Playing Pasts is delighted to present this podcast by Prof Dave Day from the Sporting Lives symposium hosted by Manchester Metropolitan University’s Institute for Performance Research.  Subsequently the papers were published into a collection of the same name, for details see –


During the eighteenth century the English economy underwent an accelerated structural transformation in which industry came into greater prominence.  Industrialisation and urbanisation led to reductions in both the time to indulge in ludic activities and the space to participate in them, although in developing urban areas it was insufficient working-class spending power that limited access to sports as powerful economic influences acted to change traditional pursuits.   A combination of increasing population growth and rapid urbanisation created an environment for the enterprising to exploit and the entrepreneurial response from leisure providers in many of the emerging large urban communities, especially London, was dynamic.  Gough’s illuminated Amphitheatre, or artificial Marble Green House, in Long Lane, Aldergate Street, presented a variety of curious paintings of fruit and flowers in 1743, together with representations of regimental soldiers in battle dress and a plan of the battlefield at Dettingen, all under a branch of lights and twenty eight Pier glasses about nine feet high, for the entrance money of six pence per person. Professional anatomy teachers lectured to anyone who bought a ticket and there were anatomical waxwork exhibitions from the beginning of the eighteenth century at venues such as Rackstrow’s public museum in the Strand…

Article © Dave Day 

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