Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools

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Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 676,722         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 Simon on 17th October 2011  

I went to an all male boarding school in Scotland in the mid 1970's. It was a strict regime and quite hard, especially for the new boys.
Every morning we would do a 2 mile run wearing white pe shorts and plimsolls. When it wasn't frozen, we also had to, immediatly after the run, do 4 lengths of the outdoor pool which was so so cold in the winter. We took off our shorts and plimsolls, did the swinm and then dashed back to our House to try and get warm. The thing I remember was that in the cold days of winter, our housemaster and his wife, who were all wrapped up, used to check religiously that every boy had done the run/swim and finished it off with a cold shower. There was no hot water in my House although some of the other Houses had hot water. My House was always very popular though, for some reason. These were harsh times but really only in the winter. In the summer, we all enjoyed it and had a lot of fun.

Comments by Matthew on 15th October 2011  

For a video version similar to this photo see the P.E. scene in the excellent "P'Tang Yang Kipperbang", set in a 1950's grammar school. It is followed by a Head's caning as mentioned by Stephen with an hilarious voice over by the cricket commentator John Arlott. The film, a touching and at the same time funny rite of passage story, is available on DVD.

Comments by Stephen on 13th October 2011  

yes that could be the school I went to in the 1960s White shorts and plimsols a Boy found in underpants did it bare for a few times. Showers were compulsory the only tiem a jock strap was allowed was when you played rugby against another school It ws common to see things hanging out of shorts when you were in the 4th 5th and 6th forms. In the winter cross country runs were shorts only to come rain , hail or snow. A boy who played up went to the hea dand came back with a hot bottom.

Comments by Elliot on 13th October 2011  

My school's PE kit is a bright yellow t-shirt with black shorts, together with the standard school socks and shoes. We also had a white vest used during different occasions. After the first PE lesson, our teacher told us to come in the vest instead. We were slightly uncomfortable at first as we could feel the breeze on our shoulders and even across our chests as our loosely fitted vests created air spaces between the vest and our 13-year old bodies. It made us feel more vulnerable. During competitive sports, one team had to be stripped to the waist to differentiate the teams, and nobody liked to be in the stripped team. Boys who did not bring their PE kit would have to borrow another boy's shorts and change out his uniform, leaving him shirtless. As mentioned by someone else, this was perhaps a show of power by the teacher, and to force the boy into a compliant and submissive state, knowing that he was being punished. 

Comments by JohnT on 12th October 2011  

Ahh, school PE lessons ... I went to school a little later than many others her (mid 1970s - mid 1980s) but I think I just caught the 'tail end' of the old regime, as my state schools (in the 'grim north') were rather old-fashioned with many staff (including the venerable PE teacher) having been there decades and very stuck in their (traditional) ways.

There was no uniform at my old Infant school (it was a poor school in a poor area) and this was reflected in the PE kit - boys simply did indoor work (there were no outdoor facilities) stripped down to underpants and in bare feet. Unthinkable today, but very common back there and then. I vaguely recollect being allowed to keep my white vest occasionally, but really, we never questioned or thought about it - we simply did as we were told!

Moving up to Juniors we got our first taste of 'proper' PE involving apparatus work like in the photo. Again, the school didn't have a uniform, but we were expected to bring and wear 'suitable' shorts (i.e. proper gym shorts not casual wear). We were allowed to wear black plimsolls indoors and a vest, and a few boys did, but I never bothered, largely spurred by a 'PE mad' friend of mine who always insisted on doing everything bare chested and in bare feet (he used to keep telling me how better it was).

Moving up to Seniors, and I finally got my first taste of having to wear a proper school uniform. The school also had a set PE kit for both indoor and outdoor sports. Outdoors was generally a rugby kit in school colours, although for athletics and cross-country our indoor kit was worn.

Indoors, the kit was ostensibly 'shorts only' and we were permitted to wear the same shorts as our outdoor kit (plain black). However, the rules did permit the wearing of a plain white vest and clean plimsolls or trainers for indoor work, but this was generally frowned upon by the teacher. However it didn't stop some boys from wearing the whole lot (which I always thought wa stupid). Some boys never wore anything for indoor work except their shorts (i.e. bare chest and bare feet) so classes ended up with boys in a mixture of kit. Although I was a rather scrawny boy who was rubbish at PE I always took the class very seriously and did my best, and this (along with my insistence on being bare chest and bare feet) always seemed to impress the PE teacher who was very supportive. Whereas those who wore vests and trainers and generally didn't put any effort in, were the ones who ended up having to do laps of the field in the freezing cold and pouring rain after school!

I miss those old lessons. Like others here I agree that contemporary school PE lessons are ridiculously 'soft' and lax. Yes, back then the gym was always freezing cold, and the lessons (especially circuit training) was relentless ... But at same time there was a certain 'macho' atmosphere with boys wanting to show off and prove that they were 'men' and could perform the various activities as well as the teacher (who, for an old man, was amazingly adept and fit).

But it's all gone now, along with those freezing cold dusty old gyms with their deadly wooden wall bars and medicine balls. Now we have school teaching soft non-contact sports and aerobics ... Shudder ...

Comments by Jon on 7th October 2011  

Our all-boys boarding school wasn't in Scotland but the PE staff insisted PE was done barechested both indoors or outside regardless of the weather or time of year. If you were seen to misbehave or not apply the required effort you were punished with a 2hr remedial session under the lights on the school yard from 7-9pm, obviously stripped to the waist and the term of your punishment could range from one night upwards to 2 weeks, determined by the PE staff. Now I can tell you this was a nightmare during the winter months!

Comments by Mal on 1st October 2011  

I experienced morning cold showers and daily cross country runs whilst stripped to the waist. Sheer hell in winter. However I've read of even harsher regimes in Scottish boarding schools where boys had to submerge themselves in a cold bath first thing every morning. Has anyone experienced such a thing?

Comments by norfolk on 28th September 2011  

yes I remember Buckmore Prk. Is there still a Scout Campsite there?

Comments by John Cunningham on 20th September 2011  

I attended an all-boys Kent grammar school in the late sixties/early seventies. As I recall, our PE kit was white shorts and shirts, with dark blue shorts and red and black hooped shirts for games. Having an open air pool, at least when I started, we always had to wear trunks for swimming. i was never much good at sports, but I cannot remember our PE or games teachers being anything like the hard disciplinarians mentioned here, but they still kept order and had a great deal of respect from us.
Mention of swimming in the nude reminds me of Buckmore Park at the time, a scout campsite, where at that time there were certainly some all-male nude bathing sessions!
It would be considered highly improper now, but little was said at the time, though we scouts were quite rude about the individual who insisted on it!!

Comments by Peter Crossley on 10th September 2011  mulga241@bigpond.com 

Yes, I remember Mr. Parry being my PE teacher back in 1962. The gym equipment is very familiar. Google Sam Hanna, the woodwork teacher. A keen photographer and I believe the first person to film Man U in colour back in 1957! Now beat that.

Comments by Phil on 6th September 2011  

I did p. e. in just a pair of shorts when I was at school over 40 years ago. We were all the same, no shirt, footwear or underwear, so there was no need for embarrasment. We enjoyed being able to get out of our uniforms and the cold didn't bother us in the winter, even cross-country running was done in just shorts. I think boys were tougher then and didn't have silly hang-ups about their bodies.

Comments by Mike on 28th August 2011  

I remember ehat I hated the most which was SHIRTLESS PIGGYBACK RIDES! When it was really cold your nipples would get hard. It would not feel good being carried with your hard nipples on soomeone's bare back

Comments by Ryan on 27th August 2011  

Our teacher used to do the same thing when he gave boys a PE detention; first you all got changed into full PE kit, then each boy had to stand up in turn for a kit inspection. Any minor infringement of the rules resulted in extra punishment – wearing the wrong colour socks, or having a dirty towel, for instance. If you passed the inspection, you were then ordered to take your vest off and line up outside – which, if you were lucky, meant the corridor leading to the gym, if not it could mean the playing fields on a cold afternoon. In a regular PE lesson we would sometimes be shirts or skins, in detention every boy was skins without exception.
It did seem illogical to me that I had to put my vest on only to remove it almost immediately, but it was probably a power thing, a reminder from the teacher about who was in charge and who was being punished.

Comments by Scott on 27th August 2011  

Our classes at secondary school weren't like that, but when I was at infant school in the mid 1980s we did gymnastics in mixed classes with boys in blue vests and briefs (none of us wore boxers at that age) and girls in vests and knickers. However in the summer when it was warm the boys were allowed to tak their vest off and just do gym in their briefs. This practice stopped when we went to junior school (age 8 to 11) and we did gymnastics barefoot in shorts and a t-shirt, still mixed.

At secondary school in the early to mid 1990s we did gymnastics barefoot in white shorts and a green rugby top. For everything else it was that plus socks and trainers/football boots. Shirts v skins must have been frowned upon by then as our rugby tops were reversible - turning them inside out revealed a yellow hoop on one side only. If you were picked for hoops in team sports you took your top off and turned it inside out to wear. In cross country in the summer you were allowed to take your shirt off if you wanted - not compulsory - but those of us who did did it more to pose in front of the girls in the fields we ran past than anything else!

Comments by Simon on 24th August 2011  

Our kit was listed as a vest and pair of shorts but we were to find out it was anything but. After changing for our first lesson we all trooped out onto the field and lined up. Shortly after the teacher turned up he looked along the line, pointed and shouted "You, out to the front" and then "Right then vest off!" After dropping my vest on the ground we were told this would be our PE kit. One boy mumbled something and was given a cold shower at the end of the lesson for his troubles.

So it was our vests were off for all PE/Games lessons (then 5 periods at week, 1 double and 3 singles and though for some reason we had to put our vests on in the changing room just to take them off a few minutes later) regardless of temperature or weather.
During the winter the girls tried unsuccessfully to monopolise the gym and on numerous occasions when they were outside, their teacher would "accidently" forget extra netballs or equipment and send a couple of girls to collect these from the storeroom at the bottom end of the gym. It always seemed to be timed so they'd enter the gym as our vests were coming off!

Comments by Jim on 24th August 2011  

Michael, were you forced to perfoem P.E shirtless?

Comments by Michael on 19th August 2011  

The picture reminds me of my old grammar school days. I was academically inclined but not physically adept - brains not brawn you could say. Which is why I suppose, I went to a grammar school in the first place.

Because I wasn't confident at football or gymnastics or indeed anything of the sort, the PE teacher took a dislike to me. He could have done what teachers are supposed to do, i.e. help me to develop my skills so I could begin to enjoy the activities. But no; all I got was sneering contempt, humiliation and the gym shoe on my backside. Accordingly, the school gym was a torture chamber to me, made worse by being bone-chillingly cold most of the time.

I couldn't get out of that gym quickly enough. I could have enjoyed some sport during my adult life but my experiences there put me off permanently.

Comments by Keith on 15th August 2011  biggyin@hotmail.com 

we had awfull thin seethru nylon pe shorts at my school, only a few lads wore anything under them, and every now and then the lessons would change from football to swimming, and when this happened we only had white shorts, so all the boys had to wear there white football shorts in the pool, which got very seethru when we got out of the pool and stood on the side for diving practice. everything visable

Comments by Pete on 14th August 2011  

I don't understand how Toby could forget his PE shorts if he was a boarder. Even if he had the world's worst memory, he and his shorts would surely always have been on the same premises.

Comments by Matthew on 13th August 2011  

The boys in the photo are doing apparatus work. At Colne Grammar we did this in one of our two PE lessons each week. We divided into small groups each working on one piece of apparatus until the teacher shouted "Change", when we moved to the next. I never did master climbing a rope! The last lesson of the term was always a free-for-all game on the apparatus called "Pirates". Does anyone remember the rules?

The 'box' on which the boy is doing a handstand could be used for other, more sinister, purposes at Colne. We had to spend wet lunchtimes, unsupervised, in the gym. The bigger boys would take the top off the 'box' and see how many smaller boys they could get in before replacing the top, sitting on it and banging their heels for the rest of the lunch hour. For obvious reasons the trick was to be last boy in; I learned how to wedge myself behind the wallbars.

Come to think of it, the bigger boys had another use for the rugby posts during dry lunchtimes. As the teacher called the register one afternoon she asked, "Where is D*******?"
back came the response from a small voice at the back, "Please Miss, he's tied to the rugby posts." Compassionately, he declined to add what we all also knew, that as well as being well and truly trussed, D******* was tearfully looking at his ankles round which resided his trousers and underpants. Such incidents were not uncommon but had completely disappeared by the time I left.

Comments by Matthew on 12th August 2011  

I forgot to mention swimming. Again we got off lightly compared with others on this post because we always wore swimming trunks. Forgetting them, however, meant borrowing a pair of grotty ones from the pool. The entire school had to attend the annual inter-house gala as spectators. One year a boy competed in white trunks. All went well as he went up to do his "neat dive". After he emerged from the water and walked back towards us down the length of the pool an excited buzz arose. We could not understand this because the trunks did their job from the front. As he passed we realised what he didn't - his wet trunks were completely transparent at the back leaving no detail of his bottom to the imagination. I don't think he got into trouble but he never wore tham again.

Comments by Toby on 12th August 2011  

I attended a coed (mixed) grammar school in Devon between '61 and '68 and most of the memories on here reflect my own experiences at school. I was a boarder but the school also admitted day pupils. One of the luxuries at our school was the size of the grounds - about 20 acres or so - which meant there was a keen policy of outside PE and exercise in general. Back then, our PE kit consisted of shorts. Oh, and plimsolls if the activity required them. No underwear was the rule, and strictly adhered to.

There was no way you cheat as the shorts were slightly transparent - pants were visible a mile off. Generally no-one cared about being shirtless, especially in the summer, or even being barefooted for that matter. In winter, depending on how cold the day was, a sports vest was allowed.

I don't remember having a jockstrap, things just 'floated' about freely inside the large baggy shorts. I don't ever remember it being a problem though.

The swimming pool was built during my tenure (can't remember what year, but mid 60s approx.) There was no swimming kit so the swimming was done naked, but generally there were no spectators so no-one was bothered in the slightest, it just seemed perfectly normal. The only time some of the boys got slightly embarrassed was when the PE master was off sick and the girls female PE tutor deputised the swimming lesson.

On one infamous occasion, and I can't think why it was allowed to happen, the pool was shared by both the girls and boys swimming lessons - with the boys at one end doing diving and life saving, and the girls at the other end doing their thing. I just remember feeling at the time that it was deeply unfair that the girls could wear a full one piece swimsuit while we had to be naked.

The girls' puberty enhanced upper bodies didn't exactly help matters, especially as a hormone ravaged teen, either. This fear was borne out as one boy (who I shan't name and shame!) got out the pool and walked straight up the other end to complain to the PE mistress who was taking both classes, and confronted her. As he was admonishing her about the injustice - both of them standing at the poolside near the girls - he developed a huge.. er.. state of excitement shall we say, in full view of the pool and 12 or so giggling and whistling girls, ending with a firm rebuking from the mistress and told go back and carry on diving and not to be such a baby. I seem to remember him being popular after though..

The gym PE was generally just shorts only with no plimsolls. If you forgot your kit, I'm afraid it was birthday suit unless you bunked it - moi, guilty as charged, but hey ho.. hehe, nothing changes, eh?

Generally, I look back fondly of my time at Colyton. I think I was happy for the whole six years there, and lucky to be educated in such a forward thinking and modern grammar school at the time. It was a strict school, yes, and there were times when I found it hard, but I wouldn't change a thing if I'm honest.

Yeah.. I miss those days now.. Oh to be young again!

Comments by Matthew on 10th August 2011  

I attended Colne Grammar School, near Burnley, in the 1950's. The photo could have been of our school. Like them we wore only white shorts for PE with no underpants. However if we forgot our kit we just did not do the lesson; there was no question of having to do it in underwear. Although this was quite a change from the junior school, where we did PE in our ordinary clothes, the big shock came at the end of the lesson when we had to strip off and run through the cold shower holding our towels above our heads. If you forgot your towel you dried yourself on your shorts or any thing else that came to hand At this time, many of us did not have a bathroom at home but we still did not appreciate the icy cold water. We did not feel embarrassed at wearing no shirt or vest for the lesson but were very shy of being seen even in our underpants when we changed. I remember getting the cane when I was 12 on the same day as we had PE and having to stand awkwardly in the changing room as the rest of the class examined the stripes on my backside. Compared with other comments here perhaps we had it easy because I cannot remember anyone being slippered by the PE teacher. \we played Burnley Grammar at football I think.

Comments by Alex on 19th July 2011  

I was at school in the 1970's, we too has a no pants rule for games. At junior school we wore nothing under our shorts and at the senior school we were required to wear a jockstrap. A jockstrap was on our kit list we were told to wear them by the games teachers.
I expect others had similar rules.

Comments by jake on 13th July 2011  

why dont they do it today

Comments by Mike on 7th July 2011  michaelabbey@rocketmail.com 

This picture has stimulated a load of comments including some mention of the old 'no pants' rule for boys which was certainly the case at my school.
I think this is often misunderstood as a 'no underwear' rule as the wearing of some form of support is widely accepted as necessary. This was definitely so at my school in the 70's where the 'no pants' rule applied. But boys like me who were involved in sports teams soon fell into the habit of wearing a pair of swimming trunks underneath our shorts. This usually began at a time when an apprehensive youngster was first selected for the rugby team. A few words of sound advice often followed and a pair of trunks which had seen better days were packed in the kit bag.
I dont think that a jockstrap was usually a boys first support underwear unless maybe he only joined the cricket team.
I dont know if this corresponds with others experiences but maybe it does.

Comments by Chris on 6th July 2011  

During outdoor games the school's cricket pavilion was often used for changing in and only had one changing area . On some occasions when the boys' games session finished first we were ordered out of the changing rooms by our games master in various states of undress in order for the girls to take priority for showering and changing. We were then lined up outside mostly naked or almost-naked waiting for the girls to finish before we were allowed back in.You can imagine how exposed and self-conscious we all felt as the girls left the changing room. We were petrified but the girls loved it of course and took their time walking past and inspecting us in all our glory!

Comments by Tom on 23rd June 2011  

Re Ron’s question on nipple exposure, I think the feelings of self-consciousness and embarrassment came from being made to visibly stand out from the rest of the class, rather than just the fact of being bare-chested in public. After all, I didn’t feel shy or embarrassed when I took my top off for swimming lessons and every other boy in the class was bare-chested as well. It was a different matter if you were ordered to remove your vest in the gym as a punishment, suddenly you felt under dressed compared to the rest of the class and, I suppose, a bit more vulnerable.
I posted earlier about the uncomfortable experience of being made to do PE bare-chested and barefoot with a class three years younger than me and the whole point about it was that the younger boys were all in full kit. It wasn’t only that I had to do the lesson with my top off, I also had nothing on my feet while they wore socks and trainers, and that made me feel inferior to those kids.
I’m sure it might have been a bit more bearable if the younger boys had all been in shorts only as well, but the feeling of being the odd one out was made far worse than if I’d at least been among my mates.

Comments by John Lavender on 17th June 2011  finswimmerjohn@yahoo.com 

@Ron. Yes I think there is a general adversity amongst boys, particularly those who have hit puberty, to Nipple Exposure (hereinafter referred to as 'NE'. This seems to go back about 20 years; before then it is generally accepted that youngsters were less embarrased about body exposure, certainly in Schools PE/Gym sessions.

The same is also true of other scenarios like the Scouts. In the pre-1980's era, in fact going back pre-WWII, going barechested (and indeed in a lot of camp scenarios, completely naked) was perfectly acceptable, because it was a 100% male environment, there was no PC to speak of, and in fact a lot of kids were eager to go to camp, not only because it was a release from the by-and-large dreadful inner city conditions, but it was bonding opportunity, you could indulge in NE or even nudity and no one bothered.

Some kids just could not wait to go for that reason and also the staff (Scout-Masters and Patrol-Leaders) were supportive; the SM in our village at the time I was at junior school, was also involved in the School itself and was a Naturist , and indeed most of the time at camp I understand he was naked or wore shorts at most. This was considered manly and anyone allegedly wearing more than shorts was generally considered to be "soft".

The parents were generally fine about this, and it is only recently when (ironically) the children of the 50s and 60s baby-boomers have started to go to senior school or scouts that this aversion to NE has manifested itself.

Gender equality has also played its part; if Scouts were male-only then I think we would probably have similar attitudes to NE as in the years before the 1980s.

I personally now wish I had joined-in the fun, a good friend of mine at the time tried to temp me to try it; I wish I had.

John

Comments by Ron on 16th June 2011  

Is the reason for shyness and self conscious behaviour with boys told to be barechested down to the fact of exposure of the nipples? Are barechested boys shy about their nipple exposure?

Comments by Will on 15th June 2011  

I was at a home counties high school late 60s. My junior school head was a kindly batchelor who as far as I can remember never hit a kid his voice was enough! He warned us what lay in store at the comprehensive When we went there it was a total culture shock. The cane ruled as did the slipper in PE. The head was ex military as was the PE teacher and his sidekick. I hated sports of any kind ( but later got into weights) By the time we were about 15 I quite liked cross country as we were left to do it, and I could have a fag on the way round. Guess who got caught one day? The PE teacher ordered me to his room not to get changed He produced this enormous worn out black plimsol more sole that upper around size 11.I was forced to touch my toes there followed 6 hard whacks that sounded like gunshots across the shiny PE shorts we wore in those days. The whole of my backside was on fire for the rest of the day and still very sore the day after. When I emerged there was a crowd of lads and several sniggers and knowing looks, although I was damned if I was going to shed a tear for that. It was as if he was whacking a carpet! I realised when I grew up that most of these teachers were pervs. You got slippered for the slightest thing.After I left school and grew into a large bloke I always vowed if I ever came across that pervy [removed, admin] I would deck him. Turns out he dropped dead at 44! I still smoked as well.

Comments by mark on 25th May 2011  

i went to a mixed school in the early 80's. the boys pe kit was white t-shirt, white shorts and white plimsols. no underwear.the master checked we were not wearing underwear by looking down our shorts. any boy caught wearing pants had to strip naked and was whipped across the backside with a wet towel.if you forgot your pe kit the first time you had to do it in your pants. the second time with just a towel around your waist even outside sports. if your towel came down you had to carry on naked.

Comments by Richard on 13th May 2011  

As for everyone else the photo brought memories of my time in the gym at Grammar school in 1959/66

I can remember the first time to this day. All us new 11 year old first formers had to sit on the floor and we were made very clear as to the rules for kit which were clean white shorts and plimsolls ( shoes never to be worn in the gym), no underpants to be worn and a shower afterwards was mandatory. Breaches of these rules would be punished by a tanning.

Our PE master was a superbly fit athlete and fine gymnast and strict disciplinarian.

The next time in the gym one of the boys stupidly wore his briefs and was caught doing so. Six of the best with the slipper followed in the changing room afterwards. Shorts and briefs pulled down in front of everyone. I can see the boy's face now it was deep beetroot red with embarrassment. I vowed never to infringe the rules after seeing that spanking and never did.

Similar punishment was meted out as promised for unwhitened plimsolls and dirty shorts and not showering many times during my time there.

We were all supremely fit after all this physical excercise along with regular cross country runs unlike today's overweight kids.

Yes it was a harsh regime but I value the disciplne to this day; and, yes, no doubt we were terrorised by the masters but today, of course, it is completely the other way round with the kids terrorising the teachers.

They said at the time corporal punishment was abolished that violence begets violence but society and schools today are much more violent than ever was the case in my day and I think this argument needs to be revisited.

The kids today also most definitely need the physical excercise we had.

Comments by Jamie on 6th May 2011  

Reading the last few comments brings back things I have not thought about for years, probably 30 years. At my prep school and the first few years of senior school, we were forced to do wrestling in pe lessons. Half the class really enjoyed it and the other half detested it as they basically got pummelled by the stronger kids. Whilst I was not one of the stronger boys, I really enjoyed wrestling and was quite good at it. If you had a hard match, your top was basically scratched and red raw at the end. As a boarder we were much better as we were always practising in the evenings. During the lessons we were never allowed to wear tops although after school some boys would wear shirts (not me) and it was much easier to wrestle them as you could get hold of something. In those days, boys were boys.

Comments by Rob on 3rd May 2011  

Fascinating stuff, John.

As we only played such games once or twice a term, we looked forward to them with a mixture of apprehension and great excitement. I guess we enjoyed them because it was an occasion when we could legitimately be rough and tough and a little bit violent - we also sometimes had wrestling matches in PE at the end of term which had much the same effect - boys were allowed to be boys, back then!

Was that such a bad thing? It's interesting to look back now and analyse what would have looked like violent mayhem to any adult watching - although there were literally no rules in Killerball, there was an imlicitly understood code of conduct which didn't need to be stated out loud. Yes, it was quite acceptable to knee an opponent in the stomach, elbow him in the chest or sometimes even dish out a good old fashioned punch on the nose, and you expected such things to occasionally happen to you - and if you spent the rest of the lesson with a nosebleed, then so be it - it was that risk and bit of danger that made it so exciting. But...if anyone had done something "out of order" like kneeing another kid in the nuts, or girly hair-pulling, or unnecessarily or repeatedly picking on weaker boys who were no threat to anyone scoring, then even their own team mates turned on them to let them know in no uncertain terms that their actions were not acceptable. Would it be the same today? I doubt it.

Comments by John on 2nd May 2011  finswimmerjohn52@yahoo.com 

>>Comments by Rob, 31st July 2010
Not at all, David! As a special "treat" in the last PE lesson of each term we played a game called Killerball whereby the two teams (consisting of the boys from each of the two classes which were put together to do PE) had to score goals at the opposite end of the gym. Any tactics were allowed to get the ball in the goal - there were no rules at all! My class usually lost so rather than just use brute force and strength we hatched a plan at the end of one term whereby everyone but the biggest, strongest boy in my class was secretly paired up with a boy in the other class except their smallest, wimpiest kid. When the whistle sounded, we all went for our targets and just started fighting with them, meaning our strongest member was free to grab the ball, and only having to deal with their weakest team member, just keep scoring! It sort of worked, but backfired on us in a way because we were never allowed to play it again - I guess the teacher thought our tactics, original, inventive and intelligent though they were (in our opinion!), were just too violent to be allowed in school for a bunch of 13 year old boys even at that non-PC time!

I suspect the specifics of these sort of games and their names varied by region or part of the country - I lived in London - were there similar games in other areas? >>

Yes they were. We played a similar game in gym class @ our Grammar school (in Gateshead upon Tyne) when I was a pupil there, 1963 - 1968.

Our Gym teacher was a serving Sargeant in Durham (as then was) Police in Gateshead.

Our variation was played between teams of Skins and Vests.
(Technically we had plimmies, white shorts and white tees as PE Kit but when we played games we divided into 'Skins' and 'Vests' - there were just two 'houses' in the school.
Most guys wanted to play in 'Skins' and indeed we tried several times to get him to change our kit to just Plimsoles and Shorts, coloured to differentiate, but to no avail.

The rules/no rules for your game were very similar to ours; sometimes our teacher would join in as well.

The goals were a mat laid at each end of the gym, and sometimes the matches would last a half-hour to 40 minutes. We played this most weeks in PE lessons.

Also, the last four guys to enter the gym for each lesson used to be told to "Run the Gauntlet" as punishment for being slow; they would be made to strip off to the waist, and then made to run down an avenue of the rest of the c
lass in two columns, who had to slap them on the back as they passed them. Some of us deliberatedly changed slowly to enable us to do gym without a top and get a 'gauntleting' as a way of warming up for the lesson and the 'Killerball' game!

Comments by Domonic on 28th April 2011  

I must admit, I have happy memories of my pe and swimming lessons although it was a strict regime for boys but like a holiday camp for the girls. At my prep we did pe lessons all together in a massive gym with the girls wearing skirts and tops and the boys just pe shorts. If it was cold outside the girls could wear jumpers but nothing extra could be worn for the boys. At swimming which we did separtly, the girls could wear simming costumes but the boys were not allowed to wear anything. If pe was cancelled at short notice, we would do swimming but as the girls did not have their swim wear then they could watch, but only after we had all got in the pool. Alos, the boys had to shower, the girls did not have to.

Comments by Philip on 21st April 2011  

I was a boarder at my prep school which was virtually all boys except for about 4 girls. PE lessons were always bare chested (except the girls) and if we played team games, one team would be given a coloured sash type thing to wrap around our tops.
We did early morning swims in the indoor pool - always naked as the girls were in a different house. Our swimming lessons were always done naked but quite often the 4 girls would be waiting outside for us to finish and would take great delight in watching us.
I had swimming coaching as I was in the school team and there was a right ho ha as to whether we should wear trunks or not as there was a lady coach. There were about 8 of us and I think 6 of us stayed in the buff as we just didn't have trunks to wear and 2 wore shorts. It didn't seem to bother the coach and she trained us very well and put us through our paces. We all got really fit as she really pushed us and it was a lot of fun. I would add that when we did galas, we wore trunks, although evry small ones.

Comments by Andrew on 18th April 2011  

We had a very traditional pe teacher in the mid 70's. It was an all boys boarding and day school. From the age of about 8 to when we were 15 you only wore white shorts and plimsolls for pe. Swimming was also done naked and no boy ever questioned this as it was as normal as it was basically our uniform for sport.The only time that shirts could be worn was if we played tennis but as no one ever had shirts with them, few ever bothered wearing them. Generally it made boys much more confident and no one had any issue as going for showers after pe.

Comments by Carl on 17th April 2011  

What kind of humuliation will the P.E teacher devise?

Comments by Tom on 17th April 2011  

There was certainly a strong element of embarrassment in being made to do PE with your top off – many of the PE teachers at my school used this as a punishment. I remember being yelled at for messing around in PE when I was about 13 and being ordered to take my vest off and do press-ups at the side of the gym. I assumed once I’d finished that would be that and when the teacher shouted at me to rejoin the class, I went to pick up my vest, only to be told: “I didn’t tell you to put that back on, did I? Get over here and stand in line.” So I had to do the rest of the lesson in just shorts and bare chest, which felt pretty embarrassing as I was the only one.
There were a lot of similar punishments in PE – running laps of the playing field was a common one and usually prefaced by an order to remove your top, which basically was part of the punishment. The most humiliating experience was when I forgot my running shoes for cross-country, so the teacher made me go and join the class doing PE in the gym at the same time instead… a class of 12-year-olds. I was 15 at the time. And just in case it wasn’t uncomfortable enough having to do PE barefoot with a bunch of kids, yes of course I was ordered to take my vest off and leave it behind in the changing room as well. Not surprisingly the 12-year-olds thought it hilarious to see a boy of 15, shuffling self-consciously into the gym in just a pair of shorts and asking the teacher if he could join the lesson. Not a great deal of fun.

Comments by Michael on 14th April 2011  

In response to Carl, yes it was embarrassing doing PE like that,especially if you were a very skinny boy. You felt very bare and exposed in skimpy shorts,but you just had to endure it for two lessons a week for your whole time at school. You were also liable to receive corporal punishment for any misbehaviour or slacking,supplemented by any other humiliations devised by the PE teacher. School PE could be an ordeal,probably intentionally so in order to toughen boys.

Comments by Carl on 11th April 2011  

To everyone who shared their experience here, don't you guys feel embarrased wearing only shorts in P.E? Aren't u ashamed that your nipples are revealed and wouldn't it be hard if it was that cold?

Comments by James on 9th April 2011  

...And I thought being made to do laps of field in the pouring rain was bad! I was 12 when during an outdoor fitness session when I made the fatal mistake of answering back. Our teacher really didn't "do" comments and had already made me remove my vest when he turned and said "You'll not be saying that after I'm finished" After the lesson ended I was told "press ups and laps of the field for you tomorrow". The following morning it was chucking down and I thought my punishment would be put back....erm no. I was taken out of my English lesson and down the changing room. Having changed my teacher just laughed and led me out onto the school yard, which ironically the English block overlooked. After being told to get my vest off I was made to start my press ups and shortly after was completely soaked. Then came the run - 13 laps round the field. After finishing I thought that would be it but was made to do another lot of press ups in one of the puddles that had formed on the field before I could finally go in. I never stepped out of line again and was never picked to wear a vest again at school.

Comments by Ben on 7th April 2011  

Like Nick, I went to a school where your PE kit depended to some extent on which teacher you had. Officially certain items were optional for PE, like socks or even blue school sweatshirts for cross country. Although we were meant to wear white shorts, some teachers would turn a blind eye if you turned up in shorts that were a different colour, or a plain vest instead of the official school one.
At the start of my third year, we had a different teacher to previous years and one boy in my class warned us we would be expected to do PE with no vest, whether it was a school one or not. His brother, who was a year above us, had already had PE with this particular teacher and been made to go bare-chested. None of us took our classmate that seriously until he turned up for the first lesson, changed into his shorts and trainers and just left his top off.
We soon realised he hadn’t been winding us up when the teacher arrived, looked around with a frown and observed that only one boy in the class was wearing the right kit. Then he announced: “No vests in my lesson, take them off and line up in the gym.”
That was that, some of us were a bit shocked but we did as we were told. Perhaps naively, I assumed it might be different when we had cross country and, along with a few other boys, put my vest on when I got changed – I preferred wearing a sweatshirt but didn’t think it was worth chancing that. It soon became clear that it wouldn’t have made any difference – all of us wearing vests were ordered to lose them immediately and got press-ups as well for our trouble.
Foolishly, I protested that it was too cold outside, to which the teacher barked that I’d better get used to the temperature, and maybe it would help me do so if I did the next day's rugby lesson without my rugby shirt. I could hardly believe what I was hearing, it seemed incredibly harsh, but I didn’t dare complain further in case my punishment became even worse. Cross country suddenly seemed like a picnic by comparison – at least every other boy in my class was shivering in his shorts the same as me, but I was dreading having to strip to the waist for rugby because I knew I’d be the only one.
It certainly wasn’t a pleasant experience. The teams were picked in the changing room, with every other boy wearing either a blue rugby shirt or turning it inside out so that it was white. The teacher glanced at me, standing there bare-chested, and observed: “With that pale skin, you’ll have to go on the white team,” prompting laughter around the room and adding to my feeling of humiliation.
I must have stood out like a sore thumb as I jogged out to the playing field and inevitably I got targeted during the game – boys of that age don’t pass up an opportunity to land a punch or kick on bare flesh. It wasn't surprising that I didn't play very well and by the end of the lesson I was cold, bruised, covered in mud and thoroughly miserable. Thankfully I never had to repeat the rugby experience and, in terms of a punishment, it probably worked because I never answered back or stepped out of line in PE again. But I'm glad to say we had a different teacher again the next year.

Comments by Nick on 5th March 2011  

I went to an all boys school in the early 70’s. Our gym and changing rooms was in a separate block from the main school

In theory our cross country kit was white shorts, vest, socks and plimsolls, but in year 1 we had a teacher who allowed you to wear rugby shirts as well as a vest or t-shirt, so this became the normal thing to do, especially in winter.

At the start of year 2 we had a new teacher, so for the first lesson, we all started to get changed and lined up outside as normal with various tops on ranging from just vests to some boys who had rugby shirts, with t-shirts underneath. Rapidly he told us to go back to the changing rooms, and come back wearing shorts and plimsolls only, as boys ran stripped to the waist in his lessons, and that’s how we ran from then on.

In the winter most boys normally wore a vest, shirt, pullover, blazer and coat to school, so the worst part was that on a cold winters day, you had to walk from the main school to the gym block wearing 5 layers of clothes and still cold, knowing that in a few minutes you would be back outside lined up in just thin shorts, and stripped to the waist.

There was one freezing cold day with a biting north east wind, when about 5 some of us rebelled and wore rugby shirts. We should have known this was a mistake, as all that happened is we made to come to the front, line up, and told to strip. Also we were back after school every night for a week, being made to run the cross country course, minus shirts of course !

Comments by Mark Stewart on 18th February 2011  

I was at school in the late 70s, early 80s and I remember having to do P.E in my barefeet if I forgot my plimsols.

It was that period when trainers were just beginning to be widespread for sports and gym and I remember one year we had a new gym teacher who didn't approve of trainers and wanted us to wear the old-style rubber plimsols. In the first lesson, he made each boy run across the hall and he would blow a whistle for us to stop and anyone who skidded, i.e had insufficient grips, had to take off their trainers and socks there and then and go barefoot. The second lesson, he just made all the boys in trainers - including me - do the P.E lesson barefoot. At this school, the gym hall doubled up as the canteen and the floor was always filthy and we didn't have showers, so you'd be slipping on squashed peas left over from lunchtime and the soles of your feet would be filthy and you couldn't even wash them afterwards. You'd never get away with that now.

On other occasions at secondary school, where we had quite a strict P.E teacher, if we forgot our trainers we had to do it barefoot. Or if we were doing gymnastics with crash mats. If we forgot our whole kit (which I never did). he had a horrible stinky, unwashed one, vest and satiny shorts and the kid had to wear that. Ultimate humiliation. I had to do P.E barefoot on a few occasions and have never forgotten. I hated it

Comments by Philip on 1st February 2011  

I attended an all boys prep boarding school in the 1970's. We did early morning runs and in the summer we also had to swim 10 lengths of the outdoor pool, all before breakfast. We ran from the boarding house in white pe shorts and plimsolls, stripped off to do the swim and then ran back to get changed. It was quite fun but in the early weeks of the summer term it could be freezing cold.
In our house swimming competitions, we always swan without trunks as no one was allowed to wear anything. My mother has a picture of me and three other eleven year olds receiving our medals totally in the buff from the housemaster wife. We had no inhibitions and everyone treated it as normal. There were of course some dodgy teachers but they were harmless.

Comments by James on 7th January 2011  

I was at a prep school in the mid 1970's which was boys only. We had a very stricy pe teacher who had been at the school for years and only white shorts were alllowed. This was never an issue and it is all we knew. We often did pe displays in front of the parents and we were always stripped to the waist.
For swimming we were not allowed trunks but I always remember that our swimming pool had individual cubicles which we all got changed in and then came out naked. I was quite a keen swimmer and had extra swimming tuition from the swiming coach at lunchtimes as I could never do the tumble turns. She was an excellent coach and taught me the tumble turns got me into the county team. I cannot imagine now a situation where a teacher would be allowed to do a one to one swimming lesson with a naked 12 year old but that was the way it was and no one minded. By the way, I always felt a bit odd as the swimming coach would not let me change in the cubicles. Odd what you remember.

Comments by Ron Wood on 14th December 2010  ron@stptax.com 

I wasn't the worlds best student but remember my school days fondly & admired most of teachers - Mr Bentley who encouraged us to bring the old 45's to music lessons - Buddy Holly he could take but Conway Twitty wasn't his favourite.Poor old Benny Goodman came in for some stick although he was very poular & took his football pretty seriously & dressed for the part as a referee.I remember he was in tears when it was announced he was leaving BGS.School camps were a ball except for the food which was pretty average.I had to most of my studying again after leaving school as I pretty well wasted years 3 - 5.Still keep in contact with a few of my old friends although it's difficult to find a common thread as we've been in Australia for 35 years.Still working full time as a Tax Agent in the South West of WA.



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