Odds and Quads

The Bergman Österberg Union

December 6, 2012



These images are part of the archive of the Bergman Österberg Union, which also holds documents, photographs, trophies and what may be the world's oldest surviving gymslip (left).

Born and raised in Sweden, Martina Bergman Österberg (1849-1915) founded what became the Dartford College of Physical Education in 1895. Although teacher training was the institution's central activity, students were also taught anatomy, physiology, hygiene, massage and remedial exercises. Sports included swimming, tennis, fencing, cricket, running, marching, cycling, netball and lacrosse.

The archive is held on the site of Dartford College by North West Kent College, a partner college of the University of Greenwich.

One photograph shows King George V visiting Dartford with Queen Mary in 1918. Although he was said to have greatly enjoyed the visit, his wife, who wore long skirts all her life, was dismayed by the sight of young women doing handstands in their gym tunics. Another photograph depicts the English Ladies' Hockey Team, including two Dartford students, which beat the US in 1923.

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