Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1935         Item #: 1741         Views: 142,647         Comments: 668

Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team

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

668 user comment(s) below:-

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.

Comments by Dave on 31st October 2015  unia10@freemail.hu 

Hi Stewart!

Were you shirtless for track and fields and cross country either?
How did you play team ball games everyone being barechested.
How did you get to know your PE kit for the first time.Was it in a PE uniform list that you have to do PE shirtless or the teacher was the one who told it to you?
Have you ever had some lessons or sport events with the girls together?
What was the reaction of boys about the PE kit. Was it ever a topic of conversation amongst you?

Comments by Stewart on 28th October 2015  

I went to an English Grammar School from 1967 to 1973, and the boys' PE "uniform" was a just pair of shorts, and for the girls a skirt and vest. All indoor PE and most outdoor activities, including track and field events and cross country running, were done barefoot.

Comments by Andrea on 19th October 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Rose,

I can recollect having the 'Music and Movement' lessons at Primary School too. If I remember correctly, in some cases our teacher had taped the radio programme on one of the old fashioned reel to reel tape recorders.

When your PE teacher asked some girls to take off their vests to even up the 'shirts versus skins' numbers, was it usually the flat-chested girls who were asked, or did she just pick at random?


Comments by Liz on 19th October 2015  

Hi Andrea

I think I only really started wearing a crop top when I started at secondary school. Looking back I didn't really need one, but I guess I wanted to feel more grown up. Of course when we did our first PE lesson we didn't feel very grown up at all! I only really needed a bra from year 9 and even then only a little one, and I tended to wear a crop top for PE lessons then as it always felt a bit more secure and like it covered a bit more than a bra!

The few lessons when the boys were in the gym too were very strange! In the first year we had all got a little used to doing PE with nothing on our tops when the boys all arrived and we all immediately started trying to cover our chests again! Our PE teacher told us not to be so silly and soon had us all doing things like leapfrog, vaulting and climbing the ropes where we needed both our hands so couldn't cover ourselves! After year 7 they still shared the gym a handful of times per year and then it was more a case of trying to hide your knickers as best you could!

Perhaps the most embarrassing time for me was when I has swimming in the morning and PE in the afternoon. Somehow I managed to forget my PE bag that had my costume and towel in it. My teacher told me not to worry and I relaxed for a few seconds until she said that I'd have to swim in my knickers and bra! Well there wasn't a lot of point since they were white cotton, but it got worse when the lesson ended and I had to take them off and get dressed without them! And of course then it was gymnastics in the afternoon, and my underwear was still in the office near the school swimming pool!

Comments by Andrea on 18th October 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Liz,

When I was that age in the early 1970's there were no such things as crop tops. Until we were sufficiently developed for a 'teen bra' (a scaled down version of what our mothers wore), we wore vests or nothing under our shirts - just like the boys. Getting your first bra was a sort of rite of passage (which some girls looked forward to, but others didn't!).
By contrast when my son was in his last year at Primary School (about 10 years ago) most of his female classmates seemed to have the outline of a crop top or bralette under their shirts, whether they needed anything or not.

I imagine that the mixed gym session with the boys must have been quite embarrassing for the 'more developed' girls!


Comments by Rose on 15th October 2015  thirddoctor@aol.com 

Hi Liz
I started secondary school in September 1976. Our PE lessons were single sex and we were supposed to wear shorts & vests during the first year, but if you forgot of didn't have a vest you were allowed to go topless which I prefered.
At the start of term two of us were always topless but after a few weeks it was about half & half which was handy for the teacher if she wanted to split us into two teams (shirts & skins) It reached the point where the teacher would actually ask girls to remove their vests to make the numbers come right.

Comments by Rose on 15th October 2015  thirddoctor@aol.com 

Hi Andrea
No nothing was ever said about wearing a bra, he would of been far too embarrassed to mention it. He found it difficult to tell us that the girls that had "grown" could wear vests & then one of the boys said "grown what Sir" then another said "you mean the ones with tits Sir" The poor man was as red as a beetroot.
You also have to remember that this was the 1970's and many women including my Mum went braless most of the time, so an 11 year old not wearing a bra wasn't unusual. Niether was it unusual for girls to run around topless in the school holidays the same as the boys did.

On a separate note, when we were a little younger one of our PE lessons was taken up by a radio programme called MUSIC & MOVEMENT in which a rather posh Lady instructed us to do various exercises set to music. Did anyone else have this? I think It was later renamed MOVEMENT & MUSIC.

Comments by Andrea on 5th October 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Rose,

Did any of your teachers ever speak to you about wearing a bra if they thought your boobs were bouncing too much in PE?

I guess it wouldn't have been appropriate for your male teacher to do this, but did he ask one of the female teachers to? Our female PE teacher spoke to a few girls about getting bras during our first year at Secondary school.

Also, did he have to supervise you all when you were changing for PE.

Comments by Liz on 5th October 2015  

Hi -

We saw the boys a lot in summer when we'd be outside at the same time. In winter we'd be indoors when the boys were outdoors and vice versa so we didn't ususally see them. A few times they came indoors and used the gym at the same time as us and then we'd see them in just their shorts normally as they had to take off their outdoor socks and their rugby shirts. The gym would be pretty crowded and although their teacher would be in charge of them we would be mixed up, so while the girls might be using the vaulting horse the boys might be using the ropes for example.

Comments by Liz on 5th October 2015  

Hi Andrea

I guess my main feelign was shock! At primary school I'd been used to wearing PE kit so when we were sat on the benches in the changign room and our new PE teacher told us that we didn't need kit for indoor lessons and to take our clothes off, we weren't quite sure what it really meant. I think she probably knew we were a bit confused because she then stated very clearly that we must take all our outer clothes off and line up by the door wearing just our knickers. I remember she was very clear that anyone wearing a bra or a vest must take it off, and that only our knickers could be worn.

For me it wasn't too much of a practical problem not wearing anything on my top. I didn't wear a proper bra at that point but I think I wore a crop top more because it was what many of us did rather than because I actually needed anything. But it was still a very strange feeling to be in the gym with so little on, and some of the girls in my form probably did need bras! After a few lessons I began to get used to it until one day the boys lesson outside was cancelled and they came into the gym with us!

Comments by Andrea on 3rd October 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Liz,
How did you and your classmates feel about having to do PE topless in Year 7? I would have been OK for about the first term and a half, but I can think of several of my classmates who wouldn't have?

Comments by - on 3rd October 2015  

Liz, did you or classmates ever see the lads exercise barechested either indoors or outside? The girls in our class would often joke about us being topless outdoors especially if it was a cold day!

Comments by Rose on 3rd October 2015  


Yes in my case it was a male class teacher that took PE,country dancing etc. except for netball which a female teacher took.
He was quite elderly or so we thought, I guess he was probably in his early sixties and used to get embarrassed if our boobs bounced too much!
We didn't have showers or changing rooms at Primary school but of course we did at secondary school.

Comments by Liz on 30th September 2015  

the comments have been so interesting to read. Such a range of experiences from so many different decades.

I'm 28 so probably a bit younger than the average here. I went to a mixed secondary school but PE was meant to be single sex. I think someone way down the page said that they had to do it in their knickers and topless for the first term in year 7. That was what we did too, but it emerged on until PE moved outdoors in the summer term. After that we still did gymnastics when we came back in September for year 8, only now we were allowed crop tops or bras with our knickers! We carried on like that until our last year when we were suddenly allowed tshirts!

Comments by DM on 22nd September 2015  

John yes I remember the transparency when wet of the white nylon shorts due to having to run outdoors even if raining. But I don't think we were bothered.

Comments by John on 21st September 2015  

DM, we also wore nylon shorts and anything worn underneath could easily be seen. They were also chilly to wear in cold weather, clammy in hot weather and transparent when wet.
They were also tight fitting and very short inseam of about one inch.

Comments by aidan on 21st September 2015  

I think boys who developed chest hair were often more confident about showing off their bodies but it made no difference to their PE kit! Everyone had to do it with shirts off, period.

Comments by - on 20th September 2015  

Were lads who developed chest hair expected to wear a t shirt for PE.

Comments by DM on 20th September 2015  

John not only did they afford little protection from the cold, they were also nylon so if anyone attempted to wear any thing underneath it would be very obvious to teacher and class alike and so prevented any from doing that

Comments by John on 19th September 2015  

Roy, there were boys still in short trousers at my school in their second year (year 8) often when they were about thirteen. Due to my parents' insistence they indulged themselves of the practice of keeping me in the full uniform that included short trousers up to my fifth form (year 11) until I was sixteen.
Like DM's shorts they fitted tightly and left most of my legs bare.
If you were still in shorts at that age you were considered to be childish and immature.

Comments by John on 18th September 2015  

DM, yes that style of shorts was typical of the 60's/70's fashion. They were excruciatingly brief and took a while to become accustomed to wearing shorts that were so brief.
They was certainly a disadvantage wearing them, especially when it was cold, as they offered they little protection from the cold.
I could never understand why we had to wear them!

Comments by DM on 18th September 2015  

John I remember the brief style shorts. My school days was in the 60's and if people remember our shorts were similiar to the ones worn by the English football team at the world cup. They were very tight so I suppose they were their own support. It seems "tight " was the order of the day because my grey school trousers were very tight and my old fashioned underwear made things uncomfortable.

Comments by Roy on 18th September 2015  

I was at secondary school in the early 1960's and started wearing long trousers halfway through the second form(Year 8 in today's parlance.)
There were boys still in short trousers after I wore lolng trousers.

Comments by John on 14th September 2015  

In reply to DM, it was also due to my parents' insistence that I had to wear shorts to the secondary school that I attended and it was co-ed which often led to some embarrassment. I didn't wear shorts by choice and was unfairly ridiculed by my contemporaries for wearing shorts right through school. I was quite tall but this was not considered a reason to be promoted to wearing long trousers, neither was my age.

Comments by DM on 13th September 2015  

In reply to John, I aslo because of parents insistent I also wore grey shorts in Secondary school unitl I was consdired old or tall enough for longs. I think this was when I was about 13. Fortunately being 1961 to 1963 this was not uncommon and there were just a few other boys in the same situation. It was an all boys school and it may have be more embarrassing if it was a co ed school.

Comments by John on 13th September 2015  

Hi Andrea, I didn't even know what a jock strap was, let alone wear one. We wore white shorts and wouldn't have been allowed to wear anything underneath. We would have been punished if we had slipped anything underneath and they weren't those shorts we see in the photo, they were those brief styled shorts that were fashionable in the seventies.

Comments by Nick on 12th September 2015  

Hi Andrea
Sorry for my over simplification. I went to a boarding school where the first year at the senior school was the second form, jockstraps were worn from the beginning of the third form.
I too always wore a jockstrap for sport as an adult.

Comments by John on 12th September 2015  

In reply to DM, we also wore those grey shorts at primary school but they were optional at my secondary school.
I was dismayed when my parents chose short trousers to send me to my new school in shorts. I had to suffer all the trials and tribulations at school for wearing shorts simply to satisfy my parents.

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

Hi Nick,
I'm just curious, were Jock straps compulsory from the start of Secondary School (at age 11)?

My ex told me that at their school it was from the start of the third year (at age 13).

He always wore one for sport as an adult.


Comments by DM on 9th September 2015  

in response to Nick. I attended Junior SChool in the late 1950's to 1961. All boys wore grey uniform shorts all year round. Long trousers were not thought about. For pe whci was done as a mixed class, we simply took off our shirts, and did pe in our grey uniform shorts and white singlet, which all boys wore as a matter of course under their shirts. No changing into PE kit so pants were worn. The girls simply did pe on their underwear and this was accepted as the norm. At Secondary school which was all boys as I have posted previously pe indoors or out was topless with short shorts no underwear and plimsolls no socks. We were never advised about or told to wear any support so no one ever did.

There were communal showers afterwards with a teacher patrolling to make sure there was no horse play and noone ever questioned it.

I do not know what happens nowadays.

Comments by Nick on 6th September 2015  

I was at school in the 1970s. In common with many others wearing underpants for pe / games was strictly forbiden, at junior school nothing was worn under shorts, at senior school it was compulsory to wear a jockstrap. I agree that pants should not be worn to ensure a complete change of clothes but I don't think that older boys should be expected to play without support.

Comments by Andrea on 24th August 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Jack,

Our class teacher was female and usually took the whole class (boys and girls) for PE lessons.

For some of the more gender specific activities (football / cricket for the boys and netball / rounders for the girls),two classes were combined and a male teacher took the boys and a female one took the girls. This was well before the era of girls football!

We were only in our underwear while we were actually getting changed, as both boys and girls wore T shirts and shorts (or sometimes skirts for the girls) for the actual PE lessons.
I don't recollect there being much misbehaviour while we were getting changed, although in the final year at Primary school, a few of the girls who had started to 'develop' and wear bras were allowed to change separately in the girls toilets.

There were no showers at our Primary school, so compulsory showers at Secondary came as a bit of a shock!

Comments by Jack on 23rd August 2015  

Hi girls, was your class teacher who took you for PE lessons male or female?
I assume that it was the class teacher who gave the boys and girls PE lessons since there were no PE teachers in primary schools, at least not in mine or any other primary school I knew of. Of course it was different in secondary schools, with gyms and PE teachers.
Also do you remember any boys or girls getting physical punishments during PE lessons for misbehaviour while in their underwear?
I am also curious to know if there were any primary schools which had compulsary showers after PE. We only had showers in secondary school.

Comments by Andrea on 16th August 2015  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

I left Primary school in July 1971 and about 4 or 5 of my classmates had started to wear a bra during our final few months there.

My mum bought me my first bras during the last term of my first year at Secondary school, but I didn't wear one regularly until the start of my second year there.

What did you wear for PE at Secondary school?


Comments by Rose on 15th August 2015  

Hi Andrea
I was at primary school from Jan 1970 - July 1976. I don't recall any of the girls wearing a bra at primary school, I certainly didn't start wearing one until I was 13.
I don't think many girls owned a vest either.

Comments by Tyler on 9th August 2015  

Neil, was it embarrassing being a skin? Were there any female teachers present?

Comments by Tyler on 9th August 2015  

Looking at Neil's post it seems that even to this day pe is sometimes done shirtless. was it embarrassing/difficult to be a skin?

Comments by Matt on 8th August 2015  

Neil, did you get to choose whether you were shirts or skins in PE or were you just told which team to play? Which did you enjoy more?

Comments by Neil on 8th August 2015  

I only recently finished high school (boys school) as well and we never had nude swimming (thankfully!!) although communal showers after pe and swimming were compulsory and were always done nude by most. Also, during basketball and football, there would be two pe lessons in the hall at once and not enough bibs for everyone, so we just did shirts vs skins. Remember this was only around two year ago.

Any questions go ahead. That's the whole point of history sites.

Comments by Roy on 8th August 2015  

I was at school in the fifties and sixties and although doing PE stripped to the waist was the norm-both indoors and outdoors including cross-country runs-we certainly never had nude swimming.
As being stripped to the waist was the norm we accepted it and eventually got to enjoy it.

Comments by Gerald on 7th August 2015  

I honestly can't imagine having to grow up in a time where shirtless pe, corporal punishment and nude swimming was the norm. I only recently graduated high school and thankfully never had to hAve this lack of privacy. If anyone wants to ask any questions, go on.

Comments by Paul on 4th August 2015  

Hi Jason,
I'm interested to know whether the shirtless PE rule at your school applied only to the gym, or were you ever required to do lessons outdoors with your shirt off?
We had teachers who would sometimes make boys take their shirts off for PE as punishment but it wasn't part of the actual uniform.

Comments by Jason on 3rd August 2015  


no, it didn't take very long, we all lined up and our teacher walked along in front of us putting an X on every second boy's chest and then did the same on our bare backs.

Being shirtless was not an option and we didn't really think about whether we liked it or not, you just went on with it and you better not complained if didn't wanted to be mocked or punished.

Comments by Dave on 1st August 2015  

Hi DM and Pete! Thank you for all the answerings!

Jason: Wasn't that ink proceura too long before team games?
How did you react for and for having to be shirtless anyway. Was it a problem for more boys or most of them didn't mind it?

Comments by Jason on 26th July 2015  

Hi Jono

As we were all shirtless anyway, a method of distinguishing teams was needed. Rather than letting some boys wear a top, which our teacher would never ever have allowed, he marked our chests and backs with a big X. We had that method of marking until I left school at 18.

Comments by Pete on 25th July 2015  

Dave, I await DM's further comments but in the meantime I knew from the Uniform List that we had to do PE shirtless.
Teams were told apart by coloured tags on our shorts and yes we were barefoot as well.