Clitheroe Royal Grammar School
Item #: 1602
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, November 1959
James, we were not allowed to wear underpants either and jockstraps were also banned. I remember being amazed as a first year boy seeing sixth formers in the changing room, their lesson ending, ours beginning and being quite shocked at seeing such big lads naked not that they were bothered. Six years later, first years were probably looking at my class in the same way as we stripped off underpants when changing and then everything for a shower not that it bothered us by then.
I agree with not allowing underpants to be worn for PE / games, but I think it was wrong not permitting you to wear a jockstrap. That was the only thing we were allowed under our sports shorts, I was pleased to start wearing one when I was 13.
Philip, you definitely beat me! Our school was near the coast so it never mattered there was no pool there was a beach so it was in the sea for us though we did have a pair of black shorts to wear. We followed the teachers the short way to the beach and with vests off headed into the sea or a hard run along the beach and back. I have to say that although it was hard, not wearing a vest made a positive difference to me.
Alex R - I beat you to boarding school by two years and started when I was seven, our uniform list only included white gym shorts - two pairs and two sets of rugby kit, boots, socks, shorts and jersey and that was the total of our PE kit all the years I was there up to eighteen, no plimsols and no swimming trunks though the school had its own pool.
I presumed, wrongly that we would wear our gym shorts to swim but soon got used to the fact that we didn't!
I started at boarding school shortly after my 9th birthday. There were 4 PE teachers and each worked slightly differently within the school rules. For the first fortnight when we lined up at the start of a PE/Games lesson we were told to either to strip down or remain in vests. At the beginning of the third week we were told that as we'd performed well stripped off in the gym and outside, there was no further need for vests to be worn. A week later another group was joined us stripped to the waist.
The other two teachers were a lot more relaxed (enlightened?) and the boys kept their vests within a vests vs skins environment until mid October. At this point
the School deemed us all capable of performing exercise, sports, including laps of the grounds (a punishment preferred by all teachers and remarkably easy to get!) stripped to the waist regardless of the weather. This met the schools policy of mandatory bare chested physical exercise.
Jeff, Even if my parents would have bought me a jock strap I would not have been allowed to wear it for school.We were supervised in the changing room and we were not allowed to wear anything underneath our shorts for PE and games. I was also persuaded to wear my shorts at home with no underwear.
Jemma and James,
As I have said previously, I also got my first jockstrap when I was 13. I too felt grown up when I started to wear one.
Jemma, I agree it was not very' appealing' wearing shorts after I was 13 and found it difficult to comply with my parents'wishes and wear shorts all the time. At school I became a social outcast with boys and girls alike and was teased by younger and older boys alike.I always seemed to be the odd one out,not only at school,but at social events as boys at that age simply didn't wear shorts.
James, he wore shorts up to 12 or 13. It wasn't very appealing to be seen wearing shorts after that age so to avoid being teased.
Danny, at my infants/primary school we only did gentle exercises once a week wearing our ordinary school clothes. When I was age 7 or 8 my mum learned from the mother of a boy who was at the boys grammar school to which I later went that the boys wore just shorts when they did PE in the gym and they also wore nothing on top when they were outside. My parents must have been discussing this because one warm day my mum took my younger sister and me to the local park and I was asked if I wanted to take my shirt off. Without hesitation, I took it off and also my vest, which I used to wear, and realised how good it felt. From then on I regularly ran around outside in just my shorts, especially when out playing with other boys who lived nearby. When I went to the grammar school and we arrived in the gym for our first lesson, the PE master told us all that he was going to send us to the changing room and that when we got changed for all PE lessons we were to strip off completely, including our pants and socks, and to come back into the gym wearing just a pair of gym shorts with nothing underneath
and bare feet. We duly went down to the changing room, where we would have seen the open communal showers and I changed into my gym shorts and followed the others back into the gym. It was an entirely new experience being in the gym with about thirty boys all of us in just our gym shorts, but I didn't feel embarrassed. It wasn't until the next PE lesson that we were told at the end that we must take a shower. One boy, who had been held back a year was sent down to the showers in advance and when I got down there a few of the others were already in. I stood in my shorts for a few moments before realising there was no way of getting out of it and duly took them off and joined the others. Having overcome this, I had no further problem and as we were made to work harder and sweat more in PE lessons and I looked forward to getting in the showers afterwards.
Emma,I attended a local secondary modern school and it was not uncommon for boys to wear short trousers. My parents were quite proud that I was still in shorts at 16. Did your brother wear them for school?
James, that surprises me that you were still in shorts at 16! What school did you attend? My brother went to an independent private school then known as a public school.
Stuart, How were those first xc runs shirtless and barefoot? Did it bother you?
In my school all pe in or put and the xc was done shirtless and barefoot too
Hi Jemma, I think your brother and his classmates were lucky that they were allowed to wear a jockstrap at 13.We were not allowed to wear anything under our shorts through school till 16. I was still wearing short trousers at that age and I definitely didn't feel grown up.
I think that's a really good point Danny C. I'm sure it must be easier to get used to something when you start at an earlier age. Until I was 13 I'd never previously done PE or sports bare chested, which is why I didn't find it easy to adjust straight away when the new teacher made us take our vests off. If that had always been standard practice for boys across the board I'd have thought nothing of it!
I remember when my brother turned 13, he was allowed to wear a jockstrap. Gosh how he and his classmates thought they were now real men! Now boys wear cycling shorts under their shorts ... all looks ugly and cumbersome. How fashion dictates and how the stupid just follow!
I've often wondered whether it would have been far easier if all schools had simply got the boys doing their PE shirtless and showering from the moment they start at the age of five, or primary at eight, rather than waiting until we get to 11 or 12 at the really awkward moment and that dramatic change of school culture which then affected so many. There would have been none of that impending dread of what was to come, as it would have always been a part of school life. I do wonder if such a thing would have been a positive for me or not. What do others think?
I changed school at 13.
My old school had full kit for PE and xc, so I assumed the new school would be the same.
First xc lesson, we all arrived to change. I soon noticed other boys were stood there ready in just their shorts, stripped to the waist, bare feet.
I had shorts on, and was pulling on a vest. One of my new friends said "we're not allowed to wear vests, just your shorts" My response was "no plimsolls" "Yes, bare feet as well"
That was how it was, pair of shorts only all year around, same for pe.
Hi Toby P. I started senior school at 11 so was 13 when I first had to take my vest off for PE. That may be one reason why a lot of us didn't find it easy at first; at 13 I was certainly a bit more self conscious about my body than I would have been a couple of years before.
TobyP/Sam, we were required to go without a vest or a shirt for PE and games and we were expected to wear just our shorts till we left school at 16.
We were 11 years old when we were first expected to strip off and it came as a bit of a shock.After a while I became complacent and didn't feel undignified to be seen just wearing shorts. We were identified as to which team were in by the color of our shorts and my mother purchased
some shiny, satin shorts in blue.
Hi Sam, Both my middle and high schools policy was all boys were expected to perform all PE/Games lessons stripped to the waist. Some newcomers were a little surprised having worn at least a vest at their previous school and took a little time to adjust especially exercising outdoors. From reading your comments I'm assuming you and your PE group would be around 11-12 years old when you first started being made to strip off for PE?
Thanks for your question Chris G. Definitely the first time I had that situation I felt resentful of the boys in the other class. This was only a few weeks into the term and it just seemed unfair to be wearing less than they were, almost as if my reduced PE kit was like a punishment for something. Our teacher was actually away, so in theory we could have worn our vests for the shared lesson, but none of us had one as we'd been instructed not to bring them to PE any longer. It also didn't help that a few of the lads from the other class laughed and jeered when they saw us walking into the gym.
It was quite a while before that happened again, I don't remember how long exactly, but the next time I felt different. Not superior as such, but certainly not inferior, just more confident about being bare chested I suppose. By then it just felt like that was my normal PE kit!
Sam. When you were sharing a gym with another class who were wearing vests, were you jealous of them or did you feel superior?
Toby P, was this the standard approach throughout your school or did it vary from one teacher to another? Some of my teachers had different rules about this. In my first two years at senior school we wore a vest and shorts for PE, for the third year another teacher took my class. His view was the same as you described - no reason for boys to wear a vest, so he made us take them off. It was a shock at first and some boys grumbled but we had to get used to doing PE bare chested. After a while we didn't really think about it, except on rare occasions when we had to share the gym with another class and those other boys still had their vests on.
MarkT Our teachers had the same approach, no shirt or vest but stripped to the waist indoors and outside. There's simply no need for boys to wear a top. This is practical and effective
For us lads it was shirtless, shorts and barefoot all year in or out and in all weather. If a lesson planned was to be outside and it was raining well it was tough we still went out and got on with it.
Natalie,it was the same at our school that I attended,we had to take our sports in all weathers in minimal kit which was the same for summer as winter. The shorts and vest that we wore did nothing to stave off the bitterly cold weather and we couldn't wait to get back indoors.
Rob,I certainly wouldn't have worn short trousers if I hadn't been compelled to by my parents, although I can appreciate the benefits that you pointed out. I suppose that boys tended to wear long trousers much earlier than myself and I found it difficult to accept this imposition.
Being the only boy in my class still wearing short trousers proved very difficult to accept and of course teasing was very prevalent by younger and older boys,although teachers tried to stamp it out.I suppose being very shy as a boy constituted to my apprehension about wearing short trousers in public.
James, your girls were certainly luckier than we were! We never came inside for bad weather and I’ve got vivid memories of playing netball in torrential rain. Our courts flooded at the slightest opportunity, and it was common that we’d all be splashing through 5cm of standing water, as well as getting soaked to the skin by the rain!
James, I wasn't exactly kept in short trousers all the time until I was 18 but my mum used to tell me to put my shorts on if she saw me wearing my long trousers when I was in the garden in the summertime. She said this was because she didn't want me to wear the knees out and have to buy me new trousers, but she also knew that if I changed into shorts I would also take my shirt off to get a tan. She obviously enjoyed seeing me stripped off as did my two younger sisters.
I started work just before I was 18 so was able to buy my own clothes, but I continued wearing shorts in the summer whenever I cared to. It wasn't a problem for me at school wearing short trousers until I was 14 as a fair number in my class were still wearing them and we were never teased.