Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 541,272         Comments: 1,869

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

1869 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by Mac on 2nd August 2017  


At the secondary schools I attended we were never allowed to wear anything under shorts

Comments by Neil on 1st August 2017  

The jockstrap still lives on! My boys and their sons still wear one for all sport. But you are quite right so few younger men now seem to know the benefits of the good old jockstrap!

Comments by Andrea on 1st August 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

My Ex told me that their PE teacher advised them to buy a jockstrap at the start of their third year at secondary school. Before that they weren't allowed to wear anything under their shorts, which became embarrassing for some of the boys!

Comments by Arby on 1st August 2017  


You were lucky. As we couldn't wear a jockstrap until the 6th form - as soon as we could, most of us lads rushed to get one and wore them for every sport and game even out of school. I think that it is a pity that they seem to have disappeared.

Comments by Neil on 1st August 2017  

What type of school did you attend? How old would a boy have been in 2nd year? That is not clear to me.

Comments by Guy on 31st July 2017  

I feel sorry for you not being allowed to wear a jockstrap until 6th form; I am very glad we did not have that rule! We were not allowed to wear underpants but from the begining of 3rd year were were required to wear a jockstrap. Some boys started to wear one during second year.

Comments by Stuart on 31st July 2017  

I think in the 50's/60's a lot of boys did indoor PE in just shorts, and maybe cross country in just shorts and plimsolls (or even shorts only, with bare feet), but I doubt they ever did PE naked on a regular basis.

Some schools may have made boys strip to just briefs indoors, but I doubt that, and other than maybe as a one off punishment, no boys ever did pe stripped totally naked.

Comments by Rob on 31st July 2017  

Richard, I also find it difficult to believe that boys of any age would have been allowed to do P.E. in the nude. I went to an all boys school from 1955 and remember that for my parents it was an expensive time. On the subject of games and P.E kit, some boys wore proper school soccer shirts, but most of us wore any old shirt for games.We had to have football boots and thick socks and black shorts. For P.E.the only extra we needed was a pair of plimsolls because we wore the same shorts, and although that was all we wore in the gym and and outdoors, including cross country running, at least we were decent. OK, you might say, we were all naked together in the showers afterward, but that's necessary, but I cannot understand why at any time boys wouldn't have had a pair of shorts to wear for P.E.and have been made to wear them.

Comments by Ross on 29th July 2017  


Would like to hear more of your experiences. I cannot simply imagine a school allowing pupils to participate nude for PE even though nudity was encouraged for swimming.

Comments by Alfie on 29th July 2017  

"Everyone was naked in the summer term for swimming anyway."

Richard, was this a mixed school or boys only?
Was the nude swimming compulsary or voluntary?

You also mention that some boys were allowed to do PE naked.
It seems that nude swimming in schools was common in the era that you mention, that is 50s and 60s, but I can't imagine boys doing PE exercises totally naked. Must have been a funny sight to watch.

Comments by Arby on 28th July 2017  


You were lucky! How things have changed!

Comments by Neil on 27th July 2017  


Similar experience, only that boys were allowed to wear a jockstrap before 6th form age!

Comments by Neil on 27th July 2017  


Wholeheartedly agree

Comments by Richard on 26th July 2017  

Just caught up with this long and interesting list of comments. Attended a boys secondary school in Kent in the late 1950s and clothing was optional in indoor PE lessons, at least in the early years. Not many boys actually did PE with nothing on, but some in the class did regularly: partly I think because their parents could not afford the extras which games and PE needed, but other boys through choice. What an incredibly different world that was. In my memory no one ever thought anything of it - it was part and parcel of what happened. Everyone was naked in the summer term for swimming anyway.

Comments by Arby on 25th July 2017  

at my secondary school in the 60s we could only wear shorts and plimsolls for PE. The PE teacher looked down our shorts each time to make sure that we were not wearing anything underneath. If we were we were stripped in front of the others and made to do PE naked. When we reached the 6th form we were allowed to wear a jockstrap. Most of us did as we were still not allowed to wear underpants underneath our shorts. Showers were communal and the teacher stood and watched us.Any bad behaviour resulted in a slipper across the buttocks.

Comments by Keith on 1st July 2017  

I think pre-employment medicals were normal for many years and I suspect they stopped because at one time employers had a right to know how healthy or otherwise you were and being employed often depended on being found to be A1 fit.

Equal opportunities probably put paid to some of that where people now have to declare that they are fit to do the job and if they are not able to do it with reasonable adaptation then they are not employed or dismissed. In addition no doubt in these days where there is a cost to everything doctor's fees are seen as one to cut.

I remember having pre-employment medicals right up to the mid 1980s for a whole range of jobs. I never thought much about them, it was just what happened. Invariably they were thorough and to a point reassuring as you knew you were fit and healthy when they were over.

It's a pity they don't still happen, perhaps if they did we wouldn't have the obesity problems and similar ills of today's society.

Comments by Jonty on 28th June 2017  

I was the same too Robin, but we changed in the gym changing room and stood around in our underpants and like you I wore the interlock trunks or the aertex ones in summer, the doctor used a small storage room off the changing room and the door was always open and you could see the boy in front of you being examined, the place always seemed cold even in summer.

That winter of 62/63 was my last at school as I left in 63 aged 15 and started work,and had to have another medical exam prior to working in a large cash and carry warehouse.

I wonder if the boys of today at 16 who leave to start work have to have a medical exam?

Comments by Robin on 27th June 2017  

I remember as a 14 year old having to line up in a chilly corridor in the winter of 1962/63 (very cold, long winter) for the school medical. We wore nothing except our underpants, and all of us were frozen by the time our turn came to be examined. At that time virtually all underwear was white, but one boy created a stir by sporting a pair of blue briefs. But he was the exception. It is not right to say that all boys wore briefs in the 1960s. The great majority did, but a few, me included, wore underpants with legs. They were a bit longer than todays boxer shorts, and the material was nice and soft. My Mum called them interlock trunks, but in the changing room a couple of my classmates called them baggy knickers and made fun of me for wearing them. I continued to wear that style of underpants until I was 18 or 19.

Comments by Alf on 26th June 2017  

It seems there is another Alf on this forum.
The last two posts by "Alf" are not mine.
So one of us must change the name to avoid confusion.

Comments by Alf on 25th June 2017  

Comments by Liam on 24th June 2017

Perhaps you're one of them?

It's all reminisence.

Comments by Liam on 24th June 2017  

Bit weird to see all these comments about medical exams which are described in graphic detail. Looks like some people on this site are a bit sick in the head!

Comments by Rob on 22nd June 2017  

In the late 1950s our P.E.kit at an all boys grammar school was the usual shorts and plimsolls and nothing else both indoors and outside. After each lesson we all had to go naked in the open communal showers.However when we had medical examinations we only had to strip to the waist and never had to remove our trousers and pants. When I had to go London for a medical prior to getting a job, I had to strip to the waist and take my shoes and socks off and the doctor examined my upper body. I was therefore surprised when he then told me to take my trousers and pants off and turn around and bend over and touch my toes. I had to hold my cheeks apart and he did a visual inspection but did not insert his figure into my anus. I then had to lie on a couch while the doctor examined me for hernias before he thoroughly felt my testicles and finally holding my penis, pulled my foreskin right back and opened the slit in the tip of my penis. Unsurprisingly, by this time I had developed quite an erection, possibly what the doctor had hoped for, although he didn't comment. After I started the job and in subsequent years I learned that everyone at that time had experienced a medical like this; even the women had to take everything off and were examined by a male doctor. At that time it was rare to have female doctors.

Comments by Tim on 21st June 2017  


I to have recently had to have various intimate prostrate exams and as you say because of the intimate medicals in our younger days, we now just go with the flow.

Doctors have seen it all many times before.

Comments by Andrea on 20th June 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Our school medicals were carried out in the nurses room. This had a waiting area outside and we were called in groups of about 6 and told to strip down to our vest / bra and knickers and wait to be called into the examination room. The nurse checked my height and weight and also checked my hands for warts and feet for verrucas. At the first medical the doctor then asked me to lift my vest so he could check my heart and lungs with the stereoscope. At the same time it was obvious to them that I didn't need a bra yet. Quite a few girls were wearing them by that time and I think the nurse did suggest to several others that perhaps it was time they asked their mum to get them one!

The second medical was similar to the first, except that by that time I was wearing a bra. I had to unhook it and partially remove it so the doctor could do a quick visual examination of my breasts. I didn't really understand why at the time, but I suppose they were checking for inverted nipples or something). I didn't have to remove my knickers, but the nurse did have a quick peek down there and ask if my periods were regular.

Comments by Alf on 20th June 2017  

Keith, interesting what you say about the male doctor checking your testicles, I thought the doc that had examined me was the only one who did that.

We too used to have to turn around and bend over, legs wide apart, buttocks were spread and anus inspected then a hand came forward and our testicles were checked with the usual cough command. Our school doc was a retired army doc so maybe that was their normal way of doing things.

On the last occasion when we were eighteen and some lads were going to university and a few to the forces, both requiring a preliminary medical, a requirement of the local authority in those days if you were getting a grant we had to remain behind and we were told to line up facing the wall and bend over. There was no warning about what was to come as he worked along the line giving each lad his first rectal examination, presumably an additional reporting requirement. It was a shock at the time, looking back I'm certain he wore the same glove throughout - for the protection of his finger, nothing to do with us.

In later life with a less than perfectly functioning prostate an annual rectal examination doesn't bother me in the slightest but that first one was a shock.

Comments by Tim on 19th June 2017  

I agree with these exams as ours was an all boys school,privacy did not come into it and was not an issue. It was what it was. We had no worries about stripping off you just did it.

Comments by Keith on 18th June 2017  

I remember school medical examinations. I think the purpose of them was to be sure we were all developing properly and were normal fit and healthy boys. They happened in primary school a couple of times and then every other year in secondary school and no lad was exempt.

In secondary school they were always in a room between the changing room and the gym and we had to report to the changing room and take off everything except our underpants and then queue up outside the room where there were two doctors working. The door was always left open and there was no screen inside so no privacy at all - but then privacy was not something boys and men were ever granted or for that matter expected, it was how things were.

Once in the queue where there were usually ten or so boys at a time you had to wait until you were called in. On the wall outside the room were a number of clothes pegs and as you got to the front of the queue you had to take off your underpants before going into the room.

Each doctor was sat at a small desk and you stood to one side. They would look in your eyes and ears, listen to your chest, have you stand on tip toes and stretch and squat. Testicles were always last. The woman doctor just used to feel them as she sat at her desk with you positioned close to her. The male doctor always had you turn around and bend over, he inspected your anus by seperating your buttocks and then felt your testicles between your legs with the usual cough instruction. The rumour was he'd had enough of boys coughing in his face and this way it didn't happen.

I thought the allocation of boy to doctor was random but at every medical I had it was the same man so maybe it wasn't. For all his examination of our testicles was unusual - although it did happen to me the same way in the army as part of a line up group medical it was strangely less embarrassing as it was a man doing it and you didn't have to look him in the face while he did it. Maybe he was an old army doctor.

All these years later if I need to drop my boxers at the doctors the doctor needs to be a man.

Comments by Tim on 18th June 2017  

Medical examinations were just the norm. In our days at school there seemed to be school dental exams, hearing tests and then the normal medical.I can only assume that these were started because people for some reason did not look after their health so much as today, and going to the doctor was if you were really ill. I do not know but this might have been a throw back to when the NHS started to make sure every one was healthy.

Comments by Bradley on 16th June 2017  

I never had any medical examinations while I was at school. What was the point of these? Surely one could just go to the doctor for s check up? We did have fitness tests though. There's one called the beep test where you have to run from one end to another within the time between the two beep noises. As the activity progresses, the time gets shorter and shorter until you give up. You were ranked on what stage you got up to.
We had vaccinations but not any medical examinations at all.

Comments by Neil on 16th June 2017  


Well for us boarders there was no escape as we had no control over the laundry, but for day boys it was easier. To be honest I think that they only policed us boarders. Only if it was gym class or such would day boys probably have been spotted and in the junior classes. I am sure any day boy discovered would have told he was breaking the regulations.

Comments by Ted on 16th June 2017  

Neil out of interest how would the school know if the rules re underwear were flouted? Was there any way they could check?

Comments by Neil on 15th June 2017  


You're right about white briefs. I went to school 1965 - 74. We had regulation 'whitey tighties' in my school, and in the 70s boys increasingly were trying to break the regulation with the colour undies that were then on the market.

Comments by Ted on 14th June 2017  

In response to other postings, if I remember in the 60's white underwear was the only really available and as briefs. There was no branding or fashion as such. The only exception might have been some lads would wear the original Y front brand. Furthermore as with most people contributing to this site, PE was strictly no underwear. One teacher would randomly in some lessons just pull back the back waist band of the shorts to check. Heaven help you if you were wearing pants.

Comments by Tim on 13th June 2017  

I remember medical examinations at all boys secondary school 1961 to 66. The last medical was in 1965. We lined up in one of the classrooms and stripped to the waist. Then we had to go forward one by one to the doctor(female) and the time in the exam came when we had to drop trousers and pants right down for the cough test. No privacy. There was no regulation underwear but in those days we all wore white briefs. That was really all that was available. PE kit was as in those days when indoors no top, short tight white shorts no underwear and the old black plimsolls with no socks. Communal showers afterwards.

Comments by Neil on 13th June 2017  


We had regulation 'whitey tighties' in my school

Comments by Andrea on 12th June 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Alf,
Yes, we had two physical exams at Secondary school. The first was not long after we started there, so age 11 and the second about 3 years later. I think our parents did get a letter to inform them and we wore our regulation knickers and a vest or bra, whichever we normally wore at that point. In most cases they were white, with perhaps a small pink bow or rosebud (unlike the knickers our vest / bra colour wasn't specified in the uniform policy).

How old were you when you had your physical and were you nervous?

Comments by Alf on 12th June 2017  

Hi Andrea,
I guess we boys were lucky not to have regulation underpants also. :)
The only time that underpants were mentioned was during school physical exams when our parents were informed and told to make sure that we wore clean underpants on that day, preferably white briefs if I remember well.
In any case most of us, if not all, were wearing white briefs during these physical exams.
Did you have physical exams at your school?

Comments by Andrea on 9th June 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 


Gymslip dresses are styled like this https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/466263367642440069/

Our uniform policy specified that they had to be worn by pupils in the first two years at the school. From the third year onwards we had to wear a skirt and blouse. I'm not sure why the lower school had a different uniform.

Yes, our uniform list stipulated that we had to wear regulation navy blue knickers even on days we didn't have PE. I could never really understand why, but on occasions checks were made.

When my son was at school, most of the boys had switched to wearing long trousers by the end of primary school (age 11).

Comments by James on 9th June 2017  

Andrea,like Alf I wore shorts to school,albeit I was older and unlike Alf I was subjected to a considerable amount of teasing.
Do you agree with keeping boys in shorts at that age and what age do you think they should be promoted to wearing long trousers?

Comments by Alf on 8th June 2017  

Andrea, yes, the uniform was the same throughout secondary school from form 1 to form 5. The only exception seems to have been in form 6 where they could wear ordinary clothes if I remember well. I left school after form 5.

Another unorthodox thing I remember about form 6 is that even though it was an all boys school there were also some girls in form 6. I don't know the reason for this arrangement at the time.

I don't remember exactly when I changed from shorts to long trousers, if it was at the start of the school year or part way through. All I remember is that I was about 14 and probably in form 3 or form 4.

You mention that you wore dresses rather than skirts for the first two years. What kind of dresses were these and were they a different kind of uniform than later years?

I read somewhere that in some schools girls had to wear blue or green knickers as part of the uniform, which I find strange. In some they even had inspections to check that the girls wore these obligatory knickers or underwear. Do you know anything about this?

Comments by Neil on 8th June 2017  

Hello Andrea
We had to wear a school cap in my school, 10 to 13 year olds at junior school. We had to wear shorts but only up to 12. most boys started switching over to longs.

Comments by Andrea on 6th June 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Alf,
I think some of my classmates probably did roll up the waistbands of their skirts to make them shorter when they were out of sight of school, but sometimes they got caught out if one of the teachers happened to be passing!

One thing I do remember about getting my uniform when I started at secondary school was mum insisting that everything had to have "room for me to grow", so particularly the gymslip dresses and blazer seemed at least one size too large to start with. It worked though, as they lasted for the first two years, although they were a little tight by the end of the second year!

I'm not sure why dresses rather than skirts were required for the first two years, it must have been annoying for some mums if their daughter outgrew a dress with only a few months of the second year left.

When you finally did change from shorts to long trousers, was it at the start of a new school year, or part way through? Also, was all your uniform the same for all year groups?

Once we got used to it, I don't think we minded the uniform too much, but the no tights rule was unpopular, especially in the middle of winter.

Comments by Alf on 4th June 2017  

Andrea, like James describes at his school we didn't wear a school cap at our school, but school uniform was strictly enforced including school tie and blazer.
About miniskirts, our neighbour girls school also had strict skirt length as you describe, but once out of school the girls managed to hike up their skirt to show a bit of leg. They didn't want to look out of fashion, especially since some of us got together to chat each other up before entering our respective schools and afterwards when we finished. Like I said our schools were fairly close together.
About uniform, I understand the frustration and uncomfort for you girls having to wear an un-girlish uniform apart from the skirt. But I think neither us boys or the girls ever complained about it, at least from what I remember. Somehow we were actually proud to wear our school uniform, or just took it for granted, in spite of a little discomfort sometimes.
What I really hated was wearing shorts when some other boys same age were already wearing long trousers. If I remember well most boys wore shorts in the first few years of secondary or maybe 50-50, can't remember exactly. But I don't think it was such a big issue back then and I don't remember anyone teasing someone else for wearing shorts to school.
It was probably the only thing about the uniform that the school didn't make any rules about, as long as both shorts or trousers were the right grey uniform colour.

Comments by James on 4th June 2017  

Hi Andrea,we didn't wear caps to school,but wearing shorts obviously made easily distinguishable from other boys that wore long trousers.
Unlike the restrictions that were imposed at your school regarding the length of the skirts,no such restrictions were imposed on the length of our shorts that we wore.

Comments by Andrea on 3rd June 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi James and Alf,

I may have been the miniskirt era, but not in our school! Our dresses or skirts were supposed to be knee length and on occasions the teachers would have us kneel down to check that our hems touched the floor! In the first two years we had to wear 'gymslip' style dresses with a blouse underneath,but from the third year onwards it was a skirt and blouse. All years had to wear a tie and blazer and worst of all a beret - we all hated those!

I think the boys at one of our local schools used to have to wear caps for the first couple of years - did your school have those?

Comments by James on 3rd June 2017  

Alf & Andrea,boys still wearing shorts at 13 or 14 would also have been typical at my school although some boys continued to wear them till they left school.
As you point out hemlines rose abruptly in the sixties and the same applied to boys'short trousers.
Knee stockings,which we wore would only keep our legs warm,but you could you could 'freeze' wearing short shorts in the winter.
My strict parents took advantage of the uniform policy that allowed boys to wear shorts up to leaving age,so I was only one of a few to wear shorts at 16.

Comments by Alf on 2nd June 2017  

Andrea, you are right, it was common for boys to still be wearing shorts as part of uniform in early secondary school years. I myself wore them till I was 13 or 14.
However girls uniform memory brings a grin to my face. It was the miniskirt era and girls wore school skirts above their knees, even in Winter with woollen tops but still with bare legs for many of them. Some wore woolen long socks like you mention, but not all.
I guess it was nearly the same for us boys, it was shorts up to about knee length even in Winter, and those woollen uniform grey socks even in Summer.
But we, both boys and girls, never actually gave it a second thought because we just accepted it as normal, even if it was uncomfortable at times.
It was the same with neck ties, you just had to wear them as part of secondary school uniform.
Girls in some secondary schools also had to wear neck ties as part of uniform.
Girls also had to wear school uniform jackets with the school logo, like us boys. In fact we wore the same uniform, except for shorts or trousers for boys and skirts for girls.
How things have changed!

Comments by James on 2nd June 2017  

Hi Andrea,I went to a mixed Secondary Modern and there were no restrictions when boys had to wear long trousers.
Therefore,some boys,including myself could be kept in shorts till they left school.

Comments by Andrea on 2nd June 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi James,

I actually went to an all girls school, but from what I remember of seeing the local boys on their way to their secondary school, some of the first years (ages 11 to 12) wore grey shorts, but some were in long trousers.
Was it the same at your school?

Comments by James on 31st May 2017  

Hi Andrea,did boys wear grey shorts at your secondary school that you attended and if so up to what age?