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The industrial middle class and the development of sport in a railway town

Dyer, L and Day, D (2017) The industrial middle class and the development of sport in a railway town. Sport in History, 37 (2). pp. 164-182. ISSN 1746-0263

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Abstract

Increased industrial activity during the Victorian period led to the creation of industrial townships such as Crewe, whose growth was stimulated and sustained by the involvement of the London and North Western Railway Company. As in other townships, the paternalism of employers was reflected in company involvement in all aspects of the social, political and economic life of Crewe and the influence that was exerted on the population through the company’s middle-class managers. Men such as manager Francis Webb and company clerk Thomas Abraham had a significant impact on the sporting life of the town, and this paper explores their life courses to chronicle their involvement. These men were not public-school- or university-educated but they shared similar attitudes to sport with their middle-class counterparts in the South, and this paper uses their biographies to suggest that individuals concerned with the organisation of amateur sport across the country adhered to the basics tenets of the amateur ethos. The authors also reinforce the notion that, while the creation of governing bodies was certainly important in structuring late-nineteenth-century sport, the commitment and motivation of the individual was always critical in ensuring that local sport was played ‘in the right way’.

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