Burnley Grammar School

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Burnley Grammar School
Burnley Grammar School
Year: 1959
Views: 1,440,340
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: Charles B on 4th December 2012 at 16:46

At the primary school I went to in the 70's (up to the age if 9), boys went bare top. It wasn't unusual for some of the girls to do the same. They weren't forced to, but weren't made to put their t-shirts back on either. From what I remember, it was always the same ones and all very innocent. Teachers were all female.

Comment by: Simon on 28th November 2012 at 18:02

I too remember those shiny,satin shorts of the late seventies and early eighties.They came in various colours,but had a similar style with side slits as previously mentioned.These shorts were worn without underwear and they were ludicrously brief and tight fitting.They were worn for a variety of sports including gym,which on some occasions we shared with the girls.One cross country running event which was held in the cold winter of 1981,I was asked to hold the finishing tape for two hours wearing nothing more than shorts and vest.Teachers complained of the bitter cold,when wearing long coats,scarves,hats and gloves.

Comment by: Eastender on 22nd November 2012 at 14:59

Following on from Andy's comments, we were supposed to wear tight white shorts (nylon) and they were really quite see through. however, we had some rebels who wore shorts with splits & I remember one lad who purposely made the splits larger & nothing was left to the imagination. Following suitable punishment he never wore them again. As Andy says in an all boys enviroment & our was a boys only school no one worried about what showed.

I still think that lads for all their so called machoism are very inhibited witnessed by trhe long shorts worn br proffesional footballers.

Comment by: Andy on 20th November 2012 at 16:04

I remember those satin shorts - I had a pair of Adidas ones. We were not allowed to wear branded kit at school and so they were automatically banned. I remember one lad putting a pair on for gym one day and they really did leave nothing to the imagination not in may ways that it mattered in a class of boys.

He was ordered to remove them, the plimsol was applied to his bottom and he was ordered to find a pair of suitable shorts from the spares box. The comment from the PE teacher went something like 'just because you are a knob lad doesn't mean we want to see yours hanging down your shorts'.

Laughs all round, one red faced and red bottomed lad duly reprimanded!

Comment by: James on 17th November 2012 at 18:11

We wore satin shorts for all sports,which were extremely flimsy with side slits.They offered very little protection from the cold weather and the brevity of these shorts left very little to the imagination.

Comment by: Tom on 17th November 2012 at 12:35

As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of the severe winter of 1962/63 I well remember having to do outdoor PE stripped to the waist in the ice snow and freezing fog.It was no point in complaining.
I also remember a few months later being bare-chested for games in the middle of a mini heatwave.

Comment by: Dave Stewart on 16th November 2012 at 19:29

In reply to Nicks question i was 15 at the time

Comment by: Steve on 15th November 2012 at 18:44

I remember in the cold winter of 1962/63 having to do outdoor PE and games while stripped to the waist.

Comment by: Nick K on 6th November 2012 at 16:28

Dave. How old were you when this happened?

Comment by: Dave Stewart on 5th November 2012 at 04:16

I went to a school where for PE and Football it was white nylon shorts and either a white vest for PT or a blue shirt for football. All were very thin and offered little protection. At the time the norm was for no underwear under the shorts and most PE went topless also. At the begining of secondary school we had the no underwaer rule enforce by changing practices! After a couple of years though it seemed it was not being enforced. It was one frosty morning for football and I kept my white pants on under my shorts for football as it was so cold. Even though my pants were white you could see them through the material and the other lad was even less dicsrete as he wore blue pants.
Today was the wrong day for it and another lad and myself got picked out before we had even started to a game.
It turns out that our teacher had been turned down for promotion the day before and we two seemed to be an excuse.
The teacher made the rest of team huddle up against a wall whilst we both had to explain why were wearing pants.
I think my excuse of saying it was cold did not help either.
We were both ordered to take our footbal shirts off which we did and we stood there arms folded teeth chattering and the breath in front of mouths.
We got the lecture about hygenie etc as the rest of the team sniggered and shuffled around trying to get warm.
He then told us to take our shorts off and our pants and put our pants on our heads and run round the perimeter of the pitch and put our pants on the goal posts and then run back. The last one back would get an extra 5 strokes for being last.
We bent down to pick our shorts up and were told no we could have our shorts back when we had run round the pitch. The rest of the class were laughing there heads off by now.

we both set off bollock naked except for our pants on our heads and socks and football boots. As we got to the other end and dumped our pants at the goal posts we said we would run back and cross the line together so that neither of us could loose.
We ran back freezing cold by now and crossed the line with rest of the class chearing and laughing at us.

The teacher was unimpressed and told us to run round again as we had not put the effort in and one of us was not trying.
We both set off again my skin now blue and everything numb from the cold. I came across the line last.
We both were told we had detention after school for that me to get six wacks and the other lad just one.

we both got our shorts back on quickly and finished the lesson freezing and numb.
It was even worse when we walked back into the changing room and a bit of warmth as every bit of my skin felt it was stinging then.

After school we went for detention and our punishment which was just in our nylon shorts only.

we also had to spend the rest of the week after school each day cleaning the changing rooms in just our shorts.

i never wore pants again under my shorts.

Comment by: Simon H on 1st November 2012 at 00:10

Brings back memories. For a couple of years we had light nylon shorts with an inner cotton liner so no underwear was needed. The kit changed back to quite heavy cotton shorts with no lining, and a horrible seam stitching. Underwear was still prohibited.

Like many contributors, a white vest was listed for outdoor games but never worn. The reason proferred was previous pupils wearing their normal uniform vest, which was also white.

Strange how these were insisted upon in winter under layers of clothing!

The cold got right into ones bones. The master would be well wrapped up with overcoat and hat. Cold Showers also featured alot during my Grammar School Days.

Comment by: Joseph on 28th October 2012 at 10:19

What great memories this picture brings back. I loved school and I loved games and gym even more. Getting out of the classroom for a couple of hours twice a week was a treat that I and I think most boys looked forward to. One class was outside sport, rugby and cross country in the winter, softball, cricket and athletics in the summer. The other was inside and usually a hard gym session just like the one in the picture, rope climbing, the vaulting horse, circuits, press ups and lots more, all aimed at helping us to grow up healthy and strong.

Yes, the PE teachers were strict (but so were all teachers in those days), a size twelve plimsol dealt with any misbehavior very quickly and effectively. Plimsols and shorts were the kit - no underpants, for rugby you got a shirt, socks and boots too but still no underpants, we didn't have cricket whites. Showers were always freezing cold but good and refreshing after hard exercise and we left the sessions feeling fantastic, looking forward to the next one.

Great and very happy days.

Comment by: Phil on 21st October 2012 at 17:03

Of course in the fifties and sixties and into the seventies my mother did not have an automatic washing machine. Clothes were worn for several days before changing and that included vests and underpants. In the current time it's unthinkable that underpants would not be changed at least once a day but just as there was then the cane in school, times have changed. Taking off underpants for PE when there was often copious sweating and dirt if playing rugby made perfect sense. The fact that it was, it would seem a universal practice demonstrates the sense of it.

All these years later, I still sweat in the gym and like most men, I dont' wear underpants now either. Old habits die hard!

Comment by: Nick on 21st October 2012 at 16:26

I was at school in the late 60s / early 70s and like many others we had a no pants rule for games. Like Rob we were told it was for hygene reasons and a complete change of clothes was required. Younger boys wore nothing under the shorts but from about age 13 a Litesome jockstrap was worn.
I remember occasionally doing gym in skins at junior school, but at the senior school we had shirts in house colours so there was no need for skins to distinguish teams.
The reason for not wearing underwear for sport is just as valid today as it was then so I don't see why schools don't keep the same rules.

Comment by: Rob on 20th October 2012 at 13:58

Of course in the immediate post-war years(the forties fifties and early sixties)there was more discipline in the schools and generally in society.If you were told you had to go about at school in particular for games etc while stripped to the waist you just got on with it.In fact after a while most lads rather enjoyed the freedom of going around while bare-chested.

Comment by: Eastender on 19th October 2012 at 14:51

The last person to comment confirms what I wrote a long time ago. Back in the era of the 60's no one seemed concerned about the "no pants rule" that was it & we were told it was for hygiene reasons . I suppose in the modern day it would not be "correct" to ask boys to particiopate in pe without underwear. I have also mentioned previously that our tight pe shorts gave us support. Whereas the modern day trend for wearing boxers if worn under shorts would seem to give no protection or support unless lads are compelled to wear some form of athletic support for protection. About time ladds were encouraged to be manly again.

Comment by: Rob on 18th October 2012 at 18:54

Paul and Ben are absolutely correct. There was nothing remotely strange or suspicious about doing PE in shorts with no underpants and no shirt. It was explained in our very first lesson that the body sweats much more during strenuous exercise and therefore a complete change of clothing was required. That made perfect sense to me, and still does. We had the option of bringing another pair of pants to change into but nobody ever did. It felt a bit odd at first but after a few minutes, I found running around just wearing a pair of shorts with nothing underneath gave me a sense of freedom and was quite exhilerating, and became something I looked forward to every week.

Twenty years on, I was really quite shocked to find out in a chance conversation with my son that he and all his peers wore their PE shorts on top of their pants. How can that be healthy or hygenic?

I, too, am glad I grew up then and not now when some people have been brainwashed into viewing everything - including things they know nothing about or have no experience of - with suspicion and paranoia.

Comment by: Jon on 18th October 2012 at 07:00

If you look at photos and videos about school life you can see that from about the late 1930's early 40's (especially in the UK but in other countries as well) most schools in Europe changed boys PE kit into shorts and no shirts.In the UK it lasted as far as the late 80's-early 90's, in other european countries till about the 70's I think. I wonder how it had become so widespread. A school isn't in connect with every other schools. So was it a federal recomnmendation from a health establishment?

Comment by: Ben on 13th October 2012 at 08:08

Paul's point is correct, yesteryear should not be judged by today's norms. Where would we be if it was - would a judge and hangman be tried for murder? Would a police officer carrying out a judicial birching be tried for assault alongside teachers who quite correctly caned misbehaving schoolboys?

I think life was good growing up in the fifties and sixties. I was never aware of anything that might remotely have constituted abuse unless getting the cane for misbehaviour or being instructed to take off underpants before rolling round on a muddy rugby field was abuse but actually it was common sense. I'd rather have grown up in that age than the current one with all the sensitivities and paranoia.

Comment by: MARK on 11th October 2012 at 08:28

I agree with Paul that what is acceptable in one age may not be at another time.In the fifties the country had just come through a major war and there was still conscription.Boys accepted that you did PE stripped to the waist and just got on with it

Comment by: Paul on 10th October 2012 at 20:13

I don't think that it is possible to judge another age by the norms of the current time. I never had the slightest sense that I was being abused at school whether it was taking my underpants off for PE or getting the cane on my bare bottom.

Comment by: Roy on 10th October 2012 at 07:38

Leo is probably right and it was not confined to boys as witness the revelations about Sir Jimmy Savile and other so-called celebrities.

Comment by: Leo - a Survivor on 9th October 2012 at 12:25

Just read this thread. Naked swimming, no underpants under shorts, no tops, members of staff peaking down the fronts of boys' shorts. Penises shrivelling in the winter cold. Staff 'supervising' queues for the shower.

Don't you think this adds up to something just a little more sinister than training for a 'stiff upper lip'?

It's called paedophilia, which was, and may still be, deeply embedded in the British education system.

Comment by: Jon on 7th October 2012 at 08:59

If you type the word "gymnastics" ,"gym", "physical education"..etc. you can see that on most of the pictures boys are barechested for PE and gym clubs even in the presence of girls.


Comment by: Roger on 29th September 2012 at 08:18

When I srarted at secondary school in the late fifties our official PE uniform was vest and shorts.
We had come from two different primary schools.At one the boys had done PE bare-chested while at the other one the boys wore singlets.
The bare-chested group started to remove their vests for PE and go stripped to the waist and soon afterwards the other lads started to go topless as well and eventually the games master made us all go stripped to the waist both in the gym and on cross-country runs as well.

Comment by: Malcolm on 19th September 2012 at 18:16

I remember Ron Parry!!!! The only person ever to send me off in any Team Sport (I retired from playing Rugby aged 43). Mind you, I did call him a c**t!! (Aged about 15 during a house soccer match Brun vs Ribblesdale)

Comment by: IAIN on 19th September 2012 at 08:08

We also did PE stripped to the waist.We seemed to be divided into three groups-those who enjoyed being bare-chested,those who hated it and the majority who put up with it.
I certainly toughened us up being stripped to the waist outdoors in all weathers.

Comment by: Michael on 12th September 2012 at 11:59

There was a marked contrast in the way our PE master treated his select group of favourites, as opposed to the less adept pupils, including myself.

After experiencing an accident in the gym, which left me winded, fighting for breath and barely conscious, he did nothing except order a group of boys to carry me back into the changing room. This they did - dumping me on the floor and leaving me alone to recover in my own good time.

But, on those occasions when one of his favourites had suffered a mishap, he was most attentive and sympathetic.

He spoke quite civilly to his select group and I never saw him punish any of them physically, but he just barked orders at the less able group and regularly used his gym shoe on us.

It was not a good way to encourage youngsters to enjoy sport - but things were very different in the 1950s and 1960s.

Comment by: paul on 10th September 2012 at 10:02

It was the same, two PE teachers, both different. The other was biased towards the sporty, fit boys. God forbid if there was a fat/useless boy, as would be humiliated in-front of the class. Example on the horse, you were supposed to jump it. He was made to jump it, but ran into the side instead, moving it a little(couldn't jump on the spring-board), with everyone laughing, and repeated it until he got bored.
However the "elite" group would be in the same 'dorm. Normally 8-10 of us ate, trained and slept together. Apart from classes, where we were split.

Comment by: Rob on 9th September 2012 at 15:57

Interesting comments about PE teachers being ex-military or police. We had two teachers - both were very strict but completely different. The younger of the two had always been a teacher and everyone hated him - he was a real bully. The older one was ex-Army, affectionately known as 'Sarge', and was liked and respected by all. Once he'd established the regime for his lessons - the rules about kit, all instructions (orders!!) to be obeyed immediately and without question, etc (and it didn't take long with us newly arrived 11-year-olds to comply!) and everybody knew where they stood with him and that he was not to be messed with, then he relaxed a little bit with us. It didn't matter if you were not one of the real 'sporty' types (unlike the other guy who wasn't interested in you if you weren't in a school team) - you still got praise if he could see you were putting 100% effort in, and would find ways to reassure you and boost your confidence. He seemed to really understand boys our age - you could go and talk to him about anything and he was the one who let those of us who liked the rough stuff play Killerball and have wrestling tournaments at the end of term - the perfect PE teacher as far as I was concerned.