Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 638,271         Comments: 2,313

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

2313 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by Alan on 3rd October 2018  

Hi John and Ross.
Yes, stripped to the waist, too.
As far as I can remember (it was a very, very, long time ago...)shoes just weren't mentioned in the kit list for PE and cross country, and when we asked about it we were told the rule was no footwear.

Comments by John on 3rd October 2018  

Steve, I don’t think that there was anything wrong with your PE kit rule, but it was completely wrong that the cane was used at all. That was an abusive environment.

Comments by Steve on 2nd October 2018  

I went to a English boys only grammar school in the 70's.

First PE lesson, and first cross country run, we all had to line up before we changed, and were told what kit was allowed. This was just shorts inside, plus plimsolls outside, always stripped to the waist.

We were also shown the cane, and told it would be used to "encourage" us in cross country - and it was. Boys who finished in the last 5 or so (from around 60 lads), got warned once, then if they finished in the same position again they were into the gym to be caned. 6 hard strokes, stripped to only a thin pair of shorts hurt !

Comments by Ross on 30th September 2018  


Interesting that you had a barefoot rule for all indoor and outdoor PE. How was this told to you? Was it written in the school handbook or was it just a PE teachers ruling?

I was in school in the 00s and we did indoor PE barefoot and went barefoot outside if we didn’t have our trainers.

Comments by Andrea on 28th September 2018  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

My Ex told me that when their PE teacher talked to them about jockstraps in the early 1970s he advised them to ask for a 'litesome supporter' at the local sports shop.

Comments by Sam C on 28th September 2018  

Chris G and Gavin A, I really only think there were Litesome jockstraps in the 60s and 70s

Comments by John on 27th September 2018  

Hi Alan, as well as having to go barefooted, did you do PE stripped to the waist like the lads in the photo?

Comments by Alan on 27th September 2018  

Seeing the latest posts on this thread takes me back to my time at a mixed English Grammar School in the late 1960s and early 70s.
There was a no footwear rule for both indoor and outdoor PE, for boys and girls. This included all track and field events, and cross country. The only exceptions were for rugby and cricket.

Comments by Nick on 25th September 2018  

Hi Bernard, I’m my opinion, being bare chested could be also a way to save shirts ahah. I mean, for example when I had to fix the car, my chest was greasy but if I had had a short, I would have thrown it. I think that in all the situations where you can dirty your shirt, it is better to go without it. One time we went to an abandoned house to do softair, and in order to hide myself, I went inside a sewage tunnel which was terribly muddy and full of a dirty liquid. I had a new shirt which I had paid £ 90 so it was a pity to destroy it. I thought “ok nick, take it off” and so I did. I was barechested and my chest and abs became dirty due to liquid inside tunnel, but I managed to save my shirt. At the end i played for another hour with my dirty chest but personally I didn’t care ahah. Do you agree?

Comments by Bernard on 24th September 2018  

Nick - it sounds as though the only sensible option was to run home without a shirt. It might have been better if you had started the original run without it.
Running in the hailstorm wasn't too bad as it didn't last long - a wet shirt would have made it more miserable.
As others have pointed out being sent out on a cross country run shirtless in rain is very practical and more comfortable than with a shirt. Similarly, running barefoot was practical and sensible as the alternative would have been wearing plimsolls which would have got stuck in the mud and probably come off our feet.

Comments by Richard on 23rd September 2018  

Hi John, yes it is. Rules were very strict and if you misbehaved or forgot your PE kit, you would take off your shirt without caring about weather (it could be sunny, it could be cold, it could rain, snow or even hail, it doesn’t matter) . Then you went outside and waited to be tied to the bar. At that point you were punched at least for 5 minutes, but it depends on what you’ve done (one time a guy was punched for 30 minutes). It was the rule and you could only accept it. I admit that something I felt excited for being punched shirtless by girls of my class but I was scared when some strong guys punched me, because I cannot move so I could only toughen my abs.

Comments by John on 23rd September 2018  

Did you go to a boarding school?, I have heard of some unpleasant disciplinary regimes from guys who attended them. At my school the PE teacher made you do 50 press ups if you forgot your PE kit. The Head of PE kept a supply of old white shorts and old pumps, you were made to wear these for PE and it was too bad if they didn’t fit. So there was no way of getting out of PE if you forgot your kit. I’m glad that I didn’t go to your school mate.

Comments by Richard on 23rd September 2018  

Ho Roy, I’m talking about 40/50 years ago

Comments by Roy on 23rd September 2018  

I agree with Paul and it certainly would not happen today.

Comments by Richard on 22nd September 2018  

Hi Paul, the teacher wasn’t the problem, she only executed the orders of PE policy which was written by the headmaster. There are very strict rules for those who misbehave or forget pe kit (like me). Punishment is “gut punching” and there is written that teacher could apply this punishment according to his/her opinion. Sometimes it happens that guys are free, other times they are blocked by another guy or tied to a bar. It depends on the the teacher, but I can assure that teacher is only executing orders. Believe me, I cannot forget such an incredible experience. But I think I deserved it, I forgot the kit for the 5th time in a row. Do you or other guy have experienced shirtless gut punching ? Maybe at school?l

Comments by Paul on 22nd September 2018  

I very much doubt the veracity of Richard's "punishment". Such a teacher would have a very short career.

Comments by Tom G on 22nd September 2018  

Sam C, Chris G and Gavin A - I sure remember Litesome jockstraps but I think they've vanished now

Comments by Richard on 21st September 2018  

Ho guys, I want to talk with you about pe punishment. A lot of you talked about running shirtless in many weather conditions, but nobody has talked about what is called “gut punching” which was our punishment during PE. It consists in taking off our shirt and in receiving punches in abs by each member of our class. In order to make it more difficult, it often took place outside, even with rain! During my career at school I was punished several times for forgetting PE kit. Just to talk about one of this time, it was a rainy and cold day and I forgot PE shirt for the 5th time in a row. My teacher got angry and punished me with “gut punching”. I was obliged to go outside and to take off my shirt. Then my wrists were tied at a bar, so that I cannot escape. At that point, she went back to the gym and wait for 4/5 minutes before coming back with everyone of my class. It was very cold ant it was raining, but I cannot get warm because I was tied, so I was getting frozen. When they went back to me, the punishment could start. Everyone in my class started punching in my bare abs, firstly girls than boys. It was very difficult to resist due to weather condition but I cannot move so I could only wait and try to resist. After 10 minutes and hundreds of punch, punishment ended so that I could go back to the locker room. My abs were destroyed, they became red ahah but I managed not to scream. I think shirtless gut punching is worse than shirtless run, because you’re tied so you cannot move. It means that you feel very cold! Have you ever tried gut punching a school for a punishment or at home with your friends?

Comments by John on 21st September 2018  

Simon C,
I was shocked when I started at Senior School when the PE teacher told us that we were going on a cross country run and informed us that the kit was shorts and socks/trainers only. The first cross country run we did was in torrential rain and we quickly appreciated why our PE teacher had made us run shirtless. We soon got hot running and the rain didn’t feel unpleasant, if we’d been made to wear a vest or a shirt the soaked cotton garment would have made us cold. It was far healthier running shirtless, our PE teacher was right to enforce this rule. Like you I’m glad that we weren’t given a choice.

Comments by Nick on 20th September 2018  

Hi simon, yes I agree. I think that having a wet shirt while running is very uncomfortable. But also in my case, if I had had a shirt maybe I didn’t got dirty but it would have been very difficult to wash the shirt and maybe I would have thrown. So even if my chest was very oily and greasy, I didn’t dirty a shirt and I also made an experience which made me stronger. I was also reading messages regarding air soft shirtless, I don’t know but it seems to be interesting to improve toughness.

Comments by Simon C on 20th September 2018  

Hi Nick, We did all x-country throughout school stripped down but with trainers. It was better than having a sopping wet vest on when it rained. Like anything no matter whether you wanted to be stripped down or not you got used to it,wasn't like you had a choice!

Comments by Nick on 20th September 2018  

Hi Bernard, wow I imagine it has been difficult being bare chested during hailstorm! Anyway I think it could also help you to be stronger ahah. Regarding this aspect I can tell you my experience. Well it wasn’t at school. It was winter and me and one of my friend were doing a race for fun. We bet that who lost the race had to receive a punishment by the other one. Unluckily I lost the race and my friend ordered me to take off my shirt despite the heavy rain. I was shirtless but rain was not a problem. However, when we were coming back home, our car got broken in a countryside road. I was the only one who was able to understand the problem, which was under the car. I asked my friend the shirt but he said: “no shirt until we arrive home”. I could have try to argue with him but I was getting frozen and the best thing to do was to repair the car and to go back home. So I groveled under the car to fix the problem, but my chest became covered by oil and grease. Luckily, I managed to solve the problem but I was so dirty that I would have soiled the upholstery of the car. To end the message I did other 5/6 kilometre on foot under rain with grease and oil on my chest, with people who looked at me very strangely (maybe because my chest became black ahah) but I think that this experience let me become stronger and tougher! What do you think about it?

Comments by Bernard on 19th September 2018  

Nick - I mentioned the first time we ran cross country in snow, wearing, of course, nothing but a pair of shorts, on 29th August. The snow had fallen the night before but by the afternoon of our games lesson the sun was out, there was no wind but there was about 4 or 5 inches of snow on the ground. It wasn't a great problem that we were shirtless but our feet could have been a problem. However, no-one suffered more than the odd chilblain as far as I remember.
There was another occasion when there was a short, sharp hailstorm while we were out on a cross country run. I recall running rather slowly uphill along the edge of a ploughed field when the storm started and the hail came at us from behind. Our shoulders and upper backs soon became quite red but I think this had largely faded before we got back to school. This run stood out as being even more exhilarating than usual but, as usual, no-one came to any harm.
Our uniform list when we started at the school included black and white shorts for p.e. together with white plimsolls and tee shirt. When it became obvious that we were never going to wear the plimsolls or tee shirt we stopped taking them to school and wore them at other times.

Comments by Nick on 18th September 2018  

Hi Bernard, I imagine you didn’t bring at all a shirt for PE, but if you didn’t have a shirt, how can you resist shirtless under rain or even snow? Tell me about one of the worst days you’ve done shirtless PE only to understand what was the weather like when you were bare chested

Comments by Nick on 18th September 2018  

Hi Matt,

Yes we did sometimes do shirts and skins outside, but only in summer term. In autumn and winter PE was always indoors. It was fine being stripped to the waist outside, it was warmer than the gym in winter, and by then everyone was used to it.

Comments by Jim on 18th September 2018  

Hi guys, I want to ask you an opinion regarding what happened to me. When I went to school, our PE teacher used to let us play outside (because gym was occupied by women who played volleyball) in every weather conditions. The problem is that, where I live, winter is very frosty and doing PE outside is not simple. I remember one day we did PE inside because weather conditions were impossible: it was 10 F and it was raining a lot. We were obliged to play volleyball and the central heating was high so me an some of my friends took off our shirts. However, because I hate this game I said “ahhh it was better outside”. That was the end. My teacher amswred me: “do you want to play outside, ok (she opened me the door) go to do ten fields laps. Yeah it was still raining and I tried to put my shirt on, but she said: “No!! You have to go barechested, that’s the punishment’s rules, even with this weather”. Now you can imagine staying bare chested in that conditions, with pouring rain on my chest and freezing temperatures... however, as I did several laps, I didn’t feel cold and when my teacher asked if I was frozen I said “no, water evaporates”. At that point I think my teacher wasn’t happy because I wasn’t suffering i don’t know... and decided to let me do push ups inside puddles, so that at the end water had evaporated but my chest was covered in mud... have you ever had similar experiences or other kind of punishments in bad weather conditions?

Comments by Bernard on 18th September 2018  

Being in the less sporty group I played various outdoor games all through the year wearing just a pair of shorts. If the weather was bad or the pitches frozen we would usually go off on a cross country run in a large area of open parkland nearby. I was much happier with this as it was easier to keep moving and not get too cold though it could be a little tough on your feet as parts of the route had a lot of stones which could be quite sharp. No harm ever came to us and running in our rather spartan kit certainly toughened us up.

Comments by Gavin A on 17th September 2018  

Hi Sam C, Chris G

I also wore Litesome jockstraps, one with a cup (when playing cricket) and one without cup for any other sport. I am not sure whether there were other brands available when I was at school (1968-76). Youngsters today are spoilt for choice when it concerns genital support.

Comments by Matt on 17th September 2018  

Nick - nice to hear from someone else who did PE in the 90s and played vests/shirts and skins. Your description of how it felt to be a skin at first is spot on, that's exactly how I remember feeling when I suddenly found myself standing in the gym in my shorts and 'pasty bare chest', as your teacher would have put it!
Sounds like his approach helped to make the whole thing fun, which is good and clearly worked if lads were keen to play football in skins.
Did you ever play shirts and skins outdoors? We did on one occasion at my school, it was a really warm, humid day and we wore these heavy football jerseys which were reversible and in different colours to tell the teams apart. Given the conditions a couple of boys on my team asked if they could play barechested, thankfully the teacher agreed and told the rest of us to do the same. Definitely a relief to be skins that day!

Comments by Nick on 16th September 2018  

Hi Bernard, what do you mean with “no matter how cold it was”? Did you play bare chested in winter with rain/snow and freezing temperatures?

Comments by Chris G on 16th September 2018  

Sam. I didn't have a jock strap at that point. However, I changed schools for my 6th form years. There, jockstraps were very much in fashion - mine was a Litesome, too - but unfortunately we had to wear PE vests all the time. No topless Ness, even in summer,

Comments by Bernard on 15th September 2018  

Hi John,
Yes - looking back I think we were very lucky with our p.e. teachers. The football team played with full kit - they had to wear shirts, boots and socks in addition to the black shorts. According to my friend who was in the team, the shirts were very uncomfortable even after quite a few washes. They played shirts and skins when they practised so every-one wanted to be on the skins side no matter how cold it was.

Comments by Sam C on 15th September 2018  

Gavin A, I think the jockstrap I had at school was Lithesome. You don't seem to see the brand anymore. What about you?

Comments by Rob on 15th September 2018  

Chris G, thanks for your post.My wife and I have been away with the family for the past week making the most of the late summer sunshine. As you will have read in my earlier post you and I were at secondary schools in the late 1950s so I was pleased to read that when you had to be topless for PE you soon got to enjoy the comfort and practicality this brought, which a lot of you extended to the point of also going commando.

Comments by Nick on 15th September 2018  

I was also at school in the 90's, and did shirts & skins for indoor PE. The thing I remember most is our teacher who had all these catchphrases he;d use every lesson. Each time he divided us into two teams, he'd pick one team and yell at them: 'Off with your tops, boys, show the opponents your pasty bare chests'. Every single time. We'd chant along.

A lot of us played 5aside at lunch for fun in the gym (some of the prefects organised it), and whenever the skins started to pull off their shirts, someone would usually shout 'off with your tops lads, show us your pasty bare chests'.

I don't think anyone minded being barechested, in fact I remember arguments at 5aside about whose turn it was because we wanted to be skins, eg you got to be skins last time so now its our turn etc.

I suppose I was self conscious the very first few times about being topless, feeling naked just in shorts and a bare chest but you soon forget that.

Comments by John on 15th September 2018  

Hi Bernard,
What a good PE teacher you had, you were lucky to be able to play football shirtless as well. Yours really was a great school for lads who preferred to exercise shirtless. Did your school football team wear shirts when they played against other schools?

Comments by Bernard on 14th September 2018  

John - inside we wore different coloured bands over one shoulder. These didn't work all that well as they would slip off too easily.

Outside was much easier - one team would wear the black shorts that were supposed to be the football kit while the other team wore their white shorts which were officially gym and cross country shorts. This worked much better than the coloured bands.

Comments by Ben on 14th September 2018  

Hi Jeremy, I used to play airsoft shirtless when I was young. I remember it started one day which was very hot so we decided to take off our shirt and to continue without it. We played near an abandoned house so it was full of bushes and dirty places where to hide in, even shirtless. The advantage was that we didn’t feel hot and the disadvantage was that we got very dirty (especially our bare chest). Even though the place was far from town, so we didn’t care of being dirty, one day three/four girls were walking there and they saw us in that conditions. It was funny because nobody of us had a shirt so we decided to continue playing as we were, with sweat and mud on our chest and a group of girls watching us. I want to ask you if you have ever played paintball/airsoft shirtless and why did you choose to do it ?

Comments by John on 14th September 2018  

I agree with you that vests or shirts are not necessary for PE but how did your PE teachers manage to identify teams when lads were divided into teams and were all stripped to the waist?.

Comments by Bernard on 13th September 2018  

Matt - I don't know when you were at school but in my day - in the 60s - we were worked hard in p.e. and most of us would have been uncomfortable wearing a shirt. If boys are exercising vigorously then there should be no need or desire to wear shirts inside or outside. I can imagine if a class of boys were out on a football pitch shirtless in winter and there was a lot of time spent standing around listening to instructions etc they would get pretty cold but that was not the case at my school. All instructions were given before we went outside and we were pretty happy running around in our minimal kit.

Comments by Jeremy on 12th September 2018  

Harry, I’m happy I’m not the only one who played paintball shirtless. Yes I think it is a perfect idea to play shirtless even these painful games to divide two teams. Even in winter, the fame is more funny if a team is shirtless. I remember another time we decided to create two teams and to make everything more funny, the team which lost had to take off their shirt and to do a punishment like being shot shirtless, passing through rose bushes full of thorns shirtless, and even running in snow and doing press-ups in it shirtless... it was very funny seeing the other team losing but when my team lost it was terrible ahah... it was part of the game, have you ever had experiences like this?

Comments by John on 11th September 2018  

Paul, it’s not a perfect solution for lads that prefer to be stripped to the waist for indoor PE. Our gym was always heated in the winter and it was way too hot for wearing vests or t shirts. Schools that got lads to bring a black and a white pair of shorts to each PE lesson had no problem in distinguishing teams at all. A friend of mine went to a school that had that PE kit rule and he never had any issues with it at all.

Comments by Paul on 11th September 2018  

Frank's posting seems to be the perfect solution to every boy being stripped to the waist and avoiding the problems of identification already discussed for team games

Comments by John on 10th September 2018  

Frank C,
At some senior schools the boys PE kit was black shorts, white shorts and pumps. Lads had to take a pair of white and a pair of black shorts to each gym class, the PE teacher would be at the changing room and divide the lads up so that half would wear black shorts and the others white. Lads were always stripped to the waist for gym class and indoor basketball and other team games. It was far healthier exercising shirtless and shy lads became more confident. There’s no need to wear shirts for indoor PE

Comments by Frank C on 9th September 2018  

Matt and John,quite a while ago this was argued out.The bibs are awkward and slip with movement and can induce extra moisture on the back and chest!Armbands similarly aren't great.Remedy make one team skin and the others vests,it tends to pan out better and all the students know that they will be picked for one or the other

Comments by Matt on 9th September 2018  

I see your logic about every boy being a skin every time in that nobody could have felt singled out, that's true. If the PE kit was exactly the same for everyone, then I think we'd all have got used to it.
But surely by your argument we could just as easily have kept our vests on and still used bibs or armbands to distinguish teams in the gym? Why did any of us - whether some boys or all - actually need to strip to the waist for PE?

Comments by John on 8th September 2018  

Interesting to read about your experience of PE in the 1990s, would you have minded if your school had adopted a stripped to the waist rule for boys indoor PE?. Lads could have worn a bib or a coloured armband to distinguish teams. If all lads had been skins all the time they would not have had the anxiety about being chosen for the skins team and PE teachers wouldn’t have been able to pick on lads that they thought were ‘soft’

Comments by Chris G on 8th September 2018  

Rob. Sorry, missed your post of Aug 27th. Yes, for my first two years in secondary school we wore vests for PE. Some of us had the specified, but never enforced, T-shirt type top, but by and large, those of us who wore underwear vests on a daily basis (and that was most of us back then) didn't bother to change - so, yes, we were a bit sticky and whiffy by the end of the session, but we survived. Things were obviously better once we started going topless,and got more ventilation. Probably not unusually for those days, there were no showers available, but there probably wouldn't have been enough time for us all to get through, even if there had been any. Although there was no official no-pants ruling, a lot of us did remove our underpants, especially when toplessness caame in, but by the the time I left that particular school, there were even a few jock-straps to be seen in the changing room.

Comments by Matt on 7th September 2018  

Simon - we did vests vs skins in my PE lessons too (also 1990s) and one of my friends got picked to be a skin virtually every time. At first I think he felt a bit embarrassed about taking his top off and maybe that was evident to the teacher, who was a bit of a hard nut and presumably thought my friend was too soft. Whatever the reason, he stayed a skin most of the year and eventually seemed to be fine with it.

Comments by John on 7th September 2018  

Simon E, we were always stripped to the waist for all indoor PE and outdoor cross country running. Your school could have made all lads shirtless for all indoor PE and you could have worn a coloured bib or armbands to distinguish teams. It would have been much fairer and healthier for all lads to be stripped to the waist, who wants to wear a hot sticky vest?