Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 676,756         Comments: 2,437

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

2437 user comment(s) below:-

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.