Historical information

Charles Steedman was headmaster of Williamstown Grammar School from 1870-76 and 1885-90. In 1870, under agreement with school trustees, Sir George Verdon and John Courtis, he leased the school under a seven-year lease, effectively saving it from closure. Steedman had previously been manager of Sandridge Baths and a champion swimmer of Victoria. His 1867 book, 'Manual of Swimming', was the first major technical contribution to the sport of speed swimming and water safety, for which Steedman was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2006. As headmaster of Williamstown Grammar, Steedman initiated a student produced school paper called 'The Schoolboy' (surviving editions can be accessed at the State Library of Victoria), added swimming lessons to the curriculum and opened enrolment to girls in 1885.

The book contains nine illustration plates featuring line drawings of a human figure in the positions detailed by Steedman in his text. These drawings are attributed to O.R. Campbell. Oswald Rose Campbell is best known for his appointment (1876-1886) as drawing master of the School of Design, a department of the Public Library, Museums and National Gallery of Victoria. He taught (and famously disagreed with) the likes of celebrated Australian artists, Tom Roberts and Frederick McCubbin. O.R Campbell taught drawing and painting at Williamstown Grammar in the early 1870s.


The book holds historic significance for Westbourne Grammar School, having been written by a former headmaster and very important figure in the history of the school. It evokes our early history as an emerging grammar school with links to prominent athletes, artists and gentry of colonial Melbourne.

Physical description

Blue cloth covered case-bound book, with debossed decorative scrollwork in each corner and in the centre of front cover, and gilt lettering on the spine. 270 numbered pages, nine illustration plates (one adjacent to title page, eight as end pages).

Inscriptions & markings

On title page, handwritten inscriptions in brown coloured ink. Possibly ‘Joshua Saggs Esq. / With the authors compliments’ and below, in different handwriting and darker ink, ‘To dear Flossie from Grandma 1901’.