Clitheroe Royal Grammar School

Childhood - Schools

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Year: 1959         Item #: 1602         Views: 150,872         Comments: 714

Clitheroe Royal Grammar School

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

714 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by David H on 15th January 2020  

Hi Luke,

Our introduction to skins and vests was a boy being singled out and made to drop his vest in front of the whole class. The teacher walked down the line and picked boys at random to join him, with a stern warning that those left in vests would strip off for the next lesson. Of course everyone knew there was a 50-50 chance of being a skin but it was obvious some of us (me and a couple of others) were picked to strip off nearly every session. It was really rare for me to wear a vest I have no idea why I picked out to strip off so much. Cross country was done either in skins or vests while for outdoor fitness sessions held on the field, sometimes the whole class would be told to strip off but more often the teams were games tops, vests and skins.

Comments by Luke on 13th January 2020  

Hi David H,
From your reference to Army selection I'd guess you must have been at school around the same time as me (late 80s to early 90s). It seems your PE teacher took a similar approach to mine! The official PE kit was a vest and shorts but he immediately made it clear boys were required to do his lessons in skins. If the class had to be split into teams, half the boys were picked to wear bibs and the rest remained as skins.
Like you, I'm glad I was made to exercise bare chested at school. Yes, it took some getting used to at first but long term it certainly encouraged me to work harder and take greater pride in my body.
If it had been optional, I doubt I'd have taken my vest off voluntarily at first - how about you?

Comments by Ross on 12th January 2020  

Chris, I think I fall into your third group. At primary school PE was mostly done in vest, underpants and bare feet and if you didn't have a vest then you went topless, moved up into my first middle school where indoor PE was done in a pool shirt, shorts and pumps, oh how luxurious and those that forgot went without. Then we moved house into a different area and I started my second middle school where indoor PE was done topless, and barefoot with shorts only. After a year and a half this came as an initial shock but soon I was used to it and came to enjoy the freedom especially when doing gymnastics.

Plus I might as well add we showered after every lesson, boys only and yes we showered nude. It wasn't an issue at all it was just been hygienic and clean. Alot better than spending the day sat in your own sweat!

Comments by David H on 12th January 2020  

Hi Chris,

During an Army selection course in 1995 the male candidates found ourselves in the gym for fitness tests. With the group split into teams of skins and vests the tests began.

It didn't take too long before our vests started to cling to us while we could see each member of the skins team sweat freely.

Halfway through the PTIs changed things around. The skins team were made to put their vests on and we were made to strip to the waist for the second half.

I was lucky at school. I have no idea why my PE teacher picked me to strip off lesson after lesson in all kinds of weather but I'm glad he did. I'd recommend bare chested exercise to any boy. They'd notice a difference in their physique, others bare chests and outlook after a couple of months. They're supposed to be young men after all!

Comments by Chris G on 10th January 2020  

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?

Comments by Josh H on 9th January 2020  

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

Comments by Ian on 8th January 2020  

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

Comments by Josh H on 7th January 2020  

Graham
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?

Comments by Graham on 6th January 2020  

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.

Comments by Josh H on 6th January 2020  

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.

Comments by Danny on 3rd January 2020  

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.

Comments by John on 2nd January 2020  

William,
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.

Comments by Mr Dando on 1st January 2020  

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.

https://www.glanymorschool.co.uk/Parents/Uniform/

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

Girls:
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!

Comments by William on 1st January 2020  

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?

Comments by Fiona on 31st December 2019  

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

Easily rectified and more hygienic, by taking your own.

Comments by Dave on 30th December 2019  

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.

Comments by Mr Dando on 29th December 2019  

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.

http://www.aureusschool.org/2137/uniform-equipment

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.

Comments by William on 28th December 2019  

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?

Comments by Fiona on 23rd December 2019  

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.

Comments by Mr Dando on 20th December 2019  

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!

https://www.elmsbank.co.uk/key-information/uniform/

PE uniform
Girls:

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
Boys:

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.

Comments by Mike C on 18th December 2019  

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.

Comments by Dave on 11th December 2019  

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.

Comments by John on 8th December 2019  

William,
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.

Comments by William on 8th December 2019  

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.

Comments by TimH on 8th December 2019  

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)

Comments by Max on 6th December 2019  

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.

Comments by John on 6th December 2019  

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.

Comments by Danny on 5th December 2019  

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.

Comments by Chris G on 4th December 2019  

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

Comments by John on 4th December 2019  

Ross,
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?.

Comments by Chris G on 4th December 2019  

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,

Comments by Ross on 3rd December 2019  

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.

Comments by Ben on 2nd December 2019  ben.thomas19@yahoo.com 

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?

Comments by William on 1st December 2019  

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.

Comments by Mike C on 30th November 2019  

Hi Ben & John, At my first school skins vs vests were all done in the gym though the teachers who picked the teams definitely made some lads strip off more than others. I moved school when I was 11 and the difference was immediate. My new teacher insisted the whole class went topless inside and, though we were told a shirt or vest would be worn outside, teams of skins and vests were preferred. If like me you showed sporting ability you were expected to strip off outside regardless. Quite why no-one knew but it did form a basis for a team of skins and others were simply picked out, dropped their vests and bingo 2 teams. Happy days.

Comments by George Spelvin on 30th November 2019  spelvin545@gmail.com 

Hello, Martin!
Hello, any other Shears Green alumni!

I understand that you folks had quite a discussion on Friends United.
I looked you up on Facebook and found you, but I got a message saying that Friends United has been taken down.
Can you tell me what was in that discussion?
I am fascinated with Shears Green because I would have liked to be a student there.

Comments by Doctor J Wallace on 29th November 2019  

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2009
Shrinkage? We INVENTED shrinkage!
Every now and then I'll wind up in a conversation with someone regarding the horrors of junior high school gym class. This chat will invariably lead to me saying,

"... and the worst part is, the boys all had to swim naked,"

to which the recipient of that comment will stare blankly at me in disbelief as if I had just told them I was really a convicted murderer but am pretty sure I'm through with that phase of my life now.

I find the response to my gym class confession both amusing and disturbing. Amusing, because of the way it stops people dead in their tracks, which causes me to imagine how their minds are trying to process the image of thirty 12 year old boys running around naked in the public school's pool center. And disturbing, because to date, I've never met anyone else (besides the kids who went to that school) who has ever said, "oh yeah, me too," which forces me to question the practice of that particular Phy-Ed policy in the first place.

The oddest thing about swimming nude at our junior high school was that we never questioned it, as if it was a right of passage included in the advancement from grade school. You're a man now. This is how the MEN swim! Men don't wear swimming suits.

My guess is, the whole decision to swim nude was nothing more than a cost-saving measure. No suits to buy, no laundry to do, no unauthorized swim wear screwing up the PH balance of the water. In retrospect I suppose they could have allowed us to bring our own suits, but again... no one seemed to question this arrangement at the time.

The only thing we really seem to care about was how damn cold it was. Not only was the pool water kept at a mere 70 degrees (freezing by recreational pool standards) but the entire pool facility itself was cold as well. Add to that the fact that the bench where we had to sit (on our naked butts) and listen to our coach lecture (for several minutes) was made of ceramic tile, and you have yourself a shivering herd of blue-lipped tweens.

Another area of, how shall I say... "interest" at this time was the issue of physical development. In our school district, junior high ran from 7th - 9th grade, or ages 12-15. Being as how this is also the age span at which young boys may or may not experience puberty, you don't have to stretch your imagination very far to realize that some boys looked different than others. In 7th grade it wasn't that big of a deal... we basically all looked like we were growing a small mushroom on barren ground. But by 9th grade, some of the more muscular jocks were already growing beards and sideburns... and had the shrubbery to match. This was especially evident with the aptly-named Peter, who after being held back, expelled and truant countless times, was 18 years old by the time he was finally able to leave 9th grade. Let's just say we never had to wonder who we wanted to grow up to be like.

So that's my story. Just one of many skinny, naked, freezing boys, dutifully doing their time every Tuesday and Thursday from 2:30 - 3:30 p.m., hoping some smart-ass didn't put tape over the latch on the door that opened to the hallway so someone could fling it open while we were in mid-march to the poolside, causing everyone to dive into the freezing water before every girl within 100 feet could run up and sneak a peak. No big deal. Literally.

But what I really want to know is... was my school the only one who had naked swimming for the boys? (the girls got to wear suits btw) Was this standard policy in the mid 70s or was our coach a little "different" than the rest?

Comments by Turner on 28th November 2019  

At my traditional grammar school in the sixties our cross country route was entirely along pavements on the edge of town, so we probably returned no more muddy than when we set off. This was long before the popularity of road running as a hobby. I suspect the school at Clitheroe must have done something similar despite the caption.

Comments by Ben on 28th November 2019  

John,
It wasn't a case of boys volunteering to play in skins, our teacher decided who would play for which team at the start of the lesson. Initially I think the majority of us hoped we wouldn't be chosen to take our tops off.
In theory the teams were always random but some boys were definitely assigned to skins more often than others - and I was among the former group. However, it's probably no bad thing that we weren't given a choice - otherwise I suppose only the most confident boys would have volunteered and the rest would have remained lacking in confidence.
For outdoor football, we usually wore reversible jerseys but sometimes in warmer weather one of the teams would be skins.

Comments by John on 27th November 2019  

Ben,
Did you volunteer to be on the skins team?, our PE teachers had no shortage of lads wanting to take their tops off for football outdoors.

Comments by Ben on 25th November 2019  ben.thomas19@yahoo.com 

John's description of the PE teachers running out of coloured bibs was rather like what happened at my school in the early 90s. Up to age 14 we wore different coloured bibs for basketball and 6-a-side football, the next year they put us into bigger groups for PE - something to do with the timetable, I think. Suddenly that meant there weren't enough bibs to go around and the teacher's solution, of course, was one group of boys playing in vests, one group in skins. Some of us, including myself, were quite taken aback when we were instructed to take our tops off, it wasn't something we'd been used to. For the next two years, however, vests against skins became the standard arrangement in our PE lessons and I got to understand the logic. First, it was so much easier to pick out a team mate, and also at times in a hot stuffy gym, it felt more comfortable to have sweat evaporate off your bare skin than clinging to a damp vest. Now I wonder why we didn't do vests and skins at an earlier age!

Comments by John on 24th November 2019  

Andrew C,

Sometimes we played football outdoors shirts vs skins, occasionally this happened in winter too when a whole year were having a PE lesson and the PE teachers ran out of coloured bibs. Indoor PE was shirtless and if we played basketball or 5 a side football one team were given coloured bibs or armbands to wear. The age range was 11 to 18

Comments by Andrew C on 23rd November 2019  

Hi John, I too did X country barechested or stripped down, as the teachers called it. It wasn't fun but sometimes it made a change from stuffy classroom. Were you split into vests and skins anytime and what was the age range at your school.

Comments by John on 15th November 2019  

Tim H,
Please accept my apologies for the last post, it was supposed to be addressed to you but from me.

Comments by Tim H on 15th November 2019  

I think that the topless PE rule for boys was dependent upon which Local Authority Grammar Schools came under. In the Northwest of England and many parts of Yorkshire topless PE seemed to be the norm for Grammar and Secondary Modern schools and the rule continued into the 1970s and 1980s when many of these schools became Comprehensives.

Cross country was also normally done shirtless by these schools.

Comments by TimH on 15th November 2019  

I have to 'disagree' with John about topless cross-country. I went to grammar school in 1960 - we didn't do it 'topless' and, as far as I can recall, neither did the other boy's grammar school.

For the record, gym was white shorts either with or without a T-shirt, plus plimsolls. Many of us started off wearing the T-shirt, but as we grew and became more 'confident' we tended to discard it.

Comments by Ross on 13th November 2019  

Ahh yes Tim you are right! Sorry. I guess it must be posed then for an article.

There definitely does seem to be a split among lads that ran shirtless and barefoot to those that were allowed shirts and footwear.

Comments by TimH on 13th November 2019  

Ross - we've been through this before. If you look at the gates they're opened inwards, and it looks very much like a public street outside. A posed picture, perhaps?

Comments by Roy on 13th November 2019  

When I went on a cross-country run I certainly got very muddy.
We all ran stripped to the waist as well as barefoot!

Comments by John on 13th November 2019  

Ross,
I agree that it is odd that they appear to be so clean, in winter you would expect the lads to be spattered with mud. Perhaps it was during a dry spell and the ground wasn’t muddy.

What I find really unusual for Grammar School lads of 1959 is that they are not stripped to the waist, from people I know who were at Senior School back then cross country kit was shorts only. Some schools allowed footwear and some had a barefoot rule.



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