Women's PE Colleges

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Girls’ hockey is reported to have been played at a number of renowned schools in the late 19th century; Roedean under the leadership of Penelope Lawrence in 1885, Dame Frances Dove at Wycombe Abbey from 1896 and Dorothea Beale at Cheltenham Ladies College between 1858 and 1906. However, it was not until the establishment of Madame Bergman Österberg’s Physical Training College in Hampstead in 1885, which then transferred to Dartford in 1895, that formal training for women physical education (PE) teachers became a reality.

The focus of this study is to investigate the influence that those who attended the English specialist PE Colleges had on the development of women’s hockey, not only in England and the other Home Countries, but also in other areas of the world.

The 7 specialist English PE Colleges at the centre of this research are;

  • Dartford College of PE founded 1885 by Madame Bergman Österberg
  • Anstey College of PE founded 1897 by Rhoda Anstey
  • Chelsea College of PE founded 1898 by Dorette Wilkie
  • IM Marsh College of PE founded 1900 by Irene Mabel Marsh
  • Bedford College of PE founded 1903 by Margaret Stansfield
  • Nonington College of PE opened 1938 with Gladys Wright as its founder
  • Lady Mabel College of PE opened 1950

The Museum’s lead for this work is Eilish Macbean, a former pupil at Chelsea PE College, now retired PE teacher at Newlands School, Maidenhead, and long time hockey coach of all age groups. Eilish began her work during 2014 and is indebted to the numerous people who attended the above colleges and have already responded to her requests for information on students that played representative hockey or undertaken key roles in the administration of women’s hockey since the establishment of The All England Women’s Hockey Association (AEWHA) in 1895. It has been particularly fascinating to discover the connection between the PE colleges and some of the prestigious hockey players of the early 20th century.

To date, Eilish's research has taken her to Peebles, Scotland to speak with Margaret Jamieson former principal of IM Marsh CPE, to the Bergman Österberg Union at Dartford which has an extensive and extremely well documented archive and to IM Marsh Archive at Liverpool John Moore’s University. She has found numerous fascinating documents and photos including photographic records from the inaugural PE Colleges Tournament held at Lady Mabel College in 1958.

If you feel you could contribute to this research in any way, please get in touch with the Museum. If you were a pupil at one of the PE Colleges, we’d like to hear about your memories of your lecturers, the coaching received, the uniforms worn, attendance at hockey camps abroad and/or contacts you still have with pupils who went on to teach or coach abroad.


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