Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 664,983         Comments: 2,402

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

2402 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by JamesB on 12th December 2018  


The tawse was always given on the hands- never on the bottom.

I doubt if there was any maximum officially written down . Depending on the severity of the offence the number of strokes given was 2,4 or 6. In my experience , 4 seemed a popular choice amongst teachers but not all teachers would give the same. I have seen boys get more than 6 but this was because they had been adjudged as having moved their hand. If a teacher decided a boy had moved his hand and even if the tawse had hit him, he was given that stroke again and an extra one for moving.


Comments by Andy on 12th December 2018  

Rachael, I never had shirtless pe lessons but we did have swimming lessons which were obviously done shirtless. I personally didn’t see many people with chest hair, I think people tend to either trim it or not have much of it. I personally don’t have much hair on my chest and never really cared about it.

I never really felt embarrassed about anything during lessons. It was just galas that were a bit awkward but even then i just got over it

Comments by Roy on 11th December 2018  

I agree with David G's comments re Josh. If that really happened it would be a classic case of child abuse.

Comments by Rob on 10th December 2018  

In the late 50's when all boys wore vests under their school shirts we had to strip off for PE from the age of 11 until we left at 18 and wear just shorts and plimsolls, indoors, and outside for athletics and cross country through the local woodland and open countryside. No-one was concerned about whether you had a hairy chest or not and we always had to shower after every lesson and there was no privacy at all there! we all had to get used to it and become men together.

Comments by Sam on 10th December 2018  

Rachael,  this was something that really worried me when I began to develop hair on my chest at age 15. We still had compulsory PE for another year and usual practice for boys' classes at my school was vests vs skins, with the teacher deciding which of us had to strip down. So I knew at some point I would have to be in skins and I felt nervous about being the only lad in the class with chest hair.
To my relief, when our first PE lesson of the term came around, I could see another boy had a patch of hair visibly poking out above his vest (more than I did, in fact) and that gave me encouragement, to know I wouldn't be the only one whose body looked a bit different. As it happened I kept my vest on for that first lesson while the other lad was a skin and didn't seem bothered about it at all. That definitely helped to ease my concerns. For the next few lessons I was picked to do it in skins and soon felt more confident about showing my chest hair, which thickened up more during the course of that year!

Comments by John on 10th December 2018  

The PE teachers didn’t care whether lads had hairy chests or not, the school PE kit rule for boys was white shorts and pumps only for indoor PE. Outdoor team games were often shirts vs skins, if a PE teacher selected you for the skins team you stripped off your shirt immediately without question.

Comments by Howard on 10th December 2018  


I assume the tawse was used mainly on the hands.
Was it ever used on the bottom?

Also, was there a limit to how many strokes could be given on the hands?

Comments by Andy on 10th December 2018  

Seeing the comments on this post surprised me quite a bit. I’m probably a bit younger than most people on here, having graduated from a boys only high school three years ago. We didn’t have shirtless pe lessons at any time and I don’t think it would be allowed today. However, we did have swimming lessons for about half a year, for which we wore trunks. If you forgot your trunks or PE kit you were given a detention and missed the lesson.

Comments by Rachael on 9th December 2018  

I've seen comments from other females so I don't awkward for asking if any lads were still made to strip off as skins if they had hairy chests or did they keep their vests on at that stage.

Comments by David G on 8th December 2018  

Hi Josh, I'm not sure why - but I don't believe you!
You may have had a fantasy about this happening-but it really doesn't help genuine posters to have confidence in this site if you post "crap". I'm sure there are better sites you can go to play out your fantasies!
PS your grammar isn't the best did you have a learning problem/dyslexia because the way you express yourself seems quite childish!

Comments by Josh on 6th December 2018  

Hi, I came from a small village near Bristol, and yes, our teacher used to punish us by caning ourselves. One time I forgot PE kit, and she ordered me to join the group taking off my shirt, then she take my shirt so that I cannot take on if I was cold. It was winter and extremely cold, moreover I was the only one bare chested but I was very angry so I offended her.. it was the end, she ordered me to run other 5 laps (400 meter each one) while the other boys were seeing me from the window because of cold. At the end she caned me and it was terrible because I still was shirtless until she let me go inside and gave me my shirt back, even though I prefer to remain shirtless because my chest was full of sweat and I didn’t want to dirty a new shirt..

Comments by JamesB on 5th December 2018  


I attended a boys only school in Scotland in the mid-late 60's and we too had 'punishment periods' in the gym. Very hard work and if anyone was slacking then corporal punishment was inflicted.

Being a Scottish school, the cane was not used but the Tawse ( always known as 'the belt') was used extensively. This was usually a 2 tailed leather strap applied with enthusiasm on the hands of the poor boy. In gym class the gym shoe was used across a boys shorts. Our gym kit was exactly as shown in the picture and the 'no underpants' rule was the norm .


Comments by Alan on 5th December 2018  


It's was a boys only school, and yes I got caned

Comments by Howard on 4th December 2018  

Was it a boys only school or mixed?
Did girls get the same punishment?

Ours was a boys only school.

Btw, my previous post I left out that we wore plimsalls besides just shorts for outdoor running.
The plimsall was also used for whacking by teachers.
The cane was only reserved for the headmaster and that was only used for very serious crimes that affected the whole school.
Your school seems to have had a much harsher regime. Did you ever get the cane?
Any other posters here who got the cane at school?

Comments by Alan on 3rd December 2018  


The run was mostly country tracks across fields/woodlands near the school.

For a detention if you forget kit, you did your best to borrow a pair of shorts from anyone. Boys who turned up without shorts, did the indoor workout in underpants, then get caned. The detention had to be repeated next week, and counted towards your 3.

If we were late at school, for say after school societies, it was normal to see boys running in only their shorts, as part of their punishment.

Comments by Howard on 3rd December 2018  

Alan, we had the same detention punishments at my school, in just PE shorts although we also wore
If you did not have your PE shorts you had to do it in just underpants.
Also it was not actual runs outside of the school as you mention in yours. We were made to run around the large schoolyard.
Slipperings were also given for repeated detentions.

I find the running barefoot outside on gravel and in winter conditions in your school a bit harsh.
Did you get your punishment runs in just thin shorts in populated areas or just countryside?

Also what happened when a boy did not have his PE shorts with him for these punishment detention runs?

Comments by Alan on 2nd December 2018  

For normal PE we wore shorts/plimsolls, plus a vest for cross country.

Detentions involved a workout and run, then we had to strip to just shorts, same inside and out. Thus we had to run with bare feet and stripped to the waist, plus the cane on return if you got to your 3rd detention.

One of my parents friends had seen boys being punished like this, and spoke to me about it before I started at the school, along the lines of it being an effective punishment for a boy on a winters day. As I soon found out with my first detention, after a workout in the gym, we all had to line up outside ready for the run - it was freezing cold standing hands on head, bare to the waist in only thin shorts, bare feet on gravel.

Comments by Andrea on 1st December 2018  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Fiona, the arrangements at your primary school sound similar to those when my son was at primary. The boys and girls started to change separately from the age of about 8 or 9. However as there were very few male teachers at the school, the boys changing area was often supervised by a female member of staff.

Of course it was different once they got to secondary school, where there were male and female PE teachers and separate changing rooms. Showers were available but rarely used, so I made sure he always had a can of deodorant in his kit bag!

Comments by Fiona on 30th November 2018  

Andrea - Yes Mum and I had, and still have, a very good relationship, and from my teen days onwards have been more like sisters than Mum and daughter!

At primary school we had PE two or three times a week, usually in the hall, but out on the field when weather permitted. Girls and boys were together, although we changed separately, us in our classroom and the boys in the cloakroom. At secondary school the gym had separate changing rooms with showers for boys and girls, we did PE at separate times and the only thing we actually did together was tennis in the summer term.

To answer your second question, I should have mentioned that I lost no time in taking up Mum's suggestion. By the time the new school term started, my bed-time routine had become shower, milk and biscuits downstairs with Mum in my dressing gown, and then straight into bed, au naturelle. All that changed when Dad came home was that there were now three of us to share the biscuits, and three of us sleeping the "grown-up" way.

Comments by Charles on 30th November 2018  

Ross. Yes were made to go barefoot outside if we changed at the last minute from gym to games outside. Gym was always barefoot.
I had forgotten about always having to bring trainers when we did PE. Boys who did not bring them went barefoot outside.

Comments by Andrea on 29th November 2018  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Fiona, you seem to have had a good relationship with your mum, which helped you deal with both the physical and emotional aspects of puberty.

It took a while to accept that my days as a flat-chested tomboy were over, so my birthday bras lay unworn in my drawer for a few months. Although mum and I weren't as good as you at talking about such things, at least she gave me that breathing space to come to terms with the idea.

When it came time for a 'back to school' shopping trip, she said she didn't really want to buy any new vests and by then I had to admit that wearing a bra for PE would be be more comfortable.

Just a couple more questions. Did boys and girls change separately for PE at your primary school and if not were special arrangements made for those of you wearing bras?
In my primary they were allowed to change in the toilets.

Did you have to revert to wearing nightwear when your dad was home? We didn't have central heating, so sleeping naked wasn't really an option.
On the subject of dads, although he never said anything, I do remember feeling embarrassed the first time one of my bras was on the washing line when he was at home!

Comments by Ross on 29th November 2018  

Charles. Seems like we went to similar schools. Were you ever compelled to go outside barefoot? I was quite frequently as I was never too happy about carrying around with me a pair of trainers plus alll my school books. Did you ever have a trainer check? We did. We all had to report inside the gym once changed and our teacher checked our trainers and if deemed unsuitable we had to take them off and go barefoot.

Comments by Fiona on 27th November 2018  

Andrea - looking back on it, I think I felt very "grown up" because I was about to go to secondary school and, for the last few weeks of my final primary school term, I was proud to be one of a select group of bra-wearers in a class where some girls were still wearing vests. With Dad away working, often for months at a time, Mum and I were very close and our "birds and bees" discussion had taken place over two or three relaxed years rather than an embarrassed Sunday afternon, so I was very well prepared.

Over the half-term holiday, Mum and I had a celebratory girl's day out, stocking up on cosmetics and "other" supplies, shopping for bras, indulging in a posh lunch followed by an afternoon at the cinema. Back home, as I was modelling my new purchases in front of the mirror, Mum started rummaging in my wardrobe, emerging with an armful of clothes and the observation that, as a grown-up young lady, there were things I didn't need any more. These turned out to be some vests, unloved, unworn but outgrown, whose existence I had forgotten about and whose fate was unquestioned, a nylon nightie of uncertain vintage that had been on my hit-list for a while, and my entire wardrobe of PJs, mostly serviceable although some had seen better days through regular usage.

On questioning the PJs, Mum said that, with duvets and central heated bedrooms, all a fashionable late 20th century young lady needed in bed were her birthday suit and a dab of perfume. During recent hot weather Mum hadn't commented when she found me experimenting with sleeping in just my knickers, but the suggestion that I should wear absolutely nothing at all to bed, presumably for keeps, made me feel VERY "grown up".

Comments by Charles on 27th November 2018  

Ross. It was same for us. We always had to bring our trainers to every PE lesson in case we switched from inside to outside. Those who did not have trainers for outside did it in bare feet. This was the rule as some tried to get out of PE by deliberately forgetting their trainers for outside PE.
A few times we switched at the last minute from inside to outside as we lined up for gym. So we all did it outdoors in just our shorts.

Comments by Andrea on 26th November 2018  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

How did you feel when your mum took you to get fitted for your first bra? Rather than take me for a fitting, my mum just went ahead and bought me a couple of bras as an unexpected birthday present. This was in May of my first year at secondary school. I was rather taken aback as neither of us had brought up the subject beforehand. Also, I was a bit of a tomboy, so it took me a while before I came to terms with the fact that I needed to wear one, so it wasn't until I went back to school at the start of the second year that I started to do so regularly.

I was by no means the first in my class to wear a bra (a few did so before we left Primary school and more started during the first year at Secondary) but I still felt a little apprehensive the first time I went into the PE changing room one. As it happened, several other girls had also got them over the summer and our PE teacher obviously thought a few others should have as she told them to ask their mothers for one.
Talking of quaint terms, our teacher referred to them as 'brassieres' rather than bras.

Comments by Fiona on 26th November 2018  

Andrea - Looking back to my school PE days, I realise my Mum was quite perceptive towards the needs of developing girls, or "young ladies", as she so quaintly put it. So, when I started developing "up top", she lost no time in getting me properly fitted for my first bra, so although I wasn't the first in my class to get one, I was probably the first to get one at the right time! I was also one of the first to go without a vest all the year round but as we had a "proper" PE kit, and proper changing facilities, the only issue there was a certain amount of jealousy from the kids with more conventional mothers.

Comments by Andrea on 18th November 2018  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

James & James B,
Yes, I guess talking to parents about supportive underwear was embarrassing at the time. I think my Ex would have preferred the option of buying a supporter at school, rather than going to the local sports shop with his dad.

The timing of us girls getting our first bras varied back then. Some girls seemed to get one almost before they needed one, whereas others needed a prompt from our PE teacher to ask their mums for one.

Comments by James on 17th November 2018  

To answer Andrea and Gavin (although I did mention the same thing quite a long time ago, the PE department at our school sold some items of kit, including jockstraps. My father wasn't the slightest bit sporty and, for some reason I just couldn't see how to bring up the subject of underwear with either of my parents, so I just bought one at school.
As far as washing was concerned, we had a swimming pool at school and many of us would just go through the showers after games lessons with shorts and jocks on and then go into the pool after school. The white nylon shorts did become transparent though)! We had our own lockers so I just left the wet things hanging in my locker to dry off.

Comments by JamesB on 17th November 2018  


Yes, it was exactly the same as your Ex had explained. At the first PE lesson after the summer break we were in the gym and the PE teacher raised the matter. He explained that now that we were older we should consider using a supporter and that these were available from the PE Dept office. There was no mention of this in the School Prospectus. As I say, most boys bought one over the next few weeks.

I agree with your Ex, some boys should have been given the opportunity to buy one much earlier and some boys didn't really need to bother - well, not at that time anyway.

I suppose the same could be said for girls in your PE class. I recall you indicated earlier that the PE teacher needed to speak with girls who should have been in a bra earlier!


Comments by Ryan on 16th November 2018  

Hi guys, I was reading these posts and I noticed that I was not the only one who was “tortured” for punishment. Like Jason said, in page 2 of this forum, also in my school there was a sort of pole where we were tied if we did something wrong. It happened to me and it was not a nice experience because my school mate made fun of me. They punched me kicked me and also put on my chest water taken from sewage. Obviously I was bare chested too. I think it is unfair but it is an equal punishment because obviously if you “torture” one of you’re school mate then he can “torture” you so you cannot exaggerate. Have you ever tried an experience like this?

Comments by Rob on 16th November 2018  

Ross, no doubt you got used to your uncertain routine. We had two PE lessons per week in the gym, which might include a surprise cross country run through local woodland and countryside, but still wearing just our black shorts and plimsolls.In the summer we went outside for athletics or cross country. Plus, we had a double lesson, referred to as Games,for soccer in the winter, when we wore full soccer kit, or cricket in the summer. After all the above activities, apart from cricket, we always had to get our kit off and go in the open communal showers.Times have changed since then and it seems that generally this practice has been discontinued in schools.

Comments by Andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk on 15th November 2018  

James B,
Did the PE uniform list that went to your parents say that supporters were allowed from the 3rd year, or were you told this by your PE teacher (which is what happened with my Ex)?

He said that some boys could have done with one earlier, whereas others didn't really need one at the start of their 3rd year!

Comments by Alfie on 14th November 2018  

Yes John the nylon white shorts did become transparent when playing when pe was outside(football or cross country) At least it was an all boys school and no one seemed bothered, and the playing fields were secluded.

Comments by Ross on 14th November 2018  

Rob, we were allowed to wear trainers outside. Our PE lessons were 3 times a week and we’d generally do the same activity for a week but week to week we didn’t know what we were doing. One week could have been gymnastics and the next rugby or we could be doing a week of gymnastics and have a surprise cross country. So yeah we had to bring our trainers to every lesson and those that didn’t had to go outside and take part barefoot.

Comments by Phil on 14th November 2018  

@ James B, my experience exactly!

Comments by JamesB on 13th November 2018  

I attended a grammar school from the mid 60''s and our kit was as shown in the picture. The 'no underpants' rule applied and was monitored. From year 3 we were allowed a Litesome supporter which could be bought from PE Dept. Most boys bought one.

Comments by Rob on 13th November 2018  

Ross, so did wear plimsolls or trainers outside and did you know when you were going to need them or did you always have to bring them in case?

Comments by John on 13th November 2018  

Rob, our PE kit was white shorts and pumps and nothing allowed underneath the shorts. Black shorts would have been more sensible as the white nylon shorts of the 1970s could become transparent.

Comments by Ross on 12th November 2018  

Hi Rob, my uniform list actually required a change of underwear not that anyone checked or probably even dared to have checked. We weren’t however allowed plimsolls or trainers for indoor activities inside the gymnasium, it was strictly bare feet.

Comments by Rob on 12th November 2018  

Ross, It looks very much like the gymnasium at my school at that time.Our kit was just black shorts and plimsolls. We weren't allowed anything under our shorts, which was normal at the time, probably including the lads in the photo.

Comments by Ross on 11th November 2018  

Looking at the gymnasium it doesn’t look too dissimilar from the one I used in high school and I went in the early 2000s !!! This is from 1959.

The kits were different though as we wore a white polo shirt, navy shorts and bare feet.

Comments by Arby on 10th November 2018  

I agree with Chris G about wearing them under shorts, and even trousers, in the summer. They are a lot cooler to wear than briefs. I still go to a gym a couple of times a week even though I gave up playing actual sports long ago, and I still wear a jockstrap under my shorts there. I am possibly the only one who does - but who cares? I also agree with Chris that it is sad that shops such as Debenhams and sports shops no longer seem to stock them. I bought a couple recently via the internet. There are a few UK suppliers to buy them from without having to import them from the USA - even Amazon seems to have them.

Comments by Chris G on 9th November 2018  

Philip - For everyday underwear, Dad was very much a vest and briefs man, as were many men half a century ago, but with Singapore having a hot, humid climate, and taking the advice of both Mum and colleagues who had been there before him, he decided that he wouldn't need to take any vests but that he would need something less enveloping than his briefs but sufficiently supportive of his lower anatomy. Once back in the UK climate, he instinctively reverted to vast and briefs, leaving half a dozen nearly-new Litesome jockstraps up for grabs. Mum was all for throwing them away (there weren't any clothing/textile recycling oppportunities back then) but my brother and I had other ideas, and rapidly added them to our respective wardrobes. Alhtough we occasionally wore them in more formal situations, we generally wore them under shorts, both for sports and for general use in the summer, until they died of failed elatic, as most jockstraps do in the end. Even now, I prefer a jock to briefs in hot weather, although they are increasingly hard to find in the high-street shops. Until about five years ago, Debenham's had them in their Active Sport underwear range but, sadly, not any more.

Comments by Gavin A on 8th November 2018  

Arby and Chris G

Yes unfortunately the lifespan of a Litesome Jockstrap was rather short lived due to wear and tear, often found lying around damp on changing room floors etc. We could have of course just go down to the school outfitters and purchase a new one, but often, being boys, we couldn't be fagged. So often knots were tied in the straps to keep some kind of tension when the elastic went. Wasn't ideal but it worked to some extent. Yes, like you I have never stopped wearing a jock for sport. Like you l wear narrow bands. Youngsters are so spoilt for choice these days.

Comments by Philip on 8th November 2018  

To ChrisG.
Why did your dad just want jock straps to wear in Singapore and didn't want them any more when he returned?

Comments by Arby on 7th November 2018  

As with Chris G I too used to wear mine often. I found them to be comfortable. I still wear one under shorts in the summer. Very cool to wear. Although a bit difficult to buy in shops now they are not difficult to find on the internet. As you say Chris, the narrower waist bands are preferable.

Comments by Chris G on 6th November 2018  

Gavin, James - just the question I was going to ask. I think that I wore mine (and Dad's) for most of the first summer that I had them, and fairly regularly from then, until they wore out, which was generally when the leg elastic perished from too much washing. I still wear jocks in the summer when I can get them, although I prefer a narrow waist-band now.

Comments by Gavin A on 5th November 2018  

Why wouldn't you tell your parents about your wearing a jockstrap? Who washed your sports stuff?

Comments by Andrea on 5th November 2018  andreatwo 

I assume that it was the fact that you wore your jockstrap under your ordinary clothes that you didn't tell your parents? Presumably your mum knew you had one in the first place by the fact that it appeared in the washing basket?

Also, were either of your parents with you when you purchased it?

Comments by James on 4th November 2018  

In answer to ChrIS G, yes once our PE teacher had suggested that some of us would be ‘more comfortable’ if we wore jockstraps i got one. It was so comfortable and different that i would wear it for pe and games but also whenever i could, but i never told my parents.