Clitheroe Royal Grammar School
Item #: 1602
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, November 1959
It was quite a culture shock having to shower after PE when we first started at secondary school. At primary school we just changed in our classroom and always kept our underwear on, so being naked in front of classmates and the teacher was rather daunting at first.
Dan, I don't remember anyone making any comment about the showers; they may have had their private thoughts but as you said, we just got on with it.
Our school was on the ourskirts of town and we ran across the playing fields and past half a dozen houses and across the road and we were then into woodland and out on to hills. We enjoyed being in just shorts and feeling the fresh air on our bodies,eagerly looking forward to getting in the showers.
"Although we didn't run bare chested in freezing winter weather,when we were sent out on a run, usually between April and October,we wore just shorts with nothing on underneath and plimsolls with no socks, which was our normal kit in the gym."
I think in the video from abuot 1:05 we can see a run that you describe. Well I think its a morning run at a boarding school but I think boys (and girls in the first minute of the video) are in their usual PE kit.
This is an archive film of a life in a boarding school.
Hi Andrea, I suppose what you describe was the standard PE uniform for girls in most schools.
As for compulsary showers, how did you girls feel about it, were you comfortable with it?
I know that for us boys some were very uncomfortable being naked in front of other boys and teachers in the shower. Some were extremely shy and modest and must have been torture for them, but we just got along with it having no other choice.
Rob, were any of the boys annoyed about the communal showers?
Also, were you made to run through town streets in just shorts or just cross country?
Although we didn't run bare chested in freezing winter weather,when we were sent out on a run, usually between April and October,we wore just shorts with nothing on underneath and plimsolls with no socks, which was our normal kit in the gym. We had two gym periods a week and also a double games period outside when we played football in the winter and wore shorts,no underpants, football shirt and boots and socks.In the summer most of us played cricket.After every session of PE and football it was compulsory to go naked in the communal showers.
In reply to Dan, we had compulsory showers at our Secondary school in the 1970s.
I suppose you could say that we had the opposite of a no underpants rule - our indoor PE kit was gym knickers without shorts or a skirt over them.
Bras were allowed under the white polo shirts that comprised the top half of our PE kit.
I can't imagine doing cross country runs bare chested in freezing Winter weather. But it seems from many posts here that this was the case in many schools.
The only PE we did at my secondary school was a one or two hour session in the gym twice a week, and even for that we wore white T-shirts and shorts.
The no-underpants rule also seems to have been common in many schools, though not at my school. I guess it did not apply to girls in most schools either, if any. But we did have showers after PE.
I wonder how many here had compulsary showers after PE.
Reading some of the earlier posts took me back to my schooldays and PE, very strict on dress code, no underpants rule and if caught would have to remove said underpants in full view of the other boys and then at the end of the lesson have 3 across the bottom with a plimsoll.PE vests were worn only outdoors, on cross country out of sight of the school we removed them until we came close to school again. I recently joined a gym and signed up for the men only days and had the induction where I did a treadmill test and had to be bare chested because I was wired up, I was told as I put on my sports shirt afterwards that nobody bothers with them on workouts here, so that took me back to school gym sessions.
We always had to wear vests for PE until our teacher picked the skins team and then would those lads strip down. The discarded vests would either end up on the edge of the stage if indoors or on the grass or yard if outdoors for the rest of the lesson. Myself and 3 others were picked to strip down for nearly every session for some reason, others would drop their vests occasionally.
When I started at secondary school we had to do PE bare-chested. I had never done this before but soon got used to being stripped to the waist both indoors and on cross-country runs. It was also quite common to be barefoot indoors and some boys even did cross-country while barefoot.
When I was at primary school in the 1960s most of us wore vests (boys and girls - we used to change for PE in the same classroom for PE). The boys ones were plain white and we girls were mainly white with a very small amount of pink around the neckline. We all wore T shirts over our vests for PE though.
Like Charles' sister the vests tended to get discarded once we graduated to bras. For a few this occurred during our last year at Primary school, but for most it was during the first couple of years at Secondary. Attitudes to this varied - some wanted to wear bras as soon as possible to feel more 'grown-up' (a bit like the jockstrap wearers Charles referred to) but for others it took a some persuasion to do so (either from their mothers, or on occasions our PE teacher).
As I don't have a brother and went to an all girls secondary school I can't comment on whether boys of my era continued to wear vests into their teens.
Charles - as Mark said most of us went topless for p.e. - in my case in the 60s and I was very happy about that. I too am surprised that you weren't told to wear nothing under your shorts - I thought that was an almost universal rule at that time and much appreciated if you were made to work hard which we certainly were.
A lot of boys wore the hated vests when I started at secondary school though most of us had managed to get rid of them long before we left. They were never worn for p.e. Plimsolls were on the kit list but never worn inside and rarely outside.
Charles,most of us have said that we had to go topless for PE, particularly in the 1950s and for many years afterwards, but few had any qualms about it and like yourself,when you had to be stripped to the waist, thoroughly enjoyed it.It is certainly healthier and I would have thought that the new Pe master should have also told you not to wear anything under your shorts.If you were made to sweat like us you needed a complete change of clothes and a shower afterwards although it sounds as though your mum wouldn't have approved of you having to go completely naked twice a week.
Unlike many posters here, I don't remember having any qualms about being topless for PE. When I started at secondary school, back in the mid 1950s, our PE kit comprised white vest, white shorts and plimsolls, the actual style being irrelevant. Back in those days, plain white vests, although increasingly unpopular as underwear, still featured in most kids' wardrobes, so with clothes rationing still a recent memory, making underwear double as PT kit made sound economic sense, as did Mum's skill in the cotton-shorts tailoring department.
As far as I can remember, there were no prohibitions on wearing anything under our shorts; most of us either wore our underpants or went commando, while a few lads acquired jockstraps which the rest of us envied and thought rather daring. On occasions when sunny weather encourageed PE classes outide, we played team games as "shirts and skins", but this was the exception rather than the rule.
After I had been at this school for a couple of years, a new PE master announced that, henceforth, it would be healthier for us to do PE topless, a development that we all welcomed wholeheartedly and unanimously, and which effectively put the kibosh on vests as underwear as far as my peers and I were concerned. While Mum wasn't happy with the thought of her son and heir going bare-chested for an hour or so a couple of times a week, the temptation for said son, not only initially to "forget" to put his vest back on after PE, but soon also to "forget" to put it on at all on a PE day, soon became irresistible! Mum was even less happy once she realised that not wearing a vest for PE was a cast-iron excuse for not wearing a vest on PE days and, by extension, for giving up vests altogether, a project I had been working on ever since my younger sister revealed that she had received maternal approval to discard her vests when she started wearing bras a couple of years previously.
We had to wear a jockstrap for sport like PE and running, seems to have fallen out of fashion today
I agree with Dominic that teachers today don't/can't exercise discipline over their charges. Kids are even allowed to call teachers by their first names/
Mark and Roy - you are so right about the lack of manners shown these days. I still find myself apologising to the person who is in the wrong occasionally.
Mark - I live in London now and travel on the underground. A couple of times recently school parties have got on and the children have rushed and pushed past adults to get to seats. Once I mentioned to one of the adults with the party how bad-mannered this appeared but they just stared back at me as though I was talking in a foreign language - perhaps I was!
Back to a more relevant point - children never did answer back or disobey an order at school - not unless you wanted to experience the consequences which would have been more unpleasant than anything teachers can dish out these days. Maybe that is part of the problem - teachers can no longer discipline their pupils effectively.
At one time in British society it was quite common to apologise to someone if in fact it was that person who had done wrong.
This is true Terry. I shudder when children don't stand up for elderly people on buses. Its not their fault as they haven't been brought up to do it.
As a child i gave my seat when the bus was full not because I was afraid of my parents punishing me for being rude. I did it because I knew it was the right thing to do.
Have you noticed that no-one says excuse me anymore to get past you? They just stand behind as if you have eyes in the back of your head.
Last week on a train in the first class, a well dressed middle aged chap stood behind s elderly lady as she put her case on the rack. He grew inpatient as she took her time. Finally he pushed past her. He was of an age to know better but couldn't bring himself to say excuse me. When I say it, people look at me as if i am insane.
Its not just children who don't know their manners, but its the majority of society. many those who were brought up "properly" seem to have forgotten the simple things that make life more pleasant.
It is as if that showing you care about others has become a weakness and that many are afraid to show they care for fear of looking weak or different.
We live in the I'm alright Jack era. maybe we always did!
I agree with Rob & Mark especially realizing that actions have consequences. Especially disobedience. But I think we have lost out on the polite society. I sometimes see my son's school friends in the street. They know who I am and I say hello. whereas we as kids would have replied (heaven help us if it got back to our parents that we ignored someone) they totally ignore you as if you never existed. What has happened to manners, or is it that if someone speaks to you, you have a hidden agenda?
Rob, you are correct. When we were told to do something at school we did it or else.
We didn't argue if told to go barefoot or shirtless in PE.
The last thing we wanted was to in trouble or a detention. That would mean our parents finding out and a double punishment. We knew from than an early age that actions have consequences
Terry, referring to your comments about communal showers, not only were they essential after a tough session in the gym in the 50's & 60's but also physiologically when we were in the showers it was an important part of our physical education when we could see how our classmates were developing during the stages of puberty. This helped us to to realise that we were all going through the same experiences of growing up and as a result I certainly had no personal inhibitions about others seeing me naked in the changing rooms and showers.
Unfortunately,most lads nowadays do not have to strip to the waist for pe let alone take showers afterwards and therefore have become very inhibited and afraid to talk about their personal problems.
No problem, Jamie; thanks for your comments.
Rob, I actually did start off with nylon PE shorts like the ones you describe and so did many other boys. But as I got older I wore cotton shorts instead, largely for the reasons you mentioned!
Underpants were permitted for PE but only if you had a spare pair to change into after the lesson. If not then you had to do the lesson with nothing under your shorts (which I guess was probably a lot more hygienic).
Officially our PE kit was the same in the sixth form but, as at your school, things became more relaxed and quite a few boys preferred to do it with their vests off.
Didn't mean to sound bitter about my experiences at school! I just think I would have enjoyed attending a school where boys were not only permitted but required to go barechested. I guess it's just a measure of how times changed.
I agree with Rob. I was at school in the late fifties and early to mid sixties and you did as you were told.
If you were told to strip to the waist and go barefoot-and you were- you stripped to the waist and went barefoot.
Lads are more inhibited these days, not through their faults but because society dictates that they are protected from the eyes of unwelcome strangers who are around and might look at them or take photos of them on their 'phones for their own gratification. Things were different in our childhood, when we were encouraged by our parents from early years each summer to strip to the waist and run around outside in our shorts.Nowadays, any responsible parent does not allow their children out of their sight. I do not agree with youngsters being dressed in long trousers from the day they learn to walk, but that's the fashion today.
In the late 50's & early 60's when you & I at all boys schools we all did as we were told. I remember my first PE lesson when we had been told what to wear and as we went to the changing room we were all talking & some boys were asking us whether we were allowed to wear t-shirts & we said no, just shorts & plimsolls. No more was said as they all got used to being stripped to the waist.At the end of the lesson & back in the changing room, the boys were getting into the communal showers naked.I remember hesitating for a second or two before realising there was no way out for me but to take off my shorts & go in the showers.My embarrassment at the others seeing my penis soon disappeared as saw I was the same as other boys, & my inhibitions about going in the showers had gone for ever.
Terry,Rob, I attended a secondary modern, mixed boys and girls.
We also wore those nylon shorts that you mentioned and these were typically worn without any underwear.
Of course, shorts were a lot shorter then and they were translucent when wet and we had to do long country runs through villages and main roads.
I was very indignant at being made to wear those see throughs and the embarrassment it caused.
I attended an all boys school 1961 to 1966. PE for us was also shorts no pants or top. We wore white shorts and as you say some boys wore the nylon type and when we played football in the rain (yes those days we still had to go ouitside if it was raining) the white nylon shorts became see through. However, no one seemed to care. We also wore plimsolls and as you say there were no branded trainers and plimsolls were great levellers.
Like you at the end of the lesson it was communal showers all naked of course which was accepted as normal. I am sure these days lads are more inhibited and the thought of communal showers are a no! no!
Times have certainly changed.
Jamie,we each went to an all boys school but I would not have minded if it had been mixed and boys and girls did pe together and boys had to wear just gym shorts. We had two single lessons each week in the gym and one double when we played soccer, or cricket in the summer.We were sent out on a run from time to time in the single lessons, but it sounds as though you went running during a double, which explains why the gym was being used by another class.We wore black or white shorts and mine were black. We were not allowed to wear underpants(what about you?) or socks, and trainers were unheard of in the 50's so were all wore plimsolls.No expensive branded trainers, so it was all very levelling for us.After pe and football communal nude showers were compulsory.in the sixth form we still wore the same kit but it was a lot more relaxed, with smaller classes and we played team games, when we also wore two different coloured sashes,(no shirts against skins).
I hope your white shorts were not like the nylon ones which some boys wore in my class.Because the gym was being used for an exam,we were sent out on a run when it
started to rain and the nylon shorts became almost see through. Fortunately we did not meet anyone outside the school gates & we were soon up in the fields and the sun came out & the nylon material soon dried in the breeze.I think the local people were used to seeing us boys running & wouldn't have raised an eyebrow if they had seen the boys wet nylon shorts,although today there would have been an uproar about it.
You really do sound bitter about your missed oportunity to run stripped to the waist, and not being able to at anytime. Yes, it was very nice when it was dry & the sun shone but really not so comfortable when you got wet and cold. We just ran a bit faster & got back to school & into the warm showers.
You're right Rob, that would have been interesting to find myself barechested in a gym full of girls! Unfortunately that didn't happen as I was at an all boys school. So the class I was sent to join were boys from the year above mine and no, I wasn't the only boy without a vest. The usual PE kit for both the gym and outdoors was vest in school colours, white shorts and socks and trainers. However it was common practice to play 'shirts against skins' in the gym and on that occasion for obvious reasons I was told to join the skins team!
While I was often a skin for PE in the gym, I did want to see how it felt outdoors with the breeze and maybe even some rain on my bare chest and back and it was disappointing to be refused permission. From what you say it sounds like I missed out!