Far from a trivial topic, the post-war train spotting craze swept most boys and some girls into a passion for railways, and for many, ignited a lifetime's interest. This book traces this post-war cohort, and those which followed, as they invigorated different sectors in the world of railway enthusiasm. Today Britain's now-huge preserved railway industry finds itself driven by tensions between preserving a loved past which ever fewer people can remember and earning money from tourist visitors. It was Hamilton Ellis and Philip Unwin who were the joint pioneers of the 'Railway Book Mania' which ran from 1947 to the dwindling of popular and mid-depth railway history writing in the 1970s. British railway enthusiasts suffer from an image problem. Standing forlorn on station platforms, train spotters are butts for every stand-up comic's jokes. Like some other collectors, train spotters collect ephemera: locomotive numbers are signs unconnected to any marketable commodity. Train spotting had its own rich culture. As British railways declined from their Edwardian peak, enthusiasts' structure of feeling shifted steadily from celebrating novelty to mourning loss. Always a good hater as well as a skilled engineer, more than seventy years ago Curly Lawrence identified issues which still bounce around modelling sections of the British railway fancy. The book discusses toy trains, model engineering and railway modelling. British railway enthusiasm remains a remarkably varied activity today, articulated through attachment (of whatever kind) to prototype railways' life-world.
Darts offered an opportunity to make the English pub appear more respectable. This book examines the development of darts in the context of English society in the early twentieth century. It reveals how darts was transformed during the interwar years to become a popular recreation in England, not just amongst working class men and, to a lesser extent, working class women but even (to some extent) among the middle and upper classes. The book also considers the growth of the darts manufacturing industry and assesses the overall effect the growing popularity of darts had on interwar society and popular culture, with particular reference to the changing culture and form of the English public house. After reconstructing the origins of darts in England, it attempts to eradicate myths and fabrications which have until now distorted the history of the game. The book also examines the inter-war English public house in the context of the expansion of mass leisure. It reveals the threats to the brewing industry from new leisure choices and groups pressing for the improvement or alternatively the total banishment of the public house. The book also identifies the organisations, such as the National Darts Association (NDA), which developed darts as a new form of mass leisure. From small beginnings as part of the toy and fancy goods industry of the mid-to-late Victorian period, the book traces the emergence of the dartboards and related products. Finally, it examines darts as a cultural phenomenon of the 1930s.
The exhibition of films has developed from a lowly fairground attraction in the
1890s to the multi-million pound industry of today. This book charts the
development of cinema exhibition and cinema-going in Britain from the first
public film screening in February 1896 through to the opening of 30-screen
'megaplexes'. It recounts the beginnings of cinema and in particular
its rapid development, by the eve of the Great War, as the pre-eminent mass
entertainment. The book considers developments of cinema as an independent
entertainment, the positioning of cinemas within the burgeoning metropolitan
spaces, the associated search for artistic respectability, the coming of sound
and a large-scale audience. The period from 1913 to 1930 was one in which the
cinema industry underwent dramatic restructuring, new chains, and when Hollywood
substantially increased its presence in British cinemas. Cinema-going is then
critically analysed in the context of two powerful myths; the 'Golden
Age' and the 'universal audience'. The book also considers the
state of cinema exhibition in Britain in the post-war period, and the terminal
decline of cinema-going from the 1960s until 1984. It looks at the development
of the multiplex in the United States from the 1960s and examines the importance
of the shopping mall and the suburb as the main focus for these cinema
developments. Finally, the book discusses the extent to which the multiplex
'experience' accounts for the increase in overall attendance; and how
developments in the marketing of films have run in tandem with developments in
Amateur film: Meaning and practice 1927–77 traces the development of non-professional interests in making and showing film. It explores how amateur cinematography gained a following among the wealthy, following the launch of lightweight portable cine equipment by Kodak and Pathé in Britain during the early 1920s. As social access to the new hobby widened, enthusiasts began to use cine equipment at home, work, on holiday and elsewhere. Some amateurs made films only for themselves while others became cine club members, contributors to the hobby literature and participated in film competitions from local to international level. The stories of individual filmmakers, clubs and the emergence of an independent hobby press, as well as the non-fiction films made by groups and individuals, provide a unique lens through which contemporary responses to daily experience may be understood over fifty years of profound social, cultural and economic change. Using regional film archive collections, oral testimony and textual sources, this book explores aspects of family life, working experience, locality and social issues, leisure time and overseas travel as captured by filmmakers from northern and northwest England. This study of visual memory, identity and status sets cine camera use within a wider trajectory of personal record making, and discusses the implications of footage moving from private to public spaces as digitisation widens access and transforms contemporary archive practice.
This book provides a detailed consideration of the history of racing in British culture and society, and explores the cultural world of racing during the interwar years. The book shows how racing gave pleasure even to the supposedly respectable middle classes and gave some working-class groups hope and consolation during economically difficult times. Regular attendance and increased spending on betting were found across class and generation, and women too were keen participants. Enjoyed by the royal family and controlled by the Jockey Club and National Hunt Committee, racing's visible emphasis on rank and status helped defend hierarchy and gentlemanly amateurism, and provided support for more conservative British attitudes. The mass media provided a cumulative cultural validation of racing, helping define national and regional identity, and encouraging the affluent consumption of sporting experience and a frank enjoyment of betting. The broader cultural approach of the first half of the book is followed by an exploration if the internal culture of racing itself.
Advertising agencies were important conduits through which the norms of American consumption travelled eastwards across the Atlantic. This book explores the institutional developments in British advertising and the wider shape of the market for advertising services in the 1950s and 1960s. It details the growing internationalism of the advertising industry in Britain, including the increased presence of US-owned agencies in London and deals with the concern with the apparent 'Americanization'of British commerce. Considering its relationship with its parent company, the book explores the dynamics of Anglo-American advertising relations within the J Walter Thompson (JWT) company. It looks at the uses and development of market research within JWT London and allied companies, and examines the techniques that were used to generate ways of understanding the 'mass housewife'. It was the legacy of British documentary film making which helped to give a distinctive British character and feel to many of the early TV commercials produced in the 1950s and 1960s. The book explores the ways in which TV advertising focused on commercials which promoted washing powders, washing machines and convenience foods. It considers the reception of advertising by cultural critics and by those concerned with the broader governance of commercial life and consumption. The advertising people offered a positive and spirited defence of the role they performed and the pleasures of mass consumption in the age of affluence. For critics, advertising was seen as a harbinger of American 'hard sell' techniques of salesmanship within British business.
Popular culture became a crucial aspect of the rising consumer society in the interwar Britain. Romantic exchanges and happy endings were a defining trait of bestselling novels and popular films in 1920s and 1930s Britain. This book ties contemporary concerns about ex-soldiers, profiteers, and working and voting women to the heroes, villains and love-interests that occur in several films and novels. It addresses the role of the hero as a character who embodies traits collectively valued by readers and the audience. In books and films like Sorrell and Son, the pre-war masculine role model was re-established as patriotic soldier, breadwinner and pater familias. The male villain is the opposite of this value set, and in works such as Bulldog Drummond, he is concerned with profit and the undermining of the national economy and social well-being. The female love-interest often occupied a fairly dynamic role in bestselling novels and hit films. Women in A Star Is Born and Queen Christina are shown as giving up their careers for love and forsaking wealth and power for love. Villainesses, by contrast, seek wealth, status and power at all costs. Censorship of films by the British Board of Film Censors and of literature by the Home Office in interwar Britain contributed to the construction of a popular narrative formula. Censorship aimed to produce an idealised vision of man's and woman's place within the economy and nation. The troubles of the real world were not to have a significant place in film or fiction.
This book provides the first history of how we have imagined and used time since 1700. It traces the history of the relationship between work and leisure, from the 'leisure preference' of male workers in the eighteenth century, through the increase in working hours in the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, to their progressive decline from 1830 to 1970. It examines how trade union action was critical in achieving the decline; how class structured the experience of leisure; how male identity was shaped by both work and leisure; how, in a society that placed high value on work, a 'leisured class' was nevertheless at the apex of political and social power – until it became thought of as 'the idle rich'. Coinciding with the decline in working hours, two further tranches of time were marked out as properly without work: childhood and retirement. By the mid-twentieth century married men had achieved a work- leisure balance. In the 1960s and 1970s it was argued that leisure time would increase at a rapid rate. This false prediction coincided with the entry of married women into the labour market and a halt to the decline in working hours and in sectors of the economy a reversal of it. These two developments radically changed the experience of time and thinking about it. Time became equated with achieving a 'work-life balance' where 'life' was often unpaid childcare and domestic work.
This is the first book about women’s advance into the man’s world of pub, club and beerhouse that examines drinking habits covering a century and more. Currently, historians view enduring changes in women’s drinking habits as a product of the last half of the twentieth century. Our present understanding of women’s drinking in the first half of the century is based on uncertain assumptions and limited statistical evidence. Scholars have ignored critical differences between pubs and beerhouses which shaped drinking habits. In estimating the proportion of women frequenting interwar licensed premises, scholars rely heavily on statistics from York, Bolton and London without scrutinizing their validity. Overlooking the lounge, a gender-neutral room introduced into interwar improved pubs, likewise creates misunderstanding. Women first began entering drink premises during World War I, and Progressive brewers protected and enlarged their numbers building or rebuilding reformed pubs with wider amenities, interiors without partitions and the lounge as a separate room. New drinking norms reinforced the image of middle-class restraint and respectability. Wine bars targeting professional women appeared from the mid-1970s, but women remained uninterested in drinking beer or frequenting pubs save for the decade from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s. Domestic drinking, already popular, soared from 1990 and reached nearly half of total sales. Women’s public drinking habits were revolutionized in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Female-friendly chains, style bars, clubs and wine bars gave women greater choices than traditional masculine boozers, which steadily contracted in numbers. Wine selections widened, notably from the New World, food became common and gay bars multiplied.
The utility dream palace is a cultural history of cinemagoing and the cinema exhibition industry in Britain during the Second World War, a period of massive audiences in which vast swathes of the British population went to the pictures on a regular basis. Yet for all that wartime films have received a great deal of academic attention, and have been discussed in terms of the escapist pleasures they offered, the experiential pleasures offered by the cinemas in which such films were watched were inextricably connected to the places and times in which they operated. British cinemas – and the people who worked in, owned and visited them – were acutely sensitive to their spatial and temporal locations, unable to escape the war and intimately bound up in and contributing to the public’s experience of it. Combining oral history, extensive archival research, and a wealth of material gathered from contemporary trade papers, fan magazines and newspapers, this book is the first to provide a comprehensive analysis of both the cinema’s position in wartime society, and the impact that the war had on the cinema as a social practice. Dealing with subjects as diverse as the blackout, the blitz, evacuation, advertising, staffing and conscription, Entertainments Tax, showmanship and clothes rationing, The utility dream palace asserts that the cinema was, for many people, a central feature of wartime life, and argues that the history of British cinemas and cinemagoing between 1939 and 1945 is, in many ways, the history of wartime Britain.