Clitheroe Royal Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1602         Views: 159,128         Comments: 742

Clitheroe Royal Grammar School

Led by Stuart Bennett (Captain), right, the cross-country team returns from a practice run around the nearby country-side.
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, November 1959

742 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by John on 15th July 2018  

Gavin A,
My school didn’t have it’s own swimming pool so once a fortnight we were bussed to the local pool. We had to wear speedos and it was a co-ed senior school so girls joined us lads for swimming lessons.

I was aware that nude swimming was compulsory at some schools though. My cousin’s boys only senior school had weekly swimming lessons for boys from age 11 to 18 and they always swam nude, costumes were forbidden. I discussed this with my cousin and he said that after the first lesson all lads completely forgot that they were naked and concentrated on swimming. So I wouldn’t have been bothered if I’d been made to do swimming nude as long I was amongst other lads. I wouldn’t have liked being forced to swim naked with girls around.

For Indoor PE we were always stripped to the waist and wore white shorts and there was a strict no underwear rule. Plimsols were allowed in the gym, I wouldn’t have liked to do gym in bare feet like some guys have described. I was perfectly happy doing PE shirtless, I would have hated having a hot, sweaty shirt sticking to my back.

Comments by Gavin A on 15th July 2018  

Initially it was a shock! But then I was not alone, for there were another 17 of us newbies at the age 10 who were equally taken aback. But in all honesty it was never a problem after that first day. We all realised we had the same functional equipment down below and very soon got over any inhibitions we might have had. What was your own experience at school?

Comments by John on 15th July 2018  

Gavin A,
How did you feel about having to swim naked at school?

Comments by Charles on 15th July 2018  

Hi James
I vividly remember those grey shorts and long grey socks.
At secondary school, shorts were optional. They had been compulsory until then.
I was kept in shorts until 14, which i really didn't like. I wore garters to keep the socks up. Boy who wore shorts had to keep their socks up as we werent allowed to have them run down.
PE was always done in bare feet throughout school. At secondary we had white shorts and tshirt and strictly no underpants.

Comments by JSC on 14th July 2018  

Thanks Gavin A

When you said bare feet etc for everything I thought you meant outside as well. I presume that in your school PE was just inside then, and that games meant outside.

I attended two state comprehensives where the terms PE and games were synonomous.

The PE activities for both were quite similar.

Outside sports were rugby, footie, and cross country in the winter. Athletics and cricket in the summer. 'Normal' kit for those activities was worn although we didn't wear shin guards for footie or a mouth guard for football. We just wore our underwear underneath as well, including cricket. Cricket whites were only worn by the school team. I wasn't a member of the team so I didn't have to own any special stuff for cricket. Just our normal outdoor pe kit of white plimsolls, and white socks, shorts and t-shirt, which was either a house colour or white.

Inside was gymnastics in the winter and various potted sports in the summer. Bare feet usually compulsory and bare chest optional in my first school. Bare feet optional in my second school. I never saw bare chests in that school except when we changed, obviously.

In my first school, bare feet and chests were compulsory for the boys' gym team. The boys did no gymnastics in my second school, although it was available as a special lesson for the less behaved 'backward' boys.

Cross country, hockey, rounders outside in the winter. Netball, rounders, tennis and athletics in the summer.

Inside was gymnastics and dance, and also potted sports all year round, from what I saw. This was all performed in leotards and bare feet in my first school except when they shared a lesson with us, in which case it was gym knickers, white aertex top and bare feet.

My second school was similar, except the girls could wear skirts, and were also allowed tracksuit bottoms in the winter and also when they had their periods. Most preferred gym knickers and white aertex top.

The girls also had a dance/aerobics club. This was 1980, 81, and 82. That seemed to be any old leotard or unitard, leg/ankle warmers, bare feet and red toe nails. Not sure if the red nail polish was compulsory or not but it was ubiquitous, as well as 'poshed up' hair.

Again, bare feet indoors was strictly compulsory in this school for the girls. The boys weren't expected to go barefoot for anything, but it was fully optional, which I did a few times when I felt like it. That was in a plastic floored sports hall. The floor was quite dusty, but nothing like as bad as the assembly hall in my previous school.

The girls sometimes did PE in the dining rooms (there were two) in that school. Again, bare feet, so that was probably a little unpleasant for them, like in my previous school.

Girls were also expected to go barefoot outdoors if they had no footwear. This was in the summer months, not winter. I saw girls playing tennis on tarmac courts and performing athletics on grass in the late spring and summer in their bare feet. This didn't seem to be a hardship for them and I'm sure that most of the time they went barefoot optionally rather than compulsorily.

Like you, we got used to bare feet pretty quickly. For my first year in my first secondary school, bare feet were optional for the boys, and a friend and I gave it a go at the end of that first year. I enjoyed the freedom and appreciated the practicality of it, but the gym had just been polished and varnished in readiness for the next school year, and the soles of my feet itched like hell after that lesson. No damage done, though. My friend was OK and had no problems.

At our first PE lesson the next year, we were told that bare feet were now compulsory. Luckily, my feet must have been already toughened up a little bit and I had no varnish problems that day, or ever again. The wood floor was absolutely freezing though, but by the next lesson I was used to that too.

Nobody else had any problems, or at least didn't complain if they had, although a few boys would moan a little bit and ask if they could wear their plimsolls (later on, trainers). The answer was usually 'no' although sometimes we would be allowed to wear them if we wanted. I remember reverting back to plimsolls and trainers the first couple of times, but then stayed barefoot after that. I'd decided that there was simply no point wearing footwear indoors, at least in the gym. We were never told in advance what the activity would be, which was a pity because if I'd known that a lesson was to be indoors I could have left my plimsolls, trainers, and socks at home, and maybe even my shirt too, and saved space in my school bag, and also a little weight. Yeah, I know it's not much weight, but it is when you've haven't started your growth spurt yet.

We were also sometimes indoors in the hall in that school, and it's floor was filthy. Again, bare feet was compulsory and our feet would get extremely filthy after lessons in there. I used to suffer a bit of mild itching on my soles, but nothing more than that. I think it was just sensory overload. I only went barefoot in there because it was compulsory. I wouldn't have gone barefoot by choice unless it meant I could have left most of my kit at home, as I said earlier.

Sorry for the long post. This subject seems to be one of those things that seems simple until you actually detail it and then you realise just how complicated it really is.

Comments by Gavin A on 13th July 2018  

Gavin A

You had to have bare feet and chest for everything? Yes in the gym

May I ask how long it took for you and your schoolmates to get used to that? Very quickly it was no big deal as I recall

Also, what activities did you do in PE? Everything from boxing to vaulting horse, rooes to games like Swedish handball .. you name it

Comments by Gavin A on 12th July 2018  

Gavin A

You had to have bare feet and chest for everything? Yes in the gym

May I ask how long it took for you and your schoolmates to get used to that? Very quickly it was no big deal as I recall

Also, what activities did you do in PE? Everything from boxing to vaulting horse, rooes to games like Swedish handball .. you name it

Comments by JSC on 12th July 2018  

Gavin A

You had to have bare feet and chest for everything?

May I ask how long it took for you and your schoolmates to get used to that?

Also, what activities did you do in PE?

I experienced a short period of fairly strict PE in my school 'career', which I enjoyed, but nothing as strict as at your school. I would have been up for more if I'd had to do it though. I needed that physicality at the time. In fact, I suspect most young boys do. I wasn't the only one who liked obeying the rules, let's put it that way. I was 11 to 13, and this was the late 70's.

I don't feel that way about it all now, so it's interesting to me to look back and remember how different I was then.

Comments by Gavin A on 11th July 2018  

We swam in the nude at school. I was also a boarder in an independent boys school in the late 60s early 70s. All PE and running was always done in just white shorts. Older boys, for very obvious reasons, were allowed jockstraps.
We had a swimpool and all swimming was done naked and swimtrunks were not allowed.

Comments by Jack on 11th July 2018  

I was also a boarder in an independent boys school in the mid-late 60s. All PE and running was always done in just white shorts and slippers.
We had a swimpool and all swimming was done naked, whether lessons or just for leisure, swimtrunks were not allowed.
We often had female teachers supervising us at the pool.
Any other guys here who had nude swimming at school?

Comments by Nick on 27th June 2018  

Frank S, I went to an independent school (I was a boarder)in the 1970s.

Comments by Tony H on 27th June 2018  

Having read about jock straps and support, I wonder if nowadays these are becoming obsolete. T he reason I say this is because when my son who is nearly 15 does PE they continue to wear their pants under there shorts .This may give some support. Then winter it seems to be pants shorts with track suit bottoms on top of that. Furthermore, their PE is completely different to mine in the late 60's. They do not do any gymnastics. PE is foot ball or cricket (depending on season) track & field and running around a large school field (cross country).

When I was at school PE was one lesson(Gymnastics ropes wall bars etc.) and in the same week we would have foot ball or cricket again seasonal.

Despite the gymnastics we were never told about wearing any support and bearing in mind we wore shorts and no underwear.

Even when we played cricket we were not told about wearing a box. In fact I did not know that there was such a thing until my friend in the first x1 cricket who played for the school told me that they existed.

If you got hit there "never mind carry on" finally of course compulsory showers which is another thing no longer provided.

Comments by Frank S on 25th June 2018  

Nick, well I was like your son, only wore my jockstrap for sport outside of school. No one wore them at school you see, and I wasn't going to be different. Totally different in my dad's time. Fashion dictates i am afraid, but glad that youngsters are beginning to have the sense to wear them again. What school did you attend and when did you attend if I might ask?

Comments by Nick on 24th June 2018  

Frank S,
Yes I have children, they are in their 20s. I bought my son a jockstrap when he was 13, he wore it just a few times when playing squash with me but would not take it to school. I expect if his mates wore them he would have done too.
Like others have said I had Litesome jockstraps at school.

Comments by Frank S on 23rd June 2018  

Nick, thanks for your message. He goes to an independent school in Hertfordshire. They play all sports really. His favourites being rugby and cricket. Do you have any children Nick?

Comments by Nick on 22nd June 2018  

Frank S
Good to hear that the jockstrap is making a comeback and that your son and his mates wear them. What sports does he play and what type of school does he go to?

Comments by Frank S on 18th June 2018  

Certainly think those compression shorts look absurd

Comments by James on 18th June 2018  

In reply to Peter Melvyn,I agree"boys would not take kindly to compulsory grey shorts with long socks".
At the secondary school that I attended,the wearing of short trousers was not compulsory and there was no stipulation of the boy's age that he could wear shorts,so some like-minded parents would keep their sons in short trousers until they left school.
The shorts that I wore were similar to the ones you describe and in particular,were very brief coming well above my knees to leave virtually all of my thighs exposed to the elements.
Although I disliked being in the minority in shorts my parents relished the spectacle of seeing a teenager coming to terms and getting accustomed to wearing short pants as I grew older.

Comments by peter melvyn on 16th June 2018  

It seems that there are different types of shorts according to the sport, where basketball players wear long baggy shorts and rugby players brief tighter shorts. Many suppliers of uniform state "Bermuda" style school shorts which reach down to the knee or below. There are also Cargo shorts that have external patch type pockets. Looking at photos of me at 11 years old many years ago my grey shorts were very brief with much of my thigh showing. There are still prep schools that require short trousers to 13 years. I doubt if many boys at secondary schools now would take kindly to compulsory grey shorts with long socks. But fashions do change and short trousers may make a come back.

Comments by Tony Bennett on 16th June 2018  

I agree with Arby and Sam. Most 6th formers were wearing a jockstrap (athletic support) for sport when I was at school. I read somewhere that these compression shorts are more restrictive, somewhat weightier, and not as good at dispelling heat. What a shame youngsters can't see beyond 'fashion'!

Comments by Arby on 15th June 2018  

I agree with Sam Martin that the Litesome jockstrap was not hideous. It was very comfortable and sensible. I wore one through the 6th form and beyond. Cannot understand why they died out. Hopefully the jockstrap may come back before long.I agree that compression shorts are not as good.

Comments by Tony H on 15th June 2018  

So those are the shorts I see hanging down under football shorts. I though that they were some form of thermal underwear badly designed. I did not realise that they were to
give support.

How times and fashions change. I suppose it is because youngsters these days do not like to wear under or support that is designed like briefs or slips.

Comments by Harry Saig on 15th June 2018  

Pleased to hear that the litesome Jock strap has made a comeback.From a biological view it makes sense to wear such a support especially in adolescents.

Comments by TimH on 15th June 2018  

Andrea - There's a report this year of another school which introduced 'gender neutral' dress regs - long trouysers or skirts - shorts are banned.

In an age where shorts are becoming more 'standard' wear for men (at least in summer) it seems that some people are still set in their ways: I only wish I could get away with them on the few few summer days I have to wear them!

Comments by Sam Martin on 14th June 2018  

Frank S

The Litesome jock wasn't hideous if you wore the right size. Nothing beats a jockstrap for comfort in sport, in my opinion. Lads today look rather absurd with their compression shorts hanging down from under their shorts!!

Comments by Andrea on 8th June 2018 

At least one school decided to introduce shorts as optional summer uniform:

Comments by Frank S on 6th June 2018  

Sam Martin, you are right about the jockstrap returning. My son wears them for sport mainly because his mates do at school. In my day it had disappeared. Just remmber my dad wearing a Litesome .. hideous looking thing ! Fashion rules the day hey!

Comments by Sam Martin on 6th June 2018  


I remember reading that too, not sure of the outcome. You?

Comments by Sam Martin on 6th June 2018  


I remember reading that too, not sure of the outcome. You?

Comments by James on 6th June 2018  

I don't recall the wearing of short trousers being popular with my contemporaries at school.For the few who wore shorts were cast aside and were ridiculed.
I would have preferred to wear the longer style of shorts,but my parents had a preference for the short shorts which I didn't like wearing because they were chilly in cold weather and I was subjected to more teasing.

Comments by Andrea on 5th June 2018 

Following on from Peter's comments, I recall reading about a couple of schools where some of the boys had threatened to turn up at school wearing skirts as a protest about the girls having an option other than long trousers in hot weather!

Comments by Tony H on 5th June 2018  

I have seen the articles in the papers that older boys in in years years 8 onwards want to wear shorts in the summer, and my son is one of them. But as the previous writer stated I hope they are not the"long shorts" below the knee. But reasonably short and tailored

Comments by Frank C on 5th June 2018  

Peter that is an interesting observation!Certainly the trend is for shorts again plus the postmen are good ambassadors of the cause.Once youngsters see their elders wearing shorts regularly they will not feel it unusual.Can I put a plug in for Albert Prendergast whose Vintage schoolwear can be found on the internet.He does mail order from his Buxton based firm I can recommend his Adult size shorts.

Comments by James on 5th June 2018  

Peter,although the wearing of short trousers was ubiquitous in the seventies and eighties the tradition gradually'died away'when schools discontinued the compulsory wearing of short trousers at school,although,at my secondary school,boys were allowed to wearing shorts if their parents so desired.
It was a requirement by my parents that my school uniform and my best suit shorts should be short and trim,much to my annoyance.
I didn't like wearing shorts up to 16,but I never considered knee length shorts an option,as it would have been preferable to wear long trousers instead of ridiculous short trousers.

Comments by Roy on 5th June 2018  

I also remember wearing short trousers until midway through the Second Form (Year 8) and I suppose I must have worn long socks as well

Comments by Sam Martin on 5th June 2018  

Peter Davis
Funny how fashions do full circles. Even the good old jockstrap (Litesome ... in my school days) is making a comeback

Comments by peter davis on 4th June 2018  

It is interesting to read about school uniform for boys and how short trousers gradually died out. I recall my London grammar school wearing grey shorts until the 3rd. form and we also had to wear long socks with the school colours on the turnover top. Up to 12 years old I also had a short trousers suit for weekends. I now see that in some schools boys complain about long trousers in hot weather and want to wear shorts. Some schools have now again added grey short trousers to their uniform list. On Ebay there are several suppliers for grey shorts up to 16 years. So it seems we have gone the complete circle and older boys will be back into short trousers, and even maybe long socks! I only hope the shorts will be short and above the knees and not over the knees.

Comments by James on 18th May 2018  

Tony,I do remember the specifications of my short trousers;I took a 26" waist and the requirements of my shorts were that they had an inseam leg of 2".
My mother had no problem finding short trousers for me as I grew older as I had a narrow waist.
I agree,I felt silly wearing shorts,but I had to conform to my mother's wishes.

Comments by Tony H on 18th May 2018  

James I understand about how you felt silly having to wear shorts when most other lads wore longs. It was the same for me. Do you remember your mothers exact specifications?

Comments by robin on 16th May 2018  

@Claire at my school, gym class was always done fully clothed. Boys did not even go shirtless for shirts and skins. However the rules were much more relxed for after school activities, it was a common sight to see the cross country and track team strip down to minimal attire - many girls in just sports bras/shorts and most of the boys completely bare chest.

Comments by James on 15th May 2018  

It was never a problem finding short trousers that would fit me properly as I grew older.
Boys of my age had usually been promoted to wearing long trousers and I often felt silly wearing my brief shorts that had the specifications to my mother's requirements.

Comments by Frank on 15th May 2018  

Tony,good to hear of yet another lad who was forced to wear short trousers into their early teens!I was reasonably tall for my age at 12 and 13 the fourth tallest in my year I would say.This was reflected when choosing sides for the 🏉 rugby teams!I played the position of prop more often than not and the shorter lad would get fly half.

Comments by Tony H on 14th May 2018  

I wore grey shorts in secondary school until about 14. Being short at that time for my age I was not deemed big enough to wear longs. One of the problems with the shorts was that they were not really made for my age and so yes they were short and tight which also meant underwear was also uncomfortable. After much persistence I was allowed longs.

Comments by James on 13th May 2018  

Hi Frank,thank you for your reply,I had to wear short trousers slightly longer than yourself,until I was 15 in the fourth form.
At that age peer pressure was tremendous and with about 400 boys in long trousers,nearly all younger then myself,I felt very isolated.
When I pointed this out to my mother and explained that I was the only only boy still in short trousers and other boys of my age were in long trousers she replied"you are not any other boy and you will remain in short trousers.
Certainly the style of shorts were getting considerably shorter as I grew older and another popular brand was'David Luke'.

Comments by Claire on 12th May 2018  

Newcomer here, thoroughly enjoying reading the variety of PE clothing experiences. Although topless PE was obviously fairly widespread for boys in the past, does anyone have any experience of schools where girls PE kit was shorts plus sports bra, with shirt optional? My daughter was at school around the time of the London Olympics, and the sight of female athletes competing in just bra-tops and shorts led her and some of her friends to campaign, ultimately unsuccessfully, for similar freedom in PE classes.

Comments by Frank on 12th May 2018  

Hi James I spent the first and second year in shorts aged 12to13 September1973 late 13 I progressed to long trousers I had some local friends same age and they were in long trousers a good eighteen months before me and coming round to my house regularly my mother realised I didn't want to feel left out.My first black ones for school were from Marks and Sparks!I was aware of Trutex and Banner as rival brands it was dependent on where your parents shopped regularly.There was a branch i8in Altrincham our nearest large town.

Comments by James on 9th May 2018  

Frank,thank you for your reply,my short trousers were the Trutex brand.They were a very popular brand especially for mothers who preferred the shorter style of shorts particularly for younger boys.
What age were you promoted to long trousers?

Comments by Frank Chroston on 8th May 2018  

Thank you for your reply James mine were the famous St Michael brand.

Comments by James on 7th May 2018  


I too had to wear those'awful grey shorts'as you describe them.
After moving to secondary school our uniform requirement was that boys could wear long or short grey trousers regardless of age.
So rather than a promotion to wearing long trousers to my new school,my mother took the preferred option of keeping me in short trousers.
Of course the ritual of making boys wear short trousers was dying out in seventies,so it was quite unusual to see boys in short trousers at that age.

Comments by Andrea on 10th April 2018 

Pete, we had two lessons of indoor PE per week for which we wore our gym knickers, a white polo shirt and white plimsolls (although some didn't bother with those and just went barefoot). We also had to take a towel for the shower afterwards.

In addition we had one double period of games per week. This was always outdoors and was when we did things such as netball, hockey, rounders, athletics and tennis, depending on the time of year. In addition to our gym knickers we were allowed to wear a gym skirt or culottes (a cross between shorts and a skirt). In the summer we wore our polo shirts and plimsolls, but in winter it was a long-sleeved cotton sports shirt and if we were playing hockey on the school field (no astro-turf back then!) a pair of hockey boots. These had raised rubber bars on the soles to help us to stop slipping over.

A few of the girls who played in the school teams used to take their own hockey sticks or tennis rackets into school, but most of us just used the ones provided by the PE department. It was just as well because I used to cycle to school!