Madame’s Pioneers: Gwynneth Morris

1907 Gwynneth Morris - Copy   Gwynneth Morris (1906)

Gwynneth’s older sisters, Miss Mary and Miss Edith Morris, joint Headmistresses of the Melbourne Girls’ Grammar School, sent her to MBÖ’s college in 1904.  Gwynneth returned to Australia in 1906 and took over the responsibility for games and gymnastics at the school. Miss Gwynneth, as she was known, promptly introduced Swedish gymnastics to the school and also a navy blue box pleated tunic. The girls’ and their parents were initially unhappy about the revealing outfits, although the girls appreciated the greater freedom of movement the tunics allowed. The tunic eventually became part of the school uniform in many of the Melbourne schools.

The girls already played hockey, cricket and tennis, but Gwynneth added rounders and basketball to the curriculum. Swimming became popular and the school entered competitions. Lacrosse and basketball were tried but did not become popular. Baseball was introduced as a good preparation for cricket and quickly took over from the traditional game.  Swedish Gymnastics attracted interest from members of the medical profession. Gwynneth formed a special gymnastic class to be prepared and ready to give demonstrations to doctors, educationalists and other interested groups.

In 1908, Gwynneth, a keen hockey player, formed the Victorian Women’s Hockey Association. In 1910 she was the first President of the All Australian Women’s Hockey Association. Gwynneth was forced to resign from her post in 1913 when she married but, in her seven years of teaching, she had introduced pioneering ideas and new concepts to the school   Another of MBÖ’s graduates, Miss J. M. Thomson, had been appointed to assist Gwynneth and the Melbourne GGS led the way in having qualified staff for physical training.