Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 676,755         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 Nick on 29th June 2012  

Interesting recollections from John Lavender – I would imagine your PE master was something of a rarity in stripping down to lead the lessons. I went to school about 15 years later and there was no way you’d ever see any of our PE masters in trunks or even bare-chested. In a way I suppose it symbolised their authority, they were the ones who always wore shirts in lessons, we boys had to bare our chests if we were told to do so, which we frequently were as most team sports involved Shirts against Skins. No-one was ever forced to swim naked, if you forgot your trunks you were given the option of swimming without them or joining another class in the gym wearing just your underpants. As far as I can remember every boy in that situation opted for the latter, even though that wasn’t a great deal of fun!

Comments by Eastender on 28th June 2012  

In reply to John Lavender. I agree we had no worries or cares in the pre P/C days. Our pe teacher wore full track suit. but we had no worries about shorts only & no pants or changing & showering together. My problem is these days if I go to a public swimming pool to check & see whether it is (as is becoming the norm) mixed family changing so I do not forget & start getting changed in a mixed area.The cubicles are so small Not like at the gym & pool where changing facilities are separated by gender & you can just go in strip off & change without a worry. At school our swimming lessons were held at a public pool,although the session was exclusive to our school however, we never had the opportunity to experience the freedom of swiming naked. Kid today talk about freedom but I do not think they are as free of worries as we were.

Comments by John Lavender on 27th June 2012  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

Our PE master was a Police Sergeant. He often led our lessons stripped to the waist with either tracksuit bottoms or nylon PE shorts on, always going Commando.
He regularly played for the 'Skins' Team when we played Killerball in gym lessons and refereed our wrestling bouts when we had those. Sometimes in swim trunks only if he didn't have his trackie bottoms or shorts with him. Those were the only time we saw swimwear at school as we swam naked in lessons, which he also took ( also naked) when the regular swim teacher was not available. We did see more of his physique occasionally as he was a big guy and the shorts were sometimes a bit of , as they say these days, a 'wardrobe malfunction' but that was just looked on as a bit of harmless fun... Attended Grammar school in the N-E 1963-68, well before the P.C. era. Happy, innocent days..

Comments by TIMOTHY on 26th June 2012  

This photo brings back memories of the fifties and sixties.In all the schools I attended there was a strict policy of being stripped to the waist for all games lessons.This was both in and out of doors.Also for cross-country runs many lads were also barefoot.One boy normally wore a medallion and chain around his neck.Some masters allowed him to keep it on but normally he had to remove it.We had to be striped to the waist outdoors even in the winter of '62/3 with lying snow on the ground!!!

Comments by Roy on 24th June 2012  

To Eastender:-Actually Dickie Bird(cricket umpire)said much the same thing only yesterday.

Comments by Eastender on 24th June 2012  

Without wnating to digress too much from the topic in the picture of PE, but picking up the thread of the latest comments. Dare I say the words bring back some form of National Service for both male & female. Not neccessarily armed forces as such becuae these days the services need people with qualifications, but some form of discipline & use the Corps perhaps to assist in times of flood or other national emergency.

Comments by Bill on 23rd June 2012  

I agree that modern day youths need toughening up.In my school career we had to do PE stripped to the waist as a matter of course and we didn't dare complain.It would certainly do the youths we see hanging around street corners in hoodies good to do tough physical exercise while stripped to the waist.

Comments by Andy on 21st June 2012  

Stuart, we didn't have morning runs but had too endure a cold shower every morning with matrons or prefects ensuring we stayed under the ice cold water. We had cross country and orienteering 3-4 times a week. The uniform was vast, shorts and slippers. This was year round. I remember running in quite deep snow and driving wind and rain.
I attended a military academy, mainly for the offspring of forces personnel. We had vests but teams were shirts vs skins. We had daily PT so went shirtless a lot. I had no problem with that. There was emphasis on toughening boys up for future military service. This included the use of CP, but only occasionally, and cold showers every morning, which I hated. One rather quirky uniform requirement was year round short trousers in the first three years. At the beginning of our fourth year we got long trousers with our uniform but no longer got a pajamas top, only bottoms. We had to sleep bare chest in Senior dormitories. This rule was enforced and any boy caught wearing a PT vest to bed would be slippered or caned. The pajama bottom were lowered for this. The Dormitories were very cold in winter. The condensation would often freeze up on the inside.
We were being conditioned to succeed during times of war. Today in South Korea teens receive much harsher treatment at military boot-camps. Teens, who spend too much time playing computer games and not studying or playing sport, are sent to camps during school holidays.
The teenagers complete grueling physical training without shirts for hours on end. This is often done in sub zero temperatures and in driving rain & snow.
Instead of rioting or stealing,like their UK counterparts, these lads are being conditioned to succeed.
We could do with boot camps for gangs of teenage 'chavs' who intimidate residents with their hoods up and faces obscured and their hands plunged inside their tracksuit pants, fondling their bits in public.



Comments by Paul on 21st June 2012  

I went to boarding school in Yorkshire in the 1960s/70s. We had to run six mornings a week at 6.30am in shorts and plimsolls whatever the weather. I cannot remember the run ever being cancelled. There were always duty masters assigned to the run but others ran too, masters being bare chested was not at all unusual and for many it was the norm.

As with others, underpants were not allowed with shorts and there was a painful penalty for being caught wearing them. The master who was head of athletics and gym was also the master of discipline so in addition to a collection of plimsolls he had a collection of canes which he was not slow to use. He was both a golfer and a squash player so the swing of his right arm packed a lot of power as I and many other boys discovered, in fact that was probably all other boys as I don't remember anyone who didn't get the cane fairly regularly.

Comments by Julian on 18th June 2012  

Peter you are so right.No bare-chested teaher went on the runs with us.

Comments by Neil on 17th June 2012  

Like Julian I was at a southern boarding school and experienced early morning runs while stripped to the waist.I did not enjoy it but it was no use complaining.You simply had to get on with it.

Comments by Peter on 17th June 2012  

To Julian and Ronny. Did a teacher accompany you - stripped to the waist - on these morning runs? No? I thought not!!!!

Comments by Tyrone on 16th June 2012  

Having read your comments Andy, I wonder whar would be said today if such a harsh punishment regime was used. Also I agree with your points about no sex education, & like you there was not alkk from my dad about puberty. We did not seem to worry about the changes in our bodies & I wonder if too much is made these days about growing up & growing into sexual maturity is jsut an excuse for bad behaviour. We were more diciplined by our teachers and better for it.

Comments by JULIAN on 16th June 2012  

Ronny:- I take your point as we were in the south of England

Comments by Ronny on 15th June 2012  

Julian you say you ended up quite enjoying it. I cannot imagine that. I attended grammar school from 1959-1964. It was brutal. During the 'big snow' we were still punished with unbelievable cruelty, by still having our morning run. We experienced arctic conditions in Northern Ireland in early 1963. I was 15.
The Christian Brothers had us dig a track around the playing fields so the morning run could continue. I will never forget it. We had overcoats and hats while clearing the snow but still had to strip to shorts and slippers every morning. It was shorter than the forest trail but I still doubt if any army would subject its soldiers to such treatment.
We were almost frozen and boys even developed chilblains.

Comments by JULIAN on 15th June 2012  

Yes,I had to do compulsory morning runs in the 1970's at boarding schoolin England.The boys were all stripped to the waist and barefoot.At first I dreaded it but eventually got used to it and ended up quite enjoying it

Comments by Stuart on 14th June 2012  stu151@hotmail.com 

In the 1960's/70's some boarding schools made all boys do an early morning run every morning, irrespective of weather, often wearing minimal kit.

Did anyone go to a boarding school that had compulsary early morning runs, if so how far did you run and were you made to run shirtless or even in just shorts. Did you get used to it, or did you dread being woken up, knowing you had to take off your warm pyjamas, put on just shorts and go out into the freezing cold ?

Comments by Andy on 14th June 2012  

Same here, white plimsolls, white shorts, no underpants, special kit for rugby.

I agree the no underpants was on the surface a hygiene thing and quite sensible, rolling around on a muddy rugby pitch in anything you might have to wear for the remainder of the day or working in the gym and sweating underpants off made sense. I played rugby until I was about 35 and even though the shorts were brief and we were all adults, it was universally underpants off when changing and at the gym I go to today, underpants off is the norm right across the age groups in the locker room though of course today's fabrics are far better than white cotton.

I think there was also something about control too, it was a discipline of having to do something none of us liked very much but we had to comply or take the painful consequences. We were warned to comply and that there would be checks. The checks happened about every three weeks when we would be asked in the changing room if anyone was wearing underpants and it was sensible to own up. Wearing them cost four whacks of the plimsoll, next we had to turn to face the wall and bend over. It was obvious immediately through thin white shorts if anyone was wearing underpants. If anyone was caught they got eight whacks along with the boy on either side who had failed to turn them in on being asked if anyone was wearing underpants.

I think there was also something almost useful in an age when there was no sex education at school and certainly my father never told me anything about how my body would change as I grew older. Being in communal showers with other boys was reassuring. You weren' the only one who had hair beginning to develop, penis growning and testicles dropping so in the absence of formal education, at least knowing you weren't the only one helped a lot.

Comments by mike on 14th June 2012  michaelabbey@rocketmail.com 

I went to secondary school in the 60s and we had a no underwear rule except that we were allowed to wear our swimming trunks underneath. In fact if we were in one of the sports teams, especially rugby, we were encouraged to do this. I know that this was the case at other schools.
Ours was boys only by the way.

Comments by DANIEL on 14th June 2012  

Sid:- It was the 1960's but co-ed.

Comments by Sid on 13th June 2012  

Daniel: Great to have a reply. You were one of the few schools it seems where underwear was allowed. What era was this. My secondary education was in the 1960's & as with a lot of schools all boys.

Comments by Mark on 13th June 2012  

We weren't allowed to wear underwear and iany bo tried and was found out he received six strokes of the cane and had to do press ups outside for up to an hour while strtipped to the waist and barefoot.

Comments by DANIEL on 13th June 2012  

Sid:- Yes I was allowed to wear briefs under my shorts.

Comments by Sid on 12th June 2012  

Daniel & Mark follwoing on from most peoples comments were you allowed to wear anything under your shorts?

Comments by DANIEL on 11th June 2012  

Like Mark although our uniform for PE was vest and shorts many lads didn't bother with a vest and went about stripped to the waist.Nothing was said and this meant that more and more of us started to do PE bare chest.

Comments by Mark on 11th June 2012  

Although according to the rules our PE kit was singlet and shorts many boys were always stripped to the waist.Nothing was ever said about them being bare chest for PE and more boys joined them being bare chested.

Comments by Eastender on 9th June 2012  

For the more recent readers I will repeat some of my previous messages of Nov &December 2011. We were told the reason for no underpants was for hygiene reasons. In more detail, We were advised that we would be working hard during pe & exerting ourselves & we had to have no pants & showers were to follow the lesson to prevent us sitting in subsequent lessons with sweaty underwear(how gross). However, as far as I can recall pe was usally the last lesson of the day so the reason were unfounded.
We wore very short shorts (compared today when track bottome seem to be the norm )& invariably white & left nothing to the imagination. But hey no one seemed bothered We were all boys & young men together. How times have changed. What do you think?

Comments by James on 9th June 2012  

I have always wondered why the no underpants rule was so strictly enforced and it would seem univeral, it certainly was at my school and being caught wearing underpants always resulted in a sore bottom. Other rules were enforced rather less. Ideas anyone?

Similar to others, white shorts, bare chest and plimsols in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Comments by Dessie on 8th June 2012  

We wore shirts, shorts and plimsoles for regular PE. Punishment PE was help on tuesday evenings for lads considered deserving. It was circuits in the gym. An hour of hell. We had to be barefoot and barechest and the no underwear rule was strictly enforced, unlike regular games.
It was always followed by a long cold shower. Coach would observe to make sure we stayed under. Always felt sorry for the PE teachers son. He came by car with his Dad who made him do punishment PE every week.

Comments by Tyrone on 25th May 2012  

I know that most of us who have left comments experienced pe in the 50's late sixties. I know things have changed with regards to pe kit inasmuch as nowadays it is tops & shorts & underwear allowed. I know that we were put through a strict regime, as many of us has said with cross country runs etc. but what of today is it easier. aAre the physical demands the same? Any present day students able to comment?

Comments by Keith on 25th May 2012  

I think that being stripped to the waist did instil discipline in boys particularly when being bare-chested on cross country runs in neighbouring roads

Comments by Tim on 23rd May 2012  

In the fifties and sixties I for one certainly did cross-country both stripped to the waist and bare-foot.Many of the other lads did the same.By the time we left school a few of the lads(myself included)had developed hairy chests and were quite muscular.

Comments by Oldschoolboy on 22nd May 2012  

Judging by the comments posted here, it srikes me that a lot of you suffered under the cohort of ex military people who were recuited into teaching after the war. We had a few in our school who were definitely somewhat unhinged and fortunately for me were not part of the PT department. When I left school (all boys) aged 18 in 1972 things were becoming a little more relaxed and the last swishes of the cane were dying away (I can still feel it however!)
PT was still done much as we see in the photo, we had singlets and shorts with coloured stripes on the side, as juniors no underwear was the norm but I don`t remember it being a rule as such, after age 13 or so we all wore the old cotton Litesome jockstrap, again there was no rule, we just did. Communal showers were the norm as well and I don`t recall any problems.
When I look back, it was certainly pretty spartan, but on the whole it was a good time.

Comments by Thumper on 21st May 2012  

Back inthe 60's we were required to wear shorts and tennis shoes.NO underclothing was permitted, but a shirtcould beworn. You COULD NOT wear your street clothes to PE, and if you did,you were not allowed to pass on the course, but to strip off NAKED and do PE that way..Not many forgot their shorts and shoes because of being afraid to disrobe. I cannot remember of any time that the familyor school administration had any problem with that. And yes, this was an all male class, with no chance of women coming into this area.

Comments by Tyrone on 9th May 2012  

Dave & Roy,
I have looked at most of the previous peoples comments & the only conclusion I can come to having read them, is that we are nearly all from the era when we were not so inhibited about our bodies. As you say rules were rules & that was that. I know my parents were told that we did pe with no underwear & no top. No one queried it. Furthermore, most senior schools were single sex so there was not the logistics of running separate classes for pe & no risk of anyone of the opposite sex seeing any one changing. As for showers one big open area with several shower heads & no worries about seeing each other undressed let alone without a shirt. It was all part of growing up. Nowadays boys are too inhibited.

Comments by Peter on 9th May 2012  

I went to an all-boys school in the 19970s. Like the boys in the photo, our PE was always done stripped to the waist. It was no use "forgetting" kit to get out of the lesson because the teacher had a supply donated by boys who were leaving or who had grown out of theirs. The teacher in the picture is wearing a tee-shirt and socks whereas our teacher wore track pants and a tee-shirt and sometimes a tracksuit top. I always felt that what was good enough for us should have been good enough for him.

Comments by Dave on 8th May 2012  

"I wnet with the family to a swimming pool of course teen boys just wear short. so what is the difference in doin pe this way?"

There is no difference.
Do they wear shirts for mixed swimming classes? No. That's why I can't see why boys are allowed to wear T-shirts nowadays in most schools for PE.

Comments by Roy on 8th May 2012  

Tyrone:-if teachers tell boys to strip to the waist for PE then they should be stripped to the waist with no questions asked.As you say you often see lads stripped to the waist in streets etc so what's the problem.

Comments by Tyrone on 8th May 2012  

I am assuming teenage lads would resent it if they were asked to go bare top for pe these days. However, at the weekend when I wnet with the family to a swimming pool of course teen boys just wear short. so what is the difference in doin pe this way?

Comments by Tom on 6th May 2012  

In my time boys were stripped to the waist for PE as soon as they started at junior school when they were seven.This went on until they left secondary school at either sixteen or eighteen.

Comments by RF on 4th May 2012  

GD:While still in primary school we used to see the boys from the nearby secondary school running bare-chested.We knew that when we went there we too would be stripped to the waist for games etc and we regarded it as perfectly normal.

Comments by G D on 3rd May 2012  

Having read the various comments , i can tell you in the sixties our P E was shorts, plimsolls & nothing else. Our shorts were white & the teacher said so we could not wear anything underneath without it showing, bearing in mind we all wore briefs those days.

One boy tried to keep his pants on Fool! The teacher was not daft. On the whole we enjoyed pe & I think enjoyed the freedom of wearing less clothes bearing in mind that for the rest of the day it was strictly uniform blazers & shirts & ties & we were only allowed to remove blazers if extremely hot weather. Anyone else eperince this?

Comments by Mark Jones on 3rd May 2012  

To Sid:-This was in the fifties/sixties and we worfe nothing under our shorts.We wore house shorts which were white.

Comments by Sid on 2nd May 2012  

To the 2 peopl;e named Mark, you say stripped to the waste for pe what era. I presume the pe kit was shorts & nothing worn underneath. In our school the colour of shorts was determined by the "House" you were in. White , Blue,Black. Were yours the same?

Comments by MARK JONES on 27th April 2012  

Yes Mark Smith I was bare-foot as well as stripped to the waist.

Comments by Mark Smith on 27th April 2012  

Mark Jones:-Were you barefoot as well as stripped to the waist?

Comments by Pete S on 27th April 2012  

Dave, T-shirt's aren't better. It's the designer clothes and PC brigade at work who'll tell you otherwise because they're making money. A vest, or better still, a bare chest are still the most effective tops. Boys, if given the chance would relish the opportunity to strip to the waist for exercise. It would also solve these "issues" (excuses!) once and for all.

Comments by Mark Jones on 26th April 2012  

Again I did PE stripped to the waist in the sixties.Thought nothing of it.Boys stripped to the waist.End of story.

Comments by Cornish on 21st April 2012  

At Junior school during the period 1957to 1961 pe mainly was indoors except for hot summer days & for boys was in vests(singlets) & grey school shorts which every boy wore irrespective of the time of year. However, the girls wore a vest & had to remove their skirts & do pe in their underwear. As far as I can recall, there was no complinats about the inequality between boys & girls de rigeur. That just how it was.

Secondary school was a different regime boys only school & pe was indoors & out depending on the weather, & was short tight white shorts (no underwear which would have shown through) & bare top, but we wore plimsolls with no socks. Finished off with communal showers. NO worries or thought about boys seeing each other naked. But it seems this is an issue for lads these days.

Comments by Dave on 20th April 2012  

I don't think boys really care about having to be shirtless for P.E. so I can't see why most schools changed that. Even vests are vanishing from nowadays schools and they wear T-shirts for gym. Why T-shirts are better?