Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 686,796         Comments: 2,472

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

2472 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by Danny on 26th November 2019  

I think the video is more likely a gymnastic show by the boys in front of spectators.
I don't think that normal PE at any school was ever that acrobatic.

Comments by David G on 25th November 2019  

Dave Hi,
Thanks for that. I didn't know you could access videos that way.

Comments by Dave on 24th November 2019  

Hi David G!

Click on the envelope icon above his post and you can look at the video.

Comments by David G on 24th November 2019  

Hi Simeon,

Can you provide a link to have a look at the video. When I read your post there wasn't a link.
Thanks David

Comments by Dave on 23rd November 2019  freedomfighter84@gmail.com 

Hi Simeon!

Were the shirtless PE rule for boys the norm even in the 1980's or was it a rarity by then? How did you feel being shirtless in front of the girls and many parents.Were there any boy who said anyting about the PE kit or was it ever a a talking point among lads?Were your lessons seperated or mixed? How old were you at the time the display was held?
What was the PE kit for outside?

Comments by Stuart H on 23rd November 2019  

James, Danny. I too experienced nude swimming at prep school aged 9-13 and can say that i didnt find it humiliating at all. Though talking with a friend from back then he described it as embarrassing not at the beginning when we were just a bunch of little boys but from aged 11 1/2 when he started puberty as one of the first in the class so stood out. By the end of the prep school most boys were going through puberty so he was not alone. I was a late starter so whilst i wouldnt use the word humiliating or embarrassing i would probably say i was more self conscious of the difference. Overall i loved nude swimming and still do today where possible, abroad usually in places such as Scandinavia and germany where nudity doesnt carry the stigma it does in the UK.

Comments by James on 21st November 2019  

Danny,I agree it was an an unnecessary harsh treatment and you were fortunate that you didn't experience it at your school.
Although we were both subjected to corporal punishment,may I ask how and why it was administered?
Yes,I am the same James that had nude swimming and it was humiliating,but after a while I became accustomed to it as we were not allowed to wear swimming trunks.
Did you enjoy wearing short trousers or would you have preferred to wear long trousers?

Comments by Michael on 21st November 2019  

We were sent out on cross country runs whatever the weather, wearing only our standard indoor gym shorts, t-shirts, ankle socks and plimsolls (all plain white) to defend us from whatever mother nature threw at us.

Some days it was perishing cold, and the only way to counter it was to run quickly and get warmed up that way. If it rained whilst we were out (North of England - so this was often), we were soaked as well as exhausted by the time we returned to school.

It was especially galling to learn that the PE teacher had remained in school the whole time, with his feet up, reading his daily newspaper and drinking steaming hot tea or coffee.

Comments by Danny on 19th November 2019  

James, we both seem to agree on this harsh treatment of boys at school.
The only difference is that you experienced it while I did not, except for the routine corporal punishment.
Are you the same James that once said on this forum that they also had to do swimming at school in the nude?
This was another humiliating treatment of boys, although one could argue that they got used to it and even enjoyed it, but certainly not for all.

Comments by T Pearson on 19th November 2019  

Danny, My school had a mandatory stripped to the waist policy for all PE/Games for all boys age 9 to 18. We were told all outdoor PE/Games lessons were there to make us toughen up. Being stripped to the waist outside was hard, X country runs were tough but had to done or you'd be taken out of class to do laps of the field the next day. I didn't mind running stripped down though some of my friends had mixed views about it and personally, I found being stripped to exercise both indoors and outdoors was a good thing. Indoors I would normally start to show sweat around 20 mins into the lesson which gives an idea how hard we were made to work while being stripped outside it just felt good to escape the stuffiness indoors. Both were a great way to show the girls your physique naturally.

Comments by James on 18th November 2019  

Danny,I don't see how anyone could"enjoy running and stripped and half naked across country in cold and freezing
and half naked across country in cold and freezing weather".
There is nothing manly about wearing just brief shorts and being subjected to to the torment of running in cold weather.I remember wearing just a thin pair of shorts while I held the finishing tape with another boy and our shorts offered very little protection from the cold.
As you say teachers who supervised us were dressed accordingly to the weather and wore overcoats,hats and gloves,while we simply wore shorts.
I agree that parents never complained about the use of corporal punishment and particularly my mother adored to see me wearing shorts and kept me in shorts for school and home.

Comments by John on 16th November 2019  

Many schools did make lads run in shorts and trainers, you might not have come across the practice but it certainly existed in many parts of the UK. I do not condone children being made to run barefoot as they could injure their feet. Being made to run shirtless did seem harsh at first but most lads soon got used to it. Back in the 60s, 70s and 1980s attitudes to the way that lads were educated were very different. My father did not have a problem with the PE kit rules which applied to me as he was treated just the same and had also been in the Army and made to swim naked in cold water in winter as part of his training.

Comments by Danny on 16th November 2019  

John, doing indoor PE shirtless is one thing, but running shirtless and half naked outside on cross country on a freezing winter day is totally different and unimaginable to me.
I am surprised that some posters who claim that they did this enjoyed it or didn't bother them.

About the poster who said that his father told him that he must run outside topless no matter the weather to make him become a man is amusing to me because the same PE teachers who made the boys do this and were supposed to be an example of this 'manhood' were all wrapped up during these country runs in cold or freezing weather.

In any case I never saw anyone, boy or man, running bare chested in freezing weather, or barefoot across mud and rough ground, not even the toughest athletes do this, let alone forcing young boys to do this.

About comments that parents never complained to the schools what their boys were made to wear or not is very true.
This was also the era when corporal punishment was the norm in most schools at any age and I don't remember or knew of any parents who complained about it, including mine.
Schools and teachers were held in great respect in those days and few questioned them, which is far from the mentality of today.

I suppose there is going to be someone who says that they enjoyed getting physically punished at school, like they enjoyed running stripped and half naked across country in cold and freezing wheather. :)

Comments by John on 15th November 2019  

I think that making a polo shirt optional kit for boys PE doesn’t make any sense. My dad was happy that I would be stripped to the waist for PE like he was and like your dad he would not have wasted money buying me a polo top if it was ‘optional’ as opposed to being compulsory.

Like you I got used to being shirtless and it was more comfortable. Colored bibs can be worn for one team in a shirts vs skins game so there is no need for lads to wear shirts for indoor PE.

Comments by Simeon on 15th November 2019   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvk1Moxdva0&t=515s

This a video of a gym display in my old school in 1983. The boys display begins at 7:51. This shows exactly how our PE lessons were conducted with us barefeet and barechested. The almost military style of teaching and us being forbidden to talk during gymnastics is miles away from todays more 'inclusive' teaching approaches.

Comments by Kevin on 15th November 2019  

Good queation stuart! I think I have answered this kind of in a previous post:
I went to a comprehensive school in the 80ies which must have with hindsight just changed its PE uniform policy for boys when I arrived. We got a letter with a uniform items that needed to be bought and I went with my parents to get them just before school started. We got the main uniform and then it came to the PE kit. White shorts and a green polo shirt. So far so good, but my dad spotted on the list that the shirt was optional for boys. He made it quite clear that he would not pay for the shirt, that I would have to go barechested; he wasn't into wasting money. My mom made matters worse by pointing out that I might get cold doing PE stripped to waist which really annoyed my dad who insisted I needed to grow up to become a man.
Too cut a long story short, I wasn't given a PE shirt and had to go to my first PE lesson knowing I would not be waering a shirt which really worried my. As it turned out luckily I wasn't the only boy without a top, two other boys had to strip too. In the end I never ever wore a top for PE and actually enoyed it in the end. My PE teacher made no secret out of the fact that he tought all the boys should be stripped to the waist and he did favour the small the group of us who were.

Comments by Alfie A on 15th November 2019  

I am from the era at an all boys school when topless pe and no underpants was the norm. As far as I know parents did not complain about or question such things. Rules were rules as I say it was the norm.

Comments by Ross on 15th November 2019  

Interesting question Stuart, I suspect as well as the usual generation gaps there's going to be a difference in whether others parents also ran in such a spartan fashion in shorts and bare feet.

My dad was quite encouraging about me running the cross country shirtless and barefoot just as he had done and my mother wasnt overly concerned at all until it came to my sister and when she reported back that she had to run the cross country outside barefoot my mum was horrified but unlike parents of today she told my sister to stop whining and carry on.

Comments by Graham on 15th November 2019  

Stuart, my parents never had any objection to me doing PE or cross-country minus a shirt. In fact, they were all for it and were quite happy for me to go shirt-less around the house and garden whenever I wanted to. They did, however draw the line at running over roads or fields bare-footed on safety grounds,

Comments by Stuart on 14th November 2019  

I wondered if anyone knew of parents who questioned (or formally objected) to their sons being made to do cross country/pe stripped to the waist and bare foot.

Or, the opposite - any parents who insisted on their sons being made to do pe/crosscountry in only shorts.

Comments by John on 13th November 2019  

I bet you were perfectly happy with the PE kit rules at your school. The stripped to the waist rule for boys PE continued during the 1970s when I was at school and never did me any harm.

During the summer most lads chose to strip to the waist for outdoor athletics and shirts were often removed as soon as they got off the school bus on the way home.

Comments by ROY on 13th November 2019  

When I was at a mixed-sex school in the 1960s PE was organised separately for boys and girls.
For boys indoor PE kit was white shorts only i.e. you were stripped to the waist and barefoot.
For outside it was white rugby shirt and black or navy blue shorts and coloured socks and rugby boots.
However if they wanted to many boys actually took off their shirts and went stripped to the waist.
For cross-country runs again we went stripped to the waist and barefoot!

Comments by Mr Dando on 3rd November 2019  

PE Kit
Children must be provided with a change of clothing for PE and games. Parents will be informed when their child is swimming and they will be informed of any special requirements for games.

A towel is needed for showering after PE.

PE Uniform

Plain white T-shirt

Black PE Shorts



Optional for outside lessons:

Plain black/navy tracksuit

Spare socks


Girls: One piece costume

Boys KS2: Swimming trunks

Boys KS3/4: Swimming shorts.


Comments by Stuart on 3rd November 2019  cmnmuk@yahoo.co.uk 

Mr Dando. Good to see that some schools still require kids to shower after sports. Hygiene appears to have been sacrificed on the altar of " being scared to undress in font of your own peers".
We showered after muddy games of rugby because we needed to get clean, if you were shy then you just had to get on ith it. You soon realised that everyone ha is different size, shape etc but in the end we were all boys.

Comments by Mr Dando on 28th October 2019  


PE in the School

Since the school came into being in 1987, Corpus Christi has enjoyed a highly successful record with regard to representation in city, county and national finals of various sports. Our pupils have also achieved individual success domestically and internationally in a multitude of activities ranging from rugby, athletics, netball, soccer, gymnastics and swimming, to triathlon, boxing, basketball and martial arts.

Some Practical Points

In order for children to benefit from the PE expertise and facilities in the school, we ask for parents' cooperation in the following practical points.

1. Permission for a pupil not to take part temporarily in PE/Games will be given only on medical grounds, when a letter to that effect is received from parents. For a prolonged withdrawal from these lessons a doctor's certificate is required.

2. The wearing of jewellery is not permitted. This is to avoid possible injury to pupils. No responsibility can be accepted by the school for any items lost during these lessons, whether or not the items have been deposited with the teacher in charge.

3. PE/Games clothing has been kept as simple as possible for the benefit of all concerned. However, separate clothing is required to avoid wear and tear on school uniform, to soak up perspiration and to avoid any adverse effects of inclement weather. It is clearly essential that pupils can change back into clean, dry clothes including underwear, after their games or PE lessons. It is also necessary for reasons of health and personal hygiene, that all pupils bring a towel with their kit for a shower after games.

4. When pupils are involved in extra-curricular activities the department will try to ensure that all necessary information such as the date of the activities, the venue, arrangements for transport, the start and finish times are made available for the pupil well in advance of the event. We ask parents to ensure that suitable arrangements are made for pupils to return home afterwards.

5. PE Kit : requisition forms, on which parents may specify the relevant measurements of their child, are sent out to the partner Primary Schools and to individual families in advance of the Welcome Evening which is held in June each year. These should be returned to the suppliers properly completed, and with the necessary payment for the kit. All items of PE clothing will then be available in September.

Comments by Andrea on 27th October 2019  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Further to my earlier reply to Danny, I should have added that a few early developers had started to wear training bras before they left primary school, whereas some didn't need them until well into the second year at secondary.

Comments by Andrea on 26th October 2019  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

The jockstrap and box my son wore for cricket was as described by Chris G.

Comments by Chris G on 26th October 2019  

Danny, back in my school cricketing days, cricketers' jockstraps were of the same fabric construction as the usual athletes' type, but with a pocket in the inside of the pouch into which was inserted a plastic "box" (a simple cup-shaped plastic protective moulding. I've still got one, bought over ten years ago when my son needed some protection for a paint-balling session. The cup has long since been discarded, but I still wear the basic jockstrap itself for my weekly Pilates class. I've never come across a jockstrap with an integrated built-in protective element.

Comments by Andrea on 25th October 2019  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

My Ex told me their school had a no underpants rule when they started at secondary school and that some of the boys could have done with wearing a jockstrap sooner than the start of the third year.

Our PE uniform list didn't specify that training bras must be worn, but our PE teacher did speak to a few girls about getting one if she thought there was too much movement under their PE shirts

Comments by Jeremy on 25th October 2019  

I don't think any of us boys really liked the forced nudity, even at younger ages. But it was the way things were done. You just temporarily abandoned modesty if you wanted good marks in phys ed. I used to feel very embarrassed if a girl in my school classes had seen me swimming naked the period before.

They always say, "Concentrate on swimming and forget who is watching." Like I really could forget having perhaps 50 females in my other classes seeing my pеnis without permission. And I did have erеctions a few times. Just awful if I couldn't get in the water quickly.

Some of the other guys in the class talked about it one day and the consensus was that "this sucks, those girls shouldn't be allowed to watch us if we have to swim naked."

I remember feeling very violated. It was all I could do to hold back tears of shame that the girls knew all my secrets of puberty. Also resentful of the school for setting us up like that, having no respect for our modesty. The adults just didn't "get it" that 14 year old girls would experience a sexual thrill seeing boys their age naked and erect.

I wished I could see the girls naked or at the very least in bikinis, but that was strictly forbidden. The girls also swam but at different times, and all girls wore modest one-piece suits. Oh, the unfairness of it all.

Comments by Danny on 25th October 2019  

Andrea, it was the same at our school, jockstraps were never mentioned by our PE teachers and I don't know anyone who wore them.
But then we only did light PE exercises in the school gym or yard, and besides we kept our underpants on under out PE shorts so there was no need for a jockstrap since we mostly all wore briefs at that time.
I suppose it was more suggested or required in schools where boys had to do PE in just PE shorts with no underpants underneath.

The cricket box type straps worn by boys for cricket is a totally different thing than a normal jockstrap since it is worn as protection against hits by cricket balls against the genitals and is thus made of a hard cup.
Were training bras required for girls at your school for PE?

Comments by George on 24th October 2019  

Was a boarding school but the day kids wore jockstraps too. I just remember boys senior to us saying on our getting into the senior school, " you're in seniors now go and you'll need a jockstrap from now on." I certainly wasn't going without ia jockstrap if my mates had them. Yes, of course some boys were advised by their dads or older brothers but most of all it was peer pressure.

Comments by Andrea on 23rd October 2019  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

That sounds like a sensible arrangement, was it a boarding school?

My son's school (non-boarding) had a uniform shop selling girls PE kit, but not jockstraps or sports bras. In fact I don't think jockstraps weren't mentioned by the boys PE teachers.

The local cricket club stipulated that boys had to wear a box when batting (in addition to helmets and pads etc.).

Did your PE teachers advise you to by a jockstrap? My Ex told me they were advised to buy one at the start of their third year at secondary school, so that would have been aged about 13 too.

Comments by George on 22nd October 2019  


I was 13 and we got them from the school's sports shop. The Guy just took your name, house and housemaster's signature and parents paid for all items at the end of term! :-)

Comments by Mr Dando on 21st October 2019  

Clothing for PE

The following are required for PE:

T-shirt, shorts & trainers (any colour)
PE classes take place both indoors and outdoors and therefore students should bring clothing as appropriate for weather conditions.
Students are required to shower after PE and should bring a towel.

On Wednesdays, at certain times of the year, Year 7 students will need to bring a swimming kit for swimming lessons.


Comments by Andrea on 21st October 2019  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

My son wore his ordinary briefs for PE, but had to have a jockstrap with a pouch and box when he started playing junior cricket at the age of 11 or 12.

We bought this from our local sports shop. How old were you when you got your first jockstraps and where did you buy them from?

Comments by James on 21st October 2019  

Danny,it was understandable that you were self-conscious wearing uniform shorts when walking to and from school through town.
Of course we looked childish wearing shorts at 14 that were more suitable for boys considerably younger than ourselves.
Some of us actually enjoyed running in just our shorts,but I found it humiliating and embarrassing.

Comments by George on 19th October 2019  

James T

Yeah we all felt grown up slipping on our jockstraps. Don't remember any other brand than Litesome. You could buy jockstraps with a pouch (to slip in a cup or box) or without the pouch part. Most boys had both depending on the sporting activity.

Comments by Danny on 19th October 2019  

Many here describe doing country runs, often going through town streets, wearing just small white shorts and nothing else. Weren't they not embarrassed by people seeing them?

We wore uniform shorts till age 14 at school and the only time I felt self-conscious about it was when walking through town to and back from school which made us look childish at that age.
Running outside where people can see you in just a pair of white shorts, often very thin and semi transparent by what some describe it here, must have been a lot worse and even humiliating.
I am curious how others felt about this since we never had any outside runs at my school. We did wear white PE shorts in gym or in the schoolyard exercises, but never outside in public.

Comments by Paul on 18th October 2019  

Turner - I have no idea whether members of staff were comfortable or not - how could I have. I've just reported what happened.

Comments by Turner on 17th October 2019  


Were members of staff not embarrassed to swim and shower naked with boys? After all, the 1960s were not all that long ago and privacy requirements between boys and teachers were just as relevant as now. Did the boys discuss the physical attributes of the staff afterwards?

Comments by James T on 17th October 2019  

Hi George.
Another of the James's here.
Yes, sorry, confusing. I have posted a few comments in the past. Cant actually locate any at the moment but I seem to remember mentioning shorts which went transparent when wet and also some of us getting jockstraps and feeling very grown-up. They clearly showed through the shorts especially when they were wet doing cross country runs and if we went into the school pool still with jocks and shorts on after pe etc. I don't remember any particular rules in our school to say that we had to change into swim wear, or perhaps we just ignored them!
Incidentally, yes, Litesome.

Comments by Paul on 13th October 2019  


My school was a boarding school and the only two females on the staff were Matron and her deputy. Both saw plenty of boys of all ages naked on a day by day basis. Matron's cure for most things was an enema so she was pretty well acquainted with every boy's bottom.

We did not have things like sports days that were open events because most parents lived some distance away and in those days - 1960s journeys were long and certainly not all parents had a car. My parents lived about 70 miles away and the journey by car always took at least two hours.

We did have plenty of competitions during school time when we wore our usual kit so swimming was naked.

In these competitions there was always a sixth form v.s. staff competition whether it be a swimmming relay, a track relay or a rugby match. There was only one big changing room and staff changed with boys and showered in the same communal showers and when they swam, they were just as naked as we were.

No one thought anything of it.

Comments by Danny on 12th October 2019  

Mr.Dando did not specify in the PE kit what the boys wore instead of tracksuit bottoms, if they wore anything, since it is not specified in the kit requirement, which sounds strange to me.

Comments by Sterling on 12th October 2019  

I have never heard of boys wearing Tracksuit Bottoms for PE. Why would they?

Comments by Danny on 12th October 2019  

To James and Paul,

I presume that your school was boys only, in spite of female teachers being present.
At least you did not have to suffer the added humiliation of being made to swim nude together with girls in swimsuits as some mention at their schools.

There is also mention that in some schools they had swimming galas where the boys also had to be naked in front of spectators, mainly parents and siblings including sisters.
But I presume that these were only for junior boys up to 12 or 13 at most. I cannot imagine teenage boys made to swim naked in front of girls and women.

Comments by Mr Dando on 10th October 2019  



Sky blue polo shirt (collared)
School sweatshirt
Sky blue knee-length sports socks
Navy blue tracksuit bottoms

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

Comments by Ross on 30th September 2019  

Despite this been from 1959 it looks to be almost the same as my middle school gym and sports hall from 1997! The kit we wore wasn't too much different either except we were all barefoot for indoor PE lesson wearing white shorts and shirtless.

Comments by John on 13th September 2019  

I wholeheartedly agree with you that boys should not have been forced to swim without trunks. If adults wish to swim naked they are able to make that choice.

When I was at Senior School we were forced to shower naked after playing football or going on cross country runs, I felt uncomfortable at first but soon got used to it.

My cousin had to swim naked at his Senior School and said that it never bothered him, he didn’t have any female teachers or spectators though.

Comments by James on 13th September 2019  

Danny, being shy and reserved I found it difficult to come to terms with swimming lessons without wearing my swimming trunks,although it amazed me how some boys were absolutely brazen about the ordeal,especially as we were supervised by two female teachers and one male teacher.
It also reminded me of an incident in the pool when a much stronger boy than myself was holding me under the water to see how long I could go without air.
This was witnessed by one of the female teachers who blew her whistle and signaled the boy to leave the pool.
The punishment was swift and severe and left the boy in tears after he had had his buttocks and the back of his legs smacked.