Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 714,393         Comments: 2,609

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

2609 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by John on 8th January 2015  

Mark,when I was kept in shorts in the sixties at age 16 it was not common to see boys of that age wearing shorts.
Were you compelled to wear them or did you wear them by choice?

Comments by Mark on 8th January 2015  

When I was at school discipline was very strict. It did vary and change slightly as we got older. It was also much harsher for boys, who tended to get disciplined in front of the class. At infant and middle until age 12, our teachers were incredibly strict. Boys would get the backs of their bare legs smacked at lot. This was painful and left embarrassing hand marks. And there were two teachers who did actually pull down boys shorts and pants and smack their bare bottoms in front of the whole class. This happened to me and it was awful. As we got older teachers started to use the slipper(a plimsoll) on us. One teacher used it on a daily basis. Boys would have to bend over and touch their toes and then get up to three almighty whacks on their bottoms. The cane was used, but only in private. I never got caned but I remember a boy age 16 being taken out in a careers education class for the cane(stick we called it)
In many ways the worst was to come when we got home. For most of us, including me, if we got spanked at school then we got another at home(usually from mum) If i got home with red marks on my legs then I quickly found myself over mums knee, with my bottom bared, getting a strapping or the hairbrush.
I vividly remember that I got spanked so hard at school at time, that my legs burnt bright red and I had trouble sitting.These are not good memories and some teachers went way too far.

Comments by Bill on 7th January 2015  

Yes Mike, corporal punishment was also the norm of keeping discipline in class for most schools during the sixties, whether it was the slipper, ruler or strap in some cases, although the cane was usually reserved only for the headmaster.
Would be interesting to hear from readers of this forum what kind of corporal punishment was used at their school.

Comments by Mark on 7th January 2015  

John, we too were kept in shorts until 16. Not unusual in the 60s.Our mother was very strict and regularly took a strap to our bare bottoms.There were usually marks visible on our legs. yes we had to run the gauntlet at school of getting teased. When we took our showers at school therewas always at least one boy with a well striped bottom

Comments by irishguy on 3rd January 2015  

We played Gaelic Football during PE and fielded teams against other schools in a league at my Catholic Secondary School, in the late 80s and early 90s.
The lowest temperature recorded in the UK for the whole of 2014 was in Katesbridge Co Down N Ireland. Not far from my old school.
The football pitch is exposed on one of highest pieces of land in the Courntry and is often frozen solid.
With a title to defend for the school, playing anything other than Gaelic Football was unheard off.
So the older boys had PE outdoors and never used the gym.
I only remember PE in gym for a week after Third Year. As soon as a smaller training pitch was cleared of heavy snow we were back out in it!
I wasn't on the team as I wasn't very good and liked my bed.
The Football team had early morning training sessions, often on frozen ground.
Despite their own liking of thermals and expensive Goretex the Coaches insisted on proper school training kit only for the players. Gaelic Football shorts are pretty short and the jerseys offer little protection over a bare chest.
During the team prematch pep talk the players would remain shirtless, only putting jerseys on after go ahead from coach!

The guys did similar before training. The Coach never said don't wear a vest but any lad that did was given a hard time and called wuss etc, by players and Coaches!

I suppose its a macho toughness many admire! But in our case most of us hated PE as there were only a few team members in each class. Most were looking at the warm empty gym, as we ran out in the snow, dreaming about indoor soccer.

Comments by Anon too on 2nd January 2015  

Re the last message the boys are lucky thwese days they can wear underwear. In my day albeit in an all boys school it was tight white nylon shorts no underwear. At least these days it seems lads are proud to show off their designer underwear with low slung jeans so why worry about pe and girls seeing as I expect it is all boxer shorts and not briefs or slips.

Comments by Bob on 1st January 2015  

Once back in my winter Pe term between January-April 1987 gymnastics was cancelled unexpectedly. When we did gym we wore white shirt, white shorts socks, pumps and underwear (unless you had the wrong t-shirt then you went topless).

Instead we were told to go to the swimming baths we had to undress and put on just our white shorts for our impromptu swimming lesson.

This practice is backed up Phil who has posted on this blog!


Anonymous said...
The pic reminded me of when my class had to go swimming in white PE shorts. We were meant to do PE outdoors but there was a thunder storm so we had to go to the pool instead. No one had trunks with them so it was white nylon shorts only and yes, they were fairly see through when wet....

Likewise, as soon as we jumped into the pool our white shorts became transparent like Jellyfish basking off the coast of Pennsylvania.

As we came out of the pool to dive off the boards my pre-pubescent member clung to the white see through fabric. Other boys who were much more developed had their hairy penises and large testicles stuck to the white transparent shorts.

Afterwards we showered off with our buttocks stuck to this ethereal second skin that adhered to our private areas. We hurriedly dried off and dressed ready for our next lesson.

It is amazing that even today there are many schools that require boys to wear white shorts where the girls can see their underwear underneath but female modesty is protected by dark shorts.

Comments by John on 24th December 2014  

My parents made me stay in shorts till I was 16.Some of my jackets had hems lower than the bottom of my shorts.Some must have thought seeing me from behind,they probably didn't think I had any trousers on at all.
When I attended secondary school the uniform was navy blue blazer,white shirt and long or grey short trousers.
I remember my parents bought me some very brief shorts when holidaying in Europe and I couldn't believe they expected me to wear them.
Once I had settled in to my new school my peers gradually accepted me wearing shorts and most of the teasing stopped,until the next first years attended and they were intrigued to see a much older boy than themselves wearing shorts with his uniform.
I remember being strapped on the back of my thighs with a ruler and they queued up to look at the vivid marks on my legs.
I found the experience degrading and humiliating.

Comments by Michael on 16th December 2014  

Edward was unlucky in having to wear short trousers made of scratchy material. None of my regulation school short trousers were like that, and anyway they were always lined with plain white cotton.

When my mother eventually prevailed upon me to wear my first pair of long trousers, I hated them. Besides feeling baggy and heavy they got dripping wet in the rain, whereas previously my shorts had been completely covered by my rain coat. I had to spend all day at school with the soaked long trousers gradually drying out around my legs. Later I got into trouble for wearing down the knees of the long trousers as I played with my train set on the floor.

Thankfully my old shorts had not been thrown out, and I took every opportunity to continue wearing those instead.

Comments by Edward on 15th December 2014  

Early memories of school are usually happy, but I well remember those grey flannel short pants. It was not even the fact that some boys were in long trousers, but they were so scratchy that I was even grateful for my very unfashionable cream interlock trunks which protected most of my thighs.

Comments by Robert on 30th November 2014  

28 Years ago in my comprehensive school we were made to get changed after cross country in the school gymnasium, strip naked with all windows uncovered and walk past the girls in the corridor with just a towel covering our penises to the boys showers.

Year 14 girls changed in the girls changing rooms, year 13 girls changed in the swimming pool showers while year 13 boys changed in boys changing rooms but us older boys had to change in the gym. It would not be tolerated today but even so boys are still victims of sex discrimination despite the introduction of the Equalities Act 2010.

In the shower there was no soap, no flannel, no privacy in the walk through wash area and the floor was sodden with liquefied mud. Many schools today have cubicles but there are only 8 shower heads in a typical changing room so in schools where boys have to shower they still have to do the towel dance in the changing room.

Comments by Peter on 27th November 2014  

In reply to Bill,I do remember boys wearing short trousers which were knee length but as girl's hem lines rose so did boy's shorts.
It became quite fashionable for boys to wear shorts which wear no longer than girl's hot pants which also became fashionable during the seventies.
Certainly boys continued to wear short pants at school during that period but they were in a minority.
I remember one boy wore shorts right through school till he left.
My parents also continued with this anachronistic fashion and my shorts were presented to me on each birthday.
Being in a minority most of my peers found it quite amusing and I was the subject of considerable mockery and teasing.

Comments by Bill on 17th November 2014  

Andrea, I do remember girls hitching their uniform skirts further up, I guess it was because miniskirts were the fashion in those days.
I also went to an all-boys secondary school, but we had an all-girls school close to ours. We used to meet to chat up before and after school, sometimes during breaks. It was then that the girls used to hitch up their skirt further up. Probably to look more attractive for us boys.
Nice memories. :)
But I think they put them back to near knee length once they entered school. Like you said, it was school rules.

James, I don't remember if it was school rules to wear shorts up to that age, but I think it was common for boys up to about that age, 14, to wear shorts as school uniform. They were knee length anyway and made from thick material. It was probably more comfortable to wear them than long trousers, especially in warm wheather.

Comments by Andrea on 16th November 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 


Our skirts were supposed to be knee length (ie. touch the ground if we knelt down) but we quite often tried to get away with wearing them shorter if we could!

With regard to pe kit at Primary School, as at your school, both boys and girls used to wear a T shirt and shorts or a PE skirt (girls had the choice - I had shorts). We did have to change together though, which involved stripping down to vest and knickers / underpants, before putting on our pe kit. At my (all girls) secondary school the pe kit was polo shirt and gym knickers.

Comments by James on 16th November 2014  

Bill I also wore shorts to school and they were mandatory up to the age of fourteen;I guess they were the equivalent of poor girls like Andrea having to wear short skirts.
I do agree with you that we became accustomed to wearing them all the year round as they were an every day item of clothing.
Like you I wore knee stockings to keep my legs warm but these still kept my thighs cold and exposed to the bitterly cold weather.
It was exceptionally humiliating as during the seventies most boys as young as six were wearing long trousers.
I remember my mum saying'if a boy's short pants aren't cut well above the knee brief and trim therefore he may as well wear long trousers.'

Comments by Bill on 15th November 2014  

Andrea, I do remember most girls wearing miniskirts, or just short skirts, during the mid-sixties to mid-seventies, even as school uniforms. It was normal back then, even in winter.
If I remember well, some did wear tights in cold weather, though not all. As you say, some schools forbade this. Poor girls.
I also remember wearing shorts all year round till about age 14, and as part of
school uniform.
I also wore woolen socks as part of school uniform, but this still left your knees and part of your legs exposed. But I don't think this affected us much since we were used to it.

Another thing which only a few posters commented about is the custom in some primary schools where both boys and girls were made to do PE lessons in just underpants/knickers.
I wonder how common this was. At my school we always wore white shorts and t-shirt for PE, both boys and girls. But I did hear about other schools doing PE in just underpants.

Comments by Andrea on 14th November 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

When I was at school we weren't even allowed to wear tights with our normal school uniform, let alone our PE kit. In winter we had to wear long socks; my legs used to get frozen cycling to and from school in frosty weather!

Comments by Barry on 13th November 2014  

I agree that lads have gone soft. My 17 year old wears tights under his running shorts for winter Cross Country events, and long johns under his jeans when the frosts come. I suspect he also sleeps in them!

Comments by Tim on 12th November 2014  

Replying to Gary's comments we've been through the 'soft youth of today' bit before.

I'll simply say that a few weeks ago I saw a group of school boys (mid-teens) in Mid-Wales going back to school after rugby training. All were in 'traditional' rugby gear and none of them looked unhappy about what they'd be wearing and doing. I think a lot goes down to peer pressure, the attitude of the school, etc.

I'm lucky to have 250 acres of common land adjecent to me: much used for football & running. Its interesting to see how the lads who start off the summer in long, baggy shorts do move into shorter ones (and go topless) as the season progresses.

Whatever people say about the 'short' shorts of the late 60s onwards - well, they were the 'fashion' of the day - just find a picture of Bobby Moore receiving the World Cup to see them!

Comments by Simon on 10th November 2014  

In reply to Bill,yes there were less severe punishments than canings.The slipper was frequently used and quite often we often had our legs smacked when wearing short trousers but the cane was the most painful.
Yes it did sting and was administered by a female teacher on my behind after coming out of the pool.
Your account of events from your friend was very similar to my own which I found very embarrassing and humiliating.

Comments by Andrea on 9th November 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

In reply to Bill, yes there was corporal punishment when I was at school. The Headmistress would use the cane (which I never had) and one of the PE teachers would sometimes use a plimsoll (which I did receive on one occasion!).

At primary school (up to age 11) boys and girls used to change together for PE, but we were never naked, just down to vest and knickers / underpants before putting on our PE kit.

At secondary school we had to get naked for a shower after PE, but of course this was supervised by female PE staff. This was a real culture shock when we first started secondary school, but we just had to get used to it!


Comments by Gary on 8th November 2014  

Re Dan's comments. The only time we would see each other naked was when in the communal shower. I was not too worried but I understand that some boys were coy,but as you say we also jhad a few lads who were keen to show off all & sundry i think to brag how big they were.

On another tack, the lads of today seem very soft and cannot stand the cold. Today I have seen a young lad who has just come from playing football. Long shorts, long socks up to above his knees so hardly any flesh uncovered. As we say "in may day" it was thin nylon short shorts and just below knee length socks and freeze. Furthermore goalies did not wear track suit bottoms.

One of the bad things about "the good old days" was in the winter having to wear scratchy wollen underwear, before the days of softer fibres.

Comments by Bill on 8th November 2014  

Simon, thanks for answering my questions.
I find canings were too harsh in such a situation, especially if the boy was still wet. Were there any less harsh punishments for minor misbehaviour?
From what a friend who went to a similar boarding school told me, the most embarrassing and humiliating moment was at the beginning of the swim class when the boys had to line up for roll call and instructions with their hands at their sides facing the female teachers and any visitors present. They were not even allowed to cover with their hands. But once in the water it wasn't so bad. Was it the same for you?
But I don't think he mentioned that they were ever caned during the swim classes, just a few hand slaps on their bare behinds when necessary I suppose, or possibly a slippering.
That caning you got must have really stung. Was it a female teacher that caned you?

Comments by Simon on 8th November 2014  

Bill,I don't mind answering your questions.
There were about 30 boys in our swimming class.
The visitors were mainly prospective parents and school staff.
The punishments and canings were quite infrequent but I did receive the cane once for disobeying an instruction.

Comments by Dan on 7th November 2014  

Although we did PE bare-chested and often barefoot as well the only time we were naked was when having a shower afterwards when no females could see us.
Many boys were quite coy about revealing their private parts although others were only too keen to show them off to all and sundry.

Comments by Bill on 7th November 2014  

Simon, I hope you don't mind me asking questions, but I am curious about it since I was never in such a situation.

You said that there were many visitors and spectators who had access to the pool. Who were these visitors and spectators?

How many boys were there normally in each swim class?
Were the canings and other physical punishments common or rare during these swim classes?

I must agree with you that in your situation as you describe it couldn't have been more humiliating for the boys.

Comments by Simon on 6th November 2014  

Bill,we didn't have swimming galas at school but there were many visitors and spectators who had access to the pool although it was secluded and could not be seen by the public.
Female teachers and instructors supervised our swimming lessons and also had access to our changing area and showers.
Yes I did find it humiliating and embarrassing being extremely coy but some boys were quite brazen about it.

Comments by Bill on 6th November 2014  

Andrea, I don't think that girls had to worry about that, only boys were made to swim nude.

I had friends who went to a boarding school and not only did the boys had to swim nude but they also had female instructors and sometimes female teachers present too, at least in juniors up to 12 years old. I can't imagine that this would ever happen in girls swim classes, especially with male teachers or instructors.
Which is why I believe what some posters here say that they had nude swim classes for boys, even in the presence of female staff sometimes.
What I am surprised at, and which I was not aware of before, is that some say that they even had swimming galas in the nude in front of spectators.

BTW, did you have corporal punishment when you was at school? We certainly did when I was at school.

Comments by Andrea on 5th November 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Like Bill I wish we had had a pool at our school, but not if it had meant having to swim in the nude - compulsory showers at secondary school were enough to deal with!

Comments by Bill on 2nd November 2014  

Simon, did you get used to having viewers and female teachers at the pool, or was it a constant embarrassment and humiliation?
I guess the fun of swimming at that age would have counteracted some of this.
I wish we had a pool at our school, though I don't know how I would have reacted to nude swimming in the presence of spectators. I suppose it would have been mortifying at first until one got gradually used to it.
I think starting at a very young age would have helped.
Having to swim nude in front of viewers close to the age of 14 as in your case, when most boys would be into puberty with some hair is a bit far I think.

When you mention viewers and spectators, were these school staff or other guests or the public?
Were you allowed to wear trunks when there were spectators, as in galas and competitions?

Comments by Simon on 2nd November 2014  

We were allowed to wear our swimming trunks and long trousers at the start of the new term in September.
I would have been about 14 and 1/2.

Comments by Andrea on 2nd November 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Did the change to wearing long trousers and being allowed to wear swimming trunks coincide with the start of a new school year?

At my secondary school we had to wear 'gymslip' style dresses for our first two years, but from the third year the uniform was a skirt and blouse?

Similarly my ex told me that at his school the 'no underpants' rule applied in pe for the first two years, after which they were supposed to wear athletic supporters. He said that this seemed rather random as some boys could have done with them earlier, whilst others didn't really need them at that point!

Comments by Simon on 1st November 2014  

Bill,we were allowed to wear swimming trunks when we were about fourteen depending on what date our birthdays were about the same time we were promoted to wearing long trousers.
Yes,we were viewed by onlookers passing the pool but we also had a large window above the pool in a viewing gallery where we could watched without the spectators being disturbed.
Our privacy was hardly a matter of paramount importance especially as we were supervised by one male teacher and two females.
To answer your question about canings I remember two boys holding me under the water for a while to see how long I could hold my breath.
They were duly taken out of the pool and received summary punishment with cane by one of the female teachers which left vivid marks on their buttocks.

Comments by Bill on 1st November 2014  

James, did she cane you herself?
Were there ever punishments in the swim class?

Simon, did you actually ever have viewers through the clear glass area?
Up to what age were you forced to be nude for swim class?

Comments by Simon on 31st October 2014  

In reply to peterc,I did swim naked and definitely would have preferred to have worn trunks but that was not allowed for some reason.
Although our changing area and showers had frosted glass we were far from being concealed in the pool that had large clear windows that allowed anyone to view us if they so wished.
In reply to Bill of course there was teasing but that was mainly if a boy had received a recent caning and the marks were still visible.

Comments by James on 31st October 2014  

I do think the teachers were trying to humiliate the boys by calling them out. The one time i was called out was when i had missed a detention through no fault of my own. The female teacher was not interested in excuses. She was furious and nearly exploded. I got the cane as a result.

Comments by Matthew on 31st October 2014  

To Bill. I took it to mean that the boys teased those who had to get out of the pool to be spoken to by these young women. There would have been plenty of other opportunities to find any boy in the school. It seems to me that it was quite deliberate on the part of these women to choose to find a boy in that situation.

Comments by Bill on 30th October 2014  

James, you said "I remember a lot of teasing with some of the younger good looking female teachers who came in and we had to get out of the pool to speak to them without towel."
In what way did they tease you?
Like the previous poster I am curious to know if these female teachers just found an excuse to have a look at the boys and embarrass them, at least the ones they chose to talk to.
Were you ever called out of the pool by one of these young female teachers, what did she say to you to tease you?

Comments by James on 30th October 2014  

Matthew, i remember often being interrupted in swimming and pe lessons by other teachers popping in to speak to individuals, quite often as detentions had been missed that was a serious issue.

Comments by Matthew on 29th October 2014  

To James. What was so urgent that good-looking young female teachers had to come into the pool area to speak to naked boys who had to get out of the pool to hear what they had to say?

Comments by James on 29th October 2014  

I am curious to know if schoolboys wore short trousers like myself at secondary school where shorts were optional.
My mum who used to buy our short trousers found mistakenly the legs of them too long shortened them and hemmed them again up to about 3cms from the crotch so that when I sat all my thighs were on display.
There was no problem in the first year of school but as I entered my second year the length of my short trousers remained almost the same and as I was showing more and more flesh much to the bewilderment of the onlookers.
It never dawned on mum that I had grown up and although I looked younger than my age these short trousers were obviously too short and not fitting for my age.
It took me three or four months to feel comfortable and be accepted in such short pants at the beginning of the year.
I had the jitters and felt extremely nervous every morning I got dressed in these short trousers.
I can tell you I had difficulty to sustain the bland stare of the teachers and the other students especially the younger ones sometimes with their chuckles and mockeries which were hurting me deeply.

Comments by James on 28th October 2014  

Bill, boys were up to 13. I remember a lot of teasing with some of the younger good looking female teachers who came in and we had to get out of the pool to speak to them without towell. The main females didn't worry us as they had often seen us in the nude, ie matron. Parents could sometimes watch the house galas and some did. All god fun

Comments by Bill on 27th October 2014  

James, up to what age were the boys?
I assume being a prep school the boys were not in their teens yet.
I find it strange that the boys were embarrassed if a female teacher came into the pool area during swim class though the house galas were done in the nude, which I assume had mixed spectators present.
Were there any females, like mothers, sisters or teachers present during the nude house galas?
What about inter-school competitions, were these also done in the nude?

Comments by James on 20th October 2014  

I attended as a boarded quite a traditional all boys prep school in the early 70's. Swimming at all my time there was done naked and when parents were being shown round we just got in the pool. House galas were all done naked but we did have to wear hats to show our house colours. We never thought anything about it and was never an issue. Sometimes female teachers would come in the pool area if they needed to speak to someone. Always embarrasing if you had to get out and always got a lot of teasing if it was the nice french teacher

Comments by Toby on 19th October 2014  

Bill, sometimes there were female staff present but these were confined to sports teachers, matrons or house mistresses. We did not bat an eye lid if they were in the pool area as they had seen us nude before and it did not matter to us.If other females turned up however we would get covered up pretty quickly. As a boarder there was not much privacy and we were used to it. My housemaster always used to say the boarders were were much less inhibited than day boys

Comments by Bill on 19th October 2014  

Toby, did you also have to swim nude when there were female staff, teachers or other females present?
What about swimming galas and competitions, were you allowed to wear trunks?
How did the boys feel about the nude swim rules, did it bother them?

Comments by Robert on 18th October 2014  

Both long and short grey flannels were permitted at my secondary school. Shorts were in the minority, but I had to wear mine until they were worn out, because they were nearly new when I moved schools, and my parents said they were not well off enough to just waste good clothes. I couldn't wait to get rid of them, and gave them really rough treatment. They lasted only a couple of months!

Comments by Paul on 18th October 2014  

In reply to Gary I was aware that some parents and schools used the height of a boy as a criteria whether to promote him to wearing long trousers.
As in my case this was done by my age and I thought this was much fairer as a boy may not have reached the desired height usually 5'3" by the time he had left school.
Most boys would have found it amusing to see boys wearing short trousers as they were really meant for junior boys so for a big teen to be wearing those would have been shocking and some might thought it sissy as the peer thinking was that if you were already in high school then they should have been in long trousers.
I guess it depended on the kind of short trousers too and brief tight fitting shorts I considered totally unsuitable for a teenage boy to have to wear.

Comments by Paul on 17th October 2014  

What I meant to say was two teenage boys entered the waiting room with their mother.

Comments by peterc on 17th October 2014  

Shane, my school was very similar to your's. Not many boys did pe in just underpants but when they did - I didn't - it wasn't seen as a big deal. The problem with forgotten kit was showers and the need to share someone else's towel, or drip dry. Simon - did you have to swim naked or would you have been bothered if you had to?