A gym class at West Heath School for Young Ladies, 1 Ham Common. It became a school in c.1879 under the guidance of the Reverend and Mrs Powers. The building is an early 19th century house, previously the home of the Duke of Chartres. In c.1900 it was bought by teachers Miss Lawrence and Miss Skeat, who commissioned this photograph. The building later became the Cassel Hospital.

Visual Literacy Questions

How does the gymnasium in your school compare to the one shown here?

What kinds of rules do you think the girls shown in this old photograph might have had to follow during gym class?

What kinds of physical activity would be impractical, difficult or impossible wearing the gym uniform, shoes, and hair styles shown in the photograph ? Why?

What might have been the gym teacher’s physical education instructions just before this photograph was taken?

Carefully observe the walls in the photograph. How might the decor impact the types of activities done in class? Provide support for your answer.