Burnley Grammar School

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Burnley Grammar School
Burnley Grammar School
Year: 1959
Views: 1,455,557
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: Jimscot on 5th August 2012 at 18:43

I attended a boys only senior secondary school in Scotland netween 1965 and 1971. The pe kit was white cotton shorts and white gym shoes (pumps to some!) No top or underwear. The pe teacher gave us these rules on day 1-I had been top less at primary, so no change there. He also undertook "underpant checks" which to the modern reader may seem horrific but were the order of the day. We lined up at the start of the lesson and he would walk along and pull out your waistband and have a look. It was all over in a second but looking back it was terrifying. I cannot remember any boy being caught but the punishment was "the belt"- tawse applied with vigour to the hands- so boys just did not go there. There was also a swimming pool at the school, so later we were allowed to wear our school swimming speedos under our shorts. Some boys chose to wear a "Litesome athletic supporter" which you could buy from pe dept.

The gym was a cold, musty place but you soon warmed up after a few circuits, benchlifting, press ups star jumps etc. Any boy who was deemed not to be working hard enough would be warned and if his work rate did not improve, he was belted.

It was tough but those were the rules!

Comment by: Tim H on 3rd August 2012 at 08:59

Two years since I last posted on this!

Briefly - yes, we were naive back in the 60s, but possibly for 11 -12 year olds that was no bad thing. The 'no underpants' rule - remember that 'working class' boys often went without underwear into the 50s (or later) and those of us who did possibly only changed it twice a week (yuck!) - so the smelly, sweaty comments are real. Our fathers wouldn't have complained about 'no underpants, no tops' - you didn't complain about rules in those days (certainly minor things like this); remember that they would almost certainly have served their 'time' in the Forces - no complaining allowed there (and National Service only ended in 1963, so this could have been regarded as 'toughening us up' for that).

For what its worth I still prefer shorter shorts, and running on some common land this morning it felt mild enough to strip my vest off - a great feeling.

Just random thoughts from a grumpy old soul ...

Ah, Happy Days!

Comment by: Eastender on 2nd August 2012 at 13:51

To Nevin I agree & have always thought that perhaps we were naive & had no thought about homosexuality. Teachers checked us to see if we wore pants perhaps pulling out the back of our shorts or somewtimes the front. Yep no one complained & after all we were all naked toghther in the communal showers so who cared?

Comment by: Nevin on 1st August 2012 at 21:55

Underwear was strictly forbidden under our gym shorts. It seems to have been a common rule in the UK, pre-1970. At the same time coaches in the US insisted on jockstraps or supporters being worn, while as strapping teenagers we had nothing in the way of support.
One PE teacher would carry out checks by pulling the front off our shorts right out and having a good look. It sounds Creepy now but back then we had communal showers and were often queuing up naked to shower. We never considered homosexuality then, we were so naive.

Comment by: Daniel on 26th July 2012 at 14:33

As many have commented in the fities boys were stripped to the waist as a matter of course and as has been said it made us concerned to keep our bodies in good shape.

Comment by: MARK on 23rd July 2012 at 14:39

Being stripped to the waist for games did indeed make us concerned about our bodies and our physiques.By the time I was eighteen I was quite well built and muscular with a hairy chest to match and I certaily was not ashamed of my body.

Comment by: L. Baird on 21st July 2012 at 20:19

Despite the inclement Scottish weather we wore only shorts and pumps (slip-on sneakers) on the playing fields and during cross country running.
Today my Grandson wears a tracksuit on the playing field to shield his legs from the elements, despite the fact they are only permitted outside on a fine day. They use the gym at any hint off rain. In my day we used the field whatever the weather, the Games Master being the only person in a tracksuit, the boys stripped to waist. The spartan regime toughened us up. Being shirtless made us care more about our appearance and physique.

Comment by: Mark on 17th July 2012 at 16:34

If you were doing PE in the gym going bare-chested was not too bad as I suppose you didn't get too cold.But it was a different matter having to do outside games and cross-country etc stripped to the waist in the cold winters we seemed to have in the fifties and sixties.

Comment by: Oldschoolboy on 16th July 2012 at 19:56

Fascinating discussion here. Like some of you here I was at a prep school in the mid sixties, our gym was just a wooden shed with very little equipment but we still had to work hard. As for p.e we were dressed much as in the photo and the no underwear rule applied as it did for field sports.
It seems unbelievable today that we had absolutely no protection particularly in cricket when all we had were some ropey pads and cotton gloves with bits of spikey rubber strips on the fingers and knuckles - absolutely useless; hockey was similar, I think we were allowed shinpads for that and that was it.
The miraculous thing is that I cannot recall any serious injury. I am sure that no-one today is allowed on the same field as a cricket or hockey ball without the array of armour such as helmets, boxes, thigh pads etc. And quite right too!

Comment by: Eastender on 16th July 2012 at 15:47

Noting the comments re running & pe in winter outdoors, there was also the opposite participating outdoors in what were hot summers!!! with no thought of covering up or knowledge of possible skin cancer. But then you were out in the sun to do you good. In response to Dominic & others despite running etc in the cold & wet we all survived & I think were healthier or is that looking back at life through rose tinted spectacles in the knowledge that we had no other option

Comment by: Dominic on 16th July 2012 at 02:43

At our Boarding School, in North Yorkshire, we had to do cross-country every morning in just shorts, socks and trainers. This was the case right through winter, vests were never permitted. Even in upper sixth at 18, with many hairy chests on show, we ran shirtless. Other outdoor sports were vests versus skins. This was despite temperatures well below freezing, with added wind chill and snow or driving rain. The was still the case when my younger brother left in 1975.

Comment by: Harry on 15th July 2012 at 18:52

James pointed out that some boys were picked to be skins much more often than others and I remember it being very similar at my school. We usually had four teams in PE, two wearing different coloured bibs, one wearing vests and one with their vests off. So in theory there was only a one in four chance of being on the skins team, but I remember having to take my vest off in our first PE lesson and thinking I’d probably be on a different team next time. I was quite surprised when I was picked for the skins team again and automatically protested ‘Sir, I was skins last time’. Looking back that was probably a mistake as the teacher took it the wrong way, ordered me to take my vest off, stop complaining and get on with the game (in that order). From then on he probably had me down as a whinger and for the rest of the year my PE vest was more often in a pile at the side of the gym than on my back!

Comment by: James T on 14th July 2012 at 17:57

John's comment is interesting. Our PE teacher (ex army) occasionally stripped to the waist during track and field sessions in the summer term every year until I left at 18. This chap was a really good teacher who encouraged you rather than put you down. As a 11 year old I started at my new school a couple of months into the autumn term and was told he'd pick the two teams, vests and skins at the start of each PE lesson which unfortunately, for me anyway, was to be a cold Novembers morning. Probably because I was new I was made to stand in front of the class and take off my vest first. I'd soon discovered that certain boys, myself included, were picked to strip down a lot more often than others regardless of weather or time of year both indoors and outside. I remember the girls finding it amusing watching boys take their vests off to join the skins teams and there was good natured banter in the classroom especially when it came to the tutor picking inter house teams. For inter house competitions like basketball,it was skins and vests so if you wore a vest for the first half, you'd take it off for the second. Fitness competitions were done with all the boys barechested and distinguished by different coloured shorts and cross country competitions were skins and vests which made a change from everyone being made to run barechested....if your team was lucky enough to be picked to wear a vest!!

Comment by: Joshua on 3rd July 2012 at 08:11

I was at school in the sixties and there was no way that PE teachers would strip off to lead lessons. We boys however were stripped to the waist for all lessons both inside and out of doors whatever the weather.Again it was no good objecting.This only resulted in doing press ups outside for up to a hour while still stripped to the waist.This was if you were lucky!!!!If you drew the short straw you were canedon your bare backside before being sent out to do the press ups stripped to the waist

Comment by: west country man. on 1st July 2012 at 07:25

I attended a boys only prep/public school in southern England in the late 40s/early fifties. Regarding PE kit, no underpants were allowed for PE. Rugby, or Cricket, at pain of a beating; later on older boys would wear jock straps. No bare chests here either, apart from sometimes in midwinter on the Rugby field ! The Headmaster announced 'no boys will wear bathing slips in future' - thereafter swimming was nude, followed by communal showers. It did not seem to bother anyone. Genitals, rather disconcertingly, tended to float upon entering the water. I also remember standing in line waiting for permission to enter the pool. I learnt to swim on the poolside naked, balancing upon a wooden trestle to practice breast strokes - a somewhat humiliating and uncomfortable experience. Trunks would only be worn for competitive events, and for the annual medical inspection, when they would be removed in the presence of the doc. Corporal punishment was carried out by house prefects, usually in the changing rooms, with boys attired in PE kit, then shorts dropped for hits on the bare backside with a gym shoe.

Comment by: Nick on 29th June 2012 at 14:29

Interesting recollections from John Lavender – I would imagine your PE master was something of a rarity in stripping down to lead the lessons. I went to school about 15 years later and there was no way you’d ever see any of our PE masters in trunks or even bare-chested. In a way I suppose it symbolised their authority, they were the ones who always wore shirts in lessons, we boys had to bare our chests if we were told to do so, which we frequently were as most team sports involved Shirts against Skins. No-one was ever forced to swim naked, if you forgot your trunks you were given the option of swimming without them or joining another class in the gym wearing just your underpants. As far as I can remember every boy in that situation opted for the latter, even though that wasn’t a great deal of fun!

Comment by: Eastender on 28th June 2012 at 12:54

In reply to John Lavender. I agree we had no worries or cares in the pre P/C days. Our pe teacher wore full track suit. but we had no worries about shorts only & no pants or changing & showering together. My problem is these days if I go to a public swimming pool to check & see whether it is (as is becoming the norm) mixed family changing so I do not forget & start getting changed in a mixed area.The cubicles are so small Not like at the gym & pool where changing facilities are separated by gender & you can just go in strip off & change without a worry. At school our swimming lessons were held at a public pool,although the session was exclusive to our school however, we never had the opportunity to experience the freedom of swiming naked. Kid today talk about freedom but I do not think they are as free of worries as we were.

Comment by: John Lavender on 27th June 2012 at 17:48

Our PE master was a Police Sergeant. He often led our lessons stripped to the waist with either tracksuit bottoms or nylon PE shorts on, always going Commando.
He regularly played for the 'Skins' Team when we played Killerball in gym lessons and refereed our wrestling bouts when we had those. Sometimes in swim trunks only if he didn't have his trackie bottoms or shorts with him. Those were the only time we saw swimwear at school as we swam naked in lessons, which he also took ( also naked) when the regular swim teacher was not available. We did see more of his physique occasionally as he was a big guy and the shorts were sometimes a bit of , as they say these days, a 'wardrobe malfunction' but that was just looked on as a bit of harmless fun... Attended Grammar school in the N-E 1963-68, well before the P.C. era. Happy, innocent days..

Comment by: TIMOTHY on 26th June 2012 at 07:34

This photo brings back memories of the fifties and sixties.In all the schools I attended there was a strict policy of being stripped to the waist for all games lessons.This was both in and out of doors.Also for cross-country runs many lads were also barefoot.One boy normally wore a medallion and chain around his neck.Some masters allowed him to keep it on but normally he had to remove it.We had to be striped to the waist outdoors even in the winter of '62/3 with lying snow on the ground!!!

Comment by: Roy on 24th June 2012 at 17:21

To Eastender:-Actually Dickie Bird(cricket umpire)said much the same thing only yesterday.

Comment by: Eastender on 24th June 2012 at 15:22

Without wnating to digress too much from the topic in the picture of PE, but picking up the thread of the latest comments. Dare I say the words bring back some form of National Service for both male & female. Not neccessarily armed forces as such becuae these days the services need people with qualifications, but some form of discipline & use the Corps perhaps to assist in times of flood or other national emergency.

Comment by: Bill on 23rd June 2012 at 13:21

I agree that modern day youths need toughening up.In my school career we had to do PE stripped to the waist as a matter of course and we didn't dare complain.It would certainly do the youths we see hanging around street corners in hoodies good to do tough physical exercise while stripped to the waist.

Comment by: Andy on 21st June 2012 at 23:45

Stuart, we didn't have morning runs but had too endure a cold shower every morning with matrons or prefects ensuring we stayed under the ice cold water. We had cross country and orienteering 3-4 times a week. The uniform was vast, shorts and slippers. This was year round. I remember running in quite deep snow and driving wind and rain.
I attended a military academy, mainly for the offspring of forces personnel. We had vests but teams were shirts vs skins. We had daily PT so went shirtless a lot. I had no problem with that. There was emphasis on toughening boys up for future military service. This included the use of CP, but only occasionally, and cold showers every morning, which I hated. One rather quirky uniform requirement was year round short trousers in the first three years. At the beginning of our fourth year we got long trousers with our uniform but no longer got a pajamas top, only bottoms. We had to sleep bare chest in Senior dormitories. This rule was enforced and any boy caught wearing a PT vest to bed would be slippered or caned. The pajama bottom were lowered for this. The Dormitories were very cold in winter. The condensation would often freeze up on the inside.
We were being conditioned to succeed during times of war. Today in South Korea teens receive much harsher treatment at military boot-camps. Teens, who spend too much time playing computer games and not studying or playing sport, are sent to camps during school holidays.
The teenagers complete grueling physical training without shirts for hours on end. This is often done in sub zero temperatures and in driving rain & snow.
Instead of rioting or stealing,like their UK counterparts, these lads are being conditioned to succeed.
We could do with boot camps for gangs of teenage 'chavs' who intimidate residents with their hoods up and faces obscured and their hands plunged inside their tracksuit pants, fondling their bits in public.



Comment by: Paul on 21st June 2012 at 15:56

I went to boarding school in Yorkshire in the 1960s/70s. We had to run six mornings a week at 6.30am in shorts and plimsolls whatever the weather. I cannot remember the run ever being cancelled. There were always duty masters assigned to the run but others ran too, masters being bare chested was not at all unusual and for many it was the norm.

As with others, underpants were not allowed with shorts and there was a painful penalty for being caught wearing them. The master who was head of athletics and gym was also the master of discipline so in addition to a collection of plimsolls he had a collection of canes which he was not slow to use. He was both a golfer and a squash player so the swing of his right arm packed a lot of power as I and many other boys discovered, in fact that was probably all other boys as I don't remember anyone who didn't get the cane fairly regularly.

Comment by: Julian on 18th June 2012 at 12:47

Peter you are so right.No bare-chested teaher went on the runs with us.

Comment by: Neil on 17th June 2012 at 07:40

Like Julian I was at a southern boarding school and experienced early morning runs while stripped to the waist.I did not enjoy it but it was no use complaining.You simply had to get on with it.

Comment by: Peter on 17th June 2012 at 00:18

To Julian and Ronny. Did a teacher accompany you - stripped to the waist - on these morning runs? No? I thought not!!!!

Comment by: Tyrone on 16th June 2012 at 16:37

Having read your comments Andy, I wonder whar would be said today if such a harsh punishment regime was used. Also I agree with your points about no sex education, & like you there was not alkk from my dad about puberty. We did not seem to worry about the changes in our bodies & I wonder if too much is made these days about growing up & growing into sexual maturity is jsut an excuse for bad behaviour. We were more diciplined by our teachers and better for it.

Comment by: JULIAN on 16th June 2012 at 07:40

Ronny:- I take your point as we were in the south of England

Comment by: Ronny on 15th June 2012 at 20:47

Julian you say you ended up quite enjoying it. I cannot imagine that. I attended grammar school from 1959-1964. It was brutal. During the 'big snow' we were still punished with unbelievable cruelty, by still having our morning run. We experienced arctic conditions in Northern Ireland in early 1963. I was 15.
The Christian Brothers had us dig a track around the playing fields so the morning run could continue. I will never forget it. We had overcoats and hats while clearing the snow but still had to strip to shorts and slippers every morning. It was shorter than the forest trail but I still doubt if any army would subject its soldiers to such treatment.
We were almost frozen and boys even developed chilblains.