Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 713,562         Comments: 2,605

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

2605 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by Oldschoolboy on 22nd May 2012  

Judging by the comments posted here, it srikes me that a lot of you suffered under the cohort of ex military people who were recuited into teaching after the war. We had a few in our school who were definitely somewhat unhinged and fortunately for me were not part of the PT department. When I left school (all boys) aged 18 in 1972 things were becoming a little more relaxed and the last swishes of the cane were dying away (I can still feel it however!)
PT was still done much as we see in the photo, we had singlets and shorts with coloured stripes on the side, as juniors no underwear was the norm but I don`t remember it being a rule as such, after age 13 or so we all wore the old cotton Litesome jockstrap, again there was no rule, we just did. Communal showers were the norm as well and I don`t recall any problems.
When I look back, it was certainly pretty spartan, but on the whole it was a good time.

Comments by Thumper on 21st May 2012  

Back inthe 60's we were required to wear shorts and tennis shoes.NO underclothing was permitted, but a shirtcould beworn. You COULD NOT wear your street clothes to PE, and if you did,you were not allowed to pass on the course, but to strip off NAKED and do PE that way..Not many forgot their shorts and shoes because of being afraid to disrobe. I cannot remember of any time that the familyor school administration had any problem with that. And yes, this was an all male class, with no chance of women coming into this area.

Comments by Tyrone on 9th May 2012  

Dave & Roy,
I have looked at most of the previous peoples comments & the only conclusion I can come to having read them, is that we are nearly all from the era when we were not so inhibited about our bodies. As you say rules were rules & that was that. I know my parents were told that we did pe with no underwear & no top. No one queried it. Furthermore, most senior schools were single sex so there was not the logistics of running separate classes for pe & no risk of anyone of the opposite sex seeing any one changing. As for showers one big open area with several shower heads & no worries about seeing each other undressed let alone without a shirt. It was all part of growing up. Nowadays boys are too inhibited.

Comments by Peter on 9th May 2012  

I went to an all-boys school in the 19970s. Like the boys in the photo, our PE was always done stripped to the waist. It was no use "forgetting" kit to get out of the lesson because the teacher had a supply donated by boys who were leaving or who had grown out of theirs. The teacher in the picture is wearing a tee-shirt and socks whereas our teacher wore track pants and a tee-shirt and sometimes a tracksuit top. I always felt that what was good enough for us should have been good enough for him.

Comments by Dave on 8th May 2012  

"I wnet with the family to a swimming pool of course teen boys just wear short. so what is the difference in doin pe this way?"

There is no difference.
Do they wear shirts for mixed swimming classes? No. That's why I can't see why boys are allowed to wear T-shirts nowadays in most schools for PE.

Comments by Roy on 8th May 2012  

Tyrone:-if teachers tell boys to strip to the waist for PE then they should be stripped to the waist with no questions asked.As you say you often see lads stripped to the waist in streets etc so what's the problem.

Comments by Tyrone on 8th May 2012  

I am assuming teenage lads would resent it if they were asked to go bare top for pe these days. However, at the weekend when I wnet with the family to a swimming pool of course teen boys just wear short. so what is the difference in doin pe this way?

Comments by Tom on 6th May 2012  

In my time boys were stripped to the waist for PE as soon as they started at junior school when they were seven.This went on until they left secondary school at either sixteen or eighteen.

Comments by RF on 4th May 2012  

GD:While still in primary school we used to see the boys from the nearby secondary school running bare-chested.We knew that when we went there we too would be stripped to the waist for games etc and we regarded it as perfectly normal.

Comments by G D on 3rd May 2012  

Having read the various comments , i can tell you in the sixties our P E was shorts, plimsolls & nothing else. Our shorts were white & the teacher said so we could not wear anything underneath without it showing, bearing in mind we all wore briefs those days.

One boy tried to keep his pants on Fool! The teacher was not daft. On the whole we enjoyed pe & I think enjoyed the freedom of wearing less clothes bearing in mind that for the rest of the day it was strictly uniform blazers & shirts & ties & we were only allowed to remove blazers if extremely hot weather. Anyone else eperince this?

Comments by Mark Jones on 3rd May 2012  

To Sid:-This was in the fifties/sixties and we worfe nothing under our shorts.We wore house shorts which were white.

Comments by Sid on 2nd May 2012  

To the 2 peopl;e named Mark, you say stripped to the waste for pe what era. I presume the pe kit was shorts & nothing worn underneath. In our school the colour of shorts was determined by the "House" you were in. White , Blue,Black. Were yours the same?

Comments by MARK JONES on 27th April 2012  

Yes Mark Smith I was bare-foot as well as stripped to the waist.

Comments by Mark Smith on 27th April 2012  

Mark Jones:-Were you barefoot as well as stripped to the waist?

Comments by Pete S on 27th April 2012  

Dave, T-shirt's aren't better. It's the designer clothes and PC brigade at work who'll tell you otherwise because they're making money. A vest, or better still, a bare chest are still the most effective tops. Boys, if given the chance would relish the opportunity to strip to the waist for exercise. It would also solve these "issues" (excuses!) once and for all.

Comments by Mark Jones on 26th April 2012  

Again I did PE stripped to the waist in the sixties.Thought nothing of it.Boys stripped to the waist.End of story.

Comments by Cornish on 21st April 2012  

At Junior school during the period 1957to 1961 pe mainly was indoors except for hot summer days & for boys was in vests(singlets) & grey school shorts which every boy wore irrespective of the time of year. However, the girls wore a vest & had to remove their skirts & do pe in their underwear. As far as I can recall, there was no complinats about the inequality between boys & girls de rigeur. That just how it was.

Secondary school was a different regime boys only school & pe was indoors & out depending on the weather, & was short tight white shorts (no underwear which would have shown through) & bare top, but we wore plimsolls with no socks. Finished off with communal showers. NO worries or thought about boys seeing each other naked. But it seems this is an issue for lads these days.

Comments by Dave on 20th April 2012  

I don't think boys really care about having to be shirtless for P.E. so I can't see why most schools changed that. Even vests are vanishing from nowadays schools and they wear T-shirts for gym. Why T-shirts are better?

Comments by Borstal Boy on 18th April 2012  

Yes I was sent to Borstal when I was sixteen and yes I wa stripped to the waist when at Wormwood Scrubs for assessment and at Portland when serving my sentence and working as a gardener

Comments by Barrie on 18th April 2012  

Like Craig my first experience of being stripped to the waist was also on my first day at primary school aged about 5 when I had a medical.Afterwards I started doing PE stripped to the waist both in and out of doors.This continued throughout my school career until I left at the age of nearly 19

Comments by Tim on 18th April 2012  

Borstal Boy:- Judging from yourI/D you susequently served a sentence of Borstal Training. Am I right and if so did you have to do PE and/work while stripped to the waist

Comments by Borstal Boy on 18th April 2012  

When I was fourteen I was sent to a detention centre for three months.On my first morning there I had to do thirty minutes P E while stripped to the waist and barefoot.This was outdoors at 6 a.m. and was followed by a cold shower.I had previously been stripped to the waist for P E since I was about nine or ten but this was something else!!!

Comments by Craig on 18th April 2012  

My first experience of being stripped to the waist at school was on my first day at primary school when we had a medical.I then did P E stripped to the waist reegulary so when I went to secoonday school and learned we had to do gym etc stripped to the waist I just got on with it.

Comments by Darren on 17th April 2012  

I also remember having to do P E stripped to the waist at school.Also as punishments I had to stand outside in freezing weather stripped to the waist and barefoot for at least an hour.

Comments by Roy on 17th April 2012  

I also had to do PE outdoors stripped to the waist in the hard winter of '62-63 with snow on the ground

Comments by Jack on 17th April 2012  

At my school in the sixties some boys engaged in unofficial boxing fights and for those they were always stripped to the waist.(Up till then I had believed that only professional boxers stripped to the waist for fights).

Comments by Sam on 17th April 2012  

I also was always stripped to the waist for P E and again I enjoyed the freedom of being bare-chested.Again it was normal and all the other lads were stripped to the waist and many including myself were also bare-footed.

Comments by Jonny on 17th April 2012  

I remember in the hard winter of 1962-63 having to do P E stripped to the waist outdoors and with several inches of snow on the ground.It was tough but you got used to it.

Comments by The Iron Man on 17th April 2012  

Perhaps Hardman goes a little bit too far but I don't think that the young thugs would come back for a second helping especially if they were caned and/or birched for breaches of discipline and at the beginning and end of their time inside.

Comments by Roy on 17th April 2012  

I can also remember occasions when in the sixties in Summer term in periods revising for O Levels and A Levels boys had to go outdoors for the lessons stripped to the waist.Again we thought nothing of it

Comments by Hardman on 16th April 2012  

Further to Mark's comment I can see nothing wrong in making these young criminals be shirtless nearly all the time.It would be a good idea to adopt in our own YOIs.When they arrive to be processed these youths would have to strip to the waist and would remain stripped to the waist thereafter for all activities.This would include several hours of labouring a day and also for meals and for sleeping.They should also have their heads shaved.

Comments by Jonny on 16th April 2012  

We had a Sports day in the Summer Term when all the boys taking part were always stripped to the waist.Again this was normal and we thought nothing of it.

Comments by Tim H on 16th April 2012  

There was a 'whimsical' documentary on BBC4 las week - 'Leotards & vests' - about the British way of keeping fit. There was a section on school PE at the start, with some nice vintage footage. Its still available on iPlayer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01g6g2k/Leotards_and_Vests_The_Great_British_Workout/

Cross-country in just shorts - no top or shoes - yuck! It sends shivers down my spine just to think of it!

Comments by John on 16th April 2012  

I loved being stripped to the waist for PE.It was what you did in the sixties and I also went barefoot.

Comments by John on 16th April 2012  

The file name "Sportunterricht" makes me think it could be German. Seems plausible, as I read an article elesewhere about boys being made to do PE shirtless there in an attempt to clamp down on discipline issues. I have no confirmation of that however.

Comments by The Ox on 16th April 2012  

In my schools (primary and secondary) it was normal practice for all boys to do PE and cross-country stripped to the waist and bare-foot.Nothing was thought of it.

Comments by Dave on 16th April 2012  

John, is it a PE lesson at an actual german school? We are not allowed to have permission for the album so we don't know any information about that picture. But yes it seems quite recent

Comments by John on 15th April 2012  

Shirtless PE in Germany apprently. Photo seems to be quite recent.


Comments by Sid on 15th April 2012  

In reply to Nigel's comments, we had no inhibitions about our bodies. I cannot recall any comments about being shirtles or remarking on other boy's physiques. In fact performong handstands supported by another lad with feet up in the air left nothing to the imagination.

I still thimk as I put in a comment some time ago for some reason lads seem to have more inhibitions about their bodies & it seems these days that comunial showers & changing rooms create a problem for lads. Any current pupil care to comment?

Comments by Roy on 14th April 2012  

Yorkie,it was co-ed but PE etc was organised separately for boys and girls.

Comments by Nigel on 14th April 2012  

For those who experienced shirtless P.e before. Do you guys make fun of other boy's body or nipples? We had a friend whose nipples are always hard and we call him harry-hard nipples. He always tried to cover them, but the P.E teacher 'insisted' he perform star jumps, to our amusement.

Comments by yorkie on 13th April 2012  

Roy when you say all boys was this a co ed school or all boys?. I did not know that schools insisted on running barefoot. We wore plimsolls but no socks.

Comments by Roy on 11th April 2012  

When I was at school in the fifties and sixties all boys had to be stripped to the waist for PE. In addition we had to do cross country runs both stripped to the waist and barefoot.

Comments by KB on 10th April 2012  

I was at primary school in the early to mid 1970's and remember both boys and girls did PE bare top.

Comments by yorkie on 22nd March 2012  

in response to your question Dave, pe indoors white short shorts plimsolls no underwear, no top & outdoors athletics etc the same the only concession was football when we wore any old t shirt or if could afford it a "proper" football shirt & again very short shorts usally the same ones we used for pe except for a few better off boys started wearing colours of their favourite football team. Swimming was once a week at the local public swimming pool used exclusively for school lessons when we wore what are now known as "Speedo" type trunks none of the modern type baggy
shorts that kids wear these days.

Comments by Dave on 22nd March 2012  

Yorkie, so what was your PE kit indoors and outdoors?

Comments by Yorkie on 20th March 2012  

I was educated in the 60's up to 1966 at an all boys school. No female input or domination.We took part in PE & football & sports, with the minimum of clothing even during the coldest winter. Having read previous comments we had no problems about using communal changing rooms & shower was not even thought about as being strange. In fact it was all part of the camaraderie of growing up & continued until we left school at 16. Things have certainly changed over the years but why are guys these days so inhibited about their bodies & have to have seperate cubicles for changing & showers?

Comments by Tuskerman on 16th March 2012  

I was born in Canada in 1954 into a world that was dominated by women (the supposed men in my world were apparently oblivious to that fact).

So, why were girls not forced to perform PE almost naked? Why were boys subjected to swimming naked within the eye-shot of girls?

Gender equality is a myth contrived by females in order to subordinate us even further!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Comments by Jake on 14th March 2012  

Reading StuartéÄôs post made me recall a lad in my class who hardly ever seemed to wear a vest for PE. Sometimes he just didnéÄôt bring one at all, other times he would start the lesson in his vest and take it off later on, mostly in the gym although I do remember him running outside shirtless as well. We did shirts against skins games quite often and this boy was almost always a skin as he had his top off anyway. The full kit was white vest and red shorts, white socks and plimsolls and most boys wore all the items allowed.

Comments by Pete S on 11th March 2012  

In reply to Marks earlier comment about punishment...If we didn't perform to the teacher's expectations we were taken out of a lesson to be given either laps of the field (anything between 10-15 laps being the norm), or a fitness session outdoors on the yard regardless of the weather. Obviously punishments were done with stripped to the waist and could be quite brutal during a freezing winter.