Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 714,404         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 Maltamon on 27th April 2014  

Thanks to the help of people on this forum I have been instrumental in getting the topless pe rule repealed for boys at St Michaels Rochdale with Mumsnet.


This rule has now been removed their website.

You have also helped me play a key role in repealing the bare top rule for both sexes at the Alex mcleod school in London which stated that if boys/girls did not have t-shirts and shorts or could strip down to vest and knickers they had to do it baretop.

See the old 2012 prospectus now repealed.

AMP text Mar 12b.cdr - The TES
www.tes.co.uk/Upload/Attachments/.../AMP-Hand... [1].pd...‎
Welcome to Alexander McLeod Primary School. Contents ..... Leotard or sports shorts, pants or knickers, plus PLAIN vest, sports shirt or tee-shirt,(or bare top).

It is thanks for the people on this forum that we are getting rid of all topless requirements and bare-chest options for boys at the 3 remaining primary/community schools in the UK.

These offending schools are
1 http://www.holmevalley.n-lincs.sch.uk/parents/key-information-1/school-uniform

Clothing for P.E.

Girls - Black leotard

Boys - Black PE shorts
A change of clothing is required for outdoor games

Black Shorts and white T-Shirt

Trainers/black plimsolls—not shoes worn during the school day.

Track suit - advisable in cold weather

2 http://www.marshfieldprimary.co.uk/index.php?page=36

Games and PE

Games and PE are compulsory for all children, except those permanently excluded on health grounds. These children must have a note form their GP to this effect. Those suffering from minor ailments will only be excused if supported by a brief note from the parents. Suitable clothing for PE is essential.

No child will be allowed to participate in gymnastics and games unless appropriate clothing and footwear is worn. Clothing for educational gymnastics and dance:

Girls: T shirt / school polo shirt and shorts or leotard.
Boys: shorts.
All work in the hall will be carried out in bare feet except where parents request otherwise, perhaps because of a foot infection. Should this be the case, trainers or plimsolls should be worn.

Clothing for games and skills lessons boys and girls:

T shirt / school polo shirt.
Shorts or tracksuits for cold days.
Plimsolls / trainers / football boots as appropriate

3 http://larkshill.wakefield.sch.uk/school-uniform-2/

Pupils Recommended Dress for PE Indoor:

Boys: dark shorts and white vest/bare chest.

Girls: navy/black leotards (Reception to Y3); navy/black leotard or white T-shirt and dark shorts (Y4 – Y6).

Footwear is not worn for gymnastics or dance. Written exceptions for medical reasons.

If boys get to wear the same PE kit as girls for outdoor sports I think indoor sports kit should be gender nuetral as well. Thanks again for helping get schools across the country to introduce Unisex uniforms.

Remember we are only asking schools to implement the Childrens Act 1989, Human Rights Act 1999 and The Equalities Act 2010. School teachers are very hypocritical in this regard as they would never allow their own trade union members to be discriminated against on gender grounds but are happy to implement prejudicial rules for school children in compulsory education where the unwilling participants have little choice against this breach of privacy and abuse of state power.

Comments by Jeff on 27th April 2014  

About the picture.
Does the picture state if it is a primary or secondary school?
By the boys ages it is either a late primary or first year secondary school. Most likely the latter since we had neither a proper gym or PE instructor in primary school.
PE in primary was usually playing games and doing exercises in the school yard under the supervision of our class teacher.
We only had proper gyms with qualified PE instructors/coaches in secondary school.
As for PE uniform I remember it was the same in both schools, just white shorts and white T-shirt. Never remember being shirtless, though this seems to have been common in some schools.
As for undressing and changing into PE gear, this was usually done in class, boys and girls together, in primary school. In secondary we changed in the gym, with separate classes for boys and girls.

About showers, we didn't have any in primary school, and although there were showers in the gym changing room in Secondary I don't remember anyone using them.
I know this was not all the same for all schools, especially private(fee paying) schools where the regime was more strict, with compulsary showers after PE both in Primary and Secondary schools.

School swimming pools were also rare, again mostly existed in private schools. I was not aware that boys had to swim nude in some of these schools, as late as the 70s and 80s, until recently through the Internet.

Comments by Simon on 26th April 2014  

The reason I remained in shorts was slightly obscure to me.At age thirteen I had reached the rite of passage where boys at that age usually reached the transition of being promoted to wearing long trousers but my mother exercised her authority and decided to keep me in shorts for a further two years.This decision continued the effect of being ostracized by my contempories.Fortunately,I wore co-ordinated briefs with my shorts,so I didn't have the embarrassment of my underwear showing.I resigned myself to the fact that it would be a long-standing arrangement to remain in short trousers.

Comments by Pete on 25th April 2014  

The photo is one of nostalgia for me and reminds me of the time when I moved from Junior to Secondary school. Due to boundary changes it meant that the boys I had been class mates with in Junior School would be going to a different school to me be cause I was now in a different catchment area. So I started at at Secondary school as the new kid becuase all the other boys came from a different Junior school and already had their friends with them.

That was not too bad until we came to the first PE lesson when we had to strip down and for me this was with boys I did not know which made me feel uncomfortable at first.

However, over a period I got used to it.

In addition, because I was quite small, dad kept me in grey shorts for some years, which made me feel quite young when I felt I should be growing up. At least I was not still in shorts in the 4th or 5th form such as some previous accounts show. It must have been uncomfortable for these lads as their bodies developed, to be have such constriction caused by tight shorts with presumably with tight briefs underneath.

Comments by Andrew on 25th April 2014  

This brought back many memories.Shorts were compulsory for boys at infant and middle school. At secondary school we had to wear shorts for the first two years, after that long trousers were allowed. But many mothers insisted on their boys wearing shorts until age 16(mine included) The shorts were grey and very short. Teasing could be merciless especially if you had strict parents who smacked your legs and bottoms a lot.
I remember that teachers at infant and middle school smacked boys bare legs frequently. Thus leaving embarrassing red marks or handprints. When I got home with marked legs, my mother would give me a spanking. After that she would quickly have me in my pyjamas ready for an early bedtime. My friends also got the same.
PE was done in the gym bare foot and barechested throughout my school career. Boys did it in their underpants until secondary school and then we wore white shorts without underpants. As I got older i started to feel very exposed dressed like that. I was the tallest in the class as well.

Comments by David on 22nd April 2014  

I thought I was the only one who had a mother who shortened shorts! By the time she was finished the inseam was never more than two inches and sometimes less and they were always very fitting.

I didn't matter whether they were for school or home, I tried them on in the shop to make sure they fitted and as soon as we got home the sewing machine came out and they were altered.

I went to a particularly strict grammar school where shorts were compulsory in the first three years and 'at the parent's discretion' in the fourth and fifth forms. Needless to say I wore them until the end of the fifth form but I was not the only one - there were five of us out of eighty boys in the year.

Only when I started sixth form did I get a pair of longs. I was never allowed jeans and had a formal pair of longs for church and the like but at home shorts were the norm until I went to university.

There was a bit of teasing at school but given that we all wore shorts for three years everyone could remember what it was like.

In the fourth and fifth form shorts were also sometimes used as a sanction and a boy who had been sent to the headmaster and caned might be ordered to wear shorts for as long as a month after the caning making it obvious the boy had been in trouble. At least for the shorts wearers we escaped that humiliation.

It was strange really, for most boys having a striped bottom to show in the changing room and showers was a trophy which we were all proud of (though I for one had a different demeanor while actually being caned!) boys who were put back in shorts hated it more than getting the cane so it was probably a most effective punishment.

Comments by Simon on 21st April 2014  

Martin,thank you for your reply,I saw it as a travesty wearing trim,snug fitting tight short trousers,while going through adolescence,a rule rigidly imposed by my mother,simply for her own gratification.This not only had the effect of a very juvenile appearance but caused considerable ridicule and loss of dignity.

Comments by Martin on 20th April 2014  martin.hill32@hushmail.com 

Simon, you are definatly right, back in the 1970's (and the 1980's as well) girls probably had some input on what they wore but boys certainly didn't. We were 'dressed' by our mums and had to like it or lump it! If your mum decided you were going to school in shorts, that's what you did, although in many primary schools (including mine) shorts were compulsory for all boys, and looking at my old school photos from that era they were extremely short and quite tight fitting, unlike the rather baggy ones from a few years earlier! Some schools also allowed or required boys to wear them at secondary school for the first one or two years, but usually we were in 'longs' by age 13 at the latest. This died out incredibly quickly, changing fashions I guess, but in the 1982 junior school photos from my school (Shears Green) ALL the boys (even the 11 year olds) are wearing little tiny grey shorts, but by 1985 almost all are in long trousers! It may have been a change of headmaster as I think Mr Hale retired about then and that was when the nude swimming lessons died out as well!

Comments by Simon on 19th April 2014  

Sorry about the spelling error,I meant to say,I was not allowed to stand with my hands in my pockets.

Comments by Simon on 19th April 2014  

My mother controlled my clothing and made me wear short pants.Basically my mother was very contolling of my clothes,my looks and my presentation.She would buy my clothes and often choose what I was to wear each day.This was the 1970's and boys'shorts were pretty short and long socks were"in" but my mother was intense about it.I was always dressed in really short shorts.I did not even own a pair of long trousers until I was through my first year at High School aand then it was because the school wrote her several letter explaining that the boys'uniform did not include shorts.I remember being acutely aware of my bare legs as I sat in the school assembly.The only bare boy's legs along lines and lines of grey trousered legs,except of course for girls who wore dresses.It was not until I was fifteen that I was bought a pair of jeans and even then I was rarely allowed to wear them.She would buy shorts,that I think when even when bought were a size too small and even then she would actually use her sewing machine to fold the leg cuffs up to even make them shorter.Think these denim shorts that girls wear these days,well that was me,a boy in the 1970's.When we went shopping she would make me try on several pairs of shorts,they had to be tight across my bottom and make comments about how nice it looked.It's not like any of my clothes were kept long,I was always bought new clothes.She would have the advertising catalogues from the shops and look through them and then we would go on a shopping expedition but again the clothes had to be tight fitting.I would have long socks held up by elastic garters to just below my knees.The other thing she would do is sew up all but one of my pockets,as I was not allowed to stant with my hands in my pockets.She used to constantly comment on how nice I looked and how bad the other kids looked.If I pointed out how every one else was wearing looser clothing she would snap at me or make some derisive comment or say"well we are not everyone else".

Comments by Martin on 19th April 2014  martin.hill32@hushmail.com 

In reply to Laura: I was being slightly sarcastic in my 'H&S' comments, I realise full well that the use of H&S as an excuse is more often based on lazyness or over-enthusiastic interpretation than actual fact!!! I also appreciate that the VAST majority of teachers give 110% (or possibly slightly more) to the job, the only ones who don't of course, are maths teachers for whome the idea of giving 110% is a mathematical anathema (just a joke, people!) I am also impressed that you have maintained dress standards for PE in your school and that the showers have not been consigned to an equipment storage area as has happened in so many schools! I suspect though that you maybe teach at either a Private fee paying school, or a highly sought-after secondary who can use their status as 'leverage' to persuade parents to make sure their children conform! I do HOPE that this is just me being cynical and that you can tell me I am wrong....

Comments by Laura on 17th April 2014  lcclinton4@yahoo.co.uk 

Someone recently asked about dealing with health and safety in PE today. I teach at a girls' school, and I do have to spend some time doing risk assessments. These are not too onerous though, and do help to make one think about un-necessary risks. H&S does not stop us doing anything I want to do, and this includes rope climbing to the ceiling, use of wall-bars and vaulting equipment. H&S can be used by some lazy teachers as an excuse not to teach proper PE!

Questions were also asked about clothing. While I know there are far to many schools allowing, or even insisting on tracksuits and teeshirts, plently still insist on proper kit. My own girls wear white sleeveless leotards indoors for gymnastics, and gym knickers and vests for other indoor lessons, atletics and cross country. Indoors they always go barefoot.

We also still have communal showers, a grand total of eight shower heads for a whole class!

Comments by Michael on 16th April 2014  

I could never see the point of most of the activities in my old Grammar School gym, which was similar to that shown in the picture.

For example, not being called "Tarzan", I could never understand the purpose of rope climbing, with its attendant risks.

Even if a thick coir mat was placed under the rope, it would have done little to break the impact of anyone falling from high up, close to the lofty ceiling.

In all my adult life, I have never needed to climb a rope, so the risks I took in that gym, could hardly be justified as providing useful experience for later life.

I could say the same for the vaulting horse pictured, which seemed then as now, to be nothing more than a short cut to getting a broken neck.

The only thing which got me to use these instruments of torture, among others, was my stark fear of the gym teacher. I was always more afraid of him, than any of the gym equipment. The greater fear overcame the lesser, so despite my grave misgivings, I found myself climbing ropes and using the vaulting horse; miraculously (and no thanks to the teacher), without serious injury.

It was not a pleasant experience overall, looking back.

Comments by pat on 16th April 2014  peachhouse641@yahoo.co.uk 

Comments by Ron, Gordon and Steve on their underpants showing has special resonance for me. I was coming up for twelve when my newish underpants simply wouldn’t stay up. At first I was constantly pulling them up, but after a few hours I just let them hang. In fact I enjoyed it. My best pal was particularly fascinated by them and our relationship changed qualitatively as a result!
I wore those pants for week. I liked to think other boys were as keen on them as David! One or two did make comments such as the boy next to me in class called them my “knicks”, a prefect told me to pull my “britches” up in the dinner queue and my mother tried to embarrass me in front of my aunt and cousin by calling them my “pretty pants.” But I liked it.
Next time I wore them mother had pleated the waistband and I felt cheated because they stayed up!

Comments by Martin on 16th April 2014  martin.hill32@hushmail.com 

In answer to Kev, My Primary and Secondary schools were all lucky enough to have separate gym's rather than using the school hall, however my memory is that they were all rather smaller than the one shown on the photo. The one at Primary was a fairly modern ground floor building, probably post war and was compact but quite nice, it had full width full height windows on both walls so it was also very light and airy, although the window frames were metal and could be slightly draughty in winter although the gym was kept nice and warm. At Primary, as I have stated before boys and girls had lessons together and we all wore the same, nothing but white shorts (or blue knickers for girls) neither boys NOR girls wore tops and we all went barefoot in the gym, and showering naked was mandatory for everyone after the lesson! We were very lucky, the school had (still has) it's own indoor swimming pool, and until the mid 1980's we were (apparently) the only 'County' Primary school in Britain to have mixed nude swimming lessons! (but only with our parents permission.)
At Grammar school the gym was older and similar in size, and again had full height windows down both sides behind the wall bars. Lessons there were boys only, and again we wore only white shorts and had to shower after the lesson. Any outdoor sports or athletics were done with white t-shirts, shorts and PE shoes, except for 'Games' which were done in the proper kit! You are correct about H&S, there wasn't any!!! Generally though we very rarely had all the equipment out at once as seen in the photo, I think the picture is rather 'staged', usually we would all queue up and use one piece of apparatus at a time, closely supervised by the teacher. In all the time I was at school I remember one first-year boy breaking both wrists when he fell off the wall bars, a minor concussion from 'missing' a vaulting horse and a couple of broken collar bones, none of them were in my class though, our class must have been very cautious (or just lucky!)

Comments by Kev on 12th April 2014  

Looking at the picture, I see that it is dated 1959. I attended secondary modern in the mid60's and our P E was in a hall similar to this one. In fact ours was the main school hall used for assemblies and all general school gatherings with the climbing rpoes and frames being locked to the side walls when out of use.
Just like these lads we used the equipment with very little thought of safety. There was block wooden floor and possibly a few mats to cushion any falls. However, I do not remember any accidents.

what of today. I suppose every lesson is preceded by a Risk Assesment and the rules for health & safety must be a nightmare.

As for clothing I suppose it is all track suits And T shirts and I should think that the communal showers of yesteryear are long gone. Does any one have any info on how

P E is nowadays?

Comments by Pat on 11th April 2014  

I remember well these type of PE lessons in the 60's. Does any one know what is included in PE these days or is it mainly games. which we had as a seperate period in the timetable. On looking at hte phot I am sure our shorts were quite a bit shorter and tighter and there was no set uniform. Boys wore white, black or navy blue. What is worn nowadays?

Comments by scotty on 9th April 2014  

Do any of you fellows out therer remember wearing the string briefs & singlets and can they still be bought

Comments by Gordon on 6th April 2014  

Interesting comment from Ron. I was at grammar school from 1959 to 1965. For the first two years there I was in short trousers. I used to wear interlock trunks all my time at school, and I used to tuck my vest and shirt tail into my underpants. I found that the underpants stayed up better that way. I always seemed to suffer from loose elastic, and looking back I think it was because Mum used to wash all the whites by boiling them, and this weakened the elastic. Once in the summer of my second year at grammar school, I must have been 13 then, changing after swimming I decided (can't remember why)not to tuck my vest and shirt into my underpants. When I started to walk home I could feel my pants slipping down and I think I realised they must be showing below my shorts, but there was nothing much I could do about it. Just before I got home I ran into four boys a bit older than me who jeered me because of my grammar school uniform. They were just walking away when one of them shouted "Your knickers are showing", then another one of them ran up behind me, caught hold of the legs of my trunks and pulled them down hard. As you can imagine this caused them great amusement. I didn't know what to do, I ended up running home as fast as I could with about six inches of my underpants dangling down below both legs of my short trousers. It must have been a hilarious sight!

Comments by Ron on 2nd April 2014  

When I moved up to my Secondary School I knew that it had a policy of shorts for boys until age 13, so was prepared for the indignity, and accepted it as all my classmates were in a similar position (1960). However. I did not realise that I was going to receive a detention for allowing my underpants to drop below my shorts - well actually I didn't allow them, the elastic was not up to much and they generally worked down as the day went on. Arriving home late and being quizzed by my older brother as to the reason, he said he used to tuck both his vest and his shirt into his trunks, so that on the approach of a master, he could easily hike them up so they did not hang below his shorts. This seemed a good idea, so the following day I did just that, only to receive another detention, not for having my underpants showing below my shorts, but because, having been pulled up, were showing above my shorts! Arriving late for tea at my Grandparents, I again explained the situation. My Granddad smiled and later produced a pair of braces, suggesting that I clip both my shorts and underpants into them. ( He explained that when h was a lad, underpants did not have elastic waistbands, so they were kept up along with his trousers by this method).

Next day, with my trunks carefully clipped up with my shorts, so they neither showed above or below, I took a few jibes from my mates about my braces, but all in good part! The problem arose when i was informed that if I wanted to wear braces they should not show (ie keep my blazer on), and they should be maroon to match the uniform, although why this was necessary if they were not to be seen has alluded me to this day!) Unfortunately, my Grandad's braces were blue/grey striped, so I go another detention!

Strangely, my grandsons constantly have their underpants showing above their school flannels today and nobody gives a hoot! How things have changed!

Comments by Phil on 29th March 2014  porterhouse65@hushmail.com 

Like some of the previous posts, I had to change schools when we moved due to my dad getting promotion, I was 12 and happy in my C Of E Secondary school where every boy my age wore long trousers, this was 1961.

Imagine my horror when told that the school I was going to had a "shorts" policy to age 14 and I had almost two years to be in shorts, I was taken to the only store in town that did the school uniform and sorted out with shorts and shirts and socks, we were allowed to wear short or long socks, but they had to be grey, I opted for short ones, but hurriedly went into long ones during my first winter.

I remember my mum having me stand in my underwear in the changing cubicle in the store and have my underpants measured to see if they would show below my shorts, luckily they didn't, but later on in school life she bought me some new underpants and they did.

I was glad when I reached 14 and ditched the shorts, although I did wear casual shorts at home.

Comments by Steve on 28th March 2014  

Like many other on this thread, I was condemned to wear short grey flannels for the first two years at Grammar School in the 1960s (until age 13), and how I longed to be allowed long pants! Because I was skinny, and didn't put on any weight these shorts seemed to last for ages, despite my growing taller, and inevitably meant it was virtually impossible to keep my underpants from showing below. Today's saggers would have been proud!

Comments by James on 27th March 2014  

At my primary school that I attended it was customary for all boys to wear short trousers.I was certainly no exception to this custom and some boys even wore them at secondary school.
My parents attached great importance to the 11 plus and I studied hard to pass so I could attend the local grammar school where boys wore long trousers.Alas!I failed and I would have to attend the secondary school.
My parents were very disappointed and after a short time I was taken to the school outfitters to buy my new uniform.
I was looking forward to trying on my first pair of long trousers but I was devastated when I was told to try on shorts instead.Realising there was no alternative,I slipped my new shorts on and we left for home.I realised I was to be kept in shorts for an idefinate time and my tantrums and periods of sulking took no effect on my parents.I was to spend my schooldays in shorts and I had to accept it.

Comments by Richards on 25th March 2014  

When I was 12 (in 1975), and having just finished my first year at the state grammar school in the town where we lived in Lincolnshire, my father took up a three year posting as an agricultural adviser in Malawi. It was decided that I would attend a local boarding prep school for one year (well, my parents decided - I had no say in the matter) with a view to moving to a nearby public school afterwards. As soon as I knew what was happening I went into a major sulk, as I enjoyed my grammar school and I knew that the prep school was much stricter about dress and appearance than the grammar school. My appeals to be allowed to stay at the grammar school, and live with grandparents nearby, fell on deaf ears. So it was that, at the start of September 1975 I was dropped off at my new school, looking rather different to how I had the previous year. I was now short trousered and short haired, a real embarassment for a nearly 13 year odl lad in the mid 70s.

Comments by James on 18th March 2014  

Hi folks,
Certainly an unusual thread and reminds me how different attitudes were in the 1970s and 1980s when I was growing up.
My recollections are vague, but I do remember doing PE in only vest and pants at primary school. I also remember "shirts" and "skins" football matches in the secondary school.
I can remember the odd sunday bike ride in the early 80s when I wore only swimming trunks, because it was so hot.
What inspired me to do that was seeing grown men openly doing things like washing cars, mowing lawns or painting the outside of the house in only pants or trunks. Once saw a group of young men playing football in the park: all were shirtless and one wore a speedo in place of shorts.
Hard to believe now.
I can even remember a coach trip from Torquay to Dartmoor where a man remained shirtless all day and wore only grey Farah slacks.

Comments by Alan on 13th March 2014  

Having read some of the comments, I well remember my time at school and in the gym in particular, like the boys in the picture I was bare chested and just wearing shorts and white plimsolls along with the other boys in my class.

Ten minutes of warm up exercises, running on the spot and press ups etc, then the vaulting horse and parallel bars, we even had a trampoline and rings to use. Two PE teachers in attendance to make sure there were no slackers, woe betide you if you did, it was three on the backside with a plimsoll and extra time in the gym after school.

Scrabbling to get the best of the hot water in the showers after a heavy gym session, it always seemed to run out a few minutes into your shower,then dress in double quick time, grey shorts, white shirts, school ties properly tied and not loose like today's schoolboys, no fancy trainers, black shined shoes were the order, as regards underwear it was as others have stated the ubiquitous white trunk underpants, not to be seen below the hem of the school shorts leg,my headmaster would turn in his grave to see that boys today show their underpants above the waistband of their trousers at times !! If new underpants were bought for me, my mum used to sew up the hem so they didn't show, we were allowed to wear a vest in winter, but other wise that was it.

Grey long socks with a blue stripe and woe betide that they fell down,that was a yellow mark, three marks and it was the plimsoll.
Like most I had garters that left a mark on your leg, do any guys remember the snake belt? well that was the one we had to have.

At 13 we could graduate to long trousers, but my family along with a lot in those days weren't flush with money so I still wore shorts as they still fit me, I didn't get a growth spurt until well into my 14th year.

I enjoyed PE and games, not being all that academic I was more of a "hands on" boy and preferred woodwork and metalwork, I still have a metal coat rack I made and a wooden table lamp I made on a lathe.

Great times, I wonder if today's schoolboys will have fond memories of their schooldays? One doubts it.

Comments by Pete on 12th March 2014  

It is interesting reading about old time PE & it brings back memories. Also I am intrigued how fashion goes round in circles. We see pictures of footballers many years ago wearing Long shorts. Then in the 196o's era it han changed to very short shorts thinking of those worn during 1966 World Cup & now we see the footballers of today wearing longer shorts. The same with the pants I always wanted to wear briefs not the trunks and in time these were the fashion. However, now the trend over the past few years has returned to wering Boxer style pants. Will the circle start again & we return to short shorts and Briefs/slips.

Comments by James on 11th March 2014  

How I loved gym sessions like this as a boy at school They were such great fun all the time being pushed to try harder and do just that bit more. We used to start them full of energy and almost crawl out of the gym at the end for the icy cold shower that was waiting and after that somehow we got our energy back to carry on with the day. Other gym activity included circuits, killer ball, pirates and crab running. Outside there was rugby, cross country and cricket in the summer. I wish I could do it all again!

Discipline was strict, it had to be in the gym and on the field. There was a sign by the exit to the rugby field which read card = cane, yellow = four, red = eight and it was enforced for any unsportsman like behaviour. Most lads never did it and few did it more than once. A large plimsol was also in use for more minor things like being caught wearing underpants or not getting properly under the (icy) showers.

Comments by Martin on 6th March 2014  

What memories this thread has brought back! Like many, I was compelled to wear short grey flannel trousers for the first two years at Grammar School, which I found both embarrassing and cold. This was 1960, and many of my former mates who went to Secondary Modern school wore long trousers straight away, which made the situation worse.

George C, how I recall those creamy white interlock trunk underpants. They were very comfortable, but were quite long, and had poor elastic, which meant that even though my shorts were not that short, they would often show below them, however low I let my shorts slip. The girls gave me hell!

It was a great relief to finally get into long trousers (age 13), although we were not allowed to wear a belt to keep them up. Most boys had to wear them loose (to allow room for growth I presume), which meant braces were absolutely essential. I still remember getting detentions for not having the correct colour (maroon to match the uniform), and always felt uneasy at showing them in public, although it was the norm. Ironically, fashion seems to have come full circle, with many pop stars wearing braces in public, and footballers showing long drawers below their shorts.

Comments by James on 5th March 2014  

Like John and myself,I'm sure many boys had to face up to the galling prospect of wearing inordinately,brief short trousers,well up to the age of adolescence and beyond.To add to the wearers'discomfort,the shorts were co-ordinated with long knee stockings,tightly gartered below the knee which always left deep indentations in my legs.I realised at the time,I would have to accept the dogma and stigma of being so inappropriately dressed in such a ridiculous and anachronistic way but I'm sure it was done mainly for aeshetic reasons.

Comments by John on 21st February 2014  johnno1546@live.co.uk 

When I started at secondary school in 1959 I was in short trousers, there was a uniform policy which stated that boys to age 13 wore shorts, I was in a children's home and they provided all my clothes, some were hand me downs, but my school uniform was new, PE was done just in shorts in the gym, plimsolls worn outside only and a vest, no underwear to be worn, swimming lessons done in the nude, it was an all boys secondary school and a lot bigger than the primary school I had been in up to 11.

If anyone wants more information or to discuss recollections of school email me at johnno1546@live.co.uk

Comments by George C on 15th February 2014  

I was at a school in the early 1960's which had a uniform policy, but it allowed either long or short trousers, so it was up to parents when you went into long trousers. At that time it was quite normal for boys to stay in short trousers until 13, or sometimes older. I myself did not get my first pair of long trousers until after my 14th birthday. We were not self-conscious about wearing short trousers because so many other boys did. And we were not cold in the winter. My school short trousers (grey, terrylene) came down to about one or two inches above my knee. Like all the other boys in short trousers, I wore long grey socks. I think they were woollen, they certainly must have had a high wool content. They kept the legs nice and warm, but had one drawback. They were held up by garters. My mother made mine from black elastic. Garters had to be just the right amount of tightness. If a garter was too slack, the sock would fall down. If it was too tight, it acted like a tourniquet. Also in the winter most of us wore a gaberdine raincoat which would come down below our knees.

In the summer we would wear casual shorts, though not, of course, to school. I can remember having some khaki and some of a blue cotton material. Only after going into long trousers and jeans did I appreciate the freedom which summer shorts gave. They were lighter and shorter than my school short trousers which was good for the summer, but it could give a problem with underwear. Some of us wore underpants similar to modern boxer shorts, but a little longer and baggier, and they were made of a softer and slightly heavier material than boxers. They were called interlock trunks and they were always white. They were very comfortable, but while they remained safely out of sight underneath my school trousers that was not always the case when I wore summer shorts. An ill-advised hitch of the shorts, or loose underpant elastic, would usually result in a band of white appearing below the hem of my shorts. During the summer months, on the estate where I lived I was an embarrassingly easy target for gaggles of girls who would chant
"London is in England, Paris is in France,
We can see George's underpants."

On the subject of blazers, although my school's uniform policy required a blazer with the school badge on it, there was an option to buy a plain blazer. Mum then sewed a badge, available from the school outfitters, onto the blazer. Most of us did this. You could spot the son of affluent parents. He would be the one wearing the "proper" school blazer.

Comments by Christopher Hall on 10th February 2014  

I also agree with the comments ambrose made below about inequality for teachers, he is absolutely right. I am sure that male teachers would NEVER be allowed to supervise changing rooms with girls in them, but (at least at primary school level) it would seem acceptable for female teachers to supervise the boys. It certainly USED to be like that, I doubt it is allowed these days! The only exception I have heard about is the Shears Green primary school mentioned lower down the thread, where it appears the (male) head teacher used to supervise the nude swimming lessons, where boys and girls of all ages used to swim together naked several times a week! It seems from the huge number of comments and memories on their facebook page that he also insisted on the children doing mixed PE and dancing lessons wearing nothing but gym shorts, both boys AND girls going completely topless even when they were 11 year old. I suspect that these days there would be law suits flying around very quickly!

Comments by James on 10th February 2014  

Unlike Michael,where short trousers were compulsory up to the third year at his school,it was at the whim of my parents that imposed a strict rule of enforced wearing of short pants.The difference being that at his school shorts were quite obiquitous,where at my school I was the only pupil in my class still wearing shorts.

Comments by Christopher Hall on 9th February 2014  

I know exactly what Michael means, the Grammar school blazers were always much more ornate (and therefore much more expensive) than the ones worn by boys at the Secondary Moderns, then there was the sports kit. So many fancy sports to buy kit for all having to be bought at the schools 'official' shop, even white gym shorts had to be the 'approved' brand! There has been some talk on here of some schools not allowing swimwear, I am sure mothers were really impressed at the amount of money that saved by not having to buy any swimming trunks? Oh, but wait, you would still need trunks in case you went to any swimming competitions and guess what, they would have to be from the approved suppliers and probably with the school badge embroided in!
At least the boys at Secondary Modern school could wear 'generic' blazers, sports and swimming kit, bought at a fraction of the price, I am sure they enjoyed their sports and activities just as much as we did!

Comments by Michael on 9th February 2014  

My parents were proud to have me attend the town's grammar school, and they would never have thought to object to, or even query, the rules regarding uniform. Because of this the (rather old-fashioned - even for those days) uniform list was followed in every detail, and one of the items stated that all boys should wear regulation grey short trousers for at least their first two years at the school.

This meant there was no argument or even debate on the subject, at least in my home. In any case my parents had far more important matters to consider, not least of which was affording all of the uniform on the list.

The blazer alone was a significant amount of money in the early 1960s, so any economies which could be made on other items, were very welcome indeed. In this light, short trousers made good financial sense as well as complying with the school's regulations.

On the other hand my younger brother 'failed' the 11+ and attended a secondary modern school, which had 'optional' uniform, allowing him to wear long trousers from age 11.

Accordingly I found myself in the strange situation of wearing shorts to school until I was nearly 14, at the same time as he was wearing long trousers. To my dismay, this sometimes led to people assuming I was his younger, not his older, brother.

Comments by James on 9th February 2014  

I do agree with Christopher Hall that we had "NO real input"on what we wore for games and physical activities.As you say the school dictated what we wore and it would have been futile to object as possible retributions would follow.
Before I attended my new secondary school the list for my uniform arrived and my Mum noticed,with glee that I could stay in short trousers for another four years.No amounnt of persuading or cajoling would make her change her mind.

Comments by Christopher Hall on 9th February 2014  

To quote James "the option for boys to wear short trousers was for the parents not for the pupil"!
You are not wrong there! When I was at school we had absolutely NO real input about what we wanted to wear, parents (well Mums) told you what you were going to wear to go to school, teachers told you what (if anything) you were going to wear for games, pe, showers, swimming etc. Even parents had no say once you were at school, everything was flagged up as 'school rules' so there was no discussion and no dissent allowed! How things have changed!

Comments by Christopher Hall on 8th February 2014  

Hi Roy,
Evidently you are a little older than me, but I think it depended on the school. As I said, at my boys only Grammar school, MOST boys started year 8 (what used to be called second year) in shorts, including me. However the number gradually dwindled during the year and I think the last die-hards were in longs by the start of year 9. At the Secondary Modern school however, all the boys wore long trousers, even the year 7 'first years'! And yes, we were a little bit jealous, especially when we got teased for wearing shorts by boys who were two years younger than us!

Comments by James on 8th February 2014  

It was no fun wearing shorts at secondary school espiacially as only four boys were still in shorts out of 250 boys and the teasing was almost continuous and unmerciful.
To clear up the misunderstanding,the option for boys to wear short trousers was for the parents not for the pupil,I hated wearing them and found them humiliating and bitterly cold in the winter.
As I had a 26 inch waist I could be kitted out in shorts which were more suitable for a more junior boy which had the desired effect.When standing straight my finger tips touched the hem of my shorts which left an inseam of one inch.When told to 'wrap up warm' a waist length anorak was worn which of course left my legs bare and open to the elements.

Comments by Roy on 8th February 2014  

I agree with Christopher Hall in that when I was at school in the early 1960's all boys in what is now Year 8 would be wearing long trousers.

Comments by Christopher Hall on 8th February 2014  

I didn't realise it was an option, I thought you meant they all had to wear shorts! I think it was brave to wear them to leaving age!
I went into 'longs' in my second year at Grammar school, it got really cold probably about February and as a thirteen year old I pestered my mum into letting me have long trousers although some brave souls hung on until the end of the second year. I do remember that the 'official' uniform shorts we wore at grammar school were quite a bit longer than the ones I had worn at Primary school, but they were still fairly short! There was some rule that the leg of your shorts had to be at least one hand width below the bottom of your blazer, but I don't remember any teachers actually checking it though! Also, long grey socks and black shoes with shorts, except in summer when we could wear short socks and 'proper' sandals, but we weren't allowed to wear sandals if we wore long trousers! So many pointless rules!

Comments by James on 8th February 2014  

In reply to Christopher Hall,the uniform requirement was shorts optional,with no upper age limit.One boy wore shorts right up to leaving age,one up to his second year,myself and another boy up to their third year.

Comments by Christopher Hall on 8th February 2014  

I really dont buy James idea of boys at secondary schools wearing shorts to leaving age, I was at Grammar school in the late 1970s and while the first-year boys (what would now be called year 7) all had to wear shorts, and many of the boys in the second year also wore them, however nobody was in shorts by the time we were 14. Frankly, I cant see boys at ANY school being prepared to wear shorts at that age as most people walked home from school in those days and kids from other schools would tease them to death for wearing shorts!
And the one inch leg length that James mentioned, junior school boys certainly wore very tiny shorts that barely covered their underwear, but I dont think 12 and 13 year old boys at any secondary school would have been prepared to wear them that small!

Comments by Jools on 7th February 2014  

Debbie, I am grinning at the idea of all those little boys running around the campsite every evening wearing nothing but pyjama jackets and with all their bottoms and willies visible, it would have been quite amusing to watch but of course in those days I suppose there was no girls in the cubs, except for leaders of course. I can't help wondering if your brother (or any of the boys) were embarrased by having to go with no pants on in front of the leaders, especially if one of them was his teacher.
An intersting thread, and all this has come up from someone saying that the boys and girls at a primary school in Kent all used to swim together completely naked in their school swimming lessons!
I see you have put your email address, can I mail you direct to chat?

Comments by Debbie on 7th February 2014  debbie.richards@hush.com 

No problem Jools
It was about 1984 as he was born in 1974.
Yes the Cub leaders were female, there was three of them as far as I can remember and the main one, the Akela was a teacher at his school. My mum and dad knew they went naked because when they were going to camp they all had to get a letter signed by mums or dads to allow them to go, it always had a kit list on it and I am sure the kit list said they should only take a pyjama top to wear in bed. I remember mum packing his kit for camp and asking him if he was going to bother with swimming trunks, he took them with him but I don't suppose he wore them!

Comments by James on 7th February 2014  

Hi Jools,

I'm from the Midlands,yes I did wear boxers but went on to wear Y fronts when I went on to Secondary Modern School where shorts were optional right up to leaving age.
My parents chose shorts as it was a family tradition.
The fashion,as you say was for shorts to be very brief as it seemed pointless to wear knee length shorts with stockings.

Comments by Jools on 7th February 2014  

Hi again Debbie, thanks for telling us all that information about what your brother wore at cubs, how long ago was that?
I am sure you said the cub leader was female, I am still wondering if your parents knew knew he was going naked at camp and what they thought about it.

Comments by Jools on 7th February 2014  

James. I am not sure where you are from, but surely in the 70's little boys all wore Y front undies rather than boxers? I don't think those would have shown below your shorts. I do agree though that in those days boys shorts did get very short indeed, and they all seemed to wear them at junior school and sometimes even after a they started secondary school. As a girl, I remember our skirts were getting longer in those days!

Comments by ambrose on 6th February 2014  

Dave, the point I was making was the inequality that existed so far as staff were concerned. The men were not allowed to supervise girls changing areas, but it was perfectly legal for the ladies to walk in on adolescent boys when they were undressed!

I, and several other non PE specialist male teachers refused to take mixed sports clubs during lunchtimes and after school since we couldn't control what went on in the girls changing rooms: and the girls were just as bad as the boys at bullying and horseplay if there was no one supervising them!