A chance to delve into England Netball history at Hitchin HQ as 90th anniversary approaches

Netball

Netball - Credit: Archant

In February 2016, the governing body for the country’s biggest female sport will be 90 years old.

A recreation of a 1900 game at the England Netball 25 year celebrations

A recreation of a 1900 game at the England Netball 25 year celebrations - Credit: Archant

For more than two of those decades, England Netball has had its head office in Hitchin.

And as part of planned anniversary celebrations, the organisation has won lottery funding to catalogue their archive collection and increase awareness of the sport’s history.

The archive – housed at its Paynes Park HQ – represents a fascinating insight into netball history, through business papers, magazines and a large collection of photographs and film footage.

An early game showing the new gymslips and the basket style goal

An early game showing the new gymslips and the basket style goal - Credit: Archant

It covers both national topics and those closer to Hitchin, and shows how the sport has developed over time.


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Daphne Knott from England Netball explained: “We have launched a new website which will allow us to show some of the archive material.

“This is also a way for everybody who has been involved in the sport, in whatever capacity, to share their pictures and memories on the web.

Daphne Knott is overseeing a heritage exhibition linked to the 90th anniversary of the English Netba

Daphne Knott is overseeing a heritage exhibition linked to the 90th anniversary of the English Netball Association in 2016 - Credit: Archant

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“We really hope that netball players past and present, will upload their photos and share their netballing stories – today’s netball match is tomorrow’s history.

“We will also be working with local schools to celebrate the anniversary. Plans are not yet formalised, but we will be carrying out oral history projects with parents and grandparents, staging historic netball matches, and perhaps even designing the netball kit of the future.

“If anyone from a school or a netball club would like to be part of the celebrations, please contact me.

The England team flying out to the 1971 World Championships in Jamaica

The England team flying out to the 1971 World Championships in Jamaica - Credit: Archant

“The most recent Netball World Cup has just been played in Australia – but the first one was played in Eastbourne in 1963 when eleven countries took part and England came third.”

The British Schools Museum, in Queen Street, Hitchin, will be holding a special event on Saturday to celebrate National Sporting Heritage Day.

Museum manager Andy Gibbs said: “We’d like as many people as possible to visit us and share with us their memories of school sports including netball – as well as joining us for the launch of English Netball’s new archive and reminiscence website – and to maybe try to shoot a goal yourself.

The front cover of an early Netball Magazine cover 1949

The front cover of an early Netball Magazine cover 1949 - Credit: Archant

“You can also enjoy the museum’s own Up For The Cup display, which charts the successes of the British Schools and Wilshere-Dacre school sports teams in the early 20th century.”

The free event runs from 10am to 4pm with the last entry at 3.30pm. You can find out more about the project by emailing daphne.knott@englandnetball.co.uk.

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