Mike Huggins

’s Inspectors of Schools felt in 1924 that such reports were exaggerated.2 HMI were in no position to know. Pupils were unlikely to boast to an unknown, middle-class visiting school inspector of their involvement in illegal gambling. Betting was probably exceeded only by cinema-going as the leading leisure spending activity during the interwar years.3 The 1853 Betting Houses Act and 1906 Street Betting Act had both assumed that the perceived ‘problem’ of working-class cash betting could be substantially reduced by prohibition and police action. They were wrong. Enforcement

in Horseracing and the British 1919–39
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Mike Huggins

way, the perception that cash betting was illegal as part of a class conspiracy, and the homogeneity of cash betting patterns in particular areas, must have helped to unify skilled and unskilled working-class groups, and aided the broader process of working-class formation and solidarity. Yet many historians still neglect the centrality of betting and gambling to much interwar leisure. For example, recent revisionist attempts to demonstrate that a modern ‘teenage’ culture already existed between the wars stressed their leisure activities such as cinema-going but

in Horseracing and the British 1919–39
Mike Huggins

cinema of reassurance (London: Routledge, 1997), pp. 1–2. See also Marcia Landy, British genres: cinema and society 1930–1960 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991) and Jeffrey Richards (ed.), The unknown 1930s: an alternative history of the British cinema 1929–1939 (London: B. Tauris, 1998). Ross McKibbin, Classes and cultures: England 1918–1951 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 456. John Sedgwick, ‘Cinema-going preferences in Britain in the 1930s’, in Richards (ed.), Unknown 1930s. Dennis Gifford, The British film catalogue, 1875–1970: a guide to

in Horseracing and the British 1919–39
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The racecourse and racecourse life
Mike Huggins

could afford to go racing more regularly, so further meetings would not have generated sufficient profit. While cinema-going became a weekly event, going to the races was still a special occasion. In part this was because of the higher costs of admission, although not all courses were fully enclosed. Free areas could still be found at a few long-established high-status flat courses like Epsom or Newmarket in 1939. At Epsom too there was always Derby Sunday, when London working people, dressed up in their best clothes, took a day out to picnic on the Downs and join in

in Horseracing and the British 1919–39
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Robert Mackay

Figures, p. 236. M-O, File Report 1151, March 1942. The Spectator, 2 April 1943. M-O, File Report 2085, April 1944. The Spectator, 2 February 1944. In the case of cinema-going, however, people were reluctant to concede defeat: Mass-Observation found that it was the last pursuit to be relinquished. File 486, 8 November 1940. The Spectator, 18 October 1940. Z. Katin, ‘Clippie’: the Autobiography of a War Time Conductress (John Gifford, 1944). M-O, File Reports 914 (trains), 1040 (buses). Longmate, How We Lived Then, pp. 293–320. Personal communication with the author

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