Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1935         Item #: 1741         Views: 151,566         Comments: 686

Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team

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

686 user comment(s) below:-

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?