Saturday, 3 March 2012


 An entry to Sepia Saturday.   "Using old images as prompts for new reflections".

My parents always wondered where I got my love of sports, neither of them had any particular interest, perhaps it was from my maternal grandmother
 Winifred and Dora Swindlehurst
seen here, on the left,  with her sister Dora in their gymnast uniforms.  I believe she had quite a flair for this game. The postcard photo is a bit of a mystery because it is only one half, whatever or whoever was in the other half there is no clue, only that they were not nearby.  I assumed at first that women of this time would be doing rhythmic gymnastics but this photo
 from the McCall's magazine of November 1904 shows that was not the case, so here is some more
equipment, but no women, although they would have used the same equipment as the men.  It says "Arnside Gymn. 1912-3", the name is a small village on the shores of Morecambe Bay and as there is a stage in the photo with those wonderfully arranged boys in descending (or ascending) order of hight, I would guess this room  was used for lots of other things as well.  I do like the patriotic display of flags, George V had just been crowned king the previous year, 1911.  The names of the participants are unknown but I do know their instructor's name because there is another postcard
where my grandmother has written on the back "Gymnasium Displayers, February 1911", and then at a later date added "Bert Cliff and Mrs Nelson".  The former gets to wear a very flash top.  The boy on his right is obviously the joker of the pack, not only has he a cheery smile, his tie is skewed to the side and has a hole in the knee of his costume. The one on the far right may have appeared on the  'small end' of the middle photo his legs not touching the floor. By the looks of their faces the group on the left are getting bored as is the man behind who has moved, his image becoming blurred.

I wonder what Mrs Nelson, my grandmother's instructor,  is holding in her hands, is it a scroll  or a piece of equipment, like the throwing clubs balanced in front. The clubs of this period look larger than today, and are made of wood which could probably could give the novice a few bruises.  This group would not have had this problem
British Women's Gymnastic Display Team of the 1908 London Olympics. (They were not allowed to compete until 1928 at the Amsterdam games).  The perfect way to celebrate winning a Gymnastic competition for a photograph would be
 Photo from the Leeds Museums and Galleries
The 3rd Leeds North East St Winifred's Boy Scouts Gymnastic Team, Winners of 1st prize at the Imperial Scoutcraft Exhibition, Birmingham 1913.


Wendy said...

What an eye-opener! I had no idea gymnastics went that far back. The gymnastic garb for women certainly didn't help advance the sport.

Titania said...

Fantastic photos of gymnasts. I really like the first one of your grandmother and her sister in their Gym slips. I remember I had to wear a dress over the long pants in winter, in the gym. My daughters had a very short gym slip with matching bloomers!

barbara and nancy said...

What a difference in gymnastics costumes for women. Now they hardly wear anything at all!
Great photos of the teams.

Karen S. said...

Oh my goodness they do have talent! What great and funny photos you shared!

Bob Scotney said...

Just for a moment I thought that it was a noose hanging above the boys on the stage in the Arnside gym. That equipment brings back memories of some painful bruises.

(Queenmothermamaw) Peggy said...

I had no idea women's gymnastics went back that far. I see it took a long time to get to the Olympics however. Great post with some great photos.

Jo Graham said...

What an interesting post and great photos (a fine moustache in the group photo with the clubs!). I never ever made it to the top of the rope in gym. I always got stuck half way :-) Jo

Postcardy said...

That's an interesting group of photos, especially the one of the Boy Scouts.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

This is very interesting. To do gymnastics in a long dress must have been difficult. I wonder if the women did more tumbling or dance than walkovers and vaulting.

Super post; thanks for making it for us.

Kathy M.

Little Nell said...

A great set of pictures. Those gym slips aren't all that different to what we wore for hockey in the 60s! That little lad with the torn trousers is placed next to the teacher for a reasonI think :)

Teresa Wilson Rogers said...

Amazing old photos - I would love to have seen those women competing!

☆•.¸.Mildred.¸.•☆ said...

Very interesting post about gymnastics! And very nice shots and postacards too!
Love the sepia shot with your grandmother!
Thanks for sharing;o)

Have a nice week****