Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 518,085         Comments: 1,774

Burnley Grammar School

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There's pleny of room in the modern-styled gymnasium for muscle developing, where the boys are supervised by Mr. R. Parry, the physical education instruction.
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, December 1959

1774 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by Michael on 19th March 2018  

My school gym was almost always freezing cold and I hated going in there wearing only white PE shorts and vest. But, the PE teacher made us work so hard that soon we were actually thankful that the temperature was so low.

Due to his relentless demands for ever more effort, I used to get so hot that whenever I had the opportunity, I positioned myself under the chilly down draughts from the huge glass windows.

Although we all entered the gym wearing vests, these were soon voluntarily discarded. By the end of the lesson the wall bars were draped with them.

Comments by Oliver on 18th March 2018  

Maybe I should be grateful I didn't go to your school Toby! One cold muddy barechested jog around the field was enough for me...

Comments by Toby on 18th March 2018  

Oliver, that's something I'd never thought of. I wasn't mischievous but for some reason was always picked to strip down all the time. Laps of the field were always done without a top regardless of the weather. I got to know the field pretty well over the years.

Comments by Oliver on 18th March 2018  

Toby, that does sound illogical but I imagine it was partly a means of emphasising discipline. It was similar at my school where you'd put your vest on, along with the rest of your PE kit, knowing there was a fair chance you'd have to remove it within minutes. More often than not the class would be divided into skins vs vests in the gym. But the PE teachers often used shirtlessness as a punitive measure too - I experienced that once when I had to take my top off and run laps of the playing field. No reason for it, other than to make a boy feel small and emphasise who was in charge.

Comments by Toby on 17th March 2018  

JP1, Our gym was deliberately kept cold so we'd have to work hard. When we stripped down you really felt the cold on your bare top. It was no worse than when we did gym/games lessons outdoors though. The part I didn't get was why we went in the gym in vests just to strip off when the lesson started, it was the same outdoors.

Comments by Peter B on 17th March 2018  

JP1 when having to do pe in your underpants was it the era when lads wore briefs. At least there would be more support then if wearing the modern boxers

Comments by JP1 on 17th March 2018  

Oh I don't think there was anything wrong with it, most of the boys probably preferred it or didn't care if their shirts were off, just that I was quite self conscious to have my top half bare as I was very skinny and shy. And cold! The gym was very chilly. So I didn't especially enjoy having to be stripped the waist, especially if only half of the class had to.

Comments by John on 16th March 2018  

What was wrong with boys being stripped to the waist anyway?, it was much safer when using wall bars and vaults etc. Our school gym was heated in winter and we always got hot and sweaty, so it was better not having to wear a top.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 16th March 2018  

Your description of P.E. lessons is very vivid and atmospheric JP1! I tried a backward roll and ended up in A & E when I was thirteen!Ouch!

Comments by JP1 on 16th March 2018  

Thanks for the answers. There was a lot of variation between schools.
Our lessons similarly started with a warmup workout: star jumps, knees ups, sit ups, stretches. I hated the cold gym floor on my bare back if I had been picked to do the class with my shirt off, literal shivers on my spine. Normally only half the boys had to strip to their waists, for teams as shirts and skins, and this was chosen at the roll call at the start, before warm ups. But when the lesson had to be vaults, ropes, bars and the like, then every boy had to be topless.
I didn't so much enjoy my barechestedness, it felt too naked and cold, but we got to be OK like that. I cannot say I preferred it though, being shy. I was happier the times I did not have to pull my T shirt off and go half naked.
The thing I never mastered was somersaults. Hated them more than anything. I was convinced I would break my neck. I would rather have done PE starknaked than do a somersault! No one ever did do PE naked of course. Sometimes in pants due to forgotten kit, this was not fun. I only did this once. Not nice taking off my uniform ,stripping down to just my underpants in the changing room and then having to enter the gym to spend a whole period in that way. But a good deterrent and lesson learned.

Comments by Max on 16th March 2018  

When I started middle school in the 1980s we had to purchase a PE top in school colours (mainly white but with blue bands across the chest). This could be either a vest (singlet) or a T-shirt, which obviously covered the shoulders and had a higher neck. Some boys opted for the vest, others for the T-shirt - I'm really not sure why it wasn't one or the other! Shorts were white and could be made from any material.

Comments by William on 15th March 2018  

JP1, Our gym vests were white and what would now be called tee shirts. We never wore them indoors, only for athletics and cross-country.

Our gym master used to start every lesson with 20 star jumps as a warm up exercise. It was very obvious that the fronts of our shorts were bouncing up and down, but because it was the same for all of us I didn't find it embarrassing.

I was not athletic and had to do things I hated but in a regime of no choice, no complaints, no fuss, I got through it. It was good that for some exercises (forward rolls, handstands etc) we could help each other.

Comments by Andrea on 15th March 2018  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Undershirts of the style you refer to were commonly known as vests (or at least they were in my neighbourhood).

I think that in some schools (mainly primary schools) PE was done in 'vest and pants' ie. the children's usual
underwear. As I understand it, singlets were very similar in style, but quite often with a coloured band (presumably to identify teams or Houses etc?).
One of the runners in the photo on the following thread is wearing a PE vest or singlet.


Comments by JP1 on 13th March 2018  

Some contributors refer to wearing 'vests' for PE. Is a vest in this case similar to an undershirt, with no sleeves and a low cut neck? Is a singlet the same?
At my UK school our PE top was a normal plain white T shirt, albeit it was not always worn.

Comments by Andrea on 10th March 2018  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

With regard to Bob's comment regarding running on the spot and star jumps, I can recall our PE teacher suggesting to some of my classmates that they should start to wear a bra after seeing them doing exercises like that!

Comments by Alf on 9th March 2018  

I can understand the tradition of boys swimming nude especially in prep and boarding schools. What I find a bit hard to believe is what some said way back on this forum that they were also nude for swimming galas in front of parents, siblings and guests including females.
Some even claim that they had female instructors in junior nude swimming classes up to about age 12 or so.
Does anyone know anytrhing about this or had this experience?

Comments by Peter B on 9th March 2018  

I concur with a lot of what Paul has written. Not all families had washing machines and furthermore there was not a lot of money available for us to have as many clothes as we have today. At least my family only had to buy pe shorts which were also used for Football and cricket in the summer. I think they had to last me most of my school life(bought a bit large for room to grow). We only wore a top outside in winter and that was any T shirt we had, so it was not too expensive. And yes ours was an all boys school with all but one male teachers ex forces served in the war and our PE teacher was ex military PTI a strict disciplinarian and a frequent user of the Plimsoll on the backside.

With regards to " dancing behind a towel" When I lived in London the swimming pool I used had single sex changing facilities with a large communal area and a few cubicles, and life was simple. You just stripped off and changed. Now, where I go, the municipal swimming pool has a "Changing Village" which means that it is open to both sexes and all cubicles. Often you have to wait to get changed because there are insufficient cubicles and when I do get one if I need the loo urgently, I have to get changed quickly into my trunks on before leaving the cubicle. Whereas in the single sex changing rooms as Paul says you could be naked and not worry.

Comments by Stuart on 9th March 2018  cmnmuk@yahoo.co.uk 

RE Gvain's reply to Alf about visitors to swimming pool

I went to all boys private prep/senior school in Surrey which had its own indoor heated pool. We all swam nude until 13, after that regulation black speedo type trunks. We had saturday morning school which was common back then.

One school year, i think when I was 11 or 12, we had swimming as our last lesson of the saturday classes. Quite often the Head would be showing parents & offspring around, which meant that Mothers and sometimes daughters would come into the pool.
I specifically remember one occasion where I was standing on the side for some reason when a boy and girl came in with their parents who were talking with the Head. The kids wandered further in and stood by me, the girl aged about 13 pointed at me and said with a big smile to her younger brother that will be you next term swimming naked and then laughed. He blushed profusely.

I didnt really think anything wrong about adults coming in but then I hadnt hit puberty so did not have much to hide.

Comments by Paul on 8th March 2018  

I think in days when mothers did not have automatic washing machines or indeed in some cases any washing machine at all it was quite normal that clothes were not changed every day and sometimes not for several days. I was only allowed two grey school shirts a week and three pairs of white underpants. I was no different to other lads in that regard.

In those circumstances I don't think it was unusual that for sport where we would sweat or if outside potentially get soaked that we were required to take off our underpants when getting changed in fact it was totally sensible.

Equally in those days all PE teachers (well the men at least) had done national service. The military paid no attention to any concept of privacy when I joined the Navy in the early 1970s so I don't suppose it was any better in the post war era. We slept in open dormitories, showered in communal showers, used toilets that had no partitions and so on and we certainly didn't wear underpants with our sports gear which given the hard navy canvas like gym shorts we had which used to feel like rough sandpaper and they never softened was something you were always aware of.

These days I still use the gym regularly and I'm glad when I see younger lads dancing behind their towels and waiting for the one private shower cubicle as opposed to the fifteen communal showers that I'm comfortable naked in front of other men and don't care that others see me in a place where being naked is actually quite normal. All these years later, I wouldn't think of wearing underpants with my gym gear.

Comments by fchroston@gmail.com on 8th March 2018  

This weekend why not check out the Hesketh Fletcher web site there is a gym photo similar date to above and comments by many of the contributers on this Burnley site. Go to Old Photos and it is positioned on page two.Similar topics are discussed ! F. C.

Comments by Alf on 5th March 2018  

We never had any problems with athletic supporters, which were never mentioned at my school, or having to take off our underpants for PE.
We kept our underpants on under our PE shorts which served as supporters in themselves. I am surprised at how many schools required boys to take off their underpants for PE.
But then our PE lessons were usually light affairs with light exercises and which only lasted about an hour or so.
The only exception was that if a boy forgot his PE kit he was made to do it in his underpants, as someone else mentioned.

Comments by Bob on 4th March 2018  

I had forgotten about the press ups...all that bumping up and down onto the cold wooden floor.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 4th March 2018  fchroston@gmail.com 

Sorry to hear of your P.E days at school and the fact that you remain quite bitter about them.I always thought of them as a welcome break from the text books and taking numerous notes!I had forgotten about the star jumps they were certainly physically exerting.It was the press ups that got me quite hard on. I started with puberty in the summer term in First form.As for the no underpants rule it was just one of the many you had to accept or face the consequences.It was a gentle irony that if you forgot your P.E. shorts for the lesson you had to do it in your underpants a humiliating sanction for any youngster as I experienced once.

Comments by TimH on 4th March 2018  

My experience was pretty much like William's although we did gym into the sixth form. Like a number of others I preferred at first to wear a T-shirt but as I became more 'comfortable' with my body I was happy to just wear shorts. Like William we tended to turn the waistbands over, but in the 6th form I bought a pair of the short cotton football shorts then coming into fashion.

Cross-country kit was football shirt & shorts & plimsolls - no flash trainers in the early 60s. The course was a misture of footpath & country lane - I've measured it be a little under four miles in length.

Although I've no problems with boys doing gym 'topless' indoors or outdoors in summer I would have to raise my eyebrows if I saw boys shirtless in the cold weather we've just experienced.

Comments by Rob on 4th March 2018  

It was the same for all of us,Bob. Like William we never saw athletic supports and I even did gym in the 6th form wearing the same gym shorts I'd worn since the first form with nothing on underneath for all sports,and we never wore a vest or anything on top, even for cross country running.I don't think any of us thought anything about of it; we just got used to it and enjoyed the feeling of freedom.

Comments by Bob on 3rd March 2018  

I resented having to do PE with nothing on underneath those thin white shorts we wore. We always seemed to have to do a lot of running on the spot and star jumps in the gym, which inevitably caused what I later realised was a partial erection.. Although not very athletic, I was well developed in that embarrasing area. Having the PE teacher kneeling down in front of me watching me closely while encouraging me to get my knees higher when jogging on the spot(he often picked on me, it seemed) only added to my discomfort.

Comments by William on 2nd March 2018  

Catching up with the athletic support discussion, I never saw them at school in the '60s, but I didn't do gym after the fifth form and it is possible that the 1st XV had them. I never wore anything under shorts for gym, athletics, rugby or hockey.

We used to try to keep our gym shorts from the first form to the fifth. As the elastic slackened we turned over the waistbands to keep them up. This made the shorts shorter and tighter across the front, which did provide some support.

We never wore vests for gym and so the daring boys whose waistbands were low on their hips were not wearing much by the time they reached the fifth, but I don't think boys or masters thought anything of it.

Comments by Gavin A on 21st February 2018  

Hi Alf
Yes a few resented it because they might not have been so well developed as some of their peers, and they didn't like younger boys seeing that obviously.
We use to swim either as a class (obviously same age - average class size say 20), or as a house which meant that a 10 year old boy could be in the same pool as a 13 year old.

Comments by Alf on 21st February 2018  


Were there any boys who resented being naked during swim classes?

Considewring that there was quite a big age difference at the school, were the classes separate by age groups or all together? How many boys would there be in each swim class?

Comments by Andrea on 21st February 2018  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Olderscot,

Like you my Ex said they weren't allowed to wear athletic supports until the start of their 3rd year at secondary school. He said that some of his classmates could really have done with getting one sooner!

No such age restrictions applied to the type of support required by us girls. A few of my classmates started to wear bras during our last year at primary school, whereas others didn't need them until the 2nd year at secondary.

Comments by Gavin A on 20th February 2018  

The kind of visitors were mainly potential school boys and their parents. On rare occasions that boy might have a sister probably tagging along because they had to! But apart from them I don't remember anyone ekse. I certainly don't think any other member of staff apart from the swimming master or house master/tutor would have had the slightest interest in watching us boys otherwise.

Comments by Gavin A on 20th February 2018  

Peter B

No, I said that when it came to inter school contests we wore trunks

Comments by Alf on 19th February 2018  

To Gavin,

You said " Yes, some of the boys who had turned 13 did start to resent visitors being present when they were naked."

What kind of visitors did you have during your nude swimming classes, were they school staff or others who were visiting to watch?
Did female teachers or other females also came to watch?

Comments by Peter B on 19th February 2018  

So Gavin A are you saying swimming galas for your school with parents or the public present were swum naked?

What would the date have been year wise. It does seem a strange situation, but I suppose some years ago people were not so worried. I do not know if I woolud have been happy swimming naked in front of strangers let alone my own family

Comments by Olderscot on 18th February 2018  

Hi, I note some comments regarding jock straps or Athletic supports to give their proper name. Like many others we only wore white cotton gym shorts and were subject to the " no underwear " rule which was common at the time. When we entered 3rd year around ages 14/15 we were allowed to buy a Litesome support from the school PE dept. Most boys did this. Looking back it was interesting that the rule was based on what year you were in rather than an individual boy's age or requirement for support. Some boys should have been allowed to wear a support much earlier as those shorts offered no support.

Happy to answer any queries .


Comments by Andrea on 18th February 2018  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Alf,
Our parents had to buy the swimsuits as part of our uniform.

I went to an all girls secondary school.

Comments by Gavin A on 17th February 2018  


We all wanted to wear a jockstrap at 13 or 14, just as the older boys were wearing them already. Litesome was the only brand in those days. Most boys possessed two jockstraps, one with and without a pouch (for a box .. i.e. cricket). Very much a coming of age aspect, and although they aren't common today I am still glad to say that I, my sons and grandchildren still wear them for sport.

Comments by Gavin A on 17th February 2018  


To answer your questions: I don't think we had any problems with other teachers (90% + were male) watching us.

Did any of the boys feel any embarrassment being nude in front of everyone else during these lessons, especially at the older age? As said we could wear trunks from the senior school onwards. Yes, some of the boys who had turned 13 did start to resent visitors being present when they were naked. All swimming contests with other schools were never in the nude in front of parents and other guests, we wore navy blue speedos (official school colours). Our school was a boys only school.

Comments by Dave on 17th February 2018  

Hi ,James your experiences with first seeing and then wearing a Litesome jockstrap are very similar to my own I got mine in 1977.

Comments by Arby on 17th February 2018  

James. I totally agree with your comments about jockstraps. In an earlier email I explained how us boys went to the local sports shop to buy one. Like you we felt very grown up as a result. We continued to wear them for sports even after leaving school and college.I also agree how comfortable they were and cannot understand why they have gone out of fashion. They were much more comfortable than modern sports briefs. Difficult to get now but are still available via the internet.

Comments by Alf on 17th February 2018  

Andrea, were the swimsuits supplied by the school or had to be bought by the parents as part of the school kit?

And what did the boys wear, if anything? :)

Comments by Ronnie on 16th February 2018  


I heard about the tawse in Scottish schools and how it was used liberally by most teachers, just like you describe.
Incidentally there was a small documentary on BBC radio about it only a week or two ago. It probably can still be found on the BBC Radio documentary site in mp3 form.

It documents how a Scottish mother whose son was belted at school took the case to the European Court of Justice which forced the British Parliament to take a vote against all corporal punishment in British schoools.

Comments by Ronnie on 16th February 2018  


Apart from the intructor or coach could anyone else from the school, especially female staff or teachers, watch during your nude swimming lessons?
Did any of the boys feel any embarrassment being nude in front of everyone else during these lessons, especially at the older age?
I read some other old posts here who said that they had swimming galas in the nude in front of parents and other guests.

I assume that yours was either a boys only school or the boys and girls had separate swimming classes.
I also find it strange, or maybe justified for some reasons, that only boys were not allowed to wear anything for swimming classes, but not for girls.

Comments by Andrea on 16th February 2018  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Presumably the schools which had nude swimming had their own pools?

We had swimming lessons for a couple of years at Secondary school, but these were at a local council owned pool. We had to wear regulation navy blue one piece swimsuits.

Comments by James on 16th February 2018  

Going back to previous conversations,
Yes I was at Grammar school in the late 60's. I have mentioned before that it was suggested that if we were "uncomfortable' we should get a jockstrap. At that point I didn't really know what one was, but I saw an older boy putting one on in the changing rooms before his shorts and I put two and two together. I thought that it must feel weird, but I had to find out.
I went to the local sports shop and came out with a Litesome, like so many others here. It did feel strange but very comfortable, if a bit draughty!
Quite a few friends went on to get them as it was like the next step to being 'grown up".
I can't understand why they are not so popular now as, for me, they were more comfortable than any other underwear, support and freedom all at once.

Comments by Peter B on 15th February 2018  

I know that now it is many years since senior schools were all boys schools but does anyone recall how they felt the first time they were in a swimming lesson with everyone naked. Especially if the first time it was experienced was in the secondary or senior school.

Comments by Gavin on 14th February 2018  

English independent school (1965 - 1976 ) we swam without trunks from 7 to 13/14 and then trunks were allowed

Comments by Olderscot on 14th February 2018  

I attended a boys only secondary school in Scotland from 1965-1972.
In response to your questions , there was no nude swimming in the school pool . We wore swimming briefs in the school colours . However, if a boy had forgotten his swimming kit then he would be expected to do without. Very few ever did!
Being in Scotland the teachers , almost without exception, had a tawse ( always known as "the belt") in their desk drawer. This was used regularly and few boys would have left school with having had their hands belted. In most cases a boy would receive one or two strokes on each hand but some teachers gave three on each hand as a matter of course. The belts were either marked "H" for heavy or "XH" for extra heavy. Most teachers seemed to use a H with two tails but some had two belts, using the XH on older boys. In all cases the punishment was given in front of the class. Hope that this gives you some idea of what the arrangements were back then.

Comments by Ronnie on 14th February 2018  

Sterling, I have read about the imposed custom of nude swimming in US schools. But the difference with British schools seems to have been that while in US schools the nude swimming started in high school at about age 13 or 14, in British schools it started at a much younger age and contrary to US schools it usually stopped at 13 or 14 at which age the boys were allowed to wear trunks, though not in all schools where they had this practice.

I wonder if there are any readers here who had this practice and tradition at their school.

Comments by Sterling on 13th February 2018  

Ronnie, I have heard of Nude Swimming in some British Boarding School's but nothing like the scale of its practice in some parts of the US.

As for Corporal Punishment I attended a School where each Master had his own particular weapon of mass destruction.
But it kept us on our toes!

Comments by Ronnie on 10th February 2018  

Since this subject seems to be exhausted would it not be more interesting if we talked about corporal punishment and nude swimming when we were at school?

I also remember those old toilets we had at school, especially in primary, which were doorless where us boys had no privacy.
There were even some schools which had open urinals in the school yard which boys could use while playing. Not at our school but one could see these urinals stuck to the schoolyard wall when passing by in the street. I wonder if some schools still have them, though not likely today.

Comments by Mark on 6th February 2018  

Like Jake when in sixth form most lads did PE (and cross-country) while stripped to the waist even though it was not compulsory.

Comments by Rob on 5th February 2018  

When I was at school in the late fifties all the boys wore vests under their school shirts and we were told before the start of the first PE lesson to go to the changing room and take everything off including our socks and underpants and to come back into the gym wearing just shorts and plimsolls.On the way,we were talking and some of the boys said about whether we were allowed to wear Tshirts which had been on the uniform list and we said 'no, just shorts and plimsolls'. So,we certainly weren't allowed to keep our vests on and as to T.shirts; we never ever wore them. We were always stripped to the waist, and able to sweat freely and then shower together afterwards and so become more confident about ourselves. All boys today should be able to continue to share that experience.
When I started a job in 1962, I realised that none of my young male colleagues wore vests under their shirts, so I ditched mine and have never worn one since.

Comments by Jake on 5th February 2018  

It is strange that there weren't standard rules about these things, even within the same school. I had one PE teacher who let us wear t-shirts (and even an extra sweatshirt outdoors!). Then the next year we had a different teacher, his view was that we needed toughening up and made us all do it stripped to the waist. In the sixth form things were more relaxed and we were given the choice, but most boys opted to wear just shorts and no top.

Comments by Toby on 3rd February 2018  

Was it to make you look tough? Some teachers did like to do that. You're right about the variations between schools, shirts vs skins, vests vs skins, skins vs skins. Quite funny really

Comments by Jono on 3rd February 2018  

It's strange each school did different things. I was on the x country team and when competing we always ran in skins. Some teachers would make their team strip while others wouldn't..

Comments by Roy on 1st February 2018  

I agree with Gavin and when I was at school as most boys didn't wear vests although the uniform rules for PE stipulated singlets obviously not having vests they boys went stripped to the waist.
Nothing was said and it soon became normal for all boys to be STTW for both indoor and outdoor PE.

Comments by Gavin on 31st January 2018  

Jason, hardly any of the kids that I went to school with wore vests and those boys would not have wanted to wear a vest or T shirt for PE. It was a good idea at your school for classes to wear different coloured shorts thereby enabling team games where all lads can stay stripped to the waist. Shirts vs skins can be bad for less confident kids, if all boys are shirtless it is fairer and all boys will get used to it and gain confidence in their bodies.

Comments by Jason on 27th January 2018  

Think it was easier having everyone stripped down. We wore either black or white shorts depending on which class we were in. Those who did wear a vest under their school shirts simply peeled off and hung them on their peg.

Comments by John Lavender on 25th January 2018  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

Replying to Gavin;

I think the Teacher was trying to follow PE Uniform policy but he was ex-Army and also a Serving Police Sargeant so I think secretly he would have had us all stripped to the waist if he had - had any input into the Policy. The
Teacher was often Stripped To The Waist as well.
Quite a few of us preferred being STTW and would go to any lengths, from just asking if we could strip off, to deliberately being last into the Gym so we could take our tops off and Run the Gauntlet.

Doing that, we had to run between two lines of lads (up to about 15 in each line) who would slap us on the back as we passed them. We weren't supposed to stop and fight any of the lads in the Lines but sometimes we did,We used that to get even if we owed them one for something.
Occasionally that would descend into a scuffle between more lads and the Teacher would have to separate us.

Comments by Gavin on 22nd January 2018  

John, having enjoyed the freedom and comfort of being stripped to the waist for secondary school PE, I cannot understand why your teacher thought that it was a punishment making the last 2 lads to emerge from the changing room take their tops off. Most lads would have hated being made to wear a T shirt or vest for indoor PE, having a hot sweaty shirt sticking to your back is really uncomfortable and unnecessary.

Comments by John Lavender on 21st January 2018  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

Reply to Andy K1;

Our kit was nominally White Tee Shirt, white shorts and Plimmies (Plimsolls)
At the start of every lesson the last 2 lads to get Changed into Kit and into the Gym were made to take their Tops off and 'Run the Gauntlet' of the rest of the class - usually around 30 Lads.
After this they stayed Topless for the rest of the lesson, and some lads were allowed to take their tops off if they wanted to -and if the Gym Master would let them.
If we played team games eg Killerball (a kind of indoor Rugby but with fewer rules and played with a Medcine Ball of a random weight chosen by the Teacher), then we played 'Skins vs. Vests').

We didn't wrestle every week, but as I said, we were always told in advance if it was, and told to wear our Swim-briefs.

Comments by Andy K1 on 21st January 2018  

Hi John, thanks for your comment about wrestling. It made me wonder if you wore shirts in the gym, with everyone going to skins and why did you need notice to fight. PE was always done stripped to the waist and by the end of session we were visibly sweating.

Comments by Matt on 21st January 2018  

I wish that boxing had been part of the Physical Education curriculum at my secondary school. I needed toughening up and lads need to learn self defence.

Comments by AndyK1 on 20th January 2018  

Michael, you're probably right about the pairings I felt the same way. We all were stripped to the waist to box and I'm guessing you were the same. No one really wanted to look bad in the ring but it was a way to release frustration ect.

Comments by Michael on 20th January 2018  

We didn't have wrestling at my school, but we did have boxing. This was in the days before "Elf 'n Safety", so although we wore boxing gloves we had no protection for our heads or bodies.

Although it was an outlet for the more testosterone-fuelled boys' aggression, as an oft-derided "wimpy kid" I found the amount of violence to be scary.

The bigger boys could deliver powerful punches, and I sometimes wondered if the pairings were arranged so that anyone 'out of favour' would get a beating from their opponent.

Comments by James on 19th January 2018  

Apologies for my unfinished message.
What was most appealing was the soft,shiny material that would shimmer in the sunlight.
Although I thought they were a bit sissyish,I preferred wearing them to grey school shorts.

Comments by James on 19th January 2018  

Peter B,I really think what is considered'cool'is what is fashionable at the time.
Shorts were much shorter in the seventies when I was at school and we had to accept that even though they would be typically worn without underwear.
When satin shorts became fashionable in the late seventies,I wore them for first time with trepidation,although I was reassured by my mother that I that I looked very smart and trim in my new shorts.
I'm sure what apea
It was the

Comments by Peter B on 19th January 2018  

John Lavender
Referring to other peoples comments and mine on fashion it seems that it is no longer "cool" for lads are to wear swim briefs.

Comments by John Lavender on 18th January 2018  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

In our gym sessions at Grammar School (1963-68) we didn't wear supports but some of us used to put our Swimming Trunks on underneath our Shorts instead if we needed to.
We also used to do Wrestling sometimes as well and if this was the case, our PE Master used to tell us in advance, so that we could start the lesson with them under our Shorts, and then slip off our shorts and just wrestle in the swim-briefs.
There were two "Houses" at the School and it was always one Boy in Green Trunks against one in Navy-Blue. We didn't use a Ring, just an exercise Mat in the Middle of the Gym Floor. Any of the Lads who weren't already in "Skins" had to take their Tee-shirt off, of course.

Comments by Daved on 16th January 2018  davidmecheng@tesco.net 

Hi ,if anyone would like to chat more about supporters and athletics kit please feel free to Email me I would be happy to talk further.

Comments by Peter B on 16th January 2018  

I was not aware that jockstraps had gone out of fashion, but the I am not athletic. Due to the fact that most lads are allowed to wear under under their shorts these days and given the fact that they all seem to wear boxers not briefs, you would think that they would need some sort of support for PE or games

Comments by James on 16th January 2018  

Peter B
At the school that I attended during the seventies,we also had a strict'no underwear policy'which was rigorously enforced.We too would wear just our shorts with no vest or socks.No distinction was ever made by the boys'ages and like you we would wear the same brief shorts in the fifth form as the first formers would wear.
I found it far more traumatic wearing these shiny little numbers for cross country where we could be seen in public rather than other outdoor pursuits.

Comments by Jon on 15th January 2018  

I was st school between 1968 and 1974

I totally agree that is a shame they went out of vogue

Comments by Dave on 15th January 2018  davidmecheng@tesco.net 

Hi , the period I started wearing a supporter was mid 70`s, maybe before that time they were not very common

Comments by Peter B on 15th January 2018  

I went to an an all boys school in London (1961 to 1966) The top form was the 5th form when we left in July 66 at the age of 16. We had a strict no underwear policy and no tops indoors and no socks. Athletic supports were nerve mentioned and so we went through all years with no support. In the summer when we played cricket during the games period we never knew about boxes and so did not wear them.

Having read some of the previous contributions about swimming with out trunks at least we did wear these for our lesson but of course in those days we all wore the briefs type, not the long shorts that our now worn for swimming.

Comments by Andrea on 15th January 2018  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

The school my Ex went to (in the 1970's) was a boys grammar, not a public or boarding school. As mentioned previously it was their PE teacher who suggested they start to wear a supporter, rather than it being on the PE kit list.

When my son was about 11, he wanted to play junior cricket and a 'box' was on the compulsory kit list. That was the first time. I came across a jockstrap with a pouch - my Ex didn't play cricket.

Comments by Dave on 15th January 2018  

Hi , interesting comments from both of you , I think it must have been down to school policy or the head of sports as to what underwear boys should or should not wear.
My school was a mixture of day and boarding and it was a boarder who I first watched wearing a supporter.

Comments by TimH on 15th January 2018  

Strangely, like William, I can't remember anyone at my boys' grammar school in the 60s wearing jockstraps either. Could it be a demographic/cultural thing?

Comments by Arby on 15th January 2018  

I went to a State High School in the 60s. Most boys by the time that we reached the 6th form wore a jockstrap for PE and games. Yes they were Litesome jockstraps. I remember two of us going to the local sports shop to buy them for the first time. We felt very grown up at the time. Afterwards it just became quite normal to wear them. The sports teaching staff encouraged us to wear them, particularly as we eventually realised that they wore them too. In my view it is a great pity that jockstraps are no longer in vogue.

Comments by William on 15th January 2018  

Jon and Dave

I wonder exactly when you were at school. At a boys' grammar school in the '60s I never saw or heard of jock straps. We never wore anything under our shorts, not for gym, athletics, rugby or hockey. In retrospect, jock straps would have been welcome in the sixth form.

And on the thread in December, no-one tried to get round the "no pants" rule. I made the mistake of wearing pants at my first gym lesson - I was absent for the "no pants" order - and was screamed at by the master when we stripped for the showers. It made an indelible impression on me and probably on everyone else.

Comments by Jon on 15th January 2018  

Yes very similar experience. I went to a public school in Hertfordshire. I was a boarder and would say that we practically all had jockstraps (athletic supporters) by the time we'd reached sixth form, whereas the day boys weren't so enthusiastic. Don't know why that was really. Perhaps boarders were more inclined to follow the lead boy for fear of being seen out of line/ fashion. I only ever geall remember there being Litesome jockstraps with or without pouches (with for sport like cricket to carry a box). Most boys had both types.

Comments by Dave on 14th January 2018  

Hi Andrea and Jon , after I had seen the other boy wearing his jockstrap I wanted one so went on my own to a local sports shop and bought an athletic supporter as they were called along with a new running vest and shorts. I remember being very excited and rushed home to try them on , it did take some time and nerve to wear them at school for the first time. My games master did comment that it was good to see I was wearing proper athletic`s kit !!
Jon I went to a public school here in Somerset.

Comments by Andrea on 14th January 2018  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Dave,
If my memory is correct, I think my Ex said their PE teacher advised all the boys to purchase a 'Litesome Supporter' when they started their 3rd year at secondary school (so aged about 13). Before that they weren't allowed anything under their shorts.

He got his dad to go with him to buy one; did you do the same or did you buy it yourself?

Comments by Jon on 14th January 2018  


Like experience ... at the age of 14 we started to invest in a jockstrap once one boy had bought one. Which school were you at?

Comments by Jon on 14th January 2018  


Like experience ... at the age of 14 we started to invest in a jockstrap once one boy had bought one. Which school were you at?

Comments by Dave on 13th January 2018  

Hi,I have been reading the comments here and most of them ring true to my time at school. We were not allowed to wear underwear at all under our white pe shorts up to 14 when most of us started wearing tight pants or swimming trunks under the shorts for support. When I was 16 I saw a lad putting on a jockstrap before a cross country race and by that weekend I had my first litesome jockstrap, one or two of my friends also got one and the small athletic shorts which were the fashion in the late 70`s early 80`s.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 13th January 2018  fchroston@gmail.com 

The spirit of the 1959 Burnley Grammar photo is alive and well in the form of Olympian gymnast Nile Wilson.Check out his You Tube videos,Ultimate Gymnast Challenge.

Comments by Roy on 13th January 2018  

I agree that single sex primary schools were rare although in secondary schools they were common both in the private and state school sectors.

Comments by Andrea on 12th January 2018  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Ben,

Personally I didn't find it embarrassing as I was still totally flat-chested when I left primary school. Also, like many of the girls, I became adept at putting on my PE shorts before removing my skirt!
I think some of the early developers did start to feel self-conscious about their bodies, not helped some of the boys making comments. Did that happen in your school too?

Certainly in earlier years a few pupils of both sexes did PE in their vest and pants if they forgot their PE kit, but I don't recall it happening in the final year.

Comments by Ben on 11th January 2018  

Andrea, did you or any of the other girls feel embarrassed stripping and changing for PE in front of the boys in class?

Also was there some sort of punishment if you forgot your PE kit, like making you do PE in just underpants which seems to have been common in some schools?

Comments by Andrea on 11th January 2018  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Ben,

A follow up question - had any of the budding girls actually started to wear bras? If so it seems particularly harsh that they had to remove them.
As I said in my previous post, a few of my classmates did start to wear bras during our final year at primary school, but there were others who had small buds but were still wearing vests. Of course this was in the days before cami-tops etc were available as a 'half-way house' between a vest and a bra.

Comments by Andrea on 10th January 2018  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Ben,

I left primary school in 1971. We were allowed to wear T shirts and shorts or pe skirts, but boys and girls had to change in the same classroom (supervised by our teacher).
As you say, some of the girls started to develop budding breasts during the final year at Primary and a few started to wear bras rather than vests. They were normally allowed to change separately in the toilets.

Comments by Ben on 10th January 2018  

Hi Claire, at least you were all girls and presumably with all female teachers during PE.
In our case it was mixed and with both male and female teachers, depending on who your class teacher was.

I also think that it was rare to have boys only or girls only primary schools, though I coulld be wrong.
Although single sex secondary schools were not that uncommon.

Comments by Claire on 7th January 2018  

Hi Ben, I attended an all girls school leaving in 1997. We were made to go "bare top" in gym until 11yo when bra's were required by many. I am pretty "flat chested" our gym teacher kept myself and a couple of other girls as skins. I was 15 before requiring a bra.

Comments by Ben on 7th January 2018  

We did PE in just underpants, both boys and girls, throughout primary school till age 11. Some girls had budding breasts in the last years and some boys were also beginning to develop.
I guess most of us started to feel embarrassed being half naked or almost naked in front of the opposite sex at that age.
We all undressed down to our underpants in class under the supervision of our teacher and were taken for PE exercises.
This was in the early 60s.
I wonder if this is still permitted in any schools.

Comments by Matt on 4th January 2018  

I attended a co-educational secondary school and was initially embarrassed being barechested in front of girls whilst doing mixed sex PE lessons. It would seem from quite a few posts that lads in early teens have not wanted to have to strip to the waist in the presence of girls. I wish that I had been to a single sex school where I would not have been bothered being stripped to the waist amongst other boys. There is much to be said for single sex education until the age of 16, boys can concentrate on their education without the distraction of girls.

Comments by Paul on 4th January 2018  

Peter B,

Of course these days the cane is banned so it just couldn't happen but back in the 1960s a headmaster, particularly of a private school had pretty free reign where anything was concerned.

Corporal punishment was overseen by the governors but in reality that meant it was left to the headmaster's discretion unless a parent complained and as you say, a parent then would almost certainly side with the school - mine always did and had I not already had the strap at home, I would have been given it just for getting a caning at school. The governors were all retired ex-military types anyway who no doubt thought the more severe a caning the better - never done them any harm and so on.

The headmaster maintained a list of boys who he saw as rebellious and after the skinhead cut I was on it alongside a few more. It guaranteed you a bare bottom caning if you were sent to him and up to twelve strokes - which I never got though I did get eight a couple of times - surprisingly much worse than six.

I doubt any parent today would use a strap like my father had either - it was about eighteen inches long and two wide and half an inch thick, it really packed a punch and a dozen of it on my bare bottom was the norm. I suspect any father today even giving a couple with it would be arrested.

Is the situation today better? I'm not sure, I look at lads heading for school and the state of them and sometimes think that the threat of a rarely used cane might smarten them up no end.

Comments by Sterling on 4th January 2018  

As many have stated the Bare Chest policy was quite popular amongst many female onlookers. I attended an all boys school. The ladies who worked in the canteen certainly enjoyed extended cigarette breaks while watching the shirtless shenanigans on the pitch!

Comments by Jason on 3rd January 2018  

There are other ways to distinguish teams but none as effective or practical than stripping off. Boys realise that there's no hiding place when you're stripped to the waist. Everyone can see you sweat!

Comments by Roger on 3rd January 2018  

Certainly I noticed especially during the Summer Terms at my mixed Grammar School when we did athletics outdoors many of the girls would gravitate to the boys who were stripped to the waist - nearly all of us - like bees around a honeypot.

Comments by Simon on 3rd January 2018  

Matt, thanks for clarifying that. I think the same split would apply if boys were given the choice, even if only for outdoor PE. But I agree it's fairer for every boy to be treated the same and more logical if indoor PE kit is restricted to shorts (and perhaps footwear) only.

Comments by Alex on 3rd January 2018  

Spot on Matt. Stripping to the waist to exercise also gave the confidence when it came to girls. One girl who later became my wife remembers watching me in the gym and doing numerous laps of the field stripped down. Worked wonders!

Comments by Peter B on 3rd January 2018  


Your comments show how times have changed (whether for the better that is debatable) But to think that these days a headmaster would take a boy into his off ice and make him drop his trousers and cane him in his pants would nowadays be unthinkable. And then on a subsequent occasion to cane a bare backside there would now be a court case.

Was the punishment right? I do know that parents usually upheld the schools authority and if parents found out there was further punishment at home.

When I see and read how pupils behave at school nowadays with no respect for the staff perhaps we should return to single sex schools and bring back corporal punsihment

Comments by Marc on 3rd January 2018  

Thank you, James, for your input. I would suspect that your teachers who stripped to the waist, didn't wear underpants and showered with sixth-formers would be pretty unusual but let's see if there were any more schools like yours.

Comments by Matt on 2nd January 2018  

Simon,when I said that boys should be offered a choice of wearing a shirt or not I meant for outdoor PE. For indoor PE boys should be stripped to the waist and it is much fairer for all boys to be treated the same. Doing PE shirtless helps to develop more confidence regarding body image.

Comments by James on 2nd January 2018  

Marc, yes, our PE teachers were always bare chested regardless of where we were, indoors or out. There were three men who taught PE and I never saw them any other way but they obviously did put a shirt on at break time. It was also obvious that they didn't wear underpants either when you might be running behind them or seeing them bend and stretch while demonstrating exercises.

It wasn't either unusual that they joined us in the showers more particularly when we were in the sixth form. We never thought anything of it and nothing untoward ever happened and I don't think I even imagined that it could.

Comments by Paul on 2nd January 2018  

The comments about haircuts are interesting. I remember in the late 60s when skinheads first appeared. Initially masters praised the smart look in comparison to the long hair that was fashionable at the time. I really wanted a skinhead but continued to have a short back and sides, always going to the barber's with my father.

The mood then began to turn as skinheads began to be associated with rebellion and suddenly they were not encouraged. I wasn't rebellious but I still wanted one.

I was off school for a few days unwell and on the last day went to the barber's alone as my father was at work where I asked for and was given a skinhead after the barber was sure I had my father's permission, of course I lied and said I did. Little did I know that while I was off school the headmaster banned skinhead cuts and warned that any boy coming to school from then on would pay a heavy price.

That evening at home my father was more than annoyed and as always my bottom was soundly strapped. Returning to school the next morning, bottom still very sore I met the headmaster on the way in and I thought he was going to have a fit he was so red in the face as he ordered me to his study. My absence from school was not an excuse and my attempt to use that as an excuse was dismissed as insolence in an obviously rebellious boy for who there was only one remedy which of course was six of the very best across my underpants with a warning that any future caning for any reason would be on my bare bottom. The marks lasted for over a week. (Six months later after I truanted one day to watch a rugby game he did keep his promise and it was a whole lot worse bare.)

At least we had PE later during the morning so I certainly had some trophies to be seen changing and in the showers afterwards!

Comments by Marc on 2nd January 2018  

Frank refers to "Mr. Anderson". His classes were stripped to the waist at all times and he observed the policy himself. Did anyone on here have such a teacher?

Comments by AndyK1 on 2nd January 2018  

Indoors we were stripped to the waist for all PE/Games lessons. Outside we were more bare chests than vests. Masters ensured each boy was visibly sweating at the end or laps of the field would come your way, barechested of course.

Comments by Simon on 1st January 2018  

Matt, I disagree that boys should be given the choice of wearing a shirt for PE. Surely what would then happen is that all the confident boys would choose to do it in skins and the the boys with a hang-up about being shirtless would stay as they were. Which would do nothing to increase their confidence in tne long run. From my own experience I think it's much more effective if boys are just told that they all have to take their shirts off, at least for a set period. As you mentioned earlier it's possible to use different methods of telling teams apart, other than shirts and skins which can seem unfair to some boys.

Comments by Sam on 1st January 2018  

Obviously doing vigorous PE would make one sweat and that is why indoor PE should be done stripped to the waist.
For outdoors it perhaps it should not be mandatory although it should be encouraged leading to more lads taking vests off and going stripped to the waist.

Comments by Matt on 1st January 2018  

Jason, I agree with you entirely. Being stripped to the waist for PE is healthy and wearing vests/shirts can be dangerous when using gymn equipment. Boys should at least be able to choose whether they want to wear a shirt or not, many would choose not to wear a shirt if they had the chance to do PE shirtless.

Comments by Jason on 1st January 2018  

Alex, that's why all boys should strip down. The girls loved to see you stripped to the waist, indoors or out, hairy chests or not we were stripped and on show. I feel today's lads would benefit from being stripped to the waist for all PE. Strangely it's the feminists who want to stop boys becoming men.

Comments by TimH on 31st December 2017  

Just responding to Andy's post of 22nd(?)December - if you trawl back through the thread you should find that not only did girls not object to seeing boys doing gym topless, some actually relished it, and others would have happily decided which boys would lose their shirts!

Some people have commented that some gym teachers were almost sadistic in their attitudes; others have said that they think some could have been suffering from PTSD as a result of wartime experiences. I don't know and I'm not compretant to judge but to my dying day I'll thank the a certain Geography and substitute Gym teacher who gave 'little me' a love for the High & Wild places of the Earth that has survived over fify years.

Has this thread really been going for ten years? Looks back to see when I made my first posting.

Comments by Alex on 31st December 2017  

Matt, It was strange that some lads were picked to strip down a lot more than others. You were expected to sweat during PE. All indoors PE should be done stripped to the waist throughout school,outdoors should be a choice, skins, vests or t shirt.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 31st December 2017  

I will have to give you that one Ben thanks for that comment.2018 marks the tenth anniversary of this interesting and diverse website Mr Anderson's article on Physical education came straight from a bona fide master of the subject!Cursed down to April this year '17 To read it.He started teaching the subject in 1968 when I was eight!His experience is written in great detail,thank you for posting it. Sir!I note that the form you fill in to comment is not secure with my security software Kaspersky!But on my tablet McAffee says it's fine.Just one caveat.yes I spotted the typo above cursed and I meant curser but Im keeping it in as a double entendre.Keep contributing Happy New Year to all. F.C.

Comments by Ben on 30th December 2017  

I find it some what ironic that schools want boys to have short haircuts but complain when they go to extremes with clipper cuts and No 1 cuts.
Having a No 1 is to my mind better than having shoulder length hair and even longer.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 30th December 2017  fchroston@email.co 

Michael a similar situation with me.The barber and my father were totally engrossed in conversation about fishing!It went well over my head whilst I was being scalped.You could strike one of those red topped matches on the back.The Beatles and Stones were very influential on the sixties youth also the footballers,turning convention upside down.

Comments by Michael on 29th December 2017  

The comments about hair length reminded me of a memorable episode in the mid 1960s - when the Beatles' style of long hair was very much in vogue.

Naturally this fashion was frowned on by my school, with its dated regulations insisting on short hair for all boys. My mother was of the same opinion, and following many reminders for me to get my hair cut, finally lost patience and personally conducted me to the gents' hairdressers.

As my hair was being cut she maintained a conversation with the barber, who periodically paused to enquire (of her, not me) whether enough had been cut off. Time and again she insisted on more being cut, and the barber resumed his snipping and his ongoing conversation with my mother.

Eventually there was nothing left of my hair but bristles. The barber could cut no more off, and at last I was released from the chair. My mother was satisfied and paid the small charge.

On our way home my mother insisted that my hair had not been cut off as a punishment, but because she wanted to continue her interesting conversation with the barber! I was sceptical, but there was nothing I could do. I suffered terribly from taunting at school, being called "Bristle Sprout" for what seemed an eternity until my hair had grown back to a reasonable length.

Someone once said that "talk's cheap" but I paid very dearly for that conversation. Ever afterwards, I went to the barber's at the first mention from my mother, so as not to risk a repeat of that occasion.

Comments by Matt on 29th December 2017  

Alex, I like you was always chosen to strip to the waist when playing shirts vs skins football or basketball. I did not like it at first but soon got used to it and it was a lot more comfortable than running around with a shirt on sweating. On one occasion we had a supply PE teacher who insisted on all lads being shirtless, when we played indoor soccer he gave us different coloured armbands to wear to differentiate the teams. I think that for indoor PE a shirtless rule should have applied and shirts allowed for outdoor PE.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 28th December 2017  

Full fourteen James.

Comments by ROY on 28th December 2017  

As is said fashions change and it is now quite common for youths to have very short hair - clipper cuts and No.1s.

Comments by James on 27th December 2017  

Frank,thank you for your reply,I agree fashions have changed considerably and as we know short style haircuts,like wearing short trousers were not in fashion in the seventies.
Although as you see in the photo some boys had quite longish hair,but I had to undertake regular visits to the barbers to have my hair clipped to stubble.
Like wearing my brief,grey shorts this certainly made me stand out from the crowd.
How old were you when you went into long trousers?

Comments by Frank Chroston on 27th December 2017  

Thanks James for sharing your experience in more detail.I find it rather ironic that modern kids go for the very short styles of hair including clipper cuts and short back and sides!How fashions change over a generation.I suppose that we should hand the debate back to the original 1959 Burnley Grammar photo as a lot of people have a vested interest!

Comments by Michael on 27th December 2017  

I note from the picture that there are some rubber mats strategically placed on the gym floor, but in my experience they offered little cushioning if fallen on from any height.

One heartless teacher said we were better off without mats altogether, as we would then try harder not to fall in the first place!

Comments by James on 26th December 2017  

Frank,It is comforting to share the same adolescent experiences,as I also had the same haircut style that you described.
As you say'it was unusual,even in the early seventies to wear shorts in school'and that's probably why the lads in the barbers were sniggering.
My parents considered that a particularly short hairstyle complimented my looks and with my ultra short trousers gave that 'young boy look'which is what they achieved.
Although we had a very strict school uniform,there was no restriction on when we were allowed to wear short trousers,so after my mother checked with my form teacher,it was decreed that I should remain wearing short trousers till I left school.
At that time at age thirteen it meant I would have to spend another three years wearing short trousers!
Even for boys of my age at that time,shorts were readily available,either off the peg at Marks or any school outfitter would supply them,even allowing to try them on in the shop,so a perfect fit could be achieved.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 25th December 2017  

Sorry it ran out of space, the woolly grey socks didn't suffice. Thanks for sharing my adolescent experience.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 25th December 2017  

One of my worst experiences was when my father took me to the barbers in town after school.It was November I wasn't allowed the trendy new hair styles of the time,parents kept it very short which added to my ridicule.There were a couple of lads in the barbers waiting for a haircut,they started sniggering when they saw I had shorts on!You know the type of laughter they were trying to stifle but couldn't suppress.This made me feel very uncomfortable.Yes I do remember the cold aspect of wearing shorts in winter and the grey woolly socks didn't cover enough of the legs.I think my mother got the shorts mail order from a men's catalogue as I was quite big around the waist.

Comments by James on 25th December 2017  

Hi Frank,I'm sorry you had to suffer the indignation and humiliation that I did.The effect was mortifying to be the only boy in my class still wearing short trousers and I had to endure the same cruel verbal abuse simply for the amusement of my contemporaries.Of course,shorts were considerably shorter in the seventies,which of course appealed to my mother as she considered boys looked much smarter when wearing that particular style.
No concern was ever shown for wearing my shorts in the cold winter months and as you will probably recall your bare legs could leave you exposed to the elements,although I was allowed to wear long knee stockings to keep my legs warm.
As your mother kept you in short trousers because of some out dated tradition,no reason was ever given to me why I had to wear short trousers at that age.
What did you find the worst experience of wearing short trousers at that age?

Comments by Andy on 25th December 2017  

Peter, there wasn't any encouraging going on from what I can remember, it was just noticing others not taking them off coupled with the teachers taking no action that I suppose made me think I could get away with it as well.

When the teacher reminded us we shouldn't have any pants on and he was going to do a check I guess I felt worried. The way they checked was we had to pull the top up at one side and pull the waist band out while the teacher walked down the line checking.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 24th December 2017  

HiJames,Thank you for contributing to this site.Seems we both had dominant mother's!It was unusual even in the early seventies to wear shorts in school!So late, I was the only child and my mum chose all my clothes and put them out in sets after washing and ironing.She had been a Matron in the 1950s. I suppose she was used to the way boys were clothed then and wanted me to be the same.I too had to shake off verbal abuse and hurtful remarks.It was however it seemed extra special when I went back to school in the Autumn wearing long trousers!

Comments by Alex on 24th December 2017  

Matt, We did vests vs skins for For some reason I was always picked to strip regardless so only wore a vest literally just a handful of times,indoors and out. Was weird seeing a line of vests on the touchline but the girls never objected to watching us do PE/"Games stripped to the waist.

Comments by Peter B on 24th December 2017  

Andy, was there any sense of apprehension when wearing underwear and did you encourage each other as a group or was it individual choice to flout the rules. It seems you got away with it for some time. How did you feel the day the teacher decided to check and how did he detect the forbidden underwear?

Comments by James on 24th December 2017  

Like Frank Chroston,I wore short trousers into my fourth year at secondary school,but not through my own choice,but my mother's insistence.
Short trousers that I wore were similar in length to sports shorts only in charcoal grey.
They were usually purchased 'off the peg'and they fitted so that they were neat and trim not knee length.
Of course there was a considerable amount of mockery and teasing from my contemporaries,but I got used to it and couldn't wait for my first pair of long trouseres.

Comments by Andy on 23rd December 2017  

Peter, I don't know if it was the best deterrent, our teachers never used the slipper so our punishment was pain free. It worked in the main for PE as a T-shirt only just went past the waist band and detection was almost guaranteed.

For games we wore a rugby top and for most of us the top was so large (I wore the same one when I left school) that the bottom protruded out below the shorts. This made the task of detection more difficult .The teachers used to remind us of the rules but in the second year they hadn't said anything for a term or so or made any checks, as a result we got brave and thought we could get away with not taking them off - particularly as you couldn't tell. After several weeks probably a dozen of us one lesson paid the price, the teachers made a check on the playing field and all those wearing pants had to remove them.

I for one learnt my lesson and even though I resented wearing no pants I made sure I took them off whenever getting changed at school.

Comments by Peter B on 23rd December 2017  

Andy it seems like your teacher had the best deterrent.

Comments by Matt on 23rd December 2017  

Wearing only shorts for PE was ok indoors but not if the PE teacher picked you for the skins team for outdoor shirts vs skins football in the winter!

Comments by Andy on 22nd December 2017  

Our PE kit was white shorts and T-shirt so the teachers had an easy task in seeing if anything was being worn underneath ( although it didn't stop some trying). If caught you had to take them off in front of the rest of the class - the opportunity to remove them in the changing room had passed.

Although PE lessons where single sex the girls did have PE lessons at the same time, the prospect of having to remove them with girls potentially around certainly made you think twice about leaving your underpants on when getting changed.

Comments by Peter B on 20th December 2017  

Paul I remember the checking for boys wearing pants under shorts. My school did not stipulate what colour shorts were to be worn. Most wore white and as you say it was easy to check to see if pants were being worn. However some wore blue or black so pants were not easily detected. Teacher was not put off he had a system whereby he would call out one of the lads wearing dark shorts to stand out in front of the class and the teacher would ping back the elastic at the back just enough to get a glance of any pants. Woe betide anyone caught contravening the regulations. He made them go and remove the underwear and when the lad returned he got 6 of the best with his one of own plimsolls.
I think the walk to the changing room to dress correctly and then the walk back to receive the punishment was an deterrent in itself knowing what was waiting for you when you returned and was effective because it was only very rare for anyone to try and break the rules.

Comments by Paul on 19th December 2017  

Vests and skins were normal for us too - 1960s grammar school, boys only.

After getting used to taking off underpants and communal showers vests and skins were something of the reverse to what most describe. A team would be told to put vests on as bare chest was the norm for anything regardless of indoors or out or whether it was sunny or snowing.

Running in shorts and plimsolls in the snow was fine and of course the colder it was the more likely there was to be a check for any boy wearing underpants. The norm for that was to face the wall and all bend over and of course through thin white shorts underpants could be seen clearly. Needless to say any boy caught had his bottom brought up to inferno temperature very quickly.

Showers were only ever cold and icy in winter but we just got on with it, it was the norm and plimsoll or worse still cane on icy cold and wet bottom was definitely to be avoided.

Comments by Alex on 18th December 2017  

Hi Andrea, What's your views on schoolboys being stripped to the waist for PE. Do you think it's a good thing?

Comments by Joe on 17th December 2017  

Reading JasonDL's post, I wondered whether boys at your school always had to take their tops off for PE, or just sometimes? I also attended an all boys school in the 80s and always wore a PE vest for my first two years. Then when I was 14 it all changed, we were put into sets instead of classes for PE, which meant larger groups of boys and vests against skins teams. I remember feeling so awkward and uncomfortable the first time I was told to take my vest off, like you I wasn't used to that. I was conscious of feeling very exposed and I think some of the other barechested boys felt the same.
What I didn't realise at first was that we had to remain in the same teams for the next few PE lessons as well... so I had to get used to being a skin! I suppose it was a kind of tough love, but it seemed unfair to me at the time, with other lads wearing their vests and me doing PE in just my shorts every time.

Comments by Alex on 16th December 2017  

I think it was due to not being on the uniform list which stipulated a white PE vest. Despite bringing an ordinary vest for the next lesson the lad was kept in the skins team for the whole term. We always skins team vs vests. I only had a vest on literally a handful of times during all my years at school.

Comments by JasonDL on 16th December 2017  

I was at an all boys school in the 80s and I remember one boy in my class getting really upset in the gym when he was told to take off his top. Turned out he had a birthmark on his chest that he was embarrassed about. Doubt anyone would have noticed if he hadn't drawn attention to himself, but after that everyone pointed to it each time he had to be shirtless!

I got to quite like having to be just in shorts for PE, it was more comfortable and free, even though I wasn't at all well built. Though at first it did feel a bit uncomfortable, because going barechested was not something I ever had done really (Swimming seemed different). Actually I noticed it more at the start of each PE lesson. For about the first 10 minutes I'd feel very conscious of how I was standing there completely stripped to the waist and wished I could put my shirt back on. But after a while you really didn't notice you had your shirt off.

I think it made us more self confident. Even birthmark boy got used to it in the end (I think)

Comments by ROY F on 16th December 2017  

I used to wear my normal vest for PE and not the special one with the school crest on on it.
When the teacher saw it like the guy Alex mentioned I was told to take it off and go stripped to the waist.
I got so used to it that I did PE stripped to the waist all the time thereafter both indoors and outside.

Comments by Andrea on 15th December 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

My dad wore string vest and pants in the 1970s. I can't recall the brand though.

Comments by Peter B on 15th December 2017  

Frank Chroston, I like your sense of humour.

Alex I wonder why the teachers took that course of action with that pupil. At our school when doing PE indoors it was not tops and shorts without anything underneath and the old black plimsolls. No socks. So minimalist not like today's lessons.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 15th December 2017  fchroston@gmail.com 

Thanks Alex for your memory.My string underwear of 1969 to 1970 was St Michaels.So was the grey school shirt I wore for school and at the grammar school the black long trousers.So it was one way I got full Marks in school!

Comments by Alex on 14th December 2017  

One lad in my PE class wore a string vest for one term, he was simply told to strip to the waist until he had an ordinary vest by the PE teachers.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 12th December 2017  fchroston@gmail 

Thanks to Peter B.The String vest had a macho image and epitomised the average working man and boys in my class actually felt they wanted a part of this.The other vests and pants didnt cut the mustard. One of the characters in Coronation Street Stan Ogden was often seen in his string vest with no shirt.(played by Bernard Yeuens).

Comments by Peter B on 11th December 2017  

To Frank Chroston I remember the string underwear briefs and singlets. I do not think it is sold now in shops . Was marketed as cool in summer and warm in winter. How fashion has changed.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 11th December 2017  fchroston@gmail.com 

I was educated in the era that the majority of the interesting and diverse views are based on.I attended a Catholic Prep school in the Greater Manchester area,then part of Cheshire.1967-1971."Although i was not from an affluent family I found I was mixing with some footballers sons who lived in the area.We wore grey shorts as part of the school uniform.I remember the string underpants and vest,had a set of those in 1969.Some of my classmates and friends began to wear black or grey long trousers in the forth year of the Prep School.I was quite happy to carry on in my shorts until the end of that year.P.E.was held in the adjoining secondary school had a white vest,shorts and plimsolls.Showering was not compulsory and we were allowed to wear under garments.This changed when we went to the Upper School (grammar).Football was the main sport in the prep. and Athletics in the summer.For football we wore white shorts and red,blue,green or yellow shirts depending on which house you were allocated to.Red was Ashley.Blue was Dunham.Green Stamford and Tatton yellow. I was in the latter.In the Autumn and Spring terms,football sessions began to get rather muddy and most boys used the shower facilities provided not just to clan up but to warm up after the best part of an hour outside.So Autumn 1971 at the Grammar School. Red singlet white shorts and plimsolls.No under wear allowed. Punishment if you forgot your kit or towel.One boy had to perform the physical activities in his underpants for for not remembering to bring his kit on the right day!So rugby was the main sport this alternated with Cross - Country. This was a cantor round a golf course and a river valley. For both we had to shower after Games naked in the communal.Two of these fifty boys to one. It was very often steamy sweaty and smelly. Soap or shower gel was never used or shampoo.I remember a large sponge being thrown around! We had to stay in the showers until we were told to get out by the masters.I experience much body interaction due the cramped conditions.Once the two teams that lost the match had to get in the left shower block and the sports masters through cold water from two buckets of freezing water!!This caused a stampede effect within the shower with crushing and shoving, my bare frontage was wedged against another boys backside for a couple of minutes before I could extricate myself from this potentially homosexual position.!!

Comments by Tim on 10th December 2017  

With 2 elder sisters money was tight and a vest was a lot cheaper to buy. Not long after starting comp teacher called me back and suggested my vest was too small and as I tended to sweat up quickly it made sense not to wear a vest. I accepted this and stripped to the waist until I left school. Sensible teacher, practical teaching.

Comments by TimH on 10th December 2017  

I completely agree with Roy's comments. I suspect that many of the teachers would have also seen the trauma suffered by unfit recruits and would probably do all they could to spare others.

To Tom1 - its simply how things were in those days - we just accepted it and got one with things - as you would!

Comments by Roy on 10th December 2017  

You have to remember that in the 1950s and 1960s many of the teachers had served in World War 2 or had done National Service in places such as Korea Cyprus and various outposts of colonialism and were toughened up by this experience.
They expected their charges to be tough as well and indeed in the 1950s the boys would have to do National Service themselves at a later stage.They would see real fighting and ran the risk of injury or even death so the teachers thought they needed to be toughened up.

Comments by Tim on 9th December 2017  

Hi Tom 1, If you weren't sweating you weren't trying. The girls never objected to seeing us stripped down regardless of the temperature or activity. We boxed without vests too. Just as it should be.

Comments by Sterling on 9th December 2017  

Tom 1 you should be thankful. Decades ago the law permitted teachers to dish out punishments no Prisoner would receive under law!
I now realise one of my PE teachers was probably suffering from undiagnosed PTSD from the War years previous.
He was a total nutter, responsible for putting many of his students off Sport for life.

Comments by Tom1 on 9th December 2017  

It's interesting seeing these comments. I left school this year and compared to everyone here my experience couldn't have been more different. PE was always done in shorts and a t shirt and trainers. We used coloured bibs to differentiate between teams. We had shower cubicles in which we showered in private. We had swimming lessons in the school pool, for which we wore swimwear- absolutely shocked at some people claiming they did it naked. I guess I should be grateful for the faculties and regulations we have today!

Comments by Peter B on 6th December 2017  

William. I agree that's the way it was in he 60's. We all got used to showering together. As you say by the age of 14 the shorts did not cover much. In those days I recall you the pe shorts had to last for several years. Parents could not afford to buy new ones very often.

Also re showers as others say if a teacher was present we took no notice. He was just there to keep order and obviously was not going to do anything untoward when there were a crowd of lads together.

Comments by Robert Goldsmith on 4th December 2017  

Agreed Tim, that was the whole point about wearing just shorts, we didn't need anything else, and didn't it feel great with the sweat running down! I really looked forward to the showers afterwards.On the subject of which, after the first PE lesson, realising I had to go in the open communal showers I was embarrassed about taking my shorts off and being naked in front of the other boys, but I very soon overcame my inhibitions and took it all for granted.

Comments by Tim on 4th December 2017  

The expectation was you would sweat indoors and boy we did. No vest was quite rightly mandatory for all PE, gym or outdoors, regardless of conditions or temperature.

Comments by Mac on 2nd December 2017  britman58@safe-mail.net 

Having to go nude in a group for the communual shower for the first time was certainly daunting!

Comments by William on 1st December 2017  

Derek,I agree with Roy and Neil. Felt embarrassed the first time but this was a boys' grammar school in the '60s and we had to get on with it. It helped that we were all treated the same: no vests, nothing under shorts and communal nude showers.

The showers were not much use, Michael. We all had to strip and then walk under a shower in single file, as close as possible to the boy in front. At least we got the tops of our heads wet. Gym master supervised. He was terrifying but emphatically no pervert.

We kept our shorts for as long as possible and by the time we were 14 they didn't cover much but we thought nothing of it. It was just the way it was.

Comments by Michael on 30th November 2017  

I was far more concerned about the temperature of the water in the showers, which was determined by the teacher. Depending on the amount of hot water available sometimes it was warm, but at other times bone-chillingly cold. But, whatever temperature it was, we had to have a proper shower using bars of soap, including washing our hair. Occasionally some smart-alec tried a quick run-through under the shower heads, but they were always sent back - there was no escape. Rumour had it that there was a correlation between the water temperature and the PE teacher's mood, but I was never convinced of that.

Comments by Neil on 29th November 2017  


No, not at all. Initially maybe but after awhile it became the norm.

Comments by Roy on 29th November 2017  

I was embarrassed the first time I had to shower naked in front of the other boys but soon got used to it and eventually took no notice of the other boys and I assume they took no notice of me.

Comments by Derek on 28th November 2017  

We always did PE in white vest and white shorts, our standard PE uniform, but we always had to take everything off for showers afterwards under the supervision of our PE teacher.
Did anyone here find it embarrassing being naked in front of other boys and teachers?

Comments by Jon on 18th November 2017  

Like Roy I had a shock when I got to secondary school and was told we did PE stripped to the waist but I soon got used to it and went stripped to the waist until I left school.

Comments by Roy on 14th November 2017  

I too had a shock when arriving at secondary school being told I had to do PE and cross-country stripped to the waist.
But I soon got used to it and did PE bare-chested right up to and including sixth form.

Comments by JasonR on 12th November 2017  

NickK, Our PE teacher had 3 favourites (I was one) who he picked to strip every lesson.The first time I stripped facing the class and never had a vest on again until leaving after A levels.

Comments by NickK on 4th November 2017  

Like KieranT, it was quite a shock when I arrived at my all boys secondary school and discovered that we had to strip down to shorts for PE. The teacher I had in first form insisted on shorts only in the gym, even though the school uniform list stipulated vest, socks and plimsolls. The shorts tended to be very short in those days and it made me feel very vulnerable and naked (I was quite a shy boy and not especially good at PE). But, as others have commented, it made me grow in self-confidence in time. In second form, our PE teacher allowed the full kit but shirts and skins was the norm for any team game indoors or in a covered area we had outdoors. But the choice of shirts and skins was not entirely random and some boys seemed to be chosen a lot more often to strip down.

Comments by James on 11th October 2017  

Dominic,wearing shorts was more comfortable and practical when wearing them for games,but the fashion of the 80's meant that shorts were much shorter than the 60's.
Although,it was not compulsory to wear short trousers for school,I had to wear them for school and home.
With their absurd brevity it meant that you could freeze when wearing them in the winter.
We wore just a pair of shorts for games in the gym even when sharing it with the girls.

Comments by Dominic on 9th October 2017  

Ryan - I'm glad you enjoyed p.e. and cross country in the 80s in just a pair of shorts as I did in the 60s. You sum it up very well - the minimal kit and freedom from a restrictive uniform. My school always seemed to be overheated in winter so it was a great relief to change into a pair of shorts and run around, inside or outside bare chested and barefoot - it didn't matter how cold it was.
I think we had just one boy in the class who was a little shy about his body but he soon got used to it and no-one ever made any effort to cover themselves.
Most of us thought it was very "grown up" to be so scantily clad but the teacher sold it to us very well in the first lesson. All but one of our p.e. teachers were very encouraging and appreciated effort more then ability. I was never very good at p.e. but thoroughly enjoyed it all the same.

Comments by Ben on 9th October 2017  ben.thomas19@yahoo.com 

Kieran, I was fascinated to read your post as it summed up perfectly how I felt when I had to do shirts and skins in PE.
The whole thing came as a shock to me too - I remember one boy actually asked the teacher what 'skins' meant and he replied: "Skin. No vest, no nothing" which was pretty accurate, if not gramatically correct! I still wasn't sure until I realised a couple of my friends were suddenly stripped to the waist.
Like you, I recall clearly that sense of feeling like I was totally naked the first time I had to be a skin, and also crossing my arms over my chest to cover up. And being teased about my obvious discomfort!
I also became more confident over time, to the extent that I actually came to enjoy doing sports barechested. My feelings are the same as yours with hindsight - I benefited in the long term from shirts and skins but it would have been much fairer to have every boy dressed the same.

Comments by KieranT on 8th October 2017  

Interesting memories! I went to an allboys school in the very early 90's, and in PE we usually did indoor team sports in the sports hall like basketball or football.

Official PE uniform was white shorts and white T shirts (plus white plimsolls with white socks), but we always had to play shirts and skins. I only went to that school when I was 12/13 and I hadn't come across that system before. At first I assumed you could choose which you wanted to be, so I was horrified to discover it was random.

I think it was the second or third lesson before my team was told they were to be skins. I was so shy the first time I had to take my T shirt off and leave it on the floor at the side of the gym, and stand about with my puny chest exposed. I felt really naked and self conscious with no shirt on, and I would cross my arms over my chest and try to cover up! Naturally the others soon noticed how uncomfortable I was stripped to the waist and would tease me even though half of them were as shirtless as me. Of course in the end I slowly got more confident about it. In fact in summer term we had to do gymnastics and we were encouraged to not wear our tops for that, though it wasn't compulsory. Mainly due to peer pressure even I would in the end go barechested for that, though I usually waited as long as possible before losing my T shirt.

Of course now it sounds crazy that I was so nervous about the whole thing, and I was definitely far more sensitive about being without my top than most of the other boys. But in hindsight it was good I was made to do it. In some ways it might have been easier if the whole class always had to be topless, instead of only the skins team.

Comments by Roy on 25th September 2017  

In the 1960's it was normal to do PE and also cross-country stripped to the waist. Many boys were barefoot as well even for cross-country.

Comments by Ryan on 10th September 2017  

I can very much relate to Steve's experiences as my PE lessons in an rather old fashioned school in the 80ies were quite similar. All PE, athletics and cross-country lessons were conducted with boys in white shorts only.
In the beginning it did indeed feel strange but quite quickly I came to enjoy all the PE activities and the limited kit that went with it.
Why? it was very simple, you just took your shorts, hardly anything to forget. Being stuck in a quite restrictive school uniform all day long, running around in bare feet/bare chest gave me feeling of intense freedom. As for outside activities, I never felt cold, you only got cold if you didn't move and in these days our teachers made very much sure you did move. You also felt quite grown up and manly and in my case at least, it did make me aware of my body. Probably an effect of being surrounded by other barechested boys all the time, I knew I wanted to look OK, not like the fat kid in class or too skinny, and I did put a lot of effort into my work.
I thouroghly enjoyed my PE lesson, the limited kit worked very much for me and I think it's a shame today's boys are made to cover up. Maybe Brexit can help us recover some good old-fashioned customs like the British boys traditional PE uniform.

Comments by dafne on 10th September 2017  

I still see shirtless guys everywhere at school.. just not during gym class proper haha. It's like a dress code thing during school hours. For everything else like cross country, gymnasts, marching band or whatever you're pretty much guaranteed to see most of the guys with their shirts off training! And it's a good look for young guys you won't hear me complain!

When we go on our annual running camp, you can bet minimal clothing is the standard attire and from what I see, it's the same for other teams. Coach tells us to wear whatever we're comfortable running in so all the boys go bare chest and most of the girls are in sports bras. We'll be on the bus going to the trail and we'll pretty much strip off our tops right there before getting off and stay like that for the whole day of activities. We feel totally at ease seeing so much bare skin on display all the time, in fact its kinda boring lol.. Just part of our runner subculture but i'm sure to someone else it may be weird but believe me a few days running in that temperature and your shirt will come off real quick!

So I dont think people are much more inhibited than they were in the old days. I just think different situations and groups and subcultures have different expectations!

Comments by Joe on 9th September 2017  

Steve, it sounds like your school had a harsh regime with regard to PE. It's not something I can identify with as my experiences of PE and cross country in the early 90s were rather different!
I'm intrigued to know why you feel boys should be restricted to just shorts for PE kit. Maybe in the gym that might make sense - but outdoors, in winter? Seriously? Is that meant to be character building or something?

Comments by The Doc on 9th September 2017  

To Ian,

The question of corporal punishment in school medicals never arose for the medics. Where there was a big group of boys there were alwsys members of staff present, usually in the school gym or hall.

It wasn't unusual that you would see one of them with a cane but it was fairly unusual that it would be used though I do remember one occasion when a group of lads were bent over and there was some element of horseplay in the line up I was working my way along the rear of.

The master present very politely asked me to stand back and he worked his way swiftly along the line delivering four strokes each. That calmed the horseplay and as I resumed my checks there was some involuntary jumping as my hands spread the now very sore buttocks to inspect. Though put it into perspective, that was once in the course of many hundreds of school medicals.

Comments by Steve on 9th September 2017  stu151@hotmail.com 

I posted below that we ran cross country in only shorts. Our course was woodland tracks, fields, a stream, plus a small amount of unmade roads.

It did seem strange at 11 to be told that we had to strip down to the waist and have bare feet outside, but your feet soon got used to the conditions. It wasn't open to debate anyway, and if you had worn plimsolls or a vest you would have been made to take them off, and caned as soon as you got back.

I don't see any reason why a lad needs anything other than shorts inside or out really, and certainly there is no need for anyone to wear a vest/t-shirt or trainers in the gym.

We always had to shower after any sport/pe, and a refusal, or keeping shorts/pants on would have resulted in us back in the gym, stretched over the gym horse to receive 6 hard strokes of the cane.

Comments by Rob on 8th September 2017  

Ross,interesting that you were in school at at a time which I consider fairly recent, wearing minimal PE kit as we had to wear. However, your cross country runs were in the safe confines of your school grounds, away from prying perverts with their mobile phones. In my school days, we ran stripped to the waist through woodland over fairly rough terrain and chalk and sharp flint hillside, obviously considered unsafe for bare feet. Fortunately our plimsolls didn't seem to get muddy probably because the chalk gives good drainage. It doesn't explain why we had to wear to wear plimsolls in the gym; I would have have been more than happy wearing just shorts. The only 'shock'I had, probably in common with the rest of my class, was having to take my shorts off after the first PE lesson and go naked in the open showers, but there again, we very soon got used to it and after being made to work up a sweat each lesson looked forward to a decent shower to freshen ourselves up.

Comments by Matthew on 8th September 2017  

To Ian

You say that your school doctor was authorised to administer corporal punishment. Under what circumstances was this necessary?

Comments by Dominic on 7th September 2017  

Steve - I think you are right about running cross country barefoot and stripped to the waist being normal. I was at grammar school in the 60s and that was how we did all p.e. including cross country. Very sensible really - no wet muddy plimsolls to deal with - dirty feet are so much easier to get clean and dry. It was a little challenging at times but most of the time I thoroughly enjoyed it and no-one came to any harm.

Comments by Ross on 6th September 2017  

Rob, I attended middle school in the late nineties early 00s and during this time I switched schools. My first middle school I wore tee, shorts, trainers and socks for pretty much all activities in or out except the obvious like gymnastics. So for me when I switched schools part way through year 6 it was a shock to the system to start doing all PE barefoot and it really was all PE in or out including the cross country which was done within the school grounds we ran around the main building and the muddy fields. Suppose this saved time washing muddy trainers and in fact I began to enjoy it. During the summer it was always a welcome relief to be outside doing athletics barefoot on the cool grass. This barefoot practice continued right upto high school which was only a few streets away.

Comments by Ian on 6th September 2017  martingale@talktalk.net 

To "The Doc". Thankyou for your entry. It brought home to me the difficulty of examining over a thousand boys in a secondary school such as mine in the 60s. Originally boys were called individually and told to change into PE shorts only, and to remove them when needed. Then the doctors trialled a new approach, retaining the individual approach for half the boys, while the rest were called class at a time to strip completely naked well in advance. We had to stand in full view of the doctors until called forward. Eventually the fully naked regime was introduced for all boys.
By the way, were you authorised by the headmaster to use corporal punishment, as our doctors were? Seeing a heavy belt in the doctor's bag really put the fear of God in me.

Comments by Ross on 6th September 2017  

Rob, middle school for me was from 1998 till 2002 I started one middle school which the kit was shorts, tee and trainers so was a shock to the system when I switched schools part way through when I was in year 6 at my new middle school all PE was done barefoot in and out including cross country which was ran in winter in the school grounds. In the summer months we did athletics and rounders which was always a pleasure to do in bare feet.

Comments by Steve on 5th September 2017  

At grammar school in the 60's we just wore shorts for pe and cross country.

We had 2 pe lessons a week, one inside and one a cross country run. Even in the winter we ran with bare feet and stripped to the waist. This was the same for all years, and we just regarded it as normal.

I think many schools had the same minimal kit, certainly the other secondary schools in my home town made boys run outside in all weathers, with bare backs and bare feet.

Comments by Rob on 5th September 2017  

Ross, the photo also looks very similar to our school PE at that time, although we wore black shorts(no underpants) and plimsolls both in the gym and outside,including cross country runs.You do not say when you were at the school but this kit was the norm for several decades for most boys. When you were told that you did ALL PE in bare feet, did this include cross country? Although we did athletics in the summer in bare feet,we always wore plimsolls for cross country although running in bare feet in all weathers was not unusual in many schools.

Comments by Ross on 3rd September 2017  

Doesn't look too dissimilar to my school PE except we were in bare feet.

I will always remember that first PE lesson at my new middle school, feeling quite anxious as the new boy dressed in a borrowed PE kit wearing trainers a fellow pupil kindly gave me the heads up "ahh we do all PE in bare feet here, I'd take them off" so I looked around and saw everyone barefoot and I nervously kicked off my trainers and peeled off my socks. Then I went down the cool corridor into the hall and spent an hour running around barefoot, gradually getting dusty feet and enjoying the slapping off 30 bare soles on the varnished wood floor.

Comments by Mr Wallace on 26th August 2017  

About showers there was always the rumour this one teacher was looking at you. But really what good did they do, you essentially ran through the water. Soap / shower gel was never used.
I wonder what they're like now, also if they have hair dryers and make up bars

Comments by The Doc on 20th August 2017  

Some interesting comments down thread about medicals.

I retired more than twenty years ago after a long career in medicine. Over that time I spent some time in the forces, a little in hospitals, some as a GP and for a while I covered school services too while I was a GP.

Many things have changed since I retired but perhaps one of the biggest is the expectation that men have some privacy - but notably the forces particularly have two different standards for men and women on that front where a woman will have a private medical but men will be examined in a group.

I did more group medicals than I can remember. They were done that way because they always had been and they are also very time efficient allowing you to get through far more in a session than if every man was coming into a room, undressing, being examined and then dressing again before leaving. Having the men naked before you arrive and lined up is far quicker.

Also, when examining you are looking for the abnormal and almost all of the time you don't find it in a group of healthy young men and you don't expect to. Working your way along a line listening to hearts or chests you will be aware very quickly of a sound that is even slightly abnormal without having to listen too hard. Equally, rectal examinations where you are checking for any sign of haemorrhoids, abnormal prostates or any number of other things are far easier to do one after the other as you focus on a particular body part. Of course for a man, bent over in a line up waiting for a rectal exam I can understand that it may not be his ideal way of being examined but he can be certain that nothing will be missed.

I would also say that I and my colleagues were all very much in favour of checking testicles from behind, there is a limit to how many times you want a man to cough in your face and being able to examine testicles while the man is bent forwards is actually more effective as while he stands with his legs wide apart - also the position for the rectal exam, his testicles hang more freely than if he is having thme checked from the front.

Equally doing school medicals I used to prefer a class of lads at a time, it was quicker and I think they were examined more thoroughly and after all in those days they were used to group nudity in the changing room and showers so a medical was only more of the same.

Comments by Neil on 20th August 2017  

Unfortunately so. Though perhaps one day they'll make a deserved comeback..
I think of Samuel Johnson and how boys are just influenced by the fashion of the day! "The greatest part of mankind have no other reason for their opinions than that they are in fashion." How so true!!

Comments by Neil on 20th August 2017  

Very similar experience. Perhaps the wearing of a jockstrap was an independent school boy phenomenon! I certainly still wear one today.

Comments by Stuart on 15th August 2017  cmnmuk@yahoo.co.uk 

At my boys schools, prep and senior it was gym shorts with nothing underneath. Occasionally at srnior school the PE master might do a random check, woe betide a boy who was caught wearing underpants. Lecture about hygiene would follow, shorts down, pants off and if he was feeling harsh rest of lesson conducted for that boy no shorts, naked butt.

Comments by Andrea on 7th August 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

I can remember pegging out my dads Aertex vests and pants whilst helping my mum on washdays in the 1970s!

Comments by Arby on 6th August 2017  


Oh dear I seem to have started a long series of memories about jockstraps. Once I started wearing one in the 6th form I continued so to do throughout my sporting days. Do you remember that the most common one then was a "Litesome". I too played squash until recently and I and my fellow players wore jockstraps. I now just go to a gym on a regular basis and so still wear one even though I think that nobody else there does. It is a pity because they are so comfortable and give good support.

Comments by Guy on 5th August 2017  

I went to an independent boys school. Second year, or second form, is Year 8 in the current school system. Boys would have their 13th birthday during that year.
I went running and played squash regularly until a few years ago and always wore a jockstrap. I found it gave good support and was comfortable to wear. It is a shame that they seem to have gone out of fashion now.
My father and I both wore string vests for a while; I can't remember quite when but probably late 1960s - early 1970s.

Comments by Dominic on 4th August 2017  

William - you are so right - I too never wore anything under my shorts all the way through secondary school in the 60s. There was a lot of bouncing around but no-one thought of that as a problem. I never heard of a jockstrap until a long time after I left school and certainly don't think I missed out.

Comments by Gavin on 3rd August 2017  

I am glad to hear that your grandchildren still wear a jockstrap but I think they are in the minority as unfortunately youngsters nowadays seem to wear this unhealthy lycra stuff or unfetching compression shorts!!

Comments by Rob on 3rd August 2017  

TimH. String vests became popular in 1953 when Everest was conquered and some of the climbers wore them because they were supposed to keep you warm. My mum knitted me a couple of pairs which I wore in infants school but no-one ever saw me wearing them because we didn't have to take our shirts off.However,when I went to a boys grammar school in 1955,I wore Aertex vests and pants which were developed from the string vest idea.When I started work in an office in the early 60's none of my younger male colleagues wore vests so I ditched mine and have never worn one since. Mac, At school, of course, in common with most boys at that time and many years after,we had to strip off completely for P.E.and wear just gym shorts with nothing underneath, no shirt and plimsolls, no socks, indoors and outside including cross country running. I wore the same shorts from the age of 11 until I left at 18. Consequently, they were quite short by that time and no-one ever mentioned jockstraps and I never saw anyone wear one.

Comments by William on 3rd August 2017  

My experience was the same as Mac's. In a boys'school during the 1960s we never wore anything under shorts - not in gym or rugby. I never used a jockstrap, aged 18 I hadn't heard of them. 20 star jumps caused a lot of bouncing about in the shorts, but I don't think we felt embarrassed. That's just the way it was. We had a tradition of wearing the same shorts year after year until they were far too small or the elastic gave.

Comments by James 2 on 2nd August 2017  

Yes, agree about jockstraps. I said in a previous post that we were told to wear nothing under shorts as soon as we got to secondary school but in about the second or third year the PE teacher told us that if we were uncomfortable we should get a jockstrap. They had them on sale in the PE department so I got one, and so did my friends and we felt grown-up.
I found it much more comfortable, even than other underwear. They did show through the thin shorts especially if we went from PE to shower to swimming still with them on but no one seemed to care.

Comments by TimH on 2nd August 2017  

I'm surprised that, in all this conversation about underwear, that no-one has mentioned the string vests & pants that we used to wear in the mid to late 60s.

Also - for the people who wonder about the length of shorts - personal observations of runners and people in my gym & the pool there suggests that shorts are definitely shorter this year - both for men & boys.

Comments by Mac on 2nd August 2017  


At the secondary schools I attended we were never allowed to wear anything under shorts

Comments by Neil on 1st August 2017  

The jockstrap still lives on! My boys and their sons still wear one for all sport. But you are quite right so few younger men now seem to know the benefits of the good old jockstrap!

Comments by Andrea on 1st August 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

My Ex told me that their PE teacher advised them to buy a jockstrap at the start of their third year at secondary school. Before that they weren't allowed to wear anything under their shorts, which became embarrassing for some of the boys!

Comments by Arby on 1st August 2017  


You were lucky. As we couldn't wear a jockstrap until the 6th form - as soon as we could, most of us lads rushed to get one and wore them for every sport and game even out of school. I think that it is a pity that they seem to have disappeared.

Comments by Neil on 1st August 2017  

What type of school did you attend? How old would a boy have been in 2nd year? That is not clear to me.

Comments by Guy on 31st July 2017  

I feel sorry for you not being allowed to wear a jockstrap until 6th form; I am very glad we did not have that rule! We were not allowed to wear underpants but from the begining of 3rd year were were required to wear a jockstrap. Some boys started to wear one during second year.

Comments by Stuart on 31st July 2017  

I think in the 50's/60's a lot of boys did indoor PE in just shorts, and maybe cross country in just shorts and plimsolls (or even shorts only, with bare feet), but I doubt they ever did PE naked on a regular basis.

Some schools may have made boys strip to just briefs indoors, but I doubt that, and other than maybe as a one off punishment, no boys ever did pe stripped totally naked.

Comments by Rob on 31st July 2017  

Richard, I also find it difficult to believe that boys of any age would have been allowed to do P.E. in the nude. I went to an all boys school from 1955 and remember that for my parents it was an expensive time. On the subject of games and P.E kit, some boys wore proper school soccer shirts, but most of us wore any old shirt for games.We had to have football boots and thick socks and black shorts. For P.E.the only extra we needed was a pair of plimsolls because we wore the same shorts, and although that was all we wore in the gym and and outdoors, including cross country running, at least we were decent. OK, you might say, we were all naked together in the showers afterward, but that's necessary, but I cannot understand why at any time boys wouldn't have had a pair of shorts to wear for P.E.and have been made to wear them.

Comments by Ross on 29th July 2017  


Would like to hear more of your experiences. I cannot simply imagine a school allowing pupils to participate nude for PE even though nudity was encouraged for swimming.

Comments by Alfie on 29th July 2017  

"Everyone was naked in the summer term for swimming anyway."

Richard, was this a mixed school or boys only?
Was the nude swimming compulsary or voluntary?

You also mention that some boys were allowed to do PE naked.
It seems that nude swimming in schools was common in the era that you mention, that is 50s and 60s, but I can't imagine boys doing PE exercises totally naked. Must have been a funny sight to watch.

Comments by Arby on 28th July 2017  


You were lucky! How things have changed!

Comments by Neil on 27th July 2017  


Similar experience, only that boys were allowed to wear a jockstrap before 6th form age!

Comments by Neil on 27th July 2017  


Wholeheartedly agree

Comments by Richard on 26th July 2017  

Just caught up with this long and interesting list of comments. Attended a boys secondary school in Kent in the late 1950s and clothing was optional in indoor PE lessons, at least in the early years. Not many boys actually did PE with nothing on, but some in the class did regularly: partly I think because their parents could not afford the extras which games and PE needed, but other boys through choice. What an incredibly different world that was. In my memory no one ever thought anything of it - it was part and parcel of what happened. Everyone was naked in the summer term for swimming anyway.

Comments by Arby on 25th July 2017  

at my secondary school in the 60s we could only wear shorts and plimsolls for PE. The PE teacher looked down our shorts each time to make sure that we were not wearing anything underneath. If we were we were stripped in front of the others and made to do PE naked. When we reached the 6th form we were allowed to wear a jockstrap. Most of us did as we were still not allowed to wear underpants underneath our shorts. Showers were communal and the teacher stood and watched us.Any bad behaviour resulted in a slipper across the buttocks.

Comments by Keith on 1st July 2017  

I think pre-employment medicals were normal for many years and I suspect they stopped because at one time employers had a right to know how healthy or otherwise you were and being employed often depended on being found to be A1 fit.

Equal opportunities probably put paid to some of that where people now have to declare that they are fit to do the job and if they are not able to do it with reasonable adaptation then they are not employed or dismissed. In addition no doubt in these days where there is a cost to everything doctor's fees are seen as one to cut.

I remember having pre-employment medicals right up to the mid 1980s for a whole range of jobs. I never thought much about them, it was just what happened. Invariably they were thorough and to a point reassuring as you knew you were fit and healthy when they were over.

It's a pity they don't still happen, perhaps if they did we wouldn't have the obesity problems and similar ills of today's society.

Comments by Jonty on 28th June 2017  

I was the same too Robin, but we changed in the gym changing room and stood around in our underpants and like you I wore the interlock trunks or the aertex ones in summer, the doctor used a small storage room off the changing room and the door was always open and you could see the boy in front of you being examined, the place always seemed cold even in summer.

That winter of 62/63 was my last at school as I left in 63 aged 15 and started work,and had to have another medical exam prior to working in a large cash and carry warehouse.

I wonder if the boys of today at 16 who leave to start work have to have a medical exam?

Comments by Robin on 27th June 2017  

I remember as a 14 year old having to line up in a chilly corridor in the winter of 1962/63 (very cold, long winter) for the school medical. We wore nothing except our underpants, and all of us were frozen by the time our turn came to be examined. At that time virtually all underwear was white, but one boy created a stir by sporting a pair of blue briefs. But he was the exception. It is not right to say that all boys wore briefs in the 1960s. The great majority did, but a few, me included, wore underpants with legs. They were a bit longer than todays boxer shorts, and the material was nice and soft. My Mum called them interlock trunks, but in the changing room a couple of my classmates called them baggy knickers and made fun of me for wearing them. I continued to wear that style of underpants until I was 18 or 19.

Comments by Alf on 26th June 2017  

It seems there is another Alf on this forum.
The last two posts by "Alf" are not mine.
So one of us must change the name to avoid confusion.

Comments by Alf on 25th June 2017  

Comments by Liam on 24th June 2017

Perhaps you're one of them?

It's all reminisence.

Comments by Liam on 24th June 2017  

Bit weird to see all these comments about medical exams which are described in graphic detail. Looks like some people on this site are a bit sick in the head!

Comments by Rob on 22nd June 2017  

In the late 1950s our P.E.kit at an all boys grammar school was the usual shorts and plimsolls and nothing else both indoors and outside. After each lesson we all had to go naked in the open communal showers.However when we had medical examinations we only had to strip to the waist and never had to remove our trousers and pants. When I had to go London for a medical prior to getting a job, I had to strip to the waist and take my shoes and socks off and the doctor examined my upper body. I was therefore surprised when he then told me to take my trousers and pants off and turn around and bend over and touch my toes. I had to hold my cheeks apart and he did a visual inspection but did not insert his figure into my anus. I then had to lie on a couch while the doctor examined me for hernias before he thoroughly felt my testicles and finally holding my penis, pulled my foreskin right back and opened the slit in the tip of my penis. Unsurprisingly, by this time I had developed quite an erection, possibly what the doctor had hoped for, although he didn't comment. After I started the job and in subsequent years I learned that everyone at that time had experienced a medical like this; even the women had to take everything off and were examined by a male doctor. At that time it was rare to have female doctors.

Comments by Tim on 21st June 2017  


I to have recently had to have various intimate prostrate exams and as you say because of the intimate medicals in our younger days, we now just go with the flow.

Doctors have seen it all many times before.

Comments by Andrea on 20th June 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Our school medicals were carried out in the nurses room. This had a waiting area outside and we were called in groups of about 6 and told to strip down to our vest / bra and knickers and wait to be called into the examination room. The nurse checked my height and weight and also checked my hands for warts and feet for verrucas. At the first medical the doctor then asked me to lift my vest so he could check my heart and lungs with the stereoscope. At the same time it was obvious to them that I didn't need a bra yet. Quite a few girls were wearing them by that time and I think the nurse did suggest to several others that perhaps it was time they asked their mum to get them one!

The second medical was similar to the first, except that by that time I was wearing a bra. I had to unhook it and partially remove it so the doctor could do a quick visual examination of my breasts. I didn't really understand why at the time, but I suppose they were checking for inverted nipples or something). I didn't have to remove my knickers, but the nurse did have a quick peek down there and ask if my periods were regular.

Comments by Alf on 20th June 2017  

Keith, interesting what you say about the male doctor checking your testicles, I thought the doc that had examined me was the only one who did that.

We too used to have to turn around and bend over, legs wide apart, buttocks were spread and anus inspected then a hand came forward and our testicles were checked with the usual cough command. Our school doc was a retired army doc so maybe that was their normal way of doing things.

On the last occasion when we were eighteen and some lads were going to university and a few to the forces, both requiring a preliminary medical, a requirement of the local authority in those days if you were getting a grant we had to remain behind and we were told to line up facing the wall and bend over. There was no warning about what was to come as he worked along the line giving each lad his first rectal examination, presumably an additional reporting requirement. It was a shock at the time, looking back I'm certain he wore the same glove throughout - for the protection of his finger, nothing to do with us.

In later life with a less than perfectly functioning prostate an annual rectal examination doesn't bother me in the slightest but that first one was a shock.

Comments by Tim on 19th June 2017  

I agree with these exams as ours was an all boys school,privacy did not come into it and was not an issue. It was what it was. We had no worries about stripping off you just did it.

Comments by Keith on 18th June 2017  

I remember school medical examinations. I think the purpose of them was to be sure we were all developing properly and were normal fit and healthy boys. They happened in primary school a couple of times and then every other year in secondary school and no lad was exempt.

In secondary school they were always in a room between the changing room and the gym and we had to report to the changing room and take off everything except our underpants and then queue up outside the room where there were two doctors working. The door was always left open and there was no screen inside so no privacy at all - but then privacy was not something boys and men were ever granted or for that matter expected, it was how things were.

Once in the queue where there were usually ten or so boys at a time you had to wait until you were called in. On the wall outside the room were a number of clothes pegs and as you got to the front of the queue you had to take off your underpants before going into the room.

Each doctor was sat at a small desk and you stood to one side. They would look in your eyes and ears, listen to your chest, have you stand on tip toes and stretch and squat. Testicles were always last. The woman doctor just used to feel them as she sat at her desk with you positioned close to her. The male doctor always had you turn around and bend over, he inspected your anus by seperating your buttocks and then felt your testicles between your legs with the usual cough instruction. The rumour was he'd had enough of boys coughing in his face and this way it didn't happen.

I thought the allocation of boy to doctor was random but at every medical I had it was the same man so maybe it wasn't. For all his examination of our testicles was unusual - although it did happen to me the same way in the army as part of a line up group medical it was strangely less embarrassing as it was a man doing it and you didn't have to look him in the face while he did it. Maybe he was an old army doctor.

All these years later if I need to drop my boxers at the doctors the doctor needs to be a man.

Comments by Tim on 18th June 2017  

Medical examinations were just the norm. In our days at school there seemed to be school dental exams, hearing tests and then the normal medical.I can only assume that these were started because people for some reason did not look after their health so much as today, and going to the doctor was if you were really ill. I do not know but this might have been a throw back to when the NHS started to make sure every one was healthy.

Comments by Bradley on 16th June 2017  

I never had any medical examinations while I was at school. What was the point of these? Surely one could just go to the doctor for s check up? We did have fitness tests though. There's one called the beep test where you have to run from one end to another within the time between the two beep noises. As the activity progresses, the time gets shorter and shorter until you give up. You were ranked on what stage you got up to.
We had vaccinations but not any medical examinations at all.

Comments by Neil on 16th June 2017  


Well for us boarders there was no escape as we had no control over the laundry, but for day boys it was easier. To be honest I think that they only policed us boarders. Only if it was gym class or such would day boys probably have been spotted and in the junior classes. I am sure any day boy discovered would have told he was breaking the regulations.

Comments by Ted on 16th June 2017  

Neil out of interest how would the school know if the rules re underwear were flouted? Was there any way they could check?

Comments by Neil on 15th June 2017  


You're right about white briefs. I went to school 1965 - 74. We had regulation 'whitey tighties' in my school, and in the 70s boys increasingly were trying to break the regulation with the colour undies that were then on the market.

Comments by Ted on 14th June 2017  

In response to other postings, if I remember in the 60's white underwear was the only really available and as briefs. There was no branding or fashion as such. The only exception might have been some lads would wear the original Y front brand. Furthermore as with most people contributing to this site, PE was strictly no underwear. One teacher would randomly in some lessons just pull back the back waist band of the shorts to check. Heaven help you if you were wearing pants.

Comments by Tim on 13th June 2017  

I remember medical examinations at all boys secondary school 1961 to 66. The last medical was in 1965. We lined up in one of the classrooms and stripped to the waist. Then we had to go forward one by one to the doctor(female) and the time in the exam came when we had to drop trousers and pants right down for the cough test. No privacy. There was no regulation underwear but in those days we all wore white briefs. That was really all that was available. PE kit was as in those days when indoors no top, short tight white shorts no underwear and the old black plimsolls with no socks. Communal showers afterwards.

Comments by Neil on 13th June 2017  


We had regulation 'whitey tighties' in my school

Comments by Andrea on 12th June 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Alf,
Yes, we had two physical exams at Secondary school. The first was not long after we started there, so age 11 and the second about 3 years later. I think our parents did get a letter to inform them and we wore our regulation knickers and a vest or bra, whichever we normally wore at that point. In most cases they were white, with perhaps a small pink bow or rosebud (unlike the knickers our vest / bra colour wasn't specified in the uniform policy).

How old were you when you had your physical and were you nervous?

Comments by Alf on 12th June 2017  

Hi Andrea,
I guess we boys were lucky not to have regulation underpants also. :)
The only time that underpants were mentioned was during school physical exams when our parents were informed and told to make sure that we wore clean underpants on that day, preferably white briefs if I remember well.
In any case most of us, if not all, were wearing white briefs during these physical exams.
Did you have physical exams at your school?

Comments by Andrea on 9th June 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 


Gymslip dresses are styled like this https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/466263367642440069/

Our uniform policy specified that they had to be worn by pupils in the first two years at the school. From the third year onwards we had to wear a skirt and blouse. I'm not sure why the lower school had a different uniform.

Yes, our uniform list stipulated that we had to wear regulation navy blue knickers even on days we didn't have PE. I could never really understand why, but on occasions checks were made.

When my son was at school, most of the boys had switched to wearing long trousers by the end of primary school (age 11).

Comments by James on 9th June 2017  

Andrea,like Alf I wore shorts to school,albeit I was older and unlike Alf I was subjected to a considerable amount of teasing.
Do you agree with keeping boys in shorts at that age and what age do you think they should be promoted to wearing long trousers?

Comments by Alf on 8th June 2017  

Andrea, yes, the uniform was the same throughout secondary school from form 1 to form 5. The only exception seems to have been in form 6 where they could wear ordinary clothes if I remember well. I left school after form 5.

Another unorthodox thing I remember about form 6 is that even though it was an all boys school there were also some girls in form 6. I don't know the reason for this arrangement at the time.

I don't remember exactly when I changed from shorts to long trousers, if it was at the start of the school year or part way through. All I remember is that I was about 14 and probably in form 3 or form 4.

You mention that you wore dresses rather than skirts for the first two years. What kind of dresses were these and were they a different kind of uniform than later years?

I read somewhere that in some schools girls had to wear blue or green knickers as part of the uniform, which I find strange. In some they even had inspections to check that the girls wore these obligatory knickers or underwear. Do you know anything about this?

Comments by Neil on 8th June 2017  

Hello Andrea
We had to wear a school cap in my school, 10 to 13 year olds at junior school. We had to wear shorts but only up to 12. most boys started switching over to longs.

Comments by Andrea on 6th June 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Alf,
I think some of my classmates probably did roll up the waistbands of their skirts to make them shorter when they were out of sight of school, but sometimes they got caught out if one of the teachers happened to be passing!

One thing I do remember about getting my uniform when I started at secondary school was mum insisting that everything had to have "room for me to grow", so particularly the gymslip dresses and blazer seemed at least one size too large to start with. It worked though, as they lasted for the first two years, although they were a little tight by the end of the second year!

I'm not sure why dresses rather than skirts were required for the first two years, it must have been annoying for some mums if their daughter outgrew a dress with only a few months of the second year left.

When you finally did change from shorts to long trousers, was it at the start of a new school year, or part way through? Also, was all your uniform the same for all year groups?

Once we got used to it, I don't think we minded the uniform too much, but the no tights rule was unpopular, especially in the middle of winter.

Comments by Alf on 4th June 2017  

Andrea, like James describes at his school we didn't wear a school cap at our school, but school uniform was strictly enforced including school tie and blazer.
About miniskirts, our neighbour girls school also had strict skirt length as you describe, but once out of school the girls managed to hike up their skirt to show a bit of leg. They didn't want to look out of fashion, especially since some of us got together to chat each other up before entering our respective schools and afterwards when we finished. Like I said our schools were fairly close together.
About uniform, I understand the frustration and uncomfort for you girls having to wear an un-girlish uniform apart from the skirt. But I think neither us boys or the girls ever complained about it, at least from what I remember. Somehow we were actually proud to wear our school uniform, or just took it for granted, in spite of a little discomfort sometimes.
What I really hated was wearing shorts when some other boys same age were already wearing long trousers. If I remember well most boys wore shorts in the first few years of secondary or maybe 50-50, can't remember exactly. But I don't think it was such a big issue back then and I don't remember anyone teasing someone else for wearing shorts to school.
It was probably the only thing about the uniform that the school didn't make any rules about, as long as both shorts or trousers were the right grey uniform colour.

Comments by James on 4th June 2017  

Hi Andrea,we didn't wear caps to school,but wearing shorts obviously made easily distinguishable from other boys that wore long trousers.
Unlike the restrictions that were imposed at your school regarding the length of the skirts,no such restrictions were imposed on the length of our shorts that we wore.

Comments by Andrea on 3rd June 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi James and Alf,

I may have been the miniskirt era, but not in our school! Our dresses or skirts were supposed to be knee length and on occasions the teachers would have us kneel down to check that our hems touched the floor! In the first two years we had to wear 'gymslip' style dresses with a blouse underneath,but from the third year onwards it was a skirt and blouse. All years had to wear a tie and blazer and worst of all a beret - we all hated those!

I think the boys at one of our local schools used to have to wear caps for the first couple of years - did your school have those?

Comments by James on 3rd June 2017  

Alf & Andrea,boys still wearing shorts at 13 or 14 would also have been typical at my school although some boys continued to wear them till they left school.
As you point out hemlines rose abruptly in the sixties and the same applied to boys'short trousers.
Knee stockings,which we wore would only keep our legs warm,but you could you could 'freeze' wearing short shorts in the winter.
My strict parents took advantage of the uniform policy that allowed boys to wear shorts up to leaving age,so I was only one of a few to wear shorts at 16.

Comments by Alf on 2nd June 2017  

Andrea, you are right, it was common for boys to still be wearing shorts as part of uniform in early secondary school years. I myself wore them till I was 13 or 14.
However girls uniform memory brings a grin to my face. It was the miniskirt era and girls wore school skirts above their knees, even in Winter with woollen tops but still with bare legs for many of them. Some wore woolen long socks like you mention, but not all.
I guess it was nearly the same for us boys, it was shorts up to about knee length even in Winter, and those woollen uniform grey socks even in Summer.
But we, both boys and girls, never actually gave it a second thought because we just accepted it as normal, even if it was uncomfortable at times.
It was the same with neck ties, you just had to wear them as part of secondary school uniform.
Girls in some secondary schools also had to wear neck ties as part of uniform.
Girls also had to wear school uniform jackets with the school logo, like us boys. In fact we wore the same uniform, except for shorts or trousers for boys and skirts for girls.
How things have changed!

Comments by James on 2nd June 2017  

Hi Andrea,I went to a mixed Secondary Modern and there were no restrictions when boys had to wear long trousers.
Therefore,some boys,including myself could be kept in shorts till they left school.

Comments by Andrea on 2nd June 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi James,

I actually went to an all girls school, but from what I remember of seeing the local boys on their way to their secondary school, some of the first years (ages 11 to 12) wore grey shorts, but some were in long trousers.
Was it the same at your school?

Comments by James on 31st May 2017  

Hi Andrea,did boys wear grey shorts at your secondary school that you attended and if so up to what age?

Comments by Andrea on 30th May 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

When I was at Primary School in the 1960s all the boys wore grey shorts. We had to wear a skirt or dress. We were allowed to wear wooly tights to keep our legs warm in the winter.

It was different at Secondary School - tights were not allowed, so it was long socks in winter and ankle socks in summer. This wasn't much fun in the middle of winter, especially as I had to cycle to school!

Comments by Paul on 26th May 2017  

I was at primary school approx 1957 to 1961 and our grey uniform shorts were well above the knee. When we did PE we simply removed our tops keeping on our vest(singlet) and so participated in the uniform shorts. The girls however had to remove their dress or skirt(they did not wear trousers those days) and therefore doing PE in their underwear. The pe was a mixed class and no one thought anything of the arrangement. It was just as it was. Girls in knickers boys in shorts.

Comments by James on 25th May 2017  

Turner,short trousers were longer in the sixties,but became much shorter in the seventies and eighties and of course were worn with knee stockings and as you say they were tightly kept in place with garters.
Unlike the longer shorts,shorter shorts were much colder when worn in the cold weather and I certainly couldn't see any advantage in wearing shorts that that came well above the knee.
The garters would always leave bands in my legs where they kept my stockings firmly in place,which I found uncomfortable.

Comments by Turner on 24th May 2017  

Don't forget that in the sixties school short trousers were actually quite long, almost like those ridiculous shorts that footballers wear nowadays, leaving not much bare leg between trousers and long socks (kept up with garters)..

Comments by Toby on 20th May 2017  

Our PE teachers were both ex Army, our lessons were done either with us all skins, or teams of skins and vests. From joining the scool as a 9yr old through to leaving at 18 we never did a PE lesson with all boys in vests.

Comments by Michael on 20th May 2017  

I vividly remember as a ten-year old, walking through sometimes knee-deep snow to my primary school during the long, exceptionally cold Winter of 1962/63.

The distance was about half a mile and, although I was warmly dressed with duffel coat, gloves, long socks and stout shoes, I still wore my usual grey short trousers.

Looking back, it seems amazing, but neither my mother or I gave the matter any thought at all. It was just expected that I would wear shorts all year round regardless of the weather. I didn't even have a pair of long trousers to wear instead, even if I had complained of cold legs - which I never did.

The few boys who did wear long trousers usually got them saturated from trudging through the deep snow, so wearing shorts did have its advantages.

Comments by Sterling on 19th May 2017  

Toughening Lads for possible Military Service was once the logic. Many PE Teachers having served in the Military also added to the often extreme Discipline.
However it was still Irrational to make this assumption in the Early 80s! Also Boys back then where quite tough given the lack of Central Heating etc
Northern Ireland was blanketed in deep snow in 1963. Hence Shorts were totally impractical.
We Boys had to clear snow from the Pitch, around the School Grounds and also the Girls School Opposite.
Outdoor Games and Shirts Vs Skins continued despite the frozen ground. Those horrible Plimsolls Caused many Chilblains!
But we were tough alright. The problem is the Experience put many people off Sport for life. Particularly later say the 1980's when Corporal Punishment was often replaced by gruelling Exercise Sessions during Detention!

Comments by James on 19th May 2017  

Sterling,I believe the rationale for keeping boys in shorts was to toughen them up and make them hardy and therefore able to withstand cold weather.
I don't recall the winter of 1963,but I do recall other cold winters particularly the one of 1981 when temperatures plummeted to-27 degrees.
Shorts were usually purchased in August in warmer climes and no consideration was ever given to the harsh winters that lay ahead.
Shorts were considerably shorter in the 80's and withstanding the cold weather was an ordeal.

Comments by Roy on 19th May 2017  

I was wearing long trousers by the time of the winter of 1962/63 as were all my class-mates.
However we still had to do PE and cross-country topless.

Comments by Sterling on 17th May 2017  

As James Rightly Remarked Keeping Teenage Boys in Shorts in such a cold Climate is Totally Irrational!
For those of you who remember the Big Freeze in 1963 and spent it in Shorts will concur!
It was so cold the Sea Froze. Yet lads still commuted to School in Shorts!

Comments by Paul on 16th May 2017  

Mr Anderson, your explanation is great and I think we have been molly coddling boys ever since. A form of National service be brought back for male & female at 18 years of age. (not in the armed services) but to give some idea of discipline or give the existing youth organisations such as Scout Guides cadet services etc funding so that they can encourage more to join up.

Comments by James on 16th May 2017  

I would see it as a step forward'to take boys in forms 1-3 out of short trousers'which would have seen boys over 14 years old still wearing shorts.
As you said'this would only be optional'and boys,like myself could still have been enforced to wear shorts till they left school.
I wouldn't have considered it'mollycoddling' to put boys in long trousers at that age only appropriate items of clothing particularly in the cold winter months.

Comments by Mr. Anderson on 15th May 2017  

Hello Dave,

You pose a question about why shirts were introduced for PE and lads didn't see a need to wear them.

In the run up to the start of the new academic year in 1976 there was a general review of the school uniform and a few relatively minor changes were made which included shirts and socks for PE, grey shirts were changed to white ones and boys in forms 1-3 were given the option of long trousers as opposed to shorts. For the first time also swimming trunks were included in the uniform list, black speedo style trunks were prescribed - bearing in mind that they were the only sort of trunks you saw in those days.

The uniform review came about I understand because in September 1975 for the first time ever two women were appointed to the board of govenors and they had many (strident) views about how the school should be run which did not go down well with the chairman (a retired brigadier), the headmaster or indeed the other govenors or senior masters.

The uniform review was brought about to keep the two women occupied and seen as harmless to the running of the school. They had lots of ideas about things that should be changed and how the school could be made more friendly towards the boys to which the chairman of govenors responded that he was not authorising anything that turned out 'molly coddled nancy boys'.

Having conducted the uniform review the two women felt very satisfied that they had made great changes to the school and that they had done their duty after a year and were replaced by two more men who didn't see the need to change anything.

So the uniform list changed and lads in forms 1-3 started to wear long trousers, as lads needed new shirts white ones were bought - probably a lot less popular with mothers than grey ones, swimming trunks started to be worn though many of the older lads didn't bother with them and on the two lunchtimes the pool was reserved to staff I didn't see trunks worn until about 1985 and as I said before very gradually lads started to wear shirts for PE.

Comments by Jake on 7th May 2017  

Dave, I suspect the issue with boys doing PE shirtless in a mixed gender class these days would be that it'd be deemed unfair to the girls rather than the boys. The reasoning would be that girls would not be allowed to do as the boys did - not that boys shouldn't have to to take their tops off.
I was certainly required to do PE with my top off many times and that included occasions when girls were watching, so what? As you say, it shouldn't really be any different to swimming.

Comments by Dave on 6th May 2017  

"As far as I know boys still normally swim without tops when girls are present. I really cannot see why it would be considered inappropriate for boys to do p.e. shirtless in mixed classes."

I think that's the key point. There are girls everywhere at swimming pools..etc and boys swim without shirts.Why is it any difference at PE lessons? It's the same.

Comments by Terry on 5th May 2017  

I agree entirely with your comments. I went to an all boys school in the 60's as was called then Secondary Modern. PE was shorts definitely no underwear and plimsolls and no tops. AS you say communal showers afterwards.
In response other comments, for swimming we were taken by coach to the council swimming pool for a session reserved for our school. We did wear swimming trunks and those days all that was available were what are now known as Speedo's( although I think mine came from Woolworth's)

And yes George as you say have lads become to feminised or soft. Nowadays it is considered bad form for males to wear swimming trunks i.e. brief type bikini trunks, yet we see females of all shapes and sizes wearing the minimum of swimwear and that is considered acceptable.

Comments by George on 4th May 2017  

There are some very interesting comments here including some I do not understand at all.
I attended an all boys grammar school in the 60s and we wore nothing but a pair of shorts in the gym and for some outdoor activities including cross country. We showered afterwards, naked, of course.
I think this was all quite common at the time though barefoot cross country may not have been as common as doing it bare-chested. As one person said the plimsolls that were the only available alternative to bare feet were not much use and I was happy not to have to clean a pair after a muddy run.
There was, of course, no question of the way we did p.e. being abusive - it was the way things were and we just got on with it. I think most us were happy with the freedom of our sparse kit - I for one would have hated to have been forced to wear more. In those days boys were boys and girls were girls. Boys were allowed, encouraged even, to be tough and most of us really enjoyed that.
As far as I know boys still normally swim without tops when girls are present. I really cannot see why it would be considered inappropriate for boys to do p.e. shirtless in mixed classes. Has the feminisation of boys really gone this far?

Comments by Bradley on 30th April 2017  

Dave, I reckon the reason for PE being done with shirts today is because most schools are mixed and do mixed gender PE lessons. Obviously it would be inappropriate to not wear shirts during those lessons. Even in single sex schools, the fact that it became a norm in other schools probably led to it becoming the norm in single sex schools as well.

Comments by Dave on 29th April 2017  

Hi Mr. Anderson! I have some question. You've written:

"White T shirts became part of the PE kit at school in about 1976 but it was quite a few years before wearing them became a norm. Lads who had never had a shirt didn't see the need for them and new lads thought it more manly not to wear one so they came in gradually over quite a few years. While teaching I never wore a shirt right up to 1982. "

If lads didn't see the need to wear any shirt for PE and hadn't any problem havint to do PE without shirts why the schhol introduced T-shirts for PE? Wasn'it unnecessary?

Comments by Andrea on 28th April 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 


My Ex was also at secondary school in the 1970s and they had the same rules.
He also said that some of his classmates could really have done with wearing a jockstrap sooner than the third year!

Comments by Pete on 28th April 2017  

To Mr. Anderson

I'm afraid you misjudged me. I have nothing to do with the "abuse industry" nor do I wallow in misery. I just thought your punishments were extreme, even in the context of the time. But let's just agree to differ on that matter.

However, I do admire you. In your school, boys and masters were stripped to the waist in PE classes. Boys were not allowed to wear underpants and you imposed that rule upon yourself to empathise with your boys. Maybe they knew, maybe they didn't but the important thing is that you were the same as them and for that, you deserve credit.

Comments by James on 27th April 2017  

How did that go?
They were not required for us but it was suggested that if we felt uncomfortable, we should get one. They were on sale in the PE dept.
It seemed like a case of 'joining the big boys' for us, and I suppose I was curious as well, so I went ahead and got one, and so did one or two friends.
We were self-conscious at first, especially as they showed through the thin shorts but I found them much more comfortable than nothing. Also a requirement for holding a cricket box, of course. I remember 'forgetting' to take mine off one day for the long journey home.

Comments by Nick on 25th April 2017  

At school in the 1970s we were not allowed to wear underpants for pe or other sports but from the third form onwards we were required to wear a jockstrap.

Comments by Richard McC on 22nd April 2017  

I agree with Willy many Private (Public) Boarding Schools and particularly PE Teachers in all types of Secondary Schools, were infamous for their cruelty!
I remember boys with aching Chilblains after running on frozen ground and through icy puddles in those horrible Rubber Soled Pumps! They gave no support whatsoever and didn't protect the soles while running on gravel. Worn with no socks, which seemed to be a Nationwide Ban, they were sweat boxes in Summer and Freezing when soaking wet in Winter!
Hence many ran barefoot!
As for the limited kit, Early Morning Winter Runs in nothing but thin, white transparent when wet shorts, followed by Cold Showers They Wouldn't do it to Prisoners, even then!
Yet People Paid Handsomely to subject their kids to this?
Different Times alright!

Comments by Ambrose on 22nd April 2017  

I would tend to agree with the views expressed by Willy (21stApril) in his final paragraph.
I started teaching at the same time as Mr Anderson so can empathise with the traditions that were prevalent at the time. However, in my city suburb secondary modern school nobody but the Head or his deputy was allowed to use the cane; and they only used it very rarely for extreme bad behaviour - bullying, vandalism or theft. If pupils were sent to the Head they knew they had done something seriously wrong and parents were likely to be informed which would often mean additional punishment.
We were allowed to slipper pupils, always when they were dressed, and never more than once or twice. This was usual for unacceptable or dangerous behaviour, or forgetting kit. Most pupils scrounged kit from friends in other classes before a lesson to avoid a whack or having to use 'lost property' kit. A quick slap with a slipper showed the rest of the class that they had received a punishment and they could then play a full part in the lesson without missing their education - they mostly preferred this to wasting time in detention or writing lines.
I had learnt very quickly that consistency and fairness were always respected by pupils. 'Letting someone off' for a misdemeanour had to be seen as fair by the rest of the class and not something that could be expected. You didn't gain the respect of pupils by constantly beating, belittling and humiliating them. They worked best for you when you explained why they needed to do something your way, and praising them for their achievements not emphasising their shortcomings.
So far as dress was concerned in PE pupils changed out of all their usual classroom clothes. They wore shirts for gym lessons, cross country and football, but thought nothing of playing 'shirts versus skins' in the gym or being shirtless outdoors on a hot summers day doing athletics or tennis. Every boy saw the variety of body shapes of his peers when they changed and showered, so to play a game without a shirt on meant nothing to them.

Comments by Mr. Anderson on 22nd April 2017  

Andy, thank you for your questions - as a schoolboy I would only ever have addressed you by your surname!

White T shirts became part of the PE kit at school in about 1976 but it was quite a few years before wearing them became a norm. Lads who had never had a shirt didn't see the need for them and new lads thought it more manly not to wear one so they came in gradually over quite a few years. While teaching I never wore a shirt right up to 1982. The staff started wearing them eventually - after I stopped teaching PE but I'm not sure when.

Caning a boy in public is I think humiliating. Having had the cane myself as a boy I knew exactly how much it hurt and it did bring most boys to tears so I would never have given it in public, there is nothing right about humiliating a boy in front of his peers.

I carefully weighed up my choice of punishment instrument. The point of corporal punishment is to cause pain and deter a boy from further wrong doing.

Of the choices I had there was the plimsoll which on application covers a significant area of the buttock, it can easily leave quite a large bruise on each cheek which makes life very uncomfortable for the boy for quite a few days afterwards.

Canes come in various thicknesses. A thick and heavy cane will cause deep pain and burning at the time and for several days afterwards. It risks breaking the skin if one stroke crosses another and again I would never have wanted a boy to suffer in the longer term for his wrong doing.

I used a much lighter cane about 3/8" thick. When the lad felt the stroke it would be extremely painful but the pain would pass quickly in about an hour or so and to me that was quite long enough for a boy to have a sore bottom. He would probably have marks on his bottom for a couple of days and they would then disappear very quickly. A caning from me would be something very unpleasant, a lot worse than the plimsol or a heavier cane but it would be over quickly with no lasting effect.

Lads didn't resent the cane, they knew the penalty for wrong doing and took the consequences of it. I don't ever remember a boy asking to be let off or have the dose reduced - he would not have been able to face his peers had he done and while no punishment was witnessed by another boy the lines on his bottom were always checked in the showers afterwards.

I still see lads around who I taught and I'm amazed how many still like to buy me a beer - far more than I can drink at my age - so they can't have any resentment of me and when we chat we certainly don't refer to those days, we have what I would describe as normal adult conversation.

I'll leave our two other posters who seem to want to sniff abuse out where there wasn't any to wallow in their own misery, they will be happy there. To those people I would say save your mewling and puking, I'm not interested in your perverted views of the norms of another time.

I'm always concerned about people who want to find abuse where there wasn't any by applying different norms and values to a situation they probably didn't experience or understand. They are often people associated with what I've heard referred to as the 'Abuse Industry' made up of social workers, lawyers and other people who lack purpose in their lives and who have to find victims where there aren't any and who depend on chasing down abuse fantasy for their own livelihoods. Those people do one any good except themselves and their own bank balances. The other sort of people who are obsessed with abuse should probably seek counselling for their own disturbed state of mind.

Comments by Willy on 21st April 2017  

We have gone fom one extreme to the other in both PE kit requirements and physical punishments in schools.
What "Mr. Anderson" describes as normal punishment of caning boys on their bare buttocks is certainly harsh and abusive in my opinion.
However using a slipper or a few slaps on the backside , as was normal at my school, should still be reserved in schools. The cane was never used at the schools I went to. I think it was more of a private school custom where tradition dies hard. Same for the nude swimming practice.
I had friends who went to private boarding schools where both the cane and compulsary nude swimming were used.

I also think outdoor and cross country runs in just thin shorts and topless, especially in winter, was harsh and abusive. This is especially so when one considers that the coaches themselves always wore protective winter clothing like woollen tops when running and accampanying the boys on these runs.

So I consider all the above customs were a form of sadism and humiliation of young boys, allowed by the State, which are rightly considered as abuse today.
This does not include nude showering after PE or mild physical punishment which both serve a good purpose. I think the middle way is best, and not the extreme form of modesty and no punishment that we have gone to today.

Comments by Pete on 18th April 2017  

There has been discussion here about abuse. While I would not consider making boys strip to the waist for PE or swim without trunks, I can only consider recent descriptions of punishment as abuse. "Mr. Anderson" speaks coldly about the form his took. He practiced his craft until he found that a thin cane was best to administer "an immediate and excruciating sting generating a volcanic level of burning" while "even sixth form lads would be bouncing up and down on their toes after four strokes". Since it would appear that the punishment for a sixth former was an arbitrary eight strokes, surely - aside from whether it was abuse in the first place - if a boy was in such distress, knowing that four more strokes were to come, I can only regard that as abuse. I wonder if any boy ever begged him to stop. I would like to think that, with hindsight, "Mr. Anderson" feels ashamed of what he did. I don't get the impression that he does.

Comments by Andy on 18th April 2017  

Mr Anderson (Sir, when I was at school!)

Thank you for your interesting and detailed posting, nice to hear a teacher's viewpoint.

A couple of questions :-

I just wondered if the shirtless kit (both inside and outside) stayed the same until you left PE teaching in 1982 (or beyond that at the school, if you know).

While it was allowed, did the caning/slippering regime stay the same. I'm interested to hear you caned lads in private - to me, being caned in the gym in front of classmates (as at my school, shorts on) added significantly to the punishment.


Comments by Mr. Anderson on 17th April 2017  

I started teaching PE at a boy's grammar school in 1968 and I certainly remember having a gym like the one in the picture, the school was only five years old so very modern for the times considering many schools were still in builds that pre-dated the first world war never mind the second.

I had graduated with a degree in history and it was a history post I wanted but at interview I was told that I would also be required to teach PE for part of the week, I wasn't disagreeable with that, I was young and fit and played rugby in season. When I started I was told a change in priorities meant I was doing 90% PE and 10% history.

The PE department had four staff, all but the head on the same basis as me with another subject but all teaching mostly PE and it included sessions at lunchtimes, after school and on Saturdays for matches and competitions.

The lads were aged 11-18 and had all passed the 11+ to gain a place at grammar school so all had at least academic ability and many were pretty good at sports and games too. I stayed teaching PE in part until 1982 when I went full time to teach history.

So to the points people raise here. Kit was in the school a pair of plimsols and a pair of white cotton shorts. If there was a competition or match against another school kit was provided by the school and was then black cotton shorts and a gold and blue jersey, we had them in all sizes and a lad was issued with kit before a match, it had to be returned clean a couple of days after the match. The reason every lad was not required to have one was simply financial, not every lad's parents could afford to buy additional kit that might never be used or rarely so there was a pool of 'common kit' for events.

If we had internal competition then lads would be issued with a coloured band to wear across the chest to identify their team and these were handed back at the end of each class. Bare chest was the norm simply because lads didn't have shirts to wear so a run outside or a game of football or rugby in icy weather was in shorts and plimsols.

At the beginning I wore plimsols too but after a couple of years bought myself trainers - in their infancy then compared to the technical shoes you get today but wearing them all day they were more comfortable than plimsols. As staff we generally wore black cotton shorts and no shirts again whatever the weather so alongside the lads we knew just how cold it was but also on a warmer day just how pleasant it was to be bare chested out on the fields.

The school changing room was a vast space, there was room for four classes to change at once if need be as there were four teachers so room for about 120 lads if need be. There were rows of benches facing each other and between each row was room for fifteen lads on each side so classes were meant to stay together when changing.

There were no partitions and certainly no privacy. Lads were told to take off their underpants when changing. The reason behind this was one of hygiene. In those days mothers did not have automatic washing machines and it was quite common that people only had a couple of changes of clothes. In PE everyone including the staff got hot and sweaty and as no one had spare underpants it was sensible to take them off when changing. The rule was enforced and any lad found to be disobeying had his bottom warmed!

Showers were communal, I never questioned it, it was how showers in changing rooms were and I had never seen anything different in a men's changing room. There was room for 120 lads to shower at one go. I can't remember any lad trying to avoid having a shower, most were glad of it in a world where a weekly bath was the norm and showers at school were a luxury.

The facilities we had as staff offered no privacy from each other either. There was an office we shared and off that a changing room for the four of us with a bench and pegs above it and on the other side of the room four shower heads, no partitioning, just as communal as the ones the lads had. We used them daily - at least once. I do remember wondering whether as a master I was supposed to take off my underpants when changing too on my first day then I noted the clothes of two of my colleagues on their pegs and each was topped with a pair of underpants and why not, the same reasons as applied to the lads applied to us and of course over a couple of days I had showered with them too.

We didn't supervise the lads closely at all when they were changing or showering, only if things got rowdy did we intervene and that was usually just to appear, blow a whistle and warn everyone to calm down and to stand for a minute or so until everyone go the message. What I would say is that in that sort of situation day in and day out you don't really notice how dressed or naked lads are, they are being rowdy or not and the purpose of the intervention is to calm things down.

When the warnings didn't work there was of course a sanction and we had both the trusty plimsol and the cane available. We were allowed to use either and the only rules were that it was to be used on the bottom and not more than twelve strokes. I'd had both as a boy and mended my ways as a result.

We didn't use the slipper or the cane that much, probably between us two or three times each week and more often than not it was for sheer stupidity in the gym rather than anything else. A school gym in those days could be a very dangerous place and huge injuries could occur if lads did not do exactly as they were told. Any smart Alec who thought he knew best would be guaranteed to suffer the consequences.

A couple of my colleagues used to deal with lads in front of the class over the horse. I preferred to see lads one at a time in the office as I didn't like humiliating them in public, it was bad enough for them standing outside the office with everyone knowing what they were waiting for without having it witnessed.

With bit of experience, my preferred method of punishment was the cane on bare bottom. Bare bottom because then I could see exactly the impact of a stroke before giving the next one and the cane because with the plimsol you just whack away probably bruising deeply after three or four whacks.

Canes come in various thicknesses and can achieve very different results. My preference was for a fairly light one which caused an immediate and excrutiating sting and generating a volcanic level of burning but which calmed down in an hour or so and the marks would disappear in two to three days. Even sixth form lads would be bouncing up and down on their toes after four strokes with it. Junior lads generally got four and more senior lads eight, I never gave more than eight.

Comments by David on 15th April 2017  

Well, I've read some of the comments here and felt inclined to add mine. Our PT (physical toughness) lessons were like the photo above. The first lesson I was picked at random to demonstrate skins (vest off boy!) soon after the class were stripped down. Our teacher was very hard but fair, gym work (fitness sessions) were regular as was boxing. As we all found out boxing was a good way of making us all sweat, the ring was hard but was meant to be too. Girls used to come in to get whatever they needed from the store room and return when finished so would see us all stripped to the waist and also if they looked through the large windows too, which they regularly did. Team games, including football, cross country and athletics were always skins vs vests, indoors it was quite normal for vests to stick to their owners tops. Class competitions were done in a similar manner except for boxing where each boy taking part had his top off to fight. When each of the class teams were being picked, the girls always would say who they wanted to see on them especially if we were to have our tops off, but the form teacher always picked the team. Those who weren't picked were expected to cheer their class representative's on so everyone was involved. During the basketball and fitness competitions the teams switched at half time so everyone was a skin at some point and it raised a few wolf whistles if your team was stripping down for the second half as you would sweating.

Comments by Mac on 13th April 2017  

On the communal shower issue after PE it will seem shocking to some today but was normal practise in the secondary schools I attended in the early seventies. My first senior school was down South and was my first experience of communal showering and then we moved North and it was the same here so seemed standard at that time.

I don't look back now and regard it as abusive it was certainly one of life'e experiences. I do realise there may have been some perverted teachers in some schools but ours never stood and watched or anything like that.

Comments by Brendan on 12th April 2017  

To an extent, I do think my generation is a bit of a 'snowflake' generation as others have said. I'm one of few people that plays sports and was on a school team. A lot of guys would rather just study and browse Facebook/snapchat than actually get out and do exercise which builds a team spirit and competitive nature. Plus, you won't believe the number of times people pretend to be sick in order to miss swimming and PE lessons. In the winter, you could expect a quarter of the class to be too 'sick' to come to PE. Whildt I don't agree with the punishments listed below, I think we've become too soft in a sense

Comments by Brendan on 12th April 2017  

I never said that my classmates felt inhibited about being naked together. We were never naked in any sort of situation. I think you confused me for a different user perhaps?

Comments by Paul on 11th April 2017  

Brendan on 10th April

I revert to my earlier point that it is foolish to judge what is correct at one time by the values of another time.

When I was a boy it was definitely considered wrong to send boys up chimneys to sweep them but years earlier it was a norm.

Remember nearly all the school masters who taught us had either been in the military during WW2 or had done National Service. WW3 was on the horizon at times. Personal privacy was not valued at all among groups of men or boys at that time.

Communal showers were the norm be it in the military or in a boy's school changing room and did no one any harm. They are still not uncommon particularly if as an adult you play team sports like rugby. To repeat, I never minded them and never felt they were in any way inappropriate.

The same with the cane, it was the normal punishment in a boy's school at the time, we knew if we misbehaved or failed to turn in our best work we would be caned. It was the normal sanction of the times. It was not criminal or anything else associated with that, it was normal.

I do know think that things have gone too far towards producing generation snowflake.

Comments by Ambrose on 11th April 2017  

I wonder what Brendan and others of his age would make of the trends that prevailed in my childhood in the 50's and 60's,and early teaching life.
After PE and games lessons we showered naked together in a small communal area often brushing against each other due to the number of boys and lack of space. We were supervised by the staff while we changed in order to maintain good discipline and ensure we changed properly. We expected this to be the case, and took full advantage if the master was out of the room. It was neither improper nor illegal for boys to be seen naked by the staff at that time in state secondary schools.
When I went to teacher training college in the mid to late 60's it was the trend to encourage staff to let pupils address them by their Christian names. In my first school PE followed the traditional clothing rules, backed by guidance from county advisors, but we newly trained teachers had been encouraged at college not only to supervise the pupils changing but also to shower with them where appropriate. This was to break down inhibitions of body image and help them to see how they may develop as they got older. There was never any accusation of inappropriate behaviour towards pupils and the system continued in state secondary schools until the late 70's when the general advice changed.
During the 70's and 80's there was a large influx of foreign pupils to my city from all over the world. They were assimilated into the ethos of their schools in their new country. There was no question then of religious or cultural differences dictating how they changed or dressed for PE - everyone was treated the same.
Schools and staff that followed the official guidelines in past decades were not guilty of abusing pupils, even if trends today dictate a more neurotic approach to nakedness. In a previous post Brendan said his classmates felt inhibited being naked around each other, they should have been developing confidence in their bodies.
Only in more recent years have trends come to the fore where parents and pupils can dictate policy to schools and politicians on what they like and dislike for whatever reason. Whether you find this a good thing or not is a matter of conjecture!

Comments by Brendan on 10th April 2017  

Since this is an informative site, I thought I'd add my experience of doing PE at secondary school (2008-2015):
PE lessons took place once a week from Year 7 to Year 11 and were optional in Year 12 and 13 (sixth form). PE consisted of gymnastics, circuit training, spin cycling, rowing machines and five a side football/ basketball/ hockey. We wore a house t shirt, shorts and trainers, all of which we had to buy from the school.
Games lessons took place once a week and consisted of football matches, cross country in the winter, cricket and rugby throughout the five years. In the sixth form. games lessons were optional. We also had football and rugby practice for those of us on the school team, which was after school. We wore a school jersey for those.
Swimming lessons took place once a fortnight and we were taught all the main strokes. I was also part of the swim team which trained once a week after school. We wore swimwear that we bought from the school. For the swim team, we wore different competitive swimwear.

Feel free to ask more questions! I'll try and answer as soon as possible

Comments by Burnley on 10th April 2017  

Actually it is indeed against the law

Comments by Bradley on 10th April 2017  

Communal showers are not against the law and therefore not abuse. However, forcing a child to be naked for them is a grey area in terms of the law.

Comments by Brendan on 10th April 2017  

Paul, so do you believe that a teacher caning a student's bare bottom, or telling them to be naked for a swimming lesson or having to shower naked in front of others is not abuse? Forcing a student to wear less than they wish to and physically attacking a student is abuse, whether the student thinks it's abuse or not. What I'm essentially saying is how surprised I am by how badly students were abused in the past, as I've read from this site and how surprised I am that it wasn't considered wrong at the time when it so obviously is wrong today.

Comments by William on 10th April 2017  

Paul, I agree 100% with everything you say. There is a similar debate going on in the Royal Clitheroe forum. A few months ago I made the same point about feeling sorry for youngsters who are so inhibited that they wear chlorine soaked trunks in the men's showers after swimming at the local pool. What's the point of that?

But there's a wider point. Recently concern has been expressed that some children leaving school lack resilience - not surprising if they're excused things they feel uncomfortable with, like getting cold or communal showers. But having to do something you would rather avoid is not abuse and to make out that it is trivialises something that is really serious.

Comments by Paul on 10th April 2017  

Brendan on 9th April

You clearly don't understand how different things were in those days. No one ever thought of the word 'abuse'. I don't now consider that I was in any way abused by anyone. The friends I still have from those days are of the same mind. In fact we all think of boys of your generation as rather soft and mollycoddled.

None of what happened did us any harm, I was very happy at school and would not have changed any of it for anything different. When I see a lad in the changing room at the gym dancing around behind a towel in case anyone sees his bottom I actually feel sorry for him that he is so uncomfortable with his body. After all, he's not going to be molested in that environment but you'd never know it.

Comments by Pete on 10th April 2017  

To Paul

The point I was trying to make was to support what you had said about how standards of one age cannot be equated with those of another. From what I have learned about National Service, the treatment of recruits would certainly qualify as "abuse" in terms of how we define abuse nowadays but that's the way it was then.

Comments by Paul on 9th April 2017  

Pete on 8th April.

I'm not sure what point you're trying to make.

Comments by Richard J. on 9th April 2017  riks_box@hotmail.com 

I started 7th grade (age 12) in a public Junior High School in 1968 in Blaine, Minnesota, U.S.A. (a northern suburb of Minneapolis).
Any infraction (chewing gum, horse-play, etc.) of the Gym Class Physical Education rules meant a bare-ass swat (I can't remember gym teacher using his bare hand, or a paddle). Very few boys goofed-around in Phy Ed class. We knew the consequences.
After entering the locker room, we were required to remove our street clothes, and put on our Gym Suits: jockstraps, short-shorts, socks, tennis shoes, and the t-shirt's.
After the 1-hour Gym Class was over, we were required to shower naked in the no-dividers open-area showers.
Failure to shower naked meant a swat!
Our school had no swimming pool.
To this day, I still respect the rules of the Gym Class. It made us better citizens in society. Many kids today are babies, spoiled, scared of their own bodies, commit more sexual assaults, incur more relationship problems, have more perverted people, and the United States prison population percentage is much larger than it was in the 1960's and 1970's.

Comments by Pete on 9th April 2017  

To Bradley,

In addition to the examples mentioned by Paul, the ordeals meted out to National Service recruits seem pretty horrific and certainly would not be tolerated nowadays but, however the recruits felt about their treatment, they just had to endure it.

Comments by Brendan on 9th April 2017  

Paul, I understand your point but what I'm saying is, surely people should have known that this is abuse, plain and simple. It just seems ridiculous to me that people would be fine with having to swim naked, with having to drop their underwear to be caned, when these are such obvious incidents of abuse.

Comments by Paul on 9th April 2017  

Brendan on 8th April

It's always very foolish to judge the actions of one time against the values of another.

Presumably you will also be arranging for judges, prison officers and executioners to be tried for murder when in fact at the time hanging was a lawful punishment?

I have no sense I was ever abused. Just dealt with justly and fairly in accord with the norms of the times.

Comments by Pete on 8th April 2017  

To Paul
The official policy of your school was "corporal punishment is the most effective means of correcting wrong doing and deterring repeat or even initial breaking of the rules"

Note - correcting and deterring

Your experience doesn't bear witness to any correcting or deterring.

"Twelve (strokes) was pretty unusual and while I had plenty of 8s over the years, I only had three 12s".

Comments by Brendan on 8th April 2017  

I find it absolutely ridiculous that nude swimming was ever a thing. I feel like many of the posters on here should really be calling the police and telling them about the historical child abuse they suffered. Honestly, some of the stories on here are child abuse examples and should be reported to the authorities.

It may be that I'm too young to understand but as far as I know this is abuse, plain and simple. I was at school roughly two years ago and, believe me, if we ever had to engage in some of these activities there would be lawsuits.

We didn't even do swimming in the winter to avoid the cold. Can't imagine what that must have been like!

Comments by Andy on 8th April 2017  

At my bording school in the early 60's, boys were caned both bare in private and shorts in the gym - thus naked as we only wore shorts.

Head of Years and PE teachers caned. No age limit, and age up to 18.

Mostly in private but detention canings were in front of the boys in the detention, we had to strip completely for these csnings

Comments by Paul on 8th April 2017  

Willy on 7th April.

I don't know that there was an actual ban on bare bottom caning in the state sector, it was maybe more that it just didn't happen. AFAIK each LEA set the rules and what was approved was likely to have been in line with the experiences of the members. I know that in the London Borough of Richmond where my parents lived the rules stated that corporal punishment was not to be used on girls, it was not to be administered to the hands and the cane was to be used. That was as much as was stated and anything else was at the discretion of the headmaster. A headmaster who administered a bare bottom caning was not then breaking the rules but of course I have no idea whether it happened or not.

At my boarding school caning was always in private in the master's study. Occasionally there was the threat of a caning in front of the whole school but I never witnessed one and never heard from anyone that it had ever happened. There was a master of discipline who was also a championship squash player and he generally caned when a boy had been referred to the headmaster, having had it from him a couple of times it was definitely quite a lot worse than the norm and then norm was pretty bad.

Any master was allowed to cane, records were kept and you had to initial the book. The entry ran something like:

Jameson, Paul. Form 4A. Insolence. 8 Bare buttocks.

For whatever reason the school had a long tradition of working in multiples of four so four, eight or twelve were the norm eight being the most common. Twelve was pretty unusual and while I had plenty of 8s over the years I only had three 12s.

There was no secret about it, the subject of punishment was dealt with in the school handbook which every parent had and had signed an acknowledgement of having read.

The section went something like 'the school governors have determined that corporal punishment is the most effective means of correcting wrong doing and detering repeat or even initial breaking of the rules. It will also be used to spur on the attitude of an underperforming or lazy boy who is not doing his best in his studies or general participation in the life of the school. The instrument of correction is the cane and up to twelve strokes will be administered to the bare buttocks of an errant boy'. Says it all!

There was no age limit on caning - I got my last one in the Easter term of my last year at the age of eighteen after I absented myself from classes one afternoon. There was a general belief that an older boy benefited even more from a bare bottom caning as having to lower his trousers was an added humiliation.

I don't think I agreed with the latter, it was a boarding school, we slept in open dormitories, we showered in communal showers, we swam naked in the pool, there was nothing unusual about lowering your trousers and underpants in front of another man so it may have bothered some, it certainly didn't bother me - the sting of the cane did!

Comments by John on 8th April 2017  

Reading the posts re bare bottom caning at my school back in late 50's early 60's we were caned on our bare bottom in private in the heads study, I was caned once at 13 because I was heard swearing by the teacher and sent to the head, as my dad was his gardener he gave me two options :- 3 strokes on the bare bottom and he told my dad or 6 on the bare bottom and that was it, I chose the latter as my dad would have trebled what I had been given and a grounding as well.

In the showers after I was told that the stripes were very visible, I did get some relief from freezing cold water over my bottom, but the pain still came back, and I couldn't hide it at home when sitting down, dad had me drop my shorts and pants and he examined me and said I had been punished enough but docked my pocket money anyway for that weekend.

Comments by Robert on 8th April 2017  

Looking back to end of the humiliations that largely ended in Easter 1987, I think most PE teachers were closet paedophiles 30 years. The communal showers where you were forced to be naked in front of other males. If gym class was cancelled at the last moment you could be made to do swimming in see through white shorts. Other punishments by the coach included having to bend over and being whacked on the backside or being forced to 10 press ups with the PE teacher pushing your groin into the ground. At least with the development of a professional middle class and the moves towards a multi-cultural pro-feminist society these abuses have largely been consigned to living memory in the UK.

Comments by Sterling on 8th April 2017  

I recall my Brother, who Fifteen years Older than myself speaking of being offered the option of Six with Slipper Shorts Up or Four Shorts Down! Ring any bells with anyone?
This was a Boarding School in Scotland in the Mid Sixties!

I can recall lads getting the slipper Naked in the Locker Room when they were messing. But you must remember nudity really meant nothing to us. We seen each other in the Buff Everyday

Comments by Turner on 7th April 2017  

Archie - Thanks for the info. They are more revealing than I expected but I suppose in those days (1)there was only one fat boy per class and (2) boys had not been taught by feminists to be ashamed of their bodies.

Comments by Richie on 7th April 2017  

You are right Paul no on accepts the consequences of their bad behaviour any more. People expect to be able to misbehave & get away with it.

Comments by Willy on 7th April 2017  

As the previous posters have said bare bottom caning and slippering could have been carried out in some private and boading schools, but not in public(government)schools.
What I would like to ask Paul and others who received it is if this was carried out in private or in front of other students.
Also if all teachers at their school had this authority to cane boys bare, or if only certain staff or teachers could do this.
And was there an age limit where boys could be caned bare?

Comments by Paul on 6th April 2017  

Richie - 5th April.

Boarding school in northern England in the 60s & 70s, the cane on bare bottom was the norm. No one thought anything of it as it was just what happened.

I have no resentment, every time I got it I deserved it and knew the consequences of my behaviour.

Comments by Archie on 6th April 2017  

Turner, just looked up the pic you refer to. Those are far more covering than the slips we are talking about. The ones my Dad and teachers wore were triangles of cloth at the front and straps around the sides and up,the arse. This is the closest I've been able to find online.


My Dad''s was blue with white straps and my teachers all had black ones. My Dad's one was really faded with age - presumably from the chlorine.

Comments by Stuart on 5th April 2017  stu151@hotmail.com 


I think in the 1950's/60's some schools (nearly all private) may have caned shorts/pj's down. It's also just about possible that one or two still made lads report to the gym for a caning, and that this was carried out totally naked.

Beyond that I think canings were on at least PE shorts/underpants.


Comments by Turner on 5th April 2017  

Just going back to the side-fastening swimming slips, there is a famous photo by Nino Migliori called Il Tuffatore (The Diver) from 1951 showing the fastening. Possibly they had been modernised by the time our correspondents wore theirs.

Comments by Richie on 5th April 2017  

In response to the comment on 1st April by Stuart, does anyone know whether any schools actually administered the cane to a bare backside? Or would that have been considered a step too far in the 50's 60's?

Comments by Archie on 4th April 2017  

Same for us but was a mix of slipper, tawse and cane

Comments by Stuart on 2nd April 2017  stu151@hotmail.com 


We had detentions in the gym, and you were caned for 3 or more detentions in a school year. Additionally, serious "crimes" got a detention and x strokes.

So it happened a fair bit.

Underpants weren't allowed under shorts for all pe/sports and naturally, detentions.

Comments by Tim on 2nd April 2017  

Re the caning over the vaulting horse,was this a regular occur regularly? Thin shorts presumably no underwear as was the custom those days OUCH!

Comments by Stuart on 1st April 2017  

I remember the vaulting horse in our school gym for a totally different reason!

It wasn't jumping over it, so much as being told to fetch the cane from the PE teachers office, then being told to get into position, stretched over the horse, waiting (nervously) for the first stroke of the cane to land. We were never caned naked, but with just thin cotton shorts on, it was all but the same.

Comments by Andrea on 1st April 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

We had to use the vaulting horse too, although I can't recollect having to do a somersault over it. I think that the girls in the gym display team did, but I was never that good!

I use to hate having to use the ropes; my arms didn't seem strong enough to haul myself up them.

Comments by Michael on 31st March 2017  

For some reason the vaulting horse seemed very popular back in the 1950s/60s. I was terrified of it; not because of what it was, but what the teacher insisted I had to do with it.

I was ordered to run up as quickly as I could, then jump with the assistance of a wooden spring board, do a somersault over the top and land on my feet on the other side.

I could hardly believe what I was hearing, but I had to give it my best effort nevertheless. Other boys seemed to have no difficulty, so the teacher reckoned I should find it easy too.

But, despite my valiant efforts, the best I ever achieved was to land in a heap on one side or the other of the dreadful thing, thankfully avoiding breaking my neck in the process.

Comments by Tim on 31st March 2017  

I still think the "speedo" style swimming briefs are best. shame that so many people think badly of them. As kids that was all that was available but in those days it was was always the cheapest one available one available.

Comments by Rob on 27th March 2017  

OK Archie, at least you were wearing decent ones.

Comments by Archie on 27th March 2017  

Rob, he might have done but I never did. I wore normal swimming trunks (briefs) with Stars and Stripes on the IIRC!

Comments by Rob on 24th March 2017  

Archie, did your father not think that you should wear one as well?

Comments by Archie on 20th March 2017  

Rob, yes other men wore them at the baths. I didn't really think much of it at the time because of that - older men didn't seem to wear them, just the younger ones.

Comments by Gerald on 19th March 2017  

The slips were only worn for swimming. For PE and football we wore shorts

Comments by Rob on 18th March 2017  

Archie, it seems that these slips were not uncommon as your masters and other posters wore them. You mentioned earlier that you suspected the design was linked to post war rationing so you must have thought they were obviously very brief. Did other members of your father's club wear them and how did you feel about seeing him wearing one?

Comments by Archie on 13th March 2017  

Re slips - just for swimming and then only by masters. Normal PE was black shorts, worn commando, and white plimsoles.

Comments by Lewis on 10th March 2017  

With regards to string slips, this is about all some young ladies wear these days either on the beach or a swimming pool. Two pieces of material held together by String

Comments by Willy on 10th March 2017  

About string slips, I remember seeing some old pictures of the Victorian era which were commonly worn then for PE and also athletics and other sports, though I never heard of them being used in our era. So I guess that this was a tradition which was kept in some schools as previous posters have mentioned.
What I would like to know from these posters is if they were only worn for swimming or also for other PE or sports activities.

Comments by Gerald on 3rd March 2017  

It was King Edward VI Grammar in Chelmsford

Comments by Kate on 1st March 2017  

Hi Amy,

I stayed in my knickers. Most because this is what I was used to and my mum wouldn't buy a leotard, frightened that it would only be used once a week. I think most other mums thought the same way.

Comments by Amy on 28th February 2017  

Hi Kate

Did you move to a leotard or continue in just your knickers? Strange that if the school offered knickers or leotards they didn't allow vests and knickers for girls from yr 4 upwards,

Comments by Turner on 28th February 2017  

Archie and Gerald
Can you tell us the names of your respective schools please?
I was not expecting anyone to have heard of these tie slips, let alone experience of wearing them/seeing them.

Comments by Kate on 27th February 2017  

Hi Amy,

In primary school I only wore my knickers without a vest and bare feet. Lessons were mixed and we changed in our classroom and walked to the hall. When we reached Year 4 we're were given the option of a leotard to wear or continue as we were. Most girls continued as they were.

Comments by Amy on 27th February 2017  

Hi Kate

Yes it was a shock but a good one when I moved up and could suddenly wear clothes in PE!! Some of the girls hated having to wear a little leap red but for me it was brilliant!

So you did PE in just your underpants in primary school? So no veat or anything on top? Was this girls only or mixed?

Comments by Kate on 27th February 2017  

Amy, your primary school years PE in the nude sounds incredible. Quite amazing what schools could get away with back then.

I know in my lessons I just wore my underpants and looking back I thought that was bad.

It must have been a shock to the system when you moved up schools. Did you try and carry on practicing PE nude or did you have a kit?

Comments by Amy on 27th February 2017  

Hi Andrea

Yes our male teacher in today's yr4 took us for PE. Again, this seems incredible looking back but then it was just accepted that we didn't wear anything for PE, and our teacher took the lesson.

Comments by Andrea on 26th February 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Amy,
Did your male teacher take you for PE lessons in Year 4, or were they always taken by a female?

We would sometimes have a male teacher supervise us for mixed boys and girls PE at Primary School, but we only had to strip down to vest and pants before putting on or PE kit (T shirt and shorts or skirt).

Comments by Amy on 25th February 2017  

Hi Willy

Yes, totally serious. It certainly wasn't a nudist school (I didn't know they even existed!) but that was how we had to do indoor PE. I think because we did it right through the school we didn't think about it too much, it was just what we were used to. As I sad, looking back now it seems amazing that less than 30 years ago it happened. We had a couple of male teachers, but mostly women. I had a male teacher for my class when I was in what would now be year 4, ages 8-9

Comments by Willy on 24th February 2017  

Amy, are you serious, doing PE naked all through primary school?
I actually never heard of this, unless it was a nudist school.
Did you have male teachers at the shool, and was there corporal punishment?
I am surprised that parents did not complain.
Did they give a reason why you had to do PE completely naked, and how did you girls feel about it?

Comments by Amy on 24th February 2017  

Hi Andrea

Yes, it was basically primary school ages, 4-11. Some independent schools go up to age 13 but ours didn't. We did PE with nothing on right through to when we left. It seems incredible that it was less than 30 years ago that this happened and was considered to be quite ok! I guess we were lucky that it was girls-only!

Comments by Andrea on 23rd February 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Amy,

What age were you when you had to do PE naked? You mentioned removing vest and pants, so was it a Primary School(up to age 11, or do the age ranges differ in private schools?

It does sound odd being allowed a skirt but no top. My secondary School uniform for indoor PE was gym knickers (without a skirt) and a white aertex shirt. Outdoors we were allowed to wear a skirt or culottes over our gym knickers.

Comments by Amy on 22nd February 2017  

It seems in the past we all had it bad but a lot of girls had it even worse than the boys. I went to a fairly small independent girls only junior school in North Yorkshire in the 80s. We had an old gym that was in pretty poor condition but we still used it several times a week. We all walked from our classroom over to the corner of the school where the gym stood. The changing rooms were locked out of use because they were old and leaking, so we all went straight into the gym itself. Once we were in there we were all expected to undress in silence, in a strict order. First our shoes, them our cardigans, our dresses, blouses, our shoes and socks, our vests and finally our pants. We were then ready to start our lessons. When we look back now it's amazing that we had to do PE wearing absolutely nothing at all!

Comments by Louise on 22nd February 2017  

Hi Claire

How odd that your school wouldn't let you wear a top, even a bra, but insisted on skirts - I assume with gym knickers beneath?

Comments by Archie on 20th February 2017  

Don, yes it was mixed. The girls knew we swam naked and di PE shirtless but these classes were single sex. Double standards as usual! Boys got CP but girls got detention...

Comments by James on 20th February 2017  

When I attended a naturist swim club,all facilities were mixed gender and we were not allowed to wear swimming trunks.

Comments by Don on 19th February 2017  

Archie, was it a mixed school and did you ever have females present during your nude swims?

Comments by Archie on 16th February 2017  

Willy, it was an independent day school - very traditional

Comments by Hilary on 15th February 2017  

Gerald, was it uncomfortable to wear these slips? Were they sold widely at the time or resort tend to schools? Were they common to wear at the time?

Comments by Claire on 15th February 2017  

Hi Louise,

We wore a PE skirt, always black, but footwear depended on what we were doing. Outside it was always black plimsoles unless it was athletics then bare feet were allowed. Gym sessions varied between bare feet or white plimsoles for gym including indoor netball and the dreaded fitness sessions which were always during a double lesson.

Comments by Louise on 14th February 2017  

Hi Claire

What else did you wear for PE? Did you have kit in the bottom half or just knickers? What about footwear?

Comments by Claire on 13th February 2017  

Hi Andrea,

I was left with little choice, either wear a vest and get laughed at, or go topless. I was relieved when I finally started to show and was able to wear a bra. The PE teachers said they preferred minimal kit and were quite brutal about it too. As far as they were concerned skins ruled.


Comments by Andrea on 12th February 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

That seems very harsh. I imagine you were relieved when you finally able to wear a sports bra?

Comments by Claire on 12th February 2017  

Hi Louise,

No, she didn't relent. I didn't have much of a choice other than to remain topless until late on in yr 9. It wasn't much fun but it did stop me being picked on as much which was good.


Comments by Willy on 12th February 2017  

Archie, what kind of school was this where you had to swim naked?

Comments by Gerald on 11th February 2017  

Willy, I have absolutely no idea why we had to wear them instead of swim briefs. The reason can't have been cost or availability since briefs weren't expensive and were available in most shops and were much more comfortable. I think it was mainly because it was a tradition that the school wanted to keep. The slips were provided by the school. It's just something that was part of the required kit. They covered everything that briefs cover.

The problem with these slips was that in order to avoid any risk of them falling off we tied them quite tight, which made them hard to take off after a lesson if they became knotted.

Comments by Archie on 10th February 2017  

Our teachers wore the sort of Slips that are being talked about - basically a g string made from cotton- whilst we boys were naked.

My father also had one he wore when he took me swimming to a private swimming baths that he was a member of. Suspect the design was linked to post war rationing!

Comments by Willy on 10th February 2017  

Hi Geraald and Turner, I never heard of these swimming slips, looks like something from the Victorian era.
What was the sense in wearing these slips which had to be tied with strings and not just wear plain briefs?
Were they supplied by the school or were they part of the school kit?
I imagine they just barely covered the front part and back.

Comments by Gerald on 9th February 2017  

I remember wearing the slips that Turner mentioned.

They were essentially a briefs-like garment that you had to tie at the side. They weren't very comfortable and were either uncomfortably tight or dangerously loose depending on how you tied them.

Comments by Reg on 9th February 2017  gary.adams2@btinternet.com 

Boys' boarding school in the 1960s. Twice daily showers in a communal shower room with 60 other kids supervised by a teacher; twice weekly swimming lessons no trunks until 5th form (now year 11). At scouts we were permitted to use the pool and gym in a local army base. Afterwards we all showered together while the scoutmaster "supervised".
Our teachers and parents had all gone through the war you weren't about to complain to them about it and as for the scout master we knew what was going on but he only looked and we regarded it as a quid pro quo for using the facilities. We kids were fairly hard nosed in those days.

Comments by Louise on 7th February 2017  

Hi Claire

So did you continue doing your PE lessons without a top until tr9 or did your teacher relent before then?

What else did you wear for PE: shorts, gym knickers etc?


Comments by James on 5th February 2017  

It was an all boys school and all the boys wore slips for swimming from 11 to 16.
It was considered a normal practice to wear slips,so it was not too embarrassing or humiliating when teachers or other school staff attended our swim classes,but could be when visitors attended and we could be seen through the viewing window.

Comments by Andrea on 5th February 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Jim,
Our secondary school was all girls, so all our PE teachers were female.

At primary school PE wasn't topless or in underwear but boys and girls did have to change in the same classroom. Mostly this was supervised by our class teacher, who was female but occasionally it was done by a male teacher.

Comments by Andy on 5th February 2017  

Was it a boys only or mixed school?
When you say it was for all ages throughout the school, what were the actual ages, since it obviously depended on the type of school.
Were there any particular times when it was especially more embarrassing and humiliating, such if you had other teachers or school staff or visitors present during your swim classes?

Comments by James on 5th February 2017  

Willy,sorry about the spelling error,I meant cords and we were made to wear them.

Comments by James on 5th February 2017  

Hi Willy,we used to wear slips for swimming at all ages through school.
The slip that I wore was a sliver of nylon attached to chords
to keep it in place.
No,we were not given a reason why we were made to them instead of normal swimming trunks,it was a requisite for swimming lessons.
Yes,I did feel embarrassed and humiliated when having to those flimsy slips,while other boys were quite brazen and arrogant.

Comments by RobinC on 5th February 2017  

Sorry Gerald for the late response.
1) I did not know of any schools at the time that swam without trunks. The school I went to was quite isolated and I didn't know anyone who went to other schools nearby. Our school was one of the last to have done nude swimming.
2) Our teacher was indifferent. He didn't seem to like or dislike the policy but he did his job as he was told to by the headteacher and heads of department, who only later ruled that we should do swimming with trunks.
3) eventually the school banned it because it just became very outdated. No one saw any reason to continue the policy. I think they should have stopped it earlier.

Comments by Willy on 4th February 2017  

Hi James, at what ages were the boys in your school made to wear these flimsy slips?

Were they made of nylon or cotton?

Did they ever give a reason why the boys were made to wear these slips instead of normal swim trunks?

Did you or the other boys feel embarrassed or humiliated by being made to wear these slips for swimming lessons?

Comments by Claire on 4th February 2017  

Hi Jim, We never had a male teacher it was an all girls school. It was hard enough going topless with just female groups. Girls can tease just as much as boys.

Comments by James on 3rd February 2017  

I remember wearing the slips that were mentioned and they were also tied at the hip to keep them in place.
I don't recall any'malfunctions'and they were quite comfortable to wear,albeit they were very minuscule.

Comments by Turner on 2nd February 2017  


It was boys only. I did not attend this school but came across the kit list so wondered whether anyone had experience of these slips that tie at the side. What did they feel like? Did they malfunction e.g. come untied or become knotted so you couldn't get them off?

Comments by Willy on 2nd February 2017  

Turner, was this a boys only or mixed school?
I presume that these slips were only mandated for boys during swimming at the school.
I guess that some schools really stuck to tradition, but at least a tiny nylon or cotton slip was a step up from complete nudity which was common in many schools for boys at the time for swimming lessons.

Comments by Turner on 1st February 2017  

King Edward VII Grammar School Sheffield Sept 1961 P.E. requirements:-
P.T.: black shorts and gym shoes.
Swimming: non-swimmers - white cotton slips, triangular, with tapes to fasten at the side.
swimmers - blue nylon or cotton slips.
These should be contained in a polythene or waterproof bag, as there are no drying facilities at the School.
Were these slips like the German Dreiecksbadehose? I thought they had been replaced by trunks with elasticated waistbands in the 1940s or 50s.

Comments by Jim on 30th January 2017  

Did you girls ever do PE in just underwear or topless with a male teacher?

Comments by Andrea on 30th January 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Claire & Louise,
I can remember my sister telling me that my niece hated wearing a vest once some of her friends had started to wear bras, so even though she was still flat chested at that point Sis bought her some crop tops so she wouldn't feel left out.

When I was that age in the early 1970's there were no such things as crop tops (or sports bras). Until we were sufficiently developed for a 'teen bra' (a scaled down version of what our mothers wore), we wore vests or nothing under our shirts - just like the boys. Getting your first bra was a sort of rite of passage (which some girls looked forward to, but others didn't!).

Comments by Claire on 30th January 2017  

Hi Louise,

Up to yr7 it was just a standard vest and after yr7 a sports bra.
My simple problem was I didn't start to show until towards the end of yr9. To be honest, I was apprehensive about going topless in the gym but being average build I felt it was the only option. One thing that did ease off were the ribbings, they stopped after a couple of months which was a huge relief.

Comments by Louise on 30th January 2017  

Hi Claire

No way did girls have it easy! I think we've proved that!

Up to yr7 was it your underwear vest that you had to wear for PE? From yr7 was it just your regular bra or did the other girls bring sports bras to wear? How did you feel having to go into the gym topleas - I bet it was worse being the only one like that. What else did you wear in the gym?


Comments by Claire on 29th January 2017  


Poor you! PE lessons were an endurance test for me. Our kit on top was supposed to be a vest up to yr7 then just a bra. I was still flat chested at that stage and was told by the teacher to either wear a vest, and be the only one to do so, or go into the gym topless. I was ribbed enough as it was so topless was the only option. Who says girls had it easy?

Comments by Andrea on 29th January 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 


I agree with Rob, that sounds awful. We were allowed just to wash ourselves in one of the sinks if we didn't want to use the shower at that time of the month.

As for making that poor year 9 girl do gymnastics topless, that must have been so embarrassing her! Even in year 7 some of my classmates definitely needed their bras and as far as I can recall pretty much all of us wore them by the end of year 8.

Comments by Rob on 27th January 2017  

Louise, that's terrible, I feel so sorry for you. They shouldn't have been allowed to treat girls like that. it must have been really embarrassing for you and the memory has stayed with you ever since. Boys should consider themselves lucky; they have nothing to get embarrassed about when they are in the showers.

Comments by Louise on 26th January 2017  

Rob - I think it was quite harsh making us shower even on our periods. But I can see that we were just as sweaty or muddy as the rest of the class so did need to freshen up somehow. For a lot of girls it wasn't too obvious but you're right about those with very heavy periods. I remember one lesson where I felt so weak and afterwards in the shower it was pretty messy and unpleasant.

Andrea - yes, in yr8 upwards if we forgot our kit we did it in a bra as well as our pants. For some girls that couldn't come a day too soon! I remember a girl who joined us at the start of yr9 who didn't have a PE kit. For some reason she didn't have a bra either so had to do gymnastics wearing just a pair of pants!

Comments by Peter B on 26th January 2017  

Following the comments by T & William in my era at secondary school, ie 1961 to 1966, it was not that long since ww2 had ended and National Service finished I think about 1963. Therefore in an all male school with all male teachers most of these had served in the war or national service as had our fathers they had experienced communal changing in military accommodation and to them it was just the norm. Furthermore it is only recently that changing arrangements had altered in swimming pools. I remember certainly up to a few years ago the changing facilities at swimming pools were segregated by gender and although there were a few cubicles generally all males changed in an open area and we were quite used to this arrangement so a changing room for pe at school seemed no different. Nowadays we have mixed changing villages, the trouble being at our local pool when busy there are not enough facilities which means having to wait and when you come out of the pool you are hanging around getting cold waiting for a vacant cubicle whereas previously in an all male environment you could just come out of the pool go the changing area and get changed.
Have we become to inhibited?

Comments by Gerald on 19th January 2017  

RobinC, did you know of any other schools that only recently stopped this practice? Fifteen years ago is quite recent. Were you okay with it? was your teacher ( a man I presume!) supportive of the policy or did he aim to stop it? And why did your school decide to ban the practice?

Comments by T on 19th January 2017  

To be honest, those pictures should never have been taken and in shocked that they were. I understand why nude showering is appropriate but a photographer should never have been given access to take those photos. I would have been absolutely horrified if an adult man just walked in on us and took photos while we were in that state. I'm glad that this is no longer allowed to take place. Where's the privacy in that?

Comments by RobinC on 18th January 2017  

I left fifteen years ago and I was one of the last years in the school to do their swimming lessons without trunks. Was a boys private day school.

Comments by William on 17th January 2017  

T, Interesting that your experience mirrors mine many years before: initially nervous, eventually confident and then not bothering whether you're nude or not in the showers queue or changing room. It helped that we had no choice and were all treated the same.

The photos I mentioned bear this out. The foreground figures in McBride's might well be posed but the boys in the background are not and seem entirely relaxed; and the American boys are unconcerned that they are all naked in the showers, as if it's completely natural, which I suppose it is.

Comments by T on 15th January 2017  

William, I have to agree with you that communal showers can help a lot in terms of not being shy. When I first started secondary school nine years ago, I was pretty shocked to hear that we were supposed to shower after every swimming lesson and that we had to take our swimwear off before doing so. Eventually, we all got used to it and didn't even bother covering up with towels in the queue!
So little things like this do boost your confidence

Comments by Andrea on 14th January 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 


Our PE teacher was a stickler for us wearing the correct PE kit and made us wear some from the lost property cupboard which if we forgot our own (which we hated as it was usually grubby and smelly!).

She had a rather different attitude to bras than yours; far from forbidding them to be worn, she would sometimes 'suggest' that it was time that certain girls started to wear one!

I would imagine that for some, running around topless towards the end of year 7 must have been uncomfortable and embarrassing?

I assume that they were allowed in later years you were allowed to keep them on?

Comments by Rob on 13th January 2017  

Louise,I was a little more than concerned and wondered what a man who said that was doing teaching PE in a girls school.However, your female teacher doesn't sound much better and I can imagine her. She probably chose the kit she wanted girls to wear from year 8 onwards until you were aged 18 so I hope none of you ever forgot your kit.With boys it's different; we didn't need anything other than a pair of shorts in the gym or outside and as we got very hot and sweaty we needed to be naked in the showers together in order to wash properly and it wasn't a problem. However, your teacher was very insensitive making girls shower when they were having their periods and it must have been very unpleasant for any who suffered heavy periods.Surely, if you brought a doctor's note this would have excused you.She shouldn't have been snooping around in the changing room anyway, our teacher never did. We knew we needed to shower and all got on with it.But then again, we were all boys and had it easy.

Comments by Louise on 11th January 2017  

Rob, in fact we always had to shower after our PE lessons. Very often our PE teacher would be in the changing room or at least come in at some point so there was no way of not showering, even if you didn't want to. Being on your period didn't get you out of it either; our teacher said that you still needed to get clean after sweating in her lesson.

At the end of my earlier message it was supposed to read "I remember her saying we were lucky to be allowed our pants!" Sorry for not correcting the bad typo!

Comments by Louise on 10th January 2017  

Andrea, no one was allowed to wear a bra for PE in yr7. Our PE teacher made it really clear that all we could wear was a pair of pants. I tenner he saying that we were lucky to be allowed our pants!

Comments by Andrea on 10th January 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Our PE kit in the early 1970s was white polo shirt and navy gym knickers. The shower rules were the same as described by your wife. A few girls would try to get out of showers by saying they were on their period when they weren't, but our PE teacher soon got wise to them!

Were you allowed to keep your bra on if you were doing PE in underwear, or was it strictly knickers only?

Comments by William on 10th January 2017  

The recent discussion has highlighted the change in attitude between now and 50 years ago towards nudity in single sex schools. We had communal showers at school after gym and were told to get on with it as we were all boys together and there was no reason to be embarrassed. Most of us quickly stopped being shy about being nude. I never saw a master behave improperly in any way.

Will McBride famously photographed the boys washing at Salem School in 1963. Germany has always been more relaxed about nudity than Britain; but the US was more like us and there the change in attitude has been equally striking. In Life magazine dated 13 Jan 1941 there is an article on Democracy in US Schools which includes a photo of about 20 boys back view in a communal shower. Life was a mainstream magazine widely available on US news stands and the photo was uncontroversial. Very different from today's attitudes.

As this is a history site I thought referring to a couple of primary sources would be interesting.

Comments by Bradley on 10th January 2017  

Gerald, I'm not the one you asked but I can say that it is an anomaly. Very very few schools still have compulsory showers, especially nude. It's a shame because the area covered by swimwear is one of the places most prone to infection.

Comments by T on 10th January 2017  

Gerald, it was an anomaly as none of my friends from other schools had the policy of compulsory showers after swimming. I'm glad that this is a rare case, more and more schools are realising that showers are better done in the privacy of one's own home rather than in front of your classmates.

Comments by Rob on 9th January 2017  

Louise, my wife told me that at the mixed school she attended in the 60's the girls PE kit was white shorts and polo shirts. After every PE lesson they all had to go naked in the communal showers unless they were having their period when they were excused showers. No doubt this quite normal for girls at that time and you probably didn't have to take showers at your school. At the boys school I attended, we wore just shorts and plimsolls and nothing else and of course there was no excuse for anyone not going naked in the showers afterwards.

Comments by Gerald on 8th January 2017  

T, thank you for the response. So it seems that even today schools still allow for nude showers. Was this the case at other schools do you think or was your school an anomaly?

Comments by Louise on 8th January 2017  

I've read most of the comments and a lot of people are surprised that girls used to have to do PE in their underwear or even just their knickers, but a lot of these messages relate to lessons in the early 1990s and earlier.

I'm 24 and went to an all girls school from the ages of 11-18. When I was in year seven in 2004 we did indoor PE twice a week and we didn't have PE kit. We all had to just strip down to our knickers and do the lesson like that. It was embarrassing to start with and it was cold in the winter! From year eight onwards we got a kit to wear but it was a pair of tiny gym knickers and a thin cotton vest, always with bare feet. If we forgot our kit then it was back to doing it in our underwear!

Comments by T on 8th January 2017  

Daryl, I agree with your point that showering is important. After swimming, showers were compulsory at my school. Most of us did take our swimwear off before hitting the showers. Since the showers were communal, you can understand why some might have preferred to keep their swimwear on, however the rules were that swimwear should not be worn in the showers.

Comments by Gerald on 5th January 2017  

T, thanks for your answer. Was showering done with or without trunks? And did you have to shower after PE or just after swimming?

Comments by Daryl on 4th January 2017  

In my day, if you even considered not showering you were given the slipper and made to shower. It's just not hygienic to go from high octane exercise to a lesson without having washed yourself. T, did your school have showers? And was it compulsory to shower?

Comments by T on 4th January 2017  

Gerald, at my school, the sports we played were football, basketball, rugby, cross country, gymnastics and athletics.
There was compulsory showers after swimming but not after PE.
It is a state-run boys only school.

Comments by Gerald on 3rd January 2017  

T, were there showers after PE or did you not have them?
Also, what sports did you play during your time at the school? And was this at a private or state run school?

Comments by Lewis on 2nd January 2017  

T thank you for your response. Your comments re underwear show how times have changed since I was at an all boys school from 1961 to 1966

Comments by T on 1st January 2017  

Yes we wore our normal underwear under our shorts. All our kit was bought from a supplier so everyone wore the same kit.

Comments by Lewis on 1st January 2017  

T it is interesting to read comments from a person who has recently left school. For PE were you allowed to wear pants under your shorts or like us from older generation was underwear banned? The fact that you wore swimming briefs in the pool is interesting but I assume that was the rules, because one rarely sees males wearing swimming briefs in public these days

Comments by T on 31st December 2016  

At my school, we did PE in shorts and a t-shirt. For team games, we would use different bibs and for colder days, such as for cross country, we wore jumpers. I finished school last year so this is quite an accurate representation. For swimming, we wore swim briefs.

Comments by Edward on 27th December 2016  

In response to Willy.

Swimming lessons were in an indoor pool not large enough for spectators with a male supervising master.

Comments by Willy on 26th December 2016  

Edward, can you describe how the swimming sessions were carried out?
Were they swimming lessons or free swims?
Did you have swimming competitions or galas in front of spectators?
Also were female teachers or staff ever present during your nude swims?

Comments by Edward on 26th December 2016  

In response to Willy.

I attended a boy's only Preparatory/Public School.

Swimming without trunks was obligatory for all.

Comments by Willy on 24th December 2016  

Edward, could you elaborate and clarify further, was it a primary, prep or secondary school?
Was it a boys only or mixed school?

Comments by Edward on 23rd December 2016  

Further to recent comments tradition was not the pretext to swimming naked at the school that I attended in the early sixties.The regime was imposed at the whim of the Headmaster.

'Get used to it' was the response from other staff.

Participating nude was initially daunting, but I became accustomed to it, with the added benefit of no wet trunks.

Comments by Lewis on 21st December 2016  

In response to your comments Willy, I think you are correct. It was either school or district policy that governed rules on nude swimming. We had weekly swimming lessons at our secondary school but we were taken b y coach to the local municipal pool. It was a session just for our school which all boys but swimming trunks were worn. For PE it was like most schools shorts no pants or top and plimsolls only no socks. Our parents knew this and no one thought anything about it.

I expect at the first lesson I thought it strange and felt a bit uncomfortable but I knew what was coming because my elder brother was already attending the school and he had told me about the minimal clothing in PE and I know he tried to tease me by saying that with no pants and only shorts everything would hangout. In spite of everything we all survived.

In answer to the question about dress for PE today I know from my son's high school ti is shorts for outdoor football etc. although winter he can wear track suit bottoms and they always wear a top and underwear. There is no mention of showers and he does not have to take a towel. It seems from what he says several PE and sports lessons are spent talking about the theory of keeping fit with very little exertion

Comments by Willy on 20th December 2016  

It was not teachers that made boys swim nude. It was either the school policy or district policy.
If it was illegal it would never have happened anywhere.
The main reason was tradition and the culture of the time. In fact most all parents of the time accepted it as normal and never objected.
It was the same with PE kit of shorts only or underpants unly, or even supervised communal showers at school, all of which would be seen as unacceptable today.
I guess the only tradition from among these that still survives today, though probably getting rarer, is the compulsary communal shower after PE.
Does anyone here know of any schools which still have any of these old traditions?

Comments by Paul on 20th December 2016  

I never minded nude swimming once we got used to the idea. Equally communal showers were quite healthy places where there was always a bit of chat and banter which was much more fun that the closed cubicles of today.

It's always a mistake to judge other times by values of a different age. I certainly never met a teacher who seemed to have any untoward intentions, no doubt a very few did but it's so wrong to judge the majority on the basis of that.

Comments by Gerald123 on 18th December 2016  

Why did they insist on nude swimming? Why shouldn't people wear trunks? I honestly think these teachers should be tried- they may have had some wrong intentions... absolutely awful that this happened.

Comments by Harold1 on 16th December 2016  

Lewis, what you said about France is true for a lot of mainland Europe. When I lived in Germany, it was the norm to wear speedos if you were a guy and a bikini if you're a woman. The hygiene reason is often touted as for why this the case, although for women I don't quite believe that a bikini would be more 'hygienic', not to complain though!

Comments by Lewis on 14th December 2016  

I have read quite recently that on the continent (especially France) swimming shorts are not allowed in swimming pools particularly at hotels, and males all have to wear swimming trunks of the briefs design. (speedos). Apparently the reason for this is also "fibres from shorts clog the filtration system" In addition I have read that men might wear swimming shorts on the beach and if they go into the pool without changing then sane from the beach can also clog the system.

However, I cannot see how schools in the past used clogging as an excuse to insist on nude swimming.

Comments by Sterling on 3rd December 2016  

One excuse adopted by School Authorities for mandating nude swimming was the alleged dire problem of what to do with wet trunks!

The Plastic bag was only invented in the early 60's and not widely available until later in the decade.

However in mixed Schools girls were permitted swimsuits with three times the material of swim trunks.
This also draws into question the other reason widely given for the enforcement of suit-free swimming for boys only.
That the fibres from their trunks clogged the filtration systems!
If that was the case surely girls' suits would have the same effect?

Comments by Bradley on 29th November 2016  

Certainly odd but I can see why it was necessary. You can't really clean yourself properly if you're wearing trunks. It was very daunting walking to and from the showers but actual being in the shower room without trunks was perfectly fine.

I understand what you mean about the win briefs. It depends on the competition. For a lot of individual events, I wore my jammers as that's what I find the best personally. But for team events we wore our team kit which was blue swim briefs. It depends on the competition.

Comments by Evan on 27th November 2016  

Bradley, it's interesting to see that nude showering happens in some schools. At my school we showered with trunks on. What was it like?

And did you wear trunks for competitions as well? At a gala I took part in everyone wears swim briefs

Comments by Bradley on 26th November 2016  

Gerald, teachers weren't allowed to enter the shower area, yes. But after a swimming lesson we would go to the changing area, take off our trunks and make our way to the shower room. He would have been able to see if someone immediately got changed without having a shower since he's usually just outside the changing room so can see when everyone leaves after getting dressed. But everyone did shower, there was never a time when someone tried to avoid it.

Comments by Evan on 23rd November 2016  

Harold1, I didn't really like the idea of doing PE without a top but got used to it and think it helped. At my school we showered wearing swimming trunks as it was a communal shower room and not in cubicles, so I can't quite answer your second question.

Comments by Sterling on 21st November 2016  

Keith John, I remember the big snow was the only time we had indoor PT due to the Weather. However we only missed one session. I also recall it was we boys who cleared the snow from the pitch and also the driveway and footpaths of the nearby girls School.

Comments by KeithJohn on 21st November 2016  

I would just like to tell you about one of my experiences at school, it was the winter of 1962/63, there was snow around 12 to 18 inches widespread around the country, I lived in a Midlands city and my secondary modern school was on the edge of it.Did all that snow stop us getting to school? no it didn't, nor stop us having outdoor PE, we had a football pitch behind the school and the snow had been cleared by the caretaker/groundsman and his small team.

Our PE kit was blue hard cotton shorts, black plimsols, no shirt or underpants to be worn, I was 14 then and it was to be my last winter at school as in the summer I would be 15 and leave to work then, we ran bare chested around the football pitch to warm up, -5 to -10 I ask you warm up!!!

Our chests hurt with breathing frosty air and our nipples stuck out like organ stops!, then back to the equally cold gym and discard wet freezing plimsols and do gym barefoo, then a very lukewarm shower after. Would I go through all of it again? Yes I would! I was proud of my fitness then and kept up it up through my life, I am in my late 60's now and I think that all that PE we did, helped prolong my life, where as some of my schoolfriends who ducked out of exercising are sadly no longer with us,

Recently my doctor gave me a brief exam and reckoned my fitness was on par with a late 40, early 50's male who exercised regulaly at a gym! todays schoolboys seemingly have it easy, at the high school near me the boys doing PE outside rarely wear shorts in winter unless its football and some I have seen wear gloves!

Comments by Kenton on 20th November 2016  

Thanks for your reply Evan, it sounds like your school got it right then. It also clearly worked for you if being a skin for PE ultimately helped your confidence. I do know what you mean about being shy though, it was the same for me when I first did PE in skins. The reason was that I used to get teased about my freckles (not just on my face but also my chest, shoulders and back). Looking back it seems silly but I guess teenagers can get sensitive about many things!

Comments by Sterling on 20th November 2016  

I have read of a College XC Coach in the United States who was sacked for continually allowing some of young men to train on Campus grounds with their vests off! If I recall correctly, he had received a number of warnings.lol
Apparently it's in convention of Campus Rules! I'd imagine many of team would be bigger guys than himself. Try telling someone 6,4' to put their sweaty shirt back on while training a blistering hot day!
However forcing someone to train shirtless would also be quite wrong, I feel, nowadays!
We live in a new world today. In the last couple of decades we have had the advent of both the Internet and Camera Phones! Therefore Communal Gang showers may no longer be suitable.
Lads going back to class stinking of a sickly sweat\ cheap deodorant pong is disgusting. Heaven help the poor Teachers!
Ladies locker rooms had cubicle showers decades ago. Men should be afforded the same privacy, if they so wish!

Comments by Bradley on 20th November 2016  

I can tell that gymnastics lessons were a lot harder in those days! However, that isn't to say that there weren't hard PE lessons when I was in school.
There certainly were some lessons (e.g. treadmill on highest setting followed by high intensity on the rowing machine followed by running on the spot, repeated many times) after which I was completely exhausted and sweating like a pig.
Gymnastics was usually used as a way to calm down after a long day of school as it was always the last lesson of the week. Everyone always looked forward to it.

Comments by Evan on 20th November 2016  

Kenton, I'd have to disagree with you as I do think that the less confident 'shirts' gained confidence. I noticed they played better. The reason why some people asked to be shirts was: they were fat or shy, to put it simply. As someone who was skinny I was far from confident but I didn't ask to be on the shirts team because my friends didn't ask- peer pressure! I know that I was very shy at the start and made it worse at first but helped my confidence in the long term.

Comments by Jay on 20th November 2016  

Hi John,

Bench rugby was good fun and dead simple too. Teams were skins v vests. We moved 2 high jump landing cushions (goals) either end of the gym and then placed a bench next to each. Each team had 5 players, one goalie on the bench and 4 players. The idea was to run and pass, as you would in rugby, make it to the goal and try to score. The other team would try to block a pass and take possession of the ball.
Happy to talk further, Jay

Comments by Rob on 20th November 2016  

Bradley, I hope my rather protracted explanation helped you to understand what we had to do in gymnastics in the late 1950's and why we always had to be shirtless. From the many comments on this site it is clear that we were typical of most schools for quite a few decades when we did what we were told without argument,and I am still of the opinion that many lads today would benefit from this regime. Clearly, our gymnastics lessons could not have been described as relaxing, although they may have succeeded in releasing any built up aggression we may been harbouring. Maybe, in today's world, the chance to do some relaxing exercise to calm us down is equally desirable.

Comments by Kenton on 19th November 2016  

Hi Evan, it was interesting to read your account of team games in PE. It sounds like on the one hand the teachers were very sensitive towards boys who felt uncomfortable about taking their shirts off. At the same time, I can't help wondering if that was actually a good thing in the long run. Presumably those boys who always kept their shirts on for PE never gained greater body confidence, while those who did it in skins were already confident to begin with. Might it not have been better to keep the teams random so that every boy experienced being a skin at some stage?
Btw we had shirts vs skins for team games at my school in the 1990s, teaMs were picked by the teachers and, while some boys ended up playing shirtless more than others, it didn't seem to matter.

Comments by Gerald on 19th November 2016  

Just saw Bradley's post about showers. Were teachers not allowed to enter the shower area? If sol how did they ensure that everyone showered?

Comments by Harold1 on 19th November 2016  

Bradley and Evan. Would any of you care to share whether you felt that shirtless PE or showers after PE were unfair or unnecessary? I think that in today's world most young people don't exactly feel comfortable with these things. I remember going to the beach one day and my nephew didn't want to take his shirt off and preferred to keep it on for swimming in the sea. This seems to be the dominant opinion these days?

Comments by Bradley on 18th November 2016  

Rob, thanks for the clarification. We rarely did gymnastics at school. Usually, gymnastics consisted of more relaxing exercises and sometimes of different routines. Not very difficult. However, we did also have a gym at school with treadmills and spin bikes and rowing machines which was used very frequently.

Comments by Rob on 17th November 2016  

Bradley,thanks for explaining about the cross country grounds.By gym,I am referring to gymnastics just like in the photo; schools did not have gyms equipped with treadmills and rowing machines, etc.until much more recently. All dressed in just shorts and plimsolls,our lessons began with vigorous physical exercises to strengthen all part of our bodies, including press ups and squat thrusts for arms, and other exercises for stomach muscles, including lying on our backs, arms outstretched and lifting our legs up at 45 degrees , together and apart and then lowering them to six inches, and further together and apart repeatedly. we also did various exercises with medicine balls to strengthen arms,legs and stomach muscles.We then went on to use the equipment, either the vaulting horses or boxes or ropes,beams,etc. All lessons were very intense and when we stopped for a moment I can still remember feeling the sweat trickling down my sides, back and chest; in fact, my whole body and feeling really good about it, eagerly looking forward to getting under the showers.

Comments by Evan on 16th November 2016  

Hi everyone, I've posted on here once before. The whole conservation about PE clothing brings back memories. At our school, which I left a few years ago, PE was done in t shirt and shorts, except for team games where it was shirts vs skins. However, teachers never directly forced anyone to remove their shirts. Instead, they asked first if anyone objected to taking it off. A small minority would always object, these were the same people each time and usually the ones who weren't particularly able at PE! Then a few more would be selected to join the shirts team, and the other half of us were skins. Honestly, it was nowhere near as big a deal as others here are making it out to be, it was a bit embarrassing at some times but not really a major issue.

Comments by John Lavender on 15th November 2016  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

Jay: What was ' Bench Rugby ' exactly? It does sound good! Would you care to explain briefly on here and also maybes email me with more details?

Comments by Harold1 on 15th November 2016  

Bradley and Harry, thanks for your responses. much appreciated. It shows how much attitudes towards PE have changed over the years- in my time, shirts were never worn for PE, trunks weren't worn for swimming either. If you were judged to have not worked hard enough you had to stay back after school. Even at home, shirts didn't make much of an appearance during warmer weather and we were all told to go outside and play football and get active. I think it was better back then when we were comfortable and confident, as well as more active.

Comments by Charles on 15th November 2016  Crjalexander@hotmail.co.uk 

Which school did you attend. email me if you prefer

Comments by Bradley on 15th November 2016  

There was a facility in the cross country grounds (it's a privately owned grounds which the local schools used, it's not just some random field in the countryside!) where we showered but the showers were awful. The building where the showers were was basically a shack and there were about ten shower taps available and they were all cold. It wasn't a proper shower- just a quick one to get the mud off and get rid of the sweat.

By gym, I'm not sure what activities you're referring to. Are you describing gymnastics, such as jumping over hurdles, forward and backward flips, sequences et cetera, or are you referring to the gym where people lift weighs, do cardio, treadmill etc... I was referring to the former, which wasn't too intense I have to say. There was, however, the treadmills and cardio activities and sprinting which did make us very tired and sweaty.

Comments by Jay on 13th November 2016  

Harold mentioned about differentiating between teams well, depending on what house you were in you wore black or white shorts and the timetable always was so that there wouldn't be a clash. I'm in my very early 30s and our lessons were always done "skins vs vests" for games like basketball, bench rugby. We did strip outdoors too, normally for athletics, softball. We did fitness sessions either indoors or outside on the yard or field but these were done with the whole class stripped off. I do agree about comments that not everyone wanted to be picked to strip off, certainly it was a suprise when our first skins team was picked and duly made to strip. Even being very average physically, I found myself being picked out to strip off most of the time. No one knew why some were picked to strip more than others, it just happened. Like plenty of others we were worked hard and it was the norm to see lads vests sticking to bodies. I was really pleased not to have experienced that much, only during the basketball and fitness inter house competitions when one house wore a vest for one half but stripped for the other half. We presumed this was to allow the girls to see all the lads stripped at some point during the match ups

Comments by Rob on 13th November 2016  

Bradley,thanks for explaining the circumstances necessitating your having to run without a shirt but such a pity that you all had to go through the trouble of getting a bus to the field, taking your shirt off,running and then putting your shirt back on.Were you not sweaty after the run and have to take a shower when you returned to school? Also, when you had swimming lessons you only wore trunks and were nude in the showers afterwards so you weren't shy, yet you preferred to wear a shirt in the gym.You obviously weren't made to sweat as most of us were in the past, or you would have found a shirt very uncomfortable and hence the reason we were always barechested and glad to be so.

Comments by John Lavender on 13th November 2016  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

Michael :
I have emailed you . Thanks for your enquiry.

We officially had a Top to wear for Gym/PE but many of us took any opportunity to do it shirtless including running the Gauntlet at the Start of the lesson (if we were two of the last to get changed).

If it was an ordinary lesson then we went commando ; if we had Wrestling Included (usually just a couple of Bouts with opponents picked at random) , we were told to bring and put on our Trunks under our shorts then we took off the Shorts and Tops for the Fight.

We normally played 'Skins v. Vests' for any team excercises, or Killerball ( a sort of indoor Rugby with very few Rules).
Also if we had a game of British Bulldog during the session any boy who was Shirtless was the First Catcher and if you got caught you dumped your top in the corner of the hall and went shirtless for the rest of the lesson.

I went to an independent Grammar School in the early to mid 1960s.

Tim: Thanks for that note, Yes, I am of the same age-group as yourself. Great Minds think alike!

Comments by Tim on 12th November 2016  

In answer to John Lavender - I live adjacent to 250 acres of common land. I aim to run most mornings in Spring. Summer & early Autumn, on a combination of surfaces. For a change I can add in a canal tow-path & farm lanes & tracks. I aim to get out before 7.00am. The area has it's own micro-climate - at 7.00 it can be warm enough to strip off & run topless. I'm in my mid-60s BTW.

Comments by Bradley on 12th November 2016  

Rob, we didn't wear shirts because apparently a lot of parents complained about shirts getting muddy from cross country and then having to get all the stains out. It wasn't forbidden and a small number of guys did wear shirts for various reasons.

We got changed at school in the PE changing room and then got on the coach wearing PE shorts and our school uniform shirt, which we removed upon arrival. There is a tap available at the field under which you could quickly wash the mud off before getting on the coach.

No one forced us to wear tops at the gym. It's not really considered appropriate and no one did it. I personally preferred to wear a top and so did everyone else.

Comments by Dave on 12th November 2016  

Well I can't see what's the reason to wear any top for PE.Boys have more freedom of movement not wearing shirt and it is much safer for gymnastics for instance.
They are shirtless for swimming lessons too.What is the difference?
And as you've written starting the lesson having no shirt on can stop the problem of fearing who will be the ones having to take off their shirt off for team games.No shirts only coloured bibs and the "problem" solved.

Comments by John Lavender on 11th November 2016  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

These Postings on this Thread are quite Interesting; does anyone on here still Run, either On Tarmac, Cross Country or Trail , or even more Extreme events like obstacle Races, and Run topless?
What sort of reactions do you get?
Eve though my Grammar-school days are well behind me I still remember them quite fondly and do still run without a Top quite Regularly.
My main Running is Training off-road and Parkruns, and also Obstacle Courses.

Comments by Rob on 9th November 2016  

I was at a boys grammar school in the late fifties and never experienced shirts v skins as we were told when we arrived for our first PE lesson that when we got changed we must take everything off including pants and socks and come back into the gym wearing just shorts and plimsolls.This wasn't a problem for me or other boys in the class and was our kit from then until we left.We would sometimes get changed expecting a normal lesson to be told we were going out on a cross country run, so we went out barechested, as normal. We accepted this and got used to it in the same way as nude showers. I am pleased to see that this site has finally acknowledged that shirts v skins was a bad idea. Naturally, if boys are allowed to start off wearing shirts and then half of them are told to take them off, the shy ones are bound to be embarrassed being seen barechested by other boys wearing shirts.This causes them stress waiting to see who's going to be picked to be a skin.I am glad that we all had to be barechested all the time and able to move around freely without any embarrassment.If we were split into teams we used to have coloured bands to wear.I cannot understand why the system of shirts v skins persisted when schools could have been like us and so prevented the misery endured by many boys who could have gone on to enjoy being barechested well beyond their schooldays.

Comments by Sterling on 8th November 2016  

Young men today aren't soft, but a product of their surroundings.
We certainly didn't live in well insulated boxes with central heating. So ice on the inside of School Dormitory windows didn't have parents arriving with pitch forks!
I remember the toilet block was so cold the water froze in the toilets!
The old, overcrowded building provided limited hot water!
After cursing the PT master in younger years, we thanked him when we got older and realised he was conserving hot water so teams and older lads could have a hot shower at the end of training! Happy Days

Comments by William on 8th November 2016  

Harry, That's a very interesting comment, thanks. So it was really all about choice. I was a shy and skinny 11-year old and, given the choice, I would have worn a gym vest, something under my shorts, and I wouldn't have showered in the nude with a lot of other boys. It sounds as if you were more confident. But I had no choice and it was surprising how quickly I adjusted and got to like the freedom.

It also meant that, when the inevitable happened and some joker sneaked up behind you and pulled down your shorts, you yanked them back up and laughed it off, whereas the shy me would have been mortified. Of course, if it happened when you were up a rope or hanging on to wall bars you couldn't pull them up until your feet were back on the floor.

I benefited from not having the choice to remain shy but not every boy did. Some changed carefully so that they were never naked in the changing room, whereas the confident ones couldn't have cared less.

Comments by Harry on 7th November 2016  

William, some of the boys at my school disliked being in the skins team out of shyness and feeling self conscious about their bodies. I suppose I was fortunate that I enjoyed it more. You're right, of course we all did swimming without a top but maybe it made a difference that it was the same for everyone whereas in the gym only some boys had to go bare-chested. Perhaps that's a problem for my generation as opposed to yours - we're not required to do PE like that as a matter of course and therefore some boys are uncomfortable with it. Personally I wouldn't have minded if the regular uniform had been just shorts and trainers with no top.

Comments by William on 7th November 2016  

Harry, You would have liked our gym lessons: no vests and teams differentiated by inch wide coloured sashes worn over the shoulder, so that teams would be skins, reds, blues etc. No extra layer to make us hot. You suggest that some boys would not like gym without vests. A few days ago I think Bradley said he could think of no reason for not wearing vests. Could one of you explain why please? I really don't understand since all men/boys are bare-chested for public swimming.

Comments by Rob on 7th November 2016  

Bradley, thank you for explaining about speedo jammers. When you did cross country did you go in the coach already stripped off? It's a sign of the times that you had to have a coach to take you to a field rather than run there.So you are telling me that you didn't wear shirts because if you fell over you would have got your shirts muddy and wouldn't have had time to wash them before the next lesson in the gym.Why did they make you wear a shirt in the gym anyway? I know personally it was much more practicable and comfortable without.Finally, I bet also the coach got more than a little muddy inside .

Comments by Bradley on 6th November 2016  

Harold1, I recently finished school so I can answer your question. Most of the time we did wear tops for PE lessons. Yes, it did cause them to be sweaty so they were put in the washing machine after a few lessons. Teams were differentiated using bibs. Cross country, which took place three times a year, was done in a field a few minutes away from the school by coach and was done shirtless because there were sections which were very muddy and slippery and you were guaranteed to fall over.

Comments by Harry on 6th November 2016  

In reply to your question Harold1, I was at school six years ago and the answer was both - sort of! We did wear T-shirts for our PE lessons but there were a large number of boys in the class so sometimes we had to divide into four or even six teams. When that happened some boys put bibs on over their T-shirts, some stayed as they were and some had to play with no top at all. Personally I liked to be on the shirtless team, it felt more natural and comfortable but some boys didn't see it that way. From reading these comments it looks like I would have enjoyed doing PE 40-50 years earlier!

Comments by Harold1 on 6th November 2016  

I can remember those days during PE lessons when we would be exhausted and sweating. Wearing a shirt would have been a nightmare since all the sweat would stick to it and would probably sweat more when wearing one.

Does anyone know whether schools do PE lessons shirtless? And if they wear shirts, how are teams differentiated? Surely bibs would add even more clothing and lead to even more discomfort and sweating?

Comments by Bradley on 6th November 2016  

Rob, sorry I think you misunderstood me when I wrote about wearing speedos. I was talking about speedo jammers, not speedo briefs. For example,


They are a lot tighter and streamlined than normal trunks and are the best for swimming competitively. They cover the leg and thigh hair so there is less friction with the water, allowing for slightly faster swimming. Olympic swimmers wear them, although it's a more expensive version for them!

Comments by Bradley on 6th November 2016  

I don't wear speedos to get an advantage. At swimming competitions, everyone wears them so not wearing one would be a disadvantage since you will be a little bit slower. It's also the same reason that everyone wears swim caps on their heads- the friction between the hair and the water slows you down ever so slightly.

Hope that answers your question

Comments by Gerald on 5th November 2016  

Thank you Rob and William for the explanation.

Comments by Rob on 4th November 2016  

Gerald, yes normally the purpose of wearing underpants is to stop sweat, and other body fluids, from reaching your trousers, but in the gym we used to sweat profusely and unless we all had a change of underwear it was better to wear nothing under our shorts, which were easy to wash,than to replace our sweaty underwear after showering. I never heard anyone complain about not being able to wear anything under their shorts and never felt embarrassed about it.We were all boys and having to strip off and wear just shorts and plimsolls both in the gym and outside, including cross country runs made us feel relaxed about ourselves and more confident.

Comments by William on 3rd November 2016  

Gerald, You were expected to sweat during gym, which was why you had a shower nude afterwards. What's the point of a shower if you then put sweaty pants back on? The crotch is the last place you want an accumulation of stale sweat, which was why wearing pants in gym was considered unhygienic.

Comments by Gavin on 3rd November 2016  

Charles - that was the experience of quite a few of us, thanks for speaking up. Nothing soft about wearing a jockstrap, indeed quite commonsensical!

Comments by Rob on 3rd November 2016  

Bradley,learning to swim at your old school obviously made you keen to get more involved in the sport.In your quest to
go faster by wearing Speedos does that mean you also have to shave your body hair before competitions?

Comments by William on 3rd November 2016  

Charles, You are right, there is nothing soft about a jockstrap but we never saw them. I doubt whether most of us knew what they were, but then I was at school a few years before you. Neither did I see the white nylon shorts that some contributors have described. Ours were cotton like those in the photo

Rob, The photo is exactly like the gym lessons I had at grammar school. As it was taken in 1959, we can be pretty sure from the many comments below that the boys were wearing nothing under their shorts; and it doesn't seem to bother them to judge from the boys on the ropes and the beam. The reason I think is that we were all in the same boat. If I had been the only boy to do a handstand with my legs held, I might well have been embarrassed to have everything under the shorts on display; but the fact that we all did it was a great antidote to feeling awkward. I didn't understand at the time but this relaxed approach gave us confidence.

We became attached to our shorts and really tried to make them last! We grew into them. Rolling the waistband to keep them up also pulled up the legs and made them a tighter fit, which was just as well for a boy of 15 and it made the shorts feel good. I can hear the youngsters saying that this all sounds a bit dodgy, but we really didn't think anything of it.

We all understand why today is so much less relaxed, although I had not realised that there are schools today where the pupils never have showers, but have we thrown the baby out with the bath water? It is hard not to feel sorry for some of the young men today who seem to be so inhibited that they do not remove their chlorine soaked trunks when they have a shower after swimming.

I can't pretend that gym and games were all fun at school. Sometimes we were dreadfully cold but I would rather have had the physical hardship than leave school with hang ups about bodies and body image - not that we knew what body image was.

Comments by Gerald on 3rd November 2016  

Interesting to read these comments, takes me back to my childhood!

Looking back, the no pants rule was very unnecessary. William, I don't quite understand your point about pants being unhygienic. Surely, the purpose of wearing underwear is to stop sweat from reaching the shorts/trousers? Personally, I always thought it was a stupid rule and I'm glad today's teens don't have to put up with it.

I don't think schools are too soft, just less harsh. Wetsuits in swimming is a good way to encourage more people who may be self conscious to take up swimming. Jockstraps/underwear are important for safety. I do think that today's teens are as confident and strong as we were, just that they didn't have to deal with unnecessarily harsh rules for PE

Comments by Rob on 2nd November 2016  

William,we've just described the same gym kit and how we wore the same shorts from the first year until we left.We were sometimes sent out on a cross country run in our gym period, admittedly usually only between April and October,and we also did athletics in the summer term. All this was still in just shorts and plimsolls; did the same apply to you? In the winter we played football and wore a shirt but with nothing on under our shorts it was certainly very cold at times. Nude showers were obligatory after all the above activities, but like you and many others we accepted it without question and got used to it. However,apart from the cold, I can say that I actually enjoyed it most of the time and it didn't do me any harm, but I don't think most of today's lads would cope with it, which is a pity because it would do them good in many ways.

Comments by Charles on 2nd November 2016  

Nothing soft about wearing a jockstrap when you are 16+ years ... just common sense ... Went to school in 60-70s

Comments by William on 1st November 2016  

I have just seen this item and was staggered by the number of comments. I can confirm what most of the others have said about gym and games at boys schools in the early '60s. For gym I wore plimsolls without socks, no vest and shorts with nothing underneath, which made 20 star jumps a bit of a laugh. Any boy wearing pants would be told to take them off because it was unhygienic to sweat in pants. Nude showers after gym were compulsory and supervised by the gym master. Our shorts were baggy in the first form but it was a tradition to hang on to shorts for as long as possible, so by the fourth form we had to roll over the waistband to keep them up because the elastic was weak. We wore nothing under shorts for cross country, athletics, rugby and hockey, no matter how cold it was. Sometimes after games our fingers were so numb that we could not do up shirt buttons but it did us no lasting harm. We had to get on with it and not make a fuss. Jock straps, wet suits for swimming and games only in good weather would have been unimaginable. How soft schools have become!

Comments by Rob on 1st November 2016  

Bradley, times change because when I was young lad, my parents used to encourage me to take my shirt off and get the sun and fresh air to my body as it was good for me. I used to play outside with other boys and in the summer we often took our shirts off.I later got the impression that our parents were keen to ensure that none of us got rickets as I know my grandmother suffered from it as a child.At primary school any sort of PE was done in our ordinary clothes without taking anything off, but when I went to the boys grammar school at the first lesson we were told to change into just shorts with nothing underneath and plimsolls, no socks and stripped to the waist.This wasn't a problem for me as I had been used to going shirtless for some years and was our kit throughout our school years.It is evident from this website that this was also the norm at most schools for many years.

Comments by Sterling on 31st October 2016  

Similar to Toby our uniform listed a white vest. But from day 1 our PE teachers both insisted on bare chests, regardless of weather conditions!

Mums insisted we wore vests in winter so most ended up being used as underwear.
We used bibs to distinguish teams, but vests were prohibited.
Having PE outdoors first thing on a winter morning was pure lunacy. From Mum insisting on a vest under 3 or 4 layers to going without a vest for an hour on frozen ground.
Always followed by a cold shower.
Prisoners were treated better.

Comments by Bradley on 30th October 2016  

Andrew, our pool was not in an enclosed area and the pool was visible from one of the other school buildings, so you can understand why it would not have been appropriate to not wear trunks.
Our school did prioritise sports and we did get tired after lessons.

Toby, I find it surprising that a teacher would tell students to not wear a shirt during PE lessons, especially at all times in the year. What was the reason given for this rule? It seems pretty unnecessary to me. At my school, I only remember taking shirts off in PE lessons during the summer, only when it was too warm or for certain occasions; it was very rare.

Lewis, speedos are more popular now than before. For competitive swimming, they are much better than other swimming trunks because they are more streamlined and can improve swimming times by quite a lot. I myself wear them for competitions and galas as they really do help your swimming time.

Comments by John on 30th October 2016  

Lewis,although I was still wearing shorts at 14, I would have considered it far too old to be still wearing shorts.
I had to wear shorts 24/7 and they were quite comfortable to wear,albeit they were of an absurd brevity,hence they were referred to as'short shorts'.

Comments by Lewis on 30th October 2016  

John I was in the same situation as you. Although most boys in secondary school wore long trousers, my parents considered me too short for longs and consequently I was wearing shorts until about late 13's or 14. The upshot of this was that not many shops sold grey shorts for older boys and so the one s I had were quite tight and uncomfortable. Without being too indelicate this caused my underpants to cause me discomfort.

Furthermore it was not very pleasant in winter. Short shorts and long woollen socks. What a great day when I was finally allowed to wear longs!

Comments by John on 30th October 2016  

Lewis,'short shorts'were not only worn for sporting activities,but were worn for school uniform for first and second years and then were optional.
My parents didn't consider age a credible reason for promoting me to wearing long trousers, so I continued to wear short till I left school.
I never felt grown up wearing short shorts and they could be a bit chilly in the winter.

Comments by Toby on 30th October 2016  

Bradley, being stripped to the waist for PE and Games started just a couple of days at school. For our first PE lesson we'd changed into our kit, which was a vest, shorts and trainers and taken out onto the field. The teacher made it crystal clear that irrespective of the time of year, indoors or out, or the weather we would be stripped down and then picked a lad at ramdom and made him drop his vest facing the class. Seconds later we were all barechested.

At the school I attended we were made to work hard during PE and during double PE it wasn't unusual for lads to sweat. This was the norm for me from being a 9 year old through to 18 and leaving after A levels.

Comments by Peter on 29th October 2016  

Bradley, just as showering came as a shock to you, if you had been a pupil at the time of most posters on this site and your school had a policy of swimming without trunks, you would have got used to it - there would have been no option. At that time, school rules were not questioned. Doing PE stripped to the waist was a shock to me and, although I hated it, I just had to get used to it.

Comments by Lewis on 29th October 2016  

It is quite often that fashion goes round in circles and I wonder if short football shorts will make a comeback. I suppose if one of the premier football teams had short shorts as their kit they would become the "must have" accessory.

Also i wonder if swimming trunks like "speedos" will make a return as a fashion item because I think a lot of men including youngsters abroad wear them.

Comments by Rob on 29th October 2016  

Andrew, Sorry about that, but welcome to the site.

Comments by Andrew on 28th October 2016  

Rob, it appears you mistook me for another Andrew on this webpage. The post I made about my nephew's school was e first post I made on this webpage.

Comments by Rob on 28th October 2016  

Andrew, how would those boys in your nephew's swimming class have coped with the experience you described with the Royal Navy and Merchant Navy three day events?

Comments by Andrew on 27th October 2016  

Looking at Bradley's posts, it's clear how soft a society we've become and our education system is directly responsible for this. In my nephews school where he teaches, boys are allowed to wear full body wetsuits for swimming- absolutely idiotic. Looks like Bradley's school at least wasn't too soft and leftist. Bradley, a few questions: was your swimming pool in an enclosed, private area? If so, why were trunks worn? Was proper sport played in your school and did students get a proper workout?

Comments by Bradley on 27th October 2016  

Mason and Earl, sorry I couldn't as wear your questions earlier.

Mason, I remember being slightly shocked when first starting school and being told that we had to shower after lessons. However, it's something everyone got used to. the teachers aren't actually allowed to enter the shower room but they can usually tell if someone hasn't showered if they smell of chlorine from the pool water.

Earl, we showered without trunks because trunks stop certain parts of the body from being washed. The teacher never forced anyone to take off their trunks but he made it clear that trunks weren't allowed in the showers and were to be taken off outside the shower room after swimming.

Peter, thanks for your response. I still don't think I would see any reason to swim without trunks if we had them. Even in an enclosed, all-male environment, I don't see why trunks shouldn't be worn if we had them available. These days, nude swimming would very much be against the law.

Comments by Rob on 26th October 2016  

Bradley, thanks for your reply and hope you are finding this site interesting for your studies.I too went to an all boys grammar school, but in the late fifties when life was still austere and there was little money for building swimming pools.The emphasis was on teaching us to develop physically and keeping fit.This was achieved with two lessons a week in the gym when we had to strip off completely and wear just shorts and plimsolls and were made to work hard until we were running with sweat and ready to get in the showers. Sometimes we would be sent out on a cross country run, still in the same kit and in the summer we would do athletics similarly attired.We also played football during a double period each week when we additionally wore football shirts with heavy leather football boots and long woollen socks.Needless to say, showers were obligatory after all these activities.In the summer we played the more gentlemanly sport of cricket and wore white trousers and shirts.

Comments by Peter on 25th October 2016  

To Bradley.
Thank you for coming back. I can see why, in the circumstances, swimming without trunks would not, in your case, have been appropriate and for the sake of modesty, they were necessary. However, in an all-male environment which was not visible from outside the pool area, you might have felt differently. Perhaps those who did swim without trunks could comment on how they felt.

Comments by Gavin on 25th October 2016  


A useful piece of history for you here!
I went to a boarding school late 60s early 70s and in the junior school (10-13 ) and prep school (7-10) all swimming was withouthout trunks. At first we were a bit unsure but after the first or second swims ... We never batted an eyelid ... Suppose that makes it a healthy exercise in itself. Only when we reached the senior school were trunks allowed and of course that became then became a compulsory norm.

Best wishes

Comments by Earl on 25th October 2016  

At my nephew's school he said they actually shower with trunks. I'm curious why your school still adopts the no-trunks showering rule? Do teachers actually make sure that everyone showers without trunks? And was sport taken seriously at your school or was it just seen as an extra? These days schools don't seem to priories physical wellbeing as well as mental wellbeing.

Comments by Danny on 25th October 2016  

John, when you say that "the swimming pool where we swam nude had vast windows and viewing areas where people could watch", were they school staff or people from outside?

That must really have been daunting as opposed to indoor showers, as you rightly say.
What ages were the boys, assuming it was only boys who had to swim nude in front of viewrs?
Was it a public or private school?

Comments by Bradley on 25th October 2016  

Peter, I just find it surprising that schools could force students to swim without anything on. I just wouldn't find it comfortable. For showers of course you have to be not wearing anything in order to clean yourself properly but I don't see why trunks shouldn't be worn for swimming. Also, the swimming pool is located behind the humanities department building at my school so people walking down the corridors would be able to see- another reason for wearing trunks. The changing room and shower room are not visible from outside.

Rob, yes I am studying social and educational history as one of my units. The school I went to was a grammar school which had a special emphasis on sport. Since the school bought a pool the teachers made sure we got the maximum value from it! In addition to swimming, we also had athletics, the occasional gymnastics and ,of course, football. I wore a t shirt, shorts and trainers. I enjoyed pretty much every sport I did and always looked forward to PE lessons! Showers were taken after swimming and football practice.

Comments by Rob on 24th October 2016  

Bradley, good to have someone who only left school three years ago.Are you studying social history because a lot has changed in education over recent years? You were very lucky to have a pool at your school and PE staff who were dedicated to ensure that all pupils were able to swim properly before they left. It sounds as though it could only have been a private school and it would be interesting to know what form your physical education took in addition to swimming. Also what kit you had to wear in the gym and outside and what sports you took part in.In addition to showers after swimming lessons, were you also obliged to take them after PE and games and were they communal? Whatever you did or however you did it, did you find it enjoyable?

Comments by Tim on 24th October 2016  

Bradley - nice to get the opinions of younger people.
Strange though it may seem nude bathing was once pretty much the norm (and there are still places where you can do it - The Ponds on Hampstead Heath, I believe) and so it would have been acceptable in schools. I suppose that, since fifty odd years back, there wasn't the 'pressure' of TV, 'social media', etc., people just took it as 'part of life'. I find it very difficult to believe that there was anything 'un-natural'in it.

Styles change - in the pool at the gym this afternoon I was with a guy who has a teenager would (& did) wear gym/footy shorts that were very short - now his swimming shorts come to below his knees. (Although I have noticed a tendancy to revert to shorter gym & swimming shorts this summer).


Comments by Rob on 24th October 2016  

Peter,I assume that when you were at school you always swam without wearing trunks. Bradley was simply expressing his surprise that nude swimming was common at one time, but mentioned that he had to shower naked after swimming lessons, which is perfectly normal, and that he had no problem with that.The vast majority of us used to have to do PE in nothing but a pair of shorts followed by a naked communal shower without any problem but that was no reason to suggest that we should have done PE in the gym without shorts.

Comments by Mason on 24th October 2016  

Bradley, was it ever embarrassing to shower or did everyone just accept it? What happened if you didn't shower?

Comments by John on 24th October 2016  

Peter,it could be daunting swimming without swimming trunks,unlike the changing area and showers where there was some privacy the swimming pool where we swam nude had vast windows and viewing areas where people could watch.

Comments by Peter on 24th October 2016  

To Bradley. If you had no problem taking your trunks off, showering and moving around after your swimming lesson, why would it have been a problem not to put them on in the first place and do the lesson without them?

Comments by Bradley on 22nd October 2016  

I left school three years ago and cannot believe how nude swimming was ever allowed to take place during those days! Unbelievable. Our school (boys) was very lucky to have a swimming pool and the PE department definitely made sure that we could all swim well by the time we left school. Of course, swimming took place in swimming trunks but after-swim showers were compulsory and done nude, which we had no problem with.

Cool site by the way, I'm a history student at university currently.

Comments by Andrea on 16th October 2016  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

When my son was about 12 I had to buy him a pouch jockstrap and protective cup so he could play cricket for his school team. He didn't wear one for other sports though.

When you acquired your jockstrap during your first year at boarding school, was it because you had started to feel uncomfortable without one, or as a sort of 'rite of passage' as your classmates had started to wear them?

Comments by Gavin on 12th October 2016  

Hi Fred
Your experience is remarkably similar to mine. Which boarding school did you attend? I don't think there was anything else on the market other than Litesome in my day. It was either one with a pouch (for cricket) and one without for all other sporting activities. Nowadays one is spoilt for choice and my boys I am glad to say follow their dad and wear a jockstrap for all the sport they do.

Comments by Andy on 11th October 2016  

Hi Keith,
Was it a mixed school or boys only?
Were there any female teachers or students ever present during your nude swimming sessions?
I had friends in the 60s who went to a boardinf school which had similar arrangements like the ones you mentioned, that is junior boys up to about 12 was mandatory nude for swimming sessions. After that age swimsuits were optional.
I also remember them saying that their swimming instructor in their first years was a woman.
Can you describe under what circumstances your swimming sessions were carried out?

Comments by Fred on 11th October 2016  

I attended an all boys boarding school in the late sixties/early seventies, starting aged 13 and the gym shown here was almost identical. The lads shown here look a little younger than that. We too wore just shorts for p/e. However, by the end of our first year practically all of us had acquired a jockstrap which was worn for all physical activity. There was no rule concerning underwear for sport or p/e and it certainly was not policed, it was up to us to choose. There was one master however who insisted that jocks were worn in his rugby group, but that was about it. Jockstraps were not on the kit list but were readily available in the small sports shop in the school thereby avoiding any problem one might have with having to ask Mum or Dad to get one for you. As Malcolm noted below, they were made by Litesome and were known to us a jockstraps. I am not aware that any other brand was available at that time.
We also had nude showers after all sport activity, I don`t remember that anyone had a problem with that, it was quite normal for us, trunks were worn for swimming.
My two sons did a lot of sport at school, I haven`t a clue what they used for underwear, I never thought to ask.

Comments by Keith on 10th October 2016  

Ben said that he had not heard of nude swimming at some schools until he read about it on the internet. I attended a state grammar school, not a private school, in Kent in the second half of the 1950s. Naked swimming periods were mandatory for the first three years until the year we arrived when it became optional. Quite a lot of boys still chose to swim naked, about a third of our class and everyone in one of the other two classes. Up till that year trunks were also optional from year four right up till sixth from level and I understand from my older brother that many boys, so used to and enjoying nudity, continued to swim naked throughout their school career. Seems very strange nowadays to have a naked lesson at school either as compulsory or as an option which many chose.
I well remember one boy still choosing to swim naked at the inter-house competition at the end of our first year and that was in front of the whole school of several hundred and the staff! No one batted an eyelid.
Then a new headmaster arrived and it all changed. Trunks were now mandatory.

Comments by Andrea on 10th October 2016  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Thankfully there weren't too many pranks in my PE lessons and as it was an all girls Secondary, we didn't have mixed PE lessons to worry about
The showers were by no means always warm though!

Comments by Gavin on 10th October 2016  

In my school having your shorts yanked down was also quite a common feature ... you just had to hope it never lead on to a full de-bagging!

Comments by John on 9th October 2016  

Bob,I think we all hated the no under pants rule as it could leave you very vulnerable and potentially exposed,especially when wearing short shorts.
I experienced the same tricks,especially having the shorts yanked down.

Comments by Jono on 9th October 2016  

John, you were lucky to wear a vest outdoors in winter...we didn't.

Comments by Bob on 9th October 2016  

I hated the no underpants rule in PE and games, because it made me vulnerable to being tormented in the gym by my classmates. Some of them thought it was fun to run up and slap or kick your sensitive parts, which were barely concealed by the thin white PE shorts. Or they would often yank down your shorts when you were not expecting it, exposing everything, to cause maximum embarrasment.

Comments by John on 7th October 2016  

Calvin/Rob,I agree it was"double standards"where we had to share the gym or vacate it and brave the cold wearing short shorts and vest.
My kit offered very little protection from the cold and yes,it was usually a cold shower.

Comments by Calvin on 7th October 2016  

Similar to James I attended a mixed school and remember the double standards, humiliation and bitter cold in winter that caused lads to shed a tear!
James, you mentioned it was a mixed school. Did the girls have to go outside or, like in my school, only the boys?

We lads also had to endure a shower block that was semi open to the elements and water that was Luke warm occasionally but usually cold. The ladies had individual cubicle showers with variable water temperature!

Comments by Rob on 7th October 2016  

Sid,I had no problem wearing just shorts with nothing underneath for PE as it was an all boys school, but I was concerned about John's comments that at his school he frequently had mixed PE lessons and the boys were embarrassed wearing short shorts without pants with girls in the gym. I appreciate that you had a very strict regime at your school but you know how some of the boys felt about having to line up nude before swimming lessons in front of female teachers or being supervised in the showers.Even by age of 13 some boys are going through puberty so naturally it was embarrassing for them.

Comments by Mike on 7th October 2016  

We could go commando or wear a jock. Depended on the activity - and mostly our choice. Personally, I'd rather go free - but I do like jocks - prefer them to traditional underwear, as do my boys. We wear swimmers - so narrow waist and leg bands. But we also go commando.

Comments by James 2 on 6th October 2016  

They were certainly known as jockstraps in our school.
Once you got used to the unexpected draughts they were much more comfortable than underpants and no excess material. Support where you needed it and freedom in all other ways.
Still use them regularly now.

Comments by Giles on 6th October 2016  

James our shorts were very short but as i say it was all boys school. We just had to "get on with it". Outdoors we were allowed a t shirt no uniform set. However some boys wore white nylon shorts which were just becoming available and if we were caught in the rain it left nothing to the imagination.
After a while they returned to wearing dark coloured or cotton white shorts.

Comments by James on 6th October 2016  

Chris,we were not allowed to wear a shirt or vest during mixed indoor sessions,but we were allowed to for outdoor sporting activities outside.The emphasis was meant to toughen us up and wearing minimal clothing with brief shorts in cold weather could achieve this,however I've remember boys crying when we were sent out in bitterly cold weather.
We were aged 11 to 16 and never allowed to wear track suits.

Comments by Rob on 6th October 2016  

Giles, that was how it was precisely, but I didn't like doing those handstands and having to hold a boys legs up against my shoulder.Fortunately we had to do it very rarely,almost as though it was on the teachers tick list.
Otherwise,I really enjoyed PE lessons wearing just shorts
and being worked hard so that we built up a sweat and looked forward to the showers afterwards. Like you, though,I don't know how lads today would cope, but it would do a lot of them good.

Comments by Sid on 6th October 2016  

Rob, there were many customs way back in our time where "schools wouldn't get away with it today". The one you mentioned would be the least of them. We had mandated nude swim classes at our prep school. Showers were compulsary after every PE lesson, sometimes wiith female teachers supervising. Not to mention that spankings and corporal punishment were part of daily school life. So PE in just short shorts was probably the least concern.

Comments by Chris on 6th October 2016  

James, were you allowed to wear a shirt or vest in mixed sessions? What about when it was cold? What about outdoor sessions? How old were you at this time?

Comments by James on 5th October 2016  

Giles,I attended a mixed school where boys and girls attended.
For some some obscure reason boys were never allowed to wear anything under their shorts and the fashion was for boys to wear extremely brief shorts.
I found it mortifying to be dressed in just shorts for my sporting activities in front of girls.

Comments by Rob on 5th October 2016  

John, I'm astonished that you had no screen. Even if you were in separate groups at opposite ends of the gym and not actually boys and girls mixed, I don't know how the girls kept their eyes off you boys. To say that some boys were shy wearing those short shorts with nothing underneath must have been an understatement; it was grossly indecent! On the other hand, therefore, as with everything else, most boys must have got used to it and even boosted their self confidence. One things certain, your school wouldn't get away with it today.

Comments by John on 4th October 2016  

Rob,it was totally mixed with no screen to divide boys from girls.
Shorts were very short and some boys were shy when wearing them without underwear.

Comments by Giles on 4th October 2016  

Like you John, I went to an all boys school and I recall that during certain exercises it was impossible not to show parts of the anatomy and also see other lads as well. This was often the case if you were hanging on wall bars or dangling from ropes with the other lads standing underneath. Handstands were also another example when you were supporting a partner with his legs on your shoulders whilst he was upside down. You could not help but see down the legs of his shorts.
However, like you we got used to it especially as we were naked together in the showers.
Would lads cope with that situation these days?

Comments by Rob on 3rd October 2016  

John, I only remember one occasion when'something dropped out'but fortunately we were still in the school grounds; it was a wonder,however, it didn't happen more often. How mixed were those indoor PE lessons; was it really mixed girls and boys together or was there a screen between you? I went to an all boys school and it was impossible not to show everything when we did all sorts of exercises and used various pieces of equipment in the gym. We got used to it and no-one bothered and we were naked in the showers anyway. If you wore shorts and nothing else like us but in close mixed company with the girls I would say that it would have been a lot more embarrassing for everyone. No doubt you would have got some lads with other ideas.

Comments by John on 29th September 2016  

Rob,the difference was,as you pointed out we had to wear short shorts as apposed to almost knee length.No allowance was made by being allowed to wear any type of support right through school and of course there was a risk of 'something dropping'out which was unavoidable when doing long cross country runs in public.
Also, we frequently had mixed gym lessons which was equally embarrassing.

Comments by Malcolm on 27th September 2016  

A jockstrap was known as a jockstrap at my school in the 1970s. However on the games kit list they were refered to as a Litesome, the popular brand at the time, much as vacumn cleaners are often known as Hoovers even if they are another make. I think the term jockstrap was considered impolite and not to be used in print at that time. I had not come across the term athletic support until much more recent times.
I regularly played squash and went running until a few years ago and always wore a jockstrap. A jockstrap gives much better support than underpants and I would not want to play without one.

Comments by Rob on 25th September 2016  

Willy, for those of us who wore no underpants or jockstraps under our short shorts there was the risk of something dropping out on a run when we might then be seen by a member of the public. The ancient Greek athletes may have exercised naked but it was an all male domain and women were prohibited.

Comments by Willy on 25th September 2016  

Jockstrapa were never mentioned at my school either, but then we didn't have the no-underpants rule anyway, so jockstraps would have made no sense since we kept our underpants on.
Personally I don't see any risk in not wearing a jockstrap, the ancient Greeks did athletic competitions completely naked and never saw the need for any support.
In any case how many people who do daily jogging runs wear jockstraps? Most find wearing briefs is sufficient.

Btw, they were called athletic supporters until recently in the UK, jockstraps is an American word.

Comments by Andrea on 24th September 2016  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

My Ex attended a state Grammar School in the North of England in the early 1970s and his PE teacher advised all the boys that they needed to start to wear a jockstrap for 'support' at the start of their 3rd year (so aged about 13).
So perhaps it was more to do with the attitudes of the members of PE staff at a particular school, rather than anything else?

Comments by Gavin on 24th September 2016  

Rob. It would seem your analysis is right judging by the comments on this page. Nevertheless, I know of grammar schools where certainly senior boys wore jockstraps. Maybe it was more common in the south of England?

Comments by Rob on 23rd September 2016  

From the comments it would appear that it was mainly the private public schools which supported the wearing of jockstraps while most of the rest of us in state schools had no support at all.

Comments by Lewis on 21st September 2016  

In my school it was the same. No mention by the pe teacher of jock straps. They were only referred to occasionally by some of the lads as we got older, but it seems it was thought they were only worn by adult rugby players. So from age 11 to 16 we wore no support

Comments by Ben on 21st September 2016  

Same here, I went to school in the 60s and no one ever told us about jockstraps or that they even existed, though we didn't have the no-underpants rule either.

Incidentally, I also never heard of the nude swimming requirement for boys in some schools until I saw how common this was from the Internet just a few years ago.

Comments by Rob on 20th September 2016  

Gavin/Gedvin, like Ian to whom you asked the same question,
we were not aware of jockstraps. I never knew or saw anyone
who wore one and my dad who knew I had to wear just shorts without pants for PE never mentioned it. On reflection it was surprising that our PE instructor, who was a young man,never told us about them.Perhaps, as has been previously mentioned, it was because at that time it was considered healthy for boys to let the fresh air get to all parts of their bodies.

Comments by Gavin on 19th September 2016  


Goodness me Rob why on earth didn't you wear a jockstrap to stop your penis slapping and balls bouncing?

Comments by Rob on 19th September 2016  

Lewis, It's a sad old world. When we were young everything
seemed so relaxed, but now there are so many rules and regulations to be aware of that everyone has to be careful all the time.

Comments by Lewis on 19th September 2016  

Re swimming lessons. I notice that when I go to my public pool, if children are having private swimming lessons by either a male or female instructor, the instructor has to wear a bright coloured t shirt clearly marked in large letters "Swimming Instructor" I suppose for self preservation so that no one thinks the child is being abused. It is interesting to think that schools might shy away from swimming inc are the pupils are embarrassed.

Comments by Rob on 19th September 2016  

That's right Lewis, in fact I was at grammar school in the late 50's,early 60s when it was very much that 'make things last' period, unlike today's throw away society.The trouble with my shorts was that they stayed quiet loose when they were much shorter on me and when we went on runs,(fortunately it was cross country and not through built up areas),I was still very much aware of everything bouncing about and my penis slapping against the top of my leg.I think it might have been safer if we had tight rugby shorts,but it was exhilarating feeling an all over breeze on my whole body.I actually enjoyed the whole PE experience, once I had quickly got used to it, and have many happy memories. I think it is a pity that times have changed.Unfortunately I'm also sure the lads today,let alone their parents, would be horrified if they had to do PE in just shorts,no pants and plimsolls with no socks like us when it was normal for men and boys to be seen barechested and not just confined to the beach.Boys should have to do PE like us and go naked together in the showers afterwards.I disagree however with making girls wear just knickers and nothing on top as some female correspondents have reported;I think that was shameful and very embarrassing for them.

I don't know whether schools still have swimming lessons but they are probably not allowed to make lads get changed into just trunks or shorts because it might embarrass them. If parents want their kids to learn to swim most have to teach them themselves or pay to have private lessons at sports centres.

Comments by Lewis on 16th September 2016  

Yes Rob the problem was as the shorts got shorter. It was the ethos in the 60's your parents would buy one pair of shorts and hope they would fit you for several years. starting off baggy (you'll grow into them) which for young boys anatomy could swing about, up the too tight and bulges would show. That was life.

I am sure that nowadays parents would complain if their teenagers had to do PE in shorts,no pants or socks.

Do schools still have swimming lessons. If so do lads wear trunks or shorts?

Comments by David on 16th September 2016  

I think any lad who was a bit nervous of communal showers got over it quickly especially once working hard in PE, running or gym kicked in and you just knew that before you dressed again you had to get cleaned up and all hot and sticky the showers which were always cold were an absolute joy and after the first few seconds being naked was not important at all as every other lad was anyway and it felt so good.

I still do pretty hard gym sessions several times each week and I often refer to the shower as the best part, it's an old gym and the showers are still communal and cold but totally exhilarating.

Comments by Rob on 15th September 2016  

Hi Ross,I was encouraged as a young child to get out in the summer sun and fresh air and take my shirt off. Although at my small primary school there was only a token gesture to PE which we did in our ordinary school clothes, when I went to grammar school and had to strip off completely for PE and wear just shorts and plimsolls I wasn't concerned about being barechested. It sounds as though your changing area was some way from the shower block if you found it necessary to wrap a towel around yourself. Our shower block had benches on two sides of the room with pegs on, so after PE we just took off our shorts and walked to and from the showers.- no need to wrap up in a towel.You said you showered naked in middle school, so what what happened when you reached the upper school? We showered naked from day 1 until we left at age 18 and after a run whatever the weather, stripped to the waist, or sweating after a hard workout in the gym, always looked forward to a warm shower.

Comments by Rob on 15th September 2016  

Lewis,during the first lesson I didn't experience any feeling of insecurity about not wearing anything under my gym shorts,although as I grew and my shorts got shorter I know what you mean.This was not a problem in the gym although it was a different story when we were sent out on a run. I do however, remember, like you after the first lesson,feeling very apprehensive about having to take my shorts off to go in the showers.I had never been naked in front of others and I had this feeling of guilt that this was wrong and yet there were boys already in the showers and I knew that I had to do it. I soon got used to it and went on to look forward to the showers after we had been made to work hard and built up a sweat in the gym.It was interesting to read about how you felt about your first PE lesson and makes me think there were many others with similar experiences.

Comments by Andrea on 14th September 2016  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

I started at Secondary School in 1971 and never had to do PE topless even at Primary School, let alone at Secondary. I was still flat-chested at the start of the year, but some of my classmates definitely weren't and were encouraged to wear bras by our PE teacher if they hadn't already started to do so!

Comments by Su-Lee on 14th September 2016  sulee.chang@ymail.com 

I agree, I don't think It happens now.
In my case It was back in 1975 & I hadn't started wearing a bra at that stage but about half of the girls in the group had.
It was the same for all of us, so after a few weeks It seemed normal to be topless.

Comments by Ellie on 13th September 2016  

I doubt many if any schools have their y7 girls do PE in just their knickers these days. Maybe a few do for forgotten kit, in single sex lessons but even they would be very few in number.

When I had to go topless in my lessons it was embarrassing but I didn't wear a bra at that age so it wasn't physically uncomfortable. Some girls has developed a bit by that age and one or two had quite large breasts and I agree for them it must have been really hard. .

Comments by Paula on 12th September 2016  

I have read the various contributions which describe topless pe classes for girls in their 1st year at secondary. I was not aware that this practice existed and perhaps still does. Given the wide age gap when girls start to show development I am really surprised that this took place as it must have been terribly difficult for some girls to cope with this. To have to remove your bra and go into the gym in just knickers doesn't bear thinking about. It is a disgrace. I am just so pleased that I didn't attend such a school but so sorry for those who did.

Comments by Ross on 11th September 2016  

Hi Rob & Lewis. I didn't go shirtless but I was barefoot for PE. Mostly indoors and outdoors too all throughout the year.
Thinking about it I'd much more happily hand over my shoes and socks as I did than my shirt.
You mentioned showers I too showered naked in middle school. It wasn't a big deal to be honest we walked to the shower block hung up a towel so after we were done at least we had a towel to hand to wrap up in.
Looking back after a muddy barefoot run in the snow/slush covered fields a warm shower afterwards was kind of a treat.

Comments by Su-Lee on 11th September 2016  sulee.chang@ymail.com 

It came as a big shock to me when we moved house and I had to change secondary school and found that PE was topless.
We wore just tight blue shorts with no top or bra during the first year.
At my previous school we had a full PE kit for indoor and outdoor lessons but I soon got used to it and quite enjoyed the freedom.

Comments by Lewis on 10th September 2016  

I agree with Rob. the very first time going out for PE in just shorts & plimsolls with no pants I* felt insecure beneath my shorts. Also I was a bit apprehensive first time being naked in the communal showers. However, this soon passed.

Comments by Rob on 9th September 2016  

Hi Ross, We soon got used to wearing our minimal kit in the gym and outside throughout the middle and upper school, although we did wear plimsolls much of the time,except when we were outdoors in the summer,when most of us opted to go barefoot.I well remember our very first PE lesson when were all told by the teacher that we had to take everything off and come back into the gym wearing just shorts and plimsolls and then afterwards having to go naked in the communal showers.

Comments by Ross on 8th September 2016  

Hi Rob. In middle school it was the PE teachers rules all indoor PE was done barefoot. I remember the very first lesson when we were all sent back to the changing rooms to take off our footwear then walk back barefoot.
I think it was because of this I opted for bare feet even throughout high school. In or out. At least I didn't have the extra hassle of carrying around and then cleaning trainers.

Comments by Rob on 8th September 2016  

Ross, if you preferred going barefoot in pe in the nineties you would probably have enjoyed it in earlier decades when most of us had to wear literally just shorts and nothing else all year round. We had no choice but we enjoyed it.

Comments by Bryony on 8th September 2016  

Hi Andrea

Actually I did forget my PE kit a few times even after that first lesson!

Yes I suppose it was quite unfair that we didn't know we would need our PE kit but maybe the timetable was not finalised before the end of the previous term. Of course this was before the days of email, websites or text messages.

Our PE lessons were single sex. We had two gyms, one for boys and one for the girls. I am certain that the boys had the same rule if they forgot their kit and they had to do it in their pants.

In that first lesson and for the whole of the first year at least if we had to do PE in our underwear then that meant doing it in just our knickers. Any girl who was wearing a bra had to take it off. If you forgot your PE kit that happens to be wearing a vest under your school blouse you still had to do the lesson in just your knickers. In fact the vest I wore as underwear in the first year was almost identical to our PE vests but even then our teachers make sure that we changed before a lesson.

I think that the lesson on the very first day showed me that I was not particularly developed and while I felt quite childish compared to many of the girls in my class I didn't start really wanting to wear a bra for a year or more. Maybe if in that first lesson girls in bras had been allowed to keep them on, me and others who had to do the lesson bare chested might have wanted a bra sooner.

I suppose I should be grateful that the first lesson was gymnastics and not hockey or anything else outside!

Comments by Andrea on 7th September 2016  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Bryony,

I would imagine that you never forgot your PE kit after that!

But seriously it does seem unfair that it wasn't made clear before you actually started at the school that PE kit would be required on the first day!

Could you clarify a few points:

- was the PE lesson mixed or did the girls do it in one location and boys in another?

- presumably the same rules applied to the boys and they had to do the lesson in just their underpants if they didn't have their kit?

- Are you saying that the girls who were wearing bras were allowed to keep them on and do the lesson in their bra and knickers or take off the bra and do it in just knickers (which is what Ellie said happened in her school and which seems very harsh)?

- If any of the girls were wearing an ordinary vest (as opposed to a gym vest), were they allowed to keep that on or not? Like you I wasn't wearing a bra at that stage, but did normally wear a vest under my school uniform.

- You mentioned that you felt childish because you weren't wearing a bra - did the this experience lead you to ask for one?


Comments by Bryony on 7th September 2016  

It's been interesting to read about Ellie's school's approach in the early years of senior school and it's prompted me to share my own experience. I started senior school in 1990. On our first day we found we had PE timetabled in the afternoon so after registration the whole form managed to find our way to the gym where we were met by two tracksuited teachers, one male and one female.

They split the form into boys and girls and took us into our respective changing rooms where we were ordered to remain silent and to sit on the floor. We were then briefed on the PE department, including that for the first half term we'd be doing gymnastics in both of our weekly PE lessons and hockey in games lessons. We were then told that PE kit must be worn exactly as per the rules - with this being the very early 1990s this meant a white vest and light grey gym knickers. Finally we were told very clearly that if we didn't have out PE kit we would still be doing the lesson but in our underwear. Suitably shocked we sat in silence.

It was then that the bombshell was dropped. We were asked whether we had our PE kits with us, as it was our first day at the school. About 3 or 4 girls raised their hands to say they did. For the rest of us we slowly realised what was coming. Inevitably, our rather formidable PE teacher said that was fine and in that case we should all get undressed and line up by the door. As we shyly undressed I looked round and saw a few girls in bras and suddenly felt very childish as I knew I had nothing under my school blouse. Seconds later our teacher reappeared and as if she was reading our minds told us that she basically didn't care if we were wearing a bra or not, we'd be doing the lesson in our knickers and only our knickers.

Needless to say that experience in the changing room and the lesson that followed that stayed with me. Even some 26 years later it feels like only yesterday!

Comments by Andrea on 6th September 2016  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

To Paula and Frank,

I went to an all girls secondary school and all the PE teachers were female, so there weren't many males around to see us in our PE kit and certainly not in the changing rooms. Our secondary school indoor PE kit was similar to Paula's - regulation navy blue gym knickers (not white briefs as in Ellie's case) and a white polo shirt. Actually we were supposed to wear the regulation navy knickers under our classroom uniform too.

At primary school we were allowed to change into shorts and a T shirt for PE, but boys and girls did have to change in the same classroom, so we did see each other in vest and pants while we were changing. The majority of our teachers were female, but it wasn't unknown for a male teacher to supervise. During our final year at primary, a few girls who had started to 'develop' began bras rather than vests and they were allowed to change separately in the toilets.


Comments by Ellie on 5th September 2016  

Hi Paula and Frank

Thanks for your messages and questions. To clarify, in years 7 & 8 we didn't wear gym knickers for indoor PE, we wore our everyday underwear knickers. Almost always this meant white cotton briefs. In the second year we didn't have to go topless but still wore our underwear knickers.

In terms of male teachers and boys being present, we did three PE or games lessons a week. Two of these were single sex - one indoors and one outdoors, and were an amalgamation of two different forms. When we were on the field the boys from the two forms were in the gym, and vice versa. The third was mixed sex and indoors, so the boys in our form did see us undressed. The girls only lessons were always taken by a female teacher. The mixed lessons could end taken by either a male or female teacher. I think we had a female more often than a male but there were plenty of examples of the latter. Male teachers certainly don't come into the girls change from at secondary school, though our female PE teachers often sis supervise changing, mainly to make sure we showered properly!

The story you mention is interesting. Wasn't it pretty common to do primary school PE in underwear? My school and a lot of others I know used to insist on just pants or knickers, with vests having to be removed. So although I think there's a lot to that particular story, I don't think the "forcing girls to do or topless" bit is much of a story.

Comments by Frank on 4th September 2016  

To Andrea and Ellie... Similar to Paula's post, were there any male teachers around when you did PE in just knickers in the first years of Secondary school? Or any boys could see you?

About Paula's post, a particular male teacher forcing Sec. school girls to do PE topless and being school policy is quite different.
If it was the school policy then the male teacher cannot be accused of anything, he was just following rules. If it was not the school policy it would be a different matter.

I recently read that in some schools boys were supervised by female teachers in the changing room and in the showers after PE, albeit this would probably be in some primary schools. I can't imagine secondary school boys being supervised in the showers by female teachers.
I wonder if any males posting here ever had this experience at school. I suppose girls being supervised in the changing room and showers by male teachers would be somewhat rarer.

Comments by Paula on 3rd September 2016  

I was shocked to read about Ellie's experience of having to do pe in 1st year at secondary in just gym knickers. I went from vest and knickers only in primary school to Aertex blouse and knickers in secondary school. That remained the kit throughout the school. I read an article last month in the Daily Mail where a retired male primary teacher is facing allegations of , amongst others, of forcing girls to do pe topless. It occurs to me that Ellie's pe teachers may be concerned that they too might end up facing allegations.

Comments by Ross on 3rd September 2016  

Back when I was in school throughout the nineties most indoor PE was done wearing shorts, tee and bare feet. This kit was often used outside in the summer too and in winter we were allowed rugby shirts and trainers although some of us still chose to go barefoot.

Comments by Andrea on 3rd September 2016  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Ellie,

Leotards never featured in our kit list for PE. Indoor PE lessons were done in gym knickers and a polo shirt right through the school (although girls who were in the gym display team did wear them).

Comments by Ellie on 1st September 2016  

Hi Andrea

As far as I know there weren't any complaints but it might be that some parents complained but the school stuck to its guns. Either way the PE kit didn't change in my time there and even when j was in the 6th form, the first years were still made to do things in just their knickers.

I think I didn't really NEED a bra even in the second year but given that we were all getting older by then I wanted to wear one. Looking back it was probably a bit awkward for the girls who dos wear bras and needed them, to have to take them off for PE and have to make do with the tiny amount of support that a cotton vest offered! From the 3rd year own we were all squashed by our leotards so it didn't matter so much!

Comments by Andrea on 23rd August 2016  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Ellie,

Given that some of the classes were mixed, I'm really surprised that there were no complaints from mums!

Also the attitudes from our PE teachers were very different, with several girls being 'advised' that it was time to ask their mum to buy them a bra if the teacher thought there was too much movement under their PE tops!
Although I did start to develop during the latter part of the first year,it mustn't have been enough for the teacher to consider it a problem at that point!

However, like you, I did start to wear one at the start of the second year. I had started to feel a little self conscious over the summer holidays (ensuring that my chest remained covered when I was changing on the beach etc, so I was relieved when mum insisted that I wear one when I returned to school.

Comments by Ellie on 22nd August 2016  

Hi Andrea - I think most or all of us would rather not have had to do it topless either! I was quite lucky in one sense as I didn't actually wear a bra at that age, but some of my form did and for them it must have been pretty bad having to take them off - even more so when we then had to spend the next hour or more with the boys! I started wearing a bra in yr8 (2nd year) and by then I think nearly all of the form had done so too.

Comments by Jon on 22nd August 2016  

At the Grammar School I attended in the late 1960s and early 1970s footwear was not an option for P.E., either indoors or out. Bare feet were compulsory for everything, even cross country, both for boys and girls, except rugby and hockey. Even when we competed at inter-school athletics events we were all barefoot...and we won far more!

Comments by Andrea on 21st August 2016  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Ellie, I'm glad that our school didn't insist on topless PE like yours! I was still flat-chested at the start of the first year, but had started to develop by the end of the year and some of my classmates were wearing bras by the time we came up to Secondary school.

Comments by Rob on 21st August 2016  

Thank you for answering my questions in such detail, Ellie.
it has,indeed, been interesting, and I thank you for your

Comments by Ellie on 20th August 2016  

Thanks for the questions, Rob. The boys did one of their indoor lessons when we were outside doing games. So everyone has three PE lessons a week: one single sex outdoors, one single sex indoors and one mixed indoors.

In the first year the boys wore shorts and no tops, then in the second year added vests. I don't honestly know if they wore underpants with their shorts or not.

I mentioned our outdoor kit in my earlier post, but you wouldn't have seen this by the time you asked again.

Our single sex lessons werw done in an amalgamation of two forms and were always with a female teacher and a the boys always had a male. But the mixed lessons (which were done in form groups) could be with either a male or female teacher. I don't know whethe the boys were supervises in the showers but I'd expect they were as it wouldn't make sense to do things different from how we were treated. Obviously the times we had a male teacher we weren't supervised unless a female teacher happened to be in the PE department at the time!

Comments by Rob on 19th August 2016  

Ellie,so did the boys do indoors PE twice a week dressed the same as the girls for the first two years,or maybe without a vest in the second year, or did they just wear shorts without pants all the time they were at the school? When the boys were on their own were the girls doing games outside? Surely, you wore shorts and a top for this. was the PE teacher male or female and were the boys checked up on in the showers?

Comments by Ellie on 19th August 2016  

I forgot to answer Rob's question about outdoor kit. It depended on what sport we were doing. In winter we played hockey in aertex shirts, skirts, gym knickers and long socks; netball in aertex shirts, gym knickers and plimsolls and did cross country in vests, gym knickers and plimsolls. In summer we did athletics in vests, gym knickers and plimsolls or bare feet; rounders in aertexes, gym knickers and bare feet.

Comments by Ellie on 19th August 2016  

Thanks for the comments and questions. My senior school was mixed. I mentioned we did PE (as opposed to games) indoors twice a week. One of these would be girls only as the boys would be doing games, normally rugby in winter. The other lesson was mixed sex, and was normally gymnastics rather than any sort of team sport.

We had single sex changing rooms and then walked to the gym. We didn't have spare underpants or vests to change into afterwards, which looking back isn't very nice. We did have to shower after lessons and our PE teacher often used to check that we were having proper showers not simply dipping our heads under the shower jets!

It wasn't too embarrassing in the single sex lessons but it would still have been nice to get to wear clothes! The mixed lessons were obviously more embarrassing, but I'm not sure if it was worse when we were slightly younger but with no tops on, or older but in our vests and pants!

Comments by Frank on 18th August 2016  

Hi Ellie, good to hear from the female point of view also sometimes.
Although it was common in primary schools for both boys and girls to do PE in just underpants, I think it was unusual in senior or secondary schools, as in your case.

Were the knickers only PE lessons in senior school also mixed, or boys and girls separate?
Did you also strip down in the classroom for PE lessons?
Did you, or any other girls feel embarrassed about it?

Comments by Rob on 18th August 2016  

I hope you won't mind me saying the your comments were interesting, but was the senior school all girls and what did you wear outdoors for PE lessons? Did you have to bring a change of knickers and vests and shower afterwards? We boys weren't allowed wear to pants and vests, just shorts;thankfully, no leotards!

Comments by Ellie on 17th August 2016  

I've read some of the comments but by no means all as there are so many! I see that some ladies have commented and j thought it might be interesting to add to this.

I was at school in the 1980s and into the 90s. Our primary school was pretty normal for the time and we just undressed in the classroom and then went to the hall for our PE lessons dressed in our pants and knickers. When I moved up to senior school there was initially little change. All our indoor PE lessons (two a week I think) were done, in the 1st year (year7), in just our knickers. Shoes and tops of any kind were not allowed under any circumstances. In the second year things for a little better, we were allowed to wear vests with our knickers, but still no proper clothes. By the 3rd year we were considered old enough to be allowed to wear leotards!

Comments by Gedvin on 14th August 2016  

Frank ... Berkhamsted School and we were supervised by only male staff and sometimes by prefects

Comments by Roy on 14th August 2016  

I agree with Philip and if what Guy describes did happen and Social Services got somehow to hear of it they would regard it as a clear case of abuse.

Comments by Philip on 13th August 2016  

With reference to the posting by Guy, it is the teacher's responsibility to keep his class under his direct supervision at all times. However much Guy might have liked the scenario he describes, it is a figment of his imagination.

Comments by Guy on 6th August 2016  

Our Grammar School kit all year was just shorts. No top and bare feet and everyone loved it in the whole school and that is today. No boxers underneath and most lads had erections all periods and we enjoyed the wanking in showers afterwards or if the PE master left we had a most enjoyable extra session. This happens from first year at The Grammar.

Comments by Frank on 29th July 2016  

Gedvin, which school was this?
Did anyone watch you during your nude swimming classes, like teachers or staff, especially of the opposite sex?

Comments by Gedvin on 28th July 2016  

John ... Yes we had our own pool. For school swimming up to end of junior school we had to swim naked so up to age 12 or 13, in the senior school we were asked to wear trunks. School swimming was once a week and house swimming twice a week. School competitions necesitated the wearing of trunks ... They had to be Speedo type as any other was regarded as too informal!

Comments by Rob on 24th July 2016  

Hi Dave. It was at an all boys grammar school in England 1955-1961. My parents had a list of the uniform which included a T-shirt for PE. My mother told me that she had learned from the mother of a boy down the road who attended the school that 'in the summer the boys go around outside with nothing on', meaning no shirt when they had PE outside. I thought nothing of this at the time.ynzc2However, at the first PE lesson the teacher told us all to go to the changing room and take everything off, including our pants and socks and come back to the gym wearing just pe shorts and plimsolls. On the way to the changing room the topic of conversation was whether we were allowed to wear a T-shirt, to which I and others said, no, just shorts and plimsolls.We all duly stripped off and returned to the gym as instructed and I am not aware that the matter of PE kit ever became a further talking point. If we had team games in the gym, each team wore different colour bands across their chests.

Comments by Derek on 24th July 2016  

Some researcher in the future is going to be dumbfounded that this topic has had so many (over 1000) replies over so many years all saying more or less the same thing! What is so intriguing about it?

Comments by Dave on 23rd July 2016  

Hi Rob! Was there any comments among boys getting to know having to be shirtless for PE? Were it a talkin point among the boys sometimes? How did you get to know the compulsory PE kit? Was it in a list or the teacher himself told it to you? Hod did you play team games if you all were barechested? Which decade was it? Was it in England?

Comments by Rob on 22nd July 2016  

Dan, This was at an all boys grammar school. At my small primary school we didn't do pe but just moved around the school hall to 'Music & Movement' on the radio wearing our normal clothes.So it was a bit of a culture shock at the grammar school the first time when I had to strip off completely and wear just a pair of shorts and plimsolls.I remember taking off my sleeveless vest in the changing room and feeling strange wearing nothing on top.No doubt a lot of others felt the same but we very soon got used to it and enjoyed the freedom. Again I was apprehensive the first time about taking my shorts off and going in the showers but after that I felt no embarrassment.

Comments by Dan on 21st July 2016  

Rob, was this in primary or secondary school?
From what I gather showers after PE in primary schools would have been rare, unless it was a boarding school.
I am also curious how many posters here had the no swimsuit rule at their school with swimming pools.

Comments by Rob on 20th July 2016  

We certainly weren't allowed to wear underpants.Our kit was just shorts and plimsolls and that came off after every session as we always had compulsory showers.

Comments by Dan on 19th July 2016  

The no-underpants rule for PE seems to have been common in many schools, though not at my school. I guess it did not apply to girls in most schools either, if any. But we did have showers after PE.
I wonder how many here had compulsary showers after PE.

Comments by Dan on 18th July 2016  

With gang showers after PE we were used to being naked together, so I don't see that nude swimming would have made any difference.

Comments by John on 18th July 2016  

@ Gavin: your school had its own pool,didn't it? How was swimming organised and conducted there?

Comments by Lewis on 12th July 2016  

Graham with regard to your comments about pajamas. I remember for scout camp the camp list always included PJ's,and they were packed. However, when on camp and in tents I remember that we opted to sleep in our pants in our sleeping bags. After a couple of nights we had opted to sleep naked. It seemed macho and we were away from our parents control. If we went to the loo in the middle of the night( which was usually over the other side of the field.) We would go over there naked. This was in the era before girls joined the scouts

Comments by Sam on 11th July 2016  

Dave, to answer your questions: yes, my school was all boys. Until our first PE lesson in the gym I think we were under the impression that we'd be wearing vests as part of the uniform. Then the teacher arrived, introduced himself and went through the register and promptly announced 'you boys won't be needing your vests for this lesson. Take them off and go and line up in the gym'. There were a few shocked stares and most of the boys went quiet, we hadn't expected that and a lot of us felt shy about doing the lesson shirtless. I did wonder what was the point of putting on a vest only to take it off straight away, but looking back that probably was the point - it suddenly made us feel vulnerable and less sure of ourselves. I certainly felt self conscious about my body for a while and so did most of my friends, but we all got used to it in time and I think it was no bad thing in the long term.

Comments by Dave on 11th July 2016  

Hi Sam!

Hi Sam! What was your mates reaction having to do PE shirtless. How did you get to know it? Was it in a uniform list or the teacher told it to you himself? Was there anys reason given to you having to do PE shirtless? Was it an all boys school?

Comments by Graham on 9th July 2016  

RE Mark's surprise (Dec 11th 2013) that a boarding school with a topless PE policy insisted on full PJs for sleeping, it would be interesting to know whether reality always reflects theory. Back when I started at a somewhat macho single-sex boarding school at the tender age of eleven (England, late 1950s early 1960s), the uniform list specified, inter alia, PE shorts (noting that PE was done topless), seven pairs of underpants (vests optional) and three pairs of pyjamas. So far, so conventional for the period - I did did PE topless at primary school, I stopped wearing vests before starting school, ditto most of my friends, and everyone I knew wore pyjamas in bed.

My first night in a dormitory of eight boys was a revelation. One by one, my room-mates stripped off uninhibitedly, revealing a universal lack of vests, showered, cleaned their teeth and equally uninhibitedly climbed into bed as naked as jaybirds. With this example, and reluctant to make an exhibition of myself by donning even the bottoms of my brand new pyjamas, all I could do was follow (birthday) suit, and ask questions afterwards! The boy in the next bed told me that PJs on the clothing list were a token gesture to convention. Under the school ethos, bare-chestedness was a manly trait required of all boys, especially for PE and sleeping, this manliness extending to not wearing vests, even in winter. Even more manly was sleeping nude, not formally mandatory but actively encouraged, not that any encouragement appeared to be needed.

I often slept topless in hot weather with my parents' approval, but wearing nothing at all in bed, without either their approval or knowledge, was a new experience that I eagerly embraced. Going home at half-term, with three unused PJ sets and apprehension at disclosing my new-found nightwear preference, was stressful, not least because I had said nothing about it in my letters home. I needn't have worried. Mum and Dad, amused at the situation, spared no efforts in reassuring me that what I wore in bed was my own affair, even at home, and suggested that they might follow my example that night!

Comments by Gavin on 6th July 2016  

John: yes some thought we were 'posh' but actually we were just pretty normal. Just sent to the schools our parents had decided upon, I guess. I know Aylesbury grammar and a good friend of mine attended the school.

Comments by Dominic on 3rd July 2016  

Mark - you are right about teachers and power trips - we did have some like that but not in p.e. Fortunately our p.e. teachers were generally supportive and encouraging. I was not particularly good at p.e. but enjoyed it partly because the teachers were so good and not interested only in the more able boys as was, I'm sure, the case in some schools.

Comments by John on 3rd July 2016  

@Gavin - Aylesbury Grammar . Yes rugby in winter and cricket in summer with running and PE .. Rarely did swimming at school .. I know your school as Berko isn't far away ... Posh boys then?

Comments by Mark on 3rd July 2016  

Hi Guys. Regarding power trips and teachers. many of our teachers did get off on the power trip of controlling those in their care.
Sadly I can remember some horrific incidents of teachers humiliating their pupils. Some indulged in bizarre punishments such as confiscating shoes and socks for the school day.
And with without a doubt there were teachers who did enjoy administering corporal punishment.

Comments by Andrew on 1st July 2016  

Paul, you ask was joining the Merchant Navy any more dignified than the Royal Navy.

The answer is a little but not much but then I started in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary so although we were civilians much was the same as the RN.

The selection was again a three day event, we slept in open dormitories, there were waist high partitions in the toilets but no doors and of course communal showers. All fitness testing was done wearing white shorts and plimsols but other than that we wore our own clothes. For the medical we were naked but rather than stand in a line we had to move around stations in the room, there was a doctor and a male orderly at each one. All the same checks were done but at least when told to bend over the back of a chair I knew what to expect. Some lads still got a shock.

Medicals were like that on an annual basis and when I left the RFA and went to P&O there was still a group of us examined together.

To pick up on a point about school PE, I thought it was very 'grown up' to do PE wearing shorts only - we had black ones. It may have been something to do with the teacher telling us that we were men so we wouldn't wear shirts or for that matter underpants.

Comments by Gavin on 1st July 2016  

John: did all sport at my school ... You name it. What about you? Which school etc?

Comments by John on 30th June 2016  

@ Gavin - oh that is an independent public school, isn't it? How much sport did you do there?

Comments by Dominic on 30th June 2016  

James - I certainly didn't consider it a hardship doing p.e. and games in just a pair of shorts - we thought it was very grown up and I remember feeling really alive running outside like that, especially in the winter.

Comments by James on 29th June 2016  

I'm sure it was no great hardship wearing only shorts for sports and gym.
I was kept in short trousers all the year round and it could be chilly in the winter

Comments by Gavin on 29th June 2016  Goerre@hotmail.com 

I went to Berkhamsted School for Boys

Comments by Sam on 28th June 2016  

That's true Rob, from what I know my friends who went to state schools didn't have the same emphasis on discipline or strict approach to PE kit.
To be honest with you, at first I didn't enjoy doing PE with my top off, partly because I was a skinny boy and partly because I wasn't expecting it! The kit we were told to get included a vest, then when we turned up for the first lesson in the gym we were suddenly ordered to take them off. A lot of boys who had been fairly noisy up to that point suddenly quietened down.
But later on you're right, it felt much more comfortable to be shirtless, especially when you were sweating a lot (which was usually the case in PE). I was a fairly good distance runner and although we wore vests for races against other schools, we did most practice sessions shirtless. So with that and the shirts v skins house races, I soon got used to running in shorts only. Never even occurred to me that anyone might be lurking to try and take photos, but yes they wouldn't have been able to do that on the grounds.
Overall I think it's a good thing that my school did things that way, I think it made me more comfortable with my body and probably healthier as well.

Comments by John on 28th June 2016  Jm_de_raven@hotmail.com 

@ Gavin - what school did you attend then?

Comments by Sterling on 28th June 2016  

Those black plimsolls were horrid and offered no support or competitive advantage. Quite unlike today's expensive running shoes.
Worn without socks, ones feet squelched around inside something awful. We only wore them for outdoor games and XC, when they would come off if you ran through a muddy patch. Most boys ran barefoot because of this.
Gym was shorts only.
My nephew's school doesn't permit barefoot PE, even in gym. If they don't have trainers with non marking soles they must sit out the class. Howwever, they do still play shirts vs skins.

Comments by Rob on 28th June 2016  

Sam,yes it was very good to hear your comments, but you were at a private school and it is unfortunate that the traditional approach to boy's PE has not been maintained in state schools.No doubt like me, you enjoyed the freedom of being in just shorts and plimsolls.We were not permitted to wear socks and definitely nothing under our shorts.We wore shirts for football but never played with a shirts v skins system for football, or cross country when we were always stripped to the waist. I expect that at your school you had extensive grounds to run in where you were protected from people who might take photos of you on their 'phones, whereas in other schools today, they are no longer sent out for this reason. It doesn't explain why boys today can't do PE in the gym as we were. I was glad to hear that you always had to strip off and take showers together afterwards. In state schools it appears that showers have no longer been used for a number of years and the space is used for storage.

Comments by Gavin on 27th June 2016  Goerre@hotmail.com 

We had to wear a jockstrap for all sporting activity at my school.

Comments by Dominic on 26th June 2016  

Sam - that is encouraging though I expect a more traditional approach like that is very rare now. I expect your school also had a better than average work ethic and a generally high standard of discipline too. I was a bit surprised to see that you had to wear plimsolls or trainers inside - I thought bare feet inside was a traditional aspect that was more common now than boys being shirtless.

Rob - I think our lessons were fun partly due to the strictness of our teachers and being worked hard and partly due to our lack of kit. I also have fond memories of playing outdoor volleyball and going on cross country runs with the sun shining on my bare back and shoulders - happy days!

Comments by Sam on 24th June 2016  

Rob, you'll be pleased to know there are still some schools that take a more traditional approach to boys' PE. I left a couple of years ago and at the private school I attended we were required to do PE lessons in black shorts and plimsolls or trainers. Gym socks could also be worn but no tops of any description. We were expected to work hard on our fitness and the discipline was fairly strict. Outdoors we were allowed to wear a football jersey but sometimes team games were played with a 'shirts against skins' system. For athletics and cross country we wore a vest in the school colours but again, for house competitions, the boys on one team would be instructed to remove their vests and run as skins. All this was compulsory, as were showers after all PE for which we had to strip completely.

Comments by Rob on 24th June 2016  

Dominic,you're so right about our PE kit. Boys today should have to strip off like us and wear just a pair of gym shorts and nothing else. I thoroughly enjoyed PE in the gym when our master was strict and worked us hard, but it was a great feeling getting really hot and running with sweat and we certainly didn't need to be wearing anything else,and we looked forward to the showers afterwards.It was also a pleasure, and healthier, running outside in the fresh air
in just shorts.

Paul,I agree that things have moved on,but from my school experiences am also comfortable about my body. My wife and I went on a cruise recently,and I have in the past used the male sauna and steamroom,but was surprised at how many guys now wore shorts, even in the showers.I would find this most uncomfortable, and for goodness sake we were all men, and I continued with the minority to be naked. Also, as you mentioned in an earlier comment that even now you don't wear pants under your shorts at the gym, I still like to wear nothing under mine when I am working in the garden at home in the summer and am also usually stripped to the waist. Unfortunately, many guys will not be behaving in this manner when they get older but I see nothing wrong in enjoying the sun and fresh air and gaining the health benefits from being outside. We learned at school not to be ashamed of our bodies, and although times have moved on, I continue to remember this and instilled this in our two sons who often thank me as they didn't learn this in their PE lessons.

Comments by Dominic on 24th June 2016  

Paul - you are right about different values. Times change - sometimes for the better; sometimes for worse. I feel the "old fashioned" p.e. kit I wore, as did so many others, it seems, was far more practical in various ways and think it is sad that boys have to cover up so much these days.
I think nude swimming for males of all ages was not all that uncommon though mainly in America in the YMCA pools. I can't imagine any-one damaging themselves by diving into a pool naked.
My p.e. masters were strict but also made their lessons enjoyable - again no "power trip" as far as I can remember. Most of us thoroughly enjoyed p.e. - it came as a welcome change from being sat in uniform in stuffy classrooms.

Comments by Paul on 22nd June 2016  

Mark on 20th June 2016

Things have moved on a great deal since I was a boy at school and applying the values of now in judgement of times past is in my view a foolish road to take. Just as murderers are no longer sentenced to hang I doubt boys at school swim naked but that doesn't mean it was bad or wrong then, just that values were different. I'm glad I'm comfortable with my body whether it's clothed or naked, something I doubt many lads of today are. If I need to I can change in the changing room at the gym or if the doctor requires drop my trousers and underpants without having a panic attack.

I don't ever remember feeling that masters were on a 'power trip' as you choose to put it. Almost all were excellent teachers and I was very happy at school. Had there been any sense of abuse I doubt that would have been the case but I look back on it as a very positive time of my life.

Comments by Mark on 20th June 2016  

To make boys do swimming well into puebity seem highly irresponsible and I have never heard of this. Boys diving into the pool with their crotch unprotected could be painful and damaging. Also by the mid teens most boys hormones are rampant and they are liable to have visible reactions to being naked etc.
I am not saying it didnt happen but in my opinion its irresponsible and serves no practical purpose whatsoever.
I do know from experience that there were teachers who definitely enjoyed their power trip they held over children(especially boys) and some teachers did enjoy punishing them. In my time at school I did encounter teachers who enforced the most extreme punishments that only served to humiliate and bully the unfortunate recipients.

Comments by JamesT on 19th June 2016  

I have only just found this site and thought I would offer my own experiences starting as a 9yr old at a school in a rural part of North east England in the late 80's. The school's official kit was a pale blue vest, black shorts, and trainers. When we'd changed for the first lesson and had been taken into the gym for the first time our teacher quickly picked a boy at ramdom and told him to run and drop his vest on the bench at the bottom end of the gym. When returned to the group the teacher picked half the class, which included me, to do the same. From then on all our PE and Games lessons had a skins team. Myself and others who found themselves to be good at sports were always hand picked to strip off, regardless of weather or activity. School inter house competitions were done in a similar way, with one team in vests, the other in skins this included Cross Country. For other events like basketball, at half time the teams were reversed, with the vests becoming skins and vice versa. This was okay if you'd had a vest on for the first half but not the other way round and it wasn't long before they were seen sticking to their owner's back/chest. We always joked that this was done so the girls could see lads from both houses strip off. When I turned 10 mainly to stand up for myself, my parents took me to learn to box. When we did fight both lads were expected by family and the club to fight bare top during your bout. Funny, from then on no one bullied me again!

Comments by Paul on 19th June 2016  

Willy, the school pool had no possibility of having spectators around it. There were only the edge walkways which were about two metres wide and then the walls. The only way in was through the changing room. Occasionally a couple of fathers would be present on a Saturday morning but I can't remember mothers ever being present. Swimming was now something that we competed at and was only for fitness and personal safety.

No trunks applied throughout the school from seven to eighteen and I never saw a lad of any age in the pool wearing anything. I don't think nudity put us off, it was a popular lunchtime activity when it was totally optional. The water was always freezing but as you did back then, we just got on with it.

Andrew, was the experience of joining the Merchant Navy any more dignified than the Royal Navy? You certainly wouldn't be embarrassed after your Royal Navy experience - probably ever again!

Comments by Dennis on 11th June 2016  

Mark As I said previously that a distinction was made between boys and girls in what they wore in pe. Although the class did it as a mixed group, and no one considered it unusual for boys not to be doing pe in underwear when the girls did. As you say, to think that for a punishment boys would be made to walk round in their underpants all day for forgetting their shorts would have the politically correct brigade going off the radar. also I agree if you were punished at school the parents supported the teacher and you must have deserved it.

At secondary school the 2 methods of punishment were cane or after school detention. Some teachers gave the lads the option of which punishment they wanted. Quite a few opted for the cane. It was quick over and done with and as you say you got on with it and parents need not know. As far as I recall the cane was only given on the hand. i do not recollect any one having to "bend over" The only exception was the sadistic PE teacher who would administer the slipper using the offenders own plimsoll across a tight backside on thin shorts and no pants for padding.

Whereas with after school detention they would know you were being kept behind and so when you got home you got a further punishment for being naughty at school.

We just got on with life and as you say no screaming Human Rights.

Comments by Andrea on 10th June 2016  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Willy,
Your primary school PE arrangements sound similar to mine in the late 1960s / early 1970s.

Our school didn't have a gym but used to do 'music and movement' in the school hall. Most other PE activities took place in the school playground, or on a small grassed area if it was dry enough. I think the boys were sometimes taken to a local park pitch for football, but we girls did rounders and netball in the playground.

Our PE kit sounds similar to yours - T shirt, shorts or a PE skirt (girls could wear either)and plimsolls. Like one of the others posters our mums were supposed to make a drawstring bag (with our names embroidered on) to carry our PE kit in.

The school didn't have separate changing facilities either, we just changed into our PE kit in the classroom, boys on one side and girls on the other. By the end of our time at Primary we girls became pretty adept at pulling on our PE shorts or skirts before we removed our normal school skirt or dress! In the final year a few of my classmates who had started to wear bras rather than vests were allowed to change in the girls toilets to preserve their modesty.

Comments by Rob on 9th June 2016  

Willy, I went to an all boys grammar school in the late 50's and they used to refer to the first three years as middle school and after that we were seniors.In primary school, in the early 50's we had no gym but did some simple exercises in the school hall while the radio was turned to a programme called 'Music & Movement'. In the final two years the boys went with a male teacher to the local park where we kicked a football around. I can't remember what the girls did, but in both the hall and park we never had any special kit but simply ran around in our school clothes.Remember at that time all boys wore grey shorts, which many of us wore until our mid teens.We did all wear uniform ties to school.When I went to grammar school everyone had to wear the correct uniform of blazer, tie, pullover, white or grey shirt and black lace up shoes.It was a real change for me when we had PE, which was twice a week, and for the first time I had to get changed out of my school uniform, and take my vest off, which all boys wore,into just a pair of gym shorts with nothing on underneath & plimsolls with no socks, and stripped to the waist, both in the gym and outside, including cross country runs.For football we wore a shirt,boots and long socks,but were forbidden from wearing anything under our shorts. After all PE and football lessons we had to get our kit off and go into the customary showers together.

Comments by Mark on 9th June 2016  

Willy, I was at infant/ middle to 11 or 12, i cant remember precisely. The LEA changed over from the 11plus system and we did an extra year at infant/middle.
We had to wear a uniform and boys wore grey shorts all they way through until we left.
We didnt have a gym and rarely did PE outside. We didn't have PE kit as such. Boys did it in underpants and girls in pants and vest. We were always bare foot.
It was a church school and very strict. We had to change into plimsolls when we entered the building as outdoor shoes were not allowed. Our mums had to make a "slipper bag" for us. This was for our plimsolls(slippers) If we forgot them got tanned and then we went bare foot all day.
In winter when it snowed boys could wear long trousers to school but had to change to shorts once there. If anyone forgot them then they got a tanning and had to go around all day in their underpants
Can you imagine the outcry today if this happened? parents always took the teachers side. If I went home and told mum that someone had got in to trouble and punished she would say that he/she must have deserved.
When we did get punished, we took it and moved on. Nobody bleated about abuse and human rights. We just got on with it

Comments by Dennis on 8th June 2016  

With reference to primary school I recall that all boys wore grey shorts ( which were very short not like today) all the year round. For pe we simply removed our shirt and did the lesson in shorts and singlets which all boys wore. Those days the girls wore skirts for uniform because " girls just did not wear trousers" so for pe they simply removed their skirts and did the lesson in their regulation navy blue underwear and vest. We did not think it odd. That was just how it was. The politically correct people would go mad if that was suggested these days. After all it seems nearly all girls in junior school wear long trousers as do the boys. Occasionally you see a boy in junior school wearing shorts.

Comments by Willy on 7th June 2016  

Hi Mark, up to what age was middle school? I only remember there being primary and secondary schools back in my scholdays in the 50s and 60s.
In primary, up to age 11, we did PE mostly in the large schoolyard. We had no gym in primary. I wonder how many primary schools had a gym back then. Maybe other posters can relate.
Our primary school PE consisted of simple physical exercises or occasionally games like football and the like. Our class teacher simply acted as a coach. It was different in secondary of course.
Besides just underpants did you also have to go barefoot or did you wear PE slippers?
I remember on PE days, which was once or twice a week from what I remember, we had to take our PE kit to school, which consisted of white vest and shorts and slippers. Some boys and girls never bothered to carry them since they came dressed in just their PE kit on PE days, with maybe just a woollen top if it was cold. It was a different era.
In Secondary it was different because we had to wear a school uniform, with tie and all.

Comments by Rob on 6th June 2016  

Gosh, Andrew, that beats all comments written here, and certainly an experience that all thirty of you will never forget.Thank you for sharing this with us.We all thought we had something to tell, but your account beats everything.

Comments by Andrew on 3rd June 2016  

I think there is mileage in the idea of no underpants and communal showers getting us ready for the military. Both were the norm through my school years.

I went on to join the Merchant Navy but not before I had an interview to be an Officer Cadet with the Royal Navy. The selection lasted three days and there were thirty of us in the group. There was absolutely no privacy at any time while we were there.

The information sent out talked about tests and practical exercises and told us everything would be provided, we only needed to bring a change of clothes.

Some of the stuff was in a classroom doing formal exams, some was discussions mostly about naval tactics but there were a few rogue topics thrown in too. A lot of the stuff was field exercise where we were in groups and had to complete tasks and there was also a certain amount of what you might call PE, circuit training and similar testing out our fitness. The only attire we were provided with for anything to do with fitness was plimsols and white cotton shorts.

We were accommodated in a thirty bedded dormitory with no privacy at all, off it was a washroom that had communal showers and basins as well as toilets that had no partitions, I think I'd expected the communal showers, the toilets were a shock but there was no choice but to get on with it.

There was also a medical, I expected something like I was used to at school but again, it was done with no privacy at all. We were ordered into a big hall and ordered to strip, one or two who were dilatory were told strip included underpants. Then we had to line up side by side with our hands clasped behind our necks. Four doctors worked the line each with an orderly who made notes.

There was almost no communication from them bar commands like 'open wide' as they wanted to look in your mouth and of course 'cough.' Just as I thought it was over we were ordered to bend over and touch our knees with our elbows, I really had no idea why. An orderly worked the front of the line and a doctor the back but bent over you couldn't see anything so what came next was a complete surprise.

I was just aware of the orderly pressing down on my neck saying something like 'bend tighter lad.' There was no choice given his strength and the pressure he was applying and I can remember my hamstrings burning momentarily before I was shocked to feel hands spreading my buttocks and then mortified to experience my first rectal examination which afterwards I learned was a first and a shock for everyone.

In terms of preparation for WW3, that experience certainly did desensitise us from any sense of personal privacy.

Comments by Mark on 3rd June 2016  

Hi Willy, yes we did pe at infant and middle in our underwear. We got changed in the classroom and boys stripped to underpants and stripped to pants and vest. Maybe the worst part was when we had to fike down the long corridor to the hall. It was cold, the floors were freezing and all the other classrooms had Windows so we could be seen all the way down.

Comments by Dennis on 2nd June 2016  

Paul I understand your logic. My era at school was also the "cold war" era and I suppose also that the majority of teachers had either served in the war or been part of National Service and as they had been used to living in barracks and undressing in front of each other along with communal showers, they would expect it to be the norm for the next generation.

This has died out now that the services are staffed by people who chose it as a career. Also with the advent of Political correctness it would be unheard off to expect lads to remove pants for pe and to go bare chested

Comments by Willy on 2nd June 2016  

Paul, Did the no trunks rule for swimming at your school apply to all boys?
I had some friends who also went to a private school where the no trunks rule only applied to boys up to 12 years old. After that age they could wear trunks.
Did you also have to be nude for swimming galas in front of spectators? I read somewhere that this was the case in some schools, though mostly for junior boys only. I can't imagine teenage boys swimming nude in front of mixed spectators, even though they be just parents and relatives.

On the subject of PE, it also seems to have been common in many primary schools for both boys and girls to do PE in just underpants only, though not at my school. I wonder if there are any readers here who had this rule at their school.
We did change in class though, both boys and girls, into our PE kit which was white shorts and vest.
In Secondary it was different because we had a gym with changing room and it was an all boys school.

Comments by Paul on 1st June 2016  

Dennis - not sure why we had no trunks for swimming, like everything else in those days we accepted it and got on with life - it was a lot more simple then and for me at least did me no harm.

Someone once hypothesised to me that in those days we were all being prepared for world war three and one thing we would need to be was not shy in front of other men so we were aclimatised at an early age to taking off underpants and communal showers. It makes sense I think. Fortunately there was no WW3 but I do think a lot of lads these days could do with being a bit more relaxed about another guy seeing them naked, it's harmless.

As for a student teacher punishing lads, I can't believe that was ever allowed. I saw a few over time and none ever administered more than a reprimand. They may report you to the relevant master who may well administer a sore bottom but they never did it themselves.

I also experienced the practice of kit inspection that involved bending over in white shorts - which were very thin and anyone wearing underpants would have been caught immediately. We were probably ordered to turn round and bend over at more than 50% of lessons so it wasn't worth the risk. The minimum consequence was six with the strap or four of the cane always on the bare bottom which was a high price for wearing underpants.

Comments by Matthew on 1st June 2016  

Rob. That ties in with why the student teacher that Dennis had was not seen again. A student teacher would not be authorised to administer corporal punishment. 1

Comments by James on 1st June 2016  

I have mentioned this before, but as the subject has come up again..
I was at school in the mid 60's. We also were told to wear nothing under our nylon shorts for PE or thicker shorts for rugby. Once we began to reach the age when this was a little uncomfortable/embarrassing the PE teacher told us that if we needed to be more comfortable, we should wear a jockstrap. Some of us had seen older boys wearing them in the changing rooms so it seemed to be a sort of step towards being grown up. I could never have brought this up in conversation with my non sporty parents for fear of getting into some sort of embarrassing discussion, perhaps having to explain what one was. The PE department had jockstraps for sale along with other bits of kit so I used some of my lunch money to buy one. I couldnt wait to try it out and the main thing I remember is that unlike other underwear, it did nothing to protect against cold draughts! The other thing was that if we got wet whilst out cross country running, the shorts became almost transparent and the jockstraps were more than obvious. I can remember a few of us embarrassing one classmate by pointing out how how much he was showing because he wasnt wearing any support. I didn't take mine home for washing. We often went through the showers still in shorts and jockstraps and straight into the swimming pool. This usually seemed to be lunchtime or after school. My jockstrap hung in my locker to dry till next time and everything else went home for washing.

Comments by Rob on 31st May 2016  

Matthew, I don't recall seeing our student teacher again.

Comments by Matthew on 30th May 2016  

To Dennis. I wonder if a student teacher would be authorised to administer corporal punishment. I'm inclined to think not and that may well have been the reason that this individual was not seen again.

Comments by Rob on 30th May 2016  

Dennis, I Don't know if any other gym classes were inspected that time; we may have been the only only one to have been selected.It was the only one I was ever in, and just my luck! We did have random kit inspections by our teacher who would line us all up in the changing room after we had got changed for a lesson and tell us to pull one side of the waist of our shorts out and down to show that we were not wearing pants. Fortunately no-one ever was, but on one occasion we had a student teacher for one lesson and he caught a boy wearing pants. He made him stand in the middle of the gym and told us all to stand round him in a circle, then told him to take off his plimsolls and then his shorts and pants. He then had to bend over and touch his toes and the student teacher whacked him six times with one of his plimsolls on his bare bottom. He was then sent off and made to stand under a cold shower for the rest of the lesson.

Comments by Dennis on 29th May 2016  

I was called away before I could finish my last message. I wanted to respond to Rob & Mark.
We did not have an inspector at our class, but most of the exercises were as Rob detailed. The teacher would be walking around and I suppose he may have been checking for underwear. One lesson a student teacher made us all bend over & I think his idea was to see if we were wearing pants which would have been visible through our white shorts. The next time he took a lesson he lined us up and pulled out the back of our shorts to see if we were wearing anything. unfortunately, for one boy he was and as Mark reports that lad paid the price with a sore behind. After removing the offending clothing. The student did threaten that next time (if there was a next time) the boys either side of any offender in the line up would also get the slipper. That student never came back to our school despite the fact we were told he would be visiting several times during the term.

However, what ever the rights and wrongs of those days and the strict discipline, we did not seem to care and I am sure
that we were not as inhibited as the youngsters seem to be today.

As Rob says that was how it was at that time.

Comments by Dennis on 29th May 2016  

Paul I attended an all boys school and like you there was a no underwear rule and no tops. After the first time we just got on with it.

Our swimming lessons were at a public swimming pool (closed session for the school)but we wore swimming trunks(the briefs type) I have read quite a few comments about swimming without trunks and I wondered why this was.

I understand your comments re the Gym. I used to Gym/Swimming pool where the showers were in cubicles,but the main male changing area was communal and as you say fellows would chat as they changed. The only time I felt uneasy was a few times a teenage lad would come in and start changing and my child protection training came to mind. There was never a problem and sometimes if a lad came in who was bashful would go into the shower cubicle in his pants and reappear in his trunks.

?The problem now is that I go to a pool where it is a changing "Village" IE mixed sex and I have to remember to keep in the cubicles for changing

Comments by michael on 29th May 2016  michaelabbey@rocketmail.com 

Thanks to all who have taken up my post.
I was interested to read them all and truly amazed that there was only one account of boys being advised to wear support for pe/games.
Not only at my school, but at many others, wearing swimming trunks as underwear for sports was quite normal. Thank you again to all those who have posted.

Comments by Roy on 28th May 2016  

At my school in the 1960s you did indoor PE stripped to the waist and barefoot.
For cross-country again you were stripped to the waist and although you were allowed to wear plimsolls a few boys were barefoot as well.

Comments by Mark on 27th May 2016  

Paul it was exactly the same at my school.We wore just white shorts for indoor PE, nothing else, and it was made clear that nothing should be worn under our shorts.
If anyone was caught wearing underpants, they were removed and the boy got his bare behind soundly spanked.
I tried it once for a dare and paid the price. Then at home I got a dose of the strap for good measure.
I never did it again

Comments by Rob on 27th May 2016  

I always thought it was the individual schools who decided on gym kit but it seems that the vast majority dictated that boys should wear just shorts,maybe plimsolls, but certainly nothing on under shorts and stripped to the waist. I had not thought before but in view of the widespread practice now wonder whether this was a government directive.In about 1959 when I was in a class of 15 year olds at a boys grammar school we had a school inspection and when we had a pe lesson an inspector was in the gym with the teacher. During the lesson the teacher made us do the exercise where we had to lie on our backs with arms outstretched and lift our legs up at 45 degrees and at his instruction move them apart and together several times then lower them to six inches off the floor and repeat the together and apart process. All this time the inspector stood in front of the class with the teacher. I now wonder if this was done to prove to the inspector that the school was carrying out the requirement to ensure that boys wore nothing under their shorts. To cap it all, at the end of the lesson, the inspector, accompanied by our teacher, was in the changing rooms, watching us all, naked in the showers. Nothing was ever said about this; that was how it was at that time.

Comments by Paul on 26th May 2016  

Private boys grammar school in the 1960's and early 70's. PE kit was white cotton shorts and plimsols for everything except rugby which was boots, socks, black shorts and a jersey in school colours. At an all boys school with it's own pool there were no swimming trunks on the list which I thought strange but soon found out why.

We were told in the first lesson that for any sort of games, gym or sport underpants were never to be worn and the strap and cane hanging on pegs in the changing room were pointed out as the consequence of disobedience. After taking off my underpants for the first time I wasn't bothered again by it and equally after the first communal shower I couldn't have cared less.

One lad decided to wear trunks under his rugby shorts after a few weeks and was caught on the first occasion. There were a few comments about him being cold - big mistake as his bottom was soundly warmed in front of the whole class and everyone else was warned that if they wore underpants or trunks their bottom would be warmed to a higher temperature!

Some lads hated the no underpants rule, it didn't bother me, I played rugby until I was 35 and never wore anything under my shorts and nor did most guys I played with even by the time I was leaving most of the younger ones took off their underpants, lycra shorts had not yet made an appearance - and don't they look awful.

I still work in the gym several times a week and don't wear anything under my shorts there either and nor do most other guys.

I might be totally against the grain here but I hate the shower cubicles at the gym, I used to enjoy the chat in the showers, it was always quite sociable where with cubicles no one says anything at all.

Comments by Andrew on 26th May 2016  

I attend school in the 80's and like others have mentioned we were not allowed Pants under our shorts, the message was spelt out quite clearly that nothing should be worn underneath when doing any activity at school and that included the school teams.

Comments by Andrea on 26th May 2016  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

My ex was at Grammar School in the 1970's and told me that they weren't allowed anything under their shorts for the first two years but were advised to wear a jockstrap for support at the start of their third year. He didn't mention swimming trunks though.

Comments by Dennis on 26th May 2016  

With regards to the latest postings, at our school we new nothing about jock straps and as I wrote it was only a friend who told me about "support". As someone else has written teachers thought it important that the air circulated without restriction.

Comments by Alex on 25th May 2016  

At school in the 1970s the only thing allowed under our sport shorts was a jockstrap.

Comments by John Lavender on 25th May 2016  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

Michael (and Peter if he's still reading this Thread) :
We normally didn't wear anything under PE Shorts but if and when we were going to do Wrestling as part of PE in the Gym we were told in advance to put Trunks on under the Shorts so we could just remove our Shorts and be ready if we were chosen to grapple.
We had Green or Red Trunks depending on which House we were in , there were just Two at our Grammar School.
They were just basic Nylon Trunks, not breatheable at all,and quite tight-fitting.
Of course, there were quite a lot of quite obvious 'Bulges' in our Trunks as we were all Pubescent or Post-Pubescent, and , Indeed quite regularly there was what some would have considered a very telling damp-patches on the front of the Trunks!
Our PE Teacher wasn't too bothered, we were all around the same age in our class; it was embarrasing for some of the Boys but he [The Teacher] just took us to one side and explained it was all perfectly natural and that we should not be embarrased.
Grappling was great Fun; I wasn't all that good at it but it was a good break from the usual excercises and Games in PE.

Comments by Dennis on 25th May 2016  

In reply to Michael, we were not given the option or told to wear swimming trunks under our shorts. In fact right up until I left in 1966 when I was sixteen we wore nothing underneath. ?there was not instruction about any form of athletic support. Whereas, a friend who attended another local school were instructed to wear some form of support. Swimming trunks we just for our weekly swimming lessons.

Comments by Dominic on 25th May 2016  

Michael - that is an interesting idea. The only sport I remember boys being advised or required to wear anything underneath was cricket where a "box" was sometimes worn. As I didn't play cricket at school I never knew much about this but I do know swimming trunks would never have been allowed. It was always thought that the air should circulate beneath our shorts and I don't recall any suggestion that anything needed to be kept in place in such a manner.
I have seen that American schools often required jock straps though I've never understood the benefit. I had no idea that any English school in the 60s might require anything restrictive under shorts.

Comments by michael on 23rd May 2016  michaelabbey@rocketmail.com 

I have been reading comments in this section for a very long time.
It amazes me that so few boys who went to school in the 60's ( as I did ) have not mentioned that they were encouraged to wear swimming trunks under their games kit. Certainly it was the rule at my school that we should not wear our everyday underpants, or vests for that matter. But there was no saying that nothing at all should be worn!
Usually it was those who were selected for the rugby team who first took to wearing swimming trunks. Sometimes the teacher would suggest to a boy that he should do so.
I would be most interested to hear from anyone who has had the same experience, whether from the 60's or any other era!

Comments by Rob on 23rd May 2016  

Dennis, I was at secondary school from 1955 to 1961 and my PE experience was also,like yours, the norm for those days, as we were not allowed to wear anything under our shorts for PE and football and we all had to shower together afterwards.I would have thought it would have been better that you didn't know the boys in your class,otherwise wouldn't it have been embarrassing being naked in front of your friends from junior school, especially the first time? Although,as you had to talk to your dad about it, perhaps it would have been better if you had a few friends to share the experience.

Comments by Rob on 23rd May 2016  

Kevin, good for you and for persevering. It's a pity there are not more dads about now who believe in making their sons grow up and become men. I hope you continue to enjoy soaking up the vitamins and other benefits of letting the sun and fresh air to your body.

Comments by Kevvin on 23rd May 2016  

We had two PE sessions a week, one was boys only and the other was mixed. The girls did usually like to come near the barechested boys, bump into us 'accidentally' or do partner gym work with us. That didn't apply to one of the other barechested boys whose family was really poor and he obviously wasn't allowed a top by his parents for financial reasons, even his shorts were old with holes in them and he smelled quite a bit.
I however got to like the girls attention as we got a bit older

Comments by Dennis on 23rd May 2016  

My experience at secondary school was in an all boys school. This was 1961 to 1966. As was the norm it seems for those days, pe kit was shorts, plimsolls and nothing else. At the first lesson the teacher informed us that we were not to wear pants under the shorts.

At first it seemed strange going into the main hall which doubled as a gym and although only 11 years old I missed the support of wearing briefs. However this soon passed and with it being the norm for the lesson and football I got used to it. Again going into the communal showers for the first time I was a bit apprehensive because when I went up to this school, my friends from junior school were in a different catchment area and they went to another school. This meant I did not know any of the boys at first whereas most of the class knew each other.
There was no choice but just accept it. There was no alternative. No good complaining because dad would say whats the problem you are all fellas together( bearing in mind that it was not long after the war and he like most dads and older teachers had served in the forces where everyone lived in barracks and huts and were used to all changing together.

Nowadays things have changed so much that I do not think there are any showers in schools, and a lot of pe or sports seems to be done in tracksuits not shorts, and heaven forbid if you were told to remove underwear before pe or sports

Comments by Rob on 23rd May 2016  

Simon, I was at a boys grammar school, somewhat earlier than you, in the late 50s. The uniform list included a white T-shirt for PE, which all boys brought to the first lesson, expecting to wear it.However at the beginning of the lesson before going to the changing room, the teacher told us all that when we got changed we must take everything off including pants and socks and come back into the gym wearing just pe shorts and plimsolls.At the end of the lesson we were told to go back to the changing room and take our shorts off and go in the showers which were communal. Thereafter,until I left the school at age 18, we were always stripped the waist in the gym and outside for athletics (when we often went barefoot) and cross country running.

Comments by Simon on 22nd May 2016  

Kevin, I was also at a school in the 80s where the PE shirt was optional for boys. What most of us hadn't realised until the first lesson was that the option was the teacher's, not ours! He was old school, very strict, and immediately made it clear what was expected by ordering one boy to stand up and take off his shirt. "That's the kit you'll be wearing in my lessons," he announced and informed the rest of us that any boy not wearing the 'correct' kit in 10 seconds time would be getting detention. Unsurprisingly there was a mad scramble as we all pulled off our shirts. From then on we did PE in just shorts and that was how it stayed for the rest of the year, no exceptions. The next year we had another PE teacher who did allow shirts to be worn, but by then we were all so used to going barechested that many boys just didn't bother.

Comments by Christopher on 22nd May 2016  

Kevin, were there girls in your class? If there where, did they treat you differently from the boys who wore shirts?

Comments by Kevin on 21st May 2016  

I went to a comprehensive school in the 80ies which must have with hindsight just changed its PE uniform policy for boys when I arrived. We got a letter with a uniform items that needed to be bought and I went with my parents to get them just before school started. We got the main uniform and then it came to the PE kit. White shorts and a green polo shirt. So far so good, but my dad spotted on the list that the shirt was optional for boys. He made it quite clear that he would not pay for the shirt, that I would go barechested; he wasn't into wasting money. My mom made matters worse by pointing out that I might be could doing PE stripped to waist which really annoyed my dad who insisted I needed to grow up to become a man.
Too cut a long story short, I wasn't given a PE shirt and had to go to my first lesson knowing I would be barechested zhich really worried my. As it turned out luckily I wasn't the only boy without a top, two other boys had to strip too. In the end I never ever wore a top for PE and actually enoy it in the end. My PE teacher made no secret out of the fact that he tought all the boys should be stripped to the waist and he did favour the small the group of us who were.

Comments by Steve on 21st May 2016  

Well, this brings back memories. This could have been taken at our school with the boys barechested. Our teacher was fanatical about us being stripped to the waist for every PE lesson. I'd started in the October following a family move due to my dad's job. When changing for the first time I was told to wear a vest. We were taken into the gym, my classmates all barechested, I was pulled out to the front and made to strip off facing the class as a welcome. From then on, in line with the rest of the school we were kept stripped regardless of the weather both in the gym and outdoors. After every summer hols our first session was always in the gym and were given a tough workout which bought us down to earth. To this day I can still hear him shout "If you're not sweating, you're not working." Needless to say everyone showed sweat at the end of each session.

Comments by Ron Wood on 25th April 2016  ron@stptax.com 

Brings back fond memories of BGS & Ron Parry.I was pretty good at gym so was treated OK by Mr Parry.
must have been quite cool though & that could be most of the reason we left the UK in 1967 for Australia.
Been back quite a few times but most of my relatives are here in Australia & Burnley not what it used to be.
I've left my email in case anyone might remember me.
Cheers Ron Wood

Comments by Roy on 24th April 2016  

For indoor PE we wore white shorts and plimsolls.
The same for outdoors although some boys went barefoot.
The same for cross-country.

Comments by Rob on 21st April 2016  

For indoor pe we wore just black or white shorts with nothing underneath and plimsolls. Outdoors we wore the same for cross country and athletics although we often went barefoot for athletics. For soccer we wore the same shorts, again with nothing underneath and football shirt with football boots and long socks.

We had two single periods for indoors and one double for soccer or cricket in the summer.

Comments by Andrea on 20th April 2016  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

There was nothing very technical about our PE kit!

Indoor kit was a white polo shirt and regulation navy blue knickers only. We could also wear white plimsolls, but most of us did it barefoot.

For outdoor activities such as netball or rounders we had the choice of a PE skirt (a short pleated 'wrap-round' style skirt or coulottes (a sort of cross between a skirt and a pair of shorts) and could wear a long sleeved top rather than the polo shirt if we wanted too. Outdoor footwear was either canvas hockey boots or plimsolls depending on the season.

From memory, we had two single indoor lessons per week and one double lesson outdoors, so we always knew which kit to bring for that day.

Comments by Emily on 19th April 2016  

Too technical? Ok, sorry.

Comments by Rob on 19th April 2016  

Emily, It's getting a bit too technical understanding the different items of clothing but I would have thought sometimes you might have needed something warmer for outside rather than wearing a leotard indoors. No need to explain.

Comments by Emily on 18th April 2016  

Hi Rob, looking back now I'm also surprised that it was acceptable! I think your sins had a much more normal PE kit though seeing as it was mixed I guess they had to.

For outdoor PE we had gym knickers and aertex tops. The funny thing was when we were outdoors we weren't allowed to wear our underwear knickers underneath! For our indoor lessons we just took our knickers off for showers then put them back in. Not cover nice, thinking back! Once we were in year 9 we had indoor kit too, which was a leotard.

Comments by Rob on 18th April 2016  

Emily,I'm surprised that it was acceptable to make you wear
just your knickers as recently as 1994 even if it was an all girls school.Our two sons had to wear t-shirts with shorts at a mixed secondary school from about 1985.But presumably you had to wear shorts and a top when you went outside so what was the point of making you wear knickers indoors because you would not have had a complete change of clothes. Did you have to take them off to have a shower and then put them back on again or did you have another pair to wear? I expect you and all your class looked forward to getting into year 9 and being able to wear shorts & a t-shirt for indoors pe.

Comments by Emily on 15th April 2016  

I've commented on one of the other photos here about my PE kit. I was at school much later than this photo, I started senior school in 1994. It was single sex like in the picture but we had to go barefoot rather than wear plimsolls. In years 7 and 8 Like the boys in the photo we did our lessons bare chested, but we weren't allowed shorts and instead had to do indoor lessons in our knickers!

Comments by Rob on 15th April 2016  

I was at an all boys grammar school in the late 1950s and we had to wear just pe shorts with nothing underneath and plimsolls, as in the photo.We certainly never felt cold as our pe instructor worked us hard and the sweat used to run down our bare chests. We all looked forward to getting back to the changing rooms afterwards, getting our shorts off and going in the showers together for a good wash.

Comments by Michael on 14th April 2016  

It's easy to forget how cold those gyms could be at any time of year. They were big spaces and, especially in winter, uneconomic and almost impossible to get warm.

But, the PE teacher made us work so hard we soon forgot about the low temperature.

Our uniform included plain white t-shirts, but as the lesson progressed, we became so hot despite the chilly conditions, that most of us asked for permission to remove them.

Comments by Andy on 4th April 2016  

Like most schools in the late 60's we did indoor pe in just shorts, nothing else (and with no choice but to strip). Also had to run cross country shirtless all year around - both of these were fairly universal I think.

We were always allowed to wear plimsolls for cross country (one lad didn't, but that was his choice), no one wore short trousers at school beyond 13/14 (and most switched as soon as they started secondary school).

In high summer at home boys mostly didnt wear shirts, and indoors often were barefoot. Outdoors I don't remember anyone always being barefoot, and the only times we were was when swimming in the lake/river or playing around on grass on a very hot day.

In the winter, homes had limited heating, so no one went shirtless,in fact the opposite and mostly we wore several layers even indoors.

Yes some parents used heavy coprporal punishment (one lad in my class often had belt marks on his bare back in pe for example), but no parent would have made their kids go around stripped off to just a pair of shorts.

Comments by Mark on 3rd April 2016  

It wasn't unusual to wear shorts at school until at least age 12 at school back in the 60s and 70s but I've never saw a teenage boy age 14 running around the street playing with friends barefoot and bares heated. Did you you ever see this James?

Comments by James on 3rd April 2016  

I wore shorts to school, where in primary school it was compulsory, wearing shorts at secondary school was optional, for PE we were always topless and barefoot.
I suppose it was no different for me at home.

Comments by Mark on 3rd April 2016  

If the onejack stories are true then to make a teenage boy go out in the street bare foot and without at shirt is a abuse. Given that these things he writes about happened only five years ago I suspect the stories are pure fantasy.

Comments by Alistair on 3rd April 2016  

One2jack, I was told to be stripped to the waist because my parents think that tops aren't necessary for young men in the home and that it would be better if I 'toughened up'. This involves remaining stripped during cold winters. They also think that it will encourage me to take care of my body and be more confident, which is true. Hoesntly, during the summer, it's s real advantage being stripped to the waist- I usually spend entire weeks with nothing more than a pair of shorts.

Comments by one2jack on 2nd April 2016  

james, phil: they don't insist that i wear shorts, but i'm just used to strip to shorts now

Comments by Philip on 2nd April 2016  

On 29th March, one2jack says that he is nineteen and on 1st April, he says that his parents still keep him in shorts. This conversation is becoming silly.

Comments by James on 2nd April 2016  

one2jack, It wasn't really an issue wearing shorts without underwear, as we were never allowed underwear for sports or PE. I just grew accustomed to wearing shorts without any, so it didn't draw too many comments.
I think the main drawback with wearing shorts was that older boys didn't wear them.
What kind of shorts did you wear and do your parents still insist that you wear them?

Comments by one2jack on 1st April 2016  

james, im not sure why exactly i was and am kept in shorts... but i guess the reasons are: laundry, to get comfortable with my body, fear that i'd damage the clothes, etc.

yea i was de-pantsed. they were like "hey he's not even wearing underwear" "what happened to your underwear?" or something like that and some even wanted a proof, ganged up against me and de-pantsed me....

what your friends said when they noticed?

Comments by James on 1st April 2016  

one2jack,I'm sure there were many reasons why my parents kept me in shorts, mainly it signified I was still a juvenile and so to be regarded. Other reasons included, the "cute" factor influenced my mother. Certainly they believed that making boys go bare-legged had healthful benefits, developed hardiness, as well as character building
virtues, instilled docility and taught humility.
It was occasionally noticed that I wasn't wearing underwear and yes, I was de-pantsed when I misbehaved, which was very rare as I behaved with decorum and wearing my shorts kept me in check.
How about you, why were you kept in shorts, were you de-pantsed and what did your friends say when they realised you weren't wearing underwear?

Comments by one2jack on 1st April 2016  

in winter i never was in just shorts, so i was never cold.
i'm speaking about outside. inside i was always kept in shorts, even today.

yeah older ladies called me "cute in shorts" etc too... i hated it.

did you ever ask you parents why?
did your friends notice you wasn't wearing underwear with those shorts?
did they ever de-pantsed you?

Comments by James on 1st April 2016  

One2jack, one of my main objections to wearing shorts for school was simply my winter uniform was similar to what I wore in the summer, apart from being allowed to wear knee stockings.
In the 70's/80's, fashion dictated that shorts were very short and mine were no exception.
Although we had a winter uniform for school, my shorts were considered quite suitable for the harsh, cold weather.
I remember being told that I 'looked cute in my shorts' and told to 'wrap up to keep warm', but I felt I would freeze in those little numbers.

Comments by one2jack on 31st March 2016  

james, i know what you mean. i have same experiences with comments... my friends wore long shorts or jeans and i was and am still in shorts...

embarrasing when about 13-14 outside and you are the only one in just shorts no shirt and barefoot.

Comments by James on 31st March 2016  

one2jack, It was difficult wearing short shorts, especially as most of my friends were wearing long trousers or jeans. Often, it would lead to many derogatory comments, but I had to accept it.
Like you, I would wear my play shorts without underwear and often go bare foot. I can assure you, it was not by choice!

Comments by Benny on 30th March 2016  

I also had to stay in shorts but at least only until 13 years old. There werre some other lads had to do the same according to parents wishes. My shorts were short and tight. Not like the longer shorts of today. The shorts were worn with long grey socks.

Comments by one2jack on 30th March 2016  

mark, yes same here. boys had to take their shoes and socks off.

james, at home i was often made to wear short soccer shorts. in summer when its hot not even underwear. how did you feel running around in just shorts? what about your friends? how did you feel wearing shorts in school til that age? how old are you now?

Comments by James on 30th March 2016  

one2jack/Benny, when I wore shorts for school and home they were much shorter than the knee length shorts that as seen today. Despite my age or height my shorts were worn well above the knee, and bought so that they fitted neat and trim.
Usually boys were promoted to wearing long trousers at a certain age, usually about thirteen years of age, but my school allowed the option of keeping boys in shorts till they left school if their parents so desired.
My fate was sealed and my parents took the benefit of this option and kept me in shorts till I left school.
Apart from being the odd one out at school, I felt I had a very juvenile appearance, that I'm sure my parents appreciated.

Comments by Mark on 30th March 2016  

At school we always did pe in just shorts. We were always barefoot and bare chest.
I remember many mothers didn't like children, especially boys, running around their houses in sweaty socks, so they had to take them off. So when visiting I often had to remove my socks. My mother was the same.

Comments by one2jack on 29th March 2016  

benny, swimming was mixed too. we only could wear speedos, but most of the guys would have prefered wearing cool longer shorts. speedos were after a while some kind of embarrasing. obviously tell tale bugle esp when you get older... but teacher said its better for mobility and swimming itself. long shorts would have distubed us

Comments by Benny on 29th March 2016  


At ourSecondary school (all Boys) swimming was at a municipal pool. Trunks were speeedo in desin desig but a cheaper version. This was the only option. Far better than the current trend for long shorts which I avoid.

Comments by one2jack on 29th March 2016  

james, sometimes i rebel in wearing just shorts, but most of the time im ok with it. im 19 and still living with my parents, so im still in shorts when i got home. i left school a few years ago. so i'm just used to it.

when i was younger i was in just shorts all neighbourhood in summer. not even shoes. hang out with friends and playing. now its just around the house.

i dont know if my friends had these rules at their homes. everytime i was at theirs, they were dressed completely (just shoes off, sweatpants).

the reasons are: laundry, to get comfortable with my body, fear that i'd damage the clothes, etc.

Comments by Mark on 29th March 2016  

Growing up we were never allowed to wear shoes at home, they came off at the door and we had house clothes to change into. But we did not have to go bare chested. Back in the 60s and 70s not many homes had central heating and it would have been extremely cold to go without a shirt in winter.

Comments by James on 29th March 2016  

one2jack,Jeremy, how did you feel about wearing shorts all the time and did you rebel or object to wearing them?
Up to what age were you made to wear shorts and what was the reason given?
I was kept in shorts at home all the time and they were compulsory.

Comments by one2jack on 28th March 2016  

james, jeremy. for p.e. boys wore shirts, shorts and trainers. same outside. speedo for swimming, trunks werent allowed. same for girls, but sure swimsuit for swimming. p.e. was mixed. teams were skins vs shirts, girls got vests as teammate. in case of forgetting the kit means for a boy do p.e. in his clothes, often they decided to go shirtless. barefoot because risk of injury when doing p.e. in socks. i don't remember when girls forgot their kits...

same as you guys my parents want me to strip to shorts when i got home. in summer even outside around the house. i didnt know others had the same rules.

Comments by Jeremy on 28th March 2016  

Like Alistair my brothers and I were made to strip to the waist as soon as we got home from school. We also had to go barefoot and were in shorts.
Sometimes we had to go out into the garden stripped to the waist and barefoot and as far as I know some of our school friends had to do the same.

Comments by James on 28th March 2016  

one2jack,we too were shirtless for PE, just shorts and barefoot.
Like Alastair, my parents adopted this approach when I returned from school and changed out of my school uniform into a pair of shorts.
This was just normal practice and I always wore shorts at home without a shirt and went barefoot.

Comments by one2jack on 27th March 2016  

Alistair why your perents want you to be shirtless? do yo have to be barefoot aswell? only inside? what about your friends?

Comments by Alistair on 26th March 2016  

Although we wear shirts during pe lessons (I'm in my last year of school) my family still believes that shirts are unnecessary in the home. Whenever I'm at home my bro and I are stripped to the waist in shorts- it has helped me to be more confident about myself and encourages me to exercise and look after my body.

Any questions, just ask

Comments by Dave on 21st March 2016  

Yes, I totally agree with you. Bare chest or vests are the most practical way of doing sports.

Formerly most schools which didn't require boys to be barechested for PE made them to wear PE vest.
Nowadays PE vest are changed for T-shirts. I can't see why.
Boy didn't seem to mind wearing vests for PE.

Comments by The original Emma on 20th March 2016  

Well I know both my friends and I always looked forward to seeing which boys would be made to drop their PE vests, and whether the teacher would choose between skins and vests teams or full skins with all the boys having to strip down, indoors or out regardless of the time of year. A vest or bare chest is far more practical and cheaper alternative. I'm willing to bet both my son's and their friends wouldn't object either.

Comments by Benny on 20th March 2016  

The comments prior to this latest one seem to have diappeared into thin air. I was agreeing with the previous writer than fellows in Britain do seem more prudish. I compared this to the fact then when abroad men wear speedo type swimming trunks and think nothing of it, whilst us English seem to try and cover our bodies whith ridicously long swimming shorts. In my school days it was brief style trunks and that was all that was available.

Why the change?

Comments by Benny on 18th March 2016  

I meant to add, I used to go to a local swimmimg pool whre there was sperate all male & female changing. The male did not have cubicles and as some did try the same as the beach dance change under a towel. Most did not bother and even carried on conversations rather like the advert.
Now whereever I go I have to be careful because all pools seem to have mixed "Changing Villages" and I have to rmemeber that any moment a female (either swimmer or attendant) could walk in and I must change in a very confined cubicle.

Comments by Sterling on 17th March 2016  

When I was young we thought nothing of the bare chest & barefoot requirement! Guys casually went naked in changing and group shower rooms. Now lads either don't bother showering (yuck) or do a ridiculous towel dance until they're in cubicle showers.

However, guys on mainland Europe haven't changed their attitude towards communal showering?

Why is it that American & British guys are so prudish nowadays?

Below is a link to an 1965 Advertisement for the water saving Bradley Group Showers. Imagine the shock if these were installed routinely today, as they once were!


Comments by Mark on 16th March 2016  

Absolutely right. Our cross country course took us over a local golf course and public footpaths in some woods. hence the footwear.
When we got back to school our plimsolls had to come off before we went into the school. This was to keep mud off the floors. Also our gym floors had just been relaid so The PE teacher was very strict about footwear in there. If we were excused PE due to a sick note we had to watch from the side. We had to remove shoes and socks before we went in. He said socks were slippery and a health risk.
Mr Anderson always wore foorware in the gym!!!!

Comments by Derrick on 13th March 2016  

Mark - our course was mainly in open country along muddy paths and around 2 sides of a field though we had to run along a rough track and pavements to get there and back. The sides of the field were probably most challenging when it had just been ploughed and stones brought to the surface. I don't remember there being any broken glass around - there was much less anyway in the 60s. I'm sure if there had been any injuries the school would have made us wear plimsolls - no trainers in those days, of course.

Comments by Keith on 12th March 2016  kjl3094@msn.com 

We were always barefoot in the gym and barechested, gym was a double session on Fridays, Mondays was cross country day and Wednesdays was football in winter and cricket in summer, not shirtless in cross country but on hot days most boys were,this was 1959-1963 in a Midlands Secondary Modern school.

Happy Days !!

Comments by Mark on 12th March 2016  

We always did PE barefoot indoors but outdoors we wore trainers etc. Surely there were health and safety issues with doing things like cross country in bare feet. wouldn't there be a possibility of broken glass etc on the course?

Comments by Derrick on 9th March 2016  

Reading through the comments brings back many memories - mostly good. My all boys grammar school back in the 60s used black and white shorts to distinguish teams so, like John and Jono, a pair of shorts was all we wore for p.e. Cross country was also done barefoot and shirtless. I don't think any-one ever complained about being cold - we just got on with it.

Comments by Joe on 8th March 2016  

Dave, thanks for the link to the Belgian PE pictures. I wonder if maybe the boys are required to take their shirts off for using certain apparatus? Although it would make more sense for them to be shirtless throughout.

Comments by Evan on 8th March 2016  

To Matthew,
No, as far as I know no one changed their minds. Most people who were shirts never wanted to take them off ever and some of hem change in the toilets because they were that shy. Also, most skins were perfectly fine with being skins.

Comments by Dave on 7th March 2016  

Here is the link for the shirtless PE lesson of a Belgian school posted some months ago. I wonder why the boys have shirts on in some pictures and shirtless in others.


Comments by James on 1st March 2016  

I'm 22.

In PE we were offered two choices, have clean underpants for after the lesson or take them off for the lesson. For a couple of weeks at the very beginning most lads had a second pair but then you and everyone else forgets so you take them off as who wants to sit for the rest of the day in underpants you've rolled around the rugby pitch in? It's just common sense really.

After a couple of weeks no one was shy but then we also had communal showers that were still going when I left school four years ago and AFAIK still are. Showers were compulsory and again, who doesn't want one? My view is it's life, get on with it, changing rooms don't bother me in the slightest but I do see guys who feel they have things to hide which I don't understand. If the sight of a bare bottom offends you then you probably shouldn't be there in the first place.

Comments by Benny on 25th February 2016  

Evan in comparison to my days at school, has the rules for Pe changed? Were you allowed to wear underwear? or has the ban on pants becomea thing of the past?

Comments by Pete on 24th February 2016  

Like Benny we always went topless for indoor PE and again we thought nothing of it.
Also when we did cross country most of again went stripped to the waist and again thought nothing of it.

Comments by Benny on 23rd February 2016  

During my time at secondary school (all boys school) we were always no tops when indoors and we never thought anything about it. Also in keeping with the times we did not wear any underwear even when outside.I do not remember any embarrasment.

When we went outside for sport we wore a football shirt, and short shorts.

Comments by Matthew on 23rd February 2016  

To Evan,
In time, did any of those who were initially reluctant to be "skins" come to change their minds?

Comments by Evan on 21st February 2016  

I left school just wo years ago and I can say that we did have optional shirts vs skins in our school due to the awful quality of bibs. Basically, what happened was the teacher would ask if anyone objected to taking off their shirt. Usually, around a quarter of boys (who tend to be less good at sports in general) would put their hands up to be selected for the shirts team along with a few really good players to balance the teams better. Then, the rest of us would take our tops off and join the skins team. The teams were always slightly different to ensure good competition.

It was pretty embarrassing at first to see the other team fully clothed while i was in just a pair of shorts (it did give the less able shirts guys a bit of a confidence boost though) it was something I learnt to accept and in the summer it was definitely an advantage

Comments by Toby on 7th February 2016  

At my school the teacher sometimes put us in teams of 5 then picked 2 boys to drop their vests and we played 3 against 2 basketball. We also did the full skins and shirts teams like Chris2 mentioned but indoors in the summer we all did athletics as skins.

Comments by Claire on 7th February 2016  

Ouch!! Who says girls aren't devious?

Comments by Chris2 on 31st January 2016  

I readily admit to enjoying being a skin, though I have absolutely no idea why I was picked so often. We did skins and vests both indoors and outside. The teacher always had a skins team regardless so for me and a couple of others it meant a lot of time being made to strip off outside too.
One thing I wondered about was why he just didn't make us strip off before we went outside instead of waiting until we were either on the yard or the field.

John and Jack - well I haven't come across that before. I did get into a fight outside of school, the only one I ever had! The girls egged us both to strip to the waist, which we did. I didn't realise it was a trap and after we'd been fighting a few minutes one of the girls who had soaked my vest in water, hit it hard across my bare back four times and it killed. Strangely the PE teacher made no mention of the marks during PE though other lads did.

Comments by Simon on 31st January 2016  

Hi Chris2,
Looking back, do you feel it was a good thing to be picked as a skin so frequently? My feeling is that it probably was as ultimately I felt more confident about my body.
Did you ever have shirts against skins outdoors, by the way, or only in the gym?

Comments by John Lavender on 31st January 2016  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 


Hello, Jack beat me to it, describing 'Running the Gauntlet', it was exactly the same at our School, which was a Co-ed Independent Grammar, I attended 1963-68. Gym was single-sex.
We loooked one in Awe at the first "Running the Gauntlet" on our First Gym Session in our First Year.
The Gym Teacher selected a Couple of the 2nd-Year Lads to "Demonstrate Running" with the rest of the Second Years doing the "Gauntletting".
If you were a slow Runner you just got more Slaps and Hits. It was as simple as that!

Comments by Jack on 31st January 2016  

Hi Chris2

Running the gauntlet was a great piece of old-fashioned schooling. In my PE lessins the two last boys entering the gym after having got changed into proper kit (which was always bare tops, bare feet and just white shorts btw)had to run the gauntlet. The other boys formed two lines and those two had to run in between them getting slapped on their bare backs and chests. As you can imagine, we got always got changed at the speed of lightning.

Comments by Chris2 on 30th January 2016  

Hi John and Simon, thanks, it's interesting you both had different experiences. Our teachers didn't bother with any kind of rotation and like you I was picked for skins more often than not throughout school.

John, what on earth was "run the guantlet" and what happened if you didn't survive?

Comments by Chris2 on 30th January 2016  

Hi John and Simon, thanks, it's interesting you both had different experiences. Our teachers didn't bother with any kind of rotation and like you I was picked for skins more often than not throughout school.

John, what on earth was "run the guantlet" and what happened if you didn't survive?

Comments by Claire on 30th January 2016  

Hi Jack, One has a mole on their right forearm and no parting while the other had no mole and no parting. I know they had a great deal of fun. I thought they'd be put in different classes at High School but academically they were virtually the same too. Being on the skins team would be tough for anyone to pick them apart - even mum and dad got them confused at times but it didn't stop them from stripping off.

Comments by Jack on 24th January 2016  

Hi Claire, were there any physical characteristics with which you could distinguish your twin brothers from each other?
There were two sets of identical twins in my neighbourhood when I was at school and there was no way anyone could distinguish between them. It always amazed me how their parents could easily distinguish between them on sight, and called each distinctly by name.

Comments by Claire on 23rd January 2016  

Hi Simon, My twin brothers were exactly the same. From the age of 9 to 18 they were both nearly always made to strip off. My friend's brother who was the same age and in the same class was rarely picked to strip. It's strange how skins teams were picked.

Comments by John Lavender on 22nd January 2016  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

To Chris2
Hi Chris, an interesting Question , but actually No, Our PE Teacher tended to alternate Skins Teams each Week - we only had 1 x 1.5Hr PE Session p/w so generally Lads didn't have to strip off more than that unless of course they were slow in getting changed at the start of Lesson in which case the Last 2 Lads from each (2 of ) House had to 'Tops Off' and "run the Gauntlet" before we started the Session, in which case assuming they survived that, they stayed Topless for the rest of the Lesson , only putting tops On again if they were in the Shirts Team for Team Games eg Killerball, at the end of the Lesson.
Hope this Clarifies.

Comments by Simon on 22nd January 2016  

I don't know how it was at John's school but at mine it was certainly the case that some boys were skins more than others. For some reason I was one of them. We were actually divided into four teams rather than just two and only one team had to take their vests off. The first time we did PE I was on the skins team, but the teacher said he would pick different teams for the next lesson. So I was a bit taken aback to be a skin again. Next time we were told to keep the same teams, so yet again I had to go bare chested. Sometimes I did get to keep my vest on, but more often than not I took it off. In theory there was only a 25 per cent chance of that so it seemed a bit unfair. It wasn't just me though, there was another boy who usually played skins as well and we ended up becoming good friends as we were on the same team so often.

Comments by Chris2 on 21st January 2016  

John Lavender. Hi John, did you find having skins vs vests that some boys were made to strip to the waist more frequently than others.

Comments by Mark on 21st January 2016  

I think it is their usual PE kit, this was 1972.
Still I don't think this was really such a hot day there in Denmark because nearly all the people watching are wearing jackets.

Comments by Dave on 17th January 2016  

If you watch this video from 5:45 you can see students doing gymnastics in a danish secondary school. Boys are shirtless. I wonder if they wear their usual PE kit because it is a sports day.


Comments by Benny on 10th January 2016  

Hello Chrid

Interesting to read that you had no hang ups about the exposure of your body. I an all boys Secondary school in the early 60's, and As I think I remember,it was common getting changed for pe meant all the boys stripping off together and changing into white shorts and no pants. No tops. Of course communal showers after. Like you this was the norm. I do not know what happens nowadays, but it was the same at Scout camp. Six to a tent and all undressing for bed in the one tent, bearing in mind it would be a patrol of different ages from about 11 to 15. ( the youngest soon learnt about puberty from the older boys) perhaps this was the idea.

At camp we were supposed to all take some form of nightwear, but being away from home it seemed daring to sleep au natural.

Are lads as adventerous nowadays all is it all cover up. I am sure pe is now longer shorts, underwear and tops. Does any one know?

Comments by Chrid on 10th January 2016  

I think there appears to be different aspects to PE depending on school type and size.
I went to a small private school from 73 - 78 in the UK. The school was a converted large house in which residents still resided between floors.
PE was very much part of this all boys school.
We had no changing rooms and had to get changed st our desks when ordered to do so, where you would strip down to your underwear and we had a dare of not wearing any to school on the day when we were 12/13 as we had a female elderly teacher whom would walk around and examine boys for marks and bruising (signs of abuse) I was examined once in side room or small book room because of marks on my buttocks from a belting my step dad gave me the night before - they rang home and were satisfied it was a valid and justified punishment so those and future markings were dismissed.
PE was performed only in white shorts or underwear if you had neither you were caned.
We had two shower heads on the corner of the toilets - which meant going back to your desk - stripping naked and wrapping a towel around yourself or just sitting on a towel until you were called up for the shower in pairs.
Any fooling in the shower which were overseen by prefects would result in lines (issued by the prefects) or a report for a caning by the headmaster.
Post shower and to speed things up, you returned to class to finish drying by the gas heater (warm) and get dressed.
I had no issues with the process and found that it removed my hang-ups on my body with regards to being a little chubby.

Comments by Jono on 7th January 2016  

Hi Joe, It was just a very ordinary mixed school. The way the gym was with reinforced glass running all down the corridor side meant it was unavoidable that girls would look in, especially with one of the dinner halls just opposite and with staggered lunchtimes, barechested boys provided their distraction when queueing up . There was always friendly banter exchanged and it common for girls to point out an older/younger brother in the gym, and even sympathy if they sometimes thought it was just a bit too cold to be barechested on a particularly cold day. It always meant you went that bit harder to attract a girls attention. Happy days!

Comments by ROY on 3rd January 2016  

I did PE and also cross-country while stripped to the waist in the 1960's
It was the normal practice and we thought nothing of it.

Comments by John on 1st January 2016   http://i1053.photobucket.com/albums/s463/hagi52156/13304105325_2b9e52d27a_o.jpg

Click on link for image

Comments by John on 1st January 2016  

Can anyone confirm that some schools in Belgium impose a shirtless PE uniform on boys in 2015 as seems to suggest the photo posted earlier. Is there a comeback of the shirtless PE lesson in continental Europe??


Comments by Joe on 1st January 2016  

Jono, thanks for the additional details about your PE classes - sounds fairly intense! From your comment at the end I just wondered; were girls often present when you did PE then? If so how did boys feel about being barechested in front of them? I'd imagine it was an extra incentive to work hard and look good.

Comments by Mark Procter on 1st January 2016  Mbprocter@hotmail.co.uk 

It's Burnley Grammar School, Lancashire, England.
About 1977. Remember it well. Mr Parry taught PE and Geography too I think.

Comments by Jono on 31st December 2015  

Joe and John, thanks for your comments. Having the whole group split into different coloured shorts worked well, with the only occasional grumble from some coming during the winter. Our timetable always gave 3 double PE sessions and 2 singles a week. We did do indoor games like basketball, 3 onto 1 where you had to pass a football between the 3 and stop the 1 from catching it, boxing and fitness sessions, which were done alternate weeks indoors then outside regardless of time of year(outdoors was the usual, football, cross country runs and in the summer, athletics) Being worked like that made most of us sweat regulary, regardless of age, and no girl would have wanted to see a vest sticking to you!

Comments by John Lavender on 28th December 2015  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

Jono has a valid Point, in my Opinion.
At Grammar School (1960s)we asked several times to be able to be allowed to wear just Shorts for PE instead of Tee Shirt and shorts , and to have different coloured Shorts to diferentiate Houses and therefore Teams.
It was to no avail, we had 'skins v.vests'until Form/Year V .
I don't think there would have been a big problem in Games like Killerball ( a sort of Indoor Rugby with fewer Rules) apart from the odd misplaced Pass in a ruck or the odd misplaced Punch!

Comments by Matt on 27th December 2015  

Don't know, if this Belgium but the brickwork and apparatus look European, could also be Germany.

Comments by Joe on 27th December 2015  

Sounds to me like Jono's school had the most sensible system for splitting boys into teams. When you think about it there's no reason why different coloured shorts can't be just as effective as different coloured tops. I also think it might be better if every boy was barechested than just half the class, if it's the same for everyone that might make it easier for those who feel embarrassed about standing out from the crowd.

Comments by Mark on 26th December 2015  

How do you know this is Belgium, Christophe ? I live here and as far as I know shirtless PE is not common practice here unless it is a special school for gymnastics.

Comments by James on 25th December 2015  

This photo looks very recent indeed. Thrilled to seen that in some countries and schools old PE traditions are still respected. The boys look fit and strong and seem not bothered at all about having their photo taken which seems to suggest that this is actually their normal PE kit. Even the slightly fat boy on the right doesn't seem unduly concerned. They are really at ease with being stripped to the waist for PE. Good for them, great school!

Comments by Jono on 25th December 2015  

We were split the same way except half in white shorts and half in white. Which colour you wore was down to which class you were in. Odd no's wore black, evens wore white. This meant all boys had shirts off regardless. Simple but very effective!

Comments by Christophe on 25th December 2015  


Comments by John Lavender on 25th December 2015  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 


I - and I assume others - have tried to copy and paste the Link you gave in your comment but it doesn't seem to work . The URL seems to be repeated in the text.
My email is shown on the heading at the top if you hover your Mouse above the email symbol, could you email a copy of the image , or show a working URL , please?


Comments by Chrisophe on 24th December 2015  

A photo from a Belgian school where school uniform for boys is black or blue shorts for making up teams. No shirts allowed!

<a href="http://s1053.photobucket.com/user/hagi52156/media/13304105325_2b9e52d27a_o.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1053.photobucket.com/albums/s463/hagi52156/13304105325_2b9e52d27a_o.jpg" border="0" alt=" photo 13304105325_2b9e52d27a_o.jpg"/></a>

Comments by Richard on 22nd December 2015  


Were you forced to perform in that video, or did you and the other boys volunteer? And were girls present at that? If they were, how comfortable were you with it?

Comments by Ren on 20th December 2015  

To Richard,

My school is a co-ed school and P.E was done separately from the females. I dont think so because our P.E was done in different locations.

To David G,

We performed for 30 minutes. I was 15 during the video.

Comments by David G on 18th December 2015  

Ren Hello,
Thank you for sharing the video with us. I am amazed how you all remembered the routines you had to perform because the video was over eleven minutes long and came in after you had started and stopped while you were still performing, so I don't know how long in total.
I thought you all were excellent and I didn't think you were at all awkward looking. I wondered how old you were at the time - I guessed around 15-16 but you said you were in Junior High School so I'm not sure. In England at 15-16 I think that would be called our senior school.

Comments by Richard on 17th December 2015  

Greetings Ren,

Was your school a boys only school, or co-ed? If you had female classmates, were PE classes mixed with them, or gender segregated? If they were mixed, how did you feel about being shirtless in front of them? And if they were segregated, were there any occasions where they would see you shirtless, aside from the video you shared?

Comments by Ren on 13th December 2015  

Greetings from Japan, back then during my junior high school a few years back, P.E was indeed done barechested and barefeet with only a pair of shorts allowed (underwear was allowed). Here is a video somebody took during our sports day where we had to perform in our usual P.E. uniform.


I was in the video, the shy and awkward looking kid 3rd from the front on he left row at 0:13 also the first kid on the left at 0:42

Comments by Mark on 13th December 2015  

When I was about 14 or 15 the doctor at the school medical said that I was growing too fast and that my muscles couldn't follow and that I had to take physical therapy. The sessions were two or three times a week at the local hospital. There were two other boys there and the exercises were done in shorts only. For the back massage afterwards you lay on a bench and most therapists pulled your shorts down to halfway your buttocks so that your lower back could be treated properly. Strangely enough this was never discussed among the pupils. That was in Belgium in the 1970ies.

Comments by Claire on 12th December 2015  

Hi Sam,
Being made to strip down outside in winter was definately manly. I know the male teachers were quite brutal expecting boys to strip regardless of the temperature outside in the winter. Were you, or your PE group, put in the same situation.

Comments by Dave on 11th December 2015  

Hi Sam! Let me ask you my questions below:

Were you shirtless for outside lessond for example track and fields and cross country either?
How did you play team ball games everyone being barechested.
How did you get to know your PE kit for the first time.Was it in a PE uniform list that you have to do PE shirtless or the teacher was the one who told it to you?
Have you ever had some lessons or sport events with the girls together?
What was the reaction of boys about the PE kit. Was it ever a topic of conversation amongst you?
When (decade) where (country) were you a student? What kind of school did you go?

Comments by Sam on 10th December 2015  

Claire, it was interesting to read your comments about watching the boys take off their tops because we had that kind of set up at my school too. And as a teenage boy I did enjoy it when I realised the girls were watching me go shirtless. It was a big boost to my self confidence and yes, I did feel more manly when I was chosen to play skins. Probably not every boy felt the same but it seemed quite natural to me.

Comments by Claire on 5th December 2015  

Chris, from a female's view I never objected to watching boys taking off their PE vests. At school there was one yard/car park and then the field and given the age range (9-18) it was a good bet you'd see a lesson outside either starting or underway.

Quite often you would share the yard, with the netball courts away from the cars we often played and just a few steps away were the boys doing press ups, sit ups and the like.

The male teachers would pick either skins vs vests or simply make all the boys strip. When we had the chance, we'd stop and watch them strip.

I do feel this is the proper way for boys to do PE, it is definitely a more manly option.

Comments by Ian Hudson on 2nd December 2015  Ianalcote@aol.com 

I remember this gym so well and Mr Parry (Ron), I went to BGS between 1959 and 1965, he was a bit of a hard taskmaster and very disciplined which meant that we as boys had to be, but he was fair and commended our respect

Comments by John on 11th November 2015  

Chris, we were expressly forbidden from wearing shirts and I don't remember anyone asking to wear shirts when participating PE with the girls. It was just accepted and no one complained or objected.

Comments by Chris on 11th November 2015  

John, did any of the boys try asking permission to wear a shirt when you had classes with the girls? Or were you expressly forbidden from wearing shirts? How did that go down?

Comments by John on 8th November 2015  

Dave, we had a uniform list and the required kit for PE was just shorts. It was never mentioned what we had to wear between us and we were identified by the colour of our shorts. We frequently had mixed sessions with the girls and that could be a bit embarrassing at times. Wearing short trousers was not compulsory but at the parents discretion.
I had to wear them all the time and I suppose it would have been alright in warmer climes but here I used to freeze wearing them.

Comments by John Lavender on 8th November 2015  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

Shirtless PE sometimes happen if our PE Master felt inclined to let us take or Tops off or if he wanted to give us a good Workout; and sometimes he would go Shirtless as well, although he always wore Tracksuit Bottoms unless it was a very warm day, in which case he'd wear Shorts.
He would go topless if he joined in our Indoor Rugby on the 'Skins' Team as well, particularly if we were a Man or two short.
That meant there was no Referee though, so the [few] Rules the Game *Did* have tended to be ignored in those Situations!
That was a great Opportunity to settle Scores or even have a go at Him! Good Fun unless you were on the receiving End..
Last 2 Boys from each House in the Gym after getting Changed Always had to get their Tops off and 'Run the Gauntlet' of the others before the Lesson strted as well.

Comments by John Lavender on 8th November 2015  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

Re: Dave's Questions to all of you who had to be shirtless for PE lessons:

My Observations.
1. We didn't have to *be* barechested ; quite a few of us wanted to be, and took any opportunity so to be. Also outside, for XC Runs.
2. Not really applicable, it was "Skins v. Vests" for us.
3. It was on our Uniform List, White Shorts, White S-S Top and Plimmies for both "Houses" .
4. PE at our [Independent Grammar] School (1960s) was single-sex.
5. We occasionally discussed it; as above, quite a few Guys wanted to go barechested for all PE and get different coloured Shorts to differentiate the 'Houses'.
We approached the PE Teacher and Headmistress but to no formal avail but the Teacher didn't mind if we dumped our shirts, although when it came to Indoor Rugby if we were already stripped off and were designated "Vests" for the Game, we were not too pleased!

Comments by Dave on 7th November 2015  unia10@freemail.hu 

I have questions to all of you who had to be shirtless for PE lessons:

Were you shirtless for outside lessond for example track and fields and cross country either?
How did you play team ball games everyone being barechested.
How did you get to know your PE kit for the first time.Was it in a PE uniform list that you have to do PE shirtless or the teacher was the one who told it to you?
Have you ever had some lessons or sport events with the girls together?
What was the reaction of boys about the PE kit. Was it ever a topic of conversation amongst you?

Comments by Ryan on 5th November 2015  

Toby, I agree that having to be stripped to the waist did certainly help to put us into our place. Our teachers were never seen shirtless, they mainly wore tracksuits, but for us it was shorts only. For cross country plimsolls were allowed but many of us choose not to wear them as they would often get very wet.
I just read yesterday in the Daily Telegraph that it has been proposed that boys do more 'female' activities in PE, such as cheerleading,(no joke!) etc. This is miles away from how boys PE used to be, when boys were treated as boys and PE teachers helped to shape them into young fit respectful men.

Comments by Toby on 5th November 2015  

I agree Ryan - that's pretty much how my PE lessons were too. It was interesting to see the two boys near the end of the clip, about to start having a chat, but as soon as the teacher speaks they stop and listen.
We had that same kind of discipline in PE and I think being bare to the waist partly contributed to that - somehow the fact the teacher wore a shirt signified his authority over us boys!
We were also barefoot in the gym but we were allowed running shoes for outdoors. How about you?

Comments by Ryan on 4th November 2015   http://www.gettyimages.fr/detail/vid%C3%A9o/boys-practice-trampoline-in-a-gymnasium-uk-vid%C3%A9o/mr

Great to see that Russia doesn't feminize its boys as we do.

This clip reminds me a lot of my PE lessons in school, stripped to the waist, serious exercise, having orders barked at you and being expected to execute them swiftly, etc

Real boys PE if you ask me. The only difference is that we were barefoot too!


Comments by Sterling on 3rd November 2015  

As Dave pointed out 13 Oct, Russian lads still complete Phys Ed without impediment of shirts, as this 'day in the life' of cadets article confirms:


Comments by Tim on 30th October 2015  

1000 Posts Up! Congratulations!

Comments by Andrea on 28th October 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 


Our Primary School Uniform was similar to yours: white shirt, grey skirt and cardigan for us girls and white shirt,grey shorts and grey jumper for the boys.

I went to an all girls Secondary School and the uniform varied according to the year group and term. In the Autumn and Spring Terms the first and second year girls wore a blue 'gymslip' style dress with a white blouse underneath and a navy blue blazer on top. The older girls wore a blue skirt, white blouse and blue jumper together with the blazers. In the summer term we all wore a blue gingham style dress. The uniform rules were quite strict; our skirts or dresses had to touch the floor when we were kneeling down and we had to wear berets when we weren't actually in the classroom. Another thing that seems strange now is that we weren't allowed to wear tights. It was long socks in winter (so cold legs cycling to and from school!) and ankle socks in summer.
Did you have any uniform rules that would seem outdated or strange nowadays?

Comments by Kenny on 28th October 2015  

Andrea, it was very similar at both our schools, just as you describe.
The only difference is that in the final year of primary we had separate classes for boys and girls. We still changed in class for PE but were same sex, although teachers could be of any sex.
It was also the same as you describe at our boys only secondary school. There we had a qualified PE teacher or coach instead of the class teacher.
Did you wear any sort of school uniform at either primary or secondary school?

Comments by Andrea on 27th October 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Kenny,

At Primary both girls and boys used to wear a T shirt and shorts or a skirt for PE. We used to strip down to our knickers or underpants and vest (if we were wearing one) and then put on our PE kit. Boys and girls did this in the same classroom (girls on one side and boys on the other, but without any screen etc between us). In the final year a few girls who had started to wear bras rather than vests were allowed to go and change in the toilets. Were there any special arrangements like that at your Primary?

At Secondary School (all girls) indoor PE was in Gym Knickers and a Polo Shirt and but we all had to shower afterwards (there hadn't been any showers at Primary.


Comments by Dave on 26th October 2015  

Here is a typical PE class of old times. Boys are barechested. At the end of the video girls are running over. None of the boys seem to care.


Comments by Kenny on 26th October 2015  

Andrea, did you also do PE in just underpants?
I know this was common practice in many primary schools.
At my primary school we also changed in class in front of our teacher, but we just took our uniform off in just underpants and put on white shorts and white vest, both boys and girls, which was our PE uniform.

Incidentally, talking about school uniforms, I wonder what other posters here wore for school, what kind of uniform, if any, or just plain clothes.
At my primary school we boys wore a white shirt and grey shorts while girls wore a white shirt and grey skirt. We also wore a grey jumper, don't know what they call it today, over our shirts when it was cold weather.
In secondary we also wore a grey jacket with the school logo on it, which we called a blazer in those days.
But PE kit was always white shorts and vest, both in primary and secondary.
In secondary it was different because we had a gym where we changed which was an all boys school. We also had showers in the gym changing room.
In primary we did PE exercises in the school yard or the yard corridor if it was raining. Then went back to class and changed back into our uniforms.

Comments by Matthew on 26th October 2015  

I don't believe that a female teacher would be supervising naked boys in a secondary school.

Comments by Andrea on 25th October 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

At Primary School (up to age 11) our (female)teacher used to supervise the whole class (girls and boys)changing together in our classroom. It was only down to underwear though as there were no showers at Primary.

Sometimes if our usual teacher wasn't available a male teacher would supervise.

Comments by Kenny on 23rd October 2015  

John, I would certainly have found it embarrassing being supervised by a female teacher in the showers at that age.
Although it could have been normal in some places for female teachers to supervise boys showering up to maybe age 11 or 12 at the most, I think that this would have been rare for boys up to 16 as in your case.
What kind of school was it, if I may ask?

Comments by - on 18th October 2015  

Dave, an excellent example there. We had an ex Army PTI and did exactly what was shown there, without girls in the group though. By the time we had reached Pull ups most of us had started to sweat. A perfect reason for boys being barechests!

Comments by John on 13th October 2015  

Kenny and Mark, it was considered quite normal to be supervised by female teachers, we were 11 to 16 years old and it was quite embarrassing. We were whacked by the teacher on our bottoms and there was no way we could complain or object. Our teacher was also formidable and we learnt to do as we were told.

Comments by Dave on 13th October 2015  

In some russian schools boys are still shirtess for physical exercises. You can watch for example a co-ed morning run here Boys have to be barechested.


Comments by Kenny on 13th October 2015  

John, how old were you and the other boys at the time? Did you find it embarrassing or just normal?
I don't think this was very unusual for boys up to a certain age for female teachers to supervise in changing rooms and showers.
Not long ago I saw an article stating a school's rules about supervision during swimming lessons. It said that teachers must be present to supervise during changing and showering. It stated clearly that both male and female teachers can supervise in the boys room, but only female teachers in the girls changing room.
Talk about double standards. It even stated that the pupils must take a shower before entering the pool under teachers supervision.

Comments by Mark on 13th October 2015  

We had communal showers at school and they were supervised by our male PE teacher. He was also a housemaster and sometimes was called away if there was an emergency. The girls PE teacher would stand in for him. She was a well built fearsome lady. If she caught us running straight through the shower, she did as our usual teacher did, and gave us a whack on the bottom with s green flash. This was in the 70s.

Comments by John on 10th October 2015  

We often had boys only team events and had to use the girls' changing area and facilities which included a separate cubicle for the teacher. We had to use communal showers and changing area and was supervised by the lady teacher in charge.

Comments by Kenny on 9th October 2015  

Anyone had teachers of the opposite sex supervising showers or changing rooms?

Comments by Brendan on 12th September 2015  

No, it never bothered me because no one talked or looked at each other while in the showers as everyone was quite inhibited, so it wasn't that daunting,

Comments by n on 27th August 2015  

Brendan, it is interesting to learn about the more up to date situations re school PE. Times have obviously changed because back in the mid 60's when I was a pupil in an all boys after the lesson the teacher would be present in the changing rooms and around the showers to make sure there was no fooling around. I know that these days that would not be allowed, but we never worried that a teacher was present.

Also it seems from comments from earlier contibutors, that
it is thought that lads are more inhibited about taking communal showers or even changing in one room. Did that ever bother you?

Comments by Brendan on 26th August 2015  

hi wren, there were only five showers available. Usually, after pe finished, we would go to the changing room, take off our kit and wait in line. However, showers were literally less than a minute long so we'd never have to wait more than a few minutes. Although the showers were compulsory, there was never a punishment for not having a shower as teachers are not allowed into the changing and shower rooms (for obvious reasons) so they could not see who showered and who didn't.

Comments by Wren on 26th August 2015  

brendan what were your showers like? What was the punishment for not showering?

Comments by Brendan on 25th August 2015  

Dave: Our pe kit was shorts, tshirt, shoes and towel for showers. Feel free to ask any questions

Comments by Dave on 23rd August 2015  

Hi Brendan!

What was your PE kit at school indoors and outdoors?

Comments by Brendan on 23rd August 2015  

Yep my school still does compulsory showers I only left it last year. There is a shower room where everyone showers. After you finish pe you go to the nearby shower room to have a quick (literally one minute) shower before changing back into schoo clothes. Boys school by th e way

Comments by Ted on 17th August 2015  

Are there schools which still require group showers after PE?

Comments by John Lavender on 17th August 2015  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

Regarding n's comments about today's PE, I have looked at the Syllabus and am Inclined to agree although I also think that there is much too much Theory and not enough general Physical Education. I think the main thrust of PE should be actual Practicalities of Keeping Kids Fit and not Team games; These should be offered as Extra to Basic PE (which, by the way, believe should be once again Gender-Specific). I also think Staff should be much more active in promoting Individual Sports e.g. Triathlon or Swimming/Diving or even Climbing which can get Kids out of the "Football/Cricket/Rugby/Hockey and that's it" Mentality.
Very Interesting that just this last weekend Figures have been released showing a Massive increase in the Diagnosis in the population of T2 Diabeties, which is provenly-linked to an Inactive Lifestyle..

Comments by John Lavender on 1st August 2015  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

To: n
You asked about Today's PE.
Here is the Link to the NC PE Syllabus, in html form so you should be able to see it easily.

Comments by n on 30th July 2015  

On the actual topic of PE. Does anyone know whether these days PE is similar to how we knew it. It seemed strnous exercise and it certainly kept you warm even in winter with no top. Admitteddly in doors.. I think I can rmemeber star jumps handsprins and of cousre what I loathed the vaulting horse upon I often barked my shins. Are htese sorts of things now anti health and safety. From what little I have gleaned it seems listening to High school children that most of PE seems glorified games sessions.

Comments by James on 26th July 2015  

hi Spence

We had a lesson with the girls which was called Dance and movement, which was supposed to teach us how to move to music and later on some more formal dance moves. Never liked it much.
Not wearing a shirt was not really an issue for us, as it was considered part of PE and therefore it was obvious that we would wear PE kit.
Some boys might have not liked it very much, but no boy ever said anything. Anyway, he would just have been mocked, bullied told to man up or given punishment PE detention. The no-shirts rule was not an option but strictly enforced.

Comments by Robert on 25th July 2015  

Back in July 1987 in year 9 lower year Pe ended in Secondary school. No more having to do gym in white shorts and white shirts or having to go topless if you had the wrong top.

No more having to shower in the dreaded walk through showers or having to turn your top inside out for rugby after the boys were divided into 2 teams.

Once you reached year 10 and 11 showers were optional which meant no-one took them. Not that the showers were any good as there was no soap or flannel and water on the floor made a muddy film that was absolutely disgusting.

After you reached the age of 15 and 16 you could choose between judo, squash, weighting training, water polo trampolining and a range of other humane sports activities. At last there was no more compulsory football, cross country and rugby.

No more humiliation by being beaten on the backside as in 1986 or forced up and down to do press ups like in 1987. I am glad the perverted PE Coaches of the past are consigned to history for good!

Comments by Bob on 20th July 2015  

Hand stands....yes they could be embarrasing. I recall one poor lad who was good at hand stands having to demonstrate this activity in front of the whole class for several minutes. As he had forgotten his shorts he was doing PE in his underpants. Everything had fallen out and was on display. Several of us pointed this out to the teacher, as we stood around the red-faced boy, but he was told to carry on regardless.

Comments by Spence on 19th July 2015  

What activities did the boys and girls do together? Were they inside or outside? How did the boys, especially the shy ones, feel about being bare chested in front of the girls?

Comments by Andrea on 17th July 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

I can remember those same exercises prompting our PE teacher to 'suggest' to a few of my classmates that it was time they asked their mums to buy them bras!

Comments by James on 17th July 2015  

Tek, we had three PE lessons a week, two were boys only and the third lesson was with the girls during the first three of secondary school.

Comments by n on 17th July 2015  

Your coments are true Bob. After the first couple of pe lessons in secondary school (all boys) no one worried or noticed what was showing. Especially having to support one another when we did hand stands. Then of course there were the communal showers afterwards. No one cared . Are lads relly that worried these dyas or do they have individual showers?

Comments by Bob on 16th July 2015  

I found the worst time for revealing too much in PE was when in the gym, running on the spot, or doing star jumps . The shorts were small but loose fitting. We were told it did not matter as we were all boys.

Comments by Tek on 15th July 2015  

James, were your classes mixed? Or were you segregated?

Comments by John on 14th July 2015  

Nic, thank you for your reply, our shorts were also white, which of course enhanced their transparency.
They were a compulsory item of our kit and we had to wear them for all our games,gymnastics and cross country.
They were as you quite aptly describe them, as 'micro shorts' which of course left little to the imagination.


Comments by Nic on 13th July 2015  

Yes John, I remember the thin nylon shorts. ours were white and ours were almost micro shorts. Certainly if they got wet during outdoor games or cross country, see through. However, I think we just got on with it. I do not know how boys would cope these days.

Comments by James on 12th July 2015  

Yes, they were allowed track suits unlike us boys!

Comments by Spence on 12th July 2015  

James, from the pictures of Rosecroft School on the East Cleveland Image Archive, it appears that your school was mixed. When you were doing PE bare chested outside on cold days, were there were girls nearby doing PE well wrapped up?

Comments by John on 12th July 2015  

We were bare chested for our gym lessons and just wore our shorts without underwear and bare foot.
I was used to wearing shorts all the time, so I became accustomed to wearing them in cold weather but the games shorts that I wore were thin nylon shorts and when wearing them for games and cross country runs they became slightly translucent when wet.
Certainly, I don't recall anyone complaining to the teachers about wearing these little numbers but as they were very trim and see through I found it very embarrassing.

Comments by Bob on 12th July 2015  

As I have said, we wore zipper shirts for cross country and games. These revealed a lot of the chest, which I did not like, but at least could be pulled down to partly cover the PE shorts. We had nothing on underneath these of course, and it was embarassing when running with the male parts bouncing around. I thought I was being stared at all the time, so I was glad when we got to more open country, away from streets and parks.

Comments by James on 10th July 2015  

@ Ted

When we played football (not very often) it was part of the PE lesson and normal PE outdoor kit applied, i.e. bare chests.

We had a cricket team but I was never on it, but I seem to remember that they wore shirts.

The first part of the cross country run took us through some streets but I never found this to be problem. Maybe some boys did but if this was so, they never said.

We were as a general rule educated to become men and men don't wear shirts for PE and do not complain. We had a little speech like that at the beginning of our first PE lesson, remember it quite well.

Comments by Pete on 10th July 2015  

As is said PE and games are done with vest(singlet) indoors and Games shirt outside but outside of school many youths are going around stripped to the waist.

Comments by Nic on 9th July 2015  

I remember the string type vest and pants which I also wore. As far as I recall at the time they were popular and if you can say it about underwear fashionable. PE of course these days is done in vest(singlet type ) top and shorts with rugby shirt for outdoors

Comments by peterc on 8th July 2015  

This was in the 1970s before boxers were common. In fact boys soon learnt to remember their kit since underpants were - to be honest - a bit wimpish. Y fronts were usual. I remember one lad wore pants made like a string vest because I had a similar pair. I never did pe in underwear though.
The different rules for pe and games were clear though. If games were washed out we went to the gym in barefeet but could wear games tops.
The pe teacher in charge would have insisted on bare chests if it bhad been a pe class.made a bi

Comments by Nic on 7th July 2015  

So Peterc what years were you at school. When boys had to do pe in underpants were they the 60's style briefs or modern boxers which I assume would be very revealing

Comments by Ted on 7th July 2015  

Am I right in assuming thst you were not bare chested outside for football/cricket etc? So there were probably days when you were playing football wearing shirts which were warmer than days when you were doing cross country or PE shirtless.

When you did cross country, were you running through fields etc. or were you running through streets where you could be seen by the general public? If so, this must have been embarrasing for some boys, especially if they were likely to be seen by people they knew.

Comments by Tom on 6th July 2015  

In reply to Stuart, there was a boy in my class who often preferred to do PE barefoot, even though the official kit included white socks and plimsolls/trainers. Shorts also had to be white, any boy who turned up with the wrong colour shorts had to take them off and borrow a pair from lost property (which might or might not fit!). There was also a punishment for not bringing the correct kit, often detention or sometimes just extra push-ups or sit-ups.
Officially we were permitted to wear a PE vest for cross country, in practice most boys turned up barechested and those who did bring a vest were almost always instructed to remove it anyway.

Comments by peterc on 5th July 2015  

Like at your school we did indoor pe in just wwhite shorts. Boys who forgot their kit were expected to do pe in underpants. For pe outside boys were allowed pumps but most boys didnt bring them since most of the time they werent needed. In the 4th and 5th yyearsthe rules were less strictly applied especially if pe in the morning was followed by games in the afternoon. But bare tops were normal. Communal showers were obligatory for most classes though older boys might get out of them if the teacher didnt supervise closely. Ad for group pe photos - I might have been a bit shy but would I know have had to do as we were told. Were you in a team or class photo in your kit

Comments by James on 4th July 2015  


Yes, late seventies. Some rules were strictly enforced. We were never ever allowed a top, even it might have been chilly. Always bare chests. Other rules, like the colour of shorts might have been interpreted more leniently by some teachers, not all though. Barefoot outdoors, I cannot recall that happening, at least not to me. What were the rules at your school? And why would you have been bothered by a photo in PE kit?

Comments by peterc on 3rd July 2015  

Did you attend in the 1970s? I was at school with similar rules at that time thought I think they may not have been quite as strict. At fifth year (Year 11 now) rules were often more relaxed over bare tops esp. when it was cold. But I remember a very chilly morning going outside barechested and taking off my shoes on the playing field to play soccer in barefeet. Were rules always rigidly enforced for boys at your school? And how unusual was it for boys to do pe barefoot outside? Whatever Im not sure id have been keen to be in a group photo like that for lots of parents to see!

Comments by John on 2nd July 2015  

Bob wouldn't opening the zip reveal your chest and 2 nipples for the world to see?

Comments by James on 2nd July 2015  

You are right Stuart, correct kit was white shorts and white socks for cross country and athletics. To some degree sanctions depended on the teachers, some made you take the lesson barefoot, others put you down for punishment PE and others again would just ignore it. Ont thing they all agreed on was that boys would not wear shirts for any kind of physical activity.

Comments by Bob on 2nd July 2015  

Although PE was done bare chested, for outdoor sports we wore zipper shirts, white polo shirts with a six inch metal zip at the neck. The rule was that they had to be zipped up when walking round the building, but fully open when playing sports or running. After lining up outside for inspection, the PE teacher would say "open your zips" before we ran off. I hated my zip fully open in the street, but that was the rule.

Comments by Stuart on 2nd July 2015  


Interesting that although most boys have white shorts, socks etc, a few are wearing blue shorts - were boys ever punished for incorrect kit - we would have been !

One of my classmates always ran in just his shorts, so with bare feet as well as stripped to the waist - the bare feet were his choice - I wonder if anyone else had classmates who skipped items of kit even though they were allowed to wear plimsolls etc ?

Comments by James on 1st July 2015  

Yes, indoor and outdoor PE, cross country and athletics, always shirtless, barefoot too for indoors.
No one ever dared to complain, for fear of being seen as a whimp and the punishment that would have been distributed by the teacher if you did.

Comments by Roy on 1st July 2015  

We certainly did xc competitions stripped to the waist and barefoot. This was in the 60's.

Comments by Dave on 30th June 2015  

Hi James! So athletic practices and competitions were compulsory shirtless in your school back then? I guess because none of the boys have any shirt on at the picture.

Comments by Philip on 29th June 2015  

To Simon.
Was this a private school?

Comments by Simon on 27th June 2015  

Jack, there wasn't any physical contact involved during swimming but an episode when I was held under water, the teacher blew her whistle and we had to get out of the pool and we both had our buttocks strapped.
I thought it was unfair as I wasn't at fault.

Comments by Jack on 27th June 2015  

Simon, when you say that the two female instructors were strict, was there any physical or other punishments given out by them during these swimming classes?
Also being instructors was there any physical contact with the boys during instructions?

Comments by James on 26th June 2015  

My secondary school!


Comments by Paul on 26th June 2015  

We never did swimming naked but the trunks we wore were the briefest of speedos.

Comments by Simon on 26th June 2015  

Jack. I found it particularly daunting and intimidating because we had to swim in front of two female instructors without wearing our swimming trunks. They were strict and we did as we were told without question.
We were divided into three groups and one teacher took a group of about ten boys up to age thirteen. When our ability improved we moved up to the next group.
I enjoyed swimming but would have preferred to wear trunks.

Comments by Jack on 25th June 2015  alfazeta101@gmail.com 

Simon, can you describe what the swimming lessons or periods were like?
Like how many boys and their ages in each class, the procedure of what they consisted of, if free swims or actual lessons.
What was the role of the two female instructors? Why was it daunting, were they strict instead of friendly?

Comments by Simon on 21st June 2015  

I would hardly describe naked swimming as a' liberating experience'.
I was very apprehensive and found it rather daunting, especially as we had two female instructors.

Comments by Tim on 5th June 2015  

Thinking back to nude swimming, in less inhibited days it was common for boys and men to swim naked and I suspect that this was just a historical 'leftover' - no more, no less.

People who I know who regularly swim naked say it is a most liberating sensation.

Comments by Paul on 3rd June 2015  

Like Stuart we always did PE and xc stripped to the waist but we were also always barefoot even in mid-winter.
Nobody complained but if anyone did he would probably have been caned and then ended up still doing it stripped to the waist and barefoot.

Comments by Stuart on 2nd June 2015  

In late 60's we always ran xc shirtless, like the lads in the photo. No socks allowed either. A few boys always ran in nothing but shorts, thus with bare feet as well as stripped to the waist, even in the middle of winter.

I was part of the school team, and we always wore vests for competitions. Some of the boys in the photos are wearing socks, which we weren't ever allowed to do. One of my classmates, also in the team, always ran bare foot.

I also notice that a couple of the boys are wearing rugby shorts, which would have been a flogging offence for us !! Being serious, if we had worn rugby shorts for xc we would have been in serious trouble, and would almost certainly have been caned.

Comments by Edward on 2nd June 2015  

Bill, in response to your further questions. The school that I attended was an independent Public school, with an attached Preparatory school,taking both day and boarding pupils, ages ranging from 7-18. The pool was indoors, and swimming sessions were supervised in individual class age groups, maybe 15 or so boys, and, as in my case, separate coaching for those observed as unable to swim at the time. After a game of Cricket,when both teams would go for a swim, there were more, of course. If there was a competition with another school, a rare event in the 1950's,when and if the visiting team wore trunks, the home team would do likewise, but other schools would often swim as we were required to do. House swim competitions would be strictly nude. There were never any events in my recollection with spectators, since the pool area would accommodate few people. All these activities became a routine part of everyday life.

Comments by Bill on 1st June 2015  

Edward, I presume you are talking about a secondary school, that is from about age 11 to 17.
Was it an outdoor or indoor pool?
What were the swim lessons like, that is if it was in different age groups or all ages together, how many boys in each class, were they free swim lessons or instruction techniques, etc.
Also some posters here and elsewhere mention that they competed nude or during swim galas in front of mixed spectators or parents. Was this also in your case or were you made to wear swimsuits in such cases?

Comments by Edward on 31st May 2015  

Bill, No reason for nude swimming was ever given,and no boy had the temerity to question the rule.It was an authoritative principle,such as school uniform,to which everyone had to conform,like it or not.It applied to all age groups.

Comments by Bill on 30th May 2015  

Edward, what were the reasons given for making the boys swim nude at your school?
Was this for all ages, or up to a certain age?

Comments by Richard K on 30th May 2015  

Dave, that bought back memories. I regularly ran in school cross country competitions barechested from when i broke into the team aged 12 until I turned 18
Being part of the team meant you had the joys of an extra fitness session (once a week, instead of the craft lesson) or a timed training run, all barechested of course, to prove you could do it come race day. All this came on top of the standard PE/Games lessons for which were always done with half in vests vs half in skins. It also meant the teacher had absolute freedom to decide who stripped off. Needless to say if you were on any sports team you would also exercise stripped too.

Comments by Edward on 30th May 2015  

In response to Bill, and following my post earlier this year, nude swimming was the unquestionable rule at the all male school that I attended in the late 1950's. Unwillingly I participated naked, as all boys were required to do. Initially apprehensive, I ultimately became less inhibited, oblivious to personal nudity, enjoying the freedom of swimming without trunks.

Comments by Paul on 30th May 2015  

We certainly did cross-country stripped to the waist in 1963(this was the harsh winter of 1962/63)and nobody complained. It would have made no difference if we did.
Seemingly youths were tougher then!

Comments by Dave on 28th May 2015  

Were cross country competitions shirtless too? If you look at that photo it seems so. Any memories anyone?


Comments by Bill on 27th May 2015  

Any guys here who had nude swimming at school?
What was it like?

Comments by Roy on 26th May 2015  

I agree with Bryan.
Social Services would also get involved if tried today.

Comments by Bryan on 25th May 2015  

I have seen that previous comments refer to nude swimming, which is I presume is a thing of the past. Cannot imagine parents agreeing to it these days and why was it neccessary?

Comments by Philip on 24th May 2015  

To Roy,

I don't believe ANON'S posting.

Comments by Roy on 23rd May 2015  

To Anon
You certainly wouldn't get away with having to do PE stark naked in this day and age.

Comments by ANON on 22nd May 2015  

My secondary school had a no underpants rule when indoors were always topless, if you forgot your shorts you still had to do PE Lucky it was an all boys school. There was no exception from first year till fifth year. You even got caned if you forgot your shorts before the start of the lesson.

Comments by Bob on 18th May 2015  

There was normally a more relaxed regime with senior pupils, with only an occasional crack-down on the various rules.

Comments by william on 13th May 2015  

Thank you for your reply Bob. I must admit that it shows how times have changed. It would seem that your class had no problem with having to drop their shorts. However, I am sure that teachers would not be allowed to do this nowadays. Certainly not pulling out the waistband at the front of the shorts. Was this for all years?

Comments by Andrea on 12th May 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

To Bill
I went to an all girls secondary school and I don't know whether our local boys school had a no pants rule or not. My ex went to school in a different area where it was no pants rule until the 3rd year when they were encouraged to wear an athletics supporter.
Rather than a 'no pants' rule, our kit for indoor pe was no skirt or shorts - ie. regulation gym knickers only. We were allowed to wear a vest or bra under our pe polo shirts.

When my son was at secondary school a few years ago, he always wore pants under his shorts (and showers were not compulsory - he said there was never time). So it seems as though the old rules have died out.

Comments by Bob on 12th May 2015  

Regarding enforcement of the no underpants rule, not everyone had the same thickness of shorts. Some were cotton, not thin nylon. For a quick check of the whole class at once, we would be told to lower our shorts to our knees. This did not stop pants being pulled down as well, and concealed in the shorts, so sometimes the PE teacher would check some or all of the class individually, by pulling on the elastic waistband at the front or back of their shorts and looking inside. Any offenders found would be slippered.

Comments by Bill on 12th May 2015  

Although we never had this "no underpants" rule at the schools I went to it seems to have been common in many schools from what other posters are saying here.
Just like enforced showers after PE, I wonder if this rule is still enforced in schools today.

To Andrea, did the boys at your school also have this no underpants rule?
Incidentally I never heard of this rule being applied to girls.

Comments by william on 8th May 2015  

Bob's reply to Andrea the no underpants rule was enforced by inspection. How was this done because our pe teacher said no and that was it. As far as I recall there was no checking because the shorts were so thin pants would have shown

Comments by Roy on 7th May 2015  

As far as I can recall there were no specific rules re short or long trousers.
I personally started to wear long trousers at the6t0 beginning of the Spring Term of my second year i.e. Year 8 in today's parlance.

Comments by Bob on 5th May 2015  

Andrea, yes, there was a no underpants rule strictly enforced by regular inspections. No athletic supporters were ever seen by me. Maybe a few of the keen team players wore them, I don't know. We were told freedom of movement when doing PE and games was beneficial for normal development of the male organs.

Comments by Philip on 5th May 2015  

To Speedy

If you put PE STRIPPED TO THE WAIST into google, at the top of the list that comes up, you'll see the two sites. the comments and experiences are much the same as on here - in fact, I think some of the posters are the same.

Comments by James 2 on 5th May 2015  

Speedy,just click on to 'childhood' at the top of the page and then scroll down until you find the name of the school you require.

Comments by Andrea on 5th May 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 


My younger sister had to wear my 'hand me downs' too - which didn't please her too much!


I assume that your school had a 'no underpants' rule, hence the movement? My ex told me that was the rule for the first two years at his secondary school, but that they were advised to wear an athletic support at the start of their third year.

Comments by Speedy on 5th May 2015  

Somewhere along the line I seem to have somehow missed completely the postings pertaining to "Clitheroe",and "Hesketh".

Therefore could someone please enlighten me,and give references.

Comments by Bryan on 4th May 2015  

In response to James 2 there was no set rules at my secondary school about short or long trousers.Furthermore I also had no say or choice in the matter shorts it was and the lack of choice included any other clothes. We wore what we were bought and often clothes with "plenty of left in them" were handed down from my elder brother because he grew out of them rather than wearing them out. The "joys" of being a younger brother. The only new clothes were socks undies and shoes.

Comments by Tim on 4th May 2015  

Early 'short' shorts in the 60s were cotton - I had a pair of Umbro cotton football shorts in 1966 time.

Cotton remained for running shorts into the 70s and onwards - people like 'Ron Hill' produced them until quiet late and also produced them in polycotton.

Regarding lemgth - I've an old pair of Addidas 'Sprinter' running shorts (in shiny nylon) from the 80s - the outseam is 10 1/2 inches, the inseam 2 1/4".

(For pictures of how shorts were worn in the 60s: dig out anything on the 1966 World Cup final - http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/showbiz/i411901-8/jubilee-the-royal-family-through-the-years-the-queen-and-bobby-moore.html for example)

Comments by James 2 on 4th May 2015  

In reply to Bryan,I think many parents were face with the difficult decision at what age to promote boys into to long trousers.This was often pre-empted by a change of school where boys weren't allowed to wear short trousers.
Although at my secondary school that I attended we could wear them right through to leaving, if parents so desired.
Ironically I was not allowed to choose for myself and stayed in shorts in perpetuity.
Certainly very few boys wore short trousers at my school and were often ridiculed caused by this misdemeanour.
I certainly found it difficult to adjust to the situation where I was the eldest boy in my school to kept in shorts right through to leaving.

Comments by Bob on 3rd May 2015  

Not everyone's nylon shorts were tight fitting. Parents buying uniform tend to buy a size larger than necessary to allow for growth. Mine were still short, but loose fitting, . I had some of the slightly thicker, harder nylon variety. These provided little restraint, and often produced a kind of rythmic swishing/slapping noise when running. I remember being made fun of when on a cross-country run because of this.

Comments by Bryan on 3rd May 2015  

I have looked at the three photos, Hesketh, Clitheroe and this one Burnley and all of the shorts are nowhere as short or thin as the ones we wore in the mid 60's and were white thin nylon. Also ours we very tight, and no one was ever instructed to wear any support. I suppose it was because the shorts were so tight there was no need for anything else.

I am assuming that when these photos were taken, nylon was was for not available, but certainly in my era nylon seemed to be the "in" thing and our shorts were white thin & very see through. I beleive thees were manufactured for the benefit for mums because I understand that nylon was easy to wash and quick to dry. Furthermore these shorts were seen to be the fashion whereas hicker cotton shorts were considered "old fashioned"

However, having to wear wearing nylon shorts outdoors in the rain everything showed through and they were so flimsy with a wind blowing you might as well be wearing nothing.

I also recall that the grey school unioform shorts were very short and as another person has written the attitude was if you are going to wear shorts they should be short. No long trousers for me until I was 14.

In fact as a Scout ( and I am still a keen supporting of Scouting because my son is a Scout) Our uniform was shorts until the Advance Party Report in 1966 changed the uniform to Long Trousers.

So shorts even for adults albeit in uniform was usual for those of us who were Scouts. I still like to wear tailored shorts in the summer, but so many are now so long and come down so low below the knees.

Comments by James 1 ( the other one!) on 2nd May 2015  

Just thought I would say there are two James's posting here, so it's a bit confusing.

Comments by James on 2nd May 2015  

Matt,I wore shorts with similar measurements to the ones you mentioned but with a one inch inseam.
When I attended secondary school shorts were very short and were bought to fit neatly and trim, not baggy and long in the leg.It was very daring to wear them and I was often ostracized but I became accustomed to wearing.
As my mum used to say "if you put a boy in long shorts he may as well wear long trousers.
Did you wear those shiny satin shorts like I used to wear?

Comments by Matt on 1st May 2015  

Last night ITV 6 o'clock news showed part of a public information film from the 50's, I guess, showing a group fitness training. The four guys were all shirtless wearing white PE shorts. So I reckon that shirtless was common among adults in the gym.
I've always loved shirtless running - possibly as a result of school PE, but I've noticed that fewer guys do it nowadays - and hardly ever in PE shorts. They cover themselves with more and more designer clothes. But I converted a friend to shirtless a year or two ago.
Just thought I'd mention I still have a pair of PE shorts the size I used to wear at school - 32" waist, 10.5" outside seam, 1.5" inside. A bit neater than in the photo and minute compared with the Hesketh gym photo on this site.

Comments by Dave on 1st May 2015  

Boys and girls were dealt with separately but female staff(teachers and office staff) did sometimes have to supervise the naked boys as we awaited our turns to see the doctor.

Comments by Sam on 1st May 2015  

The boys and girls were examined separately and sometimes female staff(teachers and office staff) did supervise the boys.

Comments by Bill on 30th April 2015  

Sam and Dave, was it the same for both boys and girls, and were they examined separately?
When you say staff, was it teachers or office staff, and were there any female staff supervising the boys while you stood all naked waiting for the exam?

Comments by Sam on 29th April 2015  

We were supervised by staff at all times and it was in both primary and secondary school.
In addition we had to hold our arms at our sides as many boys tried to hide their bits as much as they could.

Comments by Dave on 28th April 2015  

Yes Bill we were supervised by staff and it was at both primary and secondary schools.

Comments by Bill on 27th April 2015  

To Dave and Sam, when you say that you had to line up completely naked outside the examination room, were you supervised by teachers or school staff?
Was this in primary or secondary school?

Comments by Ian on 27th April 2015  

At my Scottish school in the 60's, one of the doctors wanted his boys to be in PE shorts (the other boys could wear trousers and underpants for the other doctors). I forgot mine so a strict prefect ordered me to strip naked. After he'd come and gone to the doctor and other places, I was given the medical. The doctor then took out a Lochgelly tawse from his bag and gave me six strokes.
Later that day, I was summoned by our toughest PE teacher to a punishment training session along with several other boys who had crossed the doctor and prefect. Both were in attendance to witness the session and indeed the doctor suggested ways of making it harder. He then praised my master's belting skills as among the best he'd seen.

Comments by Dave on 25th April 2015  

Like Sam we did have a medical at the beginning of each school year and we had to line up outside the M.I. room naked.
We were then called in individually for the exam including examining our genitalia.
Again I do recall hearing of a few boys being advised to be circumcised as a result.

Comments by Richard on 23rd April 2015  

We had medical exams very like the ones Sam described, where everyone had to line up bare-chested. I also never understand why I had to take my shirt off just to have my eyes tested! For the rest of the exam you went through to the doctor's room and stripped to your briefs or boxers, then as and when necessary you'd be instructed to pull them down.

Comments by Tom on 23rd April 2015  

Sam you were lucky.
When we had our annual medical we had to line up outside the M.I. room stark naked until called in.
Again why we had to be naked to have our eyes and ears tested was beyond me although in a perverse way it made some sense to be naked to have our penises and testicles inspected!

Comments by Sam on 22nd April 2015  

When we had medicals(usually once a year)we had to line up outside the M.I. room stripped to the waist until called in individually.
Why we had to be bare-chested to have our eyes and ears tested I shall never know although it was obviously necessary for other parts.
Although done privately the most embarrassing part was having to drop our shorts for examination of our penises and testicles.

Comments by James on 19th April 2015  

In reply to Bryan,it was a minor operation done under local anaeshetic was I was six years old.
I understand there are many reasons for this procedure :- religious,a necessary reason to prevent too tight a foreskin,hygiene and simply aesthetic reasons.
It certainly wasn't common practice at my school and boys are naturally inquisitive and were quite intrigued, as I was the odd one out.

Comments by Roy on 17th April 2015  

I've no idea why it was as it was but I first noticed other boys being circumcised when starting secondary school i.e. about 11 years old.

Comments by Bryan on 16th April 2015  

To Roy, as you have shared that with us do you know why , and how old were you?

Comments by Roy on 15th April 2015  

When I was at school in the sixties nearly all the boys were circumcised myself included.

Comments by Bryan on 12th April 2015  

Although people say "ouch" when referring to the circumcision of boys, I presume if they had reached puberty it was carried out under a general anaesthetic. Is this correct?

Comments by Speedy on 11th April 2015  

Interesting Bill`s comment re circumcision sometimes resulting as a consequence of school medical examinations.

In the context of communal naked showering at the end of school PE and games lessons (also naked swimming) one obvious (in the case of boys) distinction or difference that was there to be noticed was that some (normally the minority) were in fact circumcised (in the US though they were/are usually the majority).

When I was a boy there were three operations or medical procedures that it was fashionable to perform on boys (often contentiously on account of them not necessarily being medically necessary).These were tonsillectomy,"adenoids",and circumcision (the only one of these that I myself succumbed to was circumcision).

I have read that in the aforementioned shower and swimming situations circumcised boys (in the UK context) were made fun of or were objects of curiosity on account of being "different".Whilst I don`t doubt that this did indeed sometimes happen I have to say that as far as I am concerned personally (and posters may have had a different experience) I have never ever come across anything like this.

Since the BGS photo isn`t too far removed from the time when I was a boy and grammar schools being essentially middle class institutions (circumcision traditionally being favoured by the middle and upper classes) it is perhaps a fair bet that a sizeable minority of the boys pictured would have undergone at least one of the operations or procedures mentioned previously (including circumcision).

Comments by Bill on 9th April 2015  

To Andrea. I remember a few boys being recommended for circumcision because of a tight foreskin. Ouch!

Comments by Andrea on 7th April 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Yes I imagine that having your nan there would have been embarrassing - I certainly wouldn't have wanted my dad there for mine!

Does anyone recall the doctors finding anything that needed treatment during the tests on their classmates - I certainly can't?

Comments by Bryan on 5th April 2015  

With regards to school medical examinations, I only became worried when, I was about 15. It was an all boys school & the medicals had been held over a few days. The boys who had attended earlier in the week were telling us about how at the end of the check up they had to drop trousers and pants for the cough & drop and foreskin check. My problem was that parents had received letters inviting them to attend(but there was no mention of the intimate part of the check up.) So far no parents had attended and it those days it would be mostly mothers available as they tended to stay at home & dad worked had attended and I was concerned because I lived with my nan and I was horrified that she would feel she needed to come along and if she did she would see my bits.
Luckily, I managed to persuade her that as I was 15 I was old enough to go alone & there was no need for her to attend and she didn't. Just as well because, what the other boys had said would happen was true, and we stood there all our glory showing but at least we were seen individually whereas some boys tried to convince us we had to stand in a line. But it was a female doctor. Who introduced the final part of the exam with "drop your trousers & pants & don't be silly I've seen it so many times before.

Comments by Bill on 5th April 2015  

To John from Ireland. What was it about your medical inspections which you hated so much?
I only remember one medical inspection in late primary school at about age 10. We had no privacy, it was done in groups in the presence of our female class teachers.

For others who had medical inspections at school, was there any privacy or was it done in front of others?
I know of some schools who required parents or some school staff to be present during the medical exams.

Comments by Simon on 4th April 2015  

I remember school medicals very well. We had them every year. I was examined in my underpants, and at the end had to drop them, whilst foreskin was checked, and the good old "cough" test. Latterly I had my rectum inspected, but thankfully nothing was inserted. Embarrassing at the time.

Comments by Andrea on 29th March 2015  andretwo@hotmail.co.uk 

I can remember having a couple of school medicals during my time at secondary school in the 1970s.These took place in the school medical room with our school nurse and a visiting doctor.

The first one was during my first year at Secondary School when I was about 11 and a half.
I can remember having to strip down to my vest and knickers and having my height and weight checked by the school nurse. She also checked my hands for warts and feet for verrucas. The doctor then asked me to lift my vest to so he could check my heart and lungs with the stereoscope.

The second medical was when I was about 15. In many ways it was similar to the first, except that by that time I was wearing a bra. I had to unhook it and partially remove it so the doctor could do a quick visual examination of my breasts. I didn't have to remove my knickers, but the nurse did have a quick peek down there and ask if my periods were regular.

We also had visits from time to time by 'Nitty Nora as well as the dreaded BCG injections.

Comments by John on 22nd March 2015  

Whilst not from the UK but Ireland this brings me back to my school days. We had to do PE bare chested all through the year and since it was boarding school we had an annual medical inspection which most of us hated.

Comments by Pete on 22nd March 2015  

We had school medical exams right the way from primary school until leaving at eighteen, I think they were every year but certainly at least every two years. At primary school it was in a room with a doctor and a nurse. There was a screen down the middle of the room and on one side you undressed down to underpants and saw the nurse and then when ready and the lad before you had gone went round the screen to the doctor, I can't remember exactly what happened but underpants were certainly down and testicles felt.

At grammar school it was referred to as a medical inspection and they took place in the gym. We went in class by class and lined up. We were told to undress and I can remember the first time we were told that any 'little boys' in the class could keep their underpants on but men should take them off. By that time we were used to taking off underpants for PE and having communal showers at the end and as no one wanted to be seen as a 'little boy' underpants came off. The doctor was an old navy doctor who was brusque and stood no nonsense. We had to line up and he moved his way along the line checking one part of each body at a time so ears, mouths and so on. Testicles were last and everyone had to take a turn to cough. In the last couple of years we also had to bend over and be checked internally by a rough and probing finger.

Comments by James on 19th March 2015  

I am fairly certain we did have physical exams by a travelling school doctor in our secondary (grammar) school. Individually in an office, if I remember correctly, with a queue formed outside the door.
Can't really remember what they checked!
We certainly were checked by the "nit-nurse" in primary school but I am not sure if that carried on into secondary school.

Comments by Allen Williams on 19th March 2015  gerald.williams23@gmail.com 

In response to Curious, I am not aware of physical examinations taking place in any British secondary schools: we certainly did not have them. They did take place in our primary school - individually in the staff room, by a doctor working for the County Council. A member of staff was present although parents could attend if they wanted to. They hardly ever did.

Comments by Mark on 8th March 2015  

I lately watched this documentary on the British Royal Marines and I was surprised to learn that recruits actually have to sleep naked. No boxer shorts or socks allowed and definitely no pyjamas,from 10:20 onward:

Comments by Curious on 7th March 2015  

What were your school's physical exams like?
Where they done in groups or in privacy?
Were there chaperones, like parents or teachers, present?

Comments by H James on 7th March 2015  

I was born in 1946 and raised in central Illinois in the US, so that is my experience.

Our schools did not have pools. We did have PE every day in grades 7-12. We had to wear shorts. and t-shirts. Boys often divided up into teams of "skins" (no shirt) and "shirts." We thought nothing of it and never questioned it.

We learned to swim at the YMCA. In those days Y's were either all men or YWCA's which were all female. Suits were simply NOT allowed in the pool. You had to shower and go through a short hall with access to the pool. This hall had nozzles in the base of the walls to wash your feet and between your legs. Then you went through a final foot bath.

All swimming and lessons were nude. The life guards were mostly high school and college boys and they too wore no suits. Your first day you might have had a little apprehension, but it went away quickly. A pool filled with 30 naked boys of all ages and their dads was considered totally normal.

Some of my fondest memories are of one of our parents dropping a car load of us boys off at the Y on Saturday morning with nothing more than a towel and a dollar for lunch and snacks. We would stay the better part of the day in the pool or gym after our swim lesson.

I can also mention that in school, we were REQUIRED to take a full shower after every PE class. If you got caught skipping your shower you got detention. In those days boys learned to relax in the the presence of other naked boys of all shapes and sizes and thought little of it. You were only really in a rush if you had already dawdled and had to get to class.

Our fathers and other male family members had mostly served in the military during World War II so they fully accepted communal male nudity.

Also, many families had moved from farms in to the city for jobs after the war. My grandparents lived on a small farm in southern Illinois. The cousins, uncles and dads ALWAYS swam in the pond or creek nude. If you had suggested you were going to spend money on clothes to get wet they would have thought you addled. Now the schools don't require communal showering or nude swimming. The result is boys taking "selfies" of their bodies and posting them on the internet.

I think we were more accepting of not only our own bodies but those of others before they merged the Y's and became slightly hysterical bout body parts.

One last note. I have several friends who were raised the same time in Chicago and attended both Catholic and/or public schools. Large schools that had indoor pools. They have all confirmed that nude swimming for males was NOT a matter of choice. No suits, period unless you were on the seim team and in a competiton.

Comments by Old Fogey on 7th March 2015  

With reference to Curious and his questions about compulsory nude swimming, research I have done suggests that this practice was at one time almost universal, gradually becoming less frequent from the 1960's, and disappearing completely only in the early 1980's, but by then it was very rare indeed.

Winston Churchill records in his autobiography that he and all other boys swam naked at Harrow. At Bedford School nude swimming was compulsory up to the early 1960's but had ended by the time I went there in the 1970's, although I myself saw an old copy of the swimming pool rules which stated that the wearing of swimming trunks was a privilege restricted to sixth formers.

I have friends who are a few years younger than me who swam naked at their respective schools: Newcastle Royal Grammar and Berkhamstead, though both told me the practice was discontinued during their time there. One of them left Berkhamstead in about 1986 and it seems that compulsory nude swimming persisted into the early 1980's, which is unusually late. I think at Berkhamstead it was compulsory for boys of all ages but at Newcastle, as at Bedford in an earlier period, it was only compulsory for junior boys.

I have a friend who attended a Blue Coat school (I think Cheshunt or somewhere like that) who said nude swimming was compulsory for all boys of all ages, but he was there in the 1950's. He told me that no-one thought there was anything odd or unusual about it, and he cannot remember anyone being teased, or being in any way embarrassed; but this was not the experience of my friends in the 1970's and 1980's, for by then they were conscious that they were participating in an archaic tradition.

Manchester Royal Grammar had compulsory nude swimming to quite a late period as well - I think into the early 1980's - so it may have been the last school to abandon what was, 100 years ago, a near universal practice. Summerhill is I think a special case, being an ultra trendy alternative sort of school where nude swimming was (and technically still is) optional, never compulsory, and also mixed - a very different type of place to all the others I have mentioned.

Comments by Tt on 5th March 2015  

Military school in Asia



Comments by Matthew on 28th February 2015  

To "Curious", I did not attend such a school but here is a named reference to a school where it was practiced.


Comments by Curious on 28th February 2015  

Edward and Matthew, can you name the schools which you were in which had this practice?
I don't think this would be a problem since it was so long ago and thousands of pupils must have gone to those schools.
When did this practice stop, if it did?
Can you produce some document or verification from your school or its website, or any other school official website, to confirm that this was the rule at the time?

Another poster gave a link to the old pupils site of the school he went to where he claims that both boys and girls swam nude together as normal. There is all mention of every trivial thing that happened there in their days by these old pupils, but none mention anything about nude swimming.

So if it was so widespread as some claim why is there no verifiable mention of it anywhere, at least that I know of?

Comments by Matthew on 28th February 2015  

To 'Curious". I would suspect that in the case of schools where naked swimming was the practice, maybe the uniform lists didn't mention trunks. It is also quite possible that new intake pupils were aware of what to expect from having friends or family already at the school.

Comments by Curious on 28th February 2015  

Matthew,doing PE in only shorts is one thing, but made to swim nude as school rules is quite another.

Are there any documents which show in the school rules that boys must swim in the nude?

Such rules would obviously be public, since parents and prospective parents would have to be notified about it, among the other rules concerning uniform and others, and thus nothing secret about it.

Comments by Edward on 28th February 2015  

In reply to 'curious' concerning nude swimming which was mandatory. As Matthew said, if a boy defiantly wore trunks, he would be ridiculed by his classmates, as I was, and so I joined the others naked, as vehemently instructed by the PE master. One did as one was told in the 1950's. I would have been disciplined had I not complied. Everyone just had to get on with it, like it or not.

Comments by Matthew on 26th February 2015  

To "Curious", the lack of newspaper articles is no doubt due to the fact that the practice was fairly widespread and those who were subjected to it had to just accept it.
If any boy got his parents to insist that he had to wear trunks and the school agreed to it, that boy would have been ridiculed by his peers. In my school, PE was done wearing only shorts. I remember that a boy wore a vest one day and it appeared that his parents had insisted that he should wear one. He was subjected to such an amount of mockery that he soon ditched the vest.

Comments by Michael on 25th February 2015  

In my school gym every piece of apparatus seemed specifically designed to offer the maximum degree of hazard. I was terrified of climbing those ropes and having to risk breaking my neck somersaulting over the vaulting horse, yet I had to do it.

The teacher was a humourless bully, and any hesitation in following his commands, or failure to perform to his expectations, was painfully punished.

Adding in the perishing cold of the place and our scant clothing, the school gym was nothing more than a torture chamber so far as I was concerned. The dank changing rooms and communal, often freezing showers afterwards, contributed the final touch of misery.

Years of this experience three times a week, put me off any kind of sport in later life.

Comments by Curious on 25th February 2015  

Are there any pictures or reliable newspaper articles which show the evidence of nude swimming in British schools?
The only evidence I have seen from reliable newspaper articles, though without any pictures, are about Manchester Grammar school and Summerhill, which was a unique liberal school.
There are many such accounts on blogs and forums, where one can say what they like, so not that much reliable.

If this practice of nude swimming in schools was so widespread, as many claim here, why are there no reliable articles or mention of it during that time?

Comments by James on 19th February 2015  

Another memory from that picture......the climbing ropes.
For the first few sessions on the gym I was terrified of the ropes. Everyone else seemed to be able to climb them, I couldn't get more than a foot off the ground! We had to do circuits of the equipment....I couldn't do the ropes.
One day when, for some reason there were very few of us in the gym and little pressure, I decided to give it my best shot. Suddenly I got the knack, up I went to the top and then froze. They had to send helpers up the wall bars to coax me down! I never managed it again.

Comments by Bill on 14th February 2015  

"Surely there is no nude swimming in schools these days."

Matthew, I am also curious about this, though seems unlikely.
But mandatory group showers still seem to be a rule in some schools.

About Rick's post, I find it plausible that some schools had mandatory nude swimming, but I never heard of mandatory chastity belts for boys in schools that he mentions. He must have gone to a very special school if that was the case.

Comments by James on 14th February 2015  

I doubt it very much, or there would be a lot of court cases etc.
I certainly remember the woollen trunks at the sea side in my earlier years.
Starting off ok when dry but uncontrollably droopy when wet.

Comments by Bryan on 13th February 2015  

Matthew I agree with your last comments,implausible.

Edawrd, interesting reference to woollen swimming trunks. I remember them all itchy & scratchy. On summer holidays I used to be envious of boys I saw wearing the synthetic material trunks and was so happy when woollen ones were no longer available and I got a pair of "speedo type" tunks, which in turn seem to have gone out of fashion with youngsters opting for board shorts that cling to the legs.

Surely there is no nude swimming in schools these days.

Comments by Matthew on 8th February 2015  

My comment "Implausible" posted on 7th February, referred to Rick's posting.

Comments by Edward on 8th February 2015  

Following upon my earlier comments about swimming at school. In the early 1950's, I attended a devoutly Christian boy's school in southern England.

At assembly, the Headmaster,an ex Naval officer, announced 'No one will wear bathing suits this term', which created much murmuring amongst the boys. I was appalled, since the first swim session was only two weeks away. In fact, I was extremely apprehensive. Needless to say, this bombshell was not greeted with much enthusiasm, and most boys said that they would continue to wear woollen trunks.

The swimming class soon came around and I perversely resolved to keep my trunks on, whilst all the other 15 or so boys in the class capitulated. Obviously, I was the one soon noticed by the supervising master, before I had even entered the water. He shouted at me to take my trunks off, and reluctantly I had to remove them. I was now unashamedly nude, along with my fellow classmates. Trunks would never be worn again by any boy for normal school swim classes.

On that first day of this new swimming regime, I walked to the footbath, then back to wait dutifully in line, to be told when and where to enter the pool. It felt strange, wearing nothing at all, and decidely airy, with the whole class displaying their bareness. No place for shyness here. It was not on the agenda.

I entered the water. Since I was unable to swim, I stayed at the shallow end. My lack of ability soon became evident, and subsequently, I was put in a swimming class of three. One afternoon, myself, and the other two non swimmers went to the indoor pool, where the instructor was waiting, wearing swimming shorts. We boys stripped at the poolside, and stood there in our birthday suits, rather self consciously. I was the first to be directed to balance precariously, face down, upon a wooden contraption, in order to practice breast strokes. This was humiliating, since I was trying to protect myself, whilst unavoidably exposing my backside. The other two boys laughed at my predicament. Soon it would be their turn. Later, I put on a harness of sorts, which was to be supported by the instructor, and having started at the deep end, I somehow managed to swim to the other end. I have been able to swim, albeit poorly, ever since. The regular swim sessions were followed by showering in open stalls.

Even after many such swims, it still seemed odd, I suppose that I eventually became used to it, and I rather enjoyed the feeling of freedom it gave. No excused would have been contemplated anyway.

It seems that the practice of naked swimming was quite widespread in boy's private schools in the 1950's. Why this was so, I do not know ?

Comments by Matthew on 7th February 2015  


Comments by rick on 6th February 2015  rockisland244@gmail.com 

i was sent to an exclusive boys boarding school where there were only 3 years 14-16 with only 12 boys in each year.
the new years intake the 14 yr olds had to assemble in the canteen and strip naked and put our folded clothes in front of us.we were taken 3 at a time into an adjoining room which was set up like a hospital room with 3 beds and 3 nurses present.we each had to lie on a bed where a nurse would shave our pubes off. we were then each fitted with a chastity device,these were taken off once a week for cleaning and any new shaving.
we were told that our parents had agreed to this,and we found this to be true,because when we went home at holiday times we were sent home with them on and being told that a key had been posted home to our parents.
it was humiliating being controlled like this,both at school and at home.

Comments by Matthew on 6th February 2015  

PE stripped to the waist, naked swimming, communal showers, brutal punishments - there is ample evidence on this site that some if not all of these formed part of our experience in school days. However, I find Bob's account implausible.

Comments by Bryan on 5th February 2015  

Having read the many comments re PE and shorts, it is apparent that generally there was a uniformity expected about pe kit in most schools. Furthermore, I expect most schools had a unifrom and strictly enforced it. But did any school go as far as mine whereby,boys were told "not to wear" the string type singlets that were fashionable in the 60s/70s because they were visible underneath our white shirts. No mention was made of course about wearing string briefs because they obviously were not visible.

Was this type of underwear generally worn?

Comments by Bob on 5th February 2015  

I went to a Northern School in the 60's. Early on in my secondary shool days I remember one unpleasant day for me.
One day due to emergency repairs being required, all our year's three classes had to be sent out of the building.
We were sent across the road to a neighbouring secondary school. The gym (or hall?) had no windows that could be looked through from outside. Of course many of the boys had no PE kit with them as they were not expecting this event.
We were told that in this school it was the norm for boys to do PE naked. Perhaps this was true, I do not know. On this day we were to be combined with pupils from the other school, so there was a large number of us. I saw with alarm that some of the more extrovert boys from our school had dashed naked across the street to the school opposite. Reluctantly, a group of us went and joined them as instructed wearing just our PE shorts. On entering the hall I was horrified to be told that we were to take off our shorts and leave them in a neat pile by the door, which we did. We were informed that this was to make everyone appear the same, regardless of wether they had the correct kit or not. I recall there was an hour or two of excercises, mostly sitting or lying on the hard wooden floor, and sometimes dashing about the hall, still naked. When we were eventually allowed back into our own building, we had to sort through the pile of white PE shorts to find our own pair before returning over the road. I do not think activity happened more than once or twice, thankfully.

Comments by James on 5th February 2015  

Yes. Cold house was the norm.
My parents managed to rent a house with two sitting rooms when i was about one year old when they left their first flat which was over a shop.
They had no money to furnish the front room and it stayed completely empty for a number of years. Every Sunday their two arm chairs, a small square table and the mains table radio were moved into that room and after Sunday lunch and we spent the afternoon and evening in there. After I went to bed, the furniture and the "wirless" were moved back to the back room and we spent the rest of the week there.
This was still going on when I was about seven and they got their first tv. That was moved into the front room on Sundays but they had managed to buy a there piece suite by then.
We had a coal fire in one room only (front room on Sundays!) and the paraffin heater in the hall. It had to heat the hall, stairs bathroom and three bedrooms! Ice on the windows and no loft insulation. My bedside table was a wooden orange crate.
One memorable event was the purchase of a single bar electric fire which went on the landing on really cold nights and in the bathroom with a long taped-up flex and a big two-pin plug (!!!!) on bath night to stop the icicles forming!
(I know this belongs in the house and home section, but previous comments here brought it all to mind. I might copy it across.)

Comments by Andrea on 4th February 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

The comments about conditions at home in winter time certainly brought back a few chilly memories!
Another couple of things I remember about the winters are the smell of the small paraffin heater used in our downstairs toilet to stop the pipes freezing overnight and also that occasionally if milk bottles were left outside too long the milk would sometimes freeze and 'pop' the foil cap on the bottle.

On a more general note, I remember my younger sister and I having to use the same bathwater to save heating another tankful. I used to think it unfair that she always got to have first go. Mind you she would probably say that it evened things up for the fact that quite often she had to wear clothes I had outgrown!

I can also remember how popular one of my friends suddenly became when her parents were the first in our street to get a colour TV!

Comments by Anon too on 3rd February 2015  

Well Rob, regarding your comments, I think I understand what the teacher was trying to do to prevent futher tomfoolery. Was it effective? The thought of being "invited" to touch another boy seems odd, something that would not happen nowadays. But of course this would have been a completely different era. Was it the 50's or 60's?

Comments by Edward on 2nd February 2015  

In reply to Bill. Nude swimming was a shock at first, but one reluctantly had to get used to it, and it continued until leaving school.No excuse was tolerated. Supervision was by male teachers. In any competitions, if the competing school wore trunks, then we would wear trunks also. Inter house school competitions would be strictly without trunks.

Comments by Bob on 2nd February 2015  

I recall that during PE in the gym boys would often grab at each others shorts and pull them down if they thought no one was looking. I was often picked on, and slapped or kicked in the crotch, maybe because I was an early developer in that area.

The PE teacher evidently decided we were taking too much notice of other boys' masculinity. One day we were formed into groups of ten or so, and made to stand shoulder to shoulder in a circle. He told us to lower our shorts to our knees and study each others genitalia. I resisted initially but had to comply, no doubt with a red face. We were then invited to touch the boy to our right. All this was apparently intended to make us feel less embarrassed about our naked bodies in future, enabling us to concentrate on the physical excercises and sporting activities.

Comments by Bill on 1st February 2015  

Edward, what was the compulsary nude swimming like and up to what age?
Did you ever have female spectators like teachers or school staff or swimming galas?
From what several posters on this forum and other sites say this custom of compulsary nude swimming for boys seems to have been more common and widespread than I thought.
It also seems to have been more common in the north of England and the Midlands. I lived in the south, in the London area and didn't know of any schools which had this practice. Maybe it was more common in private schools. Most public schools didn't have a pool anyway.
I wonder if there are still any schools which still have this practice of compulsary nude swimming.

Comments by Michael on 1st February 2015  

Regarding the spartan conditions at school endured by most pupils 50 or 60 years ago, it is worth remembering that in those times our homes were pretty uncomfortable too, by modern standards.

With no central heating, my home had only the main living room that was heated, from a coal fire, in Winter. Every other room, apart from occasionally the kitchen, was virtually a 'no-go' area owing to the bitter cold.

Each Winter evening my family gathered around the hearth in the living room, listening to the radio or watching the flickering 12" black & white TV screen. I would be doing my homework seated at the table at the other side of the room, but taking my time because I was usually sent to bed as soon as I had finished it.

Bedrooms were only used for sleeping in. Windows were large and single glazed and the lucky ones took a hot water bottle to bed to warm up the icy cold sheets. By morning the whole house was freezing cold with frosty 'fern patterns' on the insides of bedroom windows.

We expected nothing else during Winter and were well accustomed to those conditions, so we didn't feel disadvantaged. Complaints were rare and ignored anyway.

Comments by Edward on 1st February 2015  

No comment about the transparency of shorts would have arisen at the all boys school that I attended many decades ago now, since swimming naked was compulsory, as were communal showers. There was also a strictly enforced no underpants rule for all sports, all unquestioned at the time.

Comments by John on 1st February 2015  

We had lengthy cross country runs with the route taking us through villages,lanes and main roads.
I do recall some rude comments being made and also some tooting of car horns.This led further to our embarrassment and humiliation when having to wear our almost transparent shorts.
Ironically we were told to behave and treat people with respect when out of school grounds and not to bring disgrace on the school.

Comments by James on 31st January 2015  

Actually I really don't remember any comments but it was on the edge of the town so there was only a short bit housing to run past. The rest was woodland and rural roads.
Although I say run, I was more likely to be wondering along taking short cuts!

Comments by Bill on 31st January 2015  

James, did you ever get comments from the public or passers by when you had to go through town streets on country runs in just those skimpy transparent shorts that you mention?

Fortunately at my school we wore the older type thicker material shorts and vests for PE, and we never went for cross country runs.

Comments by John on 30th January 2015  

It wasn't just the material that I found the shorts unsuitable but the way they were cut into very skimpy shorts.
I certainly didn't turn my shorts up as others have said but I was forever trying to pull them down slightly.

Comments by Andrea on 29th January 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

The comments by James regarding the embarrassment / discomfort felt by his 'early developer' classmate and the teasing by his friends had it's parallels for some girls too. Although I remained flat chested until after I had left Primary School, a few of my classmates started to 'develop' during our last year there. Of course it was during PE that this was most noticeable. If they hadn't yet started to wear a bra, then the movement became evident (and commented on) and if they had, the outline could be seen underneath their T shirts, leading to teasing and occasional strap twanging from some of the more annoying boys!

The comment from Tim regarding rolling the waistband over to make his shorts shorter also had it's parallels, with some girls doing this with their skirts!

Comments by Tim on 29th January 2015  

Well thought out comments from James, especially the one that 'The shorts went almost totally transparent but we just seemed to assume that's the way it was and not take any notice.'

Starting my Grammar School in 1960 my gym shorts were white, quite baggy and with just a single strand of elastic at the waist (not elasticated). Built to last, rather than for style, they lasted several years. By the mid 60s shorts were becoming (a lot) shorter and those of us still left with longer ones found ourselves rolling the waist over a couple of times to make them shorter - a thing which some youngsters are now doing with their longer shorts.

Eventually they wore out and I got some white cotton shorts by Umbro.

Comments by John on 29th January 2015  

I remember wearing those shorts similar to the ones you described for the first time.We were only allowed three minutes to change so I had no time to dawdle but what alarmed was one of the boys who had who had slipped his skimpy shorts on was that his buttocks were clearly outlined through the translucent material.I thought surely we wouldn't have to go out wearing these shorts but I was mistaken we had to go on a cross country run.
We certainly weren't allowed to wear any underwear under the shorts and would have clearly been seen through the thin material or would have protruded below the hem.
They were certainly more transparent when wet but on a cold winter's day I was so cold wearing them I thought I would freeze.

Comments by James on 28th January 2015  

I attended an all boys grammar school in the midlands in the mid 60's. I well remember the scenes set in these comments. The photo looks very similar to our gym lessons.
We had to wear the almost transparent white nylon shorts and we were ordered not to wear underpants. Shirts and skins was the norm for any activity in the gym. Showers were compulsory and we had to go into the communal shower naked.
We were lucky enough to have a pool and it was quite common after a PE session in the gym to have a shower, put our shorts back on and then go into the pool. The shorts went almost totally transparent but we just seemed to assume that's the way it was and not take any notice.
The first time I can remember this being a problem for any of us was one friend who was obviously an early developer started to have problems with hanging out of his shorts. He was embarrassed and of course the rest of us made a huge joke of it, not thinking it would become a problem for us in time!
I remember one day at the beginning of the lesson, the PE teacher sat us down in the changing rooms and talked to us about growing up and that if we felt uncomfortable in just our shorts, we should get jockstraps like the older boys, and in any case we would need them if we were going to play rugby. He had them on sale at school if we wanted to buy them.
Few of us knew what a jockstrap was but as the changing rooms were a shortcut to one part of the school we started to notice older boys getting changed and worked out what they were. Those with older brothers also knew already.
From then on, they started to appear at changing time and, of course they were plainly visible through the almost transparent shorts, especially when we went on to swimming after pe. Often the waistband showed above and the leg straps showed below but, to us, that was a sign of being one of the older boys.
Coming from a family with no older brothers, I had never talked about such things with my parents and they were not at all sporty. I couldn't imagine asking them to get to buy me a jockstrap so I summoned the courage to go and buy one at school. I just remember feeling like one of the big boys and never worried about it showing through the shorts. Like a lot of the others we washed them in the showers and kept them in our lockers.
I was never over sporty so didn't get onto the major teams but we did have to do "cross country running" which took us through the woods but also along public roads. An interesting sight for some passers by, I expect, on a wet day when things had gone particularly transparent!

Comments by Harry on 27th January 2015  

We boys were made to stand in a line shoulder to shoulder. We were told to look at the wall bars opposite. The PE teacher would then walk in front of us, pausing to pull the shorts to the side, then proceed to the next one. The penalty for not looking at the wall bars was never disclosed but we were told it would be severe.
There were no showers in the changing rooms.
Is there any interest in punishments dealt out by other sadists? Sorry, I meant teachers at that school.

Comments by Anon too on 27th January 2015  

As Speedy writes, it almost beggars belief what Harry wrote, although it was a different era. I know from my schooldays in the mid 60's punishment was severe compared to today, (including the cane across the hand as punishment for misbehaving in other lessons) but you did not go home & complain because to do so incurred the wrath of your parents which was worse. Some boys took the option of the cane rather than stay behind in detention so that their parents did not know that they had been punished. Teachers were to be obeyed end of.

As for checking for pants. How did he do that? That does seem a step to far even in those days. The nearest we came to being checked was the threat at our first pe lesson by the teacher that he would pick a boy at random to bend over. We wore thin white shorts so any pants would be visible so there was no opportunity to flout the rule. The same teacher threatened that if one boy was caught wearing pants the whole class would be get the slipper. That threat was enough.

Comments by Speedy on 26th January 2015  

Interesting comments Harry.What you describe almost beggars belief.But,as you say,it was the 1950s - it was a different world back then.

I almost hesitate to ask what the arrangements were (if any) for showering at the end of your PE lessons.

Comments by Harry on 25th January 2015  

I went to an all boys school in the late 50s. PE was done in shorts and plimsolls only. The gym master checked to ensure we were not wearing undies. The penalty was to take your undies off in front of every one or receive a slippering. Slipperings were dealt out for being last in a race or otherwise under performing. Slipperings were given at the end of lessons. Plimsolls were removed so that he had something to hit you with, and shorts were removed so that he was not wasting his effort getting through clothing.
A pupil was made to bend over a vaulting block and put his feet into the hand holes of the vaulting block so his legs were apart. That is if the pupil was lucky. The alternative position was the diaper position on top of the vaulting block. I will leave to your imagination where he put a hand to give you protection. But this was the late 1950s.

Comments by Alexander on 19th January 2015  

Re Bill's comment, I recall doing PE just in underwear in a mixed sex infants school 1967-69. This was only in the Infants School, however (ages 5-7); after that we moved along to the Primary school (on the same site) and although my recollection of gym there is a bit hazy, I am pretty sure that we had to wear more than just underpants.

At age 11 I went to an all boys Prep school, and there we had to wear a similar uniform to the one shown here - white nylon shorts with underpants strictly forbidden, plimsolls and white socks, and white cotton vests. For some activities we removed the plimsolls, socks and vests (but never the shorts, thank goodness!)

Comments by John on 19th January 2015  

Mark,my mother would only resort to using corporal punishment only if we misbehaved,were disobedient or did badly with our exams but perversely we were made to wear shorts for her own amusement and gratification.

Comments by Bill on 19th January 2015  

For PE we always wore white shorts and white teeshirt, both in primary and secondary for both boys and girls.
However I did read that in some primary schools PE was done in just underpants for both boys and girls. How common was this? Did anyone here have this practice at their school?

Also, was it common practice in secondary schools for boys and girls to do PE separately or mixed?
Is the picture on this page from a boys only school, or did the boys have separate PE classes from the girls?

Comments by Andrea on 18th January 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Regarding the comments by Chris and Anon about vests: growing up in the 1960's most of us used to wear them (as far as I can remember from changing for PE at Primary School). I don't recall them being scratchy as they were cotton. The boys ones were normally plain white and the girls were similar, but with perhaps a little coloured bow or similar on the neckline.

I must admit that at the height of summer I did sometimes leave mine off!
I continued to wear a vest into Secondary School, until eventually my developing figure necessitated a different form of underwear!

Comments by Mark on 18th January 2015  

Yes John I can relate to having my legs smacked. As we got older, mum would have us touch our toes or bend over the arm of the sofa, but the always used to have us pull down our shorts and pants before she took the strap to us!!

Comments by John on 17th January 2015  

Mark,I do agree it was far better not to argue with my mother although the prospect of 'a trip across her knee'might have been a little daunting for her especially if my shorts had to be removed.
I'm sure it was more convenient and practical to award a summary punishment to a refractory teenager by some sharp slaps on my legs.
The brief shorts that I had to wear were ideal to facilitate this form of punishment.

Comments by Anon too on 16th January 2015  

Re Chris's comments about vests. I was brought up by my nan so my fashion was dictated by what the "previous generation" dictated should be worn and was acceptable. It was Vests certainly had to be worn (thick scratchy wooly ones in the winter) right up to my late teens. After starting work I did in fact decide to coose my own clothes and went out and bought the string briefs and vests which were in fashion in the 70's which received a frosty reception from Nan but from then on I chose what I wanted. As previous people have commented, I also wore grey shorts, (which were short )up until I was about 14 because I was deemed not tall enough or old enough for longs. Again Nans influence

With reference to Jamie's comments, similarly we had after school activities and our's was cross country and like wise 2 or 3 of us aged about 12/ 13 would be allowed supervised showers afterwards and we thought nothing about Sir being there and frankly no one cared. There was no hint of any impropriety and as lads we did not care about using communal showers. That's as it was.

Comments by Mark on 16th January 2015  

Yes John, same here. Arguing too much with mum would earn a trip over her knee. Usually it was best to say nothing.

Comments by Jamie on 15th January 2015  

For normal gym lessons we had no time for showers at the end of lessons. However, sometimes a couple of us had extra gym after school, ie gymnastics etc. We would always be allowed to have showers supervised by the gym teacher. We were only about 12 or 13 so very innocent and it was fun times. No inhibitions in those days. And for gym, we only ever wore gym shorts and no top

Comments by Chris on 15th January 2015  

For ordinary PE in the gym, or outside on lawn when the weather was particularly fine, showers didn't enter into the picture. After PE, you had no more than ten minutes to get changed and on to the next class. The only time we had showers after exercise was after football on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons.

Comments by Speedy on 15th January 2015  

Very interesting comments you made Chris on the nature of the clothing worn for PE and the similarity of Mr.Parry`s gymn to yours.

Expanding the comparison I wonder what the arrangements were (if any) for showering at the end of your PE lessons. - Interesting to hear(indeed from other posters as well)of any pertinent anecdotes,etc.,and how you felt about it all.

Comments by John on 15th January 2015  

Hi Mark,My mother was just the same,there was nothing more difficult than trying to persuade her to allow me to wear long trousers and be treated more like an adult.It was not easy trying to convince my mother,while risking her wrath pouting and showing my displeasure.

Comments by Chris on 14th January 2015  

This could have been my own secondary school gym back in the fifties, even down to the wall-bars and the wooden horses! The only obvious difference is that while we had to have white shorts, they didn't need to be a uniform pattern, while the kids in the photo seem to have uniform striped shorts.

Although the school uniform list that my parents were sent before I started had specified white cotton shorts and top (underwear vest acceptable) for PE kit, it was somewhat out of date, and by the time I started, the 'powers that be' had decreeed that PE would now be done bare-chested.

Unfortunately, nobody had bothered to warn us newbies of this change in policy in advance, and although most of us had turned up for school on our first day diligently, and largely reluctantly, wearing the vests that we had spent much of the summer holidays spurning, I don't remember anyone being particularly trumatised by the toplessness that ensued when PE came around the next day.

This was in the days when mothers, in particular, were uniformly over-concerned where their offspring and vests were concerned, an era when all kids were expected to wear vests most of the time, most kids were expected to wear vests all of the time and msny kids, tried to avoid wearing vests at all. Finding myself in the former category with strong leanings to the latter, most traumatic for me was going home after that first PE class and nervously revealing to Mum that, not only had I taken my vest off for PE, but that I hadn't put it back on afterwards! I refrained from adding that I saw no need to put it on again tomorrow morning, but Mum sensed that, as far as I was concerned, vests were history and she had better battles to fight - 60 years later, she is still correct.

Comments by Mark on 11th January 2015  

Mum never gave a reason for the things she did. She was very controlling,ritualistic,and fastidious.

Comments by Mark on 10th January 2015  

Mum never gave a reason for the things she did. She was very controlling,ritualistic,and fastidious.

Comments by John on 10th January 2015  

Hi Mark,thank you for your reply.What really intrigues me is why our mothers kept us in shorts both up to similar ages,when most boys of my age were in long trousers.Did your mother give you a reason for this practice of keeping you in shorts?

Comments by Mark on 9th January 2015  

Hi John, no my mother made me wear them. She was not a lady to be argued with

Comments by Anon too on 8th January 2015  

At my all boys secondary school during my time there 1961 to 1966 Corporal punishment was Cane given across the hand by male teachers and Headmaster. As I remember we had only one female teacher and she sent "naughty boys" to a male teacher to administer the cane and he would deal very severly with that lad for "playing up" Miss.

The PE teacher administered the slipper across the behind although I did not experience this, I am told by boys who did, that the slipper was a very painful punishment when you were wearing thin nylon shorts with no underpants.
Apart from the Headmaster, who caned in his study, the cane/slipper was given in front of the class as a warning & deterent to others.

Comments by John on 8th January 2015  

Mark,when I was kept in shorts in the sixties at age 16 it was not common to see boys of that age wearing shorts.
Were you compelled to wear them or did you wear them by choice?

Comments by Mark on 8th January 2015  

When I was at school discipline was very strict. It did vary and change slightly as we got older. It was also much harsher for boys, who tended to get disciplined in front of the class. At infant and middle until age 12, our teachers were incredibly strict. Boys would get the backs of their bare legs smacked at lot. This was painful and left embarrassing hand marks. And there were two teachers who did actually pull down boys shorts and pants and smack their bare bottoms in front of the whole class. This happened to me and it was awful. As we got older teachers started to use the slipper(a plimsoll) on us. One teacher used it on a daily basis. Boys would have to bend over and touch their toes and then get up to three almighty whacks on their bottoms. The cane was used, but only in private. I never got caned but I remember a boy age 16 being taken out in a careers education class for the cane(stick we called it)
In many ways the worst was to come when we got home. For most of us, including me, if we got spanked at school then we got another at home(usually from mum) If i got home with red marks on my legs then I quickly found myself over mums knee, with my bottom bared, getting a strapping or the hairbrush.
I vividly remember that I got spanked so hard at school at time, that my legs burnt bright red and I had trouble sitting.These are not good memories and some teachers went way too far.

Comments by Bill on 7th January 2015  

Yes Mike, corporal punishment was also the norm of keeping discipline in class for most schools during the sixties, whether it was the slipper, ruler or strap in some cases, although the cane was usually reserved only for the headmaster.
Would be interesting to hear from readers of this forum what kind of corporal punishment was used at their school.

Comments by Mark on 7th January 2015  

John, we too were kept in shorts until 16. Not unusual in the 60s.Our mother was very strict and regularly took a strap to our bare bottoms.There were usually marks visible on our legs. yes we had to run the gauntlet at school of getting teased. When we took our showers at school therewas always at least one boy with a well striped bottom

Comments by irishguy on 3rd January 2015  

We played Gaelic Football during PE and fielded teams against other schools in a league at my Catholic Secondary School, in the late 80s and early 90s.
The lowest temperature recorded in the UK for the whole of 2014 was in Katesbridge Co Down N Ireland. Not far from my old school.
The football pitch is exposed on one of highest pieces of land in the Courntry and is often frozen solid.
With a title to defend for the school, playing anything other than Gaelic Football was unheard off.
So the older boys had PE outdoors and never used the gym.
I only remember PE in gym for a week after Third Year. As soon as a smaller training pitch was cleared of heavy snow we were back out in it!
I wasn't on the team as I wasn't very good and liked my bed.
The Football team had early morning training sessions, often on frozen ground.
Despite their own liking of thermals and expensive Goretex the Coaches insisted on proper school training kit only for the players. Gaelic Football shorts are pretty short and the jerseys offer little protection over a bare chest.
During the team prematch pep talk the players would remain shirtless, only putting jerseys on after go ahead from coach!

The guys did similar before training. The Coach never said don't wear a vest but any lad that did was given a hard time and called wuss etc, by players and Coaches!

I suppose its a macho toughness many admire! But in our case most of us hated PE as there were only a few team members in each class. Most were looking at the warm empty gym, as we ran out in the snow, dreaming about indoor soccer.

Comments by Anon too on 2nd January 2015  

Re the last message the boys are lucky thwese days they can wear underwear. In my day albeit in an all boys school it was tight white nylon shorts no underwear. At least these days it seems lads are proud to show off their designer underwear with low slung jeans so why worry about pe and girls seeing as I expect it is all boxer shorts and not briefs or slips.

Comments by Bob on 1st January 2015  

Once back in my winter Pe term between January-April 1987 gymnastics was cancelled unexpectedly. When we did gym we wore white shirt, white shorts socks, pumps and underwear (unless you had the wrong t-shirt then you went topless).

Instead we were told to go to the swimming baths we had to undress and put on just our white shorts for our impromptu swimming lesson.

This practice is backed up Phil who has posted on this blog!


Anonymous said...
The pic reminded me of when my class had to go swimming in white PE shorts. We were meant to do PE outdoors but there was a thunder storm so we had to go to the pool instead. No one had trunks with them so it was white nylon shorts only and yes, they were fairly see through when wet....

Likewise, as soon as we jumped into the pool our white shorts became transparent like Jellyfish basking off the coast of Pennsylvania.

As we came out of the pool to dive off the boards my pre-pubescent member clung to the white see through fabric. Other boys who were much more developed had their hairy penises and large testicles stuck to the white transparent shorts.

Afterwards we showered off with our buttocks stuck to this ethereal second skin that adhered to our private areas. We hurriedly dried off and dressed ready for our next lesson.

It is amazing that even today there are many schools that require boys to wear white shorts where the girls can see their underwear underneath but female modesty is protected by dark shorts.

Comments by John on 24th December 2014  

My parents made me stay in shorts till I was 16.Some of my jackets had hems lower than the bottom of my shorts.Some must have thought seeing me from behind,they probably didn't think I had any trousers on at all.
When I attended secondary school the uniform was navy blue blazer,white shirt and long or grey short trousers.
I remember my parents bought me some very brief shorts when holidaying in Europe and I couldn't believe they expected me to wear them.
Once I had settled in to my new school my peers gradually accepted me wearing shorts and most of the teasing stopped,until the next first years attended and they were intrigued to see a much older boy than themselves wearing shorts with his uniform.
I remember being strapped on the back of my thighs with a ruler and they queued up to look at the vivid marks on my legs.
I found the experience degrading and humiliating.

Comments by Michael on 16th December 2014  

Edward was unlucky in having to wear short trousers made of scratchy material. None of my regulation school short trousers were like that, and anyway they were always lined with plain white cotton.

When my mother eventually prevailed upon me to wear my first pair of long trousers, I hated them. Besides feeling baggy and heavy they got dripping wet in the rain, whereas previously my shorts had been completely covered by my rain coat. I had to spend all day at school with the soaked long trousers gradually drying out around my legs. Later I got into trouble for wearing down the knees of the long trousers as I played with my train set on the floor.

Thankfully my old shorts had not been thrown out, and I took every opportunity to continue wearing those instead.

Comments by Edward on 15th December 2014  

Early memories of school are usually happy, but I well remember those grey flannel short pants. It was not even the fact that some boys were in long trousers, but they were so scratchy that I was even grateful for my very unfashionable cream interlock trunks which protected most of my thighs.

Comments by Robert on 30th November 2014  

28 Years ago in my comprehensive school we were made to get changed after cross country in the school gymnasium, strip naked with all windows uncovered and walk past the girls in the corridor with just a towel covering our penises to the boys showers.

Year 14 girls changed in the girls changing rooms, year 13 girls changed in the swimming pool showers while year 13 boys changed in boys changing rooms but us older boys had to change in the gym. It would not be tolerated today but even so boys are still victims of sex discrimination despite the introduction of the Equalities Act 2010.

In the shower there was no soap, no flannel, no privacy in the walk through wash area and the floor was sodden with liquefied mud. Many schools today have cubicles but there are only 8 shower heads in a typical changing room so in schools where boys have to shower they still have to do the towel dance in the changing room.

Comments by Peter on 27th November 2014  

In reply to Bill,I do remember boys wearing short trousers which were knee length but as girl's hem lines rose so did boy's shorts.
It became quite fashionable for boys to wear shorts which wear no longer than girl's hot pants which also became fashionable during the seventies.
Certainly boys continued to wear short pants at school during that period but they were in a minority.
I remember one boy wore shorts right through school till he left.
My parents also continued with this anachronistic fashion and my shorts were presented to me on each birthday.
Being in a minority most of my peers found it quite amusing and I was the subject of considerable mockery and teasing.

Comments by Bill on 17th November 2014  

Andrea, I do remember girls hitching their uniform skirts further up, I guess it was because miniskirts were the fashion in those days.
I also went to an all-boys secondary school, but we had an all-girls school close to ours. We used to meet to chat up before and after school, sometimes during breaks. It was then that the girls used to hitch up their skirt further up. Probably to look more attractive for us boys.
Nice memories. :)
But I think they put them back to near knee length once they entered school. Like you said, it was school rules.

James, I don't remember if it was school rules to wear shorts up to that age, but I think it was common for boys up to about that age, 14, to wear shorts as school uniform. They were knee length anyway and made from thick material. It was probably more comfortable to wear them than long trousers, especially in warm wheather.

Comments by Andrea on 16th November 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 


Our skirts were supposed to be knee length (ie. touch the ground if we knelt down) but we quite often tried to get away with wearing them shorter if we could!

With regard to pe kit at Primary School, as at your school, both boys and girls used to wear a T shirt and shorts or a PE skirt (girls had the choice - I had shorts). We did have to change together though, which involved stripping down to vest and knickers / underpants, before putting on our pe kit. At my (all girls) secondary school the pe kit was polo shirt and gym knickers.

Comments by James on 16th November 2014  

Bill I also wore shorts to school and they were mandatory up to the age of fourteen;I guess they were the equivalent of poor girls like Andrea having to wear short skirts.
I do agree with you that we became accustomed to wearing them all the year round as they were an every day item of clothing.
Like you I wore knee stockings to keep my legs warm but these still kept my thighs cold and exposed to the bitterly cold weather.
It was exceptionally humiliating as during the seventies most boys as young as six were wearing long trousers.
I remember my mum saying'if a boy's short pants aren't cut well above the knee brief and trim therefore he may as well wear long trousers.'

Comments by Bill on 15th November 2014  

Andrea, I do remember most girls wearing miniskirts, or just short skirts, during the mid-sixties to mid-seventies, even as school uniforms. It was normal back then, even in winter.
If I remember well, some did wear tights in cold weather, though not all. As you say, some schools forbade this. Poor girls.
I also remember wearing shorts all year round till about age 14, and as part of
school uniform.
I also wore woolen socks as part of school uniform, but this still left your knees and part of your legs exposed. But I don't think this affected us much since we were used to it.

Another thing which only a few posters commented about is the custom in some primary schools where both boys and girls were made to do PE lessons in just underpants/knickers.
I wonder how common this was. At my school we always wore white shorts and t-shirt for PE, both boys and girls. But I did hear about other schools doing PE in just underpants.

Comments by Andrea on 14th November 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

When I was at school we weren't even allowed to wear tights with our normal school uniform, let alone our PE kit. In winter we had to wear long socks; my legs used to get frozen cycling to and from school in frosty weather!

Comments by Barry on 13th November 2014  

I agree that lads have gone soft. My 17 year old wears tights under his running shorts for winter Cross Country events, and long johns under his jeans when the frosts come. I suspect he also sleeps in them!

Comments by Tim on 12th November 2014  

Replying to Gary's comments we've been through the 'soft youth of today' bit before.

I'll simply say that a few weeks ago I saw a group of school boys (mid-teens) in Mid-Wales going back to school after rugby training. All were in 'traditional' rugby gear and none of them looked unhappy about what they'd be wearing and doing. I think a lot goes down to peer pressure, the attitude of the school, etc.

I'm lucky to have 250 acres of common land adjecent to me: much used for football & running. Its interesting to see how the lads who start off the summer in long, baggy shorts do move into shorter ones (and go topless) as the season progresses.

Whatever people say about the 'short' shorts of the late 60s onwards - well, they were the 'fashion' of the day - just find a picture of Bobby Moore receiving the World Cup to see them!

Comments by Simon on 10th November 2014  

In reply to Bill,yes there were less severe punishments than canings.The slipper was frequently used and quite often we often had our legs smacked when wearing short trousers but the cane was the most painful.
Yes it did sting and was administered by a female teacher on my behind after coming out of the pool.
Your account of events from your friend was very similar to my own which I found very embarrassing and humiliating.

Comments by Andrea on 9th November 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

In reply to Bill, yes there was corporal punishment when I was at school. The Headmistress would use the cane (which I never had) and one of the PE teachers would sometimes use a plimsoll (which I did receive on one occasion!).

At primary school (up to age 11) boys and girls used to change together for PE, but we were never naked, just down to vest and knickers / underpants before putting on our PE kit.

At secondary school we had to get naked for a shower after PE, but of course this was supervised by female PE staff. This was a real culture shock when we first started secondary school, but we just had to get used to it!


Comments by Gary on 8th November 2014  

Re Dan's comments. The only time we would see each other naked was when in the communal shower. I was not too worried but I understand that some boys were coy,but as you say we also jhad a few lads who were keen to show off all & sundry i think to brag how big they were.

On another tack, the lads of today seem very soft and cannot stand the cold. Today I have seen a young lad who has just come from playing football. Long shorts, long socks up to above his knees so hardly any flesh uncovered. As we say "in may day" it was thin nylon short shorts and just below knee length socks and freeze. Furthermore goalies did not wear track suit bottoms.

One of the bad things about "the good old days" was in the winter having to wear scratchy wollen underwear, before the days of softer fibres.

Comments by Bill on 8th November 2014  

Simon, thanks for answering my questions.
I find canings were too harsh in such a situation, especially if the boy was still wet. Were there any less harsh punishments for minor misbehaviour?
From what a friend who went to a similar boarding school told me, the most embarrassing and humiliating moment was at the beginning of the swim class when the boys had to line up for roll call and instructions with their hands at their sides facing the female teachers and any visitors present. They were not even allowed to cover with their hands. But once in the water it wasn't so bad. Was it the same for you?
But I don't think he mentioned that they were ever caned during the swim classes, just a few hand slaps on their bare behinds when necessary I suppose, or possibly a slippering.
That caning you got must have really stung. Was it a female teacher that caned you?

Comments by Simon on 8th November 2014  

Bill,I don't mind answering your questions.
There were about 30 boys in our swimming class.
The visitors were mainly prospective parents and school staff.
The punishments and canings were quite infrequent but I did receive the cane once for disobeying an instruction.

Comments by Dan on 7th November 2014  

Although we did PE bare-chested and often barefoot as well the only time we were naked was when having a shower afterwards when no females could see us.
Many boys were quite coy about revealing their private parts although others were only too keen to show them off to all and sundry.

Comments by Bill on 7th November 2014  

Simon, I hope you don't mind me asking questions, but I am curious about it since I was never in such a situation.

You said that there were many visitors and spectators who had access to the pool. Who were these visitors and spectators?

How many boys were there normally in each swim class?
Were the canings and other physical punishments common or rare during these swim classes?

I must agree with you that in your situation as you describe it couldn't have been more humiliating for the boys.

Comments by Simon on 6th November 2014  

Bill,we didn't have swimming galas at school but there were many visitors and spectators who had access to the pool although it was secluded and could not be seen by the public.
Female teachers and instructors supervised our swimming lessons and also had access to our changing area and showers.
Yes I did find it humiliating and embarrassing being extremely coy but some boys were quite brazen about it.

Comments by Bill on 6th November 2014  

Andrea, I don't think that girls had to worry about that, only boys were made to swim nude.

I had friends who went to a boarding school and not only did the boys had to swim nude but they also had female instructors and sometimes female teachers present too, at least in juniors up to 12 years old. I can't imagine that this would ever happen in girls swim classes, especially with male teachers or instructors.
Which is why I believe what some posters here say that they had nude swim classes for boys, even in the presence of female staff sometimes.
What I am surprised at, and which I was not aware of before, is that some say that they even had swimming galas in the nude in front of spectators.

BTW, did you have corporal punishment when you was at school? We certainly did when I was at school.

Comments by Andrea on 5th November 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Like Bill I wish we had had a pool at our school, but not if it had meant having to swim in the nude - compulsory showers at secondary school were enough to deal with!

Comments by Bill on 2nd November 2014  

Simon, did you get used to having viewers and female teachers at the pool, or was it a constant embarrassment and humiliation?
I guess the fun of swimming at that age would have counteracted some of this.
I wish we had a pool at our school, though I don't know how I would have reacted to nude swimming in the presence of spectators. I suppose it would have been mortifying at first until one got gradually used to it.
I think starting at a very young age would have helped.
Having to swim nude in front of viewers close to the age of 14 as in your case, when most boys would be into puberty with some hair is a bit far I think.

When you mention viewers and spectators, were these school staff or other guests or the public?
Were you allowed to wear trunks when there were spectators, as in galas and competitions?

Comments by Simon on 2nd November 2014  

We were allowed to wear our swimming trunks and long trousers at the start of the new term in September.
I would have been about 14 and 1/2.

Comments by Andrea on 2nd November 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Did the change to wearing long trousers and being allowed to wear swimming trunks coincide with the start of a new school year?

At my secondary school we had to wear 'gymslip' style dresses for our first two years, but from the third year the uniform was a skirt and blouse?

Similarly my ex told me that at his school the 'no underpants' rule applied in pe for the first two years, after which they were supposed to wear athletic supporters. He said that this seemed rather random as some boys could have done with them earlier, whilst others didn't really need them at that point!

Comments by Simon on 1st November 2014  

Bill,we were allowed to wear swimming trunks when we were about fourteen depending on what date our birthdays were about the same time we were promoted to wearing long trousers.
Yes,we were viewed by onlookers passing the pool but we also had a large window above the pool in a viewing gallery where we could watched without the spectators being disturbed.
Our privacy was hardly a matter of paramount importance especially as we were supervised by one male teacher and two females.
To answer your question about canings I remember two boys holding me under the water for a while to see how long I could hold my breath.
They were duly taken out of the pool and received summary punishment with cane by one of the female teachers which left vivid marks on their buttocks.

Comments by Bill on 1st November 2014  

James, did she cane you herself?
Were there ever punishments in the swim class?

Simon, did you actually ever have viewers through the clear glass area?
Up to what age were you forced to be nude for swim class?

Comments by Simon on 31st October 2014  

In reply to peterc,I did swim naked and definitely would have preferred to have worn trunks but that was not allowed for some reason.
Although our changing area and showers had frosted glass we were far from being concealed in the pool that had large clear windows that allowed anyone to view us if they so wished.
In reply to Bill of course there was teasing but that was mainly if a boy had received a recent caning and the marks were still visible.

Comments by James on 31st October 2014  

I do think the teachers were trying to humiliate the boys by calling them out. The one time i was called out was when i had missed a detention through no fault of my own. The female teacher was not interested in excuses. She was furious and nearly exploded. I got the cane as a result.

Comments by Matthew on 31st October 2014  

To Bill. I took it to mean that the boys teased those who had to get out of the pool to be spoken to by these young women. There would have been plenty of other opportunities to find any boy in the school. It seems to me that it was quite deliberate on the part of these women to choose to find a boy in that situation.

Comments by Bill on 30th October 2014  

James, you said "I remember a lot of teasing with some of the younger good looking female teachers who came in and we had to get out of the pool to speak to them without towel."
In what way did they tease you?
Like the previous poster I am curious to know if these female teachers just found an excuse to have a look at the boys and embarrass them, at least the ones they chose to talk to.
Were you ever called out of the pool by one of these young female teachers, what did she say to you to tease you?

Comments by James on 30th October 2014  

Matthew, i remember often being interrupted in swimming and pe lessons by other teachers popping in to speak to individuals, quite often as detentions had been missed that was a serious issue.

Comments by Matthew on 29th October 2014  

To James. What was so urgent that good-looking young female teachers had to come into the pool area to speak to naked boys who had to get out of the pool to hear what they had to say?

Comments by James on 29th October 2014  

I am curious to know if schoolboys wore short trousers like myself at secondary school where shorts were optional.
My mum who used to buy our short trousers found mistakenly the legs of them too long shortened them and hemmed them again up to about 3cms from the crotch so that when I sat all my thighs were on display.
There was no problem in the first year of school but as I entered my second year the length of my short trousers remained almost the same and as I was showing more and more flesh much to the bewilderment of the onlookers.
It never dawned on mum that I had grown up and although I looked younger than my age these short trousers were obviously too short and not fitting for my age.
It took me three or four months to feel comfortable and be accepted in such short pants at the beginning of the year.
I had the jitters and felt extremely nervous every morning I got dressed in these short trousers.
I can tell you I had difficulty to sustain the bland stare of the teachers and the other students especially the younger ones sometimes with their chuckles and mockeries which were hurting me deeply.

Comments by James on 28th October 2014  

Bill, boys were up to 13. I remember a lot of teasing with some of the younger good looking female teachers who came in and we had to get out of the pool to speak to them without towell. The main females didn't worry us as they had often seen us in the nude, ie matron. Parents could sometimes watch the house galas and some did. All god fun

Comments by Bill on 27th October 2014  

James, up to what age were the boys?
I assume being a prep school the boys were not in their teens yet.
I find it strange that the boys were embarrassed if a female teacher came into the pool area during swim class though the house galas were done in the nude, which I assume had mixed spectators present.
Were there any females, like mothers, sisters or teachers present during the nude house galas?
What about inter-school competitions, were these also done in the nude?

Comments by James on 20th October 2014  

I attended as a boarded quite a traditional all boys prep school in the early 70's. Swimming at all my time there was done naked and when parents were being shown round we just got in the pool. House galas were all done naked but we did have to wear hats to show our house colours. We never thought anything about it and was never an issue. Sometimes female teachers would come in the pool area if they needed to speak to someone. Always embarrasing if you had to get out and always got a lot of teasing if it was the nice french teacher

Comments by Toby on 19th October 2014  

Bill, sometimes there were female staff present but these were confined to sports teachers, matrons or house mistresses. We did not bat an eye lid if they were in the pool area as they had seen us nude before and it did not matter to us.If other females turned up however we would get covered up pretty quickly. As a boarder there was not much privacy and we were used to it. My housemaster always used to say the boarders were were much less inhibited than day boys

Comments by Bill on 19th October 2014  

Toby, did you also have to swim nude when there were female staff, teachers or other females present?
What about swimming galas and competitions, were you allowed to wear trunks?
How did the boys feel about the nude swim rules, did it bother them?

Comments by Robert on 18th October 2014  

Both long and short grey flannels were permitted at my secondary school. Shorts were in the minority, but I had to wear mine until they were worn out, because they were nearly new when I moved schools, and my parents said they were not well off enough to just waste good clothes. I couldn't wait to get rid of them, and gave them really rough treatment. They lasted only a couple of months!

Comments by Paul on 18th October 2014  

In reply to Gary I was aware that some parents and schools used the height of a boy as a criteria whether to promote him to wearing long trousers.
As in my case this was done by my age and I thought this was much fairer as a boy may not have reached the desired height usually 5'3" by the time he had left school.
Most boys would have found it amusing to see boys wearing short trousers as they were really meant for junior boys so for a big teen to be wearing those would have been shocking and some might thought it sissy as the peer thinking was that if you were already in high school then they should have been in long trousers.
I guess it depended on the kind of short trousers too and brief tight fitting shorts I considered totally unsuitable for a teenage boy to have to wear.

Comments by Paul on 17th October 2014  

What I meant to say was two teenage boys entered the waiting room with their mother.

Comments by peterc on 17th October 2014  

Shane, my school was very similar to your's. Not many boys did pe in just underpants but when they did - I didn't - it wasn't seen as a big deal. The problem with forgotten kit was showers and the need to share someone else's towel, or drip dry. Simon - did you have to swim naked or would you have been bothered if you had to?

Comments by Gary on 17th October 2014  

Of course my previous message should have read as not tall enough to wear longs. I do not suppose nude bathing would be allowed these days. At primary School PE was for boys in their normal grey school shorts and vest (singlet design which everybody wore all year) and for girls vest & knickers. They had to remove their dress or skirt because girls did not wear trousers those days (up to the year 1961)

Comments by Andrea on 16th October 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

In general I agree with Bill that we were far less self-conscious about what we wore or didn't wear for PE in primary school.
Certainly our primary school didn't have changing rooms so the boys would be one side of the classroom and girls on the other, with no screens or anything between the two.

There was always a teacher on hand to ensure that there was no silliness and in our final year a few girls who had started to wear bras rather than vests were allowed to change separately in the toilets.

I also agree with Gary that things like the no underpants rule couldn't be enforced nowadays. When my son was at high school he just used to wear his normal underwear under his shorts.

Comments by Toby on 16th October 2014  

When i was at prep school, we did pe in just shorts and always swan naked. As a boarder, we often used the pool at weekends and were always naked although the older boys could wear trunks if they wanted. Always felt odd when at home had to wear trunks for swimming

Comments by Gary on 16th October 2014  

I must agree with you Bill I would be embarrassed if I had to appear in public at a swimming gala naked. Especially if other boys sisters were allowed to attend. Perhaps it was mums & dads only.

Re the comments on long trousers, I wore shorts until I was 13 as did many boys. In my case mainly because I was considered by my dad to be tall enough for longs. The shorts were by today's fashion really short & tight. Well above the knee. No saggy waistline showing your pants as most wore tight white briefs. How fashions have changed.

I must admit that when I was eventually bought some longs I really felt that I had grown up and was "now a young man"

Comments by Paul on 15th October 2014  

In reply to Andrea stating that most boys wore long trousers reminded me of when I attended the dentists during my school days.
While waiting for my appointment two teenage boys entered the waiting wearing their school uniform with their mother.
What intrigued me was that both boys were wearing short trousers and they both looked perfectly comfortable wearing them and left an impression on me.
They were wearing a small boy's clothes but looked really stunning and sharp in them.
The shorts they wore were also not baggy but were really shockingly short -above the knee and maybe around mid thigh.
It was fascinating to know that these boys had to wear such a uniform and I guess they thought nothing of it and I liked how they got naturally tanned and toned legs and could show them off.
It was like their uniform was your typical high school uniform from the waist up and the only difference being instead of long trousers these were replaced by short trousers and knee socks.

Comments by Simon on 13th October 2014  

In reply to Bill,I'm sure most boys would have preferred to have worn swimming trunks,me included,rather than suffering the embarrassment of appearing naked for their swims.

Comments by Gary on 13th October 2014  

Shane, what years were you at school. Were there many occasions when boys forgot their pe kit, or was the possibility of doing pe in pants a big enough deterrent? I am sure the underpants rule would not be applied today.

Comments by Shane on 12th October 2014  

I went to an all boys school, all boys did PE in their bare chest and bare feet, white shorts and no underpants. If you forgot your shorts, you had to do it in your underpants, this was for all boys from 11 to 16. Our gym teacher insisted that all boys had to have naked bare chest and naked bare feet when doing PE, there were about 40 boys to a class.

Comments by Bill on 12th October 2014  

I don't think it bothered us back then what we wore or didn't wear for PE in primary school.
We even changed in class in front of each other for PE. Like someone else said it was more innocent time than it is today.
The body self-consciousness would only come later in secondary school.
Like Phil mentioned at his school, I had several friends who went to a boarding school with a pool where the junior boys, up to age 11 or so, had to be nude for swimming class. They even had female instructors up to that age for swimming.
I don't think anybody, including parents, made a fuss or bothered about this in those days.
Some earlier posters even mentioned that the boys also participated nude during swimming galas and competitions in front of parents and guests and school staff and teachers.
I don't know how common this was, but maybe someone who experienced this, or knows about it, can tell us more.

Comments by Andrea on 5th October 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

In response to the question from Another Person Named Phil, when my son was at High School(he left 4 years ago)his pe shorts were long and quite baggy.
When we were first married, I can remember my ex wearing white nylon shorts for football. As you say, they didn't leave much to the imagination when they got wet (although he did wear a jockstrap under his).

With regard to skinny-dipping as children, when I was with my mum and dad I always had to wear a swimming costume. However occasionally when I was playing with some of the local children in the summer, we would sometimes splash about in a shallow river in just our pants! I did that up to leaving primary school at 11, but by the following summer I had to make sure I was wearing a swimsuit top!

Comments by Another person named Phil on 1st October 2014  

James, I am sure that the TB queue was mortifying for you. As you say fashion and also for us school rules dictated the type of shorts worn.

Our school swimming lessons were in a public pool (although hired exclusively for us) so at least we wore swimming trunks for those lessons unlike many who have contributed saying they were not allowed to were anything in the pool.

Comments by James on 27th September 2014  

In reply to Phil,it was the early seventies,1971 to 1976 and we were co-ed but PE and games were fortunately separate.
I do agree the shorts in the photo were more substantial but he type of shorts that I described were quite fashionable at that time.
I remember being called in from my sporting activities to receive my TB inoculation without any time to change and had to queue in front of girls whilst I became the object of fun and ridicule.

Comments by Another person maned Phil on 26th September 2014  

In reply to James, what years are you referring to. My secondary schooling was 1961 to 1966. Boys only so I do not think we were worried about wearing minimal clothing. Was your school co-ed, if so I presume pe was boys only.

Reading the about the flimsy shorts, brings back memories for me.White light thin nylon with slits, with the same shorts being worn outdoors. If it was raining, then we might as well have been wearing nothing!!

The shorts worn by the boys in the photo, look more substantial and slightly longer, than we wore. However, we put up with what we had to wear, no questions asked. Furthermore, I do not know of parents complaining as I am sure they would these days. Is it long shorts & track suits these days?

Comments by James on 25th September 2014  

Rob,I'm sure you did hate wearing your shorts if they were anything like the ones we used to wear.The shorts were very trim and the thin,white nylon made them translucent.We were not allowed to wear any form of underwear under them and even white briefs would have been clearly visible.They were so light and flimsy I couldn't tell I was wearing anything.Deep side slits made them more impractible and they were held in place by elastic no wider than a rubber band.Hope this helps!

Comments by Bob on 24th September 2014  

I hated the white t-shirts and shorts we wore for Pe when girls could wear coloured tops and black shorts that did not reveal their underwear. If the top was not snow white, boys were made to go topless back in the mid 1980's. We should resolve that state sanctioned child abuse must never happen again.

Comments by Jamie on 21st September 2014  

I had similar experiences. It was never a big deal for me and my friends (up to say 15) to strip off in front of my mum and da or my friends parents. They would often come in when we were having showers etc. However totally different rules for my sisters or girls generally. After rugby, if we were muddy when we got home, we would strip naked in the utility room and tiptoe to the bathroom. No one bothered at all

Comments by Phil on 20th September 2014  

Phil, the family i wnet away with were family friends who had a son my age, approx 12. They were both teachers and pretty strict. It was just normal that we would swim naked where possible, ie in secluded bays. We both did that at school so no big deal. We sometimes went on a yaght and we spent the whole time naked if it was warm enough. Just me and my friend. His parents, like mine, would not have dreamt of going naked. We always were smothered in sun cream so quite careful

Comments by Another person maned Phil on 19th September 2014  

Re your going with a friends family & getting an allover tan, did your parents have no concerns that you were fully exposed in the company of your friend's parents? Or was it a case that in those days people did not worry or have inhibitions?

Comments by Geordie on 19th September 2014  

With reference to Alex & Alan's comments those days of fun and innocence are gone forever. When we went on summer Scout camps in the days when Scouting was for boys, a skinny dip in a nearby river was not uncommon sometimes even when it was raining. (Health & Safety what was that?) Although there were always 2 strong swimmers boys or adults watching from the riverbank. Also being exposed to moderate sun no worries about the lack of Vitamin D.

Comments by Alan on 18th September 2014  

Alex makes the memories flood back. At my prep school we went away to a village in Wales camping every summer. The only female there was the nurse, all others eith boys or masters. We were actively encouraged to strip off nsked for swimming, often in lakes out in the wilds of no where, ie no passers by. A few boys never wore anything the whole time they were there and got great tans. We did wrestling in the evenings and generally in shorts butoften these got wripped off if you were losing. All very acceptable then and it was great fun.

Comments by Alex on 13th September 2014  

Following George and Geordie's reflections on the loss of innocence; I don't know what it's like these days, but years ago boys of a certain age were keen to flex their developing muscles and prove their strength and daring.

In the 70's I took part in a school soccer trip abroad. Everyone was paired off with a friend since we would be sharing rooms; a good job as when we arrived at the 'pension' we found nearly all the rooms had double beds! After the initial objections the situation was seen as a new experience and machismo took over, pyjama tops were for sissies and there was a lot of running around in various states of undress to see what others were wearing. By lights out most of the 28 boys were tucked up in bed with silly grins on their faces and wearing very little. It transpired the next morning that the 15 year old naturist and his friend had slept naked, but since both of them had girl friends and very manly reputations nothing much was thought of it; and some people were rather envious.

On the second night most of the boys had organised a wrestling tournament and were caught happily romping on the beds in pants or pyjama bottoms. Winners from one room fought winners from another until it was time for lights out, the accepted forfeit was for the losers to sleep nude next to the victors.

This entertainment continued the next night; one group of four pushed their two beds together to make a bigger surface and had a naked tournament, inviting those from other rooms to come and fight them in the same state. The master on duty had seen everyone in the showers anyway so no-one was bothered until some boys became 'over stimulated' during their battles.

No damage was caused, nobody was forced to fight, nobody was bullied; it was just seen as fun,- what in those days was called 'horse play' and a part of growing up.

Incidentally, one of the evening meals was a large helping of steak and chips, but it was not until we were on our way home that we were told that the 'steak' had come last in the 3:00pm at the horse race track!

Anybody else remember school trips abroad?

Comments by Geordie on 12th September 2014  

In addition to my last comment & reading those of Phil, I get the impression form the modern day youth that they would not sport an all over tan even if they had one because peer pressure would make them think it was strange to have been outside without any clothes and expose the entire body to sunlight either privately or on a naturist holiday.
Do families still do this & with teen age children?

Comments by Phil on 11th September 2014  

Reading George's comments reminds me of my days at my public boarding school in the late 70's. PE was just shorts and swimming for the first 3 years naked and then optional after that. It was always quite amusing when we did swimming after the summer holiday break. Whilst we had no trunks on, we all had white marks where we had worn our trunks on holiday. A couple of the boys however had all over tans and we were all very jealous. Whilst only young, they did look really fit and healthy. I went on holiday with one of them and his family and i also got one.

Comments by Geordie on 8th September 2014  

Having read the comments by George, I agree that it is a shame that we have lost the age of innocence and freedom. I too recollect that when we were in pe with loose shorts & no pants that we exposed everything. However, we never worried about it we all knew what we have got and we were naked in the changing room & showers(communal of course)

I clearly understand the reluctance of any teacher these days being near students in any state of undress. I wonder if the modern day youth has become too inhibited. It was not so long ago that all public swimming pools had single sex communal changing rooms which now have all disappeared with swimming pools having very small cubicles with hardly any room to change in.

Comments by LN on 7th September 2014  

I attended primary school in the 70's. PE kit included a T-shirt, but randomly at the start of one lesson after I had been there some time, our teacher asked boys to remove shirts. From then on we didn't bother putting them on. I remember being self conscious at first, but soon got over it. After a few lessons which were mixed, some of the girls went bare chested too. In my innocence at that age it was the first time Id seen girls stripped off, but it soon became a normal sight.

Comments by Andrea on 7th September 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

I guess that the equivalent of short trousers for us girls were the 'gymslip' style dresses we had to wear for the first two years of secondary school. Of course as we got towards the end of our second year, our mums didn't really want to buy us new ones as we wouldn't get much wear out of them. Mine still fitted me quite well, but some girls were really starting to outgrow theirs towards the end!

Seeing mention of underwear being banned for 'hygiene' reasons reminds me that we weren't allowed to wear tights with our school uniform for similar reasons. Cycling to school in winter was certainly chilly!

Comments by Paul on 7th September 2014  

I agree with Andrea that most boys wore long trousers at secondary schools but some preparatory schools insisted on a uniform with shorts without using age for the criteria to promote boys into long trousers.
I went through adolescence wearing short trousers when much younger boys were wearing long trousers.

Comments by George on 6th September 2014  

I was at secondary school from 1948 to 1956. We were certainly "deprived" in the sense that we never had swimming lessons because the only facility was the open air baths about a mile away. However, P.E. was done almost completely naked, i.e. in thin elasticated shorts and no top (or even no plimsolls in the gymnasium. Underwear was strictly forbidden for hygiene reasons, and quite frankly, this still seems an eminently sensible idea today. It was a boys' school, so none of us was ever embarrassed. (Most of the boys enjoyed the freedom of the extremely loose shorts, even though they exposed everything if you were upside down hanging from the wall bars. This does make me wonder why nudity for boys' p.e. was never practissd in schools if it was often the norm for swimming. I remember us lads being quite amazed at one of our classmates (aged about fourteen)who sported a superb all over tan; naked he looked incredible. Even the teacher was impressed; he let the lad strut round the changing room in the buff so that we could all get an eyeful!

When I became a teacher myself some years later p.e. kit was less Spartan, but even then I can remember one boy who also evidently came from a naturist family and was similarly tanned and also was no shy about briefly being naked while changing, but by this time I was uncomfortable about it, and did not encourage him. (This was the early 60s.) How sad that we have been compelled to lose our innocence!

Comments by Andrea on 6th September 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

When I was at Junior School the boys all wore short trousers. I went to an all girls Secondary School, but from what I remember from seeing Secondary School boys on the way to and from school, most were wearing long trousers.

Comments by Paul on 6th September 2014  

We wore short trousers at my school and to maintain smartness our school maintained'the finger tip rule'which meant short trousers must not be longer than where the fingers reached when standing.
There were about 60 boys in the choir aged from 11 to 17 and every one of them were compelled to wear black short trousers and white knee socks for each of their concerts.

Comments by James on 4th September 2014  

I don't know if boys these days think this way but back in my school days short trousers were definitely an obvious marker of inferior junior status which is why we hated having to wear them.
My school had a similar rule that shorts had to be worn until you were aged 13 and 6 months but there was an additional provision which allowed boys to graduate to longs when they reached the height of 5feet 3 inches so we used to queue up at the matron's office at the start of each term to be measured hoping we had reached this magic figure.

Comments by Mike on 3rd September 2014  

I was stripped to the waist for games and PE from starting school at the age of five until A Levels at 18+.
We wore white shorts for indoors and black or navy blue for cross-country.
Although going barefoot wasn't obligatory most of us did so.
The winters then seemed to be colder but we soon got used to being bare chested.

Comments by Daniel on 23rd August 2014  

Spence, The girls were so used to seeing you exercise barechested, indoors or out, it wouldn't have bothered them.

We were barechested for PE and Games lessons from the age of 9 through to the end of A levels at 18. The cold winters were tough to start with but after your first year you knew what to expect.

Comments by Spence on 21st August 2014  

David, thanks for replying. Presumably, if you did ballroom dancing with the girls, you wore ordinary clothing and not PE kit. If you wore PE kit, the girl would have had to touch your bare shoulder when doing the waltz etc. Probably more embarrasing for them than you.

Comments by Allen on 21st August 2014  

BCG vaccination was a parental option at my (private, boys) school. Most, but not all, went for it. If my memory is correct, it was done at age 14 in 1967. It was administered on the "production line" basis with boys lining up in the North entrance lobby outside and leading into the the medical room. Jackets and shirts were removed when you had advanced to that point, and the needle was applied behind a screen not for privacy's sake, but to stop you seeing what was being done to the chap in front.

I recall that it was a case of alphabetical order, and, as I am a "W" I had had plenty of accounts of how ghastly the process was from nearly everybody else (from A to V). The fact that the chap immediately in front of me fainted and was carried out unconscious was not a good sign and did not reassure me either.

This was no ordinary injection and it was not done with a normal hypodermic, rather what looked like a pair of surgical lances, one to cut deep into the main muscle of the upper arm (which you had to hold up horizontally while the medic did the business from behind you) and the other to proddle about a bit in the hole it had made for half a minute or so, presumably administering the active ingredient. Ye gods did it hurt, and not just while it was being done! The tools were not disposable: being more or less the last in the queue of 120, I suspect they were coming to the end of their useful lives by the time they got to me, and as for the sterilization between bodies, this seemed to be achieved only by standing the instruments in alcohol!

Nobody was allowed to do PE or games for a week afterwards because the wound had to be kept dry and protected from knocks. Mine duly went septic and kept producing pus in some quantity for about six weeks before it finally healed over. so I was off games for the rest of term - whoopee!

Most chaps had a clearly visible scar as a result of this procedure, which in my case at least remains as such nearly half a century later. It was a very unpleasant experience indeed, but at least I've not had TB and it was the best excuse ever to get out of games!

I will reminisce about the terrible experiences of PE and games anon, whether anyone is interested or not!

Comments by David on 20th August 2014  

Hi Spence,
In the 1960's most houses where we lived didn't have central heating or double glazing, that is why our parents insisted we wore vests and jumpers even though they kept us in short pants up to 12-13, so in a way you got used to the cold.
The school had central heating so was actually warmer than home - but it was noticeably cooler first thing in a morning especially when it was really cold in winter until the heat built up.
Regardless of the time of year the boys PE kit was white cotton shorts and plimsolls, bare-chested, no underwear and no socks. This applied from us being 11 year olds up to leaving at 16.
In winter if you had a lesson first period - you could have goose bumps and be shivering, we all were on occasion - but if you moaned about it, you were considered a wimp.
When the lesson began you soon forgot about the cold and soon were warmed up if not sweating.
We weren't particularly noisy either - we were young, relatively fit and light footed.
The classrooms round the sides had solid wooden walls to about 4' 6" (137cm) then wooden frames with glass to the ceiling.
When we were doing lessons our in class you didn't particularly notice any PE class in the hall, so it was reasonably soundproof.
PE was generally always done separately with girls - there were only a few occasions during my time there when we had to share lessons. Boys PE was generally more focused on physical fitness than the girls from what I saw. I can't even remember what we would have done together -probably practiced ballroom type dancing.
Yes girls could wear cardigans or track suit tops if they were cold. The boys kit list also included a track suit ironically - that was a waste of our parent's money because we never got to wear them.
When we had a games period - it was done about 300 metres from the main school in an annexe by the school playing field. There were a couple of other classrooms and a sports changing room and shower block each for boys and girls.
Now that was cold in winter! After slogging away at cross country or whichever sport you were doing - as soon as you stopped whatever it was - the cold was bitter. Talk about being numb! you looked forward to a hot shower just to get some feeling back into your fingers and toes.
Hope that answers your questions.

Comments by Simon on 20th August 2014  

Like Daniel, I was at school in the 80s and boys' PE kit was very much at the teacher's discretion. In my first year of senior school we all wore a vest for PE, as specified in the official uniform list along with shorts and trainers. However the next year we had a different PE teacher and at the first lesson he made it clear that we were required to do it bare-chested. There were one or two murmurs of protest but he then announced that any boy wearing a vest in 10 seconds would get detention for the whole term! Without hesitation everyone did as they were told and our vests remained unused for the rest of the year. For outdoor PE you still wore a football top but you frequently ended up losing that too as the teams were often shirts and skins.

Comments by Spence on 19th August 2014  

David, one wonders what it was like for the teachers and pupils in the classes adjoining the gym, with the noise created by 30 teenage boys running about and presumably exercising their vocal muscles as much as the rest of their bodies. Perhaps the classrooms had thick walls.

How cold was it in the in the gym in winter? Did you have lessons with the girls on cold days? If so, were boys shivering and covered in goose pimples while the girls were fully covered apart from bare knees. Were girls allowed to wear extra clothing in the gym on cold days? I assume boys were not allowed additional kit whatever the temperature.

Comments by Daniel on 17th August 2014  

David's comments were spot on. Though I was at school in the 80's this was how you did PE. Although officially our uniform kit sheet stated boys required a vest, our teacher had other thoughts.

At the start of our first PE lesson our teacher randomly picked me to face the class, remove my vest and run to the back of the gym drop it on the floor and run back and made it crystal clear it would never be worn again. A couple of minutes later my classmates were told to do the same thing and the vests remained there until picked up at the end of the lesson. From then on all lads were bare top for their time at school.

David is absolutely right in pointing out no one (girls aside) paid any attention to lads exercising indoors our outdoors in all weathers, it was considered 100% normal. The gym was a suntrap all the year round and with our teacher being very demanding it wasn't unusual for lads of all ages to sweat especially during fitness sessions and basketball games for which one team would have a coloured sash to identify the teams.

Unlike David, though cross country was always performed with vests off regardless of the temperature and one team had their sach on for identification during House competitions.

Comments by David on 15th August 2014  

I went to a mixed Secondary Modern school in a small village school on the outskirts of a city in West Yorkshire between 1961 - 1966 probably with about 300 pupils in total & each year's intake would have about 30 girls & 30 boys.
On my first day after the register was taken our first class was double PE for us boys and it was taken in the School Hall. The hall was used for morning assembly & gym with apparatus to the sides hinged to open out. A number of the classrooms in the school were off the main hall. So while the girls went off to do their lesson, we boys were told to go & change into our pe kit which consisted of white cotton shorts & plimsolls with no socks & no underwear. It felt a bit strange wearing so little but that was soon forgotten because the lesson was quite intense and I actually enjoyed the freedom without the restriction of clothes.
Then the bell rang for the next lesson. We were directed to sit in the middle of the hall cross legged on the floor. All the classroom doors opened & the pupils came into the hall & in an anticlockwise direction walked round the edge of the hall to their next class.
We were on view to the whole school but no one seemed bothered in the slightest - them or us and like Michael said in his post earlier- it was considered healthy & manly in those days and wasn't just our class - it was any double pe. Sometimes the PE teacher decided to do the lesson in the playground so again you were on open view to the passer-by but it was never something you thought about - you were more concerned making it through the lesson without upsetting the teacher & all that entailed!!
Discipline was strict, and any transgression was dealt with swiftly with the pump administered on the spot and in front of the class.
This happened quite often.
For team games half of us were given coloured bands to distinguish sides.
One of the best games I remember was pirates - the sea was the floor & you had to avoid being caught by jumping across the various apparatus and mats laid about and not falling into the sea whilst being chased by the opposing team. The chasing side started with two people & as you were caught you joined their team - great fun.
When we occasionally shared PE with the girls it felt quite normal since we did swimming together anyway so had got used to wearing minimal clothing. The girls kit was knickers, gym-slip, vest, T shirt, socks & pumps. In winter I was sometimes quite envious of them but in warm summers I think they might have been a bit jealous of our freedom.
Outdoor games & cross country was done with a football top in House colours or it could be shirt v skins if the teacher decided. I can't remember if anyone did cross country without shirts but you could take your top off if you wanted.
Boys were only ever called by their surnames even amongst their friends, and the girls by their first names.
I only ever knew of boys being given the pump or cane - I think girls got detention or lines. We did PE twice a week plus a double games lesson & a swimming lesson
We boys had to shower after games lessons & swimming so everyone got used to being naked in front of others pretty quickly & it was no big deal.
I did come across a You Tube classic- typical of boys PE at the time. It's only a short clip of about 30 seconds (Starts around 1m 30secs- but just as I remember it).
Go to YouTube & enter:- Teacher Gwyn Evans

Comments by Allen on 12th August 2014  

BCG vaccination was a parental option at my (private, boys) school. Most, but not all, went for it. If my memory is correct, it was done at age 14 in 1967. It was administered on the "production line" basis with boys lining up in the North entrance lobby outside and leading into the the medical room. Jackets and shirts were removed when you had advanced to that point, and the needle was applied behind a screen not for privacy's sake, but to stop you seeing what was being done to the chap in front.

I recall that it was a case of alphabetical order, and, as I am a "W" I had had plenty of accounts of how ghastly the process was from nearly everybody else (from A to V). The fact that the chap immediately in front of me fainted and was carried out unconscious was not a good sign and did not reassure me either.

This was no ordinary injection and it was not done with a normal hypodermic, rather what looked like a pair of surgical lances, one to cut deep into the main muscle of the upper arm (which you had to hold up horizontally while the medic did the business from behind you) and the other to proddle about a bit in the hole it had made for half a minute or so, presumably administering the active ingredient. Ye gods did it hurt, and not just while it was being done! The tools were not disposable: being more or less the last in the queue of 120, I suspect they were coming to the end of their useful lives by the time they got to me, and as for the sterilization between bodies, this seemed to be achieved only by standing the instruments in alcohol!

Nobody was allowed to do PE or games for a week afterwards because the wound had to be kept dry and protected from knocks. Mine duly went septic and kept producing pus in some quantity for about six weeks before it finally healed over. so I was off games for the rest of term - whoopee!

Most chaps had a clearly visible scar as a result of this procedure, which in my case at least remains as such nearly half a century later. It was a very unpleasant experience indeed, but at least I've not had TB and it was the best excuse ever to get out of games!

I will reminisce about the terrible experiences of PE and games anon, whether anyone is interested or not!

Comments by Michael on 7th August 2014  

My mixed grammar school was steeped in traditional values, and boys being shirtless for games was in no way viewed as indecent. In fact, it was viewed as 'healthy' and 'manly'.

So, it was entirely routine for groups of boys to be put in teams of 'skins' and 'shirts' for games, either indoors, or out of doors in good weather.

Not that it made much difference indoors, with one side of the gym being made up entirely of glass panels and open to view to anyone passing by outside. From what I can remember no-one ever gave us a second glance.

So, none of us boys was concerned if we were chosen for the 'skins' team, as we deemed it irrelevant in itself. We wanted to start the game as quickly as possible, and were far more interested in who else was in the same team, and hence how likely we were to win.

No male at the public swimming baths covers their chest, and few men feel it necessary to cover up at the seaside, whether on the beach or walking along the promenade. On my local housing development in sunny weather, many of my male neighbours routinely do their gardening, car washing or even local shopping errands shirtless.

On sunny days I cover myself up because I'm fair-skinned and tend to burn easily. Otherwise I'd happily walk down the street shirtless without a second thought.

Comments by Monty on 6th August 2014  monty1962@outlook.com 

Yes I got my BCG in 1976 and remember it well. Not a very pleasant experience. Some (though not me) had appallingly bruised and swollen arms as a result of the carelessness or incompetence of the nurse jabbing the needle. I believe that when it started in the 1950's it was a very valuable way of preventing TB but by the time it ended, in 2005, it was no longer really needed because TB had been all but eradicated, at least in this country.

I remember that although it was generally compulsory one boy in my form was exempted on medical grounds. He didn't say why but the rest of us presumed it was because he was very weedy and would probably faint in terror at the sight of the needle. But maybe like Phil he had some kind of immunity.

I must say that I am a bit puzzled by Phil's comments about exposure of the upper body being "disgusting". It made me wonder if times changed so radically between 1976 and 1989 (and 2014) that taking your shirt off in public now induces feelings of panic and paranoia.

I consider male shirtlessness so normal that I generally wouldn't even notice it. This got me thinking that maybe things have changed and it is less prevalent in contemporary Britain, I just hadn't noticed the change. So I've just been in to town and deliberately kept my eyes open to see if there was anyone baring "nipples and navel", as Phil describes it.

Now it is a warm sunny day today but the town is small (population 5,000) and almost deserted mid afternoon. But almost the first person I saw was fellow of about 20 wearing long trousers, a cap - and no shirt. He wasn't carrying a shirt with him either. He walked right past me and exhibited total unconcern. Walking round the corner the very next person I saw was a youth of about 14 on a mountain bike, wearing what I think are called "jogging pants" and trainers, but nothing else - no hat, no shirt. Again exhibiting total unconcern.

This confirms my belief that for the vast majority of males, even today, taking your shirt off in public is no big deal. Why should it be "disgusting" to be asked to temporarily remove your shirt in school when it is considered normal to do so in a public place on a warm day? I must say Phil I am at a loss to understand your comment.

I will be the first to admit that a sight of an overweight, heavily tattoo'd member of the English working class revealing mounds of naked pink flesh while sizzling in the summer sun is not a sight which holds any aesthetic appeal. But surely it is, on the whole, a good thing if people feel so comfortable in their skins that they think nothing of exposing their upper bodies - just like the lads in the photo here? (....so I arrive back on topic by a roundabout route!)

Comments by Andrea on 5th August 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

I think I was about 14 when I had the BCG jab; we all had the pre-test first but unfortunately I was amongst the ones who didn't already have the immunity and so had to have the big needle!

We were allowed to keep our blouses on until we got into the medical room and then remove them while we had the injection. I think we were pretty much all wearing bras by then, so weren't actually topless when we had the injection.

I went to an all girls secondary school, so don't know what happened with the boys, although I can't really see that wearing a vest would get in the way.


Comments by Phil on 3rd August 2014  

I remember the BCG Tuberculosis jabs back in 1989 when I was 16. I was lucky I had a pre-test on my arm and had plus +1 TB immunity so did not need the jab.

Girls that failed could take their shirts of in the medical room and have the injections done with their bras on.

The boys that had to have the innoculation had to take of their jumpers, shirts, ties and vest and were made to stand outside in the school foyer for up to 15 minutes waiting for the jab in the medical room.

Imagine having to stand their in a school with your nipples and navel showing. They said it was to "save time" but this topless rule did not apply to females.

Today with all the equality and diversity legislation this would not be allowed. Absolutely disgusting!

Comments by Roy on 30th July 2014  

I certainly remember the BCG vaccine against TB.

Comments by Andrea on 29th July 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

I can't recollect having medicals at Primary School, but we did have one not long after starting at Secondary School.

I can remember having to strip down to my vest and knickers in a room next to the medical room and then go in to have my height and weight checked by the school nurse. She also checked hands for warts and feet for verrucas. The worst bit was having to lift up my vest so the doctor could use his stethoscope, which I can remember being cold!

Some of my classmates told me that they had to unfasten their bras so the doctor could check how their breasts were developing, but I wasn't at that stage yet!

Does anyone remember the dreaded BCG injections from Secondary school?

Comments by Monty on 26th July 2014  monty1962@outlook.com 

I remember medicals in primary school where we all had to stand in a line outside the head's office - which the visiting doctor was using - in our awful white 1970's Y fronts. My primary school was co-ed and I remember girls walking past us - though I think they had their medical exams separately, and I don't recall seeing them have to stand in a public corridor in their knickers - I doubt they had to, as in those days girls were thought to have a greater need for privacy than boys. None of us boys thought it odd and we even horsed around a bit in front of the girls. I don't recall feeling even slightly embarrassed at this.

I remember nothing of the actual medical and I was spared a medical at my public school because only boarders had to have one when they joined the Upper School, and I only became a boarder in the sixth form. I remember other sixth formers telling the new boys to watch out for when the doctor said "How do you like school dinners?", because this was inevitably the prelude to having your testicles grabbed and being asked to cough. The same doctor had been visiting the school for years and must have used that line hundreds of times. Actually I think it was a good idea of the doctor's - most 13 year olds would have found this experience a bit awkward, even in the 70's, and I think this helped reduce the embarrassment a bit.

(Apologies for straying off topic a bit)

Comments by David on 26th July 2014  

We had our yearly medical exam and had to line up stripped to the waist outside the medical room.
I could never understand why we had to have our eyes and ears tested while stripped to the waist but that was the rule.
Then still stripped to the waist we went individually before the doctor and nurse.

Comments by David on 26th July 2014  

The school I attended had a typical uniform of navy blue blazer,stripped tie and long trousers.However what intrigued me was that included in the uniform requirement were short pants,knee stockings showing the house colours and garters to hold them in place.The shorts were invariably brief and trim and after being tried on and purchased were deposited in the wardrobe,hopefully never to be worn.
At my first visit to my new school the majority of boys were wearing their school uniform and only a few were wearing shorts,even some of the older ones.I never found out why and didn't enquire,i just thought it was their parents quaint custom.
I never got into trouble at school until I went into the library,when it wasn't my turn,I liked reading and went in to avoid going out in the cold.When the teacher came in although I tried to hide I was caught and told to see her after lessons.I awaited my punishment with trepidation and after waiting for the bell after the last lesson expecting lines or even the cane.After being giver a stern lecture and told to straighten my tie I was told"you will wear short trousers for six weeks".I was devastated and confessed to my parents who could do nothing to get me out of my predicament.

Comments by Andrea on 20th July 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

At my all girls secondary school in the early to mid 1970s we had those divided games shorts (culottes)and a long sleeved cotton shirt for outdoor PE in winter.
Indoor PE kit was always navy gym knickers and a white T shirt or polo shirt. For the first couple of years our outdoor kit in summer was the same as the indoor kit but from the third year we were allowed to wear a games skirt over the gym knickers if we wished.

We only had swimming lessons for the first couple of years and had to wear a regulation navy blue swimming costume.

Comments by Barney on 20th July 2014  

To Jeff
I agree with your final sentence. I think that these days there is too much inhibition. We never thought twice in secondary school about minimal wear for pe or games. Perhaps it was better for being single sex school. Only one female teacher who never went near the pe classes.

Comments by Jeff on 20th July 2014  

From the posts here it seems that schools had different requirements for PE kit. Some schools had white shorts and vests for both boys and girls, as at my school, some schools required both boys and girls do PE in just underwear, others had bare chested in just shorts for boys. Still others required that no underwear be worn under shorts.
I can sympathise with Monty and others here who had to wear just tiny white see-through shorts which they found embarrassing, especially in mixed classes or with female teachers present.

What I find interesting here is Matthew's and others' accounts of having to do swimming classes, and even galas in front of spectators totally naked. I don't think anything could be more embarrassing than that, especially in the presence of female teachers and other female staff and spectators. I can't imagine me having to do that at school.
But I suppose it is like Matthew said, one gets used to everything, and at that age, primary school age it wouldn't have mattered so much. But at an older age into teens, as he mentions, it would have been very embarrassing and humiliating.
But I guess they were more innocent times, unlike today. One wonders if they were in fact better times for kids than today's uptightness and fear of exposure.

Comments by Dave on 19th July 2014  

We were always stripped to the waist for PE at my school and even the boys who were wary of it soon got used to it.
By the time we reached sixth form many lads had got hairy chests and some thought they were better than the lads with hairless chests!!!

Comments by James on 18th July 2014  


I remember wearing those nylon shorts for the first time,albeit with a slight degree of trepidation.We all wore the same white shorts for running,athletics and gymnastics.They were very short and were worn without anything underneath which would easily have been detected due to their transparency.Our mixed school must have offered an alluring site for many female onlookers.

Comments by Matthew on 16th July 2014  

Adrea, yes, i think there were allowances made for more developed boys. They just didn't participate in the galas and i don't blame them. Most of us were just young boys and didn't mind or even think of it as being odd. I would add that if a girl had appeared, then that would have been totally different and we would all have freaked oout.

Comments by Barney on 16th July 2014  

In answer to type of school. Secondary was all boys. Primary was mixed. For pe boys just removed their shirts & in those days we all wore singlets which were kept on for pe. Girs removed skirts & did pe in regulation navy blue underwear. No equality for girls those days. Boys I knew form other primary schools told me they had to remove their shorts and do pe in their briefs & singlet, just like the girls.

Comments by Monty on 15th July 2014  monty1962@outlook.com 


I can't speak for Barney, but I found the tiny white see-through shorts EXTREMELY embarrassing. My birthday is in November so I was old for my year, and as well as that I developed earlier than most of my classmates. During the course of my first term in the Lower School - i.e. Autumn 1974 - I shot up massively in height and by the time of my birthday in November 74 it was impossible for me to wear the shorts without pants, as the rules technically required. Not only was it hugely awkward that everything was pretty much visible through the pants themselves, it was actually physically impossible for me to prevent things from hanging out of the side of my shorts....you can understand why I started breaking school rules by wearing pants underneath from about the time of my birthday. I am just relieved I was not compelled to remove them! (If the PE master noticed than perhaps he had compassion on me!)


Comments by Andrea on 15th July 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Those see through white shorts must have been pretty embarrassing - I thought our white polo shirts were bad enough, but at least we had a bra underneath them when we developed! Was it an all boys school, or were there girls around too?

Was any allowance made for the boy who had started to mature earlier than the rest? When I was at primary school there weren't any changing rooms so boys and girls had to change together in the classroom. A few girls who had started to develop in the final year were allowed to go to the toilets to change in privacy though.


Comments by Michael on 14th July 2014  

It was always perishing cold in our gym - no matter how warm it might have been outdoors. Considering that one side was a huge expanse of glass, it must have been a work of machiavellian genius on the part of the architect, (or the north facing aspect) that accounted for the constantly chilly temperature.

To make matters worse, the showers were always cold and we were allowed insufficient time to get properly dried afterwards. Thus, we hurried to our next lessons exhausted, wet and shivering, and feeling in no fit state to give the subject our full attention.

If all that, three times a week, was supposed to be healthy, then give me a sofa and a plate of chips anytime.

Comments by Barney on 14th July 2014  

Our pe kit was shorts no pants or top, plimsolls no socks indoors.

Outside again no pants but with a tee shirt and bare top, but Autumn/Winter terms a tee shirt or other type top no specific uniform.

The shorts were were white,very short & tight which & thin. I think that this was insisted upon to deter us from wearing pants which would have been seen. Furthermore I expect the tightness was meant togave us support because we never knew about any athletic support or told about it. So in winter extremely chilly and heaven help you if it rained (see through)

Scout camp we wore shorts normally for me my school ones because my parents could not afford too many different types. Pants were worn but because my shorts were white of course my pants showed. However, in that day and age we all wore white briefs so no one cared.

Scout uniform was khaki shorts so no problem nothing showed in public.

Comments by Matthew on 14th July 2014  

Monty, i know, you could not imagine it now. There was probably only one or two boys who were 14, the majority being 12 - 13. Plus all the junior school. We were all generally pretty immature although there was one lad who had developed more than most. My school was one of those that was clinging on to the old public school image, ie cold showers, no heating but slowly changed after i had left. Very strict and a harsh regime so you abided with what was required without hesitation.

Comments by Monty on 13th July 2014  monty1962@outlook.com 


Without wishing to doubt you in any way, I have to say your account seems very unusual. Was it really the case that boys as old as 15 had to walk up naked to receive their swimming prizes from the headmaster's wife? In England, in the 1970's?

My mother was Akela of a Cub Scout Pack in the 1960's and 70's and as an older teen I sometimes went with her on Cub camps. I am quite sure that cubs - that's to say, boys up to the age of 11 - were quite unabashed about being naked in her presence. In fact, I remember a county cub swimming gala when I was a cub where she came into the changing rooms and gave a pep talk whilst surrounded by dozens of naked or semi-naked little boys. No one batted an eyelid. But the point is we were little boys - pre pubescent - and the account by a previous poster of a line of naked 11 year olds receiving swimming prizes from the headmaster's wife at a no-trunks school swim meet is one that seems quite normal for the 1970's and before.

I do think it was a very different matter once puberty was reached, however. Although unabashed about public nudity in front of other males, I would have been mortified to have been naked in front of females any time after the age of 11, and I cannot think of any occasions in my youth when this happened to me or anyone I know.

I boarded in the sixth form, and the only females we ever saw were the housemaster's wife and the matron. Neither of them every saw any of us naked, as far as I'm aware, although we had daily communal showers (no cubicles or curtains) and even the bathrooms had multiple baths in the same room. We thought nothing of the housemaster talking to us while we were in the showers, but the housemaster's wife... that was inconceivable.

The only episode I can think of is when years later I was in the army in Germany in the early 1990's and went to a public swimming pool. Whilst changing in the large open plan changing room a cleaning woman barged in and started mopping the floor. I was rather startled - though I think I was decent, as it happened - but there were also half a dozen (German) teenage boys getting changed. I was curious to see how they would react to the intrusion of a female so I remember observing their expressions - with one exception they reacted with total unconcern. The exception was one lad who seemed to make a point of dropping his towel and trying to make eye contact with the cleaner whilst completely starkers, in a very brazen way, to signify (I think) his disapproval - a sort of "what are you looking at, then?" attitude. (All wasted effort as she didn't so much as glance at any of us but kept plying her mop).

But Germans are different....

I do entirely agree with you about attempting to cover up making things worse. I once swam in a pool (not at school) where nudity was the rule in the water and I vividly recall a boy of about 13 cupping his genitals in a way which did nothing except attract attention. He didn't seem to be made any differently to anyone else so he achieved nothing except ensure that people noticed him whereas if he hadn't made such an elaborate display no-one would have given him a second thought!

Apologies if this is a bit off topic but many fascinating reminiscences have been raised by many posts here.

Comments by Matthew on 13th July 2014  

When females came to watch the house galas, it was fine and no one really minded. The one exception was the odd new boy who tried to cover himself up. In fact, that made it worse. The headmasters wife always handed out the prizes at the end and you had to go and collect any silver ware still butt naked.
We did have corporal punishment but it was the last few years of it - late 70's. Cane and slipped. Gym master always preferred to dish out the gym shoe which was mighty painful and left marks.

Comments by Barney on 11th July 2014  


I agree with your final comments. In all my years at school & Scouts it was all boys and we did not think about it being odd seeing each other starkers. Like you during PE when we paired up to perform handstands & other exercises we often saw each others equipment & thought nothing of it.

Yes lads were expected to be wearing the mininmum of clothing especially at camp. With regards to impropriety, one was never alone with either a teacher or Scout leader.Thinking about it the Leader was protected from any allegations because the Scout leader always had at least one assiatnt with him. You were always togther as a group. So without thinking about it there was safety in numbers and yes in the context of camp, the one NOT stripping off was thought to be odd for not joining in. I know when we had hot weather at camp,some boys would jump into a river butt naked without thinking. It took me some time but eventually after over coming my shyness,I joined in.
In fact I loved going to camp, and got to enjoy the freedom of being away from my parents so I could join in with the others and experience the fun. I did not have to wear pj's although they were packed in my kit & I could go to bed andsleep in my pants or if I dare like the other boys with nothing on.

Those were days of freedom, unlike the these days when evryone seems afraid to do anything in case they infringe some rule.

Comments by Jeff on 11th July 2014  

Were the boys embarrassed to swim naked in front of female teachers during school galas, especially at the age you mention when the boys were in their teens?
Also, did you have corporal punishment at the school?

Comments by Dave on 10th July 2014  

Hi Barney!

What was your whole PE kit? Were you allowed to wear shirts? What did you wear at scout camps for physical exercises?

Comments by Monty on 10th July 2014  


Thanks for your comments. I had always assumed swimming trunks under shorts was a late innovation so it's interesting to hear a different story.

The no-underpants rule with PE shorts was sensible if you were going to take a shower afterwards, but as we never had time for a shower after PE it seemed pointless and, by the time we were in the Upper School, positively embarrassing with the very short semi-transparent nylon white shorts we had to wear. I distinctly remember at one boy stripping his underpants off to put his shorts on for PE right up to the age of 16, when he was really far too old to be doing this with any degree of comfort or decency. But no one thought it odd. And I am sure he was not alone, although I remember him in particular because on one occasion someone slapped his bare arse as a jocular insult, as he was getting changed, which he reacted to with extreme annoyance (as anyone would).

Barney's remarks reminded me how very different things were back then. I was in the scouts from 1975-1979 and there was a culture of casual nudity at our scout camps, encouraged by the scoutmaster (though he didn't participate in it). I should stress that I was unaware of any kind of impropriety which was, I believe, far from anyone's mind - it was just considered natural. Although I wasn't shy, I thought it a bit odd that others like to spend so much time undressed. Looking back it seems ironic to recall that I was teased for NOT going naked with the suggestion that I was being "unmanly" or even "queer" !

It was certainly a different world then. I look back on those times with pleasant nostalgia and I am convinced that neither I nor anyone I knew was treated improperly or abusively. It was all a far cry from the hysteria of the present day, which cannot be good for the psychological health of modern youngsters.

Comments by Barney on 9th July 2014  

I attended a secondary modern school between 1961 & 1966 and during all that time we never wore any suppport for either pe or games. It was not suggested to us. We did not have naked swimming lessons as these were at a public pool. Although only the calss was present. However there were the showers and a pe maaster patrolling the changing rooms during the prepubic years. WE never thought anything strange. I think it was an era when most young men who became teachers had served in the forces possibly only as National Service. They along with our dads were used to the attitude of all fellas together and living & changing in in full view of each other in the huts/barracks where there would be several men together. Also most of my classmates were in one of the local Scout Troops or other organisations and would often go camping there would be up to 6 boys in one large tent so we were used to getting undressed together to say nothing of the primative Latrine toilets which had no privacy.

But times have moved on. Are youngsters now "softer" and more inhibited. Finally, I remember the whole class lining up for the regular Medical Exam. Down to underpants ( briefs of Course) no designer boxers, and dropping for the doctor often a woman. What do others think?

Comments by Andrea on 9th July 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 


Re PE underwear.My ex told me that at the start of his third year at secondary school in the early 1970s their pe teacher sat all the boys down in the changing room and told them that they should start to wear an 'athletic supporter'(jockstrap) for pe and games lessons, or risk 'doing themselves an injury'. For the previous two years they had not been allowed to wear any underwear under their shorts.

He said that most boys did as they were told and he continued to wear one for sports into adulthood.

It's interesting to read that in other schools it wasn't considered necessary at all, or that teachers spoke to certain pupils when they thought it was becoming necessary.

In some cases there was a similar situation in our school with bras. Several of my classmates started to wear them after being 'advised' that it was time by our pe teacher!

Comments by michael on 7th July 2014  michaelabbey@rocketmail.com 

I was very interested to read your full account of your games and pe experiences.
Although I went to school in slightly earlier times, my memory of events is quite similar. In particular with regard to the prohibition of what I took to be our everyday underwear for sports.
In fact nobody ever checked what we were wearing and many boys soon took to wearing swimming trunks as a support. A major difference was that we were never instructed to wear a jock strap, not even by our most unpleasant sports master. Some boys, however, were advised to wear swimming trunks if they were in school teams and seemed to be in need of them!
It was only later when some senior boys took to jock straps instead of swimming trunks - rather than the reverse as you describe.
In any event it is interesting to read your comments on this subject as the majority of commenters had nevr it seems worn any kind of underwear / support which was not the case at my school.
If you or anyone wants to email me I would be pleased.

Comments by Matthew on 5th July 2014  

The swimming was always done naked for lessons either as a class or one to one. We did have galas for years 4 and 5, ie 12 to 14 years olds. If they were house galas they were always naked and some female teachesr watched, especially the sports teachers and house mistresses. The school galas were not done naked as we had to wear black trunks

Comments by david mayne on 5th July 2014  

To dave.yes we were allowed rugby shirt to wear for rugby and football, cross country running was a plain white teeshirt.for the gym class we were told only shorts. no trainers or teeshirt.we had to wear white cotton (rugby style) for outdoors and white nylon shorts for gym class.everyone seemed to wear umbro.As i said before no underwear was allowed.just swim trunks,nothing or some class members began wearing a jockstrap/athletic supporter.As were developing more of the class became aware of chest hair and were embarressed when walking back to the changing rooms passing the girls.

Comments by Monty on 5th July 2014  

An interesting and nostalgic photograph. At my school in the 70's we would have looked exactly like this in PE.

We often played "shirts v skins" tag games. One boy took off his vest and chased the others - when he "tagged" someone, the tagged boy had to take off his vest and join his team. As the numbers of skins increased it became harder and harder to avoid them until the last boy with a vest was caught. At that point, he became the "tagger" and the game began in reverse - but this time everyone he caught put his vest back on until everyone was fully clothed again.

I remember it being quite fun and energetic and I don't recall anyone thinking it odd or uncomfortable that we ran around shirtless.

We didn't shower after PE because there was always pressure to get to the next lesson. One day our regular PE master was replaced by a very sporty South African rugby coach who really put us through our paces. We were all dripping with sweat - much more so than was usually the case. At the end he said "right you'd better get a shower" - but we pointed out we wouldn't have time. (There were showers in the gym but they were rarely used). "Oh - well I'm afraid you'll have to smell for the rest of the day then." And we did - I remember wishing we did have time for a shower - we must have been about 15 then.

This was at an independent school in the English midlands. There were in fact 3 sub-schools on site - Prep, Lower and Upper. I joined the Lower in 1974 and left the Upper in 1981. On my first PE lesson I was getting changed into the (rather small) split-side nylon white shorts when another boy said "you can't wear underpants under your shorts." I was a bit surprised but did what I was told. Funnily enough the no-underpants rule was never enforced by the PE master and I suspect it was a rule in the Prep school. (Most boys, unlike me, had started in the Prep School).

I do remember one boy climbing the rope and all of us standing below watching him - he was quite some way up - and his equipment was clearly visible hanging out of his shorts. I remember feeling rather embarrassed on his behalf but if he or anyone else noticed anything they didn't say. We would have all been about 12 and he hadn't started puberty.

When I went into the Upper School I kept my underpants on beneath my shorts but some of the others I think continued to go commando right up to the end of compulsory PE at 16, though there was I'm sure no rule either way.

It was different for rugby where jock straps were compulsory. We had a rather unpleasant Lower School master who used to check we were wearing jock straps by going along a line of boys and pulling our shorts out from the back to look down them. I told my mother this and she just said "well you'd better make sure you always wear your jock strap!"

Later in the Upper school some boys took to wearing swimming trunks for rugy instead of jock straps but this was technically against school rules and I always wore a jock. I remember a classmate being tackled so severely when we were about 17 that his shorts were ripped to his knees and he was left lying bare-arsed on the grass (like me he was one who never wore trunks only a jock). No-one passed any remarks on this.

Swimming was done in an open air pool adjacent to the gym and we wore trunks, but interestingly this had not always been the case. I remember leafing through the huge bundle of school rules and found one which said "Sixth formers may wear swimming costumes". So clearly at some point trunks had been a sixth form privilege and junior boys swam naked. This was confirmed to me later by a (very old) boy. I don't know when this practice stopped; probably as early as the 1940's. (There were lots of bizarre rules which still persisted - e.g. I remember carrying an umbrella was a sixth form privilege - so it was the first thing I did when I became eligible).

I recently met an elderly couple on holiday who remarked that their three sons had been at Berkhamstead school in the 70's - the last one left in the early 80's - and the wife told me all her sons swam naked in school but the practice was ended before the last one left. Her husband said "I knew they swam naked but I never knew it had stopped before the youngest left." She said "I didn't tell you because it wasn't important."

I asked her what she thought about the practice and she said "I think it was very practical - they didn't have to worry about leaving mouldy kit around". She said neither she nor her boys thought there was anything odd about this. She did add that for swimming galas when spectators were present they did wear trunks.

Apart from Berkhamstead I think compulsory nude swimming for boys also persisted at Newcastle Royal Grammar and Manchester Grammar into the early 1980's. These must have been the last schools in the country to abandon the practice.

Much of the reason was probably conservatism. Our school uniform was originally tweed but when Queen Victoria died it was changed to mourning black. We were still wearing that when I was there! Although I gather this has now changed. I calculate that we were therefore mourning Queen Victoria for nearly 100 years!

Comments by Dave on 5th July 2014  

Hi David Mayne?

Were you allowed to wear shirts for inside and outside PE?

Comments by Ben on 4th July 2014  

When you say that the "swimming was always done naked" was this only for swimming lessons or also when there were swimming competitions or galas in front of mixed spectators?

Was it a boys only school or mixed?

Comments by david mayne on 2nd July 2014  

I visited a normal secondary school in the mid 80's.Upon our first p e lesson we were told that our bodies would develop and that we would have to shower.it was common for the teacher to be in the changing room making sure you all showered and not just run through.We also had to wear white shorts inside and outside.We were told to wear a swim costume or no pants which was awkward when it was a wet rugby lesson.One day the teacher told us we were not allowed to play football as the pitch was frozen and said we were to go swimming instead.those that chose to not bring swim trunks to wear were told to just wear their shorts.The horror on their faces I can remember now.The teacher said yes they were see through but we were all the same and hget on with it.

Comments by Matthew on 30th June 2014  

Familiar with many of the memories. I boarded when i was 11 - 13 but lived near the school. In the summer holidays i was given extra swimming lessons by the schools sports teacher at the school as my mother worked in the office. I went there a few times a week. I always got changed in the cubicles but swimming was always done naked and that was the routine for my lessons. Had to work on strokes outside of pool normally for about ten minutes and then did swimming. He was very good as he would teach actually in the pool, in trunks. He would support you on tumble turns turns. Never thought it was odd and i certainly improved.

Comments by NickK on 14th June 2014  

John Lavendar - thanks, I have sent you an email.

Comments by Mike on 12th June 2014  

It was a prep school in the 70, and up to the age of 13. She supervised us in the showers in the boarding houses also as she was a house mistress there. The housemaster used the cane and she used a slipper. She said she just wanted to leave a mark on the backside to remind other boys to behave. Always on a bare backside

Comments by John Lavender on 12th June 2014  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

To NickK

my email is


if you want to correspond.

Just highlight the address, copy and paste into the 'to'

box on your blank email form and that should do the trick; look forward to corresponding.

Comments by Archie on 12th June 2014  

Jim Scotsguy

What was the most trivial thing you were belted for? I was strapped on several occasions for wearing white sports socks with my uniform instead of normal black socks, which was very much the fashion in the 80s. Many of us got our hands and on occasion backsides warmed for doing this.

Comments by NickK on 11th June 2014  

John Lavendar - Many thanks for your reply. All very interesting. I have Yahoo mail and so cannot open your email address but would like to chat if there is some way round this.

JC - interesting about the boxing - we too were made to fight hard and swift retribution followed from the PE master if you didn't give it your all.

Comments by Jeff on 10th June 2014  

Up to what age where the boys supervised by the female teacher in the showers?
And what did she spank them with when they misbehaved?

Comments by JC on 9th June 2014  


Yep we had boxing too from 11 to 18. All boys were stripped to shorts without exception and made to really go for your opponents. We were kept fighting in the ring until the teacher reckoned we were sweating enough.

Comments by Mike P on 9th June 2014  

At my prep school, our pe/swimming teacher was female and was always present when we showered after pe. We were all boarders and it was fine and was often more preferable than male teachers being present. She was strict but let us have warmish water whereas the male teachers generally forced us to have cold showers. After a while everyone becomes oblivious to it and was just normal. She could however dish out punishments to boys who messed around, generally on a bare backside.

Comments by James on 9th June 2014  


When we participated in all boys team events such as cross country running,there were not enough changing areas.Some of us had to use the girls'changing rooms and these were always supervised by female teachers.

Comments by Andy on 9th June 2014  

It was the cane when I was at school across the backside normal.I managed to avoid it but should of had it at least twice!Had detention a few times including P.E. One lad in my classes got the cane for wearing pilmsolls for indoor P.E were not allowed anything on your feet had to be in barefeet.

Comments by Archie on 8th June 2014  


Yes, we were tawsed on our hands and our bare backsides. Also slippered on the backside.

Comments by Jeff on 8th June 2014  

Anyone had female teachers supervising boys showers after PE?

Comments by NickK on 8th June 2014  

Michael, we had something similar at my all boys grammar school. In the first two years there would be boxing on the occasional lunchtime. Anyone who wanted to box (and I remember a couple of occasions when, similar to your school, boys who had been fighting or had a grudge would be sent into the ring) could do so - stripped to shorts, big heavy gloves, just on gym mats with no ropes! Like you, it was basically a slugging match with no real skills, until one boy was exhausted and conceded defeat.

The thing I most remember were the crowds of boys who crammed into the gym to watch the spectacle and the noise levels which were terrifying! Lord of the Flies stuff! Great days.

Comments by John Lavender on 8th June 2014  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

To NickK

Re: wrestling

Hello nick, thank you for your query.

The Bouts were uncoached; we just were paired-up with a Random Opponent , one bout at a Time, usually towards the end of the Lesson , and usually if we did not have A Killerball game in that Lesson.

We were just told to grapple -the Bouts lasted around 5 minutes if one of us did not Submit. No Wrestling Holds were taught and it was pretty much unregulated.We ended up with some pretty sore places on our Bodies!

We did not get to choose our opponent but to be fair we were usually matched against someone of similar Build/Height so it was not usually a Mis-match.

Perhaps email me direct if you fancy corresponding further - your Call. My email is shown above this post on the logo.

Comments by Michael on 8th June 2014  

Boxing was not part of the curriculum at my old grammar school, but from time to time I did notice there were pairs of boxing gloves hung up in the PE equipment store.

One day they were used by two boys who had been found quarrelling, and who, after being separated, were invited to sort out their differences under proper supervision in the gym, by means of a boxing match.

Neither boy had previously been given any formal instruction in the sport of boxing, so it was basically a slogging match. It lasted only until one boy got too tired to continue, and admitted defeat.

At that point the PE teacher, who had been refereeing the match and ensuring fair play, ruled that his opponent was the winner.

I think that 'elf & safety' regulations would rule out such a means of settling disputes today.

Comments by Sam on 7th June 2014  

In our school pumishment was usally the cane across the hand(not the one you wrote with so you were not stopped from working). This could be very painful but no tears.

The slipper might be administered in PE. Across a tight backside so that the teacker could see that no pants were being worn. Did any schools use the belt,cane or slipper across a bare backside?

When you think about it we suffered the punsihment and dare not tell our parents because we would get another clout from them for getting into trouble in the first place.

Comments by NickK on 7th June 2014  

John Lavendar - interesting post about the PE activities you had. Some of them sound familiar. Was the wrestling something that was properly coached and the moves and holds taught, or was it just get in there and wrestle an opponent? Did you get paired off to do it or was there one match and others watched? And did you ever get to choose your opponent?

Comments by James on 6th June 2014  


Yes,I was slippered a couple of times in front of girls which was more embarrassing but one of the punishments I frequently received was to be made to spread my legs wide so the strap could access my inner thighs.Brief school uniform shorts and games shorts helped to facilitate this kind of punishment and was the most painful.

Comments by Jim Scotsguy on 5th June 2014  


I was a good pupil but even then I had to take the long walk to the front of the class on a few occasions. I did my best to avoid the belt but in those days it was used regularly- some teachers used it in most lessons. I think very few boys would have gone through school without receiving a belting.

Comments by Archie on 5th June 2014  


Did you get slippered in front of girls? How were you dressed during the slippering?

Comments by James on 5th June 2014  


They were white and they were gym shorts but also we wore nylon shorts in our house colours,mine were yellow.

Comments by James on 5th June 2014  


I was slippered for forgetting my kit,it was done in public and was very embarrassing.

Comments by Sam on 5th June 2014  

You mention of nylon shorts.were these white? iI remember a lad in our class wore white nylon shorts for football one day in the rain. They became very see through. He never wore them again.

Why on earth were shorts made in white nylon and why did people buy them because even in the dry pants which were always briefs in the mid sixties could be seen through them

Comments by John Lavender on 5th June 2014  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

At our Grammar-School in the 1960s we had no shirts v. skins unless we were playing Team-games or unless you were one of last 2 Lads to get changed for PE ,in which case you had to remove Tee-shirts and Run-the-Gauntlet as Punishment (some of us were deliberately slow so we could do this and then do PE Shirtless).
If we did Wrestling we were told beforehand to wear Swimming trunks under our Gym-shorts so we knew when we were going to do it, and could just strip-off the Shorts and Shirts when we were starting the Wrestling. We didn't do Wrestling all that often but we looked forward to it as Proper Wrestling was on the TV , usually on Saturday Afternoons.
We didn't do Weight-training but did a lot of stuff with A Medicine-ball, a proper heavy one, probably about 10kg or whatever that was in old money.
We played Killerball , Skins v. Vests , virtually every PE Lesson ,mostly with an ordinary [Leather] Football or Rugby Ball (the game was very like Rugby , only Indoors) but occasionally we were "treated" to playing the Match with the Medicine-ball. Which did wonders for your Upper-body Strength..

Comments by Charlie on 5th June 2014  

Our swimming teacher always found it amusing when we came back after the summer holidays and we all had white marks where our trunks had been. It looked like we were wearing trunks. A few boys including myself one summer managed to get an all over tan when on holiday so the teacher got a bit of a surprise when he saw us withput the normal white marks.

Comments by Jamie on 5th June 2014  

We did wrestling after school once a week. It was optional but i really enjoyed it.I was pretty skinny at about age 12 or 13 and it was really good exercise but hard work. We just wore our white cotton shorts for it, no top or shoes. If it was hot, we would do it outside.

Comments by Archie on 5th June 2014  


How were you slippered? Was it done in private or in front of the class?

Comments by Archie on 4th June 2014  

Jim Scotsguy yes I did but I was early to mid 80s. Did you get belted much?

Comments by Jim Scotsguy on 4th June 2014  jimbirnham728@gmail.com 

Did you attend a school in Scotland? Your experiences very much mirror mine from the late 60's.

Comments by George on 4th June 2014  

We occasionaly did some wrestling in pe and we had to wear swimming trunks for that instead of shorts. Don't know why but that was the rule. The strange thing was that you were allowed to wear swimming trunks to wrestle in, but not for swimming. That was the 70's for you. After a lessons wrestling, every boy had marks all over their tops where they had been grappled.

Comments by James on 4th June 2014  


I rarely forgot my kit but it was punishable by the use of the slipper.A supply of shorts was kept in case of this eventuality and these were polyester,nylon satin shorts.

Comments by Archie on 3rd June 2014  


What happened to lads who forgot their kit for a mixed gym lesson?

Comments by Archie on 3rd June 2014  

Our gym shorts were black, so it was quite easy for masters to see the waistband of any white briefs sticking out the back which wasn't too unusual an occurrence especially during heavy sessions of circuit training and the like.

They would also occasionally go along a line of boys to pull back their shorts to do a "pants check" if they were being particularly mean!

Comments by Sam on 3rd June 2014  

Archie, I see your question to another writer. My experience was that we only wore white shorts, no pants from age 11 to leaving school at 16. I think white because any underpants which were always briefs would be seen. We were not told about any type of support and so did not know about it or wear jockstraps, relying on tight shorts for any support which sometimes left nothing to the imagination. However, as far as I remember no one thought anything about. It was an all boys school and there was no embarrasment and and then we stripped off and had communal showers at the end of the lesson with no inhibitions.

What were othe peoples experiences?

Comments by James on 3rd June 2014  


We were not allowed to wear anything under our shorts for mixed gym lessons or any other sporting activities.I simply wore shorts until I left school.

Comments by Archie on 2nd June 2014  


When you were in mixed gym class were you allowed to wear anything under your shorts? We weren't allowed to wear anything under ours until we were older when we could wear a jock or speedos under, though many of us wore briefs - we got belted if we got caught! I do remember that some lads didn't wear anything underneath even when they were a bit older notwithstanding they were a bit too big for their gym shorts....

Comments by Lorry on 30th May 2014  

Yes, meant wearing trunks was not on the Agenda. This was the practice at my school and many others. I did not wear trunks from early prep school from age 8 to about 15.
My sisters teased me a bit as they thought it was amusing that they were allowed to wear costumes and we wern't. I got my own back when we all forgot our swimming kit but i could still do my swimming lesson

Comments by mark on 30th May 2014  

Simon, I remember getting teased for having to wear shorts

Comments by Sam on 29th May 2014  

Matthew your comments about whther the Teachers should have also been naked are interesting. Possibly logical but I should think unlikely.

Comments by Simon on 29th May 2014  

Lorry,did you mean "wearing trunks was not on the agenda"?
Why were you teased by your sisters,I was teased by sisters for wearing short trousers?

Comments by James on 28th May 2014  

An awful as I think the treatment of boys in games and swimming in school was up to the 1980s,it may still surprise you to hear that I actually have no problem with naked swimming in principal but it has to be a free choice of any boy to do so.What right does anybody have to force nudity on teenage boys at any level?That goes for showers too.The reasons for naked swimming at my school were that you couldn't wimp out with the excuse that you had forgotten your kit.Having said that many lads still didn't bring a towel and ended up borrowing from a friend or getting dressed damp.Our classes used to involve about 36 boys at times and I would readily admit that maybe 10 of them loved it but they were the minority.I rememeber at the end of one lesson coming out of the pool and getting a loud bawling at for some minor reason by my games teacher.I just cannot begin to explain how utterly small and pathetic it made me feel to be shouted at while naked in front of my fully clothed adult teacher,as a boy of 14,while he was looking me up and down.During a lesson of about 70 minutes the boys would not be in the pool for the whole time and for periods would be required to stand at the edge in line watching in the pool doing various swim tasks.I always remember wandering where to put my hands.To cover or not.When we lined up at the start of the swimming periods at the side of the pool,as our names were ticked off the register,I was struck by how many of my classmates would put their arms behind their backs,maybe somewhat defiantly.We had a female school matron who had seemingly unrestricted access to the pool where boys or girls were swimming.She appeared on numerous occasions and I clearly recall us saying to us boys one day that there wasn't a lad in the 12 years she had worked there who she hadn't seen in his entirety.We all new what that meant.About 3 times a year wee would have the matron check the soles of our bare feet prior to our lesson,when we kneel in a line along a bench.Not one of us liked it.Oh!and guess what,we were ready to swim at the time,so naked.Now why did we have to be naked to have our feet looked at?On numerous occasions rumours circulated that we would be getting our penises checked out by her too.It stayed a rumour,thankfully.The simple fact is that there were a lot of boys who never got used to this behaviour by our school teachers and staff.Boys could be stripped,poked about,looked at etc.as if we had no care about it.But girls,well it was a world of difference.No naked swimming,nice swimwear of their choice,voluntary showering and nice gym kits too.They could wear their trainers in the gym,boys were bare feet and bare chested.Many were mixed so it mattered.The boys were to be "meat" to be checked over.Lots of boys didn't like taking their shirts off and going bare chested but were given no choice.

Comments by Matthew on 28th May 2014  

Sam, in an all-male context, trunks would probably have been considered unnecessary. By the same token, though, the teacher should not have needed them either.

Comments by Lorry on 28th May 2014  

Sam, you have to remember, this was a totally different era. The cane was used daily and i was not aware of parents complaining about this. Mine certainly didn't and in fact if i got the cane at school, i got further beatings at home. Not wearing trunks for swimming was just not even on the agenda. It didn't register as anything unusual as this is what we did. Always got a bit teased by my sisters but this was the norm. I did go to a private school and in the 70's, this was the way it was. Nowdays, i appreciate, we are a million miles away from where we were

Comments by George on 28th May 2014  

We did sometimes have females come in to the swimming area. It really depended who they were. If it was one of the sports teachers or medical staff, never a problem. We were oblivious to them. The rule was that no trunks until year 3, ie about 15. Not compulsary and quite a few, especially the boarders stayed nude.
We did have house galas and these were all done nude if you were year 1 or 2. Only school staff watched. Not sure about galas outside school but i assume that trunks were worn

Comments by Sam on 27th May 2014  

I have read so many of the comments about nude swimming. This was something I did not experience. Does anyone have any definitive reason why nude swimming for boys was insisted upon in it seems many schools. Were there any parents that objected?

Could you imagine it happening nowadays assuming swimming lessons are single sex.

Comments by Jeff on 26th May 2014  

George, did you ever have any female teachers or staff present during your nude swimming?
Some of the earlier posters here said that they even had to be nude at swimming galas in front of parents and other mixed spectators.
Were the boys allowed to wear trunks after the 2nd year at school?
Was it a boys only or mixed school?

Comments by Matthew on 26th May 2014  

Thank you to James for your theory and thank you to Lorry for confirming what James suspected.

Comments by Lorry on 26th May 2014  

Matthew, we often had visitors wandering around the school and the teachers generally preferred us in the pool when they came into look at the pool. Also, some female teachers sometimes used the pool after our lessons had finished and they seemed to enjoy watching the last part of our lessons knowing that we were a little self concious.

Comments by James on 26th May 2014  

In reply to Matthew,I'm sure Lorry became accustomed to the conditioning of wearing no trunks during his swimming lessons but probably what caused so much alarm would be if a female entered the swimming pool area.

Comments by Matthew on 25th May 2014  

Sorry for doubting you, Lorry. But, if the school policy was no trunks and it applied to every boy, why were you quick to get into the pool if somebody entered the pool area?

Comments by Lorraine on 25th May 2014  

Yes, I am a boy, or man. Lorraine for some reason was a name used in my family for relations of some ancient uncle. A bot odd i know. Called Lorry now. Sorry for the confusion

Comments by George on 25th May 2014  

At weeekends at my boarding school in the late 70's, all the 1st and 2nd years in the secondary school had to swim naked. It always amused me that we had goggles, flippers, floats, even watches, but no trunks.

Comments by Jamie on 25th May 2014  

Similar to me. The swimming coach at my private secondary school gave private swimming lessons to any first year boys whose parents thought this would be good. We did these on a saturday afternoon and it was normally me and another boy. As nude swimming was the norm, the private lessons were done like this. We were only about 14 and thought nothing of it. As there were only two of us we always got changed next to the pool instead of the changing rooms. A lot of instruction at side of pool. The ooach sometimes got in the pool also, with trunks on, especially if he was teaching things like tumble turns where he helped us get on the right position. It wasn't the thing to be shy in those days

Comments by John on 24th May 2014  

As you can see from 14:00 boys had to be barechested for PE in Netherlands too.


Comments by Matthew on 24th May 2014  

Another comment on the posting by "Lorraine". Not wearing trunks was "quite normal and it would have felt odd to have to wear trunks". So why the need to "get into the water pretty quickly" if someone entered the pool area?

Comments by Matthew on 23rd May 2014  

Strange comment from "Lorraine". I thought that was a girl's name.

And a comment to James. How many were there in your class? The process you describe must have taken ages considering the amount of times the doctor and his assistant moved up and down the line.

Comments by Lorraine on 22nd May 2014  

In my first and second year of secondary school in the early 80's, i had extra swimming lessons with the pe teacher. These were often at lunchtime or after school and the agreement was that the pe teacher would see when the pool was free and tell me to meet him there. As we were not allowed to wear trunks, having kit was never an issue. Towells were always hanging around. The initial part of the lesson was standing out of the pool as he would make sure my arm and leg actions were ok. As i had never been allowed to wear trunks at school, this was quite normal and it would have felt odd to have to wear trunks. How things have changed. I would however add that when someone came into the pool area, i got in the water pretty quickly.

Comments by Andrea on 21st May 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Showers were compulsory when I was at secondary school in the 1970s. As they were often cold, we used to spend as little time in there as possible!

At primary school, we didn't have proper changing rooms, let alone showers! In fact come to think of it, as we didn't have a shower at home (just a bath)the first time most of us ever had a shower was when we started secondary school. The only exception was the shower you were supposed to go under before getting in the local swimming pool, but that was different as you went in that in your swimming costume. Most of us didn't bother, but we did have to walk through a sort of foot-bath thing, filled with a horrible smelling chemical!

Comments by Jeff on 21st May 2014  

What about obligatory nude showers after PE?
Some schools had them, some didn't.
We didn't have them in primary, but had them in secondary, although not exactly obligatory.

Comments by James on 19th May 2014  

It's a bit off topic but if you only had to be bare chested during the first part of your school medical you were lucky!

I was at a boys grammar school and had a rather different experience to those described. It also happened to a number of friends who went to schools close by and we had the same doc who was a former military man. We had a medical in the autumn term of each year.

Medicals were done class by class and we had to report to the gym where the doc and two male assistants were waiting. A class list - surnames only (naturally) was read and we were told to get into alphabetical order. There was then an instruction to strip with an additional line that any little boys could keep their underpants on for now but the men in the class should strip completely. Naturally no one wanted to be deemed a 'little boy' and by that stage we were all used to taking off underpants for PE and having a communal shower so everyone stripped.

We were then examined by the doc who basically did one body part at a time, I can't remember the order but it started at the top so may have been mouths and worked down. One of the assistants accompanied the doc along the line making any notes.

Once chests and backs had been checked we had to stand up on benches and we were checked for hernias then our penises were checked to make sure our foreskins retracted - a few lads disappeared and returned trimmed, there were a few each year.

Lastly we were ordered to stand legs well apart and bend forward so our elbows were on our knees. On the next pass our testicles were checked from behind with the hand coming through our legs and we were ordered to cough, that was where the second assistant came in, he stood in front of us keeping our heads well down and making sure we were steady.

That over our buttocks were spread for a visual inspection in the first couple of years, in the third year that did not happen and didn't thereafter. There was an additional pass of the line and buttocks were spread and a finger inserted for a good feel around, again while we were held steady at the front by the orderly.

That over we were allowed to get dressed.

It was how I thought school medicals were done and was amazed to find out they weren't all!

Comments by Peter on 18th May 2014  

In reply to the messages where boys had to wear brief,short pants,my mother did the same but with horribly skin tight lycra shorts,from spring to autumn as soon as I got home there would be a pair of bike shorts laid out on the bed for me to change into,no underpants allowed.
Catalogue time was hell,she with a friend's mum would go through the catalogue and pick every pair of lycra shorts and show us the page and tell us we would be wearing them in a week or two.

Comments by Tom on 15th May 2014  

One thing that puzzled me about the annual medical exam at school was why we always had to be bare-chested throughout the whole procedure. Basically you were called into the medical room one at a time and straight away one of the nurses would check your name and tell you to take off your shirt. However, the first part of the exam just consisted of an eyesight test and I never really understood why I had to strip to the waist to have my sight checked. Then you had to sit down and wait for the boy in front of you to emerge from the doctor's office before you went in for the full examination and stripped down completely. I remember finding it a bit odd at the end of the exam when the doctor told me 'you can get dressed now' - to an extent I could but of course my shirt was still in the next room! When you left the doctor's office there were still a few tests to be done like checking your heartbeat and pulse rate but you remained bare-chested for those as well. It wasn't until everything was completed that you were allowed to put on your shirt and leave.

Comments by Jon on 15th May 2014  

At my school all the boys had to do PE stripped to the waist but as the lessons were single sex the only time the girls saw us bare-chested was at the annual medical when the boys had to queue to see the doctor/nurse while stripped to the waist.

Comments by stephy on 11th May 2014  

at me and my brothers school, the boys were never made to do PE shirtless, not even for shirts and skins. Though I wish they were!! Our only opportunity to see the boys with their shirts off was the yearly medical. We loved every second because while we got to wear our usual pe kit, the boys had to strip off and go barechested halfway through the exam, giving us plenty of time to check out their bare bods :3 These were always supposed to be carried out separately for boys and girls, but I guess the teachers organized it this way to save time, not that im complaining haha!

Comments by mark on 10th May 2014  

This may be true Michael, but shaming overweight children won't make them want to lose weight, it often sparks a weight increase as they will take refuge in food.
Its the parents who fill their kids full of rubbish, therefore thats where the need for education rests.
Yes we have an epidemic of obesity in the UK but the reasons are complex and go far beyond overeating. If it were that simple then it may be relatively easy to fix. But it is not

Comments by Michael on 9th May 2014  

I would have been glad of a bit of extra weight, if only to help insulate myself from the perishing cold of that gym and the icy showers I endured after each session. But, there was little chance of any of us gaining extra fat, with our high activity lifestyles and barely adequate meal portions.

In contrast, today's youngsters spend much of their time slumped in front of a video game, munching high-calorie saturated-fat junk food. It's no wonder the nation is heading towards an obesity crisis.

Comments by mark on 9th May 2014  

I remember when I was a school very few(if any) children were overweight. But it is a very different story today. It can be deeply traumatizing for an overweight child to be made to go bare chested in PE. I guarantee that someone will laugh at them. So there are many more considerations today than many years ago. And this is not about Political Correctness, it is about sensitivity. Laughing at an overweight child in PE etc can actually cause them to eat more as a refuge from their humiliation.

Comments by Jeff on 7th May 2014  

Thanks John Lavender for the video.
I don't see anything wrong in boys doing shirtless PE.
After all that's the way they, and all males, are when swimming in public, both at pools and public beaches.
So what's the big deal, or fuss being made by this Maltomon?
Talk about swimming, I wonder what he would say if nude swimming was still done in schools. He would probably be in hysteric fits.
I wonder if any readers here ever had nude swimming at school, besides that mentioned by Martin I think.
I still find it hard to believe, though it obviously was true in some schools.

Comments by John Lavender on 5th May 2014  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com  http://www.topix.com/forum/education/TRVBQQPF7V57T2G29

I have just seen a Comment on the URL Shown above from sender "MaltaMon" (Dorval , Canada) Thus:
"I like to fantasize about boys going BOTTOMLESS for PE. That's the only kit I'm interested in."

If I were Malatmon,presumably here in the UK. I would change his/her Username. Sharpish. Coincidence can be Dangerous!

Comments by John Lavender on 5th May 2014  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_gb0CUzwX0

Hi I don't know whether if this is a re-post in terms of the URL but there is a good Video at this URL:


IMHO there is NO BREACH OF PRIVACY on this Video because
1.the Class were Obviously Aware of the Filming
2.there is No suggestion of any untoward Activity.

This is actually a very informative Video.

Comments by John Lavender on 3rd May 2014  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

To Maltamon a Question.

How is bare-chestedness for Boys in PE a breach of Privacy?
Please explain.

Comments by John on 28th April 2014  

As more of you wrote that some of us are usually more self conscius in our teens than later but I agree the ones who wrote that shirtlessness is really not a big deal. There are many teens who chose to be shirtless doing sport in parks or bike rides...etc in the spring and summer months. I think they wouldn't really care if it were still a usual PE kit. There would be some who would feel shy first but most boys don't really care what they have to wear or not to wear for PE I think. So I don't think that shirtless PE has been declined over they years by the boys requests. They care less than teachers or parents think.
So I can't see the reason of Maltamon's phobia of shirtlessness for sports.

Comments by Maltamon on 27th April 2014  

Comments by Jeff on 27th April 2014  

About the picture.
Does the picture state if it is a primary or secondary school?
By the boys ages it is either a late primary or first year secondary school. Most likely the latter since we had neither a proper gym or PE instructor in primary school.
PE in primary was usually playing games and doing exercises in the school yard under the supervision of our class teacher.
We only had proper gyms with qualified PE instructors/coaches in secondary school.
As for PE uniform I remember it was the same in both schools, just white shorts and white T-shirt. Never remember being shirtless, though this seems to have been common in some schools.
As for undressing and changing into PE gear, this was usually done in class, boys and girls together, in primary school. In secondary we changed in the gym, with separate classes for boys and girls.

About showers, we didn't have any in primary school, and although there were showers in the gym changing room in Secondary I don't remember anyone using them.
I know this was not all the same for all schools, especially private(fee paying) schools where the regime was more strict, with compulsary showers after PE both in Primary and Secondary schools.

School swimming pools were also rare, again mostly existed in private schools. I was not aware that boys had to swim nude in some of these schools, as late as the 70s and 80s, until recently through the Internet.

Comments by Simon on 26th April 2014  

The reason I remained in shorts was slightly obscure to me.At age thirteen I had reached the rite of passage where boys at that age usually reached the transition of being promoted to wearing long trousers but my mother exercised her authority and decided to keep me in shorts for a further two years.This decision continued the effect of being ostracized by my contempories.Fortunately,I wore co-ordinated briefs with my shorts,so I didn't have the embarrassment of my underwear showing.I resigned myself to the fact that it would be a long-standing arrangement to remain in short trousers.

Comments by Pete on 25th April 2014  

The photo is one of nostalgia for me and reminds me of the time when I moved from Junior to Secondary school. Due to boundary changes it meant that the boys I had been class mates with in Junior School would be going to a different school to me be cause I was now in a different catchment area. So I started at at Secondary school as the new kid becuase all the other boys came from a different Junior school and already had their friends with them.

That was not too bad until we came to the first PE lesson when we had to strip down and for me this was with boys I did not know which made me feel uncomfortable at first.

However, over a period I got used to it.

In addition, because I was quite small, dad kept me in grey shorts for some years, which made me feel quite young when I felt I should be growing up. At least I was not still in shorts in the 4th or 5th form such as some previous accounts show. It must have been uncomfortable for these lads as their bodies developed, to be have such constriction caused by tight shorts with presumably with tight briefs underneath.

Comments by Andrew on 25th April 2014  

This brought back many memories.Shorts were compulsory for boys at infant and middle school. At secondary school we had to wear shorts for the first two years, after that long trousers were allowed. But many mothers insisted on their boys wearing shorts until age 16(mine included) The shorts were grey and very short. Teasing could be merciless especially if you had strict parents who smacked your legs and bottoms a lot.
I remember that teachers at infant and middle school smacked boys bare legs frequently. Thus leaving embarrassing red marks or handprints. When I got home with marked legs, my mother would give me a spanking. After that she would quickly have me in my pyjamas ready for an early bedtime. My friends also got the same.
PE was done in the gym bare foot and barechested throughout my school career. Boys did it in their underpants until secondary school and then we wore white shorts without underpants. As I got older i started to feel very exposed dressed like that. I was the tallest in the class as well.

Comments by David on 22nd April 2014  

I thought I was the only one who had a mother who shortened shorts! By the time she was finished the inseam was never more than two inches and sometimes less and they were always very fitting.

I didn't matter whether they were for school or home, I tried them on in the shop to make sure they fitted and as soon as we got home the sewing machine came out and they were altered.

I went to a particularly strict grammar school where shorts were compulsory in the first three years and 'at the parent's discretion' in the fourth and fifth forms. Needless to say I wore them until the end of the fifth form but I was not the only one - there were five of us out of eighty boys in the year.

Only when I started sixth form did I get a pair of longs. I was never allowed jeans and had a formal pair of longs for church and the like but at home shorts were the norm until I went to university.

There was a bit of teasing at school but given that we all wore shorts for three years everyone could remember what it was like.

In the fourth and fifth form shorts were also sometimes used as a sanction and a boy who had been sent to the headmaster and caned might be ordered to wear shorts for as long as a month after the caning making it obvious the boy had been in trouble. At least for the shorts wearers we escaped that humiliation.

It was strange really, for most boys having a striped bottom to show in the changing room and showers was a trophy which we were all proud of (though I for one had a different demeanor while actually being caned!) boys who were put back in shorts hated it more than getting the cane so it was probably a most effective punishment.

Comments by Simon on 21st April 2014  

Martin,thank you for your reply,I saw it as a travesty wearing trim,snug fitting tight short trousers,while going through adolescence,a rule rigidly imposed by my mother,simply for her own gratification.This not only had the effect of a very juvenile appearance but caused considerable ridicule and loss of dignity.

Comments by Martin on 20th April 2014  martin.hill32@hushmail.com 

Simon, you are definatly right, back in the 1970's (and the 1980's as well) girls probably had some input on what they wore but boys certainly didn't. We were 'dressed' by our mums and had to like it or lump it! If your mum decided you were going to school in shorts, that's what you did, although in many primary schools (including mine) shorts were compulsory for all boys, and looking at my old school photos from that era they were extremely short and quite tight fitting, unlike the rather baggy ones from a few years earlier! Some schools also allowed or required boys to wear them at secondary school for the first one or two years, but usually we were in 'longs' by age 13 at the latest. This died out incredibly quickly, changing fashions I guess, but in the 1982 junior school photos from my school (Shears Green) ALL the boys (even the 11 year olds) are wearing little tiny grey shorts, but by 1985 almost all are in long trousers! It may have been a change of headmaster as I think Mr Hale retired about then and that was when the nude swimming lessons died out as well!

Comments by Simon on 19th April 2014  

Sorry about the spelling error,I meant to say,I was not allowed to stand with my hands in my pockets.

Comments by Simon on 19th April 2014  

My mother controlled my clothing and made me wear short pants.Basically my mother was very contolling of my clothes,my looks and my presentation.She would buy my clothes and often choose what I was to wear each day.This was the 1970's and boys'shorts were pretty short and long socks were"in" but my mother was intense about it.I was always dressed in really short shorts.I did not even own a pair of long trousers until I was through my first year at High School aand then it was because the school wrote her several letter explaining that the boys'uniform did not include shorts.I remember being acutely aware of my bare legs as I sat in the school assembly.The only bare boy's legs along lines and lines of grey trousered legs,except of course for girls who wore dresses.It was not until I was fifteen that I was bought a pair of jeans and even then I was rarely allowed to wear them.She would buy shorts,that I think when even when bought were a size too small and even then she would actually use her sewing machine to fold the leg cuffs up to even make them shorter.Think these denim shorts that girls wear these days,well that was me,a boy in the 1970's.When we went shopping she would make me try on several pairs of shorts,they had to be tight across my bottom and make comments about how nice it looked.It's not like any of my clothes were kept long,I was always bought new clothes.She would have the advertising catalogues from the shops and look through them and then we would go on a shopping expedition but again the clothes had to be tight fitting.I would have long socks held up by elastic garters to just below my knees.The other thing she would do is sew up all but one of my pockets,as I was not allowed to stant with my hands in my pockets.She used to constantly comment on how nice I looked and how bad the other kids looked.If I pointed out how every one else was wearing looser clothing she would snap at me or make some derisive comment or say"well we are not everyone else".

Comments by Martin on 19th April 2014  martin.hill32@hushmail.com 

In reply to Laura: I was being slightly sarcastic in my 'H&S' comments, I realise full well that the use of H&S as an excuse is more often based on lazyness or over-enthusiastic interpretation than actual fact!!! I also appreciate that the VAST majority of teachers give 110% (or possibly slightly more) to the job, the only ones who don't of course, are maths teachers for whome the idea of giving 110% is a mathematical anathema (just a joke, people!) I am also impressed that you have maintained dress standards for PE in your school and that the showers have not been consigned to an equipment storage area as has happened in so many schools! I suspect though that you maybe teach at either a Private fee paying school, or a highly sought-after secondary who can use their status as 'leverage' to persuade parents to make sure their children conform! I do HOPE that this is just me being cynical and that you can tell me I am wrong....

Comments by Laura on 17th April 2014  lcclinton4@yahoo.co.uk 

Someone recently asked about dealing with health and safety in PE today. I teach at a girls' school, and I do have to spend some time doing risk assessments. These are not too onerous though, and do help to make one think about un-necessary risks. H&S does not stop us doing anything I want to do, and this includes rope climbing to the ceiling, use of wall-bars and vaulting equipment. H&S can be used by some lazy teachers as an excuse not to teach proper PE!

Questions were also asked about clothing. While I know there are far to many schools allowing, or even insisting on tracksuits and teeshirts, plently still insist on proper kit. My own girls wear white sleeveless leotards indoors for gymnastics, and gym knickers and vests for other indoor lessons, atletics and cross country. Indoors they always go barefoot.

We also still have communal showers, a grand total of eight shower heads for a whole class!

Comments by Michael on 16th April 2014  

I could never see the point of most of the activities in my old Grammar School gym, which was similar to that shown in the picture.

For example, not being called "Tarzan", I could never understand the purpose of rope climbing, with its attendant risks.

Even if a thick coir mat was placed under the rope, it would have done little to break the impact of anyone falling from high up, close to the lofty ceiling.

In all my adult life, I have never needed to climb a rope, so the risks I took in that gym, could hardly be justified as providing useful experience for later life.

I could say the same for the vaulting horse pictured, which seemed then as now, to be nothing more than a short cut to getting a broken neck.

The only thing which got me to use these instruments of torture, among others, was my stark fear of the gym teacher. I was always more afraid of him, than any of the gym equipment. The greater fear overcame the lesser, so despite my grave misgivings, I found myself climbing ropes and using the vaulting horse; miraculously (and no thanks to the teacher), without serious injury.

It was not a pleasant experience overall, looking back.

Comments by pat on 16th April 2014  peachhouse641@yahoo.co.uk 

Comments by Martin on 16th April 2014  martin.hill32@hushmail.com 

In answer to Kev, My Primary and Secondary schools were all lucky enough to have separate gym's rather than using the school hall, however my memory is that they were all rather smaller than the one shown on the photo. The one at Primary was a fairly modern ground floor building, probably post war and was compact but quite nice, it had full width full height windows on both walls so it was also very light and airy, although the window frames were metal and could be slightly draughty in winter although the gym was kept nice and warm. At Primary, as I have stated before boys and girls had lessons together and we all wore the same, nothing but white shorts (or blue knickers for girls) neither boys NOR girls wore tops and we all went barefoot in the gym, and showering naked was mandatory for everyone after the lesson! We were very lucky, the school had (still has) it's own indoor swimming pool, and until the mid 1980's we were (apparently) the only 'County' Primary school in Britain to have mixed nude swimming lessons! (but only with our parents permission.)
At Grammar school the gym was older and similar in size, and again had full height windows down both sides behind the wall bars. Lessons there were boys only, and again we wore only white shorts and had to shower after the lesson. Any outdoor sports or athletics were done with white t-shirts, shorts and PE shoes, except for 'Games' which were done in the proper kit! You are correct about H&S, there wasn't any!!! Generally though we very rarely had all the equipment out at once as seen in the photo, I think the picture is rather 'staged', usually we would all queue up and use one piece of apparatus at a time, closely supervised by the teacher. In all the time I was at school I remember one first-year boy breaking both wrists when he fell off the wall bars, a minor concussion from 'missing' a vaulting horse and a couple of broken collar bones, none of them were in my class though, our class must have been very cautious (or just lucky!)

Comments by Kev on 12th April 2014  

Looking at the picture, I see that it is dated 1959. I attended secondary modern in the mid60's and our P E was in a hall similar to this one. In fact ours was the main school hall used for assemblies and all general school gatherings with the climbing rpoes and frames being locked to the side walls when out of use.
Just like these lads we used the equipment with very little thought of safety. There was block wooden floor and possibly a few mats to cushion any falls. However, I do not remember any accidents.

what of today. I suppose every lesson is preceded by a Risk Assesment and the rules for health & safety must be a nightmare.

As for clothing I suppose it is all track suits And T shirts and I should think that the communal showers of yesteryear are long gone. Does any one have any info on how

P E is nowadays?

Comments by Pat on 11th April 2014  

I remember well these type of PE lessons in the 60's. Does any one know what is included in PE these days or is it mainly games. which we had as a seperate period in the timetable. On looking at hte phot I am sure our shorts were quite a bit shorter and tighter and there was no set uniform. Boys wore white, black or navy blue. What is worn nowadays?

Comments by scotty on 9th April 2014  

Do any of you fellows out therer remember wearing the string briefs & singlets and can they still be bought

Comments by Gordon on 6th April 2014  

Interesting comment from Ron. I was at grammar school from 1959 to 1965. For the first two years there I was in short trousers. I used to wear interlock trunks all my time at school, and I used to tuck my vest and shirt tail into my underpants. I found that the underpants stayed up better that way. I always seemed to suffer from loose elastic, and looking back I think it was because Mum used to wash all the whites by boiling them, and this weakened the elastic. Once in the summer of my second year at grammar school, I must have been 13 then, changing after swimming I decided (can't remember why)not to tuck my vest and shirt into my underpants. When I started to walk home I could feel my pants slipping down and I think I realised they must be showing below my shorts, but there was nothing much I could do about it. Just before I got home I ran into four boys a bit older than me who jeered me because of my grammar school uniform. They were just walking away when one of them shouted "Your knickers are showing", then another one of them ran up behind me, caught hold of the legs of my trunks and pulled them down hard. As you can imagine this caused them great amusement. I didn't know what to do, I ended up running home as fast as I could with about six inches of my underpants dangling down below both legs of my short trousers. It must have been a hilarious sight!

Comments by Ron on 2nd April 2014  

When I moved up to my Secondary School I knew that it had a policy of shorts for boys until age 13, so was prepared for the indignity, and accepted it as all my classmates were in a similar position (1960). However. I did not realise that I was going to receive a detention for allowing my underpants to drop below my shorts - well actually I didn't allow them, the elastic was not up to much and they generally worked down as the day went on. Arriving home late and being quizzed by my older brother as to the reason, he said he used to tuck both his vest and his shirt into his trunks, so that on the approach of a master, he could easily hike them up so they did not hang below his shorts. This seemed a good idea, so the following day I did just that, only to receive another detention, not for having my underpants showing below my shorts, but because, having been pulled up, were showing above my shorts! Arriving late for tea at my Grandparents, I again explained the situation. My Granddad smiled and later produced a pair of braces, suggesting that I clip both my shorts and underpants into them. ( He explained that when h was a lad, underpants did not have elastic waistbands, so they were kept up along with his trousers by this method).

Next day, with my trunks carefully clipped up with my shorts, so they neither showed above or below, I took a few jibes from my mates about my braces, but all in good part! The problem arose when i was informed that if I wanted to wear braces they should not show (ie keep my blazer on), and they should be maroon to match the uniform, although why this was necessary if they were not to be seen has alluded me to this day!) Unfortunately, my Grandad's braces were blue/grey striped, so I go another detention!

Strangely, my grandsons constantly have their underpants showing above their school flannels today and nobody gives a hoot! How things have changed!

Comments by Phil on 29th March 2014  porterhouse65@hushmail.com 

Like some of the previous posts, I had to change schools when we moved due to my dad getting promotion, I was 12 and happy in my C Of E Secondary school where every boy my age wore long trousers, this was 1961.

Imagine my horror when told that the school I was going to had a "shorts" policy to age 14 and I had almost two years to be in shorts, I was taken to the only store in town that did the school uniform and sorted out with shorts and shirts and socks, we were allowed to wear short or long socks, but they had to be grey, I opted for short ones, but hurriedly went into long ones during my first winter.

I remember my mum having me stand in my underwear in the changing cubicle in the store and have my underpants measured to see if they would show below my shorts, luckily they didn't, but later on in school life she bought me some new underpants and they did.

I was glad when I reached 14 and ditched the shorts, although I did wear casual shorts at home.

Comments by Steve on 28th March 2014  

Like many other on this thread, I was condemned to wear short grey flannels for the first two years at Grammar School in the 1960s (until age 13), and how I longed to be allowed long pants! Because I was skinny, and didn't put on any weight these shorts seemed to last for ages, despite my growing taller, and inevitably meant it was virtually impossible to keep my underpants from showing below. Today's saggers would have been proud!

Comments by James on 27th March 2014  

At my primary school that I attended it was customary for all boys to wear short trousers.I was certainly no exception to this custom and some boys even wore them at secondary school.
My parents attached great importance to the 11 plus and I studied hard to pass so I could attend the local grammar school where boys wore long trousers.Alas!I failed and I would have to attend the secondary school.
My parents were very disappointed and after a short time I was taken to the school outfitters to buy my new uniform.
I was looking forward to trying on my first pair of long trousers but I was devastated when I was told to try on shorts instead.Realising there was no alternative,I slipped my new shorts on and we left for home.I realised I was to be kept in shorts for an idefinate time and my tantrums and periods of sulking took no effect on my parents.I was to spend my schooldays in shorts and I had to accept it.

Comments by Richards on 25th March 2014  

When I was 12 (in 1975), and having just finished my first year at the state grammar school in the town where we lived in Lincolnshire, my father took up a three year posting as an agricultural adviser in Malawi. It was decided that I would attend a local boarding prep school for one year (well, my parents decided - I had no say in the matter) with a view to moving to a nearby public school afterwards. As soon as I knew what was happening I went into a major sulk, as I enjoyed my grammar school and I knew that the prep school was much stricter about dress and appearance than the grammar school. My appeals to be allowed to stay at the grammar school, and live with grandparents nearby, fell on deaf ears. So it was that, at the start of September 1975 I was dropped off at my new school, looking rather different to how I had the previous year. I was now short trousered and short haired, a real embarassment for a nearly 13 year odl lad in the mid 70s.

Comments by James on 18th March 2014  

Hi folks,
Certainly an unusual thread and reminds me how different attitudes were in the 1970s and 1980s when I was growing up.
My recollections are vague, but I do remember doing PE in only vest and pants at primary school. I also remember "shirts" and "skins" football matches in the secondary school.
I can remember the odd sunday bike ride in the early 80s when I wore only swimming trunks, because it was so hot.
What inspired me to do that was seeing grown men openly doing things like washing cars, mowing lawns or painting the outside of the house in only pants or trunks. Once saw a group of young men playing football in the park: all were shirtless and one wore a speedo in place of shorts.
Hard to believe now.
I can even remember a coach trip from Torquay to Dartmoor where a man remained shirtless all day and wore only grey Farah slacks.

Comments by Alan on 13th March 2014  

Having read some of the comments, I well remember my time at school and in the gym in particular, like the boys in the picture I was bare chested and just wearing shorts and white plimsolls along with the other boys in my class.

Ten minutes of warm up exercises, running on the spot and press ups etc, then the vaulting horse and parallel bars, we even had a trampoline and rings to use. Two PE teachers in attendance to make sure there were no slackers, woe betide you if you did, it was three on the backside with a plimsoll and extra time in the gym after school.

Scrabbling to get the best of the hot water in the showers after a heavy gym session, it always seemed to run out a few minutes into your shower,then dress in double quick time, grey shorts, white shirts, school ties properly tied and not loose like today's schoolboys, no fancy trainers, black shined shoes were the order, as regards underwear it was as others have stated the ubiquitous white trunk underpants, not to be seen below the hem of the school shorts leg,my headmaster would turn in his grave to see that boys today show their underpants above the waistband of their trousers at times !! If new underpants were bought for me, my mum used to sew up the hem so they didn't show, we were allowed to wear a vest in winter, but other wise that was it.

Grey long socks with a blue stripe and woe betide that they fell down,that was a yellow mark, three marks and it was the plimsoll.
Like most I had garters that left a mark on your leg, do any guys remember the snake belt? well that was the one we had to have.

At 13 we could graduate to long trousers, but my family along with a lot in those days weren't flush with money so I still wore shorts as they still fit me, I didn't get a growth spurt until well into my 14th year.

I enjoyed PE and games, not being all that academic I was more of a "hands on" boy and preferred woodwork and metalwork, I still have a metal coat rack I made and a wooden table lamp I made on a lathe.

Great times, I wonder if today's schoolboys will have fond memories of their schooldays? One doubts it.

Comments by Pete on 12th March 2014  

It is interesting reading about old time PE & it brings back memories. Also I am intrigued how fashion goes round in circles. We see pictures of footballers many years ago wearing Long shorts. Then in the 196o's era it han changed to very short shorts thinking of those worn during 1966 World Cup & now we see the footballers of today wearing longer shorts. The same with the pants I always wanted to wear briefs not the trunks and in time these were the fashion. However, now the trend over the past few years has returned to wering Boxer style pants. Will the circle start again & we return to short shorts and Briefs/slips.

Comments by James on 11th March 2014  

How I loved gym sessions like this as a boy at school They were such great fun all the time being pushed to try harder and do just that bit more. We used to start them full of energy and almost crawl out of the gym at the end for the icy cold shower that was waiting and after that somehow we got our energy back to carry on with the day. Other gym activity included circuits, killer ball, pirates and crab running. Outside there was rugby, cross country and cricket in the summer. I wish I could do it all again!

Discipline was strict, it had to be in the gym and on the field. There was a sign by the exit to the rugby field which read card = cane, yellow = four, red = eight and it was enforced for any unsportsman like behaviour. Most lads never did it and few did it more than once. A large plimsol was also in use for more minor things like being caught wearing underpants or not getting properly under the (icy) showers.

Comments by Martin on 6th March 2014  

What memories this thread has brought back! Like many, I was compelled to wear short grey flannel trousers for the first two years at Grammar School, which I found both embarrassing and cold. This was 1960, and many of my former mates who went to Secondary Modern school wore long trousers straight away, which made the situation worse.

George C, how I recall those creamy white interlock trunk underpants. They were very comfortable, but were quite long, and had poor elastic, which meant that even though my shorts were not that short, they would often show below them, however low I let my shorts slip. The girls gave me hell!

It was a great relief to finally get into long trousers (age 13), although we were not allowed to wear a belt to keep them up. Most boys had to wear them loose (to allow room for growth I presume), which meant braces were absolutely essential. I still remember getting detentions for not having the correct colour (maroon to match the uniform), and always felt uneasy at showing them in public, although it was the norm. Ironically, fashion seems to have come full circle, with many pop stars wearing braces in public, and footballers showing long drawers below their shorts.

Comments by James on 5th March 2014  

Like John and myself,I'm sure many boys had to face up to the galling prospect of wearing inordinately,brief short trousers,well up to the age of adolescence and beyond.To add to the wearers'discomfort,the shorts were co-ordinated with long knee stockings,tightly gartered below the knee which always left deep indentations in my legs.I realised at the time,I would have to accept the dogma and stigma of being so inappropriately dressed in such a ridiculous and anachronistic way but I'm sure it was done mainly for aeshetic reasons.

Comments by John on 21st February 2014  johnno1546@live.co.uk 

When I started at secondary school in 1959 I was in short trousers, there was a uniform policy which stated that boys to age 13 wore shorts, I was in a children's home and they provided all my clothes, some were hand me downs, but my school uniform was new, PE was done just in shorts in the gym, plimsolls worn outside only and a vest, no underwear to be worn, swimming lessons done in the nude, it was an all boys secondary school and a lot bigger than the primary school I had been in up to 11.

If anyone wants more information or to discuss recollections of school email me at johnno1546@live.co.uk

Comments by George C on 15th February 2014  

I was at a school in the early 1960's which had a uniform policy, but it allowed either long or short trousers, so it was up to parents when you went into long trousers. At that time it was quite normal for boys to stay in short trousers until 13, or sometimes older. I myself did not get my first pair of long trousers until after my 14th birthday. We were not self-conscious about wearing short trousers because so many other boys did. And we were not cold in the winter. My school short trousers (grey, terrylene) came down to about one or two inches above my knee. Like all the other boys in short trousers, I wore long grey socks. I think they were woollen, they certainly must have had a high wool content. They kept the legs nice and warm, but had one drawback. They were held up by garters. My mother made mine from black elastic. Garters had to be just the right amount of tightness. If a garter was too slack, the sock would fall down. If it was too tight, it acted like a tourniquet. Also in the winter most of us wore a gaberdine raincoat which would come down below our knees.

In the summer we would wear casual shorts, though not, of course, to school. I can remember having some khaki and some of a blue cotton material. Only after going into long trousers and jeans did I appreciate the freedom which summer shorts gave. They were lighter and shorter than my school short trousers which was good for the summer, but it could give a problem with underwear. Some of us wore underpants similar to modern boxer shorts, but a little longer and baggier, and they were made of a softer and slightly heavier material than boxers. They were called interlock trunks and they were always white. They were very comfortable, but while they remained safely out of sight underneath my school trousers that was not always the case when I wore summer shorts. An ill-advised hitch of the shorts, or loose underpant elastic, would usually result in a band of white appearing below the hem of my shorts. During the summer months, on the estate where I lived I was an embarrassingly easy target for gaggles of girls who would chant
"London is in England, Paris is in France,
We can see George's underpants."

On the subject of blazers, although my school's uniform policy required a blazer with the school badge on it, there was an option to buy a plain blazer. Mum then sewed a badge, available from the school outfitters, onto the blazer. Most of us did this. You could spot the son of affluent parents. He would be the one wearing the "proper" school blazer.

Comments by Christopher Hall on 10th February 2014  

I also agree with the comments ambrose made below about inequality for teachers, he is absolutely right. I am sure that male teachers would NEVER be allowed to supervise changing rooms with girls in them, but (at least at primary school level) it would seem acceptable for female teachers to supervise the boys. It certainly USED to be like that, I doubt it is allowed these days! The only exception I have heard about is the Shears Green primary school mentioned lower down the thread, where it appears the (male) head teacher used to supervise the nude swimming lessons, where boys and girls of all ages used to swim together naked several times a week! It seems from the huge number of comments and memories on their facebook page that he also insisted on the children doing mixed PE and dancing lessons wearing nothing but gym shorts, both boys AND girls going completely topless even when they were 11 year old. I suspect that these days there would be law suits flying around very quickly!

Comments by James on 10th February 2014  

Unlike Michael,where short trousers were compulsory up to the third year at his school,it was at the whim of my parents that imposed a strict rule of enforced wearing of short pants.The difference being that at his school shorts were quite obiquitous,where at my school I was the only pupil in my class still wearing shorts.

Comments by Christopher Hall on 9th February 2014  

I know exactly what Michael means, the Grammar school blazers were always much more ornate (and therefore much more expensive) than the ones worn by boys at the Secondary Moderns, then there was the sports kit. So many fancy sports to buy kit for all having to be bought at the schools 'official' shop, even white gym shorts had to be the 'approved' brand! There has been some talk on here of some schools not allowing swimwear, I am sure mothers were really impressed at the amount of money that saved by not having to buy any swimming trunks? Oh, but wait, you would still need trunks in case you went to any swimming competitions and guess what, they would have to be from the approved suppliers and probably with the school badge embroided in!
At least the boys at Secondary Modern school could wear 'generic' blazers, sports and swimming kit, bought at a fraction of the price, I am sure they enjoyed their sports and activities just as much as we did!

Comments by Michael on 9th February 2014  

My parents were proud to have me attend the town's grammar school, and they would never have thought to object to, or even query, the rules regarding uniform. Because of this the (rather old-fashioned - even for those days) uniform list was followed in every detail, and one of the items stated that all boys should wear regulation grey short trousers for at least their first two years at the school.

This meant there was no argument or even debate on the subject, at least in my home. In any case my parents had far more important matters to consider, not least of which was affording all of the uniform on the list.

The blazer alone was a significant amount of money in the early 1960s, so any economies which could be made on other items, were very welcome indeed. In this light, short trousers made good financial sense as well as complying with the school's regulations.

On the other hand my younger brother 'failed' the 11+ and attended a secondary modern school, which had 'optional' uniform, allowing him to wear long trousers from age 11.

Accordingly I found myself in the strange situation of wearing shorts to school until I was nearly 14, at the same time as he was wearing long trousers. To my dismay, this sometimes led to people assuming I was his younger, not his older, brother.

Comments by James on 9th February 2014  

I do agree with Christopher Hall that we had "NO real input"on what we wore for games and physical activities.As you say the school dictated what we wore and it would have been futile to object as possible retributions would follow.
Before I attended my new secondary school the list for my uniform arrived and my Mum noticed,with glee that I could stay in short trousers for another four years.No amounnt of persuading or cajoling would make her change her mind.

Comments by Christopher Hall on 9th February 2014  

To quote James "the option for boys to wear short trousers was for the parents not for the pupil"!
You are not wrong there! When I was at school we had absolutely NO real input about what we wanted to wear, parents (well Mums) told you what you were going to wear to go to school, teachers told you what (if anything) you were going to wear for games, pe, showers, swimming etc. Even parents had no say once you were at school, everything was flagged up as 'school rules' so there was no discussion and no dissent allowed! How things have changed!

Comments by Christopher Hall on 8th February 2014  

Hi Roy,
Evidently you are a little older than me, but I think it depended on the school. As I said, at my boys only Grammar school, MOST boys started year 8 (what used to be called second year) in shorts, including me. However the number gradually dwindled during the year and I think the last die-hards were in longs by the start of year 9. At the Secondary Modern school however, all the boys wore long trousers, even the year 7 'first years'! And yes, we were a little bit jealous, especially when we got teased for wearing shorts by boys who were two years younger than us!

Comments by James on 8th February 2014  

It was no fun wearing shorts at secondary school espiacially as only four boys were still in shorts out of 250 boys and the teasing was almost continuous and unmerciful.
To clear up the misunderstanding,the option for boys to wear short trousers was for the parents not for the pupil,I hated wearing them and found them humiliating and bitterly cold in the winter.
As I had a 26 inch waist I could be kitted out in shorts which were more suitable for a more junior boy which had the desired effect.When standing straight my finger tips touched the hem of my shorts which left an inseam of one inch.When told to 'wrap up warm' a waist length anorak was worn which of course left my legs bare and open to the elements.

Comments by Roy on 8th February 2014  

I agree with Christopher Hall in that when I was at school in the early 1960's all boys in what is now Year 8 would be wearing long trousers.

Comments by Christopher Hall on 8th February 2014  

I didn't realise it was an option, I thought you meant they all had to wear shorts! I think it was brave to wear them to leaving age!
I went into 'longs' in my second year at Grammar school, it got really cold probably about February and as a thirteen year old I pestered my mum into letting me have long trousers although some brave souls hung on until the end of the second year. I do remember that the 'official' uniform shorts we wore at grammar school were quite a bit longer than the ones I had worn at Primary school, but they were still fairly short! There was some rule that the leg of your shorts had to be at least one hand width below the bottom of your blazer, but I don't remember any teachers actually checking it though! Also, long grey socks and black shoes with shorts, except in summer when we could wear short socks and 'proper' sandals, but we weren't allowed to wear sandals if we wore long trousers! So many pointless rules!

Comments by James on 8th February 2014  

In reply to Christopher Hall,the uniform requirement was shorts optional,with no upper age limit.One boy wore shorts right up to leaving age,one up to his second year,myself and another boy up to their third year.

Comments by Christopher Hall on 8th February 2014  

I really dont buy James idea of boys at secondary schools wearing shorts to leaving age, I was at Grammar school in the late 1970s and while the first-year boys (what would now be called year 7) all had to wear shorts, and many of the boys in the second year also wore them, however nobody was in shorts by the time we were 14. Frankly, I cant see boys at ANY school being prepared to wear shorts at that age as most people walked home from school in those days and kids from other schools would tease them to death for wearing shorts!
And the one inch leg length that James mentioned, junior school boys certainly wore very tiny shorts that barely covered their underwear, but I dont think 12 and 13 year old boys at any secondary school would have been prepared to wear them that small!

Comments by Jools on 7th February 2014  

Debbie, I am grinning at the idea of all those little boys running around the campsite every evening wearing nothing but pyjama jackets and with all their bottoms and willies visible, it would have been quite amusing to watch but of course in those days I suppose there was no girls in the cubs, except for leaders of course. I can't help wondering if your brother (or any of the boys) were embarrased by having to go with no pants on in front of the leaders, especially if one of them was his teacher.
An intersting thread, and all this has come up from someone saying that the boys and girls at a primary school in Kent all used to swim together completely naked in their school swimming lessons!
I see you have put your email address, can I mail you direct to chat?

Comments by Debbie on 7th February 2014  debbie.richards@hush.com 

No problem Jools
It was about 1984 as he was born in 1974.
Yes the Cub leaders were female, there was three of them as far as I can remember and the main one, the Akela was a teacher at his school. My mum and dad knew they went naked because when they were going to camp they all had to get a letter signed by mums or dads to allow them to go, it always had a kit list on it and I am sure the kit list said they should only take a pyjama top to wear in bed. I remember mum packing his kit for camp and asking him if he was going to bother with swimming trunks, he took them with him but I don't suppose he wore them!

Comments by James on 7th February 2014  

Hi Jools,

I'm from the Midlands,yes I did wear boxers but went on to wear Y fronts when I went on to Secondary Modern School where shorts were optional right up to leaving age.
My parents chose shorts as it was a family tradition.
The fashion,as you say was for shorts to be very brief as it seemed pointless to wear knee length shorts with stockings.

Comments by Jools on 7th February 2014  

Hi again Debbie, thanks for telling us all that information about what your brother wore at cubs, how long ago was that?
I am sure you said the cub leader was female, I am still wondering if your parents knew knew he was going naked at camp and what they thought about it.

Comments by Jools on 7th February 2014  

James. I am not sure where you are from, but surely in the 70's little boys all wore Y front undies rather than boxers? I don't think those would have shown below your shorts. I do agree though that in those days boys shorts did get very short indeed, and they all seemed to wear them at junior school and sometimes even after a they started secondary school. As a girl, I remember our skirts were getting longer in those days!

Comments by ambrose on 6th February 2014  

Dave, the point I was making was the inequality that existed so far as staff were concerned. The men were not allowed to supervise girls changing areas, but it was perfectly legal for the ladies to walk in on adolescent boys when they were undressed!

I, and several other non PE specialist male teachers refused to take mixed sports clubs during lunchtimes and after school since we couldn't control what went on in the girls changing rooms: and the girls were just as bad as the boys at bullying and horseplay if there was no one supervising them!

Comments by Debbie on 6th February 2014  debbie.richards@hush.com 

I asked my brother about this, (he's not really 'little' any more), he said that at cub meetings they sometimes took their tops off when they were playing games but they always kept their shorts on, but he said that when they were at camp they were always sent to wash and get ready for bed after flagdown and before they had their supper, he said there was a 'sort of' pack rule that they could only wear a pyjama top or a t-shirt, and Akela always encouraged them not to wear any pyjama pants when they were at camp, while vests, underpants and socks were also not allowed. He said that once they has got undressed and had supper they had an hour or two of playtime before going to bed, he said that the younger boys went to bed earlier but the older boys could play on the field for a lot longer before they had to get into bed.
Normally during the day they wore normal camp stuff like t-shirts and shorts but when they were playing in or near the river they could wear trunks if they wanted to, although they often went in with nothing on.

Comments by James on 6th February 2014  

Hi Jools

I used to wear short pants to school and cubs and later scouts usually without underwear mainly because shorts were much briefer in the seventies with an inseam of about an inch.Any underwear would have shown under my shorts.


Comments by Jools on 5th February 2014  

LOL Debbie!
I looked down and found your older message. I like the idea of the cubs only wearing pajama jackets in bed, that's so much more comfortable. You also said "I think there was some sort of old pack tradition that they didn't wear pants or underpants at camp." Did they have to go like that all the time at camp? I think its a great idea, did the leader ever get them to take their tops off and go completely naked? Little boys always look so cute when they are nude ;-)
I just wonder how the leader persuaded the boys to run around at camp without any pants on, and of course how they persuaded the boys parents to let them, certainly wouldnt be allowed now!

Comments by Dave on 5th February 2014  

Ambrose, I am surprised that female staff were allowed to supervise the boys toilets and changing facilities at the secondary school where you worked. Although this was common in many primary schools, including mine, it never happened at my secondary school that I can recall. But I suppose it could have happened in some other secondary schools.
As for PE it was also normal to change in front of the class teacher, be they male or female, in primary school. We changed for PE in just white T-shirt and shorts, both boys and girls. But there definitely were some other primary schools who did PE in just underpants, as some other posters recall.
It was different in secondary school of course, but there could have been exceptions, especially in private schools, that is non-state schools.
It was the same with nude swimming I suppose, where it was more likely for junior boys to have female teachers supervising and teaching, but less likely with older boys.

Comments by Debbie on 4th February 2014  

Hi Jools, I was just having a look back at this page and saw your question. I put another message longer ago which explains it, but my brother wore grey shorts at cub meetings like all the other boys but I think there was some sort of old pack tradition that they didn't wear pants or underpants at camp. I know they weren't allowed to wear them at bedtime and they were only allowed to wear a pyjama jacket, but I have no idea why that was. Didn't seem to bother him though.

Comments by Andrea on 4th February 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

There was no nude swimming when I was at primary school in the 1960s. The boys wore swimming trunks and we wore one piece bathing costumes.

For pe. I generally a pe skirt or shorts and a T shirt. As there were no changing rooms we had to change in our classroom along with the boys, so by the final year I got quite adept at putting on my pe kit before removing my school skirt! I was still flat chested when I left primary school so changing into the T shirt wasn't an issue (I generally wore a vest anyway), but a few of more more 'developed' classmates were allowed to go to the toilets to change.

Secondary pe came as a bit of a shock at first, our pe kit was gym knickers and a T shirt and showers were compulsory!

Comments by ambrose on 3rd February 2014  

Iain's memories show one of the inequities of teaching during the 60's/70's/80's.

At the Midlands state secondary/comprehensive where I worked, female staff were allowed access to supervise the boys toilets and changing facilities, but male staff were prohibited from the girls facilities.

One notable occasion proved the point when a female PE teacher went into the boys shower room to quell an argument that had developed into a brawl. (The male member of staff had been called away to attend to an injured boy.) There was alarm and horror as the mostly naked 15 year old boys saw who had entered the room and several complained to the Headmaster of their embarrassment at the female intrusion. However, the Head was forced to support his female teacher since according to the regulations at the time she had not infringed any rules.

It was more usual for the ladies to knock and ask if anyone was changing if they had to enter the room to use the only telephone in the sports block!

Comments by Jools on 3rd February 2014  

Question for Debbie, you said your little brother didnt wear any pants at cubs? It seems a bit strange that, boys not wearing pants at cubs, were they allowed to wear their underpants? What was the reason for it?

Comments by Jools on 3rd February 2014  

I am amazed at all these stories of girls and boys doing naked mixed swimming lessons at school and of all doing pe wearing nothing but a pair of shorts. It was nothing like that at MY junior school but I wish it had been, Im a girl but I would have LOVED to go topless or nude at school, even with boys there!

Comments by Iain on 1st February 2014  

It was an indoor pool and is ((as far as I know) still there and still in use, other staff members did very occasionally come in, either to take the lesson or to speak to the p.e. teacher.
Galas and competitions were nude when they were 'school' only, if our parents were invited or we were swimming against other schools we usually wore trunks. I think even for junior boys, nude swimming galas and competitions in front of mixed spectators would be pretty unlikely!
When we were very young we had our p.e. and Games lessons taken by female teachers who obviously also supervised us in the changing rooms and when we went in the showers, but as far as I can recall we had male teachers only by the time we were about 10.
I don't know how common this was at other schools though, ours was a private school and I think few 'state' primary schools would have had much in the way of changing and showering facilities!

Comments by Dave on 1st February 2014  

Thanks Iain. Was it an indoor or outdoor pool, and did any other teachers or school staff watch watch the nude swimming lessons besides the swimming teacher?
I heard that in some schools they also had swimming galas and competitions in the nude, especially junior boys, in front of mixed spectators. Could this be true?

I am also curious to know if any schools had compulsory showers for boys after PE under the supervision of female teachers.

Comments by Iain on 1st February 2014  

In reply to Dave, we also had to swim nude at school, it was compulsory for all Junior boys and the lower school boys in the Grammar school, ie up to about 14. That was Royal Grammar School in Newcastle, it was an all boys school and I am sure we had a female swimming teacher in the junior school but we certainly had a male teacher by the time we were 11 and went into the lower school! I don't think we gave it much thought at the time. I started there in 1967 and I think the nude swimming went on until the early 80's.

Comments by Cynthia on 26th January 2014  

During primary school, I remember how during sports we would all take of our shoes and socks and we girls would participate in our skirts and vests, which we all wore under our blouses on the necessary days, while the boys removed their shirts and were made to take part with bare chests, wearing only their shorts. I don't know how they felt about it really. Some were fine, but some seemed more shy than usual.

Comments by oldscotsguy on 26th January 2014  

I attended an all boys secondary school and if we ever forgot our swimming Speedos then we had to do the class naked. I only forgot once but some boys were regularly naked.

Comments by Dave on 26th January 2014  

Debbie and Martin, thanks for the clarification.

Tim, did you have female teachers supervising, or present, during the boys nude swim classes?

Anyone else had nude swimming classes in British schools?

Comments by Debbie on 11th January 2014  

I am a little bit confused here by Mathews comments, it seems that it was Dave who was seeking information about the mixed nude swimming that Martin mentioned. I had a look at the facebook links that Martin gave and they certinly did seem tohave mixed nude swimming at his old junior school and there are lots of people who remember it. I think it maybe wasn't such a big deal back then, my little brother didn't think there was anything wrong with not wearing any pants when he was at cubs.

Comments by Tim on 10th January 2014  

These comments bring back many memories. At my all boys prep school in the 1970's, it was the norm that you did swimming in the nude, no question. This had been going on for years and went on until the 1980's. I only started at the school when i was 10 and it was a slight shock to do swimming in the nude but I soon got used to it. It also gave the pe teacher the perfect opportunity to inflict a sharp cane to the bare backside which always left a red mark.

Comments by Matthew on 7th January 2014  

Have you not read Dave's perfectly clear explanation below about exactly when swimming took place and whether it was obligatory to wear a costume? If you have I can only conclude that you have a gratuitous and unhealthy interest in this topic.

Comments by Martin on 7th January 2014  martin.hill32@hushmail.com 

Hi Dave, Let me clarify....
I went to Shears Green Primary in Kent, a mixed County Primary school in the South East UK.
They had nude swimming between about the late 1960's until (I think) about 1988. Nude swimming was ALWAYS voluntary and was in extra lunchtime and Saturday sessions but NOT in regular planned swimming lessons, (we HAD to wear swimwear for them!) Nude swimming was open to all, from 7 to 11 years old and when I was there it was girls on monday lunchtime, boys on friday lunchtime and mixed (boys and girls) on wednesday lunchtime. For the same-sex sessions I think we just had to turn up, I don't think we needed our parents permission, but we needed their permission for the 'mixed' nude swimming (not every week, we only needed to get the form signed once!) Saturday morning was 'clothing optional', ANYONE could go and it was up to us whether we wore our swimwear or swam nude.
This was the ONLY school I attended (or taught at) with nude swimming, as I have already stated mixed nude swimming must have been incredibly rare although apparently it wasn't unusual for boys to swim nude at prep and private schools.
I have included a couple of facebook, friends reunited links so you can look for yourself and read the comments from the very large number of kids who took part over the years!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2232710443/ http://www.friendsreunited.com/shears-green-county-junior-school/Discuss/9b5c582f-4f9b-40f0-9be8-8695265ccc0c

Comments by Dave on 5th January 2014  

Martin, are you saying that all the primary schools you went to and taught at as a teacher all had mixed nude swimming?
Do any of these schools have a Friends Reunited site? I bet they have a lot of old memories to talk about.
I know there were some schools which had obligatory nude swimming for boys, maybe for girls also, but never heard of mixed nude swimming at school.
Were the other schools the same as the one you mentioned, that is voluntary and optional swimsuit, or obligatory nudity?

Comments by Martin on 21st December 2013  martin.hill32@hushmail.com 

Comments by Christopher on 21st December 2013  

That must have not been very nice for your brother, Theresa. How would he respond?

Comments by Dave on 20th December 2013  


Could you make things a bit more clear?
You said they were nude mixed swimming lessons at school. Was it both boys and girls in the nude, or boys only?

Was the nudity compulsary or optional?

Comments by Matthew on 20th December 2013  

Let's get some facts straight. In the majority of schools, primary and secondary, from 1946 onwards, swimming lessons were single sex only. Further, nude swimming was very rare. Likewise this obsession with boys wearing or not wearing underpants has become ridiculous. Almost all schools wore just shorts indoors and full sport's kit out doors. This is based on practice in several school from 1946 to 1960. Many commentators here are showing an unhealthy interest in this site and perhaps would find more satisfaction on another site.

Comments by Theresa on 20th December 2013  

My brother and I were in school about 30 years ago, and yes, it was in England. The other girls certainly did tease the boys, and while the boys tried to appear confident, it was obvious that they all felt slightly exposed. The girls were interested in the boys bodies, but where interested in teasing them just as much. Outside in winter, boys did PE separately, and I can't remember what the boys wore. The girls normally wore tracksuit-like trousers, shirts and jumpers. In the Summer, girls wore shorts and blouses, and boys wore shorts and sleeveless vests.

Comments by Spence on 19th December 2013  

What period are we talking about here? Recently?
You say you teased your brother. Did other girls tease the boys? What was the boys' reaction?
Were the girls really that interested in the boys bodies and what did each gender wear outside?

Comments by Dave on 18th December 2013  

Hi Theresa!

Was it England? I've thought they have single sex PE lessons a secondary schools.

Comments by Martin on 18th December 2013  martin.hill32@hushmail.com 

Yes, mixed nude swimming lessons at my Primary school were for real, with crowds of boys and girls up to the age of 11, swimming together stark-naked twice a week! We also had boys only and girls only nude swimming lessons every week as well, I always went to the mixed sessions and I also went to the boys only sessions with my friends on fridays.
Shears Green Primary School in Kent, look it up on fb or friends reunited!

Comments by Martin on 18th December 2013  martin.hill32@hushmail.com 

You think THAT would cause an outcry these days? I remember taking a letter home from Primary School when I was about 9 asking my parents for permission for me to swim naked in the mixed nude swimming lessons we had twice a week at school! Imagine how that would go down these days!!! As I recall, almost everyone who asked to go to these sessions managed to get their parents permission, most of the boys in my class wanted to go and I think we all managed to get it 'signed off' by our mums!

Comments by Theresa on 17th December 2013  

I remember when I went to secondary school with my twin brother. Gym was mixed and while we girls wore shirts and gym knickers, which were really just tight shorts, boys wore just shorts, with no shirt. He was a shy boy, and I always teased him about it, by telling him about my friends' opinions of his body and constantly commenting on his physical development.

Comments by Yorkie on 16th December 2013  

Reading the last person's comments you can imagine the outcry if a teacher pulled out the back of a pupil's shorts these days.

However, I suppose this wowukd not apply as I suppose that underwear is worn. Possibly jockstraps are worn because the modern boxer shorts which I think most lads wear would give no support.

Comments by Stuart Beech on 13th December 2013  stuartbeech65@gmail.com 

I have read with interest the posts about the wearing of PE kit, I would add my experience at an all boys senior school between 1959-1964, we had blue rough cotton PE shorts, no underwear and always a quick underwear check in the changing room, the teacher pulled the back of your shorts away to check, if we were in the gym it was barefoot and bare chests, like the boys in the picture, if we had PE outside we wore white plimsolls and a white vest, if there were team games, one team went bare chested.

Another thing we had were compulsory medical examinations at age 11 and then at 13, the leaving age being 15. These examinations were always done prior to PE lessons, so we were just in shorts and lined up against the wall waiting to go in individually in the large gym storeroom converted temporarily for physical examination days, inside was a desk where a nurse sat and checked you in then did the eye and hearing tests and then you waited until the boy in front of you had been examined by the doctor behind a curtained off area, so there was a steady stream of boys getting examined.

If anyone would like a bit of a comprehensive description of the PE activities we did or the medical exam, or have any memories from their school days then feel free to email me at stuartbeech65@gmail.com

Comments by Debbie on 13th December 2013  

In answer to Benny, I am sure this was often the case at Primary school level, but I think it pretty unlikely it happened at Secondary school (ie age 12 and above)however back when I was younger I think relativly few Primary schools would have had 'proper' changing rooms and showers anyway, most kids changed in the toilets, cloakrooms or in their classrooms. As I stated before, my younger brother was in the Cubs when he was at Primary school, in a Pack where all the leaders were female. When they were on camps or sleepovers, my brother said they had to get undressed and ready for bed after flagdown, but before they had their supper, which I am guessing was probably about 7:00, they all had to wear a pyjama 'top' or a t-shirt but they weren't allowed to wear any pants, he said that after supper they all ran around the camp with bare 'willies' playing games for a couple of hours before they went to bed! I used to tease him and his friends about going 'bare' at camp and the leaders seeing them like that, but they seemed very unconcerned! I don't think kids that age (8-11) are too bothered, or they weren't in those days!

Comments by scotslad on 13th December 2013  

I response to Garry's comments, did your wife say what she wore for pe class?

Comments by Benny on 13th December 2013  

Talking about compulsary group showers after PE, a friend once told me that at his primary school it was usually their class female teacher who supervised the boys during their showers after PE. Was this common in some schools in England?

Comments by Yorkie on 12th December 2013  

I agree with James. As I suggested in my comments on 2nd Dec. I think boys have become too soft hiding behind towels in changing rooms in case they are seen naked. We certainl;y had no concerns, yet they have no inhibitions in wearing low slung trousers advertising their fashionable boxers.

Comments by Gary on 12th December 2013  

It's interesting to hear how things were for girls. Vest and knickers sound good to me - at a boys school we never saw them! My wife says she never had communal showers - the girls had shower cubicles or didn't bother till they got home. When I first started going out with her and she came to watch me playing football and was amazed that we all showered together afterwards.

Comments by Debbie on 12th December 2013  

Sorry, that reply should have been to MARK, not MARTIN as it was Mark that was questioning the need to wear pyjamas, I am inclined to agree with him!

Comments by Debbie on 12th December 2013  

In reply to Martin: My younger brother was in the Cubs when he was at primary school, in a cub pack that was based at the school. There was about 30 of them in cubs but it was all boys in those days, the leaders were all female, a teacher and a couple of 'mums'. They used to go to camp a couple of times a year and sometimes had 'sleepovers' in the gym on fridays after cubs. It was no secret that the pack had a pyjama 'tops' only rule at bedtime and that they weren't allowed to wear anything from the waist down, everyone at school knew! I have absolutely no idea why they had that rule but apparently it had always been like that! I used to tease my brother about it but he always said he wasn't bothered! That was in the 1970's.

Comments by James on 11th December 2013  

This is just how I remember PE, it was great fun and I used to really look forward to the classes. We used to have two double lessons and also a compulsory lunch time session and those days were the best, somehow it was easier to work in class on other things when we'd done gym, had a good run or played rugby.

I'm not saying it was all easy, it wasn't and high standards were set in terms of timing and effort and also sportsmanship, not something you hear much about these days. Not trying hard enough or fooling around got the slipper or if it was serious the cane. The slipper was usually given there and then in the gym, the cane was 'saved' until the end of the lesson to give you 'something to look forward to' and given in private on your bare bottom. Every boy including me who left that office after getting the cane did so in tears.

Like I think everyone else posting, underpants were not allowed and we always had cold, communal, compulsory showers after each class. No body minded, it's how it was and I look back on it all as great fun.

Sometimes these days when I see younger lads dancing behind their towels in the gym changing room I really do wonder what they are trying to hide. Are lads today too soft?

Comments by Mark on 11th December 2013  

I just found it weird that my boarding school had opted for a shirtless PE kit, naked showers after PE, and on the other hand we had to wear a full set of pyjamas to bed ! Maybe someone can explain the logic of this ?

Comments by David on 8th December 2013  

During my time at secondary school (1967-74) we weren't allowed to wear our ordinary underwear for PE and showers were compulsory. For the first couple of years we all went commando but later on we were advised that some support was necessary. A few bought the Litesome supporters recommended, but most of us just wore our swimming trunks under our shorts

Comments by scotslad on 8th December 2013  

It is interesting reading how things were in other schools. At my primary the boys wore their white pe shorts. No top. In fact I never did pe from ages 5-17 wearing a top. Girls at primary wore their vest and regulation navy blue knickers. I cannot recall any ever going topless. As noted previously, topless or even in a vest would not be tolerated these days. I spoke to my wife about her experiences. She confirmed that she too did primary school pe in vest and knickers. When she went to the girls only senior secondary school the vest and knickers were the usual kit for girls in the early years. As a girl developed then they started to wear an Airtex blouse over their bra. They wore the regulation knickers all the way through school. My wife was 13 1/2 before she wore a bra,so did pe until then in a vest. She says that she never thought anything about it.

There was never any suggestion of nude swimming though-they all had standard navy school costume.

Comments by Yorkie on 8th December 2013  

During my time at secondary school up to 1966 when we when all our class were 16 years old there was never any mention of Jockstraps & we were not told to buy them. Consequently everything hung loose during PE & games & no boxes for Cricket either & we survived

Comments by Martin on 8th December 2013  martin.hill32@hushmail.com 

BTW: in addition to my other comments, Shears Green Junior School in Kent is still going strong and STILL has the same indoor swimming pool! (I saw the photo, how many memories it brings back!) They have a very nice website for the school these days, however boys and girls doing swimming lessons completely naked and everyone doing PE and country dancing 'topless' with none of us (including the girls) allowed to wear anything except a single very thin pair of shorts, is unfortunately very much a thing of the past having died out in the late 1980's or the early 90's when Mr Hale retired as Headteacher! Bit sad really!

Comments by Martin on 8th December 2013  martin.hill32@hushmail.com 

Comments by greywolf on 8th December 2013  ju0884@aol.com 

Scotslad, Gary, Michael and others.
I noticed your comments.
For sure everyday underpants were not allowed for sports because of the hygiene factor. We were all encouraged to wear our swimming trunks for support, especially when we first got selected for the rugby team. A Litesome jock strap was usually the preserve of cricketers or older boys.
Of course we only had one pair of trunks or one jock so these often remained at school during the week as they might be needed several days running. This made a bit of a nonsense of the thoughts about hygiene!

Comments by Gary on 7th December 2013  

I'm thinking back, Scotslad. I think we were told on our first day that we couldn't wear any of our uniform for sport and that included socks and pants. The reason was to avoid sweating in them and having to put them on again afterwards so it made sense. Certainly the games master used to come through the changing room and keep an eye on us changing but I don't remember anyone not obeying the rule so I don't think there were actual checks. Canings weren't public - you had to line up outside the headmaster's office and then go in individually. He had a gym horse which you bent over. You always had to bare your arse though which would be questionable nowadays but I don't think there was any funny business. It was so you couldn't put any padding down your pants. He did use to stripe us and it stung. I don't know about other schools.

There were a couple of schools outfitters where you bought all uniform and sportswear. The jockstraps were Litesomes - that was the only brand I remember in those days and all the footballers used to wear them so it was a bit of a right of passage to start wearing one. Me and a friend went in to buy a couple when we were 14 and felt like proper men the first time we put them on. My grandsons had never seen one. Times change don't they.

Comments by Martin on 7th December 2013  

Comments by scotslad on 6th December 2013  

Thanks,Gary for your input. Can I ask, were there ever "underpant checks"? If so, how was this done? We're the canines given in private or in front of gym class? A friend of mine went to school in Newcastle area but the tawse was used in his school. Was it only in a private or boys only school that the cane was used?
We had to buy our Litesome jock straps from the PE dept. Was it same with you. I still remember my first purchase. Thanks.

Comments by Gary on 5th December 2013  

Interesting reminiscences. I was at a boys school in Newcastle on Tyne in the 1960s and we had many of the same rules. For games and PE you couldnt wear the same underwear as you wore under your clothes. Once we were in our teens boys started wearing jockstraps but the younger boys just went commando. Football was often skins vs shirts so the vests came off no matter how cold it was. Showers were compulsory after sport - communal and naked. We had an indoor pool and swimming was always naked although the teachers were men so it wasn't that we were being watched by women. We never thought anything of it even by the time we were 18. Happy days to be honest apart from the bare arsed caning! The boys today seem a lot more concerned about being seen wihout clothes than we ever were.

Comments by Jeremy on 3rd December 2013  

I had no problems about going stripped to the waist for PE but being barefoot was a different matter.

Comments by Yorkie on 2nd December 2013  

Having read the recent comments and as pupil in the 60's I agree that no one seemed bothered those days about the no pants rule and bare tops or School teachers walking through the changing rooms as we were changing. Nowadays a teacher doing that would be answering to the authorities.
I would be interested to know what is De Rigeur these days.
I expect that any exposure of flesh is frowned upon even though I assume that PE or whatever it is called is held separately for boys & girls.

As I say as a pupil of the "old school" system boys only, I think it was better because since Co- Education boys have got softer & are influenced by the girls. Have the boys lost their machoism?

Comments by scotslad on 1st December 2013  

We had a swimming pool at school and if you forgot your Speedos then you were told to do without. I only ever forgot mine once!

Comments by Larry on 1st December 2013  

Anyone experienced nude swimming at school in the UK?

Comments by scotslad on 29th November 2013  

i attended a boy's only secondary school in Scotland from 1965-71. We were only allowed to wear white cotton shorts for pe, no top or underwear. In the early years there were checks made to ensure the rule was applied. I cannot recall anyone being caught as frankly it would have just been stupid to try. We had a swimming pool at the school and in later years were allowed to wear swimming speedos in school colours under our shorts for support. Some boys wore the Litesome jock straps which were popular then.

The normal punishment for any crime was "the belt" ( more properly called the tawse, but always known as the belt). It was used regularly by teachers with, in many cases, significant force.

This may all sound a bit weird from the perspective of 2013 but I can assure you it was just treated as life by us back then and not given much thought.

Comments by Neil on 27th November 2013  

Comments by Fred on 25th November 2013  

Just come accross this thread and thought I would add my two-penn`rth.
The gymn at my small prep school was little more than a wooden shed with a very splintery floor and practically no equipment at all, Apart from cricket,all games and PE were done in footbal/rugby kit. It was all rather grim, but we just put up with it - there was no use complaining and I am still around today, so it can`t have done us much harm.
I left there in 1967 at age 13 and went to a much larger school and that had a gymn much as we see in the photo above, I think it had been built a year or two before. Although these lads look a bit younger we used identical kit.
A great deal of talk here has been on the matter of chastisement. At prep school, the gymn-shoe was the weapon of choice and this was used very enthusiastically and when I moved on, the cane was still in use, but was gradually on the way out, but not before I had had my share! Quite honestly I don`t remember any of that being a problem, again it was just how it was
Another topic much discussed here along with some horror stories is the matter of underwear or lack of it. At prep school it was nothing at all, I think it was just custom, I don`t remember it as a rule and there were certainly no "inspections". After age 13 or so we soon all acquired a jockstrap,mostly the old Litesome cotton one. it was a kind of rite of passage thing I suppose. Again I don`t think there was a rule as such, it was just custom.

Comments by Simon on 24th November 2013  

In reply to Sam's message,we too were stipped to the waist,wearing only our shorts with nothing underneath.This rule was rigoursly enforced and could lead to embarrassment and consternation,especially wnen our games and gymnastic lessons were shared with the girls.On one such occassion one boy decided to pull my shorts right down much to his amusement.

Comments by Eastender on 23rd November 2013  

I was also at Secondary school in the 1960's. Like you our PE was done stripped to the waist, but were you like us without underwear, and was it an all boys school?

Comments by Sam on 21st November 2013  

In the 1960's at my school we did all our PE stripped to the waist.
When we did cross-country many lads went barefoot as well.

Comments by Tim H on 5th November 2013  

@Adam - No need to apologize! Life is made too complicated now!

Comments by Adam on 4th November 2013  

To Tim H perhaps I should have said "politically correct rather than "left-wing."

Comments by Tim H on 24th October 2013  

Just a few comments - to Adam I agree with pretty much everything you say but would leave out the word 'left-wing'.

To Michael - we weren't a particularly 'sporty' Grammar school and I can't recall jockstraps being required or underwear being prohibited, but by the end of the 1st year it was being suggested by teachers that we wore swimming trunks for 'support' if we wanted.

Back in September, a fine day, chatting to a lady in the gym car park. We commented on the weather allowed us to go to the gym, and home, in lightweight gear. Then we started talking about wearing shorts and about how many men wore them as a natural thing nowadays, followed by a comment as to how the shorts got shorter & shorter as the summer went on! The lady then made, what to me, was a telling comment. She said 'its been nice to see lads playing in the park these fine summer days - just in shorts - so much more natural'.

Comments by Maltamon on 20th October 2013  

Comments by michael on 17th October 2013  michaelabbey@rocketmail.com 

I note Adam's reaction to Maltamon's long post.

I do not see that games kit and even the 'games' themselves can ever be entirely unisex. The favourite topic of going bare chested is a point in question.

Away from that familiar road a subject which has sometimes featured on this page is the practice of boys wearing their swimming trunks as underwear. As someone who was at school in the distant 70s I well recall that many of us wore these for comfort during pe, rugby etc and not being allowed to wear them would have seemed extraordinary. I'm sure we would have sneaked them on!

I dont know if there are those out there who agree with my observation.

Comments by Paul on 17th October 2013  

I do hope that Maltamon is a troll, I would hate to think that anyone really believed the nonsense posted. Boys and girls are different beings who have different capabilities and skills and they need different challenges.

The sooner that is believed again the sooner we will be able to restore some sense to our quite mad society.

I played rugby at school and loved it. It was a boys school so I have no idea what girls did but I wouldn't change my school days for anything. I also was caned on a number of occasions and I deserved each and every stroke. I also have many happier memories, they were great years and boys ought to be allowed to have the same now instead of all this femin-socialist nonsense and drivel.

Comments by Adam on 16th October 2013  

Maltamon's comments are typical of the left-wing nonsense which is increasingly common in our modern society.
Why should games etc be "unisex" whatever that means and why should pupils have choice about what games they play at school?
If you are told to do certain games at school then you should have to do them.
That also includes what clothes you wear for PE etc(including boys doing games bare-chested.)

Comments by Maltamon on 15th October 2013  

People often say the cane done them no harm. Thankfully the cane was abolished in state schools in 1986 and in private schools in 1999. Often teachers refused to hit girls for quite serious offences but beat boys for much lesser misdemeanours. If a girl was hit it was usually a light tap. Our headmaster at primary school did not hit girls at all.

Likewise, bare-chested pe is a form of sex discrimination. True boys bodies are less defined at 5-9 years of age. This is also true of girls. At that age they have not developed breasts and are below the criminal age of responsibility for indecent exposure. However, parents would go mad if girls were forced to go topless.

In my view all pe kits should be unisex no matter what the age.

No boy/girl should be forced to pe in underwear and knickers. All schools should have a spare kit policy.

No boy should be forced to do swimming in brief style shorts. All should have the option of swimming in wetsuits or rash vests and long bermuda shorts.

All pupils should either be allowed to wear tracksuits over t-shirts and shorts or have compulsory sports trousers in the school to cover bare-legs to protect modesty and protect from the sun or cold weather.

Both boys and girls should have the same colour pe uniform. There should be no white shorts and T-shirts for boys. Girls would kick up a fuss if you could see their underwear under their sports gear.

There should be no compulsory football boots for boys. If girls doe pe in trainers then so should the boys.

The showering poicy should only be optional or recommended. There should be no compulsory showers or situations where girls have optional showers and boys mandatory showers.

There should also be no compulsory change of underwear or dictation that boys wear swimming trunks under shorts.

Football and rugby should at best be optional for boys if not phased out altogether in schools. All PE subjects should be gender nuetral.

Overall, PE kits must be unisex. Publis sector unions in school are quick to demand the end of sex discrimination against teachers but they are more relaxed about gender bias against male pupils. State sponsored mysandry may have been acceptable in past days when we had male conscription and illiberal divorce laws but in today's post feminist pluralistic society such rules have no place.

Comments by Peter on 15th October 2013  

To Roger G.
Was the boy doing the handstand on the box "imported" from an older class for the photograph? He looks bigger than the other pupils in the photo. To me, that boy on the left of the group of four standing watching seems to me to be thinking "I don't want to have to do that. I thought I was coming to this school to learn Physics and Chemistry and Latin."

Comments by Richard W on 14th October 2013  

Rob, I suspect that if a boy made it clear he was that unhappy about doing PE barechested, his parents would send him to a school where shirts or vests were permitted. But I'd be surprised if many boys of that age were terribly bothered about it. I think it's a different matter when a boy reaches puberty, suddenly he may be more self conscious about having a six pack, whether his chest is more defined than other boys and several other body issues, especially if they do PE in front of girls. So I don't think a barechested uniform should be enforced for teenage boys, but at a younger age I can't really see that it matters.

Comments by Roger G on 14th October 2013  

Remember Mr Parry as am one of the boys(class3m?) in this photo (taken when BGS moved to the 'new'school in Kiddrow lane).We also did cross country races in snowy conditions also lightly clad,it did us no harm in fact toughened us up.Happy days!

Comments by Rob on 8th October 2013  

But if the boys are unhappy with it they probably can't do anything.

Comments by Richard W on 7th October 2013  

Can't really see why this is such a big deal, we're talking about primary school children not teenagers. When I was that age the boys and girls had swimming lessons together, naturally the boys were all barechested while the girls were not. Does it really matter if that's the case in the gym as well? And as John pointed out, if parents are unhappy about their sons having to do classes with their tops off, they can always send them to another school.

Comments by Tim H on 7th October 2013  

Ofsted report from St Michaels, Bamford, Rochdale ...


Comments by John on 7th October 2013  

Hi Rob, lots of things are enforced in school, you ahve to wear a uniform, you have to go to classes etc etc. Why should it be different for boys going barechested in PE? It's a policy that has it reasons (H&S, discipline, gender indetity, ..) as has any other policy. If you're not happy, go to another school that doesn't have has a different PE uniform!

Comments by Rob on 6th October 2013  

John, boys may not need shirts for PE, but it cannot be right to force them to go without one. There is no need for that either.

Comments by Maltamon on 6th October 2013  

I have found the offending school. All other St Michael's schools across the country allo boys to wear t-shirts and shorts but this one in Rochdale:


8. For P.E. boys are expected to wear shorts. Girls should wear knickers and vest (young infants and all Reception children), shorts and white t-shirt or black leotard (older infants and juniors.) Children will do P.E. in pumps or bare feet.

How do they justify this rule. Boys are expected to wear shorts and possibly pumps on their feet but says nothinh about knickers and vest for boys.

Why cant boys wear shorts and t-shirts? If girls can wear black leotards why cant boys wear black leotards with shorts on top like at professional gymnastic academies?

It seems the dead hand of Cyril Smith MP is still alive in working class male Rochdale and we all know what that "liberal MP" done to boys in children homes!

I wonder what the female teachers who often run these primary schools would do if they were forced to turn up to lessons in just a pair of shorts.

They would be going straight to their Trade Unions, go on strike and sue the local authority under the Equalities Act 2010. Well Sex Discrimination laws apply to all services and Education is a service. Equal protection for males and girls doesn't come into force at aged 18, children are covered as well.

Comments by John on 6th October 2013  

If the school rule is that boys do PE barechested that that's the way it is. Stop going on about it as if it was a bad thing. Boys are not girls they do not need a top for PE, let them grow up into healthy men!

Comments by Rob on 5th October 2013  

Look at rule 8 of the the school rules section of the St Michael's Church of England Primary School. They also seem to require boys to do PE without shirts, whereas girls can chose between shorts and shirts or leotards. The youngest wear vest and pants, but boys have to wear less than that all the way up to year 6

Comments by Maltamon on 5th October 2013  

Comments by Stuart on 20th September 2013  

I went to boarding school in the 1960s and there was no such thing as privacy. It was a shock on day one but at the end of a week it was normal.

We all slept in open dormitories for twenty of which there were five on each floor along with a further big open washroom that had basins, communal showers and toilets which had no partitions either though once we were about fifteen there were waist high partitions on the toilets but certainly no doors at any time.

Sports kit was white shorts and plimsolls or rugby kit or cricket whites as appropriate. If it wasn't rugby or cricket then be it gym, track, field, cross country or any other game it was white shorts and plimsolls. Like everyone else of my generation, underpants were not allowed either and trying to wear them resulted in a sore bottom.

Ridicule was the cure for shyness. I have to say I got over being shy very easily but I think some lads probably hated it before just accepting it.

Sports masters generally applied the plimsoll vigorously to bare bottoms, other masters used the cane in the privacy of their studies again to bare bottoms.

It was how things were and I've never thought it did me any harm and I liked school and was very happy there.

I do wonder about how boys grow up today. They seem uncertain of their identity and who they are, we didn't have those problems and I think we were better off with the perceived privations and discipline of the time than the boys of today are with their mollycoddling.

Comments by Dave on 16th September 2013  

I remember doing cross-country along the streets near to our school.
All us boys were stripped to the waist and no-one thought anything of it.

Comments by Paul on 12th September 2013  

I went to a boys boarding school where we swam naked. I'm not sure why it was insisted upon but it was just normal and group nudity was not unusual.

We slept in open dormitories, showered in communal showers, took off underpants for sport and showered in (different) communal showers afterwards often having two or three showers a day and to top it all off, we were caned on our bare bottoms.

After a couple of weeks I didn't think anything of being naked with my peers so swimmming certainly didn't bother me.

Comments by Gar on 11th September 2013  

Cornwall, the nearest thing to a difinitive answer to the compulsory naked swimming years read;


"Although almost non-existent today, institutional male nude swimming in the U.S. got its start at the YMCA in the 1890s. At the time, men wore wooly suits, which shed fibers, clogging the then sensitive water filters. It became traditional and mandatory for men and boys to swim au natural at these facilities, and many believe schools copied the policy of this respected institution."

".......one reason was discipline, and that boys were not expected to be bothered by nudity. "Nude swimming for boys was a no-nonsense, practical, easy, conforming and cohesive, method of handling 30 exuberant boys in one hour." Nudity had a calming affect for even the most boisterous boys."

Still others credit the military. Schools in the 60s were largely administered by the World War II generation, and during the war, there was little respect for male privacy. Many believe they transferred this norm to schools. And even in the early 70s, one man remembers a selective service physical where "long lines of naked guys being inspected for everything from flat feet to eyesight and hearing in a shockingly open environment."

".....Threads Clogged the Drains? Oh, Come On, This is the 60s"

"Although almost non-existent today, institutional male nude swimming in the U.S. got its start at the YMCA in the 1890s. At the time, men wore wooly suits, which shed fibers, clogging the then sensitive water filters. It became traditional and mandatory for men and boys to swim au natural at these facilities, and many believe schools copied the policy of this respected institution.

READ in full;

Comments by Cornwall on 10th September 2013  

I still cannot understand why so many schools especially boys boarding schools insisted on naked swimming. Is there a definitive answer?

Comments by James on 6th September 2013  

I remember my pe and swimming lessons very well. From about age 9 - 15, PE was always in just white pe shorts. No question, that was it. If you didn't have your shorts, you just did it in your underpants.
Swimming was always done naked. For new boys, the walk down from the changing area to the end of the pool before a lesson was always odd as you felt very exposed but once you got used to it it was fine. As a boarder we had to swim naked at weekends as well although the older boys generally wore trunks. We never thought anything of it and in fact enjoyed it. At weekends we were often supervised by a female games teach or a housemistress and this was no problem. Any other female however might have been different.

Comments by Alan on 22nd August 2013  

My first experience of barechested PE actually came when I was 16, probably much older than most of the others who have posted their recollections here. Basically I moved to a different school for the sixth form and I was surprised to find that PE was still compulsory. It didn't occur to me that I might need specific PE kit either - at my old school nobody had bothered too much about what you wore. There was an official PE kit but any kind of top/shorts/trainers combination was usually acceptable.
At my first PE lesson I discovered this was no longer the case. All the other boys wore a vest in school colours, white shorts and socks and running shoes. Thankfully my shorts were white but my coloured t-shirt and socks immediately attracted the PE teacher's displeasure. He demanded to know where my vest was and seemed less than impressed by my plea that I hadn't realised I needed one. I wasn't even sure what he meant when he ordered me to 'do it in skins' - I'd never heard that term at my old school! Most of the other lads were laughing as the exasperated teacher barked at me to take my t-shirt off, as well as the offending socks. I felt very self conscious as I went out to the gym in just shorts (thank heavens I hadn't had to take those off too!) and trainers. It wasn't that I was embarrassed about my upper body, but it felt weird to be the only barechested boy among a group I hardly knew yet and I was very aware of standing out as the new boy.
Before the next PE lesson I got hold of a school vest and wore it as we went to the gym. However, before long I had to take it off again - we were split into teams for a game of basketball and this time I understood what the teacher meant when he announced that my team were skins. The good thing was that this time I wasn't the odd one out, all my team-mates had to go barechested as well. I got talking to one of them, who told me 'skins' games had been regular practice all the way through the school and he said that had encouraged him to make sure he kept in shape and looked after his body properly. To be honest, the results were pretty impressive! I could see the logic of that and I decided to try and do the same over the next two years. Looking back, I think it's a pity I didn't have to go barechested before then and a pity for today's young men that they're never required to at all.

Comments by Pete S on 17th August 2013  

Hello Donald,

I remember the first time I went barechested at school as it was a warm September's morning and that was OK. The school very kindly rostered 2 double games lessons and 2 double PE lessons each week. We weren't so fortunate at the end of week when we were taken outside and stripped down in the pouring rain, something we'd get used to - but that was a suprise at the time.

Comments by Loz on 16th August 2013  

@ Laura, it was certainly the case at the Woodlands school in Coventry, a fact reported by local journalist Chris Arnot in his various remeniscences of his schooldays there. It was (and still is) an all boys school.

In our junior school we had an outside pool, not much more than a tank really. I can recall in all weathers going out across the tarmac playground in bare feet and swimming trunks. There was due to some architects oversight only one changing room in the school, that was reserved for the girls, the boys changed into their trunks in the corridor, modestly protected only by a hasty arrangement of stacked chairs. After the swim, boys and girls showered together (in our costumes) in the sole changing room.

Comments by Chris r on 13th August 2013  

When I was at school, gym class was always done barechested and barefoot. The teachers made us dress like this so that we knew our place, and it certainly made us feel uncomfortable, especially when we did class with the girls. I remember trying to cover my navel and nipples in my first class, and the other boys were embarrasses as well, though the girls loved it.

Comments by Donald on 12th August 2013  

To Pete S

How did you feel when u found out you had to do P.E barechested for the first time?

Comments by Pete S on 11th August 2013  

Our lessons were done with either all barechested or half the class left in vests depending on our teacher's whim.

At the start of every PE lesson our teacher made us lads line up just in vests and shorts and then picked who he wanted to strip and then your vest came off. It was exactly the same outdoors too it didn't matter what the sport was. There was a "core" group of 4 lads in every class (I was one in my class) who he always kept stripped regardless until we left at 18.

The way the school was built half the classrooms overlooked the yard and fields so you were assured of an "audience" when stripping to the waist.

Comments by Tom on 9th August 2013  

In reply to Stuart, I had a PE teacher who made me and another boy do an entire term in shorts only. Our old teacher hadn't minded us wearing T-shirts instead of regulation PE vests, or the wrong colour shorts or socks - but this one certainly did, as we soon discovered at the first lesson. He announced that, as we clearly found it difficult to remember the correct kit, he'd make it easier by restricting our kit to white shorts and nothing else, bare chests and bare feet.
The two of us also had to do a punishment in just shorts which involved running several laps of the gym and then going straight to the swimming pool, where we had to swim lengths, then climb out and do press ups on the poolside, dive back in for more lengths and repeat the press ups. It was exhausting and also embarrassing as our shorts were fairly see through when wet.
The kit restriction also partly applied to outdoor PE - we were permitted to wear trainers or football boots in addition to shorts, but we still had to do each lesson bare chested. Which wasn't a lot of fun when it was cold or raining! I was relieved when the term ended and I was very careful to bring the right kit after that.

Comments by john getty on 9th August 2013  pdsjohn@aol.com 

Ron Parry shown in the photos was a cruel bully of a man who relished in beating young kids (11 upwards) on the bare buttocks with the rubber sole that he had cut off a large gym shoe.
He was particularly nasty to overweight kids and delighted in making them do things that were clearly beyond their capabilities like watching them struggle to try and climb a rope while he belittled them in front of everyone else. He also liked to make a class of the younger ones parade through the showers naked while he stood and watched.
As a fat kid he often picked on me but I got the satisfaction of upstaging him once. We were obliged to watch play table tennis when the school got a new table. As he beat one kid after another and crowed about how good he was and how poor they were I made a comment that I thought he was pretty rubbish, only beating kids who had never played before. I meanwhile although out of shape had a table at home and played at every opportunity ( and I was good).
He challenged "the fat boy" to a game. I started slow and he got five or six love ahead. Baying at me that I should have kept my "gob shut" he posed at every point won.
I then got annoyed at him and went on to paste him by 21 to ten. Everyone there cheered and he glowered at us all. He insisted on a rematch saying my win was a fluke. I won the second and third games so he made it best of ten.
I then began to let him win (narrowly) because I knew that if I didnt he would have been even meaner towards me in the future. He won the set by one point (as I had had enough- I knew he couldnt beat me and that was enough for me) and he boasted it to all concerned. I often wondered after if he really knew which of us was best?

Comments by Laura on 7th August 2013  lcclinton4@yahoo.co.uk 

I don't have any direct experience of schools that required their pupils to swim naked as a matter of routine, but my senior school did require this of lower school girls (11-14) who forgot their swimming costumes. If we forgot our regular kit for PE lessons, we used to have to take part in our underpants, but obviously this wasn't suitable for swimming. I was actually one of the first girls in my class to forget my costume, and that day I had no idea what would happen. I approached my gym mistress with some trepidation, but I was so shocked when she simply told me to strip naked and fiel out to the pool with the rest of my class. A classmate was stood behind me and she told a similar tale of woe, with the same result. We undressed next to one another and tried to hang back but it was still obvious to the whole class that while they had their costumes on, we were totally bare.

Comments by Cornwall on 6th August 2013  

I have read on several occasions about boys of all ages having to swim naked & I wonder why schools had this rule. Can any comment whether there is any benefit in discarding swimwear?

Comments by Loz on 6th August 2013  

Comments by Steve James on 5th August 2013  

In response to Stuarts comments:
I attended boarding school in the Midlands during the late 60's.
I recall only too well, the sadistic treatment of boys by one or two of the prefects.
If you antagonised them or gave them any lip, you would either be placed on 'Prefect's Detention' or your name could mysteriously end up on the Head's caning list!
Prefects Detention was held every Thursday before prep. Once, during my fourth year, for what I thought was a minor indiscretion, I was put on this 'weekly detention' for three consecutive weeks one spring term during the bleakest winter in Warwickshire!
The treatment handed out on these detentions varied according to which prefects were on the rota.
You had to report in just your PT shorts, no vest and in bare feet, whatever the conditions outside. Then Running Laps of the sports field was a very common theme. Push-ups in the cold mud was another.
These two prefects had a particularly nasty reputation and for good reason. On two detentions I and one other boy were not only made to run laps but also included swimming two lengths of the adjacent school outdoor training pool between each lap.
Normally swimming two lengths of 25 yards was not unduly arduous for healthy fourth formers but you can imagine how extremely cold the pool was at that time of year, typically 42 to 48 F.
Those prefects would delight in 'reading the thermometer' and taunting us boys with how low it read. The pool was officially closed in the winter term but that didn't deter them!
To make matters worse they would point out that as our school swimming lessons were always done naked and insisted that we removed our PT shorts prior to entering the water! On jumping in, the shock made us gasp for breath! Completing each swim in such cold, felt never-ending. Other boys only doing the laps were then coerced into running off with our shorts so we were left to run back across the sports field naked, wet and frozen!
The session always ended getting cleaned up with a shower but the hot water supply would mysteriously always get shut down beforehand!
I could hardly wait to become a Prefect myself!

Comments by Stuart on 4th August 2013  stu151@hotmail.com 

Comments by alan camboy on 2nd August 2013  

I was at schools in east anglia in the 60's.

At junior school we wore underpants only for gym - nice and simple with no problems with forgotten kit.

At secondary school it was white shorts only no footwear underpants or vests for gym. Outside we were allowed appropriate tops and footwear but the no underwear rule still applied. I remember two boys found wearing underpants in football being made to take off their shorts and pants on the playing fields. They were told to leave their shorts on the touchline and walk back to the changing rooms to deposit their pants with their other clothes then return put on their shorts and carry on. The humiliation they endured meant they never wore underpants again nor did the rest of us.

Comments by Laura on 1st August 2013  lcclinton4@yahoo.co.uk 

Lots of really interesting comments on here. I note that nearly all are from men, and thought it might be interesting to offer a female perspective.

I was at primary school from 1985-1993, and my school required all pupils, boys and girls, to undress and do PE in just our underpants/knickers. This continued right until we left at age 11. My senior school was private and girls-only. For indoor lessons we wore gym knickers and a white cotton vest. Underwear knickers had to be removed and this was checked from time to time. All indoor lessons were done in bare feet. We wore the same kit for athletics in summer and for cross country in winter. Other outdoor sports had full kit as appropriate. If we forgot our indoor kit, in the first few years we had to take the lesson in just our knickers; after that we were allowed vests or bras too. The same principle applied outdoors too, but obviously it was unsafe to play hockey barefoot, so we would generally be sent to slog round the quagmire of a cross country route around the school playing field and grounds.

Comments by DAVID on 1st August 2013  djohnmesher@yahoo.co.uk 

In reply to comments made by Cornwall it was an all boys p.e class. On one occasion we all thought that we would be doing something else and did not bring our gym shorts but our PE teacher said doesn't matter. You can all do it in your pants. On occasions I and a few other classmates would purposely forget our shorts so we could attend the lesson in our white Y fronts. It was no problem and just accepted

Comments by Tony on 1st August 2013  

As Stuart pointed out, Boarding School rules were often far from logical. At mine boys would be reprimanded for failing to wear a vest under their uniform shirt, during winter term. On a winter morning we would begin the day warm in our vest, shirt, pullover and blazer. (We also had anoraks for outdoors) Then we'd swap the protection of the heated classroom and five layers of clothing for the unheated changing rooms. There we'd strip naked and put on only a thin pair shorts and proceed onto the frozen, wind swept playing fields. Vests were now prohibited! After an hour of freezing hell we'd often be subjected to a cold shower. Boys got the slipper for wearing underwear under their thin shorts and were reprimanded for failing to wear a vest under their uniform. Happy Days (I think not) Cold Days, but I never got colds or flu in my teens. I believe this was due to the minimal protection from the elements. So maybe the Games Master done us a favor!

Comments by Cornwall on 30th July 2013  

Stuart re your comments 28/7. It is strange to think you were comppelled to run in just shorts, but at bedtime forced to cover up in the dorm. Illogical especially as most lads seem to sleep in boxers these days.

David re your comments, was the PE lesson boys only & what was the reaction of boys who had to participate in pants, presumably briefs those days as boxers not generally in fashion.

Comments by Simon on 29th July 2013  

I was at a state day school in the sixties and the rule for PE and cross-country was stripped to the waist and barefoot.
For games we were allowed to wear a shirt for rugby but for soccer and also hockey we had to go bare-chested.

Comments by DAVID on 29th July 2013  djohnmesher@yahoo.co.uk 

I went to Grammar School in the 1960s and you always did PE stripped to the waist. If you forgot your kit you were made to do it in your underpants and bare feet. Felt good though

Comments by Stuart on 28th July 2013  

Comments by Tommy on 13th July 2013  

Roy stated it was "virtually obligatory" for lads to be shirtless in the 50s and 60's for games/PE. It certainly was for me.
We had a uniform list, remember those? No vest or T shirt was mentioned. I was taught at a Christian Brothers Secondary School in Northern Ireland. Vests were not even permitted under uniform shirts. Shirtless was compulsory year round. One set of bibs (two squares of fabric connected with string) was distributed during matches. Daily morning cold showers only stopped around 1960.

Comments by Roy on 10th July 2013  

When I was at school in the 1950's and 1960's it was virtually obligatory for boys to do PE etc while stripped to the waist.
I fact I was stripped to the waist for PE from day 1 until I left school when nearly nineteen.
It certainly toughened us up and after I got used to it I quite enjoyed going bare-chest even in the cold winters we seemed to have in the fifties and sixties.

Comments by Ted on 8th July 2013  

Interesting, nostalgic memories. I went to primary/secondary schools in 50s/60s. Fortunately/unfortunately no bare chests, just white vest and shorts, no forced nude showers or spankings in gym, or long country runs. But every teacher had a thick spanking ruler on their desk which was used liberally in class.
What I am curious about here is the mention of obligatory nude swimming for boys in some schools. Some even mentioned female coaches or teachers with the nude swimming boys. I am curious to know how prevalent this was, and which schools had obligatory nude swimming in their pools. Can anyone elaborate please?

Comments by Henry on 7th July 2013  

When I was in school, we had to do gym class indoors with the girls until the beginning of sixth form. The girls wore leotards and leggings, but we boys were only allowed to wear shorts, with bare feet and chests, and no underwear. Our leg, armpit and chest hair was on full show. Though some liked to show off occasionally, we all felt quite exposed, but the girls enjoyed it. Occasionally they would try to tickle our sides, armpits or stomachs, just to make us feel more vulnerable.

Comments by James on 28th June 2013  

Sorry! I meant to say teasing.

Comments by James on 28th June 2013  

In reply to Deb R,we had a compulsary school uniform,although short trousers were optional.My parents insisted I wore the full uniform to school including short trousers which meant I was the only boy in my class wearing short trousers.I was subjected to much ridicule and reasing,mainly from the girls and called names like"nappy pants".

Comments by Tim H on 18th June 2013  

@ Deb R - Thanks for your fascinating (& not unexpected?) comments!

Comments by Deb R on 16th June 2013  

A girls view here... A boys kit should either be a vest or preferably bare chest. Why? Well firstly a vest is easy and quick to put on and take off to make up two teams. There's nothing wrong with making boys show their chests to perform exercise. Well it's far more manly and I think gives boys a sense of worth and a pride in their bodies. The doors to the gym had re-inforced glass and I remember always making a point of passing the gym as often as possible (including taking messages to other teachers) to see boys stripped down and, more often than not, sweating - regardless of their age. I must have spent hours watching them barechested on the field/yard or in the gym! It's a shame boys are no longer treated like young men and what can be more manly than being stripped to the waist for PE/Games lessons?

Comments by Jon on 15th June 2013  

I remember when my class did rock climbing on a field trip, none of us brought our PE clothes. As a result, the teacher made all the boys strip off their school shirts and do it in just our shorts while the girls in our class go to sit out and watch. Certainly must have been quite a show for them getting to see all of us barechested and pouring sweat as we strained up that wall.

Comments by Rob on 15th June 2013  

Comments by Graeme on 7th June 2013  

I can't understand why boys have inhibitions about doing PE stripped to the waist.
I always was stripped to the waist and couln't wait to go bare-chested where ever possible.

Comments by James on 2nd June 2013  

We used to get strapped on the bare back in PE which was very painful and left marks. We had a very strict PE teacher who used many forms of punishment including caning the bare backside. Boys were often sent to him by female teachers to be caned which he carried out by in his office next to the gym. We always had to wear our pe shorts and no tops but as the female teachers were often present, we kept our shorts on. Still hurt but taught us a lesson.

Comments by Paul on 2nd June 2013  

At first I thought Gymnastics were brutal. These sessions were around two hours and were intense. I didn't like it at first, and one time sprained my neck whilst doing head stand. Luckily, like most we were quite fit and thin, so this training wasn't too bad. After a while we got used to it and being topless helped keeping cool, even though being really skinny, still made us sweat so much that our mats were covered in it. Most of us were really skinny, and which was normal, due to very little food and intensive activities. Our shorts were blue, not white, and hardly stayed on around my tiny waist, being elasticated, not string. I don't think pupils could take that punishment today!

Comments by Archie on 30th May 2013  

I remember now - they called it a "double whammy"!

Comments by Archie on 29th May 2013  

Still an interesting discussion going on here. As we did PE shirtless our PE masters occasionally punished us by clapping their hands together with us standing in between - so one hand hit our chest and the other our back. Done properly it gave a bit of a sting! They had a name for it, but can't recall what it was. That was obviously only done for minor annoyances rather than for real misbehaviour.

If we were being actually punished we would have to put our hands up and/or bend over for a dose of the belt (tawse).

Comments by Justin on 23rd May 2013  

While I agree with Roy about the kind of punishments that have been described, I can't see why they are different from other practices that were clearly quite common years ago. In other words, why would it be acceptable to cane a boy on his bare backside but not to hit his bare back or front torso? Surely both are painful and humiliating forms of corporal punishment that nobody should have to endure, certainly not children or teenagers. I'm glad to say when I did PE in the 80s none of those punishments were deemed acceptable - we got extra press ups, laps of the pitch or something like that.

Comments by John Lavender on 22nd May 2013  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

@ John : Our PE Teacher didn't employ that Punishment method, but for a Minor offence it was 20 press-ups or squat-thrusts.
Greater mismeandours earned a 'scragging' by the rest of the lads - around 20 - in the class. lasted about 5 minutes , enough to make you think twice before repeating the Transgression. We were in plain-white Tees for PE although we did do 'Skins vs. Vests' for Killerball games. As I pointed out previously quite a while ago, some of us wanted to be barechested all the time and took any opportunity to do the lesson stripped to the waist.

We had 'Running the Gauntlet' as well as a slow-change Punishment. Some of us slow-changed deliberately so we could do it! Occasionally the Runner would stop dead and land a Punch on one of the other lads doing the Back-slapping. A brawl would sometimes break out and that was always good fun! You could always get the score evened up if you were on the Opposing Team in the Killerball game at the end of the lesson. The PE Master telling one team to get into Skins was always the sign that we were going to play it.Used to look forward to that!

Comments by Roy on 22nd May 2013  

If teachers today used any of the methods described by Adam and others it would quite rightly be described as child abuse and dealt with accordingly.

Comments by John on 20th May 2013  

I thought only our PE teacher was the only one to use such painful punishment methods. I can confirm it hurt like hell, when he whipped your back with his cord, and yes, it happened that the cord swung around your body to hit your chest or tummy. As we were always barechested for PE, indoors and outdoors and he also had a unique way of making sure we changed in the least amount of time. The two last boys out of the changing room had to run the gauntlet at the entrance of the gym hall, where the other boys would wait in two lines and hit the boys' bare backs as they passed by. I can assure you, boys at my school got changed within a few seconds!

Comments by Chris on 19th May 2013  

John's comment sent a shiver down my spine. My PE teacher also used the cord of his whistle in that way and, boy, did it sting! One of my worst memories is a PE detention when I was made to take off my vest and do various exercises, but if I failed to complete them correctly or within a tume limit, the whistle cord would come out. He must have had plenty of practice because he managed to aim the cord so that it wrapped around and landed on my chest or tummy! Not a nice man.
Even without that painful 'bonus', it was quite common to be bare-chested for PE punishments, sometimes outdoors as well as in the gym.

Comments by John on 18th May 2013  

Really? Caned on their backs? What kind of offence merited that punishment? Seems extremly harsh too me. At my school in the 70ies we got caned on our backsides but our PE teacher sometimes whipped boys on their backs with the cord of his whistle. Very painful indeed, but we never got the cane on our backs!!

Comments by Adam on 18th May 2013  

I was a day boy at a state secondary school in the sixties and on our first day there it was made clear that you did PE etc stripped to the waist both in the gym and outdoors whatever the weather.
It was no use complaining.Those who did had to do punishment press-ups outdoors for up to an hour still bare-chested.
For the very few who still objected it was not unknown to receive corporal punishment-usually the cane on the bare backside but sometimes a boy would be caned on his bare back.

Comments by Jamie on 17th May 2013  

Yes, the picture brings back memories. I was a boarder at a prep school. We always did pe in just white cotton shorts and plimsolls. If it was sunny, we would go outside and do our lesson on the grass or in the playground. If we went to the tennis courts, we had to walk along the road all stripped to the waist. No one ever gave it a second thought.
For swimming, we had to do the lesson naked. Again, all normal and everyone got on with it. It was a lot easier as you just had to remember your towell.
As a boarded, even at weekends when we went swimming, most boys were naked although we could wear trunks. The ones who wore trunks were generally the weedy one. How things have changed.

Comments by david pattison on 16th May 2013  david.d.pattison@gmail.com 

I went to BGS from 1959 to 1964.
My memories of Mr Parry are of him taking Detention Class in the afternoon.....and doing Gym work as part of detention :-)

Comments by Rob on 13th May 2013  

When I went to secondary school we were supposed to wear a vest for PE but there was one lad (who had come from a different junior school) who never wore a vest for PE.In fact he never wore one at all.
Gradually more and more of us followed his example and very soon we were all stripped to the waist.

Comments by Neil on 7th May 2013  

We used to do PE stripped to the waist whatver the conditions and I think that the girls used to look forward to seeing hunky young lads stripped to the waist!!!!
Also when we did cross-country many of the locals also used to look forward to seeing us all bare-chested and sweaty!!

Comments by Mark on 7th May 2013  

I too well remember doing PE outside stripped to the waist and barefoot with snow on the ground.
It certainly toughened us up and we certainly used to go about bare-chested whenever we could.

Comments by Toby on 3rd May 2013  

My PE teacher was a keen disciplinarian. Our uniform (or lack of) consisted of brief shorts (no underwear), vest and plimsolls or footie boots. Vests often discarded as a punitive measure or to distinguish teams (shirts vs. skins).

Very similar to my school, also during the 1970s but in southern England. We often did shirts vs skins, but I also remember having to remove my vest as a punishment. On one occasion I got into trouble for cutting corners on laps of the playing field and was made to do them again, this time in just shorts and bare chest. For PE detentions we were always in 'skins', which could be in the gym or outdoors. I never really thought about it at the time but I suppose the idea was to make you feel small and less sure of yourself.

Comments by John Lavender on 25th April 2013  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com  http://s1053.photobucket.com/user/hagi52156/media/PE.jpg.html

There is also a UK photo on this URL, Lads Shirtless.

Comments by Dave on 23rd April 2013  

Great scene.It brings back memories.Especially of outisde lessons in cold weather clad only in a vest.Are there any other european old movies which have a PE class scene?

Comments by pierce on 20th April 2013  

This is a very interesting forum which provokes many memories, some good, some bad. However my overriding memory of P E 1970s Northern England is the extreme cold. My PE teacher was a keen disciplinarian. Our uniform (or lack of) consisted of brief shorts (no underwear), vest and plimsolls or footie boots. Vests often discarded as a punitive measure or to distinguish teams (shirts vs. skins).
I recently watched a movie which also brought me back to my teens.
A scene in the film shows lads in a traditional vest and shorts uniform. The thinly clads boys are racing in a snowy park while their teacher and spectators are wrapped up in heavy coats, much like my own PE teacher wore.
Deep End was filmed in 1970 and stars John Moulder-Brown and Jane Asher.
It gave me a chill recalling those harsh winter PE sessions with snow on the ground, biting northern winds and, worst of all, sleet or driving hail stones. We suffered it all but were stronger for it, compared to todays youth who live in over insulated homes and are so susceptible to viruses and colds .

Comments by James on 13th April 2013  

viewpoint James! From what you say I'm assuming the boys always went bare chested for PE (as well as detention). Do you think that made you more keen to work hard in PE and develop a good body, knowing the girls would be watching and commenting on it? And did most of the boys in your class feel the same? We sometimes did PE bare chested (vests versus skins) but never in front of the girls and that was only up to the age of 16.

Hi Darren, The boys did indeed go bare chested for all PE/Games lessons (and Gym detentions)and I think it did give a certain motivation for boys to put the extra effort in. It was amusing that girls from all different year groups looked forward to seeing us exercise especially on the colder days. The detentions were the worst as it was just you and the teacher so it made more difficult not to put the required effort in.

Comments by Darren on 7th April 2013  

Interesting viewpoint James! From what you say I'm assuming the boys always went bare chested for PE (as well as detention). Do you think that made you more keen to work hard in PE and develop a good body, knowing the girls would be watching and commenting on it? And did most of the boys in your class feel the same? We sometimes did PE bare chested (vests versus skins) but never in front of the girls and that was only up to the age of 16.

Comments by James on 7th April 2013  

Darren, the girls used to see us barechested indoors and outside through until I left at 18 and it made no difference even when doing co-ed classes. It was always good natured banter with them remarking on how we looked, discussing it in the classrooms and us wanting to impress them at the slightest opportunity. One of those girls, who later became my wife, still reminds me about a 2hr detention I was given by the PE teacher in the gym and watching a 16 year old me dripping with sweat as the session dragged on.

Comments by Darren on 5th April 2013  

Interesting how the film focuses totally on the boys even though it's a co-ed class, the girls seem very much in the background. Have to feel sorry for poor Nick, he gets criticised for his lack of ability even though it's the other boy (with the strapping on his leg) who stumbles during the routine! The boys look about 13 or so, I can't help wondering how they felt about being bare chested in front of the girls. Not sure I'd have been comfortable with it at that age (at my school PE classes were single sex).

Comments by Tim H on 5th April 2013  

An interesting piece of film - does anyone know the date? It refers to Key Stage Three which would be late 80s/ early 90s/

The commentary sounds a bit dated but as an example of gym in the UK the 80s its pretty good.

Comments by Pandy on 4th April 2013  

Here's a fairly recently gymnastics class which features the boys shirtless & in shorts while the girls don black leotards


Comments by Alexander on 3rd April 2013  

Shirtlessness is still de rigueur in several armies around the world.
I have found some pictures of Russian soldiers exercising in what they call uniform no 2.
And judging by the leafless trees in the background you can certainly tell that not all of these pictures were taken on a warm summer's day !




Comments by Dave on 2nd April 2013  

Hi Paul!

Where is this photo from?Is this was taken from a school's website?
Yes it seems there are still some schools where shirtless PE kit is a rule.

Comments by Paul on 1st April 2013  

Compulsory shirtless PE seems still to required in some countries today. This photo apparently is of a Polish school:

Comments by Paul on 1st April 2013  

In reply to Tim,I had to change into shorts when I returned home from school,as the wearing of short trousers was not allowed at school.Under my parent's insistence and to keep me dressed identicaly as my younger stepbrother,I had to wear shorts for evenings,weekends and holidays.I prefered wearing long trousers,but as this ritual continued I became quite blase about wearing shorts and became indignant about the derogatory comments.

Comments by Tim on 31st March 2013  

My father used to keep my and my four younger brothers shirtless nearly all the time.
As soon as we got home from school we had to strip to the waist and remain shirtless for the rest of the day.
We soon got used to it and by summer time we were all quite sun tanned.

Comments by Donny on 18th March 2013  

have a look at this:

Comments by John Lavender on 18th March 2013  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

@ Dave: Yes, good video.
I do think PE should again be mono-gendered and should much more concentrate on Hard physical work in class (at least 5 1-hour sessions per week)with special emphasis on combatting over-weightness and muscle and general physical developement. PE Teachers should also be gender-specific.
Boys PE should concentrate much more on the forthcoming roles in life of the Boys, in both Sport and Personal Lives.
This might mean some howls of anguish from the "New Breed" of PE Teachers but I think after a few years result in a much better physical fitness profile of the population.

Comments by Dave on 16th March 2013  

If you watch this video you can see (from 5:15) that all the boys are barechested for massed P.T. None of them seems uncomfortable and unhappy because of the kit they have to wear even in mixed exercises.


Comments by Simon on 15th March 2013  

I attended a state Grammar School in the early sixties and altough the official PE uniform did specify a singlet many boys didn't wear them and always did PE stripped to the waist.
More and more of us followed suit and eventually we were all bare-chested in the gym.
Again a few lads went topless outdoors for cross-country and again more and more lads bared their chests and eventually we were all stripped to the waist.
Some were even barefoot both in and out of doors.

Comments by morgan on 6th March 2013  

Ambrose wrote;
When I was a pupil I thought the dress code for PE was at the whim of the teacher. We were never allowed underwear and were often without shirts; communal showers were compulsory.

Like Ambrose I experienced similar 'whims'.
I entered Boarding School in 1970, aged 15, when my parents moved abroad due to my Father's work as an engineer.
The regime there was brutal.
I soon discovered that some of the items listed on the Games Kit, which my parents purchased, were completely surplus to requirements.
Both games masters were sadists.
Every day of the school year began with a two mile run around the grounds and through the local village. This was year round in just a thin pair of shorts and trainers.
We were predominately shirtless for games including table tennis and cricket. Bare soles and chests in gym, except in teams when it was bibs vs skins. Only one set of bibs were ever issued, despite a huge supply in various colors.
Bare soles and chests outdoors were our games masters whims.
In the evenings other whims included open ended circuit training sessions with no set finishing time.

Some boys hated it and others tried to impress their hardness.

Comments by George on 5th March 2013  

Archie let me reply to your latest questions.

In the normal course of events I didn't catch that many boys up to things they shouldn't have been around the school. Those who I did catch, usually the smokers who for some reason thought a corner outside the gym was a good place to smoke were invited inside for the cane. Smoking got six on the bare bottom without exception.

In such circumstances a boy would be told to take off his blazer and drop his trousers and underpants before bending over a hurdle we kept there for just that purpose.

Also, close to the sports complex were the music rooms. The head of music was a delightful lady in her late fifties and coming up to retirement. As a colleague she was great fun and often the life and soul of a party.

As a teacher, she was mercilessly baited by the boys and unfortunately she used to rise to it. Her lessons often used to descend into chaos and she could not regain control. It was a pity because she really knew her stuff, she taught me to play the piano which was something I had always wanted to do and she was a superb teacher.

Needless to say, I and my colleagues used to pass by the music room and there was a large glass panel in the door which was at the back of the room and we could observe the class without being seen.

With her tacit agreement we would often pause for long enough to determine who the ringleaders were in any particular class and then quietly enter the room and summon them out for a 'discussion'. That usually had the effect of sobering up the whole class in an instant.

The boy or boys summoned for a discussion made their way to the changing room where they were invited to explain their behaviour, I never yet heard a satisfactory explanation and so delivered a just punishment. A first offender got four, a second offender six and a repeat offender eight, always with the cane.

The boy or boys would then be escorted back to the music class, usually with tears in their eyes and told to take a seat at the front where everyone could see them. Usually I delivered a warning that I was close by and that there was plenty more of the same available for anyone who wanted it as an alternative to working hard for the rest of the lesson.

I also used to deliver the odd warning in my classes that any boy I caught misbehaving in music classes was guaranteed a sore bottom.

Comments by Ambrose on 5th March 2013  

It's unfortunate that my original observations on how PE training and supervision has changed seem to have deteriorated into a prurient discussion on caning naked bottoms.
George's original response confirms that we were trained to be naked around boys; in my case in an inner city secondary modern/comprehensive school rather than a single sex private school. The rational behind our training was that we would not appear aloof to the pupils, and that nudity was not something to be shy about. Showering naked together was for no other purpose than to encourage cleanliness and confidence in pupils and to dispel any sense of unnecessary modesty; nobody saw any ulterior motives, and of course any touching was strictly discouraged.
It was not until the 80's that the situation changed, for whatever reason, and nowadays a teacher appearing naked in front of pupils is likely to lose his job for supposed indecency. How have standards deteriorated to this neurotic state? Are their now more teachers with an unhealthy interest in their pupil's bodies?

What are the views of older or retired teachers, or of pupils who saw their teachers naked?

Incidentally, at my school only the Head was allowed to cane;and although we used the slipper, no pupil was ever punished on a bare backside!

Comments by Pete on 5th March 2013  

I'm glad I didn't go to George's school; swimming naked, pe stripped to the waist, no underpants - none of that would have bothered me, but that 20 - 25% of boys at any time bore the marks of caning suggests to me that the custom was widely practiced. I wonder if there was any standardisation to caning or whether the number of strokes was on the whim of the master administering the punishment. Wearing underpants in pe, for instance, would hardly be the most serious "crime" that a boy could commit yet did it make any difference in relation to other contraventions of school rules?

Comments by Adam on 5th March 2013  

When we played football etc.stripped to the waist the teams were identified by wearing different coloured shorts.

Comments by Archie on 4th March 2013  

George - thanks for your latest reply. Slightly off topic, but I was wondering how you dealt with lads who were being caned or slippered but who were not already in PE kit - perhaps, if you caught a boy doing something and made him report for punishment at a particular time.

Presumably you still caned/slippered their bare backsides? Did they keep the rest of their uniforms on with just their trousers and pants round their ankles, or did they have to strip entirely? Did they just bend over and touch their toes or did you have them bend over something?

Did you often slipper or cane other than during a PE lesson?

Comments by George on 28th February 2013  

Archie, no lad was ever slippered or caned in the pool area, it only ever happened in our office or the changing room. Any lad leaving the pool area, if he was not going straight for a shower put his shorts on even if it was only to drop them a few minutes later for the slipper or cane.

Lads often had stripes from the cane across their bottoms when swimming but we saw them when lads were in the showers too. In the earlier years, I suppose it was common to see 20-25% of bottoms sporting marks of the cane, in later years it was much less common and of course eventually it would have died out.

In 1975 the school left local authority control like many others when faced with the comprehensive choice and we were lucky enough to be in a place that had sufficient demand for private education, so the cane remained for quite a few more years than it might have done.

The headmaster however foresaw a day when it would be banned and he encouraged a reduction in its use so that withdrawal would not cause a problem which in the end it didn't. I think in the last year it was legal, it was used twice on senior boys who had bullied junior boys.

The following year two senior boys who had bullied a junior boy were expelled on the spot and that's what happened to boys who ultimately would have been caned and as we were out of local authority control, there was nothing to stop it.

Personally, I still think the cane was the better solution as I doubt most school boys who overstep the mark appreciate fully what they are doing and how much expulsion will impact on their education and therefore life opportunities in a way that a sore bottom for a few days never could although I recognise it will never be reintroduced.

Comments by Archie on 27th February 2013  

I looked at your link and searched a bit online and think that the garment you mention is similar to the slips our masters (and my father) wore, though theirs were the very skimpiest kind. Most of the pictures online have fairly full fronts to the garments, and a 3/4 back whereas our PE teachers had much smaller front areas of cloth whilst their buttocks were totally bare save for a very tiny triangle of cloth at the top of their arse cracks. The strings were very narrow - say 1cm - but did tie at the sides.

George - again, really interesting to hear your answer. Did you ever slipper or cane lads when they were naked in the pool area? Presumably it was a usual enough sight to see lads with cane lines on their backsides during swimming classes?

We had the no underwear rule at school as well, though I have to admit that I (like many of my classmates) flouted it as we became older. We didn't always get away with it and the belt then made an appearance, even in 5th and 6th forms!

Comments by John Lavender on 27th February 2013  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com  http://www.ipernity.com/doc/acaciaap/11504851/in/keyword/410236/self

Hi Archie, I think you are referring in your post a few days ago to an Item of swimwear originating in Germany, named in that language as 'Dreieckbadenhose', translating Literally as 'Triangular bathing wear'
Here - the URL shown - is a photo. The Garment has ties around each hip.
If you want to correspond further off-thread, just email me.

Comments by George on 27th February 2013  

Archie, I was twenty one when I started teaching.

Usually for a swimming class we were either in the water or not, it wasn't usual to get in the water in mid class but except as below, I took my shorts off at the pool side if I did. Whether you were in or not depended on the level of the class, if they were beginners it was more common to be with them but less so once they were swimming well. You might get in to demonstrate a new stroke with the boys on the poolside but then get out to observe them, you can't actually see much when you're in the water with them.

If I jumped in spontaneously usually because a boy was in difficulty I didn't stop to take my shorts off.

As to what I wore under my shorts, certainly never underpants and nor did any other master I taught with which I know because we shared an office. I had a jockstrap for playing rugby as a team member but having worn it a few times I found I preferred not to and no one else on the team wore one or for that matter wore underpants. How things have changed now where you see a second pair of shorts appearing down the legs of some rugby players, presumably when you don't see anything they are going commando, much more healthy.

Comments by Archie on 27th February 2013  

George - that's really interesting. So when you were at the side of the pool you had your rugby shorts on and you took them off to jump in? What did you wear under them?

How old were you when you were teaching like this?

Comments by George on 26th February 2013  

Archie, in the main, we didn't go in the water with boys during swimming lessons though when we did, we were naked. The pool was available to masters and boys during lunchtimes and everyone swam naked during those times. Masters from other schools varied a bit, I can remember one or two who used to come with trunks under their shorts but most were naked in the water.

We also usually taught with bare chests, my usual kit was a pair of black rugby shorts and a pair of trainers. It was a good incentive to stay in shape! I kept a rugby shirt handy for leaving the sports area of the school but didn't see the need to wear it in the gym or out on the fields unless I was a referee or similar.

Eastender, your account typifies all that is wrong with boys today. I can't imagine the poor lad was warm in all his gear, much healthier had he been in shirt and shorts.

Cold weather was often an excuse for wearing underpants when lads were caught. They never actually thought that even it it was cold they would still sweat in the usual places while running, one layer of clothing might dry on a cold day, two would have no chance so, had it been permitted, they would have been wearing cold, damp underpants that would get colder in the wind whereas without them, the sweat would dry off immediately. Similarly if they rolled on wet ground, one layer of kit would dry in a few minutes, two would not dry at all. I suppose these days they don't roll on wet ground in case they catch cold or get dirty.

Of course, there was always hightened vigilance for underpants on cold days and any boy caught failing to take them off left the changing room with a warmer bottom than he might have wished for but he certainly could no longer complain of cold!

Comments by Archie on 23rd February 2013  

I found George's post really interesting, particularly the fact that he (as a PE teacher) was naked in the pool along with the boys. George - did that apply to all the teachers, whatever their age, and also to the ones from the other schools?

Whilst we swam naked, our teachers didn't - the head PE master who was a bit Captain Mainwaring in apperance always wore his tracksuit (he didn't get in the water) but he made the younger PE masters who must have been in their mid 20s strip down and wear a sort of swimming slip.

The best way to describe what they wore is that it was like a triangle of dark cloth to cover their privates with strings round the side and back - a sort of cloth gstring I suppose. They must have been leftover from rationing or something! My father actually wore similar when he used to take me to private swimming baths as well.

I don't suppose the teachers could complain as at least they were covered unlike us boys.

I don't recall our teachers ever showering with us though.

Comments by Eastender on 21st February 2013  

I have written previous comments about how inhibited boys have become these day and how they have become softies. Today I have senn a boy who had clearly just finished a football match. He was with his dad and the boy I should think was about 8 or 9yrs of age. Apart from his football shirt he was wearing quite thick padded shorts & showing underneath were what appeared to be a further pair and football socks looking like tights. The only part of his body showing was his knees,just. Perhaps he was a goalie & nowadays they seem to be proteced from head to toe. How many times were we hit with a real leather football which stung when the weather was cold & frosty. When will the youth of today start to toughen up again?

Having read the previous 2 contributors comments we certainly in my day have nor worries about changing in one room. Most os us went to Scout camp & there you had to dress & undress & all sleep together in a tent with no room for privacy.

Comments by George on 20th February 2013  

What an amazing picture and a collection of comments. If I may, I will add my own perspective which is that of a PE teacher and I don't think I've seen another similar contribution.

I qualified in 1966 so a little after this picture was taken but things hadn't really changed. The picture may have been of my own schooldays just as easily and it is a good example of how PE was taught for may years afterwards.

I joined the staff of a boys grammar school on qualifying and taught there for many years. There were about 800 boys on the roll and I was the junior PE master though my colleague was only a few years older than me. Other masters coached various teams according to their skills and interests. The school had only been open about five years.

We had an excellent gym which was beautifully equipped with all the kit you see in the picture and far more besides. It was carefully looked after and the gym was so big you could divide it in to two so that we could have held two separate classes had we wished. In practice that rarely happened as we generally planned outdoor and indoor lessons to avoid teaching two classes in the gym together but on the occasions we did when the weather was very bad (I'm not talking about a bit of snow or rain here) we generally took both classes in the gym for circuit training.

Team games played were rugby, cricket, basket ball and volley ball and we competed at all levels in these along with swimming. The school had its own pool which was a real luxury though it was used by other schools too so we didn't have unlimited access to it. The other thing we didn't have either compared to the better schools today was any highly specialist skill in individual sports. I knew more about rugby than most and was therefore the expert, I had played at county level in the first XV but no more. As such, in many things we were relative amateurs compared to today.

Training had covered many things about all sports, a lot about football which was great if you taught in a school that played football! We also covered a lot about muscles, anatomy and building strength.There was quite a bit of emphasis too on safety and discipline.

Safety was of paramount importance. We had never heard of risk assessments but of course we did go through the process without having to do all the paperwork we do now. No one expected a fat boy (yes, we called them that then) to shin up a rope and hold position in the same way as a muscular boy without an ounce of fat. We tried to design exercises that challenged the whole class and I think in the main we did it.

Learning to play as a team was important too from all points of view and we sorted out quickly who were the good team players and who were not. Competition was also important, we played sport to win and I think that was healthy and good. I really dislike the current culture of everyone wins a prize, it devalues achievement.

So, what of discipline as it's touched on so often. Yes, I had a very large plimsoll and a cane, in fact in the office I and my colleague shared, we had several of each. PE can be a dangerous subject, any boy endangering himself or others by mischief, misuse of equipment or horseplay could expect a very sore bottom for his trouble. The first time it would be the slipper and if he repeated his stupidity it was the cane. Almost always they were given in the office but very occasionally when an example needed to be made, in the changing room. Whether it was in the office or the changing room, it was always on the bare bottom which was permitted in the rules for use by any master but of course few actually did. Yes boys cried and hated it, they weren't meant to like it and standards certainly slipped when it was withdrawn. There were usually quite a few sore bottoms in any class at the start of the year but after the first half term when the boundaries were established, it was rare to cane a boy though there were probably still two or three slipperings a week. Of course we also saw very clearly when a boy had been caned as week by week they took off their underpants and I would say we whacked less than many masters.

PE kit was in keeping with the times. For rugby there was a shirt, shorts, socks and boots, for cricket usual whites and for anything else there was a pair of white shorts and plimsolls or later trainers. Bare chests were the norm. For swimming there were no trunks unless it was a competition in which case, we had a box full for the boys to use. This certainly wasn't only our school, when boys from other schools used the pool, they didn't have trunks either. All this was quite normal until the early eighties.

Underpants were certainly not worn either. Any boy caught wearing them was in line for the slipper. The reasoning behind this was about hygiene. It had applied when I was at school, in training hygiene was emphasised alongside two other things the first of which was I suppose a crude attempt to educate boys about their bodies growing and changing and if they saw other boys developing hair, having their testicles drop and their penis grow then they wouldn't be alarmed if it happened to them and the second was that there really was an expectation that there would be a third world war and again, all men would be called to arms. In that case there would be no room for shyness so it was better that boys got over that now. This was also the thinking behind communal showers which did no one any harm.

We also used to be encouraged to shower with the boys and it was said it was a way of keeping order. As teachers, we had no private shower facilities so we did use the showers with the boys at times though it was more normal to shower with the older boys than the eleven year olds. Male staff who coached did the same thing and no member of staff wore trunks in the pool either.

Boys might have been uncomfortable at the start having to take off their underpants and shower in a communal shower and swim naked but I don't remember any boy being uncomfortable after after the first three or four weeks.

I stopped teaching PE in the late 80s - it's a younger man's subject and moved into school management as it became known. I missed it, I love watching the boys achieve more than they ever thought they could, it was great to see the smile and sense of achievment on a boy's face when he won, beat a record or just did something better than he ever imagined he could.

Comments by Ambrose on 19th February 2013  

When I was a pupil I thought the dress code for PE was at the whim of the teacher. We were never allowed underwear and were often without shirts; communal showers were compulsory.
When I went to teacher training college in the swinging sixties we were given instruction which included showering with pupils as the best way of supervision. I was required to help out with PE in my secondary modern training practice schools, even though this was not my specialist subject. In all four schools the younger boys wore only shorts for gym, older boys sometimes wore pumps; and swimming trunks under their shorts, never pants. Outdoors it was usual to wear a shirt as well, but in all cases showers were compulsory and taken naked. At the end of the morning or afternoon it was not unusual for the teachers to join the boys naked in the showers.
When I started my first job I taught a few periods of PE and some games after school. I was told that the county advisor had instructed that all normal clothes be removed before PE kit was worn, and boys should shower whenever possible: so we were under orders. It was common for the 5 or 6 men teaching sport at various times to shower naked with the boys; and this practice continued throughout most of the 70's. It was not seen as inappropriate, and nobody was unhappy with the situation at the time.
It would be interesting to know who discouraged the practice and why,since thousands of teachers must have been trained to supervise classes this way. Parents are now neurotic about others seeing their child naked and demand privacy when changing. Pupils even wear swimming trunks in the showers! Staff now feel wary about being in the same room when pupils are undressing, although this is the best way of preventing bullying or horseplay which parents have complained about.
What was so wrong with the old ways?

Comments by John Lavender on 17th February 2013  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

The 'Sticking Vests' syndrome is arguably THE most potent reason for doing gym / running without a top. Several people I know , as well as myself, have done half-marathons and shorter road-races as such, it is even more of an option if you are someone who sweats quite readily.
Doing Gym stripped to the waist is healthier than being wrapped in 2 or more layers, does not infringe any so-called 'Human Rights' and if truth be known, and pupils were asked, would probably be Preferred by Boys in Senior School. Does any school actually ask them what they Prefer, seeing as we are supposed to be in a Democratic Society?

Comments by Eastender on 12th February 2013  

I have contributed in the past & agree with many writers that I do not think many of us had inhibitions about the minimal clothing for PE. I was at Secondary school 1961 to 66 & some of our teachers had been in the war or National Service & they continued with the discipline & machoism they had experienced & that every expected in those days. Admittedly we never were running around with no clothes & trunks were worn for swimming but usally brief & showed your bump but we did have communal showers after PE where you would stand around chatting to each other whilst in the buff with out a thought until the teacher came in and hurried you up.
Without wishing to digress too much I think that having to have community showers & seeing each other naked prepared people for the time when they left school.I went to work in an office but some of my friends who I met up with had jobs in factories. I know of one lad who told me that from day one all the men changed into overalls in a communal room & he had no problems with that. However, a few weeks into his appretinceship,came the "Initiation" when at the end of the day he was taken by the older men and he ended up being stripped & losing some hair(not from his head) As he said at the time at least our schoolday experiences of changing rooms helped him through that event.

Can you imagine anything like that happening at work today?

Comments by Robin on 12th February 2013  

Stephen, like you and James, we also played Pirates - usually as an end-of-term treat, but it seems the rules we used were slightly different. We were a class of 30 and the game started with three boys, chosen by the teacher, as 'IT' or the pirates, and as the rest of us were tagged, we were then 'out'. This went on until there were only three left uncaught who were the winners, and became the pirates for the next game. Our indoor kit consisted of white shorts and t-shirt but whether the shirt was worn or not depended on the activity - in this case, the pirates were shirtless so they could easily be seen.

Comments by James on 11th February 2013  

Stephen,we also played Pirates,but wore our shorts as the gynnasium was on the ground floor and and we could easily been overlooked.However,the swimming pool was built on the first floor and the changing rooms and shower area was next to the pool.We were told it was unnecessary to wear trunks and we had to swim in the nude.I thought swimming was great fun,I was totally unabashed and fount it invigorating.

Comments by Stephen on 11th February 2013  stevenkilt@gmail.com 

Comments by John Lavender on 8th February 2013  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

Steven: What was the game 'Pirates'? Explain the way it was played please. Did you need two teams dressed differently to differentiate?
Did you play Killerball as well?

Comments by James on 8th February 2013  

Stephen,our school like yours had a strict uniform policy where boys had to wear short trousers and minimun clothing for games.A shorts only rule was enforced by liberal use of the cane and regular inspections were carried out.Boys caught wearing underwear were given six strokes of the cane.

Comments by Steven on 7th February 2013  stevenkilt@gmail.com 

Comments by Justin on 27th January 2013  

Steve, I can't see the logic of that system. We also had shirts against skins basketball matches at school but if you were a skin you went bare to the waist at the start and stayed like that until the end of the game. I can't imagine it would have been much fun starting on the skins team and having to put a shirt on halfway through the game when you were already hot and sweaty.

Comments by Steve on 21st January 2013  

For inter house basketball competitions we were split into teams of skins vs vests. At halftime we had to swap over so the skins team put their vests on while the other team removed theirs. For PE/Games the boys would all be made to go barechested and teams picked out by the colour of the shorts black or white) This didn't cause any problems.

Comments by Thomas on 20th January 2013  

Agree with Dave - bibs are the best system for telling teams apart in PE. When I started at school we had these coloured sashes that you wore over one shoulder and diagonally across your chest. They were a nightmare as they were often too loose and hampered your movement when you tried to throw a basketball, for instance. It wasn't long before the school replaced them with bibs, they fitted much better and were also easier to make out in a split second when you were trying to find a team mate.

Comments by Dave on 18th January 2013  

If all the boys had to be barechested it is much more easier to have bibs over your shoulders and chests. The vests,rugby top,white shorts,black shorts...etc thing is too complicated for a team game I think.

Comments by Simon on 18th January 2013  

Sam,it would have been much easier to identify opponents if we had been allowed to wear vests,but our kit was dictated by our teacher and as I mentioned the only item of clothing we were alllowed to wear was a brief pair of satin shorts.

Comments by Sam on 17th January 2013  

Simon, what was it like playing in games where the teams were distinguished by different coloured shorts? Did it get confusing? I ask because we sometimes had a similar system at my school, usually when two classes had to share the gym because of bad weather. In the gym we wore white shorts, for outdoors we wore black shorts, so if there were two classes together that meant four teams - vests, football/rugby tops, skins and white shorts, skins and black shorts. But it was always a bit chaotic when the two skins teams were in direct opposition. Normally it was so straightforward if you were playing skins - you could see easily who was wearing his top and who wasn't when you needed to pass. But in these games, when every player was bare-chested, I remember looking around for someone to pass to and being bewildered by a sea of bare skin! By the time I'd checked to see whose shorts were white or black the ball had usually moved, or the pass had been made to the other team by mistake. Maybe it was just me but skins against skins didn't really seem to work!

Comments by Guy on 16th January 2013  

We always did PE and cross-country stripped to the waist.Also we went barefoot in the gym.A few lads would do cross-country barefoot as well.

Comments by Simon on 15th January 2013  

Welcome Lars! We also went without vests and also bare foot with no underwear,just brief satin shorts.For games our teams were identified by the colour of our shorts,blue,yellow,red and green.

Comments by Edward on 14th January 2013  

Looking back, I never questioned whether underpants should be allowed for games and gym. I went to school in the late 1950's/early 60's, and wore cream woollen trunks which had no elastic. They were kept up by tapes which my braces hooked through, so once my trousers were off there was no way that my pants would stay up, so it never dawned that it was odd not to wear underpants for sport. From what I can remember, most of the boys in my class wore similar underwear, except for a few who had progressed to 'Y' fronts, and these were generally derided! How things change!

Comments by Lars on 13th January 2013  

nice bodys....

Comments by Lars on 13th January 2013  zarrer@hotmail.de 

Hi, I am lars fom germany, 19 jears old, and I like verry much your comments to this picture. Unfotunatelly we had pe lessons not always shirtless. For some games with two teams, one team took off there shirts, so I could see the nice chests of my class mates!!!
Since I am bisexual, I like the nice bodys while they play games or do sports!!
I specially liked the comment, where somone wrote, that they wear only the shorts and nothing else!!

bye Lars

Comments by Malc on 7th January 2013  

Kevin, I remember doing dancing at primary school when both boys ang girls were dressed in normal uniform. What it would have been like being with secondary school girls while I was bare chested, I can only try to imagine.

During dances like the waltz, the girls would presumably have had to put their hands on the boys' bare shoulders. What was the temperature like in the hall during these lessons? Were you covered in goose pimples?

Comments by Mark on 6th January 2013  

Kevin:-Did you really have to do ballroom dancing while bare-chested?

Comments by Gordon on 5th January 2013  

Reading these accounts I now realise how lucky I was as a scoolboy. I went to a grammar school in the south in 1959 where there was a very relaxed attitude towards sporting dress, though not to uniform in general. For football I think we were told we ought to wear some form of support, and most of us wore swimming trunks under our shorts, but no-one ever checked. I don't remember any strict rules about dressing for gym or cross-country, we were just told to put on gym shorts and plimsolls. Some boys never wore a vest anyway and they would go bare-chested in the gym, but most of us who did wear vests kept them on for gym and for cross-country runs. The same applied to underpants. In all the six years I spent at the school I can't remember any time when anyone was even told off, let alone punished, for wearing underwear in the gym. Vests could not have been more visible. I wore old-fashioned baggy white trunks which had a habit of slipping down after a bit of vigorous gym exercise or cross-country running, and an inch or two of underpant-leg would very often show (for other boys wearing the same style of pants, too), so it must have been obvious that we had kept our underwear on. I can't see what the problem was! We sometimes did cross-country runs in cold weather and the gym was never well heated. You can call me a southern softie if you like, but I think I was fortunate to be in a school where this relaxed attitude was taken. With a variety of different styles of vest, and with our sagging underpants, we were not the height of sartorial elegance, but did it matter? At least we were comfortable.

Comments by Kevin on 5th January 2013  

The uniform the te picture was exacty the same for us in the early 50s. This was not a problem because we quickly got used to it. We had PE twice a week plus a games afternoon. Being a co-ed school the girls alternated with the boys for use of the gym, the other lesson taken outside, whatever the weather. When it was wet sometimes the female teacher would arrange for the girls to share the hall with the boys, so the lesson was spent learning ballroom dancing. This was the only time when some of us got embarrased about being topless. As 11 year old we weren't that keen on getting too close to girls, especially girls dressed in navy blue knickers and white aertext shirts. As we got older these shared lessons were often more enjoyable, with us boys jostling to be partnered with the more developped girls.

Comments by Andrew on 4th January 2013  

The comments from Ed are so accurate! Bare chests and icy cold communal showers were my experience too. Add in the slipper and the odd dose of the cane and it summed up PE sessions which in spite of those things were still great fun.

The general shyness of the current generation amuses me, do they think they have something different and need to hide it? I'm glad I grew up when I did and not in the current time.

Comments by Dave on 3rd January 2013  

"I suspect that Eastender is right about a possible rebellion if boys were required to go bare-chested today."

I think boys wouldn't really mind. They are shirtless for swimming lessons. What is the difference?
I think some parents and teachers are the ones who take it like a problem not the boys themselves.

Comments by Doug on 3rd January 2013  

Eastender,you raise interesting comparisons.
As a teenager at school,I received several detentions for having my shirt coming untucked. Like many of my mates,I started to tuck my shirttail into my underpants, and this cured the problem,although the elastic of my drawers was usually showing above my trousers. Surprisingly, my teachers never picked upon this,and I still use this method to keep my waist tidy. Braces were not allowed, nor were belts, so I guess we were the first saggers!

Comments by Neil on 2nd January 2013  

I suspect that Eastender is right about a possible rebellion if boys were required to go bare-chested today.
In my day you had no choice and wouldn't dare rebel.

Comments by Eastender on 2nd January 2013  

To Robert the last messenger & all others.

It is extraordinary the 2 extremes we see today. As you say pop groups & others showing their braces. Then the opposite trousers slung so low they show more underwear than anything else. Free advertising for certain companies. On the other hand when old men used to tuck their shirt in their pants and the elastic showed over the top of the waistband,it was thought funny. Of course they did not show off "designer" labels

To return to the topic of PE, I expect that if a school tried to introduce shorts with no pants & no tops these days, there would be a rebellion. Do schools provide showers with individual cubicles these days?

Comments by Robert on 2nd January 2013  

Hi Eastender

You raised and reminded me of another interesting aspect of life in the 1960's. Like you I received a strong word for removing my blazer when I was wearing braces, although many of my mates did so as well. I was given the option of taking my braces off or putting my jacket back on. I had to suffer the heat of my blazer as my braces not only kept my trousers up, but also my underpants, as elastic then was of suspect quality! It did not strike me at the time that braces were considered as underwear, not to be seen, or I might have been more embarrassed. As it was, my dad and Granddad both wore braces, uncovered,and nobody batted an eyelid.

How different today,when I see many pop group members playing in their braces. It must have had an effect though,as I am now loathe to let anyone see my braces, although I am in my 50's,but my grandson has no such qualms.Lucky lad!

Comments by Robert on 2nd January 2013  

Hi Eastender

You raised and reminded me of another interesting aspect of life in the 1960's. Like you I received a strong word for removing my blazer when I was wearing braces, although many of my mates did so as well. I was given the option of taking my braces off or putting my jacket back on. I had to suffer the heat of my blazer as my braces not only kept my trousers up, but also my underpants, as elastic then was of suspect quality! It did not strike me at the time that braces were considered as underwear, not to be seen, or I might have been more embarrassed. As it was, my dad and Granddad both wore braces, uncovered,and nobody batted an eyelid.

How different today,when I see many pop group members playing in their braces. It must have had an effect though,as I am now loathe to let anyone see my braces, although I am in my 50's,but my grandson has no such qualms.Lucky lad!

Comments by Ed on 1st January 2013  

I remember gym sessions like this and they were great fun, never mind bare chests and no underpants, we learned skills and gained strength from these sessions.

I don't really remember the gym being cold and if it was, we didn't stay cold for very long. The changing room was a different matter, the windows were always wide open no matter what the weather so it was like stripping off outside in winter. The showers were always cold too so freezing in the winter but they did no one any harm and any boy who was not properly under could be sure of a sore bottom and then sent back in. Communal showers were the norm too and no one seemed to question them or mind, we were there to get washed and when dirty and sweaty I was always glad of the shower.

Going to the gym these days makes me laugh, the showers are all in very private cubicles but of course you have to strip to go in and you come out naked too so what's the point of the cubicles?

Comments by Michael on 31st December 2012  

Being stripped to the waist was nothing unusual for us as it marked out the teams in "skins versus shirts" games. The problem was more connected with the chilly temperatures usually encountered in the school gym.

Our (most unpleasant) PE teacher, who was warmly clad, used to tell us to run around to get warm, but this wasn't possible if we had to stand on one side waiting for our team's next turn.

If we dared to suggest we were cold, he called us softies, and compared us with previous years of classes which had been composed of much hardier pupils, who did not feel the cold as keenly as we did.

He might have had a point, because by that time (mid 1960s) a fair number of us lived in centrally heated homes. Living standards were improving, so it was all the more of a shock to encounter the icy, spartan conditions of the school gym.

Comments by Paul on 31st December 2012  

I well remember the winter of 1962/63 when despite it being the coldest winter in living memory we still had to do PE stripped to the waist both in the gym and outdoors.
Personally being stripped to the waist didn't worry me at all but I know some lads didn't like having to go bare-chested.They were left in no doubt that like it or not you stripped to the waist and got on with it.

Comments by Andy on 30th December 2012  

Comments by Guy on 28th December 2012  

I will never forget the first time I had to be bare chested for PE. I was 14 and up to then I'd always done PE in a vest and shorts, as did every boy in the class. At the start of the new school year in September we had a new teacher for PE but nobody thought anything of that, we just turned up and got changed into our usual kit. The teacher arrived and, after introducing himself, informed us that we were all incorrectly dressed for his gym lesson. From now on our kit was to be white shorts (and socks and trainers). There were a few puzzled looks and one boy actually asked 'what do we wear on top, sir?', to be told 'Nothing. No tops - take them off' and at that point the penny dropped. I remember my heart pounding with nervousness and hoping that I'd somehow misunderstood. But one by one boys began to strip off their vests and move out to the gym and I reluctantly realised I had to do the same. Some boys didn't seem that bothered, mainly the ones who were already displaying signs of defined pectorals and six-pack stomachs. Meanwhile I felt as if I was totally naked, standing in the gym with my chest bare - it was a new experience and one I wasn't comfortable with.
Like Chris, I tried crossing my arms so that they covered my nipples. That was fine while we were lined up in the gym but of course I couldn't run like that so eventually I had to give up and put my arms down. I just imagined that everyone else was looking at my chest, although I'm sure some of the other boys were just as nervous and uncomfortable as I was.
Later I learned from a friend in another class that they'd had PE in their usual kit; it was only my teacher who made boys strip to the waist. We were still allowed vests for outdoor PE, but never in the gym - that was how it stayed all year and it took a while before I got used to it.

Comments by ROY on 27th December 2012  

I knew that I would have to be stripped to the waist for PEas soon as my parents received the uniform list for Grammar School(in 1959.)
On my first PE lesson all us boys just stripped to the waist and went into the gym without any problems.
Nobody tried to hide their nipples(or belly buttons) and within a few days we all accepted that we did PE bare-chested without any worries.

Comments by Chris on 27th December 2012  

Hey everyone let's share the experience after finding out you have to be bare chested for P.E lessons in the 1st lesson. Was it terrifying? Was it embarrassing? Did you try your best to cover your nipples? (like I did) In the 1st lesson I tried my best to cover my nipples because I was embarrassed... Upon finding out, the demented P.E teacher forced me to lift my arms up and ordered one of my classmates to cover them for me! I felt soooo weird! The nxt lesson I never tried something like that again.

Comments by Eastender on 26th December 2012  

Sorry my typing went awry in my last comment. To make sense, he middle phrase should read:

(remember, these were youngsters) but boys always kept their shorts on and did not take part in pe in their pants.

The remainder of my comments are then as written

Comments by Eastender on 23rd December 2012  

In response to comments by Nick. I was at a Junior Scholl up to 1961. Pe for boys was norn=mal grey shorts but we wore our vest. Girls did pe in their underwear. Very rarely during a hot summer boys might remove their vest & even sometimes the girls (remeber these were young sters) would be bare top but boys always kept it being unfair for the girls . Equality was not a concern. However, I do remember that one very hot summers day I took of my blazer. The headmistress was horrified because I was wearing Braces on my trousers. She made me put my jacket back on saying men/boys did not show their braces. But then as I have written above girls were in underwear for p.e. Definately a different era then. But who worried?

Comments by Nick on 20th December 2012  

Max. Music and Movement was broadcast on the radio by the BBC schools service. Schools usually recorded it - the programme was played back to us in the school hall via a loadspeaker mounted in a huge wooden panel. We had Music and Movement in the junior years at primary school. The girls wore knickers an vests and the boy had to strip down to grey school shorts. I think we were all barefoot. I remember some of the boys asking if they could wear vests as the girls did - the response was that they could but the shorts would have to come off so they were wearing just pants. What a strange and distant world! But one thing I will always be grateful for is that I was introdued to Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kije through M&M in Juniors 3 (quite elightened when you think about it!).

Comments by Archie on 20th December 2012  

Responding to Tony's question:
How does it feel to be shirtless? aren't you ashamed the fact that other boys will see your chest & nipples? How was your 1st lesson shirtless?"

Tony - it was more than 30 years ago that I was first shirtless in a PE class, so the memory of my feelings is a bit hazy. I don't understand why any of us should have been ashamed at being shirtless, given that most if not all of us would have been swimming at some point in our lives prior to the age of 9 when we started at the school! I really don't see the fuss with lads having to strip to the waist.

Comments by Simon on 20th December 2012  

We only wore minimum clothing for all our physical activities,which were often shared with the girls.We only wore a vest for cross country runs,just brief,satin shorts were considered adequate.

Comments by Max on 19th December 2012  

Nick, your memory's clearly better than mine! You're right, now I think about it the class was called Music and Movement. Did you have the same thing at your school and was it also boys and girls in the class together?

Comments by Tony on 19th December 2012  

How does it feel to be shirtless? aren't you ashamed the fact that other boys will see your chest & nipples? How was your 1st lesson shirtless?

Comments by Archie on 18th December 2012  

They probably saw the dancing as a PE activity - no idea why else we'd have to get changed. No matter what we were doing in PE we had to get changed - even one day I remember having to strip down to shorts in order to sort through applications for tickets for sports day afternoon teas! If you were sitting out the class for any reason, such as illness, you stil had to get changed and sit at the side.

Bizarrely the only time I remember Having clothes on in the gym was one day in about fourth year when we were taught how to put someone in the recovery position and give mouth to mouth (on a dummy). We were told simply to take off our shoes and leave them outside the gym and just to go in in our stocking soles, which caused some anxiety amongst those of us who were wearing non- regulation white socks as they were so obvious to the PE teacher taking the class

For outside games - rugby, athletics, cricket etc - we wore the appropriate kit. For outside PE lessons we wore the same as indoor PE but were (again bizarrely) sometimes permitted to wear our school jumpers back to front. I never really understood that! That wasn't universal and as we were older we got to wear an athletics vest, though again if the weather was good we'd probably be made to go shirtless. The school was in a residential area (though wi playing fields out front) and we sometimes had to do road running around the nearby streets - sometimes but not always shirtless

Comments by Jon on 17th December 2012  

Archie,thank you for the answering.

What did you wear for outdoor lessons?

"The girls for some reason did that wearing their gym tunics (basically skirts with a sort of dungaree style top half that they wore as school uniform on days they had gym), but we boys still had to strip down to our PE kit."

I've never heard about boys having to be shirtless for dancing practice.I think it was rare as well as swimming nude.

Comments by Nick on 16th December 2012  

Max. Could it have been Music and Movement?

Comments by Archie on 14th December 2012  

Answering Jon's questions:

"what was the boys' reaction for having to be shirtless for PE and naked for swimming lessons?"

I remember when we started at the school at the age of about 9 when we were told that we were to be shirtless and have no underwear on for PE - our parents presumably knew we were going to be shirtless as only shorts were specified on the kit list. It was a bit strange the first couple of times as we weren't used to being naked in front of each other, but as others have testified it is something you soon get used to. By the time we starting swimming lessons we were pretty comfortable stripping off for gym - and the showers afterwards - so the idea of being bare in front of each other wasn't quite so bad. It was still strange to start with, but I got used to it quite quickly and it stayed that way until I left school just before my 18th birthday.

"Was there any reason given for kit rules?"

Just the usual - hygiene, not wanting us to wear sweaty underpants for the rest of the day etc. For swimming in the buff there wasn't ever really an explanation - it's just how boys swam at school.

"Was there any PE lesson where you shared the hall with girls?"

This happened only rarely, such as when a teacher wasn't available to have two separate classes. The only organised joint sessions were when we were taught country dancing together in advance of school dances, which would be a couple of times a year. The girls for some reason did that wearing their gym tunics (basically skirts with a sort of dungaree style top half that they wore as school uniform on days they had gym), but we boys still had to strip down to our PE kit. Presumably this was due to the teachers not thinking too much about the inequality, but no reason was ever given.

Comments by Michael on 13th December 2012  michaelabbey@rocketmail.com 

I was interested to read your comments.
We were not allowed pants either under our white PE shorts, or under rugby kit. Later we were encouraged to wear Speedo type swim trunks for comfort and those who were in the various teams usually did. Any boy who was obviously lacking support underwear was given some 'advice' by the sports teacher.
Later again some lads wore a jockstrap although they were a minority.
At that time I do not remember being stripped to the waist for any of our sports lessons but corporal punishment was meted out.
I've included my email if anyone wants to comment apart from on the forum.

Comments by Max on 13th December 2012  

Charles B's post reminded me of my own junior school days (late 70s/early 80s) when we did a class that was kind of a cross between gymnastics, dance and a bit of drama too - I forget exactly what it was called but it was girls and boys together. Girls could wear a leotard or t-shirt and shorts, for boys it was just shorts and bare chest. Everyone went barefoot and it was quite warm in the hall so that wasn't a problem. You could wear any colour shorts you liked so a lot of boys opted for red as they supported Liverpool. Those who wanted could also wear the same shorts for swimming, which was once a week at a local pool and also mixed. That was how it stayed until the age of 12 when we moved on to senior school and had more 'traditional' PE lessons, with a proper uniform and boys and girls separate.

Comments by Jon on 13th December 2012  

Archie, what was the boys' reaction for having to be shirtless for PE and naked for swimming lessons?
Was there any reason given for kit rules?
Was there any PE lesson where you shared the hall with girls?

Comments by Archie on 10th December 2012  

At my independent school in the early to mid 80s, we had gym wearing fairly skimpy black shorts, no underwear, bare chested and white plimsolls. Later on when we were seniors we were allowed to wear jockstraps or speedos under the shorts, but lads regularly got caught wearing underpants instead. We must have been one of the last UK schools that still had swimming in the buff as well. Corporal punishment was still used regularly in the form of the tawse and, in PE, the slipper (really a gymshoe).

Comments by Howard on 9th December 2012  

I'd rather see boys in short shorts than girls in short shorts.By what is happening all around these days,whatever the girls are wearing would make whatever that's described here of what the boys have to wear as very mild and un-ludicrous.Mine is a hot country and boys are still wearing knee length shorts n berms despite the girls wearing short tight to a horrific extent,often even torn,now thats true ludicrosity.If u looked at K pop girls u'd see truly absurd shorts.And no,the cold weather doesnt stop them.My may be a hot country,but im aware in both asian n american countries during winter some girls still wear their absurd hotpants,abeit maybe with stockings,but thats still absurd,as compared to a sensible winter pants for winter.If u look at japanime,u'd see girls in so-called bloomers,which are no different from colored briefs,doing PE in them.In comparison,satin shorts would be very mundane n covered.
Hence i strongly encourage boys,who still have their tight short shorts with them,to continue wearing them,maybe not in winter,but definitely in summer.It's our right and freedom to stay cool,and we either use it or lose it.Don't let short shorts get labelled as feminine clothing,cos that would really be ludicrous.Many people are getting misled,especially ignoramuses in asia,who follow weird trends blindly without understanding how it came about,and forgetting a true image of a lady isnt in short shorts;short shorts are supposed to be masculine and should remain as such.

Comments by Richard I on 6th December 2012  

Boarding school on the freezing fylde coast was my fate in the seventies. Naked bathing would have meant instant death in our outside pool so even school normally sadistic games teachers didnt insist upon that!Once you joined Big School and puberty descended, litesome jockstraps were standard underwear for all games. We all bought our straps from the school shop so embarrasing shopping trip with your mother was avoided!

Comments by Charles B on 4th December 2012  

At the primary school I went to in the 70's (up to the age if 9), boys went bare top. It wasn't unusual for some of the girls to do the same. They weren't forced to, but weren't made to put their t-shirts back on either. From what I remember, it was always the same ones and all very innocent. Teachers were all female.

Comments by Simon on 28th November 2012  

I too remember those shiny,satin shorts of the late seventies and early eighties.They came in various colours,but had a similar style with side slits as previously mentioned.These shorts were worn without underwear and they were ludicrously brief and tight fitting.They were worn for a variety of sports including gym,which on some occasions we shared with the girls.One cross country running event which was held in the cold winter of 1981,I was asked to hold the finishing tape for two hours wearing nothing more than shorts and vest.Teachers complained of the bitter cold,when wearing long coats,scarves,hats and gloves.

Comments by Eastender on 22nd November 2012  

Following on from Andy's comments, we were supposed to wear tight white shorts (nylon) and they were really quite see through. however, we had some rebels who wore shorts with splits & I remember one lad who purposely made the splits larger & nothing was left to the imagination. Following suitable punishment he never wore them again. As Andy says in an all boys enviroment & our was a boys only school no one worried about what showed.

I still think that lads for all their so called machoism are very inhibited witnessed by trhe long shorts worn br proffesional footballers.

Comments by Andy on 20th November 2012  

I remember those satin shorts - I had a pair of Adidas ones. We were not allowed to wear branded kit at school and so they were automatically banned. I remember one lad putting a pair on for gym one day and they really did leave nothing to the imagination not in may ways that it mattered in a class of boys.

He was ordered to remove them, the plimsol was applied to his bottom and he was ordered to find a pair of suitable shorts from the spares box. The comment from the PE teacher went something like 'just because you are a knob lad doesn't mean we want to see yours hanging down your shorts'.

Laughs all round, one red faced and red bottomed lad duly reprimanded!

Comments by James on 17th November 2012  

We wore satin shorts for all sports,which were extremely flimsy with side slits.They offered very little protection from the cold weather and the brevity of these shorts left very little to the imagination.

Comments by Tom on 17th November 2012  

As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of the severe winter of 1962/63 I well remember having to do outdoor PE stripped to the waist in the ice snow and freezing fog.It was no point in complaining.
I also remember a few months later being bare-chested for games in the middle of a mini heatwave.

Comments by Dave Stewart on 16th November 2012  mcwilliam@armymail.mod.uk 

In reply to Nicks question i was 15 at the time

Comments by Steve on 15th November 2012  

I remember in the cold winter of 1962/63 having to do outdoor PE and games while stripped to the waist.

Comments by Nick K on 6th November 2012  

Dave. How old were you when this happened?

Comments by Dave Stewart on 5th November 2012  

I went to a school where for PE and Football it was white nylon shorts and either a white vest for PT or a blue shirt for football. All were very thin and offered little protection. At the time the norm was for no underwear under the shorts and most PE went topless also. At the begining of secondary school we had the no underwaer rule enforce by changing practices! After a couple of years though it seemed it was not being enforced. It was one frosty morning for football and I kept my white pants on under my shorts for football as it was so cold. Even though my pants were white you could see them through the material and the other lad was even less dicsrete as he wore blue pants.
Today was the wrong day for it and another lad and myself got picked out before we had even started to a game.
It turns out that our teacher had been turned down for promotion the day before and we two seemed to be an excuse.
The teacher made the rest of team huddle up against a wall whilst we both had to explain why were wearing pants.
I think my excuse of saying it was cold did not help either.
We were both ordered to take our footbal shirts off which we did and we stood there arms folded teeth chattering and the breath in front of mouths.
We got the lecture about hygenie etc as the rest of the team sniggered and shuffled around trying to get warm.
He then told us to take our shorts off and our pants and put our pants on our heads and run round the perimeter of the pitch and put our pants on the goal posts and then run back. The last one back would get an extra 5 strokes for being last.
We bent down to pick our shorts up and were told no we could have our shorts back when we had run round the pitch. The rest of the class were laughing there heads off by now.

we both set off bollock naked except for our pants on our heads and socks and football boots. As we got to the other end and dumped our pants at the goal posts we said we would run back and cross the line together so that neither of us could loose.
We ran back freezing cold by now and crossed the line with rest of the class chearing and laughing at us.

The teacher was unimpressed and told us to run round again as we had not put the effort in and one of us was not trying.
We both set off again my skin now blue and everything numb from the cold. I came across the line last.
We both were told we had detention after school for that me to get six wacks and the other lad just one.

we both got our shorts back on quickly and finished the lesson freezing and numb.
It was even worse when we walked back into the changing room and a bit of warmth as every bit of my skin felt it was stinging then.

After school we went for detention and our punishment which was just in our nylon shorts only.

we also had to spend the rest of the week after school each day cleaning the changing rooms in just our shorts.

i never wore pants again under my shorts.

Comments by Simon H on 1st November 2012  

Brings back memories. For a couple of years we had light nylon shorts with an inner cotton liner so no underwear was needed. The kit changed back to quite heavy cotton shorts with no lining, and a horrible seam stitching. Underwear was still prohibited.

Like many contributors, a white vest was listed for outdoor games but never worn. The reason proferred was previous pupils wearing their normal uniform vest, which was also white.

Strange how these were insisted upon in winter under layers of clothing!

The cold got right into ones bones. The master would be well wrapped up with overcoat and hat. Cold Showers also featured alot during my Grammar School Days.

Comments by Joseph on 28th October 2012  

What great memories this picture brings back. I loved school and I loved games and gym even more. Getting out of the classroom for a couple of hours twice a week was a treat that I and I think most boys looked forward to. One class was outside sport, rugby and cross country in the winter, softball, cricket and athletics in the summer. The other was inside and usually a hard gym session just like the one in the picture, rope climbing, the vaulting horse, circuits, press ups and lots more, all aimed at helping us to grow up healthy and strong.

Yes, the PE teachers were strict (but so were all teachers in those days), a size twelve plimsol dealt with any misbehavior very quickly and effectively. Plimsols and shorts were the kit - no underpants, for rugby you got a shirt, socks and boots too but still no underpants, we didn't have cricket whites. Showers were always freezing cold but good and refreshing after hard exercise and we left the sessions feeling fantastic, looking forward to the next one.

Great and very happy days.

Comments by Phil on 21st October 2012  

Of course in the fifties and sixties and into the seventies my mother did not have an automatic washing machine. Clothes were worn for several days before changing and that included vests and underpants. In the current time it's unthinkable that underpants would not be changed at least once a day but just as there was then the cane in school, times have changed. Taking off underpants for PE when there was often copious sweating and dirt if playing rugby made perfect sense. The fact that it was, it would seem a universal practice demonstrates the sense of it.

All these years later, I still sweat in the gym and like most men, I dont' wear underpants now either. Old habits die hard!

Comments by Nick on 21st October 2012  

I was at school in the late 60s / early 70s and like many others we had a no pants rule for games. Like Rob we were told it was for hygene reasons and a complete change of clothes was required. Younger boys wore nothing under the shorts but from about age 13 a Litesome jockstrap was worn.
I remember occasionally doing gym in skins at junior school, but at the senior school we had shirts in house colours so there was no need for skins to distinguish teams.
The reason for not wearing underwear for sport is just as valid today as it was then so I don't see why schools don't keep the same rules.

Comments by Rob on 20th October 2012  

Of course in the immediate post-war years(the forties fifties and early sixties)there was more discipline in the schools and generally in society.If you were told you had to go about at school in particular for games etc while stripped to the waist you just got on with it.In fact after a while most lads rather enjoyed the freedom of going around while bare-chested.

Comments by Eastender on 19th October 2012  

The last person to comment confirms what I wrote a long time ago. Back in the era of the 60's no one seemed concerned about the "no pants rule" that was it & we were told it was for hygiene reasons . I suppose in the modern day it would not be "correct" to ask boys to particiopate in pe without underwear. I have also mentioned previously that our tight pe shorts gave us support. Whereas the modern day trend for wearing boxers if worn under shorts would seem to give no protection or support unless lads are compelled to wear some form of athletic support for protection. About time ladds were encouraged to be manly again.

Comments by Rob on 18th October 2012  

Paul and Ben are absolutely correct. There was nothing remotely strange or suspicious about doing PE in shorts with no underpants and no shirt. It was explained in our very first lesson that the body sweats much more during strenuous exercise and therefore a complete change of clothing was required. That made perfect sense to me, and still does. We had the option of bringing another pair of pants to change into but nobody ever did. It felt a bit odd at first but after a few minutes, I found running around just wearing a pair of shorts with nothing underneath gave me a sense of freedom and was quite exhilerating, and became something I looked forward to every week.

Twenty years on, I was really quite shocked to find out in a chance conversation with my son that he and all his peers wore their PE shorts on top of their pants. How can that be healthy or hygenic?

I, too, am glad I grew up then and not now when some people have been brainwashed into viewing everything - including things they know nothing about or have no experience of - with suspicion and paranoia.

Comments by Jon on 18th October 2012  

If you look at photos and videos about school life you can see that from about the late 1930's early 40's (especially in the UK but in other countries as well) most schools in Europe changed boys PE kit into shorts and no shirts.In the UK it lasted as far as the late 80's-early 90's, in other european countries till about the 70's I think. I wonder how it had become so widespread. A school isn't in connect with every other schools. So was it a federal recomnmendation from a health establishment?

Comments by Ben on 13th October 2012  

Paul's point is correct, yesteryear should not be judged by today's norms. Where would we be if it was - would a judge and hangman be tried for murder? Would a police officer carrying out a judicial birching be tried for assault alongside teachers who quite correctly caned misbehaving schoolboys?

I think life was good growing up in the fifties and sixties. I was never aware of anything that might remotely have constituted abuse unless getting the cane for misbehaviour or being instructed to take off underpants before rolling round on a muddy rugby field was abuse but actually it was common sense. I'd rather have grown up in that age than the current one with all the sensitivities and paranoia.

Comments by MARK on 11th October 2012  

I agree with Paul that what is acceptable in one age may not be at another time.In the fifties the country had just come through a major war and there was still conscription.Boys accepted that you did PE stripped to the waist and just got on with it

Comments by Paul on 10th October 2012  

I don't think that it is possible to judge another age by the norms of the current time. I never had the slightest sense that I was being abused at school whether it was taking my underpants off for PE or getting the cane on my bare bottom.

Comments by Roy on 10th October 2012  

Leo is probably right and it was not confined to boys as witness the revelations about Sir Jimmy Savile and other so-called celebrities.

Comments by Leo - a Survivor on 9th October 2012  

Just read this thread. Naked swimming, no underpants under shorts, no tops, members of staff peaking down the fronts of boys' shorts. Penises shrivelling in the winter cold. Staff 'supervising' queues for the shower.

Don't you think this adds up to something just a little more sinister than training for a 'stiff upper lip'?

It's called paedophilia, which was, and may still be, deeply embedded in the British education system.

Comments by Jon on 7th October 2012  

If you type the word "gymnastics" ,"gym", "physical education"..etc. you can see that on most of the pictures boys are barechested for PE and gym clubs even in the presence of girls.


Comments by Roger on 29th September 2012  

When I srarted at secondary school in the late fifties our official PE uniform was vest and shorts.
We had come from two different primary schools.At one the boys had done PE bare-chested while at the other one the boys wore singlets.
The bare-chested group started to remove their vests for PE and go stripped to the waist and soon afterwards the other lads started to go topless as well and eventually the games master made us all go stripped to the waist both in the gym and on cross-country runs as well.

Comments by Malcolm on 19th September 2012  

I remember Ron Parry!!!! The only person ever to send me off in any Team Sport (I retired from playing Rugby aged 43). Mind you, I did call him a c**t!! (Aged about 15 during a house soccer match Brun vs Ribblesdale)

Comments by IAIN on 19th September 2012  

We also did PE stripped to the waist.We seemed to be divided into three groups-those who enjoyed being bare-chested,those who hated it and the majority who put up with it.
I certainly toughened us up being stripped to the waist outdoors in all weathers.

Comments by Michael on 12th September 2012  

There was a marked contrast in the way our PE master treated his select group of favourites, as opposed to the less adept pupils, including myself.

After experiencing an accident in the gym, which left me winded, fighting for breath and barely conscious, he did nothing except order a group of boys to carry me back into the changing room. This they did - dumping me on the floor and leaving me alone to recover in my own good time.

But, on those occasions when one of his favourites had suffered a mishap, he was most attentive and sympathetic.

He spoke quite civilly to his select group and I never saw him punish any of them physically, but he just barked orders at the less able group and regularly used his gym shoe on us.

It was not a good way to encourage youngsters to enjoy sport - but things were very different in the 1950s and 1960s.

Comments by paul on 10th September 2012  

It was the same, two PE teachers, both different. The other was biased towards the sporty, fit boys. God forbid if there was a fat/useless boy, as would be humiliated in-front of the class. Example on the horse, you were supposed to jump it. He was made to jump it, but ran into the side instead, moving it a little(couldn't jump on the spring-board), with everyone laughing, and repeated it until he got bored.
However the "elite" group would be in the same 'dorm. Normally 8-10 of us ate, trained and slept together. Apart from classes, where we were split.

Comments by Rob on 9th September 2012  

Interesting comments about PE teachers being ex-military or police. We had two teachers - both were very strict but completely different. The younger of the two had always been a teacher and everyone hated him - he was a real bully. The older one was ex-Army, affectionately known as 'Sarge', and was liked and respected by all. Once he'd established the regime for his lessons - the rules about kit, all instructions (orders!!) to be obeyed immediately and without question, etc (and it didn't take long with us newly arrived 11-year-olds to comply!) and everybody knew where they stood with him and that he was not to be messed with, then he relaxed a little bit with us. It didn't matter if you were not one of the real 'sporty' types (unlike the other guy who wasn't interested in you if you weren't in a school team) - you still got praise if he could see you were putting 100% effort in, and would find ways to reassure you and boost your confidence. He seemed to really understand boys our age - you could go and talk to him about anything and he was the one who let those of us who liked the rough stuff play Killerball and have wrestling tournaments at the end of term - the perfect PE teacher as far as I was concerned.

Comments by paul on 7th September 2012  

At my school, we were always topless, except for football and rugby. In the gymnasium, our PE Teacher was ex army and although hard was a great instructor. I was at boarding school and every morning would start with a 6-mile run around the grounds - topless, in all weathers. In the gym, all events were conducted with just shorts - no trainers, because of the floor.
The gym was cold - even in summer, the excuse is to keep moving, not getting cold. We got used to it, all sports were done this way, but even when freezing outside running was still topless. In the gym, we saw how our bodies looked during drills. For example during the rings I had to stop and hold my arms until I couldn't hold it. The whole body shaking as I held it. My team mates urging me to suck it in whilst each of us were pushed, seeing each other push themselves- resulting in really sweaty skinny boys.
Also when we worked out, it kept us cool as well as confidence in our bodies. Most of us were rake thin and really fit, as a result of limited food and daily runs, both in the morning and cross country race once a week.
Gymnastics required stamina and strength and seeing your class-mates work out, competing with one another helped team spirit and body conditioning.

Comments by John Lavender on 24th August 2012  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

@ Barrie (Comment No. 300)
At our Grammar school we had plimmies, white Shorts and white Tees as PE Kit but one or two guys started to turn out Barechested, and indeed we tried several times to get our PE Master to change our kit to just Plimsoles and Shorts, coloured to differentiate between the two 'houses' at the school, but to no avail.
That was a shame, because I, and several others enjoyed going barechested, and took any opportunity to do gym as such. No one had any hang-ups about it and I think we were all the better for it. I run Barechested whenever I can, it's a great feeling.

Comments by Barrie on 23rd August 2012  

I was at secondary school in England in the sixties and the official PE unifrom was vest shorts and plimsolls.However one boy started going bare-chested and more and more boys followed suit so that very soon we were all stripped to the waist.This started off indoors but eventually all of us were stripped to the waist for cross-country as well with some lads even going barefoot as well.

Comments by Jimscot on 5th August 2012  

I attended a boys only senior secondary school in Scotland netween 1965 and 1971. The pe kit was white cotton shorts and white gym shoes (pumps to some!) No top or underwear. The pe teacher gave us these rules on day 1-I had been top less at primary, so no change there. He also undertook "underpant checks" which to the modern reader may seem horrific but were the order of the day. We lined up at the start of the lesson and he would walk along and pull out your waistband and have a look. It was all over in a second but looking back it was terrifying. I cannot remember any boy being caught but the punishment was "the belt"- tawse applied with vigour to the hands- so boys just did not go there. There was also a swimming pool at the school, so later we were allowed to wear our school swimming speedos under our shorts. Some boys chose to wear a "Litesome athletic supporter" which you could buy from pe dept.

The gym was a cold, musty place but you soon warmed up after a few circuits, benchlifting, press ups star jumps etc. Any boy who was deemed not to be working hard enough would be warned and if his work rate did not improve, he was belted.

It was tough but those were the rules!

Comments by Tim H on 3rd August 2012  

Two years since I last posted on this!

Briefly - yes, we were naive back in the 60s, but possibly for 11 -12 year olds that was no bad thing. The 'no underpants' rule - remember that 'working class' boys often went without underwear into the 50s (or later) and those of us who did possibly only changed it twice a week (yuck!) - so the smelly, sweaty comments are real. Our fathers wouldn't have complained about 'no underpants, no tops' - you didn't complain about rules in those days (certainly minor things like this); remember that they would almost certainly have served their 'time' in the Forces - no complaining allowed there (and National Service only ended in 1963, so this could have been regarded as 'toughening us up' for that).

For what its worth I still prefer shorter shorts, and running on some common land this morning it felt mild enough to strip my vest off - a great feeling.

Just random thoughts from a grumpy old soul ...

Ah, Happy Days!

Comments by Eastender on 2nd August 2012  

To Nevin I agree & have always thought that perhaps we were naive & had no thought about homosexuality. Teachers checked us to see if we wore pants perhaps pulling out the back of our shorts or somewtimes the front. Yep no one complained & after all we were all naked toghther in the communal showers so who cared?

Comments by Nevin on 1st August 2012  

Underwear was strictly forbidden under our gym shorts. It seems to have been a common rule in the UK, pre-1970. At the same time coaches in the US insisted on jockstraps or supporters being worn, while as strapping teenagers we had nothing in the way of support.
One PE teacher would carry out checks by pulling the front off our shorts right out and having a good look. It sounds Creepy now but back then we had communal showers and were often queuing up naked to shower. We never considered homosexuality then, we were so naive.

Comments by Daniel on 26th July 2012  

As many have commented in the fities boys were stripped to the waist as a matter of course and as has been said it made us concerned to keep our bodies in good shape.

Comments by MARK on 23rd July 2012  

Being stripped to the waist for games did indeed make us concerned about our bodies and our physiques.By the time I was eighteen I was quite well built and muscular with a hairy chest to match and I certaily was not ashamed of my body.

Comments by L. Baird on 21st July 2012  

Despite the inclement Scottish weather we wore only shorts and pumps (slip-on sneakers) on the playing fields and during cross country running.
Today my Grandson wears a tracksuit on the playing field to shield his legs from the elements, despite the fact they are only permitted outside on a fine day. They use the gym at any hint off rain. In my day we used the field whatever the weather, the Games Master being the only person in a tracksuit, the boys stripped to waist. The spartan regime toughened us up. Being shirtless made us care more about our appearance and physique.

Comments by Mark on 17th July 2012  

If you were doing PE in the gym going bare-chested was not too bad as I suppose you didn't get too cold.But it was a different matter having to do outside games and cross-country etc stripped to the waist in the cold winters we seemed to have in the fifties and sixties.

Comments by Oldschoolboy on 16th July 2012  

Fascinating discussion here. Like some of you here I was at a prep school in the mid sixties, our gym was just a wooden shed with very little equipment but we still had to work hard. As for p.e we were dressed much as in the photo and the no underwear rule applied as it did for field sports.
It seems unbelievable today that we had absolutely no protection particularly in cricket when all we had were some ropey pads and cotton gloves with bits of spikey rubber strips on the fingers and knuckles - absolutely useless; hockey was similar, I think we were allowed shinpads for that and that was it.
The miraculous thing is that I cannot recall any serious injury. I am sure that no-one today is allowed on the same field as a cricket or hockey ball without the array of armour such as helmets, boxes, thigh pads etc. And quite right too!

Comments by Eastender on 16th July 2012  

Noting the comments re running & pe in winter outdoors, there was also the opposite participating outdoors in what were hot summers!!! with no thought of covering up or knowledge of possible skin cancer. But then you were out in the sun to do you good. In response to Dominic & others despite running etc in the cold & wet we all survived & I think were healthier or is that looking back at life through rose tinted spectacles in the knowledge that we had no other option

Comments by Dominic on 16th July 2012  

At our Boarding School, in North Yorkshire, we had to do cross-country every morning in just shorts, socks and trainers. This was the case right through winter, vests were never permitted. Even in upper sixth at 18, with many hairy chests on show, we ran shirtless. Other outdoor sports were vests versus skins. This was despite temperatures well below freezing, with added wind chill and snow or driving rain. The was still the case when my younger brother left in 1975.

Comments by Harry on 15th July 2012  

Comments by James T on 14th July 2012  

John's comment is interesting. Our PE teacher (ex army) occasionally stripped to the waist during track and field sessions in the summer term every year until I left at 18. This chap was a really good teacher who encouraged you rather than put you down. As a 11 year old I started at my new school a couple of months into the autumn term and was told he'd pick the two teams, vests and skins at the start of each PE lesson which unfortunately, for me anyway, was to be a cold Novembers morning. Probably because I was new I was made to stand in front of the class and take off my vest first. I'd soon discovered that certain boys, myself included, were picked to strip down a lot more often than others regardless of weather or time of year both indoors and outside. I remember the girls finding it amusing watching boys take their vests off to join the skins teams and there was good natured banter in the classroom especially when it came to the tutor picking inter house teams. For inter house competitions like basketball,it was skins and vests so if you wore a vest for the first half, you'd take it off for the second. Fitness competitions were done with all the boys barechested and distinguished by different coloured shorts and cross country competitions were skins and vests which made a change from everyone being made to run barechested....if your team was lucky enough to be picked to wear a vest!!

Comments by Joshua on 3rd July 2012  

I was at school in the sixties and there was no way that PE teachers would strip off to lead lessons. We boys however were stripped to the waist for all lessons both inside and out of doors whatever the weather.Again it was no good objecting.This only resulted in doing press ups outside for up to a hour while still stripped to the waist.This was if you were lucky!!!!If you drew the short straw you were canedon your bare backside before being sent out to do the press ups stripped to the waist

Comments by west country man. on 1st July 2012  

I attended a boys only prep/public school in southern England in the late 40s/early fifties. Regarding PE kit, no underpants were allowed for PE. Rugby, or Cricket, at pain of a beating; later on older boys would wear jock straps. No bare chests here either, apart from sometimes in midwinter on the Rugby field ! The Headmaster announced 'no boys will wear bathing slips in future' - thereafter swimming was nude, followed by communal showers. It did not seem to bother anyone. Genitals, rather disconcertingly, tended to float upon entering the water. I also remember standing in line waiting for permission to enter the pool. I learnt to swim on the poolside naked, balancing upon a wooden trestle to practice breast strokes - a somewhat humiliating and uncomfortable experience. Trunks would only be worn for competitive events, and for the annual medical inspection, when they would be removed in the presence of the doc. Corporal punishment was carried out by house prefects, usually in the changing rooms, with boys attired in PE kit, then shorts dropped for hits on the bare backside with a gym shoe.

Comments by Nick on 29th June 2012  

Comments by Eastender on 28th June 2012  

In reply to John Lavender. I agree we had no worries or cares in the pre P/C days. Our pe teacher wore full track suit. but we had no worries about shorts only & no pants or changing & showering together. My problem is these days if I go to a public swimming pool to check & see whether it is (as is becoming the norm) mixed family changing so I do not forget & start getting changed in a mixed area.The cubicles are so small Not like at the gym & pool where changing facilities are separated by gender & you can just go in strip off & change without a worry. At school our swimming lessons were held at a public pool,although the session was exclusive to our school however, we never had the opportunity to experience the freedom of swiming naked. Kid today talk about freedom but I do not think they are as free of worries as we were.

Comments by John Lavender on 27th June 2012  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

Our PE master was a Police Sergeant. He often led our lessons stripped to the waist with either tracksuit bottoms or nylon PE shorts on, always going Commando.
He regularly played for the 'Skins' Team when we played Killerball in gym lessons and refereed our wrestling bouts when we had those. Sometimes in swim trunks only if he didn't have his trackie bottoms or shorts with him. Those were the only time we saw swimwear at school as we swam naked in lessons, which he also took ( also naked) when the regular swim teacher was not available. We did see more of his physique occasionally as he was a big guy and the shorts were sometimes a bit of , as they say these days, a 'wardrobe malfunction' but that was just looked on as a bit of harmless fun... Attended Grammar school in the N-E 1963-68, well before the P.C. era. Happy, innocent days..

Comments by TIMOTHY on 26th June 2012  

This photo brings back memories of the fifties and sixties.In all the schools I attended there was a strict policy of being stripped to the waist for all games lessons.This was both in and out of