Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 577,911         Comments: 2,066

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

2066 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by Marc on 2nd January 2018  

Frank refers to "Mr. Anderson". His classes were stripped to the waist at all times and he observed the policy himself. Did anyone on here have such a teacher?

Comments by AndyK1 on 2nd January 2018  

Indoors we were stripped to the waist for all PE/Games lessons. Outside we were more bare chests than vests. Masters ensured each boy was visibly sweating at the end or laps of the field would come your way, barechested of course.

Comments by Simon on 1st January 2018  

Matt, I disagree that boys should be given the choice of wearing a shirt for PE. Surely what would then happen is that all the confident boys would choose to do it in skins and the the boys with a hang-up about being shirtless would stay as they were. Which would do nothing to increase their confidence in tne long run. From my own experience I think it's much more effective if boys are just told that they all have to take their shirts off, at least for a set period. As you mentioned earlier it's possible to use different methods of telling teams apart, other than shirts and skins which can seem unfair to some boys.

Comments by Sam on 1st January 2018  

Obviously doing vigorous PE would make one sweat and that is why indoor PE should be done stripped to the waist.
For outdoors it perhaps it should not be mandatory although it should be encouraged leading to more lads taking vests off and going stripped to the waist.

Comments by Matt on 1st January 2018  

Jason, I agree with you entirely. Being stripped to the waist for PE is healthy and wearing vests/shirts can be dangerous when using gymn equipment. Boys should at least be able to choose whether they want to wear a shirt or not, many would choose not to wear a shirt if they had the chance to do PE shirtless.

Comments by Jason on 1st January 2018  

Alex, that's why all boys should strip down. The girls loved to see you stripped to the waist, indoors or out, hairy chests or not we were stripped and on show. I feel today's lads would benefit from being stripped to the waist for all PE. Strangely it's the feminists who want to stop boys becoming men.

Comments by TimH on 31st December 2017  

Just responding to Andy's post of 22nd(?)December - if you trawl back through the thread you should find that not only did girls not object to seeing boys doing gym topless, some actually relished it, and others would have happily decided which boys would lose their shirts!

Some people have commented that some gym teachers were almost sadistic in their attitudes; others have said that they think some could have been suffering from PTSD as a result of wartime experiences. I don't know and I'm not compretant to judge but to my dying day I'll thank the a certain Geography and substitute Gym teacher who gave 'little me' a love for the High & Wild places of the Earth that has survived over fify years.

Has this thread really been going for ten years? Looks back to see when I made my first posting.

Comments by Alex on 31st December 2017  

Matt, It was strange that some lads were picked to strip down a lot more than others. You were expected to sweat during PE. All indoors PE should be done stripped to the waist throughout school,outdoors should be a choice, skins, vests or t shirt.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 31st December 2017  

I will have to give you that one Ben thanks for that comment.2018 marks the tenth anniversary of this interesting and diverse website Mr Anderson's article on Physical education came straight from a bona fide master of the subject!Cursed down to April this year '17 To read it.He started teaching the subject in 1968 when I was eight!His experience is written in great detail,thank you for posting it. Sir!I note that the form you fill in to comment is not secure with my security software Kaspersky!But on my tablet McAffee says it's fine.Just one caveat.yes I spotted the typo above cursed and I meant curser but Im keeping it in as a double entendre.Keep contributing Happy New Year to all. F.C.

Comments by Ben on 30th December 2017  

I find it some what ironic that schools want boys to have short haircuts but complain when they go to extremes with clipper cuts and No 1 cuts.
Having a No 1 is to my mind better than having shoulder length hair and even longer.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 30th December 2017  fchroston@email.co 

Michael a similar situation with me.The barber and my father were totally engrossed in conversation about fishing!It went well over my head whilst I was being scalped.You could strike one of those red topped matches on the back.The Beatles and Stones were very influential on the sixties youth also the footballers,turning convention upside down.

Comments by Michael on 29th December 2017  

The comments about hair length reminded me of a memorable episode in the mid 1960s - when the Beatles' style of long hair was very much in vogue.

Naturally this fashion was frowned on by my school, with its dated regulations insisting on short hair for all boys. My mother was of the same opinion, and following many reminders for me to get my hair cut, finally lost patience and personally conducted me to the gents' hairdressers.

As my hair was being cut she maintained a conversation with the barber, who periodically paused to enquire (of her, not me) whether enough had been cut off. Time and again she insisted on more being cut, and the barber resumed his snipping and his ongoing conversation with my mother.

Eventually there was nothing left of my hair but bristles. The barber could cut no more off, and at last I was released from the chair. My mother was satisfied and paid the small charge.

On our way home my mother insisted that my hair had not been cut off as a punishment, but because she wanted to continue her interesting conversation with the barber! I was sceptical, but there was nothing I could do. I suffered terribly from taunting at school, being called "Bristle Sprout" for what seemed an eternity until my hair had grown back to a reasonable length.

Someone once said that "talk's cheap" but I paid very dearly for that conversation. Ever afterwards, I went to the barber's at the first mention from my mother, so as not to risk a repeat of that occasion.

Comments by Matt on 29th December 2017  

Alex, I like you was always chosen to strip to the waist when playing shirts vs skins football or basketball. I did not like it at first but soon got used to it and it was a lot more comfortable than running around with a shirt on sweating. On one occasion we had a supply PE teacher who insisted on all lads being shirtless, when we played indoor soccer he gave us different coloured armbands to wear to differentiate the teams. I think that for indoor PE a shirtless rule should have applied and shirts allowed for outdoor PE.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 28th December 2017  

Full fourteen James.

Comments by ROY on 28th December 2017  

As is said fashions change and it is now quite common for youths to have very short hair - clipper cuts and No.1s.

Comments by James on 27th December 2017  

Frank,thank you for your reply,I agree fashions have changed considerably and as we know short style haircuts,like wearing short trousers were not in fashion in the seventies.
Although as you see in the photo some boys had quite longish hair,but I had to undertake regular visits to the barbers to have my hair clipped to stubble.
Like wearing my brief,grey shorts this certainly made me stand out from the crowd.
How old were you when you went into long trousers?

Comments by Frank Chroston on 27th December 2017  

Thanks James for sharing your experience in more detail.I find it rather ironic that modern kids go for the very short styles of hair including clipper cuts and short back and sides!How fashions change over a generation.I suppose that we should hand the debate back to the original 1959 Burnley Grammar photo as a lot of people have a vested interest!

Comments by Michael on 27th December 2017  

I note from the picture that there are some rubber mats strategically placed on the gym floor, but in my experience they offered little cushioning if fallen on from any height.

One heartless teacher said we were better off without mats altogether, as we would then try harder not to fall in the first place!

Comments by James on 26th December 2017  

Frank,It is comforting to share the same adolescent experiences,as I also had the same haircut style that you described.
As you say'it was unusual,even in the early seventies to wear shorts in school'and that's probably why the lads in the barbers were sniggering.
My parents considered that a particularly short hairstyle complimented my looks and with my ultra short trousers gave that 'young boy look'which is what they achieved.
Although we had a very strict school uniform,there was no restriction on when we were allowed to wear short trousers,so after my mother checked with my form teacher,it was decreed that I should remain wearing short trousers till I left school.
At that time at age thirteen it meant I would have to spend another three years wearing short trousers!
Even for boys of my age at that time,shorts were readily available,either off the peg at Marks or any school outfitter would supply them,even allowing to try them on in the shop,so a perfect fit could be achieved.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 25th December 2017  

Sorry it ran out of space, the woolly grey socks didn't suffice. Thanks for sharing my adolescent experience.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 25th December 2017  

One of my worst experiences was when my father took me to the barbers in town after school.It was November I wasn't allowed the trendy new hair styles of the time,parents kept it very short which added to my ridicule.There were a couple of lads in the barbers waiting for a haircut,they started sniggering when they saw I had shorts on!You know the type of laughter they were trying to stifle but couldn't suppress.This made me feel very uncomfortable.Yes I do remember the cold aspect of wearing shorts in winter and the grey woolly socks didn't cover enough of the legs.I think my mother got the shorts mail order from a men's catalogue as I was quite big around the waist.

Comments by James on 25th December 2017  

Hi Frank,I'm sorry you had to suffer the indignation and humiliation that I did.The effect was mortifying to be the only boy in my class still wearing short trousers and I had to endure the same cruel verbal abuse simply for the amusement of my contemporaries.Of course,shorts were considerably shorter in the seventies,which of course appealed to my mother as she considered boys looked much smarter when wearing that particular style.
No concern was ever shown for wearing my shorts in the cold winter months and as you will probably recall your bare legs could leave you exposed to the elements,although I was allowed to wear long knee stockings to keep my legs warm.
As your mother kept you in short trousers because of some out dated tradition,no reason was ever given to me why I had to wear short trousers at that age.
What did you find the worst experience of wearing short trousers at that age?

Comments by Andy on 25th December 2017  

Peter, there wasn't any encouraging going on from what I can remember, it was just noticing others not taking them off coupled with the teachers taking no action that I suppose made me think I could get away with it as well.

When the teacher reminded us we shouldn't have any pants on and he was going to do a check I guess I felt worried. The way they checked was we had to pull the top up at one side and pull the waist band out while the teacher walked down the line checking.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 24th December 2017  

HiJames,Thank you for contributing to this site.Seems we both had dominant mother's!It was unusual even in the early seventies to wear shorts in school!So late, I was the only child and my mum chose all my clothes and put them out in sets after washing and ironing.She had been a Matron in the 1950s. I suppose she was used to the way boys were clothed then and wanted me to be the same.I too had to shake off verbal abuse and hurtful remarks.It was however it seemed extra special when I went back to school in the Autumn wearing long trousers!

Comments by Alex on 24th December 2017  

Matt, We did vests vs skins for For some reason I was always picked to strip regardless so only wore a vest literally just a handful of times,indoors and out. Was weird seeing a line of vests on the touchline but the girls never objected to watching us do PE/"Games stripped to the waist.

Comments by Peter B on 24th December 2017  

Andy, was there any sense of apprehension when wearing underwear and did you encourage each other as a group or was it individual choice to flout the rules. It seems you got away with it for some time. How did you feel the day the teacher decided to check and how did he detect the forbidden underwear?

Comments by James on 24th December 2017  

Like Frank Chroston,I wore short trousers into my fourth year at secondary school,but not through my own choice,but my mother's insistence.
Short trousers that I wore were similar in length to sports shorts only in charcoal grey.
They were usually purchased 'off the peg'and they fitted so that they were neat and trim not knee length.
Of course there was a considerable amount of mockery and teasing from my contemporaries,but I got used to it and couldn't wait for my first pair of long trouseres.

Comments by Andy on 23rd December 2017  

Peter, I don't know if it was the best deterrent, our teachers never used the slipper so our punishment was pain free. It worked in the main for PE as a T-shirt only just went past the waist band and detection was almost guaranteed.

For games we wore a rugby top and for most of us the top was so large (I wore the same one when I left school) that the bottom protruded out below the shorts. This made the task of detection more difficult .The teachers used to remind us of the rules but in the second year they hadn't said anything for a term or so or made any checks, as a result we got brave and thought we could get away with not taking them off - particularly as you couldn't tell. After several weeks probably a dozen of us one lesson paid the price, the teachers made a check on the playing field and all those wearing pants had to remove them.

I for one learnt my lesson and even though I resented wearing no pants I made sure I took them off whenever getting changed at school.

Comments by Peter B on 23rd December 2017  

Andy it seems like your teacher had the best deterrent.

Comments by Matt on 23rd December 2017  

Wearing only shorts for PE was ok indoors but not if the PE teacher picked you for the skins team for outdoor shirts vs skins football in the winter!

Comments by Andy on 22nd December 2017  

Our PE kit was white shorts and T-shirt so the teachers had an easy task in seeing if anything was being worn underneath ( although it didn't stop some trying). If caught you had to take them off in front of the rest of the class - the opportunity to remove them in the changing room had passed.

Although PE lessons where single sex the girls did have PE lessons at the same time, the prospect of having to remove them with girls potentially around certainly made you think twice about leaving your underpants on when getting changed.

Comments by Peter B on 20th December 2017  

Paul I remember the checking for boys wearing pants under shorts. My school did not stipulate what colour shorts were to be worn. Most wore white and as you say it was easy to check to see if pants were being worn. However some wore blue or black so pants were not easily detected. Teacher was not put off he had a system whereby he would call out one of the lads wearing dark shorts to stand out in front of the class and the teacher would ping back the elastic at the back just enough to get a glance of any pants. Woe betide anyone caught contravening the regulations. He made them go and remove the underwear and when the lad returned he got 6 of the best with his one of own plimsolls.
I think the walk to the changing room to dress correctly and then the walk back to receive the punishment was an deterrent in itself knowing what was waiting for you when you returned and was effective because it was only very rare for anyone to try and break the rules.

Comments by Paul on 19th December 2017  

Vests and skins were normal for us too - 1960s grammar school, boys only.

After getting used to taking off underpants and communal showers vests and skins were something of the reverse to what most describe. A team would be told to put vests on as bare chest was the norm for anything regardless of indoors or out or whether it was sunny or snowing.

Running in shorts and plimsolls in the snow was fine and of course the colder it was the more likely there was to be a check for any boy wearing underpants. The norm for that was to face the wall and all bend over and of course through thin white shorts underpants could be seen clearly. Needless to say any boy caught had his bottom brought up to inferno temperature very quickly.

Showers were only ever cold and icy in winter but we just got on with it, it was the norm and plimsoll or worse still cane on icy cold and wet bottom was definitely to be avoided.

Comments by Alex on 18th December 2017  

Hi Andrea, What's your views on schoolboys being stripped to the waist for PE. Do you think it's a good thing?

Comments by Joe on 17th December 2017  

Reading JasonDL's post, I wondered whether boys at your school always had to take their tops off for PE, or just sometimes? I also attended an all boys school in the 80s and always wore a PE vest for my first two years. Then when I was 14 it all changed, we were put into sets instead of classes for PE, which meant larger groups of boys and vests against skins teams. I remember feeling so awkward and uncomfortable the first time I was told to take my vest off, like you I wasn't used to that. I was conscious of feeling very exposed and I think some of the other barechested boys felt the same.
What I didn't realise at first was that we had to remain in the same teams for the next few PE lessons as well... so I had to get used to being a skin! I suppose it was a kind of tough love, but it seemed unfair to me at the time, with other lads wearing their vests and me doing PE in just my shorts every time.

Comments by Alex on 16th December 2017  

I think it was due to not being on the uniform list which stipulated a white PE vest. Despite bringing an ordinary vest for the next lesson the lad was kept in the skins team for the whole term. We always skins team vs vests. I only had a vest on literally a handful of times during all my years at school.

Comments by JasonDL on 16th December 2017  

I was at an all boys school in the 80s and I remember one boy in my class getting really upset in the gym when he was told to take off his top. Turned out he had a birthmark on his chest that he was embarrassed about. Doubt anyone would have noticed if he hadn't drawn attention to himself, but after that everyone pointed to it each time he had to be shirtless!

I got to quite like having to be just in shorts for PE, it was more comfortable and free, even though I wasn't at all well built. Though at first it did feel a bit uncomfortable, because going barechested was not something I ever had done really (Swimming seemed different). Actually I noticed it more at the start of each PE lesson. For about the first 10 minutes I'd feel very conscious of how I was standing there completely stripped to the waist and wished I could put my shirt back on. But after a while you really didn't notice you had your shirt off.

I think it made us more self confident. Even birthmark boy got used to it in the end (I think)

Comments by ROY F on 16th December 2017  

I used to wear my normal vest for PE and not the special one with the school crest on on it.
When the teacher saw it like the guy Alex mentioned I was told to take it off and go stripped to the waist.
I got so used to it that I did PE stripped to the waist all the time thereafter both indoors and outside.

Comments by Andrea on 15th December 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

My dad wore string vest and pants in the 1970s. I can't recall the brand though.

Comments by Peter B on 15th December 2017  

Frank Chroston, I like your sense of humour.

Alex I wonder why the teachers took that course of action with that pupil. At our school when doing PE indoors it was not tops and shorts without anything underneath and the old black plimsolls. No socks. So minimalist not like today's lessons.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 15th December 2017  fchroston@gmail.com 

Thanks Alex for your memory.My string underwear of 1969 to 1970 was St Michaels.So was the grey school shirt I wore for school and at the grammar school the black long trousers.So it was one way I got full Marks in school!

Comments by Alex on 14th December 2017  

One lad in my PE class wore a string vest for one term, he was simply told to strip to the waist until he had an ordinary vest by the PE teachers.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 12th December 2017  fchroston@gmail 

Thanks to Peter B.The String vest had a macho image and epitomised the average working man and boys in my class actually felt they wanted a part of this.The other vests and pants didnt cut the mustard. One of the characters in Coronation Street Stan Ogden was often seen in his string vest with no shirt.(played by Bernard Yeuens).

Comments by Peter B on 11th December 2017  

To Frank Chroston I remember the string underwear briefs and singlets. I do not think it is sold now in shops . Was marketed as cool in summer and warm in winter. How fashion has changed.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 11th December 2017  fchroston@gmail.com 

I was educated in the era that the majority of the interesting and diverse views are based on.I attended a Catholic Prep school in the Greater Manchester area,then part of Cheshire.1967-1971."Although i was not from an affluent family I found I was mixing with some footballers sons who lived in the area.We wore grey shorts as part of the school uniform.I remember the string underpants and vest,had a set of those in 1969.Some of my classmates and friends began to wear black or grey long trousers in the forth year of the Prep School.I was quite happy to carry on in my shorts until the end of that year.P.E.was held in the adjoining secondary school had a white vest,shorts and plimsolls.Showering was not compulsory and we were allowed to wear under garments.This changed when we went to the Upper School (grammar).Football was the main sport in the prep. and Athletics in the summer.For football we wore white shorts and red,blue,green or yellow shirts depending on which house you were allocated to.Red was Ashley.Blue was Dunham.Green Stamford and Tatton yellow. I was in the latter.In the Autumn and Spring terms,football sessions began to get rather muddy and most boys used the shower facilities provided not just to clan up but to warm up after the best part of an hour outside.So Autumn 1971 at the Grammar School. Red singlet white shorts and plimsolls.No under wear allowed. Punishment if you forgot your kit or towel.One boy had to perform the physical activities in his underpants for for not remembering to bring his kit on the right day!So rugby was the main sport this alternated with Cross - Country. This was a cantor round a golf course and a river valley. For both we had to shower after Games naked in the communal.Two of these fifty boys to one. It was very often steamy sweaty and smelly. Soap or shower gel was never used or shampoo.I remember a large sponge being thrown around! We had to stay in the showers until we were told to get out by the masters.I experience much body interaction due the cramped conditions.Once the two teams that lost the match had to get in the left shower block and the sports masters through cold water from two buckets of freezing water!!This caused a stampede effect within the shower with crushing and shoving, my bare frontage was wedged against another boys backside for a couple of minutes before I could extricate myself from this potentially homosexual position.!!

Comments by Tim on 10th December 2017  

With 2 elder sisters money was tight and a vest was a lot cheaper to buy. Not long after starting comp teacher called me back and suggested my vest was too small and as I tended to sweat up quickly it made sense not to wear a vest. I accepted this and stripped to the waist until I left school. Sensible teacher, practical teaching.

Comments by TimH on 10th December 2017  

I completely agree with Roy's comments. I suspect that many of the teachers would have also seen the trauma suffered by unfit recruits and would probably do all they could to spare others.

To Tom1 - its simply how things were in those days - we just accepted it and got one with things - as you would!

Comments by Roy on 10th December 2017  

You have to remember that in the 1950s and 1960s many of the teachers had served in World War 2 or had done National Service in places such as Korea Cyprus and various outposts of colonialism and were toughened up by this experience.
They expected their charges to be tough as well and indeed in the 1950s the boys would have to do National Service themselves at a later stage.They would see real fighting and ran the risk of injury or even death so the teachers thought they needed to be toughened up.

Comments by Tim on 9th December 2017  

Hi Tom 1, If you weren't sweating you weren't trying. The girls never objected to seeing us stripped down regardless of the temperature or activity. We boxed without vests too. Just as it should be.

Comments by Sterling on 9th December 2017  

Tom 1 you should be thankful. Decades ago the law permitted teachers to dish out punishments no Prisoner would receive under law!
I now realise one of my PE teachers was probably suffering from undiagnosed PTSD from the War years previous.
He was a total nutter, responsible for putting many of his students off Sport for life.