Clitheroe Royal Grammar School
Item #: 1602
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, November 1959
At my school all boys did PE stripped to the waist and most went barefoot as well.
For cross country again we all went stripped to the waist and although we could wear plimsolls many went barefoot.
When you were allowed to wear vests & plimsolls, did everyone do so, or did some boys still stick with bare feet, and do PE stripped to the waist ? What did you do ?
Did you wear vests/shirts for cross county, or were you made to strip. At my school on the very odd occassion that we couldn't play rugby outside, we used the gym, but everyone had to take off their rugby shirts - in effect the same kit as for PE, just navy shorts replacing white shorts, nothing on our feet and bare to the waist.
Reading this blog brought back painful memories. I attended a boys grammar school (that became a comprehensive under the Wilson/Callaghan governments) in London during the late 1960's and early 1970's. The rich tapestry that was our formal school uniform was strictly enforced. However the PE uniform was minimal to say the least. There was a school pecking order in those days. First and Second Year boys wore only a pair of white shorts for indoor PE, which comprised mainly gymnastics. Discipline was strict and at times brutal with plenty of "thick ears" and the occasional slippering. All indoor activities were performed barefoot. However, the regime relaxed as we got older. Senior students could wear vests and plimsolls.
Outside activities were limited to rugby union, cricket and athletics/cross country. We had to have a sports uniform for these. We were expected to play in rain, hail or snow. Occasionally we were allowed to retire to the gym during periods of exceptionally cold weather. If so, we continued minus our shoes and socks.
Nearly fifty years ago was the harsh winter of 1962/63 and at my school the lads still had to do PE etc outdoors while stripped to the waist.
A few months later when it was quite hot we again we were bare-chested for athletics and our annual sports day.
Our school was in a built up area and from the outset when we went out on cross-country runs we had to go stripped to the waist.At first many lads found it embarrasing running through the streets bare-chested but we soon got used to it.
At my school you could buy a blue sweatshirt which could be worn over your PE vest for cross country. The teacher didn't mind that so a few boys, including me, got into the habit of wearing them. Sometimes I didn't even bother to bring a vest, I just wore my sweatshirt. That was unwise, as I found out when we had a new teacher who insisted it was vests only and ordered those of us with sweatshirts to take them off there and then. 'Tough' he said when I protested that I had nothing underneath my top and made me take it off anyway. I got a lecture about the importance of bringing the right kit, then I was given detention and finally, of course, I had to go and do the lesson bare-chested and shivering. I'd never run without a top before and it was a miserable experience. I had goose pimples and my teeth were chattering, plus of course I felt really self conscious - the other boys all had vests, so I was the only one stripped to my shorts. It was a huge relief when the lesson was over and I was determined to make sure I didn't repeat the experience.
As it turned out, I had to do it again the very next day in detention! There were four or five boys altogether and we all got changed into PE kit as instructed - this time I wore my vest instead of the sweatshirt. But I might as well not have bothered, the teacher announced that we'd be doing detention - which consisted of another outdoor run - with our vests off. So once again I found myself trudging around with goose pimples and chattering teeth, the only slight consolation was that this time all the other boys had to bare their chests as well.
As many people have said, there was no point in complaining or arguing if you were told to run bare-chested. I found it quite a shock when I started secondary school and learned that my PE kit was shorts, socks and plimsolls and nothing else. At first I thought it must be a mistake but realised it wasn't when I started getting changed for the first PE lesson and saw the other boys in my class stripped to the waist. Many didn't like it and one or two were in tears but nobody dared to question it, we just had to get on with it because those were the rules.
Like Adam and Mark our school shared a site with a secondary modern school and the boys there always did PE stripped to the waist.
One lad at our school started to take his vest off and more and more boys followed suit so that eventually all of us were stripped to the waist both indoors and for cross-country runs.
We were supposed to wear a vest for PE but one lad sarted to go stripped to the waist.More and more boys followed suit and eventually we were all stripped to the waist.
As Matt and others have said it was the norm for boys to do PE stripped to the waist in the fifties and sixties.You would start doing it often from the age of seven right up to the Upper Sixth when many hairy chests were on display!
As Ronan said how fortunate those boys were.At my school we had to run stripped to the waist in all conditions including fog rain and sleet.
I noticed that whenever a boy was stripped to the waist for games especialyy on sports days the girls always seemed to hang around by them!!
I agree with Roy that being stripped to the waist as a matter of course made us proud of our bodies.
If you stripped to the waist for PE it tended to make you look after your bodies properly.I grew to be quite proud of my muscular body especially when I developed a hairy chest!!
Doing PE etc stripped to the waist was normal in the fifties and sixties normally from the age of seven.Boys got used to it.We had to.
I remember having to do PE outside while stripped to the waist whatever the weather conditions.Thiswa also in the sixties.
Like Adam we shared a site with a secondary modern school and again the boys there did PE stripped to the waist while we had vests until we shared a PE teacher with them.He made us go stripped to the waist as well and eventually we got used to it and accepted it.
Our PE kit was shorts and plimsolls so we did games etc stripped to the waist right from the start.This included the winter of 1962/3.It was also common for the boys to go barefoot as well.
I went to a grammar school in the sixties.The school shared a site with a secondary modern school.The grammar school uniform for PE was vest and shorts while the secondary modern boys were stripped to the waist.However it was not long before we shared a PE teacher with the secondary modern and on the first lesson we had to strip to the waist.It was cross-country and it was raining heavily.I remember running through a built up area stripped to the waist and with the rain water running down my bare back.Thereafter we had to do PE stripped to the waist all the time.
Like JB we were supposed to wear vests and shorts for PE but one boy started to go stripped to the waist and afterwards more and more lads joined him and evetually the entire class was stripped to the waist.The teachers said nothing.We were about eleven when this started and this carried on into the sixth form.By this time some of the boys had hairy chests.
We were suuposed to wear vest and shorts for PE but gradually the lads started to go stripped to the waist.Evntually the master in charge made us all go stripped to the waist whatever the weather bot in and out of doors.
I agree with Mark.When boys did PE stripped to the waist and nothing was said more lads took off their vests and did PE bare chest.
Like JB our kit was singlet and shorts but many boys went stripped to the waist.The masters said nothing but as time went by more and more boys went bare chest both inside and out of doors.
Like RF I had a similar experience but I was not only stripped to the waist but barefoot as well.
On my first day's PE all the boys put on our shorts and bared our chests.The master in charge then made us take off our socks and plimsolls and go barefoot both inside and out doors.
I remember the harsh winter of 1962/3 when all the boys had to do outdoor PE in the snow stripped to the waist and barefoot.
Then after that we had to have a cold shower.
I too wasn't used to seeing other lads naked but soon got used to it.
When I was about to move to secondary school in the late 1950s my parents had to go to a new parents evening at the new school. While there they were told about the uniform including that for PE etc.
When they came home my dad told me that I would be doing PE stripped to the waist.I was apprehensive about it as I had never done bare-chested before.
When the new term started we had PE on the first day and we all changed and most of the other new boys(from other primary schools to mine ) were used to going stripped to the waist. I reluctantly took off my shirt and went into the gym bare-chested along the other lads.
However once I had stripped to the waist for the first time I found it perfectly natural and had no qualms thereafter.
I was also worried about showering naked alongside other lads but there again I soon got used to seeing other boys naked.
The school uniform listed our kit as a vest, shorts, ankle socks and plimsoles. However after changing for our first PE lesson we were to find our teacher thought differently. After being taken outside and lined up on the yard he walked up the line letting us know what was expected in terms of effort and when he reached the end of the line randomly picked a boy and made him face the class and take his vest off. Regardless of the activity,the time of year or the weather,indoors or outside, we remained barechested until we left. As you moved up the school there was no shortage of interest from girls watching and eyeing you up.
I was at school in the late 70s/early 80s and officially the boys PE kit was vest, shorts, socks and plimsolls. However there were some PE teachers who would make you strip to the waist, probably because they felt it helped to enforce discipline. Looking back, I think it did, although I learned that the hard way.
In one PE lesson, I was having a play fight with one of my friends when we were meant to be listening to the teacher. He spotted us, yelled at us both for a bit and ordered us to take our vests off. Then we both had to run laps aroud the gym for the last few minutes of the lesson. After that we got another stern talking-to and were told that, as a punishment for misbehaving, we both had to do the next PE lesson barechested as well.
I didn‚Äôt like the sound of that because I knew it was cross country, and stupidly I decided to bunk off. I can‚Äôt imagine how I thought I‚Äôd get away with that, especially as my mate was more sensible, he went along and did the run with his vest off. Not surprisingly, I was in plenty of trouble and I ended up getting detention and having to apologise to the teacher. There was also an extra punishment ‚Äì instead of just one lesson, I was to lose my PE vest for the rest of the term. Indoors or outdoors, it made no difference.
It was a thoroughly miserable experience, especially when we did cross country in wet weather and I had to run with the rain pouring down my bare back. It felt lonely as well, being the only boy in the class who was stripped to the waist. At one stage I actually went and begged the teacher to let me wear my vest again. Unsurprisingly, he was having none of it and warned me that he wanted to see me putting in more effort in lessons before he‚Äôd consider ending the punishment.
I gritted my teeth and consoled myself with the thought that at least next term it‚Äôd be back to normal. Or not! Come the first PE lesson of the new term, I got changed into my shorts and plimsolls, then pulled on my vest again for the first time in several weeks. But my feeling of relief was soon shattered when the teacher pointed at me and ordered ‚Äòtake that vest off.‚Äô
In stunned disbelief, I protested that my punishment period had ended, to which he retorted: ‚ÄòI couldn‚Äôt care less. If I tell you to take your vest off, boy, you take it off. No argument.‚Äô
Although it was totally unfair, I knew I had no option but to do as I was told ‚Äì it was the teacher‚Äôs decision, not mine, what I wore for PE. I didn‚Äôt like it, I didn‚Äôt agree with it ‚Äì in fact I was close to tears at that point, but I reluctantly removed my vest and resigned myself to another term of barechested PE. I made sure I never stepped out of line after that and thankfully we had a different teacher the following year.
My first experience of being stripped to the waist at scool for games etc was when I started at junior school.I was nearly eight and we had to do a short cross-country run through a built up area near the school.When we changed the teacher made us boys strip to the waistI.After that it was quite normal to be bare-chested for all games etc. I was nearly nineteen when I left school and by then I had been stripped to the waist for games for nearly eleven years.Also now I was quite muscular and with a hairy chest.
Steve and others.Boys' attitudes to being stripped to the waist didn't matter as if the masters told you to strip to the waist for games etc then you stripped to the waist-end of story.
Steve, Our kit was simply a vest, shorts and plimshoes however our teacher would have either the whole class stripped to the waist or keep half in vests.
I was 12 when during an outdoor fitness session when I made the fatal mistake of answering back. Our teacher really didn't "do" comments and picked me to remove my vest when he turned and said "You'll not be saying that after I'm finished" After the lesson ended I was told "press ups and laps of the field for you tomorrow". The following morning it was chucking down with rain and I thought my punishment would be put back....erm no. I was taken out of my English lesson and down the changing room. Having changed I was taken out onto the school yard, which ironically the English block overlooked and told to get my vest off and leave it on the yard. I was made to start my press ups and a few minutes later was completely soaked. Then came the run - 13 laps round the field. After finishing I thought that would be it but was made to do another lot of press ups in one of the puddles that had formed on the field before I could finally go in. I never stepped out of line again and nor did my PE teacher ever pick me to wear a vest again at school.