Clitheroe Royal Grammar School

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Clitheroe Royal Grammar School
Clitheroe Royal Grammar School
Year: 1959
Views: 203,162
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: Scotty on 11th August 2020 at 10:23

Hi Guys, I just thought I would add my comments to this, I have a 13 year old grandson Euan, he comes to stay with me here in central Scotland now and again, obviously not for awhile with the lockdowns, until recently as a break before he has to go back to school.

He's a very fit lad and into sports football especially and has missed not being able to play in his U14 team he plays for, while he was here I was reading these posts on my laptop and he looked over my shoulder and said "did boys have to do PE bare foot and topless in your day gramps?".

I answered not barefoot but certainly topless, in what I would loosely call our gym which was actually the assembly hall in an inner city sec modern school back in the late 50's early 60's, we had to bring out the vaulting horse and mats and stuff each gym lesson from an adjoining storeroom, but mostly our PE was outside in the school yard and the football pitch across the road in the park, when you joined the school from junior school you were assigned a "house" there being 3 "Crick, Stamer and Frobisher" don't ask me what the names mean as I don't know, I was put into Crick and issued PE kit accordingly that being yellow T shirt and blue thick cotton shorts, plus black plimsolls, Stamer was red and Frobisher green all this kit was supplied by a benefactor who was an "old boy" from the 20's/30's I think who had made good and was fairly rich.

We did topless PE when it was skins v shirts in our "house" games, shirts if it was against the other houses, cross country was the same, but often I and a few other boys removed our t shirts if it was particularly hot during cross country, we didn't have showers in our school just wash basins and washed any mud off our legs and any sweat off our chest and under arms before changing back into school uniform.

My grandson told me their PE rules are pretty liberal, they have lockers (which we didn't) and he keeps spare uniform in there along with underwear and the various kit he needs, he does go barefoot in the gym as he has started gymnastics class after school and prefers not to wear trainers, as regards being topless, well he has in my small gym I kitted out in my garage as I now I don't drive, I want to keep up my fitness as I am now in my 70's, I managed to get some redundant gym equipment from a gym near me and have a exercise bike and treadmill and a cross runner and selection of hand weights, he loves working out and being topless is no problem, he says as he works up quite a sweat, as regards it being compulsory in schools he said it wouldn't bother him personally but could see how it might bother other boys who he says just "go through the motions" and there are a few at his school, the PE teachers they have are very good he says, and try to encourage the slackers but don't push them out of "political correctness".

I am proud of Euan and his attitude to life and the plans he has and just hope it all works for him.

Comment by: Trevor Cooper on 11th August 2020 at 09:26

Don't mourn it Stewart, celebrate the fact that dirty old men can no longer indulge their perversions under the guise of "discipline".

My point about mountaineering is not beside the point, what about those teachers who had an "interest" in boxing and wrestling - some of them tried to introduce it into schools (in America they succeeded in the case of wrestling). Many of those old teachers would face a knock at the door from PC. Plod if they got up to their brand of "discipline" today. The word covers a mutitude of sins.
Now thank goodness there are very strict guidlines as to what is and what is not acceptable behaviour.

Comment by: Stewart on 10th August 2020 at 09:20

Morning Trevor.
I think you're missing my point.
In my day at school, those aspects were compulsory, just the same as homework, uniform, and many other school rules.
Schools still have rules today. But, as I've said in previous posts, I don't think UK Health and Safety and other pollical correct backward steps, would allow such a PE regime today (despite barefoot cross country still being the norm in most New Zealand schools). But that doesn't mean it's not the best, and most effective, way to compete, and participate in sporting activities.
Your point about mountaineering isn't really relevant, as we're not talking about a hobby here; we're talking about school rules, discipline, and what's best for a young person's development.
But, as I've said, what was the norm in my day has gone, due to today's political correctness and perceived wokeness. I'm mourning it, as the passing of something that helped make my generation strong.

Comment by: Tom B on 7th August 2020 at 09:12

I think it’s unfair to brand behaviour that in most cases was quite innocent “kinky” because of the monsters that have existed in the profession.

Personally, I don’t feel the shirts vs skins debate is necessary. Technical tees wick sweat and remain reasonably comfortable when working hard. It is fair to say that if you look at gymnastics clubs away from the school setting it is quite normal to see lads in vests and shirtless. The shorts also tend to be similar to the Umbro nylon football shorts if the 80s.

Also, as I’ve said previously I do believe a tougher PE regime would have benefited me. While I wouldn’t have appreciated it at the time there is only so much that encouragement can achieve.

Comment by: Trevor Cooper on 7th August 2020 at 06:06

Stewart: "This regime moulded my whole lifestyle, as I have always gone barefoot as much as possible, ever since and love it...and I am now barefoot probably 90% of the entire time......but my view is that bare feet should be compulsory for all P.E. at schools, both indoors and outdoors."

Fine for you, but my question is.... WHY?

I used to enjoy mountaineering, but I wouldn't suggest everybody ought to, or make it "compulsory" for everybody.

To put it bluntly, why should some individual fancy be made compulsory?

To me it makes no sense whatsoever - if the individual enjoys it fine, but let those who don't have the alternative.

Comment by: Stewart on 6th August 2020 at 14:28

Just to put my previous comments into perspective...

Between 1967 and 1974 I attended an English grammar school where the P.E. regime was very strict, and bare feet were compulsory for both boys and girls indoor and outdoor P.E. It was always a mixed lesson, like all the other lessons at the school, and for indoor P.E. in the gym or sports hall both the boys and girls wore shorts.

The girls also wore T-shirts, but the boys were bare chested.

Outdoor P.E. was on a Wednesday afternoon, with cross country every fortnight, both winter and summer. Boys could wear T-shirts for that, but again, both boys and girls were compelled to run barefoot...even in winter when there was ice and snow. In the winter term, the alternate Wednesdays were given over to netball for the girls, again they had to play barefoot. For boys, it was rugby, and this was the only exception to the barefoot rule. We could wear rugby boots.

All the other terms were given over to track and field events, where both boys and girls wore shorts and T-shirts, but again, we were barefoot, no exceptions. Even when we competed in county athletics tournaments we had to be barefoot, while most other competitors wore shoes. I do think this gave us a distinct advantage though, as we did tend to win most events.

Our P.E. teachers for the most part wore shoes for the lessons, but there was a strange thing with the cross country. Our P.E. teachers were quite young -- the boys' teacher (male) was late 20s, and the girls' teacher (female) was in her early 20s (but, of course, to us teenagers, that was positively ancient!). Both teachers always ran cross country with us -- the man at the front, and the woman teacher at the back. The man wore shoes, but the girls' teacher always ran barefoot -- yet she always wore shoes for all other P.E. lessons, including indoors.

I loved being barefoot for P.E., but my girlfriend at the time hated it. She was okay with going barefoot indoors, but not outdoors. She asked if she could wear shoes for cross country and netball, but was told definitely not: bare feet were compulsory. I remember seeing her crying while she was brushing snow, barefoot, off the netball court.

This regime moulded my whole lifestyle, as I have always gone barefoot as much as possible, ever since and love it...and I am now barefoot probably 90% of the entire time. I can't see the health and safety brigade condoning barefoot cross country at schools nowadays, either compulsory or by indivdual choice, but my view is that bare feet should be compulsory for all P.E. at schools, both indoors and outdoors.

Comment by: Dave on 5th August 2020 at 15:45

I agree with William. I don't think things have changed to the right direction in our paranoid PC times. There has been some posters that couldn't believe him about shirtless PE continued in the 90's.Why is it so unbeliveable? Many posters have written that they had PE barechested in the 80's. So what's the big difference?
I live in middle Europe but shirts vs skins were very common here either in the 90's. We wore vests apart from ball games (shirts vs skins) but many posters wrote that shirtless PE were common in the UK . I don't think it was meant to humiliate anyone. Being shirtless for PE is more practical and safe than a T-shirt especially for gymnastics. (T-shirts caught in gym equipment..etc.)
Boys are shirtless for swimming even in coed lessons. What's the difference?

Comment by: Jonathan C on 4th August 2020 at 23:16

Why would anyone want to make something like this up? I can only speak for myself but my post is 100% what happened. I do find it odd how each school took a different approach.. with it was changing into a t-shirt and vest when we were outdoors just for at least half the class to be made to remove both to be barechested. Simply that's the way it was.

Comment by: Trevor Cooper on 4th August 2020 at 19:24

Stewart, I didn't say I disbelieved all the stories.I am quite prepared to believe the some P.E. teachers were foot fetishists - what I am saying is that some people seem to repeat the same stories time and again, within this thread and one on Burnley. Very precise descriptions repeaye over and over, In these cases it hardly matters whether the story is true or not, it is what the participant would have LIKED to have happened.

There have always been kinky people around, it is just that back in the good old days they were more likely to get away with it as their authority went unchallanged. I am glad kids have more nous now.

Comment by: Stewart on 4th August 2020 at 14:06

A couple of comments for Trevor Cooper, and Bernard.
Trevor...you seem to be saying you don't believe some of the stories on here. I can only vouch for what went on at the Grammar School I attended between 1967 and 1974.
The barefoot PE code was compulsory both for boys and girls, and strictly enforced at all times. As was the shirtless policy for boys. Footwear was only allowed for rubgy and cricket, and hockey for the girls. For everything else...all indoor activity, athletics, tennis, basketball/netball, and cross country, even when we were competing against other schools, bare feet were the norm.
I don't think it was anything to do with sadism or humiliation. It was simply school policy to try and bring out the best of us. And we didn't question it. We just got on with it.
Bernard...a similar situation for me. The secondary modern, which literally neighboured the Grammar School, didn't have such a strict policy. Shirts and plimsolls were allowed for them.

Comment by: Trevor Cooper on 2nd August 2020 at 19:49

Tim H: I meant no disrespevt to the people of Merseyside - there is no shame in being poor. As you want me to be PC I must phrase this very carefully: could it be that some of the people on this board who have boasted about their private schools and grammar schools be a bit snobish about state schools?. Quote from one "the teacher looks a bit scruffy". I notice you didn't complain about that. Let's put it this way I doubt the lads in that 1975 film had parents who could have afforded private education for their children. Statement of fact, no snobbery on my part

Comment by: Jonathan C on 2nd August 2020 at 19:01

I've only just come across this and it bought back memories. From the age of 9 through to 18 our teachers judged your efforts in the gym by when you started to sweat. With the whole class barechested its obvious if you are or not. Outdoors we'd change into a t-shirt and vest for PE/Games when you were told to strip however both came off and very quickly too. With teams picked by the teachers I was normally one of the first to be picked to strip for skins or they'd have whole class told to strip off which normally happened 3 times a month in winter..For me, being made to take off my t-shirt and vest outdoors when it was cold or raining was something alien to me and took me out of my comfort zone and it wasn't until after I turned 11 that I got used to it (much to the amusement of some of my friends who took to it straight away). I remember out of school when there were fights, it was common for both lads to be topless, or one wearing a vest, knocking 9bells out of each other. I agree that in winter it could become an endurance test but it ensured everyone gave 100% every session. Our school placed a great emphasis on fitness and each day was a session lasting 1hr30 either indoors or outside. Exercising barechested also had an unexpected twist for me with one girl who watched me strip off over the years later became my wife and has clear memories of being late for lessons because she wanted to see lads stripped and sweating in the gym.

Comment by: Trevor Cooper on 2nd August 2020 at 17:42

I am sure that from the start of time people have liked to consider their generation "better" than the current one. That is human nature. Obesity is oftentimes to do with diet. MacDonalds and Burger King, Nandos etc has a lot to answer for, but it is parents who stuff their kids full of that garbage. Quite what that has to do with forcing boys against their will for whatever reason to take nearly all their clothes off, I can't imagine - unless you advocate body shaming for the less fit boys? A bit more humilation to make up for the fact the teachers can't use the cane today?

Despite Ian's protestations, I maintain that quite a lot of teachers from the past would these days find themselves in a court of law, because they were downright kinky and cruel.

I wonder if any of you read on Friday of that filthy "ex football coach" who is going to get a few more years in chokey for fiddling about with boys of 14-18 - six this time, to add to the numerous tally that landed him in prison in the first place?. I bet when the first allegation was made against him many of the parents of the boys would have thought it quite impossible that he could have done it, and been allowed to get away with it for so many years. I bet quite a few parents (and some of the boys) thought he was such a nice man, well - their eyes are now open,and should continue to be open to abuse, because 12 men and women on a jury saw him for what he was.

Comment by: Tom B on 2nd August 2020 at 16:38

I think the line between a necessary motivational push and harsh treatment can be fine and flexible - down to individual perception.

For my part I do, with the benefit of retrospect, look back at the fact that I wasn’t pushed harder with some disappointment.

As a young teenager I needed a lot of persuasion to engage in physical activity. I suspect some tougher tactics would have helped and while I cannot day for sure, I don’t think I’d have gone on to resent them. That said I can see why some would.

Comment by: TimH on 2nd August 2020 at 16:09

[From Ian:
Could contributors please stop dismissing comments which do not concur with their own views and experiences as "obsessions" or "made up" by "fetishists" or "sado-masochists"; or any such comments in a similar vein].

Plus 1 ...

Also:
... as long as their parents could afford it, but Merseyside has always been a poor area, and it might be that some of them had hand-me-downs from older brothers....

OK but I have working class friends from Merseyside (& Brum, and N'castle, and London and I don't like generalisations like this ...

(I suggest people look on Youtube at films produced in that school over the years before it closed - the impression I got was of staff, parents & children pretty much working together for their community)

Comment by: Ian on 2nd August 2020 at 14:43

Could contributors please stop dismissing comments which do not concur with their own views and experiences as "obsessions" or "made up" by "fetishists" or "sado-masochists"; or any such comments in a similar vein.

Comment by: William on 2nd August 2020 at 14:01

Trevor

You say the world has moved on but is it in the right direction? Don't you think that the informal atmosphere in gym that you advocate is in part responsible for the record level of obesity in young men today?
Too often informality in school means not having to bother if you don't want to. Most boys benefit from a motivational push. It's called discipline. It made me try my hardest whether I wanted to or not.

Comment by: Trevor Cooper on 2nd August 2020 at 12:03

Richard R: I think you are the one with an obsession:

"The lads do look scruffy though, we were in our white shorts and plimsolls that had to be spotless and as below, there would not have been any underpants worn, never mind on show. Our PE masters wore black shorts and plimsolls and he was also always bare chest too unlike the man in the clip who also looks a bit untidy."

I repeat these "boys" are now 60 or thereabouts, yet you still seem to be concerned about their clothing.

I can only say that some teachers of the not-so-distant past, and their pupils, seem to have a rather unhealthy obsession about dress code. Surely it is better for anyone to learn in a more informal atmosphere, and enjoy the subject rather than be taught under duress in a subject that you could learn to hate?. The world has moved on.

Simon - your experience seems to have been fairly typical of some people who have written on this forum. Not much consolation, but I suspect that if these teachers got up to their old tricks today they would soon be found out and bought down. It is horrible while it is happening though and you feel powerless.

Comment by: Richard R on 2nd August 2020 at 08:24

@Trevor Cooper on 1st August 2020 at 14:18

You seem to have similar obsessions.

Comment by: Simon D on 2nd August 2020 at 04:54

My experience of topless PE was both our teachers both took pleasure in making lads exercise topless. There was always a hand picked skins team or would have the whole class go topless., Outside we were"encouraged" or made (depending on your opinion) to take off our t-shirts as if it were summer. I was sporty and good at it too so with a few others who were the same, always, and I really do mean always ended up on the skins teams. Winter could be tough especially if there was heavy frost or snow. I didn't look forward to being topless in those temperatures but it made no difference. I remember being told that by exercising topless it made me work harder. I certainly felt I was on show every session. It was also the same when you represented the school.or County which I did many times at school for different sports. All training was done in your year group and all lads were topless regardless of the conditions. If you complained about going topless you were removed from the team and replaced with someone who would tow the line.

Comment by: Simon D on 1st August 2020 at 23:30

My experience of topless PE was both our teachers both took pleasure in making lads exercise topless. There was always a hand picked skins team or would have the whole class go topless., Outside we were"encouraged" or made (depending on your opinion) to take off our t-shirts as if it were summer. I was sporty and good at it too so with a few others who were the same, always, and I really do mean always ended up on the skins teams. Winter could be tough especially if there was heavy frost or snow. I didn't look forward to being topless in those temperatures but it made no difference. I remember being told that by exercising topless it made me work harder. I certainly felt I was on show every session. It was also the same when you represented the school.or County which I did many times at school for different sports. All training was done in your year group and all lads were topless regardless of the conditions. If you complained about going topless you were removed from the team and replaced with someone who would tow the line.

Comment by: Trevor Cooper on 1st August 2020 at 14:18

Richard R: What???

Do you feel that anyone who disagrees with you is bogus?

Comment by: Richard R on 1st August 2020 at 11:05

@ Trevor Cooper on 30th July 2020 at 06:23

Is that you Mr Dando?

Comment by: Tom B on 1st August 2020 at 06:58

That is a fair point and one perhaps I should have considered. I do think the ability to hand down Or sell on uniform is important which is why I find it aggravating when schools insist on pupils having initials on kit these days.

Comment by: Trevor Cooper on 30th July 2020 at 19:37

Yes Tom, I agree, as long as their parents could afford it, but Merseyside has always been a poor area, and it might be that some of them had hand-me-downs from older brothers. I really don't think it matters too much personally, better they get the idea fitness can be fun, and not conducted under the glare of a martinet. I assume most kids today are taught and probably respond better under these more informal circumstances.With the rise in school age leavers, at least older boys should be allowed a degree of leniency, but I would apply that to all of them at all ages.

Comment by: Tom B on 30th July 2020 at 17:43

Playing devils advocate one thing I would say is at my school in the 90s where everybody wore a white T shirt, white shorts and white trainers for indoor PE everybody looked “uniform”. While maybe not heading for military service I do believe uniformity and standards are desirable.

Comment by: Ross on 30th July 2020 at 07:17

picked up on some comments doubting that barefoot running happened, happens or been outlawed. Well i was in school in the 90s and running the grass athletes track barefoot was quite normal and most enjoyable by all of us as was the cross country which was on a loop around the school grounds and we all ran barefoot without any issues. In fact it was better as we could grip with our toes and we didn't have any muddy plimsols weighing heavy on our feet or to clean afterwards.

Cross country running barefoot is still quite the norm in new Zealand and South Africa

Comment by: Trevor Cooper on 30th July 2020 at 06:23

Barry & Richard R: These boys are now pushing 60. What a pity we can'tfind them to find out if they changed their underpants after the lesson, or why all but 3 of the boys chose to wear shirts.

I have to repeat again, why this obsession about topless boys and whether or not they were wearing anything under their shorts?.What difference does it make, except that the boys of 1975 would not be obliged to join the army, so did not need to be taught under strict military discipline.

Comment by: Richard R on 29th July 2020 at 17:16

Tim H, the video clip is as I remember gym in the 1960s but imagine sending lads up ropes these days, the poor PE masters would never get to the end of the risk assessments!

The lads do look scruffy though, we were in our white shorts and plimsolls that had to be spotless and as below, there would not have been any underpants worn, never mind on show. Our PE masters wore black shorts and plimsolls and he was also always bare chest too unlike the man in the clip who also looks a bit untidy.

Comment by: Tom B on 28th July 2020 at 19:28

There is a boy in what looks like a Glasgow Rangers Away shirt from 1992 in that Youtube vid. It’s not clear though so I am happy to stand corrected.