Clitheroe Royal Grammar School
Item #: 1602
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, November 1959
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.
Rob,if it were raining very heavily or very cold the girls were not subjected to their sporting activities outside and were allowed to watch the boys from inside the gym.
Did you ever question your parents' decision to keep you in short trousers till you were 18 or did you wear them with alacrity?I found it extremely difficult wearing shorts going through secondary school as most of my contemporaries were wearing long trousers.Were you ever teased for wearing shorts?
James, how unsuitable did the weather have to get to stop the girls from playing netball outside yet the boys still carried on playing sport shirtless? It sounds a bit unfair; were they watching from the comfort of the inside of the gym?
Rob,we did have the girls as 'spectators' as when the weather was unsuitable for the girls to play netball outside. I'm sure they enjoyed the spectacle of so many boys running round topless.
I was quite surprised when I was kitted out in grey uniform short trousers at the age of 11 when I was to be enrolled in my new school as I wanted to wear long trousers like most of the other boys of my age.I was never given an adequate reason why I had to wear shorts through my secondary school years,but it was with reluctance on my part that I should wear short trousers with my new school uniform.
Of course very few boys wore shorts at the school that I attended and I noticed that the new influx of first year boys wore long trousers,which always made me look very young for my age.
Like yourself,my leg were tanned and this was appreciated,
particularly by my mother,and it was at her instigation that I should continue to wear shorts throughout my school years.
What a strange school you went to that decided you didn't need to have showers after PE from April to July but had to at other times. Most of us sweated far more in summer.
Easter 1986 meant a respite from the humiliating communal shower until the return of Rugby, football & Cross country from September 1986 to April 1987. Once I entered the upper years I never took a school shower again. Let us use the Easter holidays & Covid-19 pandemic to end all school showers.
Here is a school that still requires pupils to have towels.
Compulsory wear for physical education
The outdoor kit is based on the Academy colour of burgundy and includes an Academy rugby/hockey top. All students will need a pair of football/hockey boots as well as a pair of stout black outdoor training shoes for work on the all- weather surfaces.
Burgundy/white rugby/hockey shirt *
Black shorts (plain, no logo) *
Burgundy/white rugby/hockey socks *
Black/Burgundy games skirt (girls) *
Black leather trainers (non-marking soles)
White polo shirt with badge *
Black shorts *
White sports socks
White leather trainers (non-marking soles)
Those students who prefer to wear the approved tracksuit bottoms rather than shorts may do so.
In addition to the items listed above, all students are able to shower at the end of each physical education lesson and will therefore need to bring a towel. Wet towels will of course need to be kept away from books and files in bags.
We cannot change the past but together we can call for greater privacy in schools and an end to gender based discrimination.
Ben, We weren't supervised in the changing room, but because we were used to doing as we were told, we certainly daren't not just duck our heads under the showers. We had two PE lessons a week plus a double games lesson out on the playing fields; so we had to use the showers three times a week and because we were always worked hard in the gym and running with sweat we needed to spend time in the showers to freshen up properly.
James, We didn't go topless for games, e.g. football, but if you were, I'm sure the girls at your co-ed would have been pleased to have been spectators.
Uniform was also strict at our school and it was not uncommon for boys to wear short trousers. In fact I remember one boy who still wore them in the sixth form and my parents kept me in them until the winter after my fourteenth birthday. When I went into long trousers, I had to wear shorts at home and all weekends in the summers because my mum didn't want me to wear the knees out of my long school trousers. This continued until I was almost 18 and left school. At least I used to get my legs tanned and along with the majority of men nowadays I still enjoy wearing shorts in the summer.
Rob/Ben,I attended a co-ed secondary school and it was the convention to go top less for PE and games and like yourselves I was very apprehensive at first,but the kit was standard for all boys from ages 11 to 16.
I agree the communal showers were a bit scary,but this was something we had to accept.
Uniform was quite strict,but the wearing of short trousers was allowed until we left school and my parents took advantage of this and kept me in shorts till I left school.
Thanks for the reply Rob, glad to know you weren't running in Arctic conditions wearing just shorts!
I suppose in any case, at least you were made aware of the rules about kit beforehand. At my school the PE kit was listed as vest and shorts, so it was something of a shock the first time I was told to take my vest off and join the skins team.
You make a fair point about the communal showers - a bit scary at first but it's the same for everyone. We had what were supposed to be mandatory showers after PE but they weren't strictly supervised, nobody tended to notice if you quickly ducked in and got your hair wet, then out again!
Ben, here on the south coast the weather is a lot milder all year round anyway, and we did not seem to get sent out when it was really wet and cold like a lot of the subscribers to these websites. The PE kit was standard for all boys in the school, from first form, aged 11 through to sixth formers and everyone soon got used to it. The shock for me, though, came at the end of the second lesson when we all had to take a shower. We all went back to the changing room and were expected to take our shorts off and go in to the open communal showers where there were five large overhead showers . I stood looking at the boys who were already naked in the showers and for a few moments did not what to do. I realised that there was no way out and bravely took my shorts off and walked into the showers and joined the others. It was another case of everyone having the same kit, and I soon got used to it.
Mark, it was certainly better in the gym and we could look forward to getting in the showers afterwards and washing the sweat off .
Rob, I think looking back running around the hot sports hall or gymnasium without a shirt or sweaty plimsolls was better and probably a little more hygienic also running laps in the summer outside shirtless and barefoot was quite glorious.
Ben, I meant that I am sure that would have enjoyed being barechested outdoors as well!
Despite your assurances Rob, I'm not convinced I'd have found running outdoors barechested quite so enjoyable as you did! Surely it must have got really cold and wet at times! Was it just your class who had to do that, or standard for all boys in the school?
One of the reasons I wouldn't have been too unhappy if they'd imposed a barechested rule in the gym was that it would have been fairer than vests and skins. As you said, a lot of boys felt shy about doing PE in skins and I think that was made harder by not having the same kit for everyone.
Ben, thanks for your response. You're right, we just did as instructed and I never gave a thought about taking my socks off. At the start of that first lesson, when the PE teacher had told us how to get changed and had left us to do so, there was some discussion as to whether we were allowed to wear T shirts. Obviously some of the boys were were feeling shy about having to show their bare chests in front of others, but we told them that we wear only allowed to wear shorts. Pleased to hear that with hindsight you would have preferred to have had to have been barechested in the gym. I'm sure you have also enjoyed the freedom outdoors as well!
Fair enough Rob, I was just curious as to why socks weren't considered necessary for PE! I can't really follow the logic, although I suppose the point you're making is that you didn't think about the logic, just did as instructed.
Not wearing a vest in the gym does make more sense though, it could get quite hot and sweaty so arguably was more comfortable for the boys who were in skins. Don't think I'd have objected if our PE teachers had made that mandatory in the gym, not sure about outdoors though!
Mark, but didn't it make you feel good when you were running with sweat in the gym without a top sticking to you!
Similarly to Rob our kit list had vests and plimsolls on it but in reality these were never worn we always did PE shirtless and barefoot. This is what we were told to do and you just got on with it.
Ben, no objection against anyone nowadays wanting to wear socks or a vest when they go for a run. Mark's comment simply reminded me of the start of our first PE lesson at my all boys school when our PE master told us all to strip off completely, including our socks and pants and to come back into the gym wearing just PE shorts. The official list given to our parents included plimsolls and a T Shirt but we never wore anything on top and other than shorts we only wore plimsolls, without socks, when we were sent out on a X country run. I was at school a fair while earlier than you and the regime was strict. If you were told to do something , you never argued but got on with it and did what you were told and got used to it.
Rob, what's your objection to socks for cross country?! White socks were part of our usual PE kit (this was 1990s). I don't recall anyone getting into trouble for forgetting his socks but they were officially meant to be worn for all PE activities.
I don't suppose you'll approve (!) but we also wore vests for cross country. However, in the gym the usual set-up was vests and skins.
Andy A, I never encountered shirts/vests and skins in the school gym; no doubt it would have different if we had played team games. It meant we did not have to bring a top to PE lessons, although we always had to bring a pair of plimsolls in case we were sent out on a run, otherwise we would have had to run barefoot. Of course , we did also have double games lessons every week when we wore rugby shirts with our PE shorts, but still with nothing underneath.
Rob, In the gym teams were either skins and vests or the whole class were told to strip off. Outside half the class were always made to strip off and half kept their rugby tops on. Cross country was always done with the whole class stripped to shorts and plimmies though.
Tyrone, I know what you mean but we had nothing to leave to the imagination. We were always worked hard and made to sweat but we all said how great we felt by the end of each lesson when we got back to the changing room, shorts off, and into the open communal showers. We also had a running track around our playing field which we used in the summer for athletics. We were on the edge of town and I enjoyed the extra freedom of X country through a small wood and out onto the hillside.
Yes Rob also for us pe very short white shorts plimsolls no sock and of course no underwear. which when climbing on bars ropes etc left little to the imagination. We had our own playing field with a running track so we did not go outside for cross country but ran laps of the track and depending on the weather we might be allowed to wear a top, but of course again no pants.
They're certainly wearing a ragbag of kits, and get those socks off! We may have worn plimsolls on X country runs but apart from that we wore nothing other than skimpy shorts for PE.
Shirts off, plimsolls off lads! We always ran barefoot and stripped to the waist
Get yer vests off lads, you're going on a run! We never wore vests for X country. Thirty odd lads running stripped to the waist...it could be more of an endurance test sometimes.
The Covid situation has actually been used for quite the opposite to what you wish for Mr Dando. A young male member of my family in secondary education goes to a school that until last March had a voluntary shower arrangement. After six months off, when they went back in September, usage of the showers after PE classes was suddenly at short notice made compulsory, citing the Covid virus as one reason for more attention to washing thoroughly to keep safe. My nephew is now made to take a towel to school once a week with his usual games kit. There doesn't seem to have been much of a pushback against getting the boys (and girls I presume) showering properly. It seems to have been generally accepted. Whether they intend to keep showers mandatory in the long term after the virus is beaten or reverse the decision back I've no idea. It would not surprise me if many of these Covid changes end up sticking permanently. Apparently it was either do this or completely stop PE lessons, which they were not prepared to do. On PE days they've also told them to be ready and wearing their full kit to school, instead normal uniform attire.