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Popular Politics and Popular Culture in the Age of the Masses

Studies in Lancashire and the North West of England, 1880s to 1930s


Jeffrey Hill

The book is a selection of essays from the author’s work since the early 1980s. It presents an analysis of political and cultural trends based upon a series of case studies drawn from the North West of England, covering mainly the years between the Third Reform Act (1884) and the outbreak of the Second World War. The region was a heavily industrialized one, seen by many as in the vanguard of changes that gave rise to what is often referred to as ‘modern’ society. In politics the emergence in North West England of a new labour consciousness is plainly evident, but so too is the survival and adaptation of older political allegiances, notably popular Toryism. The region is also renowned in cultural terms for the emergence of modern sport, examined here in relation to both association football and cricket. Keenly aware of the general political, social and cultural developments in Britain and elsewhere during these years, the author is also alert to their impact in particular localities. The theme of locality has been a recurring one in the author’s research, and the composition of this book reflects his changing approaches to it and to other, related issues of identity.
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Chapter One: Lancashire and the North West


← viii | 1 → CHAPTER ONE

Writing of the town of Bochum in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century the American historian of Germany, David F. Crew, made an important point about the relationship between the local and the national in historical perspective: ‘it is a question of asking how and in what ways and to what extent local areas participated in, contributed to, were affected by and reacted to the larger-scale social, economic and political transformations that changed much of Europe during this period.’1 A similar point was made equally plainly by one of the foremost historians of North West England, John Marshall. Marshall, who had done as much as anyone to champion local and regional approaches, felt strongly that such histories must be related to the wider discourse of national and international developments, lest they descend into mere antiquarianism.2

These prescriptions have long been honoured in relation to the North West of England, Lancashire in particular.3 The region has been a continuing ← 1 | 2 → focus of interest for historians and social commentators interested in the big picture. Most have given prominence to the material and intellectual features of the North West.4 Size has much to do with this. During the period to which this book refers the region possessed an economy and a population greater than that of many European countries. There were almost five million people living in the North West on the eve of the First World War, many of them employed in...

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