Clitheroe Royal Grammar School

Childhood > Schools


Clitheroe Royal Grammar School
Clitheroe Royal Grammar School
Year: 1959
Views: 213,408
Item #: 1602
Led by Stuart Bennett (Captain), right, the cross-country team returns from a practice run around the nearby country-side.
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, November 1959

Comment by: Ross on 24th June 2019 at 12:50

Why do boys need tracksuits?

Back in my day we had one kit for everything and that consisted of shorts only. No shirt and bare feet for all sports in or out. We even ran cross country shirtless and barefoot. We never complained just got on with it. Your toes soon warmed up once you got moving. S

Comment by: Sterling on 8th June 2019 at 00:18

Phil, Why would boys need track bottoms in Sunny Surrey?

Comment by: Phil on 6th June 2019 at 18:42

Yes it completely disgraceful that even today some schools do not allow boys to wear modest tracksuit bottoms when privacy considerations are given to girls.

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

Comment by: Roy on 25th May 2019 at 05:55

Like Chris G I can only remember a few incidents of canings when I was at school in the 1960s and they were for more serious matters than wearing the wrong PE kit - bullying for instance

Comment by: Chris G on 6th May 2019 at 11:57

I'm a bit puzzled by the constant references to corporl ounishment in the context of PE kit. I went through two primary and two secondary schools during the period that we are discussing 9fifties-sixties-seventies), and although all of these theoretically had recourse to caning, its use was restricteed to much more severe offences than wearint the wronng colour/style etc. of PE kit, and I can only remember about three or few instances of its use during my enntire school career.

Comment by: Philip on 3rd April 2019 at 14:28

The teacher who caned James for not wearing regulation shorts should have been taken to task. The shorts had been bought by his mother and it was hardly a matter of James defying school regulations.

Comment by: James on 31st March 2019 at 07:48

Bernard-the wearing of shiny satin shorts became more common-place in the seventies and became more popular amongst some boys and I became less self-conscious when wearing them.When wearing them at home it was not so embarrassing,as I was not seen by so many people,but I gradually got used to wearing them as they became less conspicuous.
I agree that the white satin shorts were more revealing,especially when they became wet.

Comment by: Bernard on 29th March 2019 at 22:03

James - I remember those shiny satin shorts. One outdoor lesson a boy changed into a pair of new shiny black satin shorts and caused quite a stir. Every-one else was in their usual cotton shorts but, although the teacher showed an interest, I don't think the boy got into trouble. I can't remember if he wore them again but he was in a different group from me so I might not have noticed. No-one else ever wore satin shorts though I'm sure I wasn't the only one that would have liked a pair. White ones might not have been a good idea as they looked very thin and might have been a little revealing in rain.

Comment by: Rob on 5th March 2019 at 10:36

I guessed as much, Stuart

Comment by: Stuart on 4th March 2019 at 21:03


Very different kit to us.

We ran in either thin vests or stripped to the waist, no socks, plimsolls or bare feet.

Around me boys now wear shorts and polo shirts, socks and trainers - school sweatshirts in the winter.

It's years since I see a group of boys doing xc, all shirtless.

Comment by: Rob on 4th March 2019 at 12:00

Stuart, referring back to your post of 22nd Feb.19 do you still see boys playing sport or running where you live? If so, I bet their standard kit doesn't bear any resemblance to when you and I were at school.

Comment by: Chris G on 1st March 2019 at 17:09

Andrea, basically because they were more comfortable than Y-front briefs in hot weather, especially under shorts. I could never rally understand why Dad decided to give them up once he got back home from the tropics, but my brother and I certainly got good use out of them.

Comment by: James on 1st March 2019 at 13:26

ChrisG,the secondary school that I attended also did not specify the style and fabric for our PE kit and when I was kitted out for my kit my mother selected shorts in shiny satin for my PE.
They were packed into my PE kit and I realised I would have to wear them for my PE and games.
All the other boys wore cotton shorts and I reluctantly slipped into my new satin shorts much to the amusement of my contemporaries and when I was seen by my teacher I was caned for not wearing uniform shorts.

Comment by: Andrea on 27th February 2019 at 16:13

Chris G,
Did you start to wear your dad's jockstraps to feel grown up, or because they felt more comfortable than normal underwear in hot weather?

Comment by: TimH on 25th February 2019 at 16:28

Chris G - I pretty much agree with your earlier comments - it was a different type of society when we were growing up. You just need to think back to houses with proper heating, ice on the insisde of windows, putting clothes on to go to bed - nearer the truth than we might think, together with putting coats on beds to keep warm... Growing up also with cotton & wool which seemed so long to get dry.

People have said that the PE Masters were brutes - no, even an old softie like me can disagree with that. In the late 50s into the 60s the great majority would have 'done their time' and would have seen the effect of military discipline on the less fit recruits - they would want to spare lads that trauma.

I commented once that one of our young geography teachers used to look after one of the football teams. I've no idea what he was like on football but his geography teaching gave me a love of the outdoors and the worlds wild places that has never left me.

Comment by: Chris G on 25th February 2019 at 13:55

Andrea, my Dad never had actual string vests or pants, but he and Mum were both regular vest wearers except in really hot weather. When Dad had to go to work in Singapore for a while, the only underwear that he opted to take were jock-straps, which my brother and I appropriated when he reverted to vests and pants after he returned. We wore them under shorts in Summer for a number of years, until the elastic gave out.

Comment by: Peter K on 23rd February 2019 at 16:35

Belt across the hands and being made to do pe in underpants. doesn't bear thinking about nowadays. As it is written the string briefs were revealing apart from the front and back panel.

Comment by: Andrea on 22nd February 2019 at 16:10

My dad used to wear string vest and underpants in the 1970s I used to see them on the washing line and sometimes, in the summer,he would strip to his vest when gardening. I can't ever recollect seeing him in just his underpants though.

At primary school, most of us, girls and boys, wore vests under our school clothes. I continued to do so until the start of my second year at secondary school, when I finally had to agree with my mum that a different form of underwear was required to deal with my developing figure!

Comment by: Ian on 22nd February 2019 at 13:07

I forgot my PE kit one day so I was told to do it in underpants only. Unfortunately they were string underpants - nearly transparent at the sides with only the centre covered. Well so I thought. Several boys said they got a full view when I had my hands out to take the belt from my PE teacher at the end of the period. Embarrassing, but to put it in proportion we were all naked for the showers a minute later.

Comment by: Peter K on 22nd February 2019 at 11:54

AS I approached my final year at all boys secondary school, I remember several boys no longer wore vests(singlets) even in the winter. My family did not let me copy them for fear of getting colds. Then when I left school 1966 the string vest was the fashion and because I was earning my own money I did buy and wear them. I also used to wear the string briefs that matched the vest, then in due course when these went out of fashion, I discarded vests altogether. I also remember when at Scout camp most of us in the tent felt we were flouting the rules and tough by not wearing pyjamas inside our sleeping bags despite pyjamas being on the kit list.

Comment by: Stuart on 22nd February 2019 at 09:15

When was at school,we had standard kit for PE, cross country, games, and it was a case of that or nothing.

If we had tried to wear the vests, shirts, socks, plimsolls in the photo, we would have been made to strip the item off, and do without - be that running shirtless or barefoot.

All the schools in my home town had standard sports kit, as have any boys I've ever seen since running or playing sport.

Comment by: Frànk C on 20th February 2019 at 10:23

Chris G and Tim H. I was in the era of the string vest late sixties to early seventies.There was peer pressure to attain such.After the February mid-term many lads stopped using them as it got gradually warmer.My mother hated them any way as they were snagging in the spin drier!

Comment by: Chris G on 19th February 2019 at 16:33


What I perhaps should have mentioned was the unintended consequence of the quantum leap from vests to toplessness for PE, namely the disappearance of underwear vests from the average boy's wardrobe during the third quarter of the 20th century. Back in those post-war days most people wore underwear vests: men generally more than women; children generally more than adults; boys generally more than girls, all for reasons that I never managed to fathom. Almost everything, including clothing, was scarce and often rationed and one generally got whatever was available at the time. Although my secondary school kit list specified white PE vest and shorts, there were few detailed specifications regarding style, fabric etc. So, for economic reasons, i.e. why buy a special vest for PE when you already have perfectly serviceable altrnatives in your underwear drawer, I and my schoolmates generally appeared for PE in the same vest that we had been wearing when we left home that morning (and that we had probably also worn the night before, either under or instead of our pyjama jacket).

Introduction of our new PE regime added a new, and probably unanticipated dynamic to my life, as I suspect it did to the lives of countless other boys across the country, and athough bare-chested for the actual lesson, we were expected to wear vests between the changing room and the gym. In reality, this expectation was largely ignored, especially on the return journey, and with our vests already off, very soon most of us managed to "forget" to put them back on before putting our shirts back on. With PE almost every day, we therefore contrived to be minus our vests for much of the school week, to the concern of our mothers, who universally subscribed to the view that kids needed vests all the year round. Within a couple of weeks, few of my class were wearing vests to school on PE days, and by half-term, most of us had stopped wearing them at all. Mum protested for a while, prophesying that I would be dead from pneumonia by Christmas, but the worst never happened, and I lived to turn my own vests into cleaning cloths.

Comment by: James on 18th February 2019 at 10:40

Paul,Charles & Michael

I'm sure we suffered the indignity of wearing short trousers while we approached adolescence that caused us to look like the archetypal school boy.
I agree that the tight garters that we wore to keep our knee stockings firmly in place left clearly visible indentations in our legs which when kept permanently in place gave some discomfort.
The garters that I wore had a flash of material sown on to them so that when the stockings were folded over at the top it could be seen that I was wearing them rather than discarded them.
I couldn't wait to get home and remove them and just wear shorts around the house.

Comment by: Paul on 17th February 2019 at 15:45

Re: garters (Michael, Charles, James)

This is what we're talking about I think, even though this is from Australia:

Comment by: TimH on 15th February 2019 at 16:03

I completely agree with Chris.

Many schools may have had a shirtless rule for indoors & outdoors wear and some may have had a barefoot ruling but I would suggest not all. I attended a boys grammar school in the E of England 1960-67 - the kit for gym was white shorts and either T-shirt, singlet or (optionally) topless, with plimsolls. Football & cross-country waa black shorts with a football shirt & boots (or plimsolls for XC) - we didn't swim. (The XC course for 2nd & 3rd year was approx 3 1/2 miles).

Shorts were cotton (nylon didn't come in until the 1970s) and were quite baggy (as in the picture) in my first years but later, as the fashion altered, they became a lot shorter - look at the Gordon Banks 1966 pictures.

The picture could well be 'staged' as the boys are running into a schoolyard (look at the gates) but are clean & don't look 'puffed'.

(Incidentally, whilst I've no problems with boys doing gym shirtless, which to me is perferctly natural, I don't think I'd want a son of mine doing outside games in the cold weather of winter 2017/8 or during the really hot weather of mid-summer 2018)

Comment by: Chris G on 14th February 2019 at 18:14

Not necessarily!

I was at two boys-only secondary schools in the period 1952-60. At the first (1952-57) PE in the gym was initially done wearing vests, but after a couple of years, this chnged to topless. For all outdoor activities, escept on very hot summer days when we did PE topless on the playing field, we wore tops of some sort or other. At the second school (1957-60), tops were mandatory for all PE and related activities, including cross-country, much to the disappointment of myself and a number of another boys who had come from schools where topless PE was the norm. So, apart from the fact that we were in a rural environment, this picture is an extremely accurate representation of our cross-country runnng kit, even down to the variability in clothing style.

Comment by: ROY F on 14th February 2019 at 05:56

This certainly looks staged as in the 1950's they would normally all be stripped to the waist and wearing identical shorts

Comment by: Simon on 12th February 2019 at 00:19

John, this must be staged,each lad would be stripped off. Wonder what the purpose of this was?

Comment by: Ben on 22nd December 2018 at 06:23

You said that you always had an audience while showering through the open door overlooking the corridor.
Were there any girls or female teachers who could see you boys shower?