Clitheroe Royal Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1602         Views: 150,380         Comments: 714

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

714 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by Ross on 12th November 2019  

The caption says that they are returning but I thought they were all heading out. These boys aren't nowhere near as muddy as I got on my cross country runs.

We ran in a white shirt and shorts but we all ran in bare feet which was good as you learnt to grip in the mud with your toes and we didn't have any mud soaked pumps to clean afterwards.

Comments by Mr Dando on 26th October 2019

In line with the National Curriculum requirements a note from parents is required if students are unable to actively participate in the PE lesson. ALL students MUST bring PE KIT as they will be expected to officiate/coach in accordance with the National Curriculum.
All kit should be clearly labelled
Forgotten kit kit may be borrowed but this will be recorded with a kit mark in the staff register.
NO valuables to be worn, all watches, money and jewellery, will be collected before the lesson and locked away. Pierced ears must be plastered over if recently pierced. Any valuables left in the changing rooms are left at your own risk.
Long hair must be securely tied back.

A towel should be brought to all lessons as showering is necessary on occasions.

In swimming, anyone with a medical complaint e.g. epilepsy, asthma, heart condition must wear a differently coloured cap to the rest of the class. Minor medical conditions WHITE. Major medical conditions RED.

Blythe Swim School Hats of all colours are available for purchase from school

Boys will need to bring swimming trunks or spare underpants to wear under shorts for all activities, both for personal hygiene and comfort.

Comments by Chris G on 26th October 2019  


Sorry to be a bit pedantic, but I think you will find that "debagging" is British English usage and "depantsing" is American English, and as "" deals with Britain's History in Old Photos and Vintage Adverts, lets not quibble about which is "more easily understood"

Comments by Danny on 25th October 2019  

The proper word is depantsing, which is more easily understood.
Yes, it was common for us boys to play this game on other boys in PE class. The boy selected would be unaware of this since he would have his PE shorts swiftly taken down from behind.
However we never did it in front of our PE teachers who would have disapproved.
I also saw this done sometimes in swimming pools, most often when a boy would be exiting the pool and someone from behind would pull down his swim briefs.
This was more embarrassing since it would be done in a public pool where other people, including girls, could see the boy being exposed. But no one ever seemed to disapprove since they saw it as a play prank between young boys. In fact everyone seemed to laugh at seeing this prank.

Comments by Mike on 24th October 2019  


Debagging is forcible removal of a boy's trousers, usually as a practical joke, but it can also be carried out as a punishment. Mainly to cause embarrassment or humiliation to the victim! To rob him of his dignity and at the same time embarrass him because most of us regarded the sight of a boy without his trousers and in his underpants as highly amusing. And as a punishment, this was a way of showing disapproval of him and at the same time exposing him to ridicule.

Q. Do the victim's trousers have to be completely removed by other people?
A. No. Forcing a man to drop or hand over his trousers constitues a debagging.

Q. Is debagging still as prevalent as it used to be?
A. Sadly, not in England. Although long regarded as a harmless practical joke by both practical jokers and most debagging victims, in recent times the custom has suffered as a consequence of becoming yet another casualty of the politically correct world in which we now live, with claims having been made that victims can suffer psychological traumas. The effect of this has been that some schools and factories where the tradition of debagging once thrived have now banned it.

Comments by Chris G on 24th October 2019  

Adrian, "debagging" = having one's trousers removed against one's will.

Comments by Adrian on 22nd October 2019  

Mike what dou you mean by debagging?

Comments by William on 21st October 2019  

James, Peter J, Before one gym lesson I was stupid enough to be talked into bending down to look through the keyhole to see whether the gym was set up for pirates. In a second my shorts were yanked down.

There will be other contributors who were in the combined cadet force at school or in the sea, army or air cadets. Our cadet sergeant told us that it was a tradition for cadets at summer camp for the first time to have their balls blacked. He told us that it was no big deal, happened to everyone and that we should just go along with it. We had no idea when this would happen.

Cadets were accommodated two to a room which had a wash basin. On the first night I was just about asleep when the door was flung open, the light switched on and in came four cadets. My bedding was pulled off, my pyjama top pushed up and my trousers pulled down. One cadet held my shoulders, another my legs and the third used a shoe brush to daub shoe polish on and around my genitals. They then did the same to the cadet who shared the room. I cleaned off the worst of the polish and went back to sleep.

Next morning the worst thing was shoe polish in pubic hair. It took a lot of time at the wash basin for my roommate and me to get ourselves clean.

I didn't find the experience humiliating because it all happened so quickly. They didn't linger over it, which would have been embarrassing for a boy of 14.

The cadet sergeant's advice was shrewd. I never really thought anything about it and then read a few years ago that some former cadets who had been through initiation ceremonies like this had sued the Ministry of Defence. I had no wish to be involved in that, and that is why I have said nothing about when and where this happened.

Comments by Mr Dando on 21st October 2019  

tollbar Academy Sportswear

To maintain the quality and standards of the P.E. kit, the items in bold are only available from Uniform Direct.

Boys' and Girls' P.E. Kit


Navy/sky blue polo shirt with TBA logo.
Navy/sky blue football shorts with TBA logo.
Navy/sky blue sports socks with TBA logo.
Navy/sky blue reversible capped rugby shirt.
Football boots.
Training shoes.
Shin pads.


Navy tracksuit bottoms with TBA logo.

Swimming costume for showers.

Additional warm clothing/base layers may be worn underneath the Academy kit during very cold weather at the discretion of the member of staff.

Comments by James on 21st October 2019  

Danny,we were subjected to derogatory remarks and were often a sauce of amusement as we passed by.

Comments by James on 21st October 2019  

Danny,I meant to say was wearing of short trousers imposed by your parents not by my parents?

Comments by Danny on 20th October 2019  

James, did the people who saw you running through the village streets in just brief shorts, especially girls your age, make comments or laugh at you as you passed by?

Comments by James on 20th October 2019  

Danny,was it compulsory to wear short trousers up to 14 or was imposed by my parents?I too always felt childish and self conscious wearing shorts at that age.
It was the same wearing brief shorts when going on long country runs of up to seven miles through two villages.
The shorts were very thin and of a flimsy,shiny material.
We were supervised by the same teachers who took us for swimming and often went out in their cars to see we didn't take a short cuts.
We were also timed and we had to achieve our time of our previous run.

Comments by Mike on 19th October 2019  

William, James, Peter etc

I remember debagging at our school ... never suffered or saw blackballing though!

Comments by Danny on 19th October 2019  

James, I did feel a bit childish having to wear uniform shorts at age 13-14, but most boys at school wore the same till that age. We only started wearing long trouser which were the same grey colour after age 14.

It wasn't a big deal wearing them at school since the other boys wore the same, the only time I felt self-conscious about it was when walking to and back from school through town.
I am surprised how many here say that they had to do country runs, often going through town streets, in just small white shorts and nothing else without feeling embarrassed about it.

Was it always the same teachers that supervised you during nude swim lessons or did they vary?

Comments by James on 18th October 2019  

William,I agree that some boys became confident about the'no pants rule'communal showers and nude swimming lessons.
Wearing brief shorts that were imposed without underwear made it difficult to participate in the strenuous exercises and remain comfortable without the loss of dignity.
One particular prank was where a boy would sneak up and pull the shorts down of another boy which could be embarrassing as it was usually done outside.
May I ask what did the'ball-blacking ceremony'involve?

Comments by Peter J on 18th October 2019  

William, I remember having to do the handstands as you say with a partner holding up the legs. everything was on view but it seems we just accepted it because the roles were reversed when we swapped over. What actually happened during the "blackballing" that you referred to?

Comments by James on 18th October 2019  

Danny,We swam in the nude throughout secondary school and we were supervised by a male teacher and his wife and a female supervisor.
The teachers took our swimming lessons very seriously and had the same authority as the male teacher.
I was only smacked once by a female teacher for running in the pool area and it was done by a female teacher and it was done in the standing position.
May I ask you if you felt too old to wear uniform shorts up
to 14,as I had to wear them up to the same age?

Comments by Danny on 17th October 2019  

James, what ages were the boys? I presume it was a boys only school in spite of the female teachers supervising the boys during nude swimming classes.
We never had the luxury of a swimming pool at the schools I went to, both primary and secondary, so I can't imagine us boys swimming naked in front of female teachers. :)
It may have been fun or embarrassing/humiliating, especially in Secondary school, so I can't tell.
More so since they used corporal punishment on you boys during these swim lessons. We had corporal punishment at my schools, mostly in class by teachers, but always on our shorts clad bottoms. We wore uniform shorts till about 13 or 14.
Do you think these female teachers enjoyed the spectacle of boys swimming naked and having total authority including nude smackings?
In these circumstances during swimming did they smack you in the standing position, or bent over or some other position?
Must have been very humiliating being smacked by them completely naked right in front of everyone.

Comments by Ross on 17th October 2019  

Bernard, for me going out barefoot and shirtless for a run eventually became a welcome relief from my lessons well any PE lessons was, even rugby which I wasn't much good at.

Comments by Ross on 17th October 2019  

John, running cross country in bare feet during the winter was exhilarating! I actually loved it well after the initial shock of being told to go outside in the cold barefoot. Still was much easier to simply shower and clean my feet than carry around muddy water logged trainers all day long. The summer was just as good too and I am sure I ran faster barefoot around track.

Comments by William on 17th October 2019  

James, Like a lot of other contributors my school had communal showers and a "no pants" rule. I agree that most of us quickly got used to it and became confident. On 13th September in the Burnley Grammar discussion you said that some boys were brazen. I think you're right. They were a minority but I clearly remember one boy in the end of term game of pirates swinging from a rope with his shorts round his ankles - just for the sheer fun of it. The gym master had popped out for a few minutes. If he had returned in time, the boy would have had a sore bottom.
We did not have nude swimming and the only activity I thought was slightly uncomfortable were handstands in the gym, where one boy held another boy's legs. Our cotton shorts were loose and shorter than those in the Burnley Grammar photo, and the boy holding the legs could see everything under the other boy's shorts. Nobody stared but I think everyone had a look. I recall feeling vulnerable, upside down and on display. What made it all right was that in a minute the roles would be reversed.
This was a bit uncomfortable but not humiliating. We were all treated the same. Being singled out would have been humiliating. The ball-blacking initiation ceremony for first time cadets at summer camp was uncomfortable rather than humiliating. It was very quick and, crucially, we all went through it.
No doubt all this shocks the younger generation but it taught us to take things in our stride and that the reality of nudity at school was never as bad as the anticipation of it. It made me more relaxed and confident about my skinny body. I feel sorry for young men today who are too shy to remove their shorts on in the swimming pool showers when the groin is the last place you want to leave chlorine. Likewise in the gym they spray their sweaty bodies, or even worse their gym vests, with deodorant rather than have a shower. I'm glad I was brought up in a tougher regime at school in the '60s.

Comments by James on 16th October 2019  

Danny,we always swam naked albeit in front of female teachers and supervisors and it was never differentiated by our age.
Yes,it was'uncomfortable'at first,but I soon got used to it and to see so many boys without wearing swimming trunks in the same environment made it more acceptable.
We were usually spanked by their hand if we misbehaved,but often we could see the miscreant had been caned.

Comments by Danny on 15th October 2019  

James, are you saying that the older boys in their teens also swam naked in front of the female teachers?

I have nothing against boys swimming naked at school as long as they are comfortable with it and in a safe environment.
Like you say, probably one would get used to it.
Did it make you uncomfortable being naked in front of female teachers, especially since they could also spank you naked during the lessons?
Did they use their hand to smack you or with something else?

Comments by John on 15th October 2019  

Bernard & Ross,
I totally agree that doing cross country shirtless was a great experience summer and winter but Im not sure that Id have enjoyed being made to run barefoot in winter.

Comments by Bernard on 15th October 2019  

Ross - it is good to hear that boys were still encouraged to be boys just 20 years ago - in your school at least.
I used to enjoy cross country in nothing more than a pair of shorts - it was certainly exhilarating in the winter. I was never good at team games like football so running was better for me and it was good to get out of the school grounds for a while.

Comments by James on 14th October 2019  

Danny,I agree it was humiliating and disconcerting to have naked swimming lessons,but we gradually became accustomed to it and it was never considered outlandish or bizarre.
Yes,we were smacked bare if we misbehaved and there were one or two red bottoms.Usually we were supervised male and female teachers and our age was never a contributory factor.

Comments by Ross on 14th October 2019  

Bernard, when I was in school 20 years ago a pair of shorts was still regarded as sufficient enough for us boys and all PE in or out was shirtless and barefoot even for cross country in the depths of winter. I was even on the cross country team and we all ran in competition with bare feet.

Showers were compulsory too but only after outdoor games where we were caked in mud and yes we showered nude without issues.

Comments by Bernard on 13th October 2019  

David G & Danny - I agree with you wholeheartedly - there is nothing wrong with boys being bare-chested for p.e. I find it quite encouraging that there are still schools which have such a good basic p.e. kit even if it is only for indoor p.e. When I was at school 50 years ago we wore only a pair of shorts for all p.e. - indoor and outdoor - it was quite sufficient.

Comments by Bernard on 13th October 2019  

Danny - re "Mr Jones" post - I think he summed it up in his last sentence - after the first couple of lessons they weren't bothered about being seen nude. I expect this was a long time ago when boys were not expected to be modest.
This was not too different from the situation about showers after p.e.when boys might be a little apprehensive about being naked in front of the whole class but quickly got used to it - albeit without girls present. It is good for youngsters to be pushed outside their comfort zones - all part of the growing up process.

Comments by David G on 12th October 2019  

I'm with you Danny, there is nothing wrong with boys being bare chested. This Mr Dando seems strange since he's posted on other sites within the schools websites with clothing stipulations for boys.

Comments by Danny on 12th October 2019  

Mr.Dando, why should boys wear tops when they have no breasts like girls?
This is also the way boys and girls swim in public pools and beaches. Or are you also campaigning for boys to wear tops for swimming too?
Or for boys to wear leotards for school PE so that they will be wearing the same as the girls?

Comments by Mr Dando on 12th October 2019  

The time has come to end topless pe for boys in schools and bring them into line with girls. I cannot believe there is still primary schools that mandate this for indoor activities.

Clothing for PE: Indoor; Girls- Plain black leotard (no markings), Boys- Plain black PE shorts (no markings).
Outdoor; Black shorts and white t-shirt, Trainers/black plimsolls not shoes worn during the school day, Tracksuit advisable in cold weather

Comments by Danny on 12th October 2019  


Didn't the school realize that it was humiliating for boys to be forced to swim nude in front of swimsuited girls, especially at the older age of 12 and 13?
Were you supervised by male or female teachers and did they smack the boys bare if they misbehaved during these swim lessons?

Also were there other school staff or visitors who could watch the boys swim naked, especially since it was an outdoor pool?

I am amazed how they humiliated boys in some schools on a regular basis for swimming such as you describe.

Comments by Mr Jones on 12th September 2019  

First thing every Tuesday morning from April to October my class had a 60 minute swimming lesson in the normally rather cold outdoor pool, which (for ALL Boys between 8 and 13 years old,) had a pointless, but strictly enforced rule that stated: 'Junior and Lower-School boys are NOT PERMITTED to wear swimming trunks at any time!' so that all of us Boys had to swim completely naked, while the Girls all wore swimming costumes! At first, being Outdoors with nothing-on felt very strange, particularly while standing around the pool with two dozen other stark-naked little boys, waiting for the lesson to start. Of course there was a lot of teasing and giggling from the girls, but after the first couple of lessons I don't think most of us bothered about being seen nude, and in warm and sunny weather it was really terrific

Comments by Chris G on 2nd September 2019  

i didn't encounter school swimming until I changed secondary school at age 15. We didn't have formal swimming lessons, but each year group had a couple of sessions allocated during the week, and since it was a secondary school, pretty well all of us were able to swim. Fixed to the wall above each end of the pool were notices reading "Swimming Costumes will be worn at all times". By and large,they were, although I do remember a couple of late night sessions (it was a boarding school) where a number of us decided to experiment with skinny-dipping - we were fortunate not to be found out, as we, rather rashly, turned the lights on and our presence in the pool was visible throughout the school building complex.

Comments by Danny on 1st September 2019  

Robert Dorval,
Were your nude swimming lessons in primary school boys only or mixed?
Did you or the other boys feel embarrassed being naked in front of the female teachers?

Comments by Robert Dorval on 30th August 2019  

In our primary school we had nude swimming lessons up to 11-12 years old twice a week. Our instructors were two female teachers, both in their twenties. In HS we also had nude swimming classes, but the teachers were usually male, although we did have female substitute or assistant teachers sometimes. Anyone else had nude swimming classes at school?

Comments by Rob on 4th July 2019  

Bernard, we're talking about a long time ago now. Apart from the terrain over which we ran, it seems unusual that so many boys ran cross country barefoot elsewhere and you mentioned that children's feet were tougher than adult's and therefore less likely to be seriously injured. It may have been that at some time before I was at the school that someone was injured and the headmaster decided that all boys should wear plimsolls in future. We shall never know. One thing is certain however; no boy ever risked getting injured running as we did in just shorts and plimsolls. Unfortunately, today's youngsters never get the opportunity to enjoy this experience.

Comments by John on 30th June 2019  

Thank you for sharing your experience of running barefoot, Im sorry that I made an assumption that there was a high risk of foot injury when clearly from your own experience there wasnt. I was happy running shirtless but might have enjoyed cross country runs even more if Id been made to run barefoot.

Comments by Bernard on 29th June 2019  

John and Rob, Running barefoot outside was not as hazardous as you might think. Children's feet are normally a lot tougher than those of adults as they have not been encased in shoes for as many years. I'm sure I couldn't run outside barefoot now - 50 years on.
I don't remember any injured feet - if there had been I'm sure the school would have made us wear plimsolls. There were quite a few occasions when I thought I had cut a foot but, on inspection, there was no damage to be found. Running cross country barefoot was a practical, safe and generally enjoyable experience.

Comments by Rob on 28th June 2019  

We had to wear just shorts and plimsolls in the gym although I would have been happy to have gone barefoot. Apart from that I certainly didn't need more than a pair of short shorts to let my body sweat freely. We used to do athletics on the school grass playing fields in our bare feet in the summer during PE lessons but had to wear plimsolls when we went cross country running because the course went through woodland and then out onto open slopes with chalk and sharp flint stones where our feet could easily get injured. I enjoyed the freedom of running shirtless in just shorts and plimsolls along with the other lads in my class and never heard anyone complain. We just got on with it.

Comments by John on 27th June 2019  

Replying to Bernard & Ross,
I did gym in just shorts and pumps and cross country in shorts and trainers and got used to it and enjoyed being shirtless. I dont agree with running barefoot outdoors as your feet could get injured quite easily.

Comments by Bernard on 25th June 2019  

Ross - you are absolutely right - a pair of shorts is all a boy should need for any p.e. either indoors or outdoors. I got to quite enjoy running cross country shirtless and barefoot though perhaps boys were tougher 50 odd years ago.

Comments by Ross on 24th June 2019  

Why do boys need tracksuits?

Back in my day we had one kit for everything and that consisted of shorts only. No shirt and bare feet for all sports in or out. We even ran cross country shirtless and barefoot. We never complained just got on with it. Your toes soon warmed up once you got moving. S

Comments by Sterling on 8th June 2019  

Phil, Why would boys need track bottoms in Sunny Surrey?

Comments by Phil on 6th June 2019  

Yes it completely disgraceful that even today some schools do not allow boys to wear modest tracksuit bottoms when privacy considerations are given to girls.

Sky blue polo shirt (collared) Navy blue polo shirt (collared)
School sweatshirt Navy blue reversible sports shirt (long-sleeved)
Sky blue knee-length sports socks Navy blue football socks
Navy blue tracksuit bottoms (Boys do not wear tracksuit bottoms)

Comments by Roy on 25th May 2019  

Like Chris G I can only remember a few incidents of canings when I was at school in the 1960s and they were for more serious matters than wearing the wrong PE kit - bullying for instance

Comments by Chris G on 6th May 2019  

I'm a bit puzzled by the constant references to corporl ounishment in the context of PE kit. I went through two primary and two secondary schools during the period that we are discussing 9fifties-sixties-seventies), and although all of these theoretically had recourse to caning, its use was restricteed to much more severe offences than wearint the wronng colour/style etc. of PE kit, and I can only remember about three or few instances of its use during my enntire school career.

Comments by Philip on 3rd April 2019  

The teacher who caned James for not wearing regulation shorts should have been taken to task. The shorts had been bought by his mother and it was hardly a matter of James defying school regulations.