Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 647,286         Comments: 2,374

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

2374 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by Jason on 16th October 2018  

Hi, Roy. Yes, maybe. But it happened a lot of years ago. Anyway you accepted it at the beginning of the school, so it was normal for us this kind of punishment. It was quite normal that someone broke the rules in some way and was punished. You were a target for 15 minutes and the teacher wasn’t there during the punishment. So, after taking off your shirt and being tied, you were alone with other 20 boys who did whatever they wanted. It means everything ahah, but we accepted it, it was like a challenge, sometimes our chest became red for punches but we showed that we could resist to this

Comments by Roy on 16th October 2018  

If what Jason describes happened today it would quite rightly be regarded as a form of child abuse and probably a criminal offence as well!

Comments by Jason on 15th October 2018  

Hi guys, just to talk about Pe punishment at school. I read a message of a boy who was tied to a bar and punched, and I suddenly remembered hat happened to me at school. I went to a military school where rules were very strict and punishment very tough. One time I forgot my kit and my teacher got so angry he decided to apply what he called “worst punishment”. It consisted in taking off shirt and in being placed with arms tied with a rope behind the head. At that point the other boys could do whatever they want on you for 10/15 minutes. In my case, the other boy tortured me, not only kicking and punching on my chest like I read in the other post, but they also put on my bare chest whatever they found, like dirty water, mud and dirt. At the end of the punishment I was very tired and dirty, and due to the fact they have also ripped my shirt, I stayed the entire day with my bare dirty chest. That’s military school

Comments by Paul on 15th October 2018  

Hello Tony, When we went swimming this like you was down the local council pool which was a 10 minute walk away from my school. Once a week all the boys from my year walked in a line down to the pool. I think it was Tuesday afternoon and the girls did the same on a Thursday.

For us it seemed quite normal to remove our clothes and swim naked. So all we really needed was a towel.

Comments by Tony H on 13th October 2018  

Paul, you refer to swimming naked at the local pool. Was it one class or age group at a time or a mix of age groups? At least when we went to our council pool we wore swimming trunks which in our era were the briefs type.

Comments by Paul on 11th October 2018  

Reading all these comments really did bring back memories for me. Our indoor kit was like so many white nylon shorts only with no underwear, shirts, socks or plimsolls despite the “official” PE kit listing white tee, ankle socks and plimsolls for indoor lessons we all learned in the first lesson that was obviously a misprint and we were all told to remove our shirts, underpants, socks and shoes. Some of us didn’t care and got on with it some of us grumbled but we knew if we didn’t do as we were told we’d get a size 12 plimsoll across our backside.
Anyone who forgot their shorts simply had to go without, yes that meant run around the sports hall naked which wasn’t a huge deal as we were all accustomed to swimming nude for our practice lessons at the local pool.

Outdoor PE during the summer pretty much mirrored the indoor kit shirtless, shorts and bare feet. Which was great if the sun was out!

Outdoor PE in winter saw us wearing a rugby shirt!!! With our white shorts and barefoot which wasn’t all that bad except was cold underfoot especially if we were sent out on a snowy field.

If you forgot your kit then it was underpants only but these couldn’t then be worn for the rest of the school day because of hygiene.

Comments by Stuart on 9th October 2018  cmnmuk@yahoo.co.uk 

Hi John, yes bare chested was fine for indoors PE. The only one negative time i can recall was a fire alarm practice when we all had to assemble outside in the school playground and it wasnt a particularly nice day....cold brr.
It was also a good job that no boys that lesson had forgotten their kit a couple of the PE teachers made boys do it naked if they forgot - it was boys only school i should add.

Comments by John on 7th October 2018  

We also played the game you described and yes it did hurt slightly being barechested whilst being hit by a ball. Given the choice between being stripped to the waist or being made to wear vests or shirts I’d choose to do PE shirtless every time. After being in a hot classroom it was great to be able to get shirtless and put on a pair of shorts and pumps, it was a sensible rule for lads and I don’t understand why schools have made lads wear shirts for indoor PE.

Comments by Stuart on 7th October 2018  cmnmuk@yahoo.co.uk 

TonyH yes th same at my prep school in Surrey and Grammar school in Hampshire, the plimsoll was definitely the weapon of choice by PE masters. That stung through thin shorts and nothing else. Any boy caught with pants on underneath was told to take them off there and then and before putting shorts back on the plimsoll was applied to the bare bottom. I can recall the sound it made as it echoed round the gym.
The worse thing about pe without shirts was the game where it started with one boy with a ball and all the others had to run around until hit and then joined his side, a different take on british bulldog. A ball thrown fast hitting bare skin hurt.

Comments by Tony H on 5th October 2018  

With regards to being caned on the backside in thin shorts and no pants would have been very painful. Our PE teacher was not quite so bad. He used a large Plimsoll. It was vary rarely used. Mainly it was used on lads who came out of the changing rooms still wearing pants.

However, there was one occasion when I saw the whole class waked with the slipper. I was on prefect duty in the corridor keeping another class in order and the PE teacher had left a class to sit in the Gym and were waiting for him to return. In his absence some of the class became very noisy. So on his return (irrespective of who had misbehaved and who had not) he lined up the whole class and made them bend over and touch their toes and he went along the line and gave every single lad a whack on the behind. An injustice for those who had not misbehaved, but in those days that was hard luck.

Comments by John on 4th October 2018  

Alan, I enjoyed doing PE shirtless and think that was a completely sensible rule for boys but I think that footwear should have been allowed especially outside. Lads could have ended up with pieces of glass or other sharp objects embedded in the soles of their feet whilst on cross country runs.

Comments by Alan on 3rd October 2018  

Hi John and Ross.
Yes, stripped to the waist, too.
As far as I can remember (it was a very, very, long time ago...)shoes just weren't mentioned in the kit list for PE and cross country, and when we asked about it we were told the rule was no footwear.

Comments by John on 3rd October 2018  

Steve, I don’t think that there was anything wrong with your PE kit rule, but it was completely wrong that the cane was used at all. That was an abusive environment.

Comments by Steve on 2nd October 2018  

I went to a English boys only grammar school in the 70's.

First PE lesson, and first cross country run, we all had to line up before we changed, and were told what kit was allowed. This was just shorts inside, plus plimsolls outside, always stripped to the waist.

We were also shown the cane, and told it would be used to "encourage" us in cross country - and it was. Boys who finished in the last 5 or so (from around 60 lads), got warned once, then if they finished in the same position again they were into the gym to be caned. 6 hard strokes, stripped to only a thin pair of shorts hurt !

Comments by Ross on 30th September 2018  


Interesting that you had a barefoot rule for all indoor and outdoor PE. How was this told to you? Was it written in the school handbook or was it just a PE teachers ruling?

I was in school in the 00s and we did indoor PE barefoot and went barefoot outside if we didn’t have our trainers.

Comments by Andrea on 28th September 2018  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

My Ex told me that when their PE teacher talked to them about jockstraps in the early 1970s he advised them to ask for a 'litesome supporter' at the local sports shop.

Comments by Sam C on 28th September 2018  

Chris G and Gavin A, I really only think there were Litesome jockstraps in the 60s and 70s

Comments by John on 27th September 2018  

Hi Alan, as well as having to go barefooted, did you do PE stripped to the waist like the lads in the photo?

Comments by Alan on 27th September 2018  

Seeing the latest posts on this thread takes me back to my time at a mixed English Grammar School in the late 1960s and early 70s.
There was a no footwear rule for both indoor and outdoor PE, for boys and girls. This included all track and field events, and cross country. The only exceptions were for rugby and cricket.

Comments by Nick on 25th September 2018  

Hi Bernard, I’m my opinion, being bare chested could be also a way to save shirts ahah. I mean, for example when I had to fix the car, my chest was greasy but if I had had a short, I would have thrown it. I think that in all the situations where you can dirty your shirt, it is better to go without it. One time we went to an abandoned house to do softair, and in order to hide myself, I went inside a sewage tunnel which was terribly muddy and full of a dirty liquid. I had a new shirt which I had paid £ 90 so it was a pity to destroy it. I thought “ok nick, take it off” and so I did. I was barechested and my chest and abs became dirty due to liquid inside tunnel, but I managed to save my shirt. At the end i played for another hour with my dirty chest but personally I didn’t care ahah. Do you agree?

Comments by Bernard on 24th September 2018  

Nick - it sounds as though the only sensible option was to run home without a shirt. It might have been better if you had started the original run without it.
Running in the hailstorm wasn't too bad as it didn't last long - a wet shirt would have made it more miserable.
As others have pointed out being sent out on a cross country run shirtless in rain is very practical and more comfortable than with a shirt. Similarly, running barefoot was practical and sensible as the alternative would have been wearing plimsolls which would have got stuck in the mud and probably come off our feet.

Comments by Richard on 23rd September 2018  

Hi John, yes it is. Rules were very strict and if you misbehaved or forgot your PE kit, you would take off your shirt without caring about weather (it could be sunny, it could be cold, it could rain, snow or even hail, it doesn’t matter) . Then you went outside and waited to be tied to the bar. At that point you were punched at least for 5 minutes, but it depends on what you’ve done (one time a guy was punched for 30 minutes). It was the rule and you could only accept it. I admit that something I felt excited for being punched shirtless by girls of my class but I was scared when some strong guys punched me, because I cannot move so I could only toughen my abs.

Comments by John on 23rd September 2018  

Did you go to a boarding school?, I have heard of some unpleasant disciplinary regimes from guys who attended them. At my school the PE teacher made you do 50 press ups if you forgot your PE kit. The Head of PE kept a supply of old white shorts and old pumps, you were made to wear these for PE and it was too bad if they didn’t fit. So there was no way of getting out of PE if you forgot your kit. I’m glad that I didn’t go to your school mate.

Comments by Richard on 23rd September 2018  

Ho Roy, I’m talking about 40/50 years ago

Comments by Roy on 23rd September 2018  

I agree with Paul and it certainly would not happen today.

Comments by Richard on 22nd September 2018  

Hi Paul, the teacher wasn’t the problem, she only executed the orders of PE policy which was written by the headmaster. There are very strict rules for those who misbehave or forget pe kit (like me). Punishment is “gut punching” and there is written that teacher could apply this punishment according to his/her opinion. Sometimes it happens that guys are free, other times they are blocked by another guy or tied to a bar. It depends on the the teacher, but I can assure that teacher is only executing orders. Believe me, I cannot forget such an incredible experience. But I think I deserved it, I forgot the kit for the 5th time in a row. Do you or other guy have experienced shirtless gut punching ? Maybe at school?l

Comments by Paul on 22nd September 2018  

I very much doubt the veracity of Richard's "punishment". Such a teacher would have a very short career.

Comments by Tom G on 22nd September 2018  

Sam C, Chris G and Gavin A - I sure remember Litesome jockstraps but I think they've vanished now

Comments by Richard on 21st September 2018  

Ho guys, I want to talk with you about pe punishment. A lot of you talked about running shirtless in many weather conditions, but nobody has talked about what is called “gut punching” which was our punishment during PE. It consists in taking off our shirt and in receiving punches in abs by each member of our class. In order to make it more difficult, it often took place outside, even with rain! During my career at school I was punished several times for forgetting PE kit. Just to talk about one of this time, it was a rainy and cold day and I forgot PE shirt for the 5th time in a row. My teacher got angry and punished me with “gut punching”. I was obliged to go outside and to take off my shirt. Then my wrists were tied at a bar, so that I cannot escape. At that point, she went back to the gym and wait for 4/5 minutes before coming back with everyone of my class. It was very cold ant it was raining, but I cannot get warm because I was tied, so I was getting frozen. When they went back to me, the punishment could start. Everyone in my class started punching in my bare abs, firstly girls than boys. It was very difficult to resist due to weather condition but I cannot move so I could only wait and try to resist. After 10 minutes and hundreds of punch, punishment ended so that I could go back to the locker room. My abs were destroyed, they became red ahah but I managed not to scream. I think shirtless gut punching is worse than shirtless run, because you’re tied so you cannot move. It means that you feel very cold! Have you ever tried gut punching a school for a punishment or at home with your friends?

Comments by John on 21st September 2018  

Simon C,
I was shocked when I started at Senior School when the PE teacher told us that we were going on a cross country run and informed us that the kit was shorts and socks/trainers only. The first cross country run we did was in torrential rain and we quickly appreciated why our PE teacher had made us run shirtless. We soon got hot running and the rain didn’t feel unpleasant, if we’d been made to wear a vest or a shirt the soaked cotton garment would have made us cold. It was far healthier running shirtless, our PE teacher was right to enforce this rule. Like you I’m glad that we weren’t given a choice.

Comments by Nick on 20th September 2018  

Hi simon, yes I agree. I think that having a wet shirt while running is very uncomfortable. But also in my case, if I had had a shirt maybe I didn’t got dirty but it would have been very difficult to wash the shirt and maybe I would have thrown. So even if my chest was very oily and greasy, I didn’t dirty a shirt and I also made an experience which made me stronger. I was also reading messages regarding air soft shirtless, I don’t know but it seems to be interesting to improve toughness.

Comments by Simon C on 20th September 2018  

Hi Nick, We did all x-country throughout school stripped down but with trainers. It was better than having a sopping wet vest on when it rained. Like anything no matter whether you wanted to be stripped down or not you got used to it,wasn't like you had a choice!

Comments by Nick on 20th September 2018  

Hi Bernard, wow I imagine it has been difficult being bare chested during hailstorm! Anyway I think it could also help you to be stronger ahah. Regarding this aspect I can tell you my experience. Well it wasn’t at school. It was winter and me and one of my friend were doing a race for fun. We bet that who lost the race had to receive a punishment by the other one. Unluckily I lost the race and my friend ordered me to take off my shirt despite the heavy rain. I was shirtless but rain was not a problem. However, when we were coming back home, our car got broken in a countryside road. I was the only one who was able to understand the problem, which was under the car. I asked my friend the shirt but he said: “no shirt until we arrive home”. I could have try to argue with him but I was getting frozen and the best thing to do was to repair the car and to go back home. So I groveled under the car to fix the problem, but my chest became covered by oil and grease. Luckily, I managed to solve the problem but I was so dirty that I would have soiled the upholstery of the car. To end the message I did other 5/6 kilometre on foot under rain with grease and oil on my chest, with people who looked at me very strangely (maybe because my chest became black ahah) but I think that this experience let me become stronger and tougher! What do you think about it?

Comments by Bernard on 19th September 2018  

Nick - I mentioned the first time we ran cross country in snow, wearing, of course, nothing but a pair of shorts, on 29th August. The snow had fallen the night before but by the afternoon of our games lesson the sun was out, there was no wind but there was about 4 or 5 inches of snow on the ground. It wasn't a great problem that we were shirtless but our feet could have been a problem. However, no-one suffered more than the odd chilblain as far as I remember.
There was another occasion when there was a short, sharp hailstorm while we were out on a cross country run. I recall running rather slowly uphill along the edge of a ploughed field when the storm started and the hail came at us from behind. Our shoulders and upper backs soon became quite red but I think this had largely faded before we got back to school. This run stood out as being even more exhilarating than usual but, as usual, no-one came to any harm.
Our uniform list when we started at the school included black and white shorts for p.e. together with white plimsolls and tee shirt. When it became obvious that we were never going to wear the plimsolls or tee shirt we stopped taking them to school and wore them at other times.

Comments by Nick on 18th September 2018  

Hi Bernard, I imagine you didn’t bring at all a shirt for PE, but if you didn’t have a shirt, how can you resist shirtless under rain or even snow? Tell me about one of the worst days you’ve done shirtless PE only to understand what was the weather like when you were bare chested

Comments by Nick on 18th September 2018  

Hi Matt,

Yes we did sometimes do shirts and skins outside, but only in summer term. In autumn and winter PE was always indoors. It was fine being stripped to the waist outside, it was warmer than the gym in winter, and by then everyone was used to it.

Comments by Jim on 18th September 2018  

Hi guys, I want to ask you an opinion regarding what happened to me. When I went to school, our PE teacher used to let us play outside (because gym was occupied by women who played volleyball) in every weather conditions. The problem is that, where I live, winter is very frosty and doing PE outside is not simple. I remember one day we did PE inside because weather conditions were impossible: it was 10 F and it was raining a lot. We were obliged to play volleyball and the central heating was high so me an some of my friends took off our shirts. However, because I hate this game I said “ahhh it was better outside”. That was the end. My teacher amswred me: “do you want to play outside, ok (she opened me the door) go to do ten fields laps. Yeah it was still raining and I tried to put my shirt on, but she said: “No!! You have to go barechested, that’s the punishment’s rules, even with this weather”. Now you can imagine staying bare chested in that conditions, with pouring rain on my chest and freezing temperatures... however, as I did several laps, I didn’t feel cold and when my teacher asked if I was frozen I said “no, water evaporates”. At that point I think my teacher wasn’t happy because I wasn’t suffering i don’t know... and decided to let me do push ups inside puddles, so that at the end water had evaporated but my chest was covered in mud... have you ever had similar experiences or other kind of punishments in bad weather conditions?

Comments by Bernard on 18th September 2018  

Being in the less sporty group I played various outdoor games all through the year wearing just a pair of shorts. If the weather was bad or the pitches frozen we would usually go off on a cross country run in a large area of open parkland nearby. I was much happier with this as it was easier to keep moving and not get too cold though it could be a little tough on your feet as parts of the route had a lot of stones which could be quite sharp. No harm ever came to us and running in our rather spartan kit certainly toughened us up.

Comments by Gavin A on 17th September 2018  

Hi Sam C, Chris G

I also wore Litesome jockstraps, one with a cup (when playing cricket) and one without cup for any other sport. I am not sure whether there were other brands available when I was at school (1968-76). Youngsters today are spoilt for choice when it concerns genital support.

Comments by Matt on 17th September 2018  

Nick - nice to hear from someone else who did PE in the 90s and played vests/shirts and skins. Your description of how it felt to be a skin at first is spot on, that's exactly how I remember feeling when I suddenly found myself standing in the gym in my shorts and 'pasty bare chest', as your teacher would have put it!
Sounds like his approach helped to make the whole thing fun, which is good and clearly worked if lads were keen to play football in skins.
Did you ever play shirts and skins outdoors? We did on one occasion at my school, it was a really warm, humid day and we wore these heavy football jerseys which were reversible and in different colours to tell the teams apart. Given the conditions a couple of boys on my team asked if they could play barechested, thankfully the teacher agreed and told the rest of us to do the same. Definitely a relief to be skins that day!

Comments by Nick on 16th September 2018  

Hi Bernard, what do you mean with “no matter how cold it was”? Did you play bare chested in winter with rain/snow and freezing temperatures?

Comments by Chris G on 16th September 2018  

Sam. I didn't have a jock strap at that point. However, I changed schools for my 6th form years. There, jockstraps were very much in fashion - mine was a Litesome, too - but unfortunately we had to wear PE vests all the time. No topless Ness, even in summer,

Comments by Bernard on 15th September 2018  

Hi John,
Yes - looking back I think we were very lucky with our p.e. teachers. The football team played with full kit - they had to wear shirts, boots and socks in addition to the black shorts. According to my friend who was in the team, the shirts were very uncomfortable even after quite a few washes. They played shirts and skins when they practised so every-one wanted to be on the skins side no matter how cold it was.

Comments by Sam C on 15th September 2018  

Gavin A, I think the jockstrap I had at school was Lithesome. You don't seem to see the brand anymore. What about you?

Comments by Rob on 15th September 2018  

Chris G, thanks for your post.My wife and I have been away with the family for the past week making the most of the late summer sunshine. As you will have read in my earlier post you and I were at secondary schools in the late 1950s so I was pleased to read that when you had to be topless for PE you soon got to enjoy the comfort and practicality this brought, which a lot of you extended to the point of also going commando.

Comments by Nick on 15th September 2018  

I was also at school in the 90's, and did shirts & skins for indoor PE. The thing I remember most is our teacher who had all these catchphrases he;d use every lesson. Each time he divided us into two teams, he'd pick one team and yell at them: 'Off with your tops, boys, show the opponents your pasty bare chests'. Every single time. We'd chant along.

A lot of us played 5aside at lunch for fun in the gym (some of the prefects organised it), and whenever the skins started to pull off their shirts, someone would usually shout 'off with your tops lads, show us your pasty bare chests'.

I don't think anyone minded being barechested, in fact I remember arguments at 5aside about whose turn it was because we wanted to be skins, eg you got to be skins last time so now its our turn etc.

I suppose I was self conscious the very first few times about being topless, feeling naked just in shorts and a bare chest but you soon forget that.

Comments by John on 15th September 2018  

Hi Bernard,
What a good PE teacher you had, you were lucky to be able to play football shirtless as well. Yours really was a great school for lads who preferred to exercise shirtless. Did your school football team wear shirts when they played against other schools?

Comments by Bernard on 14th September 2018  

John - inside we wore different coloured bands over one shoulder. These didn't work all that well as they would slip off too easily.

Outside was much easier - one team would wear the black shorts that were supposed to be the football kit while the other team wore their white shorts which were officially gym and cross country shorts. This worked much better than the coloured bands.

Comments by Ben on 14th September 2018  

Hi Jeremy, I used to play airsoft shirtless when I was young. I remember it started one day which was very hot so we decided to take off our shirt and to continue without it. We played near an abandoned house so it was full of bushes and dirty places where to hide in, even shirtless. The advantage was that we didn’t feel hot and the disadvantage was that we got very dirty (especially our bare chest). Even though the place was far from town, so we didn’t care of being dirty, one day three/four girls were walking there and they saw us in that conditions. It was funny because nobody of us had a shirt so we decided to continue playing as we were, with sweat and mud on our chest and a group of girls watching us. I want to ask you if you have ever played paintball/airsoft shirtless and why did you choose to do it ?

Comments by John on 14th September 2018  

I agree with you that vests or shirts are not necessary for PE but how did your PE teachers manage to identify teams when lads were divided into teams and were all stripped to the waist?.