Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 711,723         Comments: 2,597

Burnley Grammar School

Image scaled down from 800px to 740px wide. Click the image to view the original.

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

2597 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by Kenny on 26th October 2015  

Andrea, did you also do PE in just underpants?
I know this was common practice in many primary schools.
At my primary school we also changed in class in front of our teacher, but we just took our uniform off in just underpants and put on white shorts and white vest, both boys and girls, which was our PE uniform.

Incidentally, talking about school uniforms, I wonder what other posters here wore for school, what kind of uniform, if any, or just plain clothes.
At my primary school we boys wore a white shirt and grey shorts while girls wore a white shirt and grey skirt. We also wore a grey jumper, don't know what they call it today, over our shirts when it was cold weather.
In secondary we also wore a grey jacket with the school logo on it, which we called a blazer in those days.
But PE kit was always white shorts and vest, both in primary and secondary.
In secondary it was different because we had a gym where we changed which was an all boys school. We also had showers in the gym changing room.
In primary we did PE exercises in the school yard or the yard corridor if it was raining. Then went back to class and changed back into our uniforms.

Comments by Matthew on 26th October 2015  

I don't believe that a female teacher would be supervising naked boys in a secondary school.

Comments by Andrea on 25th October 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

At Primary School (up to age 11) our (female)teacher used to supervise the whole class (girls and boys)changing together in our classroom. It was only down to underwear though as there were no showers at Primary.

Sometimes if our usual teacher wasn't available a male teacher would supervise.

Comments by Kenny on 23rd October 2015  

John, I would certainly have found it embarrassing being supervised by a female teacher in the showers at that age.
Although it could have been normal in some places for female teachers to supervise boys showering up to maybe age 11 or 12 at the most, I think that this would have been rare for boys up to 16 as in your case.
What kind of school was it, if I may ask?

Comments by - on 18th October 2015  

Dave, an excellent example there. We had an ex Army PTI and did exactly what was shown there, without girls in the group though. By the time we had reached Pull ups most of us had started to sweat. A perfect reason for boys being barechests!

Comments by John on 13th October 2015  

Kenny and Mark, it was considered quite normal to be supervised by female teachers, we were 11 to 16 years old and it was quite embarrassing. We were whacked by the teacher on our bottoms and there was no way we could complain or object. Our teacher was also formidable and we learnt to do as we were told.

Comments by Dave on 13th October 2015  

In some russian schools boys are still shirtess for physical exercises. You can watch for example a co-ed morning run here Boys have to be barechested.


Comments by Kenny on 13th October 2015  

John, how old were you and the other boys at the time? Did you find it embarrassing or just normal?
I don't think this was very unusual for boys up to a certain age for female teachers to supervise in changing rooms and showers.
Not long ago I saw an article stating a school's rules about supervision during swimming lessons. It said that teachers must be present to supervise during changing and showering. It stated clearly that both male and female teachers can supervise in the boys room, but only female teachers in the girls changing room.
Talk about double standards. It even stated that the pupils must take a shower before entering the pool under teachers supervision.

Comments by Mark on 13th October 2015  

We had communal showers at school and they were supervised by our male PE teacher. He was also a housemaster and sometimes was called away if there was an emergency. The girls PE teacher would stand in for him. She was a well built fearsome lady. If she caught us running straight through the shower, she did as our usual teacher did, and gave us a whack on the bottom with s green flash. This was in the 70s.

Comments by John on 10th October 2015  

We often had boys only team events and had to use the girls' changing area and facilities which included a separate cubicle for the teacher. We had to use communal showers and changing area and was supervised by the lady teacher in charge.

Comments by Kenny on 9th October 2015  

Anyone had teachers of the opposite sex supervising showers or changing rooms?

Comments by Brendan on 12th September 2015  

No, it never bothered me because no one talked or looked at each other while in the showers as everyone was quite inhibited, so it wasn't that daunting,

Comments by n on 27th August 2015  

Brendan, it is interesting to learn about the more up to date situations re school PE. Times have obviously changed because back in the mid 60's when I was a pupil in an all boys after the lesson the teacher would be present in the changing rooms and around the showers to make sure there was no fooling around. I know that these days that would not be allowed, but we never worried that a teacher was present.

Also it seems from comments from earlier contibutors, that
it is thought that lads are more inhibited about taking communal showers or even changing in one room. Did that ever bother you?

Comments by Brendan on 26th August 2015  

hi wren, there were only five showers available. Usually, after pe finished, we would go to the changing room, take off our kit and wait in line. However, showers were literally less than a minute long so we'd never have to wait more than a few minutes. Although the showers were compulsory, there was never a punishment for not having a shower as teachers are not allowed into the changing and shower rooms (for obvious reasons) so they could not see who showered and who didn't.

Comments by Wren on 26th August 2015  

brendan what were your showers like? What was the punishment for not showering?

Comments by Brendan on 25th August 2015  

Dave: Our pe kit was shorts, tshirt, shoes and towel for showers. Feel free to ask any questions

Comments by Dave on 23rd August 2015  

Hi Brendan!

What was your PE kit at school indoors and outdoors?

Comments by Brendan on 23rd August 2015  

Yep my school still does compulsory showers I only left it last year. There is a shower room where everyone showers. After you finish pe you go to the nearby shower room to have a quick (literally one minute) shower before changing back into schoo clothes. Boys school by th e way

Comments by Ted on 17th August 2015  

Are there schools which still require group showers after PE?

Comments by John Lavender on 17th August 2015  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

Regarding n's comments about today's PE, I have looked at the Syllabus and am Inclined to agree although I also think that there is much too much Theory and not enough general Physical Education. I think the main thrust of PE should be actual Practicalities of Keeping Kids Fit and not Team games; These should be offered as Extra to Basic PE (which, by the way, believe should be once again Gender-Specific). I also think Staff should be much more active in promoting Individual Sports e.g. Triathlon or Swimming/Diving or even Climbing which can get Kids out of the "Football/Cricket/Rugby/Hockey and that's it" Mentality.
Very Interesting that just this last weekend Figures have been released showing a Massive increase in the Diagnosis in the population of T2 Diabeties, which is provenly-linked to an Inactive Lifestyle..

Comments by John Lavender on 1st August 2015  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

To: n
You asked about Today's PE.
Here is the Link to the NC PE Syllabus, in html form so you should be able to see it easily.

Comments by n on 30th July 2015  

On the actual topic of PE. Does anyone know whether these days PE is similar to how we knew it. It seemed strnous exercise and it certainly kept you warm even in winter with no top. Admitteddly in doors.. I think I can rmemeber star jumps handsprins and of cousre what I loathed the vaulting horse upon I often barked my shins. Are htese sorts of things now anti health and safety. From what little I have gleaned it seems listening to High school children that most of PE seems glorified games sessions.

Comments by James on 26th July 2015  

hi Spence

We had a lesson with the girls which was called Dance and movement, which was supposed to teach us how to move to music and later on some more formal dance moves. Never liked it much.
Not wearing a shirt was not really an issue for us, as it was considered part of PE and therefore it was obvious that we would wear PE kit.
Some boys might have not liked it very much, but no boy ever said anything. Anyway, he would just have been mocked, bullied told to man up or given punishment PE detention. The no-shirts rule was not an option but strictly enforced.

Comments by Robert on 25th July 2015  

Back in July 1987 in year 9 lower year Pe ended in Secondary school. No more having to do gym in white shorts and white shirts or having to go topless if you had the wrong top.

No more having to shower in the dreaded walk through showers or having to turn your top inside out for rugby after the boys were divided into 2 teams.

Once you reached year 10 and 11 showers were optional which meant no-one took them. Not that the showers were any good as there was no soap or flannel and water on the floor made a muddy film that was absolutely disgusting.

After you reached the age of 15 and 16 you could choose between judo, squash, weighting training, water polo trampolining and a range of other humane sports activities. At last there was no more compulsory football, cross country and rugby.

No more humiliation by being beaten on the backside as in 1986 or forced up and down to do press ups like in 1987. I am glad the perverted PE Coaches of the past are consigned to history for good!

Comments by Bob on 20th July 2015  

Hand stands....yes they could be embarrasing. I recall one poor lad who was good at hand stands having to demonstrate this activity in front of the whole class for several minutes. As he had forgotten his shorts he was doing PE in his underpants. Everything had fallen out and was on display. Several of us pointed this out to the teacher, as we stood around the red-faced boy, but he was told to carry on regardless.

Comments by Spence on 19th July 2015  

What activities did the boys and girls do together? Were they inside or outside? How did the boys, especially the shy ones, feel about being bare chested in front of the girls?

Comments by Andrea on 17th July 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

I can remember those same exercises prompting our PE teacher to 'suggest' to a few of my classmates that it was time they asked their mums to buy them bras!

Comments by James on 17th July 2015  

Tek, we had three PE lessons a week, two were boys only and the third lesson was with the girls during the first three of secondary school.

Comments by n on 17th July 2015  

Your coments are true Bob. After the first couple of pe lessons in secondary school (all boys) no one worried or noticed what was showing. Especially having to support one another when we did hand stands. Then of course there were the communal showers afterwards. No one cared . Are lads relly that worried these dyas or do they have individual showers?

Comments by Bob on 16th July 2015  

I found the worst time for revealing too much in PE was when in the gym, running on the spot, or doing star jumps . The shorts were small but loose fitting. We were told it did not matter as we were all boys.

Comments by Tek on 15th July 2015  

James, were your classes mixed? Or were you segregated?

Comments by John on 14th July 2015  

Nic, thank you for your reply, our shorts were also white, which of course enhanced their transparency.
They were a compulsory item of our kit and we had to wear them for all our games,gymnastics and cross country.
They were as you quite aptly describe them, as 'micro shorts' which of course left little to the imagination.


Comments by Nic on 13th July 2015  

Yes John, I remember the thin nylon shorts. ours were white and ours were almost micro shorts. Certainly if they got wet during outdoor games or cross country, see through. However, I think we just got on with it. I do not know how boys would cope these days.

Comments by James on 12th July 2015  

Yes, they were allowed track suits unlike us boys!

Comments by Spence on 12th July 2015  

James, from the pictures of Rosecroft School on the East Cleveland Image Archive, it appears that your school was mixed. When you were doing PE bare chested outside on cold days, were there were girls nearby doing PE well wrapped up?

Comments by John on 12th July 2015  

We were bare chested for our gym lessons and just wore our shorts without underwear and bare foot.
I was used to wearing shorts all the time, so I became accustomed to wearing them in cold weather but the games shorts that I wore were thin nylon shorts and when wearing them for games and cross country runs they became slightly translucent when wet.
Certainly, I don't recall anyone complaining to the teachers about wearing these little numbers but as they were very trim and see through I found it very embarrassing.

Comments by Bob on 12th July 2015  

As I have said, we wore zipper shirts for cross country and games. These revealed a lot of the chest, which I did not like, but at least could be pulled down to partly cover the PE shorts. We had nothing on underneath these of course, and it was embarassing when running with the male parts bouncing around. I thought I was being stared at all the time, so I was glad when we got to more open country, away from streets and parks.

Comments by James on 10th July 2015  

@ Ted

When we played football (not very often) it was part of the PE lesson and normal PE outdoor kit applied, i.e. bare chests.

We had a cricket team but I was never on it, but I seem to remember that they wore shirts.

The first part of the cross country run took us through some streets but I never found this to be problem. Maybe some boys did but if this was so, they never said.

We were as a general rule educated to become men and men don't wear shirts for PE and do not complain. We had a little speech like that at the beginning of our first PE lesson, remember it quite well.

Comments by Pete on 10th July 2015  

As is said PE and games are done with vest(singlet) indoors and Games shirt outside but outside of school many youths are going around stripped to the waist.

Comments by Nic on 9th July 2015  

I remember the string type vest and pants which I also wore. As far as I recall at the time they were popular and if you can say it about underwear fashionable. PE of course these days is done in vest(singlet type ) top and shorts with rugby shirt for outdoors

Comments by peterc on 8th July 2015  

This was in the 1970s before boxers were common. In fact boys soon learnt to remember their kit since underpants were - to be honest - a bit wimpish. Y fronts were usual. I remember one lad wore pants made like a string vest because I had a similar pair. I never did pe in underwear though.
The different rules for pe and games were clear though. If games were washed out we went to the gym in barefeet but could wear games tops.
The pe teacher in charge would have insisted on bare chests if it bhad been a pe class.made a bi

Comments by Nic on 7th July 2015  

So Peterc what years were you at school. When boys had to do pe in underpants were they the 60's style briefs or modern boxers which I assume would be very revealing

Comments by Ted on 7th July 2015  

Am I right in assuming thst you were not bare chested outside for football/cricket etc? So there were probably days when you were playing football wearing shirts which were warmer than days when you were doing cross country or PE shirtless.

When you did cross country, were you running through fields etc. or were you running through streets where you could be seen by the general public? If so, this must have been embarrasing for some boys, especially if they were likely to be seen by people they knew.

Comments by Tom on 6th July 2015  

In reply to Stuart, there was a boy in my class who often preferred to do PE barefoot, even though the official kit included white socks and plimsolls/trainers. Shorts also had to be white, any boy who turned up with the wrong colour shorts had to take them off and borrow a pair from lost property (which might or might not fit!). There was also a punishment for not bringing the correct kit, often detention or sometimes just extra push-ups or sit-ups.
Officially we were permitted to wear a PE vest for cross country, in practice most boys turned up barechested and those who did bring a vest were almost always instructed to remove it anyway.

Comments by peterc on 5th July 2015  

Like at your school we did indoor pe in just wwhite shorts. Boys who forgot their kit were expected to do pe in underpants. For pe outside boys were allowed pumps but most boys didnt bring them since most of the time they werent needed. In the 4th and 5th yyearsthe rules were less strictly applied especially if pe in the morning was followed by games in the afternoon. But bare tops were normal. Communal showers were obligatory for most classes though older boys might get out of them if the teacher didnt supervise closely. Ad for group pe photos - I might have been a bit shy but would I know have had to do as we were told. Were you in a team or class photo in your kit

Comments by James on 4th July 2015  


Yes, late seventies. Some rules were strictly enforced. We were never ever allowed a top, even it might have been chilly. Always bare chests. Other rules, like the colour of shorts might have been interpreted more leniently by some teachers, not all though. Barefoot outdoors, I cannot recall that happening, at least not to me. What were the rules at your school? And why would you have been bothered by a photo in PE kit?

Comments by peterc on 3rd July 2015  

Did you attend in the 1970s? I was at school with similar rules at that time thought I think they may not have been quite as strict. At fifth year (Year 11 now) rules were often more relaxed over bare tops esp. when it was cold. But I remember a very chilly morning going outside barechested and taking off my shoes on the playing field to play soccer in barefeet. Were rules always rigidly enforced for boys at your school? And how unusual was it for boys to do pe barefoot outside? Whatever Im not sure id have been keen to be in a group photo like that for lots of parents to see!

Comments by John on 2nd July 2015  

Bob wouldn't opening the zip reveal your chest and 2 nipples for the world to see?

Comments by James on 2nd July 2015  

You are right Stuart, correct kit was white shorts and white socks for cross country and athletics. To some degree sanctions depended on the teachers, some made you take the lesson barefoot, others put you down for punishment PE and others again would just ignore it. Ont thing they all agreed on was that boys would not wear shirts for any kind of physical activity.

Comments by Bob on 2nd July 2015  

Although PE was done bare chested, for outdoor sports we wore zipper shirts, white polo shirts with a six inch metal zip at the neck. The rule was that they had to be zipped up when walking round the building, but fully open when playing sports or running. After lining up outside for inspection, the PE teacher would say "open your zips" before we ran off. I hated my zip fully open in the street, but that was the rule.