Archive for the ‘History’ Category

‘A Soldier’s Song’ visits the Inns of Court

March 5, 2019
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The Devil’s Own recruit from the quality.

‘He’s a devil this boy!’ I didn’t know when I wrote that line for A Soldier’s Song how apposite it would turn out. As part of the research for the production of the show we had a cast visit to the Inns of Court & City Yeomanry Museum in a crepuscular corner of Lincoln’s Inn where the Regiment still has its HQ.

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Appropriatley Dickensian digs for the Inns of Court & City Yeomanry

As you can see from the poster above the Inns of Court are nicknamed ‘The Devil’s Own’ so it seemed entirely correct that our Hector, the dashing World War 1 hero, should be described by his old batman Hobbs as a devil.

Major O’Beirne gave us an excellent tour of the bijou collection of memorabilia and photographs which tell the story of the regiment from its origins in England’s deep past right through wars local and global to the present day.

One sinister highlight was a Nazi flag rummaged from a box in a cupboard rumoured to have been swiped from Luneberg Heath on the day of the Germans’ surrender in 1945. The Devil’s Own themselves had had a tough introduction to Europe, landing in Normandy with instructions to blow bridges across the Orne only to find themselves under fire from some trigger happy American Typhoons.

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The Berkhamstead Boys pose in 1915

Of course we lapped up the tales of derring do but nudged our host in the direction of World War One – what had the IoY been up to between 1914 and 1918? By coincidence it turned out that they’d been based in our leading man’s backyard of Berkhamstead! Looking through the photographs he could pick out the golf course – once used for trench warfare – Kitchener’s Field parade ground, and local landmarks like this church porch.

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Looking through the sepia images of young men being trained for War it really was a most inspiring visit, especially with the wealth of visual detail that we were able to pick up. I only hope James’s moustache can live up to WW1 standards!

#theatre #London #ASoldiersSongPlay

Sport & Leisure History Seminar 2019 #5

February 27, 2019

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Monday 11th March 2019

It’s a real pleasure to be one of the convenors for the British Society of Sports History sponsored Sport & Leisure History seminar series at the Insitute of Historical Research. And this term we have a diverse range of speakers and subjects to pique the interest of the historically inclined.

After an excellent exploration of the deveopment of the fashion for replica kits in football with Chris Stride we take a radical change of direction for our next paper. On Monday March 11th Luise Elsaesser of the European University Institute in Florence will give a paper on the role of polo in the development of the British Empire in the late-ninteenth and early-twentieth centuries.

Not only are we promised some ground-breaking research on cultural transfer at the height of empire, there’s going to be some serious moustache action in the presentation.

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You can find her abstract below …

‘Dashing About with the Greatest Gallantry’: Polo in India and the British Metropole, 1862-1914

The period from 1870 to the Great War was defined by a new and more intensive phase of imperialism. This presentation analyses the impact of Empire on the metropole. In suggesting that the imperial space was not a one-way street the example of the Indian game of polo is used. Unlike most imperial sports, polo was adapted by the British from their colonial subjects, creating the opportunity of a common cultural space. How did polo influence socio-cultural and political power constellations in India and the metropole? More nuance on regional contexts and the effects of sport on specific groups will be provided. Unpacking the resulting interdependencies, ambivalences, and the mutability of polo in a British imperial self-image, the paper does not neglect Indian agency. Polo showcases an interrelation of ideas and beliefs which are used to understand the respective environment as well as the internationalisation of sport.

This is only the one of a number of series of stimulating talks to be held at the IHR in the S&L series. For the details of seminars forthcoming in 2019 go to the IHR’s website. The talks take place in the John S Cohen on the second floor – doors open from 17:15 and the seminar to start promptly at 17:30. I hope to see you there.

 

Sport & Leisure History Seminar 2019 #4

February 19, 2019

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Monday 25th February 2019

It’s a real pleasure to be one of the convenors for the British Society of Sports History sponsored Sport & Leisure History seminar series at the Insitute of Historical Research. And this term we have a diverse range of speakers and subjects to pique the interest of the historically inclined.

Our next paper will be given by Dr Chris Stride of the University of Sheffield who will be talking to us about the fascinating history of replica football kits. Come on, we’ve all got our favourites, although I do hope Vinnie Jones in a Leeds strip isn’t one of them.

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The abstract for Chris’s paper is below … come along for polyester pomp and an analysis of the rise of the replica.

For anthropologist Desmond Morris, writing in his seminal 1981 study of football culture The Soccer Tribe, ‘the adornments of the followers’ were of much interest. However, despite the continuing presence of the scarves, hats and flags Morris described, it is likely that a similar study carried out in the 21st century soccer landscape would relegate them to a mere footnote beneath a single, overwhelmingly favoured item of match day clothing – the replica football shirt.

Child-size football kits had been packaged and promoted as replicas since the late 1950s, and after shirt designs were first copyrighted in 1974, became an increasingly lucrative industry. However, at this point in time shirts were not marketed towards, nor worn by adults. Using both quantitative analyses of data gleaned from 1000+ crowd photos, a similar number of programme adverts, and a survey of fans to model the growth in purchasing and promotion of replica shirts from 1975 to 2000, it is possible to identify the phases of adoption, from the trailblazers, through wider adoption, to today’s ubiquity.

Three key stages of adoption are identified. First,  the wearing of shirts by a small hardcore of fans in the 1980s, inspired by their popularity as cup final fancy dress in the 1970s, wardrobe inertia in those who had worn them in their early teenage years, and social changes in leisurewear, most notably the growing acceptability of sportswear as street fashion prompted by the 70s jogging boom. Wider adoption was, however, suppressed by the threat of violence at matches, a residual sense amongst older fans that football shirts were for children and players only, and the lack of any meaningful distribution network or marketing strategy to adults. Second, a late 80s boom, as the infrastructure for football’s future hypercommodification begins to fall into place, the threat of matchday hooliganism recedes, and the football shirt becomes a fashion item in a brief period of cross-polination between football and music subcultures and the euphoria of Italia 90. Finally the birth of the Premier League and a rapid gentrification and commercialisation of the game sees a new, older market for football shirts rapidly developed and exploited by focused marketing and design.

This is only the one of a number of series of stimulating talks to be held at the IHR in the S&L series. For the details of seminars forthcoming in 2019 go to the IHR’s website. The talks take place in the John S Cohen on the second floor – doors open from 17:15 and the seminar to start promptly at 17:30. I hope to see you there.

 

Sport & Leisure History Seminar 2019 #3

January 31, 2019

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Monday 11th February 2019

It’s a real pleasure to be one of the convenors for the British Society of Sports History sponsored Sport & Leisure History seminar series at the Insitute of Historical Research. And this term we have a diverse range of speakers and subjects to pique the interest of the historically inclined.

After an excellent analysis of the development of the Special Olympics from Tom Weir it’s the turn of Gary James present another paper based on oral history and researching the development of women’s football in Manchester. To find out more read his abstract below and then come along to what should be a stimulating discussion next Monday.

Researching the History of Women’s Football: Manchester City, 1988-2018

Abstract

This paper will provide an overview of a project capturing the experiences of women playing football between 1988 and 2018 for Manchester City Ladies, now Manchester City Women Football Club. Through an oral history project capturing the lives of women involved with the sport the experiences of female footballers have been captured and compared to establish their views on how the sport has developed; childhood activities; team participation; opportunities; reactions, national competition and the development of professional clubs. These female footballers, whose experiences include touring with Manchester Corinthians in the early 1970s through to participation in the Women’s Super League and the Women’s FA Cup final, were interviewed over an 18 month period during which they discussed the transition from playing when football was banned from FA approved venues through to the development of the modern league structure. This talk will provide evidence of how the Manchester City Ladies developed into the club it is today, providing images and testimony from the women involved throughout its life.

This is only the one of a number of series of stimulating talks to be held at the IHR in the S&L series. For the details of seminars forthcoming in 2019 go to the IHR’s website. The talks take place in the John S Cohen on the second floor – doors open from 17:15 and the seminar to start promptly at 17:30. I hope to see you there.

 

Sport & Leisure History Seminar 2019 #2

January 21, 2019

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Monday 28th January 2019

It’s a real pleasure to be one of the convenors for the British Society of Sports History sponsored Sport & Leisure History seminar series at the Insitute of Historical Research. And this term we have a diverse range of speakers and subjects to pique the interest of the historically inclined.

After an excellent start to the year with Dr Jon Hughes it’s the turn of Post-Grad Tom Weir to talk to us about the history of intellectual disability in Britain. This will be a real breakthrough subject for the the seminar series and take us into a refreshingly novel area of intellectual enquiry. To find out more read his abstract below and then come along to what should be a stimulating discussion next Monday.

The difficult birth of Special Olympics GB

Abstract

Special Olympics GB can trace its existence to a very specific moment in time: when Chris Maloney’s attention was attracted by the enthusiastic cheering of Paul at poolside during a swimming lesson in Gloucester. This has been well documented, but less well known is the difficulties encountered in the first few years; from arguments over the name, difficulties finding athletes to compete, through to the vital role of Chris’ mother and the Kennedy Family. This talk will explore the initial development of Special Olympics GB, considering also what other provision existed for people with learning disability in Britain, from Mencap Gateway clubs, Adult Training Centres through to the ‘Mini-Olympics.’ It will also discuss the reluctance of the British Sports Association for the Disabled (BSAD,) then led by Sir Ludwig Guttmann, to support initiatives for people with learning disability.

This is only the one of a number of series of stimulating talks to be held at the IHR in the S&L series. For the details of seminars forthcoming in 2019 go to the IHR’s website. The talks take place in the John S Cohen on the second floor – doors open from 17:15 and the seminar to start promptly at 17:30. I hope to see you there.

 

Sport & Leisure History Seminar 2019 #1

January 8, 2019

Monday 14th January 2019

Boxkampf Max Schmeling gegen Walter Neusel in Hamburg

Max Schmeling and his attendants celebrate victory – come along to the IHR on January 14th to find out who he battered and why it mattered.

It’s a real pleasure to be one of the convenors for the British Society of Sports History sponsored Sport & Leisure History seminar series at the Insitute of Historical Research. And this term we have a diverse range of speakers and subjects to pique the interest of the historically inclined.

Kicking off 2019 will be Dr Jon Hughes of Royal Holloway who will be talking to us about ‘The Biggest Boxing Match in Europe’. To find out more read his abstract below and then come along to what should be a stimulating discussion next Monday.

I would offer insights into the fight between Max Schmeling and another German boxer, Walter Neusel, in August 1934. The fight was stage managed, under the Nazis, at a huge open-air venue in Hamburg and attended by at least 80,000, possibly more. It was an interesting example of the Nazis experimenting with the propaganda potential of sport, two years before the Olympics, and formed part of a failed bid to move the symbolic focus of professional boxing away from the USA and back to Europe, and to Germany in particular. I’ll look at the circumstances surrounding the match (Schmeling’s first in Germany since 1928) and its representation in the media, reflect on the geopolitics of boxing in this era, the symbolism of the heavyweight title, and the compromises that the Nazis were willing to make – neither Schmeling nor Neusel were conformists in any sense, as both had Jewish managers and had been reluctant to compete in Germany. This occasion is much less well known than e.g. Schmeling’s two fights against Joe Louis, but in many ways just as interesting.

This is only the one of a number of series of stimulating talks to be held at the IHR in the S&L series. For the details of seminars forthcoming in 2019 go to the IHR’s website. The talks take place in the John S Cohen on the second floor – doors open from 17:15 and the seminar to start promptly at 17:30. I hope to see you there.

 

Sport & Leisure History Seminar Autumn 2018 #6

December 4, 2018

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Monday 10th December 2018

“A Game Was More Than A Game” –Sport, Integration and Interwar British Jewry with Dr Dave Dee

It’s a real pleasure to be one of the convenors for the British Society of Sports History sponsored Sport & Leisure History seminar series at the Insitute of Historical Research. And this term we have a diverse range of speakers and subjects to pique the interest of the historically inclined.

Our final seminar of the term will be given by Dr Dave Dee from De Montfort University who will talking to us about the sporting experience of British Jews between the wars.

This is only the one of a number of series of stimulating talks to be held at the IHR in the S&L series. For the details of seminars forthcoming in 2019 go to the IHR’s website. The talks take place in the Past and Present Room on the second floor – doors open from 17:15 and the seminar to start promptly at 17:30. I hope to see you there.

 

Sport & Leisure History Seminar Autumn 2018 #5

November 20, 2018

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Monday 26th November 2018

‘A festival of self-punishment’: Englishness, British cycling and the Tour de France, 1918-39 with Dr Neil Carter

It’s a real pleasure to be one of the convenors for the British Society of Sports History sponsored Sport & Leisure History seminar series at the Insitute of Historical Research. And this term we have a diverse range of speakers and subjects to pique the interest of the historically inclined.

Our fifth seminar of the term will be given by Dr Neil Carter from De Montfort University who will talking to us about a rather neglected era of British cycling history, the 1930s, when Charles Holland and Bill Burl became the first British men to take part in the Tour de France. To find out more read Neil’s abstract below.

In 1937 Charles Holland and Bill Burl became the first British cyclists to ride in the Tour de France. Their presence represented a brief if symbolic moment of modernity for British cycling. This paper examines the socio-economic and cultural roots of this particular episode and how it tapped into changing ideas of Englishness.

The Tour de France, with its modernising tendencies, commercialism and especially its type of racing – massed start racing – offered a stark contrast with British cycling’s overwhelmingly amateur culture, both in terms of ideology and as a voluntary activity. In particular, the time-trial was the main form of road racing in Britain. It embodied an idealised and pastoral vision of England that many of cycling’s administrators and supporters promoted through their writing and images.

During the 1930s, however, British cycling underwent a transformation. Not only was there a boom in the number of cyclists more generally, but a shift in its image reflected the new consumerism of the decade. Moreover, a fashion for massed-start racing, copied from the continent, began with races taking place on motor-racing circuits. As a consequence, there was a backlash amongst cycling’s traditional supporters. Underpinning this resistance was a defence of the time-trial, which reflected wider cultural anxieties within society over the impact of modernity.

This is only the one of a number of series of stimulating talks to be held at the IHR in the S&L series, scroll down for the details of future seminars or go to the IHR’s website. The talks take place in the Past and Present Room on the second floor – doors open from 17:15 and the seminar to start promptly at 17:30. I hope to see you there.

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Sport & Leisure History Seminar Autumn 2018 #4

November 3, 2018

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Monday 12th November 2018

‘Motor Sport Through a Lense, and the establishment of a Heritage visitor attraction at Silverstone’ with Professor Jean Williams

It’s a real pleasure to be one of the convenors for the British Society of Sports History sponsored Sport & Leisure History seminar series at the Insitute of Historical Research. And this term we have a diverse range of speakers and subjects to pique the interest of the historically inclined.

Our fourth seminar of the term will be given by Prof Jean Williams from the University of Wolverhampton. She’ll be talking to us about motorsport and using the rich archive at Silverstone racetrack to explore the history of British motor racing in the twentieth century.

As usual there’ll be a feast of images – I was particularly taken with the Martin Parr-esque depiction of tea in the preview that Jean was able to give me. While there will be discussion of the big beasts of Formula 1, such as James Hunt …

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… Jean will also be opening up the history of women in motorsport.

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Whether you’re a petrolhead or historically curious do come along to what promises to be an excellent talk.

This is only the one of a number of series of stimulating talks to be held at the IHR in the S&L series, scroll down for the details of future seminars or go to the IHR’s website. The talks take place in the Past and Present Room on the second floor – doors open from 17:15 and the seminar to start promptly at 17:30. I hope to see you there.

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Sport & Leisure History Seminar Autumn 2018 #3

October 18, 2018

Monday 29th October 2018

‘American Tourists in Britain in the 1950s: Archetypes, Prejudices and Realities with Dr John Law

It’s a real pleasure to be one of the convenors for the British Society of Sports History sponsored Sport & Leisure History seminar series at the Insitute of Historical Research. And this term we have a diverse range of speakers and subjects to pique the interest of the historically inclined.

Our third seminar of the term will be given by a Dr John Law from the University of Westminster. He’ll be talking to us on a subject drawn from his forthcoming book on Americans visiting or living in Britain in the 1950s and their (sometimes horrified) reactions to what they found there.

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As you can see from the cartoon above that I found on John’s website the American tourist in London often cut a distinctive dash in the urban scene. The paper promises further rich visuals as well as material drawn from archival sources and interviews with US survivors of 50s Britain, its weather, its food, and its hotel rooms.

This is only the one of a number of series of stimulating talks to be held at the IHR in the S&L series, scroll down for the details of future seminars or go to the IHR’s website. The talks take place in the Past and Present Room on the second floor – doors open from 17:15 and the seminar to start promptly at 17:30. I hope to see you there.

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