Clitheroe Royal Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1602         Views: 159,130         Comments: 742

Clitheroe Royal Grammar School

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

742 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by MikeL on 9th April 2018  

I remember also using them to brighten plimsolls during basic training in RAF. Never saw the point, trainers were more comfortable!

Comments by Pete on 8th April 2018  

Andrea, I also remember those liquid whiteners with a sponge brush dipped in them for our PE plimsolls as you call them, we just called them PE slippers.
No, we didn't do any competitive sports at our secondary school, just gym stuff and schoolyard running and athletics, so we didn't need any football or rugby boots.
Did you girls play any sports at your school and did you require any special kit for it?

Having to carry the PE shorts, vests and slippers in our schoolbag on PE days was more than enough. I wonder how other boys and girls here who had other sports coped with carrying all that extra gear.

Comments by Andrea on 1st April 2018 

Hi Pete,
I started secondary school in 1971 and black leather shoes were stipulated as part of our uniform too. We had to keep them polished, but from recollection we used Cherry Blossom shoe polish. The shoes I was referring to had leather uppers, but the soles were a man made product and had animal paw prints in place of the more normal tread.

We had the canvass plimsolls (or pumps as we called them) for PE too. Ours were white and had to be kept spotless using a liquid whitener. I can't remember the brand name, but it had a sponge under the cap to spread it with.

We also had black canvass hockey boots with rubber bits to protect our ankle bones if we got rapped their by either the ball or a stray stick!

I assume you had either football or rugby boots?

Comments by Pete on 31st March 2018  

Andrea, when I was at school in the 60s everyone wore leather shoes, including us schoolkids. If you wore anything else it would have been considered as cheap and pauper.
The brand name artificial material light shoes only appeared after the 70s, so you must have been at school after that time.
For PE and sports we wore those canvas slippers, but to be seen in them anywhere else would have attracted comments like "poor boy" or "poor girl". :)
Btw, black leather shoes were the only accepted shoes as part of uniform, at least for us boys, anything else was not allowed. They did require constant polishing though and those Nugget polish tins were part of every household.

Comments by Andrea on 30th March 2018 

Talking of shoes, does anyone remember the brand which had animal footprints on the soles?

Comments by Gavin A on 28th March 2018  

Certainly we were encouraged to wear a jockstrap plus cup for cricket, otherwise I think it was just boy driven, i.e. The older boys are wearing a jock and therefore I must follow suit.

Yes, you are right about boys and their rituals! A jockstrap was a rite of passage for boys at my school. Doc Martins! Yes and those other ankle boot variants! Short lived I think though if I remember correctly.

Comments by Andrea on 27th March 2018 

As far as I can recall all the boys in my class at Primary School (up to age 11) wore those grey shorts.

I went to an all girls secondary school, but when I saw my former classmates on their way to their Secondary School, most of them seemed to have switched to long trousers. This was in the early 1970s.

We had to wear gymslip style dresses for the first two years at Secondary School, but then graduated to skirts and blouses.

With regard to the other rite of passage referred to by Gavin A, my Ex told me that they had to wait until the start of their third year at Secondary School before being advised to wear a jockstrap. Was that the same at your school?

I suppose the equivalent rite of passage for us girls was getting our first bra. Fortunately there were no restrictions on this. A few had them by the end of Primary, but others didn't get them until the second year at Secondary.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 27th March 2018 

Hi,Gavin the boots you are referring to might have been Doc Martin's.These were very popular in the early seventies.Again an aspirational item of wear for adolescent boys,Although I didn't have any many of the harder lads had in my year above! The lad that sat at the desk in front of me a member of the Under 14 Squad Rugby mentioned he had a Jock strap.he also expressed the mature feelings he had wearing one. Although I played team games at Grammar school including Cross Country I didn't feel I needed one. I was probably missing out on that one! My manly moment was when I got all​ belt to put on the long school trousers!This I had through my dad seeing one on his suit he had for business.I seemed this was really mature!It funny items we associate with adolescents.

Comments by Gavin A on 26th March 2018  

Most welcome, Frank
The ritual from shorts to longs was just one I remember at school, another ritual was to get hold of my first jockstrap (Litesome athletic supporter). I felt I had become a real man overnight!
And talking about fashion. I remember in the 70s the craze for those shoes come boots! Another short lived phase if I remember correctly.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 25th March 2018  

Thanks for your replies Gavin and Pete and sharing your experiences.

Comments by Pete on 24th March 2018  

I'm a bit older than you guys and still wore those grey shorts till I was 14 in the mid 60s.
There were no rules about it as long as they were the right grey colour of the school uniform.
I don't remember exactly how many or what percentage of boys still wore shorts at that age but there were quite a few.
In the first two years of secondary, ages 11-12, nearly all boys wore uniform shorts. It was from about age 13 or 14 that some boys started to wear long trousrers.

Comments by Gavin on 23rd March 2018  

I had to wear shorts up to the age of 13 (1971) ... most boys were like me in having to wear them to the end of junior school... only the taller boys were allowed to wear longs! I remember flares in the senior school a short-lived fashion, though. Seemed to be over before the end of the 70s.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 22nd March 2018  

This History site is quite quiet this year there were some good comments last year and the previous. I read some comments from respondents who will be in their sixties now boys having to wear those awful grey shorts as part of their uniform until as late as forteen I experienced this until 1973.99% of my friends and classmate were in long trousers by that year and fashions changed so much!IE flares!Did anybody else experience this?

Comments by Frank Chroston on 21st March 2018  

Cont. Was not an issue but a perfectly normal procedure.p

Comments by Frank Chroston on 21st March 2018  

To Dan is your son finding Trinity school Nottingham?You had some issues about the showering policy at his middle school following P.E and Games.Judging by other comments on this and the Burnley site you are lucky to have such a hygene policy at Trinity.Nowadays many schools are lax about making showering mandatory after P.E and games encouraging pupils to be negligent in washing their bodies after physical exercise!I know I was educated in a different era and being naked with my classmates after P.E. and games posed no same or embarrassment for me personally.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 30th December 2017 

Response to Neil and Roy.Some disciplining did occur in the changing rooms,some of my second year form received a couple of rounds on bare bottom.I incurred same for forgetting my PE shorts it didn't happen again as an alarm bell rang in my brain.Didnt seen anything untowards during my years there.

Comments by Neil on 29th November 2017  


My experience and feelings, too. What school did you attend and in what years?

Comments by Roy on 29th November 2017  

Certainly when I was at school we had open showers and I don't even recall masters being present but I suppose they must have been.
Nothing inappropriate ever happened as far as I recall and I agree with Derek that there is a lot of hysteria around these days in our PC world.

Comments by Derek on 28th November 2017  

What kind of showers did you guys have at school?
I assume that today's schools have more private showers, unlike the ones we had in our days with open showers.

Our PE teacher also supervised us during showers and I don't think any teacher in his right mind would make any inappropriate move without risking losing his job or even prosecuted. So this talk about pervert PE teachers is just hysteria in my opinion.
In all my time at school I never saw or heard of any inappropriate behaviour by teachers, the only exception was maybe that some teachers used excessive corporal punishment which was what most of us boys were concerned about and which the school authorities did not seem to care much about.

Comments by Roy on 14th November 2017  

I agree that it is unhygienic not to shower after PE especially if the sessions are followed as they often are by classroom lessons.

Comments by Kevin on 6th September 2017  

Dan - I find your comments about showers quite disturbing. It is really only common sense to shower after p.e. I remember most of us were a bit nervous to start with but soon it became a normal and quite enjoyable process.

Why did you find it a miserable experience - did you feel inadequate in some way or did your father project his fear on to you in the same way that it seems you might be doing with your son?

As for child protection issues - do you think the p.e. teachers are perverts waiting to pounce in front of the whole class when they are naked in the showers?

Comments by Rob on 2nd September 2017  

William & Dominic, I agree entirely with your comments, and Dafne, your right,it is gross not to shower after sweating in gym class. Until recent years it was normal for boys to wear just a pair of shorts with nothing underneath, no shirt, and perhaps plimsolls without socks.We were certainly made to sweat but glad that we were not wearing anything else and felt really great about ourselves and looked forward to getting in the showers afterwards.No wrapping ourselves in towels though, just shorts off and walked naked to and from the open showers. We were apprehensive at first but quickly gained in confidence & thought nothing of it. Dan, I appreciate how you feel; I have two sons and they had to shower naked after PE but you need to stop worrying and let your son lead his own life without him feeling anxious about his body because he knows that you are concerned about him in this way. We weren't concerned when our sons went to secondary school and they in turn had no problem about it.

Comments by Dan Jones on 1st September 2017  

Showers are definitely mandatory in my sons new school.

Please read the school rules below.

P.E. is compulsory throughout the school and children must bring the correct school P.E. kit and a towel for showers.
Hair Gel or other deodorants, cosmetics etc. are not allowed. Aerosol cans may not be brought to school.

This is at trinity nottingham

Comments by William on 1st September 2017  

Dan, Dominic is absolutely right. You don't say why you think showers are humiliating. Bodies are natural; we all have one; we all know what they're like. At school we were alarmed at first but in no time forgot we were nude and that gave us confidence.

If your boy doesn't shower with the rest might he not become anxious or repressed about his body? It is sad to see young men in changing rooms so inhibited that they shower with trunks on when the groin is the last place you want sweat or chlorine. Dafne's right.

Comments by dafne on 30th August 2017  

We still have showers at my school! I don't know if it's "mandatory" or anything but we all shower after gym class.. seems gross not to. Even the guys all shower as far as I know. I guess it is a thing we all get used to- have always showered after sweating at every school i've gone to. the showers at my school are pretty nice though. Always have warm water and even though its not fully closed off, there are some partitions for some privacy.. We just wrap our bodies in towels in between the shower room and locker room. Not sure how it is on the boys side, I assume pretty much the same

Comments by Dominc on 28th August 2017  

Dan - that is quite encouraging - a school that still has showers after p.e. Your son will only find that humiliating if he has been told it will be. If you are supportive and positive and point out that all the boys will be in the same position he might find it less of a problem. Most boys were a little apprehensive at first but after a few times thought nothing of it. If you arrange for your son not to take showers when the other boys do won't that cause him humiliation?

"Child protection" should really concentrate on actual dangers and should not be used as an excuse to get out of something you are not too keen on.

Comments by Dan Jones on 28th August 2017  

son moving up to middle school next year and having read the school brochure, saw it said about having showers after PE.
I can't believe (from my own experience) that they still subject chidlren to the misery of standing naked in a school shower with no curtains.

Can the school make the chidlren have showers after PE? I would have thought not due to child protection issues but not sure. Anyone know and anyone told the school that their child won't be having humiliating, naked showers after PE sad.

Comments by Stuart on 12th August 2017 

I'm late into this discussion but thought I'd add my experience. I went to an all boys prep school in Surrey from aged 9. Pe kit was shorts and white t shirt and black pump style plimsolls. Often we played games in and outside and one half would be topless as the skins team even when cold.

Our swim lessons were naked. At 13 you went up to the big school and were allowed trunks, if you forgot them it was naked and a spanking on the side of the pool from Sir with plimsoll. Designed I suppose to make sure you didn't forget again. Happened quite regularly though. For me twice, first time I was so worried as our lesson was late afternoon no time to go home but also no one to borrow a pair. Quite humiliating.

Comments by Hayley on 1st August 2017  

At the start of yr7 I think we were all an shocked about what we had to wear for PE that we all just got on with it. Later it became clear that for some girls, going topless was quite tough. I didn't really need a bra at that age but it still felt quite exposing to have to run around the gym with my chest bare, especially if a boy came in to get something from the store cupboard, or if we had a male teacher covering the lesson.

Comments by Alfie on 29th July 2017  

I think it was logical to wear the minimum clothing for PE to let the body breathe.
Unfortunately we have gone to the other extreme today of boys and girls doing PE in a full tracksuit in many schools. They don't even have showers after PE.
I think the "politically correct" society of today with its pedophile scare and multiculturalism have taken things too far.
I have recently been reading about public swimming pools in Sweden who are making separate swimming times for males and females to accomodate their large Muslim population culture. I wonder if this is also happening in some places in Britain.

Comments by Andrea on 27th July 2017 

Hi Hayley,

I'm glad we didn't have the same rules in our secondary school! Although I didn't start to wear a bra until the start of my second year, towards the end of the first year I was self conscious enough not to want my dad to see me without at least a vest on, let alone a male teacher!

Comments by Rob on 23rd July 2017  

Tim, We may have worn briefs in the late fifties and early sixties, but as you mentioned last month on the Burnley Grammar School site, when we changed for P.E.we had to wear gym shorts with nothing underneath,no shirt and plimsolls, so we were without any support from our underpants which weren't allowed in the interests of hygiene. After working up a sweat in the gym it was a pleasure to take our shorts off and all get under the showers together.

Comments by Tim on 21st July 2017  

It seems incredible now that not so long ago year 7 (both male & female) had to do PE in just underwear especially as most boys would wear boxers and not the briefs like we used to wear
and which gave much more support.

Comments by Hayley on 15th July 2017  

Year 7 was ages 11-12. I guess that was quite old to have to do our lessons in just our knickers, but that was how it was and we didn't really question it.

It was a mixed school but PE lessons were done single sex. The boys has a similar rule and in year 7 had to do it in their underpants. Although our regular PE teacher was female, a few times we had a male teacher cover the lesson. That didn't alter what we wore (or what we didn't wear!).

Comments by JamesB on 14th July 2017  

Hi Hayley,
We had up to year 5 in primary and then Form 1 to Form 6 in secondary back in the 60s, so I assume that year 7 would have been age 12 or 13 which I think was a bit too old to do PE in just underwear. Even more so since you are talking about the 90s.

Was this a girls school, and if not what were boys made to wear for PE?
Did you ever have male teachers when you did PE in just knickers?

Comments by Andrea on 14th July 2017 

Hi Hayley,
I would imagine that for some, running around topless towards the end of year 7 must have been uncomfortable and embarrassing? Was it an all girls school, or mixed?

Our indoor PE kit was the same for all years at Secondary school - navy blue gym knickers and a white aertex shirt.

Our PE teacher had a rather different attitude to bras than yours; far from forbidding them to be worn, she would sometimes 'suggest' that it was time that certain girls started to wear one!

Comments by JamesB on 14th July 2017  


I agree with you that it would have depended on different factors whether swimming without trunks would have been enjoyable, or no big deal, or whether it would have been humiliating as in your case.

At what ages and under what circumstances were you made to take swim lessons nude at your school?
Was it private or public school and was it mixed or boys only?

Can you mention the factors which made your swimming lessons so embarrassing or degrading at your school?

Comments by Hayley on 12th July 2017  

Wow, so many posts! I've not read them all but I thought I'd add my own. My secondary school was pretty old fashioned when it came to PE and what we had to wear for it. I was there in the 1990s. We did lots of gymnastics rather than things like dance and circuits that are popular now.

Our PE kit changes as we went through the school. In the top two years we had gym knickers and aertex tops. In yr8 we had to do it in gym knickers and a white vest. But on yr7 we weren't allowed PE kit and had to do it in our underwear. What was worse though was that when the teachers said u derqear, they meant just our knickers. We weren't allowed for wear bras or anything else on top!

Comments by RobinC on 11th July 2017  

I've read Marshall's post and I also did swimming lessons without trunks but my experience of it was a lot different. None of us thought it was normal and we weren't comfortable with it overall. I think it's fair to say that Marshall's experience doesn't represent everyone who did swimming lessons at school without trunks. I think it depends on different factors.

Comments by Oliver on 10th July 2017  

Marshall's post made me think of my friend in junior school who rarely wore a shirt at home. His parents, as I recall, felt it was much healthier for their sons to go shirtless as much as possible, and when I went round to their house the boys were usually in just shorts.
When we moved up to senior school we suddenly learned that the boys' PE kit did not include a top of any description! This was quite a shock for most of us boys, who just weren't used to displaying our chests in public (other than while swimming). Not so for my friend, who was perfectly comfortable in shorts only, and couldn't understand why the rest of us were making a fuss!

Comments by Marshall on 6th July 2017  

Gerald you're right about most of us being shirtless at home. That's why we found doing PE shirtless perfectly normal. These days a lot of boys wear full pyjamas even in the summer. Clearly that will cause them to be more replied by shirtless pe

Comments by Alf on 26th June 2017  

My last sentence should have read "but certainly not those ridiculous almost ankle length board shorts or whatever they call them that youths wear today."

So replace knee length with ankle length to avoid misunderstanding.

Comments by Neil on 26th June 2017  

I totally agree with you!

Comments by Alf on 26th June 2017  

It seems funny how fashion changes and regresses.
Up to the 80s or 90s most youths wore speedos while older gents wore trunks or shorts.
It was actually strange or laughable to see boys and youths wearing long shorts and few did.
Now it is the opposite.
I guess that the older gents are used to wearing speedos from their youth.
Today I actually take the middle road and wear shorts above the knee, but certainly not those ridiculous almost knee length board shorts or whatever they call them that youths wear today.

Comments by Bradley on 24th June 2017  

The difference is that the bikini is fashionable whereas the speedo is simply just not. Board shorts are fashionable, bikinis are fashionable but honestly it's pretty clear that speedos just are a bit too much. It's not something we want to see on the beach. I've only worn them when necessary in swimming competitions.

Comments by Tim on 22nd June 2017  

I agree with Marshall. Ladies of all shapes and sizes seem to be wearing smaller & smaller bikinis on the beach and often they are not flattering and leave quite a lot of flesh exposed.. However, if men dare to wear brief trunks eg Speedos
( and again I agree that sometimes they also are not flattering) people think it is wrong. Where is the equality in that?

Comments by Gerald on 20th June 2017  

Marshall's post really sums it up. I've seen posts before on here about shirtless pe being unfair. At the end of the day, like Marshall said about swimming, we always considered being shirtless to be the standard kit for PE. As well as this, most of us were shirtless at home anyway so it wasn't seen as something unusual to not be wearing a shirt.

Comments by Marshall on 20th June 2017  

I find it quite interesting how over the years men in this country have become more prudish and started to cover up more, from nude swimming to speedos to large board shorts. Meanwhile, women have gone the other way- from almost fully covering swimsuits to bikinis.

Comments by Bradley on 19th June 2017  

Speedos are supposed to be for swimming in my view, not for just walking around in the beach. Board shorts would be better for the beach. The main advantage of swim briefs is how streamlined they are. It always makes me cringe a bit seeing middle aged men wearing them on the beach. It's not something anyone wants to see to be honest.

Comments by Bradley on 18th June 2017  

Marshall, I suppose I have been looking at it from the wrong perspective. Although wearing briefs does make one more streamlined and improves swimming performance compared to doing swimming in the nude.