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Victorian Manchester’s female sporting entrepreneurs

Oldfield, SJ (2016) Victorian Manchester’s female sporting entrepreneurs. In: British Society of Sports History Annual Conference, 02 September 2016 - 03 September 2011, University of Edinburgh, Scotland. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Throughout the nineteenth century, sporting pastimes were developed and endorsed by the entrepreneurial men who populated the new cities and towns of industrial Britain. Many sporting “stars” used their celebrity status to help transition from athlete to sport promoter, often acquiring facilities, such as a public house, as a base for their sporting activities to be housed. Within Manchester, the semi-rural districts surrounding the city centre became hubs for many sporting entertainments, with several purpose-built stadiums developed in the land attached to drinking establishments. The narratives of several these sporting entrepreneurs have been documented in sport history literature, presenting biographical accounts of the men who were instrumental in the survival of sport within the city. However, many of these texts fail to recognise the important role of the women who occupied various sporting and supporting positions within this environment, and who helped to stimulate and cultivate a culture for sport from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. This paper will provide examination of some of these individuals, uncovering the life stories of a group of females entrepreneurs who provided different forms of sport and leisure amusement during Manchester’s ‘golden era’ of athletic development.

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