Victorians at Play: 'Rational Recreations'

Ref: C2346992

Some elements of the Victorian working classes, co-operative societies among them, placed great value on self-improvement; but much time, money and effort were expended by the middle classes on providing or encouraging 'rational' recreations to improve their health, extend their education, and divert them from customary pursuits such as drinking, gambling and 'loitering' aimlessly in the streets. These included the original alcohol-free Working Men's Clubs, allotment societies, and Working Men's Colleges, and were arguably intended to instill middle class values along the way. Did they succeed, or as some historians have suggested, did their patrons simply take advantage of facilities that they could not provide for themselves? We will also explore the growth of 'recreation on the rates' in the later 19th century, in the form of local authority museums, libraries, public parks and swimming pools; and look at some of the 'learned societies' established by the middle classes themselves.

Course aim

To consider how, why and by whom the Victorian working classes were encouraged to adopt 'rational' recreations as an alternative to customary pursuits such as drinking, gambling and 'loitering on street corners - and with what success.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Give examples of municipal involvement in providing leisure activities in the later 19th century.

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

Your lecture will be delivered in a ‘traditional’ talk-to-camera style, but there will be opportunities to ask questions and engage in discussion at the end. Slide-show images will be used to illustrate key points. A short summary of the lecture will be posted to Canvas soon after the event.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Victorians at Play: 'Rational Recreations'


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