Monday, 30 June 2008

Breaking the chains or recreating the prison?

The decades between 1790 and 1830 saw an outpouring of creative energies in British culture that was and probably remains unique. In literature, art and political theory the values of the eighteenth century grounded in principles of rationalism and realism were challenged by the emotions and naturalism of the Romantics. This ‘breaking of the chains’ with tradition and accepted values was initially seen as radical even revolutionary. Poets like Wordsworth, Coleridge and later Shelley and Byron questioned the nature of existing social structures and literary values. Their project, in many senses a joint one, was to break free from what they perceived as the constraints of Augustan writing and move the boundaries of literature away from the sterile and limiting agenda of ‘polite’ literature towards a freeing of the spirit through symbiosis with the natural world and its undefiled and pure features. Through this process they believed that man could ‘find himself’[1].

If this was their objective, then it was a short-lived one. Those bright, young things of the 1790s had become figures of the Establishment by the late 1830s or, in the case of Shelley, Byron and Keats had succumbed early to water, fire and disease. There is much in the lives of the Romantic poets that is reminiscent of the response of many to the challenge of the 1960s when the Establishment was assailed from all sides, seemed likely to crumble and yet survived buoyed up precisely by those who had been amongst its most ardent critics: the Hippies of the 1960s became the merchant bankers and venture capitalists of the 1980s and 1990s. The aim of this paper is to try and explain the context in which Wordsworth and his fellow poets wrote and why their original project was ultimately to fail. It was not so much a case of breaking free as a reconstruction of the prison of traditionalism. The ‘angry young men’ irrevocably became conservatives in old age.

‘Breaking free’

Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote, in his most infamous work The Social Contract in the early 1760s that, “Man is born free and yet everywhere he is in chains.” The meaning of this seemingly simple sentence is at the heart of the Romantic dilemma and has been a cause of much misunderstanding about the precise nature of the Romantic agenda. Rousseau was writing in a Europe in which the Enlightenment was at its height; in fact he was one of its prominent luminaries. In Europe the Enlightenment project was a self-conscious assault on the principles of Absolutism in which the rights of the individual were subsumed within the authority of the State. Its aim was to raise the level of political awareness by pointing to the inadequacies of existing political systems and suggesting that more democratic alternatives were necessary. In this, the Enlightenment marked an important ‘breaking free’ from the constraints of existing social and political structures. For those who espoused this perspective the American Revolution between 1775 and 1783 and the French Revolution after 1789 were beacons marking the end of the old order, the Ancien Regime: what William Blake called “the witness against the Beast”.

Yet there was much in English life and thought that was simply a continuation of the earlier eighteenth century. Continuity was as much a part of life between 1790 and 1830 as was change. Beau Brummel, the favourite of the Prince Regent in the early nineteenth century, would have found little difficulty in adapting himself to the age of Beau Nash who dominated the life and manners of Bath a century earlier; the patrons of Henry Holland to the architecture of William Kent and the classicist Palladians, or Francis Jeffrey to the world of Addison, Swift and Pope. But there were changes of thought and attitude after 1790 that were both crucial and fundamental and it is clear that they were intimately connected to the political and social changes of the period.

The loss of the American colonies in 1783 was a shock to national pride and within a decade Britain was embarked on a war with France that was to last for the next twenty-two years. Both the American and French wars began as wars of ideas -- the case of the former according to the recently published and contentious work of Jonathan Clark as a war of religion between the Dissenting Americans and the Anglican British; for the latter as a war between constitutional monarchy and republican dictatorship[2]. Both led to political values being questioned and defended with new determination and clarity. Political discourse became fundamental, as they had not done since the 1730s, with the assertion of radicalism on the one hand and the defence of conservatism on the other. England came under the influence not only of foreign revolutionary ideas but the rapid growth of population, urbanisation, trade dislocations and widespread ‘distress’ led to increased social misery. This bred discontent and potentially revolt creating among the governing classes a mixture of fear, misgivings and social conscience, what I will refer to as a sense of ‘revolutionary paranoia’. This was a problem of such magnitude that no contemporaries fully understood it or had an adequate solution for it. There were few writers of the period who were not touched by it for the seriousness of the problem burnt itself into the minds of all who thought about it.

Demands for parliamentary reform emerged in the 1770s and 1780s and thought they were influenced by events in America and France, they were primarily a ‘home-grown’ product. These demands meant different things to different people. It might mean the end of royal patronage, or the increase in the number of country gentlemen in Parliament; or the abolition of rotten boroughs where very small numbers of electors had the right to vote and bribery was rife; or it might mean votes for all adult men. But there was always the underlying idea that it would end the corruption and inefficiencies of government revealed during the American war. The reformers were themselves divided and many were cured of their desire for change by the onset of the French Revolution. ‘Breaking free’ had its limits. Radicalism, though its origins were in the seventeenth century, received a fillip from the revolutionary activities in France. Thomas Paine attacked all established institutions and his Rights of Man became essential reading for any self-respecting radical and the Jacobinism it spawned became a considerable force in the 1790s. Radicalism also included those Dissenters and Roman Catholics (the latter chiefly in Ireland) who demanded the end of religious discrimination; and socialists like Thomas Spence and Robert Owen who called for the end of either land-ownership or capitalism or both. William Cobbett sought by means of parliamentary democracy to save the individuality of workers and farmer labourers threatened by the three-fold Leviathan of government, enclosures and capitalism. Despite pressure, sometimes almost intolerable, the governing classes held and specific radical achievements in this period were few though it did produce a growing working-class consciousness and an atmosphere favourable to the broadly middle-class reforms of the 1820s and the Reform Act of 1832.

Equally in reaction to the social problems of the time, a great ‘seriousness’ swept over an important part of the nation, a deep concern for morality, an acute sense of guilt and sin, on both a personal and national level. This resulted in a re-examination of personal and social morality and was accompanied by an urgent sense of the need for a return to religion. The Evangelicals made a deep imprint on the thought of this period and much of what we today call ‘Victorian values’ have their origin before 1830. Evangelicals for the most part rejected the principles of individualism that underlay radical thought and were thus opposed to parliamentary reform. They feared any attack on the social order but wished to replace the selfish instincts that underlay ‘laissez-faire’ principles by a new code of social morality based on a more personal Christianity.

Demands for social cohesion and a new view of the nature of society were closely linked to a new sense of the importance of history and of organic growth. Eighteenth century rationalists had found it easy to dismiss the whole historical process as falling into a simplistic three-fold pattern: the classical age of Greece and Rome followed by medieval darkness and superstition culminating in the triumph of Enlightenment. David Hume pointed the way to the study of the past for its own sake and to see it as an organic process[3]. This was a route followed in monumental style by Edward Gibbon in his The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire published in 1776. Edmund Burke provided the philosophical accompaniment in his Reflections on the Revolution in France and Sir Walter Scott supplied the romantic nostalgia through his many historical novels. History was, however, used as a mode of political argument to buttress the radical and conservative cases and it is not surprising that England did not produce a first-class historian between Hume and Gibbon in the 1760s and 1770s and Macaulay, Carlyle and Stubbs in the 1840s and 1850s. The study of History perhaps flourishes best in more settled times than those between 1790 and 1830.

[1] This paper was written in the summer of 1999 and revisited in 2007.

[2] See J.C.D. Clark The Language of Liberty 1660-1832, Cambridge University Press, 1993.

[3] David Hume The History of England, first published in 1753.

Friday, 27 June 2008

The supply of leisure

Leisure activities were made available in four main ways and as a result provided employment in leisure. First, the state, whether at local or national level, both created a legal framework and acted as a direct supplier. Secondly, there was much self-made leisure, whether this is thought of as communal or associational on the one hand or personal and family based on the other. Thirdly, voluntary bodies and philanthropists were key agents in the supply of leisure for others. Finally, leisure was supplied on a commercial basis. These neat categories are, however, susceptible to fragmentation. Sheet music, for example, supplied on a commercial basis, provided a necessary resource for much individual and communal self-made leisure.

The state

The state had always been concerned with the supply of leisure. In the early part of this period its main concern was to control supply, chiefly by licensing, but later its role was more positive and it became a direct supplier of such facilities as parks, libraries and playing fields. This interpretation has some validity but it provides little to help unravel the motives for its intervention in the supply of leisure other than dividing its activities into two separate spheres, negative control and positive supply.

One such motive was prestige. At the national level this entailed support for both the production of high culture in the present and the preservation of the high culture of the past. By the 1830s it was recognised that state aid was necessary to maintain or at least subsidise museums throughout the country and from the 1860s governments drew back from subsidising high culture. Public funding required more justification than had the royal patronage that dominated support for culture in the first half of the nineteenth century. The public could not be denied right of access. In 1810 admission to the British Museum was made free and unlimited with dramatic impact on the number of visitors: in 1824-5 this stood at 128,000 rising to 230,000 in 1835 and 826,000 by 1846. These figures lead into the second motive that governed state supply of leisure, a concern for public order and social harmony.

It is, however, easy to exaggerate the amount of state supply. The typical pattern was not for the government of the day to take an initiative, but for a pressure group within Parliament to be appeased by the appointment of a select committee. The outcome tended to be permissive legislation, which a local authority could implement if it wished. Central government provided a legal framework within which museums or libraries could be built and run out of the rates; but it was as much concerned to protect the ratepayer as to encourage the provision of a facility. Not surprisingly, buildings were often slow to appear on the ground. Up to 1914 libraries stemmed much more from philanthropy than from rates and even at that date were within reach of only 60 per cent of the population. The same was true of museums and parks. Local authorities played an increasingly important role and shared the same motives as central government: a concern for prestige, in this case in relation to other local authorities; and a worry about social order. But they added to them a more compelling motive, a desire for prosperity. The seaside resorts led the way after 1875, investing in sea defences, promenades, piers, golf courses and concert halls in an attempt to improve their attractiveness to potential visitors.

A major element in the state’s supply of leisure was its concern to control and monitor the use of space. The home, as a private space, was beyond its physical reach. The pub was much less safe and hardly at all to be recommended. Licensing of retail outlets for the sale of alcohol was the state’s major intervention in the leisure market and was intended to preserve public order and provide some means of monitoring the leisure of the poorer sections of society. Public parks, museums and libraries were supported precisely because they were public, open to scrutiny and controlled by bye-laws. The space provided by theatre, music hall and cinema was potentially more dangerous, but the power or threat of licensing of both building and activity made them relatively acceptable. The censorship of both plays and films ensured that public entertainment adhered to acceptable moral and political values. Fire regulations, for example those imposed on music halls in 1878, not only reduced the dangers of fire, but drove many of the smaller, less salubrious halls out of business. In the cinema the industry formally established its own form of censorship in 1912 with the British Board of Film Censors. In horse-racing, by contrast, the government stepped in to ban off-course betting in the Street Betting Act of 1906. It was, however, leisure that took place outside these spaces that posed the threat; streets, rivers, canals and privately owned rural areas were spaces where there was almost constant feuding between the state and the people.

Self-made leisure

In self-made leisure the separation between supply and demand becomes artificial. The more self-made it was, the more local or domestic it was likely to be, and therefore the harder it is to find information about it. In its communal or associational forms it was a major means of supply of leisure for the middle-class urban culture, typically in the form of subscription concerts and libraries and of clubs, for example, for chess. In Bradford in 1900, for example, there were 30 choral societies, 20 brass bans, an amateur orchestra, six concertina bands and a team of hand-bell ringers. In Rochdale, and doubtless elsewhere, the churches and chapels were crucial suppliers of leisure up to 1914 with their young men’s and ladies’ classes, their debating societies and numerous other activities. At the family and individual level reliable information is even harder to come by. Much leisure within the family relied on commercial sources of supply, of games, pianos, books and a huge array of hobbies. In music and hobbies in particular there came to be considerable degree of activity in working-class homes: by 1910 there was one piano for every fifteen people, far more than the middle-classes could absorb.

Voluntary bodies and philanthropy

Voluntary bodies and philanthropists were less single-minded than the state, but as with the latter it is both tempting and misleading to divide their activities in the supply of leisure into two groups, a negative controlling one and a positive supply one. Into the first group would fall such organisations as the Vice Society (1802), the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (1824), the Lord’s Day Observance Society (1831), numerous temperance and teetotal societies and the National Council for Public Morals (1911). The second group might include philanthropists and employers who funded parks, libraries, brass bands and football clubs, the Mechanics’ Institutes, the Pleasant Sunday Afternoon Association, the Girls’ Friendly Society (1874) and the Boys’ Brigade (1883). Such a division obscures the factor uniting the two: a concern to direct and mould other people’s leisure by control of some sort over its supply.

The hope of weaning people away from bad habits by the provision of counter-attractions came to the fore in the 1830s. ‘Rational recreation’ offered the solution and quiet and elevating pursuits, modelled on the best contemporary middle-class practice, were recommended and offered. As a result, not only would the bad habits themselves disappear or at least diminish, but in the process people (largely men) of good will from different classes would meet fraternally and come to understand each other’s point of view. The amount of leisure provided under these auspices was enormous. Parks, libraries and similar institutions were frequently the outcome of philanthropy. In Glasgow, for example, were ratepayers on three occasions in the second half of the century refused to fund a public library, Stephen Mitchell, a tobacco magnate, left £70,000 for a library that opened in 1877. In Manchester T.C. Horsfall raised the funds for an Art Museum opened in 1884. Bristol acquired a municipally owned museum, library and art gallery between 1895 and 1905, all through private benefactions. Much church and chapel activity should probably come under this head, rather than in the self-made category, for it was organised from above for people deemed to be in need. Of these, the most important were the young. The real problem arose when they left Sunday Schools. It was partly to keep a hold on these children that William Smith established the Boys’ Brigade in Glasgow in 1883. Thereafter uniformed youth movements, particularly for boys, were to attract a high proportion of the youth population. The Boys’ Brigade had its denominational rivals and from 1908 faced serious competition from the Boy Scouts. By 1914, between a quarter and a third of the available youth population was enrolled in a youth movement.

The provision of leisure probably served females less well than males, doubtless in part because the former were thought to pose less of a problem. The Girls’ Friendly Society, formed in 1874, was predominantly rural and Anglican in outlook and many of its members were young domestic servants. Two further organisations came into being to meet their needs as they grew older: the Mothers’ Union founded in 1885 expanded to 7,000 branches by 1911 and the Women’s Institutes begun in 1915.

Commercial supply of leisure

Commercialised entertainment played a larger and larger role in the supply of leisure between 1830 and 1914. In 1830 it was provided largely for the middle-classes but diffused itself into the working-classes by the 1870s and to the masses by 1914. There was a shift in the nineteenth century from the patron-client relationship that characterised the employment of professionals in cricket and music in 1800 to an employment relationship more akin to that of the industrial world. This was in part because of the seasonal nature of much of such employment, but also because of the lack of control over entry to leisure jobs. The numbers employed were growing, certainly after 1870. Between 1871 and 1911 the population of England and Wales rose on average by 0.8 per cent per year and the number employed in the arts and entertainment by 4.7 per cent per year. The number of actors and actresses peaked in 1911 at over 19,000, having quadrupled in the previous thirty years.

In nearly every section of the leisure industries there were attempts to raise the status of entertainers. The outcome was the achievement of stardom for the select few while the rank and file had to be content with wages at roughly semi-skilled level. The best actors and actresses were already getting £150 per week in the 1830s. In 1890 at least ten jockeys were earning £5,000 per season and the better professional cricketers were earning £275 per year. Between 1906 and 1914 the wages of performing musicians doubled reaching £200 per year. The best professional footballers could not earn high wages: the Football Association set the maximum wages at £208 per year and only a minority got that amount. On the whole, however, complaints about wages and conditions of service within the entertainment and sports world were muted. The lure of acceptance as a profession, the hope of stardom for the individual and the sense that to be in entertainment was unlike any other job, for the most part curtailed any open conflict.


The importance of leisure in giving people a sense of national and social identity is matched by a greater significance placed on leisure in people’s individual life-choices and priorities. Leisure preference is normally assumed to have been a feature of pre-industrial society and could not survive the greater emphasis on consumerism of an industrialised society. Between 1830 and 1914 as hours of leisure grew longer so leisure activities took on a more central role in people’s lives. It is not surprising that ‘rational recreationalists’ wanted to ‘control’ what people, and especially the working-classes, did in their spare time. They were successful, to a degree, in mitigating the worst excesses of pre-industrial leisure with its potential violence and cruelty. Yet the persistence of large-scale spectating, especially of football and horse-racing showed the limits of that success. Alcohol and gambling remained key working-class leisure activities and, despite increased controls by the state, continued to play a major part in defining working-class consciousness throughout this period. Leisure remained in 1914, as it was in 1830, largely male-dominated and escapist.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Urban popular culture

Urban popular culture in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries can best be understood by distinguishing three approaches to the analysis and composition of such a culture. The first approach emphasises activities for which people had to pay and in which their essential role was that of spectator, audience or reader. Included would be theatres, circuses and fairs in the first half of the century and later, music halls, professional football, horse acing, the popular press, seaside excursions and cinemas. In this approach the focus is on the scale of commercialisation, the size of crowds, the distancing of stars and professionals and the role of technology. From this point of view of supply, urban popular culture can be seen as mass culture.

The second approach focuses on people as the prime agents in generating leisure activities. There might be some commercial or voluntary input towards the provision of facilities but the activity was of and for the people. The most significant institution was the pub, the location for much more than the consumption of alcohol. The activities included brass bands, mass choirs, flower shows and the allotments that provided the basis for them, fishing and pigeon fancying. In this approach activities are generated within the community or neighbourhood; though they might take the participants outside in the competitiveness that was one of the hallmarks of this type of urban popular culture: pub against pub, club against club; stars and professionals were absent; there was little formal separation of performers and spectators; and, the participants were mainly adult males.

In the third approach women move centre stage and attention is drawn to the much hazier boundary between work and leisure for most women. The focus is not on activities, but on space and, in particular, the space of the home and of the street; women’s leisure was not an activity demarcated as leisure but something that was done as an accompaniment to work; in its more social aspect, in the street, its most typical form was chatting, and here too work, discussing prices for example, was in no way distinguished from other forms of talk; and, consequently it was a culture heavily based on a sense of neighbourhood.

Each of these approaches emphasises a different aspect of what can legitimately be described as urban popular culture.


Other forms of literature besides drama were becoming popular and more pervasive. The period after 1830 was the first literate rather than oral popular culture. Events were advertised in print and news was conveyed in print. The expanding newspaper press of the eighteenth century reached a largely middle-class audience largely because of cost, but the chapbooks and broadsides, some of which sold a million copies, were bought by the new literate popular culture. It is difficult to establish an accurate profile of the readership of this expanding quantity of print by age, gender and class. Men, until after 1870, had a higher rate of literacy than women and they may have had easier access to literature. They were probably the main readers of the popular Sunday newspapers that by 1850 were read by one adult in twenty; for Sunday was much more a day of leisure for men than women. Sporting literature was a genre of popular literature, and with its emphasis on ‘manly’ sports, may be assumed to have reached a dominantly male audience. Similarly, participation in and spectating of commercialised sports was largely, though not exclusively, male. Horseracing was immensely popular despite attempts to control its spread by force of law.

After 1850 figures for attendance become more reliable and their general trend is upwards. Music hall was the first new form of entertainment to make its mark. Charles Morton’s opening of the Canterbury Hall in Lambeth in 1851 was to gain him immediate and retrospective attention, but there were important precedents in the saloon theatres that had flourished since the 1830s and in the ‘music halls’ that already existed in the larger provincial towns. What is striking about the 1850s and 1860s was the multiplicity of forms in which people could experience what was eventually to become standardised as ‘music hall’. The analysis of the songs has distracted attention from the range of entertainment on offer in the halls; dance, acrobatics, mime drama and clowning as well as the occasional associated facility a museum, art gallery or zoo, were part of the ‘variety’ of the halls from the beginning. The emergence of music halls that were architecturally similar to theatres came relatively late during the second great wave of music hall building in the late 1880s and 1890s when chains of ownership were becoming common. It was in the 1890s, too, that there was a partially successful attempt to win middle-class audiences. Cinema can be seen as superseding music hall as the most popular form of mass entertainment, but there was a long period of overlap. Music hall was indeed the commercial cinema’s first home. From 1906 onwards, however, cinemas acquired their own homes, some 4,000 of them by 1914. Until 1934 we can only guess at the number of admissions but an average of 7 or 8 million a week seems plausible in the years immediately before 1914 or 400 million admissions a year.

The seaside holiday is, on one argument, a dubious contender for inclusion in urban popular culture for it represented in some ways an escape from the city. But the manner of that escape suggests that urban popular culture was being transposed to the seaside. The history of the seaside holiday was not something initiated by the middle-classes and imitated by the working-classes. Escape to the sea by workers preceded the coming of the railway. The major increase in demand, however, came only in the later nineteenth century and it was only then that the seaside holiday became a recognisable part of urban popular culture. Even then there were regional variations. The week at the seaside that many working-class Lancastrians had come to enjoy by the 1880s was unique; elsewhere the day trip was the norm. The expansion of demand can be seen in the increasing number of visitors to Blackpool in season: it rose from 1 million in 1883 to two million ten years later and to 4 million in 1914.

Spectating at professional sport was already common by 1850 and to some extent what happened after was a switch from one sport to another. Rowing ceased to be a major spectator sport and amateur athletics could never claim the crowds of the professional pedestrianism that it replaced. Football, on the other hand, attracted numbers that rose from the late nineteenth century to 1914 and beyond. The average football cup tie attendance rose from 6,000 in 1888-9 to 12,000 in 1895-6 to over 20,000 in the first round in 1903. In 1908-1909, English First Division 6 million people watched matches, with an average crowd size of 16,000. It was, of course, dominantly a male pastime and it was regionally concentrated in the Lowlands of Scotland, northern and Midland England and to a lesser extent London.

The available statistics may, however, be more significant for the light they shed on leisure as an industry than as an indicator of how urban people spent their leisure time. In particular, they did not point to any great change towards a spectator society, for spectating was already a common activity in 1850. When considered not as tens or hundreds of thousands, but as a proportion of the available population their significance in the social life of the people can be placed in a fairer perspective.

Active involvement

The pub had close ties to this commercialised aspect of urban popular culture. It was itself a commercial undertaking, increasingly under the control of the major brewers. It was the main location of what was by far the largest single item of leisure expenditure, alcohol. Despite this, the pub also managed to be the main organising centre for the self-generating culture. Publicans were often sponsors of activities that they viewed simply with an eye to profit and some of the activities were on a large scale. In addition the pub offered a space for socialising; clubs of all kinds met in pubs. The community generated by the pub expressed itself in the annual outing. Above all, within the pub men could take part in a range of competitive activities: darts, draughts, bowls, card playing and gambling of all kinds. This participant competitiveness was indeed a key feature of urban popular culture and its significance is grossly underplayed in those accounts that focus exclusively on music hall, cinema and spectating generally. As communications improved many of these competitions became regional and national. Brass bands, for example, were competitive from their beginnings on a significant scale in the 1840s.

Culture in home and street: a culture of gender

The urban popular culture focused on the home and the street offered different kinds of satisfaction to a different part of the population. The dominant masculinity of the world of participant competition had its parallel in an equally dominantly female world. Most working-class women were confined, for their leisure as for their work, to the home and the street and there is increasing evidence from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that they created their own separate female culture there. It remains to be established when such a culture can first be identified and when it began to wither away, but there is enough to suggest that it existed as a key component of the ‘traditional working-class culture’ associated with the period from 1870 to 1950. Whether it can be called leisure culture is dubious: it was essentially a female network of support based on the separation of male and female world after marriage. The distinction between the three approaches to urban popular leisure culture has value to the extent that it identifies different and mutually exclusive worlds of leisure. Popular urban leisure was to a considerable degree fractured along lines of gender.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Leisure cultures

How did people spend their leisure time? Leisure time can be seen as free time, time in which the individual is relieved from the pressures of work and other obligations, the choice of how to spend leisure time can be seen as distinctly personal. However, some would argue that to some extent it is not a personal choice and so is not in any positive sense leisure, but merely adherence to social custom or obligation. Choice is constrained by material circumstances and by the availability of facilities, but within those constraints on this argument, there is nothing to stop the chimney sweep fox-hunting or the peer attending the music hall. It is the beauty of leisure that it enabled individuals to escape from the pressures that otherwise circumscribed their lives.

This idealist approach to the study of leisure may recommend itself to philosophers, but to historians it has rarely seemed to accord with reality. Many have suggested that the key analytical tool for the study of leisure is the distinction between the rough and respectable. The implication of this distinction is that the respectable of all classes had more in common with each other than they did with the rough members of their own class. This distinction is, as we have already seen, is a simplistic one and may beg more questions than it answers. With some activities, of course, there is no difficulty but with many other activities, going to the theatre for example, there may be some disagreement about whether it is rough or respectable. The rough/respectable division is in fact an extraordinarily crude tool for the description of social reality; the fact that contemporaries made the distinction is, of course, of interest, but in adopting it themselves historians have confused the history of moral fears with the history of lived experience.

The latter can best be approached through a culturalist analysis. Leisure activities did not float freely above the world of work and daily life; on the contrary, they were intimately related to and derived from that world. Boundaries of class, of gender, of age and of geography were therefore likely to be reproduced in leisure. Leisure activities may themselves have reinforced or shifted those boundaries and not merely passively reflected them. The issue, therefore, is not one of leisure per se but of different leisure cultures that were not hermetically sealed against each other but overlapped and influenced each other. Nor were any of these cultures ever static; they were constantly changing, both in themselves and in relation to other cultures.

The ‘leisured classes’?

The phrase ‘the leisured or leisure classes’ can be traced back to the 1840s and may well have existed earlier. In 1868 Anthony Trollope was confident that England possessed ‘the largest and wealthiest leisure class that any country, ancient or modern, ever boasted.’ [1] At the end of the century Thorstein Veblen subjected them to the most trenchant analysis they would ever received in his The Theory of the Leisure Class. He argued that: ‘The fundamental reason for the development of a leisure class was that only in conspicuous leisure and in conspicuous consumption could the wealthy achieve the status they sought.’ The key word here is ‘conspicuous’. Leisure for the leisure class was not something carried on in private; its function, to establish status, demanded that it be seen both by fellow members of the class and by an envious or admiring excluded public. Since the function of that display was so fundamental to its social position, it is difficult to determine whether there was any separation of work and leisure within the class. Since by definition, though with some qualifications that will come later, they did not work in any sense in which the rest of the population would understand work, it followed that their duties and obligations in life lay in a highly ritualised leisure whose demands they often bemoaned.

The leisure class existed at the level of the nation and of the provinces. At the national level it could be most readily observed in the London Season and until the 1880s this was as much a political as a social occasion. In the circumscribed political world of the nineteenth century the numbers involved were relatively small -- perhaps 500 families compared to the 4,000 families who participated in the more purely social London Season of the late nineteenth century. Until then entry to London ‘Society’ was carefully guarded and its social functions were mostly private. Thereafter, it became easier to but one’s way into ‘Society’.[2] This reflected a change in the nature of the leisure class. It became less easy to identify a class whose members manifestly did not work; by contrast, public attention began to focus on the plutocracy whose male members worked, but so successfully that they could spend their fortunes in their leisure. The London Season formed one clearly demarcated phase in the annual life of the leisure class; the remainder of the year was centred on the country houses in a mixture of activities some of which were thoroughly exclusive while others entailed a carefully calculated patronage of more popular occasions. Shooting was the most exclusive of sports while foxhunting was, in ideology at least, open to peer and peasant. In the late nineteenth century, as in London Society, the plutocracy began to supplant the aristocracy as its leaders.

From the mid-eighteenth century the London Season had its provincial counterparts. There existed in the larger provincial towns, perhaps particularly in southern England the ‘urban gentry’ who in a modest way provided the lower echelons of the leisure class. After 1830 such people living on income from capital tended to gravitate towards the spas and more select seaside resorts. They were disproportionately female and old. In contrast to the national leisure class, there was neither firm structure to their year nor any flamboyance in their leisure. They maintained their status by careful observance of the formalities that helped to distinguish them from those who had to work for a living. In the later nineteenth century a new category, the retired, began to fuse with this older, modest, provincial leisure class, to form a substantial proportion of the population of the southern and coastal towns in which they congregated.

Such people had little in common with the national leisure class, and it may be questioned whether they should be included within the leisure class at all. It was luxury and its overt enjoyment, not modest affluence, which characterised the leisure class in its higher reaches. One mark of that luxury was the role accorded to women. Within the leisure class it was always legitimate for a man to have certain duties that were scarcely distinguishable from work, like running an estate. Indeed by 1870 it became possible for them to be more obviously part of the world of work and most obviously in the City of London. Women, however, apart from duties as hostesses, had to be kept rigidly separate from any money-making activity. Other social classes might emulate or aspire to the luxury of the leisure class. Even as far down the social ladder as the upper working-class, it was a mark of status that a woman should have no employment; clearly, however, such women did not fall within the leisure class. What could not be prevented was the copying of the manners and dress of the leisure class by those without the means to sustain the life-style.

An urban middle-class culture

By contrast, urban middle-class culture, in its origins, was distinctively provincial. Up to about 1800 it was a culture that was more obviously urban than middle-class, expressing many of the values of the urban gentry, who themselves, may be considered as part of the leisure class and its aristocratic way of life. It was inherently social rather than intellectual per se. Its existence can be documented from figures of theatre building: only ten purpose-built theatres were erected in the larger provincial towns between 1736 and 1760 but more than a hundred were built between the 1760s and the 1840s. The music festivals in the provinces are another indicator. In London it was not until the 1830s that the patronage and market for classical music passed from the aristocracy to the upper middle-classes; the provinces can be said to have led the way. The new culture was visible too in the classical style of its architecture and in the design of squares and boulevards that were emphatically the territory of the aristocracy. For this culture was unashamedly exclusive.

In the early decades of the nineteenth century the intellectual dimension of this urban culture became more pronounced. So also did its masculinity. Like-minded men turned typically to the club or society as a forum within which they pursued their interests. If this culture is projected forward into the second quarter of the nineteenth century, its leaders can be seen turning away from a provincial pursuit of high culture towards a direct concern with the social and political problems of their own towns: they formed statistical societies and diffused useful knowledge. They became a culture anxious to influence the ways of life of the working-classes from their narrow but powerful middle-class bridgehead and were increasingly concerned with the supply of leisure to others than with the enjoyment of it themselves.

The emergence of this male, intellectual, socially concerned and distinctly middle-class urban culture marked part of the wider challenge to the lack of seriousness and the frivolity of the urban gentry. The interlocking impact of evangelicalism, the French Revolution and British radicalism posed a threat to the essence of eighteenth century urban culture: its urbanity, its stress on manners and behaviour as opposed to feeling. The shock waves were to be felt far into the nineteenth century in two particular forms. First, particular activities, theatre-going for example, or novel reading or cards or even cricket, now had to be scrutinised to see if they served any purpose that God, rather than Society, would approve. Many such activities ceased to be ‘respectable’. Secondly, the sociability that had been so highly prized in the eighteenth century ceased to be a virtue. The attraction of a life lived in public within a defined and exclusive society gave way to an emphasis on domesticity. The effect, undoubtedly, was to shift the emphasis of middle-class urban culture away from sociability towards domesticity, and away from frank enjoyment of leisure towards a more calculating performance of duty, towards a ‘rational’ view of recreation.

This ‘call to seriousness’ began to be relaxed after the middle of the nineteenth century. In the 1860s and 1870s the press and pulpit endlessly discussed the legitimacy of this or that activity and of leisure in general. The official view was that the purpose of leisure was to re-create a person for the more serious business of life, work. Recreation was only necessary for those who worked -- namely men and boys -- and was justified not for its own sake but for its ulterior purpose of re-creating men for work. Under this umbrella, however, more and more activities became legitimate and were doubtless enjoyed for their own sake. It was in physical activity, however, that the change was greatest. Sport conjured up images of an aristocratic style of life and gambling, or the corrupt seediness of pub-based prize fighting. Middle-class urban culture, especially the public schools, was able from 1850 to transform the nature and image of sport. Sport encouraged qualities of leadership; it took boys’ minds off sex was the best training for war. As rules were drawn up and enforced, sport became increasingly an analogy for middle-class male life: a competitive struggle within agreed parameters. The middle-classes not only imposed a new ideology on sport; they were also in the period up to 1914 the chief beneficiaries of the expansion of facilities. There can be little dissent from the view that up to 1914 ‘the sporting revolution belonged, in the main, to the middle-classes in their leafy suburbs.[3]

Middle-class urban leisure culture, then, was a shifting entity. An eighteenth century urban pursuit of pleasure turned in the nineteenth century to an anxious scrutiny of the legitimacy of particular pursuits and to a corresponding emphasis on domesticity rather than sociability. Gradually there was a relaxation, but it occurred within the safe boundaries of school and suburb. Indeed the most obvious and continuing thrust of the culture was towards social exclusivity. Within the wide middle-class boundary, lines to demarcate status were carefully drawn and upper and lower middle-classes would never meet in leisure. What they had in common was an attitude to leisure and a view of its social function: in leisure people could meet others of similar social status in environments, whether public or private, that were in accordance with the canons of respectability of the day.

Artisan leisure culture

Artisan leisure culture was based on a particular type of work and its rise and decline paralleled that of the artisans. In the first half of the nineteenth century it flourished, but as the artisans themselves became more absorbed into the structure of capitalist industry they began to lose the characteristic feature of their culture: independence. Independence in the workplace was paralleled in the leisure culture where it took the form of a rejection of any patronage from above. Artisans made their own goods and also made their own culture. If the workplace was one factor leading to independence, masculinity and age were others; this was a leisure culture of adult males. Women were admitted rarely and then only on sufferance and the young apprentices, who had once had a culture of their own, were now firmly subordinated.

Artisan leisure culture had a certain intellectuality and rationality. In Birmingham, artisans formed debating societies and clubs and attended the theatre. [4] The friendly societies and the trade union both had their strongest roots among the artisans, and they were instinctively radical in their politics. But it was not an expansive culture existing for itself and had no missionary zeal to spread its way of life more widely. By 1850 the heavy drinking artisan culture became isolated to certain trades and regions. A more respectable, even family-based, culture began to replace it. In perception the artisan was now becoming the ‘labour aristocrat’, a respectable, hard-working member of society who took his pleasures seriously. In Edinburgh, the clubs that artisans joined for horticulture, golf and bowling and their participation in the patriotic Volunteer Force, suggested a new conformity to the values and norms of middle-class society. These clubs, however, retained their own independence. Insofar as artisan culture became more respectable, it was a respectability generated from within the class and for the class, not one imposed from outside.

[1] A. Trollope (ed.), British Sports and Pastimes, 1868, page 18.

[2] On this see L. Davidoff The Best Circles: Society, Etiquette and the Season, 1973.

[3] H.E. Meller Leisure and the Changing City 1870-1914, London, 1976, page 236.

[4] See J. Money Experience and Identity: Birmingham and the West Midlands 1760-1800, Manchester University Press, 1977, pp. 80-120.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Nothing to hide, so no problem.

The issue of the excessive use of their powers under terrorist legislation by local authorities is justifiably in the news again.  The use of undercover local authority officials, surveillance of individuals suspected of breaking the rules and checking of people's rubbish now seems to be an acceptable norm.  One local authority executive used the argument that as his service is consumer-driven and that's what consumers want, then it's a perfectly justifiable use of legislation that was intended to watch for potential terrorists.  More worrying is the response of the public whose response seems to fall into either 'well there's nothing we can do about it' or' well I've nothing to hide so it's not a problem for me'.  This 'well it doesn't affect me' attitude is breathtakingly naive because it provides the perfect justification for the state, whether local or national, acquiring yet more draconian powers. 

It seems increasingly to me that we can't have a grown up debate about rights and freedoms.  Not surprising as officialdom is becoming more and more conscious of its powers and appears to be applying them with every increasing intensity and in ways that are offensive and unyielding.  Your rubbish bin is slightly open, we won't take your rubbish.  You've put some paper in the wrong bin, again you get a red card.  Legislation it appears has ceased to enable people, it simply oppresses them.  But then, I've got nothing to hide, so that's not a problem!  Justifying action simply because that's what the public wants or opinion polls indicate that's what they want, does not make that action right.  Yes, in the post 9/11 situation, we need to take action against the threat from terrorism but should the same legislation be applied to people who don't clear up after their dog has fouled a public place or allowing local authorities to check my telephone bill?  That was never the intention of Parliament when the legislation was framed.  Those who now fail to conform to what is politically correct can find themselves fined and obtaining a criminal record for offences that are trivial and as a result the legislation, local authorities and central government are brought into disrepute.  But then, nothing to hide, so no problem! 

The Human Rights legislation should protect individuals from government harassment but then I suspect the government wishes it had never passed the legislation given that it tries to subvert it at every available turn.  What we now need is a Bill of Rights in which individual rights and freedoms are entrenched in the constitution and where the relationship between the state, local and national, and the individual is defined.  We already have a surveillance state with the proliferation of CCTV cameras...19 million at last count and increasing.  Do we want a situation where the state defines with detailed precision what we can and cannot do and where the law of the official is enforced with unfeeling intensity?  The balance of power has long shifted from the individual to the state and the Millsian notion of freedom in terms of 'the right to do what you chose as long as it's not illegal and causes no harm to others' has long gone.  Restoring a proper balance between the necessary rights of the state and the freedoms of the individual is now necessary more than at any time in the past.  But then, I've got nothing to hide, so no problem!

The question of leisure 1850-1914

There was a strong impression among some contemporaries that the attempt to abolish certain pastimes had dome more harm than good because it had resulted in the working-classes being left with very few outlets for leisure, other than those of a debased kind. Drunkenness, violence and fornication, it was claimed, were on the increase. This alarm that moral standards were declining combined with the fear that the social stability of the country was being undermined. The MP, Robert Slaney, argued that it was the duty of those governing the working-classes to provide suitable alternative recreations for those people who otherwise ‘will fly to demagogues and dangerous causes.’ By the 1830s there was a growing sense among reforming and Evangelical groups that, though the working-classes seemed to have an inbuilt disposition towards spending any free time they had in sexual excesses, gambling and drinking. The middle and upper-classes were not entirely free from blame or responsibility for this situation.

There were several reasons for this feeling of guilt. Urbanisation and enclosures, it was argued, had resulted in a loss of public open spaces and footpaths and hence restricted the scope of working-class leisure time activities. As a result they were driven from comparatively healthy outdoor pastimes towards the numerous temptations offered by drinking houses. It was not until the opening of the Birkenhead and Manchester parks in the 1840s that serious consideration was given to setting up places of amusement within the parks themselves for the playing of games and sports. It was not until the 1850s and 1860s and in some places the 1870s, that municipal parks were established in most provincial towns and cities. Nearly all the places of cultural improvement from which the working-classes could benefit -- art galleries, botanical gardens, libraries and museums -- were denied to them, either because they could not afford the subscriptions or entrance fees or because they were, if not positively excluded, at least not welcomed. Both the Museums Act of 1845 and the Public Libraries Act of 1850 gave local authorities permission to build museums and libraries out of public funds. By 1860, however, only 28 library authorities had been set up. The lower classes had been influenced and harmed by the lax manners and moral of their social superiors. It was the duty of the rich, Hannah More and others argued, to set a wholesome example to the poorer classes through their own behaviour and this was not being done.

The early Victorians were genuinely concerned and bewildered about how leisure time should be used. For one thing leisure was often associated with idleness, so while it was recognised that spare time could bring benefits, it was also acknowledged that it had its dangers. In a society where the gospel of work was so deeply ingrained and its virtues so vigorously extolled, it was perhaps inevitable that leisure time should be regarded with suspicion.

The working-classes

Leisure requires time. Though there are problems in trying to assess working hours historians agree that there was an extension of hours in the early nineteenth century. Factories imposed a twelve or thirteen hour day as opposed to the ten-hour norm of pre-industrial society. The factory movement may be seen as sanctioned and motivated by a desire to return to the norm, an achievement ultimately reached in the Ten Hours Act of 1847. Coalminers, whose hours in the eighteenth century were relatively short, six to eight hours a day, were by 1842 nearly all working a twelve hour day with only short breaks for refreshment. Agricultural workers too suffered an increase in hours in the 1830s. In mining, agriculture, domestic service and the ‘dishonourable’ sections of the artisan trades and in all domestic work, the eighteenth century norm had been breached and hours were longer.

After 1850 the campaign for the nine-hour day started in the building trade, but success was limited until the economic boom of the early 1870s when most organised trades were able to breakthrough to a 54 hour week and by and large were able to maintain than position in the subsequent depression. The campaign for the eight-hour day was even longer in gestation than that for the nine-hour day. Despite all the pressure mounted in the 1890s and beyond, reduction in hours was insignificant on a national scale until the sudden achievement of success in 1919-1920 when seven million workers obtained reductions. Collective bargaining was unquestionably the chief means by which hours of work were reduced. Parliamentary action was of marginal importance by comparison. In the nineteenth century it was never used overtly to control the hours of adult males. The key breakthroughs were achieved without parliamentary aid and acts, such as those in 1874 (reducing the hours of factory textile workers to 56 and a half), 1902 (a further reduction of one hour a week for factory workers) and 1909 (restricting underground work in the coalmines to eight hours), had only a marginal effects on the overall national statistics.

If some regularity had been introduced to the working week by 1900, can the same be said for the working year? There had been a sharp decline in the number of holidays that were recognised and observed since the seventeenth century. They continued to be observed, with some regional variation, around Christmas or New Year, at Easter and Whitsuntide, at the local fair, feast or wake, and to some extent on such national days as the 5th of November and Shrove Tuesday. They were not yet holidays with pay but their existence established a precedent that others later could follow. It was in the areas where holidays were measured by the day that the Bank Holidays Acts of 1871 and 1875 were of most significance. They were not the first legislative recognition of holidays -- that had happened in the Factory Act 1833 -- but they were the first in which the state’s intervention was widely recognised and applauded. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries employers increasing conceded holidays to their workforce. Brunner Mond, Lever Bros., the Gas Light and Coke Company, the London and North-Western Railway Company and the Royal Dockyards had done so by the 1890s. In 1897 the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants negotiated one-week’s paid holiday after five years service. Other unionised workers, in coal and iron, for example, were putting forward similar claims before 1914.

The middle-classes

The hours of work for the working-classes are relatively easy to establish in comparison to those of the middle-classes. There are no national statistics and only the most scattered and perhaps unrepresentative data. Three trends may be distinguished. First, within the professions and the civil service hours were relatively short and imprecise until late in the nineteenth century, perhaps six hours a day. In the private sector clerks worked rather longer hours, generally 40 hours per week in five days. Secondly, among businessmen, the days of long hours lay in the first half of the nineteenth century and by 1900 they too began to internalise the 9 to 5 norm. Finally, at the lower end of the middle-classes, amongst shopworkers, hors were notoriously long and remained so. After over fifty years of effort to curtail hours, a House of Lords Select Committee in 1901 could only confirm that many shops were working 80 or 90 hours a week. Pressure from the Shop-Assistants Twelve Hours’ Labour League, founded in 1881, and from the Early Closing Association did result in some improvement but the shift towards a legislative solution was only very partially successful. The 1911 Act did, however, enact a half-day holiday. As far as annual holidays were concerned the middle-class workers undoubtedly had the advantage and in 1875 the Civil Service Inquiry Commission indicated that clerks working for insurance companies, solicitors, banks, railway companies and the civil service were at getting at least two week’s holiday a year. They had achieved this some seventy-five years before the bulk of manual workers.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Cultural reform 1830-60

By 1830 a clear distinction was apparent between the nature of much popular recreation and the dominant intellectual movements of the day -- rational liberalism and evangelicalism -- with their argument for a self-conscious and moralistic cultivation of respectability. This produced much of the impetus for reform. From the formation of the Proclamation Society in 1787, the campaign for reform gathered momentum. By the 1830s there were societies for preventing cruelty to animals, the Lord’s Day Observance Society (founded in 1831) and the British and Foreign Temperance Society. Parliamentary reform in 1832 gave such societies slightly more influence over Parliament and as the police force extended they gained the means to enforce legislation. Betting was an early and obvious target for reform but lotteries were not made illegal until 1823 and 1825 and further measures to discourage gambling had to wait until the 1840s and 1850s. Reform was not achieved easily, quickly or completely. Neither was it the prerogative, nor was it dictated by the interests, of any one social group. It traversed class boundaries, dividing all groups, especially the working-classes, internally.

Changing attitudes: some case studies

The emergence of ‘respectability’ as the defining characteristic of acceptable forms of behaviour was a major feature of the changed attitudes to traditional forms of social behaviour. This can be seen in the cases of cruelty to animals, temperance and the growing problem of drug addiction.

Cruelty to animals

The staging of contests between animals was still one of the most common and popular forms of recreation in England in the early nineteenth century.[1] Cock fighting was the normal feature at fairs and race meetings involving the mingling of all social groups, though only men, and accompanied by heavy betting and often local and regional rivalries. Hunting and hawking were widespread. Small children were notorious for amusing themselves in torturing living creatures but they were merely reflecting the standards of the adult world. This was largely what Keith Thomas calls ‘the cruelty of indifference’ as animals were outside the terms of their moral reference.

During the eighteenth century the feelings of animals became a matter of very great concern and led to agitation in the early nineteenth century culminating in the formation in 1824 of the Society (later Royal Society) for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the passage of legislation against cruelty to horses and cattle in 1822, to dogs in 1839 and 1854 and against animal baiting and cock-fighting in 1835 and 1849. There are various reasons why this changed occurred. There had long been a tradition that unnecessary cruelty to animals was wrong not because of any moral concern with animals but because of its brutalising effects on human character. It did not go unnoticed that the poisoner William Palmer hanged in 1856 had conducted cruel experiments on animals as a boy. In the early nineteenth century there was a move away from this point of view towards one that regarded cruelty to animals as morally wrong whether it had human consequences or not. At a less philosophical level animal sports were associated with noise, gambling and disorder. Hunting proved to be a more difficult issue and there is something in the contemporary argument that ‘in the long war against blood sports it was the most plebeian activities that were criminalised and those sports with gentry and upper-class support that survived.’


In the early nineteenth century ale, wine and spirits were cheap and consumed in large quantities. With the dangers of disease from untreated water it was natural for town-dwellers to rely increasingly on alcohol and on water that had been boiled with tea and coffee. People did not believe that local water would ever be safe to drink, as Chadwick’s inspectors found out from London slum-dwellers in the 1840s. The scarcity of drinking water even created the profession of water-carrier. There were alternatives to alcohol: milk, though this was considered a dangerous drink even when fresh; soda-water was not made commercially until 1790 and ginger-beer was not old in London until 1822. Tea had become a virtual necessity among the working-classes by 1830 and per capital coffee consumption increased faster than tea between 1820 and 1850. But alcohol was more than just a thirst-quencher; it was thought to impart physical stamina, extra energy and confidence. Agricultural labourers, for example, believed that it was impossible to get in the harvest without their ‘harvest beer’. Alcohol was regarded as a painkiller: it assisted dentists and surgeons before the use of anaesthetics, quietened babies and gave protection against infection. It also relieved psychological strain, moderating the sense of social isolation and gloom, and enhanced festivity; drinking places provided a focus for the community.

Before 1800 drinking was not rigidly segregated by rank. Squires, for instance, often drank with their social inferiors. However, by 1830 a measure of social segregation had developed and by 1860 no respectable urban Englishman entered an ordinary public house. Private, as opposed to public, drinking was becoming the mark of respectability. Drinking was also a predominantly male preserve and encouraged men to enjoy better living standards than their wives. On paydays drinking houses were often besieged by wives anxious to get money to feed and clothe their children before it was drunk away.

The drinks trade comprised a large complex of different interests. Of particular importance was the powerful landed interest that helps to explain the regional variations in support for the temperance movement. The barley crop was most important to farmers and without the distillers’ demands for poor-quality grain, lighting lands in Scotland and Ireland might not have been cultivated. Politically the drinks trade drew its prestige from the reliance government placed on drink taxes for national revenue. Attitudes to alcohol were deeply ingrained in British society. Abandoning drinking was, for the working-classes, more than simply not going to public houses. It isolated workers from much popular culture and from a whole complex of recreational activities.

The Reformation Societies that emerged in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were enthusiastic about temperance but the main platform of their movement was the suppression of vice. The temperance movement that emerged in the 1830s differed from them in its concentration on the single issue of spirits, their belief in total abstinence and their repudiation until after 1850 of legislative support. The anti-spirits movement that developed in the 1830s was not a planned movement, at least initially, and arose independently at the same time in different places. Why did it develop? It was one of several attempts to propagate a middle-class style of life and arose at a time when drunkenness was already becoming unfashionable. Sobriety received the support of influential groups. Medical opinion, since the 1790s, had increasingly attacked its physical and psychological effects. Evangelicals saw excessive drinking as a sin. Radicals attacked alcohol for its effects on the standard of living of the working-classes and coffee trades wished to popularise their product. The movement would not have made such an impact in the 1830s without the techniques of agitation and mass persuasion used by evangelical humanitarians, especially the anti-slavery campaign. Though any clear link between industrialisation and temperance is difficult to establish, the earliest anti-spirits societies originated in textile manufacturing areas in Ulster and Glasgow and spread to England though the textile centres of Preston, Leeds and Bradford. Some employers welcomed the more reliable workforce that temperance encouraged. Money not spent on drink could, of course, be spent on home-produced goods and some industrialists welcomed the movement as a means of accelerating economic growth and educating people on where to spend their wages.

Throughout the 1830s and 1840s a debate within the temperance movement raged between those whose attack was focused on spirits while advocating moderation elsewhere and those who believed in total abstinence. But while these approaches gained support among those sections of the working population for whom respectability was an objective, the appeal of temperance and abstinence from alcohol was of more limited appeal for the poor, for whom it still provided temporary escape.[2]

The ‘opium eaters’

The importance and impact of drug taking across social boundaries in the nineteenth century has only recently become a subject of serious historical study.[3] Opium or opiate compounds were used widely in the first half of the nineteenth century and, though the main features of addiction and withdrawal had been known since the 1750s, most doctors still thought of opium not as dangerous or threatening but central to effective medicine. Until Pharmacy Act 1868 opium was on open sale and could be bought in any grocer’s or druggist’s shop. Regular ‘opium eaters’ were accepted in their communities and rarely the subject of medical attention. They were certainly not seen as ‘sick’, deviant or diseased as they were to be by 1900. Lack of access to orthodox medical care, the suspicion of the medical profession and positive hostility to professional medical treatment ensured the position opium held in popular culture as a major form of self-medication. Society generally used opium for sleeplessness, headache or depression and these shaded imperceptibly into non-medical or ‘recreational’ uses.

Opium consumption was particularly high in the Fens in the nineteenth century and, according to an analysis made in 1862, more opium was sold in Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and Manchester than in other parts of the country. The Fens were an unhealthy, marshy area where medical assistance, especially for the poor, was severely limited and where many of the working-classes were prone to ague, rheumatism and neuralgia. The habit was limited to the low-lying areas centring on the Isle of Ely and south Lincolnshire.[4] The largest consumers were the labourers who came from the outlying fens rather than village or town dwellers. Why was opium of such importance in the Fens? There was a tradition of self-medication with opium being used to treat both people and animals. The introduction of new methods of exploiting the land resulted in declining standards of child care and an increasing in the doping of young babies with opiates: infant mortality in Wisbech was 206 per thousand in the 1850s, higher than urban centres like Sheffield. Doping young babies was essential as women could be away from home for long periods of time working on the itinerant ‘gangs’ that became a more source of employment after 1830. Opiates may have been used to dispose of unwanted children, though this was not peculiar to the Fens. Opium could be used as an escape from the perceived reduction of status for the agricultural labourer that resulted from enclosure and drainage. Certainly use for euphoric purposes was not uncommon in the Fens. Dr Rayleigh Vicars wrote in the 1890s that ‘their colourless lives are temporarily brightened by the passing dreamland vision afforded them by the baneful poppy’. It is very difficult to estimate the effect opiate use had in the Fens though there may be a connection between it and the high general death rate. In the 1850s it stood at 22 per thousand in southern Lincolnshire, a figure as high as the environmentally less agreeable industrial areas of Huddersfield and Keighley in Yorkshire.

Reaction to opium eating in the fens, with its population apparently able to control and moderate its consumption was markedly different from the concern expressed about the urban problem. The ‘stimulant’ use of drugs by the urban working-classes was perceived as a threat to public order in a way that did not apply in the Fens. This is indicative of the way in which views of opiate use were coloured by the social and class setting. The use of opium for child doping was attacked in the 1830s. Behind this was a desire to remould popular culture into a more acceptable form and a critique of the basic pattern of child rearing by the working-classes. Using opium as a scapegoat led to criticism of its use being diverted away from the realities of the urban environment to the individual failings of working mothers. The uses of opium by adults and for children in the rest of society went unremarked or were viewed more tolerantly. The writings of Thomas De Quincey and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, both frequent users, attracted a great deal of attention after 1830 and by drawing attention to the habit may have led to a gradual change towards a harsher, more restrictive attitude.


These three examples of changing attitudes to popular culture illustrate the importance of pressure, either voluntary or through legislation, to control and modify aspects of people’s lives. To those, from all sections of society, who argued for change the issue was one of improving the quality of economic and social life, enhancing respectable attitudes and removing potential tensions and disorder. To those affected, reform attacked what they maintained was their traditional right to enjoy themselves and to escape -- if momentarily -- from their social conditions.

[1] H. Ritvo The Animal Estate, Penguin, 1990 and B. Harrison ‘Animals and the State in Nineteenth Century England’ in his Peaceable  Kingdoms:  Stability and Change in Modern Britain, OUP, 1982 on cruelty to animals.

[2] B. Harrison Drink and the Victorians: The Temperance Question in England 1815-1872, Faber, 1971, revised edition Keele U.P., 1994 and W.R. Lambert Drink and Sobriety in Victorian Wales, University of Wales Press, 1984 provide the best analysis on the issue of temperance and take the story forward into the second half of the nineteenth century.

[3] See in particular V. Berridge and G. Edwards Opium and the People: Opiate Use in Nineteenth Century England, Yale, 1987.

[4] High opium consumption may have characterised areas like this: there is evidence, for instance, of similar practices among the poor in the Romney Marshes in Kent.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Feargus O'Connor: A political life

The publication of Paul Pickering's biography of Feargus O'Connor is an important event for all those who study Chartism.  Given his central position in the movement and in radicalism generally from the 1830s to the mid-1850s, it is perhaps surprising that the only full-length study of his life was published as long ago as 1961 when Donald Read and Eric Glasgow produced their Feargus O'Connor: Irishman and Chartist.  We have James Epstein's excellent The Lion of Freedom but it only covers the decade from 1832 to 1842 in detail paying little attention to O'Connor's life after the climactic strikes of 1842.  In fact, Epstein devoted only nine pages to questions such as the Land Plan, Kennington Common and O'Connor's second period as an MP.   As Pickering points out in his 'bibliographical note', 'it is notable that O'Connor is not included in the first eleven volumes of the Dictionary of Labour Biography.' 

This is not, as Pickering acknowledges, a 'comprehensive biography' covering the daily minutiae of O'Connor's life but a 'sketch' of his career 'to balance...a consideration of his pre-Chartist and later-Chartist activities and to better understand his ideas...'.  In that it succeeds very effectively.  At the core of the book is an examination of the Irish dimension of O'Connor's career by considering his heritage, ideas and public life on both sides of the Irish Sea.  For O'Connor, more than any other contemporary radical leader, bringing the 'working Saxon and Celt' together in their common struggle' lay at the heart of his thinking, something Pickering shows had roots deep in the Irish past.  It was O'Connor's Irishness that provides the leit-motif for his radical career, something that is frequently played down by historians.  The strength of Pickering's book is that he shows that this is the key to understanding O'Connor's involvement in the Chartist movement though, in practice, the Irish dimension only emerged as a key element within Chartism in 1848 and Chartism failed to establish firm roots in Ireland initially because of opposition from O'Connell though O'Connor persisted with his Irish mission until the late 1840s. 

The achievement of the book is its success in establishing O'Connor as a more rounded and less caricatured figure within Irish and British radicalism.  In the absence of a comprehensive biography, it is certain to establish itself as the key study of O'Connor's life and justifiably so. 

Friday, 20 June 2008

Leisure: Introduction

The next few days of my blog sketches consider certain aspects of the history of leisure in the nineteenth century.[1] The late eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth century saw two major modifications in the cultural experience of English society. First, there was erosion of the older popular culture as a result of the withdrawal of patronage by the governing elite, the gradual dismantling of the agrarian social and economic frameworks that gave it justification by widespread industrialisation and the attacks on its public expression by a combination of religious evangelicalism and a secular desire to promote work discipline. By contrast, secondly, a more commercialised culture developed, entrepreneurial, market-led and largely urban and bourgeois. This involved modification of both the content and transmission of high culture and, in the nineteenth century, the promotion of popular cultural products like circuses, prize and cock-fights for profit. Cultural experiences, like economic and social ones, were adaptable.

Attacking cultural experience

The attack on popular culture was part of the assault on the life-styles and recreations of the labouring population that had been gathering impetus since the sixteenth century.[2] It had two interconnected thrusts: a religious belief that popular culture was profane, irreligious and immoral, and a secular concern that it was detrimental to economic efficiency and social order. The desire to turn people into sober, godly citizens motivated by an interest in work and social discipline had considerable political leverage and was a dominant intellectual stance from the early nineteenth century, receiving its fullest, though highly ambiguous, expression in the notion of ‘Victorian values’. Religiosity, sexual repression and patriarchal authoritarianism, in both family and economic life, were its major characteristics. Its motivation was a sense of cultural crisis, a challenge to the hegemony that called for moral regeneration and stricter disciplining of the lives of the labouring population. Attacks on popular culture after 1830 can therefore be seen as a response to pressures on existing forms of social control, of demographic and urban growth and the consequent erosion of paternalism.

Anglican Evangelicalism played a major role in this critique of popular culture. It succeeded in obtaining some agreement across a broad spectrum of the governing elite to its central moral tenets through groups like the Society for the Reformation of Manners and the Society for the Suppression of Vice. Its views had their greatest success with the mercantile, commercial and professional groups, who looked with both economic and social distaste at the irrational and sinful nature of much popular culture and were appalled by the gratuitous cruelty to animals this involved. Methodism had greater impact on the working population and on artisans and small shopkeepers through its incessant attacks on the worldliness and sensuality of popular culture. Distaste for present pleasures was also a characteristics of secular radicalism. For articulate radicals, popular culture was too closely linked to the paternalistic social order. It offended their emphasis on reason and their stress on moral and intellectual self-improvement; books, education and debating rather than bear baiting, races and circuses. Secular radicals, no less than evangelicals, sought to redeem the working population.

This ideological attack was combined with what Thomas Carlyle called an ‘abdication on the part of the governors’ in his essay Chartism published in 1839. The aristocracy and gentry gradually withdrew from participation in popular culture and no longer championed it against reformers. Society was becoming less face-to-face, except on special occasions, with each social group confined to its own cultural world. The layout of country houses and gardens demonstrated a move towards domestic privacy. This was more than just symbolic and reflected a much broader ‘cutting-off’ of the lives of aristocracy and gentry from the lives of the labouring population. Rural sports, customary holidays and apprenticeship rituals came to be seen not as socially desirable but as wasteful distractions from work and threats to social order.

Characterising popular culture in 1830

In 1830 popular culture was public, robust and gregarious, largely masculine and involving spectacle and gambling with an undercurrent of disorder and physical violence. The distinction between high and popular culture, between opera and drama on the one hand and spectacle, circus and showmanship on the other had broken down: Shakespeare, melodrama and performing animals not merely co-existed but intermingled.

Theatre and pantomime

The eighteenth century pleasure fairs had played a major role in this process and many major actors started their careers in their theatrical booths. English theatre and opera was produced not only for the cultivated and informed but for mass audiences for whom melodrama, lavish stage sets and live animals were essential and whom managers and actors bored at their peril. Expanding audiences funded the extensive rebuilding of Covent Garden, Drury Lane and Sadler’s Wells as well as theatres outside the West End and entrepreneurs gave melodrama a legitimate place on the stage as well as developing the modern pantomime. Provincial theatres followed the example of London. By 1830, however, there had been some decline in theatre going among the provincial bourgeoisie, the result as much of the rougher audiences frightening them away as the impact of evangelicalism.


Developments in sport showed the same commercialism and capacity to survive in the face of the hostility of authority. Shooting and hunting were the only sports to remain exclusively elitist. Until 1831 shooting was legally restricted to owners of land worth more than £100 and the Games Laws ensured that poaching was severely punished. While shooting demonstrated a horizontal cleavage in rural society, foxhunting had a far greater community interest. Though dominated by the landed aristocracy and country gentlemen, it was open to urban gentry and professionals and the poorer sections of the community followed the spectacle on foot. Some hunts were the property of single great landowners but were expensive to maintain and subscription hunts became more common: there were 69 packs of hounds in Britain in 1812, 91 by 1825.[3]

Horse racing was the sport of both the rich and poor. It could not maintain its exclusiveness though different prices charged for the stands, the paddocks and the ordinary enclosures were as much an expression of social hierarchy as different class of railway travel. Horse racing combined two obsessions: the love of horses and gambling. Professional bookmakers appeared around 1800; by 1815, the ‘classic’ races, the Derby, the Oaks, the One Thousand and Two Thousand Guineas, the St Leger and the Ascot Gold Cup, were all established and by 1837 there were 150 places in Britain where race meetings were held. By 1850, off-course betting had been established, further broadening participation.

Pugilism or prize fighting began as a sport of the labouring population and attracted aristocratic patronage by 1800. Like horse racing it was increasingly commercialised and its champions -- Tom Spring, Tom Crib and Dutch Sam -- were full-time professionals. Both flourished as industries with their own specialist newspapers yet they were also evocative of an older, perhaps imaginary, culture where sporting squires and labourers rubbed shoulders in a common appreciation of animals and physical prowess. Upper-class support for prize fighting waned after 1830 but it retained its popularity among the working population and its real decline did not occur until after 1860. Other sports like cricket, rowing and pedestrianism, had similar characteristics to horse-racing and prize fighting. They became more organised and professional, more dependent on attracting spectators and accompanied by extensive gambling. Cricket originated as an activity of the labouring population in southern England and was then take up by the aristocratic elite. Pedestrianism and rowing also began as popular sports before moving up the social scale late in the nineteenth century.

Continuities in cultural experience

Many traditional customs continued until well after 1850. There is evidence for the large unchanged New Year mumming festivals in northern England until the 1870s. Guy Fawkes’ Night was still celebrated despite attempts by various authorities to suppress bonfires and the burning of effigies. Changes to traditional customs were not easily enforced even in areas, like Lancashire, where factory discipline was most firmly established. The Lancashire Wakes Weeks, traditionally the most important event of the recreational year, were forced on millowners rather than freely given. It was not simply employers who attacked wakes and fairs. Moral reformers, the magistracy, and later the police recognised that these acted as a focus for criminal activity, could potentially lead to violence, and threatened public order. That they continued until the late nineteenth century was due not to lack of opposition to them but to disagreement about what action to take.

[1] S. Easton, A. Howkins, S. Laing, L. Merrick and H. Walker Disorder and Discipline: Popular Culture from 1550 to the Present, Temple Smith, 1988 is a good general survey. J.M. Golby and A.W. Purdue The Civilization of the Crowd, Batsford, 1984, R.W. Malcolmson Popular Recreation in English Society 1700-1850, CUP, 1973, H. Cunningham Leisure in the Industrial Revolution, Allen and Unwin, 1980 provide different perspectives on the issue of custom and leisure.  P. Bailey Leisure and Class in Victorian England: rational recreation and the contest for control 1830-1885, Routledge, 1978 and J. Walvin Leisure and Society 1830-1950, Longman, 1979 take the arguments forward into the late nineteenth century. R. Holt Sport and the British: A Modern History, OUP, 1989 is the best introduction to this area of leisure.

[2] Richard Brown Society and Economy in Modern Britain 1700-1850, Routledge, 1991, pp. 435-440.

[3] On this issue see Raymond Carr English Fox Hunting: A History, Weidenfeld, 1976, revised edition, 1986.

The policeman state: attitudes and stereotypes

The strength and cost of the policeman-state has risen continuously. In 1861 there was one police man to every 937 people in England and Wales, by 1891 one for every 731 and by 1951 one for every 661. Costs rose from £1.5 million in 1861 to over £3.5 million in 1891 and £7.0 million in 1914. The rising cost of theft justified this. Great robberies have been as infrequent as great murders and it comes as a shock to realise that when the cost of reported theft is compared with the mounting cost of the policeman state, it has always been small. According to Metropolitan Police statistics in 1848, reported break-ins and robberies in London cost a mere £2,507 and all felonies against property £44,666. Even in 1899, when reporting was more reliable and extensive, burglary cost Londoners only £88,406 or 3d per head of the metropolitan population. Several points emerge from this:

  1. The costs of theft and of violence would have been far higher had there been no police and it can be argued that these figures demonstrate a degree of successful deterrence.
  2. Historians who try to give the criminal a niche in the pantheon of major historical agents have to be of a romantic disposition. Most reported crimes were small-scale, distressing though they certainly were for their immediate victims.
  3. Still less have criminals had a major effect on the established order of things, other than intensifying the authoritarian instincts of their enemies. Britain's working class thieves tended to steal from the working class rather than among the middle and upper classes.

The technicalities of fraud might be beyond the ability of the ordinary policeman but what was not beyond his comprehension was the behaviour encountered daily in the streets, where poorer people conducted a good deal of their business and often behaved illegally. They were constrained largely to police the streets and, as a result, confirmed the premise that the bottom third or quarter of the urban population was indeed the most criminal. The early constables were usually recruited from the agricultural labour force or from the army, were paid low wages and were often quick to leave the force.

Police culture

In the larger forces, by 1850, a more stable career structure and command hierarchy was already beginning to enclose lesser officers within an occupation sub-culture with its own values and standards. Sustained by this, the Victorian policeman undertook the task of patrolling the poor with the unselfconscious alacrity their twentieth century successors brought to the task of patrolling aliens and blacks.

  1. Isolated by uniform, discipline and function from the working class communities and upholding 'order' in the face of chronic hostility and abuse from their targets, the career policeman made sense of this situation by internalising authoritarian values and deferring to conventional standards of respectability. Yet, the police generated their own operational standards on the streets, passed on via 'apprenticeship' from officer to officer, that were often less respectable and at odds with those of the rulebooks and the letter of the law.
  2. Some degree of tension between the command structure and the ordinary station-men was endemic in British policing. It stemmed from grievances about working conditions leading to abortive Metropolitan Police strikes in 1879 and 1890 and to the 1918-19 police strike. In addition there was the remoteness of commissioners and chief constables, often trained in the military or colonial services, from the lower-rank notions of 'good policing' that focused on detection rather than deterrence, action rather than service, physical engagement rather than administration.
  3. The pressure on the men to fulfil their service roles was unrelenting and sporadic campaigns against their corruption and malpractice spatter the pages of police history. These usually surfaced only in circuitous ways: through public interest in the trials of 1877 or of Inspector White in 1880, or in the public disquiet that resulted in the issuing of Judges' Rules on interrogation and arrest procedures in 1912. The 1906-1908 Royal Commission was initiated over the alleged wrongful arrest of Mme D'Angely, a lady of dubious reputation but a lady nonetheless. In this case, and in the 1928-9 commission, the police made the mistake of doing tactless things to articulate people who could fight back.
  4. The 1906-1908 Commission found that only nineteen of the complaints it invited were worth examining, and only a few proven satisfactorily. The impoverished public that did not matter but might have known better about police malpractice did not speak out; when it did, hostile questioning discredited it.

What is clear from the evidence of the Royal Commission is the long-standing system of wheeling and dealing between police and underworld that had its own unwritten rules and at which command officers had no choice but to connive. Blind eyes were turned, favours exacted and reciprocated, informers employed, bribes exchanges and some brutality was standard practice. Relations between police and law-breakers were necessarily close and it would be surprising then as now, if they were not also contaminating. Witnesses before the 1878 confidential detective committee drew a thin veil over the implications of detectives 'using' a certain class of people among the criminal class from whom to get information by small payments or other means. Officials recurrently compromised in their efforts to police the streets.

The poor and the police

The poor expected little sympathy from the police. Attempts, like that of Commissioner Warren after criticism of police conduct in the 1887 unemployment riots, at public relations were treated with scepticism by the working classes. Broadly their instinct was sound. In 1904 metropolitan divisional officers reported confidentially to Scotland Yard on the extent of hardship in the course of that bitter winter. These reports demonstrate a remarkable uniformity of tone, not only out of sympathy with their primary targets but also ideologically at one with itself:

  • 'The so-called unemployed ...has.... the appearance of habitual loafers rather than unemployed workmen.'
  • 'The poor and distressed appearance of numbers of persons met in the East End is due more to thriftlessness and intemperate habits than to absolute poverty.'
  • 'Poverty is brought about by a want of thrift.'
  • 'The so-called 'unemployed' could not be in the starving condition they profess for they travelled at a pace that required considerable endurance.'
  • 'No politician will tell the working man that he is mainly responsible for his own condition, nor have the courage to point out how industry is everywhere being ruined by the despotic power of Trade Unionism.'

Reflexes of this kind were not peculiar to policemen. The poor had always been the targets of the law, and systematic urban policing could only underline this bias. Their own prejudices apart, they had no choice, operationally, but to be highly selective in their attacks on the nation's illegalities. They had to concentrate on the regulation of public space and public order and this brought them into more direct contact with the poor, who conducted most of their lives in this space.

Police discretion

Several statutory weapons put poor people centre-stage on law enforcement. The Vagrancy Act 1824, the Metropolitan Police Act 1839, police acts and bye-laws, the Habitual Criminals legislation of 1869-71 combined to give police immense discretionary powers of arrest on suspicion of intent to commit a felony. The police had equal discretionary powers of defining obstruction, breach of the peace, and drunkenness. They could decide whether or not to arrest, whether to bring charges and what charges. Against these powers the poorer people had little defence.

  1. This discretion was group-specific in application. Early police orders told constables not to interfere with 'respectable' working people. Stop-and-search powers resulted in the arrest of vagrants, suspicious people and, with luck, some actual criminals.
  2. This resulted in vulnerable and accessible people being driven into courts. Magistrates convicted or committed them for trial on very little evidence, often, other than police testimony as to character. These then became the 'criminal class' and ideological stereotypes were thus fuelled and self-confirming.
  3. The police came to be convinced that the class they had a decisive hand in making was the group among whom crime was most prevalent and hence in need of surveillance.

The scale of this should not be underestimated. In the nineteenth century, very many more people had a direct experience of the disciplinary and coercive effects of policing and the law than is widely believed. When statistics are looked at not in terms of convictions but of arrests or summonses in any one-year, the results are even more startling. In 1861 1 in 29 of the male and 1 in 120 of the female population were either arrested or summonsed. By 1901 the figures respectively were 1 in 24 and 1 in 123. Summary prosecutions rose by 73 per cent between 1861 and 1901. So even if the incidence of serious crime declined, the likelihood of being subjected to legal discipline by arrest or summons actually worsened considerably. The immediate threat that the police offered to the social life of the poor had greatly increased in those decades when the policeman state was making its major bureaucratic advances. The Edwardian working classes were in this sense more closely regulated and supervised than their parents and grandparents. Resentment at this was inevitable. Robert Roberts wrote of Salford in the first quarter of the twentieth century in these terms[1]: 'Nobody in our Northern slums every spoke in fond regard of the policeman as 'social worker' and 'handyman of the streets'. The poor in general looked upon him with fear and dislike...The 'public' (meaning the middle and upper classes).... held their 'bobby' in patronising affection and esteem, that he repaid with due respectfulness; but these sentiments were never shared by the undermass, nor in fact by the working class generally.'

In the second quarter of the nineteenth century, anti-police riots had expressed this frame of mind forcefully. These confrontations did decline after 1850 but the significance of this can be misconstrued. It indicated less the growing acquiescence of an incorporated working class than the isolation, marginalisation and defeat of its poorest and most turbulent sectors: of those 40 per cent of adult males who were excluded from the franchise until 1918 and who were barely unionised, if at all. The decline of their collective opposition to police reflected in good measure the growing effectiveness of crowd control by the police and the obligation imposed on an increasingly marginalised residuum to come to terms with the permanence of the social order, even when they benefited little from it.

Resistance and respectability

There was widespread, and sometimes violent, resistance to the introduction of professional policing. Many radicals regarded the police, as agents of a repressive government and union organisers feared that the police would prove a strikebreaking force. Even those unaffected by those concerns resented the introduction of a body that would enforce the law in hitherto unregulated areas of everyday life. It was this regulatory and intrusive character of the police that probably led to more hostility than almost everything else.

  1. The most serious disturbances occurred in Colne during 1840. The creation of a police force for the town in April led to attempts to keep the streets clear for 'respectable' inhabitants by 'moving-on' the crowds of onlookers who were accustomed to congregate in the town centre. The situation was complicated by the fact that the constables were not from the area, many being Scots, and the pro-Chartist nature of the community. Riots began on 24 April and were eventually quelled by the arrival of troops. More riots occurred in August that again resulted in military intervention.
  2. Similar resentment of a police presence was shown at the Lancaster races in July 1840 when a force of Lancashire county police was attacked without any real provocation. A party of Leeds Corporation police was attacked in June 1844 after arresting some soldiers accused of beating a man up.
  3. Major risings against the police were concentrated between 1839 and 1844 when forces were introduced into areas for the first time. Their most important element seems to have been attempts by local communities to resist the intrusion of professional police who were seen as an imposition from 'outside'.

Major disturbances may have died out in the late 1840s but levels of violence against policemen throughout this period indicate that resistance to undo intrusion was evident. As an instrument of social control the 'new' police were highly successful, at least on the surface.

[1] R. Roberts The Classic Slum: Salford Life in the First Quarter of the Century, Manchester, 1971, page 77.