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George Martin, ‘wizard of pedestrianism’ and Manchester’s sporting entrepreneur

Oldfield, Samantha-Jayne (2011) George Martin, ‘wizard of pedestrianism’ and Manchester’s sporting entrepreneur. In: Oldfield, S-J. George Martin, ‘wizard of pedestrianism’ and Manchester’s sporting entrepreneur. In D. Day, ed. Sporting Lives. Manchester: IPR, 2011. MMU, Institute for Performance Research. ISBN 978-1-905476-62-6

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Abstract

The public house during the nineteenth century was at the heart of the Victorian community; flower shows, fruit and vegetable shows, glee clubs, amateur and professional dramatics, bowling, quoits, pugilism, foot-racing, and society meetings were provided within their grounds. Although appearing to help rationalise recreation time, the innkeepers were ‘fully aware of the profit-making potential of such an enterprise’, and pioneering publicans used entertainments to attract audiences with some establishments forming allegiances with specific ventures in order to gain higher proceeds. Sport essentially became property of the drinks trade and it was these entrepreneurial landlords who were fundamental to the survival of sport in industrial cities, however, ‘sufficient credit has never been given to the nineteenth century managers and professional running grounds for laying the foundations of the modern athletic meet’, a topic in need of further exploration. This paper will provide a biographical study of one of these individuals, the innovative George Martin (1827-1865), one of Manchester’s athletic sporting entrepreneurs.

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