Burnley Grammar School
Item #: 1607
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, December 1959
Hugh on 8th August 2022 at 19:16
Thank you, one a gain a post full of common sense and information.
From what has been posted it is clear that in some schools punishments were severe, especially those administered to a bare bottom, but I did not realise that it has been stated that parents used the same punishment on a bare bottom. I must have been treated leniently. My dad never used a cane or anything like it. However, because I was in shorts until about the age of 13 or 14 , punishment was a sharp slap round the bare legs and that stung. I am glad that my dad did not make me stand and take down my trousers and pants because I think that would be as demeaning as receiving the punishment.
Rich C, thank you for your posts about your time growing up. I went to a boys state grammar school but the lad who lived next door went to another school in town that was an Irish Christian Brothers grammar school.
I remember he gave a very similar account of events to you of daily strapping of hands at the front of the class for something as minor as a spelling mistake or failing at a mental maths question and then the much more serious 'bare arse leathering' for anything a bit more serious.
I experienced nothing llike that though the cane was in use at my grammar school and I would say most of us got it at one time or another, I certainly did.
In those days of course it wasn't uncommon for you to be 'dealt with' by your mates parents if you misbehaved at their house or on their watch and my mates father who was Irish had a hefty leather belt that on occasion was applied with force to our bare bottoms and equally, when at my house, my father was not averse to delivering a bare bottom caning when he thought it was required. We both thought the cane was a lot worse but it was used less often.
I've said before, I'm retired but was a GP for many years. I almost hesitate to make this comment because of some of the sheer antagonism that has gone on here both in recent days but also in the past.
In very many years of practice in a reasonbly big GP practice - 10 partners and as many again as juniors, only on two occasions in the last ten years did we have a case of abuse, in neither case was it my patient but these things are discussed at clinical meetings. In both cases, social services were involved and all protocols were followed. On a small number of occasions we suspected abuse we always followed protocols but on those occasions we were proven wrong.
I must therefore conclude that actual instances of abuse are so few and far between they cannot in any context be considered common and I doubt they ever were. No doubt things happened but also, memories change with time. Personally, I would not wish to trust a memory of many years ago to make a serious allegation about anyone, others of course feel differently.
With that, I will let the matter rest.
Sorry for such a rapid reappearance, but this has just come up on the BBC news website, in connection with the Nicky Campbell story I mentioned last week:
I am not, and have never, for one minute, suggested that every school had pests like this "man", but I was just making the point that far too many teachers in the past got away with behaviour which would have been highly questionable and/or illegal even back in the days when it occurred, except that the lads who complained were either not believed or made to shut up about it,
Andy: "Oh dear, here he goes again and posting in the middle of the night, a true keyboard warrior who posts all night and skives all day."
What a truly rancorous little man you are. FYI I am self-employed and I happen to work better early in the day, but today I "clocked off".so to speak, at 1830 this evening, having started at 0500 this morning. I was awake early this morning as it was a very warm night and I needed to shower. Is that alright with you?. haven't broken any "Andy" rules have I?. .As for "skiving", well you were scribbling away with your latest little insult at 1530 this afternoon.....
I have no idea why you have this personal vendetta against me, and I can only suggest that if you have some axe to grind you take up my offer and email me directly, instead of boring the whole board with your neurotic tantrums on this forum. It is not what it was designed for, and i am sure many others are as bored by your antics as I am. But I will not just "go away" if and when I have something I want to say. If it upsets your sensibilities that much, I suggest you just don't read what I write.
The post placed at 3.26pm this afternoon seems to illustrate that its author does not have a clear head for obvious reasons for anyone who reads it.
Alan on 5th August 2022 at 04:14
Oh dear, here he goes again and posting in the middle of the night, a true keyboard warrior who posts all night and skives all day.
Several weeks ago, Andy said he was withdrawing from this board and for a few weeks he did and it was a peaceful place with adult discussion taking place and some excellent posts but then he couldn't stay away, up he pops with his usual drivel about abuse everywhere.
The number of lads, as has been pointed out among the millions who went through schools is statistically insignificant but Andy and his handles have to find abuse everywhere, something most lads have no concept of and continuing to insist it took place everywhere actually belittles the experience of those who did experience it. I maintain this is the behaviour of someone who carries guilt.
The poster in question continually throws out the allegation that I am an amateur psychologist. I know in what I say next I will have the Andy handles calling me a liar and challenging me to prove what I say, don't bother, I'm not going to any more than anyone else here is asked to prove what they do. I'm not and 'amateur' psychologist but I do recognise someone who is utterly sick and posting the same nonsense repeatedly and has for years.
I do wish he would cease, desist and seek treatment or alternatively hand himself to the proper authorities to investigate his earlier behaviour.
There has been some throwing around of the word 'troll' on here, so I decided to take a look at the dictionary definition to be clear to myself what it really means in the context of a discussion, and here it is;
'a person who intentionally antagonizes others online by posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content'
I'll let others judge who they think this definition clearly fits best.
@ Robbie - thanks for your post - especially about night-time work. It deserves a fuller reply than this which I'll try and do later.
Andy wrote: "
"On the other hand we have Alan, Laura, Nick, John, Biff and a few more who post the same repetitive drivel".
Drivel?. Other people's experiences are written off by you in that ill-mannered way?. One might make the same accusation about you, with your pseudo-intellectual amateur psychology.
If you can't keep it civil , I would ask you to address any complaints you have about me TO me - I gave my email address expressly for that purpose once on here, as you trawl old posts you will find it easily enough, but I assume you haven't got the guts to do that. You are one of those people who conduct your ill-natured campaigns in public, and probably don't have the guts to do it on a person to person basis. That says more about you than it does about me, or any of the other people you seem to have problems with,.
What on earth is happening in this day and age when people with different opinions cannot simply disagree in an agreeable manner with each other and remain polite despite even the strongest differences of opinion they hold on subjects. Civilised discourse. I recommend it.
Do we really need to try and recreate some of the worst aspects of the old school playground within a benign school memory board setting groups of people against each other.
My goodness, the Alan handles are busy this afternoon and in recent days uncovering abuse where people say there isn't any and looking though old posts looking for things that are only coincidences but of course they can't be because abuse is everywhere.
Thank goodness we have Robbie, Rich C, Roy C, Johan, Richard, Tim H, Paul J, Bob, Marcus, Bernard, Billy, Paul, Devon Lad, Hugh, Trevor, Stan and many more who post their innocent memories.
On the other hand we have Alan, Laura, Nick, John, Biff and a few more who post the same repetitive drivel uncovering abuse in every post even when the poster is clear there isn't any and believing that everyone else who posts here is in some way involved. It's called reaction formation, something of an over reaction by guilty people for the sins in their past.
School bully stories like the one here from 1973 are always a welcome read. If I'd ever let my fist fly at one then I'd probably have been the kind who hurt herself with a broken wrist or knuckles and gone away nursing my own injury. It always feels like a risk to do that but it's good when it pays off.
Andy + Johan. These two names reappeared at much the same time and have both acted in a remarkably similar fashion in tone and style with a focus on attacking one specific individual, Alan, who also reappeared. I believe the impression is trying to be given that multiple people are attacking Alan when infact he is being singled out for the most part by just one.
I do not understand why people waste their time doing this and being so angry in what should be a pleasant discussion with friendly arguments being made and debated.
For what it's worth I found the comment placed under the Johan name in reply to Laura to be nothing short of absolutely disgraceful and lacking any class.
John hits the bullseye there.
I remember the afternoon break on 5th April 1973 when I cracked a well timed right hander straight at the face of a 14 year old bullying the younger brother of my best friend in school. Over a few weeks he'd extorted a lot of money in silver coins from him. He done the same to some others and taken food from them too. I left him with a great shiner of a black eye for days afterwards. You should have seen those who swarmed around this threatening maniac melt away from him in the days afterwards isolating him and I got a few pats on the back for having the gumption to go for him and it gave me some credibility and respect. I was always quiet and introverted and I acted completely out of character in a fleeting moment of fury and adrenaline which made what I did all the more powerful. I never got into trouble for landing one on him, even though the teachers saw his black eye and knew I'd done it, although no teacher saw me actually do it. I even managed to get a lot of the money he extorted returned. What I learned that day was that many school bullies actually have a glass jaw and they might look all big and threatening, this guy was bigger than me, but with one well aimed launch like you really mean it you can bring them crumbling back down to size in seconds with an intimidatory reputation they can't recover very easily.
TimH on 3rd August 2022 said;
Rich C - agree with you pretty much whole-heartedly.
Roy C - agree with you.
I'm always a bit bothered about people who post messages on these boards in the middle-of-the-night.
Agree with you Tim on the first two points. What a great poster Rich C is.
As Roy C said, the best comes from first hand experiences and I like to hear how similar or different other peoples school life was and the attitudes they took to things like PE. There seems to be a definite divide of opinion much like how I remember the sporty and non sporty kids divide in my own classes.
Worried about night posting, I suppose you might mean myself as one of those who has stuck a couple of night time posts. Quite simple really, as I work at a media organisation on their night desk and have some quieter moments and a break that gives me a chance to read up when I grab a quick moment. I'm not one of those quiet solitary insomniacs sitting in a pokey old bedroom browsing social media all night and sleeping all day with no job to go to. At work in an air conditioned building is the best place to be on a humid summer night rather than trying to sleep back at home in a stuffy bedroom. In the best place right now before I start work shortly. I live increasingly in the 24 hour society and it suits me very well. I'd have probably chosen to go to school from 12am to 6am if the chance had ever been available. Love the night time.
Rich C is everything that this history thread should be about.
Well written, intelligent, informative and deeply personal. Plus answers asked questions put to him in a nice manner.
Rich I thought your philosophy on life was hugely inspiring following the childhood you described to us here. It's to your immense credit that you overcame that and achieved so much and it was so pleasing to read your ultimate positivity.
Johan to Laura - "your post is totally inappropriate and full of breath taking arrogance."
No it wasn't - but yours was.
Some people don't seem to like seeing some professional level headed common sense being written on this thread do they.
I wonder why?
Laura on 3rd August 2022 at 00:14
I suspect you would be able to find abuse anywhere, congratulations. Please do not patronise me, your post is totally inappropriate and full of breath taking arrogance.
A well made and brilliantly written post Laura.
A little tale of mine from the past weekend around where I live. There are two 17 year old boys (Jake and Leo) living either side of me a couple of homes along the road. Both go to the same school. I know one very well, Jake. The other lad, Leo is considered a very quiet and polite young man who has never been a bother to anyone and never makes a nuisance of himself in any way at all, and comes from a decent family and upbringing. Both boys do actually and the neighbourhood is a good one and the school they go to is too.
Yet at the weekend speaking to the family of Jake, the boy that I know very well I was shocked to discover a very different side to this other quiet polite boy in our road, Leo. I found out much to my amazement that in school for the past couple of years this well regarded 17 year old Leo had actually been making the life of the 17 year old Jake that I know an absolute misery and unhappy with persistant low level petty bullying in school and even outside of school. I would never have believed it possible as Leo projects a completely unassuming, quiet personality who keeps his head down and behaves himself and has never given anyone living nearby any reason to doubt this.
But speaking with Jake's grandmother, not his mother, at their house I mentioned the other lad Leo in a positive way and then suddenly found myself confronted with indignation and a lesson in what quiet respectful Leo had been getting up to in school, with another boy, against Jake who was also present while I was talking to his gran. It seemed like a targetted campaign of bullying harrassment had been ongoing for two years. Jake is a boy who is thoughtful, polite and quite sensitive but when younger was actually a bit of a hyper child but has calmed down into what you'd call a rather nice sweet young man with a caring attitude. The other quiet lad Leo is more sporty, plays football a lot and all that kind of thing. I'd say he's quietly confident, but as I've said never a problem in any way ever. Yet in school and with another lad his own age who lives in the same road he has been creating trouble and making Jake unhappy for a long period of time.
I thought it was worth a mention here.
Rich C - agree with you pretty much whole-heartedly.
Roy C - agree with you.
Johan - interesting comments - Thanks for posting. Unfortunately some people look to have their own agenda.
I'm always a bit bothered about people who post messages on these boards in the middle-of-the-night.
Gentlemen, how about we stop feeding the troll?
Through the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s many millions of boys passed through secondary schools. Most had a healthy and fulfilling time there and gained a decent education and I count themselves among them.
A few, a statistically insignficant number had a bad time including being abused perhaps sexually but the number was in relative terms very small and there is no evidence to the contrary.
On the child abuse enquiry, do remember that initially it was to be chaired by a judge, she was removed amidst allegations she was not independent, another lawyer was appointed who was also ousted and then a second judge was brought in from New Zealand, she could not have been anything but independent but she also quit. Judges would not have allowed hearsay evidence, do you see a theme?
Finally, a social worker was appointed, a social worker who had given credence to the most spurious claims in the past and all proceeded so the account of allegations being accepted about someone long dead by two people who were contradicted by many more would be par for the course.
Those who are obsessed with abuse generally have one of two backgrounds. They either have been abused or are abusers trying to cover their tracks. In either case, this isn't the place for them to be airing their thinking, as has been said before, this is a place for innocent memories and in the main that is what the vast majority post here, diverted at times by a couple of posters who I will refrain from naming but they know who they are. One is fortunately fairly scarce these days in their contributions, the other less so.
I would suggest we stop feeding the current poster or other handles with similar issues, as either an abuser or abused, they are not going to find what they need here.
There he goes again - Andy, the amateur psychologist. I didnt say EVERY school was tainted, but a good many were, except that people like yourself either were lucky enough not to attend a bad school or if you did, you were so morally superior you didn't notice what was going on.
Stop with the insults, and don't presume to tell, others if they are allowed to post or not in your not-so-humble opinion.
As someone who has spoken to many people down the years on this kind of subject matter I'd like to raise a point related to what Johan has written.
The part where you wrote about the two people in class being listened to whilst the other fifteen were ignored.
First, I think all comers should be heard, not dismissed. Listened to with the views taken on board.
But there might be a bit of a misconception here. Where abusive behaviour takes place in a situation such as a school or workplace with many people present, abusers only ever tend to focus attention on a very small amount of individuals at any one time, often just one, maybe a couple, possibly a few more in rare cases. It would be highly improbable that an active serial criminal abuser would take on an entire class in one go or even a large number of anybody in a school year. It would be more likely picking individuals off bit by bit over a period of time if it was ongoing persisitant addictive behaviour rather than a one time concern.
This is why Johan you could quite easily have a group of your 15 boys including yourself who think your schoolmaster was a right and proper respected teacher whilst another two had a completely different opinion within the same close environment and might have been abused in some way by him. In this case I am talking potential sexual, physical and mental abuse as a cover all. Do not for one moment think that one or two boys being abused by a teacher away from others eyes would necessarily choose to confide in their friends in the class. A lot of the time this just does not happen for various reasons such as shame for instance, and as seems to have been proved here, the believability issue.
Johan, without meaning to, and you wrote a fair minded piece, you have illustrated quite well issues surrounding the believability issue and why some of those who did face abusive people, in school, at home or in the workplace often don't say anything at all, wait many years and then fail to be taken seriously. I've dealt with the after effects of quite a few in my job and while some speak out at the time it is notable just how many bottle such traumas up for an incredible amount of time before finally being able to speak.
One thing I have heard from numerous people is that silence was always far easier to them than speaking out.
I'd like to suggest a little more kindness towards others who may have been affected goes a long way.
Alan on 2nd August 2022 at 18:58
Further evidence, not that any is needed of your pathological obsession that there was an abuser disguised as every adult member of staff in a boy's school.
Please seek professional help and stop posting here.
Andy wrote: "This poster is obsessed with there having been abuse everywhere even though most people who post here do not share that point of view, he continues to insist it was happening."
As I pointed out to Johan - because he - and presumably you - did not see it, witness it, or experience it personally, it is an insult to those who did to continue to insist it didn't happen. There is always the danger in single sex schools of that sort of behaviour, because some people will be unwilling to admit it happened and even try to see base motives in those who speak out about it. Hopefully, with all the extra precautions taken today, it does not happen now, but it certainly did well into the 1980s.
Alan, you wrote this -
'There are posts I read (for example grown men looking at old TV shows which should by now have been wiped, commenting on the physiques of young pre-pubescent boys naked in the shower), which leave me feeling very uncomfortable indeed'
This is presumably about the Fit & Healthy school show much talked about on here. From what I've read on recent comments it has been perfectly acceptable OBSERVATIONS on the general appearance of schoolchildren a number of years ago compared to the likely change on today that have been made, citing how slim, lean, etc they all were. An innocent and wholly accurate and normal thing to say as part of the conversation around that programme. That should not make anybody feel uncomfortable in my opinion. These were just factual and historical comments based on what could clearly be seen in a real life situation.
Where I would have agreed with you would have been if people had come on here and made personal comments with specifics about the boys physiques/appearances, such as backsides or privates to name two. That would be worth your ire. But nobody has done so.
It just feels to me that you are in danger of blurring the line a bit here from what is not a problem and is genuine to that which might be less so. I hope and think I'm grown up enough to understand the difference.
For example, it was clear to me a few months ago that constant repetition of underwear and jockstrap talk clearly was being undertaken with less than genuine motivations at times.
Richard on 1st August 2022 at 01:11
Thank you for your comments. I only learned about Song for a Raggy Boy relatively recently by which I mean in the last year. I have watched it and it is indeed shocking, while my experience was brutal, it was as nothing next to that. By what I have read, this may have been more representative of an Industrial School in Ireland where the Irish Christian Brothers held great sway over decades. These schools have not had the same publicity as the Magdalene Laundries where many girls endured horrific conditions a the hands of nuns and of course that wasn't limited to Ireland either, they existed in the UK too but have not had the same degree of publicity of honesty about them.
The reasons boys were sent to Industrial Schools were similar to the ones girls were sent to laundries - with the obvious exception and many had done nothing to deserve it though they could be sent to one after a court appearance or just because they seemed a bit 'wayward'.
My experience, while brutal, was nothing like that.
Another film that is around which I saw years ago was the Leaving of Liverpool showing the role of the Brothers in the child migration programme and the brutality of that. The UK government was party to this in no uncertain terms but unlike in Ireland it has not had the same degree of publicity here.
Robbie on 1st August 2022 at 03:09
Thank you also for your comments.
IMO, there is no point whatever in hanging on to bad things in life, I've seen people do it and they only eat you up, life is all too short. I watched my grandmother hang on to the memories of both her husband and eldest son being killed during WW2 and her life had really stopped when that happened, she died while I was about 14 and I was determined never to be like that. Her treatment of my mother was shocking and my mother was often made to feel guilty simply for being alive when her brother was dead and of course that guilt trip had consequences for how I and my brothers were treated but somehow I was able to stand back from it all and be determined I would never be like that. I think I succeeded!
My mother was the ardent catholic, my father was a bit more luke warm but it was my mother who drove our religious practice which meant going to mass daily and confession weekly! Her view of the Brothers was that they could never do anything wrong and nothing, at the time would have swayed her view. My father would not have challenged those views but he was no push over.
As for my education, well I left school with twelve top grade O levels and four top grade A levels and went to Cambridge where I graduated with a distinction so academically, I succeeded I suppose. I also left with a number of friends who have remained friends for life so I'm not sure what more I could have wanted.
I really don't believe the Brothers, at least in my school acted with malice, it was their job to educate and they did. On the day I left though at eighteen, I was determined to never look back and never to dwell on what had happened and that in future, I would sieze every opportunity that was offered to me with both hands and I think I have! I rose as high as I ever wanted to in my professional practice and now am retired with a decent pension, a very loving partner and a comfortable lifestyle that perhaps some would see as aspirational.
One thing I determined I would never do again as I went to Cambridge was that I would never set foot in a catholic church again and apart from the odd christening, weddings and funerals I never have. I also, but like many more, moved away from my parents during the time I was at university and we were never close again if indeed we ever were close.
When the whole thing of abuse and the behaviour of the Brothers came to light I was very tempted to raise it with my parents reminding them of how I used to vomit in the mornings before going to school but what good would it have done? The past couldn't be undone, they believed they were doing their best for me and why guilt trip them? My father was just as capable as any of the Brothers of delivering a serious arse warming and did when he thought it was required so he would not have seen anything wrong with what the Brothers meted out. It was no secret it happened, parents did used to comment that the Brothers use the right means to keep lads in line in a world where corporal punishment was normal. Lads I knew who went to other schools certainly received corporal punishment though probably not on the same scale as we did but certainly I can remember going to the swimming pool and lads in the changing room with a reddened of cane striped arse was not so unusual.
So, to summarise again, IMO, there is no point in holding on to the bad things in the past, you can't change them so let them go and get on with what's in front of you now!
Take care all.