Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1935         Item #: 1741         Views: 138,153         Comments: 664

Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team

Image scaled down from 1000px to 740px wide. Click the image to view the original.

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

664 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by Katie on 6th May 2016  

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

Comments by Rob on 29th April 2016  

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

Comments by Keith on 28th April 2016  

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

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

Comments by Roy on 24th April 2016  

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

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

Hi Emily,

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

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

Comments by Enily on 18th April 2016  

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

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

Comments by Claire on 16th April 2016  

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

Comments by Emily on 15th April 2016  

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comments by Emily on 14th April 2016  

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

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

Hi Emily,

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

Comments by Emily on 13th April 2016  

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

Comments by Roy on 31st March 2016  

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

Comments by Stewart on 25th January 2016  

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

Comments by Spence on 10th January 2016  


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

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


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

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

Comments by Stewart on 4th January 2016  

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

Comments by Pete on 4th January 2016  

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

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

Comments by Roy on 3rd January 2016  

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

Comments by Pete on 2nd January 2016  

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

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

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

Comments by Nick on 1st January 2016  

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

Comments by Emma on 30th December 2015  

Hi Jack

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

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

Comments by Pete on 30th December 2015  

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

Comments by John on 30th December 2015  

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

Comments by Pete on 27th December 2015  

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

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

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

Comments by Jack on 18th December 2015  

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

Comments by Emma on 9th December 2015  

Hi Andrea

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

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

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


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

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

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

Comments by Jack on 9th December 2015  

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

Comments by Joshua on 6th December 2015  

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

Comments by Emma on 6th December 2015  

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

Comments by Jack on 5th December 2015  

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

Comments by Emma on 4th December 2015  

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

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

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

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

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

Comments by Mark on 11th November 2015  

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

Comments by Andy on 10th November 2015  

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

Comments by Mark on 9th November 2015  

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

Comments by Claire on 8th November 2015  

Hi Peri,

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Comments by Dave on 7th November 2015  

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

Comments by Mark on 7th November 2015  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comments by John on 5th November 2015  

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

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

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

Comments by Claire on 3rd November 2015  

Hi Andrea,

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

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

Hi Claire,

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

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

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


Comments by Claire on 1st November 2015  

Hi Andrea,

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

Comments by John on 31st October 2015  

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