A Brief History of Physical Education in Bedford
Bedford has a long history of training Physical Education Teachers dating back to 1903, when pioneering educationalist Margaret Stansfeld founded Bedford Physical Training College. The college was based in Lansdowne Road, Bedford and trained female students in the art of Physical Training. Thios included remedial and educational gymnastics, swimming dance and games. Students also studied physiology and anatomy and up until the 1940's qualified as physiotherapists as well as teachers. At this time the college was a private institution.
The college was initially the responsibility of the Department for Health until 1945 when 'Physical Training' was changed to 'Physical Education' reflecting changes in schools. The college became the responsibility of the Department for Education.
In 1952 the college was sold to the local authority and became known as Bedford College of Physical Education.
In 1976 the college became known as Bedford College of Higher Education. The college had three sites Lansdowne Road, Polhill Avenue and Mander College. The term Higher Education was a misnomer as Mander was the local Further Education College, catering for local students aged 16-18 years.
In 1994 Polhill and Lansdowne Colleges merged with Leicester Polytechnic to become part of De Montfort University (Bedford). The colleges became part of the School of Humanities, Sport and Education whilst Mander College became part of the FE sector. During the following years there were numerous departmental changes, Physical Education in Bedford moved between two departments - Education and Sports Sciences.
2006- Present Day
2006 saw the merger of De Montfort University (Bedford) and the University of Luton and The University of Bedfordshire was formed with two campuses at Bedford and Luton. Buildings at Lansdowne Road were sold off and the Bedford Campus located all university facilities apart from Alexander Sports Hall, to the Polhill Avenue site. Lansdowne pool in Warwick Avenue was sadly closed and has never been replaced. Today Physical Education Teacher Education is part of the School of Teacher Education in the Faculty of Education, English and sport.
The University of Bedfordshire has an archive which holds memorabilia and documents from previous times. Click here to visit the Bedford Physical Education Archive webpage. This includes links to the catalogue held on the Archives hub and recent blogs.
The Archive is located in the library at Polhill campus, Bedford.