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A plimsoll.

Plimsoll is one of the many nicknames given to canvas and rubber-soled "sand shoes" which were originally invented for beach wear in England in the 19th century. The shoes were soon adapted by schools for physical education before the advent of training shoes or trainers as they are more commonly known. In North America, they are known as sneakers or tennis shoes.

The name Plimsoll arose because the coloured horizontal band joining the upper to the sole resembled the Plimsoll line (waterline) on a ship's hull, or because, just like the Plimsoll line on a ship, if water got above the line of the rubber sole, the wearer would get wet. In the UK there were various nicknames for plimsolls such as "pumps" or "plimmies". "Daps" or "dappers" were names used in the West Country of the UK and in South Wales.

Plimsolls and slippering[edit]

As official gym shoes, Plimsolls were part of the school uniform. Using the thick rubber sole of this shoe as an instrument of informal corporal punishment (aka "slippering") in schools in the UK was widespread because of its ready accessibility and undoubted efficacy when administered to the buttocks of errant pupils, whether they be clothed or not. Six of the best taken when touching toes left the buttocks stinging for a long time afterwards.

See also[edit]


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