Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1935         Item #: 1741         Views: 173,679         Comments: 865

Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team

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

865 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by Rob on 17th March 2019  

We certainly expected to have to do as we were told about anything, but particularly when it involved school uniform. After morning assembly in the school hall we would have to file out past the headmaster who would pull out anyone who hadn't, for example, tied his tie correctly,or had a button undone on his blazer. Similarly, if we had been told to wear a vest for PE no-one would have dared to deliberately go bare chested. Fortunately, I was glad we had to be stripped to the waist and as we were made to work hard and sweated profusely. Naturally, we all had to conform to showering after every PE lesson.

Comments by John on 16th March 2019  

Your school had a sensible PE kit rule for lads. The fact that so many posts on this forum have mentioned boys deciding to switch from wearing a top to
going barechested for PE seems to indicate that most lads prefer to do PE stripped to the waist. I’m glad that I was able to do PE in just shorts and pumps and not have to put up with wearing a totally unnecessary hot and sweaty T shirt or vest.

Comments by Alan on 16th March 2019  

There have been a couple of comments about new boys going shirtless, and the others switching.

Certainly at my school (which had a shorts only policy inside, stripped to the waist for xc), new boys had to conform, irrespective of what they were used to.

There was no debate, and the cane enforced this.

Comments by Rob on 15th March 2019  

Julian, when I started at an all boys grammar school our uniform list stipulated T shirt and shorts for PE, but when we arrived for our first gym lesson we were told to get changed into just shorts and plimsolls, no pants or socks and stripped to the waist. This continued throughout our time at the school. When we were in the sixth form, a group of boys from the local secondary mixed school joined us to do A levels.They had all worn vests and shorts for PE and it was they who now had to be stripped to the waist. They all agreed that it was much more comfortable, especially when they were able to enjoy the freedom and fresh air outside on a cross country run.

Comments by John on 15th March 2019  

Really interesting post. It’s great that your PE teachers allowed you to choose to be barechested for PE after being positively influenced by the new group of lads. Doing PE shirtless is much more comfortable than having a hot, sweaty shirt sticking to your back, it just makes total sense. I feel sorry for lads in the present day who are made to wear shirts or vests for PE.

Comments by Chris G on 15th March 2019  

Julian, how did your PE teacher respond to the newcomer going topless? And then to the rest of you doing likewise? Encouraging, tolerant or against the idea?

Comments by Rob on 14th March 2019  

Philip, thanks for confirming what I thought was probably the case.I could imagine the boy, who was not a disruptive chap,may have gone to his next lesson at one of his chosen option subjects looking decidedly'unhappy'and telling the master why and setting off a speedy investigation which led to the student teacher's instant dismissal.

Comments by Julian on 14th March 2019  

When I started secondary school the uniform list stipulated vest and shorts for PE but in one year a new boy joined us and he always stripped to the waist.
In Fourth Form(Year 10 today)a group of boys joined us to do O levels and they came from a neighbouring school that didn't do O Levels.They all did PE bare-chested and gradually the rest of us went topless as well and so we all ended up stripped to the waist and many of us went barefoot as well.

Comments by Philip on 13th March 2019  

To Rob. A student teacher would not be authorised to administer corporal punishment. What he did obviously became known to the management of your school and he would be removed so that would be why you never saw him again.

Comments by Alice on 13th March 2019  

Hi Andrea

I couldn’t imagine any school forbidding PE kit at that age nowadays! I guess that all have kit and even have spares for anyone who forgets theirs.

Once I was in year 8 I normally did wear a vest on PE days. I still didn’t need a bra so it was a choice of vest or going bare. A few times when we had PE when it wasn’t timetabled we had to just undress and then some of us without bras weren’t wearing vests, so maybe 10 or so of us would have to do it in just our knickers.

Comments by Rob on 13th March 2019  

Alfie A, That's why I remember it so vividly.I don't know why he was wearing underpants; we had all been at the school long enough to know that we were not allowed to wear anything under shorts for any activity,in the gym or on the playing fields. It was the first, and indeed, the only time that I can recall anyone being discovered wearing anything and I believe we were all shocked at the punishment and the manner in which it was carried out in front of us all. We never heard any more about it, but also we never saw the student teacher again in the school.

Comments by Alfie A on 11th March 2019  

Re that last comment about punishment, that was savage

Comments by Alfie A on 7th March 2019  

With regards to shorts for pe, in my secondary school (1961 to (1966) there was no specific uniform design or colour and so there was quite a mixture. At one games session one lad who always had to be the first to have any new design, wore a pair of white nylon shorts. The problem was we were outside and it started to rain hard and because of the no pants rule his shorts very quickly revealed everything. After that lesson he went back to wearing black shorts. Most of the lads wore shorts that were quite baggy and when we had to do handstands with a partner supporting our legs in the upright position these shorts became quite revealing. However we were all had to take our turn doing the handstand and of course after the lesson we would all be stripping off in the changing room and no one was bothered. I understand it is quite different.
these days.

Comments by Rob on 7th March 2019  

A student teacher took our PE class once when we were about aged 15 and caught a boy wearing pants under his shorts. We all had to stand in a circle around the boy while he was told to remove his shorts and underpants plus plimsolls and he was given six of the best on his backside with one of them. He was then made to stand under a cold shower for the remainder of the lesson.

Comments by Jono on 6th March 2019  

Alan, it's good to know that cold showers as punishment wasn't unique to my school. It was certainly an experience.

Comments by Andrea on 6th March 2019  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Can you imagine the reaction if any school tried to impose that rule nowadays!

Like you, I was still flat chested when I started at secondary school, but some of my classmates weren't. I would estimate that about half were wearing bras by the end of the year. Some could probably have done without, but some definitely needed them!

Did you wear a vest for PE in Year 8?

Comments by Alice on 5th March 2019  


I don't remember our PE teacher ever actually saying why we had to be topless in Yr7. I thinkw e were all quite shocked when she first told us so no-one thought to ask, even if we'd been brave enough, and afterwards it was just accepted as what was required.

I think it might have been uncomfortable for the more developed girls, but I don't remember anyone in my form being that large. I myself was basically flat chested until I was much older, so having to do gym with no top on wasn't physically uncomfortable.

I started senior school in 1992, and I know the "no PE kit" rule was still in place when I left in 1996.

Comments by James on 5th March 2019  

FrankC,we must have been brought up in similar backgrounds where we had to wear short trousers past the rite of passage ,usually about 13.
My mother also'thought it was healthier having legs open to the elements'but in freezing weather it was bitterly cold on our bare legs.Probably the reason I had to wear shorts was so my mother could impress her authority over me and took delight in keeping me in short trousers through adolescence.

Comments by Rob on 3rd March 2019  

James,I was afraid that your shorts were loose and short like ours in the late fifties and the girls would have been able to see more than they were supposed to.Being at an all boys school it was of no consequence to us. No doubt your shorts would have been white, very brief, but tight, like the 1966 England World Cup team.I can understand how the girls enjoyed seeing the boys up close wearing nothing ,but their shorts, leaving very little to their imagination.

Comments by Frank C on 2nd March 2019  

Nice to see the Hesketh site filling up with comments once more! Hi James,Last year I published a comment on the Burnley site about me being fourteen at Grammar school before I wore long trousers to school mainly Due to my parents preference.I think my mother thought it was healthier having legs open to the elements!My Scottish cousin visited us in the summer holidays and was quite jealous of him! After a meaningful discussion they relented to my preference.

Comments by Alan on 2nd March 2019  


Yes, it was colder where I grew up. In those days kids didn't travel much, so we really only knew where we lived.

We'd seen boys from the school out running, and it seemed very grown up for them to run stripped to the waist - so in some ways when we wanted to be like this. When we got the kit list, I remember my Mum questioning the fact there was no t-shirt/vest (or socks), and my Dad saying soemthing like "he doesn't need a shirt, it won't kill him"

Yes we had hot showers, kind of hot anyway. One teacher used cold showers as a punishment, and I got punished like this a couple of times.

Comments by James on 2nd March 2019  

Rob,we weren't segregated from the girls and participated in the same activities.The shorts that we wore were we also absurdly brief and that was the fashion in the sixties and strict rules didn't allow us to wear anything under our shorts.Wearing shorts that were so short often led from derogatory remarks of mockery and derision.

Comments by Rob on 1st March 2019  

Alan, thanks for your response. Yes, very much further north than us living in the shelter of the South Downs in Sussex; I can imagine how cold it gets in winter. I was at a grammar school in the late fifties and like you we had to do as the teachers told us without question.
We wore the same as you to school and had to strip off completely in the changing room and then back into the gym or outside in just our PE shorts and plimsolls. As you say, it was normal for boys to run cross country shirtless, and we also ran on local roads and onto woodland and fields.I hand it to you though, Alan, I reckon you had it a damn sight tougher than us down south. I hope you had some decent hot showers to get under when you returned.

Comments by Andrea on 1st March 2019  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

I was rather surprised at first, but didn't really question him about it. He started doing it during the summer when it was warm. I did worry about him being too cold in winter, but I think he sometimes wore his pants and a T shirt in really cold weather.

Did your PE teacher say why you had to be topless in Yr7?
I would imagine it would have been uncomfortable for the more developed girls! What era was this?
In contrast to yours, our PE teacher encouraged several of my classmates to start wearing a bra.

Comments by Rob on 1st March 2019  

James, When you had mixed PE lessons were boys and girls segregated at either ends of the gym? If you wore just PE shorts with nothing underneath, as we did, little wonder some of the boys were very shy and embarrassed. I remember the problems we had, and we were an all boys school.In the fifties our parents bought us a pair of gym shorts and most of us continued wearing the same pair all through the school and they became dangerously short.

Comments by James on 1st March 2019  

Andrew,I attended a mixed school and we often had mixed PE lessons.We wore just our shorts, as usual and as there was no alternative we accepted it,although some of the boys were very shy and embarrassed.
I'm sure the girls enjoyed the spectacle of seeing so many boys participating in the games wearing nothing,but their shorts.

Comments by Jono on 1st March 2019  

Although our school was mixed the girls would see you stripped off outside on the yard from whichever classroom you were in for they all looked out over the yard and field or through the huge reinforced glass panels that separated the corridor from the gym. Alan, like you, we were expected to strip strippto the waist for x-country and for outdoor fitness sessions too which in winter were held weekly regardless of the weather or temperature. It made you appreciate the luxury of the heated gym all the more. It was always common for cold showers to be given as punishment. You would spend a set period of time, usually 5-6 minutes, with your your shorts on and freezing water hit your back and chest together. You didn't come out until your time was up which felt an age. During my time at school I received two cold showers. My first came age 12 and the last at 14 for being lazy and not showing sweat on my upper body following gym.

Comments by Andrew on 28th February 2019   andrew_bx@yahoo.co.uk

Much like Alice we were a mixed school but separate PE lessons but I wonder how many here would have felt differently about how they were dressed had their lessons been mixed though?

I got used to our PE kit in the end, but I wonder if in a mixed lesson may have resented it.

Comments by Fiona on 28th February 2019  


"I think my son was influenced by some of his friends who he saw going without PJs at a sleepover."

Did you have any opinion on this development, one way or the other?

Comments by Alice on 28th February 2019  

Hi everyone, I thought I'd add my school experiences. I went to a mixed secondary school that had single sex PE lessons. When we were outdoors the boys used the gym, and when they were on the field, we were inside. Because of this we never saw each other, and that meant our teachers didn't worry about what we wore. In Year 7 we weren't allowed to wear our new PE kits in the gym, and we had to undress right down to our knickers, and the girls who had bras even had to take them off as we all had to go topless. In Year 8 we were allowed to wear our vests or bras for indoor PE, along with our knickers. A lot of us chose to wear a vest on PE days as they covered more than a bra, and it was strictly one or the other. After Year 8 we were finally allowed to wear PE kit.

Comments by James on 28th February 2019  

Rob,we too had to participate in games in very harsh conditions and we were only allowed to wear shorts.
Shorts in the sixties and seventies were inexorably short with an inside leg of about three inches,very similar in length to my shorts that I wore for school.
It was amazing how we withstood the bitterly cold weather wearing nothing but our shorts, while teachers who supervised us wore every item of clothing available to keep themselves warm.

Comments by Alan on 28th February 2019  stu151@hotmail.com 


I went to a grammar school just outside Newcastle, so east side of the country, and very cold winters.

As other people have commented, the world has changed, one room heated at home, ice inside bedroom windows etc. The other difference is that basically we did as teachers told us without question, or faces the consequences. When I was caned, my Dad 110% supported the teachers, in fact he often thought I got off light !

Cross country was always done shirtless, so it wasn't unusual to see boys from the school out running (woodlands, fields as well as local roads around the school). It was “normal” - that's how boys did cross country.

You were freezing of course. At school in the winter you wore vest, shirt, sweater, blazer etc, then into the cahnging rooms and strip it all off, and outside in just your shorts. Usually the wind was biting as well, but there wasn't a debate, it was “right boys, cross country today, just rugby shorts, plimsolls if you have them, MOVE”

Lined up waiting, all you wanted to do was get running.

If anyone had complained or wore a vest/shirt, they would have been made to strip it off and caned, so you didn't.

Comments by Graham on 27th February 2019  


Looking back from this distance, it was probably a bit of both. I was about in the middle of my class age-wise and development-wise, so seeing older boys wearing their newly-acquired jock-straps was intriguing, as I had never heard of these garments before. Having borrowed one to try, I lost no time in getting my parents to get me one of my own. I found it comfortable to wear and it made me feel more grown-up.

Comments by Andrea on 27th February 2019  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

I think my son was influenced by some of his friends who he saw going without PJs at a sleepover.

When you got your first jockstrap, was it down to peer pressure or were you starting to feel uncomfortable without one?

I know what you mean about younger siblings wanting to emulate the older ones. Despite being a couple of years younger than me, my sister asked mum for a bra within a few months of me starting to wear one. She wasn't pleased when mum said she didn't need one and would sometimes 'borrow' one of mine.

Comments by Rob on 27th February 2019  

Alan, it was very rare for us not to be able to play soccer,and we never experienced a games afternoon when it was actually snowing.It sounds as though this was a lot different for you and so what part of the country did you go to school? How did you and other boys feel as you lined up outside the gym stripped to the waist, regardless of appalling weather conditions,ready to be sent off on a run?

Comments by Alan on 26th February 2019  

IF we couldn't play rugby on games afternoon, we had to run cross country instead.

In theory we were supposed to always being plimolls to games, (and most boys did) but it was a case of you forget you do without.

These runs were always stripped to the waist, no matter the conditions, below zero or snowing, no debate, get changed line up outside the gym ready to be sent off.

Comments by June on 25th February 2019  

Hello Andrea
My sons were just turning 13 at the time, l remember as it was the transition from junior to senior school, that's when all the boys got their first jockstraps, and they went to the school outfitters almost en bloc, so yes we paid for them indirectly. In our eldest son's case l would say peer pressure and for his younger brothers, l would say anything to be like big brother and peers!

I believe the boys wore their jocks for all sporting activities plus they all had a jockstrap and pouch to hold cup when they played cricket.

Comments by Rob on 25th February 2019  

Alan, At my boys only grammar school in the mid fifties we had we had the same as you except that that we normally had two PE lessons a week in the gym unless the master was otherwise engaged, when we would be sent on a cross country run.We used to run regularly at the beginning of the summer term until we started on athletics.Our kit inside and for runs was shorts and plimsolls(no pants,socks or shirts). We usually mostly chose to go out barefoot for athletics.
Games afternoon was soccer in season, and cricket in summer(cricket kit). Again, if the pitches were frozen in winter, which in the south was rare, we had to run the cross country course in our gym shorts, which we also wore for soccer, stripped to the waist, and plimsolls. Apart from cricket, after all PE lessons including athletics,XC and soccer we had to go naked in the open communal showers.

Comments by Graham on 24th February 2019  

Andrea, was your son's decision his alone, influenced by friends/school or influenced by yourself?

Comments by Graham on 24th February 2019  

June - I was at that paticular school in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In addition to the three pairs of PJs that I mentioned before, the boarders clothing list specified shorts on their own for PE, without saying anything about whether anything should be worn underneath, and at least seven pairs of underpants (vests optional). With regard to jockstraps, for the first few years we generally went commando, although this was not mandatory, and I acquired my first jockstrap when I was about 14.

Comments by Andrea on 24th February 2019  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

I went to an all girls grammar school in the early 1970s and our PE times were similar to yours - two one hour sessions per week in the gym and one two hour session per week outside doing games.

Our indoor kit was white polo shirt and navy blue gym knickers. We were allowed white plimsolls, but could go barefoot if we wished.

Outdoor kit similar to indoors, but we were allowed a PE skirt or culottes (sort of a cross between shorts and a skirt) and a thick, long-sleeved cotton top too. Outdoor footwear was either plimsolls or canvas hockey boots with rubber barred soles.

Outdoor games varied by term - hockey, netball or cross- country in winter / spring and rounders, athletics or tennis in summer.

Comments by Andrea on 24th February 2019  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 


My son also stopped wearing PJs when he was about 12 or 13.


How old were your sons when they got their first jockstraps and did you buy them, or was this left to their dad?

My son never wore one for PE, but I had to buy him a jockstrap and cup when he started to play junior cricket at about 11 years of age. I ended up buying them for him as I was newly separated at the time.

Comments by Alan on 24th February 2019  

I wonder how much time schools spent on PE/games.

My boys only grammar school (early 70's) had 2 one hour PE lessons a week, plus one afternoon for games.

One of the weekly PE lessons was in the gym, the other cross country (all year around).(Shorts inside, plus plimsolls for the run, no shirts).

Games afternoon was split by term, so rugby, althetics and cricket. If the rugby pitches were frozen we had to run the cross country course. (Normal rugby and cricket kit, shorts/plimsolls for althetics. If it was too cold for rugby the run was in rugby shorts, again stripped to the waist, plus plimsols if you had them, bare feet otherwise).

How does this compare with other schools ?

Comments by Robin on 23rd February 2019  

Rob,sadly we did only have one 1hour lesson per week. We did sometimes like to play football after school though and those tended to be more wild!

Comments by June on 23rd February 2019  

Our experience entirely like yours with our boys! The other test of masculine prowess at school was then to possess their own first jockstrap!! Oh the joys of having boys ...

In which years did you board?

Comments by Rob on 23rd February 2019  

Robin,you don't know how lucky you were having mixed PE lessons. No wonder it was the highlight of the week for you,looking forward to stripping off and having your bare chest admired by the girls. Did you only have one lesson a week though?

Comments by Robin on 23rd February 2019  

Andrew: we did mixed PE for all lessons and it was shirts-optional for all activities, including indoor games or gymnastics. I should add, since we were close, Jasmine had seen me shirtless before loads of times when we were hanging out at my house. She was more interested in "showing me off" to the other girls in class. Supposedly, one of the girls had a crush on me and Jasmine was trying to set us up together. I did notice that one girl was always watching me in PE when I had my top off. I must admit I did enjoy the attention!

Comments by Alfie A on 22nd February 2019  

Steve re your comments 17th Feb about wearing vests under school shirt. I did not suffer any bullying as at the time it was only a minority that did not wear vests(singlets) under their white school shirt. I tried to persuade my parents to discard the vest but to no avail. I only managed to do this after leaving school and considered old enough to make up my own mind. Regarding underpants at the time the majority wore white briefs there not being much choice on the market. some wore some of the latest trend of light blue but they were still briefs, boxers having not yet come into fashion.
We always wore footwear and it was the black plimsolls, and a t shirt when doing games outside and cross country.

Comments by James on 22nd February 2019  

Rob,Thank you for your reply,I finally went into long trousers at 15 and was the oldest boy in the school to wear shorts.
I found it very disconcerting wearing shorts at that age and was fearful of peoples'reaction to see an older boy in short trousers.
I agree it was a bit chilly wearing them in cold weather especially when wearing a waist length anorak that did nothing to keep my bare legs warm.

Comments by Rob on 21st February 2019  

James, short trousers were not compulsory but no doubt when my dad bought me a shaver my parents must have also thought that I was ready for long trousers;so I wore them when the term started in January.I didn't mind wearing shorts even though I was in the minority but I remember the long trousers felt a lot warmer especially when I cycled to school at that time of the year. How old were you when your parents let you wear long trousers? Although I wore long trousers to school, when the summer time came my mother made me wear my khaki shorts when I got home. I believe she didn't want me to wear the knees out, especially out in the garden when I also had to take my shirt off so that I got the sun and fresh air to my body.
How did you feel wearing shorts?