Fulwood Counry Secondary School
Item #: 1608
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, November 1958
My hubby refers to them as knickers too and how our boys hate that term - haha
Danny & Andrea,when I was growing up and going through secondary school my parents kept me in short trousers and much to my annoyance they were frequently referred to as'short pants'as I believe that was also how the Americans refer to them.
Andrea, I think the word knickerbockers referred to both male and female undergarments of the long type.
Which is probably why the other female posters have said that their husbands still refer to their own undergarment as knickers which may also distinguish between briefs and boxer shorts as Americans refer to them.
I remember those long undergarments worn by girls and women were called bloomers, which were still worn till the 50s or 60s.
To compound things further even more those short thin cotton or nylon outer shorts which were popular and worn by both boys and girls during the Summer months in the 70s and 80s were also called knickers. They were also often worn by boys as gym shorts for PE in some schools.
Not to mention the gym knickers worn by girls for PE which were not undergarments.
So this word has been abused, or used, to refer to different things. It is also used as a derogatory word, mostly by young girls, when they reply "knickers" to something you tell them. Much like what we males call "bullshit".
I only pop back to this site infrequently...and just seen a message o me from Anne, from way back in January. Yes, our schools do sound similar in their strict "no footwear" policy for all PE.
And yes, I, to remember cross country barefoot in the snow. We certainly didn't hang about!
The garment you describe is what we would call knickerbockers, which I guess became abbreviated to knickers over there.
With regard to boys and girls changing for PE in the same area, this still happened when my son was at Primary school, but only until they were about 8 or so. Years ago, when I was at Primary school, it continued right up to the end of Primary school (at age 11). We were never completely naked, just down to vest and pants (underwear) before putting on our PE kit.
I don't know if it's the same in the USA, but in most Primary schools over here, there are far more female staff than male.
In support of Fiona
Yes, my husband calls his undies knickers and it annoyed our sons when he used the term when referring to their underwear ... men and boys! Love them ... really :)
Oh the joys of being two nations separated by a common language!
"Knickers" in UK English are female (generally) undergarments for the nether regions, otherwise known as pants, panties, underpants, briefs etc. That having been said, my partner often uses the term to refer to his own underwear.
Martin, I realize I'm 6 years late, but I just finished reading your message of December 15, 2013.
I am very curious about Shears Green School.
You said that you had to "take ALL our clothes off and were only allowed to put on one item of clothing, cotton shorts for boys and PE knickers for the girls."
I notice that in some British schools, the boys and the girls undressed for phys ed class in the same room.
Was that true at Shears Green?
I suspect that this display of flesh was for the benefit of some of the teachers.
From the Facebook discussion, it seems that you had a couple of funny teachers.
And by the way, what ARE knickers anyway?
Here in the United States, they aren't an undergarment, but rather a corduroy garment extending past the knee, and usually worn with long socks.
Apparently, that's not what it means in your country.
It was all boys in the class though a couple of the assistants were teen-age or young twenties girls. Each girl assistant took a group of 4 or 5 boys under her charge. Since there were usually about 15 to 20 boys taking lessons there would be 4 assistants with a group of boys in different parts of the pool.
What I wan't prepared for was the end of the swim. About 10 minutes before our swim time ended mothers and girls walked in and sat down to watch and wait for their sons to finish swimming. One girl was a girl I knew from church and I was embarrassed to have her see me naked when I got out of the pool.
When I walked by she said hi to me and smiled. A little later my friend's mother and two sisters walked in. His oldest sister who was close to my age look at me standing there and smiled also. By time the swim period ended there were probably 5 or 6 mothers and 8 or 9 girls, probably sisters watching. I was embarrassing to have walk by them naked on the way to the dressing room.
I went the whole week with my neighbor and had to swallow my pride and let girls I knew see me naked.
Sunday at church two girls who had seen me smiled and told me how much they enjoyed "seeing" me swim with the other boys. It was embarrassing but at the same time a touch exciting to know they had seen me naked.
I guess the difference was that they saw young boys being nude as cute and inoffensive in front of females, but older teen boys would have been seen as gross and improper in front of females.
None the less the girls same age or younger, or a bit older than the young boys saw it as exciting watching all those nude boys.
I was not on the swim teams but attended several meets as a spectator and could notice the young girls excitement at seeing so much boy nudity.
Rude comments were of course not allowed in front of the adult spectators and the girls would just whisper in each others ears, so it just went unnoticed.
Our elementary school had a roll call for the shower like high schools because our Principal was an ex korean-war veteran who insisted on strict military discipline for physical education, and I was at elementary school towards the end of the Vietnam war.
Doctor Wallace, it is amusing to read that they made you swim nude for hygienic reasons while "the pool always had a layer of scum."
Did the teacher have any assistants to instruct and help the boys with their swimming lessons?
I am also curious like you to know if this was common in other elementary schools at the time. Have you done any research or found out anything about this custom in other schools?
From what I have read about it, it seems to have been common in many High Schools, but have not come across any that mention it done in elementary schools.
We had swimming one day a week. We swam naked for hygienic reasons. The pool always had a layer of scum. The first person rarely wanted to dive in first to break it. We had to take a swimming test and the times I was in the pool we only swam laps until we were exhausted. Since you didn't wear a jock strap you could get hurt during the dive.
I guess I would liken it to having to drink out of the black water fountain instead of the white fountain, it was just something they had control over and they made you do it.
The teacher was an old lady named Miss Coyne, a sophomore English teacher. After the shower we would parade through the swimming pool to dry off. However, you still had to take a shower, line up naked on your number for roll call.
Doctor J Wallace, you seem to be talking about American schools where this practice of nude swimming for boys seems to have been very common pre-70s from what I read.
In your case being an elementary school did you have female teachers supervising you during swim lessons or female instructors?
How did you boys feel about being made to swim naked?
It is very much like you said, it would not happen today.
I am doing some personal research about the practice of swimming in the nude for swim class in public school. I was at Windermere Elementary in the early 70s and remember swimming without trunks -- the girls (in their own class) were supplied suits by the school, but the boys were not. How long was this done in Buffalo? I have read accounts that it was done at a few schools in the Buffalo area. Did they do this in middle and high school as well? (I left town right before the 6th grade, so only know that this was the practice at Windermere Elementary until I was in 5th grade -- 1973). How many people experienced this during their childhood? Was it all over Buffalo, or just at Windermere? When did they stop doing this, and was there a reason? Was any teacher ever criticized for anything inappropriate?
As an adult and parent now of children of school age, the thought of swimming nude for swim class today is unthinkable today, and most likely would be considered abusive. What were others' experiences with this in Buffalo? Is there anyone that attended Windermere elementary in the 70s that could shine some light on what the policy was when they attended?
No, our school didn't have a pool, so our lessons were at a nearby municipal pool.
Possibly for that reason only the first two year groups at the school had swimming lessons.
From memory we had two lessons per week of indoor PE and one double period of outdoor games.
Andrea, we didn't have swimming lessons at my school because we didn't have a swimming pool.
I thought that only posh schools had the luxury of their own swimming pool. :)
Did you have a pool at your school or did you take the swim lessons somewhere outside of your school?
As for showers, they were not compulsary and few boys bothered since our PE lessons were just an hour or so and nothing heavy or strenuous, more like playing around in the gym, although the PE kit of white t-shirt and white shorts were required
From what I remember we only had two PE lessons a week, maybe three. We also didn't have any competitive games like rugby or football or country runs like some posters describe here. Our school only bothered with the academic subjects.
Yes showers were compulsory for us after PE and games lessons.
For swimming lessons, we had to wear navy blue one piece swimming costumes.
Did you have compulsory showers and what did you wear for swimming lessons?
Andrea, did Girls Sec.schools also require girls to take compulsary showers after PE? Or was this just a boys school only requirement?
Same with nude swimming, I never or very rarely heard of girls required to be naked for swim classes, while it was common in many boys schools, even in some mixed schools where only boys had to be nude for swim class, although they had separate classes from girls.
It is time to ban PE in just vest and knickers!
Children in Years 1-6 require a kit which they can change into for PE.
This kit should be labelled with your child's name and sent to school in a bag which can stay in class all half term.
Reception children have only indoor PE and this is done in knickers and vests.
Autumn / Spring Summer
Indoor shorts & short sleeved t-shirt shorts & short sleeves t-shirt
Outdoor tracksuit & velcro fastening trainers / plimsolls shorts, short sleeved t-shirt and velcro fastening trainers / plimsolls
Please ensure that all items brought into school are labelled so that if they are mislaid we are able to return them via your child's class.
Danny,It was a particularly torrid time with the onset of puberty and we were also closely observed by our classmates showing the different pubertal development.
I do agree that the various stages of puberty is not consistent with a boy's age and I was totally hairless and smooth as a baby even though I was tall for my age.
I also found it difficult wearing short trousers at that age as my legs were exposed for all to see.
From Mr.Dando's latest PE kit post
"A swimming costume and towel will be required by Y7"
Does this mean that swimming costumes were not required before Y7?
Are there any PE kits list that specify clearly that boys do not need costumes for swimming lessons?
I do remember seeing something to that effect where a school specified in its curriculum that boys do not wear costumes for swimming, probably from the 60s or 70s.
Your observation is correct and the photo ties in with my memories of my classmates during our first year or so at secondary school, with girls growing at different rates, both in height and the effects of puberty.
A few of my classmates had started to develop before we left primary school; some were tall as well, but others remained quite short, but with noticeable breast development.
By contrast, some girls were still flat-chested well into the second year at secondary.
With regard to training bras, I can't comment on the era shown in the picture as I didn't start at secondary school until 1971. Back then what we called training bras were just scaled down versions of what our mothers wore, white with cups, hook and eye fasteners and adjustable shoulder straps.
So they didn't bear any resemblance to the various pull-on style of bras available in multiple colours available to pre-teens nowadays.
I seem to remember my mum saying she didn't start to wear bras until shortly before she left school, so I would say that the trend has been for successive generations to start wearing them at progressively earlier stages of development.
A fw days ago, Danny posted:
"Looking at the main picture with the girls in an assortment of different PE shorts it seems that back in the 50s they did not have the brand type shorts that kids wear today."
Perfectly true. In my early secondary school days, back in the 1950s, the only requirement for PE kit was that we had a white PE shirt/vest and white shorts, with no specification on style, fabric or which shop they were bought from. Brand logo stuff just didn't exist. Until topless PE was introduced, most of us just wore our underwear vests for PE, and I can remember my Mum actually making me a pair of shorts out of some white cotton fabric that she had left over from one of her dress-making projects. We did wonder whether it was perhps a little bit see-through, but the end result was quite acceptable and the workmanship was very good.
Danny,we did have the 'branded'shorts at the secondary school that I attended,but we had to wear shorts that were identical,so we had to wear shorts that were the same color and style.We were not allowed to wear jogging pants or track suits so we used to freeze in the cold weather.
We also wore short trousers for our school uniform,but our sports shorts were very thin and brief so were not very warm.
Andrea, about your comment in a previous post that some girls were still flat chested in Secondary school can be confirmed from the above picture.
It was the same with us boys in the first few years at secondary school with different stages of pubertal development and some were still smooth as babies while others were into puberty.
I was one of those who even had hair on my legs and was very conscious and shy about it, especially since we still wore uniform shorts till 14. I also had a small mustache at that age.
Another observation, as one can see from the picture, in both boys and girls height was no indication of pubertal development. The tallest girl in the picture is in fact flat chested and some of the shortest ones have quite developed breasts under their shirt.
It was the same with us boys concerning height and pubertal development. The tallest boy in our class didn't have a single hair on his body. :)
What I am curious about, since you also mention it, is if training bras existed at the time the above picture was taken, late 50s or so, or if it was a later invention.
From what I remember when growing up only normal bras existed and girls were usually not given bras to wear until quite developed.
All pupils require:
black shorts and/or plain black jogging pants,
white t-shirt (plain or with school logo*),
football boots and trainers.
Burgundy Stony Dean sweatshirt*
A swimming costume and towel will be required by Y7 and some older pupils for weekly
All pupils should bring a towel and expect to shower after PE.
In reply to Danny, both girls and boys wore white shirts and blue shorts or skirts for PE when I was at primary schools. I never saw anyone have to do it in just underpants, although boys and girls changed in the same classroom.
At secondary we wore navy blue gym knickers and white shirts for indoor PE. The knickers were more uniform that the ones in the photo.
I thought that only boys schools had or mandated nude swimming.
Were there any girls schools that had the same nude rule for swimming?
We did not have a pool at the schools I went to but I had friends who went to private(fee paying) and boarding school where they had to be nude for swimming lessons, some under the supervision of female teachers.
I don't think there are any schools today which mandate nude swimming lessons, or making them swim in underwear as some describe here.
The funny thing is that parents never objected to their boys being made to swim nude at school and was considered as normal.
Looking at the main picture with the girls in an assortment of different PE shorts it seems that back in the 50s they did not have the brand type shorts that kids wear today.
I went to a boys only secondary school in late 60s and we wore white vests and white shorts for PE which were simple cotton held with an elastic band.
I don't know or remember what the girls secondary wore for PE but probably similar as us boys.
In primary we wore the same white vest and white shorts both for girls and boys.
And yes, we all changed together in class.
Some describe that they did PE in primary in just underpants, both girls and boys together. Any here did the same? Did you feel any embarrassment?
In primary school, if we forgot our kit we had to do the lesson in underwear and bare feet. This happened to me on a couple of occasions and it was pretty embarrassing as it was a co-ed class and there was no changing room, so we had to undress in the classroom before walking to the gym in view of the rest of the school in just vest and pants. My senior school was girls only. The rules here were strict too and you could rarely get out of PE by forgetting your kit. However, it was not so embarrassing having to do PE in your knickers here, as the regular kit consisted of T-shirt, gym knickers and bare feet, so you did not feel too under-dressed and the rest of the class were only girls. I once forgot my kit for outdoor athletics, however, and had to take part in my underpants, a borrowed T-shirt and bare feet (the running track was grass). Unfortunately, the playing fields were on the opposite side of a public road and so I had to walk there in public in little more than my knickers! Several people outside school saw me and I spent the afternoon sporting a very red face!
Mr Dando - surely it's only common sense to shower after potentially muddy games such as rugby and football. And it doesn't say BOYS MUST shower, but STUDENTS ARE EXPECTED to shower. Also, it is probably the Academy management rather than the British State that is making the recommendation.