Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 648,857         Comments: 2,374

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

2374 user comment(s) below:-

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?