Clitheroe Royal Grammar School
Item #: 1602
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, November 1959
Barry & Richard R: These boys are now pushing 60. What a pity we can'tfind them to find out if they changed their underpants after the lesson, or why all but 3 of the boys chose to wear shirts.
I have to repeat again, why this obsession about topless boys and whether or not they were wearing anything under their shorts?.What difference does it make, except that the boys of 1975 would not be obliged to join the army, so did not need to be taught under strict military discipline.
Tim H, the video clip is as I remember gym in the 1960s but imagine sending lads up ropes these days, the poor PE masters would never get to the end of the risk assessments!
The lads do look scruffy though, we were in our white shorts and plimsolls that had to be spotless and as below, there would not have been any underpants worn, never mind on show. Our PE masters wore black shorts and plimsolls and he was also always bare chest too unlike the man in the clip who also looks a bit untidy.
There is a boy in what looks like a Glasgow Rangers Away shirt from 1992 in that Youtube vid. It’s not clear though so I am happy to stand corrected.
Barry: 'goes into Captain Mainwaring mode' -
'I wondered when somebody would spot that' (the visible underpants).
The teacher is wearing Adidas trackie bottoms with what looks like the trefoil marking - introduced in 1971 but abandoned in 1997. I'm sure there are people who can tell us when that particular style came in.
I can't comment on other peoples experiences but I just thank the teachers who gave a non-sporty city boy the confidence to start running (although I never did a marathon) and instilled in him a love of 'wild places' that has enabled me to travel to remote places and develop a love for Mother Earth & its peoples. 'nuff said ...
TimH on 24th July 2020 at 15:17
I remember gym sessions like the one in the Youtube clip from the 1970s, I was in grammar school in the 1960s/early 70s.
The difference would have been that we would all have been bare chested and wearing shorts only and there definitely would not have been underpants never mind visible ones.
Adam - Happy to be corrected. If you look at the photographers YouTube films they date, I think from the mid-70s to the 90s. I put this at mid -to-late 70s, but I'm happy to accept your comments.
Regarding changes in policies and procedures I do not entirely agree with you there Trevor. Apart from anything else change is not necessarily progress.
Barefoot running has without doubt been outlawed by valid health and safety concerns and no sensible person would risk outdoor barefoot street running now. As for the t-shirt/vest/barechest question, perhaps allow a choice of the three.
Similarly discipline no longer uses the cane because hitting a child isn’t acceptable and very few would suggest it should be allowed.
I do believe that elements of older style teaching methods should return though, particularly for boys as I believe boys need pushing physically. To be clear though - PE shouldn’t be a punishment. I know from my 90s experience that I was allowed to get away with minimal effort and not challenged to make the effort.
It’s why having found strength and fitness training a couple of decades later I favour that for schoolchildren. Testing allowed competition between pupils but it also allows everybody to improve, make progress and compete against their earlier performances.
Im very interested in the La Sierra which fell out of fashion in the US for a number of reasons. I wish I’d had that kind of training - it seems like a perfect training method and I can’t see any flaws in the system.
Video here : https://youtu.be/gOreyJfzngs
William, I would just say that I don't believe some of the stories told on the site, but if you take them at face value the behaviour of some teachers was shameful, but just two points: If things were so wonderful in the good old days when you had boys running round the streets barefoot at the whim of some teacher and even if there wasn't broken glass like today which I doubt, and getting caned for minor breaches or being a bit slow, why were things changed? - I would say it is because the authorities today recognize the dodginess of the past, and how wrong it was, and second why have we got old geezers who left school 50 or 60 years ago wanting todays boys to experience the minimal kit that they wore?. Is it because they feel todays boys should suffer like they did, and what pleasure does that give them - and why?
Interesting comment and obviously not a blanket statement to tar everybody with the same brush.
I have commented as I have thought a lot about my involvement in PE and games lessons and I think I would have benefitted from being forced out of my comfort zone by a harsher teaching style.
I’d like to see a shift in PE towards strength and fitness training, flexibility and nutrition. The training could be monitored by testing allowing competition against each other but also against the individuals start point and goals creating a more inclusive atmosphere.
As for the kit, I do think there is an unnecessary burden on parents to buy vast kit bags with branded and personalised polos, tracksuits etc. when a white t shirt or vest, shorts, socks, trainers and football boots plus a towel for a shower after is all that’s required.
TimH, well looking at that video compared to some of the other ones on the channel I'd guess it was filmed in the mid to late 80s - it's more VHS quality compared to some of the earlier cine films.
The video looks similar to our gymnastics lessons except everyone had full kit, and we had mixed lessons with girls (who wore leotards and leggings).
Trevor, You do not decribe your experience at school but you imply that you were abused, which is shocking, but has that experience unduly coloured your view of those who disagree with you? My gym lessons were the sort that you deplore but they did me much more good than harm. They made me realise that I could cope with things I thought I would hate. They pushed me out of my comfort zone. What is the point of children being excused from anything they find uncomfortable? If children are not challenged at school how will they know what they are capable of? How will they cope with life, when they will not be able to opt out of things they would rather not do?
I have read your other comments; I do not doubt what you say. But because I disagree with some of it, that does not mean that I was naive or that my parents were complacent. Please accept that my experience was simply not like yours. And surely your suggestion that some contributors are sado-masochists who enjoyed or encouraged abuse is going much too far. If we don't trust and respect what others say what is the point of the discussion?
I completely agree with you that a big deal seems to be being made of lads being made to do PE shirtless in the not too distant past. It really seems to be the case that some lads disliked being made to do PE shirtless because they had previously been allowed to wear a shirt for PE and got used to it. If they had always been made to do PE shirtless from entering school I doubt that they would have been concerned.
Daniel. I am sorry I made a mistake in crediting you and in a reply to David I did correct it:
"David G - sorry I sad "Daniel" when I meant Oliver. "
As I corrected the mistake, I could leave it there, but you ask me to expain what I meant so I will (and this reply excludes you just as it does Oliver, when I said recommended I could have said cited, soapologies to Oliver too). Looking through this thread an a similar one about Burnley and a couple of replies on that YT thread, it seems to me there are some very unhealthy obsessions, replies often including very graphic descriptions of canings, medical examinations, jockstraps and nudity, what blokes wore under their shorts and so on - the stock in trade of the old gay porn industry. One person has repeated his obsession several times throughout the thread, about having to take everything off.
For those who enjoy sado-masochism I suppose it is all good fun, but for anyone who really suffered, it was not fun, and nor will I add fuel to the fire relating my own experiences. Let's just say that the dirty old barsteward who taught me once had a private chat with me in his little office (a store cupboard really) and told me that if I said anything it would be my word against his and he would be believed.
He made the lives of at least four boys a misery, one a good friend of mine.
The 1970s was a really odd time - the Paedophile Information Exchange, for example, openly campaigned for it's perverted cause, and was even backed up by civil rights organisations. These days it is illegal and I think one or two of it's members finally served time in prison, but at the time quite respectable people were involved in it. By respectable I mean professional people.
I have no knowledge of school after 1976 and it really disturbs me to think people like the man I am thinking of, who ruled his little kingdom with fear, threats of violence and voyeurism of the worst sort were still at it decades later. Caning become illegal in the late 1980s I think.
Your teacher, you say, only entered the changing rooms when you were decent. How did he know, I wonder?. IN obituaries you often read people who were respected were often bullies, and feared was more overwhelming than respect.
I believe any sort of temptation should have been removed years before. Remember there were no CRB checks in the 40s to 80s, the times we are discussing here. Any Tom Dick or Harry could get any sort of job, based on references which may have been self written, forged or supplied by a friend. There was not even any computer checks. Everything was phone and typewriter. Even in the computer age a few rogues manage to get into the system, even pretending to be doctors, for example.
What worries me even more is the way people were so naive that they didn't even consider that there is a rotten apple in every barell. But you get the feeling reading some of these replies, that some of the lads involved, enjoyed and perhaps even encouraged questionable behavour. That they look back on it now with pleasure is the most disturbing thing of all.
Trevor, indeed you are correct. My experience was enjoyable because my teachers were not the type you describe. I attended a small High School in Ireland. Literally every lad played Gaelic Football, Hurling, Soccer or Rugby. We used our shirts as goal posts outside school and I had open communal showers at school, both Football clubs, my boxing club and my local Leisure centre. So nudity wasn't an issue for me.
But having read more comments I can see that forcing shirtless PE was abusive and had potential to cause long term psychological problems. These so-called teachers put many people off sport for life.
I know a few PE teachers today and thankfully they are nothing like the old Kes types.
The PE teachers of today share new lesson plans and ideas on online forums. Whereas many of their predecessors put their feet up and read a tabloid newspaper.
Mr Cooper would you explain your statement?
David G. It's the one recommended by Daniel (and no doubt enjoyed by many on here).
I did not recommend anything. I wish to know exactly what you meant and why you made it?.
I have noticed though you criticise posters, you, yourself have never outlined your own experience of barechested PE.
Before you ask our PE teacher was respected not feared, ensured all lads played a full part in lessons regardless of ability and never ever came into the changing rooms until we were "decent" We felt safe with him and doing skins vs vests was not the nightmare you indicated. Very good teachers did exist even in the mid 80s.
'They seem to be enjoying themselves'.
Apart from the poor lad crouched on top of the box in the third exercise!
Tim H: At least they have a humane teacher who seems down to earth and has a good rapport with the boys (who don't look terrified of him) and it seems that they dress as they want to. It's the "Kes" teachers I have a problem with, and kids who look intimidated. The lessons can be fun, they don't have to be about discipline, obedience and fear.
Amateur footage from Parr High School, St Helens. L'pool (mid 1970s) - as someone said - 'They seem to be enjoying themselves'.
The school was, apparently, a well thought of Comp., that closed some years back, possibly over falling numbers. If you look on YouTube there are number of other films based round the school and its activities.
Hi Trevor, I went to a normal state comp in Wales. I did think being made to do gymnastics topless was a bit 'odd' for the 1990s, but then again, we had been warned about this the week before. IIRC it was in PE and the teacher we had that year was female. To be honest that sort of thing 'worked' for me as I wasn't the most organised of people at times.
Once in five years was not enough for me to consider anything like moving schools - and I doubt I would have been in the 'indoor' bottom set for Games lessons at other local schools.
Thanks for replying, I went back a few posts & realised which YT clip you were referring to. It makes sense now.
David G - sorry I sad "Daniel" when I meant Oliver. Anyway here si the link:
Oliver - there is a big difference between dometimes feeling uncomfortabe and awkward ( as I have been reading some of the extraordinary comments on this site). and setting out to make people feel uncomfortable. To make overweight boys,or boys with physical scars deliberately uncomfortable is to me the real mark of a bully, and many of those old teachers were bullies pure and simple. Many of the ex-military were probably quite upset that they were no longer saluted, so they made up for it by enjoying being called "sir" and shouting at kids and making them do exactly as they were told. What they - and some people on here - forget is that everybody has a different level of ability and physical strength. The games masters job should have been to encourage the less able just as much as the proficient, not to demean them or imagine that shouting at them and losing their temper would magically turn the less adept into the most proficient.
Likewise some boys didn't mind (perhaps even enjoyed?) having their backsides whacked with a slipper or cane, and being eyed up at in the shower, by the teacher, but everybody is a unique individual, and because you enjoyed it, doesn't mean that everyone else does.
Many people have said in terms they didn't mind it, and they didn't notice anyone else was uncomfortable - I would suggest they wasn't looking for discomfort and would either have ignored it, or been unsympathetic to it even if they had.
As I said, for those boys who liked taking their tops off, and running barefoot through the streets, I wouldn't stop them if it floated their boats, but for those boys who were uncomfortable, a tee shirt seems a ridiculous thing to refuse.
David G. It's the one recommended by Daniel (and no doubt enjoyed by many on here). The commentary is very derogatory to one of the boys, and shows again what an unpleasant lot teach and direct school PE
Trevor Cooper It is rare that one passes though adult life being completely "comfortable" A few generations ago lads the same age were going off to war. Perhaps it's a learning experience and preparation for adult life. So yes it was cold on the tip of Northern Ireland but big deal, move faster and you warm up.
Trevor Hi May I ask what YT site you are referring to?
Oliver - you might have been comfortable with it, as was many of the "discipline" fetishists on this site (and one or two leaving comments on the YT site) , but the fact remains some boys were not comfortable (again as we have seen on this site), and therefore I would say those boys who did want to wear a top should have been allowed to, and those who were comfortable with it should have been allowed their choice too.
I have never agreed with a one size fits all policy in anything, there are always exceptions, and you will get the best work out of anyone if they feel comfortable. The school gum out not be place of fear and embarrassment.
Clearly some officials in education see that now as policies are much more relaxed and the day of the martinet instructor are over - much as I am sure that upsets the older men still involved in the system.
I really don't see what the big deal is about lads doing PE shirtless.
Shirts Vs Skins was standard procedure for us in 1994. And judging from this video was also standard for those doing Key Stage 3 which was only introduced between 1991 and 1995
Ben, Trevor definitely spot on about humiliation. As punishments we were given laps of the field, determined by the teacher, to do with our vests off. In the winter it was freezing but there was no option other than to go barechested.when you were told to.. A couple of my friends had hairy chests by the time they were 17 but they weren't spared from whipping off their vests on a whim.
Trevor, I think you hit the nail on the head about teachers' motivation for making boys do PE bare chested. I'd say it was more often the latter reason, humiliation, although I suppose there might have been one or two that got off on it as well.
I went to school in the late 80s/early 90s and we did have vests/skins games during PE, although not until I was 14 so it certainly took a while to get used to that. As I recall though, the teams were chosen at random and I wasn't aware of any boys being assigned to skins more than others.
However, it wasn't uncommon for boys who had brought the wrong kit or committed some other infringement of the rules to end up being made to do the lesson in skins. I experienced that myself after stepping out of line in PE, I was immediately ordered to take my vest off and remember feeling really small just standing there, acutely aware of being the only lad who was bare chested. I tended to blush easily, so it must have been obvious to everyone else that I was embarrassed. I had to go to the side of the gym and do press-ups by myself before rejoining the rest of the class, still without my vest and still feeling small. I've no doubt that was the purpose of the punishment.
Hi Jacob (and Adam):Jacob the sort of thing I am referring to is that IF some of the recollections of some of these guys is true, it seems very dodge to me that, as several have said they were singled out to be on the skins side,did it never occur to them to wonder why the teacher always singled them out?., It could have been the teacher liked to demean certain boys (I remember reading one of them saying that his PE teacher had a distaste for overweight boys and always picked on them to be skins), so it was a question of humiliation knowing they had control, OR it might have been that the teacher enjoyed seeing certain boys more than others, and you can put whatever interpretation you like on that, I would suggest one obvious explanation. Same with certain teachers "supervising" showers - I had one like that year 7/8 he took no interest but year 9 on when there was more to see, he was in and out of that shower room like a jack in the box. Then the teacher who enjoyed jumping in the showers with the boys. There is a certain pattern to this behaviour, in those pre - CRB check days, because they might have served with a certain regiment.
Adam: If I had been a parent in the 1990s and I learned that the school was behaving although it was still the 1950s, I would have been looking for a more enlightend school. I hope that doesn't sound offensive to your parents but I thought all this strict minamalism was over by the 80s. May I ask was it a grammar school a religous school (who are often a bit "old school" ) or a comp?. I still think the way PE was/is acquainted with "punishment" and stern discipline puts off a lot of people, especially lads.