Clitheroe Royal Grammar School

Childhood > Schools


Clitheroe Royal Grammar School
Clitheroe Royal Grammar School
Year: 1959
Views: 209,617
Item #: 1602
Led by Stuart Bennett (Captain), right, the cross-country team returns from a practice run around the nearby country-side.
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, November 1959

Comment by: Chris G on 10th January 2020 at 00:35

Reading these threads it is apparent that boys experiencing topless PE fall into two groups, those who started at their school in the prior knowledge that PE was always done topless, and those who had toplessness introduced once they had started. But there is actually a third group - those who suddenly had tops imposed on them after one or more years of toplessNess. I had this experience when I changed school at the age of 15. After three years of PE without a vest, suddenly I had to wear one, and found the experience uncomfortable and restrictive. Did anyone else have vests reintroduced after a period of topless PE?

Comment by: Josh H on 9th January 2020 at 11:57

Yes the youngsters of today seem to be very self concious and as I said in my last comments even the 20/25 age group

Comment by: Ian on 8th January 2020 at 17:37

At the age of about 8 in the 50's, a friend took me to the local swimming pool - a huge place (50 yard pool) with a large changing room. After changing, we walked unsuspectingly to the pool down a wide corridor which we later found out was called "the showers". It was the first time we'd seen grown men naked and we freaked out!
From then, I really wanted to shower naked, but never had the courage, until one day a few years later in secondary school our PE teacher told us to strip off and shower properly. We also had to let adults go first, which meant we had to queue for several minutes naked.
Of course we did as our teacher said as he was strict and keen on corporal punishment. Fortunately he was not allowed to administer the belt poolside but only in the changing room. Men would often congratulate him on using it.
How times have changed! But I still enjoy swimming and have totally lost my self consciousness in the showers. I think I would not have come to enjoy it had it not been for him and believe youngsters today are missing something which basically a great pleasure

Comment by: Josh H on 7th January 2020 at 11:31

With regards to the sleepwear, I expect during the weeks cam we would wear once or twice to look as if it had been used.About the sleeping when I returned home I continued to wear pyjamas however, whenever away at camp I would sleep naked. I suppose part of the reason for that was I was able to decide for myself. It must be a "generation" thing because when I am at the gym/swimming pool it seems that neither I nor fellows of an elder age group think nothing of stripping off in front of each other chatting as we do. Yet when chaps in say there twenties etc come in they undress so far and then disappear into the toilet cubical and come out changed into their activity wear. Too shy to be seen? Is that the generation we are breeding through modern practices?

Comment by: Graham on 6th January 2020 at 21:36

Josh H

Your comments about "sleepwear going to camp for the ride" and "being away from direct parental influence offers a good opportunity to experiment" reminds me of my introduction to sleeping 'au naturel' as a naive 'newbie' on my first night at boarding school, and prompts me to ask how your parents reacted when you came home from Scout camp with unworn nightwear, and whether you continued to sleep nude once you were back home.

Comment by: Josh H on 6th January 2020 at 10:15

Danny, I certainly agree with your comments about the feminizing of lads. Like you we had our swimming lessons at the public pool( obviously reserved for the schools use)and in the same way we all changed in one communal area and there was no thought of it being anything other than normal. After the lesson whilst we were changing if there was any larking about a teacher would come in and chivvy us up and no one questioned that a male teacher would walk into a changing area when boys were undressed. As other people have commented on previously, it has been the normal thing for men to share a large bath e.g after rugby or football matches. Furthermore I remember my father saying how in the army there was no privacy all in a dorm changing together.
My experience is not confined to school. I was in the scouts years ago when it was still all boys. Our accommodation was normally about 6 to a tent with not much room and definitely no privacy. Included on the kit list for camp was sleepwear. However we when it was time to get into our sleeping bags whether it was because we were away from our parents gaze or just being daring, most of us would strip off and go to bed naked. We thought of it as fun. The remainder felt daring enough to sleep in their pants which of course in those days we always briefs(no boxers around)so sleep wear went to camp for the ride and was never used.
During the day we were allowed to have fun. No stringent health & safety rules. There were obviously guide lines especially when swimming at scout camp. However, this would often take place in a local river.
Shame there is not the freedom for youngster to enjoy themselves today. To many restrictions.

Comment by: Danny on 3rd January 2020 at 10:36

William, Fiona,

I really laughed when Mr.Dando suggested that boys should wear tops for swimming to cover their chests.
This is proof of the mentality today of feminizing boys, as one of you rightly said.
We didn't have a swimming pool at school but I often went to our local pool to swim where the changing and shower room were full of boys moving about naked with no shame at all.
This seems to have changed in the last 20 years or so where boys are now taking showers with their swimsuits on and changing under a towel.

Comment by: John on 2nd January 2020 at 16:33

I completely agree with everything that you’ve written and would not have been able to express my views as well as you have. My father was pleased when my school introduced the shirtless gym rule for boys when I was 9, he had always done gym in just shorts and pumps and knew that it would be good for me to experience as a boy who lacked confidence.

I found that I preferred not having to wear a top for gym which was contrary to my initial fear before my first shirtless gym class. Throughout my time at school I never experienced any inappropriate behaviour from any of my PE teachers.

I do not understand why Mr Dando wants to treat boys and girls exactly the same, surely his is an extreme point of view and could be seen as a form of abuse.

Comment by: Mr Dando on 1st January 2020 at 21:02

Easily rectified Fiona. No more school showers and no more pointless Physical education designed to reduce young males into obedient cannon fodder and girls into obedient housewives.

With the start of the New Year we must show true 2020 vision and boost child protection and rights to privacy in educational institutions.

Lets name and shame those schools that still insist on towels for showers where others have abolished the mandatory requirement.

P.E. Kit
Indoor – plain white T-shirt, navy shorts, white socks, trainers
Outdoor – school rugby shirt and rugby socks, navy shorts, football boots

Indoor – plain white T-shirt, navy skort, white socks, trainers
Outdoor – plain white T-shirt, navy skort, school ‘rugby’ socks, trainers;School regulation P.E. hooded top is optional;

Year 10 & 11 – Plain navy tracksuit bottoms [no stripes] may be worn;Towel for showers;Shin/ankle guards are required for hockey, football and when playing hooker in rugby. Mouth guards are recommended for hockey and rugby. Footwear should be appropriate for the playing surface.

No to showers Fiona and yes to gender neutral school informs. Let the evil of the past never be repeated!

Comment by: William on 1st January 2020 at 19:16

Mr Dando, Fiona has made another good point. You make some sweeping assertions so can I say that, although I never wore a top for gym or anything under my shorts, I was never abused or humiliated at school, and that although my gym master was terrifying he was no paedophile.

You seem to have found being in a group of boys showering with nothing on humiliating. That's a strong word but you do not suggest that you were singled out in any way. There is much evidence to suggest that communal, non-sexual nudity among men and boys is not humiliating. Just read the majority of contributions to this website. My generation will recall photographs in newspapers of professional footballers celebrating after the match in the team bath. For them it was a positive bonding experience. And the Imperial War Museum has many photos of soldiers in WW1 and 2 showering, swimming and larking about in their birthday suits as welcome relaxation. They all know what a man's body is like so why get uptight about it?

Obviously you feel differently, but is your feeling a fair basis for deciding policies in schools? The more examples you quote where showers are required the more you emphasise how many disagree with you, and not just on grounds of hygiene. Are you not concerned that the extreme modesty you advocate will make boys cripplingly shy and repressed about their bodies? You may send them into the wider world physically private but mentally vulnerable, worrying about things they should be able to take in their stride.

If there is nostalgia it might be for a time when boys were brought up as boys and the differences between the sexes had not been blurred by gender equality and political correctness. And what more striking example could there be of the feminisation of boys than requiring them, as you suggest, to swim in a swimsuit that covers their chests?

Comment by: Fiona on 31st December 2019 at 12:53

"we had no flannels or soap to wash ourselves."

Easily rectified and more hygienic, by taking your own.

Comment by: Dave on 30th December 2019 at 11:56

Mr.Dando: What's your problem with shirtless PE? It's about freedom of movement and hygiene. Did you wear shirts for swimming lessons? Its' all the same.What's the purpose of shirts especially for gym work? I can't see your point.

Comment by: Mr Dando on 29th December 2019 at 18:00

I was forced to have communal nude showers between September 1985 to April 1987. These abusive practices were pointless as they denied privacy and we had no flannels or soap to wash ourselves. We did not have to undergo this humiliation at primary or middle school between 1977 to 1984 and during the upper year aged 15 and 16 showers were not mandatory and nobody used them from 1987-1989.

PE Kit Aureus PE sports top *
Aureus PE shorts *
Aureus PE socks *
Aureus long sleeve reversible games top
Aureus tracksuit (optional)
Black or white trainers with non-marking soles for indoor and outdoor use
Towel / Shower gel
Aureus sports bag *

This website might be about past experiences but it is dominated by the pro Brexit over 65's who are nostalgic for a period of UK educational history where caning, communal showers and topless gymnastics were the norm.

The whole point of learning from the past is to inform the future so that state institutionalised child abuse propogated by paedophilic pe teachers never occurs again.

We should campaign to end compulsory showers and topless male swimming in all British schools.

Comment by: William on 28th December 2019 at 15:01

Mr Dando, Fiona's point had also occurred to me. In your campaign against school showers you have described them as humiliating, dreaded and barbaric. The majority disagree, citing hygiene and developing bodily confidence as among the benefits. I found communal showers slightly embarrassing the first time but quickly got used to them. After all, we were all boys and much the same. Why did you find them humiliating (Hesketh Fletcher, 21st December)? A history website is more about past experience than current practice. What made your experience so grim?

Comment by: Fiona on 23rd December 2019 at 00:13

Mr Dando, none of the three school PE kit lists that you have posted in the last couple of days specifies that showers shall be taken nude, and none of them describes the pbysical arrangement of the showers thenselves,so they might be enclosed cubicles.

Comment by: Mr Dando on 20th December 2019 at 20:58

After more than 30 years since I left school in the 1980's it is time to ban mandatory showers and state enforced nudity in schools!

PE uniform

White PE Shirt with school logo
Black Shorts or Black Skort
Fleece with school logo - optional item for colder weather
Black Jogging Pants - optional item for colder weather

White PE Shirt with school logo
Black Shorts
Fleece with school logo - optional item for colder weather
Black Jogging Pants - optional item for colder weather
All pupils are required to change for Physical Education into the PE uniform and pumps (not leisure boots as these have ridges on the soles).

In order to promote personal hygiene and independence skills, pupils are expected to shower after PE lessons. Pupils attending Hydrotherapy sessions should bring their own kit.

Comment by: Mike C on 18th December 2019 at 16:19

Hi Ben, ! was "introduced" to skins when I was a 9 year old. The big change at my new school was being made to strip down outside, something my new classmates were used to and I wasn't. Each day there was a d PE lesson timetabled, a double for four days and a double and a half lesson which really was hard. I remember the teacher telling me at the start of my first lesson I'd be striping off outside for each lesson for the first couple of weeks to get me used to it but was soon regularly picked to strip for the skins team. When we were inside there was an expectation you would sweat which was okay as everyone was stripped to the waist. As for those of us who were sporty and made the school/county teams we were told we'd strip off all the time. I think it was a school thing as we also did x country competition s against other schools stripped down too, now that made people look twice! I did enjoy PE. I think being made to strip off gave me a lot of confidence. Boys really don't need a t-shirt or vest on indoors and would be better off being pushed hard by a good teacher and sweating freely, regardless of their age is more beneficial.

Comment by: Dave on 11th December 2019 at 15:17

Max, I can't see what's the problem of boys having to do PE shirtless. They don't wear shirts for swimming.What's the difference? There isn't any rude or harmful thing about being shirtless doing sports especially gymnastics.It's practical.

Comment by: John on 8th December 2019 at 21:48

Indoor PE was done shirtless and most lads by the age of 12 had stopped wearing vests underneath their school shirts. So it was simply a case of going into the changing room and changing into shorts and pumps, we weren’t going to do gym in our school shirts. Therefore we weren’t made to remove our PE shirts as we didn’t wear them anyway.

Football was sometimes played shirts vs skins if the PE teacher ran out of coloured bibs, on those occasions half of the lads had to remove their shirts. It never did us any harm.

Comment by: William on 8th December 2019 at 20:33

Max, If you think it's ridiculous, violating and crude for boys to do PE without vests, what do you think they should wear for swimming? And do you truly think that the boys in the Burnley Grammar photo look crude or violated? I don't think so.

Comment by: TimH on 8th December 2019 at 11:49

John - no offence meant & none taken (looking back to 15th Nov).

I agree that the whole topless thing was probably 'historic' - some schools did games topless - others didn't. It may not have been down to LEAs - just down to individual Headteachers and Boards of Governors, who probably had more important things to think about than whether or not boys did gym shirtless or minus underpants. (I think a lot of basic commonsense on hygiene comes into this).

Off at a tangent, places like Whitehough Camp School, an LEA outdoor education centre had their own regimes - I think I'm right in saying that Whitehough had a rule that all their boys went into shorts for all activities (including sailing, climbing, etc.) during the period of 'British Summer Time'. (Sadly Whitehough closed about five years ago)

Comment by: Max on 6th December 2019 at 23:54

It is not a good policy to have “lads” remove their shirts for p.e. Actually it’s down right ridiculous, violating and crude! I am strongly opposed to such a rule or even such a choice.

Comment by: John on 6th December 2019 at 01:13

Chris G,
It’s great to hear that you regarded the introduction of topless PE as being a positive experience by not being made to wear a shirt or a vest. So many contributors to this forum have spoken about disliking being made to strip to the waist for PE but often seem to have found it a more comfortable way to exercise after a few lessons.

I disliked being made to go topless for PE when I was introduced to the new rule at age 9 but that was simply because it involved change. My initial dislike turned out to be an irrational fear as I quickly came to prefer doing PE shirtless because it was more comfortable than having a sweaty shirt sticking to my skin.

Comment by: Danny on 5th December 2019 at 22:44

Coloured armbands were also commonly used to distinguish between the topless teams. They were elasticated so could not fall off or get in the way, unlike waist or shoulder sashes.
The coloured armbands were also commonly used in nude swimming competitions or galas to distinguish between the teams, unless swimcaps were worn.

Comment by: Chris G on 4th December 2019 at 22:32

John, when we used sashes to distinguish teams, we either tucked them into the waistbands of our shorts or tied them round our waists.

Comment by: John on 4th December 2019 at 00:31

Whilst I think that your school had a sensible policy of all lads remaining shirtless for PE, did you not find that the sashes kept slipping off your shoulder?.

Comment by: Chris G on 4th December 2019 at 00:16

I think I must have been about 12 when my school introduced topless PE, and I don't remember anyone in my class having any qualms about appearing in the gym minus a vest. In fact, I think we all enjoyed the liberating experience, and as I've said before, it quickly led to me and most of my class stopping wearing underwear vests altogether,

Comment by: Ross on 3rd December 2019 at 06:59

A few messages here about shirts v skins and reminded me of my own PE lessons where we all went topless but were given a red or green narrow sash to identify the two teams.

Comment by: Ben on 2nd December 2019 at 16:31

Mike C, sounds as if you enjoyed the vests and skins experience at school! Do you think it made a difference being used to it when you were that much younger? I was 14 the first time I did PE in skins and it seemed like a big deal at first, maybe because by that age boys are more likely to be self conscious about body image.
Interesting that they made the more sporty boys take their tops off outdoors, I wonder what the logic was to that?
For indoor PE, was that the official kit for every boy at the school, ie: just shorts? Or was it just the teacher's decision for your class?

Comment by: William on 1st December 2019 at 08:43

Dr Wallace, There is much online about nude swimming in American schools. Pastor Frank Senn wrote about it at length last year in his blog Frank Answers. There was a lot of comment from those who experienced it.

You are right about different stages of development. I was 11 (mid '60s) the first time I went naked into the communal showers at school. Many of us stared in disbelief at the bush of pubic hair on a 12 year old who had been held back a year. No-one had told us about that. One or two boys from more relaxed homes said they had seen hair like that on their parents.