Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team

Childhood - Schools

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Year: 1935         Item #: 1741         Views: 85,133         Comments: 398

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

398 user comment(s) below:-

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 70ís) for indoor PE if you didnít 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?

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.



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