Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1935         Item #: 1741         Views: 117,391         Comments: 602

Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team

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

602 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by Robin on 16th February 2019  

I had a similar experience in school to what Sam posted. When I was at school, we didn't really have enforced topless PE as this was a later time than what most people here are describing. However, we could choose to remove our shirts for certain activities if we wanted. And of course if we forgot our kit it meant we would have to strip off and do it in just our normal school shorts. Since I was pretty shy and in my mind, still too skinny (and especially since it was a mixed school), I could never muster up the confidence to go shirtless for PE even though I wanted too. I was envious of the handful of other boys who stripped off unashamedly and displayed their bare torsos. It always seemed to get the attention and admiration of the girls in our class. One time before a cross country run I even confided my insecurity to my best friend Jasmine, saying how much I would like to run shirtless for a change. She said it was hardly a big deal and encouraged me to go ahead and take it off if I felt like it and I hesitantly agreed. On the day itself though when it seemed I was going to chicken out, Jasmine "helped" me out by sneakily taking my PE top out of my bag and stashing it somewhere I couldn't find it. When I pleaded with her to let me have it back, she flatly refused with a mischievous gleam in her eye. Thus, when the time came to change for PE I had no choice but to sheepishly unbutton my shirt, peel it off join the rest of the class, much to her delight.

I was so sure I was going to be a laughingstock, but amazingly no one really made fuss about it as we set off on the run, some of the girls just gave a cursory glance at my bare torso but no more than that. By the end of it my body was covered in sweat but felt totally at ease and brimming with confidence. I even set a better time than I had previously! Afterwards, as I was still shirtless on the way back to class, a couple of the girls came up to talk to me and casually complimented my body. Even the teacher made a positive comment about my performance that day. I remember when Jasmine returned my shirt to me, she gave me the most unsubtle "I told you so" look I had ever seen. Later on she finally admitted that she simply wanted to see me with my top off! Annoyingly, she was right though, I had built up being barechested in my head as such a big deal when it really wasn't. From then on, I hardly ever wore a shirt for PE when it wasn't required.

Comments by Fiona on 16th February 2019  

June - following on from your your comment that your sons started sleeping nude at boarding school, how did you feel about the idea when you found out? Opposed to it, doubtful but accepting, or encouraging?

Comments by Fiona on 15th February 2019  

June - judging from the friends my son has for overnighters, your household and ours are not alone in our sleeping preferences.

Comments by Rob on 15th February 2019  

Sam, I don't know what year you were referring to when you had your very difficult decision to make, but my experience was the same as the great majority of subscribers. Back in the mid fifties I went from a small primary school where we did basic exercises in our normal school clothes to an all boys grammar school. At the beginning of our first PE lesson we were all told to go to the changing room and ''take everything off including your pants and socks and come back into the gym wearing just shorts and plimsolls''. As we got changed some of the boys were talking and asking whether we were allowed to wear T shirts and we said no, just shorts and plimsolls. We all duly stripped off and trooped back into the gym. Some boys might have felt nervous and shy about going barechested but even if they still felt that way at the end of the lesson we were all told to go back to the changing room and take our shorts off and get in the open communal showers.Having never been naked in public before I was apprehensive, but seeing the other boys going in I realised I had no choice but to join them. We just had to do as we were told and that was how it was and we soon got used to it. We always did PE in the same kit until we left aged 18 and I thoroughly enjoyed having to strip off, especially for a cross country run and feel the fresh air on my bare chest.

Comments by June on 15th February 2019  

Glad to hear about nudity in your household. And that we're not alone! As said my three boys went to boarding school where it seemed en vogue to abandon pjs around about the age of12. Of course once the eldest boy discarded them so did his younger brothers. We had no problems whatsovever. Just glad when dressing gowns are worn about the house when grandparents are over!

Comments by Sam on 14th February 2019  

Josh, I had a similar experience to yours in that I wanted to do PE barechested but was just too nervous and shy about it. For boys it was optional to wear a T shirt or vest in the gym, and probably seven or eight chose to go without, including a couple of my friends. Generally they were the boys who had better bodies and were therefore more confident, while I was slim and pale skinned too.
Then one of the boys who was really skinny, more so than me, joined the topless ranks and I decided, if he could do it, so could I. The problem was, I kept chickening out when we got to the changing room and I'd end up putting my top on after all. So I realised the only solution was to leave it at home, just put my shorts and trainers in my kit bag and then I'd have no option when it came to PE, I'd be forced to go barechested.
It still wasn't easy, I made a pretence of rummaging around my kit bag for the T-shirt I knew wasn't there and telling one of my friends I must have forgotten it. He just shrugged and said it doesn't matter, you don't need it.
And of course he was right, I found that I didn't! Next PE lesson I wore the same kit and the T-shirt stayed at home from then on.

Comments by Jason on 14th February 2019  

Hi Steve, in your post you talked about the fact that shirtless guys were “tortured” to prove their toughness, and you’re right! I started being shirtless at home and I was very comfortable in that so that after some months I started running and going out shirtless (for example going to my friend’s house near mine one). However, one day, even if I went there always shirtless, that day my friend wasn’t alone but there was his cousin who, I don’t know why, hated the fact I was shirtless. We started arguing because he said “you do that because you want to prove your toughness” and this things but it wasn’t true. I answered that I wanted only to stay free and that yes, I was tougher than him. Maybe I wouldn’t have said this thing, because he wanted to challenge me with punches to show me how tough was him. At first he was tied to a bar and I had to punch him until he said stop. He managed to resist 9 minutes which isn’t a bad result. Then was my turn, I was tied to a bar so that I cannot escape and he started punching me. It wasn’t a problem, because I had great abs so that I resist. The problem was when he wanted to get fun doing other things, like carrying a bucket full of mud and then putting all this mud on my bare chest. I was furious but I was tied and I couldn’t escape. He also “tortured” me with other things, like oil, that made my chest very dirty, oily and smelly. Then, the cowards spit on me and went back his home, only at that point my friend coming out from his home (we were in the garden) saw me in that condition and was very sorry for what was happened. As soon as he cut the rope I shouted with my friends and went back home as I was, with everything on my chest. That is what I was obliged to suffer for loving being shirtless. I don’t know why, but he hated the fact I was shirtless

Comments by Fiona on 14th February 2019  

June - nude has been the default setting for night attire in our house for a number of years, and for me personally since puberty (see my post on that on one of the other threads). My son (now 13) was about about four when he decided that he didn't need pyjamas any more, but he does have, and enjoys wearing, a dressing gown.

Comments by Steve on 13th February 2019  

As to the different comments, no, I wasn’t allowed a dressing gown, I never even had one but if I had had one, I am sure my dad would have ripped it of me. He was quite straightforward in many ways, I remember him telling me that I had a choice of stripping, getting ready for bed and being allowed to stay up, like my siblings, or going to bed early. Of course, I stripped down to my briefs and just got on with it. However, I would never have been allowed to sleep naked or walk around the house naked. There was a hell of a difference between being in briefs and being naked. For my dad, a boy just did not need more clothing than a pair of briefs in the evening and for sleeping but he definitely needed to be covered.
And yes John there was certainly an intention to toughen me up. I also remember the unlucky boy who wore his pyjamas for camp and didn’t have the reflex of at least getting rid of his top. Sleeping in briefs only made you part of the tough boys and boy did we torture that poor soul to prove our toughness.

Comments by June on 13th February 2019  

My three boys were sleeping in the nude by the age of 12 each in turn. Never mind wearing briefs! They picked up this habit up at boarding school. They might wear a tshirt if the nights got very cold and I did insist they wear their pjs however when their grandparents were staying over ... lol

Comments by Andy on 13th February 2019  

We had different PE teachers in different years, late 60s grammar.

By reputation one was much stricter than others, indeed we saw his cross country boys on a run, so knew what to expect. We did 2 pe lessons a week, one inside, one a run

At the start of the 2nd year we got timetables and saw his name as our pe teacher. Up to then we had been allowed T-shirt’s and plimsolls, but not any more.

Once we got to the changing rooms, we were told cross country, just shorts boys. We knew this, but it was still a shock to be made to run bare foot and stripped to the waist. No other kit allowed no matter how cold or wet it was.

We caned hard as well, always 6 strokes.

Comments by Alfie A on 13th February 2019  

Steve, interesting comments because it was similar for me.In the 60's I akso was told no more pyjamas. In the summer not a problem, because I would not get undressed until I went to bed. However, in the winter(we had no central heating of course) I was expected to undress in the living room where we hard the open wire to keep warm. I did have a dressinggown to put on, but the worst part for me was that I lived with my dad (my mum having passed away) and also in the home was nan and a maiden aunt. So stripping down to my briefs was embarassing because we were all in the room togehter and I got into my dressing gown as soon as possible. Of course nowadays most lads wear the boxers which are just like walking about in shorts. However I prefer the briefs/slips.
In my mid teens at Secondary school we were due for our medical examine and we knew from other lads that this would include stripping and the drop & cough. Parents could attend but I don't think any did and I had to really work hard to ensure my nan that she did not need to attend(that would have been embarrassing) as dad was at work. Luckily I did go on my own.

How thing have changed. At High school my son wears track suits in winter for outside games along with a rugby shirt. There are no showers and they no longer have medical check ups.

Comments by John on 13th February 2019  

You had a great dad. I wish that my dad had taken my pyjamas off me and made me sleep shirtless at 10 years old. When I was 12 I went on school camp and slept in a tent with a large group of lads, my mum made sure that I packed my pyjamas. The first night away when the teacher told us to get ready for bed I had to endure the embarassment of discovering that most of the lads slept shirtless.

Not wanting to be different myself and the other non barechested lads quickly took off our pjj jackets and slept shirtless for the rest of school camp. When I got home I carried on sleeping barechested.

Comments by Fiona on 12th February 2019  

Steve - didn't you have a dressing-gown that you could wear until bedtime?

Comments by Steve on 12th February 2019  

Interesting stories here about being made to sleep shirtless. My dad also took away my pyjamas when I turned 10 insisting that I should stop sleeping like a little kid. He had quite a go at my mother when she pointed out that I might get cold and told her (and me) that I needed to become a man and stop complaining and hiding behind her.
From that night on, my sleepwear was just briefs. However my parents had this rule that us kids were allowed to stay up after diner but that we needed to get changed and ready for bed. My little brother and my sisters changed in to their pyjamas but for me this then obiously meant briefs only. At the beginning I was quite self conscious about being the only one that had to be 'on display' but it soon just became normal. However, I was quite happy when my brother was made to join me a few years later.

Comments by Claire on 11th February 2019  

James R, I'm sure you looked great topless when you fought. You certainly didn't deserve pointless comments about your chest!

Comments by Daniel P on 11th February 2019  

I'd just turned 10 and left my kit at home. I was simply given shorts and told 'vest off" Others were given a choice to strip or not, over half my class did and the others kept their vests on to run.

Comments by Fiona on 11th February 2019  

Claire, James R - If my son and his friends are anything to go by, many pre-teen and teenage boys (not to mention a surprising percentage of girls, too), sleep topless, or even completely naked, at least some of the time, and a fair number seem to sleep that way all of the time.

Comments by Steven T on 11th February 2019  

Stuart. Your comments reminded me of my schools PE and games lessons and one boy we had. He wasn't a close friend but he was very athletic he even ran o the cross country team. Thomas he was called and he by his own choice always did PE in his shorts and nothing else. Always shirtless and always barefoot even in xc meets he was shirtless and barefoot. It was quite good actually but he was the only one that ran this way by choice unless someone forgot their kit.

Comments by Josh on 11th February 2019  

Hi Stuart, yes, it happened to me. When I was 15, in fact, we started doing a lot of run due to the change of pe teacher. However he didn’t order us to strip to the waist, maybe because he knew there was someone shy like me ahah. But the problem was that, while the former teacher prohibited to run shirtless, this one gave the opportunity to do so, and so it was. My school mates were happy and took off their shirt, but I was shy and I didn’t want to do so. I have to say, I wasn’t obliged by the teacher, but by the situation. In fact, I was the only one with a shirt on. I asked my teacher how I could to do to overcome the problem and he told me that the key was not to take any shirt. So, next time, I put in my bag only shorts, and when we started pe I cannot hide that I was embarrassed, but I cannot do anything else a part from running bare chested. The funny thing was that day it started raining a lot and the other boys took their shirt on, I would have done, but I couldn’t. So the situation was the opposite one, everybody were with a shirt a part from me. But I managed to get confidence and even if I get dirty with mud, I was happy for having overtaken that problem

Comments by John on 11th February 2019  

I completely agree with everything that you’ve said. Most males like to exercise shirtless if they are allowed to experience it.

Comments by Stuart on 10th February 2019  

Did anyone have a situation with PE or cross country where they were allowed to wear shirts, shorts, socks and plimsolls, but some, or most, boys decided to strip to the waist or go bare foot ?

If so, I wonder how popular it was, thus if a boy decided to run in only shorts, did he keep doing so, one out of the rest wearing shirts/plimsolls.

Comments by Claire on 9th February 2019  

My brothers were encouraged to sleep topless too from the 12yr old.Being stripped to box is a good thing, I've never seen the point in boys/men wearing vests to exercise.

Comments by Roy on 5th February 2019  

From what I recall the boys themselves decided to be stripped to the waist

Comments by Andrew on 5th February 2019  

John, it was crazy that early morning lesson could be affected, but although tops were expected in later years it wasn't uncommon for us to break that rule sometimes and some teachers turn a blind eye to it.

Afterall, if we didn't bring a top (or at least claim we didn't claiming we thought it was an indoor lesson) we weren't prevented from going outside.

Comments by James R on 4th February 2019  

My dad made me go topless as much as possible and had me sleep topless when I turned 9. Out of school I was made to box. Nearly all lads trained topless, a few wore vests. When we were in the ring you always fought stripped to the waist regardless of your age or level of experience. I boxed from the age of 8 to 27 and some of the remarks directed at you were amusing. From not having tattoos to my naturally hairless chest but women enjoyed seeing you stripped off and see how you looked as you fought.

Comments by Toby A on 3rd February 2019  

Hello Roy, Until the whole class stripped to the waist did the teachers decide who stripped off, like skins Vs vests?

Comments by John on 3rd February 2019  

I would have thought that if lads had an outdoor PE lesson in summer starting at 09.00 and finishing at 10.00 they would have been safe from getting sunburnt. It seems a shame that lads cannot enjoy the freedom of exercising shirtless during spring, summer and autumn.

Comments by Andrea on 2nd February 2019  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

That's what I was thinking. I went to an all girls school too, but that was well before sports bras were invented!

Comments by ROY F on 1st February 2019  

Certainly when I was at secondary school in the 1960's there was no specific rule about wearing or not wearing tops for PE.In the first three years-Years 7-9 -in today's parlance - a few boys stripped to the waist both in the gym and outdoors.
However in Years 10 and 11 all boys stripped to the waist. This started when a new boy joined the school and went bare-chested.The next lesson we all joined him and went stripped to the waist.
This continued into Sixth Form(Years 12 and 13).

Comments by Andrew on 30th January 2019   andrew_bx@yahoo.co.uk

Fiona, all is good if your son is happy with that kit. My school was mixed although PE wasn't, but your brothers kit sounds identical to ours- so I am guessing no later than 1980s?

Comments by Fiona on 30th January 2019  

Andrew - my son is more than happy with his present PE kit arrangements. After his years at primary school doing PE in t-shirt and track-suit bottoms, being allowed to wear just a pair of shorts for PE is his idea of heaven. He's never liked wearing a lot of clothing, and even in winter will usually go to school without his coat, with just a shirt under his blazer, and in summer, he's topless for as many of the 24 hours as he can get away with

Comments by Fiona on 30th January 2019  

Toby - my brother was at an all boys school. PE in the gym was always topless, with plimsolls but no socks. Outdoor sports like football, cricket and tennis had conventional kit, and while vests were theoretically required for outdoor athletics in the summer, in practice everyone went topless, except on sports day, when parents etc were around. Swimming was always in speedo style swimsuits, which often doubled as supportive underwear for sports and PE.

Comments by Fiona on 30th January 2019  

Andrea - Mum went to an all girls school, which is probably why she wasn't sent straight back to the changing room to get her PE top.

Comments by Andrea on 29th January 2019  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Fiona, did your mum go to an all girls school, or were there boys there too?

Comments by Toby A on 29th January 2019  

Fiona Despite not being too good at sport I always enjoyed PE/Games. Our teacher knew his job getting us to sweat up. I was a bit surprised we always had to strip off in the gym rather than go in topless but I think that taught discipline and respect. Being stripped off outside was something else but it woke me up after being in overheated classrooms.

Your comments are interesting and offer a different perspective. You mentioned your brother stripping off for PE what kind of activities did he do with his shirt off.

Comments by Andrew on 29th January 2019  andrew_bx@yahoo.co.uk 

Fiona, we had a similar kit to your son but outside tops went from optional to mandatory due to the long-term risk of sunburn. Much like yourself and Rob plimsolls were required outside due to risk of sharp objects. But yes its sad how such kits are now considered out of date, but what does/did your son think of it all?

Comments by Fiona on 28th January 2019  

Toby A - in answer to your question, I think boys stripping off for PE is a very good idea, and I have never really understood why this healthy practice has been allowed to disappear over the past generation or so. Both my brother and my father did PE topless at secondary school as a matter of course. At my son's school, PE tops are mandatory for outdoor activities like cross-country, but are optional, and rarely worn, in the gym. Towards the end of secondary school, about the time when the need for good sports bras for girls was starting to be recognised, my mother showed up for PE in just her bra, minus her PE shirt, and actually got complimented by the PE teacher for doing so, and although quite a lot of her class followed her example, that fashion now seems to have faded too.

Comments by Rob on 27th January 2019  

Although we wore plimsolls in the gym, most of us voluntarily went out in bare feet when did athletics on grass in the summer.However, away from our well maintained playing fields when we ran cross country the surface was rough ground with grass over chalk with sharp flints and therefore made footwear a must. Otherwise it didn't prevent us from enjoying the pleasure of running bare chested.

Comments by Ross on 27th January 2019  

Fiona, running around barefoot wasn't so bad actually during spring and summer being out on the fields barefoot was really enjoyable. Our cross country course was mostly grass, mud and more mud with a small stream to cross so looking back being barefoot was probably the wise descion as it meant we had no muddy clogged up water soaked plimsolls to clean afterwards. Also a quick Google search of school barefoot rugby will show you it is actually very common throughout the world.

Comments by Roy on 27th January 2019  

I tend to agree with Fiona regarding playing Rugby barefoot although I recall reading somewhere that George Nepia the great All Black of the 1920's did do so in his early life.

Comments by Toby A on 26th January 2019  

Hi Fiona. Indoors we all stripped to the waist, same for xcountry runs. Outside,skins vs vests for football and rugby.Trainers at all times. Do you think it's appropriate for lads to strip off for PE?

Comments by Fiona on 26th January 2019  

Stuart, Ross - I can just imaging cross-counry running in bare feet, athough it's not something I never had to do or even want to try. We almost always wore plimsolls for PE, except occasionally outside on grass in the summer, but on tarmac or rough ground for cross-country, footwear was a must. Playing rugby bare-footed seems utterly ridiculous. How on earth could anyone kick a ball,especially a rugby ball, without anything on their feet?

Comments by Ross on 25th January 2019  

Stewart, same here I was bare chested and barefoot for PE in or out including the cross country. Oh exception was rugby where we were allowed a rugby shirt but still barefoot.

Comments by Stewart on 21st January 2019  

Looking at some of these comments makes me realise how lucky you were! I was at an English Grammar School in the late 1960s and early 70s, and there was a strict no footwear rule for almost all PE, including cross country.

Comments by ROY on 5th December 2018  

I too had to do PE both indoors and outside stripped to the waist and soon got used to it even being bare-chested with snow on the ground!

Comments by Jason R on 23rd November 2018  

Well done to Chris C admitting he struggled being stripped to the waist when outside for PE. I thought I was the only one who found it cold! Harsh as it seems it certainly toughened you up. Some got used to being stripped outdoors before others but I enjoyed it too.

Comments by John on 21st November 2018  

I refer to the 1970s/80s. The Local Education Authority introduced a shirtless PE kit rule for boys for Primary and Secondary Education, this was in response to lads being injured whilst using wall bars and other gym apparatus. The lads had got their vests caught and had apparently sustained serious injuries. The Education Authority saw this as a health & safety issue. If all lads were stripped to the waist for indoor PE/gym these injuries could be prevented.

On the heath side the authority was aware that the Primary Schools had no shower facilities. In the 1979s most lads wore a vest underneath their school shirt, when they got changed for PE in the classroom they took off their shirt and kept their vest on to do PE. After PE lads would keep the same sweaty vest on and put their shirt on over it. It was thought that without a shower and keeping a sweaty vest on for the rest of the school day was totally unhealthy. Primary Schools didn’t want to have to ask parents to supply their sons with a PE vest.

At Secondary School the PE kit list stated white shorts, pumps. No vests/ t shirts were allowed and no underwear permitted underneath the shorts.

Comments by Dave on 21st November 2018  

"I didn’t do PE stripped to the waist until I was age 9 at Junior School when the Local Education Authority introduced bare chested PE for lads, before that lads wore shorts and vests for PE."

Hi John!

Which decade do you write about? Ive thought that PE kits were decided by the school themselves. So the Local Education Authority was the one to introduce the new PE kits in some areas.If it was it explains the fact that from about the 1940's till the late 80's most schools had a shirtless PE kit for boys in the same time.

Comments by Rob on 20th November 2018  

John, it seems that in my days at primary school the Local Education Authority had no power to decide whether or not pupils did any PE, yet alone what they wore for it.I remember aged 10 when it was our year for a physical examination and my mum was coming at a set time. We were called in to the school hall in small groups and told to strip to the waist in preparation for the exam which took place in the headmistress's office.As I mentioned,we didn't really do PE, just a bit of light exercise wearing our normal clothes and it was therefore a real shock and I resisted stripping off saying I would wait until I got into the office. The other boys laughed at me and I eventually had to take my shirt and vest off and wait my turn to see the doctor. If we had all done proper PE from infants school I wouldn't have had a problem later on. After that my parents encouraged me to play outside in the summer stripped to the waist as they had heard that if I went to the boys grammar school I would have to strip off for PE. The following year I found out this was correct at the first PE lesson when we were told to get changed into just gym shorts and plimsolls. I hadn't been prepared however for the open communal showers afterwards, but I soon got used to it and went on to enjoy being stripped to the waist for PE in the gym and on cross country runs with ever growing self-confidence.