Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1935         Item #: 1741         Views: 73,144         Comments: 368

Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team

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Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team of Atherton, Greater Manchester.
Source: G. Smith.

368 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by JonAt1 on 10th March 2018  

During our indoor PE lessons we were made to sweat. Being made to strip to the waist made it easy to see who was putting the effort in. If you weren't sweating at the end then remedial session outdoors and laps of the field awaited.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 30th December 2017  fchroston@gmail.com 

Roy I endorse what stated earlier,adolescents release a lot of adrenalin and it is excreted through the skin.Not showering after PE or Games means the oil can block pores causing spots to form particularly on the back of a student.Most of us looked forward to a shower after Gym exercise.We got so used to this compulsory regime before we returned to the classroom situation.

Comments by Roy on 10th December 2017  

As many have said it is completely unhygienic to go straight from a PE lesson to a class without showering first.

Comments by Kirsty on 19th November 2017  

hi Ross

Yes it was a surprise! We all had full indoor PE kit with us, t-shirts, gym pants and plimsolls. So to find out only at that first lesson that we'd be doing it in our knickers and no tops was a shock! Outdoors we had PE kit, though if we forgot it we'd have to run laps of the field in our pants!

Comments by JON on 17th November 2017  

I seem to have endured more school medicals than many.as I had one on starting school another on moving to junior school and another on leaving that school.
In secondary school I had one when receiving the BCG jab another after finishing my O Level year and the last one after finishing my A levels.
I can only really remember the last ones as we lined up in groups of three outside the MI room stripped to the waist and on entering the room we stripped naked and went forward for the examination which involved the usual including the genitals. This gave me an erection which lasted while I was trying to get dressed!
As I had to pass the lads waiting their turn I noticed that by then they had erections as well!!

Comments by Ross on 7th November 2017  

Hello Kirsty,

Interesting comments there. It must have been a real surprise for you. What were you expecting to wear for PE? In the other two lessons a week were these outside? Do you have to do these in knickers only?

Comments by Andrea on 31st October 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Kirsty,

I seem to recollect a couple other women saying something similar about 18 months ago. I imagine it must have been quite a shock and quite embarrassing, especially for those girls who had started to develop?
I was still flat chested at the start of what would now be year 7, but started to wear a bra at the start of year 8.

Did your PE teacher say why this was the rule?
Our indoor PE kit was navy blue gym knickers and a white polo shirt. Far from making anyone go topless, our PE teacher told several girls that they should start to wear a bra under their polo shirt.

Comments by Kirsty on 30th October 2017  

There are mostly men commenting on this, but I see a few women too. I went to a girls school from age 11 onwards and PE there was pretty strict. In UII and LIV (which I think are now called years seven and eight, age 11-13) we did PE every day, and that meant gymnastics indoors, which we did three times a week. When we were in the gym, we didn't wear PE kit, which was a shock when we first started. Our gym mistress was very clear that first lesson, when she came into the changing room and told us piece by piece to undress. Eventually we were all left standing in just our pants, at which point she ordered us to line up in alphabetical order. I was wondering what would happen next then she told us to file into the gym! Only when we were there did she make explicit that we would do all our lessons dressed this way.

Comments by ROY on 25th September 2017  

In the 1960's we always had to shower after PE and thought nothing of being naked in the communal showers

Comments by Rob on 8th September 2017  

Sterling, agree absolutely, and why should showers be optional after indoor PE? I can't believe the amount of kit required on that list! We wore just a pair of shorts with nothing on underneath, no shirt, and plimsolls without socks.Many had to do it in bare feet. We wore this kit in the gym and outside,including cross country runs. In the gym we were worked hard and made to sweat profusely so that we needed and looked forward to washing ourselves thoroughly in the open showers together afterwards.

Comments by Sterling on 5th September 2017  

Jonas, Why Is It 'terrible' to expect Students to maintain an acceptable level of Personal Hygiene?

Is it acceptable to subject Teachers to the Smell of 30+ Post Workout Sweaty Teenagers in a confined space?

I think Not!

Comments by Mr Wallace on 30th August 2017  

Not a surprise. When I was at school those boys who did not want to shower tended to miss a lot of PE with conditions/illnesses/injuries and have a note from their parents, or do the towel dance when changing.

What happens/happened for you in your school?

Comments by Jonas on 26th May 2017  

I think it is terrible that showers are still compulsory for outdoor lessons in some schools.

P.E. Equipment

Plain black shorts with school crest (2 pairs are advised, but this is optional).
Black sweatshirt with school crest.
Black polo shirt with school crest.
A black long sleeved /or legging-style base layer may be worn under the regulation kit during the colder months (this period is at the discretion of the teachers)
White ankle sports socks.
Black football socks for hockey and cross-country.
Towel for shower taken after every outdoor lesson, optional for indoor lesson.
Football boots

Comments by Jack on 5th April 2017  

Having read about the experiences of people going through medical exams notwithstanding any embarrassment, I think nothing compares with the fear & trepidation when the school dentist came to carry out examinations. The prodding of teeth with a hook and then the inevitable letter coming to parents summoning you to the school dentist which was a really painful experience. No care or compassion. Especially if there was an extraction

Comments by Roy on 27th March 2017  

Andrea - although my Mum came with me she didn't actually come into the actual medical itself

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


Did you have a parent present when you had your medical at the end of Primary School?

When I had one in the first year at Secondary, mum wasn't present, just the doctor and our School Nurse, but one of my friends in a different school had here mum present.

Comments by Roy on 25th March 2017  

The only times I had a medical exam were on starting primary school on leaving that school at eleven and at secondary school when having the dreaded BCG jab.
At all times we had to strip to the waist for the exam even for the BCG.

Comments by Keith on 27th July 2016  kjl483@yahoo.com 

Rob, It was only in my teens and early 20's I had a fear, as I got older I didn't have any medical exams at all.

Then I had this medical insurance plan when I was 60 and I get them through that, no bother at all now.

Comments by Rob on 24th July 2016  

Keith, so did you have these further medicals examinations
which you so dreaded before you took out medical insurance
or do you still dread them, even though you have your genitals examined every time each year. If so, you are a glutton for punishment!

Comments by Keith on 22nd July 2016  kjl483@yahoo.com 

Rob, I had a mortal fear of medical exams after that one! quite a few times my blood pressure was so high I had to have it taken again later when I calmed down and even told one doctor my fears.

Comments by Rob on 19th July 2016  

Keith, you must have been dreading the prospect of another medical after only two years after that awful experience.Did the doctor tell you specifically to strip to your underpants ,if not, were you not afraid he might shout at you to get them off, as at your previous experience? At least you were on your own this time when the doctor examined your testicles and penis.I am glad to hear that I wasn't the only one one to have difficulty dressing afterwards. It was a very uncomfortable experience for me as I couldn't even get my foreskin back to normal straight away. It was the summer and I hadn't the benefit of a coat but I was wearing my black double breasted school blazer which provided some camouflage. I felt quite sorry for you, but now you tell us that you have an annual medical exam with no problems!Good on you, you are obviously looking after yourself. I don't recall either of our two sons having school medicals (unless we wern't told) and this would have been from about 1980 to 1995.

Comments by Keith on 18th July 2016  kjl483@yahoo.com 

Rob, It is good to know I wasn't the only one who got aroused at these medical exams, sometimes now I thnk the doctors at the time liked to stamp their authority, one example was a couple of years later I changed my job and had to have another medical exam and I protested that it had only been a couple of years earlier that I had one, I was told rather abruptly that "that was then, this is now" and to get undressed, at least I was on my own this time and had just my briefs on (sadly at 17 my mother was still buying my underwear, white cotton or cellular ones) but most of the exam was done on an exam table, the doctor pulled my briefs down to my kness and examined my testicles and penis and of course with the handling I got aroused and like you had difficulty dressing afterwards with a full blown erection, I was glad I had a coat which I strategically held over my crotch when I left his room and had to walk across the waiting room.
I still have an annual medical exam through a medical insurance plan I took out some years ago, a lot as changed though and I am treated with dignity and the erections don't happen now when the doctor gets to that point in the exam. I often wonder when school medical exams ceased, does anyone know?. I know that my 14 year old nephew had an ECG at his school afer one lad sadly died on a cross country run because of an unknown heart problem, it was arranged by the PTA at the school, on asking my nephew about it he said that other than if he is ill he never see's a doctor.

Comments by Rob on 17th July 2016  

Keith, you're right, it sounds horrendous and utter chaos all down to bad mismanagement.I thought the doctor I saw was very abrupt, but at least I was on my own. I had only had to strip to the waist for school medicals but at this one I also had to take my shoes and socks off before he began the examination.When he had finished listening to my chest, etc. I thought that was it but was surprised when I was told to take my trousers off, which I did, putting them on the chair with my other clothes.He snapped at me 'and those!' and I furtively removed my pants and he left me standing naked facing his desk,while he wrote up my report. I felt rather vulnerable at this stage but after what seemed ages I was told to lie on a couch.It felt weird when he started feeling around my groin and through my pubic hair.He thoroughly examined my balls and finally my penis, pulling my foreskin right back, causing me to have an erection. Then he told me I could dressed and for the only time he smiled because I had difficulty in getting my pants on over my erect penis. When asked by my parents asked about the medical I said that it was OK because I was too embarrassed to tell them the details. I now realise, from reading others comments, including yours, Keith, that I had nothing to get embarrassed or ashamed about, and hope that you feel much the same as me .

Comments by Graeme on 16th July 2016  

When I was at school we only had a medical when we left primary school (Year 6) and when were about fourteen which was when we had the dreaded BCG jab against TB.
As I recall we had to be stripped to the waist as we awaited our turn to be examined. The exam was very thorough involving eye and ear tests as well as an examination of your genitalia. Penis and testicles were probed and the uncircumcised had their foreskins pulled back. That often caused an erection and some boys awaiting their turn (as these examinations were not conducted privately) had erections as well.

Comments by Keith on 14th July 2016  kjl483@yahoo.com 

Thanks Rob, Well it was a very embarrasing medical exam from the word go, it was with another apprentice and when we went to athe small city doctors practice that was doing them there were loads of lads having the same exam and too few doctors to see them, it was nearly two hours before we went to see the doctor, we had to go to a small basement room to be examined and the doctor because of all the extra work was very grumpy, we had been seen by a nurse to have an eye and ear check.

There was no privacy at all, we were told to undress and we stripped just to the waist and stood waiting and he shouted at us he hadn't all day and to take the rest of our clothes off, standing naked with our hands over our genitals I was so embarrassed and so was the other lad, he weighed us and checked our height and then said to put our hands on our heads while he examined us, doing all the usual stuff, it seemed like ages until he did the hernia test, and I had gotten aroused, all though the exam his manner was very brusque. I have had loads of medicals since that were never like that one! I was shaking when I was getting dressed afterwards, and he was at us to hurry up as he had more boys to examine.

Comments by Rob on 12th July 2016  

Keith,When you had your first medical you were only aged seven,and rightly so,your mum attended.However, if the doctor was going to even just look at your genitals,why was it done so that your mum couldn't see what he was doing? My mum used to see me in the bath almost until I left primary school at age eleven.
I am sorry that you feel unable to describe your apprentice medical exam.A number of us have openly told of our experiences and none more graphically that Andrew on the Burnley Grammar School gymnasium comments last month when he described his medical, which included a rectal examination,prior to joining the Royal Navy, and later on, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. There surely can't be much else left to be get embarrassed about, unless it involved producing a sperm sample.If you've been bottling your problem up for years, maybe now is the time to tell us all about it and you will realise that it was really nothing at all to get embarrassed about.

Comments by Charles on 11th July 2016  

We didn't have medicals, as such, but the last PE lesson of every term was spent with us being weighed and measured (chest and height), the resultant data appearing on our end-of-term report.

Comments by Keith on 9th July 2016  kjl483@yahoo.com 

On this theme of medicals I only had two at school, 1 at age seven in primary school, the year was 1955, which my mum attended,they used a storeroom for this and had to strip to the waist and take my shoes and socks off, sit on a stool and have my feet examined and then the doctor did the usual tests of listening to my chest and such, as regards genitals that was done with my back to my mum and my grey shorts just undone and then the doctor pulled my underpants away from my body and looked at my genitals, that was it and then told to get dressed.

My next was at age 13 in senior school in 1961, I don't know if it was arranged like this but it co-incided with the PE lesson, so as we did gym that day we were all in just white PE shorts and sat on benches in the gym, a bottom part had screens put out with a nurse sitting at a table outside the screens with the medical files and called your names out,two names at a time were called and we reported to her and she gave us our folder and went behind the screen and gave it to the doctor, he weighed us and did our height and did a quick eye test, then he sat down at a desk and called us over by name and did the examination, last thing was to push our shorts to our knees and have the cough test and if you were uncircumcised have your foreskin pushed back, after that we reported to the PE teacher and were given push ups and such to warm us up ready for when the whole class had been examined. I left school at 15 with no academic qualifications so had to start work straight away, part way through my first job at a buliders I had to have an apprenticeship medical exam, but that was an embarrassing one, so maybe best to contact me privately if you want to know.

Comments by Rob on 7th July 2016  

Ivan,As I've previously said, I only had medicals at age 5,10 and 15yrs when I only had to strip to the waist.Therefore when I went to |London,aged 17, for a medical in 1961 when I was getting a job,I expected it to be the same. I had to strip to the waist, but additionally take my shoes and socks off. The doctor examined my chest, etc. and I thought that was it, but I was then told to take my trousers and pants off and had to lie on a couch while the doctor thoroughly examined my groin, then my genitals.I have never had to drop and cough at a medical.

Comments by Matt on 6th July 2016  

Ivan: my sons still had a medical at their school but they were not as frequently carried out as in our day. I believe only a few independent schools do medicals now. Presumably parents now look after the welfare of their sons!

Comments by Ivan on 3rd July 2016  

Yes Matt even during our last year at school we had medical examinations. Then when I got a job I had another medical (although it was an office job) and again it was a "drop em and cough"
It seems at that time it was always done that way.

Since then I have not really had any medical exams having kept in good health.

Would youngsters of today cope with such intimate medicals and do they still have them at school?

Comments by Matt on 3rd July 2016  

Ivan: You still had to drop your pants at the age of 15. seem to remember my last medical at schoo being 14. The doctor always cupped our testicles though. Always a strange experience was the medical.

Comments by Ivan on 30th June 2016  

Like many of the contributors, I attended an all boys secondary modern school between 1961 & 1966. As was the norm PE was shorts only no pants or tops ,plimsolls and no socks. The obligatory communal shower afterwards. That was life. We had regular medical exams and parents were advised they could attend. Fortunately none did. We went into an ante room and stripped to our y fronts and the were called into the medical room 2 at a time. At least because we were used to changing for pe together that was not too embarrassing. I don't know why we did not go in on our own. It was usually a female doctor and the worst bit was having to do the "drop em and cough" with a classmate in the room. This I found out later was to check for a hernia. The doctor did not actually touch or look at our genitals. Just think if the other lads parents were present. My concern was that because my nan was my guardian she could have attended in place of my dad who was working. Can you imagine at 15 having to drop them with her present?

Comments by Andrea on 29th June 2016  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

I can't remember having any medicals at Primary School (but do remember visits from 'Nitty Nora.

I can remember two medicals at Secondary School. The first was during the first year there.I remember having to strip down to my vest and knickers and having my height and weight checked by the school nurse . She also checked my hands for warts and feet for verrucas. The doctor then asked me to lift my vest to so he could check my heart and lungs with the stereoscope. At the same time it was obvious to them that I didn't need a bra yet. Quite a few girls were wearing them by that time and I think the nurse did suggest to several others that perhaps it was time they asked their mum to get them one!

The second medical was when I was about 15. In many ways it was similar to the first, except that by that time I was wearing a bra. I had to unhook it and partially remove it so the doctor could do a quick visual examination of my breasts. I didn't really understand why at the time, but I suppose they were checking for inverted nipples or something). I didn't have to remove my knickers, but the nurse did have a quick peek down there and asked if my periods were regular.

In addition to the 2 medicals we also had the dreaded BCG injections at Secondary School.

Comments by Rob on 29th June 2016  

Pete, It really must have been a relief that no-one's parents, particularly mothers, took up the invitation to attend the examinations and see you and up to four of your mates stripped to the waist to have your eyes and ears examined and then being told by a nurse to take your trousers off and drop your pants down.It sounds as though the female doctor was in such haste to examine your penis and balls that she forgot your upper body.It doesn't matter whether, as in my experience with a male doctor, or with your woman doctor, being naked in front of her and having your foreskin pulled back is enough to give any young man an erection.

Comments by Dominic on 28th June 2016  

Regularity of medicals do seem to vary. I vaguely remember one, possibly two, when I was at primary school. These were "all over" examinations and the later one resulted in a follow up appointment at the children's hospital to make sure everything was O.K. - fortunately it was. I don't remember ever having a medical while I was at secondary school in the 60s.

The p.e. teacher looked at us in the first lesson at secondary school once we had changed into our shorts. His only comment was that there weren't any overweight boys but I later learned that he was supposed to look then and also while we were in the showers for any signs of physical abuse.

Comments by Pete on 28th June 2016  

At my school in the 1960s we had medicals every year.
We had to line up outside the MI room stripped to the waist and when called had to go in for the examination two at a time.
Why we had to be stripped to the waist to have our eyes and ears examined I shall never know.
Then we had to drop our trousers for the intimate part-having penis and balls examined. The uncircumcised had their foreskins pulled back usually causing an erection which the next boy in line could see often causing him to have an erection as well.

Comments by Rob on 3rd June 2016  

Pete,I only had three school medicals, which were at age 5 when I started school, at 10 years, and at secondary school aged 15. At all examinations we only had to strip to the waist, so I was surprised that you had to take your trousers off and drop your pants at secondary school.There was obviously a variation from one education authority to another. Therefore, when I had my medical when I went for a job, which was also to work in an office, I was unprepared to have to have to strip naked,and then have to lie on a couch and have my balls and penis examined and my foreskin pulled right back, causing me to have an erection! So it sounds as though you were fortunate that you only had to stand and have a drop and cough exam, for which your school exam had prepared you for. However, as you say, such medicals would not be allowed in schools today. Also, for most jobs today, if any medical information is required, this is obtained by the completion of a questionnaire and the provision of details of your GP.

Comments by Pete on 2nd June 2016  

Rob, I do not suppose they could cope with it these days and I do not suppose such Medicals would be allowed. i won't go into the experiences with the school dentist which was a real butchers shop, painful and scary.

Comments by Pete on 2nd June 2016  

At Secondary school we had regular medical exams(which they do not seem to do now). When we were about 14 the examination got really serious and there were rumors about having to drop everything in front of a female doctor.When the time came for the exam, three or four boys at a time lined up in the medical room stripped to the waist. A nurse then came to us and told us to remove our trousers so we stood there in our pants. That was not a problem we were used to being in the changing rooms together for pe. After all everybody wore the same type white briefs. We stood in line waiting for the doctor to call us forward, and after checking chest eyes etc the last thing was "drop your pants right down" and she proceeded the with the "cough" test whilst holding your privates. Of course the boy next in line had a full view of your but,and was then getting nervous about his turn.

Parents were invited to attend but much to the relief of all boys no one was ever accompanied by a parent. That would have been embarrassing. At least with the doctor it was better not knowing her and knowing that you would not see her again.

But then when I went for a job I had to have a medical and I was going to work in an office! This included a drop em & cough exam and at least all the school exams prepared me for this.

Comments by Rob on 1st June 2016  

Pete, I don't know how they would cope if they had to go for a medical examination like I had in 1961 before I left school but had got a job to go to subject to a satisfactory medical in London. I had the usual eyesight and hearing tests, plus being weighed and measured by a nurse before seeing a male doctor and having my blood pressure measured.
After having to strip to the waist and take my shoes and socks off for the doctor to examine me, I had to take my trousers and pants off in front of him and turn around and then lie on a couch while he thoroughly examined my groin area and genitals. While I felt apprehensive about taking my underpants off and somewhat vulnerable standing in front of him as I was in a different environment to being in the showers at school, I was not embarrassed at being in the nude. I was really glad that my experiences at school had given me confidence about my body and taught me to look after it throughout my life.

Comments by Pete on 31st May 2016  

In reply to Mark & Rob it seems to be a case of "heaven forbid" should the students have to undress in front of each other let alone take communal showers. I suppose they can just about cope with removing trousers and putting on shorts or in a lot of cases track suits.

Comments by Dominic on 30th May 2016  

Rob - some familiar memories there! The bouncing around inside our shorts and eventually realising that the members of the public we encountered on the way to and from the parkland where we ran were, in fact, unaware of this and not the least bit interested in 30 or so boys in nothing but short shorts. Then the sometimes very cold breeze on our chests or backs - that certainly was exhilarating. And to add another - the sound of our bare feet slapping on the pavements especially when they were wet - quite comical, thinking back now.

Comments by Rob on 30th May 2016  

Dominic,no but when we were running everything used to bounce about. We did not run regularly, but it was usually when the gym was being used for exams or the teacher was invigilating or, as all three of our gym teachers taught other subjects, they had to stand in for other colleagues. During the first year or so there wasn't so much of a problem but when I reached puberty and everything got bigger,I remember my penis used to slap regularly against the inside of the top of my thigh as I ran. It must have been the fresh air up my shorts,which were the looser type and which I wore from the age of 11 until nearly 18, so as I got older and bigger they got shorter; or the breeze on the bare top half of my body, which was so exhilarating as we ran through woodland and over hillsides. Fortunately, I managed to contain everything and nothing ever dropped out, just a bit of bouncing!

Comments by Rob on 30th May 2016  

They don't even perspire nowadays and wear tracksuit bottoms and polo shirts in the gym and put on a tracksuit top when they go outside in case they get cold! Not like in in our days when we wore nothing more than a pair of shorts in the gym and were worked hard so that the sweat was running down,literally from top to toe.We felt really great after a session in the gym and looked forward to getting in the showers afterwards. Today,boys are seen walking home from school in their football kit, presumably to shower at home.

Comments by Mark on 29th May 2016  

Showers were compulsory at comp for us. The teacher would stand and watch ro make sure everyone got in the shower amd washed. Anyone running through got whacked and made to take a cold shower after everyone had finished.
I am appalled that children don't have to shower at school anymore after PE.,it's so unhygienic

Comments by Pete on 29th May 2016  

In response to the last few comments I also recall that due to the fact that no underwear was worn, you would see some parts of the other lads anatomy. But it did not seem to concern us. This was an all boys school so there were no girls to impress with our bare chests. As others have written we were all together in the communal showers afterwards.

Comments by Dominic on 29th May 2016  

Rob - you are so right. We all saw each other naked in the showers at the end of each lesson so it hardly mattered if we caught a glimpse of something under a boy's shorts during the lesson. Our shorts were short and not particularly tight so this did happen from time to time though not when we were running outside in public.

Comments by Rob on 27th May 2016  

John, you would have had to have been very careful how you sat on the floor and took part in other activities in the gym. I went to an all boys school so didn't have your problems but it wasn't uncommon to catch a glimpse of one of your classmates anatomy, although we all saw one another regularly in the showers.

Comments by John on 26th May 2016  

Dominic/Jack, at the secondary school that I attended we occasionally had mixed PE with the girls.
I wore satin shorts like some of the other boys wore and we were not allowed to wear underwear.
This could easily be detected as the shorts were so thin and was punishable.
The girls would like to see us wearing these shiny shorts, but I was very shy and embarrassed as they were so skimpy.

Comments by Dominic on 25th May 2016  

Jack, no - there was little left to the imagination but there were no girls around to be shy in front of or to show off to. Members of the public saw us when we were out on a cross country run but neither they nor us seemed at all bothered. I wore fairly thin, short cotton shorts, not the nylon or satin ones that some have described and a few in my class wore.

Comments by Rob on 23rd May 2016  

Jack, If you refer to the thin white shorts mentioned in previous comments, they certainly did not leave much to the imagination and I bet you enjoyed the girls at your school seeing you in yours and stripped to the waist sweating in the gym and running around outside. If they could have seen you in the showers afterwards there wouldn't have been anything left to the imagination!

Comments by Jack on 21st May 2016  

Dominic, shorts and barechests doesn't leave much to the imagination! Like Rob we were worked hard and barechested so it was a common sight to see us sweat in the gym. Girls always got a good view too and I think Katie and Andrea would have been happy to see us strip both in the gym and outdoors!

Comments by Dominic on 20th May 2016  

Some of these girls' PE kits sound rather scanty! I went to an all boys grammar school in the 60s so I had no idea what girls wore for PE inside.
The kit we wore was much the same as Roy and Stewart - just a pair of shorts - no shirt, shoes or underwear. This was in the gym and outside for athletics, cross country and various games. I think it was quite common at the time and certainly wasn't a problem.

Comments by Katie on 6th May 2016  

Wow, there are more us out there than I thought who had strange PE kits! At senior school aged 14-16 we had leotards for PE but at middle school it was like Emma and Emilys schools and we didn't wear clothes for PE. Doing PE with nothing on was ok when we were 8 or 9 but still doing it when we were 12 and 13 was a bit strange looking back!

Comments by Rob on 29th April 2016  

I went to an all boys school in the late fifties when we had to wear just shorts with nothing on underneath and plimsolls,and stripped to the waist all year round,in the gym and outside for athletics and cross country running. We were worked hard in the gym to the extent that we were always running with sweat and looked forward to the pleasure of all getting our shorts off and going in the showers afterwards. We had no choice in what we we were told to to do in pe but we quickly lost any inhibitions and gained confidence from our experiences.

Comments by Keith on 28th April 2016  

At my school in the Midlands 1959-1963 we did PE in the gym in just shorts, we were told that plimsolls marked the wooden floor so we were barefoot, outside on the playing field we wore shorts and a white vest and plimsolls, with team games skins vs shirts, cross country did involve using back streets as it was an inner city school, we ran in shorts and vest and plimsolls, on hot summer days most took off the vest and tucked it in your shorts, only putting it back on close to school.

We didn't have showers at our school but used the toilet block sinks to do a body wash.

Comments by Roy on 24th April 2016  

Although I attended a mixed school PE was always done separately.
We had to be stripped to the waist both indoors and outside and many boys also went barefoot.

Comments by Andrea on 20th April 2016  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Emily,

Yes those over the shoulder sashes were a nuisance weren't they! The netball bibs, with the position letters on were much better.

With regard to bras, as far as I can recall, we were all wearing them by the end of year 8 and some of my classmates would definitely have been very uncomfortable if they hadn't been!

Comments by Enily on 18th April 2016  

Hi Claire, your message reminded me of the times we did team sports in the gym. Since we were all "skins" one team would be given a kind of coloured sash to wear over the shoulder. They always slipped off and were a pain so it was better to be in the team without!

Did you have a proper PE top that you had to take off? And shorts or a skirt too I guess?

Comments by Claire on 16th April 2016  

Hi Emily, I went to an all girls school and skins and shirts were an everyday occurrence. I was flat chested until near the end of yea and our teacher didn't hesitate in having me on the skins team. Until you started wearing a bra you went bare top, but obviously when you did then it was your top that came off. I did hate wearing those are text tops so preferred just a bra.

Comments by Emily on 15th April 2016  

Hi Andrea, yes it was very strange to suddenly be topless and in the gym! Even though after s while you got a bit used to it, it always felt a bit strange. And in winter it sometimes felt very cold too!

We didn't wear regulation type knickers so PE was in our normal cotton underwear knickers. I think at that age most of us wore white but maybe a few pale blue or powder pink.

I think your PE teachers were probably right to suggest that some girls should wear a bra! I was never physically uncomfortable during the time we did PE topless but I think certainly by the end of year 8 some of the girls could have been.

Comments by Andrea on 15th April 2016  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Emily,
Yes it must have felt weird wearing a bra the rest of the time then having to take it off and run around topless in PE!
Did you have to wear 'regulation' gym knickers or were you allowed any style?

Our indoor PE kit was regulation gym knickers (which we were supposed to wear even when we hadn't got PE) and a white polo shirt.
Like you I didn't start to wear a bra until the start of year 8, but some of my classmates had them in year 7 or even in the last year at Primary school.
In complete contrast to your school, rather than not allowing bras, our PE teacher would sometimes 'suggest' to girls that they should start to wear one if she thought they were bouncing around too much!

Comments by Emily on 14th April 2016  

Hi Andrea, we weren't allowed our bras, it was strictly knickers only. I didn't wear a bra in year 7 anyway but I did in year 8. Some girls did wear bras in year 7 though so it was probably even weirder for them having to take them off than it was for me having to take my school blouse off and not put a top in. But it was also weird doing it in knickers and everyone seeing them for the whole lesson.

Comments by Andrea on 14th April 2016  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Emily,

Re-reading Emma's post, she said that they were allowed to keep their bras on if they had started to wear one. Was it the same for you, or was it strictly knickers only?

Comments by Emily on 13th April 2016  

This has been really interesting to read! Especially Emma's information about her secondary school in the 90s. I was at secondary school from 1994 but girls only unlike Emma. But just like her we had to do our indoor PE not wearing PE kit for the first two years. All we were allowed to wear was our knickers, no tops and no shoes or socks. I thought my school was really weird and the only one that did that but it seems we weren't!

Comments by Roy on 31st March 2016  

When I did cross-country the boys were all bare-chested and barefoot.
Most of the route was on main roads outside the school and our feet did soon harden up.

Comments by Stewart on 25th January 2016  

Hi Spence. Yes, boys and girls were barefoot. The circular route was on a woodland trail through the woods that bordered the school, and out on to roads to get us back to school.
Everyone's feet hardened up very quickly, so I never remember there being a problem.

Comments by Spence on 10th January 2016  


Did cross country with boys bare chested and girls in only vests take place all year round?
Your earlier post suggests boys and girls would be barefoot for this. Where did you run, on grass or on the streets?
How did the girls cope with the muddy grass or hard concrete?

Comments by Andrea on 4th January 2016  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 


My Ex told me that he and his classmates were told that it wasn't hygienic for them to wear the same underpants for PE as they were wearing for the rest of the day, so they weren't allowed anything under their shorts for the first couple of years at secondary school. At the start of the 3rd year they were told that they should start to wear jock-straps as they would need 'support' as they got older. He continued to wear one for football etc as an adult.

By contrast, when my son was at secondary school (up to 5 years ago) they just wore their normal underwear for PE and games.

Comments by Stewart on 4th January 2016  

Dave...Only just picked up your message from October. Yes, boys were shirtless. The only time we wore tops was for rugby (and we were allowed boots too, for that, of course. We did cross country with the girls, and track and field events. Other than that, the lessons were separate.

Comments by Pete on 4th January 2016  

I have read your comments Roy re being stripped to the waste. Were you allowed to wear underpants and was this a single sex school.

I know attitudes have changed today, but I wonder if the difference was when we were at school we had teachers especially our PE teacher and fathers who had served in the armed forces either in WW2 or National Service and so thought nothing of expecting us boys all changing and showering together as they would have done when in the forces.

Comments by Roy on 3rd January 2016  

I was at secondary school between 1959 and 1966 and it was obligatory to do PE stripped to the waist.
Nobody thought anything of it and the same for having naked showers after every session.

Comments by Pete on 2nd January 2016  

To Nick
AS I wrote I was at an all boys school
1961 to 1966. During all thoose years we were never advised to wear or advised about Jock straps or any athletic support. I do recall that as we got older there was talk about jock straps but really as silly conversation thinking they were what adult men wore for rugby and that was all.

Following the pe lesson we of course had the obligatory communal showers and after the first few lessons there was no inhibition about showering together, unlike it seems these days. As repugnant as it seems by the time we were about 14 years old certain show offs were comparing their attributes. That was the only thing that made some of us less well endowed boys a bit inadequate.

Still we all survived and it was not only at school there was the community. Several of us were in the same Scout troop and so shared tents together at camp and we really got quite used to seeing each other undressed. During the day we would wear shorts after all this was in the era of Scout uniform being shorts(even in winter)

Comments by Nick on 1st January 2016  

In reply to Pete and others about not being allowed to wear underpants under the shorts for pe / games. I think the reason is to ensure a complete change of clothes.
I was at school in the 1970s; like others, wearing pants for games was forbidden. Older boys were required to wear a jockstrap, this was the only thing allowed to be worn under the shorts. I am suprised that many of you played games and pe without one and hence no support.

Comments by Emma on 30th December 2015  

Hi Jack

There wasn't much privacy really I guess. The dividers were the kind you may have seen in sports halls with the bottom couple of metres made of thick plastic type material and the rest up to the ceiling made of netting. We occasionally saw into the other half of the gym but not very free. Also, we entered and left the gym at slightly different times to the boys so there was no mixing then.

Our dance lessons were also single sex. They weren't ballroom or anything that needed a male partner but were more modern dance and ballet.

Comments by Pete on 30th December 2015  

In reply to John I remember yhe grey school shorts. I wore them until I was about 13 in secondary school. One of the few still waering them at that age. They were tight and very short and they were worn during winter as well. However,we survived. By way of interest does any one know why we were not allowed tp wear underpants under our shorts for PE. I presume in this modern day & age underwear is worn

Comments by John on 30th December 2015  

Pete, we also wore those nylon shorts that you mentioned, without the benefit of underwear and no vests and we had to go bare foot for gymnastics. The thin nylon shorts were so thin that any under wear was clearly visible if anyone was foolish enough to wear them and they became translucent when wet.
Short trousers could be worn, if parents chose to compliment the uniform as my parents did. Unlike board shorts these were trim and were worn well above the knee throughout the year.

Comments by Pete on 27th December 2015  

Just catching up with the postings a bit late I know but Andy & dave 9/10th Nov. At my all boys ssecondary school which I attended 1961 t0 1966 When I was 16 Our pe kit was sorts only ( no pants) indoors and out. Teams were distinguished by wearing sashes in the colour of our house. Re deterent to waering pants, this was the threat of the slipper. WE wore white nylon shorts which were thin and any pants worn would be visible. Having said this I remember one lad was silly enough to take the risk and he was caught out. He was called out to the front of the class instructed to go and remove his pants and come back suitably attired in shorts only. When he had done this, to remove one of his plimsolls with which he was "slippered" several times acroos a taut backside in thin shorts. IT NEVER HAPPENED AGAIN!
Also during this time coloured briefs were coming into fashion so would have been clearly seen under any shorts.

It always seemed the normal thing in all boys schools no tops or pants for pe as my friends from other schools said they had the same rules. As for no tops even in coed schools, I cannot see the issues as lads do not wear tops on the beach or in public swimming pools. What do others think?

The fashion nowadays is to wear long board shorts which I do not like, but that is their choice.

Comments by Jack on 18th December 2015  

Emma, you said "It was mixed and indoor PE was single sex but with girls in one half of the gym and boys in the other with a screen/divider between the two halves."
So there doesn't seem to have been much privacy, especially if one could look between the screens.
I think that as secondary school boys we would have done our best to look at the half naked girls from behind the screen from any gaps available.
You also mention that the dance classes were also with girls in just underpants. Were these also single sex or mixed?
Can't imagine 12 year old secondary school boys and girls doing dance classes together in just underpants, unless it was a "progressive" school. :)

Comments by Emma on 9th December 2015  

Hi Andrea

It could be a bit embarrassing yea. I'd worn pants and vest at primary school so having to do PE with nothing on my top was quite a shock when it first happened. My patents didn't complain about the lack of PE kit and I guess not many other did else things might have changed.

Jack -I guess it was sexist. But since we didn't normally do PE with the boys it wasn't a direct comparison.

Comments by Andrea on 9th December 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 


I would imagine that having to do PE in just pants (or bra and pants) was unpopular - particularly for those who had started to develop, were not yet wearing a bra (which was how I was towards the end of year 7)?

I'm surprised that some parents didn't complain.

Had it been the same at Primary school, or had you been allowed to wear vests or T shirts there?

Comments by Jack on 9th December 2015  

Hi Emma, I find it amazing how boys were allowed to wear shorts for PE but girls only in underpants at that age, especially when one considers that girls develop earlier than boys.
It should have been the other way round or the same for both. Your school must have been sexist :)
Did you or your parents never complain about this humiliating situation?

Comments by Joshua on 6th December 2015  

I just left school a few years ago and can confirm that, although we never did pe shirtless, we did have compulsory showers after football games, which were done without clothes, although we weren't forced to. After the game, finished we stripped int the changing room, went to the shower room, showered for less than a minute, went back and put school cloths back on.

Comments by Emma on 6th December 2015  

Hi Jack, years 7 & 8 are ages 11-13, the first two years of secondary school. The boys wore white shorts not their pants which was pretty unfair! They didn't wear tops though.

Comments by Jack on 5th December 2015  

Emma, what ages were years 7 and 8? I guess we had a different gradation when I was at school in the 60s.
In primary we had Forms 1 to 5. In secondary it was again Forms 1 to 5, or 6 for sixth formers.
What did the boys wear for their PE at the same time as your class? I presume it was the same as for girls, that is in just underpants.
Did you try to look between the screens to see each other in just underwear, as most boys and girls that age in secondary would be obviously curious about each other?
I think it was very unusual for boys and girls in secondary school to do PE in just underwear, even in the 60s let alone in the 90s. Even more so if it was a mixed school. It may have been somewhat common in some primary schools, but not in secondary schools.

Comments by Emma on 4th December 2015  

I went to secondary school in the 1990s. It was mixed and indoor PE was single sex but with girls in one half of the gym and boys in the other with a screen/divider between the two halves. For gym and dance lessons which made up most of our indoor PE we had to do them in our underwear in years seven and eight. For some girls it meant pants and bra but some of us had to do it in just our pants. From year nine onwards we could wear gym knickers and white vests.

Comments by Andrew on 16th November 2015  andrew36xs@outlook.com 

After leaving mixed PE lessons at primary, I attended a middle school where all PE had a dedicated kit and changing facilities (with nude showering) but now also single gender lessons.

On moving up to secondary school we had slightly different kit, but many lessons were mixed gender again. Showering after was still expected and if swimming before and after.

It always struck me as odd to revert back to mixed lessons for some reason, and wasn't universally popular with the girls- I know this because my wife attended the same school!

Comments by Mark on 11th November 2015  

Hi there.I didnt say the rule wasn't enforced, i simply can't remember anyone being punished or caught wearing underpants. Its a long time ago

Comments by Andy on 10th November 2015  

Mark, it sounds like the rule was supposed to apply for the entire school life - did it apply to all activities for example sports day or school teams?
Also if the threat wasn't enforced what was to stop you just breaking the rule?

Comments by Mark on 9th November 2015  

Andrea. I came as a big surprise when we were told that underpants we not allowed under our shorts. It was worse when we did PE outdoors when it rained as our shorts would stick to our bottoms and fronts.
We told that anyone caught wearing underpants would have to remove them in front of the whole class. I actually can't remember if anyone did get caught.

Comments by Claire on 8th November 2015  

Hi Peri,

Our PE teachers always picked a skins team regardless of what we were doing and being flat-chested well into year 9 I was guaranteed a spot on the skins team.

Those who were "more developed " were obviously allowed to wear bras under their vests, but when told to strip, went down to just bras.

Being at an all girls school the only time I got to see my 2 older brothers (also at an all boys school) was during the holidays. They talked about their PE sessions and had one PE teacher who, if boys weren't sweating at the end of a gym session, gave them an extra hour out on the yard after lessons ended.

Although we were pushed hard, I was always thankful he was not our teacher. It would be interesting to read if other boys were made to sweat during their sessions.

Comments by Andrea on 8th November 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 


Did your PE teacher say why bras weren't allowed under vests in the first year? At our school it was the other way round - our PE teacher would sometimes 'suggest' to a member of the class that it was time they got one if she thought they were holding back from giving their all in a lesson because they were self conscious about their breasts bouncing around!

It must have been embarrassing having a mixed PE lesson without underwear in the third year. My ex went to an all boys school and they weren't allowed underwear for the first two years, but they were advised to buy a jock strap in the third year.

Comments by Dave on 7th November 2015  

John, we didn't wear short trousers compulsory. We wore them volutarily if the waether was nice.
We had compulsory PE kit. White vest, shorts and plimsolls. For team sports we often had to take off our vest off to distinguish teams.
I live in middle Europe.

Comments by Mark on 7th November 2015  

I can relate to your comment Toby. At primary and middle school PE was mixed. Boys just did it in their underpants and girls wore vest and pants.However at Comp it was segregated. But in third year the upper school gym was closed for two terms due to rennovation so boys and girls did PE together. We wore just white shorts(no underpants) and girls had white shorts and shirts. Yes we got teased and it was very difficult at times.

Comments by Peri on 7th November 2015  peri2brown@aol.com 

I had a very similar experience to Claire except that bras were not allowed to be worn under vests in the first year so skins really did mean skins.
I felt very uncomfortable like that at first but soon got used to it and by the January felt confident enough not to wear a vest at all thus ensuring I was always on the skins team.

Comments by Rose on 7th November 2015  thirddoctor@aol.com 

Hi Andrea
I think our "Music & Movement" lessons were recorded too best I can remember.
Our PE teacher just picked girls at random to take their vests off, everyone had to do it at sometime like it or not!

Will answer your e mail as soon as I can - Having problems with my TALK-TALK (AOL) account at the moment and can't send e mail.

Comments by Toby on 5th November 2015  tbaird45@yahoo.co.uk 

Normally boys and girls did PE separately at my school, but there were occasions when everyone was mixed together. There was one PE lesson when I was about 14 and the weather was just too bad for the boys' class outdoors to go ahead, so instead we were told we'd have to squeeze into the gym where the girls' class was taking place. That meant we had to change into our usual gym kit - white shorts and nothing else. I remember filing awkwardly into the gym, barechested and barefoot, to be greeted with giggling and whispering from the girls, and feeling fairly self conscious. I think it's likely that the girls enjoyed that lesson rather more than the boys did!

Comments by John on 5th November 2015  

Dave, we frequently had mixed sports sessions but it was mainly when it was too wet for the girls to play netball.
It was embarrassing to not being allowed to wear a shirt in front of girls but we had no choice.
The school was a secondary modern that I attended in the seventies.
Did you wear short trousers to your school?

Comments by Dave on 4th November 2015  unia10@freemail.hu 

John, why did you have mixed lessonds with girls? Were there single sex and mixed lessons regularly depending on the sports?
How did boys feel havint to be shirtless at mixed lessons with girls?
Was it an English grammar or secondary school? Which decade?

Comments by Claire on 3rd November 2015  

Hi Andrea,

Firstly I should have mentioned my experience was at an all girls school. When I started there was initially reluctance to go topless after having a set kit in primary school but after a couple of weeks you got used to it....not that there was a say in the matter. The "more developed" were allowed to wear bras under their vests but you were always referred to as skins.

Comments by Andrea on 1st November 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Claire,

Fortunately we were never asked to do PE topless. Our teacher used to hand out coloured bibs to wear over our white polo shirts to distinguish between teams when we were playing team games.

Did the more developed girls wear bras under their vests, and if so were they allowed to keep them on if they were picked for the 'skins' team?

I was still flat-chested for the first couple of terms of Year 7, but had developed enough to start wearing a bra at the start of Year 8. There were still some who weren't at that point, but I think most had by the end of that year (although I think in some cases it took a bit of 'prompting' from Miss to get them to start wearing one)!


Comments by Claire on 1st November 2015  

Hi Andrea,

Our female teacher randomly picked which girls would take their vests off. For some reason, probably due to being very flat - chested until well into year 9, I found myself being picked out on a very regular basis. Was this the same for you?

Comments by John on 31st October 2015  

Dave, we frequently had PE with girls mixed and always bare chested as instructed by our teacher. There were never any exclusions. For team events we were identified by the colour of our shorts. I wore grey short trousers with my school uniform, although they were not compulsory.

Comments by Dave on 31st October 2015  unia10@freemail.hu 

Hi Stewart!

Were you shirtless for track and fields and cross country either?
How did you play team ball games everyone being barechested.
How did you get to know your PE kit for the first time.Was it in a PE uniform list that you have to do PE shirtless or the teacher was the one who told it to you?
Have you ever had some lessons or sport events with the girls together?
What was the reaction of boys about the PE kit. Was it ever a topic of conversation amongst you?

Comments by Stewart on 28th October 2015  

I went to an English Grammar School from 1967 to 1973, and the boys' PE "uniform" was a just pair of shorts, and for the girls a skirt and vest. All indoor PE and most outdoor activities, including track and field events and cross country running, were done barefoot.

Comments by Andrea on 19th October 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Rose,

I can recollect having the 'Music and Movement' lessons at Primary School too. If I remember correctly, in some cases our teacher had taped the radio programme on one of the old fashioned reel to reel tape recorders.

When your PE teacher asked some girls to take off their vests to even up the 'shirts versus skins' numbers, was it usually the flat-chested girls who were asked, or did she just pick at random?


Comments by Liz on 19th October 2015  

Hi Andrea

I think I only really started wearing a crop top when I started at secondary school. Looking back I didn't really need one, but I guess I wanted to feel more grown up. Of course when we did our first PE lesson we didn't feel very grown up at all! I only really needed a bra from year 9 and even then only a little one, and I tended to wear a crop top for PE lessons then as it always felt a bit more secure and like it covered a bit more than a bra!

The few lessons when the boys were in the gym too were very strange! In the first year we had all got a little used to doing PE with nothing on our tops when the boys all arrived and we all immediately started trying to cover our chests again! Our PE teacher told us not to be so silly and soon had us all doing things like leapfrog, vaulting and climbing the ropes where we needed both our hands so couldn't cover ourselves! After year 7 they still shared the gym a handful of times per year and then it was more a case of trying to hide your knickers as best you could!

Perhaps the most embarrassing time for me was when I has swimming in the morning and PE in the afternoon. Somehow I managed to forget my PE bag that had my costume and towel in it. My teacher told me not to worry and I relaxed for a few seconds until she said that I'd have to swim in my knickers and bra! Well there wasn't a lot of point since they were white cotton, but it got worse when the lesson ended and I had to take them off and get dressed without them! And of course then it was gymnastics in the afternoon, and my underwear was still in the office near the school swimming pool!

Comments by Andrea on 18th October 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Liz,

When I was that age in the early 1970's there were no such things as crop tops. Until we were sufficiently developed for a 'teen bra' (a scaled down version of what our mothers wore), we wore vests or nothing under our shirts - just like the boys. Getting your first bra was a sort of rite of passage (which some girls looked forward to, but others didn't!).
By contrast when my son was in his last year at Primary School (about 10 years ago) most of his female classmates seemed to have the outline of a crop top or bralette under their shirts, whether they needed anything or not.

I imagine that the mixed gym session with the boys must have been quite embarrassing for the 'more developed' girls!


Comments by Rose on 15th October 2015  thirddoctor@aol.com 

Hi Liz
I started secondary school in September 1976. Our PE lessons were single sex and we were supposed to wear shorts & vests during the first year, but if you forgot of didn't have a vest you were allowed to go topless which I prefered.
At the start of term two of us were always topless but after a few weeks it was about half & half which was handy for the teacher if she wanted to split us into two teams (shirts & skins) It reached the point where the teacher would actually ask girls to remove their vests to make the numbers come right.

Comments by Rose on 15th October 2015  thirddoctor@aol.com 

Hi Andrea
No nothing was ever said about wearing a bra, he would of been far too embarrassed to mention it. He found it difficult to tell us that the girls that had "grown" could wear vests & then one of the boys said "grown what Sir" then another said "you mean the ones with tits Sir" The poor man was as red as a beetroot.
You also have to remember that this was the 1970's and many women including my Mum went braless most of the time, so an 11 year old not wearing a bra wasn't unusual. Niether was it unusual for girls to run around topless in the school holidays the same as the boys did.

On a separate note, when we were a little younger one of our PE lessons was taken up by a radio programme called MUSIC & MOVEMENT in which a rather posh Lady instructed us to do various exercises set to music. Did anyone else have this? I think It was later renamed MOVEMENT & MUSIC.

Comments by Andrea on 5th October 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Rose,

Did any of your teachers ever speak to you about wearing a bra if they thought your boobs were bouncing too much in PE?

I guess it wouldn't have been appropriate for your male teacher to do this, but did he ask one of the female teachers to? Our female PE teacher spoke to a few girls about getting bras during our first year at Secondary school.

Also, did he have to supervise you all when you were changing for PE.

Comments by Liz on 5th October 2015  

Hi -

We saw the boys a lot in summer when we'd be outside at the same time. In winter we'd be indoors when the boys were outdoors and vice versa so we didn't ususally see them. A few times they came indoors and used the gym at the same time as us and then we'd see them in just their shorts normally as they had to take off their outdoor socks and their rugby shirts. The gym would be pretty crowded and although their teacher would be in charge of them we would be mixed up, so while the girls might be using the vaulting horse the boys might be using the ropes for example.

Comments by Liz on 5th October 2015  

Hi Andrea

I guess my main feelign was shock! At primary school I'd been used to wearing PE kit so when we were sat on the benches in the changign room and our new PE teacher told us that we didn't need kit for indoor lessons and to take our clothes off, we weren't quite sure what it really meant. I think she probably knew we were a bit confused because she then stated very clearly that we must take all our outer clothes off and line up by the door wearing just our knickers. I remember she was very clear that anyone wearing a bra or a vest must take it off, and that only our knickers could be worn.

For me it wasn't too much of a practical problem not wearing anything on my top. I didn't wear a proper bra at that point but I think I wore a crop top more because it was what many of us did rather than because I actually needed anything. But it was still a very strange feeling to be in the gym with so little on, and some of the girls in my form probably did need bras! After a few lessons I began to get used to it until one day the boys lesson outside was cancelled and they came into the gym with us!

Comments by Andrea on 3rd October 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Liz,
How did you and your classmates feel about having to do PE topless in Year 7? I would have been OK for about the first term and a half, but I can think of several of my classmates who wouldn't have?

Comments by - on 3rd October 2015  

Liz, did you or classmates ever see the lads exercise barechested either indoors or outside? The girls in our class would often joke about us being topless outdoors especially if it was a cold day!

Comments by Rose on 3rd October 2015  


Yes in my case it was a male class teacher that took PE,country dancing etc. except for netball which a female teacher took.
He was quite elderly or so we thought, I guess he was probably in his early sixties and used to get embarrassed if our boobs bounced too much!
We didn't have showers or changing rooms at Primary school but of course we did at secondary school.

Comments by Liz on 30th September 2015  

the comments have been so interesting to read. Such a range of experiences from so many different decades.

I'm 28 so probably a bit younger than the average here. I went to a mixed secondary school but PE was meant to be single sex. I think someone way down the page said that they had to do it in their knickers and topless for the first term in year 7. That was what we did too, but it emerged on until PE moved outdoors in the summer term. After that we still did gymnastics when we came back in September for year 8, only now we were allowed crop tops or bras with our knickers! We carried on like that until our last year when we were suddenly allowed tshirts!

Comments by DM on 22nd September 2015  

John yes I remember the transparency when wet of the white nylon shorts due to having to run outdoors even if raining. But I don't think we were bothered.

Comments by John on 21st September 2015  

DM, we also wore nylon shorts and anything worn underneath could easily be seen. They were also chilly to wear in cold weather, clammy in hot weather and transparent when wet.
They were also tight fitting and very short inseam of about one inch.

Comments by aidan on 21st September 2015  

I think boys who developed chest hair were often more confident about showing off their bodies but it made no difference to their PE kit! Everyone had to do it with shirts off, period.

Comments by - on 20th September 2015  

Were lads who developed chest hair expected to wear a t shirt for PE.

Comments by DM on 20th September 2015  

John not only did they afford little protection from the cold, they were also nylon so if anyone attempted to wear any thing underneath it would be very obvious to teacher and class alike and so prevented any from doing that

Comments by John on 19th September 2015  

Roy, there were boys still in short trousers at my school in their second year (year 8) often when they were about thirteen. Due to my parents' insistence they indulged themselves of the practice of keeping me in the full uniform that included short trousers up to my fifth form (year 11) until I was sixteen.
Like DM's shorts they fitted tightly and left most of my legs bare.
If you were still in shorts at that age you were considered to be childish and immature.

Comments by John on 18th September 2015  

DM, yes that style of shorts was typical of the 60's/70's fashion. They were excruciatingly brief and took a while to become accustomed to wearing shorts that were so brief.
They was certainly a disadvantage wearing them, especially when it was cold, as they offered they little protection from the cold.
I could never understand why we had to wear them!

Comments by DM on 18th September 2015  

John I remember the brief style shorts. My school days was in the 60's and if people remember our shorts were similiar to the ones worn by the English football team at the world cup. They were very tight so I suppose they were their own support. It seems "tight " was the order of the day because my grey school trousers were very tight and my old fashioned underwear made things uncomfortable.

Comments by Roy on 18th September 2015  

I was at secondary school in the early 1960's and started wearing long trousers halfway through the second form(Year 8 in today's parlance.)
There were boys still in short trousers after I wore lolng trousers.

Comments by John on 14th September 2015  

In reply to DM, it was also due to my parents' insistence that I had to wear shorts to the secondary school that I attended and it was co-ed which often led to some embarrassment. I didn't wear shorts by choice and was unfairly ridiculed by my contemporaries for wearing shorts right through school. I was quite tall but this was not considered a reason to be promoted to wearing long trousers, neither was my age.

Comments by DM on 13th September 2015  

In reply to John, I aslo because of parents insistent I also wore grey shorts in Secondary school unitl I was consdired old or tall enough for longs. I think this was when I was about 13. Fortunately being 1961 to 1963 this was not uncommon and there were just a few other boys in the same situation. It was an all boys school and it may have be more embarrassing if it was a co ed school.

Comments by John on 13th September 2015  

Hi Andrea, I didn't even know what a jock strap was, let alone wear one. We wore white shorts and wouldn't have been allowed to wear anything underneath. We would have been punished if we had slipped anything underneath and they weren't those shorts we see in the photo, they were those brief styled shorts that were fashionable in the seventies.

Comments by Nick on 12th September 2015  

Hi Andrea
Sorry for my over simplification. I went to a boarding school where the first year at the senior school was the second form, jockstraps were worn from the beginning of the third form.
I too always wore a jockstrap for sport as an adult.

Comments by John on 12th September 2015  

In reply to DM, we also wore those grey shorts at primary school but they were optional at my secondary school.
I was dismayed when my parents chose short trousers to send me to my new school in shorts. I had to suffer all the trials and tribulations at school for wearing shorts simply to satisfy my parents.

Comments by Andrea on 9th September 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Nick,
I'm just curious, were Jock straps compulsory from the start of Secondary School (at age 11)?

My ex told me that at their school it was from the start of the third year (at age 13).

He always wore one for sport as an adult.


Comments by DM on 9th September 2015  

in response to Nick. I attended Junior SChool in the late 1950's to 1961. All boys wore grey uniform shorts all year round. Long trousers were not thought about. For pe whci was done as a mixed class, we simply took off our shirts, and did pe in our grey uniform shorts and white singlet, which all boys wore as a matter of course under their shirts. No changing into PE kit so pants were worn. The girls simply did pe on their underwear and this was accepted as the norm. At Secondary school which was all boys as I have posted previously pe indoors or out was topless with short shorts no underwear and plimsolls no socks. We were never advised about or told to wear any support so no one ever did.

There were communal showers afterwards with a teacher patrolling to make sure there was no horse play and noone ever questioned it.

I do not know what happens nowadays.

Comments by Nick on 6th September 2015  

I was at school in the 1970s. In common with many others wearing underpants for pe / games was strictly forbiden, at junior school nothing was worn under shorts, at senior school it was compulsory to wear a jockstrap. I agree that pants should not be worn to ensure a complete change of clothes but I don't think that older boys should be expected to play without support.

Comments by Andrea on 24th August 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Jack,

Our class teacher was female and usually took the whole class (boys and girls) for PE lessons.

For some of the more gender specific activities (football / cricket for the boys and netball / rounders for the girls),two classes were combined and a male teacher took the boys and a female one took the girls. This was well before the era of girls football!

We were only in our underwear while we were actually getting changed, as both boys and girls wore T shirts and shorts (or sometimes skirts for the girls) for the actual PE lessons.
I don't recollect there being much misbehaviour while we were getting changed, although in the final year at Primary school, a few of the girls who had started to 'develop' and wear bras were allowed to change separately in the girls toilets.

There were no showers at our Primary school, so compulsory showers at Secondary came as a bit of a shock!

Comments by Jack on 23rd August 2015  

Hi girls, was your class teacher who took you for PE lessons male or female?
I assume that it was the class teacher who gave the boys and girls PE lessons since there were no PE teachers in primary schools, at least not in mine or any other primary school I knew of. Of course it was different in secondary schools, with gyms and PE teachers.
Also do you remember any boys or girls getting physical punishments during PE lessons for misbehaviour while in their underwear?
I am also curious to know if there were any primary schools which had compulsary showers after PE. We only had showers in secondary school.

Comments by Andrea on 16th August 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

I left Primary school in July 1971 and about 4 or 5 of my classmates had started to wear a bra during our final few months there.

My mum bought me my first bras during the last term of my first year at Secondary school, but I didn't wear one regularly until the start of my second year there.

What did you wear for PE at Secondary school?


Comments by Rose on 15th August 2015  

Hi Andrea
I was at primary school from Jan 1970 - July 1976. I don't recall any of the girls wearing a bra at primary school, I certainly didn't start wearing one until I was 13.
I don't think many girls owned a vest either.

Comments by Tyler on 9th August 2015  

Neil, was it embarrassing being a skin? Were there any female teachers present?

Comments by Tyler on 9th August 2015  

Looking at Neil's post it seems that even to this day pe is sometimes done shirtless. was it embarrassing/difficult to be a skin?

Comments by Matt on 8th August 2015  

Neil, did you get to choose whether you were shirts or skins in PE or were you just told which team to play? Which did you enjoy more?

Comments by Neil on 8th August 2015  

I only recently finished high school (boys school) as well and we never had nude swimming (thankfully!!) although communal showers after pe and swimming were compulsory and were always done nude by most. Also, during basketball and football, there would be two pe lessons in the hall at once and not enough bibs for everyone, so we just did shirts vs skins. Remember this was only around two year ago.

Any questions go ahead. That's the whole point of history sites.

Comments by Roy on 8th August 2015  

I was at school in the fifties and sixties and although doing PE stripped to the waist was the norm-both indoors and outdoors including cross-country runs-we certainly never had nude swimming.
As being stripped to the waist was the norm we accepted it and eventually got to enjoy it.

Comments by Gerald on 7th August 2015  

I honestly can't imagine having to grow up in a time where shirtless pe, corporal punishment and nude swimming was the norm. I only recently graduated high school and thankfully never had to hAve this lack of privacy. If anyone wants to ask any questions, go on.

Comments by Paul on 4th August 2015  

Hi Jason,
I'm interested to know whether the shirtless PE rule at your school applied only to the gym, or were you ever required to do lessons outdoors with your shirt off?
We had teachers who would sometimes make boys take their shirts off for PE as punishment but it wasn't part of the actual uniform.

Comments by Jason on 3rd August 2015  


no, it didn't take very long, we all lined up and our teacher walked along in front of us putting an X on every second boy's chest and then did the same on our bare backs.

Being shirtless was not an option and we didn't really think about whether we liked it or not, you just went on with it and you better not complained if didn't wanted to be mocked or punished.

Comments by Dave on 1st August 2015  

Hi DM and Pete! Thank you for all the answerings!

Jason: Wasn't that ink proceura too long before team games?
How did you react for and for having to be shirtless anyway. Was it a problem for more boys or most of them didn't mind it?

Comments by Jason on 26th July 2015  

Hi Jono

As we were all shirtless anyway, a method of distinguishing teams was needed. Rather than letting some boys wear a top, which our teacher would never ever have allowed, he marked our chests and backs with a big X. We had that method of marking until I left school at 18.

Comments by Pete on 25th July 2015  

Dave, I await DM's further comments but in the meantime I knew from the Uniform List that we had to do PE shirtless.
Teams were told apart by coloured tags on our shorts and yes we were barefoot as well.

Comments by DM on 24th July 2015  

In reply to Dave. My elder brother was already at the secondary school. However, my dad attended a parents evening prior to my going there, and came home and told me pe was white shorts, no tops and no pants for reasons of hygiebne because we would work up a sweat and we would not want to go onto other lessons in sweaty underwear. (Communal showers were available,but, because of the time limt to get changed and onto next subject very few lads had time to use them)
Tops were only worn for outdoor games, football etc. There was no set uniform for sport and we just relied on remembering who was in our team. Indoors footwear was the old fashioned black plimsolls,with boots for football outside. In addition when we did football outside it was the same white shorts and again no pants so could be very cold in winter. Even as we progressed through to the age of 16, unlike a lot of schools we were not told about , or wore athletic supports. Everything had to be held in place by your shorts depending on the style and cut. Usally a lot of bouncing about. If it was raining we still did football outdoors, which was not good in white shorts. Especially for those lads who wore the nylon shorts. However, one seemed bothered. Nowadays they all seem to be covered virtually head to toe.

Comments by Dave on 23rd July 2015  

Hi DM, welcome to the forum!

How did you get to know that you have to do PE shirtless? Were there a uniform list or the PE teacher told you at the first lesson what you had to wear?
How did you distinguish as all of you wearing no tops?
Were you allowed to wear footwear?

Comments by DM on 22nd July 2015  

This is a new sight I have just found. I recollect that at junior school, pe was mixed with boys wearing there normal vest and grey uniform school shorts. The girls were in vest & knickers. I am sure that the equality gang would object to that these days.
In 1961 I went to an all boys secondary school. Pe was done in shorts( much shorter than the ones in the photo) and tighter and as in those days no pants we allowed to be worn. As was the general rule no tops. The shorts were thin white and anyone tried to wear pants then it would be obvious. One lad tried to get away with and ended up be made to remove them and then got the slipper on the backside which wearing only thin shorts must have been painful.

As far as I know this was the norm in most schools. One of my friends who went to different secondary school where they wore black pe shorts would sometimes randomly select a couple of boys to check that they were not wearing pants.

Swimming was more civilised becuase it was at a public pool although hired exculsively for the school. In those days we all wore what are now described as "Speedo" type swim briefs but there was no designated colours.

Comments by DM on 22nd July 2015  

This is a new sight I have just found. I recollect that at junior school, pe was mixed with boys wearing there normal vest and grey uniform school shorts. The girls were in vest & knickers. I am sure that the equality gang would object to that these days.
In 1961 I went to an all boys secondary school. Pe was done in shorts( much shorter than the ones in the photo) and tighter and as in those days no pants we allowed to be worn. As was the general rule no tops. The shorts were thin white and anyone tried to wear pants then it would be obvious. One lad tried to get away with and ended up be made to remove them and then got the slipper on the backside which wearing only thin shorts must have been painful.

As far as I know this was the norm in most schools. One of my friends who went to different secondary school where they wore black pe shorts would sometimes randomly select a couple of boys to check that they were not wearing pants.

Swimming was more civilised becuase it was at a public pool although hired exculsively for the school. In those days we all wore what are now described as "Speedo" type swim briefs but there was no designated colours.

Comments by Sterling on 20th July 2015  

We we similarly attired for PE mostly shirt free! For some it was liberating freedom of movement and for others a nightmare!

It seems to have put a great many of sport as young adults and therefore damaged the health of the nation!

Jason, ink is used routinely in triathlons to number competitors, perhaps your teacher was involved, mine was but thankfully didn't implement ink at school!

Comments by Jono on 17th July 2015  

Jason, I too went through school during that time en we were outside on the yard or field, it was normal for teams to be shirts vs vests or if they decided, shirts vs skins or for everyone to go barechested which happened a little to frequently for some of my friends liking!

The teachers always kept a few "regulars" who were always made to strip down regardless. These tended to be the really sporty lads and how I fell into this category, I have no idea, but all the same I didn't mind being barechested, maybe it showed?

I'm surprised that your teachers chose ink rather than bibs or vests to distinguish teams, what age were you when that stopped.

Comments by Peter on 13th July 2015  

Like Jason, I hated having to do PE stripped to the waist and I regret having hated it so much. However, I can strip to the waist now and enjoy it. In a strange way, like Toby, I'm glad I was made to do it.

Comments by Jason on 12th July 2015  

It did come off under the shower, not always very easily but no problem with the help of a mate.

Comments by Spence on 12th July 2015  

Jason, how indelible was this black marker ink? Did it come off easily in the shower? Bearing in mind, you wouldn't have been able to see your back to check.

Comments by Toby on 11th July 2015  tbaird45@yahoo.co.uk 

Read your post Jason, it sounded familiar and I remember corresponding with you elsewhere! I was at school around the same time as you and also had to do PE bare-chested, dreaded it at the time but with hindsight I'm glad I was made to do it. Anyway let me know if you'd like to continue the discussion!

Comments by Jason on 10th July 2015  

I don't think that it was only a matter of changing times but depended on the kind of policy a school chose to enforce. I went to a school in the 1990's that had a barechested indoor for gym or sports hall PE rule. It applied to all lads 11 to 18's. In fact the PE teachers seemed to delight in enforcing the rule especially on the shy ones like me who detested it, which was quite a few of us actually. It was just a case of wearing white shorts, no top no shoes. What bugged me in the gym was team games, when we all looked the same up top. Rather than half of us put a top on to tell the teams apart on such games as indoor footy or basketball, we had teachers pick the teams and proceed to line you up and get a thick black marker pen and scribble a large cross right over the chest and the back of half the class.
Looking back I'm a bit sorry that I didn't actively enjoy all this barechested PE I was made to do.

Comments by Pete on 10th July 2015  

It is strange that while vests and shirts are seemingly obligatory for PE/Games many youths are prepared to go about outside of school stripped to the waist.

Comments by Oliver on 9th July 2015  

Sounds like we were quite lucky when I was at school by comparison! I can't remember any boy ever having to do outdoor PE in bare feet. And apart from that punishment session, the only times I had to do it with a bare chest was for shirts against skins team games. But this was the late 80s and things had clearly changed a lot.

Comments by Roy on 8th July 2015  

Oliver our normal kit for all outdoor PE was bare chest and barefoot.

Comments by Oliver on 6th July 2015  

Thanks for your reply Roy. Was that your usual kit for outdoor PE or only for punishment sessions?

Comments by Roy on 3rd July 2015  

Oliver, the "Punishment PE" sessions were always outside and were always done stripped to the waist and barefoot.

Comments by Oliver on 2nd July 2015  

Roy, did the punishment PE sessions at your school always take place in the gym or were they outdoors as well?
I remember being ordered, along with a few other boys, to report back after school for punishment PE, which I assumed would be indoors and in full kit (vest and shorts). But the teacher had other ideas. First we were told to take off our vests, then we had to go outside and run laps around the football pitch. After several laps, everyone else was allowed to return indoors and shower, but the teacher told me I hadn't been putting in enough effort and made me run two more laps. Somehow those last two, running shirtless and on my own, felt more humiliating and I was so relieved when it was over.

Comments by Roy on 1st July 2015  

"Punishment PE" was quite common when I was at school and was imposed seemingly at the teacher's whim for minor breaches of the rules.
It would always be done outside usually after school hours from 4 until 5.30 or even 6 o'clock.
You were always stripped to the waist and barefoot.
If you were deemed to be slacking the punishment was another session of "Punishment PE".

Comments by Andrea on 25th June 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Early 2000's.
They did have the choice of skirts or shorts and the older girls who chose skirts tended to wear 'fitness shorts' under their skirts.

The other thing I recall is that by the final year at Primary, most of the girls seemed to be wearing tween bras or crop-tops rather than the vests that I wore at that age!

Comments by Katie on 24th June 2015  

Andrea, what a shame that your child's school introduced inappropriate PE kit. Skirts seem the worst of all for indoor PE! When was this?

Comments by Roy on 23rd June 2015  

Things have certainly changed.
When I was at primary school boys and girls did PE separately and changed in different rooms but the boys were always stripped to the waist with many barefoot as well.

Comments by Andrea on 20th June 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

It had all changed by the time my son was at Primary School.
The girls and boys changed in separate rooms after the age of about 8 and all wore T shirts and shorts or skirts for PE.

Comments by Katie on 4th June 2015  

I was at primary school until 1993. We all changed in the classroom, but since we basically just undressed there wasn't a lot of point changing in the toilets! At secondary school we had proper changing rooms near the gym, with showers.

Comments by Andrea on 3rd June 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Katie and Rose,

What decade were you at primary school?

I was at primary in the late 1960's boys and girls all had to change for pe in the same classroom, but that was only to vest and knickers as we put on our pe kit. When a few of the girls started to wear bras rather than vests (I never got to that stage at primary school!), they were allowed to change in the toilets.

The early developers did get a bit of a hard time from some of the boys, either trying to 'ping' their bras or making comments if they hadn't started to wear one yet.


Comments by Katie on 25th May 2015  lcclinton4@yahoo.co.uk 

Hi Andrea

Yes, topless PE continued all through primary school. In the last year, there were some girls who were wearing bras or at least training bras, but they still had to take them off for PE and do it in just their knickers.

At senior school PE was single sex and for the first term of the first year we still did it like at prime school in just our underwear knickers. After that we has gym knickers as white vests.

Comments by Rose on 24th May 2015  

It was topless PE at my Primary school too for girls & boys.
Girls were allowed a vest in the final year if they had started to develope but hardly anyone bothered.
The boys gave you a harder time if you wore a vest than if you left them bare!

Comments by Pete on 23rd May 2015  

To John Lavender:-
When we started doing PE stripped to the waist we did normally wear different coloured shorts depending upon our houses etc.
It was difficult with touch games etc having to try to grip others' bare backs!

Comments by John Lavender on 22nd May 2015  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

Good Afternoon Pete

After your Class converted to doing PE Stripped to the WAist, how did you tell Teams apart when doing Gym-Games?

Did you wear different-coloured Shorts , for example , if you had different 'Houses' did the Different Houses have a different House Colour for the Shorts?

Did the fact that you were all Topless not cause some confusion in Game-situations, like Rucks or Group-Tackles?

Comments by Pete on 21st May 2015  

At my secondary school the official PE uniform was vest and shorts but a new boy joined us mid-term and at his previous school no vests had been worn.
He didn't have a vest and appeared in the gym stripped to the waist and gradually more and more of us removed our vests so that eventually the master in charge told the boys still wearing vests to remove them so that we were all stripped to the waist.

Comments by Charles on 19th May 2015  

When I moved up to my first secondary school, PE kit was shorts and vest, styles unspecified as long as the colour was white. Back in those days most kids wore vests as underwear all the year round, so making underwear vests double as PT kit made sound economic sense (this was the mid 1950s, with clothes rationing still a recent memory). After I had been at this school for a couple of years, the powers that be decided that it would be healthier for us to do PE topless. I don't remember anyone in my class objecting to this, although my mother, who regarded vests as year-round essentials for young and old alike, wasn't too keen on the thought of me going bare-chested for an hour or so several times a week, and even less keen once it dawned on her that I had worked out that not wearing a vest for PE was a good excuse for not wearing a vest to school on PE days and, by extension, for not wearing a vest at all, a project I had been working on for a couple of years.

Comments by Andrea on 17th May 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 


Was your PE topless until the end of Primary School?
That would have been OK for me, but would have been embarrassing for a few of my classmates who had developed enough to be wearing bras during our final year at Primary.

What was you Secondary School PE kit like?

Comments by Katie on 13th May 2015  

I did PE at primary school like other peole have posted. Indoors we did everything in our bare feet and boys wore just their underpants and girls wore just knickrs. We weren't allowed to wear vests even when we were older. I don't remember anyone doing PE naked apart from one time when we had all got wet through playing with water so our teacher made us undress completely before PE.

Comments by Billy on 25th April 2015  

I went to a mixed primary school. We did PE together, in knickers/underpants, all 'topless'. Some pranksters (not me, I was too shy) used to wait until the teacher's back was turned and then lower their pants - I don't remember anybody getting caught, but I reckon the teachers knew more than we realised! Did that happen anywhere else?
At grammar school (boys only) we did PE bare chested in white shorts and plimsolls, and in summer had swimming lessons in the school's own open-air pool. If you forgot your trunks, you had to swim naked - gym shorts weren't allowed. One lad 'forgot' his trunks so often we were sure he did it deliberately - perhaps he just enjoyed swimming in the nude!
Fortunately everything was out of sight of the girls' school next door! I've no idea what they wore for PE.

Comments by Julian on 22nd April 2015  

Like Roy I attended a mixed school with PE being done separately so again I didn't know what the girls wore but boys were always stripped to the waist.
This included the cross-country runs. Initially I was scared of the prospect of running through the streets while stripped to the waist but I soon got used to it and eventually I had a hairy chest as well and felt quite macho!!!

Comments by Roy on 21st April 2015  

I went to a mixed school and PE was always done separately.
I don't know what the girls wore but the boys were always stripped to the waist and many also went barefoot.

Comments by Andrea on 18th April 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Although we never did PE topless at either Primary or Secondary school, in the summer I would sometimes take my T shirt and vest off to have a splash about in our local stream or when we were making 'dens' on some waste ground (I was always a bit od a tomboy).

This carried on until just before I started at Secondary school. By the following summer I had to make sure I was wearing a swimsuit top and I started to wear a bra at the beginning of the new school year.

Comments by Barbara on 17th April 2015  

I attended a mixed junior school aged 7-11 in the 1950s P E was done together all topless and barefoot girls in knickers/boys underpants only.I remember on occasions both boys and girls me included doing
P E nude I dont think anyone was embarressed I loved it.
In the summer I went to school barefoot which made me the envy of others girls whose mums wouldnt let them.
At the secondary school boys wore just shorts,girls wore vest or tee shirt if wearing a bra,and knickers.I was flat chested and for the 1st year was topless outside and in the gym when the girls did P E on their own with a note from my mum was allowed to do it nude.

Comments by Roy on 17th April 2015  

It was with boys only.
I don't think I would have minded being stripped to the waist and barefoot kin a mixed class

Comments by Will on 16th April 2015  

Roy, did you do PE with girls or was it boys only? How did you feel/would you have felt about the very basic PE kit in front of girls?

Comments by Roy on 15th April 2015  

We always did PE stripped to the waist and barefoot but never naked.

Comments by Philip on 11th April 2015  

To Johnny.
I don't believe you.

Comments by Anthony on 9th April 2015  

We never did pe nude we were lucky then .
Just shorts and those pumps if you were lucky to have some most of us did it in our barefeet inside gym your feet did get black

Comments by johnny on 7th April 2015  

i went to a school where the PE instructor was a woman.
we had to do PE naked.sometimes we had to do PE with younger lads who hadn't reached puberty and she thought it was embarrassing for them, so we were made to shave all body hair,so we were all the same.no thought about how embarrassing it was for us.
i think she got off on it.

Comments by Roy on 11th March 2015  

I agree with Philip re nude cross-country. If that were tried today it would quite rightly be regarded as a form of child abuse. I suspect that even then if Social Services got to hear of it they would also regarded it a form of child abuse.

Comments by Philip on 8th March 2015  

To Rick. I can believe what you say about the swimming but what you say about cross country is nonsense.

Comments by rick on 4th March 2015  

at the small exclusive boarding school i went to all PE was done naked as was swimming.
because the grounds were well enclosed cross country was also
done naked.

Comments by Dave on 3rd March 2015  

It was normal when I was at school to do all PE stripped to the waist whatever the weather.
I well remember being stripped to the waist with snow on the ground.

Comments by The original Pete on 1st March 2015  

I was at an all boys boarding school and punishment runs were very frequently given and you'd see small groups or individuals doing laps of the field on a very regular basis. These were given with some relish by our rather brutal PE teacher and it was often given for slightest things like if a perceived lack of effort, a vest wasn't sticking to you or if your bare chest/back wasn't showing at least a thin sheen of sweat at the end of a lesson.
Our kit was simple, a vest, shorts, indoor trainers and another for outdoors. Teams were always picked by the teacher half would strip off, half would keep a vest on. I can vouch through experience that some of us were definitely stripped off more
than others for some reason!
Nobody seemed really bothered by the mimimal kit but there always dark mutterings about the temperature in winter - being stripped down for a fitness sessions outdoors in the snow was brutal by anyone's standards.
The punishment you always wanted to avoid was 2hrs in the gym. You
were required to wear your vest when you entered the gym. Due to the nature of the exercise the school nurse gave you a quick checkover before you stripped down to the waist to begin the punishment. Needless to say it wasn't long before you began to drip with sweat. A lot of lads endured this and being given attention by the nurse afterwards was not seen as unusual.

Comments by Will on 9th February 2015  

In reply to Stuart, at my all boys school in the 80s we were given extra punishments for forgetting our kit, usually a PE detention. These usually took place in the gym and lasted the same time as an ordinary PE lesson but sometimes there would be a punishment run outdoors instead. I had to do one of these as a penalty for not having my PE vest; what I didn't realise until we got outside was that I would be doing the actual run bare chested as well! We were told to take our vests off, leave them on the ground at the starting point and then set off on the run. All part of the punishment. It certainly wasn't a warm day but the worst aspect of it was having to run past a group of girls from a nearby school - that prompted a fair bit of giggling and whistles etc! It was a real relief to get back to base and I was always careful to bring my kit in future.

Comments by Stuart on 6th February 2015  

Like a lot of secondary schools in the early 70's if we forgeot PE kit we had to strip to just our underpants and do PE as normal.

Did anyone else get additional punishments for forgetting kit, like detention, punishment runs or even caning ?

Comments by Anthony on 14th January 2015  

I if you forgot your kit for pe you had to borrow shorts and do it in barefeet in sports hall and gym didnt do us any harm your feet was black with dust that's all

Comments by Max on 6th January 2015  

At my school, if rugby was cancelled that usually meant the weather was too bad for any other outdoor activity. So we had to join in with other classes going on at the same time - half of us in the gym and the other half in the swimming pool. Sometimes boys brought swimming trunks but if not you had to swim in your black rugby shorts. If you were joining the gym class it was the same - black shorts instead of the white ones we usually wore indoors, shirts off and bare feet. It was often a bit of a squeeze but we had to make the best of it.

Comments by Steve on 6th January 2015  

If it was frosty and we were unable to play rugby, we had to do a cross country run instead. In theory we could have used the gym, but in practice another lesson was already in progress.

Our cross country kit was navy shorts and plimsolls, always stripped to the waist. If you just had rugby kit with you, you had to strip to just the shorts and run in bare feet. Some boys brought plimsolls with them just in case rugby was cancelled, but most ran in shorts only.

What happened with other boys if it was unsafe to play rugby.

Comments by Andy on 24th December 2014  

We were the same indoor shorts only and bare feet.

Comments by Pete on 23rd December 2014  

Like Steve we were stripped to the waist and barefoot at all times for PE.
Again white shorts in the gym and black shorts for cross-country(again stripped to the waist and barefoot.)

Comments by Steve on 19th December 2014  

We had to strip to just shorts in the gym, so bare feet and stripped down to the waist. Same kit throughout the school, no one was ever allowed to wear a vest or t-shirt or anything on our feet.

For pe we wore white shorts, with navy rugby shorts for cross country (still shirtless). Anyone wearing the wrong colour shorts would have been in deep trouble !

To tell the difference between teams we wore plastic sashes/bands which came in various strong colours.

As far as I recall there were never any problems telling teams apart.

Comments by Mark on 16th December 2014  

We would wear different coloured shorts-white or black.
Being stripped to the waist there was sometimes confusion about tackling but not as frequent as you would think.

Comments by Pete on 14th December 2014  


I remember at the start of the first lesson and after changing into our new kit, we were told to stand in a line out on the yard and our PE teacher picked a lad to stand facing the class and told him to take his vest off and drop it on the yard. About a minute (if that)later we were all stood stripped down. Vests were only used to make up a second team only for inter class competitions like basketball/cross country/fitness.

This lasted from the age of 9 to 18, after A levels and had the same teacher throughout this time.

Comments by Toby on 14th December 2014  tbaird45@yahoo.co.uk 

Reading John's questions to Mark made me think back to a brief experiment at my school when different coloured shorts were used to denote teams in the gym. At first one team had a coloured sash worn over the shoulder but, as John pointed out, these tended to slip down too easily! So the PE department came up with a new system. Each boy owned a pair of white shorts for lessons in the gym and black shorts for outdoor games. So boys whose surnames were in the second half of the alphabet were instructed to bring their black shorts to gym lessons instead of white and both teams were stripped to the waist.
The system just didn't work because you kept having to stop and think about what colour shorts someone was wearing, there were a lot of misplaced passes and the games were chaotic. So the school scrapped the idea after a few weeks and instead brought in a set of bibs that fitted over both shoulders and were secured at your sides by elastic. One team wore the bibs while the other team reverted to the usual kit of white shorts and bare top. That worked much better because it was easy to spot straight away who was on your team and we kept that system throughout the rest of my time at school

Comments by John Lavender on 12th December 2014  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

What happened when it came to playing Team Games in the Gym , like Killerball (A Sort of Gym Rugby) or Basketball, or Football?
Did the different teams wear different Colour Shorts?
Some Schools used coloured Bands that you wore over the Shoulder but these could slip off quite easily!
Did you find that having all Boys stripped to the Waist
made identifying an Opponent or "Enemy" difficult in a quick-reaction situation like a Scrum or a Tackle?

Comments by Mark on 13th November 2014  

Nick, This was in around 1963 at a Grammar School and the PE teacher encouraged us to go stripped to the waist.

Comments by Nick on 11th November 2014  

Mark. With regard to your post: Roughly what year was this? And what sort of school? And did the PE teacher make any comment or encourage this? Thanks.

Comments by Mark on 7th November 2014  

Like Sam there was a lad who started to do PE shirtless and again more and more boys joined him so that eventually we were all stripped to the waist.

Comments by Sam on 5th September 2014  

When I was at school we had a lad in our class whose father was into "healthy living."
He told me that as soon as he got home he had to remove his top and go stripped to the waist for the rest of the day. He had four brothers and they had to do the same.
He was the first in our class to do PE etc stripped to the waist and after that more and more of us stripped to the waist both in the gym and outside.

Comments by Steve on 5th September 2014  

At my mixed secondary school the boys' indoor PE uniform was white shorts only.
For outdoors and cross-country we wore black or navy blue shorts and were again bare-chested. Some lads also went barefoot as well.

Comments by Paul on 19th July 2014  

At my school in the 1960s it was the invariable practice to do PE stripped to the waist.
We would also be bare-chested for cross-country runs whatever the weather.

Comments by Laura on 9th June 2014  lcclinton4@yahoo.co.uk 


Yes, the topless PE and naked swimming continued to the end of primary school. I know some girls had become to develop by the age of 11, but there was no difference in what was worn. I know it was really uncommon, particulary our swimming lessons, but I'm not sure if other schools did the same.


Comments by Andrea on 8th June 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 


Did the topless pe and nude swimming lessons happen all the way to the end of your time at primary school?

When I at primary in the late 1960's boys and girls all had to change for pe in the same classroom, but that was only to vest and knickers as we put on our pe kit. When a few of the girls started to wear bras rather than vests (I never got to that stage at primary school!), they were allowed to change in the toilets.


Comments by Laura on 5th June 2014  lcclinton4@yahoo.co.uk 

I went to Shears Green that Martin mentioned back in March. It was such a shock when my first PE lesson came round. I'd had a PE kit at my previous school and was worried that I didn't have it with me. I went up to my teacher and told her, only to be told in return to take my clothes off, including my vest! That was a serious shock, but was nothing compared to my first swimming lesson in our school pool. As Martin said, these were done nude!

Comments by Nicholas on 26th May 2014  

The only time we did shirts v skins was if we had football practice. In the gym our uniform included just shorts and no top, everyone went bare-chested without exception. For teams we had coloured bands that you had to wear on both arms, but they weren't all that clearly visible during a game. Shirts v skins was much more effective as it was easier to spot which boys were on your team.

Comments by Andrea on 19th May 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

My ex told me that at his all boys secondary school their indoor pe kit was just a pair of white shorts. They wore rugby shirts for outdoor pe though.

At my all girls school we wore T shirts and gym knickers indoors (and outdoors in summer) but a gym skirt and long sleeved shirt outdoors in winter.

The worst thing was if you forgot your kit, the pe teacher made you wear a shirt from the pe store cupboard that probably hadn't been washed for months!

Comments by Paul on 17th May 2014  

"Shirts-v-skins" didn't arise at my school as we were stripped to the waist for PE at all times.

Comments by Adam on 7th May 2014  

Mike, were you the only one who was always a skin or was it the same for other boys too? At my school the teams were meant to be picked at random each time but quite often the teacher would announce 'same teams next time' at the end of the lesson. So if you were a skin you'd often stay bare-chested for the next lesson or more and you could easily go for a few weeks of PE without wearing a top at all.
Sometimes there was no team sport in the lesson but half the boys still had to do it as skins. I never understood why that was but obviously I didn't question it at the time!

Comments by Dave on 30th April 2014  

We too used to play "vests-v-skins".
As I never even possessed a vest I was always a "skin".
Therefore I had no problems about being stripped to the waist.

Comments by Mike on 21st April 2014  

Adam, it was the same for me, though it was usually skins vs vests. One thing I always found strange was that the teacher always picked me to remove my vest be it indoors or out. I didn't mind and was always glad to be a skin especially playing basketball when you could see vests sticking to your opponents top.

Comments by Adam on 10th April 2014  

Like the boys at Matt's school, I also played football bare-chested in PE. The usual format was shirts versus skins, so half of us would always have to play in just shorts, socks and boots or plimsolls (depending whether we were indoors our outdoors). I remember it felt a bit strange to play with no shirt at first but I soon got used to it. One thing that was different when you played skins was celebrations were more restrained after scoring goals. Whereas if your team had shirts on there was a good deal of hugging and back-slapping, I think most boys playing skins felt less inclined to embrace each other's bare sweaty bodies!

Comments by Matt on 9th April 2014  

I agree with Mark and I even recall some boys at my school even playing football while stripped to the waist.

Comments by Mark on 6th April 2014  

When I was at school in the 1960's it was normal for boys to do indoor PE stripped to the waist.
Many lads also did outdoor PE and cross-country bare-chested as well some even in winter.
In Summer more and more of us would strip to the waist and
eventually we would all be stripped to the waist.
Some of us would be barefoot in the gym but not outdoors.

Comments by John on 4th April 2014  johnpaynter185@gmail.com 

The picture is just the type of PE kit we had at my school back in 1960, I was part of a gymnastics team from age 12 to 14 and we put on exhibitions at lots of gymkhanas and sports days, always bare chested and just gym shorts.

Nothing was thought of being topless doing cross country and having to run through some side streets to get to the open country and have to run along the canal towpath, on really hot days it was common for a few boys to accidentally fall in and swim a few yards and then run back to school in just sopping wet shorts and plimsolls, not sure it was healthy to do that but we were boys and didn't really care, I,m in my middle 60's now and still swim and jog a little, so I reckon it wasn't that bad and yes now and again I go topless running in the countryside near me.

Anyone else still run like that? email me let me know.

Comments by Martin on 6th March 2014  martin.hill32@hushmail.com 

Comments by Dave on 8th February 2014  

Like Rufus and Crow I used to run and do PE stripped to the waist whenever I could.
I never took my vest to PE and therefore had to be topless even if it meant I was the only lad going bare-chested.
I soon found that more and more boys would join me and eventually the whole class was stripped to the waist.

Comments by Rufus on 6th February 2014  

Like Crow, I enjoy running shirtless when I have the opportunity - although I must admit my preference is to feel some sun on my bare back rather than wind and rain! I just like the feeling of moving freely without a sweaty shirt clinging to my body and I first started to appreciate that when I was made to go shirtless at school. There were two 'houses' at the school, and sometimes for cross-country we would run in 'house teams' of vests and skins. The first time that happened my house were selected as the skins and we all had to take off our vests. I was a bit self conscious at first but to my surprise I soon found I felt much more comfortable running in just my shorts and trainers. Before long, I realised I actually preferred to be a skin - so much so that, a couple of times when we weren't in house teams, I left my vest at home on purpose. Of course that meant I was the only boy in the class running shirtless, but that suited me fine and I've carried on ever since.

Comments by Crow on 4th February 2014  

In Ipswich in the early 80's we weren't allowed to go shirtless, but I did it anyway if I could, even in winter on an icy cross country run. I'm not sure how I got to like doing it, but I did, and I still run shirtless for five or 5 miles often in any weather, and always shirtless. I like how it feels, even if there's hail and a 40 mph wind. Excitement makes it more interesting, more fun. A wet heavy shirt dragging against me with every movement would be a miserable business, and I wouldn't be any warmer either.

Comments by Mike on 30th January 2014  

Like Matt I experienced having to do PE outdoors and stripped to the waist as a punishment.
It wasn't pleasant and was even worse having to go barefoot as well.

Comments by Matt on 29th January 2014  

I attended a private, all boys' school in southern England in the 80s and it wasn't unusual for boys to be penalised by having to remove items of PE kit, especially in detention. Sometimes you might have to take off your socks and trainers and go barefoot as part of the punishment, more often you had to lose your PE vest. 0ccasionally it could be both and you were left in just your shorts.
The first time I got a PE punishment nobody warned me what was likely to happen and it came as a shock when I was told to get my vest off. Oh well, I thought, at least it won't be too cold in the gym... only to discover to my horror that the punishment was actually taking place on the playing fields! Running laps of the field while stripped to the waist was certainly no picnic but at least I knew what to expect next time. And unfortunately there was a next time!

Comments by Iain on 28th January 2014  

I agree with Patrick. We boys always had to be stripped to the waist and I don't think anyone minded that much.

Comments by Patrick on 26th January 2014  

When I was at school boys had to go without shirts for indoor sports, not normally in front of girls but occasionally. While this could inevitably lead to some awkwardness now and then, I certainly wouldn't call it discrimination; after all, boys' bodies are different to girls'.

Comments by Maltamon on 20th January 2014  

I think it is disgusting that in today's society boys are are still discriminated against with boys still subject to more stringent rules than girls. Some schools still have compulsory showers for boys and not for girls even today.


Outdoor Kit:

Green and black long sleeved shirt - Available from Drury Sports only.
Black shorts
Green long socks
Boots and outdoor trainers
Towel for showers (boys)

I dont think boys should be forced to shower or forced to do rugby when girls can play hockey.


Boys' PE Clothing

Towel (students are expected to shower
after football and rugby)


Please Note: Every boy should be provided with a Towel. The changing rooms have excellent shower facilities and boys are encouraged to have a shower after P.E. or Games when appropriate. - See more at: http://www.parmiters.herts.sch.uk/curriculum/subjects/pe/pe-kit/#sthash.g8p3jHL7.dpuf

This is not happy days it is discrimination and like forced conscription in Austria & Switzerland these rules would not be supported if it was happening to females.

Lets end discrimination and campaign for real gender equality.

Comments by belfastguy on 20th January 2014  

Removal of shirts was used as a punitive measure at my Secondary School, in Northern Ireland. In fact so much so that when slapping was abolished in the mid eighties my school began after school punishment PE sessions. Unlike normal PE boys had to be bare chest. Girls also had punishment PE. However they used the warm gym. Both were conducted at the same time, which the boys really resented. There was only one gym back then and our sadist PE teacher hardly ever cancelled any normal PE as it meant dividing the gym, which was time and effort. He never cancelled after school PE once. In fact on one occasion there was some snow and Headmaster came out and sent the boys home. He was furious. Happy days all the same.

Comments by Spencer on 19th January 2014  

While I don't recall anyone being punished in this way for the kind of offences Troy describes, it was certainly commonplace to make boys go bare-chested as a disciplinary measure in PE lessons. There was often no real purpose to it other than for the teacher to demonstrate his authority and to make the boy feel small and more vulnerable.
Once I stepped out of line by answering the teacher back and straight away I was told to stand up and take off my vest. I had to stand there bare-chested to receive a telling off and was then ordered to go and carry out press ups at the side of the gym while the lesson continued. Eventually I was permitted to rejoin the class, but still bare-chested, and it felt embarrassing being the only boy without a vest.
However, I probably got off lightly because I can remember other boys in my class having to do several lessons in a row with their vests off, and some were even made to go bare-chested outdoors for football or rugby.

Comments by Troy on 18th January 2014  

Yeah, I remember that barechested PE wasn't normally the practice at my school but one of the more common punishments for boys misbehaving tended to involve losing our shirts. For example, if we were caught with our shirts untucked or ties undone, we'd have to strip to the waist on the spot and do a few laps around the school field in just our shorts.

First time this happened to me was because I didn't hand in some homework on time. The teacher told me to take off my top and run laps around the field. I thought that meant I could at least keep my undershirt on, but soon that came off too. Even when I came back, she didn't let me put my shirt back on, instead I had to do push-ups in front of the whole class while still shirtless. Totally embarassing.

Experiences like that have kinda made me question the benefits of boys going shirtless for PE class in this day and age.

Comments by Joel on 9th January 2014  

Jon's account of the rock climbing trip brought to mind a similar situation from when I was at school. Normally PE and Games were separate for boys and girls, when we had a lesson outdoors the girls were in the gym and vice versa. On one occasion there was a thunderstorm and the playing field was saturated, so the girls were sent to join us in the gym instead.
The girls didn't take part in the lesson, they were just required to sit and watch. And they were more than happy to do that when the teacher split us into teams of shirts and skins for a basketball game - there were plenty of calls from the sidelines about which boys they wanted to see on the skins team and the odd wolf whistle. I felt surprised and pleased to hear a couple of girls calling my name and then cheering when I was confirmed as a skin and had to take off my top!
It was an incredible confidence boost, to know the girls were enjoying watching me run around bare-chested. I felt really good and played one of my best ever games. Not surprisingly, the girls made their support for the skins team pretty clear and we won quite convincingly!

Comments by Jim (2) on 5th January 2014  

Our PE lessons were either done with all the boys stripped to the waist or with half the group left in vests. The girls all looked forward to seeing your vest coming off especially outdoors in autumn/winter when it was nice and cold.

During December and January the inter house competitions took place and were a big thing throughout the school. When it came to picking the teams for inter house competitions obviously there was a lot of good natured banter about who to pick and who would they'd like to see on the other teams.

For inter house competitions like basketball, it was skins and vests and if you wore a vest for the first half, you'd strip off for the second half - which was preferred as you were normally sweating at halftime.

Cross country runs were all done with everyone barechested and picked out with a big coloured armband.

Fitness competitions were a school thing and each house would select 6 boys from each class in year group to compete (each year had 4 classes). The fitness competition comprised of repetitions of press ups, pull ups, squats, sit ups and shuttle runs and lasted exactly 75mins non stop.

The girls loved the events as they got the time out of lessons and watch to see each team strip down with the added bonus of seeing us all visibly sweat at closer quarters than usual.

You'd be amazed at how much interest playing games and doing PE with your vest off generated amongst the females at school. Little was I to know my future wife was one of those girls watching.

Comments by Jon on 4th January 2014  

As I posted in another thread, I recall one of my first experiences of being shirtless in front of girls for PE was during a compulsory field trip. One of the activities was rock-climbing in fairly warm and humid weather and none of us had been told to bring along our PE kit. You can imagine my dismay and nervousness when the teacher in charge (a female in her mid-20s) told all the boys to simply take off our school shirts and do the climb in just our school shorts. Meanwhile the girls, unfairly I thought, got to sit on the side and watch. We were quite hesitant of course as the girls were suddenly watching us very closely! There was definitely some whispering and giggling going on as we started to strip down.

To be fair, the girls cheered us on loudly and we actually had a good time by the end of it. Covered in sweat and still barechested when it was over, I even mustered up the courage to strike up a conversation with a girl I fancied who even blushingly commented on my body.

Comments by Mark on 17th December 2013  

At my mixed schools there was never any mixed PE and boys were always stripped to the waist both indoors and outside and on cross-country runs.Many lads would also be barefoot.

Comments by Jimmy on 8th December 2013  

I went to a mixed school aged 10 where we had mixed indoor PE all winter. Both boys and girls had to wear white t-shirts but girls were allowed to wear tracksuit bottoms while boys had to wear white shorts. Also the girls were allowed trainers while the boys had to go barefoot. I once asked the teacher (female) why the girls were allowed to wear shoes and us boys had to be barefoot, she laughed and said that boy's shoes were not clean enough to be allowed in the gym! Seemed rather unfair to me. I remember some of the girls used to tease us about having to go barefoot and some even used to deliberately step on our toes when running around the gym!

Comments by Rob on 6th December 2013  

I agree that doing cross country stripped to the waist was common in the 1960s.
It certainly didn't bother me being bare-chested.

Comments by Phil on 5th December 2013  

I think cross country in nothing but a pair of shorts was not uncommon. It is certainly how we did it when I was at grammar school in the 60s. It makes good sense as we ran through some very muddy areas and got pretty dirty - it's surprising how far up your body the mud can get! We didn't usually take too much notice if it was cold - we just made sure we kept moving and no-one came to any harm.

Comments by Jamie on 21st November 2013  

Having read Neil's recollections, I'm glad I didn't have to do PE with that teacher! Running shirtless and barefoot every week sounds fairly unpleasant and makes me think I got away quite lightly during my own schooldays. The only time I can remember having to do PE in bare feet was when we had a couple of sessions of gymnastics, but obviously those were indoors. Going shirtless was required quite often because we frequently played in teams of shirts and skins but again, that was usually in the gym. There were occasions when we played football outdoors on a hot day and, instead of shirts against bibs, we all took our shirts off and did bibs against skins. But that was only because those thick football shirts were so uncomfortable to wear in the heat, no-one was ever forced to be a skin in cold weather as far as I know.

Comments by Neil on 20th November 2013  

Comments by Liam on 6th November 2013  

In reply to Nick K, I was at school in the Home Counties, late 70s-early 80s.

Comments by NickK on 4th November 2013  

Liam. Interesting post. Can you give us an idea of (roughly) whereabouts your school was and what years we are talking about?

Comments by Matt on 4th November 2013  

At my school we did all our PE and cross-country etc stripped to the waist and barefoot whatever the conditions.
It was hard in winter but I actually enjoyed being stripped to the waist in summer.

Comments by Jim RH on 3rd November 2013  

I also found that wearing less in PE became more of a problem as I got older. In junior school for PE, girls wore vests and pants, and boys just pants. Though I was always quite self-conscious, it was nowhere near as embarrassing as in secondary school, when boys developed more and our differences became more noticeable.

Comments by Liam on 3rd November 2013  

You're quite right Spence, we wore a different kit for Games outdoors - shirt, shorts (black instead of white, as we wore indoors), socks and football or rugby boots. The shirts were reversible colours so one team had to turn them inside out. For cross country it was back to the white shorts (bizarre really as your legs could get completely spattered with mud on a wet day) and in winter we wore a running vest as well. However, when summer came around boys had to run with their vests off - and bad luck if the weather suddenly turned during the course of the lesson! I can remember getting soaked by a downpour while barechested on more than one occasion.
As I discovered when I made it to the school's track and field athletics squad, the boys' training kit was exactly the same. Vests were worn for inter-school matches but we had to strip to the waist to do all our training sessions. We trained alongside the girls, who of course wore tops while we were barechested and as we got older I think that became more of a problem.

Comments by Jim RH on 3rd November 2013  

Although we occasionally did go bare chested for athletics in the Summer, depending on the teacher, we normally had to wear our sleeveless athletics vests. This was another difference with the girls, who wore short-sleeved t -shirts instead of vests for some reason. I agree that it is odd to require boys to be shirtless on a cold day indoors, when it is chilly in the gym, but to wear vests on a hot day outside.

Comments by Spence on 31st October 2013  

Presumably Jim RH and Liam, you wore tops for PE outside and for cross country and Games. Did you have to go outside barechested on warm summer days? It would seem odd to be barechested in a cold gym in winter and yet be allowed shirts outside on very hot days.

Comments by Liam on 31st October 2013  

I remember that exact feeling, described by Jim RH, of using my arms to try and cover my chest in PE. It was a natural reaction when you weren't used to being barechested in public and found it uncomfortable. Unfortunately, as I soon found out, it was pretty impossible to run, or climb or throw a ball with your arms crossed over your chest!
It's true that the rules about PE kit were enforced more strictly for boys than girls. For boys it was shorts, plimsolls and nothing else. Girls, of course, wore tops and were sometimes allowed extra layers if it was cold. However, for some reason we boys were expected to endure the cold and put up with shivering and goose pimples. I remember one boy asking if he could wear a t-shirt because it was cold and getting short shrift - he was made to run laps of the gym to keep warm instead. Happy days...

Comments by Jim RH on 29th October 2013  

Normally, while indoors, the girls had a separate lesson on the other side of the hall, though it was not uncommon for us to have a lesson with them sometimes as well. Some of the boys were quite confident about having to do PE shirtless, though others were obviously not as confident, becoming much quieter than usual. Some of us, myself included, would even try to cover our nipples/navels with their arms, or avoid putting our hands up, in order to feel less exposed.

Comments by Dave on 29th October 2013  

Hi JimRH!

Did you do the whole PE lesson with the girls or you shared the other side of the hall only? What was the reaction of other boys having to do PE shirtless? Did any of them mention their opinion about it or something like that?
Was it in the UK?

Comments by Jim RH on 28th October 2013  

Our nipples did get hard on cold days, but it didn't make me personally more self-conscious - I was already self-conscious enough. In addition to shirts, girls were permitted to wear tracksuit trousers whenever they wanted instead of shorts, and for fitness, in which boys had to go barefoot, they could wear plimsoles, though some even got away with wearing socks and trainers. Uniform regulations were always more strictly enforced for boys than girls.

Comments by Spence on 14th October 2013  

Jim RH
Did your nipples get hard and therefore more noticable on cold days, making you even more self-conscious? Also, were you prone to goose pimples in front of your more generously clothed female classmates? What exactly did the girls were? Were they allowed extra clothing, cardigans for example, on cold days?

Comments by Jim RH on 25th September 2013  

I don't really know why nipples in particular made me feel exposed, but I don't think any of the boys felt particularly comfortable, though the nipple thing was probably just me. The girls would tease us by whistling when we walked in the gym shirtless, or when it was cold when we took our shirts off after the warm up. Also, when walking past, they would deliberately brush their arms or hands across our bare chests.

Comments by Luke on 25th September 2013  

Jim HR

Why? were your nipples different from the other boys? Do the other boys feel the same way? Also how do girls tease you?

Comments by Jim RH on 24th September 2013  

I also used to have to be shirtless in PE. I used to hate showing my nipples and navel - I don't know why, it just made me feel exposed. It was especially bad when we had to do PE with the girls, as they would tease us and make us feel more embarrassed

Comments by Tim H on 18th September 2013  

@ Oliver - Hi - We did it because we had no choice and we just accepted it in the early 1960s. Resistance was useless ... There's a good discussion at http://www.historyworld.co.uk/photo.php?id=1607 too.

Comments by Russell on 18th September 2013  

Like Joshua I also had to get used to doing PE bare-chested after I changed school for the sixth form. I had a friend who had been at that school all the way through and from him I knew that the boys' PE kit didn't include a top. He often complained about how cold it could be in the gym, getting goosebumps on your goosebumps and that kind of thing.
Anyway, I had no idea that PE was still compulsory in the sixth form until I saw it on the timetable! With a wry smile, my friend confirmed that there was no change to the kit we had to bring just because we were in the sixth form - white shorts, gym socks and trainers. And that was all!
I felt almost naked the first time I got changed for PE - apart from swimming, I'd never had to do a sporting activity bare-chested before. I was a fairly slim boy and I couldn't help feeling self conscious as I looked round and saw some of the other lads with hairy chests and muscles aplenty. And as I stepped tentatively into the gym I realised my mate hadn't exaggerated - it wasn't half chilly!
Despite that it wasn't long before it ceased to feel weird, in fact it was often more comfortable when I got sweaty and didn't have a damp shirt clinging to my back. With hindsight, I wish I'd experienced bare-chested PE much earlier and I think boys today should do the same.

Comments by Dave on 17th September 2013  

Hi Oliver! Where are you from?

Comments by Joshua on 16th September 2013  

As far as I know there is no difference between a vest and a singlet.

Comments by Heinrich on 15th September 2013  

What is the difference between a vest and a singlet?

Comments by Oliver on 14th September 2013  

I am a 15 year old boy! I hope you guys don't mind me making comments!! I have to do PE shirtless indoors!
I notice many of you guys did it shirtless indoors and outdoors! We can wear a shirt outside! however a shirt is useless in cross country it sticks to you!! so many boys don't bother in cross country, I notice the white shorts in the picture! We can wear any colour. I prefer black it is
a classic look. I notice ALL the boys look toned in the pic! I have that sort of build, however many boys today are floppy and have obesity issues!! for these guys it is embarrassing but by being shirtless it gives them the incentive to do something about it if they want.
On rare occasions we sometimes have to do indoor PE with girls! The boys seem to be well behaved stripped to waist it seems to make us more calmer. the girls are able to gain confidence too!! there is no problems! I know at other schools this is not the case where boys where tops.
Many of you guys on here feel it was better that boys were
shirtless in the past!! I tell you what you guys you are right!!
it is kool!! I think I am lucky because many guys at school
at the moment do experience it! I think I am one of the lucky ones these days!! It is not widespread like it was all those years ago but there is some schools that require boys to be shirtless even now!! It is great!! thanks for reading guys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Comments by Joshua on 13th September 2013  

After I had taken O Levels I had to move to a Sixth Form College to take A Levels.
When I read the uniform list I was surprised to see we still had to do PE and also that there was no mention on the list of a vest/singlet.
So when we had our first PE lesson I kept my vest on but noticed that all the other lads were stripped to the waist.
When we got into the gym the master noted me and shouted: You,take that b..... vest off and strip to the b..... waist like the rest.
After that I made sure I was always bare-chested like the other boys.

Comments by Neil on 24th July 2013  

I also was kept shirtless by my Dad for nearly all the time.
As soon as I got home I had to strip to the waist and remained bare-chested for the rest of the day.
I also had to have a No.1 haircut.
I was OK with being stripped to the waist but didn,t much care for the No.1.

Comments by Pete on 17th July 2013  

Comment to Matt

I bet the teacher kept his b...y vest on though - and more besides!

Comments by Nathan on 14th July 2013  

At my school we also wore vests for PE until a new teacher arrived and made us all strip to the waist. I remember one boy in my class seemed to know what was going on because he turned up to the first lesson bare-chested in just shorts and trainers. A few of us asked him why and he explained that his friend went to this teacher's old school and had warned him what to expect. We laughed, thinking he was winding us up or maybe his mate was winding him up. But it turned out to be neither, sure enough the new man arrived and demanded to know why only one boy was wearing the correct kit. The rest of us were ordered to take our vests off - and they stayed off for the rest of the year. After a while we got used to it and even when we had a different PE teacher the following year some boys opted to stay bare-chested.

Comments by Matt on 13th July 2013  

I well remember the first time I had to do PE stripped to the waist.
Our uniform specified a vest and that is what we used to wear.
However we had a new teacher who came in January 1963 in the midst of the worst winter of the 20th Century.
When we arrived in the gym the first thing he said was:"Get those b....y vests off.From now on you do PE bare-chested.Now get outside for cross-country."
We had to get used to it but when Summer came we all actually enjoyed do PE stripped to the waist.


Comments by Rob on 9th July 2013  

Like Chris our PE uniform included a vest but in our case a boy joined us from another school where he had done PE stripped to the waist.
On his first day he stripped to the waist as he would normally do.
When he saw him the teacher made all the other lads take their vests off and go bare-chest.
After that we always did our PE bare-chested.

Comments by Chris on 8th July 2013  

Our PE uniform also listed a vest/singlet but we had a new teacher who made it quite clear that we did our PE bare-chested.
We even had to be stripped to the waist for cross-country runs

Comments by Mark on 4th July 2013  

Like Matthew we had to do PE stripped to the waist even though the uniform list specified a vest.
Again we soon got used to it and quite enjoyed the freedom that being bare-chested gave you.

Comments by David on 5th June 2013  

Like Colin I couln't wait to take off my shirt and go stripped to the waist for PE.
In fact many of us went bare-chested as often as we could.

Comments by Colin on 4th June 2013  

I agree with Garry and I couldn't wait to go stripped to the waist as often as I could.

Comments by Andy on 24th May 2013  

All our indoor P.E had to been done in barefeet

Comments by Mark on 23rd May 2013  

I agree with Garry and I certainly couldn't wait to get my top off and go stripped to the waist as often as I could.

Comments by Garry on 22nd May 2013  

I don't know why boys complain about going barefoot and bare chested. It is fun and so enjoyable getting the shoes off and pull the socks off too. Let the toes do all the talking on the gym floor. All my mates love it. They wouldn't dream of wearing a shirt or socks and trainers. How so boring.

Comments by Mark on 13th May 2013  

I went to junior school at the age of seven we all had to do PE stripped to the waist and I vividly remember being outside in very cold winters bare-chested and wearing only very brief shorts.

Comments by Matthew on 12th May 2013  

Officially vests were included in the PE kit for boys but my teacher made us all strip to the waist without exception. I didn't like it but there was no point in arguing, everyone had to do it. After a while we all just got used to it and most boys enjoyed the chance to show off their developing bodies.

Comments by Roy on 8th May 2013  

Of course in the sixties you had no choice for when you were told to do PE stripped to the waist then you did PE stripped to the waist.

Comments by NIGEL on 7th May 2013  

Like Dan I had to do PE topless outside whatever the weather but I soon got used to it and again I enjoyed being stripped to the waist although compared to some of thbe hunky lads I was quite slim

Comments by Dan on 7th May 2013  

When I went to secondary school we had to do PE topless.
I wasn't very happy at having to strip to the waist in a changing room full of other lads but I soon got used to it and eventuaaly enjoyed it and even went about bare-chested whenever I could.

Comments by Mark on 7th May 2013  

I was kept shirtless by my dad for most of the time.
As soon as I got home from school I had to strip to the waist and I remained bare-chested for the rest of the day.
Of course I was bare-chested all through the weekend.

Comments by Adam on 27th April 2013  

I had to move to a different school to do my A Levels.
We had PE and when I went into the changing rooms I soon noticed that all the boys were stripped to the waist and with well developed upper bodies many also with hairy chests.
I soon got used to being bare-chested in the gym and also for cross-country runs.
Again we were in a built up area and the locals were watching us and passing comments about us which we could hear.
It soon got me used to being stripped to the waist whenever possible.

Comments by Seb on 18th April 2013  

When I was 14 my dad got a job in a different town and we had to move, which meant I transferred to a different school. Before I started there the school sent out a letter outlining the uniform I would be required to wear and also the kit I would need for PE lessons in the gym.
At first I thought there must be a mistake in the letter: the PE kit listed white shorts, white socks and plimsolls or training shoes - but no mention of a shirt of any kind. My mother rang up the school to check and was assured there was no mistake, the items listed were my full PE kit, no more or less.
I was horrified - at my old school shirts had always been worn for PE and it had never occurred to me that it might be any different. I was small for my age and also on the skinny side, so the prospect of doing every PE lesson with my chest bare, in front of people I didn't know, wasn't an appealing one.
I was dreading PE and, when the time came, I reluctantly trooped into the changing room and started putting on my shorts and plimsolls first. Most of the other boys changed a different way, taking their shirts off immediately. That didn't help ease my fears as some of them revealed upper bodies that made them look closer to 18! Eventually, of course, I had to take my shirt off and line up with the rest of them, feeling very self conscious and imagining everyone else was looking at me.
To my surprise, no one batted an eyelid or made any comment about my skinny body, they all just got on with the lesson -which proved to be quite intense. We had to work hard and I was soon covered in sweat, as were most of the other boys. They'd all been used to doing PE with bare chests for a few years and, as I got to know some of them, I realised they viewed it as no big deal. Before long, it wasn't such a big deal to me either. In the long run, PE helped make me feel more confident about my body and it's a shame boys today aren't helped to do the same.

Comments by Nigel on 5th April 2013  

I also well remember always doing PE stripped to the waist not only indoors but also outside whatever the conditions.
We all also seemed to be well developed and muscular young lads.

Comments by Pete on 4th April 2013  

As is said being stripped to the waist is the only real way to do gym etc.
These lads are all well- muscled and all look very fit.

Comments by Tom on 24th March 2013  

In the sixties there were many times when boys used to take off their vests and do PE stripped to the waist whatever the conditions.

Comments by John Lavender on 22nd March 2013  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yQth3QEXtA

Here at this URL is a Video from across the Pond ; American boys doing Gym outdoors. This is another RT from the Burnley Grammar School Photo Thread, enjoy.
Any comments, either post on that page :


or email me direct.

Comments by Mark on 19th March 2013  

As has been said it was normal practice for young youths to be stripped to the waist and nothing was thought of it.
It certainly toughened them up and instilled a sense of discipline which is lacking today

Comments by John Lavender on 18th March 2013  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com  http://yorkshirefilmarchive.com/film/childrens-day-leeds

Have a look at this Film; from around time 05'15" the film cuts to the Boys doing a Gym Display. They are all extremely Fit and well-drilled and correographed and of course, are stripped to the waist..
(RT from a post on Burnley Grammar School Picture page on this website):


Comments by Nigel on 15th March 2013  

I also agree that being stripped to the waist enabled you to sweat freely and for that reason I always went bare-chested in the gym and outdoors.

Comments by James T on 16th February 2013  

I agree. Our teachers always maintained that by being bare top for PE and Games we could and did sweat freely during lessons. We were split into 2 teams, vests and skins. By the end of an indoor session it was common to see vests sticking to boys backs at the end of an indoor session.

Comments by Pete on 13th February 2013  

I agree with Philip that doing PE stripped to the waist was normal in the sixties.
I think most lads quite enjoyed being bare-chested even outdoors when it was quite cold.

Comments by Philip on 13th February 2013  

Like so many others PE barefoot and shirtless was the norm for me at school in the 60s including cross-country, even in the winter. It was just normal, nobody complained - on the contrary, I think most of us enjoyed it and we were made to work quite hard so it didn't matter if it was cold. Schools are not doing boys any favours these days by letting them (or making them) wear shirts, shoes etc and I'm sure it isn't healthy or practical.

Comments by John Lavender on 8th February 2013  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

Looking at this Photo is very enlightening; these lads are superbly Fit; there does not appear to be an ounce of surplus fat on any of them, and also superbly Drilled i.e. Coreographed . It is also understood that these lads would have been just lads from working and middle-class families and were obviously having their wellbeing taken very seriously by their Instructor and taking it very seriously themselves.. Great Photo.

Comments by Adam on 23rd January 2013  

At my school in the 1960's the official uniform for PE and cross-country was shorts only.
As we started cross-country in September by the time the weather got really cold we were used to being stripped to the waist and barefoot.
Again in the Summer Term we did athletics bare chested and barefoot.By that time there were of course a lt of hairy chests on display among the sixth form lads.

Comments by Kevin on 17th January 2013  

Hi Lars,
You should have come to my school in the UK then! Every boy had to do PE in white shorts and bare chest and that was the same until I left school at 18.

Comments by Lars on 15th January 2013  zarrer@hotmail.de 

I am Lars, 19 from Germany. Yes I like this nice picture. All these good looking boys, stripped to the waist, just in gym shorts....
since I am bisexual, I like the straight athlitic bodys.
People told, that the did cross county running during PE even in winter with snow and just in shorts!
I like that, and run also wtripped to the waist in winter across our near forrest.


Comments by John Lavender on 15th January 2013  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

Good Photo. The only way to do Gym really.
We did Gym in White tees and white shorts but several of the Boys used to strip off their Tops at any opportunity and do the Class Stripped to the Waist. (Independent Grammar School, N-E England, early to mid 1960s).

Comments by Chris on 9th January 2013  

It was the same with me - the girls could see us in the gym and outside too. All down that corridor was re-inforced glass doors as the gym was also used for assembly and other things, there was also a stage and adjacent a large storeroom too. Strangely our teacher insisted on vests being worn going into the gym and then made each lad strip down, leaving a line of vests along the front of the stage. In the second year, the girls came up with a plan to get a better view so when they were outside they'd "forget" something they needed for their PE lesson so 2-3 girls would be picked to come into the gym to get it. They timed it so they'd come in just as we started to strip down. However for outdoor sessions we were all stripped to the waist before going out onto the yard or field.

Comments by Barrie on 2nd January 2013  

Dave:- This was in the 1960's.
Some lads didn't like having to go bare-chested while others didn't mind.Of course we didn't have any choice as we had to go stripped to the waist in any event.
We didn't have mixed PE but the girls could see us in the gym.
Also we often took our shirts off outside at breaks when the weather was warm enough.

Comments by Dave on 2nd January 2013  

When was it? What was the reaction of boys having to go shirtless for PE. Was it the same outside or only in the gym?

Did you have to go barechested in mixed PE lessons? You've written that girls admired your physics.

Comments by Barrie on 31st December 2012  

Like Dawson my Dad kept me and my three brothers shirtless for nearly all the time.
As soon as we got home from school we had to strip to the waist and were kept bare-chested for the rest of the day.
We were all well built muscular lads with hairy chests and No.1 haircuts.
It goes without saying that we all did PE stripped to the waist(and bare-foot) and because of our muscular phyiques we were admired by the girls and other lads who were less muscular were jealous of us.

Comments by Paul on 21st December 2012  

I was always stripped to the waist for swimming so there was no problem for me in having to do PE while stripped to the waist.

Comments by Dawson on 6th December 2012  

Comments by Connor on 26th November 2012  

Yes Dave, my school was in the south of England and the reason was pretty much what you've said - the idea that making boys strip to the waist encourages them to keep their bodies in good shape. The change came about when I was 14 and a new head of PE decided that fitness standards among the boys needed improving. He sent out a letter to our parents explaining the changes that were being made and that included the new kit - basically our old kit minus the vest! And Adam's right about the attitude of dads, mine said going bare-chested would do me good as that was how they did PE in his day. I think it was mums rather than dads who complained. But the policy came into effect and I think it was successful, personally I definitely made more effort and got fitter. Also it was a great confidence boost when I realised girls were eyeing me up in the gym!

Comments by Adam on 26th November 2012  

In my school boys always had to be stripped to the waist for PE.It would have been no use getting your parents to protest and most dads would expect their sons to go bare-chested as a matter of course.

Comments by Dave on 26th November 2012  

I think boys take care more of their bodies if they aren't allowed to wear shirts for PE.Shirts are very useless. They're unsafe for some exercises especially for gym exercises.

Connor was it in the UK? What was the reason given of the minimal PE kit?

Comments by Connor on 25th November 2012  

Most of us felt very uneasy when we first learned we'd be doing PE with our vests off in front of the girls. There were several protests and a few boys got their parents to contact the school and argue against it. But the school wouldn't budge and made it clear that vests were no longer part of the permitted indoor PE kit for boys. So while the majority of us hated having to go barechested, I think before long a kind of macho pride took over and we wanted to look good in front of the girls.

Comments by Paul on 17th November 2012  

Kikoi,Maybe some do but when I was at school if the teachers made you go shirtless then you had to go stripped to the waist whatever you felt about it

Comments by Kikoi on 13th November 2012  

Don't some boys get embarrassed if made to be shirtless in front of girls.

Comments by Neil on 23rd October 2012  

When I started at secondary school I soon discovered that our PE uniform was shorts and plimsolls only.
Boys from another primary school to mine were apparently used to this as they were stripped to the waist for PE at that school.
When we changed for our first lesson these boys stripped to the waist at once whereas we were a bit slow to bare our chestsbut we had to do it.
We soon got used to it in the gym but when we had to do cross-country runs in the surrounding streets while stripped to the waist it was a different matter.
Even then we got used to it and after the initial shock I for one eventually rather enjoyed the freedom of being stripped to the waist.

Comments by Simon on 14th October 2012  

It was a similar story at my school if you forgot your PE kit - underpants only or shorts if there was a spare pair available. Sometimes boys would accidentally bring their swimming kit for a PE lesson and end up doing the class in trunks instead. Obviously getting it mixed up the other way round wasn't a problem, then you just wore your PE shorts for swimming.
However, if you forgot your kit for an outdoor lesson, you weren't made to do it shirtless and barefoot - instead you had to join whichever class was doing PE in the gym at that time. That happened to me once when I was nearly 16 and had to do PE shirtless and barefoot with a class of much younger boys. I was at least able to borrow a pair of shorts but it was still a humiliating experience.
As at Stuart's school, we had PE detentions - usually a fairly intense workout in the gym and for that you had to wear shorts only.

Comments by Stuart on 13th October 2012  

Comments by Mark on 12th October 2012  

Like Toby I used to wear a chain around my neck in my case with a cross.I never took it off and can remember doing cross-country runs stripped to the waist with the cross dangling over my bare chest.

Comments by Toby on 28th September 2012  

I got on the wrong side of one PE teacher immediately for failing to take off the medallion I used to wear on a chain around my neck. He was really strict about kit regulations and warned me I'd be in serious trouble if he saw it again in his class. We had two PE teachers, the other one was more easy going and I continued to wear the medallion for his lessons but unfortunately the strict teacher was covering for him one day and all hell broke loose.
I had to take off the medallion, which he confiscated, and then announced that if I couldn't follow the kit rules he'd make them easier for me. Which meant I had to take off my vest, socks and shoes there and then and do the class in just shorts, barefoot and barechested. From then on that was my kit for the gym and for cross country I was allowed running shoes but still no top. It was humiliating as every other boy got to wear full kit while I was made to do each PE lesson stripped to the waist for the rest of the year.
Not surprisingly I had to put up with some pretty sarcastic comments from the other boys and those, along with cross country on a chilly morning, made PE a miserable experience. Even the other teacher's lessons brought no relief as the stricter one was head of PE and ensured that my punishment was always enforced. Even in the summer term when we did athletics on the track, I was the only boy who had to run barechested.
Eventually I got the medallion back but I never dared to wear it for PE again.

Comments by Toby on 27th September 2012  

I got on the wrong side of one PE teacher immediately for failing to take off the medallion I used to wear on a chain around my neck. He was really strict about kit regulations and warned me I'd be in serious trouble if he saw it again in his class. We had two PE teachers, the other one was more easy going and I continued to wear the medallion for his lessons but unfortunately the strict teacher was covering for him one day and all hell broke loose.
I had to take off the medallion, which he confiscated, and then announced that if I couldn't follow the kit rules he'd make them easier for me. Which meant I had to take off my vest, socks and shoes there and then and do the class in just shorts, barefoot and barechested. From then on that was my kit for the gym and for cross country I was allowed running shoes but still no top. It was humiliating as every other boy got to wear full kit while I was made to do each PE lesson stripped to the waist for the rest of the year.
Not surprisingly I had to put up with some pretty sarcastic comments from the other boys and those, along with cross country on a chilly morning, made PE a miserable experience. Even the other teacher's lessons brought no relief as the stricter one was head of PE and ensured that my punishment was always enforced. Even in the summer term when we did athletics on the track, I was the only boy who had to run barechested.
Eventually I got the medallion back but I never dared to wear it for PE again.

Comments by Andrew on 27th September 2012  

Different teachers often had varying rules about what they let you wear for PE. I had one teacher who didn't mind what colour shirt or shorts you brought, and others who would give you detention just for wearing the wrong socks!

Comments by Paul on 26th September 2012  

Our official PE uniform was vest and shorts but one year we had a new teacher who made us all be stripped to the waist both in the gym and for cross-country.

Comments by Connor on 30th August 2012  

I agree that barechested PE makes boys more inclined to look after their bodies. I left school as recently as the 90s and our PE kit was white vest, shorts and trainers until I was 14. Then a new head of PE came in and felt that standards of health and fitness were poor, so he increased the number of PE sessions per week and also changed the kit - girls stayed the same, but we boys now had to go barechested. That included the one session each week that boys and girls did together! At first there were some complaints from boys and parents but in the end we had to get on with it. Knowing that my body was on display to everyone, including girls, gave me an incentive to work harder in PE and I even started doing extra stuff like weights too. By the next year I was much fitter and receiving some complimentary remarks about my physique from girls as well!

Comments by Paul on 24th August 2012  

I agree with those who point out that "health and safety" dictates a lot of what happens in PE lessons today.Prior to the 1970's lads stripped to the waist for games whatever the conditions as a matter of course whether they liked it or not.

Comments by James on 3rd August 2012  

Brian, We were stripped off both outdoors and inside. We had to change into vests but our teacher split us either into all skins or teams of skins and vests. I should have added each house was split into 3 classes for each year

Comments by James on 2nd August 2012  

Hi Dave, Our's was a co-ed school in NE England in the 80's but we were separated for PE and Games lessons. The inter house competitions were a big thing throughout the school. Fitness competitions were a school thing and each house would select 6 boys from each year group to compete. The fitness competition comprised of repetitions of press ups, pull ups, squats, sit ups and shuttle runs. The girls loved it because they got to cheer everyone in their year group on, with the added bonus of seeing us all barechested and visibly sweating. Each fitness competition lasted for an hour, and it was pretty close to non stop activity. The winners took each other on in the final and the other 2 houses went against each other to avoid the wooden spoon.

Comments by Brian on 31st July 2012  

Unlike James our PE was always done stripped to the waist both inside and outdoors whatever the weather.I'm sure that the girls used to enjoy seeing the sixth form youths stripped to the waist many showing off their hairy chests.

Comments by Dave on 29th July 2012  

James, were your lessons co-ed sometimes having the girls with you? What does a fitness competition mean? Is it a public competition among schools?
Which decade was it? Was it in England?

Comments by James on 28th July 2012  

Our PE lessons were either done with all the boys stripped to the waist or with half left in vests. The girls all looked forward to seeing your vest coming off outside especially in autumn/winter when it was nice and cold.

When it came to picking the teams for inter house competitions obviously there was a lot of good natured banter about who to pick and who would they'd like to see from other houses. For inter house competitions like basketball, it was skins and vests and if you wore a vest for the first half, you'd be barechested for the second half. Fitness competitions were done with all the boys barechested and distinguished by different coloured shorts, while cross country competitions were skins and vests which made a change from everyone being made to run barechested....if your team was lucky enough to be picked to wear a vest!!

Comments by Tim on 26th July 2012  

I agree with Stephen that being stripped to the waist made us all concerned with keeping our bodies in shape especially when we did cross-country in the local area and the locals(especially girls) would be watchning our bodies carefully!!!

Comments by Stephen on 23rd July 2012  

Of course being stripped to the waist made you look after your bodies and indeed become quite proud of them!!!

Comments by Peter on 19th July 2012  

Nigel is right.Lads in junior school aged from seven to eleven had to do PE while stripped to the waist even outdoors in the cold.

Comments by Nigel on 16th July 2012  

In the fifties and sixties lads had no choice about what to wear for PE.If the rules said you did it stripped to the waist(and they usually did)then you stripped to the waist and got on with it.

Comments by Mark on 30th June 2012  

Like Geoff and the others we did PE stripped to the waist and accepted it as normal.It certainly toughened us up.It would do the hoodies we see around good to do tough physical exercise while stripped to the waist.

Comments by Geoff on 25th June 2012  

As has been said youths have it easy these days.When I was at school we did PE stripped to the waist both indoors and outside whatever the weather.This also included cross-country along the adjacent streets.The locals could be heard commenting about our bodies.However this meant that going about bare-chested made us used to seeing our torsos and made some of us proud of them!!

Comments by Colin on 23rd June 2012  

The youths of today need toughening up.Doing PE etc outdoors while stripped to the waist would be the right way to do this.

Comments by Alastair on 23rd June 2012  

Mike A is right.In the fifties and sixties we all did PE etc stripped to the waist and lads should be stripped to the waist today for games etc

Comments by David on 22nd June 2012  

Like Paul I remember one boy who never wore a vest for PE and eventually more and more lads followed suit so that the entire class went stripped to the waist.

Comments by Mike A on 22nd June 2012  

I've read many accounts with the same theme i.e. Vests or T-shirts being on the official uniform but being prohibited by the sadist ex-military PE teacher. Our official regular PT (as it was called back then) kit was white shorts and black plimsolls, no shirt, underwear or socks listed. No matter how bitterly cold it was, we still had only brief shorts to wear. We had weekly cross-country and just like The Yorkist on 16th April 2012, we also ran bare chest through the town to comments from the locals about our physiques. Unlike today their were no obese teenagers. We trained hard and cared for our bodies. I think the fact that our torsos were on display made us care.
I agree with Nigel, on 18th April 2012, that boys should be stripped to the waist. As with many fads and fashions we are following the example set in the USA where Physical Education is being set aside as school budgets are squeezed, and where it is still mandatory many schools no longer require a shower afterwards. Communal shower blocks have been completely decommissioned and used for storage. Many boys in the US are so ashamed and prudish that they will not shower together, hence sweating is avoided and instead of getting young hearts pumping they are tasked with expressive dance lessons!
In the U.K. we are following suit, as will an obesity and diabetes epidemic!

Comments by Jeremy on 18th June 2012  

Chris is right and we all did PE stripped to the waist(and barefoot)thinking nothing of it.

Comments by Chris on 8th June 2012  

21st Century youths have it easy these days!!!When I was at school we did games etc strip;ped to the waist anf just on with it.Anyone who complained would most likely be made to do press-up outside and stripped to the waist for up to an hour.

Comments by Colin on 29th May 2012  

I think the reason why schools want boys to wear T shirts is the influence of the PC/Health and safety zealots. I am sure that most boys would have no difficuly in being stripped to the waist and even those who initially didn't like it would come round to doing bare-chest PE in the end.

Comments by Roy on 24th May 2012  

I think that Paul and Dave are correct.When I was at school I had no problem about being stripped to the waist for games etc.I don't think other lads worried either and many of us went barefoot as well.

Comments by Paul on 22nd May 2012  

I think Dave is correct as I remember one particular lad who would always be stripped to the waist even when others wore vests.I don't think he even had a vest.

Comments by Dave on 21st May 2012  

I think most boys dont'mind being stripped to the waist even for P.E. They don't wear shirts for swimming lessons. What's the difference? So I can't see why most schools require shirts for P.E. nowadays even as vests are vanishing from P.E. kit lists being replaced by T-shirts.

Comments by Mike on 20th May 2012  

There seems to be some inconsistency.Boys object to being stripped to the waist for PE but many lads seem to have no objection to walking around bare-chested at other times.

Comments by Alasdair on 15th May 2012  

There was more discipline in schools in the fifties and sixties and if you had to do PE stripped to thne waist you just got on with it.

Comments by Gary. on 10th May 2012  

School rules said that you did PE stripped to the waist(and sometimes barefoot as well).If anyone complained more than likely he would receive up to six strokes of the cane while stripped to the waist

Comments by Richard on 6th May 2012  

Why are lads so reticent about being stripped to the waist for P E these days? As others have said in the sixties if you were a boy you stripped to the waist and thought nothing of it.

Comments by DANNY on 4th May 2012  

I too was always stripped to the waist for games and really enjoyed showing off my well-built body to all and sundry.

Comments by Adam on 3rd May 2012  

In the sixties it was normal for boys to be stripped to the waist for P E etc.I was from age five until eighteen and enjoyed the freedom of being bare-chested even in rain fog and snow.

Comments by Mark S on 2nd May 2012  

Like Dan I did cross-country while stripped to the waist and barefoot.This was in a built up area with all the locals staring at our bare chests.By the time I wa in the sixth form I was quite muscular with strong biceps and well developed pectorals.I also has a ginger hairy chest!!!!!!!

Comments by Mark on 26th April 2012  

Agree with Neil and Nigel.I was always stripped to the waist for P E.

Comments by Nigel on 18th April 2012  

Neil is so right.Boys and youths should be stripped to the waist as often as possible - for PE,games, and playing in the street and parks.Being stripped to the waist gives you freedom and a sense of exhilaration and allows you to get a sun tan in the summer!!!!!

Comments by Neil on 18th April 2012  

I started doing PE etc stripped to the waist as soon as I started school right up to when I left.It was perfectly natural and it led me to being stripped to the waist as often as I could later when I was at work.

Comments by Matty on 17th April 2012  

I well remember doing PE stripped to the waist in freezing fog and snow.It was tough but I got on with it.

Comments by Dan on 17th April 2012  

Roy and the Yorkist:-In the fifties and sixties I always did PE stripped to the waist as did all the lads in my class.It never did me any harm and was regarded as perfectly normal.It encouraged me to strip to the waist as often as possible and to this day I go about stripped to the waist as often as I can no matter what the weather

Comments by Mark J on 17th April 2012  

I too was always stripped to the waist for P E in the fifties and sixties and it did me no harm. In fact the experience encouraged me to go shirtless whenever possible and I now regularly walk around stripped to the waist.

Comments by Roy on 17th April 2012  

I'm glad the Yorkist agrees with me.I personally had no problems with being stripped to the waist at all times for P E.

Comments by The Yorkist on 16th April 2012  

Yes I agree.As a boy from the age of 5 until 18 I was always stripped to the waist for PE and from 11 I was barefoot as well and from about 13 it was also compulsory for boys to be stripped to the waist and barefoot for cross-country.For cross-country we would go through built-up areas and quite often we could hear some locals commenting favourably on our bare chests and well-built muscular bodies.

Comments by Roy on 14th April 2012  

It was good to see boys doing gym etc stripped to the waist.That is as it should be even outdoors in rain fog and snow.