Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 526,254         Comments: 1,820

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

1820 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by Gerald on 5th January 2017  

T, thanks for your answer. Was showering done with or without trunks? And did you have to shower after PE or just after swimming?

Comments by Daryl on 4th January 2017  

In my day, if you even considered not showering you were given the slipper and made to shower. It's just not hygienic to go from high octane exercise to a lesson without having washed yourself. T, did your school have showers? And was it compulsory to shower?

Comments by T on 4th January 2017  

Gerald, at my school, the sports we played were football, basketball, rugby, cross country, gymnastics and athletics.
There was compulsory showers after swimming but not after PE.
It is a state-run boys only school.

Comments by Gerald on 3rd January 2017  

T, were there showers after PE or did you not have them?
Also, what sports did you play during your time at the school? And was this at a private or state run school?

Comments by Lewis on 2nd January 2017  

T thank you for your response. Your comments re underwear show how times have changed since I was at an all boys school from 1961 to 1966

Comments by T on 1st January 2017  

Yes we wore our normal underwear under our shorts. All our kit was bought from a supplier so everyone wore the same kit.

Comments by Lewis on 1st January 2017  

T it is interesting to read comments from a person who has recently left school. For PE were you allowed to wear pants under your shorts or like us from older generation was underwear banned? The fact that you wore swimming briefs in the pool is interesting but I assume that was the rules, because one rarely sees males wearing swimming briefs in public these days

Comments by T on 31st December 2016  

At my school, we did PE in shorts and a t-shirt. For team games, we would use different bibs and for colder days, such as for cross country, we wore jumpers. I finished school last year so this is quite an accurate representation. For swimming, we wore swim briefs.

Comments by Edward on 27th December 2016  

In response to Willy.

Swimming lessons were in an indoor pool not large enough for spectators with a male supervising master.

Comments by Willy on 26th December 2016  

Edward, can you describe how the swimming sessions were carried out?
Were they swimming lessons or free swims?
Did you have swimming competitions or galas in front of spectators?
Also were female teachers or staff ever present during your nude swims?

Comments by Edward on 26th December 2016  

In response to Willy.

I attended a boy's only Preparatory/Public School.

Swimming without trunks was obligatory for all.

Comments by Willy on 24th December 2016  

Edward, could you elaborate and clarify further, was it a primary, prep or secondary school?
Was it a boys only or mixed school?

Comments by Edward on 23rd December 2016  

Further to recent comments tradition was not the pretext to swimming naked at the school that I attended in the early sixties.The regime was imposed at the whim of the Headmaster.

'Get used to it' was the response from other staff.

Participating nude was initially daunting, but I became accustomed to it, with the added benefit of no wet trunks.

Comments by Lewis on 21st December 2016  

In response to your comments Willy, I think you are correct. It was either school or district policy that governed rules on nude swimming. We had weekly swimming lessons at our secondary school but we were taken b y coach to the local municipal pool. It was a session just for our school which all boys but swimming trunks were worn. For PE it was like most schools shorts no pants or top and plimsolls only no socks. Our parents knew this and no one thought anything about it.

I expect at the first lesson I thought it strange and felt a bit uncomfortable but I knew what was coming because my elder brother was already attending the school and he had told me about the minimal clothing in PE and I know he tried to tease me by saying that with no pants and only shorts everything would hangout. In spite of everything we all survived.

In answer to the question about dress for PE today I know from my son's high school ti is shorts for outdoor football etc. although winter he can wear track suit bottoms and they always wear a top and underwear. There is no mention of showers and he does not have to take a towel. It seems from what he says several PE and sports lessons are spent talking about the theory of keeping fit with very little exertion

Comments by Willy on 20th December 2016  

It was not teachers that made boys swim nude. It was either the school policy or district policy.
If it was illegal it would never have happened anywhere.
The main reason was tradition and the culture of the time. In fact most all parents of the time accepted it as normal and never objected.
It was the same with PE kit of shorts only or underpants unly, or even supervised communal showers at school, all of which would be seen as unacceptable today.
I guess the only tradition from among these that still survives today, though probably getting rarer, is the compulsary communal shower after PE.
Does anyone here know of any schools which still have any of these old traditions?

Comments by Paul on 20th December 2016  

I never minded nude swimming once we got used to the idea. Equally communal showers were quite healthy places where there was always a bit of chat and banter which was much more fun that the closed cubicles of today.

It's always a mistake to judge other times by values of a different age. I certainly never met a teacher who seemed to have any untoward intentions, no doubt a very few did but it's so wrong to judge the majority on the basis of that.

Comments by Gerald123 on 18th December 2016  

Why did they insist on nude swimming? Why shouldn't people wear trunks? I honestly think these teachers should be tried- they may have had some wrong intentions... absolutely awful that this happened.

Comments by Harold1 on 16th December 2016  

Lewis, what you said about France is true for a lot of mainland Europe. When I lived in Germany, it was the norm to wear speedos if you were a guy and a bikini if you're a woman. The hygiene reason is often touted as for why this the case, although for women I don't quite believe that a bikini would be more 'hygienic', not to complain though!

Comments by Lewis on 14th December 2016  

I have read quite recently that on the continent (especially France) swimming shorts are not allowed in swimming pools particularly at hotels, and males all have to wear swimming trunks of the briefs design. (speedos). Apparently the reason for this is also "fibres from shorts clog the filtration system" In addition I have read that men might wear swimming shorts on the beach and if they go into the pool without changing then sane from the beach can also clog the system.

However, I cannot see how schools in the past used clogging as an excuse to insist on nude swimming.

Comments by Sterling on 3rd December 2016  

One excuse adopted by School Authorities for mandating nude swimming was the alleged dire problem of what to do with wet trunks!

The Plastic bag was only invented in the early 60's and not widely available until later in the decade.

However in mixed Schools girls were permitted swimsuits with three times the material of swim trunks.
This also draws into question the other reason widely given for the enforcement of suit-free swimming for boys only.
That the fibres from their trunks clogged the filtration systems!
If that was the case surely girls' suits would have the same effect?

Comments by Bradley on 29th November 2016  

Certainly odd but I can see why it was necessary. You can't really clean yourself properly if you're wearing trunks. It was very daunting walking to and from the showers but actual being in the shower room without trunks was perfectly fine.

I understand what you mean about the win briefs. It depends on the competition. For a lot of individual events, I wore my jammers as that's what I find the best personally. But for team events we wore our team kit which was blue swim briefs. It depends on the competition.

Comments by Evan on 27th November 2016  

Bradley, it's interesting to see that nude showering happens in some schools. At my school we showered with trunks on. What was it like?

And did you wear trunks for competitions as well? At a gala I took part in everyone wears swim briefs

Comments by Bradley on 26th November 2016  

Gerald, teachers weren't allowed to enter the shower area, yes. But after a swimming lesson we would go to the changing area, take off our trunks and make our way to the shower room. He would have been able to see if someone immediately got changed without having a shower since he's usually just outside the changing room so can see when everyone leaves after getting dressed. But everyone did shower, there was never a time when someone tried to avoid it.

Comments by Evan on 23rd November 2016  

Harold1, I didn't really like the idea of doing PE without a top but got used to it and think it helped. At my school we showered wearing swimming trunks as it was a communal shower room and not in cubicles, so I can't quite answer your second question.

Comments by Sterling on 21st November 2016  

Keith John, I remember the big snow was the only time we had indoor PT due to the Weather. However we only missed one session. I also recall it was we boys who cleared the snow from the pitch and also the driveway and footpaths of the nearby girls School.

Comments by KeithJohn on 21st November 2016  

I would just like to tell you about one of my experiences at school, it was the winter of 1962/63, there was snow around 12 to 18 inches widespread around the country, I lived in a Midlands city and my secondary modern school was on the edge of it.Did all that snow stop us getting to school? no it didn't, nor stop us having outdoor PE, we had a football pitch behind the school and the snow had been cleared by the caretaker/groundsman and his small team.

Our PE kit was blue hard cotton shorts, black plimsols, no shirt or underpants to be worn, I was 14 then and it was to be my last winter at school as in the summer I would be 15 and leave to work then, we ran bare chested around the football pitch to warm up, -5 to -10 I ask you warm up!!!

Our chests hurt with breathing frosty air and our nipples stuck out like organ stops!, then back to the equally cold gym and discard wet freezing plimsols and do gym barefoo, then a very lukewarm shower after. Would I go through all of it again? Yes I would! I was proud of my fitness then and kept up it up through my life, I am in my late 60's now and I think that all that PE we did, helped prolong my life, where as some of my schoolfriends who ducked out of exercising are sadly no longer with us,

Recently my doctor gave me a brief exam and reckoned my fitness was on par with a late 40, early 50's male who exercised regulaly at a gym! todays schoolboys seemingly have it easy, at the high school near me the boys doing PE outside rarely wear shorts in winter unless its football and some I have seen wear gloves!

Comments by Kenton on 20th November 2016  

Thanks for your reply Evan, it sounds like your school got it right then. It also clearly worked for you if being a skin for PE ultimately helped your confidence. I do know what you mean about being shy though, it was the same for me when I first did PE in skins. The reason was that I used to get teased about my freckles (not just on my face but also my chest, shoulders and back). Looking back it seems silly but I guess teenagers can get sensitive about many things!

Comments by Sterling on 20th November 2016  

I have read of a College XC Coach in the United States who was sacked for continually allowing some of young men to train on Campus grounds with their vests off! If I recall correctly, he had received a number of warnings.lol
Apparently it's in convention of Campus Rules! I'd imagine many of team would be bigger guys than himself. Try telling someone 6,4' to put their sweaty shirt back on while training a blistering hot day!
However forcing someone to train shirtless would also be quite wrong, I feel, nowadays!
We live in a new world today. In the last couple of decades we have had the advent of both the Internet and Camera Phones! Therefore Communal Gang showers may no longer be suitable.
Lads going back to class stinking of a sickly sweat\ cheap deodorant pong is disgusting. Heaven help the poor Teachers!
Ladies locker rooms had cubicle showers decades ago. Men should be afforded the same privacy, if they so wish!

Comments by Bradley on 20th November 2016  

I can tell that gymnastics lessons were a lot harder in those days! However, that isn't to say that there weren't hard PE lessons when I was in school.
There certainly were some lessons (e.g. treadmill on highest setting followed by high intensity on the rowing machine followed by running on the spot, repeated many times) after which I was completely exhausted and sweating like a pig.
Gymnastics was usually used as a way to calm down after a long day of school as it was always the last lesson of the week. Everyone always looked forward to it.

Comments by Evan on 20th November 2016  

Kenton, I'd have to disagree with you as I do think that the less confident 'shirts' gained confidence. I noticed they played better. The reason why some people asked to be shirts was: they were fat or shy, to put it simply. As someone who was skinny I was far from confident but I didn't ask to be on the shirts team because my friends didn't ask- peer pressure! I know that I was very shy at the start and made it worse at first but helped my confidence in the long term.

Comments by Jay on 20th November 2016  

Hi John,

Bench rugby was good fun and dead simple too. Teams were skins v vests. We moved 2 high jump landing cushions (goals) either end of the gym and then placed a bench next to each. Each team had 5 players, one goalie on the bench and 4 players. The idea was to run and pass, as you would in rugby, make it to the goal and try to score. The other team would try to block a pass and take possession of the ball.
Happy to talk further, Jay

Comments by Rob on 20th November 2016  

Bradley, I hope my rather protracted explanation helped you to understand what we had to do in gymnastics in the late 1950's and why we always had to be shirtless. From the many comments on this site it is clear that we were typical of most schools for quite a few decades when we did what we were told without argument,and I am still of the opinion that many lads today would benefit from this regime. Clearly, our gymnastics lessons could not have been described as relaxing, although they may have succeeded in releasing any built up aggression we may been harbouring. Maybe, in today's world, the chance to do some relaxing exercise to calm us down is equally desirable.

Comments by Kenton on 19th November 2016  

Hi Evan, it was interesting to read your account of team games in PE. It sounds like on the one hand the teachers were very sensitive towards boys who felt uncomfortable about taking their shirts off. At the same time, I can't help wondering if that was actually a good thing in the long run. Presumably those boys who always kept their shirts on for PE never gained greater body confidence, while those who did it in skins were already confident to begin with. Might it not have been better to keep the teams random so that every boy experienced being a skin at some stage?
Btw we had shirts vs skins for team games at my school in the 1990s, teaMs were picked by the teachers and, while some boys ended up playing shirtless more than others, it didn't seem to matter.

Comments by Gerald on 19th November 2016  

Just saw Bradley's post about showers. Were teachers not allowed to enter the shower area? If sol how did they ensure that everyone showered?

Comments by Harold1 on 19th November 2016  

Bradley and Evan. Would any of you care to share whether you felt that shirtless PE or showers after PE were unfair or unnecessary? I think that in today's world most young people don't exactly feel comfortable with these things. I remember going to the beach one day and my nephew didn't want to take his shirt off and preferred to keep it on for swimming in the sea. This seems to be the dominant opinion these days?

Comments by Bradley on 18th November 2016  

Rob, thanks for the clarification. We rarely did gymnastics at school. Usually, gymnastics consisted of more relaxing exercises and sometimes of different routines. Not very difficult. However, we did also have a gym at school with treadmills and spin bikes and rowing machines which was used very frequently.

Comments by Rob on 17th November 2016  

Bradley,thanks for explaining about the cross country grounds.By gym,I am referring to gymnastics just like in the photo; schools did not have gyms equipped with treadmills and rowing machines, etc.until much more recently. All dressed in just shorts and plimsolls,our lessons began with vigorous physical exercises to strengthen all part of our bodies, including press ups and squat thrusts for arms, and other exercises for stomach muscles, including lying on our backs, arms outstretched and lifting our legs up at 45 degrees , together and apart and then lowering them to six inches, and further together and apart repeatedly. we also did various exercises with medicine balls to strengthen arms,legs and stomach muscles.We then went on to use the equipment, either the vaulting horses or boxes or ropes,beams,etc. All lessons were very intense and when we stopped for a moment I can still remember feeling the sweat trickling down my sides, back and chest; in fact, my whole body and feeling really good about it, eagerly looking forward to getting under the showers.

Comments by Evan on 16th November 2016  

Hi everyone, I've posted on here once before. The whole conservation about PE clothing brings back memories. At our school, which I left a few years ago, PE was done in t shirt and shorts, except for team games where it was shirts vs skins. However, teachers never directly forced anyone to remove their shirts. Instead, they asked first if anyone objected to taking it off. A small minority would always object, these were the same people each time and usually the ones who weren't particularly able at PE! Then a few more would be selected to join the shirts team, and the other half of us were skins. Honestly, it was nowhere near as big a deal as others here are making it out to be, it was a bit embarrassing at some times but not really a major issue.

Comments by John Lavender on 15th November 2016  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

Jay: What was ' Bench Rugby ' exactly? It does sound good! Would you care to explain briefly on here and also maybes email me with more details?

Comments by Harold1 on 15th November 2016  

Bradley and Harry, thanks for your responses. much appreciated. It shows how much attitudes towards PE have changed over the years- in my time, shirts were never worn for PE, trunks weren't worn for swimming either. If you were judged to have not worked hard enough you had to stay back after school. Even at home, shirts didn't make much of an appearance during warmer weather and we were all told to go outside and play football and get active. I think it was better back then when we were comfortable and confident, as well as more active.

Comments by Charles on 15th November 2016  Crjalexander@hotmail.co.uk 

Which school did you attend. email me if you prefer

Comments by Bradley on 15th November 2016  

There was a facility in the cross country grounds (it's a privately owned grounds which the local schools used, it's not just some random field in the countryside!) where we showered but the showers were awful. The building where the showers were was basically a shack and there were about ten shower taps available and they were all cold. It wasn't a proper shower- just a quick one to get the mud off and get rid of the sweat.

By gym, I'm not sure what activities you're referring to. Are you describing gymnastics, such as jumping over hurdles, forward and backward flips, sequences et cetera, or are you referring to the gym where people lift weighs, do cardio, treadmill etc... I was referring to the former, which wasn't too intense I have to say. There was, however, the treadmills and cardio activities and sprinting which did make us very tired and sweaty.

Comments by Jay on 13th November 2016  

Harold mentioned about differentiating between teams well, depending on what house you were in you wore black or white shorts and the timetable always was so that there wouldn't be a clash. I'm in my very early 30s and our lessons were always done "skins vs vests" for games like basketball, bench rugby. We did strip outdoors too, normally for athletics, softball. We did fitness sessions either indoors or outside on the yard or field but these were done with the whole class stripped off. I do agree about comments that not everyone wanted to be picked to strip off, certainly it was a suprise when our first skins team was picked and duly made to strip. Even being very average physically, I found myself being picked out to strip off most of the time. No one knew why some were picked to strip more than others, it just happened. Like plenty of others we were worked hard and it was the norm to see lads vests sticking to bodies. I was really pleased not to have experienced that much, only during the basketball and fitness inter house competitions when one house wore a vest for one half but stripped for the other half. We presumed this was to allow the girls to see all the lads stripped at some point during the match ups

Comments by Rob on 13th November 2016  

Bradley,thanks for explaining the circumstances necessitating your having to run without a shirt but such a pity that you all had to go through the trouble of getting a bus to the field, taking your shirt off,running and then putting your shirt back on.Were you not sweaty after the run and have to take a shower when you returned to school? Also, when you had swimming lessons you only wore trunks and were nude in the showers afterwards so you weren't shy, yet you preferred to wear a shirt in the gym.You obviously weren't made to sweat as most of us were in the past, or you would have found a shirt very uncomfortable and hence the reason we were always barechested and glad to be so.

Comments by John Lavender on 13th November 2016  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

Michael :
I have emailed you . Thanks for your enquiry.

We officially had a Top to wear for Gym/PE but many of us took any opportunity to do it shirtless including running the Gauntlet at the Start of the lesson (if we were two of the last to get changed).

If it was an ordinary lesson then we went commando ; if we had Wrestling Included (usually just a couple of Bouts with opponents picked at random) , we were told to bring and put on our Trunks under our shorts then we took off the Shorts and Tops for the Fight.

We normally played 'Skins v. Vests' for any team excercises, or Killerball ( a sort of indoor Rugby with very few Rules).
Also if we had a game of British Bulldog during the session any boy who was Shirtless was the First Catcher and if you got caught you dumped your top in the corner of the hall and went shirtless for the rest of the lesson.

I went to an independent Grammar School in the early to mid 1960s.

Tim: Thanks for that note, Yes, I am of the same age-group as yourself. Great Minds think alike!

Comments by Tim on 12th November 2016  

In answer to John Lavender - I live adjacent to 250 acres of common land. I aim to run most mornings in Spring. Summer & early Autumn, on a combination of surfaces. For a change I can add in a canal tow-path & farm lanes & tracks. I aim to get out before 7.00am. The area has it's own micro-climate - at 7.00 it can be warm enough to strip off & run topless. I'm in my mid-60s BTW.

Comments by Bradley on 12th November 2016  

Rob, we didn't wear shirts because apparently a lot of parents complained about shirts getting muddy from cross country and then having to get all the stains out. It wasn't forbidden and a small number of guys did wear shirts for various reasons.

We got changed at school in the PE changing room and then got on the coach wearing PE shorts and our school uniform shirt, which we removed upon arrival. There is a tap available at the field under which you could quickly wash the mud off before getting on the coach.

No one forced us to wear tops at the gym. It's not really considered appropriate and no one did it. I personally preferred to wear a top and so did everyone else.

Comments by Dave on 12th November 2016  

Well I can't see what's the reason to wear any top for PE.Boys have more freedom of movement not wearing shirt and it is much safer for gymnastics for instance.
They are shirtless for swimming lessons too.What is the difference?
And as you've written starting the lesson having no shirt on can stop the problem of fearing who will be the ones having to take off their shirt off for team games.No shirts only coloured bibs and the "problem" solved.

Comments by John Lavender on 11th November 2016  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

These Postings on this Thread are quite Interesting; does anyone on here still Run, either On Tarmac, Cross Country or Trail , or even more Extreme events like obstacle Races, and Run topless?
What sort of reactions do you get?
Eve though my Grammar-school days are well behind me I still remember them quite fondly and do still run without a Top quite Regularly.
My main Running is Training off-road and Parkruns, and also Obstacle Courses.

Comments by Rob on 9th November 2016  

I was at a boys grammar school in the late fifties and never experienced shirts v skins as we were told when we arrived for our first PE lesson that when we got changed we must take everything off including pants and socks and come back into the gym wearing just shorts and plimsolls.This wasn't a problem for me or other boys in the class and was our kit from then until we left.We would sometimes get changed expecting a normal lesson to be told we were going out on a cross country run, so we went out barechested, as normal. We accepted this and got used to it in the same way as nude showers. I am pleased to see that this site has finally acknowledged that shirts v skins was a bad idea. Naturally, if boys are allowed to start off wearing shirts and then half of them are told to take them off, the shy ones are bound to be embarrassed being seen barechested by other boys wearing shirts.This causes them stress waiting to see who's going to be picked to be a skin.I am glad that we all had to be barechested all the time and able to move around freely without any embarrassment.If we were split into teams we used to have coloured bands to wear.I cannot understand why the system of shirts v skins persisted when schools could have been like us and so prevented the misery endured by many boys who could have gone on to enjoy being barechested well beyond their schooldays.