Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team

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Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team
Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team
Year: 1935
Views: 221,423
Item #: 1741
Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team of Atherton, Greater Manchester.
Source: G. Smith.

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.

Comment by: Josh H on 11th June 2020 at 09:57

Paul as you say it was not thought strange that perhaps teachers and younger pupils were naked together in changing rooms.In the past when I went to my local swimming pool the changing facilities were single sex and adult men and boys all changed in the same area. However, when I go to the gym now (hopefully soon again)although it is a communal changing area for males, I notice quite often the younger age group go into to the toilet cubicle to change into shorts, and if they have had a shower or swim then then really struggle doing the "towel dance" so that they are not exposed. I am grateful for my old school days that taught me to just undress and get on with it.
It was not only in the school changing room I got used to communal changing, all the scout camps I attended with six to a tent there was no privacy when changing or getting undressed for bed.

Comment by: Stuart on 11th June 2020 at 06:40

I have an elderly friend, 84, i think now, who boarded at Ampleforth as a boy. He told me that whilst during their swimming lessons they wore trunks, in their spare time older boys were allowed to swim in the large pond in the summer and there everyone swam naked.

An interesting mix but again it was older boys only so similar to the story below.

Comment by: Paul on 10th June 2020 at 13:11

JoshH - I doubt there would be any naked swimming at schools these days. I was a sixth former at school in 1968/9 and back then we did swim naked and at lunch times alongside male members of staff.

Matthew - There were rumours when I was in lower school that sixth formers and staff swam together at lunchtime but we had no way of knowing one way or the other whether it was true or not and so it remained. When I was in, I think the fourth year we had PE in the slots straight after lunch and while we were getting undressed as it was for a swimming class, two members of staff returned to the changing room from the pool, both naked and I guess that confirmed what happened but that was when I knew for definite.

As for staff and younger pupils mixing when naked, it did happen in the changing room and the showers, staff had no separate showers so if they had been doing something either at lunch time or during a free period they could only use the showers we used. I certainly never thought it was in any way odd.

For supervising swimming, the PE staff wore black shorts for everything, they were always bare chested too. I didn't think it was odd that they wore them at the poolside, it was just what happened.

Comment by: Matthew on 9th June 2020 at 09:41

To Paul,

In your earlier years at the school, were you aware that staff and six-formers had the use of the pool together at lunch times?

In your earlier years, when the master supervising /teaching you wore black shorts, did you think that it wasn't necessary? Since staff and sixth-form pupils were able to mix at lunchtimes, it must have been considered inappropriate for staff and younger pupils to be naked together - but was it? What do you think?

Comment by: Josh H on 9th June 2020 at 09:30

Paul re your latest comments about swimming. When would that have been. I cannot see that happening these days.

Comment by: Paul on 8th June 2020 at 16:16

Matthew, at my school (all boys) we swam naked throughout my time there. The masters used to wear their black shorts at the pool side and only got in the water if a lad was in difficulty so they didn’t pause to take them off.

At lunchtimes though staff and sixth formers could use the pool and it was normal that both would be naked. Sometimes a new man on the staff would appear in trunks, always speedos back in those days but they never made a second appearance. Swimming naked is normal!

Comment by: Matthew on 6th June 2020 at 22:10

Hug, thank you once again for your input.

It does seem unnecessary for recruits to shower communally, put on their underpants and stand in a line only to have to remove them for the rectal/testicular/foreskin examination. But times and practices change and a new "normal" evolves.

At various times on these sites, the subject of naked swimming has been discussed and, in an all-male context similar to the above, the wearing of trunks was more often than not, the practice. I can't see why it needed to be - even for the teacher in charge.

Comment by: Hugh on 4th June 2020 at 21:42

Matthew, thank you once again for your comment.

You ask about rectal examinations in the navy. The attitude to gloves – now more commonly known to everyone as PPE has changed greatly over the years since I was a young doctor. In my early years gloves were to protect you and not others and so yes, going along a line of thirty recruits for all other parts of the examination you used your bare hands but when it got to the rectal exam you pulled on a glove and yes, the same glove was worn for all thirty lads. You are right it was quite normal. You were also allowed one very small sachet of lube which barely covered your finger for the first lad let alone the other twenty nine so it was not a comfortable procedure and indeed as a recruit and during my service I was on the receiving end of the same sort of medical examinations as I conducted on many occasions so I know exactly what it was like.

I was never really bothered by it either doing it or on the receiving end of the gloved finger, my surname begins with an R so I was always towards the end of the line and let’s say being on the receiving end of the much used glove never did me any harm.

Now of course that would be unthinkable, the forces still examine men in groups but I’m sure the glove would be changed between each lad. Now PPE is two-way protection for you and the patient so the practice of years gone by would not be permitted. I think until it’s time for genital and rectal exams lads keep their underpants on these days too, something that would have been unthinkable in my day and given that they will have been in a communal shower before the exam putting underpants back on seems unnecessary to me.

In father/son examinations penis, foreskin and testicles would be checked for both, for the lad it would be normal to inspect the gluteal cleft but only insert a finger if you had reason to do so with an under eighteen, after that I always would. Dad would always have a rectal examination simply to check all was well particularly with his prostate but you would do a sweep of the cavity to check for anything that shouldn’t be there too. I always warned both before we started that an erection was likely and it was a sign of a good healthy body and I would be more concerned if they didn’t have one. I have no memory of either dads or lads being embarrassed.

Since it’s a sensitive subject I would emphasise to the men of a certain age who post here that a check of your prostate is something you should consider. Prostate cancer was the most diagnosed cancer last year and my own brother died of it several years back. As such I’m on a screening programme and go for a check every six months. It really doesn’t hurt and done properly you barely feel it and it’s over in seconds and your GP probably does three or four rectal examinations a day. Please get checked.

Comment by: Matthew on 4th June 2020 at 13:46

Thank you, Hugh, for coming back.

When you were performing the rectal examination on the line of naval recruits, I wonder if you wore a glove and, if you did, was it only the one, same glove as you went along the line? This may seem a strange question but times and practices change and perceptions of what is "normal" change correspondingly.

Can I ask about your father/son examinations? I assume that they included rectal/testicular/foreskin examinations and there must have been occasions when they both had erections.
I think that must have been a rare, personal experience that they both shared.

Comment by: Hugh on 2nd June 2020 at 16:29

Matthew, thank you for your comment.

You ask about how common it was that a lad had an erection during an examination and I would say when it was penis and testicles which included rolling back the foreskin there would be an erection about seventy percent of the time. If the foreskin was not required to be rolled back then probably there would be an erection on only about forty percent of occasions.

An erection during a rectal examination is far more common to a point where you might almost expect it. That’s simply because as you slide your finger into the rectum the first thing you feel is the prostate which is highly sensitive to stimulation of any sort. For a younger man you might almost be concerned if he didn’t have an erection, for older men it’s less common particularly if he has prostate issues.

Doing examinations in the navy where the culture was examine don’t explain I did just that but in so far as there were thirty healthy lads together and most of them had an erection then they all saw each other have it and so considered it normal.

In general practice I would usually warn a younger lad due a genital or rectal exam that he would almost certainly have an erection and it was a demonstration of his good health and it was quite normal. If a lad was due both a genital and rectal exam and he had a good, healthy erection on the genital exam I always moved very quickly to the rectal exam and had him immediately turn around and bend over so I could get on with it. Whatever about one erection, causing a lad to have two was, I always though unnecessary.

I don’t remember lads being particularly embarrassed, if you put them at their ease and explain it may happen, sometimes adding that it’s nothing you haven’t seen many, many times before most lads will just laugh it off which really is the best thing to do. As we all know, erections are completely normal for healthy men and there is only really concern if they are not happening.

Comment by: Keith on 30th May 2020 at 10:54

I was the same, no matter how much to try to will it not to happen it does, it seems like ages that he examines your penis and testicles although it's probably only a minute or so, as a teenager it was normal I was told, though that didn't seem to calm me down.

Comment by: Matthew on 29th May 2020 at 17:12

Now that Rob has raised the issue of erections during the foreskin test, I wonder how common it was for this to happen. Perhaps Hugh can come back on this or indeed any previous posters who didn't mention it. I was circumcised as an infant so didn't have the roll back test but the doctor took hold and said that it had been done well. An erection, of course, resulted.

Comment by: Rob on 28th May 2020 at 12:41

At primary and grammar school in the 1950's when I had medicals at age 5, 10 and 15 I only had to strip to the waist and never had to anything below my waist examined. When I had to go for a pre-employment medical in London when I was 17 for a job in banking I had the usual height and weight measurements taken by a nurse plus hearing and eyesight tests, with the addition of providing a urine sample. I then went to the doctor's office where he took my blood pressure and then told me to strip to the waist and take my shoes and socks off. He examined my upper body thoroughly and I thought that was the end of the examination but was surprised when he told me to take my trousers off and was unaware that this meant taking my underpants off as well. Thank goodness I was used to being naked in the showers at school after gym and games, and quickly took my pants off. I was immediately told to turn around and bend over and the doctor proceeded with a rectal examination before getting me to lie on a leather couch. After feeling my groin for hernias and then examining my testicles he told me to pull my foreskin back. I had no idea how far to pull it back as my dad had never spoken to me about this, but I pulled it halfway. The doctor then took hold of my penis and fully retracted the foreskin and examined my penis which was becoming hard and when he pulled the tip apart to examine the slit I was fully erect. I have since spoken to both of our two sons when they were young to tell them of the importance of pulling their foreskins back and to ensure that they always wash their penises whenever they in the bath or shower.

Comment by: Hugh on 23rd May 2020 at 10:40

I’m not sure who has cut and pasted almost everything I’ve ever written here below?

About circumcision, I’m retired but during my career I was a GP and also a doc in the Navy.

I think some doctors did indeed have a ‘thing’ about circumcision, when I moved to general practice, I remember one of the senior partners was very adamant that every boy should be circumcised for ‘health and hygiene’ reasons. He was very old school and of course in times gone by it was a lot more fashionable. He recommended it to all parents and most took him up on it.

Those of us who were younger had I think a more balanced view. When doing a medical on a boy, I always wanted to know that the foreskin would retract easily and if it didn’t I would recommend circumcision but if it moved freely then I wouldn’t even suggest it. From memory I would say 20-25% if boys needing circumcision was fairly normal, 80% would be very high but then the examination is very subjective. You ask a boy to pull his foreskin back and you can only observe. If it didn’t move freely I always used to ask him to repeat and only on the second occasion would I recommend it. Generally if a boy needed more than a thumb and forefinger to get it back I judged it tight, some needed two hands and they were definitely way too tight.

Other doctors of course had different views and the slightest hesitation or failure of the skin to slide freely meant to them it needed to come off. What always did alarm me was how many lads had never been spoken to by their father about their foreskin and some in their mid teens had no idea that their foreskin should move.

As a doc what was unpleasant was seeing a lad in his twenties who had torn his foreskin or maybe was in significant pain having had penetrative sex for the first time and then having to tell him he needed to be circumcised before anything else. It is one of those things that’s better done earlier in life if it needs to be.

Comment by: Andrea on 20th May 2020 at 14:48

Hi Fiona,
My mum was the same and thankfully I never caught any either.

Comment by: Josh H on 20th May 2020 at 12:30

Perhaps the reason a general anaesthetic was used for a circumcision was to spare the lad any trauma or possibly embarrassment which might be experienced if awake during the procedure.

Comment by: Keith on 20th May 2020 at 09:27

Spencer. I agree with you about the local anaesthetic, when I had my revision circumcision I had a local one and I had to do what he called and "induced erection" that was to show him where he needed to remove the excess skin left behind after the "botched" original circumcision, all in all the process took over an hour and was well worth the money.

As regards creams to help with "skinning back" I don't know if they were around when my original circumcision was done in 1961, if they were I don't think they were offered, maybe if my parents had taken me to my own doctor instead of straight to the hospital things would have been different.

Comment by: Spencer on 19th May 2020 at 14:00

I am surprised about two things concerning circumcisions of schoolboys.
Firstly about how "snap-happy' some doctors were in recommending circumcisions during school physicals when a simple ointment course would have solved the problem.

Secondly about why a complete put to sleep anaesthetic was required for circumcision when just a local anaesthetic would have been enough for such a minor operation.

I have seen videos of mass circumcisions of boys in the Philippines and also Muslim countries where only local anaesthetic is used.
Same as one does when having a tooth pulled out at the dentist.

Are there any posters here who were circumcised with just a local anaesthetic on the penis skin?

Comment by: Fiona on 19th May 2020 at 13:48

I don't remember having any medicals at primary school, but I do remember the termly "hair raids"! Funnily enough, i don;t remember any of my classmates harbouring anything malicious in their hair, and Mum made damn sure that i didn't either.

Comment by: Josh H on 19th May 2020 at 09:51

During school medical examinations although having to drop my pants for the cough, my penis was never examined. I suppose as I found out later I was circumcised soon after birth. I wonder if the reason for so many circumcisions was rather like year ago when it was the "norm" or "fad"to tonsils removed whether necessary or not. Something you hear very little about now a days.

Comment by: Andrea on 18th May 2020 at 12:22

I can recollect having two medicals during my time at Secondary School. The first was soon after I had started and was done in vest and pants (although the vest had to be lifted up enough for the doctor to use her stethoscope).

The second was in the 4th or 5th year, by which time the vest had given way to a bra. I did have to unfasten that and slip it down slightly to enable the (female) doctor to do a visual examination. Similarly I had to pull the top of my pants forward to allow her to see down there. I'm not sure what she was actually looking for, but she did ask if my periods were regular.

I also remember visits by 'nitty nora' and the dreaded BCG jab.

Comment by: Keith on 18th May 2020 at 08:31

I do agree with Hugh and Matthew about the doctors who had a "thing" about circumcision, I was circumcised at 13 after a school doctor examined me at the routine exam for that age, my recollection was that I really didn't understand it all, just that I was taken by my parents to the local cottage hospital, I saw a doctor and was told to drop my shorts and underpants and had my penis roughly examined as the doctor tried to "skin" me back and he declared that the school doctor was right.

I was then taken to a ward and undressed and given a gown to wear and get into bed, my parents stayed with me for awhile then a nurse came and gave me an injection and I got drowsy, that's all I remember until next day, I was now minus my foreskin, all I could see was the dressing on my penis, a couple of days later I went home.

Through my later years into my 20's and 30's I was never very happy about the state of my penis as it seemed "ragged" in places and had what I now know as a "turkey neck" underneath that on occasion got caught in my trouser zip if I didn't take care when urinating.

Eventually I had had enough and saw a private doctor about it and he said I should have a "revision" to which I agreed, it was the best £200 I ever spent as he "cleaned" up the mess from the original circumcision. He reckoned that most of the circumcisions done because of school doctors recommending then were unnecessary and with creams and regular "skin backs" the problems would be solved.