Clitheroe Royal Grammar School
Item #: 1602
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, November 1959
James, I did feel a bit childish having to wear uniform shorts at age 13-14, but most boys at school wore the same till that age. We only started wearing long trouser which were the same grey colour after age 14.
It wasn't a big deal wearing them at school since the other boys wore the same, the only time I felt self-conscious about it was when walking to and back from school through town.
I am surprised how many here say that they had to do country runs, often going through town streets, in just small white shorts and nothing else without feeling embarrassed about it.
Was it always the same teachers that supervised you during nude swim lessons or did they vary?
William,I agree that some boys became confident about the'no pants rule'communal showers and nude swimming lessons.
Wearing brief shorts that were imposed without underwear made it difficult to participate in the strenuous exercises and remain comfortable without the loss of dignity.
One particular prank was where a boy would sneak up and pull the shorts down of another boy which could be embarrassing as it was usually done outside.
May I ask what did the'ball-blacking ceremony'involve?
William, I remember having to do the handstands as you say with a partner holding up the legs. everything was on view but it seems we just accepted it because the roles were reversed when we swapped over. What actually happened during the "blackballing" that you referred to?
Danny,We swam in the nude throughout secondary school and we were supervised by a male teacher and his wife and a female supervisor.
The teachers took our swimming lessons very seriously and had the same authority as the male teacher.
I was only smacked once by a female teacher for running in the pool area and it was done by a female teacher and it was done in the standing position.
May I ask you if you felt too old to wear uniform shorts up
to 14,as I had to wear them up to the same age?
James, what ages were the boys? I presume it was a boys only school in spite of the female teachers supervising the boys during nude swimming classes.
We never had the luxury of a swimming pool at the schools I went to, both primary and secondary, so I can't imagine us boys swimming naked in front of female teachers. :)
It may have been fun or embarrassing/humiliating, especially in Secondary school, so I can't tell.
More so since they used corporal punishment on you boys during these swim lessons. We had corporal punishment at my schools, mostly in class by teachers, but always on our shorts clad bottoms. We wore uniform shorts till about 13 or 14.
Do you think these female teachers enjoyed the spectacle of boys swimming naked and having total authority including nude smackings?
In these circumstances during swimming did they smack you in the standing position, or bent over or some other position?
Must have been very humiliating being smacked by them completely naked right in front of everyone.
Bernard, for me going out barefoot and shirtless for a run eventually became a welcome relief from my lessons well any PE lessons was, even rugby which I wasn't much good at.
John, running cross country in bare feet during the winter was exhilarating! I actually loved it well after the initial shock of being told to go outside in the cold barefoot. Still was much easier to simply shower and clean my feet than carry around muddy water logged trainers all day long. The summer was just as good too and I am sure I ran faster barefoot around track.
James, Like a lot of other contributors my school had communal showers and a "no pants" rule. I agree that most of us quickly got used to it and became confident. On 13th September in the Burnley Grammar discussion you said that some boys were brazen. I think you're right. They were a minority but I clearly remember one boy in the end of term game of pirates swinging from a rope with his shorts round his ankles - just for the sheer fun of it. The gym master had popped out for a few minutes. If he had returned in time, the boy would have had a sore bottom.
We did not have nude swimming and the only activity I thought was slightly uncomfortable were handstands in the gym, where one boy held another boy's legs. Our cotton shorts were loose and shorter than those in the Burnley Grammar photo, and the boy holding the legs could see everything under the other boy's shorts. Nobody stared but I think everyone had a look. I recall feeling vulnerable, upside down and on display. What made it all right was that in a minute the roles would be reversed.
This was a bit uncomfortable but not humiliating. We were all treated the same. Being singled out would have been humiliating. The ball-blacking initiation ceremony for first time cadets at summer camp was uncomfortable rather than humiliating. It was very quick and, crucially, we all went through it.
No doubt all this shocks the younger generation but it taught us to take things in our stride and that the reality of nudity at school was never as bad as the anticipation of it. It made me more relaxed and confident about my skinny body. I feel sorry for young men today who are too shy to remove their shorts on in the swimming pool showers when the groin is the last place you want to leave chlorine. Likewise in the gym they spray their sweaty bodies, or even worse their gym vests, with deodorant rather than have a shower. I'm glad I was brought up in a tougher regime at school in the '60s.
Danny,we always swam naked albeit in front of female teachers and supervisors and it was never differentiated by our age.
Yes,it was'uncomfortable'at first,but I soon got used to it and to see so many boys without wearing swimming trunks in the same environment made it more acceptable.
We were usually spanked by their hand if we misbehaved,but often we could see the miscreant had been caned.
James, are you saying that the older boys in their teens also swam naked in front of the female teachers?
I have nothing against boys swimming naked at school as long as they are comfortable with it and in a safe environment.
Like you say, probably one would get used to it.
Did it make you uncomfortable being naked in front of female teachers, especially since they could also spank you naked during the lessons?
Did they use their hand to smack you or with something else?
Bernard & Ross,
I totally agree that doing cross country shirtless was a great experience summer and winter but I’m not sure that I’d have enjoyed being made to run barefoot in winter.
Ross - it is good to hear that boys were still encouraged to be boys just 20 years ago - in your school at least.
I used to enjoy cross country in nothing more than a pair of shorts - it was certainly exhilarating in the winter. I was never good at team games like football so running was better for me and it was good to get out of the school grounds for a while.
Danny,I agree it was humiliating and disconcerting to have naked swimming lessons,but we gradually became accustomed to it and it was never considered outlandish or bizarre.
Yes,we were smacked bare if we misbehaved and there were one or two red bottoms.Usually we were supervised male and female teachers and our age was never a contributory factor.
Bernard, when I was in school 20 years ago a pair of shorts was still regarded as sufficient enough for us boys and all PE in or out was shirtless and barefoot even for cross country in the depths of winter. I was even on the cross country team and we all ran in competition with bare feet.
Showers were compulsory too but only after outdoor games where we were caked in mud and yes we showered nude without issues.
David G & Danny - I agree with you wholeheartedly - there is nothing wrong with boys being bare-chested for p.e. I find it quite encouraging that there are still schools which have such a good basic p.e. kit even if it is only for indoor p.e. When I was at school 50 years ago we wore only a pair of shorts for all p.e. - indoor and outdoor - it was quite sufficient.
Danny - re "Mr Jones" post - I think he summed it up in his last sentence - after the first couple of lessons they weren't bothered about being seen nude. I expect this was a long time ago when boys were not expected to be modest.
This was not too different from the situation about showers after p.e.when boys might be a little apprehensive about being naked in front of the whole class but quickly got used to it - albeit without girls present. It is good for youngsters to be pushed outside their comfort zones - all part of the growing up process.
I'm with you Danny, there is nothing wrong with boys being bare chested. This Mr Dando seems strange since he's posted on other sites within the schools websites with clothing stipulations for boys.
Mr.Dando, why should boys wear tops when they have no breasts like girls?
This is also the way boys and girls swim in public pools and beaches. Or are you also campaigning for boys to wear tops for swimming too?
Or for boys to wear leotards for school PE so that they will be wearing the same as the girls?
The time has come to end topless pe for boys in schools and bring them into line with girls. I cannot believe there is still primary schools that mandate this for indoor activities.
Clothing for PE: Indoor; Girls- Plain black leotard (no markings), Boys- Plain black PE shorts (no markings).
Outdoor; Black shorts and white t-shirt, Trainers/black plimsolls – not shoes worn during the school day, Tracksuit – advisable in cold weather
Didn't the school realize that it was humiliating for boys to be forced to swim nude in front of swimsuited girls, especially at the older age of 12 and 13?
Were you supervised by male or female teachers and did they smack the boys bare if they misbehaved during these swim lessons?
Also were there other school staff or visitors who could watch the boys swim naked, especially since it was an outdoor pool?
I am amazed how they humiliated boys in some schools on a regular basis for swimming such as you describe.
First thing every Tuesday morning from April to October my class had a 60 minute swimming lesson in the normally rather cold outdoor pool, which (for ALL Boys between 8 and 13 years old,) had a pointless, but strictly enforced rule that stated: 'Junior and Lower-School boys are NOT PERMITTED to wear swimming trunks at any time!' so that all of us Boys had to swim completely naked, while the Girls all wore swimming costumes! At first, being Outdoors with nothing-on felt very strange, particularly while standing around the pool with two dozen other stark-naked little boys, waiting for the lesson to start. Of course there was a lot of teasing and giggling from the girls, but after the first couple of lessons I don't think most of us bothered about being seen nude, and in warm and sunny weather it was really terrific
i didn't encounter school swimming until I changed secondary school at age 15. We didn't have formal swimming lessons, but each year group had a couple of sessions allocated during the week, and since it was a secondary school, pretty well all of us were able to swim. Fixed to the wall above each end of the pool were notices reading "Swimming Costumes will be worn at all times". By and large,they were, although I do remember a couple of late night sessions (it was a boarding school) where a number of us decided to experiment with skinny-dipping - we were fortunate not to be found out, as we, rather rashly, turned the lights on and our presence in the pool was visible throughout the school building complex.
Were your nude swimming lessons in primary school boys only or mixed?
Did you or the other boys feel embarrassed being naked in front of the female teachers?
In our primary school we had nude swimming lessons up to 11-12 years old twice a week. Our instructors were two female teachers, both in their twenties. In HS we also had nude swimming classes, but the teachers were usually male, although we did have female substitute or assistant teachers sometimes. Anyone else had nude swimming classes at school?
Bernard, we're talking about a long time ago now. Apart from the terrain over which we ran, it seems unusual that so many boys ran cross country barefoot elsewhere and you mentioned that children's feet were tougher than adult's and therefore less likely to be seriously injured. It may have been that at some time before I was at the school that someone was injured and the headmaster decided that all boys should wear plimsolls in future. We shall never know. One thing is certain however; no boy ever risked getting injured running as we did in just shorts and plimsolls. Unfortunately, today's youngsters never get the opportunity to enjoy this experience.
Thank you for sharing your experience of running barefoot, I’m sorry that I made an assumption that there was a high risk of foot injury when clearly from your own experience there wasn’t. I was happy running shirtless but might have enjoyed cross country runs even more if I’d been made to run barefoot.
John and Rob, Running barefoot outside was not as hazardous as you might think. Children's feet are normally a lot tougher than those of adults as they have not been encased in shoes for as many years. I'm sure I couldn't run outside barefoot now - 50 years on.
I don't remember any injured feet - if there had been I'm sure the school would have made us wear plimsolls. There were quite a few occasions when I thought I had cut a foot but, on inspection, there was no damage to be found. Running cross country barefoot was a practical, safe and generally enjoyable experience.
We had to wear just shorts and plimsolls in the gym although I would have been happy to have gone barefoot. Apart from that I certainly didn't need more than a pair of short shorts to let my body sweat freely. We used to do athletics on the school grass playing fields in our bare feet in the summer during PE lessons but had to wear plimsolls when we went cross country running because the course went through woodland and then out onto open slopes with chalk and sharp flint stones where our feet could easily get injured. I enjoyed the freedom of running shirtless in just shorts and plimsolls along with the other lads in my class and never heard anyone complain. We just got on with it.
Replying to Bernard & Ross,
I did gym in just shorts and pumps and cross country in shorts and trainers and got used to it and enjoyed being shirtless. I don’t agree with running barefoot outdoors as your feet could get injured quite easily.
Ross - you are absolutely right - a pair of shorts is all a boy should need for any p.e. either indoors or outdoors. I got to quite enjoy running cross country shirtless and barefoot though perhaps boys were tougher 50 odd years ago.