Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 687,905         Comments: 2,473

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

2473 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by James on 13th September 2019  

Danny, being shy and reserved I found it difficult to come to terms with swimming lessons without wearing my swimming trunks,although it amazed me how some boys were absolutely brazen about the ordeal,especially as we were supervised by two female teachers and one male teacher.
It also reminded me of an incident in the pool when a much stronger boy than myself was holding me under the water to see how long I could go without air.
This was witnessed by one of the female teachers who blew her whistle and signaled the boy to leave the pool.
The punishment was swift and severe and left the boy in tears after he had had his buttocks and the back of his legs smacked.

Comments by Danny on 13th September 2019  

I did not mean to be offensive in any way when I disagreed with your comparison.
I understand your argument about the freedom of nude swimming, I only objected to the forced nudity of boys during swim classes in schools or adult males displaying themselves naked on public beaches.
In fact in my subsequent post I commented about the custom of males swimming nude on public beaches during Victorian and Edwardian times.

The irony is that this was in the extremely prudish Victorian era whereas it would probably not be acceptable today in our modern and supposedly liberated society, although admittedly this nudity was only confined to swimming places and beaches.

Btw, there seems to be another Danny since the last post under the same name on 12th Sept. is not mine.

Comments by Fiona on 13th September 2019  

Paul - Was swimming naked compulsory or optional? And what about the open dormitories, were PJs required, or was naked sleeping allowed.

Comments by Danny on 12th September 2019  

You've reminded me of an incident at my prep school, which I attended between 1965 and 1969. We had an outdoor unheated pool which was used during the summer term. One boy was very obviously afraid of going in the water and therefore hated swimming. He was always turning up without his swimming trunks so that he would not be able to go in. We had a very sadistic female teacher - a middle aged spinster who eventually retired some years later after teaching at the school for 44 years. She was taking the class for swimming one day and the boy in question came out with the usual excuse that he had forgotten his trunks, and she had obviously had enough of this and told him he would have to swim in his birthday suit.

Now - here's the amusing part, and the only amusing part of this story - this boy had clearly never heard this expression before, and retorted that he did not have a birthday suit! He wasn't trying to be funny - I think he was way too scared to do this, but it's the one thing about this story which does raise a slight smile.

Well she carried out her threat, and this boy who was very timid and probably eight or nine years old at the time of this story, had to strip naked in front of her and then get in the pool in the nude. I can remember watching him crying as he gingerly lowered himself over the edge.

I don't suppose anything like that would be allowed to happen today and frankly, much as I feel children are mollycoddled far too much these days, I can't help thinking it's a good thing that times have changed.

Comments by Paul on 12th September 2019  

I should have added to my Sanditon comment that at boarding school (from 7-18) we swam naked. We also slept in dorms with no privacy, showered in communal showers and used toilets that had no doors but a small side partition that didn't come out as far as your knees. This was in the 1960s.

In that world swimming naked was perfectly normal and when at home and going to the pool where trunks had to be worn, I found them most uncomfortable. I wish there was somewhere where I could swim naked today, I still hate trunks.

Comments by John on 12th September 2019  

I expressed a personal point of view and whether it ‘holds water’ or not is for people to decide. It is my opinion that many people are too prudish, I fail to see how the human body can be offensive if people are simply going for a swim. Many people take part in the Great British Skinny Dip events and participants often say that it has been good for their mental and physical health.

So often in life people have irrational fears, if possible it is frequently a good idea to confront fears and be able to overcome them.

Comments by James on 12th September 2019  

Danny,I agree there is no comparison with'taking a bath in private and swimming in public'.
I considered it a very unfair discrepancy where boys were not allowed swimming trunks,but girls were allowed to wear swimming costumes.
I found it particularly difficult to come to terms with this unfair, outdated custom,especially going through adolescence.
Why was there one rule for girls and another for boys when we both wanted to conserve our modesty?

Comments by Danny on 11th September 2019  

Paul said -
"I noted in Sanditon (ITV series) last night that while the women went down to the sea in their bathing machines and were dressed in copious swimming outfits that the men simply stripped and swam naked."

I think that is historically accurate in Victorian times on which this series is based when it was normal and common for males to swim naked on public beaches while women wore copious swimming outfits.
Laws started to be introduced much later by local authorities for males over 16 to wear suits on beaches.
It is interesting that boys up to 16 or so were still allowed to swim nude, which is probably why the tradition of boys swimming nude still went on in schools and other places well into the 29th century.
Obviously, unlike adult males, women saw boys swimming nude as non-offensive, so nobody minded.

Comments by Danny on 11th September 2019  

People take baths at home in private, not in public, so your comparison does not hold water.
Also the posters who had to be nude for swim classes at school were forced to do it and not something voluntary, whether they liked it or not.
There is also the custom that only boys, not girls, were made to swim nude, often in front of female teachers, spectators and others according to these posters.

Comments by John on 10th September 2019  

It would be good if males were still allowed to strip off and swim naked, no one wears clothing to have a bath. Swimwear isn’t necessary really.

Comments by Andrea on 2nd September 2019  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Leeds Lad,
I think you had it the right way round.
Mind you I can't think when I have ever been near a river or lake in my PJs!

Comments by Paul on 2nd September 2019  

I noted in Sanditon (ITV series) last night that while the women went down to the sea in their bathing machines and were dressed in copious swimming outfits that the men simply stripped and swam naked.

Imagine that these days!

Briefs for men are far more common for men in continental Europe and in France and Germany they are the requirement for public pools - turn up with shorts and you won't be allowed in though of course in Germany, nude swimming is not unusual.

Comments by Leeds Lad on 2nd September 2019  

Andrea, yes those things were all part of the test(s). All I can recall nowadays is that nylon jim-jams were a lot harder to inflate than cotton ones (or was it the other way round?!)

Comments by James on 2nd September 2019  

Danny,the swimming classes that I attended were for boys of all ages.
I wore a slip on the first few occasions to help me comply with swimming in the nude,I didn't see any other boys wear them.
It was was customary for all boys to swim nude,irrespective of their age.
The women teachers were there to keep order and were instructors and parents could be spectators if they wished.

Comments by Danny on 1st September 2019  

James, between what ages were the nude swimming classes?
Were you the only boy who wore the slip?
Were senior boys swim classes also in the nude, or just juniors?
You also said that women teachers attended during your nude swim classes. Were they as spectators or to keep order among the boys or just as instructors?

Comments by TimH on 1st September 2019  

Thanks to Donald - a most interesting read and I suspect it parallels a lot of the UK experience.

Comments by John on 1st September 2019  

Thank you for your very interesting history of nude swimming. Personally I never experienced nude swimming in the UK, the YMCA pool that I could have gone to in my teens had closed down. My school did not have its own pool and so we got bussed to a public pool about once a fortnight and had to wear trunks.

My cousin attended a private school and swam nude from age 11 to 18 and he had no issue with the rule. I would have been happy to have gone to his school and the nude swimming policy would not have concerned me either.This was in the UK in the 1970s.

Comments by Donald on 31st August 2019  

Boys were required to swim nude in many American high schools for about 65 years—from the building of the first indoor school pool in 1913 to the late 1970s. This remained standard practice in public schools and Catholic schools. Just about any school large enough to have a pool required nude swimming.

I grew up in a Michigan county with little villages and nine high schools—only one of them big enough to have a swimming pool. My uncles (five and six years older than me) swam nude there, so I was always aware of the practice. But I attended a small school with no pool. Years later, I arrived to teach English at Saginaw High School the first year that boys were required to wear suits.

There are deniers who claim such a thing could never have happened in the U.S.A., yet it certainly did. Why?

In Europe, the tradition goes back much earlier. In the 1830s, Dr. Thomas Arnold (father of the poet Matthew Arnold) revived the ancient Greek tradition of a well developed mind in a well developed body at Rugby school. Along with other vigorous sports, the boys swam nude in the river. Of course, Greek boys had attended all of their lessons nude.

In the U.S., the Young Men's Christian Association led the way in swimming. The Brooklyn YMCA built the first indoor pool in America in 1885. All men and boys were expected to swim nude from the beginning—just as they had for thousands of years. The swim suit had been invented just 16 years earlier, in 1869. Women and girls had taken to the clumsy outfits—men only on the most crowded beaches, and boys rarely anywhere.

Mark Twain was writing about Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn skinny-dipping in the Mississippi River. Photographs in tourist guidebooks and the paintings of George Bellows frequently showed nude boys frolicking in the polluted waters of New York Harbor. The YMCA was offering slum boys a better place to hang out than pool halls and saloons. None of those boys owned swim suits, or could afford one. Nude swimming was democratic, and could be spontaneous.

Fibers and lint from wool swim suits clogged the early pool filters. Soon, scientists discovered that swimsuits harbored far more germs than freshly scrubbed skin. And so, when questioned about their nudity requirement, Y officials gave three reasons:

1. Cleanliness for the swimmer.
2. Cleanliness of the pool.
3. Encouraging a proper attitude toward the body and life.
The third reason would prove the most enduring.

In contrast, the Young Women's Christian Association neither encouraged nor discouraged nude swimming. In 1918, the official policy at the Pawtucket, Rhode Island YWCA was "bathing suits permitted." One YWCA in Vermont even offered beginning swim classes for prepubescent nude boys (taught by a woman in swimsuit).

In 1913, New Trier Township High School in Winnetka, Illinois opened the first high school indoor pool. During the 1920s, several of the bigger high schools in the northern states began building indoor swimming pools for all-weather instruction. Smaller schools never had them. Since drowning ranked as the second-highest cause of death (after disease) among teenage boys, swimming seemed a good physical exercise to teach—far more practical than football or basketball or baseball. But swimming almost never became a school subject in the southeastern states.

With the number of pools increasing, the American Public Health Association in 1926 issued its first guidelines for maintaining sanitation in school pools. They recommended that all boys swim nude, but conceded that the insignificant number of girls might wear simple costumes of undyed cotton. Usually, these were ill-fitting baggy affairs owned and laundered by the school after each use. Some schools left the suits optional for girls. All classes were single-sex.

How could anyone question the morality of a practice already endorsed for 40 years by the Young Men's Christian Association? By 1937, the Administration of Health and Physical Recreation training manual stated, "Nude bathing for boys is practiced universally; in a few schools girls may swim nude and this is the most sanitary method."

During the Depression years, the affordability of birthday suits again became an important point.

With material shortages during World War II, the saving of cloth became a proud patriotic duty. YMCA camps and countless Boy Scout camps required nude swimming even in the lake. One man from Schenectedy NY remembered, "The summer of 1940 I went to YMCA camp on the eastern shore of Lake George. We swam nude, and every morning at about 6 AM, the entire camp, including all the adults, traipsed nude through the camp site and had a nude morning swim." A few rare schools even allowed the girls to wear skimpier two-piece bathing suits. Many teachers came out of their war experience, convinced that communal nudity was good preparation for the expectations of military service.

During the post-war years, it occurred to some people that saving girls from drowning might also be a good idea. Junior high, and even elementary schools built pools, and required all students to participate—especially in the Great Lakes states. Again, they were single-sex classes, the boys nude, girls clothed. Some schools without pools arranged for their students to take swimming instruction at a nearby YMCA or YWCA. Countless junior highs, high schools, and colleges demanded that all entering students pass a swimming test (the boys nude of course).

Comments by Andrea on 30th August 2019  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Reading the post by Leeds Lad brought back memories of doing the Bronze Personal Survival test in the early 1970s.

I can't remember a lot of the details except having to make a float by tying a knot in the legs of a pair of pyjama bottoms and then inflating them to make a float.
Was there also something about swimming through a hoop and possibly retrieving a rubber brick from the bottom of the pool, or were they separate activities?

Comments by Alfie A on 30th August 2019  

Reading the comments about how much flesh should be exposed when swimming,I am from an era when brief type swimming trunks were the normal and perhaps only style of swimwear for males of all ages. I do not know why it is no longer "correct" for this style to be worn. Having just returned from a hot sunny holiday on a Spanish Island, I saw many men and boys (not British ) wearing briefs both on the beach and by the pool.
There were many British lads wearing swim shorts with underwear which seems odd The waist band clear advertised their preferred brand of underwear. Why is this? It cannot be for support because swim shorts have netting inside for that reason, and if they do not like the feel of "briefs" that is what the netting is.
Also what I think is odd, it is frowned upon for men in this country to wear brief swimming wear, yet ladies can expose as much flesh and wear as brief swimwear as they like irrespective of size. This is a case of double standards.

Comments by Dando Jones on 30th August 2019  

My school is a boys only school and if we forget our sports kit we have to do it in our underwear and this includes swimming. I go commando and sometimes this meant having to swim naked because I had no underwear to use. The first time the teacher was not sure but after that he took it in his stride especially when others claimed the same "problem".

Comments by James on 30th August 2019  

George Spelvin,I agree it was a matter how 'conforming with my contemporaries rather than how much skin is showing'.
Wearing short pants was seen as a symbol of boys'junior status and therefor I was subjected to a considerable amount of teasing.
It was my parents'preference to keep me in short pants and school uniform requirements permitted this abomination.

Comments by George Spelvin on 29th August 2019  spelvin545@gmail.com 

Thanks again, James!

I find it interesting that your male classmates teased you for coming to school showing your legs, whereas they attended swim class showing a great deal more than that.
That indicates that the important factor is not how much or how little skin one is showing,but rather how well one is conforming with everyone else.
I am reminded of an evening when I was attending a nudist camp.
I decided to take a walk outside the camp, so I put on a T-shirt and shorts.
When I came back, everyone else was gathered around a campfire, and there wasn't a stitch of clothes between all of them.
I felt self-conscious because I wasn't naked.

Comments by Wyatt Norman Cornell on 29th August 2019  

It is more than 30 years since I left school and I am glad communal naked showers are now a thing of the past. When I think if gymnastics were cancelled we were forced to do swimming in white transparent shorts or if we forgot our white tops we were made to do gymnastics topless. This form of child abuse would not have been permitted for girls and should not have been allowed for boys. Houndsdown school you should be ashamed of yourself. It is time we ended all forms of sexual exploitation by the state.

Comments by Leeds Lad on 29th August 2019  

Children weren't so uptight back then. I once taught swimming, and every 8 weeks there was a "test night" (for gold, silver and bronze Personal Survival badges). One boy forgot his trunks and all I had in lost property was a girl's swimsuit. He willingly agreed to use that, rather than wait another 8 weeks. (Unfortunately though, he still failed on a technicality!)

Comments by James on 28th August 2019  

George Spelvin,I did attend nude swimming classes like the other James and I was allowed to wear a slip for the first few lessons until I got used to swimming nude.
Women teachers were present when attending and it was customary.
The slip that I wore for swimming did leave my bottom absolutely bare and it was never commented on,I was only allowed to wear it for a few swims so I could get used to nude swimming.

Comments by John on 27th August 2019  

When I was at school collective punishments were used as opposed to individuals being punished. If a few lads misbehaved we’d get a warning and if bad behaviour continued we’d all be punished. As we were already stripped to the waist for gym class it wasn’t possible for our PE teachers to threaten us with that, punishments normally consisted of a high volume of push ups, squat thrusts, star jumps until we were really exhausted.

Perhaps our teachers should have singled out the badly behaved lads and made them put a really thick sweatshirt on and then worked them hard. No
one wants to be singled out and made to look different to other kids in their class or year, that punishment would probably have been equally effective.

Being stripped to the waist was a much more comfortable way to do PE, it felt strange at age nine being made to do PE without a vest or a t shirt but we got used to it after the first lesson.

Comments by Jamie on 27th August 2019  

Reading Jason R's recollections from an all boys school, it's interesting that being stripped to the waist was clearly an integral part of punishment. This ties in closely with the practice at my school, although it sounds as if it was overall a bit more relaxed than Jason's. I started in 1989, when I was 12.
We usually wore vest, shorts, trainers (and gym socks) for regular PE lessons but this wasn't the case for PE detentions, which could involve laps of the field, press ups and sit ups, sprints in the gym, or more than one of the above. Sometimes there were shooting challenges with a ball and boys who failed to pass would get extra laps, press ups etc.
For a PE detention, you wore your usual kit - except the vest. Irrespective of whether detention was indoors or outdoors, you did it bare chested. I suppose this was a way of making us feel small and self conscious and, if we were outdoors, it meant other boys could see us and knew we were being punished.
There were also times during a regular PE lesson when a teacher might make you remove your top as a penalty for misbehaviour, not paying attention or something similar. I was made to play rugby bare chested a couple of times for answering back, which wasn't much fun in October or November, and it probably had the desired effect in that I made sure I shut up after that.
It occurs to me this may not have been so effective at a school where boys did PE stripped to the waist all the time!

Comments by Mahatma on 27th August 2019  

Yes! However, I swam nude for our public high school boys swim team and boys sem classes starting in 7 the grade. Nude swimming was used with a soap shower before swimming to keep the water clean and cut down on chlorine. It seemed normal at the time because society accepted it as normal. Contrary to what people today think this was considered standard across the US at this time in history. We did not allow ever at any of the schools girls to mix with the all boys nude swim classes and boys swim teams. The pool was just another part of the boys locker room.

Today for some reason swim teams are mostly boys and girls swim teams even though boys are naturally stronger than girls and it would seem only logical to have a separate girls team and a separate boys swim team or swim class. And it does not seem as if anyone takes a shower before swimming today?!?!?!??! I do not understand today's current logic except that we overcorrected to make sure that girls had 24/7 access to all swim pools at all times… they are Co Ed. And at the same time we did not allow the girls to swim nude!?!?! So there are increased costs for pool maintenance today.

Today inspite of better technology for filtration that many people are not taking soap showers and public pools are closed temporarily because the water is not safe or clean and this could easily be fixed with going back to soap showers before swimming.

So I still think there is a case to bring in nude swimming today. Maybe girls are naturally shy so maybe that's why they didn't have nude girls swimsuit? Nude male swimming has been the custom world wide for thousands of years and will continue in some way into the future and nude recreation is common in Europe, France, Australia, New Zealand and other places today.

The question about men swimming nude at beaches ….well it was common and considered normal for men to swim nude, but it was not a law, it was just a custom. We still have nude beaches in many parts of the world today.

Comments by George Spelvin on 27th August 2019  spelvin545@gmail.com 

Thanks, James!

That clears up a lot of confusion.
I still have a couple of more questions:
Did you attend nude swim classes which were interrupted by women teachers needing to confer with individual students, or was that another James?

And what does a slip look like on the other side?
Does it cover the culo also? Or does it leave it bare like a jockstrap?

I had to grow up under a domineering mother too, so I know how that is.
However, my parents were prudish. I was taught to believe that any desire to look or show was sinful.
So now I am left with a craving to look and show.

So we all have our similarities and our differences.

Comments by James on 26th August 2019  

George Spelvin,further to my previous message I would like to give you a more detailed account of my messages.
-- translucent gym shorts with nothing underneath.
-- being only allowed to wear shorts at home.
-- a school gym with huge windows through which girls could watch the boys.
- swimming class wearing slips at an all boys'school.
The slips that I wore were very miniscule and were triangular at the front with cords that went between the legs and then tied at the waist.
I wore these for ballet and swimming!
-- being forced to wear skimpy shorts until I graduated.

Comments by Jeff on 26th August 2019  

My first jockstrap was a Litesome, got it when I was 13 in 1970. At school wearing underpants for PE was not allowed. Nothing was worn under the shorts until you needed support, then you wore a jockstrap. From third form onwards all boys were expected to wear a jockstrap for PE and other sports.

I have heard of boys wearing swimming trunks for support. A friend at another school wore trunks for a while until he got a jockstrap.

Comments by James on 26th August 2019  

George Spelvin,thank you for your interest,some of the messages you refer to are signed by'James B',but I didn't go on a bike ride in a swim suit'or have an'embarrassing medical',however most or the other messages apply to me.

Comments by Leeds Lad on 26th August 2019  

I still have one of these Litesome "antiques"! All nylon. It says "Golf model" on the label at the back. Never knew a supporter was recommended for golf!

Comments by Dave on 25th August 2019  

Hi Graham,
Litesome never made many "swim Jocks" and so they were rare to find but a friend of mine had one and although they were sung to wear and all nylon to dry fast the waist band was still too wide to wear under swim trunks but fine under swim shorts.

Comments by George Spelvin on 25th August 2019  spelvin545@gmail.com 

Hello, James!
Hello, moderators!

Is there more than one James on this board?
I am interested in several messages which are signed James, but some of those messages seem to contradict each other.
So I am trying to figure out which messages have been written by which James.
If you are one of the Jameses, I would appreciate it if you could tell me which of these messages you wrote.
If you are the only James and I am mistaken in thinking that there is more than one of you, I would appreciate it if you could write back.
If you are a moderator and have this information handy, I would appreciate it if you could write back.

--proudly riding a bike on Sunday, wearing a swim suit and nothing else (March 18, 2014).
--an embarrassing school medical inspection (May 19, 2014).
--translucent gym shorts with nothing underneath (January 2, 2012; July 18, 2014; September 25, 2014; September 27, 2014; January 28, 2015).
--being allowed to wear only shorts at home (March 28, 2016).
--girls admiring boys who are shirtless for gym class (September 22, 2009; April 7, 2013).
--a school gym with huge windows through which the girls could watch the boys (June 29, 2019).
--towel dancing by boys of the present generation (December 11, 2013).
--nude swimming class at a boarding school (September 6, 2013), which was often interrupted by women teachers ordering individual students to get out of the pool and talk (October 20, 2014; October 28, 2014; October 30, 2014; October 31, 2014), and sometimes visited by a matron who bragged that she had seen every boy who attended the school for the past 12 years (May 28, 2014).
--swimming class wearing slips at an all-boys’ school (February 5, 2017). What ARE slips anyway? You’ll have to excuse me. I’m from the other side of the Atlantic.
--coed dance class which the boys had to attend shirtless (July 26, 2015).
--being forced by his parents to wear skimpy shorts until he graduated. This one I have paginated (February 8, 2014, p. 36; September 4, 2014, p. 33; October 29, 2014, p. 32; November 16, 2014, p. 31; March 30, 2016, p. 25; April 1, 2016, p. 25; December 25, 2017, p. 14; April 8, 2018, p. 11; January 3, 2019, p. 5).

Thank you.

Comments by Andrea on 25th August 2019  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

At the time the mixed changing didn't bother me too much, as I was still totally flat-chested when I left primary school and became quite adept at pulling my shorts on before taking off my ordinary skirt or dress. I left primary school in 1971; when were you at primary?

When my son was at primary, the boys and girls got changed in separate areas for the final two years. Even so I remember a couple of the other mums saying they had bought their 9 year old daughters crop tops to wear during the final year of mixed changing. Unlike my classmates, very few wore ordinary vests.

Comments by Ben on 25th August 2019  

Hi Helen,
Maybe activities wasn't the word I should have used - I meant there were other PE situations where I had to go topless, not only for shirts against skins. For example, outdoor athletics in summer, or there was a gymnastics display where the girls wore leotards and boys wore just shorts.
When I first began to get hair on my chest there were only one or two other lads in the same boat, with more joining us as time went on! By that stage I think we were all used to stripping off in PE; it was a bit different when we started a few years earlier and yes, I certainly felt shy at first when I realised I'd have to go topless. But we just had to get on with it. I dread to think what reaction anyone would have got from the teacher if he'd asked to be excused being a skin on the grounds of not wanting to display his chest hair!

Comments by Leeds Lad on 25th August 2019  

I see a few people have been mentioning Litesome supporters. I still have an "antique" one! It is made of nylon (like the swim version, I suspect, but with a wider waistband). It actually says it's a "golf" model on the back label. I had no idea they were recommended for golf too!

Comments by James on 25th August 2019  

Hi David G,thank you for you reply,I attended secondary school from 1965 to 1970 in the midlands.
Like you we just wore shorts for dance and P.E,but we weren't allowed to wear pumps.

Comments by Jason R on 25th August 2019  

I started at an all boys school in 1988 shortly before my 9th birthday.

Though officially our kit was vest, shorts, trainers the reality was different. We were bare chested indoors and outside. Our PE teachers were all ex Army and didn't hesitate in enforcing a stripped to the waist regime.

It wasn't a warm September when we started and it wasn't long before we were out on the field exercising when the rain came down. Obviously with no vest on it made for quite a tough session but our teacher started to lecture us about the merits of being stripped to the waist! It was warmer in the gym but that only made you sweat quicker and by the halfway point in the lesson the whole class had sweat running down them.

The Head had a novel idea for punishment, you were handed over over to one of the PE teachers in our own time, where anything could happen from running up and down flights of stairs until you were told to stop or you physically couldn't move, then it was freezing shower afterwards, to remedial fitness, including laps of the field, which due to the size of the grounds was never popular amongst the boys or as a friend and I got once to shovel grit into the large bunkers for the winter. Each was done with you baring your upper body and make you "man up"

Helen, you've mentioned lads showing chest hair, a good few of my friends showed their chests off and they said it was a little weird during the first lesson but never bothered them after.

Comments by John on 25th August 2019  

Hi Andrea,
It was girls who had started to mature physically that changed into leotards. I think that it was wrong that girls and boys had to change together in the classroom when we’d reached the age of 10/11. The school should have been designed with a separate girls and boys changing room.

We should not have been allowed to wear the grey shorts that we’d gone to school in, boys should have changed into PE shorts. Most boys were happy to be shirtless for PE and it meant less washing for our mums too.

Comments by Graham on 25th August 2019  

Dave, Toby: my first jockstraps were Litesom. A bit over-engineered in some ways, and although I once saw a "swim jock" by Litesome, I was never able to get hold of one for myself.

Comments by David G on 24th August 2019  

James Hi, as a matter of interest, can I ask what years you went to school? I was in the senior school from 1961-66 in the north of England with a very similar experience to yours, in that boys were bare chested in shorts & pumps only & the girls were wearing much more. Our lessons were separate, to the girls, but occasionally we had lessons together. I don't think it bothered us boys much - but we didn't have a choice anyway.
I seem to recall it was more dance lessons if we were together.

Comments by Dave on 24th August 2019  

Hi Toby,
Yes I remember the Litesome jockstraps very well and I still have a couple from my school / college days.
It was the first jockstrap that I bought along with some shorts for running when I was 15/16 years old, wearing it felt quite strange at first but after a while I got used to it and felt very grown up I have worn jocks ever since.

Comments by Michael on 24th August 2019  michaelabbey@rocketmail.com 


Hi. Yes, I remember the Litesome jock. My schooldays were in the late 60's / 70's and I only wore a Jock when I later went to college.
If you would like to contact me please feel free.

Comments by Andrea on 24th August 2019  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

For outdoor PE and games we could wear PE skirts or culottes and a long sleeved top, but not tracksuit bottoms.
In fact were weren't even allowed to wear tights with our school uniform, just ankle socks in summer and long socks in winter!

With regard to going shirtless in the summer, I was a bit of a tomboy and would sometimes take my shirt of like the boys in the hot summer holidays. The last year I was able to do this was the year we left primary school (ages 11).
By the following summer I had to make sure I was wearing a swimsuit top underneath if I wanted to take my T shirt off.

Comments by Andrea on 24th August 2019  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Was it mainly girls who had started to mature who changed into leotards, or was it younger girls too?

Comments by Toby on 24th August 2019  

Hi guys
Any of you remember the Litesome jockstrap?

Comments by James on 24th August 2019  

Hi Helen,thank you for your comments,I found it particularly
hard to strip to the waist for our sporting activities,especially when we shared the gym with girls.
There wouldn't have been any allowances made for boys for their age or whether they had hairy chests,it was a strict'shorts only rule'for all boys.
Even boys who were shy and self-conscious soon got used to this rule and wore just skimpy shorts, where girls were allowed to be more adequately attired.