Leisure and Recreation in a Victorian Mining Community: The by Alan Metcalfe

By Alan Metcalfe

'Amusements they need to have, or existence might hardly ever be worthy living...' Newcastle Weekly Chronicle, 1895 this article explores existence within the mining villages of the north-east of britain within the 19th and early 20th centuries - a time of huge social and commercial switch. The carrying lives of those groups are usually marginalized via historians, yet this completely researched account finds how play in addition to work were central to the lives of the operating periods. Miners contributed considerably to the industrial good fortune of the north-east in this time, but dwelling stipulations within the mining villages have been 'horrendous'. activity and game have been necessary to deliver which means and delight to mining households, and have been basic to the complicated social relationships inside and among groups. good points of this broad textual content contain: * research of the actual, social and financial constructions that decided the rest lives of the mining villages* the function of 'traditional' and 'new' activities* comparisons with different British areas.

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Far more important were the fortnightly and annual earnings – it was the actual pay on a regular basis that determined whether they had money for leisure activities or not. The annual figures reveal a totally different picture, one of massive instability and uncertainty. In only 14 years (16 per cent) between 1827 and 1914 were earnings the same as the year before. Forty-one years (47 per cent) experienced increases and 32 (37 per cent) decreases in earnings. There was no way that miners could predict their earnings from year to year or even from pay to pay.

The “home” was the focus of their lives and in the home they frequently ruled supreme. However, it is important to emphasize that there was never any mistaking their place in society – they were inferior and subordinate to men. ”35 The whole focus of a woman’s life was the two or three rooms that comprised her “home”. m. m. for the putters and onsetters. 36 The rest of the day was devoted to baking, scrubbing the stone floors, if they had any, and cleaning the house, an arduous task because the majority of villages were enveloped in a cloud of coal dust.

This was designed with a dual purpose in mind – showing the new silent movies and hosting the theatrical groups that passed through the village on a regular though infrequent basis. By 1914, Ashington was served by five theatres and picture halls. 60 Of course, one institution has been missing from the foregoing discussion – the inns. There is no doubt that they were the primary focus of leisure throughout the nineteenth century. But over time their premium place was threatened by the growth of alternative commercial facilities and, more importantly, the opening of the social clubs.

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