Clitheroe Royal Grammar School
Item #: 1602
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, November 1959
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.
In those days there was more discipline in school and if told to do PE stripped to the waist you did it and didn't get stroppy.
In those days school rules said that boys did P E etc stripped to the waist and sometimes barefoot as well.It was no use complaining(not that many boys did) because you would more than likely receive up to six strokes of the cane while stripped to the waist.
I agree with David. Being stripped to the waist certainly toughened you up.That is what youths need today.
I think that in the fifties and sixties most boys accepted that you did P E etc stripped to the waist whatever the weather both inside and outdoors.
I also did cross-country stripped to the waist and barefoot.As our school was in a built up area we ran through the streets so that passers by could see us.No one was bothered by that.Many of the sixth formers were quite muscular with well developed shoulders and chests and some of them had hairy chests as well.
Did cross country shirtless, too. Just like the boys in this photo;
Several postings have mentioned that they had to run cross county shirtless, and sometime with bare feet as well, and I think this was fairly common across most secondary schools in the 60‚Äôs/70‚Äôs.
I wondered what the general reaction among boys to being restricted to minimal kit was, especially in cold or wet weather.
Even when allowed to wear a shirt or plimsolls indoors, like a number of boys I had chosen to just wear shorts, but still I wouldn‚Äôt have chosen to run outdoors stripped to the waist (except maybe on a very warm day), or with no shoes on in any temperatures. In reality we had no choice, but it was still something I hated, especially having no shirt on if it was cold or raining.
When we were first made to strip for cross country, one of my classmates was very, very upset, and pleaded with the teacher at least to be allowed to wear a top, but to no avail. He was one of the very quiet lads, who was very bright, but pretty useless at sports, and hated PE/games.
Next week when we changed, we all just put on shorts only, having accepted what was going to happen, but he put on both a shirt and plimsolls, only to be told, in no uncertain terms to take them off. By now he was in floods of tears, which didn‚Äôt get him anywhere, as you might guess. In fact, all it achieved was to make him a ‚Äúvictim‚Äù for various punishments in future PE lessons, and over time he clearly had to accept running stripped off, but clearly he hated any kind of PE/sports, and probably still does !
I wonder if other boys had similar experiences.
Like Steve I had to do cross-country stripped to the waist and barefoot.This was in the sixties and it was the done thing that if you were a boy you stripped to the waist.