Burnley Grammar School

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Burnley Grammar School
Burnley Grammar School
Year: 1959
Views: 1,470,446
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: Mike on 28th August 2011 at 11:58

I remember ehat I hated the most which was SHIRTLESS PIGGYBACK RIDES! When it was really cold your nipples would get hard. It would not feel good being carried with your hard nipples on soomeone's bare back

Comment by: Ryan on 27th August 2011 at 23:09

Our teacher used to do the same thing when he gave boys a PE detention; first you all got changed into full PE kit, then each boy had to stand up in turn for a kit inspection. Any minor infringement of the rules resulted in extra punishment – wearing the wrong colour socks, or having a dirty towel, for instance. If you passed the inspection, you were then ordered to take your vest off and line up outside – which, if you were lucky, meant the corridor leading to the gym, if not it could mean the playing fields on a cold afternoon. In a regular PE lesson we would sometimes be shirts or skins, in detention every boy was skins without exception.
It did seem illogical to me that I had to put my vest on only to remove it almost immediately, but it was probably a power thing, a reminder from the teacher about who was in charge and who was being punished.

Comment by: Scott on 27th August 2011 at 21:56

Our classes at secondary school weren't like that, but when I was at infant school in the mid 1980s we did gymnastics in mixed classes with boys in blue vests and briefs (none of us wore boxers at that age) and girls in vests and knickers. However in the summer when it was warm the boys were allowed to tak their vest off and just do gym in their briefs. This practice stopped when we went to junior school (age 8 to 11) and we did gymnastics barefoot in shorts and a t-shirt, still mixed.

At secondary school in the early to mid 1990s we did gymnastics barefoot in white shorts and a green rugby top. For everything else it was that plus socks and trainers/football boots. Shirts v skins must have been frowned upon by then as our rugby tops were reversible - turning them inside out revealed a yellow hoop on one side only. If you were picked for hoops in team sports you took your top off and turned it inside out to wear. In cross country in the summer you were allowed to take your shirt off if you wanted - not compulsory - but those of us who did did it more to pose in front of the girls in the fields we ran past than anything else!

Comment by: Simon on 24th August 2011 at 21:45

Our kit was listed as a vest and pair of shorts but we were to find out it was anything but. After changing for our first lesson we all trooped out onto the field and lined up. Shortly after the teacher turned up he looked along the line, pointed and shouted "You, out to the front" and then "Right then vest off!" After dropping my vest on the ground we were told this would be our PE kit. One boy mumbled something and was given a cold shower at the end of the lesson for his troubles.

So it was our vests were off for all PE/Games lessons (then 5 periods at week, 1 double and 3 singles and though for some reason we had to put our vests on in the changing room just to take them off a few minutes later) regardless of temperature or weather.
During the winter the girls tried unsuccessfully to monopolise the gym and on numerous occasions when they were outside, their teacher would "accidently" forget extra netballs or equipment and send a couple of girls to collect these from the storeroom at the bottom end of the gym. It always seemed to be timed so they'd enter the gym as our vests were coming off!

Comment by: Jim on 24th August 2011 at 10:36

Michael, were you forced to perfoem P.E shirtless?

Comment by: Michael on 19th August 2011 at 03:07

The picture reminds me of my old grammar school days. I was academically inclined but not physically adept - brains not brawn you could say. Which is why I suppose, I went to a grammar school in the first place.

Because I wasn't confident at football or gymnastics or indeed anything of the sort, the PE teacher took a dislike to me. He could have done what teachers are supposed to do, i.e. help me to develop my skills so I could begin to enjoy the activities. But no; all I got was sneering contempt, humiliation and the gym shoe on my backside. Accordingly, the school gym was a torture chamber to me, made worse by being bone-chillingly cold most of the time.

I couldn't get out of that gym quickly enough. I could have enjoyed some sport during my adult life but my experiences there put me off permanently.

Comment by: Keith on 15th August 2011 at 18:10

we had awfull thin seethru nylon pe shorts at my school, only a few lads wore anything under them, and every now and then the lessons would change from football to swimming, and when this happened we only had white shorts, so all the boys had to wear there white football shorts in the pool, which got very seethru when we got out of the pool and stood on the side for diving practice. everything visable

Comment by: Pete on 14th August 2011 at 00:13

I don't understand how Toby could forget his PE shorts if he was a boarder. Even if he had the world's worst memory, he and his shorts would surely always have been on the same premises.

Comment by: Matthew on 13th August 2011 at 16:19

The boys in the photo are doing apparatus work. At Colne Grammar we did this in one of our two PE lessons each week. We divided into small groups each working on one piece of apparatus until the teacher shouted "Change", when we moved to the next. I never did master climbing a rope! The last lesson of the term was always a free-for-all game on the apparatus called "Pirates". Does anyone remember the rules?

The 'box' on which the boy is doing a handstand could be used for other, more sinister, purposes at Colne. We had to spend wet lunchtimes, unsupervised, in the gym. The bigger boys would take the top off the 'box' and see how many smaller boys they could get in before replacing the top, sitting on it and banging their heels for the rest of the lunch hour. For obvious reasons the trick was to be last boy in; I learned how to wedge myself behind the wallbars.

Come to think of it, the bigger boys had another use for the rugby posts during dry lunchtimes. As the teacher called the register one afternoon she asked, "Where is D*******?"
back came the response from a small voice at the back, "Please Miss, he's tied to the rugby posts." Compassionately, he declined to add what we all also knew, that as well as being well and truly trussed, D******* was tearfully looking at his ankles round which resided his trousers and underpants. Such incidents were not uncommon but had completely disappeared by the time I left.

Comment by: Matthew on 12th August 2011 at 20:41

I forgot to mention swimming. Again we got off lightly compared with others on this post because we always wore swimming trunks. Forgetting them, however, meant borrowing a pair of grotty ones from the pool. The entire school had to attend the annual inter-house gala as spectators. One year a boy competed in white trunks. All went well as he went up to do his "neat dive". After he emerged from the water and walked back towards us down the length of the pool an excited buzz arose. We could not understand this because the trunks did their job from the front. As he passed we realised what he didn't - his wet trunks were completely transparent at the back leaving no detail of his bottom to the imagination. I don't think he got into trouble but he never wore tham again.

Comment by: Toby on 12th August 2011 at 00:59

I attended a coed (mixed) grammar school in Devon between '61 and '68 and most of the memories on here reflect my own experiences at school. I was a boarder but the school also admitted day pupils. One of the luxuries at our school was the size of the grounds - about 20 acres or so - which meant there was a keen policy of outside PE and exercise in general. Back then, our PE kit consisted of shorts. Oh, and plimsolls if the activity required them. No underwear was the rule, and strictly adhered to.

There was no way you cheat as the shorts were slightly transparent - pants were visible a mile off. Generally no-one cared about being shirtless, especially in the summer, or even being barefooted for that matter. In winter, depending on how cold the day was, a sports vest was allowed.

I don't remember having a jockstrap, things just 'floated' about freely inside the large baggy shorts. I don't ever remember it being a problem though.

The swimming pool was built during my tenure (can't remember what year, but mid 60s approx.) There was no swimming kit so the swimming was done naked, but generally there were no spectators so no-one was bothered in the slightest, it just seemed perfectly normal. The only time some of the boys got slightly embarrassed was when the PE master was off sick and the girls female PE tutor deputised the swimming lesson.

On one infamous occasion, and I can't think why it was allowed to happen, the pool was shared by both the girls and boys swimming lessons - with the boys at one end doing diving and life saving, and the girls at the other end doing their thing. I just remember feeling at the time that it was deeply unfair that the girls could wear a full one piece swimsuit while we had to be naked.

The girls' puberty enhanced upper bodies didn't exactly help matters, especially as a hormone ravaged teen, either. This fear was borne out as one boy (who I shan't name and shame!) got out the pool and walked straight up the other end to complain to the PE mistress who was taking both classes, and confronted her. As he was admonishing her about the injustice - both of them standing at the poolside near the girls - he developed a huge.. er.. state of excitement shall we say, in full view of the pool and 12 or so giggling and whistling girls, ending with a firm rebuking from the mistress and told go back and carry on diving and not to be such a baby. I seem to remember him being popular after though..

The gym PE was generally just shorts only with no plimsolls. If you forgot your kit, I'm afraid it was birthday suit unless you bunked it - moi, guilty as charged, but hey ho.. hehe, nothing changes, eh?

Generally, I look back fondly of my time at Colyton. I think I was happy for the whole six years there, and lucky to be educated in such a forward thinking and modern grammar school at the time. It was a strict school, yes, and there were times when I found it hard, but I wouldn't change a thing if I'm honest.

Yeah.. I miss those days now.. Oh to be young again!

Comment by: Matthew on 10th August 2011 at 21:39

I attended Colne Grammar School, near Burnley, in the 1950's. The photo could have been of our school. Like them we wore only white shorts for PE with no underpants. However if we forgot our kit we just did not do the lesson; there was no question of having to do it in underwear. Although this was quite a change from the junior school, where we did PE in our ordinary clothes, the big shock came at the end of the lesson when we had to strip off and run through the cold shower holding our towels above our heads. If you forgot your towel you dried yourself on your shorts or any thing else that came to hand At this time, many of us did not have a bathroom at home but we still did not appreciate the icy cold water. We did not feel embarrassed at wearing no shirt or vest for the lesson but were very shy of being seen even in our underpants when we changed. I remember getting the cane when I was 12 on the same day as we had PE and having to stand awkwardly in the changing room as the rest of the class examined the stripes on my backside. Compared with other comments here perhaps we had it easy because I cannot remember anyone being slippered by the PE teacher. \we played Burnley Grammar at football I think.

Comment by: Alex on 19th July 2011 at 23:39

I was at school in the 1970's, we too has a no pants rule for games. At junior school we wore nothing under our shorts and at the senior school we were required to wear a jockstrap. A jockstrap was on our kit list we were told to wear them by the games teachers.
I expect others had similar rules.

Comment by: jake on 13th July 2011 at 21:03

why dont they do it today

Comment by: Mike on 7th July 2011 at 17:49

This picture has stimulated a load of comments including some mention of the old 'no pants' rule for boys which was certainly the case at my school.
I think this is often misunderstood as a 'no underwear' rule as the wearing of some form of support is widely accepted as necessary. This was definitely so at my school in the 70's where the 'no pants' rule applied. But boys like me who were involved in sports teams soon fell into the habit of wearing a pair of swimming trunks underneath our shorts. This usually began at a time when an apprehensive youngster was first selected for the rugby team. A few words of sound advice often followed and a pair of trunks which had seen better days were packed in the kit bag.
I dont think that a jockstrap was usually a boys first support underwear unless maybe he only joined the cricket team.
I dont know if this corresponds with others experiences but maybe it does.

Comment by: Chris on 6th July 2011 at 23:13

During outdoor games the school's cricket pavilion was often used for changing in and only had one changing area . On some occasions when the boys' games session finished first we were ordered out of the changing rooms by our games master in various states of undress in order for the girls to take priority for showering and changing. We were then lined up outside mostly naked or almost-naked waiting for the girls to finish before we were allowed back in.You can imagine how exposed and self-conscious we all felt as the girls left the changing room. We were petrified but the girls loved it of course and took their time walking past and inspecting us in all our glory!

Comment by: Tom on 23rd June 2011 at 18:55

Re Ron’s question on nipple exposure, I think the feelings of self-consciousness and embarrassment came from being made to visibly stand out from the rest of the class, rather than just the fact of being bare-chested in public. After all, I didn’t feel shy or embarrassed when I took my top off for swimming lessons and every other boy in the class was bare-chested as well. It was a different matter if you were ordered to remove your vest in the gym as a punishment, suddenly you felt under dressed compared to the rest of the class and, I suppose, a bit more vulnerable.
I posted earlier about the uncomfortable experience of being made to do PE bare-chested and barefoot with a class three years younger than me and the whole point about it was that the younger boys were all in full kit. It wasn’t only that I had to do the lesson with my top off, I also had nothing on my feet while they wore socks and trainers, and that made me feel inferior to those kids.
I’m sure it might have been a bit more bearable if the younger boys had all been in shorts only as well, but the feeling of being the odd one out was made far worse than if I’d at least been among my mates.

Comment by: John Lavender on 17th June 2011 at 14:19

@Ron. Yes I think there is a general adversity amongst boys, particularly those who have hit puberty, to Nipple Exposure (hereinafter referred to as 'NE'. This seems to go back about 20 years; before then it is generally accepted that youngsters were less embarrased about body exposure, certainly in Schools PE/Gym sessions.

The same is also true of other scenarios like the Scouts. In the pre-1980's era, in fact going back pre-WWII, going barechested (and indeed in a lot of camp scenarios, completely naked) was perfectly acceptable, because it was a 100% male environment, there was no PC to speak of, and in fact a lot of kids were eager to go to camp, not only because it was a release from the by-and-large dreadful inner city conditions, but it was bonding opportunity, you could indulge in NE or even nudity and no one bothered.

Some kids just could not wait to go for that reason and also the staff (Scout-Masters and Patrol-Leaders) were supportive; the SM in our village at the time I was at junior school, was also involved in the School itself and was a Naturist , and indeed most of the time at camp I understand he was naked or wore shorts at most. This was considered manly and anyone allegedly wearing more than shorts was generally considered to be "soft".

The parents were generally fine about this, and it is only recently when (ironically) the children of the 50s and 60s baby-boomers have started to go to senior school or scouts that this aversion to NE has manifested itself.

Gender equality has also played its part; if Scouts were male-only then I think we would probably have similar attitudes to NE as in the years before the 1980s.

I personally now wish I had joined-in the fun, a good friend of mine at the time tried to temp me to try it; I wish I had.


Comment by: Ron on 16th June 2011 at 09:44

Is the reason for shyness and self conscious behaviour with boys told to be barechested down to the fact of exposure of the nipples? Are barechested boys shy about their nipple exposure?

Comment by: Will on 15th June 2011 at 18:41

I was at a home counties high school late 60s. My junior school head was a kindly batchelor who as far as I can remember never hit a kid his voice was enough! He warned us what lay in store at the comprehensive When we went there it was a total culture shock. The cane ruled as did the slipper in PE. The head was ex military as was the PE teacher and his sidekick. I hated sports of any kind ( but later got into weights) By the time we were about 15 I quite liked cross country as we were left to do it, and I could have a fag on the way round. Guess who got caught one day? The PE teacher ordered me to his room not to get changed He produced this enormous worn out black plimsol more sole that upper around size 11.I was forced to touch my toes there followed 6 hard whacks that sounded like gunshots across the shiny PE shorts we wore in those days. The whole of my backside was on fire for the rest of the day and still very sore the day after. When I emerged there was a crowd of lads and several sniggers and knowing looks, although I was damned if I was going to shed a tear for that. It was as if he was whacking a carpet! I realised when I grew up that most of these teachers were pervs. You got slippered for the slightest thing.After I left school and grew into a large bloke I always vowed if I ever came across that pervy [removed, admin] I would deck him. Turns out he dropped dead at 44! I still smoked as well.

Comment by: mark on 25th May 2011 at 22:09

i went to a mixed school in the early 80's. the boys pe kit was white t-shirt, white shorts and white plimsols. no underwear.the master checked we were not wearing underwear by looking down our shorts. any boy caught wearing pants had to strip naked and was whipped across the backside with a wet towel.if you forgot your pe kit the first time you had to do it in your pants. the second time with just a towel around your waist even outside sports. if your towel came down you had to carry on naked.

Comment by: Richard on 13th May 2011 at 01:27

As for everyone else the photo brought memories of my time in the gym at Grammar school in 1959/66

I can remember the first time to this day. All us new 11 year old first formers had to sit on the floor and we were made very clear as to the rules for kit which were clean white shorts and plimsolls ( shoes never to be worn in the gym), no underpants to be worn and a shower afterwards was mandatory. Breaches of these rules would be punished by a tanning.

Our PE master was a superbly fit athlete and fine gymnast and strict disciplinarian.

The next time in the gym one of the boys stupidly wore his briefs and was caught doing so. Six of the best with the slipper followed in the changing room afterwards. Shorts and briefs pulled down in front of everyone. I can see the boy's face now it was deep beetroot red with embarrassment. I vowed never to infringe the rules after seeing that spanking and never did.

Similar punishment was meted out as promised for unwhitened plimsolls and dirty shorts and not showering many times during my time there.

We were all supremely fit after all this physical excercise along with regular cross country runs unlike today's overweight kids.

Yes it was a harsh regime but I value the disciplne to this day; and, yes, no doubt we were terrorised by the masters but today, of course, it is completely the other way round with the kids terrorising the teachers.

They said at the time corporal punishment was abolished that violence begets violence but society and schools today are much more violent than ever was the case in my day and I think this argument needs to be revisited.

The kids today also most definitely need the physical excercise we had.

Comment by: Jamie on 6th May 2011 at 14:19

Reading the last few comments brings back things I have not thought about for years, probably 30 years. At my prep school and the first few years of senior school, we were forced to do wrestling in pe lessons. Half the class really enjoyed it and the other half detested it as they basically got pummelled by the stronger kids. Whilst I was not one of the stronger boys, I really enjoyed wrestling and was quite good at it. If you had a hard match, your top was basically scratched and red raw at the end. As a boarder we were much better as we were always practising in the evenings. During the lessons we were never allowed to wear tops although after school some boys would wear shirts (not me) and it was much easier to wrestle them as you could get hold of something. In those days, boys were boys.

Comment by: Rob on 3rd May 2011 at 18:28

Fascinating stuff, John.

As we only played such games once or twice a term, we looked forward to them with a mixture of apprehension and great excitement. I guess we enjoyed them because it was an occasion when we could legitimately be rough and tough and a little bit violent - we also sometimes had wrestling matches in PE at the end of term which had much the same effect - boys were allowed to be boys, back then!

Was that such a bad thing? It's interesting to look back now and analyse what would have looked like violent mayhem to any adult watching - although there were literally no rules in Killerball, there was an imlicitly understood code of conduct which didn't need to be stated out loud. Yes, it was quite acceptable to knee an opponent in the stomach, elbow him in the chest or sometimes even dish out a good old fashioned punch on the nose, and you expected such things to occasionally happen to you - and if you spent the rest of the lesson with a nosebleed, then so be it - it was that risk and bit of danger that made it so exciting. But...if anyone had done something "out of order" like kneeing another kid in the nuts, or girly hair-pulling, or unnecessarily or repeatedly picking on weaker boys who were no threat to anyone scoring, then even their own team mates turned on them to let them know in no uncertain terms that their actions were not acceptable. Would it be the same today? I doubt it.

Comment by: John on 2nd May 2011 at 19:43

>>Comments by Rob, 31st July 2010
Not at all, David! As a special "treat" in the last PE lesson of each term we played a game called Killerball whereby the two teams (consisting of the boys from each of the two classes which were put together to do PE) had to score goals at the opposite end of the gym. Any tactics were allowed to get the ball in the goal - there were no rules at all! My class usually lost so rather than just use brute force and strength we hatched a plan at the end of one term whereby everyone but the biggest, strongest boy in my class was secretly paired up with a boy in the other class except their smallest, wimpiest kid. When the whistle sounded, we all went for our targets and just started fighting with them, meaning our strongest member was free to grab the ball, and only having to deal with their weakest team member, just keep scoring! It sort of worked, but backfired on us in a way because we were never allowed to play it again - I guess the teacher thought our tactics, original, inventive and intelligent though they were (in our opinion!), were just too violent to be allowed in school for a bunch of 13 year old boys even at that non-PC time!

I suspect the specifics of these sort of games and their names varied by region or part of the country - I lived in London - were there similar games in other areas? >>

Yes they were. We played a similar game in gym class @ our Grammar school (in Gateshead upon Tyne) when I was a pupil there, 1963 - 1968.

Our Gym teacher was a serving Sargeant in Durham (as then was) Police in Gateshead.

Our variation was played between teams of Skins and Vests.
(Technically we had plimmies, white shorts and white tees as PE Kit but when we played games we divided into 'Skins' and 'Vests' - there were just two 'houses' in the school.
Most guys wanted to play in 'Skins' and indeed we tried several times to get him to change our kit to just Plimsoles and Shorts, coloured to differentiate, but to no avail.

The rules/no rules for your game were very similar to ours; sometimes our teacher would join in as well.

The goals were a mat laid at each end of the gym, and sometimes the matches would last a half-hour to 40 minutes. We played this most weeks in PE lessons.

Also, the last four guys to enter the gym for each lesson used to be told to "Run the Gauntlet" as punishment for being slow; they would be made to strip off to the waist, and then made to run down an avenue of the rest of the c
lass in two columns, who had to slap them on the back as they passed them. Some of us deliberatedly changed slowly to enable us to do gym without a top and get a 'gauntleting' as a way of warming up for the lesson and the 'Killerball' game!

Comment by: Domonic on 28th April 2011 at 14:51

I must admit, I have happy memories of my pe and swimming lessons although it was a strict regime for boys but like a holiday camp for the girls. At my prep we did pe lessons all together in a massive gym with the girls wearing skirts and tops and the boys just pe shorts. If it was cold outside the girls could wear jumpers but nothing extra could be worn for the boys. At swimming which we did separtly, the girls could wear simming costumes but the boys were not allowed to wear anything. If pe was cancelled at short notice, we would do swimming but as the girls did not have their swim wear then they could watch, but only after we had all got in the pool. Alos, the boys had to shower, the girls did not have to.

Comment by: Philip on 21st April 2011 at 16:02

I was a boarder at my prep school which was virtually all boys except for about 4 girls. PE lessons were always bare chested (except the girls) and if we played team games, one team would be given a coloured sash type thing to wrap around our tops.
We did early morning swims in the indoor pool - always naked as the girls were in a different house. Our swimming lessons were always done naked but quite often the 4 girls would be waiting outside for us to finish and would take great delight in watching us.
I had swimming coaching as I was in the school team and there was a right ho ha as to whether we should wear trunks or not as there was a lady coach. There were about 8 of us and I think 6 of us stayed in the buff as we just didn't have trunks to wear and 2 wore shorts. It didn't seem to bother the coach and she trained us very well and put us through our paces. We all got really fit as she really pushed us and it was a lot of fun. I would add that when we did galas, we wore trunks, although evry small ones.

Comment by: Andrew on 18th April 2011 at 23:52

We had a very traditional pe teacher in the mid 70's. It was an all boys boarding and day school. From the age of about 8 to when we were 15 you only wore white shorts and plimsolls for pe. Swimming was also done naked and no boy ever questioned this as it was as normal as it was basically our uniform for sport.The only time that shirts could be worn was if we played tennis but as no one ever had shirts with them, few ever bothered wearing them. Generally it made boys much more confident and no one had any issue as going for showers after pe.

Comment by: Carl on 17th April 2011 at 14:34

What kind of humuliation will the P.E teacher devise?

Comment by: Tom on 17th April 2011 at 11:13

There was certainly a strong element of embarrassment in being made to do PE with your top off – many of the PE teachers at my school used this as a punishment. I remember being yelled at for messing around in PE when I was about 13 and being ordered to take my vest off and do press-ups at the side of the gym. I assumed once I’d finished that would be that and when the teacher shouted at me to rejoin the class, I went to pick up my vest, only to be told: “I didn’t tell you to put that back on, did I? Get over here and stand in line.” So I had to do the rest of the lesson in just shorts and bare chest, which felt pretty embarrassing as I was the only one.
There were a lot of similar punishments in PE – running laps of the playing field was a common one and usually prefaced by an order to remove your top, which basically was part of the punishment. The most humiliating experience was when I forgot my running shoes for cross-country, so the teacher made me go and join the class doing PE in the gym at the same time instead… a class of 12-year-olds. I was 15 at the time. And just in case it wasn’t uncomfortable enough having to do PE barefoot with a bunch of kids, yes of course I was ordered to take my vest off and leave it behind in the changing room as well. Not surprisingly the 12-year-olds thought it hilarious to see a boy of 15, shuffling self-consciously into the gym in just a pair of shorts and asking the teacher if he could join the lesson. Not a great deal of fun.