Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 550,506         Comments: 1,879

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

1879 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by William on 10th April 2017  

Paul, I agree 100% with everything you say. There is a similar debate going on in the Royal Clitheroe forum. A few months ago I made the same point about feeling sorry for youngsters who are so inhibited that they wear chlorine soaked trunks in the men's showers after swimming at the local pool. What's the point of that?

But there's a wider point. Recently concern has been expressed that some children leaving school lack resilience - not surprising if they're excused things they feel uncomfortable with, like getting cold or communal showers. But having to do something you would rather avoid is not abuse and to make out that it is trivialises something that is really serious.

Comments by Paul on 10th April 2017  

Brendan on 9th April

You clearly don't understand how different things were in those days. No one ever thought of the word 'abuse'. I don't now consider that I was in any way abused by anyone. The friends I still have from those days are of the same mind. In fact we all think of boys of your generation as rather soft and mollycoddled.

None of what happened did us any harm, I was very happy at school and would not have changed any of it for anything different. When I see a lad in the changing room at the gym dancing around behind a towel in case anyone sees his bottom I actually feel sorry for him that he is so uncomfortable with his body. After all, he's not going to be molested in that environment but you'd never know it.

Comments by Pete on 10th April 2017  

To Paul

The point I was trying to make was to support what you had said about how standards of one age cannot be equated with those of another. From what I have learned about National Service, the treatment of recruits would certainly qualify as "abuse" in terms of how we define abuse nowadays but that's the way it was then.

Comments by Paul on 9th April 2017  

Pete on 8th April.

I'm not sure what point you're trying to make.

Comments by Richard J. on 9th April 2017  riks_box@hotmail.com 

I started 7th grade (age 12) in a public Junior High School in 1968 in Blaine, Minnesota, U.S.A. (a northern suburb of Minneapolis).
Any infraction (chewing gum, horse-play, etc.) of the Gym Class Physical Education rules meant a bare-ass swat (I can't remember gym teacher using his bare hand, or a paddle). Very few boys goofed-around in Phy Ed class. We knew the consequences.
After entering the locker room, we were required to remove our street clothes, and put on our Gym Suits: jockstraps, short-shorts, socks, tennis shoes, and the t-shirt's.
After the 1-hour Gym Class was over, we were required to shower naked in the no-dividers open-area showers.
Failure to shower naked meant a swat!
Our school had no swimming pool.
To this day, I still respect the rules of the Gym Class. It made us better citizens in society. Many kids today are babies, spoiled, scared of their own bodies, commit more sexual assaults, incur more relationship problems, have more perverted people, and the United States prison population percentage is much larger than it was in the 1960's and 1970's.

Comments by Pete on 9th April 2017  

To Bradley,

In addition to the examples mentioned by Paul, the ordeals meted out to National Service recruits seem pretty horrific and certainly would not be tolerated nowadays but, however the recruits felt about their treatment, they just had to endure it.

Comments by Brendan on 9th April 2017  

Paul, I understand your point but what I'm saying is, surely people should have known that this is abuse, plain and simple. It just seems ridiculous to me that people would be fine with having to swim naked, with having to drop their underwear to be caned, when these are such obvious incidents of abuse.

Comments by Paul on 9th April 2017  

Brendan on 8th April

It's always very foolish to judge the actions of one time against the values of another.

Presumably you will also be arranging for judges, prison officers and executioners to be tried for murder when in fact at the time hanging was a lawful punishment?

I have no sense I was ever abused. Just dealt with justly and fairly in accord with the norms of the times.

Comments by Pete on 8th April 2017  

To Paul
The official policy of your school was "corporal punishment is the most effective means of correcting wrong doing and deterring repeat or even initial breaking of the rules"

Note - correcting and deterring

Your experience doesn't bear witness to any correcting or deterring.

"Twelve (strokes) was pretty unusual and while I had plenty of 8s over the years, I only had three 12s".

Comments by Brendan on 8th April 2017  

I find it absolutely ridiculous that nude swimming was ever a thing. I feel like many of the posters on here should really be calling the police and telling them about the historical child abuse they suffered. Honestly, some of the stories on here are child abuse examples and should be reported to the authorities.

It may be that I'm too young to understand but as far as I know this is abuse, plain and simple. I was at school roughly two years ago and, believe me, if we ever had to engage in some of these activities there would be lawsuits.

We didn't even do swimming in the winter to avoid the cold. Can't imagine what that must have been like!

Comments by Andy on 8th April 2017  

At my bording school in the early 60's, boys were caned both bare in private and shorts in the gym - thus naked as we only wore shorts.

Head of Years and PE teachers caned. No age limit, and age up to 18.

Mostly in private but detention canings were in front of the boys in the detention, we had to strip completely for these csnings

Comments by Paul on 8th April 2017  

Willy on 7th April.

I don't know that there was an actual ban on bare bottom caning in the state sector, it was maybe more that it just didn't happen. AFAIK each LEA set the rules and what was approved was likely to have been in line with the experiences of the members. I know that in the London Borough of Richmond where my parents lived the rules stated that corporal punishment was not to be used on girls, it was not to be administered to the hands and the cane was to be used. That was as much as was stated and anything else was at the discretion of the headmaster. A headmaster who administered a bare bottom caning was not then breaking the rules but of course I have no idea whether it happened or not.

At my boarding school caning was always in private in the master's study. Occasionally there was the threat of a caning in front of the whole school but I never witnessed one and never heard from anyone that it had ever happened. There was a master of discipline who was also a championship squash player and he generally caned when a boy had been referred to the headmaster, having had it from him a couple of times it was definitely quite a lot worse than the norm and then norm was pretty bad.

Any master was allowed to cane, records were kept and you had to initial the book. The entry ran something like:

Jameson, Paul. Form 4A. Insolence. 8 Bare buttocks.

For whatever reason the school had a long tradition of working in multiples of four so four, eight or twelve were the norm eight being the most common. Twelve was pretty unusual and while I had plenty of 8s over the years I only had three 12s.

There was no secret about it, the subject of punishment was dealt with in the school handbook which every parent had and had signed an acknowledgement of having read.

The section went something like 'the school governors have determined that corporal punishment is the most effective means of correcting wrong doing and detering repeat or even initial breaking of the rules. It will also be used to spur on the attitude of an underperforming or lazy boy who is not doing his best in his studies or general participation in the life of the school. The instrument of correction is the cane and up to twelve strokes will be administered to the bare buttocks of an errant boy'. Says it all!

There was no age limit on caning - I got my last one in the Easter term of my last year at the age of eighteen after I absented myself from classes one afternoon. There was a general belief that an older boy benefited even more from a bare bottom caning as having to lower his trousers was an added humiliation.

I don't think I agreed with the latter, it was a boarding school, we slept in open dormitories, we showered in communal showers, we swam naked in the pool, there was nothing unusual about lowering your trousers and underpants in front of another man so it may have bothered some, it certainly didn't bother me - the sting of the cane did!

Comments by John on 8th April 2017  

Reading the posts re bare bottom caning at my school back in late 50's early 60's we were caned on our bare bottom in private in the heads study, I was caned once at 13 because I was heard swearing by the teacher and sent to the head, as my dad was his gardener he gave me two options :- 3 strokes on the bare bottom and he told my dad or 6 on the bare bottom and that was it, I chose the latter as my dad would have trebled what I had been given and a grounding as well.

In the showers after I was told that the stripes were very visible, I did get some relief from freezing cold water over my bottom, but the pain still came back, and I couldn't hide it at home when sitting down, dad had me drop my shorts and pants and he examined me and said I had been punished enough but docked my pocket money anyway for that weekend.

Comments by Robert on 8th April 2017  

Looking back to end of the humiliations that largely ended in Easter 1987, I think most PE teachers were closet paedophiles 30 years. The communal showers where you were forced to be naked in front of other males. If gym class was cancelled at the last moment you could be made to do swimming in see through white shorts. Other punishments by the coach included having to bend over and being whacked on the backside or being forced to 10 press ups with the PE teacher pushing your groin into the ground. At least with the development of a professional middle class and the moves towards a multi-cultural pro-feminist society these abuses have largely been consigned to living memory in the UK.

Comments by Sterling on 8th April 2017  

I recall my Brother, who Fifteen years Older than myself speaking of being offered the option of Six with Slipper Shorts Up or Four Shorts Down! Ring any bells with anyone?
This was a Boarding School in Scotland in the Mid Sixties!

I can recall lads getting the slipper Naked in the Locker Room when they were messing. But you must remember nudity really meant nothing to us. We seen each other in the Buff Everyday

Comments by Turner on 7th April 2017  

Archie - Thanks for the info. They are more revealing than I expected but I suppose in those days (1)there was only one fat boy per class and (2) boys had not been taught by feminists to be ashamed of their bodies.

Comments by Richie on 7th April 2017  

You are right Paul no on accepts the consequences of their bad behaviour any more. People expect to be able to misbehave & get away with it.

Comments by Willy on 7th April 2017  

As the previous posters have said bare bottom caning and slippering could have been carried out in some private and boading schools, but not in public(government)schools.
What I would like to ask Paul and others who received it is if this was carried out in private or in front of other students.
Also if all teachers at their school had this authority to cane boys bare, or if only certain staff or teachers could do this.
And was there an age limit where boys could be caned bare?

Comments by Paul on 6th April 2017  

Richie - 5th April.

Boarding school in northern England in the 60s & 70s, the cane on bare bottom was the norm. No one thought anything of it as it was just what happened.

I have no resentment, every time I got it I deserved it and knew the consequences of my behaviour.

Comments by Archie on 6th April 2017  

Turner, just looked up the pic you refer to. Those are far more covering than the slips we are talking about. The ones my Dad and teachers wore were triangles of cloth at the front and straps around the sides and up,the arse. This is the closest I've been able to find online.


My Dad''s was blue with white straps and my teachers all had black ones. My Dad's one was really faded with age - presumably from the chlorine.

Comments by Stuart on 5th April 2017  stu151@hotmail.com 


I think in the 1950's/60's some schools (nearly all private) may have caned shorts/pj's down. It's also just about possible that one or two still made lads report to the gym for a caning, and that this was carried out totally naked.

Beyond that I think canings were on at least PE shorts/underpants.


Comments by Turner on 5th April 2017  

Just going back to the side-fastening swimming slips, there is a famous photo by Nino Migliori called Il Tuffatore (The Diver) from 1951 showing the fastening. Possibly they had been modernised by the time our correspondents wore theirs.

Comments by Richie on 5th April 2017  

In response to the comment on 1st April by Stuart, does anyone know whether any schools actually administered the cane to a bare backside? Or would that have been considered a step too far in the 50's 60's?

Comments by Archie on 4th April 2017  

Same for us but was a mix of slipper, tawse and cane

Comments by Stuart on 2nd April 2017  stu151@hotmail.com 


We had detentions in the gym, and you were caned for 3 or more detentions in a school year. Additionally, serious "crimes" got a detention and x strokes.

So it happened a fair bit.

Underpants weren't allowed under shorts for all pe/sports and naturally, detentions.

Comments by Tim on 2nd April 2017  

Re the caning over the vaulting horse,was this a regular occur regularly? Thin shorts presumably no underwear as was the custom those days OUCH!

Comments by Stuart on 1st April 2017  

I remember the vaulting horse in our school gym for a totally different reason!

It wasn't jumping over it, so much as being told to fetch the cane from the PE teachers office, then being told to get into position, stretched over the horse, waiting (nervously) for the first stroke of the cane to land. We were never caned naked, but with just thin cotton shorts on, it was all but the same.

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

We had to use the vaulting horse too, although I can't recollect having to do a somersault over it. I think that the girls in the gym display team did, but I was never that good!

I use to hate having to use the ropes; my arms didn't seem strong enough to haul myself up them.

Comments by Michael on 31st March 2017  

For some reason the vaulting horse seemed very popular back in the 1950s/60s. I was terrified of it; not because of what it was, but what the teacher insisted I had to do with it.

I was ordered to run up as quickly as I could, then jump with the assistance of a wooden spring board, do a somersault over the top and land on my feet on the other side.

I could hardly believe what I was hearing, but I had to give it my best effort nevertheless. Other boys seemed to have no difficulty, so the teacher reckoned I should find it easy too.

But, despite my valiant efforts, the best I ever achieved was to land in a heap on one side or the other of the dreadful thing, thankfully avoiding breaking my neck in the process.

Comments by Tim on 31st March 2017  

I still think the "speedo" style swimming briefs are best. shame that so many people think badly of them. As kids that was all that was available but in those days it was was always the cheapest one available one available.

Comments by Rob on 27th March 2017  

OK Archie, at least you were wearing decent ones.

Comments by Archie on 27th March 2017  

Rob, he might have done but I never did. I wore normal swimming trunks (briefs) with Stars and Stripes on the IIRC!

Comments by Rob on 24th March 2017  

Archie, did your father not think that you should wear one as well?

Comments by Archie on 20th March 2017  

Rob, yes other men wore them at the baths. I didn't really think much of it at the time because of that - older men didn't seem to wear them, just the younger ones.

Comments by Gerald on 19th March 2017  

The slips were only worn for swimming. For PE and football we wore shorts

Comments by Rob on 18th March 2017  

Archie, it seems that these slips were not uncommon as your masters and other posters wore them. You mentioned earlier that you suspected the design was linked to post war rationing so you must have thought they were obviously very brief. Did other members of your father's club wear them and how did you feel about seeing him wearing one?

Comments by Archie on 13th March 2017  

Re slips - just for swimming and then only by masters. Normal PE was black shorts, worn commando, and white plimsoles.

Comments by Lewis on 10th March 2017  

With regards to string slips, this is about all some young ladies wear these days either on the beach or a swimming pool. Two pieces of material held together by String

Comments by Willy on 10th March 2017  

About string slips, I remember seeing some old pictures of the Victorian era which were commonly worn then for PE and also athletics and other sports, though I never heard of them being used in our era. So I guess that this was a tradition which was kept in some schools as previous posters have mentioned.
What I would like to know from these posters is if they were only worn for swimming or also for other PE or sports activities.

Comments by Gerald on 3rd March 2017  

It was King Edward VI Grammar in Chelmsford

Comments by Kate on 1st March 2017  

Hi Amy,

I stayed in my knickers. Most because this is what I was used to and my mum wouldn't buy a leotard, frightened that it would only be used once a week. I think most other mums thought the same way.

Comments by Amy on 28th February 2017  

Hi Kate

Did you move to a leotard or continue in just your knickers? Strange that if the school offered knickers or leotards they didn't allow vests and knickers for girls from yr 4 upwards,

Comments by Turner on 28th February 2017  

Archie and Gerald
Can you tell us the names of your respective schools please?
I was not expecting anyone to have heard of these tie slips, let alone experience of wearing them/seeing them.

Comments by Kate on 27th February 2017  

Hi Amy,

In primary school I only wore my knickers without a vest and bare feet. Lessons were mixed and we changed in our classroom and walked to the hall. When we reached Year 4 we're were given the option of a leotard to wear or continue as we were. Most girls continued as they were.

Comments by Amy on 27th February 2017  

Hi Kate

Yes it was a shock but a good one when I moved up and could suddenly wear clothes in PE!! Some of the girls hated having to wear a little leap red but for me it was brilliant!

So you did PE in just your underpants in primary school? So no veat or anything on top? Was this girls only or mixed?

Comments by Kate on 27th February 2017  

Amy, your primary school years PE in the nude sounds incredible. Quite amazing what schools could get away with back then.

I know in my lessons I just wore my underpants and looking back I thought that was bad.

It must have been a shock to the system when you moved up schools. Did you try and carry on practicing PE nude or did you have a kit?

Comments by Amy on 27th February 2017  

Hi Andrea

Yes our male teacher in today's yr4 took us for PE. Again, this seems incredible looking back but then it was just accepted that we didn't wear anything for PE, and our teacher took the lesson.

Comments by Andrea on 26th February 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Amy,
Did your male teacher take you for PE lessons in Year 4, or were they always taken by a female?

We would sometimes have a male teacher supervise us for mixed boys and girls PE at Primary School, but we only had to strip down to vest and pants before putting on or PE kit (T shirt and shorts or skirt).

Comments by Amy on 25th February 2017  

Hi Willy

Yes, totally serious. It certainly wasn't a nudist school (I didn't know they even existed!) but that was how we had to do indoor PE. I think because we did it right through the school we didn't think about it too much, it was just what we were used to. As I sad, looking back now it seems amazing that less than 30 years ago it happened. We had a couple of male teachers, but mostly women. I had a male teacher for my class when I was in what would now be year 4, ages 8-9

Comments by Willy on 24th February 2017  

Amy, are you serious, doing PE naked all through primary school?
I actually never heard of this, unless it was a nudist school.
Did you have male teachers at the shool, and was there corporal punishment?
I am surprised that parents did not complain.
Did they give a reason why you had to do PE completely naked, and how did you girls feel about it?