Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team

Childhood > Schools


Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team
Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team
Year: 1935
Views: 218,928
Item #: 1741
Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team of Atherton, Greater Manchester.
Source: G. Smith.

Comment by: Matt on 29th January 2014 at 20:21

I attended a private, all boys' school in southern England in the 80s and it wasn't unusual for boys to be penalised by having to remove items of PE kit, especially in detention. Sometimes you might have to take off your socks and trainers and go barefoot as part of the punishment, more often you had to lose your PE vest. 0ccasionally it could be both and you were left in just your shorts.
The first time I got a PE punishment nobody warned me what was likely to happen and it came as a shock when I was told to get my vest off. Oh well, I thought, at least it won't be too cold in the gym... only to discover to my horror that the punishment was actually taking place on the playing fields! Running laps of the field while stripped to the waist was certainly no picnic but at least I knew what to expect next time. And unfortunately there was a next time!

Comment by: Iain on 28th January 2014 at 18:07

I agree with Patrick. We boys always had to be stripped to the waist and I don't think anyone minded that much.

Comment by: Patrick on 26th January 2014 at 17:43

When I was at school boys had to go without shirts for indoor sports, not normally in front of girls but occasionally. While this could inevitably lead to some awkwardness now and then, I certainly wouldn't call it discrimination; after all, boys' bodies are different to girls'.

Comment by: Maltamon on 20th January 2014 at 19:55

I think it is disgusting that in today's society boys are are still discriminated against with boys still subject to more stringent rules than girls. Some schools still have compulsory showers for boys and not for girls even today.


Outdoor Kit:

Green and black long sleeved shirt - Available from Drury Sports only.
Black shorts
Green long socks
Boots and outdoor trainers
Towel for showers (boys)

I dont think boys should be forced to shower or forced to do rugby when girls can play hockey.


Boys' PE Clothing

Towel (students are expected to shower
after football and rugby)


Please Note: Every boy should be provided with a Towel. The changing rooms have excellent shower facilities and boys are encouraged to have a shower after P.E. or Games when appropriate. - See more at: http://www.parmiters.herts.sch.uk/curriculum/subjects/pe/pe-kit/#sthash.g8p3jHL7.dpuf

This is not happy days it is discrimination and like forced conscription in Austria & Switzerland these rules would not be supported if it was happening to females.

Lets end discrimination and campaign for real gender equality.

Comment by: belfastguy on 20th January 2014 at 01:11

Removal of shirts was used as a punitive measure at my Secondary School, in Northern Ireland. In fact so much so that when slapping was abolished in the mid eighties my school began after school punishment PE sessions. Unlike normal PE boys had to be bare chest. Girls also had punishment PE. However they used the warm gym. Both were conducted at the same time, which the boys really resented. There was only one gym back then and our sadist PE teacher hardly ever cancelled any normal PE as it meant dividing the gym, which was time and effort. He never cancelled after school PE once. In fact on one occasion there was some snow and Headmaster came out and sent the boys home. He was furious. Happy days all the same.

Comment by: Spencer on 19th January 2014 at 12:43

While I don't recall anyone being punished in this way for the kind of offences Troy describes, it was certainly commonplace to make boys go bare-chested as a disciplinary measure in PE lessons. There was often no real purpose to it other than for the teacher to demonstrate his authority and to make the boy feel small and more vulnerable.
Once I stepped out of line by answering the teacher back and straight away I was told to stand up and take off my vest. I had to stand there bare-chested to receive a telling off and was then ordered to go and carry out press ups at the side of the gym while the lesson continued. Eventually I was permitted to rejoin the class, but still bare-chested, and it felt embarrassing being the only boy without a vest.
However, I probably got off lightly because I can remember other boys in my class having to do several lessons in a row with their vests off, and some were even made to go bare-chested outdoors for football or rugby.

Comment by: Troy on 18th January 2014 at 04:59

Yeah, I remember that barechested PE wasn't normally the practice at my school but one of the more common punishments for boys misbehaving tended to involve losing our shirts. For example, if we were caught with our shirts untucked or ties undone, we'd have to strip to the waist on the spot and do a few laps around the school field in just our shorts.

First time this happened to me was because I didn't hand in some homework on time. The teacher told me to take off my top and run laps around the field. I thought that meant I could at least keep my undershirt on, but soon that came off too. Even when I came back, she didn't let me put my shirt back on, instead I had to do push-ups in front of the whole class while still shirtless. Totally embarassing.

Experiences like that have kinda made me question the benefits of boys going shirtless for PE class in this day and age.

Comment by: Joel on 9th January 2014 at 16:40

Jon's account of the rock climbing trip brought to mind a similar situation from when I was at school. Normally PE and Games were separate for boys and girls, when we had a lesson outdoors the girls were in the gym and vice versa. On one occasion there was a thunderstorm and the playing field was saturated, so the girls were sent to join us in the gym instead.
The girls didn't take part in the lesson, they were just required to sit and watch. And they were more than happy to do that when the teacher split us into teams of shirts and skins for a basketball game - there were plenty of calls from the sidelines about which boys they wanted to see on the skins team and the odd wolf whistle. I felt surprised and pleased to hear a couple of girls calling my name and then cheering when I was confirmed as a skin and had to take off my top!
It was an incredible confidence boost, to know the girls were enjoying watching me run around bare-chested. I felt really good and played one of my best ever games. Not surprisingly, the girls made their support for the skins team pretty clear and we won quite convincingly!

Comment by: Jim (2) on 5th January 2014 at 15:27

Our PE lessons were either done with all the boys stripped to the waist or with half the group left in vests. The girls all looked forward to seeing your vest coming off especially outdoors in autumn/winter when it was nice and cold.

During December and January the inter house competitions took place and were a big thing throughout the school. When it came to picking the teams for inter house competitions obviously there was a lot of good natured banter about who to pick and who would they'd like to see on the other teams.

For inter house competitions like basketball, it was skins and vests and if you wore a vest for the first half, you'd strip off for the second half - which was preferred as you were normally sweating at halftime.

Cross country runs were all done with everyone barechested and picked out with a big coloured armband.

Fitness competitions were a school thing and each house would select 6 boys from each class in year group to compete (each year had 4 classes). The fitness competition comprised of repetitions of press ups, pull ups, squats, sit ups and shuttle runs and lasted exactly 75mins non stop.

The girls loved the events as they got the time out of lessons and watch to see each team strip down with the added bonus of seeing us all visibly sweat at closer quarters than usual.

You'd be amazed at how much interest playing games and doing PE with your vest off generated amongst the females at school. Little was I to know my future wife was one of those girls watching.

Comment by: Jon on 4th January 2014 at 17:17

As I posted in another thread, I recall one of my first experiences of being shirtless in front of girls for PE was during a compulsory field trip. One of the activities was rock-climbing in fairly warm and humid weather and none of us had been told to bring along our PE kit. You can imagine my dismay and nervousness when the teacher in charge (a female in her mid-20s) told all the boys to simply take off our school shirts and do the climb in just our school shorts. Meanwhile the girls, unfairly I thought, got to sit on the side and watch. We were quite hesitant of course as the girls were suddenly watching us very closely! There was definitely some whispering and giggling going on as we started to strip down.

To be fair, the girls cheered us on loudly and we actually had a good time by the end of it. Covered in sweat and still barechested when it was over, I even mustered up the courage to strike up a conversation with a girl I fancied who even blushingly commented on my body.

Comment by: Mark on 17th December 2013 at 07:43

At my mixed schools there was never any mixed PE and boys were always stripped to the waist both indoors and outside and on cross-country runs.Many lads would also be barefoot.

Comment by: Jimmy on 8th December 2013 at 04:21

I went to a mixed school aged 10 where we had mixed indoor PE all winter. Both boys and girls had to wear white t-shirts but girls were allowed to wear tracksuit bottoms while boys had to wear white shorts. Also the girls were allowed trainers while the boys had to go barefoot. I once asked the teacher (female) why the girls were allowed to wear shoes and us boys had to be barefoot, she laughed and said that boy's shoes were not clean enough to be allowed in the gym! Seemed rather unfair to me. I remember some of the girls used to tease us about having to go barefoot and some even used to deliberately step on our toes when running around the gym!

Comment by: Rob on 6th December 2013 at 16:29

I agree that doing cross country stripped to the waist was common in the 1960s.
It certainly didn't bother me being bare-chested.

Comment by: Phil on 5th December 2013 at 22:27

I think cross country in nothing but a pair of shorts was not uncommon. It is certainly how we did it when I was at grammar school in the 60s. It makes good sense as we ran through some very muddy areas and got pretty dirty - it's surprising how far up your body the mud can get! We didn't usually take too much notice if it was cold - we just made sure we kept moving and no-one came to any harm.

Comment by: Jamie on 21st November 2013 at 20:22

Having read Neil's recollections, I'm glad I didn't have to do PE with that teacher! Running shirtless and barefoot every week sounds fairly unpleasant and makes me think I got away quite lightly during my own schooldays. The only time I can remember having to do PE in bare feet was when we had a couple of sessions of gymnastics, but obviously those were indoors. Going shirtless was required quite often because we frequently played in teams of shirts and skins but again, that was usually in the gym. There were occasions when we played football outdoors on a hot day and, instead of shirts against bibs, we all took our shirts off and did bibs against skins. But that was only because those thick football shirts were so uncomfortable to wear in the heat, no-one was ever forced to be a skin in cold weather as far as I know.

Comment by: Neil on 20th November 2013 at 12:21

I went to a grammar school in the late 60's.

We had a pretty strict policy on uniform, sports kit etc. We were allowed to wear just shorts for indoor PE, but for our weekly cross country run we wore navy shorts, vest/rugby shirts, socks and plimsolls.

In the summer most lads skipped the shirt, and ran stripped to the waist, and in addition a couple of boys ran barefoot.

This all continued for the first 2 years, but in the 3rd year we had a new PE teacher, who had joined the school from outside. As we soon discovered he had strict views on what kit was needed !

We had two PE lessons a week, one indoor, the second cross country. In the first week of term, the first lesson arrived, indoor PE - the lesson was uneventful, other than the fact that he was much stricter than we were used to on things like being slow, or talking.

There has been some discussion previously about wearing underpants under shorts. Not surprisingly, this was one of his rules. I can't recall anyone ever breaking it, firstly because we were always stripped to the waist, the waist band would have been obvious above your shorts, and also the potential punishment didn't make it worth taking the risk.

Later in the week, it was time for the cross country session, we all arrived, undressed and put on what we thought was the correct kit – rugby shorts, tops and plimsolls. He called one lad to the front, told him to take off his shirt, then to take off his shoes and socks, so he stood there stripped to just his shorts. We kind of knew what was coming, but it was still a big shock. Rapidly we were all told that this was all we were to wear, ever, and to get everything else off, immediately One boy (bravely or stupidly), asked if we had to run like this even in the middle of winter, as it would be really cold with no shirt on – it was a pointless question and all he got was a cold shower for asking.

I never got used to running like this, and I'm not sure which was worse, having to have bare feet or being shirtless on a freezing day. Generally he ran his lessons so that any minor digression was punished, and you didn't dare step one inch out of line, thus something minor like talking or being last changing, got you a punishment like hanging from the wall bars (one of his favourite punishments, climb up the wall bars, turn around, back against the bars, feet free, hanging from your arms, it hurt like hell), cold showers or even caning. I'm sure that most boys really dreaded his lessons.

I wonder how common running cross county in just shorts was ?

Comment by: Liam on 6th November 2013 at 18:01

In reply to Nick K, I was at school in the Home Counties, late 70s-early 80s.

Comment by: NickK on 4th November 2013 at 20:53

Liam. Interesting post. Can you give us an idea of (roughly) whereabouts your school was and what years we are talking about?

Comment by: Matt on 4th November 2013 at 07:35

At my school we did all our PE and cross-country etc stripped to the waist and barefoot whatever the conditions.
It was hard in winter but I actually enjoyed being stripped to the waist in summer.

Comment by: Jim RH on 3rd November 2013 at 23:34

I also found that wearing less in PE became more of a problem as I got older. In junior school for PE, girls wore vests and pants, and boys just pants. Though I was always quite self-conscious, it was nowhere near as embarrassing as in secondary school, when boys developed more and our differences became more noticeable.

Comment by: Liam on 3rd November 2013 at 16:26

You're quite right Spence, we wore a different kit for Games outdoors - shirt, shorts (black instead of white, as we wore indoors), socks and football or rugby boots. The shirts were reversible colours so one team had to turn them inside out. For cross country it was back to the white shorts (bizarre really as your legs could get completely spattered with mud on a wet day) and in winter we wore a running vest as well. However, when summer came around boys had to run with their vests off - and bad luck if the weather suddenly turned during the course of the lesson! I can remember getting soaked by a downpour while barechested on more than one occasion.
As I discovered when I made it to the school's track and field athletics squad, the boys' training kit was exactly the same. Vests were worn for inter-school matches but we had to strip to the waist to do all our training sessions. We trained alongside the girls, who of course wore tops while we were barechested and as we got older I think that became more of a problem.

Comment by: Jim RH on 3rd November 2013 at 00:29

Although we occasionally did go bare chested for athletics in the Summer, depending on the teacher, we normally had to wear our sleeveless athletics vests. This was another difference with the girls, who wore short-sleeved t -shirts instead of vests for some reason. I agree that it is odd to require boys to be shirtless on a cold day indoors, when it is chilly in the gym, but to wear vests on a hot day outside.

Comment by: Spence on 31st October 2013 at 22:03

Presumably Jim RH and Liam, you wore tops for PE outside and for cross country and Games. Did you have to go outside barechested on warm summer days? It would seem odd to be barechested in a cold gym in winter and yet be allowed shirts outside on very hot days.

Comment by: Liam on 31st October 2013 at 11:05

I remember that exact feeling, described by Jim RH, of using my arms to try and cover my chest in PE. It was a natural reaction when you weren't used to being barechested in public and found it uncomfortable. Unfortunately, as I soon found out, it was pretty impossible to run, or climb or throw a ball with your arms crossed over your chest!
It's true that the rules about PE kit were enforced more strictly for boys than girls. For boys it was shorts, plimsolls and nothing else. Girls, of course, wore tops and were sometimes allowed extra layers if it was cold. However, for some reason we boys were expected to endure the cold and put up with shivering and goose pimples. I remember one boy asking if he could wear a t-shirt because it was cold and getting short shrift - he was made to run laps of the gym to keep warm instead. Happy days...

Comment by: Jim RH on 29th October 2013 at 23:18

Normally, while indoors, the girls had a separate lesson on the other side of the hall, though it was not uncommon for us to have a lesson with them sometimes as well. Some of the boys were quite confident about having to do PE shirtless, though others were obviously not as confident, becoming much quieter than usual. Some of us, myself included, would even try to cover our nipples/navels with their arms, or avoid putting our hands up, in order to feel less exposed.

Comment by: Dave on 29th October 2013 at 18:21

Hi JimRH!

Did you do the whole PE lesson with the girls or you shared the other side of the hall only? What was the reaction of other boys having to do PE shirtless? Did any of them mention their opinion about it or something like that?
Was it in the UK?

Comment by: Jim RH on 28th October 2013 at 23:46

Our nipples did get hard on cold days, but it didn't make me personally more self-conscious - I was already self-conscious enough. In addition to shirts, girls were permitted to wear tracksuit trousers whenever they wanted instead of shorts, and for fitness, in which boys had to go barefoot, they could wear plimsoles, though some even got away with wearing socks and trainers. Uniform regulations were always more strictly enforced for boys than girls.

Comment by: Spence on 14th October 2013 at 22:43

Jim RH
Did your nipples get hard and therefore more noticable on cold days, making you even more self-conscious? Also, were you prone to goose pimples in front of your more generously clothed female classmates? What exactly did the girls were? Were they allowed extra clothing, cardigans for example, on cold days?

Comment by: Jim RH on 25th September 2013 at 23:42

I don't really know why nipples in particular made me feel exposed, but I don't think any of the boys felt particularly comfortable, though the nipple thing was probably just me. The girls would tease us by whistling when we walked in the gym shirtless, or when it was cold when we took our shirts off after the warm up. Also, when walking past, they would deliberately brush their arms or hands across our bare chests.

Comment by: Luke on 25th September 2013 at 13:40

Jim HR

Why? were your nipples different from the other boys? Do the other boys feel the same way? Also how do girls tease you?