Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 676,716         Comments: 2,437

Burnley Grammar School

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There's pleny of room in the modern-styled gymnasium for muscle developing, where the boys are supervised by Mr. R. Parry, the physical education instruction.
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, December 1959

2437 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by Robin on 12th February 2013  

Stephen, like you and James, we also played Pirates - usually as an end-of-term treat, but it seems the rules we used were slightly different. We were a class of 30 and the game started with three boys, chosen by the teacher, as 'IT' or the pirates, and as the rest of us were tagged, we were then 'out'. This went on until there were only three left uncaught who were the winners, and became the pirates for the next game. Our indoor kit consisted of white shorts and t-shirt but whether the shirt was worn or not depended on the activity - in this case, the pirates were shirtless so they could easily be seen.

Comments by James on 11th February 2013  

Stephen,we also played Pirates,but wore our shorts as the gynnasium was on the ground floor and and we could easily been overlooked.However,the swimming pool was built on the first floor and the changing rooms and shower area was next to the pool.We were told it was unnecessary to wear trunks and we had to swim in the nude.I thought swimming was great fun,I was totally unabashed and fount it invigorating.

Comments by Stephen on 11th February 2013  stevenkilt@gmail.com 

Dear John
The game of pirates was a game of tag in which one lad was ‘IT’ and had to touch another lad then he was ‘IT’ and the first one retired to sit on the benches and this continued until the last lad how had not been caught . The wall bars, ropes and every other piece of gym equipment was set out in the gym, your feet was not allowed to touch the floor. The game was a lot more fun than it sounds. I suppose it sticks in my mind more because I was one of the lads who did it in the nude which was quite liberating in a strange way

Comments by John Lavender on 8th February 2013  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

Steven: What was the game 'Pirates'? Explain the way it was played please. Did you need two teams dressed differently to differentiate?
Did you play Killerball as well?

Comments by James on 8th February 2013  

Stephen,our school like yours had a strict uniform policy where boys had to wear short trousers and minimun clothing for games.A shorts only rule was enforced by liberal use of the cane and regular inspections were carried out.Boys caught wearing underwear were given six strokes of the cane.

Comments by Steven on 7th February 2013  stevenkilt@gmail.com 

When I was eleven and started at my new school the first time we had a PT lesson we were told by the games master in no uncertain terms that on no account were we allowed to wear vests or underpants to any PT lessons, He told the class that he would make random checks to see if we were sticking to the school rules, If anyone transgressed the boy concerned would be punished in front of the class this would be done across the boys bare backside either with a large flexible plimsoll or his favourite cane.
He then instructed ever one to strip naked the he showed the class of boys the shower room and told the class that everyone would have a shower after any physical activity. Then he told the class to put on their white gym shorts and nothing else, all inside lessons were done shirtless and shoeless. Outside lessons we wore rugby shorts, hose, rugby jersey and boots.
The next time we had a lesson with him we were taken to the swimming pool and were told that we would not be allowed to wear swimming trunks.
One day the class was playing 5 A-side and one lad passed the ball to the other team, there was a lot of comments to which the lad concerned said “I cannot tell how’s how “to which the games master said “I can see for you that are having difficulties so to make it easier for you and your team I will let you take off your shorts so you can see how is on your team” there was a few comments from his other team members but he quickly restored order by threating to use Black Jack ( this was how he referred to his plimsoll)
At the start of the second year after the assembly we were given our new timetables for my class we had double games in the afternoon, only a few lads had brought their games kit with them, so we all went to the sports block, to find that the gym had been set out for pirates, he ushered the class into the changing room, the asked “ who has their the sports kit” Just a few hands went up, “right lads for this once you may strip off to your underpants for this lesson if you don’t wear underpants tough.” About five of my fellow classmates did not wear underpants ever. I was a bit shocked at first but stripped off and to my surprise a couple of my classmates who wore underpants joined us in the gym naked so eight lads did the lesson completely naked, most lads of my generation wore y-fronts but one lad wore mesh trunks that gaped open at the front as he was moving about and he looked more ashamed that the nudists.
The strange thing is that I don’t think that anyone thought that this was odd it was just what was done at the time.

Comments by Justin on 27th January 2013  

Steve, I can't see the logic of that system. We also had shirts against skins basketball matches at school but if you were a skin you went bare to the waist at the start and stayed like that until the end of the game. I can't imagine it would have been much fun starting on the skins team and having to put a shirt on halfway through the game when you were already hot and sweaty.

Comments by Steve on 21st January 2013  

For inter house basketball competitions we were split into teams of skins vs vests. At halftime we had to swap over so the skins team put their vests on while the other team removed theirs. For PE/Games the boys would all be made to go barechested and teams picked out by the colour of the shorts black or white) This didn't cause any problems.

Comments by Thomas on 20th January 2013  

Agree with Dave - bibs are the best system for telling teams apart in PE. When I started at school we had these coloured sashes that you wore over one shoulder and diagonally across your chest. They were a nightmare as they were often too loose and hampered your movement when you tried to throw a basketball, for instance. It wasn't long before the school replaced them with bibs, they fitted much better and were also easier to make out in a split second when you were trying to find a team mate.

Comments by Dave on 18th January 2013  

If all the boys had to be barechested it is much more easier to have bibs over your shoulders and chests. The vests,rugby top,white shorts,black shorts...etc thing is too complicated for a team game I think.

Comments by Simon on 18th January 2013  

Sam,it would have been much easier to identify opponents if we had been allowed to wear vests,but our kit was dictated by our teacher and as I mentioned the only item of clothing we were alllowed to wear was a brief pair of satin shorts.

Comments by Sam on 17th January 2013  

Simon, what was it like playing in games where the teams were distinguished by different coloured shorts? Did it get confusing? I ask because we sometimes had a similar system at my school, usually when two classes had to share the gym because of bad weather. In the gym we wore white shorts, for outdoors we wore black shorts, so if there were two classes together that meant four teams - vests, football/rugby tops, skins and white shorts, skins and black shorts. But it was always a bit chaotic when the two skins teams were in direct opposition. Normally it was so straightforward if you were playing skins - you could see easily who was wearing his top and who wasn't when you needed to pass. But in these games, when every player was bare-chested, I remember looking around for someone to pass to and being bewildered by a sea of bare skin! By the time I'd checked to see whose shorts were white or black the ball had usually moved, or the pass had been made to the other team by mistake. Maybe it was just me but skins against skins didn't really seem to work!

Comments by Guy on 16th January 2013  

We always did PE and cross-country stripped to the waist.Also we went barefoot in the gym.A few lads would do cross-country barefoot as well.

Comments by Simon on 15th January 2013  

Welcome Lars! We also went without vests and also bare foot with no underwear,just brief satin shorts.For games our teams were identified by the colour of our shorts,blue,yellow,red and green.

Comments by Edward on 14th January 2013  

Looking back, I never questioned whether underpants should be allowed for games and gym. I went to school in the late 1950's/early 60's, and wore cream woollen trunks which had no elastic. They were kept up by tapes which my braces hooked through, so once my trousers were off there was no way that my pants would stay up, so it never dawned that it was odd not to wear underpants for sport. From what I can remember, most of the boys in my class wore similar underwear, except for a few who had progressed to 'Y' fronts, and these were generally derided! How things change!

Comments by Lars on 13th January 2013  

nice bodys....

Comments by Lars on 13th January 2013  zarrer@hotmail.de 

Hi, I am lars fom germany, 19 jears old, and I like verry much your comments to this picture. Unfotunatelly we had pe lessons not always shirtless. For some games with two teams, one team took off there shirts, so I could see the nice chests of my class mates!!!
Since I am bisexual, I like the nice bodys while they play games or do sports!!
I specially liked the comment, where somone wrote, that they wear only the shorts and nothing else!!

bye Lars

Comments by Malc on 7th January 2013  

Kevin, I remember doing dancing at primary school when both boys ang girls were dressed in normal uniform. What it would have been like being with secondary school girls while I was bare chested, I can only try to imagine.

During dances like the waltz, the girls would presumably have had to put their hands on the boys' bare shoulders. What was the temperature like in the hall during these lessons? Were you covered in goose pimples?

Comments by Mark on 6th January 2013  

Kevin:-Did you really have to do ballroom dancing while bare-chested?

Comments by Gordon on 5th January 2013  

Reading these accounts I now realise how lucky I was as a scoolboy. I went to a grammar school in the south in 1959 where there was a very relaxed attitude towards sporting dress, though not to uniform in general. For football I think we were told we ought to wear some form of support, and most of us wore swimming trunks under our shorts, but no-one ever checked. I don't remember any strict rules about dressing for gym or cross-country, we were just told to put on gym shorts and plimsolls. Some boys never wore a vest anyway and they would go bare-chested in the gym, but most of us who did wear vests kept them on for gym and for cross-country runs. The same applied to underpants. In all the six years I spent at the school I can't remember any time when anyone was even told off, let alone punished, for wearing underwear in the gym. Vests could not have been more visible. I wore old-fashioned baggy white trunks which had a habit of slipping down after a bit of vigorous gym exercise or cross-country running, and an inch or two of underpant-leg would very often show (for other boys wearing the same style of pants, too), so it must have been obvious that we had kept our underwear on. I can't see what the problem was! We sometimes did cross-country runs in cold weather and the gym was never well heated. You can call me a southern softie if you like, but I think I was fortunate to be in a school where this relaxed attitude was taken. With a variety of different styles of vest, and with our sagging underpants, we were not the height of sartorial elegance, but did it matter? At least we were comfortable.

Comments by Kevin on 5th January 2013  

The uniform the te picture was exacty the same for us in the early 50s. This was not a problem because we quickly got used to it. We had PE twice a week plus a games afternoon. Being a co-ed school the girls alternated with the boys for use of the gym, the other lesson taken outside, whatever the weather. When it was wet sometimes the female teacher would arrange for the girls to share the hall with the boys, so the lesson was spent learning ballroom dancing. This was the only time when some of us got embarrased about being topless. As 11 year old we weren't that keen on getting too close to girls, especially girls dressed in navy blue knickers and white aertext shirts. As we got older these shared lessons were often more enjoyable, with us boys jostling to be partnered with the more developped girls.

Comments by Andrew on 4th January 2013  

The comments from Ed are so accurate! Bare chests and icy cold communal showers were my experience too. Add in the slipper and the odd dose of the cane and it summed up PE sessions which in spite of those things were still great fun.

The general shyness of the current generation amuses me, do they think they have something different and need to hide it? I'm glad I grew up when I did and not in the current time.

Comments by Dave on 3rd January 2013  

"I suspect that Eastender is right about a possible rebellion if boys were required to go bare-chested today."

I think boys wouldn't really mind. They are shirtless for swimming lessons. What is the difference?
I think some parents and teachers are the ones who take it like a problem not the boys themselves.

Comments by Doug on 3rd January 2013  

Eastender,you raise interesting comparisons.
As a teenager at school,I received several detentions for having my shirt coming untucked. Like many of my mates,I started to tuck my shirttail into my underpants, and this cured the problem,although the elastic of my drawers was usually showing above my trousers. Surprisingly, my teachers never picked upon this,and I still use this method to keep my waist tidy. Braces were not allowed, nor were belts, so I guess we were the first saggers!

Comments by Neil on 2nd January 2013  

I suspect that Eastender is right about a possible rebellion if boys were required to go bare-chested today.
In my day you had no choice and wouldn't dare rebel.

Comments by Eastender on 2nd January 2013  

To Robert the last messenger & all others.

It is extraordinary the 2 extremes we see today. As you say pop groups & others showing their braces. Then the opposite trousers slung so low they show more underwear than anything else. Free advertising for certain companies. On the other hand when old men used to tuck their shirt in their pants and the elastic showed over the top of the waistband,it was thought funny. Of course they did not show off "designer" labels

To return to the topic of PE, I expect that if a school tried to introduce shorts with no pants & no tops these days, there would be a rebellion. Do schools provide showers with individual cubicles these days?

Comments by Robert on 2nd January 2013  

Hi Eastender

You raised and reminded me of another interesting aspect of life in the 1960's. Like you I received a strong word for removing my blazer when I was wearing braces, although many of my mates did so as well. I was given the option of taking my braces off or putting my jacket back on. I had to suffer the heat of my blazer as my braces not only kept my trousers up, but also my underpants, as elastic then was of suspect quality! It did not strike me at the time that braces were considered as underwear, not to be seen, or I might have been more embarrassed. As it was, my dad and Granddad both wore braces, uncovered,and nobody batted an eyelid.

How different today,when I see many pop group members playing in their braces. It must have had an effect though,as I am now loathe to let anyone see my braces, although I am in my 50's,but my grandson has no such qualms.Lucky lad!

Comments by Robert on 2nd January 2013  

Hi Eastender

You raised and reminded me of another interesting aspect of life in the 1960's. Like you I received a strong word for removing my blazer when I was wearing braces, although many of my mates did so as well. I was given the option of taking my braces off or putting my jacket back on. I had to suffer the heat of my blazer as my braces not only kept my trousers up, but also my underpants, as elastic then was of suspect quality! It did not strike me at the time that braces were considered as underwear, not to be seen, or I might have been more embarrassed. As it was, my dad and Granddad both wore braces, uncovered,and nobody batted an eyelid.

How different today,when I see many pop group members playing in their braces. It must have had an effect though,as I am now loathe to let anyone see my braces, although I am in my 50's,but my grandson has no such qualms.Lucky lad!

Comments by Ed on 1st January 2013  

I remember gym sessions like this and they were great fun, never mind bare chests and no underpants, we learned skills and gained strength from these sessions.

I don't really remember the gym being cold and if it was, we didn't stay cold for very long. The changing room was a different matter, the windows were always wide open no matter what the weather so it was like stripping off outside in winter. The showers were always cold too so freezing in the winter but they did no one any harm and any boy who was not properly under could be sure of a sore bottom and then sent back in. Communal showers were the norm too and no one seemed to question them or mind, we were there to get washed and when dirty and sweaty I was always glad of the shower.

Going to the gym these days makes me laugh, the showers are all in very private cubicles but of course you have to strip to go in and you come out naked too so what's the point of the cubicles?

Comments by Michael on 31st December 2012  

Being stripped to the waist was nothing unusual for us as it marked out the teams in "skins versus shirts" games. The problem was more connected with the chilly temperatures usually encountered in the school gym.

Our (most unpleasant) PE teacher, who was warmly clad, used to tell us to run around to get warm, but this wasn't possible if we had to stand on one side waiting for our team's next turn.

If we dared to suggest we were cold, he called us softies, and compared us with previous years of classes which had been composed of much hardier pupils, who did not feel the cold as keenly as we did.

He might have had a point, because by that time (mid 1960s) a fair number of us lived in centrally heated homes. Living standards were improving, so it was all the more of a shock to encounter the icy, spartan conditions of the school gym.

Comments by Paul on 31st December 2012  

I well remember the winter of 1962/63 when despite it being the coldest winter in living memory we still had to do PE stripped to the waist both in the gym and outdoors.
Personally being stripped to the waist didn't worry me at all but I know some lads didn't like having to go bare-chested.They were left in no doubt that like it or not you stripped to the waist and got on with it.

Comments by Andy on 30th December 2012  

I went to a grammar school in the 1970’s.

The uniform/kit list sent out said something like, PE/cross county kit – white shorts, white vest & white plimsolls.

Naturally I assumed that I would be allowed to wear all of these items for PE, so I turned up at the first lesson with them, and started to undress. Soon the PE teacher came in and announced that we needs just shorts for his lesson, one boy asked did he have to wear a school vest or should he keep his ordinary vest on. He got his answer in no uncertain terms, everyone had to strip to the waist, plus bare feet, the rest of the kit was for cross country only.

Personally, I didn’t mind having no top on, but really hated having bare feet, especially as the gym floor was usually freezing, not that the gym itself was that warm. I’m sure that a few boys were unhappy with bare backs/chests, but only one lad was really upset, and I think he always dreaded PE because of the restricted kit.

The shorts only policy stayed with us for the rest of my time at the school, and like many things, we had no choice but to accept it. After a while it became normal, and it would have seemed strange to have worn plimsolls in the gym, or to not have been striped to the waist

Comments by Guy on 28th December 2012  

I will never forget the first time I had to be bare chested for PE. I was 14 and up to then I'd always done PE in a vest and shorts, as did every boy in the class. At the start of the new school year in September we had a new teacher for PE but nobody thought anything of that, we just turned up and got changed into our usual kit. The teacher arrived and, after introducing himself, informed us that we were all incorrectly dressed for his gym lesson. From now on our kit was to be white shorts (and socks and trainers). There were a few puzzled looks and one boy actually asked 'what do we wear on top, sir?', to be told 'Nothing. No tops - take them off' and at that point the penny dropped. I remember my heart pounding with nervousness and hoping that I'd somehow misunderstood. But one by one boys began to strip off their vests and move out to the gym and I reluctantly realised I had to do the same. Some boys didn't seem that bothered, mainly the ones who were already displaying signs of defined pectorals and six-pack stomachs. Meanwhile I felt as if I was totally naked, standing in the gym with my chest bare - it was a new experience and one I wasn't comfortable with.
Like Chris, I tried crossing my arms so that they covered my nipples. That was fine while we were lined up in the gym but of course I couldn't run like that so eventually I had to give up and put my arms down. I just imagined that everyone else was looking at my chest, although I'm sure some of the other boys were just as nervous and uncomfortable as I was.
Later I learned from a friend in another class that they'd had PE in their usual kit; it was only my teacher who made boys strip to the waist. We were still allowed vests for outdoor PE, but never in the gym - that was how it stayed all year and it took a while before I got used to it.

Comments by ROY on 27th December 2012  

I knew that I would have to be stripped to the waist for PEas soon as my parents received the uniform list for Grammar School(in 1959.)
On my first PE lesson all us boys just stripped to the waist and went into the gym without any problems.
Nobody tried to hide their nipples(or belly buttons) and within a few days we all accepted that we did PE bare-chested without any worries.

Comments by Chris on 27th December 2012  

Hey everyone let's share the experience after finding out you have to be bare chested for P.E lessons in the 1st lesson. Was it terrifying? Was it embarrassing? Did you try your best to cover your nipples? (like I did) In the 1st lesson I tried my best to cover my nipples because I was embarrassed... Upon finding out, the demented P.E teacher forced me to lift my arms up and ordered one of my classmates to cover them for me! I felt soooo weird! The nxt lesson I never tried something like that again.

Comments by Eastender on 26th December 2012  

Sorry my typing went awry in my last comment. To make sense, he middle phrase should read:

(remember, these were youngsters) but boys always kept their shorts on and did not take part in pe in their pants.

The remainder of my comments are then as written

Comments by Eastender on 23rd December 2012  

In response to comments by Nick. I was at a Junior Scholl up to 1961. Pe for boys was norn=mal grey shorts but we wore our vest. Girls did pe in their underwear. Very rarely during a hot summer boys might remove their vest & even sometimes the girls (remeber these were young sters) would be bare top but boys always kept it being unfair for the girls . Equality was not a concern. However, I do remember that one very hot summers day I took of my blazer. The headmistress was horrified because I was wearing Braces on my trousers. She made me put my jacket back on saying men/boys did not show their braces. But then as I have written above girls were in underwear for p.e. Definately a different era then. But who worried?

Comments by Nick on 20th December 2012  

Max. Music and Movement was broadcast on the radio by the BBC schools service. Schools usually recorded it - the programme was played back to us in the school hall via a loadspeaker mounted in a huge wooden panel. We had Music and Movement in the junior years at primary school. The girls wore knickers an vests and the boy had to strip down to grey school shorts. I think we were all barefoot. I remember some of the boys asking if they could wear vests as the girls did - the response was that they could but the shorts would have to come off so they were wearing just pants. What a strange and distant world! But one thing I will always be grateful for is that I was introdued to Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kije through M&M in Juniors 3 (quite elightened when you think about it!).

Comments by Archie on 20th December 2012  

Responding to Tony's question:
How does it feel to be shirtless? aren't you ashamed the fact that other boys will see your chest & nipples? How was your 1st lesson shirtless?"

Tony - it was more than 30 years ago that I was first shirtless in a PE class, so the memory of my feelings is a bit hazy. I don't understand why any of us should have been ashamed at being shirtless, given that most if not all of us would have been swimming at some point in our lives prior to the age of 9 when we started at the school! I really don't see the fuss with lads having to strip to the waist.

Comments by Simon on 20th December 2012  

We only wore minimum clothing for all our physical activities,which were often shared with the girls.We only wore a vest for cross country runs,just brief,satin shorts were considered adequate.

Comments by Max on 19th December 2012  

Nick, your memory's clearly better than mine! You're right, now I think about it the class was called Music and Movement. Did you have the same thing at your school and was it also boys and girls in the class together?

Comments by Tony on 19th December 2012  

How does it feel to be shirtless? aren't you ashamed the fact that other boys will see your chest & nipples? How was your 1st lesson shirtless?

Comments by Archie on 18th December 2012  

They probably saw the dancing as a PE activity - no idea why else we'd have to get changed. No matter what we were doing in PE we had to get changed - even one day I remember having to strip down to shorts in order to sort through applications for tickets for sports day afternoon teas! If you were sitting out the class for any reason, such as illness, you stil had to get changed and sit at the side.

Bizarrely the only time I remember Having clothes on in the gym was one day in about fourth year when we were taught how to put someone in the recovery position and give mouth to mouth (on a dummy). We were told simply to take off our shoes and leave them outside the gym and just to go in in our stocking soles, which caused some anxiety amongst those of us who were wearing non- regulation white socks as they were so obvious to the PE teacher taking the class

For outside games - rugby, athletics, cricket etc - we wore the appropriate kit. For outside PE lessons we wore the same as indoor PE but were (again bizarrely) sometimes permitted to wear our school jumpers back to front. I never really understood that! That wasn't universal and as we were older we got to wear an athletics vest, though again if the weather was good we'd probably be made to go shirtless. The school was in a residential area (though wi playing fields out front) and we sometimes had to do road running around the nearby streets - sometimes but not always shirtless

Comments by Jon on 17th December 2012  

Archie,thank you for the answering.

What did you wear for outdoor lessons?

"The girls for some reason did that wearing their gym tunics (basically skirts with a sort of dungaree style top half that they wore as school uniform on days they had gym), but we boys still had to strip down to our PE kit."

I've never heard about boys having to be shirtless for dancing practice.I think it was rare as well as swimming nude.

Comments by Nick on 16th December 2012  

Max. Could it have been Music and Movement?

Comments by Archie on 14th December 2012  

Answering Jon's questions:

"what was the boys' reaction for having to be shirtless for PE and naked for swimming lessons?"

I remember when we started at the school at the age of about 9 when we were told that we were to be shirtless and have no underwear on for PE - our parents presumably knew we were going to be shirtless as only shorts were specified on the kit list. It was a bit strange the first couple of times as we weren't used to being naked in front of each other, but as others have testified it is something you soon get used to. By the time we starting swimming lessons we were pretty comfortable stripping off for gym - and the showers afterwards - so the idea of being bare in front of each other wasn't quite so bad. It was still strange to start with, but I got used to it quite quickly and it stayed that way until I left school just before my 18th birthday.

"Was there any reason given for kit rules?"

Just the usual - hygiene, not wanting us to wear sweaty underpants for the rest of the day etc. For swimming in the buff there wasn't ever really an explanation - it's just how boys swam at school.

"Was there any PE lesson where you shared the hall with girls?"

This happened only rarely, such as when a teacher wasn't available to have two separate classes. The only organised joint sessions were when we were taught country dancing together in advance of school dances, which would be a couple of times a year. The girls for some reason did that wearing their gym tunics (basically skirts with a sort of dungaree style top half that they wore as school uniform on days they had gym), but we boys still had to strip down to our PE kit. Presumably this was due to the teachers not thinking too much about the inequality, but no reason was ever given.

Comments by Michael on 13th December 2012  michaelabbey@rocketmail.com 

I was interested to read your comments.
We were not allowed pants either under our white PE shorts, or under rugby kit. Later we were encouraged to wear Speedo type swim trunks for comfort and those who were in the various teams usually did. Any boy who was obviously lacking support underwear was given some 'advice' by the sports teacher.
Later again some lads wore a jockstrap although they were a minority.
At that time I do not remember being stripped to the waist for any of our sports lessons but corporal punishment was meted out.
I've included my email if anyone wants to comment apart from on the forum.

Comments by Max on 13th December 2012  

Charles B's post reminded me of my own junior school days (late 70s/early 80s) when we did a class that was kind of a cross between gymnastics, dance and a bit of drama too - I forget exactly what it was called but it was girls and boys together. Girls could wear a leotard or t-shirt and shorts, for boys it was just shorts and bare chest. Everyone went barefoot and it was quite warm in the hall so that wasn't a problem. You could wear any colour shorts you liked so a lot of boys opted for red as they supported Liverpool. Those who wanted could also wear the same shorts for swimming, which was once a week at a local pool and also mixed. That was how it stayed until the age of 12 when we moved on to senior school and had more 'traditional' PE lessons, with a proper uniform and boys and girls separate.

Comments by Jon on 13th December 2012  

Archie, what was the boys' reaction for having to be shirtless for PE and naked for swimming lessons?
Was there any reason given for kit rules?
Was there any PE lesson where you shared the hall with girls?

Comments by Archie on 10th December 2012  

At my independent school in the early to mid 80s, we had gym wearing fairly skimpy black shorts, no underwear, bare chested and white plimsolls. Later on when we were seniors we were allowed to wear jockstraps or speedos under the shorts, but lads regularly got caught wearing underpants instead. We must have been one of the last UK schools that still had swimming in the buff as well. Corporal punishment was still used regularly in the form of the tawse and, in PE, the slipper (really a gymshoe).