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Running pedestrianism in Victorian Manchester.

Oldfield, Samantha-Jayne and Day, Dave (2012) Running pedestrianism in Victorian Manchester. In: UNSPECIFIED. (Unpublished)

Oldfield and Day 2012 Running Pedestrianism in Victorian Manchester Paper.pdf

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In the absence of a national athletic organisation, sporting publicans were pivotal in the regulation and promotion of pedestrian events, attracting large crowds, regularly in their thousands, through the endorsement of local victuallers who supplied land for competitive races, organised the athletic calendar, and also posed as referee, time-keeper and prize giver during sporting contests. Pedestrianism, or foot-racing, provided sporting entertainment during much of the nineteenth century and publicans were quick to recognise the money making potential of such enterprises. Through entrepreneurial vision public houses were transformed into hubs for entertainment, offering a variety of activities to attract custom such as flower, fruit and vegetable shows, glee clubs, dramatics, sporting endeavours, and society meetings, thus cementing their place as integral to British leisure practices. By 1850, the drinks trade endorsed many sporting activities with the entrepreneurial landlord being fundamental to the survival of sport, especially within the industrial cities. In Manchester transport links enabled rural taverns and pubs to expand their clientele with business minded publicans featuring concert rooms, singing saloons and variety acts within their establishments, whilst inns which surrounded parks, such as Belle Vue and Pomona Gardens, offered live sport and further novelties. Sport moved to the rural outskirts and in areas such as Newton Heath, Hyde and Salford, where industrialisation had yet to impinge, popular Victorian gardens with attached public houses promoted and housed competitive athletic events. Arenas were built next to, and within, the grounds of the rural public houses and hotels, with many publicans enclosing their grounds in order to benefit financially through charging entrance fees, drink and food proceeds and betting commissions. The Royal Oak Park, Copenhagen Grounds and Salford Borough Gardens were all reputable running grounds established by their respective licensed victuallers, being attached to suburban Manchester pubs and hosting the majority of sporting events in the city until the 1880s when the organisation of amateur sport by the professional middle class led to a decline in professional activities. Not only did these arenas cater to the pedestrian crowds, they offered further sporting entertainments such as wrestling, rabbit coursing, pigeon shooting, quoits and pony trotting, which guaranteed attendance from the working class community. This paper investigates the relationship between pub and athletics within Manchester, considering the role of the publican in the promotion of sporting entertainments through individual case studies.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
Additional Information: Paper presented to the Social History Society Annual Conference. University of Brighton, April 2012
Divisions: Legacy Research Institutes > Institute for Performance Research > Sport, Exercise & Physical Activity
Faculties > Cheshire Campus > Department of Exercise and Sports Science
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2012 10:48
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 02:50
URI: http://e-space.mmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/238976

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