Manchester Metropolitan University's Research Repository

    Manchester’s athletic development: urban public houses, enterprise and the Holden family 1840-1870

    Oldfield, SJ (2015) Manchester’s athletic development: urban public houses, enterprise and the Holden family 1840-1870. In: 19th Centro di Studi per l’Educazione Fisica e l’Attività Sportiva (CESH) Annual Conference, 22 October 2015 - 24 October 2015, Florence, Italy. (Unpublished)


    Download (349kB) | Preview


    The sporting landscape altered during the nineteenth century as industrialisation transformed the leisure patterns of British society. As both space and time available for sport reduced, traditional pastimes were repackaged for new urban environment. The public house became instrumental in regulating the leisure time of the city’s inhabitants, with the publicans becoming gatekeepers to working-class pursuits by procuring land for sporting purpose and providing the foundations for regulation and administration. Pedestrianism, the forerunner to modern athletics, became a lucrative commercial enterprise, having been successfully integrated into the urban sporting model through public house endorsement. By considering the entrepreneurial nature of athletic entertainments, which were controlled and governed by individuals rather than specific sporting organisations, this paper explores the Holden family and their significance on the development of pedestrianism within the city. The relationship between sportsmen and public houses has long been noted, but these examples are usually limited in scope and do little beyond documenting the individual achievements of each subject. By taking a collective biographical approach, whereby individuals are studied through more measured techniques, the impact of Manchester’s athletic community in developing the local and national sporting landscape can be considered. At a time of natural decline, Manchester’s pedestrian scene was thriving amid the numerous taverns, inns and running grounds established around the city centre. By developing their own programme of events, which opposed the formalised amateur institutions that were beginning to appear throughout Britain, these athletic entrepreneurs created a culture for professional activities that has had little acknowledgement to date. The Holden family helped to control and organise Manchester’s sporting calendar, with their principles and innovations responsible for resurging public interest in athletic entertainment. By exploring the interconnections between different members of the Holden dynasty, the positive impact of such communities on the local sporting environment is evident.

    Impact and Reach


    Activity Overview
    6 month trend
    6 month trend

    Additional statistics for this dataset are available via IRStats2.

    Actions (login required)

    View Item View Item