With the factory acts of 1850 creating the weekend, the real wages being doubled in the asses, and the growth of the railways from asses, Victorians were able to create their own personal identities, based on their own leisure activities. However, along with these factors came worries from within the Victorian society. The increase in mass leisure caused the working class to be less conformed and controlled by he upper class, whilst having money and time to waste on ‘sin. ‘ this increase of personal leisure caused great joy within the lower classes of England, but caused many anxieties to some above.
Arguably, the main cause for the worries around mass leisure was the increase of drinking throughout the working class. Referred to by religious circles as the ‘demon drink’ (Royal, 201 2, p. 277), the growth in local public houses between 1870 and 1885 caused a decline in church attendance on a Sunday. The upper class also disapproved of the drinking of the working class, believing it to be the underlying social problem. This view stemmed by many of the wealthier Victorians believing that poverty was the fault of the workers excessive expenditure of alcohol during their personal free time, rather than their small Wages.
They also believed that the public house was the root home for moral sins, such as gambling and prostitution. (Royal, 2000). Historian Dodd reflects ideas that the reason for such a growth in alcoholism during the asses was caused by the fact purchasing power had overtaken the supply for personal consumer goods (Dodd, p. 65, 1990). Royal also depicts the ideology of drinking to be a ‘consumer good’ due to the rise of commercialese leisure (Royal, 2000, p. 299). Many factory owners believed there would be a severe loss of productivity within the work place due to alcohol and less working hours.
This, in fact, worked in the factory owner’s favor. The productivity level not only sustained its previous quota, but in some areas succeeded them. This was due to the workers themselves, as they were doing less hours, many of the workers had a better work ethic within their shifted times, in order to finish their personal quota (Thompson, 1981). A major issue of the growth of personal leisure time for the Victorian worker was that they couldn’t be as strictly controlled as they were during the intense work lifestyle which this new, more relaxed society had removed.
Many people were scared that the new free time the public were receiving paired with the vastly growing cities within England would cause a spread of a newly developed, illiterate and alcoholic working class. Beans identifies this period of leisure growth to also alter stereotypical family dynamics. Beans claims that unlike the society before, where the Victorian house was a place of safety and sanctity to all family members, but a place ‘anxious’ to allow distant relatives to stay over due to fear of missing silver (Beans, 2005, p. 9). This could show that during the late nineteenth century, the amount of personal morals fell due to the amount of free time the public had to commit crimes and offences. Continuing with Odds research, there was a greater demand for longer leisure periods over the need for extra working hours for more money. This came a worry to the upper and middle class, as the manual workers had begun to view personal leisure to have a higher importance of giving a social identity than that of daily working.
The increase of individual life choices and personal preference gave the working class a greater sense of individuality, different to the combined struggles of continuous exhaustion and hard work of a work force (Dodd, 1990). Another worry of the expansion of mass leisure within Victorian Britain was the rise of the music halls. A classic leisure activity throughout the Victorian RA, these music halls were a place of drinking and dancing. The consumption Of alcohol mixed with the bawdy behavior within said halls was widely disapproved by the middle class moralists, also causing friction with the religious members of Church Of England society.
This was due to the lewd behavior within. With the first music halls of the asses being male only, the halls were a place of ‘smut,’ surrounded by an array of alcohol and tobacco (Marriages, 1969, p. 182). The music halls gained a greater public influence in the asses, with the allowance of women and children able to watch the shows. Along with the rise of the music halls, came the rise of ‘sins’ which was viewed within them. For example, one infamous singer of the late 1 8505 was Jenny Hill, daughter of a taxi driver.
Although she and other numerous performers never used direct foul or sexual language, the majority of the songs were ladled with sexual innuendos. The singers, described by Marriages to have ‘racy gusto,’ ‘vulgarity’ and ‘saucy smiles’ caused disgust by the moralists within the English society. (Marriages, 1 969, p. 1 83). Although the music halls were filled with mixed entertainment, allowing a greater sense f mass leisure within as all classes of the English society. With the mid- nineteenth century slowly progressing into a time of greater leisure within the system, a rise of male sports began.
The game of cricket, which was first associated to be a village game, moved more to urban areas, with the gentry taking up the sport. The meetings of groups of men heightened many of the fears of those against the spread of mass leisure, as the gentry’ parsonage attracted a rise of heavy gambling. Gambling, to the Church of England, was an unmoral practice, one of great sin. This sense of loose morals within sport lowly began to arise in the more brutal form of the traditional game of football, also referred to as ‘the people’s game’.
Described to be an ‘unrecognized, violent and disturbing to the peace’ sport, football was clear evidence of what many moralists believed to be wrong with mass leisure (Royal, 2012, p. 297). However, once the game had been reformed and reintroduced into public schools, football took the shape of a regulated and sophisticated game. Although the game itself was formalized in 1863 with the formation of the Football Society, the threat of undisciplined behavior came room the spectators of the sport itself. Dubbed as the ‘football crowds,’ a number of complaints Were documented on street Corners and public transport, such as trains.
Although the complaints about behavior of the crowds were documented, there isn’t sufficient evidence that the public was in fear of mob crowds throughout this period. This means that although the behavior of football spectators was not at a par with regular Victorian society, it was merely frowned upon rather than feared. Following the increase of personal leisure arose the opportunities for cheap rail travel. This, along with the passing of the Bank Holidays Act in 1871 allowed the working class to holiday in seaside resorts within the United Kingdom.
The growth of holiday resorts within England greatly expanded, with only 48 resorts being documented in the 1871 census, but more than 200 used in the 1897 census. Before the full bodied bathing costumes which we often attach to ideas of Victorian holidays, many of the beaches in the asses were nude for only men. This rule was soon overruled, as many complaints were received by the female population. Blackball was one of the biggest holiday resorts, infamous for its outside dancing areas and long promenades (Read, 2014).
Many Victorian moralists were worried about the growth of mischief within these holiday resorts, as the excitement of workers being away from home and in a new area often caused a lack of morals, as the holiday makers were away from their familiar environment. In conclusion, the main worry with the increase of mass leisure was that of personal morals. With the exception of individuals, however, the new system benefited many. Although some members of the public did fall into the sins of ambling, drinking and prostitution, many factories and workers remained honorable and hard working within the English system.
Many of the changes to the lifestyles of Victorians were successful enough to remain around in modern day, for example the cheap trains of Thomas Cook have evolved into cheap transport to foreign countries. The weekend is a fundamental aspect of everyday lives, not only in the Ignited Kingdom, but throughout the world, and football is also infamous throughout the world. This is clear evidence that the impact of changes in leisure during Victorian society, although may have caused anxiety to a small minority, were a vital part of shaping modern day life.