Clitheroe Royal Grammar School
Item #: 1602
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, November 1959
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.
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
Phil, Why would boys need track bottoms in Sunny Surrey?
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)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
I guessed as much, Stuart
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!