Please cite this article as:

Pendleton, D.I. The Pub and Pedestrianism in Victorian Bradford, In Day, D. (ed), Pedestrianism (Manchester: MMU Sport and Leisure History, 2014), 171-194.



The Pub and Pedestrianism in Victorian Bradford

David Pendleton



An American Indian, a pair of Pompeiian vases and walking around a billiard table for days on end. The history of athletics, in Bradford and beyond, is littered with eye-catching anecdotes. Aside from sheer entertainment value, the tales are all part of the evolution of athletics. Re-evaluating these often forgotten stories allows a valuable insight to be gained into the manner in which athletics was organized and commercialized in Victorian Bradford.

The public house is a central theme in this paper. The case studies that follow help illustrate important shifts in the sporting landscape. Around the 1860s, the landlord emerges to become a key personality in the staging of sport; two decades later he recedes as the public house becomes less central to the commercialization and organization of sport. Samantha-Jayne Oldfield’s biographical study of the ‘wizard of pedestrianism’, the Manchester publican George Martin, highlighted the life story of one of those entrepreneurs of entertainment who not only laid the foundations of modern athletic meets, but also provided a venue for many other sports in the era immediately prior to the emergence of the codified sports of cricket, football and rugby.[1] This paper runs parallel to Oldfield’s work in so much as it shadows the career of Alfred Hardy, landlord of the Quarry Gap Inn, Bradford, but it seeks to widen the historical sporting context, and in particular how the staging of relatively large scale sporting events at public houses fits into the development of spectator sport in Victorian Britain. Arguably the events at the Quarry Gap straddle a pre-modern popular recreational culture and the emergence of rationalized forms of leisure that was reflective of the industrial capitalist society that was driving the rapid expansion of Bradford.

The shift towards a more rationalized form of leisure is examined using the example of Tony Fattorini. His family firm produced large volumes of sporting medals and trophies, but he was also an advocate of amateur sport and a director of a professional football club. One of his numerous athletics interests was the Airedale Harriers, who were based at the Belle Vue public house. Thus, even from this brief summary, it can be established that Fattorini is a man of potentially conflicting contrasts.

Bradford holds an important place in the early development of modern sport in Yorkshire. Situated on the eastern slopes of the Pennine hills, the city was at the epicentre of a vast industrial textile area that stretched from the wool towns of west Yorkshire into the cotton districts of east Lancashire. Linked by roads, canals and railways, these conurbations shared a sporting culture that would be reshaped by commercialization and professionalism. Bradford became the world centre of the wool trade during the nineteenth century. Its spectacular growth is illustrated by the fact that in 1801 there was a solitary mill in the town, forty years later there were sixty-seven. Similarly, in 1815, there were only two stuff (woven fabrics) merchants, by 1893 there were 252.[2] The population of the city increased by 65.5% between 1821 and 1831 and then accelerated from 34,560 to 103,778 in the decade 1841 to 1851.[3] The enormous geographical, industrial and social changes were partly reflected in the sporting interests and structure of Bradford’s inhabitants. Initially, there was barely any purpose built sporting infrastructure in the city. Instead, it was the public house that became the vital cog in creating a sporting landscape that was a significant step towards recognisably modern organizations and structures.

The pub and sport have a shared history that probably stretches back to the day the first publican opened his doors.[4] That relationship became crucial to the development of sport in the mid-Victorian era when ad hoc and spontaneous sport, according to Robert Storch, became the focus of ‘strenuous and relatively successful’ efforts by police and magistrates to drive ‘traditional’ sports away from the open countryside and streets.[5] An example is the Bradford Moor horse races, held annually until 1877, described as ‘notorious’ due to the heavy drinking, gambling and frequent outbreaks of fighting that accompanied the racing. In an overt display of commitment to rational recreation, Bradford Corporation purchased the site for £8,768 and developed Bradford Moor Park.[6] The wild and untamed was thus replaced by, in both landscape and social terms, the formalized and rational. The enclosure of Bradford Moor Common in 1878 put paid to any thoughts of relocation of the horse races to an adjacent open space.[7] Peter Bailey described a similar pattern in Bolton.[8] These sports, including ad hoc horse racing, and knur and spell, did not wither, despite the official pressure, but, instead, were embraced by publicans, many of whom by the 1860s had created ‘new commercialized sporting grounds’.[9] Storch argues for,

A distinctly new, specifically nineteenth-century, urban recreational nexus – more formalised, less ad hoc, highly commercialized – which helped to preserve and shelter an older popular sporting culture within a new setting.[10]

The role of the publican in nurturing, and even staging quite large scale sporting events, is key to understanding the place of sporting leisure in the period immediately prior to the arrival of the codified, and recognizably modern, spectator sports. The theory that the public house was an unofficial centre for working-class sport, discussions and meetings from at least the 1850s is well established.[11] A handful of pubs, usually those with adjacent land and good transport links, were able to host quite large scale sporting events. Indeed, Emma Lile even claimed that pedestrianism signified the beginning of codified sport.[12] Peter Lovesey wrote that ‘sufficient credit has never been given to the nineteenth century managers of professional running grounds for laying the foundations of the modern athletic meet’.[13] This paper, therefore, offers a window on an oft overlooked world, an era of growing commercialization on the cusp of formalized cricket, football and rugby clubs with their attendant purpose built stadia.

Sport and the public house: The Quarry Gap Inn, Bradford

The number of public houses in Bradford grew from seventy-nine in 1830 to 137 in 1870. Although Paul Jennings noted that the growth lagged behind a three-fold population increase during the same period, the expansion of public house provision is still notable.[14] In the period before the 1870s, when brewers began to take control of the public houses, individuals were able to become ‘entrepreneurs of entertainment’ who Hugh Cunningham claimed were beginning to take advantage of new commercial opportunities as leisure became more regulated and separate from work.[15] One establishment that regularly hosted sporting events throughout the 1860s was the Quarry Gap Inn. Situated two miles east of the town centre, during the mid-Victorian period it was on the edge of Bradford’s urban sprawl. However, it enjoyed excellent transport links being near the junction of the Dudley Hill to Killinghall (1758) and Bradford to Leeds (1741) turnpike roads and a few minutes’ walk from Laisterdyke railway station (1854).[16] Although semi-rural, the area was a hive of industry with stone quarrying, coal and ironstone mining, textile mills and farming.

The Quarry Gap Inn was built in April 1861 and was sold along with around fourteen acres of land.[17] It was the arrival of Alfred Hardy, a publican in his early forties, at the Quarry Gap in 1862, which coincided with an expansion of sporting attractions at the pub.[18] Hardy used newspaper advertisements to raise the profile of his establishment and arguably exploited a growing sense of civic belonging and pride when he named the fourteen-acre field adjacent to the pub the City Sporting Grounds. Participants and their followers were attracted to the pub by heavily trailed events and contests played for substantial stake money. The latter was highlighted in order to give an air of theatre and confrontation. It appears to have been a successful policy, for example, in April 1863 a knur and spell match, reportedly played for a £100 purse, attracted a ‘large concourse of spectators’.[19] The following month, two Bradford men contested a foot race for £50 over 120 yards. Apparently, there was considerable betting on the outcome.[20] Horse races were staged several times a year, usually comprising of a spring, summer and autumn meetings. Flat, hurdle and pony races being the standard format.[21] Racing would be staged throughout the 1860s, but it was steadily undermined by the construction of enclosed racecourses and the creation of a national racing structure.[22]

Crowds were not only tempted by potential monetary gains, they could be attracted by curiosity to events that verged on freak shows. What was termed ‘a singular cricket match’, took place between eleven Greenwich naval pensioners, all minus an arm, and eleven Chelsea army pensioners, each with only one leg. The players, preceded by a brass band, were paraded in a publicity stunt around Bradford in an omnibus. In beautiful weather the team termed ‘one leg’ won by fifty-one runs. The Bradford Observer reported ‘the movements of both parties were often very ludicrous, and excited roars of laughter’.[23] Hardy did not just rely on sport to attract the public to his establishment. He staged several horse and animal fairs. A ‘great hunt’ was advertised, including the ‘Royal stag Palmerston’ and the ‘great stag Lord John’, both of which were available for inspection in the weeks running up to the event.[24] The grounds even hosted a ‘great gipsy gathering’ of reportedly 6,000 people, when sack racing and ‘other amusements’ were indulged in. The ‘aristocratic’ gipsies returned the following year complete with King Noah Young and Queen Caroline.[25] Hardy also recognized the importance of the local Bowling Feast holiday, and on one occasion a brass band contest was held. The event was promoted by Hinchcliffe & Co. of Farnley, Leeds. Prizes totalling £25 were awarded.[26]


Pedestrianism is the often forgotten face of Victorian athletics.[27] Richard Holt ascribed the blame to the success, nationally and internationally, of the Olympic games and its ethos of amateurism, which marginalized the older professional tradition of athletics.[28] However, as Lovesey has stated, comparison with modern athletics is misleading. Pedestrianism, although essentially professional working-class athletics, had a culture and an atmosphere more akin to the prize fight or ad hoc horse racing. As it was almost always administered from public houses, it is perhaps natural that some of the raucousness of those establishments was transferred to the meetings.[29] Even the term pedestrianism can be misleading. Adrian Harvey has noted contemporaries used pedestrianism as a catch-all term which referred to virtually any athletic sport or feats of human endurance that could encompass the bizarre, such as walking around billiard tables for days on end.[30] Pedestrianism, driven off the streets and into the arms of the publican, by the Highways Act of 1835, was popular, raucous and profitable.[31] Derek Birley wrote of pedestrianism meetings,

There were gate-money affairs, often in fields adjoining public houses, with plenty of beer and bookmakers taking bets and star attractions in exotic costumes contending against the local lads.[32]

Publicans staging pedestrianism events not only increased sales of alcohol, they also received commission on betting and gate receipts.[33] Oldfield has identified a loose network of public houses that regularly hosted pedestrianism and athletic events.[34] That network, although it appears to have included the north of England, the Midlands and London, was particularly virile in the industrial towns and cities on either side of the Pennines.[35] The sport rapidly comprehended the link between publicity, regularity and profit. Interestingly, many pedestrianism events, even in the north of England and Scotland, were organized through the pages of the weekly newspaper Bell’s Life in London. Was this a sign of an emerging national sporting culture, or a professional sport, and entrepreneurs, making practical use of an existing publication? Perhaps the most likely explanation, that the newspaper was itself seeking increased circulation by widening its coverage to popular sport, is offered by Mike Huggins,

While maintaining its focus on more gentlemanly sports, in the 1840s Bell’s Life increased its coverage of working-class sports including pedestrianism races, sculling, knur and spell, wrestling, quoiting, potshare bowling, rabbit and hare coursing, and shooting at pigeons and sparrows.[36]

We also should be aware of individuals using the sporting press to publicize events. As Harvey said they were ‘often slipping them in as unpaid advertisements by masquerading as bulletins on a pedestrian’s progress’.[37] The challenges printed in the newspaper illustrate a high degree of organization. With prize money and handicaps the competitors appear to have been acutely aware of the strengths and weaknesses of their potential opponents. A typical challenge is reproduced below:

HARRY WATSON of Bradford will run any of the following one mile, for £25 a side, viz, Ely Parkin of Huddersfield, Rant of Holmfirth, Cob Heaton of Netherton, Jonathon Bincliffe of Raistrick, or give Pummell of Manningham 15 yards, or Gallick of Horton 30 yards in a mile. Matches can be made by sending £5 to us, and articles to the Beckett’s Arms, Bradford.[38]

Virtually all of the challenges were issued using a public house as the point of contact. Quite clearly, the Quarry Gap Inn had become part of a network of venues that utilized sporting events in order to maximise profits. In August 1862 around 1,500 spectators were attracted to an athletics event entitled ‘English Champions’. The title was somewhat misleading as the star attraction was Louis ‘Deerfoot’ Bennett, a 5’ 11’ American Indian. The races were staged in the ‘Deerfoot Travelling Race Course’, a 1,000 foot tent, which enclosed a 220-yard track. The promoter George Martin, the landlord of the Royal Oak, Newton Heath, Manchester, which boasted its own race course, received applications from all over Britain from people wishing to stage the event.[39] The event was part of a nationwide tour that, according to Lovesey, visited virtually every town and city in the land.[40] Undoubtedly, there will have been profit sharing of the gate receipts and Martin even had a stake in the sale of photographs of Deerfoot, which Oldfield claims were ‘hung in public houses all over Britain’.[41] Here is a cult of celebrity, or perhaps myth-making, adding to the profits of an already highly commercial operation.

Figure 1.
The Quarry Gap Inn photographed in October 2013.

Undoubtedly, Quarry Gap’s most notable pedestrianism event, at least from a modern perspective given the column inches it continues to generate, commenced on 17 September 1864 when local woman Emma Sharp attempted to walk 1,000 miles in 1,000 hours on a 120 yard course.[42] She walked for 2 miles at a time and rested every second hour. Emma’s feat was probably inspired by Captain Barclay’s famous 1809 achievement of walking one mile in each of 1,000 successive hours, or Isabella Melross’ 1,000 miles in 1,000 half-hours in 1854.[43] There was heavy betting during Sharpe’s feat of endurance, it was reported that some spectators attempted to trip her up after dark and even that her food was doped. By October, she had completed 600 miles and on one Monday, doubtless as part of a publicity stunt, ‘no less than 5,000 females attended the inclosure’. Although it appears that the admission fee varied, it is likely that the thousands of females were attracted by an enticement in the form of a reduced entrance fee rather than a spontaneous act of feminine solidarity.[44] The event was kept in the public eye with announcements, such as one day’s gate money, £8 17s, being donated to Bradford Infirmary. It was a significant amount. A cricket match played in aid of the Infirmary the previous year had raised £1 15s.[45] Even allowing for the deduction of expenses, the fact that, in a decade when cricket was being described as the national game, an individual pedestrianism event generated nearly six times more income at the gate is quite remarkable.[46]

On 29 October 1864, after 14,600 laps of the circuit, she completed the 1,000 miles in front of a reported, albeit improbable, 25,000 spectators. The Bowling Brass Band led her to the finish line. A firework display, cannon fire and a whole roasted sheep helped along the celebrations. In the final stages of the walk the police had been called to protect Sharpe and she was said to have carried a pistol. Indeed, some reports say she actually fired it twenty-seven times.[47] She remained at the Quarry Gap for ten days after the completion of the walk. The public were advised that they could meet Sharpe and ‘obtain carte de portraits of herself’.[48] She received ‘at least £500’ as her share of the admission money and used the windfall to establish a hearth rug business in nearby Laisterdyke.[49] Hardy attempted to replicate the successful format the following year when he hosted a ‘grand national female 1,000 miles in 1,000 hours between England, Scotland and Wales’.[50] Sharpe’s feat perhaps epitomized the world of pedestrianism, which according to Bailey, ‘was exemplified in the contrast between the new model athletic sports of the elitist Amateur Athletic Club (AAC) and the popular athletics of pedestrianism’.[51] It also was probably the high point of pedestrianism at the Quarry Gap as by 1868 Hardy had left the pub and in 1873 the race ground was sold as building land. The railways that had brought the crowds to the Quarry Gap were taking them elsewhere: the sporting landscape was changing, it was shifting from the individualistic to the collective. As notions of civic pride and local identity spread, representative team sport attracted crowds in the thousands to the purpose-built grounds, sport was now emptying the public house rather than filling it. Even athletics was on the cusp of radical change.

Athletics, amateurism and respectability

The 1860s marked the beginning of a shift from the prevalence of betting, individual entrepreneur and public house towards the amateur, formalized and respectable. Initially, it was little more than a steady jog towards amateurism. The AAC had been formed in 1866 by former Oxbridge athletes who did not want to compete against professionals. It defined an amateur as someone who had never competed for public money or prizes, and was not a mechanic, artisan or a labourer. The definition, however, was widely ignored and athletics festivals, which became an established part of the sporting calendar in the 1860s, offered money and expensive prizes.[52] It has been claimed by John Lowerson that the both the AAC and its successor the Amateur Athletic Association (AAA) were, until the Great War, essentially southern in focus, so while, undoubtedly, tenets of amateurism did take root in the north of England, caution should be exercised as to the impact of the associations.[53] Indeed, the context is that the Northern Counties Athletic Association dropped the ‘mechanic’ clause and threatened to boycott the AAC’s championships.[54] The result was the dissolution of the AAC and its replacement with the AAA in 1880.[55]

Festivals were an important part of the changing athletics landscape.[56] Graham Williams claims that it was Liverpool Athletics Club (formed 1862) which popularized the staging of athletics festivals.[57] Their Olympic festivals, held annually and which regularly attracted over 10,000 spectators, were, according to Lovesey, ‘grander than anything seen in the south’.[58] A few years later, Bradford Cricket Club identified one way of improving the finances of the club was by hosting an athletics festival. Their inaugural festival was held in July 1869. Up to 4,000 spectators enjoyed fourteen events, including hammer throwing, hurdling, shot putting, walking and running races: six gold medals, two silver cups, fourteen silver medals and fourteen bronze medals were competed for. By 1874, the winners’ prizes included a pair of bronze statuettes of Peter the Great and Louis XIV, a shield depicting the Battle of the Amazons, an ormolu writing desk inlaid with oriental onyx and a pair of Pompeiian vases.[59] Although this was in line with amateurism’s drive to make prizes honorary, there was nothing to prevent the winners selling the prizes or taking them to the nearest pawnbrokers on the Monday morning.[60] The Bradford Observer mixed respectability and commercialism when it reported that the grandstand ‘presented a really brilliant spectacle, being crowded with ladies in gay attire … it is probable that there will be a handsome surplus for the funds of Bradford Cricket Club’.[61] The club’s reliance on profits generated by the athletics festivals in order to remain solvent is illustrated by the 1873 festival which earned the club £150 10s; which equates to 14.5% of the club’s income for the year. Without the windfall the cricket club would have lost £36 2s 8d.[62]

The staging of athletics festivals at Bradford Cricket Club was the latest, but probably most significant, example of sports steadily gathering around the cricket club. As early as 1844 an archery section was added.[63] It was joined in 1852 by a ‘strictly private’ bowling green.[64] Some of these sections must have been born from cricket club members using the facilities and social contacts of the club to develop additional sporting interests. Others may have gravitated to the cricket club as it offered sporting respectability and credibility at a civic level. It is probably not a coincidence that formally constituted multi-sport clubs began to appear in the wake of successful athletics festivals. Cricket clubs had been steadily accepted as the civic sporting representatives since at least the 1840s. Such a status could only be bestowed on a club that reflected the respectability of its leading citizens. Rob Light described the process by which clubs such as Bradford were able to become the civic flag carriers,

These new organizations were almost certainly led by members of the commercial middle classes. Clubs like Leeds Victoria, Halifax Clarence and Bradford … by adopting the identity of leading towns and staging events that received a high media profile they also assumed a prestigious persona, which would have been beyond any predominantly working-class organization.[65]

Thus cricket clubs were the natural bedrock for genuinely multi-sport organizations. However, in their early years at least, the clubs were usually not cross-class organizations. As Cunningham noted, the setting of subscription fees far beyond the reach of the average worker, was a frequent way of ensuring, and maintaining, social segregation. Therefore, the clubs represented not so much the town whose name they carried, but the aspirations and self-image of the local middle-class.[66] Early examples in West Yorkshire included: Huddersfield Cricket & Athletic Club (1864) and Leeds Athletic & Football Club (1868).[67] The Leeds club had distinct athletics, cricket, cycling, football, tennis, harrier and bowling sections. These early clubs were highly respectable organizations. The comments of the Huddersfield chairman in 1870, ascribing Prussian military successes to the existence of gymnasiums in the majority of German towns, concluded that anyone wishing to see Britain retain her position in the world would support clubs such as the Huddersfield Cricket & Athletic Club.[68]

However, from 1877, when Yorkshire Cup rugby began to attract significant attendances, multi-sport companies were often formed as a pragmatic response to the difficulties of raising finance to fund the expansion and development of large-scale grounds. Halifax Cricket, Football, Athletic Club was formed in the wake of the club winning the Yorkshire Cup in 1877 and eventually developed the Thrum Hall grounds.[69] Wakefield Trinity Athletic Company was founded in 1896 to finance improvements to their Belle Vue ground.[70] The Leeds A&FC became the Leeds Cricket, Football & Athletic Sports Co. Ltd. to raise funds sufficient to purchase land at Headingley in 1877.[71] Simon Inglis discerned a similar pattern among football clubs: Ipswich Cricket, Football & Athletic Ground Company; Headington Sports Ground Company (Manor Ground, Oxford United); Wigan Trotting & Athletic Ground Company; Hereford Athletic Ground Company. Whether in practice these organizations operated differently to multi-sport clubs such as Darlington Cricket & Football Club; Argyle Athletic Club (Plymouth); Alexandra Cricket & Athletic Club (Crewe) is difficult to discern.[72] But the word athletic, although often used as a catch all term, appears in virtually every instance. Whether that was merely the following of a trend set by clubs who had formalized earlier or a genuine desire the place athletics at the heart of the new clubs is, without highly detailed research, impossible to ascertain.

While the formation of Bradford Cricket, Athletic & Football Club in 1880 was undoubtedly a practical response to the challenge of funding the ambitious Park Avenue grounds, the opening of the grounds by the mayor, and subsequent comments, sent a clear message that Park Avenue was recognized as part of the civic infrastructure on a par with the public parks and St. George’s Concert Hall. The decorative pavilions and attendant sports represented respectability. It was a physical symbol that linked Bradford with sporting institutions as varied as Lords, Bramall Lane and the public schools. The opening cricket match involving local and regional Gentlemen and Players was delayed due to rain. Among the Gentlemen was a twenty-year-old middle order batsman the Hon. M.B Hawke, later the famous Yorkshire captain Lord Hawke. Following a forty-six run victory for the Gentlemen, dinner was served in the pavilion. The Mayor toasted the health of the Queen, various members of the Royal family and army, navy and volunteer forces. Among the guests were officers of the 103rd regiment. Lieutenant-Colonel Frankland replied to the mayor by regretting the unsatisfactory state of the army. It was reported that,

He felt he was addressing the intelligent population of one of our most important manufacturing towns, who had an influence in the voice of the nation…he hoped that this important question would meet with the attention of Parliament and the nation at large…he concluded by proposing the health of the Bradford Cricket, Athletic and Football Club…and the importance of young men going in for athletics…He spoke warmly of his appreciation of outdoor sports, and of cricket in particular. He compared favourably our physical condition with that of Continental nations, and ascribed the cause to the English love of athletics.[73]

On the day the first ball was bowled the Bradford Cricket, Athletic & Football Club appeared to be overtly associating itself with the civic elite and the imperial mission of sport. The high ideals would, in time, become secondary to commercial imperatives. The majority of the ancillary sports, including athletics, would be marginalized, even cricket would recede and the one sport that could justify, and repay, the substantial outlay expended on developing Park Avenue would become almost totally dominant – rugby football.[74]

Tony Fattorini and the Belle Vue Hotel

As the gathering of the great and good at Park Avenue concerned themselves with the civic and the imperial, on the streets actual participation in athletics grew. It had become a national sport and the influx of working men, particularly in the midlands and the north, was making a mockery of the AAC’s stance.[75] The rejection of the mechanics clause by the NCAA opened athletics up to popular participation. Pedestrianism, already under increasing pressure from the authorities, now faced the prospect of being undermined as people flocked to organizations, such as the harrier clubs, formed in response to the demand created by the removal of the amateur barricades. This populism, allied to high rates of social mobility, made, as Bailey concluded, it all but impossible to prevent the lower middle classes from participating in and organizing athletics.[76] That would be doubly difficult in a town like Bradford where, as George Sheeran concluded, the gap between the best working-class incomes and the majority of the middle class was not so great.[77] Dave Russell’s claim that ‘the local middle class was smaller than the national average’ and Frank Musgrove’s argument that the classes in the industrial north still lacked sharp definition even after the mid-nineteenth century add weight to the conclusion that Bradford is likely to have taken a pragmatic approach to amateurism and respectability.[78]

The Belle Vue Hotel was almost equidistant between Bradford town centre and the substantial villas of Manningham. An area which was the address of choice for Bradford’s growing middle class. In the 1840s and 1850s, large villa residences had been built to the east of Manningham Lane for an elite looking to escape the noise and pollution of Bradford. By the 1860s, middle-class homes were being constructed at places such as Peel Square, Hanover Square and Southfield Square.[79] The Belle Vue, which took its name from an adjacent barracks, was built speculatively by Samuel Clark, a builder, and opened in 1875.[80] Its status was indicated by its fine Yorkshire stone and entrance which was flanked by two composite columns.[81] Horse trams were already operating between North Parade and Lister Park gates when the Belle Vue first opened its doors. In the late 1880s, the horses were replaced by steam locomotives and, in March 1892, the route was electrified.[82] Easily accessible from the affluent suburb of Manningham, and with architectural details that acknowledged the classical world, the Belle Vue was almost certainly attempting to attract a clientele higher up the social scale than the Quarry Gap Inn.

Of course, the Belle Vue was constructed for profit and it is worth bearing in mind that consumption of alcohol per head of population hit its all-time high in 1875 – the year of the hotel’s opening. Official figures showed that an average of 1.30 gallons of spirits was consumed in that year and, in 1876, the peak year for beer, the latter was consumed at a rate of 34.4 gallons per year per head.[83] The Belle Vue is arguably typical of the contradiction between consumption, commercialism and respectability that is an almost constant theme during the Victorian era. Although the Belle Vue undoubtedly attracted a higher class of patron than the Quarry Gap Inn, the environment around it began to change almost as soon as it opened for business. The industrialization of Manningham began in earnest during the 1870s with the opening of Drummond’s Mills 1869; Manningham locomotive depot 1872; and Manningham Mills 1872-80 being notable examples. The final three decades of the nineteenth century also saw the open space between Manningham Mills and Lister Park fill up with back-to-backs and lower class terraced housing.[84] The pattern that emerges is one of a growing working-class population, but the area was still defined by its middle-class roots until well into the twentieth century.[85]

Figure 1.
The Quarry Gap Inn photographed in October 2013.

In addition, cricket and football and not athletics were now the dominant forms of spectator sport. The Belle Vue, however, was fortunate when one of Bradford’s leading rugby clubs, Manningham FC, relocated to the almost adjacent Valley Parade ground in 1886. The rugby club made the Belle Vue its headquarters and several other sporting organizations followed, which included: Airedale Harriers AC; Bradford Cycling Club; and Manningham Cycling Club.[86] Such organizations, which also included a Pickwick Literary Club and regular billiards matches, suggest that the hotel had succeeded in attracting a clientele drawn from the respectable working class and the middle class. The Belle Vue might be described as epitomizing what Harvey Taylor described as the cultural convergence of the lower middle class and the respectable working class.[87] The use of licensed premises by sporting organizations as headquarters for meetings, changing rooms and general socializing was, as Jennings demonstrated, fairly widespread.[88] For some organizations it was a pragmatic choice as the expense of constructing purpose built facilities was either too costly or impracticable. Of course, some chose to use a public house because it was accessible, popular and often such premises were viewed as a symbol of the surrounding community. As Bailey wrote,

The middle class, no less than the working class, had to build its secondary associations to combat the strains of the new environment … a major agent of regeneration was certainly the formally constituted club or society. These voluntary associations embraced a wide range of activities: sports, amateur soldiering, literary and scientific education and debate.[89]

One of Manningham’s middle-class who took advantage of the location and facilities of the Belle Vue was Tony Fattorini.[90] He was descended from an Italian family who arrived in Britain at the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. A jewellery business was founded around 1831 by Tony’s grandfather Antonio Fattorini who made his living as pedlar selling jewellery, scissors, razors and knives before renting a stall in the central market in Leeds. The business moved to Bradford in 1846 and Fattorini and Sons built a reputation for the quality and price of its products. By 1852, the firm formed watch clubs where customers were offered twenty weeks of credit to purchase timepieces.[91] It was after the arrival in Bradford of Tony Fattorini in 1882 that ‘the trade in sporting trophies was greatly increased’.[92] He was heavily involved in the organizational side of local sport. One club he took an active interest in was the Belle Vue based Airedale Harriers Athletics Club, which used the public house as headquarters for their 1887 athletics festival staged at Manningham FC’s nearby Valley Parade ground.[93]

Figure 3, Tony Fattorini

Tony Fattorini later became a key member of Manningham’s committee. His interest in rugby probably stemmed from his schooling in Harrogate where he played rugby under the supervision of Teddy Bartram ‘the famous Wakefield goal-kicker’ and later the first player to be charged with professionalism by the Rugby Football Union.[94] Fattorini helped guide the club through difficult times, such as the pivotal Manningham Mills strike (which the Fattorinis supported by donating money to a relief fund for striking families) and accusations of illegally paying players when Manningham FC won the Yorkshire Senior Competition in 1894. Fattorini was Manningham’s representative when, in August 1895, twenty-one clubs met at the George Hotel, Huddersfield and decided to break away from the Rugby Football Union. Frustrated by the hard line, and often contradictory, stance of the rugby authorities when it came to pleas to compensate players when they lost time at work due to their rugby commitments, the clubs founded the Northern Union. [95] Manningham became the first champions of the new code in 1896. With the level of interest in sport increasing year-on-year, Fattorini’s diversified into the design and production of a wide range of presentation items:

Gold and silver medals to schools and colleges, cups and medals to sporting clubs, awards for flower shows, chess clubs, learned societies and hundreds of other organizations throughout the country. They supplied mayoral chains, civic and Masonic regalia, badges, caskets centrepieces and various other ceremonial items.[96]

Tony Fattorini appears to be a man of contrasts. He was supportive of the split from the Rugby Union in 1895 where the crux of the debate was about the participation of working class players and compensating them for time lost at work. However, when the Northern Union decided to opt for open professionalism in 1898 he withdrew from office. This could have been pragmatism rather than ideological opposition to professionalism. Outright professionalism for many Northern Union clubs would lead to severe financial difficulties and it was a factor when Manningham changed codes to become Bradford City AFC in 1903. Fattorini became a shareholder of the new football club and became an influential member of the club’s committee. As Wray Vamplew commented, few shareholders of football clubs of that era expected to receive a dividend.[97] For businessmen, particularly those involved in the drinks trade, there was the possibility of indirect financial reward from the large crowds attracted to a successful club. For the majority, the communal prestige of being associated with the local football club may have been the only return on their investment. Of course, for a company such as Fattorini’s, who were intimately associated with the sale of sporting goods, medals and trophies, a place on the committee at Valley Parade was effectively a free advertisement.[98] It would have also facilitated access to the directors of opposing teams and the officials of the Football Association and Football League. While it is a big leap to suggest that those links were responsible for Fattorini’s winning the competition to design and produce the new FA Cup in 1911, they certainly would have done their chances of landing the contract no harm.

Fattorini’s reputation as precision watchmakers and Tony Fattorini’s love of sport combined when he became renowned as a sought after timekeeper. In that role he officiated at the King’s Cup air race around Britain; four Olympic Games (London, Paris, Stockholm, Amsterdam); and in 1924 he helped verify Malcolm Campbell’s unofficial world speed record in his famous Blue Bird.[99] When he became a member of the International Olympic Committee Executive Board, Fattorini was reported to have used his position to foster the British sporting spirit abroad, his great watch-word being ‘clean sport’. It was reported that he was opposed to any gambling or wagering on sporting events.[100] Once again the contradictions are vivid: a highly commercialized businessman, committee member of a professional football club and yet an upholder of Olympian virtues. Although in the wake of the Great War his involvement with Bradford City AFC waned, the family business continued to expand. However, his commitment to amateur athletics is illustrated by the remarkable number of amateur associations present at his funeral in 1931. Nearly all of them would have benefitted from Fattorini’s expert knowledge of timing and his company would have profited from the demand for medals and trophies those organizations generated.[101]


The history of athletics in Bradford provides both a reflection on the development of modern sport more generally as well as the peculiarities of its development in the city. The case study of the sporting events staged around the Quarry Gap Inn is a valuable insight into both sport on the cusp of the codified mass spectator sports and a time of realignment of the drinks trade.[102] Although sport has a long association with the public house, the factors listed above, combined with the rising popularity of organized sport probably inspired publicans such as Alfred Hardy to utilize sport to attract custom to his pub. The clustering of sports around public houses was also aided, perhaps inadvertently, by the actions of the authorities in attempting to drive ad hoc informal sports away from public spaces and roadways. Hardy was one of many publicans who developed specialized sports grounds, which, in some cases, will have come to dominate their businesses.[103]

For around six years, Hardy had attracted a huge variety of sports to Quarry Gap. He left the public house in 1868 at the very beginning of the rapid growth of codified sport. Perhaps anticipating the direction leisure was taking. Additionally, by the 1870s, as Storch and Taylor identified, the police and magistrates had much closer control over public houses. Whereas throughout the 1860s fines for permitting gambling etc., had been viewed almost as an occupational hazard, and a cost of doing business, a decade later publicans faced a higher chance of being put out of business.[104] Indeed, after Hardy’s departure there are many reports of landlords being fined for allowing betting to take place and sale of alcohol outside the prescribed hours. In 1871, Hardy is described, at the age of forty-nine, as a retired publican. When his son married in 1891 he was listed as a ‘deceased gentleman’. Arguably, this was a status gained (or perhaps claimed) via sporting leisure: a transformation of an individual, running parallel with the transformation of sporting leisure.

The second case study, and in particular the manner in which the Belle Vue Hotel was used in a different, perhaps passive, role, is illustrative of how the public house could now be as easily emptied by sport. Whether that was the Airedale Harriers jogging away from the Belle Vue or crowds of spectators walking down to Valley Parade for the 3 p.m. kick-off. The public house was now a location for organizing and talking about sport, the actual deeds would take place elsewhere. Of course, the public house was still an important place for the dissemination of information, many including the Belle Vue, had telegraphic instruments in order to receive football scores, racing results and other news. However, even this role was being diluted by the expansion of local and national newspapers. It is arguably illustrative of the long decline of the public house from the centrality of daily life.


List of Organizations represented and mourners present at the funeral of Tony Fattorini:

The mourners included: Lieutenant-Colonel A. Gadie (Bradford football pioneer), Eric S. Myers (Yorkshire Road Club; Bradford City AFC director), Ernest Waddilove (Road Walking Association; Bradford Park Avenue AFC chairman), officials and employees of Fattorini and Sons (including the designer of the FA Cup W. Norman) and Empire Stores.

A host of organizations sent representatives: Amateur Athletic Association, Bingley Harriers, Bradford Amateur Sports Association, Bradford Athletic Club, Bradford City Police, Bradford & County Road Walking Association, Bradford Discharged Prisoners’ Aid Society, Bradford Hospital & Convalescent Fund, Bradford Textile Co., Lancashire Walking Club, Manchester & District NCAA, Manningham Football Club, Menston Bowling Club, Menston Cricket Club, Menston Parish Council, Menston Working Mens’ Institute, National Cross-Country Association, Northern Counties Athletic Association, Northern Counties Boxing Association, North-Eastern Counties Athletic Club, Salford Harriers, West Riding Constabulary Athletics Association, York Athletic Club, Yorkshire Cross-Country Association, Yorkshire Road Club Ladies Section, Yorkshire Walking Club.[106]

Additional organizations Tony Fattorini had an interest in were listed in the obituaries as:

Airedale Harriers, Bradford & District Cross Country Association, Northern Counties Amateur Boxing Association, Northern Cross-Country Association, Roads Records Association, Royal Aero Club, Royal Automobile Club.



[1] Samantha-Jayne Oldfield, ‘George Martin, wizard of pedestrianism and Manchester’s sporting entrepreneur’, ed. Dave Day, Sporting Lives, (Crewe: MMU Institute for Performance Research, 2011) passim; Peter Lovesey, The Official Centenary of the Amateur Athletic Association, (Enfield: Guiness Superlatives, 1979), 15.

[2] Malcolm Hardman, Ruskin and Bradford, an experiment in Victorian cultural history, (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986), 140.

[3] Asa Briggs, Victorian Cities, (Harmondsworth: Pelican, 1971), 86.

[4] Tony Collins and Wray Vamplew, Mud, Sweat and Beers, a cultural history of sport and alcohol, (Oxford: Berg, 2002), 5-10.

[5] Robert Storch, ‘Introduction: Persistence and Change in Nineteenth-Century Popular Culture’, ed. Robert Storch, Popular Culture in Nineteenth-Century England, (Croom Helm, 1982), 10; Adrian Harvey, The Beginnings of a Commercial Sporting Culture in Britain 1793-1850, (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004), 169.

[6] Michael Birdsall, Gina Szekley, Peter Walker, The Illustrated History of Bradford’s Suburbs, (Derby: Breedon, 2002), 37.

[7] Dave Russell, ‘The Pursuit of Leisure’, eds. D.G. Wright and J.A. Jowitt, Victorian Bradford, (Bradford: Bradford Metropolitan, 1982), 208.

[8] Peter Bailey, Leisure and Class in Victorian England, rational recreation and the contest for control, 1830-1885, (Routledge, 1978, reprint 2007), 83-4.

[9] Storch, ‘Persistence and Change’, 10; Harvey, Commercial Sporting Culture, 169.

[10] Storch, ‘Persistence and Change’, 10

[11] Paul Jennings, The Public House in Bradford, 1770-1970, (Keele: Keele University Press, 1995), 57-9, 203-206; Paul Jennings, The Local, a history of the English pub, (Stroud: Tempus, 2007), 126-8; Mike Huggins, The Victorians and Sport, (Hambledon and London, 2004), 195.

[12] Emma Lile, ‘Professional Pedestrianism in South Wales during the Nineteenth Century’ The Sports Historian, 2, no. 20, November 2000, 94.

[13] Lovesey, Official Centenary History, 15.

[14] Jennings, Public House, 111. Briggs, Victorian Cities, 86. Bradford’s population increased from 34,560 to 103,778 between 1841-51. The retail drinks trade comprised of two distinct sectors: public houses licensed by magistrates and beerhouses licensed direct from the Excise. Externally beerhouses were often only distinguishable from surrounding housing by their sign. They were often too unsubstantial to offer sporting facilities.

[15] Hugh Cunningham, Leisure in the Industrial Revolution, (Croom Helm, 1980), 73.

[16] William Albert, The Turnpike Road System in England, 1663-1840, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972), 48; Martin Bairstow, The Manchester and Leeds Railway, the Calder Valley line, (Halifax: Bairstow, 1987), 27.

[17] Bradford Observer, April 25, 1864. Prior to this date there was another public house operating under the name the Quarry Gap is likely that the Quarry Gap Inn constructed in 1864 was an expanded replacement.

[18] Bradford Observer, February 6, 1862.

[19] Bradford Observer, April 23, 1863; Tony Collins, John Martin and Wray Vamplew, Encyclopaedia of Traditional British Rural Sports, (Abingdon: Routledge, 2005), 177; Spen Valley Local History Survey, Pennine Pastimes, Knur and Spell, (Hebden Bridge: Pennine Heritage Network, 1984), 1; Arthur Taylor, Played at the Pub, the pub games of Britain, (Swindon: English Heritage, 2009), 114, 172. Knur and spell is a bat and ball game played largely in the north of England.

[20] Bradford Observer, May 28, 1863.

[21] Bradford Observer, April 17, 1862; March 26, 1863; July 23, 1863; February 11, 1864; March 3, 1864; June 30, 1864; August 24, 1865.

[22] Mark Clapson, A Bit of a Flutter, popular gambling and English society, c.1823-1961 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1992), 110-113; Collins and Vamplew, Mud, Sweat and Beers, 11, 70; David Norman Smith, The Railway and its Passengers, a social history, (Newton Abbott: David and Charles, 1988), 121; James Walvin, Leisure and Society 1830-1950, (Longman, 1978), 24-5.

[23] Bradford Observer, July 9, 1863.

[24] Bradford Observer, January 25, 1866; March 15, 1865.

[25] Bradford Observer, June 30, 1864; June 8, 1865.

[26] Bradford Observer, August 21, 1862; October 11, 1866.

[27] Wilkie Collins, Man and Wife, (new ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008). Pedestrianism survives in literature, for example Collins used it as a basis of a novel that was a critique of Irish and Scottish marriage laws and the cult of athleticism.

[28] Richard Holt, Sport and the British, a modern history, (Oxford: Clarendon, 1989), 185. Holt deduced a similar pattern to the later marginalization of professional league cricket and rugby league.

[29] Peter Lovesey, Kings of Distance, a study of five great runners, (Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1968), 15-17.

[30] Harvey, Commercial Sporting Culture, 10; Jennings, Public House, 204.

[31] Holt, Sport and the British, 349.

[32] Derek Birley, Sport and the Making of Britain, (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993), 239-40.

[33] Lile, ‘Professional Pedestrianism’, 95; Peter Swain, ‘Pedestrianism, the Public House and Gambling in Nineteenth-century south-east Lancashire’ Sport in History, 32, no. 3, (September 2012): 400.

[34] Oldfield, ‘George Martin’, 149.

[35] Swain, ‘Pedestrianism and Public House’, 396.

[36] Huggins, Victorians and Sport, 3.

[37] Harvey, Commercial Sporting Culture, 44.

[38] Bell’s Life in London, January 25, 1852.

[39] Deborah Elaine Woodman, The Public House in Manchester and Salford c.1815-1880, (PhD. thesis, Leeds Metropolitan, 2001), 165.

[40] Lovesey, Kings of Distance, 31-3.

[41] Oldfield, ‘George Martin’, 154-9.

[42] Telegraph and Argus, October 3, 2007.

[43] Peter Radford, The Celebrated Captain Barclay, sport, gambling and adventure in Regency times, (Review, 2001); Lile, ‘Professional Pedestrianism’, 98.

[44] Leeds Times, October 15, 1864. The ordinary admission fee was 6d.

[45] Bradford Observer, August 27, 1863.

[46] Keith Sandiford, Cricket and the Victorians, (Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1994), 53-80.

[47] Birdsall, Szekley, Walker, Bradford’s Suburbs, 108.

[48] Bradford Observer, October 27, 1864.

[49] Bradford Observer, September 22; October 13; November 3, 1864.

[50] Bradford Observer, May 11, 1865.

[51] Bailey, Leisure and Class, 132.

[52] Bailey, Leisure and Class, 131-40.

[53] John Lowerson, Sport and the English middle class 1870-1914, (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993), 163.

[54] Mel Watman, The Official History of the AAA 1880-2010, (Cheltenham: SportsBooks, 2011), 7. Watman noted the ‘daring’ lack of the word amateur in the NCAA’s title.

[55] Bailey, Leisure and Class, 140.

[56] Alan Metcalfe, Leisure and Recreation in a Victorian Mining Community, the social economy of leisure in north-east England 1820-1914, (Routledge, 2006), 107. The Morpeth Olympic Games, established by local businessmen in 1872, offering large prize money to attract entrants from the north and Scotland being a good example.

[57] Graham Williams, The Code War, English football under the historical spotlight, (Harefield: Yore, 1994), 25.

[58] Lovesey, Official Centenary History, 16-18.

[59] Bradford Observer, June 17, 1874; July 20,1874; August 1, 1874.

[60] Lowerson, Sport and the English, 163.

[61] Bradford Observer, July 26, 1869; Keith Sandiford, ‘English Cricket Crowds During the Victorian Age’, Journal of Sport History, 9, no. 3 (winter 1982): 17. Reports of fashionable crowds appears to have been widespread and probably was used as an attempt to raise the status of the host club.

[62] Bradford Observer, November 8, 1873.

[63] Bradford Observer, April 4, 1844.

[64] Bradford Observer, December 16, 1852.

[65] Rob Light, Cricket’s Forgotten Past: A social and cultural history of the game in the West Riding of Yorkshire, 1820-1870, (PhD. thesis, De Montfort, 2008), 148.

[66] Cunningham, Leisure Industrial Revolution, 91.

[67] A.J. Arnold, A Game That Would Pay, a business history of professional football in Bradford, (Duckworth, 1988), 7-8. The football in the titles refers to rugby football and not association football.

[68] Ibid, 7.

[69] Trevor Delaney, The Grounds of Rugby League, (Keighley: Delaney, 1991), 77-8.

[70] Ibid. 26.

[71] Ibid. 113.

[72] Simon Inglis, Football Grounds of Britain, (Collins Willow, 1996) passim.

[73] Bradford Daily Telegraph, 21 July 1880.

[74] Sandiford, ‘English Cricket Crowds’, 13. Sandiford mentioned that ‘most clubs had to play soccer in the winter to avoid financial embarrassment’. In West Yorkshire rugby was the dominant winter game, so it was natural that Bradford CC had joined forces with Bradford Rugby Club.

[75] Lovesey, Official Centenary History, 29.

[76] Bailey, Leisure and Class, 136.

[77] George Sheeran, Brass Castles, West Yorkshire new rich and their houses 1800-1914, (Stroud: Tempus, 1993), 13.

[78] Dave Russell, ‘Provincial Concerts in England, 1865-1914: A Case-Study of Bradford’, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, Vol. 114, No. 1 (1989), 44; Frank Musgrove, The North of England, a history from Roman times to the present, (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990), 279-80.

[79] Simon Taylor and Kathryn Gibson, Manningham, character and diversity in a Bradford suburb, (Swindon: English Heritage, 2010), 47.

[80] Jennings, Public House, 170.

[81] David James, Bradford, (Halifax: Ryburn,1990), 113.

[82] Derek Coates, Bradford City Tramways 1882-1950, (Skipton: Wyvern Publications, 1984), 23.

[83] Geoffrey Best, Mid-Victorian Britain 1851-75, (Fontana, 1979), 240.

[84] S. Martin Gaskell, ‘Housing and the Lower Middle Class 1870-1914’, ed. Geoffrey Crossick, The Lower Middle Class in Britain, (Croom Helm, 1977), 161-162. The spread of lower class housing into previously affluent areas, as epitomized in late 1870s Manningham, is described by Gaskell as the ‘spoiling of the suburbs’.

[85] J Reynolds and K Laybourn, ‘The Emergence of the Independent Labour Party in Bradford’, International Review of Social History (1975), Vol.20, issue 03, 318. The writers make a claim for Manningham to be a working-class suburb by the 1890s but conceded that it also contained impressive villas and one of the town’s most active Conservative clubs.

[86] Harvey Taylor, A Claim on the Countryside, a history of the outdoor movement, (Edinburgh: Keele University Press, 1997), 153-61. Taylor describes the middle-class being at the centre of the cycling craze of the 1890s, but also the sport’s spread into the lower middle and working classes.

[87] Harvey Taylor, ‘Play up, but don’t play the game: English amateur athletic elitism, 1863-1910’, The Sports Historian, 22 no. 2, (November 2002): 84.

[88] Jennings, Public House, 213.

[89] Bailey, Lesiure and Class, 76.

[90] The 1891 census shows Fattorini living in a substantial middle-class villa at 25 Athol Road, Manningham, near Lister Park.

[91] Telegraph and Argus, January 11, 2008. Catalogues were produced to illustrate the watches and this inspired Tony Fattorini to pioneer home shopping in the early twentieth century with the formation of Empire Stores. A family split led to his brother, John Fattorini, founding the rival catalogue company Grattan.

[92] Patrick Beaver, A Pedlar’s Legacy, the origins and history of Empire Stores, (Henry Melland, 1981), 44; Industries of Yorkshire, (1888), 213.

[93] David Pendleton, Paraders, the 125 year history of Valley Parade, (Shipley: Bantamspast, 2011), 11; Rob Grillo, Staying the Distance, the story of distance running in Keighley and district, (Keighley: Keighley and Craven Athletic Club, 1999), 7.

[94] Telegraph and Argus, September 8 1931; Tony Collins, Rugby’s Great Split, class, culture and the origins of Rugby League Football, (Frank Cass, 1998), 49-50.

[95] Collins, Rugby’s Great Split, 137-48.

[96] Beaver, Pedlar’s Legacy, 44; Arnold, Game that would pay, 51.

[97] Wray Vamplew,, Pay up and play the game, professional sport in Britain, 1875-1914, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 157-8.

[98] Ibid, 173.

[99] Telegraph and Argus, September 8 1931; Manchester Guardian, September 9, 1931; Sporting Life, September 9, 1931; Leeds Mercury, September 9, 1931; Sports Echo, September 12, 1931.

[100] Telegraph and Argus, September 8, 1931.

[101] A full list of the organizations and mourners at Fattorini’s funeral appears in the appendix.

[102] Jennings, Public House, 145. The late nineteenth century saw a decline in the number of public houses, mergers and consolidation of large brewers and a slow decline in the consumption of alcohol.

[103] Harvey, Commercial Sporting Culture, 169.

[104] Storch, ‘Persistence and Change’, 15; Taylor, ‘Play up’, 80.

[105] Emma Lile, ‘Professional Pedestrianism in south Wales during the Nineteenth Century’ in The Sports Historian, 20, no. 2, (November 2000): 94.

[106] Telegraph and Argus, September 8, 1931; Manchester Guardian, September  9, 1931; Sporting Life, September, 9, 1931; Leeds Mercury, September, 9, 1931; Sports Echo, September, 12, 1931.