Burnley Grammar School
Item #: 1607
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, December 1959
I remember just after ze var ven us jungen vere made to strip in front of der professors before PE lessons. Ve vere only 10 jahr alt at ze time and ve wore only a small pair of shorts. Und der professors ordered us to strip for die showers afterwards. I velt vere uncomfortable.
Pardon me for mien Inglishe - I learn it from a buke.
I read other people’s messages such as Jean and see many other people protesting about der pe teachers - methinks that maybe they protest too much and that secretly they enjoy fantasising about their experiences. In fact I vonder how many herren keep writing under different aliases. Sad people! I vonder who Jean really is? Any guesses?
just a few more comments
There was a difference between Pe teachers and the other teachers as regards how they called u or talk to us.
The Pe teachers were generally using our first names to call a boy or talk to him while the other teachers never did it, they used only the family name.
It created a more familiar link between Pe teachers and boys.
I find it was normal between it was not the same relation than with other teachers : they could see us more privately when we changed in Pe clothes or when we undressed for showers and even when we were wearing shorts or a swimsuit, it was different of the other teachers.
They were also supposed to learn boys hygiene and manly attitudes and so on ..
But as students we might talk to all teachers including Pe teachers by calling them"Sir"
Except those who were on a sport team, we normally did not know the first names of the Pe teachers and if we knew them we could not use them.
I am sorry for a lot of mistakes in the message below
here it is again for the first part without most of the mistakes
"You are right Allan
Now a Pe teacher cannot kick the butt of a student boy, it is no more allowed normally even it is not a strong kick.
At my time it was not written that it was allowed in the status of the school but it was admitted as long as it did not hurt really the boy student and it was practiced only by some Pe teachers, not all, rather the older ones who were often former sergeants at the army.
It was practiced only when a student was wearing his trouser or a Pe short, not when he was naked for showering.
Instead of a kick on the ass, a slap on the buttocks was always possible. Since it was not bare ass, it was not harmful, just a way to recall a student that he might listen to the instructions or keep silence and be obedient.
When we were changing in the locker room, if we were naked or semi naked in just briefs, or at the entrance and the exit of the shower room when we were naked, some of the Pe teacher used to give to us a slap on the buttocks if they thought it necessary but they never give to us a kick on the ass when we were naked. I presume that it was because it could be too much harmful on bare ass ".
You are right Allan
Now a Pe teacher cannot kick the butt of a student boy, it is no more allowed normally even it is not a strong kick.
At my time it was written that it was allowed in the status of the school but it was admitted as long as it did not hurt really the boy student and it was practiced only by some Pe trachers, not all, rather the older ones who were often former sergeants at the army.
It was practiced only when a tudent was wearing his trouser or a Pe short, not when he was naked for showering.
Instead of a kick on the ass, a slap on the buttocks was always possible. Since it was not bare ass, it was not harmful, just a way to recall the student that he might listen to the instructions or keep silence and be obedient.
When we were changing in the locker room, if we were naked or semi naked in just brief or at the entrance and the exit of the shower room when we were naked, some of the Pe teacher used to give to us a slap on the buttocks if they thought it necessary but a kick on the ass bever happened when we were naked. I presume that it was because it could be more harmful. on bare ass.
And I want to add also that unlike some of the you in the messages, I have never seen a Pe teacher taking naked a shower with us, they supervised our shower time more or less closely but never came under a shower head with us.
As regards the check of showers, it was depending on teachers, some were very strict about them, other did not care how we did for showers.
I remember that one of them in 7th grade ot 8th grade told to us at the first lesson that the showers were part of the lesson, that it was important for good health and hygiena and it would be compulsory, that we might have at each lesson a soap and a towel to dry and that he would not tolerate that one boy tried to escape to the shower time and also that he would check how we showered to be sure that we washed correctly all our body and he did itreally on the first lessons standing at the door of the showers to watch us during the showers and giving us instructions how to use the soap while others Pe teachers stayed in the locker room without looking at us during the shower.
Normally since we were not instructed to remove our briefs under the shorts during Pe lessons we were told to come with a new brief to put it after the lesson once we were dried rather than to put again a sweaty brief, it was good sense.
So I don't think that we were submitted to kind of "dictator"s as Pe teachers, just some more strict about rules than others.
Jean the Frenchie: You wrote:
"he was only allowed to give to students a kick on their buttocks if they needed it,"
Perhaps not in France, but in Britain it seems many rather dubious characters got themselves jobs as PE teachers - until recently there were few, if any, CRB checks , if such teachers were to practice on today's boys what some of them did to us, would find themselves in severe trouble and would undoubtbly lose their jobs.
I would also put it to to you that even in France a kicking teacher these days would also find himself in hotwater.
It is just not acceptable these days.
I will not rehearse my reasons here for taking a hard line, but believe me, our teacher and several others I have heard about were very odd characters indeed. Dictatorial bullies at best.
Of course it is different when it is an instruction to be bare chest which might be complied and if you are bare chest volontarily, I understand that but I don't understand why some boys ( men today who recalls of that situation ) were so embarrassed to be bare chest when they were students.
On a beach all males are bare chest, in a swimming pool also, also at a school physical examination in group in the waiting room of course, so why was it so bad to give such an instruction.
And like some have said, on the photo of the gym of Burnley grammar school, I notice that the boys who are bare chest seem to be happy to do gym in that way ...
Of course, I understand that it was different when like it was in some british schools the weather was cold and boys had to be bare chest under instruction nevertheless and even outside of a gym. It was normally according to the Pe teacher to toughen them but I disagree with that method and I understand perfectly why some who have known that instruction when they were students have a bad memory of that time of school .
Same for corporal punishments, they were forbidden at school in the 60's in France at state middle and high schools ( may be they were still practiced in private schools, I don't know? ) and I think that it was a good decision.
The only teacher who could touch a boy was the Pe teacher but not to give us a spanking or to use caning, he was only allowed to give to students a kick on their buttocks if they needed it, for instance by being too late to follow his instructions or being unruly or rowdy or talking too loud and too much or running when it was not allowed ( around a swimmming pool for instance ) and so on .., it did not hurt really, it was just a warning to listen his instructions and folllow them ( of course it was not a written rule in the status of the school, it was just implicit)
He could also give to the students a slap on their buttocks when they were naked at the entrance or at the exit of the shower if they were too much late or rowdy or at the locker room after undressing if they were inobedient or too much reluctant to undress quickly for showering. Some Pe teachers were well known for slapping the buttocks of boys ( never the face ), very often and without good reasons to do it, obviously just because they liked to slap buttocks of boys to show them that they were in charge and had a total control on them if they wanted ( but it was always only one or two slaps never a real spanking ), others used slapping very seldomly just when it appeared to be necessary.
The other teachers could never give slaps , even on trousers.
It was a great difference.
And at my time when a boy student forgot his Pe kit, he was given a short or a swimsuit and if necessary a shirt and sport shoes by the Pe teacher (which sometimes were very old and not very adjusted but it was better than to do Pe in underwears, even just a swimsuit was better because it was colored in blue ). It was for Pe lesson inside a gym.
It happened only with one Pe teacher one year school in 10th grade who was more strict than the others and had warned us that after two times of coming without Pe kit, a boy had to undress until brief to do the lesson, it happened sometimes at the beginning of the year school with that teacher for a few of boys to do Pe inside the gym in just briefs but after a few lessons everybody had understood that he was not joking and that it was embarrassing to do Pe in just briefs, so all students had their Pe kit.
So I agree with the complains about instruction for boy's students to be bare chest when the weather was bad and to give corporal punishments or to do Pe in underwears or naked as a punishment for those who forgot their gym clothes but otherwise, I don't see why it was not normal even in mixed class. Some are talking of double standard but it was really normal that girls in a mixed class were allowed always to keep their shirts because it was not the same for a girl to be bare chest since she had nipples, and it was considered as indecent even for the yoiunger ones.
Jean the Frenchie wrote: " they have chosen volontarily to remove their shirts "
This is the crux of the matter - in the UK at the time I have been talking about it was compulsory, not voluntary. If somebody wishes to do something of their own volition, fair enough, but to be compelled is a very different matter,a nd that is what I, and many others, resent and complain about.
As regards all the discussion, I must confess how I am surprised by the great number of messages after only a photo of a Pe lesson atr Burnley Grammar School which is certainly not scandalous nor shocking since she shows us only that boys were bare chest inside a gym during their lesson while girls were not.
What a surprise indeed to see boys bare chest in presence of girls !
I have been a french student in the 50's and 60's at a boy's only school from middle school until the last grade of high school and if I remember well, it was not uncommon to be bare chested at Pe lessons, either inside the gym, either outside when we had two hours and the weather was enough good and when we played to one group game like basket ball or football or anything else and our male PE teacher instructed one group to strip over the chest so that one group was bare chest and not the other for a "skin versus shirt"s game.
Or he instructed us to remove our tee-shirts to run laps.
I don't remember that any boy complained ... it was so commonly admitted !
If other teachers were spectators, it did not change anything.
It was not at all embarrassing to be bare chest since we were always bare chest when we swam at a swimming lessons, wearing at that time only the regular swimsuit blue color and very short ( not as much as a speedo even if it was the same shape) provided by the school.
It was made in a thin material which stinged to the body, especially on the back to the crack of the butt when it was wet, revealing the shapes of our round buttocks and even if we bended over, how was our crack at the middle of them . And it was indented on the sides leaving a part of each cheek visible but no boys complained since it was the regular swim suit widely worn at that time and even it was the most common type of swimsuit sold in shops at that time and anyway it was part of the regular clothes that the school required for boys and it was provided by the school.
For Pe lessons , we might wear a white short rather transparent in a thin material too and a tee-shirt and gym shoes. We could keep our underwear (which was always a white brief at that time) under the short. On the reverse of some british students, we were never instructed to remove our briefs under the shorts and so we were not checked for the respect of that instruction. I must recognize that I would have disliked to be checked by a male Pe teacher who like it was written intructed to the boys to line up at the beginning of the lessons and lifted up the waist band of the short to look inside frontally or by back. In the two cases it was humiliating.
So we were not at all embarassed to be bare chest at a Pe lesson and even if today it is unlikely that a Pe teacher requires to boys to be bare chest because the discipline is no more the same, I can guarantee you that I see ofen some boys students who are bare chest when they have a Pe lesson and do physical exercices or are running laps outside on a ground which is visible by any walker passing by along the ground ; they have chosen volontarily to remove their shirts even in presence of the girls students of their age since now all schools and lessons are mixed.
Of course it may be considered as different because it is not the consequence of an intruction of a Pe treacher but a decision of themselves.
But honestly, it was not an issue to be bare chested even exposed to the view of girls students, When we were doing Pe outside the school we might often share a community sport ground with a class of girls of an other school, and of course they could look at the boys students who were running for instance if they were bare chest, and in my opinion it was not embarrassing, even for boys who were too much skinny or too much fat, because they were used to that situation.
But I have read also in some messages that some Pe teachers or coaches were a little sadistic in great Britain requiring to boys to run bare chest even by cold weather and in the mud and instructing them to take cold showers after, or worst in one message I have read that they might be on a line while the coach washed the boy's students lining with a hose and that it was cold!
I understand that those who had knew such methods did not have a good memory of the PE lessons but I had never seen that in France at least at school ( it could happen at barracks during the first months of military service after some exercices in the mud that a sergeant used a hose to wash the new inductees but it was an other subject, the disregard of dignity and modesty of inductees at the army in France and certainly in other countries)
May be I presume that it could happen also in summer camps in the 60's but I had not been there and had no information.
I have not read all messages, it was too long, but it seems according to what I have read that if none were complaining about a lack of privacy during physical examinations in mixed schools, a few ones are complaining about the lack of privacy at locker rooms.
I must recognize that when we shared a community sport facility or gym outside of our school with other classes, if there were aone or several classes of girls, they had always the best locker rooms and we had the worst. It meaned that sometimes we had a locker room without a door or without curtain on the windows, and it was obvious that a class of girls walking in the corridor could have a glance inside our locker room, no matter our state of undress... It was useless to complain since we as boys were supposed to be never embarrassed if we were exposed naked in group, the modesty was not a manly attitude, the showers were always taken in group under shower heads supervised more or less closely by the Pe teachers. ( it was in fact inspired by military methods , exactly the same as when we were inducted to do military service, for instance it was forbidden to put a towel around our waist, it might be on the shoulders like in the army! since there was no reason to try to protect from view our genitals and balls and our butts., every body was built the same was a common statement by Pe teachers at the first lesson to convince reluctant boys to remove in group their clothes before the compulsory showers..
But even when we shared a gym with girl, I don't remember a situation where boys students had been deliberateky exposed naked to the view of the girls under showers or changing clothes, if the girls students could have a glance on naked boys students by walking in a corridor, it occurred non intentionally and it was very quick .. at least at my school.
And the boys students were never required by school rule to swim in the nude like it could happen in some schools in the United States or in Great Britain.
I recognize that it was worst than to be bare chest if you were in a mixed school, and either you had a mixed lesson swimming in the nude while the girls wore a one piece swimsuit, either you were in a team and there were spectators, mothers and sisters, and why not, female teachers or girls students, when you had to practice or at a swim meet.
Like it seems according to a lot of relations to be the rule during many years until the beginning of the 70 's at least for a lot of schools, I presume that it was embarrassing but well known, so that parents knew the rule and did not complain at the school board, and boys were forced to obey to instructions. When it was boys only, it was not so akward, and when it was in a mixed schoool, it was obviously embarrassing but admitted as a rule that boys might comply.
So I think that there was no comparison between a Pe lesson bare chest and real complete nudity of boys at swimming lessons or other situations
I agree with you that in a recent past ( 1950's, 1960's and even sometimes 1970 's or even later in some few situations, the group physical examinations could be the rule at some schools and could be embarrassing, much more than to be bare chest at Pe lessons.
I had not known In France in the 60's at an only boys school such physical examinations as yours in a gym in plain view of all classmates and may be Pe teachers or coaches, but nevertheless it was embarrasing since we might undress in briefs as soon as we arrived in a group of 15 boys, half of a class, supervised by our male Pe teacher in the waiting room, and we might stay in briefs for almost two hours or more before being instructed by the Pe teacher to dress again when all boy's students had been examined by the doctor and the permanent school nurse in the examination room. It was rather cold and it was embarrassing to be in just briefs ( at that time they were short white briefs, no colored briefs until 1967 or 1968 ) and it was the same set up each year from 11 age at the first year of middle school until the last grade of high school at 17 or 18 age).
In the examination room, the doctor wqs generally a woman doctor assisted by the permanent female school nurse and assisted also some years, even in later grades, by a young nursing student coming from a neighbor nursing school, so it was never the same girl, but at 17 age it was really embarrassing because she was just a bit older than us, and she could see all the examination including when we were naked.
It could happen also that a middle age woman school secretary came without knocking at the door or at least without waiting for the answer if she knocked into the waiting room where we were all a group in briefs to put a new form or a letter to the doctor. It happened about one year by two and it was no use to complain because it seemed perfectly normal to our Pe teacher and to her like if it did not mind if she saw about 15 boy's students undressed in just briefs ( or even naked when she entered in the examination rom to give the form or paper to the doctor and a student was naked) . Sometimes at the exit she talked a little with our Pe teacher like if we were not here.
May I make a third suggestion?
I think that boys swam naked and girls didn't in times past because girls were considered to be in need of protection and boys didn't.
Now that sexual abuse hysteria has set in, boys are considered to be in need of protection also.
@ Alan. How I agree with you all the way, especially about the group medicals, at my school in the early 1960's, 30 13 year olds lined up in the gym in alphabetical order just in their underpants, waiting to be examined, a nurse did height and weight and a rudimentary eye test and then you moved to the doctor, how mortified I was when told to drop my underpants and have my genitals examined, all this in full view of my classmates, no boy should have to endure that and thank god they don't these days.
In answer to William, and his frankly tiresome references to boys and nudity, has it never occurred to him that the lack of nudity in 2021 might be down, not to a lack of testosterone , but to an increase in modesty? - not a bad quality to have. The days of communual baths and group medical examinations are well in the past.
Boys not getting naked as much as they always did is only a thing in developed world, probably one of many signs of drastic drop in average testosterone levels, in sports schools where testosterone levels are more healthy, there is more nudity.
Dave: I think the answer is that in water you don't need a top - it would be a disadvantage, but in a gym, where you will be dry and might well shower afterwards, it appears gratuitous when boys are "MADE" to remove tops - especially in this day and age, which is presumably why the practice has now ceased. It just worries me that so many grown men still deplore the fact that young boys don't remove as much clothing as they did.
"is that really different from holding as coed swimming class in which the boys are shirtless?"
I'm completely agree with spelvin.Boys are always shirtless in swimming classes. What's the difference?
Bran: In answer to your question,when I went to secondary school it was from 1961 to 1966. An all boys school. Like most of the people posting on this site boys only. PE kit was minimal. we wore shorts(no colour was specified) Furthermore my shorts were very tight , no underpants, black plimsolls and no top when indoors. The PE was the usual rope climbing, vaulting and other exercises. Outside was games depending on season, and again shorts no pants and a t shirt (Again nothing specified). Showers we available after the lesson but these were not compulsory and very few lads ever used them. Nudity was not an issue. As we stripped off either before or after the lesson we would be standing around chatting whether dressed or not.
This is in reference Bran's message of October 10.
Bran provided links to photographs of a coed phys ed class in which the boys were shirtless.
Some of us thought that that must have been traumatizing for the boys.
But now I'm starting to wonder:
is that really different from holding as coed swimming class in which the boys are shirtless?
Like almost all school in the 60's we did PE in only shorts, cross country shirtless all year around, often barefoot as well etc. No photos exist (as far as I'm aware), but if they did so what, this was normal.
We also showered (naked), that's dfferent to me, and should not have been filmed.
My Middle School was more like a secondry than a junior school in its ethos Danny so the change was a hard one to have to make at age 9/10, especially in PE. Middle schools were once the norm I think in West Yorkshire but all seem to have died now. Certainly my school went back to starting at 11 in the 2000's so I guess the middle school experiment failed. Personnally I have good memories of Middle school, it gave me the chance to discover I was actually quite acedemic and good at science, something I would not have guessed from my time at Primary school.
One thing of note from the school's TV programme I posted a few days ago that I overlooked is that the school filmed was actually a middle school according to the end credits. Surely it was a highly unusual thing for middle/primary schools even in that 70's/80's period to be making their pupils aged eight to twelve strip fully off and go into the showers after PE classes when most of us always associate that activity as hitting us when we entered our senior schools from eleven or twelve. The more I think about it I might have ultimately benefitted from that myself because at about 8 years old I was my least self conscious probably in my entire life. Who knows if it would have nipped in the bud any future hang ups four years later for me, and maybe so many others too. Just a thought to put out there.
What was your experience at secondry school Terry
With regards to P E in Junior schools. My experience from covering approx 1956 to 1961 was that for pe the class teacher which for us was a lady would take the lesson. There were no specialised pe teachers in our Junior school. For the lesson the boys took off their shirts and as was the case at that time we all wore vests(usually singlets except in winter) and changed into black plimsolls. We all wore the regulation grey shorts throughout the year , longs were unheard of for boys at that age unlike today. Also the shorts were quite short none of the knee length ones which are now the fashion. Pe was indoors unless it was very warm when we would go into the playground.
P E was a mixed lesson and the girls simply removed their dresses or skirts and blouse and did the lesson in their blue regulation knickers and again vest. Wearing plimsolls.
I suppose the clothing had to be removed for practical reasons because it would be difficult to do any gymnastics in a skirt or dress bearing in mind girls did not wear trousers in that era And when I reminisce nowadays with ladies I know from that era , they were never bothered with the situation. That is how it was. Theses days it would be considered incorrect.
MY final comments about the nudity of young boys and come to that girls, is that when on holiday abroad it quite a common occurrence to see parents strip off their young children and let them run a round on the beach and swim naked. It almost seems the normal thing to do.
I agree with Danny C and Michael. Since the gym master was in the vicinity of the showers, we were well behaved and there was certainly no bullying.
I wish the showers at my 1960s grammar school had been as good as those in the ITV Fit and Healthy schools programme. The boys looked relaxed and happy, reflecting my experience at school: you minded at first having nothing on but quickly got used to it and soon it didn't matter. I'm sure it helped me to laugh off the initiation ceremony we went through as cadets at summer camp, which I described a couple of years ago. Taking that experience in our stride would have been more difficult if we had not been used to nudity in the showers and changing rooms at school.
GregG, I apologize for being a usual predictable, ignorant, nonsensical American.
William, I apologize for being foolish.
On the subject of bullying, I think your experience will vary according to the school you went to, and the area of the school. I went to a tough London school. One or two of our lads fathers had been, or were in, prison, and this was a badge of honour. It also didn't help that we had a weak, elderly headmaster near to retirement (he retired the year I left) who left the work to his deputy, an all-mouth-and-no-trousers bully who shouted loudly, but as he knew he wouldn't be promoted ("personal problems") he left it at that.
My memories of school showers. They were way too small is the main one. An entrance arch, an exit arch and about 6 shower heads between. 30 boys all trying to get showered together so we would not be too late into the dinner cue. A tight huddle getting in with towel for modesty, then drop towel by exit and shove your way to a shower which would be shared with at least 2 other boys, 3 quick 360 degrees to get wet and then shove your way out again. Personnel space, not been invented in my 1980's school.
As for potential ridicule, no-one would want to admit looking at that part of the body as that would instantly see them branded as a poof. Although in my case they would actually have been correct. Absolutely unmentionable of course back then but bare chested PE did have its advantages for a 12 year old gay kid.
Alan, the typical procedure in the past was for the caretakers to stay inside the school bathrooms or showers, to prevent bullying and to ensure proper hygiene care.
"Distance lends enchantment" so eloquently put by Alan. It does. But as someone who kept a daily diary from the age of twelve and for more than the next twenty five years, covering every single day of my senior school years without missing a day, I can say that a diary removes quite a bit of that enchantment and closes the distance considerably.
Read a brilliant quote once, "A diarist lives life three times, first when they live it, then when they write about it, finally when they read it back". This allows me to bring my own highs and lows back with amazing and real time clarity even many years after my 1980's schooldays.
I wrote a lot about school physical education in mine, on the playing fields, in the gym or in the sports hall, what we did, how it affected me, my inner thoughts on the sports we did, the people who took those lessons and those in class I did the lessons with and all that I intimately shared along with them. I did this for other lessons too in those years but PE was always a stand out and ripe for plenty of comment many weeks when you have three 80 minute classes starting first thing in the morning just a few minutes after 9am.
I recall thinking before I did it that forcing a large group of boys into showers in school while naked and up close with each other was a surefire way for there to be constant teasing and personal comment about how we looked and what we possessed, or lacked. I thought literally every shower was going to be a nightmare of this kind that I would have to endure. How wrong I was, and can still recall walking away from the first few I did and being so very pleasantly surprised and mighty relieved that none of us 12 and 13 year olds were teasing or mocking anyone else in any way at all. I couldn't quite believe it actually. We all just seemed to get our heads down and get on with it, almost subdued and very compliant infact come to think of it in those first few weeks, especially after me and my friend were made an example of for trying to walk out un-showered at our first ever PE lesson. The only couple of things regards me in a school shower I recall are one silly little twit alluding to the fact that I'd sprouted hair down below while most others hadn't yet, and a so called friend merrily calling me out loudly to others for placing both my hands over my groin hiding myself as he saw it while I was letting water soak over me as I stood there. But that was it. Certainly no noticeable open bullying I recall, from fellow pupils at least.
Alan noted about this myth some may have of all boys happily going into school showers. That's not my memory at my school at all in the 80's. You just resigned yourself to doing it if mandated. Even then I'm certain the vast majority would have opted out by choice. Two years ago a family member began his senior school aged 11 which has a changing room communal shower and it was left to personal choice whether to make use of them or not. I asked if he did, he said no. I asked if anyone else did, he said no. So by choice it was 100% avoidance, nowadays at least. Two years later and today in his current new school year he and his class now have to use them whether he likes it or not, a pandemic related school hygiene rule change apparently. I've no idea how much this new mandate might bother him or not.
In response to a comment below, I can honestly say that during the 1960s I was never bullied by any other pupil at my state grammar school.
On only one occasion was I made aware of a pupil being a bully. In this instance the miscreant was caned after assembly in front of the whole school and, so far as I know, never made the same mistake again.
Yes, I know there will always be the "answering violence with violence" , controversy, but in the meantime I am convinced that because of the school's firm stance on bullying, everyone was free to concentrate on their studies without this kind of interference.
In contrast, I feel sorry for today's youngsters, with their 'knife culture' almost being considered normal.
Greg2: Thanks for that. I glanced at the site last night, and I can well imagine "Linda Jansen" who wrote an especially scabrous essay for us on October 5th, regarding New York in 1974, is an ardent viewer and contributor to the site. You saved me the trouble of responding.
Interestingly, you bought up the subject of circumcision, and something I well remember from the hell in our school changing room and showers was that one lad in our class was bullied on a regular basis for having had that operation - and was taunted with it at least weekly (not the worst or funniest procedure in the world, and nothing to make fun of) our school was never short of bullies, and our teacher always went deaf if he heard it going on (and in some instances - not this one, - joined in with it). I dare say "banter" would be the excuse had anyone had the guts to complain - and face the consequences for so doing.
That is another thing that has been all but ignored in these discussions: distance lends enchantment (so they say), but you get the impression in years past all the lads cheerfully went into the showers, all best mates - no mention has been made of bullying which went on all the time in the sort of school I (and doubtless many others) attended - the changing room and showers were a hot house for bullies - it didn't matter what they could find to torment you with - find it they did. When you were undressed, of course the targets were there for all to easily see. Some of the men who have contributed in the past to this thread must have had an idyllic childhood, where bullies were completely excluded.
Spelvin, don't be foolish, those are sexual fantasies, one of the reasons why swimming was a generally gender segregated activity in the past was nudity, there might be some accidents or jokes played around seeing others naked, but not anything like this.