Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1935         Item #: 1741         Views: 96,730         Comments: 446

Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team

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

446 user comment(s) below:-

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  

Adam said “most dads would expect their sons to go bare-chested as a matter of course.”
This was also my experience. During the early 1990's my former HS track Coach encouraged us to go shirtless during practice. We trained and even competed shirtless, weather permitting. He maintained that having a shirt sticking to your back was unhealthy and clogged pores. His own son was always shirtless, no matter how cold it was.
My Uncle kept my teenage cousins shirtless most of the time. He was ex military and insisted on buzz style haircuts and a daily exercise regime. I recall a camping trip when they arrived without any shirts. Despite the cold nights they would remain shirtless and when offered the loan of shirts they refused. They had muscular physiques and encouraged me to work-out more, however that didn't last.
My Coaches son also had a great physique. It makes sense that being shirtless would lead boys to care more for their bodies.

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  

No one seems to have mentioned what happened if you forgot PE or games kit.

At my grammar school (early 70’s) for indoor PE if you didn’t have kit you had to strip to just underpants, which for nearly everyone was white y-fronts, although one or two boys had progressed to coloured versions.

With cross country you were given a spare pair of shorts, and made to run the normal course, shirtless and bare foot. With other games like rugby, again you wore just borrowed shorts, and ran laps of the field. Both of these punishments took place irrespective of the weather.

Anyone who repeatedly forgot kit would have been back in the gym for a detention session, which involved a workout/run, again in just shorts.

How does this compare to other schools?