Burnley Grammar School

Childhood > Schools


Burnley Grammar School
Burnley Grammar School
Year: 1959
Views: 850,053
Item #: 1607
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

Comment by: Frank C on 24th January 2021 at 05:24

Tim, A review of this film is on empireonline.com gives storyline and backround. I can relate to this scenario as it mirrors a great deal of what I observed and experienced at the school I attended late 1960s!

Comment by: TimH on 21st January 2021 at 10:56

Congratulations to the board for reaching 3000 posts: it doesn't seem that long ago that we were applauding 1000 - its good to see some of the people from then still around.

I completely agree with the sentiments in Bernard's & Michael's recent posts. As someone from a working class background I (& my parents) realised how lucky I was to be going to a grammar school (You can use words like 'proud' & 'privileged' if you like). Like it or not, many working class children of my generation are thankful of the chances it gave them.

Off topic: Someone said about people wearing shorts in the middle of winter - the simple answer is: Why Not? I have a reason for wearing shorts when I can; other people (especially wives) might put it down to a reversion to child-hood, or simply because its easier if you're getting in and out of vans all day (bare legs do dry quickly than soggy trousers. There is climate change, too.

When the board started there was much talk of a film with the strange title 'P'tang, Yang, Kipperbang' as an example of growing up in the late 40s. For anyone who's interested its on Film Four at 2.00 next Tuesday morning. (I hadn't realised but the Director was the late Michael Apted, who died this month).

Comment by: Alan on 21st January 2021 at 03:39

Bernard: Just because you went to a "better" school than mine, and obviously feel somewhat superior (and may I just say your somewhat condescending attitude isn't appreciated), it still does not give you the right to speak for ALL your fellow pupils.

You will notice, ill-educated though I might have been, I said SOME of our boys felt as I did, I do not presume to speak for all of them, I am sure some of them, like yourself, really enjoyed running round in streets of snow and ice and freezing cold gyms wearing next to nothing, but many did not, and might I suggest rather too many people look back on such things, and a good dose of the cane if they did not obey orders, with rose-coloured glasses. SOME of us do not.

Comment by: Bernard on 20th January 2021 at 23:09

Alan - I appreciate that your schooldays were not happy - I expect I would have been unhappy if I had been forced to attend a comprehensive school such as yours. It is clear that your experience was very regrettable and left you with a chip on your shoulder. What is also regrettable, of course, is the ferocity with which you attack those of us whose contributions do not fit in with your way of looking at things.
I was in the top stream of a grammar school and can't recall having any very gung-ho lads in the class. If you are suggesting that such a description might be appropriate for me then you would be very wrong. As a child I was fairly shy and not very good at p.e. though there were several boys who were more shy and worse at p.e. than me. I really think I am in a better position to speak for those boys than you are.
I was very lucky in that the teachers at my school were like those at Michael's school - they really tried to bring out the best in us. Our p.e. teachers realised that some boys, like myself, were not very capable and they were happy if we tried hard. Achievements were applauded be they the greater ones of the fitter boys of the lesser ones of the less fit ones. The kit we wore - nothing but a pair of shorts - had nothing to do with our teachers - it was decided by the school or possibly the LEA. I enjoyed p.e. largely because of the encouraging attitude of the teachers but also because of the kit which made us all feel very much the same. We had one boy from a very poor family. His normal school uniform was obviously second hand and not replaced as quickly as it might have been as he grew. Wearing just a pair of p.e. shorts he looked just like the rest of us.
Like Michael I realise I was very lucky with the school I attended and do have sympathy for those who went to schools with less dedicated teachers.

Comment by: Michael on 20th January 2021 at 16:28

I felt privileged to attend my old grammar school, because it was obvious that despite tight budgets and teacher shortages, all the staff were working hard to bring out the best in us.

There were plenty of instances when we could have been treated with more respect, but few large organisations (even today) get it right for everyone all of the time.

Comment by: Alan on 20th January 2021 at 04:07

"nothing we couldn't cope with"

I hope this is the Royal "we". I can't see how you can presume to speak for all your fellow pupils. From experience, when you have some very gung-ho lads, the quieter ones are unlikely to express their feelings to that clique. They tend to express them to like-minded lads.

Let's just be grateful that in the 21st century the wellbeing of all pupils, including the boys, is taken into consideration, and they are not treated like convicts any longer

Comment by: Bernard on 19th January 2021 at 21:07

Alan - we certainly got cold running in nothing but a pair of shorts in the middle of winter but it wasn't anything we couldn't cope with. I know that I wasn't alone in preferring cross country to playing on the football pitches when it was cold as we could keep moving better and didn't get so cold. Also, for those of us who were not so good at physical activities we were able to go at our pace and not feel we were letting a team down. As we were not unduly bothered by our cross country runs I would have hoped that any onlookers did not feel the need to be appalled or disgusted on our behalf.

Comment by: James on 18th January 2021 at 15:00

Alan,it must have made a marked impression to so many people watching boys running in just their shorts.Although we were conditioned to wearing just our shorts for cross country runs and other sporting activities, I found it bewildering why we had to wear just our shorts for these activities.
We were always timed on these runs and given a merit if we exceeded our previous time and had to explain to the teacher if we lagged behind.The punishments could be very severe if we didn't come up with a reasonable excuse.

Comment by: Tom B on 18th January 2021 at 14:31

Michael comments “almost 3000 comments” under this photograph.

It’s very much back and to with people in favour of a more old fashioned physical education and those against.


I’ve been interested to note over recent weeks with temperatures around zero lots of guys wearing shorts.

Perhaps it’s because people are feeling more causal working from home but it’s interesting to see the popularity in spite of cool conditions.

Comment by: Alan on 18th January 2021 at 10:30

Bernard writes: "Thinking about it I suppose it must have been quite a comical sight in the winter - 30 boys wearing nothing but a pair of shorts running through the streets while any-one else around would have been bundled up against the wind and rain!"

Only "comical" to the thoughtless, the brainless, or the sadists among the population. To most people, I should hope they were appalled and disgusted, at the inconsiderate behaviour of the schools concerned. and remember some of us didn't have nice quiet leafy lanes, to run down - some of us came from towns where the school abutted the high streets

Comment by: Bernard on 18th January 2021 at 01:36

Danny - I hadn't thought of shirtless cross country like that. In the 60s we had to go out of the school grounds and along a couple of residential streets to get to the open countryside for our runs. Similarly, we ran along more residential roads on the way back. We wore the appropriate kit - white shorts - and thought nothing of it. Thinking about it I suppose it must have been quite a comical sight in the winter - 30 boys wearing nothing but a pair of shorts running through the streets while any-one else around would have been bundled up against the wind and rain!

Comment by: Michael on 16th January 2021 at 12:41

I note this thread has now reached a total of 3000 comments. Are congratulations in order?

My PE teacher used to drive out to the turning point of our cross country run and, while we ran past in the cold or freezing weather, he would be sitting in his big car with its engine running and heater on, ticking off our names against the class list.

He would do this only very occasionally, but we never knew when. So, anyone taking a short cut during the run was also taking the risk of being found out.

He never accompanied us on our runs, which we resented at the time. But, thinking back, I reckon he could hardly have been expected to do four or five such runs in the day, with different classes. He would have been worn out!

Comment by: Danny C on 15th January 2021 at 18:34

As I've said previously, I was mandated to run a lot of three or four mile long cross country's barechested in my school. The trouble is that the course partly took us out of school and into some quite public nearby areas before returning back into the rear of the school's large playing fields to the finish most of the time. It's one thing to make it mandatory for boys in PE to not wear anything on top inside the school building or grounds but is it really acceptable to tell boys doing a PE class that involves leaving school grounds that they must do it barechested? It felt really unfair that me and the boys with me in my PE class were made to do so. Not one of our teachers running with us was ever prepared to do what they expected us to do like that.

Comment by: James on 15th January 2021 at 14:49

Paul B, if the criteria for boys to wear long trousers was judged by the boy's height then it was possible that much older boys could be wearing shorts when their taller, younger contemporaries would be promoted to wearing long trousers at an earlier age.

Comment by: Paul B on 15th January 2021 at 10:38

I do not now if it has relation to the topic, but for me shorts for pe was okay because like some other lads at secondary school because we were short in height our parents kept us in shorts. I did not get my first pair of long trousers until I was 13., an until I went to secondary school and started swimming lessons up until then my swimming trunks were the horrible knitted wooly type. Very baggy!

Comment by: James on 14th January 2021 at 16:25

Apologies to you Alan,it was from myself,James.

Comment by: Alan on 14th January 2021 at 14:57

At the school that I attended it was not obligatory to wear shorts for our sporting activities and we were allowed to track suits if the weather was unsuitable,but I never wore one as I was still wearing short trousers at the secondary school that I attended.

Comment by: John on 14th January 2021 at 11:42

Thank you for making your position clear. I have no problem with lads being given the choice to wear a vest or a t shirt for indoor PE. There should always be a choice. Many lads may choose not to wear a vest or t shirt for indoor PE and shouldn’t be forced to wear one.

Comment by: Alan on 14th January 2021 at 03:35

John: "Has it not occurred to you that some lads may prefer to do indoor PE shirtless, why should they have to be made to wear a vest or a t shirt simply to satisfy people with your point of view?. "

Clearly you only read the bits you want to read. I have made it clear that I am OK with lads who wish to exercise in that manner doing so, provided that those lads who are uncomfortable with it are not forced into that situation. In other words, those who wish to can, and those who don't wish to can wear a tee shirt (which "William" and perhaps you, find "excessive".

Nothing more, nothing less, so what is so hard or unaccptabl to understand about that?

Comment by: John on 13th January 2021 at 20:46

You seem to be 100% certain that your point of view is right and are adopting the moral high ground. Has it not occurred to you that some lads may prefer to do indoor PE shirtless, why should they have to be made to wear a vest or a t shirt simply to satisfy people with your point of view?. You keep asserting that many people on this forum are keen on what lads should wear in PE today, you are equally keen in asserting what they should wear. I personally did not find exercising shirtless in the gym at school in any way weird and still do not consider that I was abused. People are commenting on their experiences of PE just as you have done. Some of us had positive experiences and for others their experience was different. You do not wish to hear any point of view that disagrees with yours.

Comment by: Alan on 13th January 2021 at 11:10

William, Please spare us. In a reply ABOUT me, not to me, on 21/12/20 you wrote:

"Alan advocates a level of male modesty that many would think excessive."

What is "excessive" about suggesting boys should be allowed to wear tee shirts, or even vests, especially in a co-ed situation?

You seem to be the one advocating "minimal" clothing and citing examples of countries where such practices occur, including nude swimming.

It just seems frankly macabre to me a grown man should be so concerned about the topic of minimal kit, when he is not forced to undergo humiliations himself - the boys we are talking about were forced into it. I am sure many people find that unacceptable, especially in the context of co-ed schools where both sexes have to share facilities at the same time.

Sorry if that offends but best to say what we mean.

Comment by: William on 12th January 2021 at 21:58

Alan, Over the years this has been a conversation, not a debate that has to be won, and there is no point your mocking or taking a swipe at contributors who presume to say something that is at odds with your own strongly held views. I am advocating nothing - just offering some background to nude swimming at boys' schools, as Paul B requested.

Comment by: Alan on 12th January 2021 at 17:18

I'm sorry William, but your views to me are extremely naive. At one time we painted ourselves with woad and lived naked in the woods. That is no reason to do it today. We live in a modern era with modern ideas. Today, in Britain, with cheap easily available clothing, public nudity is considered immodest and indecent. It's OK for boys to swim nude, you seem to be saying, because they see each other in the showers. Well, this applies to footballers. Should they be running round the football field stark naked because of that?

You seem, if you will allow me to say so, from views you have previously expressed, to be an advocate for nudity. Well, good for you, I hope you could find a naturist club where you can let it all hang out, so to speak, but most of us would feel uncomfortable in such a situation and won't be joining you there. You have the right to join, we have the right to say no thank you. The problem with school swimming in the nude was that there was an air of compulsion about it that is highly distasteful. Luckily, given public awareness of the peccadilloes some "professionals" get up to, it is unlikely that this questionable activity will ever return to British schools.

Comment by: William on 12th January 2021 at 14:13

Paul B, I think people were swimming for centuries before swimming costumes became practicable. It is well documented that in the 19th century men and boys in Britain swam nude. Eton boys swam in the Thames. As materials were developed that made costumes possible the practice died out except for male institutions, including boy's schools with their own facilities. Why bother with trunks when the boys were used to seeing each other with nothing on in showers etc? That was the logic. Nude swimming lives on in northern Europe with single sex sessions in some public pools.

Comment by: Paul B on 12th January 2021 at 10:36

Alan, I agree there seems to have been no logic for it, and I assume that it does not happen now. I do not know if schools still provide swimming lessons as part of the curriculum.

Comment by: Paul B on 12th January 2021 at 10:33

Alan, I agree as I say there seems to be no logic for it.

Comment by: Alan on 12th January 2021 at 08:57

Paul B: I think this sinister nude swimming routine was started in the 19th century, and shamefully continued well into the 20th century with the excuse of "tradition" but the intent of providing sexual thrills for dirty-minded masters. It should have been discontinued (if allowed to start, which it shouldn't have been) at the dawn of the 20th century

Comment by: Paul B on 11th January 2021 at 12:57

Like many of the contributors to this site, I attended an all boys school.(1961 to 1966) and pe was topless wearing shorts and no underpants. For games outdoors it was football no specific uniform football shirt shorts and again no pants. We had weekly swimming lessons at the local municipal pool and exclusive to our school.. Trunks we were worn the only design at that time were the briefs style. What I do not understand is that where people have said they were at an all boys school and it had it's own pool , it often seems that the boys would not wear swimwear. Was there a logical reason for this, because pe would not be conducted without shorts.

when shorts were worn for pe,

Comment by: Alan on 11th January 2021 at 05:27

Jono G: Isn't it nice to know so many of us were put to embarrassment and discomfort just to satisfy prurient schoolgirls?. I think this argument, if argument it is, is yet another demonstration of the failure of co-ed education. School as youth club

Comment by: Jono G on 10th January 2021 at 22:55

Robin, My school was mixed and the PE teachers had us exercising bare chested indoors and frequently outdoors too. It was school policy all boys entered the gym wearing vests then be told to drop them and go bare chested. With the large reinforced windows that ran the length of the gym it was easy to see boys stripped to the waist, exercising and showing sweat and that's what girls saw daily simply by looking through the windows. There was ribbing from the girls but it wasn't nasty but did bring comments about how we looked and performed bare chested and comparisons with boys from other classes they'd seen stripped off too.