Clitheroe Royal Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1602         Views: 159,630         Comments: 742

Clitheroe Royal Grammar School

Led by Stuart Bennett (Captain), right, the cross-country team returns from a practice run around the nearby country-side.
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, November 1959

742 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by Rob on 31st January 2017  

Steve,our pe kit was the same as yours in the gym, but we wore nothing extra for cross country and athletics.We played football, not in pe lessons but seperate double lessons when our pe shorts doubled up as football shorts, but still without underwear, and football shirts, boots and socks.So you must have received some guidance on tops for outdoor sports activities if you usually wore a T shirt.

Like most boys,I certainly wasn't bothered about wearing just shorts and plimsolls for pe and soon got used to having to go in the communal showers in the nude after pe and games. We did as were told without questioning it.

Comments by Steve on 26th January 2017  

When our class had it's first pe lesson in secondary school which was an all boys school, I knew in a advance that we would not be wearing underwear or tops for pe. Our parents had been told at a parents evening held some months before we went to secondary school that pe was strictly shorts,plimsolls and that was it.
So they told me when we were buying uniform that I only needed shorts and plimsolls for pe. When outdoors there was no guidance on tops and we usually wore a t shirt. However, in summer most of us were bare topped.

So we turned up for pe and the teacher a big imposing man said "remember no pants or socks shorts only". He did say he might check ( the punishment was the slipper)but as far as I remember he never did.

I do not think only being allowed the minimum of clothing bothered me. It was the rules and that was that.

Comments by Terry on 25th January 2017  

Bradley, did some boys keep their shirts on for cross country then? You said nobody was forced to run shirtless so I wasn't clear. Either way, the logic does seem a bit strange.
I left school in 2003 and, while we always wore tops for cross country, shirts and skins was commonplace for other aspects of PE. Like others here, I was one of those selected to play skins more often than not, maybe because I was on the school football team and the teacher in charge also took my class for PE. In football training it was usually shirts v skins as well so I got used to being a skin right the way through school.

Comments by Bradley on 23rd January 2017  

The reasoning that was given was that some parents constantly complained of having to wash muddy shirts after cross country since our track had some very slippery parts to it, especially after it rained. We weren't forced to go without a shirt- it was just a recommendation- but most of our parents agreed. After all, our fathers probably all did their XC shirtless.

Our XC was done by everyone. We had competitions between different houses so everyone had to take part.

Comments by Warren on 22nd January 2017  

'Falling in mud and ruining your t shirt'
Strange excuse. With that argument who would ever wear a shirt during strenuous activity!
I don't believe a reason was ever given to us to us when we had XC. And the team trained shirtless during my time at School. The region has the lowest temperatures in the UK.
I'm sure the shirtless regime put many off joining the XC teams!

Comments by Bradley on 22nd January 2017  

Warren, i agree that cross country in the winter is harsh, especially if you have to run without a shirt on.I certainly felt it was quite unfair to have to run in cold weather, sometimes freezing, without my shirt because there was a risk of us "falling in mud and ruining our shirts", especially when we normally did PE lessons with shirts on.

Comments by Warren on 19th January 2017  

Like Toby My PE teacher had his usual suspects when it came to shirts versus skins. He was also XC Coach. After school runs were compulsory shirtless even in harshest Northern Irish Winters. He tended to pick members of the Football and XC teams. Which suited the beefier lads!

Comments by Rob on 16th January 2017  

When I started at an all boys school in the late fifties we were all told before the first PE lesson in the gym to get changed into gym shorts and plimsolls.We were not allowed to wear shirts,pants or socks and this was our kit until we left at aged 18 both in the gym and outside including cross country running.After all PE lessons it was compulsory for everyone to go naked into the communal showers. We did as were told without question and no-one ever said anything about being shy or embarrassed; we just got used to it.

Comments by Toby on 15th January 2017  

Hi Paul,

Unfortunately for me I was one of the favourites to strip. I have no idea why though. I was quite sporty but nothing special in any way. There were around 2 or 3 lads in each class who were singled out and that was the same in each class. Being honest once I got used to being a skin I didn't mind it too much, not that there was anything I could do. I do remember when I was 11 one of my friends saying his younger brother who was in the 1st year was singled out to strip down too. I think it was totally random but you got used to it. We were always pushed hard and was common for skins to be sweating freely, especially in the gym or playing basketball. At those points I was pleased to be a skin and it always got girls attention so bonus points there!

Comments by Paul on 11th January 2017  

Toby, were you one of the 'favourites' in your class? How did you feel about it if so?
Don't remember anyone being singled out in that way myself, although we did have vests vs skins in PE quite frequently.

Comments by Toby on 8th January 2017  

Wayne, your teacher sounded the same as ours. We were "introduced" to skins and vests as 9 year olds. I remember the very first lesson and being picked to stand in front of the class and was simply told " Right lad, vest off and drop it on the floor" soon after he picked others at random to drop their vests. To make things worse he had his "favourites" who always ended up as skins. It was the same every lesson until leaving at 18. If you had a punishment session it was always outside, we had to change round the back of one of the mobile classrooms and you had your top off regardless of weather or conditions. This was done during assembly time and always made you really late for the first lesson.

Comments by Wayne on 4th January 2017  

Hi Tom,
We did most sports activities in skins at some stage - football, basketball, volleyball and athletics were probably the most common. I was 12 the first time I did PE with my shirt off and that continued regularly through to 16. My first punishment run was at 13 or 14 but unfortunately it wasn't my last!

Comments by Tom on 24th December 2016  

Wayne, how old were you when you started to strip to the waist and what activities did you play in skins?

Comments by Wayne on 20th December 2016  

Matt's PE teacher sounds like the one I had in the 80s. He was something of a disciplinarian and boys who were deemed to have stepped out of line - as I discovered - found themselves subject to a punishment run. These could vary in length and difficulty but there was one certainty, you'd be made to take your shirt off before the run started. If there was a nip in the air that was too bad, you just had to run faster to get warm! Sometimes he would order boys to strip to the waist in ordinary PE lessons as well. I'm not sure there was any reason other than to remind us who was in charge.

Comments by Andrea on 19th December 2016 

If I remember correctly we just had to roll up the sleeves of our blouses for the BCG test.

For the actual BCG injection we had to unbutton our blouses sufficiently to be able to slip them off one shoulder.

Comments by Matt on 17th December 2016  

Thomas. If my recollection of the early 60's is right, the BCG test was done clad, then most boys had the injection against TB. For a few showing antibodies, like me, an X-ray was required just to check we were OK. The worst thing was that my mates found out and ribbed me about it the next day!
A "new broom" PE teacher made us run shirtless. It was initially for punishment runs, then for his classes and finally for all. He said it was to let air and sun to our bodies when we'd been cooped up inside. Also it let him see exactly what we were doing, although I can't think how that applied for running. And finally, there was the disciplinary aspect - we did what he told us to do. Although essentially a fair man, he was a hard taskmaster and stricter disciplinarian. Most Scots lads from the 60's will remember what that meant!

Comments by Pete on 28th November 2016  

I only remember having two school medicals, one in primary and one in secondary, when I was at school in the late 50s and 60s.
In primary it was done in the last year or the year before from what I remember, so we were about 10 or 11 years old.
They were done in two adjoining classes or empty offices, one was were we stripped to underpants and the other the examining room.
We were taken one class at a time, boys and girls separately, accampanied by our class teacher who happened to be a female in that year. So we were about 12 boys in our group.
As soon as we arrived the teacher told us to strip to underpants in the waiting room, then taken in one at a time in the exam room where the nurse told us to take off our underpants and did the preliminary checks like height and weight. Then the doctor would examine us. He happened to be a male doctor.
Actually there were two of us boys in the exam room to speed things up, while one was being examined by the doctor another one was called in to be checked by the nurse.
Our teacher stood in the doorway between the two rooms to immediately call in another boy as soon as one was finished, so she actually had a view of us being examined in our naked glory.

The secondary medical exam had a little more privacy, but about that in another post maybe.
I can imagine the embarrassment of having mothers or other witnesses at secondary school medicals when one is in their teens, as some have mentioned.

Comments by Ryan on 27th November 2016  

Thomas Somehow I managed to avoid the BCG at school. However, our school medicals sound similar to yours except they were held in a designated classroom the windows having been covered up Ours was an all boys school. We we called into the classroom from out of our lessons about 6 of us at a time. We lined up in the room stripped to the waste and stood in line one behind the other. Then we were called forward to the doctor and after several checks on ears eyes etc we told
to " drop em" Anyone being shy or coy got a gruff "I said drop them right down".

Of course this exposed your bare backside to the next person in the queue. The worrying thing (bearing in mind we were about 14 years old,) was that parents we invited to be present and usually those days mums stayed and home and it would be them. As far as I know much to the relief of us lads no ones mum ever attended. It was bad enough having a female nurse present.

Comments by Thomas on 27th November 2016 

Matt, was it ever explained why you had to strip completely for the BCG? Seems very strange. We had our BCG injections at school when I was 12-13 (in the 1980s) and I remember we were told to strip to the waist and queue up but we kept the rest of our clothes on. It was the same for general medical exams at school, although those were done in two stages. For the first part you were shirtless, then you went individually into the doctor's office and had to strip naked when instructed.
By the way, I wasn't clear from your description of cross country; did you run without a top? Quite a few people here have mentioned shirtless running as standard for boys in that era but I wasn't sure.
Sometimes boys did run shirtless at my school but only in warm weather and by choice. I can't say it would have appealed to me in winter conditions!

Comments by Matt on 25th November 2016 

As well as nudity in medicals, I remember it for X-rays. The first was when I was 8 or 9 at the local hospital. I was told to take off all my clothes in the changing room before the X-ray. That meant I had to walk naked in front of all the people in the changing room, and of course had to walk back.
The second time was a couple to years later after the BCG test for TB. I was in puberty and self-conscious about my body. I was told as a boy I had to strip completely - adult men only had to strip to the waist. I was then sent along a corridor to await my appointment standing outside the door while surprised looking, shirtless men came and went. It seemed an age, but it was soon over.
By the way, we did cross country/long distance running in brief, 60's style PE shorts and gymshoes. All weathers - I actually came to like frost, rain and wind!

Comments by Sterling on 17th November 2016  

I remember school sports physicals being quite overwhelming.
Maybe upwards of 40 lads at a time packed into the gym.
We had strip off in the changing room and proceed to the gym in our birthday suits.
As boarders we were well used to stripping off, but once we spotted the awaiting Female Doctor's and Nurses hands began quickly covering crotches.
They quickly put a stop to that!
There was no provision for privacy. No screens or curtains.
During college Physicals we had Male Physician's and kept our underwear on until the hernia check, performed behind a privacy screen.

Comments by Andrea on 10th October 2016 

I can recollect having two medicals during my time at Secondary School. The first was soon after I had started and was done in vest and pants (although the vest had to be lifted up enough for the doctor to use her stethoscope).

The second was in the 4th or 5th year, by which time the vest had given way to a bra. I did have to unfasten that and slip it down slightly to enable the (female) doctor to do a visual examination. Similarly I had to pull the top of my pants forward to allow her to see down there. I'm not sure what she was actually looking for, but she did ask if my periods were regular.

We had swimming lessons in our local municipal pool (which was closed to the public at that time) and had to wear a blue one piece costume.

Comments by Ian on 8th October 2016  

Sid at Secondary school the only experience of nudity apart from being in the all boys class in the showers was the dreaded school medical exam. All lined up made to strip to our briefs and then line up. We approached the doctor individually, and at the end of the examination the doctor nearly always a lady would without warning tell you top drop em & cough. That was the worst thing.

Comments by James on 7th October 2016  

Gavin - no problem! I went to Bedford Modern. We played against your school in rugby and cricket

Comments by Sid on 6th October 2016  

Ian, it was not uncommon for boy scouts to swim nude in those days. Even at my prep school we had to take swim class in the nude, often with female teachers and instuctors for us young boys up to age 12 or 13.
Someone asked what it would have felt like being made to swim nude at school. Well, I guess some boys were really embarrassed but most of us got used to it since we had no choice. The worst part was standing at attention for roll call and instuctions at the begining of class with everything on display, but once in the water we all had fun.

Comments by Ian on 30th September 2016  

In reply to Willy, I never experienced nude swimming at school . We had swimming lessons at the local municipal pool closed session for our school. We all wore the briefs type trunks now colloquially known as speedos. The only experience I had of nude swimming was at Buckmore Park Scout camp. Also when we went on summer scout camp at one of the private farms we used there was a secluded river which we would swim in. ~One day a scout dared someone to swim naked then we all did it. The leaders stayed in camp. No elf & safety those days. Also this was in the era when the Scout Association was only for boys.

Comments by Rob on 25th September 2016  

Willy, we used to run past the gate of the girls grammar school stripped to just PE shorts and plimsolls and were often watched by the girls and there was quite a bit of banter between us. We enjoyed it and I'm sure none of us felt any embarrassment.We were aged from 11 till 18 and although we may have been a bit skinny to start with, we grew into quite strapping lads as we got older and enjoyed showing off in front of the girls.

Comments by Willy on 25th September 2016  

I guess most of us schoolboys were skinny in those days, so nothing to show off. Most of us would have been uneasy with girls watching us stripped to the waist.

On another note, how many here had nude swimming at school? Some have even mentioned that they did swimming galas in the nude in front of spectators. I wonder what that would have felt like.

Comments by Gavin / Gedvin on 19th September 2016  

Hi James
Thanks for coming in and supporting me! Yes, we competed against other independent public schools and that was my experience, too! Which school did you attend?

Comments by Rob on 13th September 2016  

Hi Jono, Sounds like you went to a good school and I bet you boys looked forward to the inter house competitions in the gym, being able to show off barechested in front of the girls. I'm sure girls today would relish the opportunity of being allowed in the gym to watch the boys working up a sweat stripped to just a pair of PE shorts, but unfortunately times have changed.

Comments by Jono on 11th September 2016  

Hi Rob, We never had mixed PE, though the girls would stand and look through the door windows which were reinforced glass. They always were allowed into the gym to watch inter house competitions. I'm sure that girls today wouldn't mind watching the boys exercise barechested for PE.

Comments by Rob on 1st September 2016  

Jono, Thanks for the explanation. Glad you enjoyed being stripped down for normal PE and having the girls see you barechested. Did you have mixed PE lessons? Can't understand those boys being embarrassed about having hairy chests, I would have thought it made them feel more macho in front of the girls.

Comments by Jono on 31st August 2016  

Hi Rob,

We always knew in advance, the reason being is the majority lived a good distance from the school. My parents lived 35 miles from it. No service buses went that far, just 2 trips daily so long journey in and even longer at night. It hasn't changed much today either and yes our council tax bill is the same as if we had all the services people expect. No teacher wanted to have responsibility of having to get people home on their hands.

Comments by Rob on 30th August 2016  

Jono, what was the point of dragging you out of a lesson to the detriment of your education and of your classmates to have to go and strip to the waist,( presumably you mean to shorts and trainers) and be sent out on a run or made to work out. You must have been expecting it otherwise how would you have had your kit to change into? If they gave you, as you call it, PE punishment, why wasn't it done after school?

Comments by Jono on 28th August 2016  

Hi Dave,

The school's official kit was:

Pair of White and pair of black shorts.
White vest
School football / rugby top ( yellow )
trainers any kind I think if I remember hi tec " squash " and Dunlop " tennis " were the most popular choice of footwear.

I didn't know anyone when starting at the school, just moved into area when the school year started. One boy had an older sister a couple of years above who told him what he could expect.

Our teacher made it absolutely clear that we would strip down as soon as were in the gym. Our PE lessons were either indoors or out but we stayed barechested regardless of the weather or temperature.

The football/rugby tops were worn infrequently, if it was decided it was warm enough then it was shirts vs skins...this happened more often than not.

Cross Country runs were always done barechested unless it was an inter house competition then one class would wear vests to distinguish teams.

Inter house fitness and basketball competitions were always done with everyone barechested.

You may have wondered why we needed to have a pair of black shorts and a pair of white shorts. Well at the very start, we were given a number... 1s would wear white shorts and 2s would wear black shorts.
Then with us all barechested, you could easily pick out the teams.

PE punishments were swift. It was not unusual for lessons to be interupted and the "victim" taken from the classroom. You quickly found yourself stripped down to the waist and out on the yard before either being given a run or a full fitness session regardless of the weather or temperature. If it rained / snowed then it was your tough luck. I was lucky and had 4 such punishments.... but they were all during the winter months.

Being a mixed school gave the girls plenty of opportunity to see all of us stripped down. They certainly approved seeing us barechested and we did too. One thing that didn't affect me was the issue of chest hair. A few lads thought they'd be exempt from stripping down having a hairy chest...our teacher merely shrugged his shoulders and made the strip anyway.

Comments by James on 25th August 2016  

I think it was standard practice in my school for boys to wear a jockstrap especially age 14 onwards, so Gavin is quite right. Secondly, I seem to remember when we competed against otherschools, the boys wearing jockstraps, too. As for the ridiculous comment about jockstraps being unhygenic .. What tosh! They were washed!!

Comments by Ian on 24th August 2016  

In reply to Dave
I do not think that there was any reaction by us lads having to do PE shirtless. It is just how it was.
I knew about it two ways.
1 My elder brother attended the same school and I knew that topless and no pants was the way it was
2 When my father attended an evening meeting for new parents the PE teacher explained it was shorts no pants, tops or socks. We only did PE indoors all team games were outside and we wore any t shirt and co loured sashes.

In reply to Robs comments, if there was additional flesh showing we did not seem bothered. As you say we would all be naked together in the showers afterwards.

It does seem that there is more inhibition these days and my son at High school wears a uniform house polo shirt, shorts with pants and tracky bottoms(winter) No showers are provided.

Mind you talking with him it is not PE as we know it. I do not think they work up a sweat.

Are there any high schools that still have their own swimming pools or provide swimming lessons. If so what has to be worn. Is there a choice between speedo type trunks or swimming shorts?

Comments by Rob on 23rd August 2016  

Dominic, I entirely agree. Like the majority of boys for decades,we had to wear just shorts with no pants or anything else for pe and thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of freedom and fresh air. So we might have shown some additional flesh in the gym, but we were all naked when we were in the showers afterwards, anyway.

Comments by Dave on 23rd August 2016  

Hi Jono!What was the reaction of your classmates having to do PE shirtless. How did you get to know it? Was it in a uniform list or the teacher told it to you himself? Was there any reason given to you having to do PE shirtless? How did you play team games if you were all barechested?

As you've written you left school at 1993 sot it seems shirtless PE kit tradition lasted much more longer than I thougt.It was contiuned into the 90's. I wonder when and why it became not being a practice anymore.

Comments by Dave on 23rd August 2016  

Ian,what was the reaction of your classmates having to do PE shirtless. How did you get to know it? Was it in a uniform list or the teacher told it to you himself? Was there any reason given to you having to do PE shirtless? How did you play team games if you were all barechested?

Comments by Dominic on 22nd August 2016  

Ian - like you we were never told about athletic supports or felt the need for anything like that. At our first p.e. lesson, when we were told we would wear only a pair of shorts for p.e. with nothing underneath, it was mentioned that it was good for us to have plenty of fresh air in that area and it made sense both for hygiene and comfort. I can't help thinking an athletic support would be uncomfortable and unhygienic and I'm very glad we weren't made to wear them.

Comments by Ian on 22nd August 2016  

Re athletic supports, we were not told about or advised by the teachers of pe to wear them. Never gave a thought abouth them.

Comments by Gedvin on 22nd August 2016  

Hi Ian

Really surprised the older boys didn't wear athletic supports! Why on earth not?
Best wishes Gavin

Comments by Andrea on 21st August 2016 

In reply to Tim, I think mum's priority was to make sure that school clothes weren't so short or tight that they would prompt a letter home from school. Maybe it was slightly different at a boys school, but our teachers were quite strict about that sort of thing.

From what I recall, in a lot of cases, I did get two years out of a lot of my school clothes and where that wasn't possible (as with my first year blouses and PE tops), they were kept as spares for my younger sister.

Comments by Ian on 21st August 2016  

Hi Dave
I attended secondary school (all boys) 1961 to 1966 Indoors pe was the white shorts previously mentioned, no pants as was the norm it seems for that era. No top and plimsolls no socks.
Outdoors was winter football same shorts any t shirt( very few had football club shirts still no pants and football boots and socks. summer was simplified cricket quite soft balls white shorts again no pants and depending on temperature a vest or t shirt was optional.

Gedvin. In response to your comments at secondary school, we were never told about athletic supports and never wore them in any year..
In my junior school boys & girls did pe together and in our case all boys wore grey uniform shorts adn so for pe we simply took off our shirts and did the pe in shorts and vest. The girls however, removed their skirts (girls did not wear trousers then) and did the lesson with us in their underwear and vest. In this day and age this would be considered discrimination and either boys would have do the lesson the same as girls in pants or the girls would were shorts.
Furthermore, in the summer, pe was held outside in the playground which was by a busy road open to the publics view.. This would not happen now.

Finally, I have not known boys in Junior schools not wearing pants for pe, and being inspected. How was the inspection carried out and was in front of the girls?

Comments by Dave on 20th August 2016  

Hi Ian!

When did you go to school? Was it in England? Were you allowed to wear shirts for indoor or outdoor PE?

Comments by Ian on 19th August 2016  

Frank I wore grey shorts at secondary school until about the age of 14 (all boys school) My shorts were quite short and as far as I remember, not many shops sold shorts to cater for the older boy and they tended to be sized for younger lads. With briefs underneath they could become uncomfortable by the end of the day.

I wore long gray socks which were itchy, and for pe tight thin white shorts made of nylon and of of course no pants, which left little to the imagination, especially if we had a cross country run and it rained.

Later on more loose fitting white shorts became available, but then, with no pants there was the problem of support as we got older and depending on the exercises being carried out there could be some additional flesh on show.

However it was all part of school life and we just got on with it.

Comments by Gedvin on 19th August 2016  

My school required senior school boys to wear an 'athletic support' as stipulated in the school clothing requirements. So that would have meant any boy aged between 13 and 19. The regulation was never strictly policed, but wearing anything else but a jockstrap was frowned upon and over zealous prefects made you change if you were caught without one. When I was in the junior school we were not allowed to wear any underclothing under our shorts. This was definitely policed!

Comments by James on 19th August 2016  

Frank, I remember those knee stockings that were worn with the school uniform, usually in the winter to keep our legs warm.Usually boys went into long trousers at 14 or during the winter months and then back into shorts when it became warmer.
For me it was never an issue whether I should wear long trousers or shorts,it was considered mandatory and short trousers were replaced with more shorts as I grew older.
Yes,they were very cold items of clothing to wear in the winter, but I simply grew accustomed to wearing them and my parents indulged themselves in this practice till I left school.

Comments by Frank on 18th August 2016  

Like several other posters here have recounted, I was kept in shorts till I was 14, including secondary school uniform.
In vain I begged my mother to buy me long trousers for school, she just ignored my request.
Admittedly those uniform grey school shorts were knee length or just below the knee, and with near knee length socks. Anyone remember those woollen grey socks as part of school uniform?
Also from what I remember I think most boys at my school wore shorts anyway as part of uniform in the first few years of secondary school. This was in the 60s.

In contrast to the school uniform shorts our white PE shorts were really short and of thin material.