Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team

Childhood > Schools


Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team
Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team
Year: 1935
Views: 218,951
Item #: 1741
Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team of Atherton, Greater Manchester.
Source: G. Smith.

Comment by: Katie on 25th May 2015 at 14:55

Hi Andrea

Yes, topless PE continued all through primary school. In the last year, there were some girls who were wearing bras or at least training bras, but they still had to take them off for PE and do it in just their knickers.

At senior school PE was single sex and for the first term of the first year we still did it like at prime school in just our underwear knickers. After that we has gym knickers as white vests.

Comment by: Rose on 24th May 2015 at 23:08

It was topless PE at my Primary school too for girls & boys.
Girls were allowed a vest in the final year if they had started to develope but hardly anyone bothered.
The boys gave you a harder time if you wore a vest than if you left them bare!

Comment by: Pete on 23rd May 2015 at 07:23

To John Lavender:-
When we started doing PE stripped to the waist we did normally wear different coloured shorts depending upon our houses etc.
It was difficult with touch games etc having to try to grip others' bare backs!

Comment by: John Lavender on 22nd May 2015 at 15:45

Good Afternoon Pete

After your Class converted to doing PE Stripped to the WAist, how did you tell Teams apart when doing Gym-Games?

Did you wear different-coloured Shorts , for example , if you had different 'Houses' did the Different Houses have a different House Colour for the Shorts?

Did the fact that you were all Topless not cause some confusion in Game-situations, like Rucks or Group-Tackles?

Comment by: Pete on 21st May 2015 at 07:43

At my secondary school the official PE uniform was vest and shorts but a new boy joined us mid-term and at his previous school no vests had been worn.
He didn't have a vest and appeared in the gym stripped to the waist and gradually more and more of us removed our vests so that eventually the master in charge told the boys still wearing vests to remove them so that we were all stripped to the waist.

Comment by: Charles on 19th May 2015 at 22:31

When I moved up to my first secondary school, PE kit was shorts and vest, styles unspecified as long as the colour was white. Back in those days most kids wore vests as underwear all the year round, so making underwear vests double as PT kit made sound economic sense (this was the mid 1950s, with clothes rationing still a recent memory). After I had been at this school for a couple of years, the powers that be decided that it would be healthier for us to do PE topless. I don't remember anyone in my class objecting to this, although my mother, who regarded vests as year-round essentials for young and old alike, wasn't too keen on the thought of me going bare-chested for an hour or so several times a week, and even less keen once it dawned on her that I had worked out that not wearing a vest for PE was a good excuse for not wearing a vest to school on PE days and, by extension, for not wearing a vest at all, a project I had been working on for a couple of years.

Comment by: Andrea on 17th May 2015 at 16:11


Was your PE topless until the end of Primary School?
That would have been OK for me, but would have been embarrassing for a few of my classmates who had developed enough to be wearing bras during our final year at Primary.

What was you Secondary School PE kit like?

Comment by: Katie on 13th May 2015 at 00:37

I did PE at primary school like other peole have posted. Indoors we did everything in our bare feet and boys wore just their underpants and girls wore just knickrs. We weren't allowed to wear vests even when we were older. I don't remember anyone doing PE naked apart from one time when we had all got wet through playing with water so our teacher made us undress completely before PE.

Comment by: Billy on 25th April 2015 at 16:01

I went to a mixed primary school. We did PE together, in knickers/underpants, all 'topless'. Some pranksters (not me, I was too shy) used to wait until the teacher's back was turned and then lower their pants - I don't remember anybody getting caught, but I reckon the teachers knew more than we realised! Did that happen anywhere else?
At grammar school (boys only) we did PE bare chested in white shorts and plimsolls, and in summer had swimming lessons in the school's own open-air pool. If you forgot your trunks, you had to swim naked - gym shorts weren't allowed. One lad 'forgot' his trunks so often we were sure he did it deliberately - perhaps he just enjoyed swimming in the nude!
Fortunately everything was out of sight of the girls' school next door! I've no idea what they wore for PE.

Comment by: Julian on 22nd April 2015 at 08:32

Like Roy I attended a mixed school with PE being done separately so again I didn't know what the girls wore but boys were always stripped to the waist.
This included the cross-country runs. Initially I was scared of the prospect of running through the streets while stripped to the waist but I soon got used to it and eventually I had a hairy chest as well and felt quite macho!!!

Comment by: Roy on 21st April 2015 at 07:33

I went to a mixed school and PE was always done separately.
I don't know what the girls wore but the boys were always stripped to the waist and many also went barefoot.

Comment by: Andrea on 18th April 2015 at 17:50

Although we never did PE topless at either Primary or Secondary school, in the summer I would sometimes take my T shirt and vest off to have a splash about in our local stream or when we were making 'dens' on some waste ground (I was always a bit od a tomboy).

This carried on until just before I started at Secondary school. By the following summer I had to make sure I was wearing a swimsuit top and I started to wear a bra at the beginning of the new school year.

Comment by: Barbara on 17th April 2015 at 20:32

I attended a mixed junior school aged 7-11 in the 1950s P E was done together all topless and barefoot girls in knickers/boys underpants only.I remember on occasions both boys and girls me included doing
P E nude I dont think anyone was embarressed I loved it.
In the summer I went to school barefoot which made me the envy of others girls whose mums wouldnt let them.
At the secondary school boys wore just shorts,girls wore vest or tee shirt if wearing a bra,and knickers.I was flat chested and for the 1st year was topless outside and in the gym when the girls did P E on their own with a note from my mum was allowed to do it nude.

Comment by: Roy on 17th April 2015 at 14:10

It was with boys only.
I don't think I would have minded being stripped to the waist and barefoot kin a mixed class

Comment by: Will on 16th April 2015 at 18:27

Roy, did you do PE with girls or was it boys only? How did you feel/would you have felt about the very basic PE kit in front of girls?

Comment by: Roy on 15th April 2015 at 18:57

We always did PE stripped to the waist and barefoot but never naked.

Comment by: Philip on 11th April 2015 at 09:40

To Johnny.
I don't believe you.

Comment by: Anthony on 9th April 2015 at 21:38

We never did pe nude we were lucky then .
Just shorts and those pumps if you were lucky to have some most of us did it in our barefeet inside gym your feet did get black

Comment by: johnny on 7th April 2015 at 14:44

i went to a school where the PE instructor was a woman.
we had to do PE naked.sometimes we had to do PE with younger lads who hadn't reached puberty and she thought it was embarrassing for them, so we were made to shave all body hair,so we were all the same.no thought about how embarrassing it was for us.
i think she got off on it.

Comment by: Roy on 11th March 2015 at 13:08

I agree with Philip re nude cross-country. If that were tried today it would quite rightly be regarded as a form of child abuse. I suspect that even then if Social Services got to hear of it they would also regarded it a form of child abuse.

Comment by: Philip on 8th March 2015 at 22:33

To Rick. I can believe what you say about the swimming but what you say about cross country is nonsense.

Comment by: rick on 4th March 2015 at 14:45

at the small exclusive boarding school i went to all PE was done naked as was swimming.
because the grounds were well enclosed cross country was also
done naked.

Comment by: Dave on 3rd March 2015 at 07:15

It was normal when I was at school to do all PE stripped to the waist whatever the weather.
I well remember being stripped to the waist with snow on the ground.

Comment by: The original Pete on 1st March 2015 at 04:28

I was at an all boys boarding school and punishment runs were very frequently given and you'd see small groups or individuals doing laps of the field on a very regular basis. These were given with some relish by our rather brutal PE teacher and it was often given for slightest things like if a perceived lack of effort, a vest wasn't sticking to you or if your bare chest/back wasn't showing at least a thin sheen of sweat at the end of a lesson.
Our kit was simple, a vest, shorts, indoor trainers and another for outdoors. Teams were always picked by the teacher half would strip off, half would keep a vest on. I can vouch through experience that some of us were definitely stripped off more
than others for some reason!
Nobody seemed really bothered by the mimimal kit but there always dark mutterings about the temperature in winter - being stripped down for a fitness sessions outdoors in the snow was brutal by anyone's standards.
The punishment you always wanted to avoid was 2hrs in the gym. You
were required to wear your vest when you entered the gym. Due to the nature of the exercise the school nurse gave you a quick checkover before you stripped down to the waist to begin the punishment. Needless to say it wasn't long before you began to drip with sweat. A lot of lads endured this and being given attention by the nurse afterwards was not seen as unusual.

Comment by: Will on 9th February 2015 at 23:31

In reply to Stuart, at my all boys school in the 80s we were given extra punishments for forgetting our kit, usually a PE detention. These usually took place in the gym and lasted the same time as an ordinary PE lesson but sometimes there would be a punishment run outdoors instead. I had to do one of these as a penalty for not having my PE vest; what I didn't realise until we got outside was that I would be doing the actual run bare chested as well! We were told to take our vests off, leave them on the ground at the starting point and then set off on the run. All part of the punishment. It certainly wasn't a warm day but the worst aspect of it was having to run past a group of girls from a nearby school - that prompted a fair bit of giggling and whistles etc! It was a real relief to get back to base and I was always careful to bring my kit in future.

Comment by: Stuart on 6th February 2015 at 16:33

Like a lot of secondary schools in the early 70's if we forgeot PE kit we had to strip to just our underpants and do PE as normal.

Did anyone else get additional punishments for forgetting kit, like detention, punishment runs or even caning ?

Comment by: Anthony on 14th January 2015 at 18:47

I if you forgot your kit for pe you had to borrow shorts and do it in barefeet in sports hall and gym didnt do us any harm your feet was black with dust that's all

Comment by: Max on 6th January 2015 at 23:17

At my school, if rugby was cancelled that usually meant the weather was too bad for any other outdoor activity. So we had to join in with other classes going on at the same time - half of us in the gym and the other half in the swimming pool. Sometimes boys brought swimming trunks but if not you had to swim in your black rugby shorts. If you were joining the gym class it was the same - black shorts instead of the white ones we usually wore indoors, shirts off and bare feet. It was often a bit of a squeeze but we had to make the best of it.

Comment by: Steve on 6th January 2015 at 17:58

If it was frosty and we were unable to play rugby, we had to do a cross country run instead. In theory we could have used the gym, but in practice another lesson was already in progress.

Our cross country kit was navy shorts and plimsolls, always stripped to the waist. If you just had rugby kit with you, you had to strip to just the shorts and run in bare feet. Some boys brought plimsolls with them just in case rugby was cancelled, but most ran in shorts only.

What happened with other boys if it was unsafe to play rugby.

Comment by: Andy on 24th December 2014 at 13:28

We were the same indoor shorts only and bare feet.