Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 688,718         Comments: 2,479

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

2479 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by Derek on 3rd January 2012  

At Berkhamsted School for Boys in the 1950's we had excellent gym lessons in the normal curricula of the day. On any particularly hot day in the summer, with no notice, the master would take us to the school pool as a treat. We had no swimming gear with us so we swum naked, age about 14-16. As kids we just assumed this was normal practice.

One day we were having a naked swim, when the Head Master, assuming the pool would be out of use in the middle of lessons, walked in with prospective parents, a couple, who had brought their son and their two teenage daughters in school uniforms complete with hats. To say that we made for the safety of the water quickly was an understatement.

Comments by James on 2nd January 2012  

Dave,Inside we wore the shorts which I described,no vest and barefoot.Outside vest and satin shorts.Bit chilly in winter dressed in skimpy kit.

Comments by Dave on 2nd January 2012  

James, what was your whole PE kit inside and outside?

Comments by James on 2nd January 2012  

In reply to Sid's comments,we too wore shorts without underwear in the seventies up to my leaving age of sixteen.We wore brief satin shorts,which were fashionable in that era for games,cross country running,and yes we did share the gymnasium with the girls when it was too cold for them to go outside for their games.These shorts were very shiny and filmy and anyone foolish enough to wear underwear would easily have been detected.I felt quite ridiculous wearing miniscule shorts at adolescense.

Comments by Sid on 1st January 2012  

I have recently discovered this site & find the history interesting because it is my era i.e. boys schools in the mid 60s. I have just caught up with the previous comments & I am surprised by the comments made by Dick 26 Sept 2010. re the fact that up 18yrs of age boys only wore briefs for pe. I assume pe lessons were seperate genders. Perhaps Dick can advise & what year was this. I cannot see it being allowed in more recent years besides in more recent years haven't boys changed to boxers which could present a problem. At least we were allowed if nothing else to wear shorts although they were very tight.

PE & sports were very physical but had the effect that by the time we left school we seemed to be more manly than todays youth.

Comments by Eastender on 26th December 2011  

Re comments by will & the Welsh Marshes. It seems in the sixties normal for no underpants &teachers did check us to see if we were wearing any.Perhaps it was the era but no one seeemed to think anything about it. It just semed the norm. We were more nieve or just not so inhibited abiut our bodies.

Comments by Will on 25th December 2011  

Very similar to the late 60s on the Welsh Marches - pe with shorts, and no underpants, and the master lined us up in a row in the gym, and put his fingers down each shorts at the front, to make sure we weren't wearing underpants - I think he got quite a thrill out of it - cheeky ******

Comments by Robin on 24th December 2011  

I attended a large boys-only secondary school in the 1980s.
The PE year was divided into six half-termly blocks of football, basketball, cross-country running, volleyball, athletics and cricket.
The outdoor PE kit was a plain white football shirt, white shorts and white football socks and trainers. The indoor PE was done in shorts, bare chested, with teams either “skins” or “bibs”.
With regard to underwear, most boys wore white vests and y-fronts. Pants could be kept on but vests had to be taken off when you took off your white school shirt.
At the end of the lesson, everyone had to undress for a communal shower.

Comments by James on 16th December 2011  

We wore short trousers at secondary school and they were compulsary.I had my first girlfriend at thirteen wearing short pants and my second girlfriend at fifteen still in short pants,although her younger brothers half my age were in long trousers.I finaly wore my first long trousers at sixteen.

Comments by peter on 11th December 2011  

I was at a Northern Grammar School in `59 onwards. It was as has been described here; the H Teacher ran it like a public school.

I loved going bare chested but was very shy too. There was no bullying, body image issues like the girls had and still do. And now the lads have it too.

There were some sights as you can imagine. Who cared? To this day I go without a shirt whenever possible. Feel sorry for the girls! . .

Comments by Paul on 9th December 2011  

I certainly remember pe in the 1970s in just shorts, in the gym and on the playing field in the spring and autumn term. I particularly recall playing soccer with no top and barefoot when it felt really cold in October with cold grass covered in dew. I remember other boys playing cricket in summer barefoot and barechested wearing pads to protect against the hard ball - but that was for pe not games (which had different kit rules). I also remember communal showers and one time when I accused another boy of using my towel. He denied it but let me share the one he was using. It was only after everyone had left the showers that I saw my towel (with the same pattern) hanging on the radiator - someone else had covered it with his. Hoe embarrassing was that?

Comments by Michael on 8th December 2011  

We were often sent out in the snow to do cross country runs wearing only thin white shorts, singlet vests, white ankle socks and white plimsolls. Nothing else.

At the turning point of the run, the PE master would be seen, sitting parked up in his big Ford Zodiac with the engine running, all toasty warm with his flask of coffee and the radio playing. The clever part was that he didn't park there on every occasion, but of course we never dared risk taking any short cuts in case he was there.

As we ran past in the freezing cold, he would mark off our names on his register. This was to ensure nobody had dropped out part way. Only by exerting ourselves to the utmost, could we hope to cover the distance in the time allowed.

By the time we arrived back at school, he would be there, waiting, with his gym shoe in hand. No mercy was shown to anyone coming in late.

I was late, once, because an elderly lady called me into her house to change a light bulb. Always obedient,
I had done so, hoping a minute or two wouldn't make any difference. But, even that small delay put me past the deadline and earned me the wrath of the gym shoe.

Comments by Simon Casey on 8th December 2011  

Thats just the way it was. Coaches and Games Masters where feared and games were hell instead of being fun, which they should be. At my prep vests and rugby shirts were purchased by parents re uniform list. However it was made clear on the first day that we'd never need the vest and rarely be using the rugby top. We soon discovered we'd receive a severe pinch to the nipples if we failed to try hard enough. Hence the reason for bare chests indoors and out in all weather. We used the playing fields year round, a very unpleasant place when snow covered and still no vest, underwear or sock. Those plimsolls were designed for dry indoor use only, yet we only wore socks and boots for rugby. I'm shivering remembering it.

Comments by eastender on 8th December 2011  

Just a further thought . The history of pe is interesting . When you think of all the comments regarding outside activities in the snow cross country runs, games & even naked swimming & nowadays the schools all close at the meerest hint of snow!!

Comments by eastender on 6th December 2011  

in response to the comments by collin 17 nov we did not wear any top but I recall our shorts were very short I am sure shorter that those in the photo.

We were told the no underwear rule was for hygenic reasons although showers were available.
I remember one boy told us he was going to flout the no pants rule aand was prepared to risk the consequences. He must have been a masochist. We all knew that the teacher would see the outline under his shorts (no boxers those days only briefs which showed up) He was made to go back & remove them & was slippered.

That was the way of the world

Comments by Simon Casey on 4th December 2011  

I also had a spartan regime in an now infamous prep school I attended as a boarder. Bare chested morning runs and cold showers par for the course. We had one sadastic games master who adopted a particularly harsh pumishment routine. He would regularly slipper boys after they had showered. He would have a line of still wet boys clad in only towels waiting in the corridor outside his office. In the depths of winter he would wedge open the outside doors to allow the elements in. The corridor was like a wind tunnel and we would shiver with the cold awaiting the slipper. One at a time we would be called in remove our towels and bend over a trunk for several whacks of a size 11 plimsoll. I received many a stinging rear in this fashion.

The cold wait was almost as bad as the slipper.

It prepared me well for a prefect with CP rights at my next school.

Comments by Ben on 1st December 2011  

This is how I remember PE at school in the late 1960s/ early 1970s. Gym classes were great fun with sessions just as this one divided into groups to work on pieces of apparatus be it a horse, ropes, bars, wall bars or any of the rest. Sometimes we played killer ball or pirates both of which were fast and furious but great fun. The two pe masters were both strict but encouraging and as long as you did your best they were happy but they always pushed you to your limits, great education.

I don't think anyone was embarrassed about being topless, white cotton shorts were the only gym kit we had and defintitely no underpants. Showers were cold and communal but no one was bothered about things like that, I laugh when I go to the gym these days and the showers are in cubicles.

Discipline was strict, any misbehaviour was dealt with swiftly by use of a long brown strap than hung in the changing room for all to see and four to six strokes of it sobered up any bad behaviour very quickly. For anyone stepping out of line too often there was the cane which over thin gym shorts was not something you wanted to repeat.

Great days!

Comments by eastender on 28th November 2011  

The history in this picture is interesting. It brings to mind my secodary school days (all boys)in the 60s. I can still clearly remember my father had been to an open evening for parents of boys due to start in the following September & when he came home spoke about the uniform & thnme said " for pe it's shorts & pilmsolls no socks or underpants. This was just accepted as the norm also communal changing room & showers. I do not recollect any problems perhaps a bit of towel flicking but generally the whole concept of w=exposed bodies seemed to be a great leveller. Football was any old footie shirt & no particular loyalties so no oneupmanship. The shorts were short & no such things outside such as tracksuits not even in winter just very short shorts. Only one boy got modern with white nylon shorts, but after the first time playing rain after becoming see through he changed back

Also in this era most boys at secondary school were still wearing grey shorts for uniform including the cold winter of 1963 & did not go into longs until they were about 13 & this signalled the beginning of puberty.

Comments by John on 27th November 2011  

This photo brings back a host of memories. I went to a Grammar School near Birmingham in the early sixties (I won't name it because I don't want to upset the current school management, which I have no doubt is excellent). I hated PE with a passion. The PE teacher was "strict" and had a predeliction for administering the slipper for petty offences; being the last to get changed, for example. I once got five whacks for this mesdemeneour. To be truthful, this never really bothered me. However, on occasion he humiliated me. Initially gym kit was a pair od short shorts and gym shoes. However, in the second year we were instructed to wear swimming trunks underneath. After one lesson he decided to do an inspection. We were ligned up and told to drop our shorts. The other boys did as they were told. I was mortified. I was wearing nothing underneath. He insisted that I dropped my shorts and I protested that I wasn't wearing anything underneath. My protestations fell on deaf ears. I dropped my shorts and stood in the line fully exposed. The walkway to the girls gym was opposite, although thankfully noone saw me. This humiliating experience is still vivid in my mind. Thank you for the opportunity to share it. This is a History Site and this is the experience of a Grammar School pupil in the early sixties. By the way, I love the site!

Comments by OD on 26th November 2011  

Aaron, may I ask how does it feel to perform P.E shirtless? Were you embarrased at first? If so, is it because of exposing your belly, chest or nipples?

Comments by Dave on 26th November 2011  

I totally Agree with you Aaron in all the things you've posted.
Yes, the photo were taken in 1959 but why can't anyone posting about present experiences if it is similar to the photo.And you've written your opinion of the photo either. Yes you're right to correlate discipline and shirtless PE kit as well as being barechested it's much more hygenic and there isn't anything for restricting movement especially for difficult gymnastics exercises. T-shirts are not beneficial for gym.
I encourage you to write more posts even if it's connected with present day experiences. Past and present experiences have a place in here together.

Comments by Aaron on 25th November 2011  

Matthew sorry to offend you! I assume you meant me in your last comments. I am a young man who is interested in photography and history and that's why I wanted to view the 1959 PE photograph. A photograph can capture the mood of the time. everyone has noticed the minimal same kit and for that reason,the kit is not focal point of the lesson but the activity is. and you can see that the boys looked dedicated,enthused and engaged in the activity they were doing they looked relaxed and comfortable in each others presence. Of course I did read the posters comments,some said forced shirtless the norm pre 1980's,alot said they found it beneficial, some aked if it is still practised in some schools or would it never be brought back on a big scale. I responded to these comments being a boy of 18 who probably would be among few my age to have had both compulsory shirts and compulsory skins in my school time.I was a bit longwinded in my descriptions but I was only reiterating the consesus that maybe the old Style PE lessons were better wth the fulfillment and discipline that it gave boys,and that I started upper school forced to wear shirts and the apathy and discipline problems forced a change in policy to bare chest for boys and the better behaviour and enjoyment that came from it and that the modern equality pc brigade which promotes same rules for everyone is not necessary the best in some areas. I should have commented only on the picture I am sorry.

Comments by Matthew on 25th November 2011  

This forum is to discuss the photograph of P.E. in 1959. Some comparison with modern day lessons is justified but all the relevant points have now been made so can we stop these long-winded diatribes that have nothing to do with the photo at all. This is a history site. If you have some facts or experiences to add about P.E. in 1959 please share them. If you want to comment on current practice please find a more appropriate site. Thank you.

Comments by Aaron on 24th November 2011  

I am 18 and I think I have been really lucky cos I have experienced both compulsory shirts and compulsory strip to waist in my school time. looking at comments for 50s,60s,70s,and 80s most were shirtless PE. Most boys my age and younger have not done shirtless but I do know some who have had to be shirtless forced on them like myself.This is because of bullying over plain shirts,and competing and stealing replica shirts and other discipline troubles. they wont bring it in on big scale cos of fairness and equality society which is pc. I have to be honest and say as a Lad who has had to do both shirts and shirtless, I definitely prefer bare chest PE/games. you are cold at first but because of that you have to get stuck in which didn't happen with alot with shirts on. The more you put into sport and PE the more you get out of it, no bullying over cheap or expensive shirts I found. The problem we have with equality is people interpret it wrong they think to treat people fairly means exactly the same things for boy or girl, I think equality means whats right for boys or girls even if it is different. I read other week about a boy 14 whose parents were angry at their son PE Kit being changed to no tops but their argument focused on girls should do PE in bras and girls might see their boy shirtless. but there is no need for that girls are probably Ok in their lessons and do well and behave well in their present kit. What they should be looking at is it better for their boy? yes,not so much bullying over replica or cheap shirts not getting into trouble for forgetting kit and a better lesson for their son, and I guess some mothers of girls at that school will be against boys shirtless cos they think boys are getting special treatment. See what I mean! eqality should be about fair treatment for a person is asking a boy to wear a pair of shorts and no shirt unfair treatment? is asking a girl to wear full kit unfair treatment? No to both. Bullying is unfair to a boy or a girl
though. But you see the full kit for girl and minimal kit for boy helps to prevent bullying both very DIFFERENT types of kit for DIFFERENT people. Also the thing about girls seeing their boy without shirt is amazing the young people near me go round together boys and girls, the boys in summer always shirtless in front of girls. You would think PE kit wouldn't bother them. Just one more thing I noted from comments pre 80s boys called by surnames by teachers.we were always called by first names both boys and girls, but in last 2 years some boys in our year asked the head if boys in our year could have a vote on being called by surnames in class, registration etc. This was cos they were lots of boys with same first names in my year. some got blamed for things wrongly they were 5 Daniels and 3 with my name. The vote was 75% for 25% against.Girls were called by first names and all other boys in school by first names but our year boys then got called by surnames from then on but it was democratic and right for us and it was right for the other boys and girls to be called by first names. See what I mean about difference can still be equal.Our year group boys didn't feel unfairly treat. When people called me by surname I knew they meant me. As there were a few in my PARTICULAR year group with same name.

Comments by John Lavender on 23rd November 2011  finswimmerjohn52@yahoo.com  http://gymkillerball.blogspot.com/2011/11/killerball-in-gym-lessons-at-grammar.html

@ London

Yes, agreed.

PE: Single sex lessons, same-sex Teacher.
Minimal kit, with emphasis on fitness, co-ordination,
discipline and ability to play in teams or as an alternative, encouragement to try-out individualist sports such as Triathlon or Cycling.

Comments by london on 22nd November 2011  

I was at secondary school ( all Boys )in the 60's & there was the no shirts & pants rule for pe & games

Reading the last set of comments I think it better to stop football shirts being worn to stop the one upmanship & to protect those who cannot afford the latest style. Would it be better to run pe as a single sex lesson & so return to plain short shorts not long ones like the latest football fashion & possibly ditch the boxers for briefs or slips

Comments by Aaron on 22nd November 2011  

I am boy 18. At primary school we had mixed PE lessons with woman teacher. Boys wore any colour shorts (not white!)strip to waist and bare feet. girls slapped us on chests but we just let them. girls didn't have showers and went straight to class after, boys had to get showers cos we stink more!the woman teacher supervised us but we didn't bother cos that was rule from beginning at that school. At upper school we had PE indoor and games outdoor lessons. We had football shirts shorts or socks of pro clubs like chelsea and man u,Leeds etc, some had basic plain kit including socks,this went on for a while but in my last 2years at the school the head was angry at expensive kits being stolen and boys in plain kits got picked on so he ordered bare chest for all boys. I didn,t mind cos I did it when younger some had never done it before and they were fourteen. Girls watched but It is better as boys don't have fallouts over footie teams etc. not much kit to remember boys forget stuff more than girls anyway. Most boys get used to it after a while.Should make boys bare chest in more schools my parents said cos thats how they remember it thats why mum never bought me PJs like sisters she said you don't get bedclothes cos you are a boy you sleep in just your underpants.

Comments by John Lavender on 17th November 2011  finswimmerjohn52@yahoo.com 

To help people avoid having to scroll right through the thread on this very evocative photo, I have c&p'd my post from May 2011 , below, surrounded by >> and << . Anyone with any experiences of Killerball in Their School? Would be interested to hear - just email me.


**Comments by Rob, 31st July 2010
Not at all, David! As a special "treat" in the last PE lesson of each term we played a game called Killerball whereby the two teams (consisting of the boys from each of the two classes which were put together to do PE) had to score goals at the opposite end of the gym. Any tactics were allowed to get the ball in the goal - there were no rules at all! My class usually lost so rather than just use brute force and strength we hatched a plan at the end of one term whereby everyone but the biggest, strongest boy in my class was secretly paired up with a boy in the other class except their smallest, wimpiest kid. When the whistle sounded, we all went for our targets and just started fighting with them, meaning our strongest member was free to grab the ball, and only having to deal with their weakest team member, just keep scoring! It sort of worked, but backfired on us in a way because we were never allowed to play it again - I guess the teacher thought our tactics, original, inventive and intelligent though they were (in our opinion!), were just too violent to be allowed in school for a bunch of 13 year old boys even at that non-PC time!

I suspect the specifics of these sort of games and their names varied by region or part of the country - I lived in London - were there similar games in other areas?**

>>Yes they were. We played a similar game in gym class @ our Grammar school (in Gateshead upon Tyne) when I was a pupil there, 1963 - 1968.
Our Gym teacher was a serving Sargeant in Durham (as then was) Police in Gateshead.
Our variation was played between teams of Skins and Vests.
(Technically we had plimmies, white shorts and white tees as PE Kit but when we played games we divided into 'Skins' and 'Vests' - there were just two 'houses' in the school.
Most guys wanted to play in 'Skins' and indeed we tried several times to get him to change our kit to just Plimsoles and Shorts, coloured to differentiate, but to no avail.
The rules/no rules for your game were very similar to ours; sometimes our teacher would join in as well.
The goals were a mat laid at each end of the gym, and sometimes the matches would last a half-hour to 40 minutes. We played this most weeks in PE lessons.
Also, the last four guys to enter the gym for each lesson used to be told to "Run the Gauntlet" as punishment for being slow; they would be made to strip off to the waist, and then made to run down an avenue of the rest of the c
lass in two columns, who had to slap them on the back as they passed them. Some of us deliberately changed slowly to enable us to do gym without a top and get a 'gauntleting' as a way of warming up for the lesson and the 'Killerball' game!>>

Comments by Ken from the country on 17th November 2011  

perhaps we should return to opportunities for single sex activities camps etc so boys can be less inhibited & as prev writers have said indulge in n.e. & even activities without the restriction of clothing. Who remembers swimming naked in rivers with no thought for elf & safety which today has ruined the "Spirit of adventure" Them boys may not be so inhibited & have more confidence & not worry about exposure

Comments by Colin on 17th November 2011  

I was at secondary school in the 1960's, and the picture is very reminiscent. We were allowed, no, expected, to wear a white singlet, and very short shorts, with no underwear. To this day, i do not know why underpants were not allowed, as both my sons and grandsons have worn briefs under their PE shorts. I wore trunks (old fashioned name for boxers) under my shorts,and got away with it for a few weeks, before the elastic weakened, and they showed below my shorts. I got the cane for disobeying the no underwear rule!

Comments by John Lavender on 16th November 2011  finswimmerjohn52@yahoo.com 

Dave (post on 15.11.2011)

See my reply below to Ron who posted earlier on this year on 16.06.11 .

We had t-shirts, shorts and plimmies as Gym Kit; no rule on underwear, but most of us would have just LOVED to go shirtless in Gym and we took any opportunity so to do. We were at Grammar School 1963-68. Our PE Teacher was a Police officer who encouraged us to go shirtless if we wanted to and the only time we HAD to wear a vest was if we played Killerball and we were "Vests" team; only two houses in our school. One had mid-green as a colour and the other sunshine-yellow. I would loved have worn Coloured shorts as an identifier but we only had white.
see my earlier post (02.05.11) about our Killerball games, much missed.


"@Ron. Yes I think there is a general adversity amongst boys, particularly those who have hit puberty, to Nipple Exposure (hereinafter referred to as 'NE'. This seems to go back about 20 years; before then it is generally accepted that youngsters were less embarrased about body exposure, certainly in Schools PE/Gym sessions.

The same is also true of other scenarios like the Scouts. In the pre-1980's era, in fact going back pre-WWII, going barechested (and indeed in a lot of camp scenarios, completely naked) was perfectly acceptable, because it was a 100% male environment, there was no PC to speak of, and in fact a lot of kids were eager to go to camp, not only because it was a release from the by-and-large dreadful inner city conditions, but it was bonding opportunity, you could indulge in NE or even nudity and no one bothered.

Some kids just could not wait to go for that reason and also the staff (Scout-Masters and Patrol-Leaders) were supportive; the SM in our village at the time I was at junior school, was also involved in the School itself and was a Naturist , and indeed most of the time at camp I understand he was naked or wore shorts at most. This was considered manly and anyone allegedly wearing more than shorts was generally considered to be "soft".

The parents were generally fine about this, and it is only recently when (ironically) the children of the 50s and 60s baby-boomers have started to go to senior school or scouts that this aversion to NE has manifested itself.

Gender equality has also played its part; if Scouts were male-only then I think we would probably have similar attitudes to NE as in the years before the 1980s.

I personally now wish I had joined-in the fun, a good friend of mine at the time tried to temp me to try it; I wish I had."

Comments by Colin on 16th November 2011  

I was at secondary school in the 1960's, and the picture is very reminiscent. We were allowed, no, expected, to wear a white singlet, and very short shorts, with no underwear. To this day, i do not know why underpants were not allowed, as both my sons and grandsons have worn briefs under their PE shorts. I wore trunks (old fashioned name for boxers) under my shorts,and got away with it for a few weeks, before the elastic weakened, and they showed below my shorts. I got the cane for disobeying the no underwear rule!

Comments by Dave on 15th November 2011  

Most of your posts prove that boys doesn't really mind having to be shirtless for P.E. So I can't see why most schools stopped that rule. It is much more logical and healthier being barechested for P.E. I can't see the real purpose of shirts.
Why do boys wear T-shirts in many schools for PE nowadays? Why most schools have stopped shirtless PE lessons? Any ideas?

Comments by Graham on 15th November 2011  

Like many people who’ve posted I went to school in the 1970’s.

We had very tightly defined uniform requirements, and this also covered PE and games kit. As was pretty common then, we wore only shorts inside, and did cross country in just shorts and plimsolls, so no shirt no matter how cold it was.

I think most boys enjoyed PE and games sessions, much more than most other lessons. I wasn’t embarrassed in any way about being stripped to the waist, and I doubt anyone else was. It was just what you did, and also we had to shower naked after any sports lesson, so you rapidly got used to seeing one another with no clothes on.

Yes the gym was often cold, and the showers were nearly always freezing, but so what. The school cross country course included some local street, and it was a common sight to see boys running with no tops on, so you knew what was going to happen before you first started at the school.

To school on a winters day, generally you wore a vest, shirt, pullover, blazer and coat, so it did seem strange to be forced to take off everything and run outside with a bare chest/back. But again, you didn’t have any say in it, and everyone had to do the same, anyway wearing a thin vest would have been little benefit anyway.

Comments by Oldschoolboy on 15th November 2011  

I was at school in the late sixties/ early seventies and have a vivid memory of a rugby session at the start of term. The master was a barrel chested welshman who began proceedings by having us stand in a circle round him and go through the warm-up routine, this ended with us all on our backs, feet towards the centre doing various excercises one of which was both feet up, legs straight(good for the abdominal muscles) at which point anything worn under our very short shorts was clearly on display. After this he announced that he "couldn`t help noticing" that some of us were wearing unsuitable underwear or worse, none at all and the correct item was a jockstrap and woe betide any one not having one next session.I can`t remember what the punishment was to be but I don`t recall any one not complying.

Comments by Phlip on 9th November 2011  

This is an excellent pic which reminds me of my schooldays. I went to boarding school at the age of seven in 1967 and stayed through prep, junior and senior houses until I was 18.

Sports kit was consistent throughout my time, for gym work we had a pair of white shorts, for outdoor PT, running etc. we added a pair of plimsols, for rugby we had a shirt, shorts, socks and boots, underpants were not allowed at any age and checks were made. Wearing underpants resulted in a slippering on the first occasion and the cane on any subsequent occasions. Swimming was always naked.

The sports pavillion was set away from the school buildings and the rule was no sports kit on the school side so we always got changed in there. There were changing bays for about twenty so space for about two hundred boys to change in ten teams and one huge communal shower so no room for anyone to be shy. There was never hot water in the pavillion so showers were always freezing.

The various teachers were strict and unbending, standards were high and nonsense was not tolerated and dealt with swiftly. That said, the sports staff in particular were generally good fun and always went the extra mile to encourage you and get you performing.

For academic work we had monthly tests and there was something called the average marks rule. If your marks in any test fell below your previous average the result was the cane unless your average was over 90%. It certainly was an incentive to keep performance up but of course the harder you worked the higher your marks got and the more you risked a caning. I got quite a few but in the end left with some very good results. Imagine that being applied these days.

Comments by James on 5th November 2011  

When I was at school we wore satin shorts with side slits.They were very revealing and had a shimmering affect.

Comments by old bristolian on 3rd November 2011  

in our day there was nom inhibition in doing pe commando there couldn't be whaat with thim white nylon shorts ( very short) doing excercises in pairs especially handstands you saw everything & showered together afterwards. are boys more effiminate now & no longer men & embat=rrassed to be naked in showers together?

Comments by To London Lad on 2nd November 2011  

London Lad, I'm 13, and yes, modern schools have it A LOT better!

Comments by london lad on 1st November 2011  

he modern schools do boys now wear underwear for pe?

Comments by Matthew on 30th October 2011  

How sad that people had such awful experiences as those described in the recent posts but it seems to have happened outside of P.E. lessons. Thankfully,I think most of us have happier memories and enjoyed our P.E., as those in the photograph seem to be doing.

Comments by Mal on 29th October 2011  

As I've stated before,I experienced morning cold showers and daily cross country runs whilst stripped to the waist.
Like 'Jon' I went to an all-boys boarding school where the PE staff insisted PE was done barechested both indoors and outside regardless of the weather.
As caning had recently stopped at the school we got seriously gruelling 'punishment hours' in the evening. The PE master was an old sadist, of that I'm now convinced. Any boy would rather have accepted a good caning than get 2 hours
one evening, never mind an ongoing nightly affair as in 'Jons' case. We had ours in the gym bare barefoot, no vest allowed.
Guys behaved to avoid these. There was a huge climate of fear during my time because of this one man.
I once had a two hour session and I was the only one being 'punished'. Although the cane, strap and slipper had been stopped while it was still legal and going on throughout most private public schools in the UK, the school had 'volunteered' to give up whacking and replaced it with something much worse.
That sadist still used the neck strap of his whistle to whip the legs and torso with at will. If one was taking too long to change after games he'd lash you with this cord. It stung like blazes and left a nasty raised stripe.
Can you imagine two whole hours with this nutcase whipping you if he decided you were not sweating enough or doing squats quick enough. Two hours with one drink of water half way. I do not recall anyone having two in a row but do remember the nurse excused lads off lessons the day following one and they'd stay in bed all day. Brutal.

Comments by Simon on 17th October 2011  

I went to an all male boarding school in Scotland in the mid 1970's. It was a strict regime and quite hard, especially for the new boys.
Every morning we would do a 2 mile run wearing white pe shorts and plimsolls. When it wasn't frozen, we also had to, immediatly after the run, do 4 lengths of the outdoor pool which was so so cold in the winter. We took off our shorts and plimsolls, did the swinm and then dashed back to our House to try and get warm. The thing I remember was that in the cold days of winter, our housemaster and his wife, who were all wrapped up, used to check religiously that every boy had done the run/swim and finished it off with a cold shower. There was no hot water in my House although some of the other Houses had hot water. My House was always very popular though, for some reason. These were harsh times but really only in the winter. In the summer, we all enjoyed it and had a lot of fun.

Comments by Matthew on 15th October 2011  

For a video version similar to this photo see the P.E. scene in the excellent "P'Tang Yang Kipperbang", set in a 1950's grammar school. It is followed by a Head's caning as mentioned by Stephen with an hilarious voice over by the cricket commentator John Arlott. The film, a touching and at the same time funny rite of passage story, is available on DVD.

Comments by Stephen on 13th October 2011  

yes that could be the school I went to in the 1960s White shorts and plimsols a Boy found in underpants did it bare for a few times. Showers were compulsory the only tiem a jock strap was allowed was when you played rugby against another school It ws common to see things hanging out of shorts when you were in the 4th 5th and 6th forms. In the winter cross country runs were shorts only to come rain , hail or snow. A boy who played up went to the hea dand came back with a hot bottom.

Comments by Elliot on 13th October 2011  

My school's PE kit is a bright yellow t-shirt with black shorts, together with the standard school socks and shoes. We also had a white vest used during different occasions. After the first PE lesson, our teacher told us to come in the vest instead. We were slightly uncomfortable at first as we could feel the breeze on our shoulders and even across our chests as our loosely fitted vests created air spaces between the vest and our 13-year old bodies. It made us feel more vulnerable. During competitive sports, one team had to be stripped to the waist to differentiate the teams, and nobody liked to be in the stripped team. Boys who did not bring their PE kit would have to borrow another boy's shorts and change out his uniform, leaving him shirtless. As mentioned by someone else, this was perhaps a show of power by the teacher, and to force the boy into a compliant and submissive state, knowing that he was being punished. 

Comments by JohnT on 12th October 2011  

Ahh, school PE lessons ... I went to school a little later than many others her (mid 1970s - mid 1980s) but I think I just caught the 'tail end' of the old regime, as my state schools (in the 'grim north') were rather old-fashioned with many staff (including the venerable PE teacher) having been there decades and very stuck in their (traditional) ways.

There was no uniform at my old Infant school (it was a poor school in a poor area) and this was reflected in the PE kit - boys simply did indoor work (there were no outdoor facilities) stripped down to underpants and in bare feet. Unthinkable today, but very common back there and then. I vaguely recollect being allowed to keep my white vest occasionally, but really, we never questioned or thought about it - we simply did as we were told!

Moving up to Juniors we got our first taste of 'proper' PE involving apparatus work like in the photo. Again, the school didn't have a uniform, but we were expected to bring and wear 'suitable' shorts (i.e. proper gym shorts not casual wear). We were allowed to wear black plimsolls indoors and a vest, and a few boys did, but I never bothered, largely spurred by a 'PE mad' friend of mine who always insisted on doing everything bare chested and in bare feet (he used to keep telling me how better it was).

Moving up to Seniors, and I finally got my first taste of having to wear a proper school uniform. The school also had a set PE kit for both indoor and outdoor sports. Outdoors was generally a rugby kit in school colours, although for athletics and cross-country our indoor kit was worn.

Indoors, the kit was ostensibly 'shorts only' and we were permitted to wear the same shorts as our outdoor kit (plain black). However, the rules did permit the wearing of a plain white vest and clean plimsolls or trainers for indoor work, but this was generally frowned upon by the teacher. However it didn't stop some boys from wearing the whole lot (which I always thought wa stupid). Some boys never wore anything for indoor work except their shorts (i.e. bare chest and bare feet) so classes ended up with boys in a mixture of kit. Although I was a rather scrawny boy who was rubbish at PE I always took the class very seriously and did my best, and this (along with my insistence on being bare chest and bare feet) always seemed to impress the PE teacher who was very supportive. Whereas those who wore vests and trainers and generally didn't put any effort in, were the ones who ended up having to do laps of the field in the freezing cold and pouring rain after school!

I miss those old lessons. Like others here I agree that contemporary school PE lessons are ridiculously 'soft' and lax. Yes, back then the gym was always freezing cold, and the lessons (especially circuit training) was relentless ... But at same time there was a certain 'macho' atmosphere with boys wanting to show off and prove that they were 'men' and could perform the various activities as well as the teacher (who, for an old man, was amazingly adept and fit).

But it's all gone now, along with those freezing cold dusty old gyms with their deadly wooden wall bars and medicine balls. Now we have school teaching soft non-contact sports and aerobics ... Shudder ...

Comments by Jon on 7th October 2011  

Our all-boys boarding school wasn't in Scotland but the PE staff insisted PE was done barechested both indoors or outside regardless of the weather or time of year. If you were seen to misbehave or not apply the required effort you were punished with a 2hr remedial session under the lights on the school yard from 7-9pm, obviously stripped to the waist and the term of your punishment could range from one night upwards to 2 weeks, determined by the PE staff. Now I can tell you this was a nightmare during the winter months!

Comments by Mal on 1st October 2011  

I experienced morning cold showers and daily cross country runs whilst stripped to the waist. Sheer hell in winter. However I've read of even harsher regimes in Scottish boarding schools where boys had to submerge themselves in a cold bath first thing every morning. Has anyone experienced such a thing?

Comments by norfolk on 28th September 2011  

yes I remember Buckmore Prk. Is there still a Scout Campsite there?