Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 674,889         Comments: 2,436

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

2436 user comment(s) below:-

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 ďno matter how cold it wasĒ? 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 didnít 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 didnít 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?.

Comments by Bernard on 13th September 2018  

Matt - I don't know when you were at school but in my day - in the 60s - we were worked hard in p.e. and most of us would have been uncomfortable wearing a shirt. If boys are exercising vigorously then there should be no need or desire to wear shirts inside or outside. I can imagine if a class of boys were out on a football pitch shirtless in winter and there was a lot of time spent standing around listening to instructions etc they would get pretty cold but that was not the case at my school. All instructions were given before we went outside and we were pretty happy running around in our minimal kit.

Comments by Jeremy on 12th September 2018  

Harry, Iím happy Iím not the only one who played paintball shirtless. Yes I think it is a perfect idea to play shirtless even these painful games to divide two teams. Even in winter, the fame is more funny if a team is shirtless. I remember another time we decided to create two teams and to make everything more funny, the team which lost had to take off their shirt and to do a punishment like being shot shirtless, passing through rose bushes full of thorns shirtless, and even running in snow and doing press-ups in it shirtless... it was very funny seeing the other team losing but when my team lost it was terrible ahah... it was part of the game, have you ever had experiences like this?

Comments by John on 11th September 2018  

Paul, itís not a perfect solution for lads that prefer to be stripped to the waist for indoor PE. Our gym was always heated in the winter and it was way too hot for wearing vests or t shirts. Schools that got lads to bring a black and a white pair of shorts to each PE lesson had no problem in distinguishing teams at all. A friend of mine went to a school that had that PE kit rule and he never had any issues with it at all.

Comments by Paul on 11th September 2018  

Frank's posting seems to be the perfect solution to every boy being stripped to the waist and avoiding the problems of identification already discussed for team games

Comments by John on 10th September 2018  

Frank C,
At some senior schools the boys PE kit was black shorts, white shorts and pumps. Lads had to take a pair of white and a pair of black shorts to each gym class, the PE teacher would be at the changing room and divide the lads up so that half would wear black shorts and the others white. Lads were always stripped to the waist for gym class and indoor basketball and other team games. It was far healthier exercising shirtless and shy lads became more confident. Thereís no need to wear shirts for indoor PE

Comments by Frank C on 9th September 2018  

Matt and John,quite a while ago this was argued out.The bibs are awkward and slip with movement and can induce extra moisture on the back and chest!Armbands similarly aren't great.Remedy make one team skin and the others vests,it tends to pan out better and all the students know that they will be picked for one or the other

Comments by Matt on 9th September 2018  

I see your logic about every boy being a skin every time in that nobody could have felt singled out, that's true. If the PE kit was exactly the same for everyone, then I think we'd all have got used to it.
But surely by your argument we could just as easily have kept our vests on and still used bibs or armbands to distinguish teams in the gym? Why did any of us - whether some boys or all - actually need to strip to the waist for PE?

Comments by John on 8th September 2018  

Interesting to read about your experience of PE in the 1990s, would you have minded if your school had adopted a stripped to the waist rule for boys indoor PE?. Lads could have worn a bib or a coloured armband to distinguish teams. If all lads had been skins all the time they would not have had the anxiety about being chosen for the skins team and PE teachers wouldnít have been able to pick on lads that they thought were Ďsoftí

Comments by Chris G on 8th September 2018  

Rob. Sorry, missed your post of Aug 27th. Yes, for my first two years in secondary school we wore vests for PE. Some of us had the specified, but never enforced, T-shirt type top, but by and large, those of us who wore underwear vests on a daily basis (and that was most of us back then) didn't bother to change - so, yes, we were a bit sticky and whiffy by the end of the session, but we survived. Things were obviously better once we started going topless,and got more ventilation. Probably not unusually for those days, there were no showers available, but there probably wouldn't have been enough time for us all to get through, even if there had been any. Although there was no official no-pants ruling, a lot of us did remove our underpants, especially when toplessness caame in, but by the the time I left that particular school, there were even a few jock-straps to be seen in the changing room.

Comments by Matt on 7th September 2018  

Simon - we did vests vs skins in my PE lessons too (also 1990s) and one of my friends got picked to be a skin virtually every time. At first I think he felt a bit embarrassed about taking his top off and maybe that was evident to the teacher, who was a bit of a hard nut and presumably thought my friend was too soft. Whatever the reason, he stayed a skin most of the year and eventually seemed to be fine with it.

Comments by John on 7th September 2018  

Simon E, we were always stripped to the waist for all indoor PE and outdoor cross country running. Your school could have made all lads shirtless for all indoor PE and you could have worn a coloured bib or armbands to distinguish teams. It would have been much fairer and healthier for all lads to be stripped to the waist, who wants to wear a hot sticky vest?

Comments by Simon E on 6th September 2018  

Wow. So many comments about something so commonplace. I left school in the late 90's and our school did vests vs skins for indoors PE and it wasn't unusual to see vests sticking to backs. I know the teams were random but for around 98% of lessons I found myself as a skin. Did anybody think they were singled out too.

Comments by Harry on 5th September 2018  

Hi Frank and Jeremy an interesting spin on playing games shirtless!Back in the early nineties a group of lads at the engineering works organised a weekend social activity.It was a paintball challenge with two teams battling it out in woods in Derbyshire.Most of us had old coats and well worn jeans it was Spring,April and a bit showery and chilly.We thought it would be a good idea to make the teams more distinguishable as in the woods we mistook who was on which side etc.One of our team took of his coat and t-shirt and indicated that I and the others should do the same this added an extra element of fun,the other team came at us fast and furious we went back home sore and pitted but it was very refreshing and livened things up! We had another round a few weeks later!

Comments by Jeremy on 1st September 2018  

Hi frank, yes we used to play air soft shirtless during hot days, when temperatures were to high to wear anything on our chests. Generally we didnít have strict rules, in fact the winner was the guy who was able to resist more. However, even when we wore protections on our chests, we used to add a punishment for members who didnít declare they have been hit. They had to take off their protections and shirts so that they had to be bare chested. At that point three of us shoot on his bare chest around 30 shot. After this you had to finish playing as you were, shirtless! Sometimes happens that people didnít declare and it is a problem because you donít realise when you win. One time it happened to me and i was very scared not for the 30 shot (which were a bit painful) but for the fact they all had protections a part from me, so they didnít care to shoot hundreds of shot with automatic arms because of protections... except from me ahahah at the end I was destroyed but the next day I was ready for another battle!

Comments by John on 31st August 2018  

Alfie, I agree that I would have hated having to run barefoot, frankly that wasnít even safe for those lads to be made to do that. Running shirtless was always great though. After spending hours at a desk in a hot and stuffy classroom in winter, to be able to strip to the waist and put on a pair of shorts and trainers and go running outdoors was a truly liberating experience. It never did me any harm, we quickly got warm and worked up a sweat.

Comments by Frank on 31st August 2018  

Hi, i was reading Ericís message regarding air soft..I want to talk about mine of my experiences.. one time I was playing football and my shirt ended up in shreds so I was obliged to play shirtless. The problem was one of my friend who wanted to play paintball, everyone had a shirt a part from me, but I was forced to play. Yes it was very painful but, at least, I didnít dirty my shirt haha. Have you ever tried airsoft/paintball barechested?

Comments by Alfie on 31st August 2018  

Some fun running bare chested and bare feet in freezing cold, snow and rain while the coaches wore woollen jerseys, woollen socks and shoes.

Give us a break, guys.

I suppose you also look back nostalgically at getting the cane at school.

Comments by Rory on 30th August 2018  

Bernard, thanks for your comments. At least your PT teacher contemplated no sending you outside in the snow. Ours just carried on with the timetabled activity regardless of weather. Even if that meant our bare feet were ankle deep in snow. Like you say it was often a relief and once you got going was quite enjoyable in a funny sort of way. The biting cold seemed to encourage you to run harder.

Comments by Rob on 30th August 2018  

Thanks John, you're a man after my own heart. Lads today don't know what they're missing.

Comments by Rob, on 30th August 2018  

James, Yes, we were bare chested all year but weren't sent out for a cross country run very often in winter.As for when it snowed,and down here in the softy south that wasn't very often, I can only recall a couple of occasions and they were sunny days, when we had to run around the school playing fields through the snow, rather than through the usual woodland and out onto the hills. I remember it felt very invigorating running through the snow wearing just PE shorts and plimsolls.Sometimes, in summer, we had to run in the rain which was quite miserable and we were glad to get back in the changing rooms and enjoy a warm shower. Whatever the season, it did us no harm being stripped to the waist and I am glad that we had that experience while we were at school.

Comments by Bernard on 29th August 2018  

Rory - We used to do everything like you - in just a pair of shorts. i think most of us really enjoyed cross country dressed in our minimal kit, even in the winter. Our school always seemed to be overheated in the winter and it was a relief to strip off and get outside though we had to keep moving to avoid getting too cold.
The first time we did cross country with snow on the ground the teacher was a bit dubious and said we could go to the library. That meant we would have to sit in silence and we didn't have our homework with us so we couldn't do anything useful. We all chose ro run and no-one came to any harm from being out in the snow barefoot and stripped to the waist.

Comments by John on 29th August 2018  

Rob, I agree with you totally, cross country running stripped to the waist was always a great experience. The sheer freedom of being barechested and feeling the cool air on your skin was really exhilarating. I felt grateful that we were allowed to run without tops.

Comments by James on 29th August 2018  

Hi rob, were you bare chested also in winter or with rain/cold/snow?

Comments by Toby Patterson on 27th August 2018  

My parents moved to a new county left little time to get ready for school. When changed for our first PE/Games lesson my vest was red, not white. This delighted our teacher who jumped on it hauling me out in front of the class shouting "vest off now!" Our classes were either done in skins or teams of vests vs skins. I would strip to the waist for 9 more years after.

Comments by Chris on 27th August 2018  

James - just to clarify, after a topless PE class, we always put our shirts back on, just like we used to. The only difference was that weren't wearing vests under them any more.

Comments by Rob on 27th August 2018  

Chris G, I was at an all boys Grammar school in the late 1950s and remember when we all wore vests under our shirts. In noting that for the first two years you kept your vest on when you did PE, it must have got sweaty during the lesson and felt uncomfortable afterwards when you got dressed again. From the start of our first year we were told by our PE master to take everything off, including our socks and underpants and to wear just a pair of shorts with nothing on underneath and plimsolls. This was our PE kit for the duration at the school, even as sixth formers. Sometimes we would get changed and then be sent out on a run when the freedom and comfort of being stripped to the waist was even more enjoyable.

You said that at the start of the third year you were initially all a bit wary at being topless, suggesting, unusually for the late fifties, that unlike most of us at that time you did not have to go naked into the open communal showers after every PE and games lesson. That was an experience that I and no doubt virtually of us met with total apprehension and anticipation for the first couple of weeks after which time none of thought anything more about it.

Comments by James on 27th August 2018  

Chris, did you were bare chested after PE even if you had normal lesson in class, or did you go back home shirtless?

Comments by Rory on 23rd August 2018  

Just like so many others I spent my time in secondary school doing PE wearing nothing but a pair of white shorts. Always bare chest, no underwear and barefoot. Whether we were inside or outside.

I remember the bully of a pe teacher that thought nothing of sending 30 odd shirtless and barefoot boys out for a cross country run in the snow and frost.

Comments by Chris G on 23rd August 2018  

My experience, at secondary school back in the late 1950s, was rather similar to John's.

For the first two years, PE uniform was black shorts and white top. Since virtually all kids wore underwear vests (remember those?) in those days, few of us bothered with a dedicted PE top, so we just took off our school ties, shirts and trousers, put on our shorts, and there we were, all kitted out. At the start of my third year, our PE master announced that from now on, PE would be topless, an announcement greeted with mixed apprehension and anticipation by virtually all of us, and with irritation by those parents who had splashed out on the recommended uniform PE shirt.

For the first couple of classes, we were all a bit wary of the unfamiliar freedom of toplessness, but within a couple of weeks, as John discovered, comfort and practicality prevailed, and none of us thought anything more about it. An unintended consequence, for me and for virtually alll of my mates, was that instead of going to school wearing our vests, taking them off for PE and putting them on again afterwards, it soon became fashionable not to put them back on afterwards, and we all generally went vest-less for the remainder of the day. Inevitably, it was then just a short step not to bother with a vest at all on PE days, and a further short step to not wearing one at all (much to Mum's initial concern that I would catch cold before the winter was oujt!).

Comments by Andrea on 22nd August 2018  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

My Ex said that they were expected to do indoor PE bare chested, but they wore shirts for outdoor sports.

Comments by John on 22nd August 2018  

Craig, until the age of 9 Iíd done PE in my school shorts and vest. In the 1960/70s most lads wore vests underneath their school shirts, some of my school friends didnít have central heating at home. Halfway through Junior School the policy on boys PE clothing changed. We always got undressed in the classroom along with the girls, our teacher used to say ďget undressed for PEĒ. One day out of the blue our teacher said ďget undressed for PE and boys you must strip to the waistĒ ; we were not familiar with the term Ďstripí and lads looked at each other puzzled. Then a tall and brainy lad took his vest off, then the penny dropped and the rest of us took our vests off. Unsurprisingly some of the girls made fun of us because they could see that we felt self conscious.

At first I felt almost naked wearing only shorts and pumps and thought that it was unfair the way that it had been introduced. Our parents should have had a letter to explain the reasoning behind the new policy and they could
have explained it to us. I felt very self conscious for probably two PE lessons but by the third I found myself thinking about cartwheels, forward rolls and other gymnastic movements and was totally unaware of being barechested. We were worked hard in the gym and made to work up a sweat, I quickly realised that I remained cooler without a vest.

If the school had decided to revert to the former policy of making lads wear vests for PE I would have complained to my parents to try and ensure that I could be exempt from, wearing a vest or t shirt. On reflection shirtless is the healthiest and most sensible PE kit rule for lads for indoor PE, it would have been better if that policy had been enforced in the infant school. It was only because weíd been made to wear vests until age 9 that we felt self conscious when we were told that from now on we had to do PE stripped to the waist. There is no reason in my opinion why lads should not be shirtless for indoor PE.

Comments by Stacey C on 22nd August 2018  

John,apologies I misread your reply. You I respect lads for stripping to the waist to exercise. It shows discipline in a physical environment. Sadly we live in a culture that stops boys becoming young men and accepting who they are.

Comments by Craig A on 21st August 2018  

Stacey, though our kit included a vest after just a couple of minutes into the very first PE lesson we were told to strip down. I'm sure your brothers experienced something similar. John, what was your experience the first time you stripped off for PE.

Comments by John on 21st August 2018  

Stacey C, I personally agree with your brothers and preferred not to have to wear a vest for outdoor PE either. I was just commenting that in the present day I donít think any school would make lads strip to the waist for PE/Games in winter.

Comments by Stacey C on 21st August 2018  

When we were at school it was the norm for boys to be stripped down to the waist for PE/Games throughout the year. Being stripped down for outdoor fitness and xcountry runs seemed totally unnecessary especially in the snow. My brothers said they'd rather strip than wear a vest anytime regardless of the conditions...

Comments by John on 20th August 2018  

Stacey C,

Thanks for your post, shirtless PE didnít seem to do your brothers any harm. I donít think any school would make lads exercise barechested outdoors in winter but with centrally heated indoor gymnasiums/sports halls there is no reason why lads need to wear tops for indoor PE. If wearing tops is optional shy lads will choose to always wear a top and this will not help them to become happy with their own self image and gain confidence.
Itís fairer to have a stripped to the waist PE kit rule for lads for indoor PE.

When I was at school the PE teacher worked us hard for gym and we sweated profusely, none of us would have wanted to wear a vest or t shirt for indoor PE. Being forced to wear a top would have made us even more uncomfortably hot.

Comments by Stacey C on 20th August 2018  

I enjoyed seeing boys of all ages exercising stripped both in the gym and outside in winter throughout school. The gym had a huge reinforced window running length of the corridor was easy to watch. Craig A was right about sweating up, it was so common to see lads sweat in the gym and I really mean it dripping down chests and backs... Still want to wear a t-shirt? My older brothers went through the same school stripped to the waist like many lads did. I witnessed boys of all ages suffer some horrendous PE sessions stripped down during the winter months where it was literally freezing,my brothers did but accepted it had to be done,no choice other than to strip. Vests could have helped to make a difference, at least the boys could have chosen. Stripping to the waist is still the most effective PE kit though it was misused by some schools. Sensibly done it would offer today's boys with a tried and tested way, address body issues and add interest to the classes.

Comments by John on 20th August 2018  


What youíve written does not sound in the least bit plausible.