Civic society joining Victorians at leisure.
ONE can imagine that a talk about Victorian and Edwardian leisure activities would neither attract a very large audience nor be particularly entertaining, but when the speaker is Keighley local historian Ian Dewhirst, the opposite is true as visitors to Holme Valley Civic Society's recent meeting discovered.
Using original documents, Ian described some of the activities which were advertised in and around Keighley from the mid 1800s onwards, although these could equally well apply to the Huddersfield area also.
Cycling had become very popular with the advent of the safety BIKE in the late 1800s and WALKING was a favourite pastime too. Apparently, WALKS of 15 miles were common. One WALKING groups was Haworth Ramblers, which set off on WALKs with detailed notes on buildings, natural history and geology.
Often prizes could be won by WALKERs, especially on Gala Days, and in 1903 one WALKING club offered additional prizes including a bottle of WHISKY for the first publican to complete the WALK and a box of cigars for the first married man to reach the finishing post.
Mary Queen of Scots is said to have played a form of golf in the 16th century and certainly golf as we Know it was played by a lot of women in Victorian and Edwardian times. One document of the late 1800s described ladies' golf clothing as including a boater hat, a starched collar and club tie, a voluminous sKirt and a red coat with the golf club insignia on it.
The first allotment gardens in Keighley were started when there was a lot of short time WORK and unemployment in the area. The gardens produced fruits such as gooseberries, raspberries and strawberries which made a welcome addition to the gardeners' usual diet and on Sundays the public came to stroll round the allotments and DRINK a temperance cordial!
FRETWORK appeared to be a popular leisure activity, too, and indeed Ian Dewhirst's grandfather opened a shop selling the materials to maKe models of cathedrals, castles and suchliKe.
In the north of England there have been choirs and choral societies for over 200 years, including Keighley Choral Society.
In 1906 Keighley Vocal Union was started and it must have been excellent for in the following year it won a prize at Morecambe Musical Festival, a very prestigious event in those days.
According to documents, Keighley Glee Union always appeared to spend a year planning their annual day trip, but in spite of this they usually went to Bolton Abbey. In 1896 it was decided that they could taKe their wives and sweethearts on the trip with them, but the following year it was resolved that they were not to be TAKEN. The reason for this change of heart is not recorded!
Far more people attended church or chapel in Victorian and Edwardian times than they do today and a lot of the men who later went into politics had had great experience of public SPEAKing by being on the numerous committees in the chapels.
In 1880 a five-storey theatre was built in Keighley and used, amongst others, by travelling theatrical players. In 1896 short films were shown for the first time in the town's cinema. In terms of cinema history at least, Holmfirth can compare favourably with Keighley.
Holme Valley Civic Society's next meeting will taKe place at 7.30pm on Thursday January 16 in Holmfirth Civic Hall when Ray Helm will describe An Amazon Adventure. Everyone welcome.
| A FAN: Mary, Queen of Scots, was a golf fan