Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team

Childhood > Schools


Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team
Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team
Year: 1935
Views: 204,406
Item #: 1741
Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team of Atherton, Greater Manchester.
Source: G. Smith.

Comment by: Ade C on 14th September 2020 at 18:09

I never had to do X Country bare chested etc, that was always in the school out door kit, the good old reversible rugby shirt. Indoor p e however was white shorts only, bare chest and bare feet, not an issue as I was also in a gymnastics club where footwear was frowned upon.

Comment by: Valance on 7th September 2020 at 11:28

did any one meet with Mr Dando to protest?

Comment by: Peterlee on 5th September 2020 at 09:46

If you are going to demonstrate in public why do it on a Saturday??? Surely during the week when politicians may be around!!!

Comment by: LeedsLad on 3rd September 2020 at 09:06

What an intriguing proposition! I'm half tempted to turn up, just to see if you exist! ;) What will you be wearing, so one can identify you?

Comment by: Mr Dando on 2nd September 2020 at 17:51

No pupil should be forced to do physical education either bare-footed, bare chested or be compelled to have a compulsory shower in school.

This is an offending school that still has a mandatory towel requirement.


Both Boys and Girls

Predominantly white PE top with collar (polo shirt)
Maroon Football/Rugby/Hockey socks
Clean training shoes – with non-marking soles
Short white socks
Tracksuit (Optional)

Boys Specifically

Black cotton/nylon shorts
White cotton/nylon shorts
Black/Maroon outdoor sports shirt, available only from Price and Buckland
Football/Rugby boots

Girls Specifically

Maroon skort
Maroon nylon satin finish shorts
Black/Maroon outdoor sports shirt, available only from Price and Buckland

With the return of the dreaded PE lessons this September it is time to learn from the sins of the past and end state sponsored child abuse. Let us come together this 5th of September 2020 and call for the end of compulsory PE lessons in all state schools! Covid 19 and the need for self distancing gives an excellent reason to end communal changing rooms and contact sports.

Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression is the basis of all PE lessons. And where once you had the freedom to object, think, and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission.

How did this happen? Who's to blame? Well, certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.

I had no choice but to be subject to the dreaded school communal shower from September 1985 until Easter 1987. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me on September 5th night 2 metres apart, outside the gates of Parliament, and together we shall give Boris Johnson a fifth of September that shall never, ever be forgot. Yours Mr Dando!

Comment by: Stewart on 20th August 2020 at 10:21

Peter... No-one ever hurt their feet as far as I can remember.
And schools in New Zealand are still encouraging pupils to run cross country barefoot to this very day, as they know the advantage of it.

Comment by: Pete on 18th August 2020 at 12:00

Don't tell me that none of the pupils ever got injured running barefoot during cross country runs if they stepped over something sharp.

I think it is very dangerous and improper to make kids run barefoot outside. Not even the toughest athletes would probably dare do this. This is confirmed by the fact that the PE coaches themselves usually always wore shoes for these runs with the boys while they made the boys run barefoot which does not make sense and was abusive.

I also don't believe as some posters are saying that they enjoyed running barefoot outside in all weather and ground conditions.
In any case I don't think that this was common at all for cross country runs.

Comment by: Stewart on 12th August 2020 at 10:55

Readers may be interested in my PE experiences. Between 1967 and 1974 I attended an English grammar school where the P.E. regime was very strict, and bare feet were compulsory for both boys and girls indoor and outdoor P.E.

It was always a mixed lesson, like all the other lessons at the school, and for indoor P.E. in the gym or sports hall both the boys and girls wore shorts. The girls also wore T-shirts, but the boys were bare chested.

Outdoor P.E. was on a Wednesday afternoon, with cross country every fortnight, both winter and summer. Boys could wear T-shirts for that, but again, both boys and girls were compelled to run barefoot...even in winter. In the winter term, the alternate Wednesdays were given over to netball for the girls, again they had to play barefoot. For boys, it was rugby, and this was the only exception to the barefoot rule. We could wear rugby boots.

All the other terms were given over to track and field events, where both boys and girls wore shorts and T-shirts, but again, we were barefoot, no exceptions. Even when we competed in county athletics tournaments we had to be barefoot, while most other competitors wore shoes. I do think this gave us a distinct advantage though, as we did tend to win most events.

Our P.E. teachers for the most part wore shoes for the lessons, but there was a strange thing with the cross country. Our P.E. teachers were quite young -- the boys' teacher (male) was late 20s, and the girls' teacher (female) was in her early 20s (but, of course, to us teenagers, that was positively ancient!). Both teachers always ran cross country with us -- the man at the front, and the woman teacher at the back. The man wore shoes, but the girls' teacher always ran barefoot -- yet she always wore shoes for all other P.E. lessons, including indoors.

I loved being barefoot for P.E., but my girlfriend at the time hated it. She was okay with going barefoot indoors, but not outdoors. She asked if she could wear shoes for cross country and netball, but was told definitely not: bare feet were compulsory. I remember seeing her crying while she was brushing snow, barefoot, off the netball court.

I can't see the health and safety brigade condoning barefoot cross country at schools nowadays, either compulsory or by indivdual choice, which is great shame.

Comment by: Stuart on 18th July 2020 at 07:35

We get our word gymnasium from the greek Gymnos which means naked.

Personally I love to swim naked where possible, so much nicer than wearing a costume. A habit of course picked up at school as recounted earlier

Comment by: Pete on 11th July 2020 at 13:21

Peter V ,
Athletics for boys were very popular in ancient Greece and they didn't take place just at the Olympic games which were held every 4 years just like they are today.
And just like today only the best athletes from around the country took part.
What is rarely ever mentioned is that every town in Greece had a small stadium where athletic events were regularly held throughout the year. In villages or towns that did not have a stadium the events were held in the streets and the boys and youths taking part were always naked no matter where they were held and anyone in the town or village could attend to watch the events, including girls and women. This is all documented though rarely mentioned.
One can still see these open stadiums all over Greece and surrounding countries among the ancient ruins.
The Olympic games were male only spectators because it was part of a religious festival always held in the same place near Mount Olympus where there was a temple dedicated to this god.
So the Olympic Games were the exception, not the rule, concerning female spectators.

Comment by: Peter V on 9th July 2020 at 09:48

Having read the comments re nudity, apparently during the original Olympic games in ancient Greece the competitors all competed naked. although of course the games were restricted to males only.

Comment by: Turner on 7th July 2020 at 13:16

The municipal swimming baths on Holderness Road, Hull, in the late fifties had an all-male swimming session every Saturday for one hour from 9am. lt was the smaller of the two pools that boys aged 9 to 14 were allowed to use; there was no requirement for costumes to be worn and about half the boys went in stark naked, usually the ones aged about 9 to 13. Boys of about 14 seemed to favour trunks though not in all cases.

Family members including sisters often came into the pool area to fetch offspring or brothers. This was perfectly normal and not considered embarrassing by the boys. nor was the sight of naked small boys offensive to the adults.

The building (dating from 1898) still exists and is to be converted to apartments. A nearby leisure centre now provides swimming pools but no doubt any suggestion of naked swimming by little boys would be met with pursed-lipped disapproval.

Comment by: Pete on 6th July 2020 at 13:12

Stuart, I made a long Summer holiday tour in Italy during the 70s in my twenties and it was much the same as you describe on Spanish beaches.
It was common to see girls and women swimming and sunbathing topless on public beaches, something which I never saw in England.
It was also not uncommon to see boys up to maybe 9 or so swimming naked. On some remote beaches one could even see whole groups of boys even older swimming naked.
The further South I went the more this was common, maybe poverty had something to do with it, few seemed to own swimsuits at that age. The girls in these places however always swam in their underwear, only the boys swam naked. It didn't seem to bother any of them at all. Teen boys and girls usually wore old shorts or something or just underpants for boys.

Comment by: Stuart on 6th July 2020 at 09:38

Re no trunks on the beach. As a kid in the 1970s i spent all my summers in northern spain and was often naked on the beach there, a lot of women were topless and they had a far more relaxed attitude than britain obviously.
In terms of ages acceptable it was not clearly defined but definitely not acceptable once puberty had started and always boys not girls. I think the last time i was naked was 13 but was an exception as I had forgotten my trunks and my mum thought it was ok as i was still a boy,- no one seemed to care, except me!

Comment by: Chris G on 4th July 2020 at 23:47

I lived in a seaside town in Sussex until my early teens, and trips to the beach were regular events throughout that period. Swimming trunks were always required, with no exception. Even when playing in the privacy of our back garden in the summer, total nudity was utterly taboo.

Comment by: Josh H on 3rd July 2020 at 09:38

I also wonder up to at what age did mothers expect boys to be naked in public, ( on the beach). I know that my mother always ensured I had trunks on and changed behind a towel.

Comment by: Pete on 2nd July 2020 at 04:29

I presume that it was a boys only school that made you swim naked.
Were there any occasions when females like teachers or others could see you swim naked?

Also, was there an age limit when mothers used to make boys sim naked on beaches and pools? I would also presume that this was only for very young boys.

Comment by: Fred on 29th June 2020 at 07:15

Back in my school days naked swimming for the boys was just seen as normal and most of us had mothers that required us to be naked outside of school at pools and beaches so nudity among boys was quite commonplace and ordinary to us. We even did the occasional pe lesson nude I remember one time we should have been swimming but the pool was being serviced so we had regular pe instead and of course none of us had our shorts so we all ran into the gym nude.

Comment by: Harry on 27th June 2020 at 14:49

Ian you seemed to have attend a school for masochists. Having a belting league and you accepting a belting as a forfeit for loosing at a game of strip poker. Was not loosing the game considered by the other participants punishment enough? Surely the game was not played at school.

Comment by: Ian on 27th June 2020 at 06:41

Stuart, we had to take three, four or even six strokes of the belt over the hands given hard by the teacher. Tough but effective as it earned you "street cred" with the other lads. Some lads were even in informal "belting leagues" trying to get as many strokes of the belt as possible over the year. Also, the belt was often seen as a form of entertainment livening up a dull period.

There was bullying, but not much. I also remember one day a lad stripping off, starting to take his trunks out of his bag, hesitating, putting them back then going to the teacher to say he'd forgotten them. It was a quite a sight seeing him belted. Naked beltings were extremely rare.

Apart from actually forgetting my pe kit (maybe once a term), I took on a forfeit to pretend to forget my trunks after losing a game of strip poker with several lads from the class.

Comment by: Stuart on 24th June 2020 at 15:34

Ian, your comment about punishment for forgetting your trunks reminded me that unlike in my prep school where nude swimming was the norm, in the senior school it was regulation black speedo type trunks.
It was still in a private pool and if you forgot your trunks you had to swim naked and goer two whacks from his trusty plimsoll.
However this opened up a route for either bullying or tricks in that some boys every so often nicked or hid another boys trunks before the lesson resulting in the inevitable nude swim and slippering. They couldnt do it regularly else that would have been too obvious, but you never knew when it might happen and if you'd be the target. Happened to me a couple of times. I'm sure the PE teachers knew it went on but as it wasn't targeted at one individual they turned a blind eye to it.

Comment by: Ian on 24th June 2020 at 14:02

Early in secondary in a boys school, our class was scheduled for a gym period but for some reason we had a swimming period instead. We only had white gym shorts with us but not our Speedo style trunks. On that occasion, we had one of the milder PE teachers who told us to swim wearing our shorts if we wanted. He said if they were uncomfortable, take them off if we wanted. The bold lads were naked before he finished his breath and the rest of us soon stripped off. We had a whale of a time when it was our choice.
After that we always took our trunks just in case, as there were some really strict teachers who would just order you in naked and punish you for not having your trunks.

Comment by: Stuart on 20th June 2020 at 23:29

@Curious. There were boys who didnt like it but that was as we got older and puberty kicked in. I know one of my friends I'm still in touch with hated it because he was one of the first to start and felt very self conscious about it all. He didnt realise the rest of us were envious! We just loved swimming and the vast majority of us didnt care, in fact it was better without trunks.

As for the family watching us swim, boys didnt really comment on it other than to ask me what the head said. The girl in question was unlucky in what she got to see however as i hadnt started puberty so there wasnt exactly a lot to look at, if it had been one of the others she would have been more amazed!!

I do recall the girl saying to her brother that he would have to swim naked to and laughing,but it didnt seem to worry him.

Comment by: FranK C on 20th June 2020 at 19:34

I had the school medical when I was 14,The gym was used for three days to service the third year consisting of over a hundred boys.It was organised so twenty boys left the classroom at a time and undressed in the changing room.We lined up in the corridor all naked and nervous.Five were admitted at a time to the examination desks.Nurses and two doctors carried out extensive and thorough examination,eyes,ears,throat chest tested,asked if we smoked!Then the lower Netherlands!I didn't get the timing right with the coughing so I had to have it done twice.We we all glad when it was over including the BCG injection we were all dreading!That was in 1974.So I don't know what happens today with medicals,is it even on the National Curriculum. It will be all different now,post Covid.

Comment by: Curious on 20th June 2020 at 03:42

Thanks for your replies, guys.
You seem to confirm that naked swimming was most common in Prep schools.
Although I was at school in the same era as you I went to 'normal' primary and Secondary school which didn't have the luxury of a swimming pool.
As a matter of fact I was not even aware at the time that there were schools that had swimming pools, let alone that boys had to be naked to use them during lessons.

I suppose the ever-present matron was taken for granted like you mention. Were there any boys who were shy or too modest who never got used to swimming naked?

I found Stuart's post particularly amusing how the headmaster had no hesitation or care in showing families, including girls, the boys swimming nude during their lessons.
Since you were the only boy out of the water and called over by the headmaster to stand naked in front of the visiting girl did the other boys tease you about it later? I am sure they had quite a good laugh about it.

Comment by: Stuart on 19th June 2020 at 07:23

@Curious at my prep school ages 9-13 our naked swimming was boys only and i recall seeing females rarely. The first time was when i was in the junior class aged 9 and our form teacher was the only female teacher in the school. She would very occasionally visit our swim lesson which were taken by the PE teacher.
The only other occasions i remember was when I was in final year and our swim lesson that year was on a Saturday morning ( yes we still had the dreaded saturday morning school, it was scrapped the year after I left!). A few times whilst we were having our lesson the headmaster would appear showing a family around the school so there would a mother and sometimes a sister of the prospective boy pupil.

I vividly remember one such visit and for some reason I was not in the water when they came in nd the Head was telling them about the pool and called me over. I cant remember what question he asked me but the girl in the family, who looked about my age, was just staring wide eyed at me a naked boy.

Other than that there were never any female visitors. Our swim gala was just the pupils and teachers as it was too small yo fit anyone else in so I the aforementioned class teacher was there and often matron too, it was boarding/ day school and matron was there for any first aid needs. All the boys swam naked though the boys in the senior class were allowed to wear trunks ( regulation black only) at the gala most didn't bother especially if like me they hadnt started puberty yet.

Comment by: Richard R on 17th June 2020 at 18:33

We had naked swimming right through the school and the only woman who was ever present was Matron not that she was there routinely but of course if anyone was injured she was there like a shot.

No one could be shy in front of her, she had seen us all naked at times and indeed I doubt there was a boy who had been through the prep school who had not been at least once over Matron's knee for a soundly smacked (bare) bottom, something that was memorable for all the wrong reasons. It wasn't anything like as bad as getting the cane from a master but it certainly stung for quite some time. As a lad prone to a bit of mischief, I probably earned a smacked bottom a couple of times each term in the prep school.

She always expected older boys to be more responsible and if behaviour was bad she simply sent you to a master for the cane but I do remember cheeking her in jest when I was in the fifth form and she fixed me with a hard stare and told me I wasn't too old for a smacked bottom even then not that she carried it through.

Comment by: Paul on 17th June 2020 at 18:14

Curious - you ask about naked swimming, it was normal at my school however the only woman who was ever possibly present was Matron and she was well acquainted with naked boys so no one was in the least bit shy in front of her. Other than that it was men only.

Comment by: Curious on 17th June 2020 at 11:52

Several posters here say that they swam naked at school and does not seem to have been a big deal since it was a male only environment.
But I have read somewhere that in some schools the boys up to a certain age had female instructors during nude swim classes, mostly in prep schools if I am not mistaken. Can anyone confirm this?

I have also read that some schools had swimming galas in the nude in front of parents and sisters and other females like school staff and teachers. Can anyone also confirm this?

Comment by: stuart on 12th June 2020 at 12:46

Josh, Yes I see the same, some younger guys do the towel dance at the gym and some don't shower because we have 8 showers but they are only have separators on the sides, no curtains or doors on the fornt so no hiding is possible.
However I would say they are a minority most of the younger guys just get changed the same as everyone else and afew happily strut around naked, but they tend to be the very well muscled and/or endowed!
I agree my school experiences of compulsory showers & nude swimming as well as public pool communal changing rooms, gave me an understanding that we are all the same basically and there is nothing to be ahsamed of.