Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team

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Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team
Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team
Year: 1935
Views: 221,421
Item #: 1741
Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team of Atherton, Greater Manchester.
Source: G. Smith.

Comment by: Graham on 8th April 2020 at 10:08

Josh - you wrote:
"As well as my experiences at school, I was a scout for many years and when we went to camp there normally 6 boys to a tent and again we got used to undressing for bed when most of us slept in the nude."

Sounds very progressive, Avant Garde even, for teens in the 1960's. Was this in the UK, and did you normally sleep nude at home?

Comment by: Fiona on 8th April 2020 at 00:09

Josh H, interesting comment that you slept in the nude at scout camp back in the 1960s. How did you sleep at home?

Comment by: Josh H on 7th April 2020 at 17:18

I was at an all boys secondary school in the same era as you i.e 1961 till 1966.I remember that on my first day as a small 11 year old the eldest lads form 5 who were coming up to 16 looked liked giants. My elder brother was at the school but he did not want to know his young kid brother. At least I could find out some things about school when we were at home.So I was aware that pe would be shorts no pants and black plimsolls no socks. However, it still seemed strange the first time we had pe having to strip off and change in a communal changing room. Previously at Junior school boys did pe in their grey school shorts and singlet.
However it did not take long to get used to it and realise that although we were all boys there we differences in body shape.
I also remember the school medicals especially the cough test for the testicles. The examination never included a check of the penis. When you were snipped was it traumatic? As well as my experiences at school, I was a scout for many years and when we went to camp there normally 6 boys to a tent and again we got used to undressing for bed when most of us slept in the nude.
AS you say all of these experience stood as good stead for later life. Like you I had water problems and ended up having a catheter up mu penis for 7 months. This had to be changed regularly until I had an operation which was done through my penis. Like you I think over the years we were accustomed to being seen and examined and so there was no embarrassment when ~I doctors examining and operating on me in those areas.
Nowadays when I go to the gym I am happy to change in the communal area, but many of the younger lads "disappear" into the toilet cubicles to change.
It seems that nowadays youngsters are not comfortable with communal changing areas.

Comment by: Biggles on 7th April 2020 at 14:58

I remember those satin short shorts which were popular in the 70s for PE and other sports. They were also very tight compared to the loose cotton shorts we wore previously at our schools.
Having to wear them without any underwear, as you mention at your school, would have been quaint indeed since they were often semi-transparent. More so if you had mixed PE or competed in some sports in front of or together with girls.
I am sure that they were a distracting sight for girls. :)

Comment by: Pete on 6th April 2020 at 16:25

For those surprised about men and boys swimming naked you only need to go back to Victorian times to find it normal.

Victorian bathing machines were well known contraptions in which women went to bathe in the sea dressed in neck to ankle swimming suits that were loose and not revealing and it was topped off with a cap.

Meanwhile further along the beach men would strip naked and swim either alone or in groups with their mates with no sense of the improper about them or what they were doing.

@Philip, very interesting what you write about being desensitised - I guess we all were to a point though perhaps not as extremely as you. I don't know how the boys of today would cope! Given the times though what you say makes perfect sense.

Comment by: James on 6th April 2020 at 14:54

Biggles, I meant to say 'quaint custom'.

Comment by: Philip on 6th April 2020 at 11:55

I think @James on 3rd April 2020 makes a very valid point about boys being desensitised about being naked together from an early stage and not being shy about it.

In the 1960s there was definitely an expectation of World War 3 on the horizon though it faded as time went on. Many male PE teachers were ex military PTIs who had done National Service and they were very much perhaps all one of a kind otherwise why in schools across the land were lads ordered to take off their underpants and go commando and whacked when they didn't?

In those days we were also used to school medicals lined up in our underpants to go into see the doc and dropping them once we were in the room to have penis and testicles checked. I was one of a number of lads sent to be snipped because my foreskin did not roll back as easily as the doc said it should.

I was in the military too for a while though in my case in the Army. I recall the same sort of medical James describes where we were 'processed' in groups of about thirty. There was no privacy, no dignity and certainly no warning of what was about to happen. There were docs and orderlies who were note takers who also gave gruff orders about what was required, the doc almost never spoke and for instance to look in your ears he would simply pull the one he wanted forcing you to turn your head. There were often additional observers in the room in what capacity I don't know and you certainly couldn't ask but you got used to being naked in front of other men who were also naked and men who were fully dressed very quickly.

The routine was that everyone stripped and lined up in alphabetical order, the doc and orderly moved along the line doing the same check on everyone before beginning again with a different check, notes were made but it was the orderly the doc spoke with, not you. Other than we were in a line up it wasn't so different to a school medical or the one I had before university until we were ordered to bend over with our hands clasped behind our necks and our elbows touching our knees and feet shoulder width apart. Maybe I was naive but I had no idea what was coming even as the orderly pressed down on my shoulders keeping me firmly in place. Feeling my buttocks being spread was a shock, the insertion of a finger a bigger one. I guess if you had been at the beginning of the line there might have been some lube on the glove the doc wore, half way along it had certainly worn off and wasn't replaced so there was nothing gentle about it.

Medicals always followed the same routine although you later knew what to expect and of course we got used to it.

There was no privacy in the early years either, we slept in open dormitories, there were communal washrooms where even the toilets had no partitions let alone the showers though men were used to communal showers from school.

One of the things we were told was that in enemy hands you often would be forced to strip naked and subject to a search and maybe have to remain naked for a period of time all part of breaking us down for interrogation. The thinking was we were desensitised to this by the things we were subjected to and I think it worked because being naked in front of other men does not bother me to this day.

About a year ago I was having some waterworks trouble and went along to see my GP who is about 35, he said he would prescribe me a tablet (which has been very helpful) and then with a huge sense of awkwardness he said he needed to do a rectal examination and was that alright. I told him to get on with it and dropped my trousers and underpants and bent over without any sense of embarrassment and barely felt his check so my desensitisation still serves me well!

Comment by: Arby on 6th April 2020 at 11:50

Like Chris and Michael I too started to wear a jockstrap whilst in the 6th Form in the late 60s. Until then it had been commando for sport and PE. Then we boys found that we needed the extra support rather than everything swinging around. I continued wearing one through sports at college and later. Even at my age now I still wear one for exercise at the gym and when riding my bike. It is really comfortable. I also, whilst in the 6th, along with my friends,wore one under shorts in hot weather. That is something else that I still do.

Comment by: James on 6th April 2020 at 07:28

Biggles,we wore satin shorts for PE in four different colors
to distinguish ourselves from the different school houses.
We wore our shorts without any form of underwear which I found difficult to get accustomed to this quaint as our shorts were so short.

Comment by: Andrew W on 6th April 2020 at 07:17

James E, my experience entirely. Swimming trunks were regarded as only an alternative underwear for those that hadn't yet round to purchasing a jockstrap. But once you bought your jock no one ever back to wearing swimwear!

Comment by: James E on 6th April 2020 at 07:07

I would say it was 50 50 re boys wearing jockstraps/ swimming trunks re rugby, but I would think more boys moved over to wearing a jockstrap the okder they got and especially with other sorts of sport

Comment by: James E on 5th April 2020 at 21:16

I would say it was 50 50 re boys wearing jockstraps/ swimming trunks re rugby, but I would think more boys moved over to wearing a jockstrap the okder they got and especially with other sorts of sport

Comment by: Michael ( another Michael ) on 5th April 2020 at 15:51

There have been a few comments recently about boys wearing support under sports kit, PE kit etc.
Quite a number have stated that they went commando and knew nothing of supporting underwear.
When I was at school in the 60's it was quite commonplace to wear swimming trunks under our rugby, PE kit or whatever. This didn't only apply at my school but was fairly widespread. It always surprises me that so very few have mentioned this habit.
We certainly found them to be very comfortable and for rugby they most definitely added to our confidence. Something much needed during a tough match.
A few older boys started wearing jocks, but often in connection with cricket.
I'm always pleased to hear from others who want to share their experiences or observations.

Comment by: Chris G on 5th April 2020 at 14:13

I can't remember much about my Primary School PE classes, but I do remember that we generally just took off our shoes, socks and jumpers (if it was the time of year when we needed them) and kept on everything else, shirts, trousers/shorts, vests and underpants. The girls did similarly.

There were no no-underwear rules at either of the two secondary schools that I went to, but but most of us chose to go commando anyway. At some time in my third year in the first school, just after we switched to going topless, one lad got kicked in the "privates" during a rather boisterous team game session, at which point the PE master warned us about the dangers of going commando and advised us to either to wear supportive underpants or a jockstrap. I don't think any of us had ever heard of such a garment before, and none of us had even seen one, let alone owned one at that point.

I didn't get a jock until a few years later, when I moved to another school for my 6th form years, and found that most of my classmates wore them in preference to briefs or swimming trunks as support for athletic activities. And only for PE and games, as many of us got into the habit of wearing a jock as everyday underwear in hot weather.

Comment by: Andrea on 5th April 2020 at 10:58

My Ex felt the same way too; I always had to make sure there was a clean one ready when he was going to play football etc. In his case apparently it was their PE teacher who advise them all to get one.

I can remember our teacher having a similar conversation with a few of my classmates about needing support in a different area!

Comment by: Andy on 5th April 2020 at 08:12

In the 1980s i wore white nylon PE shorts, they where quite short and semi-transparent, cotton shorts where still about but few wore them. A no underpants rule was apllied for all activities, although most lessons where boys only i do remember an after school gym club which was mixed.

Comment by: June on 5th April 2020 at 08:05

Don't think any boy would think differently would they?

Jockstraps were on our school games kit list. I certaily would not have wanted to do pe, go running, play rugby etc without one.

Certainly my boys' experience and my husband's

Comment by: Jeff on 4th April 2020 at 23:15


I honestly cant remember what we wore for pe at primary school, it was a long time ago! we had black plimsoles with elastic not laces but what we took off / changed into I am not sure. There was 'apparatus' in the school hall. Older boys (after I had left) played football on the field.

Jockstraps were on our school games kit list. I certaily would not have wanted to do pe, go running, play rugby etc without one.

Comment by: John on 4th April 2020 at 22:28

In the 1970s we wore white short cotton shorts and no underwear for PE; the shorts were quite short like footballers started to wear in the 70s. We just wore shorts and pumps no tops allowed.

Comment by: James E on 4th April 2020 at 15:11

Nothing unusual there ... l started wearing a jockstrap for sport at 14 mainly because the other boys did. Never regretted it though and still prefer to wear one when l go running even at my grand old age :=)

Comment by: Biggles on 4th April 2020 at 15:02

About PE shorts.

The boys in the picture, which is probably from the 50s, they are wearing long, almost knee length, shorts, which is probably cotton
We wore the same kind of shorts at our school in the 60s except that they were shorter.

It seems that from the 70s the very short, nylon type shorts were more popular in some schools.
It also seems that this trend was reversed a few decades later when many kids today are wearing tracksuit trousers for PE.

What type of PE shorts did you guys wear at school?

Comment by: James on 4th April 2020 at 07:04

Biggles,we were not allowed to wear any form of underwear under our shorts for PE and games and our shorts were were inordinately brief unlike the ones in the picture.
I also wore short trousers for school and home as this was my mother's preference,although they were not compulsory for school.

Comment by: Bernard on 3rd April 2020 at 23:18

Biggles - At primary school p.e. was segregated in the last couple of years and the boys wore a pair of black shorts with no shirt and no footwear inside, sometimes plimsolls outside, other times barefoot. However, I think we kept our pants on under our shorts.
At secondary school it was made clear that we wore shorts only - no shirt, no footwear and no underwear. As others have said hygiene was given as one reason - it would have been pretty unpleasant to put sweaty pants back on after our shower. Also, so we were told, it was good for boys to have plenty of fresh air and not get too hot in that area.
Things did bounce around as we got older but I don't think it bothered any-one even on cross-country runs where we were more concerned with where we put our feet. I rather enjoyed the feeling of our minimalist kit.
I too didn't hear about jock straps until long after I left school.

Comment by: James on 3rd April 2020 at 22:04

Biggles, the reason for no underpants was hygiene. In the gym or running or doing athletics you sweated, playing rugby you got dirty and sweated.

Back then mothers did not have automatic washing machines and underpants were generally white cotton Ys. My mother certainly would not have appreciated several extra pairs to wash and iron.

There was supposed to be a second reason back in those days. World War 3 was expected and men in numbers would be called up and forced to live in basic military conditions, it was considered better that we were comfortable together when naked and in no way shy in front of other men and for most that desensitising worked, a few probably remained uncomfortable but the majority weren't bothered by for instance communal showers and stripping naked.

I joined the navy for a while after university and from the pre-entry medical group nudity was the norm where we were lined up naked and examined with no privacy at all including examination of penis with an order to skin back if necessary and testicles and then turning round and bending over for a first taste of a gloved finger. In the latter case there was no warning about what was to happen, I was just aware of the lad bending next to me gasping but no idea why and all of a sudden I was gasping too and my eyes watered followed closely by a gasp from the lad on the other side of me as the doc moved swiftly along the line.

At university and later when I had to do my own laundry I didn't wear underpants for sport or gym because I had extras to wash and anyway, I was used to going commando. I did have a jockstrap for rugby at university but I preferred to just hang loose and I thought I ran better that way. Sometimes something would slip out but no one took any notice. Even today it's not so unusual to see a bare bottom in a rugby tackle.

Comment by: Dave on 3rd April 2020 at 18:07

Hi, I started wearing a jockstrap at 16 for X country running after seeing other lads wearing them

Comment by: William on 3rd April 2020 at 14:15

Hygiene is the answer. We were expected to work hard in gym. It made no sense putting sweaty pants back on after having a shower. Thus no pants. It was our drill from day one and I never heard anyone even mention it. The only time it crossed my mind was doing handstands when another boy would hold your legs. I never saw jockstraps until after I left school.

Comment by: Andrea on 3rd April 2020 at 12:54

At primary school if you did not have proper pe kit, what did you wear, vest and pants or something else?

When it came to the 3rd form at senior school, were jockstraps included on the pe kit list sent home to parents or were you just told about them by your teacher?

Comment by: Biggles on 3rd April 2020 at 04:53

What was the reason for not being allowed to wear underwear for PE?

At least they afforded some support, so it would have been illogical not being allowed to wear them.

The only reason I have heard was hygiene, but then our PE lessons only lasted an hour or 90 minutes at most, which I presume was the same for most schools. So this would not have been an issue.

I also cannot imagine boys doing long country runs in just shorts with everything dangling under their shorts, and I don't think that jockstraps were so common then.
From what others describe most say that they wore nothing under their shorts, even for cross country runs.

Comment by: Jeff on 2nd April 2020 at 21:59

At primary school we did not have proper pe kit; I left and went to Prep school (boarding) when I was 10. Here we had proper pe and games kit, underwear was not allowed. At the senior school again pants were not allowed, from 3rd form onwards jockstraps were worn.

Comment by: Simon on 31st March 2020 at 22:55

Thanks to those who responded to my question about the order in which boys tended to get changed for PE. You've confirmed my view that it depended a lot on body confidence!
To answer Dave's question, I don't know if the shirtless PE rule was still widespread after mid 80s - but I know from friends and family who are slightly younger that it still existed in some schools more recently. Maybe not a blanket shirtless rule for boys but definitely shirts and skins at least.