Dartford – most famous for its river crossing, Mick Jagger and Bluewater – is also the birthplace of a very famous sport.
Most people aren’t aware that netball, now played by millions around the world, was first played in the north Kent town at the end of the 19th century.
Next month, Dartford MP Gareth Johnson will open a new Visitor Centre, celebrating the Bergman Österberg Physical Training College, where the sport was invented.
Mr Johnson said: “It is possibly one of best-kept secrets that netball was first played right here in Dartford in 1895 at the Bergman Österberg Physical Training College, now part of the site of North Kent College. People know the town for the Dartford Crossing and as the place where the Rolling Stones began, but very few know it is the birthplace of netball. I am really honoured to have been asked to open the new Visitor Centre which celebrates Bergman Österberg Physical Training College College for girls and women.
It is fitting that the day after the Visitor Centre opens, the netball world cup will start in Liverpool and I am delighted that a sport which is now so popular throughout the world can trace its roots to Dartford. I hope this new centre, which features a treasure trove of artefacts, photos and literature about the history of the college and its sports, will become a popular attraction.”
Anne Stuart, of the Österberg Collection said: “We are delighted to be able to continue working with North Kent College to preserve the history of the site. Our new Visitor Centre and Collection rooms allow us to bring Madame Bergman Österberg’s life story and work to a much wider audience.”
Following the official opening in July, the new Visitor Centre will be open to the public on Wednesdays, between 10am and 4pm.
Information about the organisation can be found on its website at www.bergmanosterbergunion.org.uk