Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 655,043         Comments: 2,380

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

2380 user comment(s) below:-

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.