Clitheroe Royal Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1602         Views: 150,138         Comments: 714

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

714 user comment(s) below:-

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.

Comments by Tim on 18th June 2017  

Nowadays it seems brief type swimming trunks (Speedos) are reserved for serious swimmers. At least I can feel comfortable wearing them abroad where they are more commonly seen.

Comments by Neil on 17th June 2017  

Back Marshall all the way .. in my day quite normal ... never batted an eyelid!

Comments by Marshall on 17th June 2017  

I know for the younger generation it would seem horrendous to swim without trunks, for us it was what we always thought was the norm. Just like we did football in football kit, we just accepted swimming as something that is done without anything on. We weren't embarrassed, even for the galas since it's not like there were any outside spectators and the teachers that were there couldn't care less about what we were wearing. We were worried about whether we would win or lose, not about being nude.

I'm sure Bradley you accepted that briefs are the commonly accepted swimming kit, just like we accepted nothing as being the right kit.

Comments by Bradley on 16th June 2017  

Marshall, this is quite shocking to say the least! I remember when I was in school I was selected for a swim competition where my team and I were given these tight swim briefs to wear. Even that was a bit too uncomfortable to be in, can't imagine how bad it must have been to be wearing nothing at all

Comments by Marshall on 16th June 2017  

I'm not quite sure since it was a long time ago but as far as I know the only spectators were the swimming teacher and the team captains, who were also teachers. So there weren't any outside spectators not involved in organising the gala.

Comments by Tim on 13th June 2017  


Did bother you having to swim in a gala presumably in front of a lot of in the nude?

Comments by Alf on 12th June 2017  

Thanks for your answer, Marshall.

Were there any spectators during your swimming galas?

If so would there also be females included, like female teachers or staff, or relatives?

Comments by Marshall on 11th June 2017  

Alf, I will answer all your questions in order below:
The teacher was our PE teacher who also taught swimming.

The classes were 15 to 20 people in size, same as a normal lesson. We had one lesson a week.

It was compulsory for all students. The teacher wore swimming shorts and a jacket.

I only joined the school in Year 11 when I was 16 years old. Before that, I lived in a different town and went to a different school, where we did not have swimming lessons. As far as I know all years did their lessons without swimwear.

It was a boys' school.

For swimming galas we still had to be nude, although only the best swimmers actually got selected (me included!). As far as I know, our school never took part in any inter-school swimming competitions.

Comments by Turner on 10th June 2017  

The showering procedure described by Rob on 9 June is the situation at my local leisure centre although it is noticeable that hardly anyone under about 30 uses the showers. That tends to be the generation who wear long trousers and sweatshirts or fleece jackets in the gym.

At the refurbished swimming pool that I use, the showers are mixed sex, meaning you can't remove your trunks. Instead of a communal single sex changing room you have to use an individual cabin so tiny that it's difficult to dry yourself. In my experience of German leisure centres the showers are mixed sex and everyone showers naked together, The Germans accept this as normal.

Comments by Bradley on 10th June 2017  

Rob, I definitely wouldn't feel comfortable being nude in front of strangers in a sauna. When it's in front of guys I know it's not a problem at all but it would be awkward in front of strangers. I guess if I grew up in Finland I would be more comfortable with that culture but, being British, public nudity isn't my thing!

Comments by Bradley on 10th June 2017  

William. I meant that a teacher forcing a child to take their trunks off when swimming is indeed child abuse. Teacher can say "you need to shower after swimming and showering should be done without trunks" but if a student does not want to shower naked the teacher cannot make him take his trunks or take them off himself. He'd have to either give the kid a detention, inform a parent or allow him to shower with trunks (most likely the third option to avoid any controversy).

In my school what happened was the teacher told us at our first ever lessons that "showering is done without trunks" and we all got on with it. Teachers never supervised us showering and no one had a problem with it. But forcing a child to even take their shirt off these days would be controversial.

Comments by William on 10th June 2017  

Bradley, Yesterday you said nude showering isn't child abuse but on 1st June "Teachers cannot force children to take off their trunks while showering as this would indeed be considered child abuse".
Either way, I'm glad your university sports teams are as relaxed about nudity as we became at school - thanks to compulsory nude showers.

Comments by Rob on 10th June 2017  

Bradley, agree absolutely with your first paragraph; you just have to go along with whatever you are expected to do.
Similarly,now in university,you are able to feel like one of the boys,a man even,without any inhibitions about being naked in the changing rooms with your mates. Nothing wrong with that;just enjoy yourself! How confident would you feel now about going nude in a mixed sauna?

Comments by Bradley on 9th June 2017  

Rob, I do feel that my generation is too inhibited compared to people in other countries. But I'm sure you can agree that when everyone is covering themselves, you don't want to be the only one who's not. It just wasn't considered approaches to ever be naked in front of others.

Interestingly, it's not the same at university (men's, don't think the same applies for women's teams but not sure) sports teams. Straight after practice at the changing rooms we take everything off, walk to the showers and back and even talk about the match and everything for a few minutes and none of us even think about the fact that we are wearing absolutely nothing. But sports teams only consist of certain types of guys and the vast majority of my generation certainly aren't like this!

Comments by Alf on 9th June 2017  

We didn't have the luxury of a swimpool at the schools I went to, so I am curious about how these swim classes went on.

When you say "teacher" during these lessons do you mean an ordinary teacher who just supervised the swim class or a swim coach who actually taught swimming lessons?

How big were the classes for swimming and how often were they during the week?

Was the nudity during these classes compulsory for everyone or just at the teacher's whim?

Was the nudity required at every age or just in juniors?

Was it a mixed school, and if so did the girls wear swimsuits for their classes?

Did you have swimming competitions at the school, or inter school competitions, and were suits worn for these occasions when there would obviously be spectators, or did you still have to be nude?

Comments by Rob on 9th June 2017  

Fred, you'er right about mixed saunas abroad ,I've experienced them in Germany and Austria and a couple of months ago posted my comments here. Bradley,you said that it was important to overcome our inhibitions and referred to attitudes in other countries. I am therefore surprised that you took so much effort to protect your modesty when showering at school. After our P.E.lessons we would return to the changing rooms and take our shorts off and leave them on the benches with our other clothes and walk naked to the showers,where as I've already mentioned, we all had to stand together under about five large shower heads. We very quickly lost any lingering inhibitions.

Comments by Marshall on 9th June 2017  

William you're right about the inhibited nature of people these days. Everything is child abuse even when a child isn't being harmed.

It's all about intent. If a teacher wants to humiliate, wants to take advantage of a child that is abuse. But my teacher certainly did not intend to do these things when we swam nude.

Comments by Bradley on 9th June 2017  

William I didn't say that nude showering is child abuse. I was talking about nude swimming. Its important that showers are done without trunks as a matter of hygiene but swimming without trunks seems unnecessary humiliating, especially in front of others and a teacher. My experience of showers was that we'd wrap a towel around our waists, face the wall, turn the tap on and then wrap our towels back on and walk out. It's worth noting we had curtains as well.

Nowadays it's just not appropriate to do swimming lessons wearing nothing. There's no need for it.

Comments by Fred on 7th June 2017  

I agree with your comments compared with European countries we tend to be more inhibited about nudity, or showing too much of our body. Hence the fashion for so many lads to wear such long swimming shorts.
I believe in some countries, e.g. Sweden etc. people have saunas where male & female share the same sauna naked.
As I wrote in a previous comment, in the 60's we did not seem to worry about nudity when all lads together

Comments by William on 6th June 2017  


Your comments are always interesting because you left school recently, but why do you think that compulsory nude showers are child abuse when on 22nd October in the Burnley Grammar discussion you said "showers were compulsory, done nude, which we had no problem with"?

A number of times you have made the point that "trunks prevent certain parts of the body from being washed"" and "the area covered by swimwear is one of the places most prone to infection". You are right. What causes the spread of disease in swimming pools is not nude swimming but unclean swimmers.

We all know that most people in Britain do not have a soapy shower before they swim in public pools. That is why our pools have so much chlorine in them. Is not the reason that, compared with many European countries, we tend to be more inhibited about nudity?

All right-thinking people want children to be properly protected, but if we see child abuse where none exists young people will become more repressed about their bodies, which may cause them problems of inhibition that we who got used to nude showers or swimming have generally not had to contend with.

Comments by Marshall on 2nd June 2017  

Yes it was a boys school. I suppose the school just decided that the old policy was outdated and decided to tell teachers to start requiring that trunks be worn. I do think nude swimming has become outdated now, and today's society would definitely consider it inapproaite so no I don't think it would be a feasible idea anymore.

However, from my experience, apart from the first few lessons where it was a bit of a shock , everyone did get used to it. As long as there is privacy (in the sense of no one from outside being able to see) and the lessons are single sex I don't think there's anything wrong with it. But I completely understand that people do have reservations about it and most parents these days wouldn't be happy with it. Things have just changed.

Comments by Bradley on 1st June 2017  

Alfie, the vast majority of schools don't make students take group showers without trunks. At most schools, showers themselves are optional and even when compulsory the teacher cannot oversee the showers and therefore students hardly ever shower. Teachers cannot force children to take off their trunks while showering as this would indeed be considered child abuse.

And there is a big difference between having a quick shower while not wearing anything (most likely for less than one minute and facing the wall) ng nude in the swimming pool. The latter can lead to diseases spreading and is not something the students or teachers would be comfortable with. I certainly wouldn't be comfortable with it. It's just not appropriate and it's wrong. Nude swimming in schools would be an outrage and rightly so.

Comments by Fred on 31st May 2017  

I understand Bradley's comments and children & students of all ages need protecting. But everything today is Child Abuse. Even down to applying sun cream to someone else's child.( Although this in itself is a form of protection)

I also agree with Marshall re the comments on shyness and confidence.
For me I attended secondary school 1961 to 1966 in an era when most secondary schools were single sex. We thought nothing of changing for pe and showering in a communal room. Furthermore I was in the Scouts whilst it was still all male. At camp we would be six to a tent again all stripping off for bed and mostly sleeping in sleeping bags with no clothing because it was too hot. This was how it was no privacy. Toilets were latrines behind a hessian screen no individual sections for privacy. Washing was done in the local river mainly as a swimming activity. The leaders wore trunks and although all the boys had taken trunks to camp, the majority seemed to decide not to wear them. Bravado I think and a time when we considered ourselves as men.


Comments by Alfie on 31st May 2017  

Bradley, it was school policy that made boys swim nude and not the teachers who ran the classes. I can't imagine a teacher making boys swim nude unless it was required by the school.
Group naked showers are still required in some schools today, so I don't see much difference if they also swam nude.
There was the recent case of the Muslim boy who refused to take part in the school's nude shower policy because it was against his religion to show his naked body to others. He was given the choice of either taking part or being expelled.
I did not follow the case, but I think that when his parents took the case to court the school won the case.

Comments by Gerald on 29th May 2017  

Marshall, was this a boys school? And why did they decide to start requiring that trunks be worn? Do you think this practice should be continued or not? Thanks in advance

Comments by Marshall on 28th May 2017  

Interesting discussion here. I vaguely remember having a few swimming lessons in secondary school where we did not wear trunks. The year after it was abolished and we were told to start wearing trunks. So only a few lessons were spent doing it without them. Although I think it was for our own good that it was done nude. It's good to get rid of shyness and this seems to be a huge problem amongst the youth of today. They don't have the same level of confidence.

Comments by Bradley on 28th May 2017  

Terry, it would certainly be illegal and the school would face legal action and the teachers may also face child abuse investigations. They would most likely be banned from teaching children. It is widely considered to be child abuse to make students do swimming lessons without trunks.

Comments by Terry on 26th May 2017  

What would happen today though if a school tried to bring in a no swimming trunks to be worn policy. Mind you I do not think many schools have swimming lessons in their curriculum. Certainly not high schools.
When I was at secondary school we did going to swimming lessons at the municipal pool where the session was reserved for our class alone. The teacher was employed by the local education committee and he taught for all schools.