This book analyses certain ideologies which governed the middle class’ hegemonic approach to leisure in Victorian Manchester. The study presents different forms of leisure, recreation and entertainment in the city. The author also examines the reasons for the support and financial involvement of Manchester bourgeoisie and its municipal authorities in their development. The analysis covers a wide range of cultural practices and activities, such as institutions and activities promoting intellectual and moral development, family recreation and entertainment, as well as activities and facilities improving health, physical and moral condition of the Mancunians, and sport.
Chapter 4: Health of the nation: outdoor recreations and sport
4.1 The health of the nation
The social and economic transformations attendant upon industrialisation caused a growing concern about the living conditions of urban populations. Particularly disturbing to the social reformers in the first decades of the nineteenth century was the congestion and appalling sanitary conditions in the quickly growing poverty-stricken city slums. Several factors were at the root of these problems, one of which was the layout of the new industrial towns characterised by the uncontrolled growth of working-class districts with dead end streets and enclosed yards. Another was a lack of sewerage and fresh water provision as well as the accumulation of household waste and horse manure in the streets and yards. These foul conditions were further exacerbated by industry located in the proximity of workers’ houses, pouring its untreated chemical waste into local rivers and canals and polluting the air with smoke from its chimneys.1
Despite the expansion of local government structures and the growth of municipal powers between 1830 and 1840, the development of city infrastructure and the provision of public services by local authorities in new industrial cities could not keep pace with the rapid expansion of housing estates and the populations. Nor could the municipalities halt the progressive devastation of the urban environment. While the affluent middle class could find escape from the unhealthy conditions of inner-city districts in the sprawling green suburbs, a vast majority of the working population was doomed to endure the insanitary inner-city environment....
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