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The London and North Western Railway Company and the Crewe Alexandra Athletic Club in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods

Dyer, Liam (2018) The London and North Western Railway Company and the Crewe Alexandra Athletic Club in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

Whilst the traditional narrative surrounding the development and administration of British sport in the late-Victorian period has concentrated on the importance of the southern-based, professional middle class in this process, recent scholarship has begun to focus on a supposed regional divide and to uncover the influence of the northern middle classes in the development of sport. This thesis contributes to that debate by proposing that the northern industrial middle class, defined here by occupational status, was more influential than previously has been assumed. The thesis utilises a blended approach by combining two biographical methods, prosopography and individual biography, along with detailed archival research, to explore the interactions between the London and North Western Railway Company and Crewe, from the town’s creation in the 1840s up to the First World War. Drawing on a range of sources including local almanacs, newspapers, census records, and personal data, the group and individual biographies of the committee members of Crewe Alexandra Athletic Club, the town’s premier sporting organisation and one which drew most of its administrators from the employment rolls of the railway company, are uncovered and analysed in order to assess the impact of the railway company on local sport and leisure. The key findings are that the influence of the northern middle class on the sport of athletics was more significant than has previously been understood, and that the application of amateur values was imposed not only within the sporting context but enforced by the railway company through its middle and senior management across the broad spectrum of Crewe society.

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