Burnley Grammar School

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Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 700,549         Comments: 2,557

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

2557 user comment(s) below:-

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.

Comments by Paul on 6th September 2014  

We wore short trousers at my school and to maintain smartness our school maintained'the finger tip rule'which meant short trousers must not be longer than where the fingers reached when standing.
There were about 60 boys in the choir aged from 11 to 17 and every one of them were compelled to wear black short trousers and white knee socks for each of their concerts.

Comments by James on 4th September 2014  

I don't know if boys these days think this way but back in my school days short trousers were definitely an obvious marker of inferior junior status which is why we hated having to wear them.
My school had a similar rule that shorts had to be worn until you were aged 13 and 6 months but there was an additional provision which allowed boys to graduate to longs when they reached the height of 5feet 3 inches so we used to queue up at the matron's office at the start of each term to be measured hoping we had reached this magic figure.

Comments by Mike on 3rd September 2014  

I was stripped to the waist for games and PE from starting school at the age of five until A Levels at 18+.
We wore white shorts for indoors and black or navy blue for cross-country.
Although going barefoot wasn't obligatory most of us did so.
The winters then seemed to be colder but we soon got used to being bare chested.

Comments by Daniel on 23rd August 2014  

Spence, The girls were so used to seeing you exercise barechested, indoors or out, it wouldn't have bothered them.

We were barechested for PE and Games lessons from the age of 9 through to the end of A levels at 18. The cold winters were tough to start with but after your first year you knew what to expect.

Comments by Spence on 21st August 2014  

David, thanks for replying. Presumably, if you did ballroom dancing with the girls, you wore ordinary clothing and not PE kit. If you wore PE kit, the girl would have had to touch your bare shoulder when doing the waltz etc. Probably more embarrasing for them than you.

Comments by Allen on 21st August 2014  

BCG vaccination was a parental option at my (private, boys) school. Most, but not all, went for it. If my memory is correct, it was done at age 14 in 1967. It was administered on the "production line" basis with boys lining up in the North entrance lobby outside and leading into the the medical room. Jackets and shirts were removed when you had advanced to that point, and the needle was applied behind a screen not for privacy's sake, but to stop you seeing what was being done to the chap in front.

I recall that it was a case of alphabetical order, and, as I am a "W" I had had plenty of accounts of how ghastly the process was from nearly everybody else (from A to V). The fact that the chap immediately in front of me fainted and was carried out unconscious was not a good sign and did not reassure me either.

This was no ordinary injection and it was not done with a normal hypodermic, rather what looked like a pair of surgical lances, one to cut deep into the main muscle of the upper arm (which you had to hold up horizontally while the medic did the business from behind you) and the other to proddle about a bit in the hole it had made for half a minute or so, presumably administering the active ingredient. Ye gods did it hurt, and not just while it was being done! The tools were not disposable: being more or less the last in the queue of 120, I suspect they were coming to the end of their useful lives by the time they got to me, and as for the sterilization between bodies, this seemed to be achieved only by standing the instruments in alcohol!

Nobody was allowed to do PE or games for a week afterwards because the wound had to be kept dry and protected from knocks. Mine duly went septic and kept producing pus in some quantity for about six weeks before it finally healed over. so I was off games for the rest of term - whoopee!

Most chaps had a clearly visible scar as a result of this procedure, which in my case at least remains as such nearly half a century later. It was a very unpleasant experience indeed, but at least I've not had TB and it was the best excuse ever to get out of games!

I will reminisce about the terrible experiences of PE and games anon, whether anyone is interested or not!

Comments by David on 20th August 2014  

Hi Spence,
In the 1960's most houses where we lived didn't have central heating or double glazing, that is why our parents insisted we wore vests and jumpers even though they kept us in short pants up to 12-13, so in a way you got used to the cold.
The school had central heating so was actually warmer than home - but it was noticeably cooler first thing in a morning especially when it was really cold in winter until the heat built up.
Regardless of the time of year the boys PE kit was white cotton shorts and plimsolls, bare-chested, no underwear and no socks. This applied from us being 11 year olds up to leaving at 16.
In winter if you had a lesson first period - you could have goose bumps and be shivering, we all were on occasion - but if you moaned about it, you were considered a wimp.
When the lesson began you soon forgot about the cold and soon were warmed up if not sweating.
We weren't particularly noisy either - we were young, relatively fit and light footed.
The classrooms round the sides had solid wooden walls to about 4' 6" (137cm) then wooden frames with glass to the ceiling.
When we were doing lessons our in class you didn't particularly notice any PE class in the hall, so it was reasonably soundproof.
PE was generally always done separately with girls - there were only a few occasions during my time there when we had to share lessons. Boys PE was generally more focused on physical fitness than the girls from what I saw. I can't even remember what we would have done together -probably practiced ballroom type dancing.
Yes girls could wear cardigans or track suit tops if they were cold. The boys kit list also included a track suit ironically - that was a waste of our parent's money because we never got to wear them.
When we had a games period - it was done about 300 metres from the main school in an annexe by the school playing field. There were a couple of other classrooms and a sports changing room and shower block each for boys and girls.
Now that was cold in winter! After slogging away at cross country or whichever sport you were doing - as soon as you stopped whatever it was - the cold was bitter. Talk about being numb! you looked forward to a hot shower just to get some feeling back into your fingers and toes.
Hope that answers your questions.

Comments by Simon on 20th August 2014  

Like Daniel, I was at school in the 80s and boys' PE kit was very much at the teacher's discretion. In my first year of senior school we all wore a vest for PE, as specified in the official uniform list along with shorts and trainers. However the next year we had a different PE teacher and at the first lesson he made it clear that we were required to do it bare-chested. There were one or two murmurs of protest but he then announced that any boy wearing a vest in 10 seconds would get detention for the whole term! Without hesitation everyone did as they were told and our vests remained unused for the rest of the year. For outdoor PE you still wore a football top but you frequently ended up losing that too as the teams were often shirts and skins.

Comments by Spence on 19th August 2014  

David, one wonders what it was like for the teachers and pupils in the classes adjoining the gym, with the noise created by 30 teenage boys running about and presumably exercising their vocal muscles as much as the rest of their bodies. Perhaps the classrooms had thick walls.

How cold was it in the in the gym in winter? Did you have lessons with the girls on cold days? If so, were boys shivering and covered in goose pimples while the girls were fully covered apart from bare knees. Were girls allowed to wear extra clothing in the gym on cold days? I assume boys were not allowed additional kit whatever the temperature.

Comments by Daniel on 17th August 2014  

David's comments were spot on. Though I was at school in the 80's this was how you did PE. Although officially our uniform kit sheet stated boys required a vest, our teacher had other thoughts.

At the start of our first PE lesson our teacher randomly picked me to face the class, remove my vest and run to the back of the gym drop it on the floor and run back and made it crystal clear it would never be worn again. A couple of minutes later my classmates were told to do the same thing and the vests remained there until picked up at the end of the lesson. From then on all lads were bare top for their time at school.

David is absolutely right in pointing out no one (girls aside) paid any attention to lads exercising indoors our outdoors in all weathers, it was considered 100% normal. The gym was a suntrap all the year round and with our teacher being very demanding it wasn't unusual for lads of all ages to sweat especially during fitness sessions and basketball games for which one team would have a coloured sash to identify the teams.

Unlike David, though cross country was always performed with vests off regardless of the temperature and one team had their sach on for identification during House competitions.

Comments by David on 15th August 2014  

I went to a mixed Secondary Modern school in a small village school on the outskirts of a city in West Yorkshire between 1961 - 1966 probably with about 300 pupils in total & each year's intake would have about 30 girls & 30 boys.
On my first day after the register was taken our first class was double PE for us boys and it was taken in the School Hall. The hall was used for morning assembly & gym with apparatus to the sides hinged to open out. A number of the classrooms in the school were off the main hall. So while the girls went off to do their lesson, we boys were told to go & change into our pe kit which consisted of white cotton shorts & plimsolls with no socks & no underwear. It felt a bit strange wearing so little but that was soon forgotten because the lesson was quite intense and I actually enjoyed the freedom without the restriction of clothes.
Then the bell rang for the next lesson. We were directed to sit in the middle of the hall cross legged on the floor. All the classroom doors opened & the pupils came into the hall & in an anticlockwise direction walked round the edge of the hall to their next class.
We were on view to the whole school but no one seemed bothered in the slightest - them or us and like Michael said in his post earlier- it was considered healthy & manly in those days and wasn't just our class - it was any double pe. Sometimes the PE teacher decided to do the lesson in the playground so again you were on open view to the passer-by but it was never something you thought about - you were more concerned making it through the lesson without upsetting the teacher & all that entailed!!
Discipline was strict, and any transgression was dealt with swiftly with the pump administered on the spot and in front of the class.
This happened quite often.
For team games half of us were given coloured bands to distinguish sides.
One of the best games I remember was pirates - the sea was the floor & you had to avoid being caught by jumping across the various apparatus and mats laid about and not falling into the sea whilst being chased by the opposing team. The chasing side started with two people & as you were caught you joined their team - great fun.
When we occasionally shared PE with the girls it felt quite normal since we did swimming together anyway so had got used to wearing minimal clothing. The girls kit was knickers, gym-slip, vest, T shirt, socks & pumps. In winter I was sometimes quite envious of them but in warm summers I think they might have been a bit jealous of our freedom.
Outdoor games & cross country was done with a football top in House colours or it could be shirt v skins if the teacher decided. I can't remember if anyone did cross country without shirts but you could take your top off if you wanted.
Boys were only ever called by their surnames even amongst their friends, and the girls by their first names.
I only ever knew of boys being given the pump or cane - I think girls got detention or lines. We did PE twice a week plus a double games lesson & a swimming lesson
We boys had to shower after games lessons & swimming so everyone got used to being naked in front of others pretty quickly & it was no big deal.
I did come across a You Tube classic- typical of boys PE at the time. It's only a short clip of about 30 seconds (Starts around 1m 30secs- but just as I remember it).
Go to YouTube & enter:- Teacher Gwyn Evans

Comments by Allen on 12th August 2014  

BCG vaccination was a parental option at my (private, boys) school. Most, but not all, went for it. If my memory is correct, it was done at age 14 in 1967. It was administered on the "production line" basis with boys lining up in the North entrance lobby outside and leading into the the medical room. Jackets and shirts were removed when you had advanced to that point, and the needle was applied behind a screen not for privacy's sake, but to stop you seeing what was being done to the chap in front.

I recall that it was a case of alphabetical order, and, as I am a "W" I had had plenty of accounts of how ghastly the process was from nearly everybody else (from A to V). The fact that the chap immediately in front of me fainted and was carried out unconscious was not a good sign and did not reassure me either.

This was no ordinary injection and it was not done with a normal hypodermic, rather what looked like a pair of surgical lances, one to cut deep into the main muscle of the upper arm (which you had to hold up horizontally while the medic did the business from behind you) and the other to proddle about a bit in the hole it had made for half a minute or so, presumably administering the active ingredient. Ye gods did it hurt, and not just while it was being done! The tools were not disposable: being more or less the last in the queue of 120, I suspect they were coming to the end of their useful lives by the time they got to me, and as for the sterilization between bodies, this seemed to be achieved only by standing the instruments in alcohol!

Nobody was allowed to do PE or games for a week afterwards because the wound had to be kept dry and protected from knocks. Mine duly went septic and kept producing pus in some quantity for about six weeks before it finally healed over. so I was off games for the rest of term - whoopee!

Most chaps had a clearly visible scar as a result of this procedure, which in my case at least remains as such nearly half a century later. It was a very unpleasant experience indeed, but at least I've not had TB and it was the best excuse ever to get out of games!

I will reminisce about the terrible experiences of PE and games anon, whether anyone is interested or not!

Comments by Michael on 7th August 2014  

My mixed grammar school was steeped in traditional values, and boys being shirtless for games was in no way viewed as indecent. In fact, it was viewed as 'healthy' and 'manly'.

So, it was entirely routine for groups of boys to be put in teams of 'skins' and 'shirts' for games, either indoors, or out of doors in good weather.

Not that it made much difference indoors, with one side of the gym being made up entirely of glass panels and open to view to anyone passing by outside. From what I can remember no-one ever gave us a second glance.

So, none of us boys was concerned if we were chosen for the 'skins' team, as we deemed it irrelevant in itself. We wanted to start the game as quickly as possible, and were far more interested in who else was in the same team, and hence how likely we were to win.

No male at the public swimming baths covers their chest, and few men feel it necessary to cover up at the seaside, whether on the beach or walking along the promenade. On my local housing development in sunny weather, many of my male neighbours routinely do their gardening, car washing or even local shopping errands shirtless.

On sunny days I cover myself up because I'm fair-skinned and tend to burn easily. Otherwise I'd happily walk down the street shirtless without a second thought.

Comments by Monty on 6th August 2014  monty1962@outlook.com 

Yes I got my BCG in 1976 and remember it well. Not a very pleasant experience. Some (though not me) had appallingly bruised and swollen arms as a result of the carelessness or incompetence of the nurse jabbing the needle. I believe that when it started in the 1950's it was a very valuable way of preventing TB but by the time it ended, in 2005, it was no longer really needed because TB had been all but eradicated, at least in this country.

I remember that although it was generally compulsory one boy in my form was exempted on medical grounds. He didn't say why but the rest of us presumed it was because he was very weedy and would probably faint in terror at the sight of the needle. But maybe like Phil he had some kind of immunity.

I must say that I am a bit puzzled by Phil's comments about exposure of the upper body being "disgusting". It made me wonder if times changed so radically between 1976 and 1989 (and 2014) that taking your shirt off in public now induces feelings of panic and paranoia.

I consider male shirtlessness so normal that I generally wouldn't even notice it. This got me thinking that maybe things have changed and it is less prevalent in contemporary Britain, I just hadn't noticed the change. So I've just been in to town and deliberately kept my eyes open to see if there was anyone baring "nipples and navel", as Phil describes it.

Now it is a warm sunny day today but the town is small (population 5,000) and almost deserted mid afternoon. But almost the first person I saw was fellow of about 20 wearing long trousers, a cap - and no shirt. He wasn't carrying a shirt with him either. He walked right past me and exhibited total unconcern. Walking round the corner the very next person I saw was a youth of about 14 on a mountain bike, wearing what I think are called "jogging pants" and trainers, but nothing else - no hat, no shirt. Again exhibiting total unconcern.

This confirms my belief that for the vast majority of males, even today, taking your shirt off in public is no big deal. Why should it be "disgusting" to be asked to temporarily remove your shirt in school when it is considered normal to do so in a public place on a warm day? I must say Phil I am at a loss to understand your comment.

I will be the first to admit that a sight of an overweight, heavily tattoo'd member of the English working class revealing mounds of naked pink flesh while sizzling in the summer sun is not a sight which holds any aesthetic appeal. But surely it is, on the whole, a good thing if people feel so comfortable in their skins that they think nothing of exposing their upper bodies - just like the lads in the photo here? (....so I arrive back on topic by a roundabout route!)

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

I think I was about 14 when I had the BCG jab; we all had the pre-test first but unfortunately I was amongst the ones who didn't already have the immunity and so had to have the big needle!

We were allowed to keep our blouses on until we got into the medical room and then remove them while we had the injection. I think we were pretty much all wearing bras by then, so weren't actually topless when we had the injection.

I went to an all girls secondary school, so don't know what happened with the boys, although I can't really see that wearing a vest would get in the way.

Andrea

Comments by Phil on 3rd August 2014  

I remember the BCG Tuberculosis jabs back in 1989 when I was 16. I was lucky I had a pre-test on my arm and had plus +1 TB immunity so did not need the jab.

Girls that failed could take their shirts of in the medical room and have the injections done with their bras on.

The boys that had to have the innoculation had to take of their jumpers, shirts, ties and vest and were made to stand outside in the school foyer for up to 15 minutes waiting for the jab in the medical room.

Imagine having to stand their in a school with your nipples and navel showing. They said it was to "save time" but this topless rule did not apply to females.

Today with all the equality and diversity legislation this would not be allowed. Absolutely disgusting!

Comments by Roy on 30th July 2014  

I certainly remember the BCG vaccine against TB.

Comments by Andrea on 29th July 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

I can't recollect having medicals at Primary School, but we did have one not long after starting at Secondary School.

I can remember having to strip down to my vest and knickers in a room next to the medical room and then go in to have my height and weight checked by the school nurse. She also checked hands for warts and feet for verrucas. The worst bit was having to lift up my vest so the doctor could use his stethoscope, which I can remember being cold!

Some of my classmates told me that they had to unfasten their bras so the doctor could check how their breasts were developing, but I wasn't at that stage yet!

Does anyone remember the dreaded BCG injections from Secondary school?

Comments by Monty on 26th July 2014  monty1962@outlook.com 

I remember medicals in primary school where we all had to stand in a line outside the head's office - which the visiting doctor was using - in our awful white 1970's Y fronts. My primary school was co-ed and I remember girls walking past us - though I think they had their medical exams separately, and I don't recall seeing them have to stand in a public corridor in their knickers - I doubt they had to, as in those days girls were thought to have a greater need for privacy than boys. None of us boys thought it odd and we even horsed around a bit in front of the girls. I don't recall feeling even slightly embarrassed at this.

I remember nothing of the actual medical and I was spared a medical at my public school because only boarders had to have one when they joined the Upper School, and I only became a boarder in the sixth form. I remember other sixth formers telling the new boys to watch out for when the doctor said "How do you like school dinners?", because this was inevitably the prelude to having your testicles grabbed and being asked to cough. The same doctor had been visiting the school for years and must have used that line hundreds of times. Actually I think it was a good idea of the doctor's - most 13 year olds would have found this experience a bit awkward, even in the 70's, and I think this helped reduce the embarrassment a bit.

(Apologies for straying off topic a bit)

Comments by David on 26th July 2014  

We had our yearly medical exam and had to line up stripped to the waist outside the medical room.
I could never understand why we had to have our eyes and ears tested while stripped to the waist but that was the rule.
Then still stripped to the waist we went individually before the doctor and nurse.

Comments by David on 26th July 2014  

The school I attended had a typical uniform of navy blue blazer,stripped tie and long trousers.However what intrigued me was that included in the uniform requirement were short pants,knee stockings showing the house colours and garters to hold them in place.The shorts were invariably brief and trim and after being tried on and purchased were deposited in the wardrobe,hopefully never to be worn.
At my first visit to my new school the majority of boys were wearing their school uniform and only a few were wearing shorts,even some of the older ones.I never found out why and didn't enquire,i just thought it was their parents quaint custom.
I never got into trouble at school until I went into the library,when it wasn't my turn,I liked reading and went in to avoid going out in the cold.When the teacher came in although I tried to hide I was caught and told to see her after lessons.I awaited my punishment with trepidation and after waiting for the bell after the last lesson expecting lines or even the cane.After being giver a stern lecture and told to straighten my tie I was told"you will wear short trousers for six weeks".I was devastated and confessed to my parents who could do nothing to get me out of my predicament.

Comments by Andrea on 20th July 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

At my all girls secondary school in the early to mid 1970s we had those divided games shorts (culottes)and a long sleeved cotton shirt for outdoor PE in winter.
Indoor PE kit was always navy gym knickers and a white T shirt or polo shirt. For the first couple of years our outdoor kit in summer was the same as the indoor kit but from the third year we were allowed to wear a games skirt over the gym knickers if we wished.

We only had swimming lessons for the first couple of years and had to wear a regulation navy blue swimming costume.

Comments by Barney on 20th July 2014  

To Jeff
I agree with your final sentence. I think that these days there is too much inhibition. We never thought twice in secondary school about minimal wear for pe or games. Perhaps it was better for being single sex school. Only one female teacher who never went near the pe classes.



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