Sheffield High School for Girls celebrates its 140th year in 2018.
As part of the celebrations the independent girls’ school, which is part of the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST), will officially open its new gym which has undergone a £2.5 million refurbishment, writes Abby Worsnip.
The new facilities now on offer include equipment for gymnastics and trampolining, as well as a fitness suite.
We can take a look back and see how the gym, and gym wear, has changed over the years and see some of the memories from former pupils about blue mats, freezing temperatures, pigeons and fungus in the rafters – now long gone with the refurbishment.
According to the Jubilee Book from the GDST which was published in 1924, Sheffield was one of the first schools in the UK to have a gym and introduced gymnastics in 1878, its opening year.
On March 12, 1878 the school accepted its first 39 pupils in its town centre premises, the old Surrey Street Music Hall, and in 1884 it moved its premises to 10 Rutland Park where it resides today.
Gymnastics was soon to become a marked feature at Sheffield, when a Swedish teacher was appointed.
Medical inspection on entrance was introduced under Dr Helen Wilson, a former pupil, with remedial exercises.
Since then, thousands of pupils have donned their PE gear, including the infamous brown PE knickers phased out in July 1996 after the whole school uniform was changed and updated, to brave the old gym or attended clothed in uniform to sit examinations in the venue.
Memories of the old gym from some former pupils….
Beth Jeffrey: “It doesn’t look the same without the fungus flowering in the rafters.”
Caroline Gooch: “Oh yes!! Those massive mushrooms ”
Lucy Garside: “Do you think the pigeon that was there during GCSE exams still lives in the roof?”
Katie Hewitt: “It used to be freezing!”
Catherine Sheehan: “Haha the pigeon! Sure it must have a family up there with it now!”
Olivia Beavers: “Remember the noisy heater and old blue mats.”
Victoria Shaw: “It was a freezing old church where we played badminton and volleyball when I was there!”
Sarah Muijsert: “Remember doing GCSEs in there. With pigeons in the rafters pooping.”
JoJo Homyard: “The horrid changing rooms and the even worse foot bath which would always have a huge spider in it.”
Katy Taylor: “There were heaters that glowed orange when we were in there.”
Fiona Wright: “You mean you don’t go blue in the gym in autumn/winter any more? Takes half the ‘fun’ out of it.”
Holly Johnson: “I remember no heating and smelly changing rooms!”