jack on 11th July 2018  

I was also a boarder in an independent boys school in the mid-late 60s. All PE and running was always done in just white shorts and slippers.
We had a swimpool and all swimming was done naked, whether lessons or just for leisure, swimtrunks were not allowed.
We often had female teachers supervising us at the pool.
Any other guys here who had nude swimming at school?

Comments by Nick on 27th June 2018  

Frank S, I went to an independent school (I was a boarder)in the 1970s.

Comments by Tony H on 27th June 2018  

Having read about jock straps and support, I wonder if nowadays these are becoming obsolete. T he reason I say this is because when my son who is nearly 15 does PE they continue to wear their pants under there shorts .This may give some support. Then winter it seems to be pants shorts with track suit bottoms on top of that. Furthermore, their PE is completely different to mine in the late 60's. They do not do any gymnastics. PE is foot ball or cricket (depending on season) track & field and running around a large school field (cross country).

When I was at school PE was one lesson(Gymnastics ropes wall bars etc.) and in the same week we would have foot ball or cricket again seasonal.

Despite the gymnastics we were never told about wearing any support and bearing in mind we wore shorts and no underwear.

Even when we played cricket we were not told about wearing a box. In fact I did not know that there was such a thing until my friend in the first x1 cricket who played for the school told me that they existed.

If you got hit there "never mind carry on" finally of course compulsory showers which is another thing no longer provided.

Comments by Frank S on 25th June 2018  

Nick, well I was like your son, only wore my jockstrap for sport outside of school. No one wore them at school you see, and I wasn't going to be different. Totally different in my dad's time. Fashion dictates i am afraid, but glad that youngsters are beginning to have the sense to wear them again. What school did you attend and when did you attend if I might ask?

Comments by Nick on 24th June 2018  

Frank S,
Yes I have children, they are in their 20s. I bought my son a jockstrap when he was 13, he wore it just a few times when playing squash with me but would not take it to school. I expect if his mates wore them he would have done too.
Like others have said I had Litesome jockstraps at school.

Comments by Frank S on 23rd June 2018  

Nick, thanks for your message. He goes to an independent school in Hertfordshire. They play all sports really. His favourites being rugby and cricket. Do you have any children Nick?

Comments by Nick on 22nd June 2018  

Frank S
Good to hear that the jockstrap is making a comeback and that your son and his mates wear them. What sports does he play and what type of school does he go to?

Comments by Frank S on 18th June 2018  

Certainly think those compression shorts look absurd

Comments by James on 18th June 2018  

In reply to Peter Melvyn,I agree"boys would not take kindly to compulsory grey shorts with long socks".
At the secondary school that I attended,the wearing of short trousers was not compulsory and there was no stipulation of the boy's age that he could wear shorts,so some like-minded parents would keep their sons in short trousers until they left school.
The shorts that I wore were similar to the ones you describe and in particular,were very brief coming well above my knees to leave virtually all of my thighs exposed to the elements.
Although I disliked being in the minority in shorts my parents relished the spectacle of seeing a teenager coming to terms and getting accustomed to wearing short pants as I grew older.

Comments by peter melvyn on 16th June 2018  

It seems that there are different types of shorts according to the sport, where basketball players wear long baggy shorts and rugby players brief tighter shorts. Many suppliers of uniform state "Bermuda" style school shorts which reach down to the knee or below. There are also Cargo shorts that have external patch type pockets. Looking at photos of me at 11 years old many years ago my grey shorts were very brief with much of my thigh showing. There are still prep schools that require short trousers to 13 years. I doubt if many boys at secondary schools now would take kindly to compulsory grey shorts with long socks. But fashions do change and short trousers may make a come back.

Comments by Tony Bennett on 16th June 2018  

I agree with Arby and Sam. Most 6th formers were wearing a jockstrap (athletic support) for sport when I was at school. I read somewhere that these compression shorts are more restrictive, somewhat weightier, and not as good at dispelling heat. What a shame youngsters can't see beyond 'fashion'!

Comments by Arby on 15th June 2018  

I agree with Sam Martin that the Litesome jockstrap was not hideous. It was very comfortable and sensible. I wore one through the 6th form and beyond. Cannot understand why they died out. Hopefully the jockstrap may come back before long.I agree that compression shorts are not as good.

Comments by Tony H on 15th June 2018  

So those are the shorts I see hanging down under football shorts. I though that they were some form of thermal underwear badly designed. I did not realise that they were to
give support.

How times and fashions change. I suppose it is because youngsters these days do not like to wear under or support that is designed like briefs or slips.

Comments by Harry Saig on 15th June 2018  

Pleased to hear that the litesome Jock strap has made a comeback.From a biological view it makes sense to wear such a support especially in adolescents.

Comments by TimH on 15th June 2018  

Andrea - There's a report this year of another school which introduced 'gender neutral' dress regs - long trouysers or skirts - shorts are banned.

In an age where shorts are becoming more 'standard' wear for men (at least in summer) it seems that some people are still set in their ways: I only wish I could get away with them on the few few summer days I have to wear them!

Comments by Sam Martin on 14th June 2018  

Frank S

The Litesome jock wasn't hideous if you wore the right size. Nothing beats a jockstrap for comfort in sport, in my opinion. Lads today look rather absurd with their compression shorts hanging down from under their shorts!!

Comments by Andrea on 8th June 2018 

At least one school decided to introduce shorts as optional summer uniform:

Comments by Frank S on 6th June 2018  

Sam Martin, you are right about the jockstrap returning. My son wears them for sport mainly because his mates do at school. In my day it had disappeared. Just remmber my dad wearing a Litesome .. hideous looking thing ! Fashion rules the day hey!

Comments by Sam Martin on 6th June 2018  


I remember reading that too, not sure of the outcome. You?