Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 655,027         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 Bill on 2nd November 2014  

Simon, did you get used to having viewers and female teachers at the pool, or was it a constant embarrassment and humiliation?
I guess the fun of swimming at that age would have counteracted some of this.
I wish we had a pool at our school, though I don't know how I would have reacted to nude swimming in the presence of spectators. I suppose it would have been mortifying at first until one got gradually used to it.
I think starting at a very young age would have helped.
Having to swim nude in front of viewers close to the age of 14 as in your case, when most boys would be into puberty with some hair is a bit far I think.

When you mention viewers and spectators, were these school staff or other guests or the public?
Were you allowed to wear trunks when there were spectators, as in galas and competitions?

Comments by Simon on 2nd November 2014  

We were allowed to wear our swimming trunks and long trousers at the start of the new term in September.
I would have been about 14 and 1/2.

Comments by Andrea on 2nd November 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Did the change to wearing long trousers and being allowed to wear swimming trunks coincide with the start of a new school year?

At my secondary school we had to wear 'gymslip' style dresses for our first two years, but from the third year the uniform was a skirt and blouse?

Similarly my ex told me that at his school the 'no underpants' rule applied in pe for the first two years, after which they were supposed to wear athletic supporters. He said that this seemed rather random as some boys could have done with them earlier, whilst others didn't really need them at that point!

Comments by Simon on 1st November 2014  

Bill,we were allowed to wear swimming trunks when we were about fourteen depending on what date our birthdays were about the same time we were promoted to wearing long trousers.
Yes,we were viewed by onlookers passing the pool but we also had a large window above the pool in a viewing gallery where we could watched without the spectators being disturbed.
Our privacy was hardly a matter of paramount importance especially as we were supervised by one male teacher and two females.
To answer your question about canings I remember two boys holding me under the water for a while to see how long I could hold my breath.
They were duly taken out of the pool and received summary punishment with cane by one of the female teachers which left vivid marks on their buttocks.

Comments by Bill on 1st November 2014  

James, did she cane you herself?
Were there ever punishments in the swim class?

Simon, did you actually ever have viewers through the clear glass area?
Up to what age were you forced to be nude for swim class?

Comments by Simon on 31st October 2014  

In reply to peterc,I did swim naked and definitely would have preferred to have worn trunks but that was not allowed for some reason.
Although our changing area and showers had frosted glass we were far from being concealed in the pool that had large clear windows that allowed anyone to view us if they so wished.
In reply to Bill of course there was teasing but that was mainly if a boy had received a recent caning and the marks were still visible.

Comments by James on 31st October 2014  

I do think the teachers were trying to humiliate the boys by calling them out. The one time i was called out was when i had missed a detention through no fault of my own. The female teacher was not interested in excuses. She was furious and nearly exploded. I got the cane as a result.

Comments by Matthew on 31st October 2014  

To Bill. I took it to mean that the boys teased those who had to get out of the pool to be spoken to by these young women. There would have been plenty of other opportunities to find any boy in the school. It seems to me that it was quite deliberate on the part of these women to choose to find a boy in that situation.

Comments by Bill on 30th October 2014  

James, you said "I remember a lot of teasing with some of the younger good looking female teachers who came in and we had to get out of the pool to speak to them without towel."
In what way did they tease you?
Like the previous poster I am curious to know if these female teachers just found an excuse to have a look at the boys and embarrass them, at least the ones they chose to talk to.
Were you ever called out of the pool by one of these young female teachers, what did she say to you to tease you?

Comments by James on 30th October 2014  

Matthew, i remember often being interrupted in swimming and pe lessons by other teachers popping in to speak to individuals, quite often as detentions had been missed that was a serious issue.

Comments by Matthew on 29th October 2014  

To James. What was so urgent that good-looking young female teachers had to come into the pool area to speak to naked boys who had to get out of the pool to hear what they had to say?

Comments by James on 29th October 2014  

I am curious to know if schoolboys wore short trousers like myself at secondary school where shorts were optional.
My mum who used to buy our short trousers found mistakenly the legs of them too long shortened them and hemmed them again up to about 3cms from the crotch so that when I sat all my thighs were on display.
There was no problem in the first year of school but as I entered my second year the length of my short trousers remained almost the same and as I was showing more and more flesh much to the bewilderment of the onlookers.
It never dawned on mum that I had grown up and although I looked younger than my age these short trousers were obviously too short and not fitting for my age.
It took me three or four months to feel comfortable and be accepted in such short pants at the beginning of the year.
I had the jitters and felt extremely nervous every morning I got dressed in these short trousers.
I can tell you I had difficulty to sustain the bland stare of the teachers and the other students especially the younger ones sometimes with their chuckles and mockeries which were hurting me deeply.

Comments by James on 28th October 2014  

Bill, boys were up to 13. I remember a lot of teasing with some of the younger good looking female teachers who came in and we had to get out of the pool to speak to them without towell. The main females didn't worry us as they had often seen us in the nude, ie matron. Parents could sometimes watch the house galas and some did. All god fun

Comments by Bill on 27th October 2014  

James, up to what age were the boys?
I assume being a prep school the boys were not in their teens yet.
I find it strange that the boys were embarrassed if a female teacher came into the pool area during swim class though the house galas were done in the nude, which I assume had mixed spectators present.
Were there any females, like mothers, sisters or teachers present during the nude house galas?
What about inter-school competitions, were these also done in the nude?

Comments by James on 20th October 2014  

I attended as a boarded quite a traditional all boys prep school in the early 70's. Swimming at all my time there was done naked and when parents were being shown round we just got in the pool. House galas were all done naked but we did have to wear hats to show our house colours. We never thought anything about it and was never an issue. Sometimes female teachers would come in the pool area if they needed to speak to someone. Always embarrasing if you had to get out and always got a lot of teasing if it was the nice french teacher

Comments by Toby on 19th October 2014  

Bill, sometimes there were female staff present but these were confined to sports teachers, matrons or house mistresses. We did not bat an eye lid if they were in the pool area as they had seen us nude before and it did not matter to us.If other females turned up however we would get covered up pretty quickly. As a boarder there was not much privacy and we were used to it. My housemaster always used to say the boarders were were much less inhibited than day boys

Comments by Bill on 19th October 2014  

Toby, did you also have to swim nude when there were female staff, teachers or other females present?
What about swimming galas and competitions, were you allowed to wear trunks?
How did the boys feel about the nude swim rules, did it bother them?

Comments by Robert on 18th October 2014  

Both long and short grey flannels were permitted at my secondary school. Shorts were in the minority, but I had to wear mine until they were worn out, because they were nearly new when I moved schools, and my parents said they were not well off enough to just waste good clothes. I couldn't wait to get rid of them, and gave them really rough treatment. They lasted only a couple of months!

Comments by Paul on 18th October 2014  

In reply to Gary I was aware that some parents and schools used the height of a boy as a criteria whether to promote him to wearing long trousers.
As in my case this was done by my age and I thought this was much fairer as a boy may not have reached the desired height usually 5'3" by the time he had left school.
Most boys would have found it amusing to see boys wearing short trousers as they were really meant for junior boys so for a big teen to be wearing those would have been shocking and some might thought it sissy as the peer thinking was that if you were already in high school then they should have been in long trousers.
I guess it depended on the kind of short trousers too and brief tight fitting shorts I considered totally unsuitable for a teenage boy to have to wear.

Comments by Paul on 17th October 2014  

What I meant to say was two teenage boys entered the waiting room with their mother.

Comments by peterc on 17th October 2014  

Shane, my school was very similar to your's. Not many boys did pe in just underpants but when they did - I didn't - it wasn't seen as a big deal. The problem with forgotten kit was showers and the need to share someone else's towel, or drip dry. Simon - did you have to swim naked or would you have been bothered if you had to?

Comments by Gary on 17th October 2014  

Of course my previous message should have read as not tall enough to wear longs. I do not suppose nude bathing would be allowed these days. At primary School PE was for boys in their normal grey school shorts and vest (singlet design which everybody wore all year) and for girls vest & knickers. They had to remove their dress or skirt because girls did not wear trousers those days (up to the year 1961)

Comments by Andrea on 16th October 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

In general I agree with Bill that we were far less self-conscious about what we wore or didn't wear for PE in primary school.
Certainly our primary school didn't have changing rooms so the boys would be one side of the classroom and girls on the other, with no screens or anything between the two.

There was always a teacher on hand to ensure that there was no silliness and in our final year a few girls who had started to wear bras rather than vests were allowed to change separately in the toilets.

I also agree with Gary that things like the no underpants rule couldn't be enforced nowadays. When my son was at high school he just used to wear his normal underwear under his shorts.

Comments by Toby on 16th October 2014  

When i was at prep school, we did pe in just shorts and always swan naked. As a boarder, we often used the pool at weekends and were always naked although the older boys could wear trunks if they wanted. Always felt odd when at home had to wear trunks for swimming

Comments by Gary on 16th October 2014  

I must agree with you Bill I would be embarrassed if I had to appear in public at a swimming gala naked. Especially if other boys sisters were allowed to attend. Perhaps it was mums & dads only.

Re the comments on long trousers, I wore shorts until I was 13 as did many boys. In my case mainly because I was considered by my dad to be tall enough for longs. The shorts were by today's fashion really short & tight. Well above the knee. No saggy waistline showing your pants as most wore tight white briefs. How fashions have changed.

I must admit that when I was eventually bought some longs I really felt that I had grown up and was "now a young man"

Comments by Paul on 15th October 2014  

In reply to Andrea stating that most boys wore long trousers reminded me of when I attended the dentists during my school days.
While waiting for my appointment two teenage boys entered the waiting wearing their school uniform with their mother.
What intrigued me was that both boys were wearing short trousers and they both looked perfectly comfortable wearing them and left an impression on me.
They were wearing a small boy's clothes but looked really stunning and sharp in them.
The shorts they wore were also not baggy but were really shockingly short -above the knee and maybe around mid thigh.
It was fascinating to know that these boys had to wear such a uniform and I guess they thought nothing of it and I liked how they got naturally tanned and toned legs and could show them off.
It was like their uniform was your typical high school uniform from the waist up and the only difference being instead of long trousers these were replaced by short trousers and knee socks.

Comments by Simon on 13th October 2014  

In reply to Bill,I'm sure most boys would have preferred to have worn swimming trunks,me included,rather than suffering the embarrassment of appearing naked for their swims.

Comments by Gary on 13th October 2014  

Shane, what years were you at school. Were there many occasions when boys forgot their pe kit, or was the possibility of doing pe in pants a big enough deterrent? I am sure the underpants rule would not be applied today.

Comments by Shane on 12th October 2014  

I went to an all boys school, all boys did PE in their bare chest and bare feet, white shorts and no underpants. If you forgot your shorts, you had to do it in your underpants, this was for all boys from 11 to 16. Our gym teacher insisted that all boys had to have naked bare chest and naked bare feet when doing PE, there were about 40 boys to a class.

Comments by Bill on 12th October 2014  

I don't think it bothered us back then what we wore or didn't wear for PE in primary school.
We even changed in class in front of each other for PE. Like someone else said it was more innocent time than it is today.
The body self-consciousness would only come later in secondary school.
Like Phil mentioned at his school, I had several friends who went to a boarding school with a pool where the junior boys, up to age 11 or so, had to be nude for swimming class. They even had female instructors up to that age for swimming.
I don't think anybody, including parents, made a fuss or bothered about this in those days.
Some earlier posters even mentioned that the boys also participated nude during swimming galas and competitions in front of parents and guests and school staff and teachers.
I don't know how common this was, but maybe someone who experienced this, or knows about it, can tell us more.

Comments by Andrea on 5th October 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

In response to the question from Another Person Named Phil, when my son was at High School(he left 4 years ago)his pe shorts were long and quite baggy.
When we were first married, I can remember my ex wearing white nylon shorts for football. As you say, they didn't leave much to the imagination when they got wet (although he did wear a jockstrap under his).

With regard to skinny-dipping as children, when I was with my mum and dad I always had to wear a swimming costume. However occasionally when I was playing with some of the local children in the summer, we would sometimes splash about in a shallow river in just our pants! I did that up to leaving primary school at 11, but by the following summer I had to make sure I was wearing a swimsuit top!

Comments by Another person named Phil on 1st October 2014  

James, I am sure that the TB queue was mortifying for you. As you say fashion and also for us school rules dictated the type of shorts worn.

Our school swimming lessons were in a public pool (although hired exclusively for us) so at least we wore swimming trunks for those lessons unlike many who have contributed saying they were not allowed to were anything in the pool.

Comments by James on 27th September 2014  

In reply to Phil,it was the early seventies,1971 to 1976 and we were co-ed but PE and games were fortunately separate.
I do agree the shorts in the photo were more substantial but he type of shorts that I described were quite fashionable at that time.
I remember being called in from my sporting activities to receive my TB inoculation without any time to change and had to queue in front of girls whilst I became the object of fun and ridicule.

Comments by Another person maned Phil on 26th September 2014  

In reply to James, what years are you referring to. My secondary schooling was 1961 to 1966. Boys only so I do not think we were worried about wearing minimal clothing. Was your school co-ed, if so I presume pe was boys only.

Reading the about the flimsy shorts, brings back memories for me.White light thin nylon with slits, with the same shorts being worn outdoors. If it was raining, then we might as well have been wearing nothing!!

The shorts worn by the boys in the photo, look more substantial and slightly longer, than we wore. However, we put up with what we had to wear, no questions asked. Furthermore, I do not know of parents complaining as I am sure they would these days. Is it long shorts & track suits these days?

Comments by James on 25th September 2014  

Rob,I'm sure you did hate wearing your shorts if they were anything like the ones we used to wear.The shorts were very trim and the thin,white nylon made them translucent.We were not allowed to wear any form of underwear under them and even white briefs would have been clearly visible.They were so light and flimsy I couldn't tell I was wearing anything.Deep side slits made them more impractible and they were held in place by elastic no wider than a rubber band.Hope this helps!

Comments by Bob on 24th September 2014  

I hated the white t-shirts and shorts we wore for Pe when girls could wear coloured tops and black shorts that did not reveal their underwear. If the top was not snow white, boys were made to go topless back in the mid 1980's. We should resolve that state sanctioned child abuse must never happen again.

Comments by Jamie on 21st September 2014  

I had similar experiences. It was never a big deal for me and my friends (up to say 15) to strip off in front of my mum and da or my friends parents. They would often come in when we were having showers etc. However totally different rules for my sisters or girls generally. After rugby, if we were muddy when we got home, we would strip naked in the utility room and tiptoe to the bathroom. No one bothered at all

Comments by Phil on 20th September 2014  

Phil, the family i wnet away with were family friends who had a son my age, approx 12. They were both teachers and pretty strict. It was just normal that we would swim naked where possible, ie in secluded bays. We both did that at school so no big deal. We sometimes went on a yaght and we spent the whole time naked if it was warm enough. Just me and my friend. His parents, like mine, would not have dreamt of going naked. We always were smothered in sun cream so quite careful

Comments by Another person maned Phil on 19th September 2014  

Re your going with a friends family & getting an allover tan, did your parents have no concerns that you were fully exposed in the company of your friend's parents? Or was it a case that in those days people did not worry or have inhibitions?

Comments by Geordie on 19th September 2014  

With reference to Alex & Alan's comments those days of fun and innocence are gone forever. When we went on summer Scout camps in the days when Scouting was for boys, a skinny dip in a nearby river was not uncommon sometimes even when it was raining. (Health & Safety what was that?) Although there were always 2 strong swimmers boys or adults watching from the riverbank. Also being exposed to moderate sun no worries about the lack of Vitamin D.

Comments by Alan on 18th September 2014  

Alex makes the memories flood back. At my prep school we went away to a village in Wales camping every summer. The only female there was the nurse, all others eith boys or masters. We were actively encouraged to strip off nsked for swimming, often in lakes out in the wilds of no where, ie no passers by. A few boys never wore anything the whole time they were there and got great tans. We did wrestling in the evenings and generally in shorts butoften these got wripped off if you were losing. All very acceptable then and it was great fun.

Comments by Alex on 13th September 2014  

Following George and Geordie's reflections on the loss of innocence; I don't know what it's like these days, but years ago boys of a certain age were keen to flex their developing muscles and prove their strength and daring.

In the 70's I took part in a school soccer trip abroad. Everyone was paired off with a friend since we would be sharing rooms; a good job as when we arrived at the 'pension' we found nearly all the rooms had double beds! After the initial objections the situation was seen as a new experience and machismo took over, pyjama tops were for sissies and there was a lot of running around in various states of undress to see what others were wearing. By lights out most of the 28 boys were tucked up in bed with silly grins on their faces and wearing very little. It transpired the next morning that the 15 year old naturist and his friend had slept naked, but since both of them had girl friends and very manly reputations nothing much was thought of it; and some people were rather envious.

On the second night most of the boys had organised a wrestling tournament and were caught happily romping on the beds in pants or pyjama bottoms. Winners from one room fought winners from another until it was time for lights out, the accepted forfeit was for the losers to sleep nude next to the victors.

This entertainment continued the next night; one group of four pushed their two beds together to make a bigger surface and had a naked tournament, inviting those from other rooms to come and fight them in the same state. The master on duty had seen everyone in the showers anyway so no-one was bothered until some boys became 'over stimulated' during their battles.

No damage was caused, nobody was forced to fight, nobody was bullied; it was just seen as fun,- what in those days was called 'horse play' and a part of growing up.

Incidentally, one of the evening meals was a large helping of steak and chips, but it was not until we were on our way home that we were told that the 'steak' had come last in the 3:00pm at the horse race track!

Anybody else remember school trips abroad?

Comments by Geordie on 12th September 2014  

In addition to my last comment & reading those of Phil, I get the impression form the modern day youth that they would not sport an all over tan even if they had one because peer pressure would make them think it was strange to have been outside without any clothes and expose the entire body to sunlight either privately or on a naturist holiday.
Do families still do this & with teen age children?

Comments by Phil on 11th September 2014  

Reading George's comments reminds me of my days at my public boarding school in the late 70's. PE was just shorts and swimming for the first 3 years naked and then optional after that. It was always quite amusing when we did swimming after the summer holiday break. Whilst we had no trunks on, we all had white marks where we had worn our trunks on holiday. A couple of the boys however had all over tans and we were all very jealous. Whilst only young, they did look really fit and healthy. I went on holiday with one of them and his family and i also got one.

Comments by Geordie on 8th September 2014  

Having read the comments by George, I agree that it is a shame that we have lost the age of innocence and freedom. I too recollect that when we were in pe with loose shorts & no pants that we exposed everything. However, we never worried about it we all knew what we have got and we were naked in the changing room & showers(communal of course)

I clearly understand the reluctance of any teacher these days being near students in any state of undress. I wonder if the modern day youth has become too inhibited. It was not so long ago that all public swimming pools had single sex communal changing rooms which now have all disappeared with swimming pools having very small cubicles with hardly any room to change in.

Comments by LN on 7th September 2014  

I attended primary school in the 70's. PE kit included a T-shirt, but randomly at the start of one lesson after I had been there some time, our teacher asked boys to remove shirts. From then on we didn't bother putting them on. I remember being self conscious at first, but soon got over it. After a few lessons which were mixed, some of the girls went bare chested too. In my innocence at that age it was the first time Id seen girls stripped off, but it soon became a normal sight.

Comments by Andrea on 7th September 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

I guess that the equivalent of short trousers for us girls were the 'gymslip' style dresses we had to wear for the first two years of secondary school. Of course as we got towards the end of our second year, our mums didn't really want to buy us new ones as we wouldn't get much wear out of them. Mine still fitted me quite well, but some girls were really starting to outgrow theirs towards the end!

Seeing mention of underwear being banned for 'hygiene' reasons reminds me that we weren't allowed to wear tights with our school uniform for similar reasons. Cycling to school in winter was certainly chilly!

Comments by Paul on 7th September 2014  

I agree with Andrea that most boys wore long trousers at secondary schools but some preparatory schools insisted on a uniform with shorts without using age for the criteria to promote boys into long trousers.
I went through adolescence wearing short trousers when much younger boys were wearing long trousers.

Comments by George on 6th September 2014  

I was at secondary school from 1948 to 1956. We were certainly "deprived" in the sense that we never had swimming lessons because the only facility was the open air baths about a mile away. However, P.E. was done almost completely naked, i.e. in thin elasticated shorts and no top (or even no plimsolls in the gymnasium. Underwear was strictly forbidden for hygiene reasons, and quite frankly, this still seems an eminently sensible idea today. It was a boys' school, so none of us was ever embarrassed. (Most of the boys enjoyed the freedom of the extremely loose shorts, even though they exposed everything if you were upside down hanging from the wall bars. This does make me wonder why nudity for boys' p.e. was never practissd in schools if it was often the norm for swimming. I remember us lads being quite amazed at one of our classmates (aged about fourteen)who sported a superb all over tan; naked he looked incredible. Even the teacher was impressed; he let the lad strut round the changing room in the buff so that we could all get an eyeful!

When I became a teacher myself some years later p.e. kit was less Spartan, but even then I can remember one boy who also evidently came from a naturist family and was similarly tanned and also was no shy about briefly being naked while changing, but by this time I was uncomfortable about it, and did not encourage him. (This was the early 60s.) How sad that we have been compelled to lose our innocence!

Comments by Andrea on 6th September 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

When I was at Junior School the boys all wore short trousers. I went to an all girls Secondary School, but from what I remember from seeing Secondary School boys on the way to and from school, most were wearing long trousers.