Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1935         Item #: 1741         Views: 96,480         Comments: 446

Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team

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

446 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by John on 22nd June 2018  

This photo makes me realize what I missed out on when I went to school in the 1970s/80s. My school never had a gym team, I would have loved to have been taught to do gymnastics like these guys.

Our PE kit indoors was the same as this photo, I think PE for lads should still be done stripped to the waist for safety and to prevent lads from developing body image problems. Exercising barechested makes lads more confident and allows lads to express their masculinity.

Comments by Simon S on 14th May 2018  

Typo error. Should read I don't know why I was singled out by the teacher to strip down all the time.

Comments by Simon S on 14th May 2018  

Steve. I really preferred doing xcountry stripped down to the waist. Our other sessions were done either as skins (gym work, xcountry, athletics) or vests vs skins for basketball. I don't know why but I was singled out to strip by the teacher who made us strip off from age 9 to 18.

Comments by NickK on 13th May 2018  


PE section starts at 21:34

Comments by Bernard on 24th April 2018  

Steve - That was the standard kit in the 60s, I think - shorts only, no footwear, underwear or shirt. It certainly was at my school - we wore that in the gym and outside including for cross country.
I don't think any-one ever got the cane for not trying hard enough at cross country though we were not popular if we were late back. Every so often you would see boys in just shorts walking through the corridors to their classrooms for registration at the end of the day while every-one else was in full school uniform. It wasn't meant so much as a punishment - rather that they came back late and did not have enough time to shower and get dressed in time for registration. They had to go back to the changing rooms after registration to shower and get changed. Some looked quite sheepish walking through the corridors in just their shorts and, perhaps, a certain amount of mud.

Comments by Steve on 24th April 2018  


I notice the video is set in the mid 60's. Like many here, it was when I went to school, and certainly the PE/sports kit allowed is exactly the same as we wore - bare feet stripped to the waist, cotton shorts only. Like us, there were no exceptions to this kit.

Maybe they didn't do cross country, but we always had to run shirtless as well - 90 skinny, frozen lads running in local woods/roads, with just the absolute minimum of kit on, and always the (strong) possibility of the cane on return for "not trying"

Comments by TimH on 24th April 2018  

There is a follow-up 1969 film 'Weg van de haven' which also features the training centre ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZBoJssRd-s

Its another interesting 'watch' - for the ships & cars!

Comments by TimH on 24th April 2018  

I think this not actually a 'school' but the 'Technical Training Centre'/'Apprentices School' (or similar)for the port of Rotterdam back in 1963. Interesting nevertheless, if only for the shipping in an era long gonw.

Comments by Dave on 23rd April 2018  

I have recently watched a video of a dutch boy's school.There are many PE scenes.There isn't any where boys wear shirts for any sport. They are shirtless for every physical activity.Even team games they remain shirtless by using bibs. It proves that shirtless PE was widespread not only in Uk but in another European countries and it was very easy to keep boys remain shirtles even for team games and any sport.


I think this is their compulsory PE kit because none of them has any shirt on for sports.

Comments by John on 21st April 2018  

My cousin swam without trunks at his independent school for boys, I would not have minded swimming naked amongst other lads but would have been embarassed if girls had been present.

Comments by GregF on 20th April 2018  

Stuart, I remember the same kind of detention. Though we were always stripped down for PE indoors or out it. We did laps of a rather large and unforgiving field in all weathers. I was given 12 laps once for not sweating enough during a gym session when I was 15 Hilarious!

Comments by Gavin A on 20th April 2018  


Once having gotten over the initial shock it was second nature swimming without trunks.

Comments by Robert on 20th April 2018  

If having to do PE stripped to the waist came as a shock (as it did to me), I wonder how much more so would it have been to find that trunks were not worn for swimming.

Comments by Sam on 20th April 2018  

No problem at all John, I guessed that was what had happened!
Thanks for your comments. It's very interesting to read the different perspective from those of you who grew up when shirtless PE for boys was clearly the norm rather than a rarity!

Comments by Stuart on 19th April 2018  stu151@homail.com 

On the way home from primary school, we saw boys at the local grammar school out running in shorts and plimsolls. Even in winter they still ran stripped to the waist.

Later on I went to the school, and soon got a detention. Reporting after school, we were told to get stripped off to only our shorts/plimsolls, and had to run the school cross country course, then back in the gym in shorts only for a workout.

I soon realised that was how boys were punished ! I was yet to discover that after 3 detentions, boys got the cane.

Comments by Joe on 19th April 2018  

There's definitely some logic to the idea of a standard policy on boys' PE kit so that everyone knows what to expect and gets used to it. I'm sure that would have made a difference to me growing up as I found it difficult to cope when I first experienced barechested PE.
The problem, I think, was that I just hadn't experienced it until I was 14. PE kit was T-shirt and shorts in primary school and middle school (which were mixed), then vest and shorts for my first two years in senior school (boys only). After that we were split into sets for PE instead of forms, with larger groups of boys and therefore more teams required for sports in the gym. So I was shocked to be told my team were 'skins' and had to take our vests off. I felt very awkward and exposed - like many boys of that age I was self conscious about my physique (or lack of!).
No doubt it wouldn't have seemed such a big deal if I'd been used to barechested PE - and also if it had been the same kit for every boy. To my horror, the teacher announced that teams would stay the same for the first few lessons! So next time I was a skin again and felt exposed and embarrassed all over again, seeing most of the other boys in full kit while I wore just shorts.
I appreciate that to some of you this must sound like a fuss over nothing, and of course it became much more bearable as time went on. But I think it's better for boys to deal with this stuff before they reach those tricky teenage years.

Comments by John on 19th April 2018  

Please accept my apologies for the last published comments, something went wrong and I thought that I’d posted it from myself ‘John’. I intended to address my comments to you, I clearly did not check carefully enough before I clicked on ‘submit’.

Comments by Sam on 18th April 2018  

I agree with you that it was unfair if all boys were not treated the same. I still believe that your PE teacher was right and that lads do not need to wear tops for PE. My brother and I were used to wearing only shorts for PE at Primary School so by the time we went to Secondary School we were quite happy going bare chested for PE. There were some lads who’d been to different Primary Schools that had allowed them to wear tops for PE and they complained about being made to strip to the waist. After the first few PE lessons they were no longer bothered about not wearing tops.

Girls are not the same as boys, for swimming lessons at co-ed schools girls are expected to wear a full swimming costume and boys will normally be shirtless unless they are swimming outdoors and require sun protection that a specialist fabric swim top may provide.

So I don’t think that ‘gender discrimination’ should prevent a shorts only policy for boys indoor PE. If a national policy of shorts only for boys indoor PE kit was adopted it would be fair to all boys and would help them to gain confidence and worry less about their body image.

Comments by Sam on 17th April 2018  

John, as a 12 year-old boy I certainly didn't think he was right! Like many of my classmates I was uneasy at having to do PE with no top. And it seemed unfair that boys with different PE teachers weren't made to do the same. For instance, my brother - who was in a different year - used to tease me if he'd seen my class out running in just our shorts and trainers!
And with hindsight? Yes, I think my teacher's policy did me good because ultimately it played a part in making me into a physically fitter and more confident young man. But I'm sure schools wouldn't be able to introduce that kind of rule now on the grounds of gender discrimination.

Comments by John on 17th April 2018  

Sam, do you think that your teacher was right making all lads strip to the waist for PE. Do you think that it should have been school policy?. I think it was so beneficial for myself and other lads that it should have been a national policy.

Comments by Sam on 16th April 2018  

Hi Claire, I had a similar experience to your brother at school (about 25 years ago). Although shirtless PE kit for boys wasn't school policy, the teacher who took my class for PE made us all do it stripped to our shorts, no exceptions. It was quite a shock at first and there were one or two protests but it made no difference. In his view there was no need for boys to wear shirts for exercise and that was that. In some ways it meant we worked harder in PE as you wanted to have a better body, or more muscles than your mates.

Comments by Claire on 13th April 2018  

Hi John, it's sad the way things have become. Something so normal is frowned upon. Doing sports stripped off was so common. I feel it also helped boys identify with themselves too without mixing their heads up.

Comments by Tony on 3rd April 2018  

Re the episode of Vera, I did not see it. However, I do not suppose that in this day and age TV cannot show boys bare-chested. It they did I suppose for politically correct reasons their faces would be pixillated

Comments by John on 3rd April 2018  

Claire, you are absolutely right. When I was at school in 1970s/80s it was common practice for boys to be stripped to the waist for PE. Some teachers that I know said that in the late 1980s due to campaigns from some parent groups; schools started to allow boys to wear vests or t shirts for PE.

Comments by Claire on 2nd April 2018  

Hi Frank, my brother had a hard time with a PE teacher who insisted on all boys exercise stripped to the waist throughout his time at school for everything physical and in all weathers even laps of the field in the pouring rain. Just recently an episode of "Vera" showed a group of boys doing a PE run on the beach in vests, being topless would been more realistic.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 1st April 2018  

Thanks Clare for picking up on the comment I made about WW2.I have a sullen regret that we didn't have a sterner regime at my secondary school and have a stripped to the waist policy for P.E. Cross Country also.

Comments by Claire on 31st March 2018  

Frank, good point about WW2. I'm sure those young men would have been stripped to the waist for their military PT. It's my view lads joining any of the Services should strip for PT. It makes it easier for them to toughen up.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 24th March 2018  

I like the contributions on this site because the views are more varied.It is a sobering thought that most of these fine gymnasts would be conscripted five years later!WW2 etc. I was interested particularly in the field of school medicals.Mine came up in 1974 when I was forteen.It was after the Easter holidays.Like the customs at the airport I was chosen at random from the queue to strip down to bare in a room by the library and be examined by a physician,I had the hernia test and the rubber gloves finger inserted into my anal passage causing me to yell with the discomfort,like an earlier respondent mentioned I was aroused by the the experience.I years later read that it was a natural response to artificial stimulation! I had been terrified that I was homosexual with the 'being felt' experience!

Comments by JonAt1 on 10th March 2018  

During our indoor PE lessons we were made to sweat. Being made to strip to the waist made it easy to see who was putting the effort in. If you weren't sweating at the end then remedial session outdoors and laps of the field awaited.

Comments by Frank Chroston on 30th December 2017  fchroston@gmail.com 

Roy I endorse what stated earlier,adolescents release a lot of adrenalin and it is excreted through the skin.Not showering after PE or Games means the oil can block pores causing spots to form particularly on the back of a student.Most of us looked forward to a shower after Gym exercise.We got so used to this compulsory regime before we returned to the classroom situation.

Comments by Roy on 10th December 2017  

As many have said it is completely unhygienic to go straight from a PE lesson to a class without showering first.

Comments by Kirsty on 19th November 2017  

hi Ross

Yes it was a surprise! We all had full indoor PE kit with us, t-shirts, gym pants and plimsolls. So to find out only at that first lesson that we'd be doing it in our knickers and no tops was a shock! Outdoors we had PE kit, though if we forgot it we'd have to run laps of the field in our pants!

Comments by JON on 17th November 2017  

I seem to have endured more school medicals than many.as I had one on starting school another on moving to junior school and another on leaving that school.
In secondary school I had one when receiving the BCG jab another after finishing my O Level year and the last one after finishing my A levels.
I can only really remember the last ones as we lined up in groups of three outside the MI room stripped to the waist and on entering the room we stripped naked and went forward for the examination which involved the usual including the genitals. This gave me an erection which lasted while I was trying to get dressed!
As I had to pass the lads waiting their turn I noticed that by then they had erections as well!!

Comments by Ross on 7th November 2017  

Hello Kirsty,

Interesting comments there. It must have been a real surprise for you. What were you expecting to wear for PE? In the other two lessons a week were these outside? Do you have to do these in knickers only?

Comments by Andrea on 31st October 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Kirsty,

I seem to recollect a couple other women saying something similar about 18 months ago. I imagine it must have been quite a shock and quite embarrassing, especially for those girls who had started to develop?
I was still flat chested at the start of what would now be year 7, but started to wear a bra at the start of year 8.

Did your PE teacher say why this was the rule?
Our indoor PE kit was navy blue gym knickers and a white polo shirt. Far from making anyone go topless, our PE teacher told several girls that they should start to wear a bra under their polo shirt.

Comments by Kirsty on 30th October 2017  

There are mostly men commenting on this, but I see a few women too. I went to a girls school from age 11 onwards and PE there was pretty strict. In UII and LIV (which I think are now called years seven and eight, age 11-13) we did PE every day, and that meant gymnastics indoors, which we did three times a week. When we were in the gym, we didn't wear PE kit, which was a shock when we first started. Our gym mistress was very clear that first lesson, when she came into the changing room and told us piece by piece to undress. Eventually we were all left standing in just our pants, at which point she ordered us to line up in alphabetical order. I was wondering what would happen next then she told us to file into the gym! Only when we were there did she make explicit that we would do all our lessons dressed this way.

Comments by ROY on 25th September 2017  

In the 1960's we always had to shower after PE and thought nothing of being naked in the communal showers

Comments by Rob on 8th September 2017  

Sterling, agree absolutely, and why should showers be optional after indoor PE? I can't believe the amount of kit required on that list! We wore just a pair of shorts with nothing on underneath, no shirt, and plimsolls without socks.Many had to do it in bare feet. We wore this kit in the gym and outside,including cross country runs. In the gym we were worked hard and made to sweat profusely so that we needed and looked forward to washing ourselves thoroughly in the open showers together afterwards.

Comments by Sterling on 5th September 2017  

Jonas, Why Is It 'terrible' to expect Students to maintain an acceptable level of Personal Hygiene?

Is it acceptable to subject Teachers to the Smell of 30+ Post Workout Sweaty Teenagers in a confined space?

I think Not!

Comments by Mr Wallace on 30th August 2017  

Not a surprise. When I was at school those boys who did not want to shower tended to miss a lot of PE with conditions/illnesses/injuries and have a note from their parents, or do the towel dance when changing.

What happens/happened for you in your school?

Comments by Jonas on 26th May 2017  

I think it is terrible that showers are still compulsory for outdoor lessons in some schools.

P.E. Equipment

Plain black shorts with school crest (2 pairs are advised, but this is optional).
Black sweatshirt with school crest.
Black polo shirt with school crest.
A black long sleeved /or legging-style base layer may be worn under the regulation kit during the colder months (this period is at the discretion of the teachers)
White ankle sports socks.
Black football socks for hockey and cross-country.
Towel for shower taken after every outdoor lesson, optional for indoor lesson.
Football boots

Comments by Jack on 5th April 2017  

Having read about the experiences of people going through medical exams notwithstanding any embarrassment, I think nothing compares with the fear & trepidation when the school dentist came to carry out examinations. The prodding of teeth with a hook and then the inevitable letter coming to parents summoning you to the school dentist which was a really painful experience. No care or compassion. Especially if there was an extraction

Comments by Roy on 27th March 2017  

Andrea - although my Mum came with me she didn't actually come into the actual medical itself

Comments by Andrea on 26th March 2017  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 


Did you have a parent present when you had your medical at the end of Primary School?

When I had one in the first year at Secondary, mum wasn't present, just the doctor and our School Nurse, but one of my friends in a different school had here mum present.

Comments by Roy on 25th March 2017  

The only times I had a medical exam were on starting primary school on leaving that school at eleven and at secondary school when having the dreaded BCG jab.
At all times we had to strip to the waist for the exam even for the BCG.

Comments by Keith on 27th July 2016  kjl483@yahoo.com 

Rob, It was only in my teens and early 20's I had a fear, as I got older I didn't have any medical exams at all.

Then I had this medical insurance plan when I was 60 and I get them through that, no bother at all now.

Comments by Rob on 24th July 2016  

Keith, so did you have these further medicals examinations
which you so dreaded before you took out medical insurance
or do you still dread them, even though you have your genitals examined every time each year. If so, you are a glutton for punishment!

Comments by Keith on 22nd July 2016  kjl483@yahoo.com 

Rob, I had a mortal fear of medical exams after that one! quite a few times my blood pressure was so high I had to have it taken again later when I calmed down and even told one doctor my fears.

Comments by Rob on 19th July 2016  

Keith, you must have been dreading the prospect of another medical after only two years after that awful experience.Did the doctor tell you specifically to strip to your underpants ,if not, were you not afraid he might shout at you to get them off, as at your previous experience? At least you were on your own this time when the doctor examined your testicles and penis.I am glad to hear that I wasn't the only one one to have difficulty dressing afterwards. It was a very uncomfortable experience for me as I couldn't even get my foreskin back to normal straight away. It was the summer and I hadn't the benefit of a coat but I was wearing my black double breasted school blazer which provided some camouflage. I felt quite sorry for you, but now you tell us that you have an annual medical exam with no problems!Good on you, you are obviously looking after yourself. I don't recall either of our two sons having school medicals (unless we wern't told) and this would have been from about 1980 to 1995.

Comments by Keith on 18th July 2016  kjl483@yahoo.com 

Rob, It is good to know I wasn't the only one who got aroused at these medical exams, sometimes now I thnk the doctors at the time liked to stamp their authority, one example was a couple of years later I changed my job and had to have another medical exam and I protested that it had only been a couple of years earlier that I had one, I was told rather abruptly that "that was then, this is now" and to get undressed, at least I was on my own this time and had just my briefs on (sadly at 17 my mother was still buying my underwear, white cotton or cellular ones) but most of the exam was done on an exam table, the doctor pulled my briefs down to my kness and examined my testicles and penis and of course with the handling I got aroused and like you had difficulty dressing afterwards with a full blown erection, I was glad I had a coat which I strategically held over my crotch when I left his room and had to walk across the waiting room.
I still have an annual medical exam through a medical insurance plan I took out some years ago, a lot as changed though and I am treated with dignity and the erections don't happen now when the doctor gets to that point in the exam. I often wonder when school medical exams ceased, does anyone know?. I know that my 14 year old nephew had an ECG at his school afer one lad sadly died on a cross country run because of an unknown heart problem, it was arranged by the PTA at the school, on asking my nephew about it he said that other than if he is ill he never see's a doctor.