Leisure And Consumption
Work, Life And Leisure of Class 10
Leisure And Consumption
For wealthy Britishers, there had long been an annual ‘London Season’. Several cultural events, such as the opera, the theatre and classical music performances were organised for an elite group of 300-400 families in the late eighteenth century. Meanwhile, working classes met in pubs to have a drink, exchange news and sometimes also to organise for political action. Many new types of large-scale entertainment for the common people came into being, some made possible with money from the state. Libraries, art galleries and museums were established in the nineteenth century to provide people with a sense of history and pride in the achievements of the British. At first, visitors to the British Museum in London numbered just about 15,000 every year, but when entry was made free in 1810, visitors swamped the museum: their number jumped to 127,643 in 1824-25, shooting up to 825, 901 by 1846. Music halls were popular among the lower classes, and, by the early twentieth century, cinema became the great mass entertainment for mixed audiences.
Pleasure gardens came in the nineteenth century to provide facilities for sports, entertainment and refreshments for the well-to-do.
- Libraries, art galleries and museums were established in the nineteenth century to provide people with a sense of history and pride in the achievements of the British.
- Music halls were popular among lower classes. By the early twentieth century cinema became the great mass entertainment for mixed audience.
- British industrial workers were increasingly encouraged to spend their holiday by the sea, so as to derive the benefits of the sun and bracing winds.
The working poor created spaces of entertainment wherever they lived.
POLITICS IN THE CITY:
In the severe winter of 1886, when outdoor work came to a standstill, the London poor exploded in a riot, demanding relief from the terrible conditions of poverty. Alarmed shopkeepers closed down their establishments, fearing the 10,000-strong crowd that was marching from Deptford to London. The marchers had to be dispersed by the police. A similar riot occurred in late 1887; this time, it was brutally suppressed by the police in what came to be known as the Bloody Sunday of November 1887. Two years later, thousands of London’s dock workers went on strike and marched through the city.
These are good example of how large masses of people could be drawn into political causes in the city. A large city population was thus both a threat and an opportunity. State authorities went to great lengths to reduce the possibility of rebellion and enhance urban aesthetics. Better town planning was carried out with lots of greenery and open spaces to induce a sense of calm. This was believed to help produce more responsible citizens.