Res, Roy (Director of Physical Education at the University College of North Wales)
Olympic Review, No. 111 (1977)
The early 1860’s had witnessed a surge of interest in sport in England. The Industrial Revolution had brought enormous wealth to the leading families and by 1860 many of the highly skilled and professional workers had also gained the privilege of a Saturday after- noon weekly holiday. The upper and middle classes were thus in a position to seek some form of organised recreation to occupy them in their newly-acquired leisure time. Scores of newly-formed cricket, golf, bowls, sailing and rowing clubs sprang up in most industrial areas of England.
Amateur athletic meetings were also increasing in popularity and the sport of track and field athletics received a tremendous boost from the activities of the Volunteer Brigades which had been formed in Britain as a direct outcome of the nation’s concern about the army’ s performance in the Crimean W ar 1854-6 and Indian Mutiny 1857-9. The Volunteer Brigades provided large groups of young men drawn from the upper social classes; they met regularly; one of their declared aims was the improvement of physical fitness; and their parade grounds provided ready made stadia. Their influence on the development of organised athletic meetings was considerable.