Clitheroe Royal Grammar School
Item #: 1602
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, November 1959
All credit to your generation George. I was at school in the late 80s and on one occasion I had to do cross country bare-chested - it was freezing! I can't imagine what it must have been like to run without a shirt every single time, let alone in bare feet! You're right, I don't think boys could cope with that today.
Looking back through the comments here I can see that my experience was typical of boys who were at school in the 60s. We did cross country running mainly in the winter and always barefoot and stripped to the waist just as other p.e. activities. We didn't think we were particularly hard done by - it was just the way things were done then and we quite enjoyed it most of the time.
I don't suppose boys could cope with that these days but times were different then. When I started at Grammar School we had no central heating at home and I remember scraping ice off the inside of my bedroom window in winter!
The era I'm talking about (1970s) was well before sports bras were invented!
Obviously I've never tried on a jockstrap, although I washed my ex-husbands plenty of times and bought my son his first one (with a 'box') when he first started playing cricket.
Seemed to dry as far as I remember. The lockers were metal with ventilation slots so I suppose that helped, but I know what you mean about putting wet things on.
I can't say I have tried a bra, let along a sports one, so I can't comment on that!
Your comment that you found wearing a jockstrap very comfortable and that it stayed in place without adjustment certainly contrasts with my early memories of supportive underwear. The first time I tried wearing a bra it felt like it was cutting me in half and I seemed to be forever having to pull the straps up! I guess it was because it was so different from just wearing a vest as I had up to then.
For several months after mum bought me one I left it in my drawer, but eventually running around in PE without one became too uncomfortable (and noticeable)!
You mentioned that you used to was your jockstrap in the shower and keep it in your locker. Did it dry properly? One of my pet hates is if I have to put on a still damp swimming costume!
I don't think it was so much that they had an open back.It was more that they were designed to do just one job and support what was at the front.
Really they were very comfortable because they did just that and there was no spare material to flap around and get into places where it shouldn't. They allowed total freedom of moving around and stayed in place without adjustment.
I do remember the first time wearing under shorts outdoors and being somehow more conscious of the wind whistling around than I had been with only shorts for some reason. Probably because you just expected underware of any sort to stop that.
With regard to the comments by James, I can recall our teacher having a conversation with some of girls about it perhaps being time they started to wear appropriate supportive underwear (or a different kind) for PE lessons!
Going to an all girls school and not having any brothers or a sporty father, the first time I came across a jockstrap was when my ex's appeared in the washing basket when we were first married. It did seem a strange looking thing! Does anyone know why they're designed the way they are, with the open back etc?
( I am just copying my comments across from a different photo as it is relevant here as well !)
I attended an all boys grammar school in the midlands in the mid 60's. I well remember the scenes set in these comments.
We had to wear the almost transparent white nylon shorts and we were ordered not to wear underpants. Shirts and skins was the norm for any activity in the gym. Showers were compulsory and we had to go into the communal shower naked.
We were lucky enough to have a pool and it was quite common after a PE session in the gym to have a shower, put our shorts back on and then go into the pool. The shorts went almost totally transparent but we just seemed to assume that's the way it was and not take any notice.
The first time I can remember this being a problem for any of us was one friend who was obviously an early developer started to have problems with hanging out of his shorts. He was embarrassed and of course the rest of us made a huge joke of it, not thinking it would become a problem for us in time!
I remember one day at the beginning of the lesson, the PE teacher sat us down in the changing rooms and talked to us about growing up and that if we felt uncomfortable in just our shorts, we should get jockstraps like the older boys, and in any case we would need them if we were going to play rugby. He had them on sale at school if we wanted to buy them.
Few of us knew what a jockstrap was but as the changing rooms were a shortcut to one part of the school we started to notice older boys getting changed and worked out what they were. Those with older brothers also knew already.
From then on, they started to appear at changing time and, of course they were plainly visible through the almost transparent shorts, especially when we went on to swimming after pe. Often the waistband showed above and the leg straps showed below but, to us, that was a sign of being one of the older boys.
Coming from a family with no older brothers, I had never talked about such things with my parents and they were not at all sporty. I couldn't imagine asking them to get to buy me a jockstrap so I summoned the courage to go and buy one at school. I just remember feeling like one of the big boys and never worried about it showing through the shorts. Like a lot of the others we washed them in the showers and kept them in our lockers.
I was never over sporty so didn't get onto the major teams but we did have to do "cross country running" which took us through the woods but also along public roads. An interesting sight for some passers by, I expect, on a wet day when things had gone particularly transparent!
In response to the question, I meant in the vicinity of the school buildings and grounds, so away from the general public.
The gym was raised with full length windows. When the sun shone from behind while we were running on the spot, for example, our shorts especially white nylon were somewhat revealing. I recall some of my fellows staring and pointing at my shorts while I was jogging.
Showers, which were open with no privacy, were compulsory after PE or Games. Teachers normally supervised from a point between the changing rooms and the showers in order to ensure the rules were obeyed. I sometimes used to try and keep my shorts on and dash in out of the showers without taking them off. I remember once being spotted, and having to run back naked after handing my shorts over to the teacher.
Like Andy while at junior school I used to see secondary school boys doing cross-country runs stripped to the waist and barefoot and thought how tough they looked.
I actually looked forward to doing it myself.
Again it was a different story being stripped to the waist and barefoot in cold icy conditions.
But I did enjoy being stripped to the waist and barefoot during the Summer terms.
Bob, do you mean that the boys caught wearing underpants were made to strip in public, since you mention that they could be seen by anyone in the vicinity?
Also, how common were compulsary showers under the supervision of teachers after PE?
One of the senior schools in my home town had a cross country course that involved running past my junior school.
Irrespective of the weather all the boys always ran stripped to the waist, and most of the classes everyone has bare feet as well. At 10 I thought how tough this looked and how grown up.
It wasn't until I was actually at the school and was made to do cross country on a freezing day stripped down to just a pair of shorts that I changed my mind !
We too wore thin white cotton shorts with nothing underneath for indoor gym and for cross country but I don't remember them becoming translucent. We were barefoot and bare chested for cross country like so many others and you didn't dare argue with a teacher. I don't think any-one was too bothered as far as I can remember - this was in the 60s.
When I was at an all Boys Grammar School we were not allowed to wear anything under our PE or outdoor games shorts. I found this highly embarrassing, as the thin white cotton or nylon shorts were rather short and translucent in sunny or damp conditions, and I hated being seen like this, especially by the public when out cross-country running.
There were random kit inspections by teachers, who would be sent to check boys were not wearing underpants or vests. Any offenders would have to strip naked and remove them before replacing their shorts and continuing their PE lesson or cross-country run. This humiliating process was found highly entertaining by anyone in the vicinity, I recall.
I remember that when my parents received the Uniform List for secondary school the PE uniform made no mention of vest.
My next door neighbour was in the third year and so I asked him if there was a mistake.
He said No and you did PE bare chested and so it was.
Some boys who had come from different junior schools already did PE shirtless but for me it took some getting used to although I eventually quite enjoyed do PE stripped to the waist.
I went to school in the 70's had PE teacher who was very strict on what you could wear. Indoor was normal Shorts only barefeet was compulsory. Don't rememeber having to cross country shirtless but if you forget your footwear it was barefeet no choice.
Andy is quite right.
I remember that although our school uniform list showed a vest for PE as soon as we had our first lesson the master in charge made it quite clear that boys in his class did PE stripped to the waist and barefoot.
Again as Andy says it was no point in complaining as you still had to do PE stripped to the waist and would receive at least six strokes of the cane afterwards.
At grammar school in the early 60's we wore just shorts for indoor pe throughout the school.
In year 1 we wore shorts, vests and plimsolls for xc, although a few boys ran in less. At the start of the second year we had a new teacher for games. When we changed for xc he told us all to strip to just our shorts as boys in his class ran with bare feet and stripped to the waist. It was a freezing cold day but in spite of this we just did as we were told and soon 30 odd shivering 12 year olds were lined up outside all with bare backs/chests and nothing on their feet ready to be sent off on a 4 mile run.
It was pointless saying anything or even refusing as we would have still be made to do the run and would just have received some additional punishment like being given 6 strokes of the cane when we got back.
Grammar Schools had pupils up to the age of 18 and a higher proportion of sixth formers than any other secondary schools. I can well imagine the boys in the photo were pupils at a grammar school.
I agree that the photo looks somewhat posed - they really don't look as though they are coming back from a run. They might have been told to wear tops especially for the photo - would account for the variety, perhaps.
Was this the school that was known locally as "The Old Boys School, or was there another one in Clitheroe called that?
I also think that the boys look too old to be of grammar school, or even secondary school, age, as the photo description suggests.
They look more like being college age students, if they are students at all.
From the lads in the photo they seem to be some kind of athletic team rather than a normal class of students.
I agree that they look clean, but if you look at the gates, they've opened inwards which makes me think that they are turning into a yard!
Is this a posed shot, methinks?
I agree too - this does not look much like a team - different colour shoes and shorts and a wide array of tops.
I had only been at primary school for a year in 1959 but by the time I got to Grammar School it seemed to have been normal to run barefoot and shirtless. We only wore a pair of white shorts and, although I was not in a team, we all looked alike apart from the amount of mud we wore when we got back. If you slipped over in a particularly muddy part your shorts were not white when you returned.
I too agree with Stuart.
We did cross-country stripped to the waist and barefoot and usually returned covered in mud.
I agree with Stuart - it looks to me as if those boys are setting off rather than returning from a run. When I was at school (mid 1980s) you usually finished cross country with your legs spattered in mud, at least up to the knee. If you didn't spend too long in the shower - as most boys didn't - you'd often go home with mud caked to your legs.
Thankfully, unlike at Stuart's school, we did wear running shoes rather than having to go barefoot, and the uniform for cross country included vests as well. However, there was scope for confusion as we did gym lessons in just shorts and bare chest and sometimes boys would mistakenly turn up for cross country with no vest. Unless someone had a spare by chance, that could mean a chilly 40 minutes or so... and even less fun if you were the only boy running barechested!
The boys in the photo look far too clean and tidy to be coming back from a cross country run. When I was at grammar school in the 60s we usually came back with at least a little mud on our feet and legs, often a lot. As with many others who have commented we ran barefoot and shirtless - it was just the way things were done in those days.
Like Brian I always was stripped to the waist and barefoot for PE etc.
After a few weeks we got used to being bare chested whatever the conditions.
My experience was the same as Peter's - we wore just white shorts, ours were cotton, for PE and cross country. After the first couple of weeks no-one seemed bothered by running barefoot and shirtless. Once we knew the route it was good to get out away from the teacher!
I was like Josh with the difference that we did have to do outdoor gym and cross-country stripped to the waist throughout the year.
I was definitely one of those lads Peter referred to when I started at secondary school. At my primary school PE was always done in a T-shirt and shorts (any colour you wanted) and I assumed it would be the same in secondary school. It was a shock when the uniform list arrived and listed 'white shorts, gym socks and plimsolls' for boys with no mention of a top of any kind. I still thought it might be a mistake until I asked my next door neighbour, who went to the same school but was a year older. To my horror he confirmed the accuracy of the uniform list and told me I would not only have to be bare-chested in the gym but also for outdoor PE like cross country. To my relief that turned out to be an exaggeration - we were permitted to wear football shirts for cross country in the winter, then in summer we had to take them off. However, I felt queasy the first time I got changed for PE and it took me a while before I got used to to being bare-chested in public. In a way I think it helped that there were boys even less comfortable with stripping down to shorts than I was but of course they had to deal with it too.