Burnley Grammar School

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Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 697,859         Comments: 2,546

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

2546 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by Matthew on 13th July 2014  

Jeff
When females came to watch the house galas, it was fine and no one really minded. The one exception was the odd new boy who tried to cover himself up. In fact, that made it worse. The headmasters wife always handed out the prizes at the end and you had to go and collect any silver ware still butt naked.
We did have corporal punishment but it was the last few years of it - late 70's. Cane and slipped. Gym master always preferred to dish out the gym shoe which was mighty painful and left marks.

Comments by Barney on 11th July 2014  

Monty

I agree with your final comments. In all my years at school & Scouts it was all boys and we did not think about it being odd seeing each other starkers. Like you during PE when we paired up to perform handstands & other exercises we often saw each others equipment & thought nothing of it.

Yes lads were expected to be wearing the mininmum of clothing especially at camp. With regards to impropriety, one was never alone with either a teacher or Scout leader.Thinking about it the Leader was protected from any allegations because the Scout leader always had at least one assiatnt with him. You were always togther as a group. So without thinking about it there was safety in numbers and yes in the context of camp, the one NOT stripping off was thought to be odd for not joining in. I know when we had hot weather at camp,some boys would jump into a river butt naked without thinking. It took me some time but eventually after over coming my shyness,I joined in.
In fact I loved going to camp, and got to enjoy the freedom of being away from my parents so I could join in with the others and experience the fun. I did not have to wear pj's although they were packed in my kit & I could go to bed andsleep in my pants or if I dare like the other boys with nothing on.

Those were days of freedom, unlike the these days when evryone seems afraid to do anything in case they infringe some rule.

Comments by Jeff on 11th July 2014  

Matthew,
Were the boys embarrassed to swim naked in front of female teachers during school galas, especially at the age you mention when the boys were in their teens?
Also, did you have corporal punishment at the school?

Comments by Dave on 10th July 2014  

Hi Barney!

What was your whole PE kit? Were you allowed to wear shirts? What did you wear at scout camps for physical exercises?

Comments by Monty on 10th July 2014  

Michael,

Thanks for your comments. I had always assumed swimming trunks under shorts was a late innovation so it's interesting to hear a different story.

The no-underpants rule with PE shorts was sensible if you were going to take a shower afterwards, but as we never had time for a shower after PE it seemed pointless and, by the time we were in the Upper School, positively embarrassing with the very short semi-transparent nylon white shorts we had to wear. I distinctly remember at one boy stripping his underpants off to put his shorts on for PE right up to the age of 16, when he was really far too old to be doing this with any degree of comfort or decency. But no one thought it odd. And I am sure he was not alone, although I remember him in particular because on one occasion someone slapped his bare arse as a jocular insult, as he was getting changed, which he reacted to with extreme annoyance (as anyone would).

Barney's remarks reminded me how very different things were back then. I was in the scouts from 1975-1979 and there was a culture of casual nudity at our scout camps, encouraged by the scoutmaster (though he didn't participate in it). I should stress that I was unaware of any kind of impropriety which was, I believe, far from anyone's mind - it was just considered natural. Although I wasn't shy, I thought it a bit odd that others like to spend so much time undressed. Looking back it seems ironic to recall that I was teased for NOT going naked with the suggestion that I was being "unmanly" or even "queer" !

It was certainly a different world then. I look back on those times with pleasant nostalgia and I am convinced that neither I nor anyone I knew was treated improperly or abusively. It was all a far cry from the hysteria of the present day, which cannot be good for the psychological health of modern youngsters.

Comments by Barney on 9th July 2014  

I attended a secondary modern school between 1961 & 1966 and during all that time we never wore any suppport for either pe or games. It was not suggested to us. We did not have naked swimming lessons as these were at a public pool. Although only the calss was present. However there were the showers and a pe maaster patrolling the changing rooms during the prepubic years. WE never thought anything strange. I think it was an era when most young men who became teachers had served in the forces possibly only as National Service. They along with our dads were used to the attitude of all fellas together and living & changing in in full view of each other in the huts/barracks where there would be several men together. Also most of my classmates were in one of the local Scout Troops or other organisations and would often go camping there would be up to 6 boys in one large tent so we were used to getting undressed together to say nothing of the primative Latrine toilets which had no privacy.

But times have moved on. Are youngsters now "softer" and more inhibited. Finally, I remember the whole class lining up for the regular Medical Exam. Down to underpants ( briefs of Course) no designer boxers, and dropping for the doctor often a woman. What do others think?

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

Michael,

Re PE underwear.My ex told me that at the start of his third year at secondary school in the early 1970s their pe teacher sat all the boys down in the changing room and told them that they should start to wear an 'athletic supporter'(jockstrap) for pe and games lessons, or risk 'doing themselves an injury'. For the previous two years they had not been allowed to wear any underwear under their shorts.

He said that most boys did as they were told and he continued to wear one for sports into adulthood.

It's interesting to read that in other schools it wasn't considered necessary at all, or that teachers spoke to certain pupils when they thought it was becoming necessary.

In some cases there was a similar situation in our school with bras. Several of my classmates started to wear them after being 'advised' that it was time by our pe teacher!
He

Comments by michael on 7th July 2014  michaelabbey@rocketmail.com 

Monty
I was very interested to read your full account of your games and pe experiences.
Although I went to school in slightly earlier times, my memory of events is quite similar. In particular with regard to the prohibition of what I took to be our everyday underwear for sports.
In fact nobody ever checked what we were wearing and many boys soon took to wearing swimming trunks as a support. A major difference was that we were never instructed to wear a jock strap, not even by our most unpleasant sports master. Some boys, however, were advised to wear swimming trunks if they were in school teams and seemed to be in need of them!
It was only later when some senior boys took to jock straps instead of swimming trunks - rather than the reverse as you describe.
In any event it is interesting to read your comments on this subject as the majority of commenters had nevr it seems worn any kind of underwear / support which was not the case at my school.
If you or anyone wants to email me I would be pleased.

Comments by Matthew on 5th July 2014  

The swimming was always done naked for lessons either as a class or one to one. We did have galas for years 4 and 5, ie 12 to 14 years olds. If they were house galas they were always naked and some female teachesr watched, especially the sports teachers and house mistresses. The school galas were not done naked as we had to wear black trunks

Comments by david mayne on 5th July 2014  

To dave.yes we were allowed rugby shirt to wear for rugby and football, cross country running was a plain white teeshirt.for the gym class we were told only shorts. no trainers or teeshirt.we had to wear white cotton (rugby style) for outdoors and white nylon shorts for gym class.everyone seemed to wear umbro.As i said before no underwear was allowed.just swim trunks,nothing or some class members began wearing a jockstrap/athletic supporter.As were developing more of the class became aware of chest hair and were embarressed when walking back to the changing rooms passing the girls.

Comments by Monty on 5th July 2014  

An interesting and nostalgic photograph. At my school in the 70's we would have looked exactly like this in PE.

We often played "shirts v skins" tag games. One boy took off his vest and chased the others - when he "tagged" someone, the tagged boy had to take off his vest and join his team. As the numbers of skins increased it became harder and harder to avoid them until the last boy with a vest was caught. At that point, he became the "tagger" and the game began in reverse - but this time everyone he caught put his vest back on until everyone was fully clothed again.

I remember it being quite fun and energetic and I don't recall anyone thinking it odd or uncomfortable that we ran around shirtless.

We didn't shower after PE because there was always pressure to get to the next lesson. One day our regular PE master was replaced by a very sporty South African rugby coach who really put us through our paces. We were all dripping with sweat - much more so than was usually the case. At the end he said "right you'd better get a shower" - but we pointed out we wouldn't have time. (There were showers in the gym but they were rarely used). "Oh - well I'm afraid you'll have to smell for the rest of the day then." And we did - I remember wishing we did have time for a shower - we must have been about 15 then.

This was at an independent school in the English midlands. There were in fact 3 sub-schools on site - Prep, Lower and Upper. I joined the Lower in 1974 and left the Upper in 1981. On my first PE lesson I was getting changed into the (rather small) split-side nylon white shorts when another boy said "you can't wear underpants under your shorts." I was a bit surprised but did what I was told. Funnily enough the no-underpants rule was never enforced by the PE master and I suspect it was a rule in the Prep school. (Most boys, unlike me, had started in the Prep School).

I do remember one boy climbing the rope and all of us standing below watching him - he was quite some way up - and his equipment was clearly visible hanging out of his shorts. I remember feeling rather embarrassed on his behalf but if he or anyone else noticed anything they didn't say. We would have all been about 12 and he hadn't started puberty.

When I went into the Upper School I kept my underpants on beneath my shorts but some of the others I think continued to go commando right up to the end of compulsory PE at 16, though there was I'm sure no rule either way.

It was different for rugby where jock straps were compulsory. We had a rather unpleasant Lower School master who used to check we were wearing jock straps by going along a line of boys and pulling our shorts out from the back to look down them. I told my mother this and she just said "well you'd better make sure you always wear your jock strap!"

Later in the Upper school some boys took to wearing swimming trunks for rugy instead of jock straps but this was technically against school rules and I always wore a jock. I remember a classmate being tackled so severely when we were about 17 that his shorts were ripped to his knees and he was left lying bare-arsed on the grass (like me he was one who never wore trunks only a jock). No-one passed any remarks on this.

Swimming was done in an open air pool adjacent to the gym and we wore trunks, but interestingly this had not always been the case. I remember leafing through the huge bundle of school rules and found one which said "Sixth formers may wear swimming costumes". So clearly at some point trunks had been a sixth form privilege and junior boys swam naked. This was confirmed to me later by a (very old) boy. I don't know when this practice stopped; probably as early as the 1940's. (There were lots of bizarre rules which still persisted - e.g. I remember carrying an umbrella was a sixth form privilege - so it was the first thing I did when I became eligible).

I recently met an elderly couple on holiday who remarked that their three sons had been at Berkhamstead school in the 70's - the last one left in the early 80's - and the wife told me all her sons swam naked in school but the practice was ended before the last one left. Her husband said "I knew they swam naked but I never knew it had stopped before the youngest left." She said "I didn't tell you because it wasn't important."

I asked her what she thought about the practice and she said "I think it was very practical - they didn't have to worry about leaving mouldy kit around". She said neither she nor her boys thought there was anything odd about this. She did add that for swimming galas when spectators were present they did wear trunks.

Apart from Berkhamstead I think compulsory nude swimming for boys also persisted at Newcastle Royal Grammar and Manchester Grammar into the early 1980's. These must have been the last schools in the country to abandon the practice.

Much of the reason was probably conservatism. Our school uniform was originally tweed but when Queen Victoria died it was changed to mourning black. We were still wearing that when I was there! Although I gather this has now changed. I calculate that we were therefore mourning Queen Victoria for nearly 100 years!

Comments by Dave on 5th July 2014  

Hi David Mayne?

Were you allowed to wear shirts for inside and outside PE?

Comments by Ben on 4th July 2014  

Matthew,
When you say that the "swimming was always done naked" was this only for swimming lessons or also when there were swimming competitions or galas in front of mixed spectators?

Was it a boys only school or mixed?

Comments by david mayne on 2nd July 2014  

I visited a normal secondary school in the mid 80's.Upon our first p e lesson we were told that our bodies would develop and that we would have to shower.it was common for the teacher to be in the changing room making sure you all showered and not just run through.We also had to wear white shorts inside and outside.We were told to wear a swim costume or no pants which was awkward when it was a wet rugby lesson.One day the teacher told us we were not allowed to play football as the pitch was frozen and said we were to go swimming instead.those that chose to not bring swim trunks to wear were told to just wear their shorts.The horror on their faces I can remember now.The teacher said yes they were see through but we were all the same and hget on with it.

Comments by Matthew on 30th June 2014  

Familiar with many of the memories. I boarded when i was 11 - 13 but lived near the school. In the summer holidays i was given extra swimming lessons by the schools sports teacher at the school as my mother worked in the office. I went there a few times a week. I always got changed in the cubicles but swimming was always done naked and that was the routine for my lessons. Had to work on strokes outside of pool normally for about ten minutes and then did swimming. He was very good as he would teach actually in the pool, in trunks. He would support you on tumble turns turns. Never thought it was odd and i certainly improved.

Comments by NickK on 14th June 2014  

John Lavendar - thanks, I have sent you an email.

Comments by Mike on 12th June 2014  

Jeff
It was a prep school in the 70, and up to the age of 13. She supervised us in the showers in the boarding houses also as she was a house mistress there. The housemaster used the cane and she used a slipper. She said she just wanted to leave a mark on the backside to remind other boys to behave. Always on a bare backside

Comments by John Lavender on 12th June 2014  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

To NickK

my email is

finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com

if you want to correspond.

Just highlight the address, copy and paste into the 'to'

box on your blank email form and that should do the trick; look forward to corresponding.
John

Comments by Archie on 12th June 2014  

Jim Scotsguy

What was the most trivial thing you were belted for? I was strapped on several occasions for wearing white sports socks with my uniform instead of normal black socks, which was very much the fashion in the 80s. Many of us got our hands and on occasion backsides warmed for doing this.

Comments by NickK on 11th June 2014  

John Lavendar - Many thanks for your reply. All very interesting. I have Yahoo mail and so cannot open your email address but would like to chat if there is some way round this.

JC - interesting about the boxing - we too were made to fight hard and swift retribution followed from the PE master if you didn't give it your all.

Comments by Jeff on 10th June 2014  

Mike,
Up to what age where the boys supervised by the female teacher in the showers?
And what did she spank them with when they misbehaved?

Comments by JC on 9th June 2014  

NickK,

Yep we had boxing too from 11 to 18. All boys were stripped to shorts without exception and made to really go for your opponents. We were kept fighting in the ring until the teacher reckoned we were sweating enough.

Comments by Mike P on 9th June 2014  

At my prep school, our pe/swimming teacher was female and was always present when we showered after pe. We were all boarders and it was fine and was often more preferable than male teachers being present. She was strict but let us have warmish water whereas the male teachers generally forced us to have cold showers. After a while everyone becomes oblivious to it and was just normal. She could however dish out punishments to boys who messed around, generally on a bare backside.

Comments by James on 9th June 2014  

Jeff

When we participated in all boys team events such as cross country running,there were not enough changing areas.Some of us had to use the girls'changing rooms and these were always supervised by female teachers.

Comments by Andy on 9th June 2014  

It was the cane when I was at school across the backside normal.I managed to avoid it but should of had it at least twice!Had detention a few times including P.E. One lad in my classes got the cane for wearing pilmsolls for indoor P.E were not allowed anything on your feet had to be in barefeet.

Comments by Archie on 8th June 2014  

Sam

Yes, we were tawsed on our hands and our bare backsides. Also slippered on the backside.

Comments by Jeff on 8th June 2014  

Anyone had female teachers supervising boys showers after PE?

Comments by NickK on 8th June 2014  

Michael, we had something similar at my all boys grammar school. In the first two years there would be boxing on the occasional lunchtime. Anyone who wanted to box (and I remember a couple of occasions when, similar to your school, boys who had been fighting or had a grudge would be sent into the ring) could do so - stripped to shorts, big heavy gloves, just on gym mats with no ropes! Like you, it was basically a slugging match with no real skills, until one boy was exhausted and conceded defeat.

The thing I most remember were the crowds of boys who crammed into the gym to watch the spectacle and the noise levels which were terrifying! Lord of the Flies stuff! Great days.

Comments by John Lavender on 8th June 2014  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

To NickK

Re: wrestling

Hello nick, thank you for your query.

The Bouts were uncoached; we just were paired-up with a Random Opponent , one bout at a Time, usually towards the end of the Lesson , and usually if we did not have A Killerball game in that Lesson.

We were just told to grapple -the Bouts lasted around 5 minutes if one of us did not Submit. No Wrestling Holds were taught and it was pretty much unregulated.We ended up with some pretty sore places on our Bodies!

We did not get to choose our opponent but to be fair we were usually matched against someone of similar Build/Height so it was not usually a Mis-match.

Perhaps email me direct if you fancy corresponding further - your Call. My email is shown above this post on the logo.

Comments by Michael on 8th June 2014  

Boxing was not part of the curriculum at my old grammar school, but from time to time I did notice there were pairs of boxing gloves hung up in the PE equipment store.

One day they were used by two boys who had been found quarrelling, and who, after being separated, were invited to sort out their differences under proper supervision in the gym, by means of a boxing match.

Neither boy had previously been given any formal instruction in the sport of boxing, so it was basically a slogging match. It lasted only until one boy got too tired to continue, and admitted defeat.

At that point the PE teacher, who had been refereeing the match and ensuring fair play, ruled that his opponent was the winner.

I think that 'elf & safety' regulations would rule out such a means of settling disputes today.

Comments by Sam on 7th June 2014  

In our school pumishment was usally the cane across the hand(not the one you wrote with so you were not stopped from working). This could be very painful but no tears.

The slipper might be administered in PE. Across a tight backside so that the teacker could see that no pants were being worn. Did any schools use the belt,cane or slipper across a bare backside?

When you think about it we suffered the punsihment and dare not tell our parents because we would get another clout from them for getting into trouble in the first place.

Comments by NickK on 7th June 2014  

John Lavendar - interesting post about the PE activities you had. Some of them sound familiar. Was the wrestling something that was properly coached and the moves and holds taught, or was it just get in there and wrestle an opponent? Did you get paired off to do it or was there one match and others watched? And did you ever get to choose your opponent?

Comments by James on 6th June 2014  

Archie


Yes,I was slippered a couple of times in front of girls which was more embarrassing but one of the punishments I frequently received was to be made to spread my legs wide so the strap could access my inner thighs.Brief school uniform shorts and games shorts helped to facilitate this kind of punishment and was the most painful.

Comments by Jim Scotsguy on 5th June 2014  

Archie,

I was a good pupil but even then I had to take the long walk to the front of the class on a few occasions. I did my best to avoid the belt but in those days it was used regularly- some teachers used it in most lessons. I think very few boys would have gone through school without receiving a belting.

Comments by Archie on 5th June 2014  

James

Did you get slippered in front of girls? How were you dressed during the slippering?

Comments by James on 5th June 2014  

Sam

They were white and they were gym shorts but also we wore nylon shorts in our house colours,mine were yellow.

Comments by James on 5th June 2014  

Archie

I was slippered for forgetting my kit,it was done in public and was very embarrassing.

Comments by Sam on 5th June 2014  

James
You mention of nylon shorts.were these white? iI remember a lad in our class wore white nylon shorts for football one day in the rain. They became very see through. He never wore them again.

Why on earth were shorts made in white nylon and why did people buy them because even in the dry pants which were always briefs in the mid sixties could be seen through them

Comments by John Lavender on 5th June 2014  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

At our Grammar-School in the 1960s we had no shirts v. skins unless we were playing Team-games or unless you were one of last 2 Lads to get changed for PE ,in which case you had to remove Tee-shirts and Run-the-Gauntlet as Punishment (some of us were deliberately slow so we could do this and then do PE Shirtless).
If we did Wrestling we were told beforehand to wear Swimming trunks under our Gym-shorts so we knew when we were going to do it, and could just strip-off the Shorts and Shirts when we were starting the Wrestling. We didn't do Wrestling all that often but we looked forward to it as Proper Wrestling was on the TV , usually on Saturday Afternoons.
We didn't do Weight-training but did a lot of stuff with A Medicine-ball, a proper heavy one, probably about 10kg or whatever that was in old money.
We played Killerball , Skins v. Vests , virtually every PE Lesson ,mostly with an ordinary [Leather] Football or Rugby Ball (the game was very like Rugby , only Indoors) but occasionally we were "treated" to playing the Match with the Medicine-ball. Which did wonders for your Upper-body Strength..

Comments by Charlie on 5th June 2014  

Our swimming teacher always found it amusing when we came back after the summer holidays and we all had white marks where our trunks had been. It looked like we were wearing trunks. A few boys including myself one summer managed to get an all over tan when on holiday so the teacher got a bit of a surprise when he saw us withput the normal white marks.

Comments by Jamie on 5th June 2014  

We did wrestling after school once a week. It was optional but i really enjoyed it.I was pretty skinny at about age 12 or 13 and it was really good exercise but hard work. We just wore our white cotton shorts for it, no top or shoes. If it was hot, we would do it outside.

Comments by Archie on 5th June 2014  

James

How were you slippered? Was it done in private or in front of the class?

Comments by Archie on 4th June 2014  

Jim Scotsguy yes I did but I was early to mid 80s. Did you get belted much?

Comments by Jim Scotsguy on 4th June 2014  jimbirnham728@gmail.com 

Archie,
Did you attend a school in Scotland? Your experiences very much mirror mine from the late 60's.

Comments by George on 4th June 2014  

We occasionaly did some wrestling in pe and we had to wear swimming trunks for that instead of shorts. Don't know why but that was the rule. The strange thing was that you were allowed to wear swimming trunks to wrestle in, but not for swimming. That was the 70's for you. After a lessons wrestling, every boy had marks all over their tops where they had been grappled.

Comments by James on 4th June 2014  

Archie

I rarely forgot my kit but it was punishable by the use of the slipper.A supply of shorts was kept in case of this eventuality and these were polyester,nylon satin shorts.

Comments by Archie on 3rd June 2014  

James

What happened to lads who forgot their kit for a mixed gym lesson?

Comments by Archie on 3rd June 2014  

Our gym shorts were black, so it was quite easy for masters to see the waistband of any white briefs sticking out the back which wasn't too unusual an occurrence especially during heavy sessions of circuit training and the like.

They would also occasionally go along a line of boys to pull back their shorts to do a "pants check" if they were being particularly mean!

Comments by Sam on 3rd June 2014  

Archie, I see your question to another writer. My experience was that we only wore white shorts, no pants from age 11 to leaving school at 16. I think white because any underpants which were always briefs would be seen. We were not told about any type of support and so did not know about it or wear jockstraps, relying on tight shorts for any support which sometimes left nothing to the imagination. However, as far as I remember no one thought anything about. It was an all boys school and there was no embarrasment and and then we stripped off and had communal showers at the end of the lesson with no inhibitions.

What were othe peoples experiences?

Comments by James on 3rd June 2014  

Archie

We were not allowed to wear anything under our shorts for mixed gym lessons or any other sporting activities.I simply wore shorts until I left school.



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