Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 648,805         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 Pete on 22nd March 2015  

We had school medical exams right the way from primary school until leaving at eighteen, I think they were every year but certainly at least every two years. At primary school it was in a room with a doctor and a nurse. There was a screen down the middle of the room and on one side you undressed down to underpants and saw the nurse and then when ready and the lad before you had gone went round the screen to the doctor, I can't remember exactly what happened but underpants were certainly down and testicles felt.

At grammar school it was referred to as a medical inspection and they took place in the gym. We went in class by class and lined up. We were told to undress and I can remember the first time we were told that any 'little boys' in the class could keep their underpants on but men should take them off. By that time we were used to taking off underpants for PE and having communal showers at the end and as no one wanted to be seen as a 'little boy' underpants came off. The doctor was an old navy doctor who was brusque and stood no nonsense. We had to line up and he moved his way along the line checking one part of each body at a time so ears, mouths and so on. Testicles were last and everyone had to take a turn to cough. In the last couple of years we also had to bend over and be checked internally by a rough and probing finger.

Comments by James on 19th March 2015  

I am fairly certain we did have physical exams by a travelling school doctor in our secondary (grammar) school. Individually in an office, if I remember correctly, with a queue formed outside the door.
Can't really remember what they checked!
We certainly were checked by the "nit-nurse" in primary school but I am not sure if that carried on into secondary school.

Comments by Allen Williams on 19th March 2015  gerald.williams23@gmail.com 

In response to Curious, I am not aware of physical examinations taking place in any British secondary schools: we certainly did not have them. They did take place in our primary school - individually in the staff room, by a doctor working for the County Council. A member of staff was present although parents could attend if they wanted to. They hardly ever did.

Comments by Mark on 8th March 2015  

I lately watched this documentary on the British Royal Marines and I was surprised to learn that recruits actually have to sleep naked. No boxer shorts or socks allowed and definitely no pyjamas,from 10:20 onward:

Comments by Curious on 7th March 2015  

What were your school's physical exams like?
Where they done in groups or in privacy?
Were there chaperones, like parents or teachers, present?

Comments by H James on 7th March 2015  

I was born in 1946 and raised in central Illinois in the US, so that is my experience.

Our schools did not have pools. We did have PE every day in grades 7-12. We had to wear shorts. and t-shirts. Boys often divided up into teams of "skins" (no shirt) and "shirts." We thought nothing of it and never questioned it.

We learned to swim at the YMCA. In those days Y's were either all men or YWCA's which were all female. Suits were simply NOT allowed in the pool. You had to shower and go through a short hall with access to the pool. This hall had nozzles in the base of the walls to wash your feet and between your legs. Then you went through a final foot bath.

All swimming and lessons were nude. The life guards were mostly high school and college boys and they too wore no suits. Your first day you might have had a little apprehension, but it went away quickly. A pool filled with 30 naked boys of all ages and their dads was considered totally normal.

Some of my fondest memories are of one of our parents dropping a car load of us boys off at the Y on Saturday morning with nothing more than a towel and a dollar for lunch and snacks. We would stay the better part of the day in the pool or gym after our swim lesson.

I can also mention that in school, we were REQUIRED to take a full shower after every PE class. If you got caught skipping your shower you got detention. In those days boys learned to relax in the the presence of other naked boys of all shapes and sizes and thought little of it. You were only really in a rush if you had already dawdled and had to get to class.

Our fathers and other male family members had mostly served in the military during World War II so they fully accepted communal male nudity.

Also, many families had moved from farms in to the city for jobs after the war. My grandparents lived on a small farm in southern Illinois. The cousins, uncles and dads ALWAYS swam in the pond or creek nude. If you had suggested you were going to spend money on clothes to get wet they would have thought you addled. Now the schools don't require communal showering or nude swimming. The result is boys taking "selfies" of their bodies and posting them on the internet.

I think we were more accepting of not only our own bodies but those of others before they merged the Y's and became slightly hysterical bout body parts.

One last note. I have several friends who were raised the same time in Chicago and attended both Catholic and/or public schools. Large schools that had indoor pools. They have all confirmed that nude swimming for males was NOT a matter of choice. No suits, period unless you were on the seim team and in a competiton.

Comments by Old Fogey on 7th March 2015  

With reference to Curious and his questions about compulsory nude swimming, research I have done suggests that this practice was at one time almost universal, gradually becoming less frequent from the 1960's, and disappearing completely only in the early 1980's, but by then it was very rare indeed.

Winston Churchill records in his autobiography that he and all other boys swam naked at Harrow. At Bedford School nude swimming was compulsory up to the early 1960's but had ended by the time I went there in the 1970's, although I myself saw an old copy of the swimming pool rules which stated that the wearing of swimming trunks was a privilege restricted to sixth formers.

I have friends who are a few years younger than me who swam naked at their respective schools: Newcastle Royal Grammar and Berkhamstead, though both told me the practice was discontinued during their time there. One of them left Berkhamstead in about 1986 and it seems that compulsory nude swimming persisted into the early 1980's, which is unusually late. I think at Berkhamstead it was compulsory for boys of all ages but at Newcastle, as at Bedford in an earlier period, it was only compulsory for junior boys.

I have a friend who attended a Blue Coat school (I think Cheshunt or somewhere like that) who said nude swimming was compulsory for all boys of all ages, but he was there in the 1950's. He told me that no-one thought there was anything odd or unusual about it, and he cannot remember anyone being teased, or being in any way embarrassed; but this was not the experience of my friends in the 1970's and 1980's, for by then they were conscious that they were participating in an archaic tradition.

Manchester Royal Grammar had compulsory nude swimming to quite a late period as well - I think into the early 1980's - so it may have been the last school to abandon what was, 100 years ago, a near universal practice. Summerhill is I think a special case, being an ultra trendy alternative sort of school where nude swimming was (and technically still is) optional, never compulsory, and also mixed - a very different type of place to all the others I have mentioned.

Comments by Tt on 5th March 2015  

Military school in Asia



Comments by Matthew on 28th February 2015  

To "Curious", I did not attend such a school but here is a named reference to a school where it was practiced.


Comments by Curious on 28th February 2015  

Edward and Matthew, can you name the schools which you were in which had this practice?
I don't think this would be a problem since it was so long ago and thousands of pupils must have gone to those schools.
When did this practice stop, if it did?
Can you produce some document or verification from your school or its website, or any other school official website, to confirm that this was the rule at the time?

Another poster gave a link to the old pupils site of the school he went to where he claims that both boys and girls swam nude together as normal. There is all mention of every trivial thing that happened there in their days by these old pupils, but none mention anything about nude swimming.

So if it was so widespread as some claim why is there no verifiable mention of it anywhere, at least that I know of?

Comments by Matthew on 28th February 2015  

To 'Curious". I would suspect that in the case of schools where naked swimming was the practice, maybe the uniform lists didn't mention trunks. It is also quite possible that new intake pupils were aware of what to expect from having friends or family already at the school.

Comments by Curious on 28th February 2015  

Matthew,doing PE in only shorts is one thing, but made to swim nude as school rules is quite another.

Are there any documents which show in the school rules that boys must swim in the nude?

Such rules would obviously be public, since parents and prospective parents would have to be notified about it, among the other rules concerning uniform and others, and thus nothing secret about it.

Comments by Edward on 28th February 2015  

In reply to 'curious' concerning nude swimming which was mandatory. As Matthew said, if a boy defiantly wore trunks, he would be ridiculed by his classmates, as I was, and so I joined the others naked, as vehemently instructed by the PE master. One did as one was told in the 1950's. I would have been disciplined had I not complied. Everyone just had to get on with it, like it or not.

Comments by Matthew on 26th February 2015  

To "Curious", the lack of newspaper articles is no doubt due to the fact that the practice was fairly widespread and those who were subjected to it had to just accept it.
If any boy got his parents to insist that he had to wear trunks and the school agreed to it, that boy would have been ridiculed by his peers. In my school, PE was done wearing only shorts. I remember that a boy wore a vest one day and it appeared that his parents had insisted that he should wear one. He was subjected to such an amount of mockery that he soon ditched the vest.

Comments by Michael on 25th February 2015  

In my school gym every piece of apparatus seemed specifically designed to offer the maximum degree of hazard. I was terrified of climbing those ropes and having to risk breaking my neck somersaulting over the vaulting horse, yet I had to do it.

The teacher was a humourless bully, and any hesitation in following his commands, or failure to perform to his expectations, was painfully punished.

Adding in the perishing cold of the place and our scant clothing, the school gym was nothing more than a torture chamber so far as I was concerned. The dank changing rooms and communal, often freezing showers afterwards, contributed the final touch of misery.

Years of this experience three times a week, put me off any kind of sport in later life.

Comments by Curious on 25th February 2015  

Are there any pictures or reliable newspaper articles which show the evidence of nude swimming in British schools?
The only evidence I have seen from reliable newspaper articles, though without any pictures, are about Manchester Grammar school and Summerhill, which was a unique liberal school.
There are many such accounts on blogs and forums, where one can say what they like, so not that much reliable.

If this practice of nude swimming in schools was so widespread, as many claim here, why are there no reliable articles or mention of it during that time?

Comments by James on 19th February 2015  

Another memory from that picture......the climbing ropes.
For the first few sessions on the gym I was terrified of the ropes. Everyone else seemed to be able to climb them, I couldn't get more than a foot off the ground! We had to do circuits of the equipment....I couldn't do the ropes.
One day when, for some reason there were very few of us in the gym and little pressure, I decided to give it my best shot. Suddenly I got the knack, up I went to the top and then froze. They had to send helpers up the wall bars to coax me down! I never managed it again.

Comments by Bill on 14th February 2015  

"Surely there is no nude swimming in schools these days."

Matthew, I am also curious about this, though seems unlikely.
But mandatory group showers still seem to be a rule in some schools.

About Rick's post, I find it plausible that some schools had mandatory nude swimming, but I never heard of mandatory chastity belts for boys in schools that he mentions. He must have gone to a very special school if that was the case.

Comments by James on 14th February 2015  

I doubt it very much, or there would be a lot of court cases etc.
I certainly remember the woollen trunks at the sea side in my earlier years.
Starting off ok when dry but uncontrollably droopy when wet.

Comments by Bryan on 13th February 2015  

Matthew I agree with your last comments,implausible.

Edawrd, interesting reference to woollen swimming trunks. I remember them all itchy & scratchy. On summer holidays I used to be envious of boys I saw wearing the synthetic material trunks and was so happy when woollen ones were no longer available and I got a pair of "speedo type" tunks, which in turn seem to have gone out of fashion with youngsters opting for board shorts that cling to the legs.

Surely there is no nude swimming in schools these days.

Comments by Matthew on 8th February 2015  

My comment "Implausible" posted on 7th February, referred to Rick's posting.

Comments by Edward on 8th February 2015  

Following upon my earlier comments about swimming at school. In the early 1950's, I attended a devoutly Christian boy's school in southern England.

At assembly, the Headmaster,an ex Naval officer, announced 'No one will wear bathing suits this term', which created much murmuring amongst the boys. I was appalled, since the first swim session was only two weeks away. In fact, I was extremely apprehensive. Needless to say, this bombshell was not greeted with much enthusiasm, and most boys said that they would continue to wear woollen trunks.

The swimming class soon came around and I perversely resolved to keep my trunks on, whilst all the other 15 or so boys in the class capitulated. Obviously, I was the one soon noticed by the supervising master, before I had even entered the water. He shouted at me to take my trunks off, and reluctantly I had to remove them. I was now unashamedly nude, along with my fellow classmates. Trunks would never be worn again by any boy for normal school swim classes.

On that first day of this new swimming regime, I walked to the footbath, then back to wait dutifully in line, to be told when and where to enter the pool. It felt strange, wearing nothing at all, and decidely airy, with the whole class displaying their bareness. No place for shyness here. It was not on the agenda.

I entered the water. Since I was unable to swim, I stayed at the shallow end. My lack of ability soon became evident, and subsequently, I was put in a swimming class of three. One afternoon, myself, and the other two non swimmers went to the indoor pool, where the instructor was waiting, wearing swimming shorts. We boys stripped at the poolside, and stood there in our birthday suits, rather self consciously. I was the first to be directed to balance precariously, face down, upon a wooden contraption, in order to practice breast strokes. This was humiliating, since I was trying to protect myself, whilst unavoidably exposing my backside. The other two boys laughed at my predicament. Soon it would be their turn. Later, I put on a harness of sorts, which was to be supported by the instructor, and having started at the deep end, I somehow managed to swim to the other end. I have been able to swim, albeit poorly, ever since. The regular swim sessions were followed by showering in open stalls.

Even after many such swims, it still seemed odd, I suppose that I eventually became used to it, and I rather enjoyed the feeling of freedom it gave. No excused would have been contemplated anyway.

It seems that the practice of naked swimming was quite widespread in boy's private schools in the 1950's. Why this was so, I do not know ?

Comments by Matthew on 7th February 2015  


Comments by rick on 6th February 2015  rockisland244@gmail.com 

i was sent to an exclusive boys boarding school where there were only 3 years 14-16 with only 12 boys in each year.
the new years intake the 14 yr olds had to assemble in the canteen and strip naked and put our folded clothes in front of us.we were taken 3 at a time into an adjoining room which was set up like a hospital room with 3 beds and 3 nurses present.we each had to lie on a bed where a nurse would shave our pubes off. we were then each fitted with a chastity device,these were taken off once a week for cleaning and any new shaving.
we were told that our parents had agreed to this,and we found this to be true,because when we went home at holiday times we were sent home with them on and being told that a key had been posted home to our parents.
it was humiliating being controlled like this,both at school and at home.

Comments by Matthew on 6th February 2015  

PE stripped to the waist, naked swimming, communal showers, brutal punishments - there is ample evidence on this site that some if not all of these formed part of our experience in school days. However, I find Bob's account implausible.

Comments by Bryan on 5th February 2015  

Having read the many comments re PE and shorts, it is apparent that generally there was a uniformity expected about pe kit in most schools. Furthermore, I expect most schools had a unifrom and strictly enforced it. But did any school go as far as mine whereby,boys were told "not to wear" the string type singlets that were fashionable in the 60s/70s because they were visible underneath our white shirts. No mention was made of course about wearing string briefs because they obviously were not visible.

Was this type of underwear generally worn?

Comments by Bob on 5th February 2015  

I went to a Northern School in the 60's. Early on in my secondary shool days I remember one unpleasant day for me.
One day due to emergency repairs being required, all our year's three classes had to be sent out of the building.
We were sent across the road to a neighbouring secondary school. The gym (or hall?) had no windows that could be looked through from outside. Of course many of the boys had no PE kit with them as they were not expecting this event.
We were told that in this school it was the norm for boys to do PE naked. Perhaps this was true, I do not know. On this day we were to be combined with pupils from the other school, so there was a large number of us. I saw with alarm that some of the more extrovert boys from our school had dashed naked across the street to the school opposite. Reluctantly, a group of us went and joined them as instructed wearing just our PE shorts. On entering the hall I was horrified to be told that we were to take off our shorts and leave them in a neat pile by the door, which we did. We were informed that this was to make everyone appear the same, regardless of wether they had the correct kit or not. I recall there was an hour or two of excercises, mostly sitting or lying on the hard wooden floor, and sometimes dashing about the hall, still naked. When we were eventually allowed back into our own building, we had to sort through the pile of white PE shorts to find our own pair before returning over the road. I do not think activity happened more than once or twice, thankfully.

Comments by James on 5th February 2015  

Yes. Cold house was the norm.
My parents managed to rent a house with two sitting rooms when i was about one year old when they left their first flat which was over a shop.
They had no money to furnish the front room and it stayed completely empty for a number of years. Every Sunday their two arm chairs, a small square table and the mains table radio were moved into that room and after Sunday lunch and we spent the afternoon and evening in there. After I went to bed, the furniture and the "wirless" were moved back to the back room and we spent the rest of the week there.
This was still going on when I was about seven and they got their first tv. That was moved into the front room on Sundays but they had managed to buy a there piece suite by then.
We had a coal fire in one room only (front room on Sundays!) and the paraffin heater in the hall. It had to heat the hall, stairs bathroom and three bedrooms! Ice on the windows and no loft insulation. My bedside table was a wooden orange crate.
One memorable event was the purchase of a single bar electric fire which went on the landing on really cold nights and in the bathroom with a long taped-up flex and a big two-pin plug (!!!!) on bath night to stop the icicles forming!
(I know this belongs in the house and home section, but previous comments here brought it all to mind. I might copy it across.)

Comments by Andrea on 4th February 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

The comments about conditions at home in winter time certainly brought back a few chilly memories!
Another couple of things I remember about the winters are the smell of the small paraffin heater used in our downstairs toilet to stop the pipes freezing overnight and also that occasionally if milk bottles were left outside too long the milk would sometimes freeze and 'pop' the foil cap on the bottle.

On a more general note, I remember my younger sister and I having to use the same bathwater to save heating another tankful. I used to think it unfair that she always got to have first go. Mind you she would probably say that it evened things up for the fact that quite often she had to wear clothes I had outgrown!

I can also remember how popular one of my friends suddenly became when her parents were the first in our street to get a colour TV!

Comments by Anon too on 3rd February 2015  

Well Rob, regarding your comments, I think I understand what the teacher was trying to do to prevent futher tomfoolery. Was it effective? The thought of being "invited" to touch another boy seems odd, something that would not happen nowadays. But of course this would have been a completely different era. Was it the 50's or 60's?

Comments by Edward on 2nd February 2015  

In reply to Bill. Nude swimming was a shock at first, but one reluctantly had to get used to it, and it continued until leaving school.No excuse was tolerated. Supervision was by male teachers. In any competitions, if the competing school wore trunks, then we would wear trunks also. Inter house school competitions would be strictly without trunks.

Comments by Bob on 2nd February 2015  

I recall that during PE in the gym boys would often grab at each others shorts and pull them down if they thought no one was looking. I was often picked on, and slapped or kicked in the crotch, maybe because I was an early developer in that area.

The PE teacher evidently decided we were taking too much notice of other boys' masculinity. One day we were formed into groups of ten or so, and made to stand shoulder to shoulder in a circle. He told us to lower our shorts to our knees and study each others genitalia. I resisted initially but had to comply, no doubt with a red face. We were then invited to touch the boy to our right. All this was apparently intended to make us feel less embarrassed about our naked bodies in future, enabling us to concentrate on the physical excercises and sporting activities.

Comments by Bill on 1st February 2015  

Edward, what was the compulsary nude swimming like and up to what age?
Did you ever have female spectators like teachers or school staff or swimming galas?
From what several posters on this forum and other sites say this custom of compulsary nude swimming for boys seems to have been more common and widespread than I thought.
It also seems to have been more common in the north of England and the Midlands. I lived in the south, in the London area and didn't know of any schools which had this practice. Maybe it was more common in private schools. Most public schools didn't have a pool anyway.
I wonder if there are still any schools which still have this practice of compulsary nude swimming.

Comments by Michael on 1st February 2015  

Regarding the spartan conditions at school endured by most pupils 50 or 60 years ago, it is worth remembering that in those times our homes were pretty uncomfortable too, by modern standards.

With no central heating, my home had only the main living room that was heated, from a coal fire, in Winter. Every other room, apart from occasionally the kitchen, was virtually a 'no-go' area owing to the bitter cold.

Each Winter evening my family gathered around the hearth in the living room, listening to the radio or watching the flickering 12" black & white TV screen. I would be doing my homework seated at the table at the other side of the room, but taking my time because I was usually sent to bed as soon as I had finished it.

Bedrooms were only used for sleeping in. Windows were large and single glazed and the lucky ones took a hot water bottle to bed to warm up the icy cold sheets. By morning the whole house was freezing cold with frosty 'fern patterns' on the insides of bedroom windows.

We expected nothing else during Winter and were well accustomed to those conditions, so we didn't feel disadvantaged. Complaints were rare and ignored anyway.

Comments by Edward on 1st February 2015  

No comment about the transparency of shorts would have arisen at the all boys school that I attended many decades ago now, since swimming naked was compulsory, as were communal showers. There was also a strictly enforced no underpants rule for all sports, all unquestioned at the time.

Comments by John on 1st February 2015  

We had lengthy cross country runs with the route taking us through villages,lanes and main roads.
I do recall some rude comments being made and also some tooting of car horns.This led further to our embarrassment and humiliation when having to wear our almost transparent shorts.
Ironically we were told to behave and treat people with respect when out of school grounds and not to bring disgrace on the school.

Comments by James on 31st January 2015  

Actually I really don't remember any comments but it was on the edge of the town so there was only a short bit housing to run past. The rest was woodland and rural roads.
Although I say run, I was more likely to be wondering along taking short cuts!

Comments by Bill on 31st January 2015  

James, did you ever get comments from the public or passers by when you had to go through town streets on country runs in just those skimpy transparent shorts that you mention?

Fortunately at my school we wore the older type thicker material shorts and vests for PE, and we never went for cross country runs.

Comments by John on 30th January 2015  

It wasn't just the material that I found the shorts unsuitable but the way they were cut into very skimpy shorts.
I certainly didn't turn my shorts up as others have said but I was forever trying to pull them down slightly.

Comments by Andrea on 29th January 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

The comments by James regarding the embarrassment / discomfort felt by his 'early developer' classmate and the teasing by his friends had it's parallels for some girls too. Although I remained flat chested until after I had left Primary School, a few of my classmates started to 'develop' during our last year there. Of course it was during PE that this was most noticeable. If they hadn't yet started to wear a bra, then the movement became evident (and commented on) and if they had, the outline could be seen underneath their T shirts, leading to teasing and occasional strap twanging from some of the more annoying boys!

The comment from Tim regarding rolling the waistband over to make his shorts shorter also had it's parallels, with some girls doing this with their skirts!

Comments by Tim on 29th January 2015  

Well thought out comments from James, especially the one that 'The shorts went almost totally transparent but we just seemed to assume that's the way it was and not take any notice.'

Starting my Grammar School in 1960 my gym shorts were white, quite baggy and with just a single strand of elastic at the waist (not elasticated). Built to last, rather than for style, they lasted several years. By the mid 60s shorts were becoming (a lot) shorter and those of us still left with longer ones found ourselves rolling the waist over a couple of times to make them shorter - a thing which some youngsters are now doing with their longer shorts.

Eventually they wore out and I got some white cotton shorts by Umbro.

Comments by John on 29th January 2015  

I remember wearing those shorts similar to the ones you described for the first time.We were only allowed three minutes to change so I had no time to dawdle but what alarmed was one of the boys who had who had slipped his skimpy shorts on was that his buttocks were clearly outlined through the translucent material.I thought surely we wouldn't have to go out wearing these shorts but I was mistaken we had to go on a cross country run.
We certainly weren't allowed to wear any underwear under the shorts and would have clearly been seen through the thin material or would have protruded below the hem.
They were certainly more transparent when wet but on a cold winter's day I was so cold wearing them I thought I would freeze.

Comments by James on 28th January 2015  

I attended an all boys grammar school in the midlands in the mid 60's. I well remember the scenes set in these comments. The photo looks very similar to our gym lessons.
We had to wear the almost transparent white nylon shorts and we were ordered not to wear underpants. Shirts and skins was the norm for any activity in the gym. Showers were compulsory and we had to go into the communal shower naked.
We were lucky enough to have a pool and it was quite common after a PE session in the gym to have a shower, put our shorts back on and then go into the pool. The shorts went almost totally transparent but we just seemed to assume that's the way it was and not take any notice.
The first time I can remember this being a problem for any of us was one friend who was obviously an early developer started to have problems with hanging out of his shorts. He was embarrassed and of course the rest of us made a huge joke of it, not thinking it would become a problem for us in time!
I remember one day at the beginning of the lesson, the PE teacher sat us down in the changing rooms and talked to us about growing up and that if we felt uncomfortable in just our shorts, we should get jockstraps like the older boys, and in any case we would need them if we were going to play rugby. He had them on sale at school if we wanted to buy them.
Few of us knew what a jockstrap was but as the changing rooms were a shortcut to one part of the school we started to notice older boys getting changed and worked out what they were. Those with older brothers also knew already.
From then on, they started to appear at changing time and, of course they were plainly visible through the almost transparent shorts, especially when we went on to swimming after pe. Often the waistband showed above and the leg straps showed below but, to us, that was a sign of being one of the older boys.
Coming from a family with no older brothers, I had never talked about such things with my parents and they were not at all sporty. I couldn't imagine asking them to get to buy me a jockstrap so I summoned the courage to go and buy one at school. I just remember feeling like one of the big boys and never worried about it showing through the shorts. Like a lot of the others we washed them in the showers and kept them in our lockers.
I was never over sporty so didn't get onto the major teams but we did have to do "cross country running" which took us through the woods but also along public roads. An interesting sight for some passers by, I expect, on a wet day when things had gone particularly transparent!

Comments by Harry on 27th January 2015  

We boys were made to stand in a line shoulder to shoulder. We were told to look at the wall bars opposite. The PE teacher would then walk in front of us, pausing to pull the shorts to the side, then proceed to the next one. The penalty for not looking at the wall bars was never disclosed but we were told it would be severe.
There were no showers in the changing rooms.
Is there any interest in punishments dealt out by other sadists? Sorry, I meant teachers at that school.

Comments by Anon too on 27th January 2015  

As Speedy writes, it almost beggars belief what Harry wrote, although it was a different era. I know from my schooldays in the mid 60's punishment was severe compared to today, (including the cane across the hand as punishment for misbehaving in other lessons) but you did not go home & complain because to do so incurred the wrath of your parents which was worse. Some boys took the option of the cane rather than stay behind in detention so that their parents did not know that they had been punished. Teachers were to be obeyed end of.

As for checking for pants. How did he do that? That does seem a step to far even in those days. The nearest we came to being checked was the threat at our first pe lesson by the teacher that he would pick a boy at random to bend over. We wore thin white shorts so any pants would be visible so there was no opportunity to flout the rule. The same teacher threatened that if one boy was caught wearing pants the whole class would be get the slipper. That threat was enough.

Comments by Speedy on 26th January 2015  

Interesting comments Harry.What you describe almost beggars belief.But,as you say,it was the 1950s - it was a different world back then.

I almost hesitate to ask what the arrangements were (if any) for showering at the end of your PE lessons.

Comments by Harry on 25th January 2015  

I went to an all boys school in the late 50s. PE was done in shorts and plimsolls only. The gym master checked to ensure we were not wearing undies. The penalty was to take your undies off in front of every one or receive a slippering. Slipperings were dealt out for being last in a race or otherwise under performing. Slipperings were given at the end of lessons. Plimsolls were removed so that he had something to hit you with, and shorts were removed so that he was not wasting his effort getting through clothing.
A pupil was made to bend over a vaulting block and put his feet into the hand holes of the vaulting block so his legs were apart. That is if the pupil was lucky. The alternative position was the diaper position on top of the vaulting block. I will leave to your imagination where he put a hand to give you protection. But this was the late 1950s.

Comments by Alexander on 19th January 2015  

Re Bill's comment, I recall doing PE just in underwear in a mixed sex infants school 1967-69. This was only in the Infants School, however (ages 5-7); after that we moved along to the Primary school (on the same site) and although my recollection of gym there is a bit hazy, I am pretty sure that we had to wear more than just underpants.

At age 11 I went to an all boys Prep school, and there we had to wear a similar uniform to the one shown here - white nylon shorts with underpants strictly forbidden, plimsolls and white socks, and white cotton vests. For some activities we removed the plimsolls, socks and vests (but never the shorts, thank goodness!)

Comments by John on 19th January 2015  

Mark,my mother would only resort to using corporal punishment only if we misbehaved,were disobedient or did badly with our exams but perversely we were made to wear shorts for her own amusement and gratification.

Comments by Bill on 19th January 2015  

For PE we always wore white shorts and white teeshirt, both in primary and secondary for both boys and girls.
However I did read that in some primary schools PE was done in just underpants for both boys and girls. How common was this? Did anyone here have this practice at their school?

Also, was it common practice in secondary schools for boys and girls to do PE separately or mixed?
Is the picture on this page from a boys only school, or did the boys have separate PE classes from the girls?