Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 712,120         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 Philip on 2nd April 2016  

On 29th March, one2jack says that he is nineteen and on 1st April, he says that his parents still keep him in shorts. This conversation is becoming silly.

Comments by James on 2nd April 2016  

one2jack, It wasn't really an issue wearing shorts without underwear, as we were never allowed underwear for sports or PE. I just grew accustomed to wearing shorts without any, so it didn't draw too many comments.
I think the main drawback with wearing shorts was that older boys didn't wear them.
What kind of shorts did you wear and do your parents still insist that you wear them?

Comments by one2jack on 1st April 2016  

james, im not sure why exactly i was and am kept in shorts... but i guess the reasons are: laundry, to get comfortable with my body, fear that i'd damage the clothes, etc.

yea i was de-pantsed. they were like "hey he's not even wearing underwear" "what happened to your underwear?" or something like that and some even wanted a proof, ganged up against me and de-pantsed me....

what your friends said when they noticed?

Comments by James on 1st April 2016  

one2jack,I'm sure there were many reasons why my parents kept me in shorts, mainly it signified I was still a juvenile and so to be regarded. Other reasons included, the "cute" factor influenced my mother. Certainly they believed that making boys go bare-legged had healthful benefits, developed hardiness, as well as character building
virtues, instilled docility and taught humility.
It was occasionally noticed that I wasn't wearing underwear and yes, I was de-pantsed when I misbehaved, which was very rare as I behaved with decorum and wearing my shorts kept me in check.
How about you, why were you kept in shorts, were you de-pantsed and what did your friends say when they realised you weren't wearing underwear?

Comments by one2jack on 1st April 2016  

in winter i never was in just shorts, so i was never cold.
i'm speaking about outside. inside i was always kept in shorts, even today.

yeah older ladies called me "cute in shorts" etc too... i hated it.

did you ever ask you parents why?
did your friends notice you wasn't wearing underwear with those shorts?
did they ever de-pantsed you?

Comments by James on 1st April 2016  

One2jack, one of my main objections to wearing shorts for school was simply my winter uniform was similar to what I wore in the summer, apart from being allowed to wear knee stockings.
In the 70's/80's, fashion dictated that shorts were very short and mine were no exception.
Although we had a winter uniform for school, my shorts were considered quite suitable for the harsh, cold weather.
I remember being told that I 'looked cute in my shorts' and told to 'wrap up to keep warm', but I felt I would freeze in those little numbers.

Comments by one2jack on 31st March 2016  

james, i know what you mean. i have same experiences with comments... my friends wore long shorts or jeans and i was and am still in shorts...

embarrasing when about 13-14 outside and you are the only one in just shorts no shirt and barefoot.

Comments by James on 31st March 2016  

one2jack, It was difficult wearing short shorts, especially as most of my friends were wearing long trousers or jeans. Often, it would lead to many derogatory comments, but I had to accept it.
Like you, I would wear my play shorts without underwear and often go bare foot. I can assure you, it was not by choice!

Comments by Benny on 30th March 2016  

I also had to stay in shorts but at least only until 13 years old. There werre some other lads had to do the same according to parents wishes. My shorts were short and tight. Not like the longer shorts of today. The shorts were worn with long grey socks.

Comments by one2jack on 30th March 2016  

mark, yes same here. boys had to take their shoes and socks off.

james, at home i was often made to wear short soccer shorts. in summer when its hot not even underwear. how did you feel running around in just shorts? what about your friends? how did you feel wearing shorts in school til that age? how old are you now?

Comments by James on 30th March 2016  

one2jack/Benny, when I wore shorts for school and home they were much shorter than the knee length shorts that as seen today. Despite my age or height my shorts were worn well above the knee, and bought so that they fitted neat and trim.
Usually boys were promoted to wearing long trousers at a certain age, usually about thirteen years of age, but my school allowed the option of keeping boys in shorts till they left school if their parents so desired.
My fate was sealed and my parents took the benefit of this option and kept me in shorts till I left school.
Apart from being the odd one out at school, I felt I had a very juvenile appearance, that I'm sure my parents appreciated.

Comments by Mark on 30th March 2016  

At school we always did pe in just shorts. We were always barefoot and bare chest.
I remember many mothers didn't like children, especially boys, running around their houses in sweaty socks, so they had to take them off. So when visiting I often had to remove my socks. My mother was the same.

Comments by one2jack on 29th March 2016  

benny, swimming was mixed too. we only could wear speedos, but most of the guys would have prefered wearing cool longer shorts. speedos were after a while some kind of embarrasing. obviously tell tale bugle esp when you get older... but teacher said its better for mobility and swimming itself. long shorts would have distubed us

Comments by Benny on 29th March 2016  


At ourSecondary school (all Boys) swimming was at a municipal pool. Trunks were speeedo in desin desig but a cheaper version. This was the only option. Far better than the current trend for long shorts which I avoid.

Comments by one2jack on 29th March 2016  

james, sometimes i rebel in wearing just shorts, but most of the time im ok with it. im 19 and still living with my parents, so im still in shorts when i got home. i left school a few years ago. so i'm just used to it.

when i was younger i was in just shorts all neighbourhood in summer. not even shoes. hang out with friends and playing. now its just around the house.

i dont know if my friends had these rules at their homes. everytime i was at theirs, they were dressed completely (just shoes off, sweatpants).

the reasons are: laundry, to get comfortable with my body, fear that i'd damage the clothes, etc.

Comments by Mark on 29th March 2016  

Growing up we were never allowed to wear shoes at home, they came off at the door and we had house clothes to change into. But we did not have to go bare chested. Back in the 60s and 70s not many homes had central heating and it would have been extremely cold to go without a shirt in winter.

Comments by James on 29th March 2016  

one2jack,Jeremy, how did you feel about wearing shorts all the time and did you rebel or object to wearing them?
Up to what age were you made to wear shorts and what was the reason given?
I was kept in shorts at home all the time and they were compulsory.

Comments by one2jack on 28th March 2016  

james, jeremy. for p.e. boys wore shirts, shorts and trainers. same outside. speedo for swimming, trunks werent allowed. same for girls, but sure swimsuit for swimming. p.e. was mixed. teams were skins vs shirts, girls got vests as teammate. in case of forgetting the kit means for a boy do p.e. in his clothes, often they decided to go shirtless. barefoot because risk of injury when doing p.e. in socks. i don't remember when girls forgot their kits...

same as you guys my parents want me to strip to shorts when i got home. in summer even outside around the house. i didnt know others had the same rules.

Comments by Jeremy on 28th March 2016  

Like Alistair my brothers and I were made to strip to the waist as soon as we got home from school. We also had to go barefoot and were in shorts.
Sometimes we had to go out into the garden stripped to the waist and barefoot and as far as I know some of our school friends had to do the same.

Comments by James on 28th March 2016  

one2jack,we too were shirtless for PE, just shorts and barefoot.
Like Alastair, my parents adopted this approach when I returned from school and changed out of my school uniform into a pair of shorts.
This was just normal practice and I always wore shorts at home without a shirt and went barefoot.

Comments by one2jack on 27th March 2016  

Alistair why your perents want you to be shirtless? do yo have to be barefoot aswell? only inside? what about your friends?

Comments by Alistair on 26th March 2016  

Although we wear shirts during pe lessons (I'm in my last year of school) my family still believes that shirts are unnecessary in the home. Whenever I'm at home my bro and I are stripped to the waist in shorts- it has helped me to be more confident about myself and encourages me to exercise and look after my body.

Any questions, just ask

Comments by Dave on 21st March 2016  

Yes, I totally agree with you. Bare chest or vests are the most practical way of doing sports.

Formerly most schools which didn't require boys to be barechested for PE made them to wear PE vest.
Nowadays PE vest are changed for T-shirts. I can't see why.
Boy didn't seem to mind wearing vests for PE.

Comments by The original Emma on 20th March 2016  

Well I know both my friends and I always looked forward to seeing which boys would be made to drop their PE vests, and whether the teacher would choose between skins and vests teams or full skins with all the boys having to strip down, indoors or out regardless of the time of year. A vest or bare chest is far more practical and cheaper alternative. I'm willing to bet both my son's and their friends wouldn't object either.

Comments by Benny on 20th March 2016  

The comments prior to this latest one seem to have diappeared into thin air. I was agreeing with the previous writer than fellows in Britain do seem more prudish. I compared this to the fact then when abroad men wear speedo type swimming trunks and think nothing of it, whilst us English seem to try and cover our bodies whith ridicously long swimming shorts. In my school days it was brief style trunks and that was all that was available.

Why the change?

Comments by Benny on 18th March 2016  

I meant to add, I used to go to a local swimmimg pool whre there was sperate all male & female changing. The male did not have cubicles and as some did try the same as the beach dance change under a towel. Most did not bother and even carried on conversations rather like the advert.
Now whereever I go I have to be careful because all pools seem to have mixed "Changing Villages" and I have to rmemeber that any moment a female (either swimmer or attendant) could walk in and I must change in a very confined cubicle.

Comments by Sterling on 17th March 2016  

When I was young we thought nothing of the bare chest & barefoot requirement! Guys casually went naked in changing and group shower rooms. Now lads either don't bother showering (yuck) or do a ridiculous towel dance until they're in cubicle showers.

However, guys on mainland Europe haven't changed their attitude towards communal showering?

Why is it that American & British guys are so prudish nowadays?

Below is a link to an 1965 Advertisement for the water saving Bradley Group Showers. Imagine the shock if these were installed routinely today, as they once were!


Comments by Mark on 16th March 2016  

Absolutely right. Our cross country course took us over a local golf course and public footpaths in some woods. hence the footwear.
When we got back to school our plimsolls had to come off before we went into the school. This was to keep mud off the floors. Also our gym floors had just been relaid so The PE teacher was very strict about footwear in there. If we were excused PE due to a sick note we had to watch from the side. We had to remove shoes and socks before we went in. He said socks were slippery and a health risk.
Mr Anderson always wore foorware in the gym!!!!

Comments by Derrick on 13th March 2016  

Mark - our course was mainly in open country along muddy paths and around 2 sides of a field though we had to run along a rough track and pavements to get there and back. The sides of the field were probably most challenging when it had just been ploughed and stones brought to the surface. I don't remember there being any broken glass around - there was much less anyway in the 60s. I'm sure if there had been any injuries the school would have made us wear plimsolls - no trainers in those days, of course.

Comments by Keith on 12th March 2016  kjl3094@msn.com 

We were always barefoot in the gym and barechested, gym was a double session on Fridays, Mondays was cross country day and Wednesdays was football in winter and cricket in summer, not shirtless in cross country but on hot days most boys were,this was 1959-1963 in a Midlands Secondary Modern school.

Happy Days !!

Comments by Mark on 12th March 2016  

We always did PE barefoot indoors but outdoors we wore trainers etc. Surely there were health and safety issues with doing things like cross country in bare feet. wouldn't there be a possibility of broken glass etc on the course?

Comments by Derrick on 9th March 2016  

Reading through the comments brings back many memories - mostly good. My all boys grammar school back in the 60s used black and white shorts to distinguish teams so, like John and Jono, a pair of shorts was all we wore for p.e. Cross country was also done barefoot and shirtless. I don't think any-one ever complained about being cold - we just got on with it.

Comments by Joe on 8th March 2016  

Dave, thanks for the link to the Belgian PE pictures. I wonder if maybe the boys are required to take their shirts off for using certain apparatus? Although it would make more sense for them to be shirtless throughout.

Comments by Evan on 8th March 2016  

To Matthew,
No, as far as I know no one changed their minds. Most people who were shirts never wanted to take them off ever and some of hem change in the toilets because they were that shy. Also, most skins were perfectly fine with being skins.

Comments by Dave on 7th March 2016  

Here is the link for the shirtless PE lesson of a Belgian school posted some months ago. I wonder why the boys have shirts on in some pictures and shirtless in others.


Comments by James on 1st March 2016  

I'm 22.

In PE we were offered two choices, have clean underpants for after the lesson or take them off for the lesson. For a couple of weeks at the very beginning most lads had a second pair but then you and everyone else forgets so you take them off as who wants to sit for the rest of the day in underpants you've rolled around the rugby pitch in? It's just common sense really.

After a couple of weeks no one was shy but then we also had communal showers that were still going when I left school four years ago and AFAIK still are. Showers were compulsory and again, who doesn't want one? My view is it's life, get on with it, changing rooms don't bother me in the slightest but I do see guys who feel they have things to hide which I don't understand. If the sight of a bare bottom offends you then you probably shouldn't be there in the first place.

Comments by Benny on 25th February 2016  

Evan in comparison to my days at school, has the rules for Pe changed? Were you allowed to wear underwear? or has the ban on pants becomea thing of the past?

Comments by Pete on 24th February 2016  

Like Benny we always went topless for indoor PE and again we thought nothing of it.
Also when we did cross country most of again went stripped to the waist and again thought nothing of it.

Comments by Benny on 23rd February 2016  

During my time at secondary school (all boys school) we were always no tops when indoors and we never thought anything about it. Also in keeping with the times we did not wear any underwear even when outside.I do not remember any embarrasment.

When we went outside for sport we wore a football shirt, and short shorts.

Comments by Matthew on 23rd February 2016  

To Evan,
In time, did any of those who were initially reluctant to be "skins" come to change their minds?

Comments by Evan on 21st February 2016  

I left school just wo years ago and I can say that we did have optional shirts vs skins in our school due to the awful quality of bibs. Basically, what happened was the teacher would ask if anyone objected to taking off their shirt. Usually, around a quarter of boys (who tend to be less good at sports in general) would put their hands up to be selected for the shirts team along with a few really good players to balance the teams better. Then, the rest of us would take our tops off and join the skins team. The teams were always slightly different to ensure good competition.

It was pretty embarrassing at first to see the other team fully clothed while i was in just a pair of shorts (it did give the less able shirts guys a bit of a confidence boost though) it was something I learnt to accept and in the summer it was definitely an advantage

Comments by Toby on 7th February 2016  

At my school the teacher sometimes put us in teams of 5 then picked 2 boys to drop their vests and we played 3 against 2 basketball. We also did the full skins and shirts teams like Chris2 mentioned but indoors in the summer we all did athletics as skins.

Comments by Claire on 7th February 2016  

Ouch!! Who says girls aren't devious?

Comments by Chris2 on 31st January 2016  

I readily admit to enjoying being a skin, though I have absolutely no idea why I was picked so often. We did skins and vests both indoors and outside. The teacher always had a skins team regardless so for me and a couple of others it meant a lot of time being made to strip off outside too.
One thing I wondered about was why he just didn't make us strip off before we went outside instead of waiting until we were either on the yard or the field.

John and Jack - well I haven't come across that before. I did get into a fight outside of school, the only one I ever had! The girls egged us both to strip to the waist, which we did. I didn't realise it was a trap and after we'd been fighting a few minutes one of the girls who had soaked my vest in water, hit it hard across my bare back four times and it killed. Strangely the PE teacher made no mention of the marks during PE though other lads did.

Comments by Simon on 31st January 2016  

Hi Chris2,
Looking back, do you feel it was a good thing to be picked as a skin so frequently? My feeling is that it probably was as ultimately I felt more confident about my body.
Did you ever have shirts against skins outdoors, by the way, or only in the gym?

Comments by John Lavender on 31st January 2016  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 


Hello, Jack beat me to it, describing 'Running the Gauntlet', it was exactly the same at our School, which was a Co-ed Independent Grammar, I attended 1963-68. Gym was single-sex.
We loooked one in Awe at the first "Running the Gauntlet" on our First Gym Session in our First Year.
The Gym Teacher selected a Couple of the 2nd-Year Lads to "Demonstrate Running" with the rest of the Second Years doing the "Gauntletting".
If you were a slow Runner you just got more Slaps and Hits. It was as simple as that!

Comments by Jack on 31st January 2016  

Hi Chris2

Running the gauntlet was a great piece of old-fashioned schooling. In my PE lessins the two last boys entering the gym after having got changed into proper kit (which was always bare tops, bare feet and just white shorts btw)had to run the gauntlet. The other boys formed two lines and those two had to run in between them getting slapped on their bare backs and chests. As you can imagine, we got always got changed at the speed of lightning.

Comments by Chris2 on 30th January 2016  

Hi John and Simon, thanks, it's interesting you both had different experiences. Our teachers didn't bother with any kind of rotation and like you I was picked for skins more often than not throughout school.

John, what on earth was "run the guantlet" and what happened if you didn't survive?

Comments by Chris2 on 30th January 2016  

Hi John and Simon, thanks, it's interesting you both had different experiences. Our teachers didn't bother with any kind of rotation and like you I was picked for skins more often than not throughout school.

John, what on earth was "run the guantlet" and what happened if you didn't survive?

Comments by Claire on 30th January 2016  

Hi Jack, One has a mole on their right forearm and no parting while the other had no mole and no parting. I know they had a great deal of fun. I thought they'd be put in different classes at High School but academically they were virtually the same too. Being on the skins team would be tough for anyone to pick them apart - even mum and dad got them confused at times but it didn't stop them from stripping off.