Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 593,289         Comments: 2,144

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

2144 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by Gavin A on 20th February 2018  

The kind of visitors were mainly potential school boys and their parents. On rare occasions that boy might have a sister probably tagging along because they had to! But apart from them I don't remember anyone ekse. I certainly don't think any other member of staff apart from the swimming master or house master/tutor would have had the slightest interest in watching us boys otherwise.

Comments by Gavin A on 20th February 2018  

Peter B

No, I said that when it came to inter school contests we wore trunks

Comments by Alf on 19th February 2018  

To Gavin,

You said " Yes, some of the boys who had turned 13 did start to resent visitors being present when they were naked."

What kind of visitors did you have during your nude swimming classes, were they school staff or others who were visiting to watch?
Did female teachers or other females also came to watch?

Comments by Peter B on 19th February 2018  

So Gavin A are you saying swimming galas for your school with parents or the public present were swum naked?

What would the date have been year wise. It does seem a strange situation, but I suppose some years ago people were not so worried. I do not know if I woolud have been happy swimming naked in front of strangers let alone my own family

Comments by Olderscot on 18th February 2018  

Hi, I note some comments regarding jock straps or Athletic supports to give their proper name. Like many others we only wore white cotton gym shorts and were subject to the " no underwear " rule which was common at the time. When we entered 3rd year around ages 14/15 we were allowed to buy a Litesome support from the school PE dept. Most boys did this. Looking back it was interesting that the rule was based on what year you were in rather than an individual boy's age or requirement for support. Some boys should have been allowed to wear a support much earlier as those shorts offered no support.

Happy to answer any queries .


Comments by Andrea on 18th February 2018  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Alf,
Our parents had to buy the swimsuits as part of our uniform.

I went to an all girls secondary school.

Comments by Gavin A on 17th February 2018  


We all wanted to wear a jockstrap at 13 or 14, just as the older boys were wearing them already. Litesome was the only brand in those days. Most boys possessed two jockstraps, one with and without a pouch (for a box .. i.e. cricket). Very much a coming of age aspect, and although they aren't common today I am still glad to say that I, my sons and grandchildren still wear them for sport.

Comments by Gavin A on 17th February 2018  


To answer your questions: I don't think we had any problems with other teachers (90% + were male) watching us.

Did any of the boys feel any embarrassment being nude in front of everyone else during these lessons, especially at the older age? As said we could wear trunks from the senior school onwards. Yes, some of the boys who had turned 13 did start to resent visitors being present when they were naked. All swimming contests with other schools were never in the nude in front of parents and other guests, we wore navy blue speedos (official school colours). Our school was a boys only school.

Comments by Dave on 17th February 2018  

Hi ,James your experiences with first seeing and then wearing a Litesome jockstrap are very similar to my own I got mine in 1977.

Comments by Arby on 17th February 2018  

James. I totally agree with your comments about jockstraps. In an earlier email I explained how us boys went to the local sports shop to buy one. Like you we felt very grown up as a result. We continued to wear them for sports even after leaving school and college.I also agree how comfortable they were and cannot understand why they have gone out of fashion. They were much more comfortable than modern sports briefs. Difficult to get now but are still available via the internet.

Comments by Alf on 17th February 2018  

Andrea, were the swimsuits supplied by the school or had to be bought by the parents as part of the school kit?

And what did the boys wear, if anything? :)

Comments by Ronnie on 16th February 2018  


I heard about the tawse in Scottish schools and how it was used liberally by most teachers, just like you describe.
Incidentally there was a small documentary on BBC radio about it only a week or two ago. It probably can still be found on the BBC Radio documentary site in mp3 form.

It documents how a Scottish mother whose son was belted at school took the case to the European Court of Justice which forced the British Parliament to take a vote against all corporal punishment in British schoools.

Comments by Ronnie on 16th February 2018  


Apart from the intructor or coach could anyone else from the school, especially female staff or teachers, watch during your nude swimming lessons?
Did any of the boys feel any embarrassment being nude in front of everyone else during these lessons, especially at the older age?
I read some other old posts here who said that they had swimming galas in the nude in front of parents and other guests.

I assume that yours was either a boys only school or the boys and girls had separate swimming classes.
I also find it strange, or maybe justified for some reasons, that only boys were not allowed to wear anything for swimming classes, but not for girls.

Comments by Andrea on 16th February 2018  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Presumably the schools which had nude swimming had their own pools?

We had swimming lessons for a couple of years at Secondary school, but these were at a local council owned pool. We had to wear regulation navy blue one piece swimsuits.

Comments by James on 16th February 2018  

Going back to previous conversations,
Yes I was at Grammar school in the late 60's. I have mentioned before that it was suggested that if we were "uncomfortable' we should get a jockstrap. At that point I didn't really know what one was, but I saw an older boy putting one on in the changing rooms before his shorts and I put two and two together. I thought that it must feel weird, but I had to find out.
I went to the local sports shop and came out with a Litesome, like so many others here. It did feel strange but very comfortable, if a bit draughty!
Quite a few friends went on to get them as it was like the next step to being 'grown up".
I can't understand why they are not so popular now as, for me, they were more comfortable than any other underwear, support and freedom all at once.

Comments by Peter B on 15th February 2018  

I know that now it is many years since senior schools were all boys schools but does anyone recall how they felt the first time they were in a swimming lesson with everyone naked. Especially if the first time it was experienced was in the secondary or senior school.

Comments by Gavin on 14th February 2018  

English independent school (1965 - 1976 ) we swam without trunks from 7 to 13/14 and then trunks were allowed

Comments by Olderscot on 14th February 2018  

I attended a boys only secondary school in Scotland from 1965-1972.
In response to your questions , there was no nude swimming in the school pool . We wore swimming briefs in the school colours . However, if a boy had forgotten his swimming kit then he would be expected to do without. Very few ever did!
Being in Scotland the teachers , almost without exception, had a tawse ( always known as "the belt") in their desk drawer. This was used regularly and few boys would have left school with having had their hands belted. In most cases a boy would receive one or two strokes on each hand but some teachers gave three on each hand as a matter of course. The belts were either marked "H" for heavy or "XH" for extra heavy. Most teachers seemed to use a H with two tails but some had two belts, using the XH on older boys. In all cases the punishment was given in front of the class. Hope that this gives you some idea of what the arrangements were back then.

Comments by Ronnie on 14th February 2018  

Sterling, I have read about the imposed custom of nude swimming in US schools. But the difference with British schools seems to have been that while in US schools the nude swimming started in high school at about age 13 or 14, in British schools it started at a much younger age and contrary to US schools it usually stopped at 13 or 14 at which age the boys were allowed to wear trunks, though not in all schools where they had this practice.

I wonder if there are any readers here who had this practice and tradition at their school.

Comments by Sterling on 13th February 2018  

Ronnie, I have heard of Nude Swimming in some British Boarding School's but nothing like the scale of its practice in some parts of the US.

As for Corporal Punishment I attended a School where each Master had his own particular weapon of mass destruction.
But it kept us on our toes!

Comments by Ronnie on 10th February 2018  

Since this subject seems to be exhausted would it not be more interesting if we talked about corporal punishment and nude swimming when we were at school?

I also remember those old toilets we had at school, especially in primary, which were doorless where us boys had no privacy.
There were even some schools which had open urinals in the school yard which boys could use while playing. Not at our school but one could see these urinals stuck to the schoolyard wall when passing by in the street. I wonder if some schools still have them, though not likely today.

Comments by Mark on 6th February 2018  

Like Jake when in sixth form most lads did PE (and cross-country) while stripped to the waist even though it was not compulsory.

Comments by Rob on 5th February 2018  

When I was at school in the late fifties all the boys wore vests under their school shirts and we were told before the start of the first PE lesson to go to the changing room and take everything off including our socks and underpants and to come back into the gym wearing just shorts and plimsolls.On the way,we were talking and some of the boys said about whether we were allowed to wear Tshirts which had been on the uniform list and we said 'no, just shorts and plimsolls'. So,we certainly weren't allowed to keep our vests on and as to T.shirts; we never ever wore them. We were always stripped to the waist, and able to sweat freely and then shower together afterwards and so become more confident about ourselves. All boys today should be able to continue to share that experience.
When I started a job in 1962, I realised that none of my young male colleagues wore vests under their shirts, so I ditched mine and have never worn one since.

Comments by Jake on 5th February 2018  

It is strange that there weren't standard rules about these things, even within the same school. I had one PE teacher who let us wear t-shirts (and even an extra sweatshirt outdoors!). Then the next year we had a different teacher, his view was that we needed toughening up and made us all do it stripped to the waist. In the sixth form things were more relaxed and we were given the choice, but most boys opted to wear just shorts and no top.

Comments by Toby on 3rd February 2018  

Was it to make you look tough? Some teachers did like to do that. You're right about the variations between schools, shirts vs skins, vests vs skins, skins vs skins. Quite funny really

Comments by Jono on 3rd February 2018  

It's strange each school did different things. I was on the x country team and when competing we always ran in skins. Some teachers would make their team strip while others wouldn't..

Comments by Roy on 1st February 2018  

I agree with Gavin and when I was at school as most boys didn't wear vests although the uniform rules for PE stipulated singlets obviously not having vests they boys went stripped to the waist.
Nothing was said and it soon became normal for all boys to be STTW for both indoor and outdoor PE.

Comments by Gavin on 31st January 2018  

Jason, hardly any of the kids that I went to school with wore vests and those boys would not have wanted to wear a vest or T shirt for PE. It was a good idea at your school for classes to wear different coloured shorts thereby enabling team games where all lads can stay stripped to the waist. Shirts vs skins can be bad for less confident kids, if all boys are shirtless it is fairer and all boys will get used to it and gain confidence in their bodies.

Comments by Jason on 27th January 2018  

Think it was easier having everyone stripped down. We wore either black or white shorts depending on which class we were in. Those who did wear a vest under their school shirts simply peeled off and hung them on their peg.

Comments by John Lavender on 25th January 2018  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

Replying to Gavin;

I think the Teacher was trying to follow PE Uniform policy but he was ex-Army and also a Serving Police Sargeant so I think secretly he would have had us all stripped to the waist if he had - had any input into the Policy. The
Teacher was often Stripped To The Waist as well.
Quite a few of us preferred being STTW and would go to any lengths, from just asking if we could strip off, to deliberately being last into the Gym so we could take our tops off and Run the Gauntlet.

Doing that, we had to run between two lines of lads (up to about 15 in each line) who would slap us on the back as we passed them. We weren't supposed to stop and fight any of the lads in the Lines but sometimes we did,We used that to get even if we owed them one for something.
Occasionally that would descend into a scuffle between more lads and the Teacher would have to separate us.

Comments by Gavin on 22nd January 2018  

John, having enjoyed the freedom and comfort of being stripped to the waist for secondary school PE, I cannot understand why your teacher thought that it was a punishment making the last 2 lads to emerge from the changing room take their tops off. Most lads would have hated being made to wear a T shirt or vest for indoor PE, having a hot sweaty shirt sticking to your back is really uncomfortable and unnecessary.

Comments by John Lavender on 21st January 2018  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

Reply to Andy K1;

Our kit was nominally White Tee Shirt, white shorts and Plimmies (Plimsolls)
At the start of every lesson the last 2 lads to get Changed into Kit and into the Gym were made to take their Tops off and 'Run the Gauntlet' of the rest of the class - usually around 30 Lads.
After this they stayed Topless for the rest of the lesson, and some lads were allowed to take their tops off if they wanted to -and if the Gym Master would let them.
If we played team games eg Killerball (a kind of indoor Rugby but with fewer rules and played with a Medcine Ball of a random weight chosen by the Teacher), then we played 'Skins vs. Vests').

We didn't wrestle every week, but as I said, we were always told in advance if it was, and told to wear our Swim-briefs.

Comments by Andy K1 on 21st January 2018  

Hi John, thanks for your comment about wrestling. It made me wonder if you wore shirts in the gym, with everyone going to skins and why did you need notice to fight. PE was always done stripped to the waist and by the end of session we were visibly sweating.

Comments by Matt on 21st January 2018  

I wish that boxing had been part of the Physical Education curriculum at my secondary school. I needed toughening up and lads need to learn self defence.

Comments by AndyK1 on 20th January 2018  

Michael, you're probably right about the pairings I felt the same way. We all were stripped to the waist to box and I'm guessing you were the same. No one really wanted to look bad in the ring but it was a way to release frustration ect.

Comments by Michael on 20th January 2018  

We didn't have wrestling at my school, but we did have boxing. This was in the days before "Elf 'n Safety", so although we wore boxing gloves we had no protection for our heads or bodies.

Although it was an outlet for the more testosterone-fuelled boys' aggression, as an oft-derided "wimpy kid" I found the amount of violence to be scary.

The bigger boys could deliver powerful punches, and I sometimes wondered if the pairings were arranged so that anyone 'out of favour' would get a beating from their opponent.

Comments by James on 19th January 2018  

Apologies for my unfinished message.
What was most appealing was the soft,shiny material that would shimmer in the sunlight.
Although I thought they were a bit sissyish,I preferred wearing them to grey school shorts.

Comments by James on 19th January 2018  

Peter B,I really think what is considered'cool'is what is fashionable at the time.
Shorts were much shorter in the seventies when I was at school and we had to accept that even though they would be typically worn without underwear.
When satin shorts became fashionable in the late seventies,I wore them for first time with trepidation,although I was reassured by my mother that I that I looked very smart and trim in my new shorts.
I'm sure what apea
It was the

Comments by Peter B on 19th January 2018  

John Lavender
Referring to other peoples comments and mine on fashion it seems that it is no longer "cool" for lads are to wear swim briefs.

Comments by John Lavender on 18th January 2018  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

In our gym sessions at Grammar School (1963-68) we didn't wear supports but some of us used to put our Swimming Trunks on underneath our Shorts instead if we needed to.
We also used to do Wrestling sometimes as well and if this was the case, our PE Master used to tell us in advance, so that we could start the lesson with them under our Shorts, and then slip off our shorts and just wrestle in the swim-briefs.
There were two "Houses" at the School and it was always one Boy in Green Trunks against one in Navy-Blue. We didn't use a Ring, just an exercise Mat in the Middle of the Gym Floor. Any of the Lads who weren't already in "Skins" had to take their Tee-shirt off, of course.

Comments by Daved on 16th January 2018  davidmecheng@tesco.net 

Hi ,if anyone would like to chat more about supporters and athletics kit please feel free to Email me I would be happy to talk further.

Comments by Peter B on 16th January 2018  

I was not aware that jockstraps had gone out of fashion, but the I am not athletic. Due to the fact that most lads are allowed to wear under under their shorts these days and given the fact that they all seem to wear boxers not briefs, you would think that they would need some sort of support for PE or games

Comments by James on 16th January 2018  

Peter B
At the school that I attended during the seventies,we also had a strict'no underwear policy'which was rigorously enforced.We too would wear just our shorts with no vest or socks.No distinction was ever made by the boys'ages and like you we would wear the same brief shorts in the fifth form as the first formers would wear.
I found it far more traumatic wearing these shiny little numbers for cross country where we could be seen in public rather than other outdoor pursuits.

Comments by Jon on 15th January 2018  

I was st school between 1968 and 1974

I totally agree that is a shame they went out of vogue

Comments by Dave on 15th January 2018  davidmecheng@tesco.net 

Hi , the period I started wearing a supporter was mid 70`s, maybe before that time they were not very common

Comments by Peter B on 15th January 2018  

I went to an an all boys school in London (1961 to 1966) The top form was the 5th form when we left in July 66 at the age of 16. We had a strict no underwear policy and no tops indoors and no socks. Athletic supports were nerve mentioned and so we went through all years with no support. In the summer when we played cricket during the games period we never knew about boxes and so did not wear them.

Having read some of the previous contributions about swimming with out trunks at least we did wear these for our lesson but of course in those days we all wore the briefs type, not the long shorts that our now worn for swimming.

Comments by Andrea on 15th January 2018  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

The school my Ex went to (in the 1970's) was a boys grammar, not a public or boarding school. As mentioned previously it was their PE teacher who suggested they start to wear a supporter, rather than it being on the PE kit list.

When my son was about 11, he wanted to play junior cricket and a 'box' was on the compulsory kit list. That was the first time. I came across a jockstrap with a pouch - my Ex didn't play cricket.

Comments by Dave on 15th January 2018  

Hi , interesting comments from both of you , I think it must have been down to school policy or the head of sports as to what underwear boys should or should not wear.
My school was a mixture of day and boarding and it was a boarder who I first watched wearing a supporter.

Comments by TimH on 15th January 2018  

Strangely, like William, I can't remember anyone at my boys' grammar school in the 60s wearing jockstraps either. Could it be a demographic/cultural thing?

Comments by Arby on 15th January 2018  

I went to a State High School in the 60s. Most boys by the time that we reached the 6th form wore a jockstrap for PE and games. Yes they were Litesome jockstraps. I remember two of us going to the local sports shop to buy them for the first time. We felt very grown up at the time. Afterwards it just became quite normal to wear them. The sports teaching staff encouraged us to wear them, particularly as we eventually realised that they wore them too. In my view it is a great pity that jockstraps are no longer in vogue.