Monday, 11 June 2012

Edwardian Roller Skating Boom 1908-1912

Thursday 21 June. 2-3pm
I will talk on
The Edwardian Roller Skating Boom
The National Archives, Kew
Sponsored by Friends of TNA, this talk will concentrate on relevant material in the TNA collection.
Monday 25 June. 5.15pm.
I will talk on
Boom and Bust:
The Edwardian Roller Skating Boom, 1908-1912
Sports & Leisure Seminar, Institute of Historical Research, Bloomsbury Room 35, Senate House, Malet St/Russell Square, London, WC1
This talk will be have an emphasis different from that for TNA on 21 June.

Back in the early 1990s when I undertook some research for an American family into their grandfather in Britain. He turned out to have worked in skating rink in the Edwardian Roller Skating Boom of 1908-1912. This led me to undertake a wide rnage of research into different aspects of the boom.

As this is Olympics year this topic has become of interest. I have already given a talk about the boom in the Wandsworth Heritage Festival. Here is a brief explanation.

Roller-skating has had a continuing attraction in this country for at least 120 years, since 1870s. While its popularity has been subject to booms and slumps, there have always been dedicated groups of enthusiasts organised in roller-skating clubs, or in off-shoot sports like roller-hockey.

The Edwardian Boom

Perhaps the most explosive boom was that in the Edwardian period between 1908 and 1912, when roller-skating was called 'rinking', and was largely an indoor and seasonal recreation and sport carried on at skating rinks. In 1909 alone over 239 companies registered with the intention of building rinks. They had a share capital of just over £2m. The boom was so popular that rinks were established in competition with each other in the same town. Birmingham had six rinks as well as the one in nearby Erdington. Bournemouth had four rinks, some dating from the 1870s Victorian boom. Some companies developed chains of rinks, like Rinking Ltd with over 20 rinks by October 1909, and itself credited at the time with re-establishing the past-time in Britain. In 1910 there were 526 Rinks in Britain. The largest rinks could cater for thousands of skaters and spectators, while a more typical size catered for hundreds.

Employment and Activities

The industry employed thousands of people at the rinks, and in supply industries. Four specialist magazines were published between 1909 and 1911. There were Rink Owners and International Professional Roller Skaters' Associations. Professional fancy and trick skaters, including women, toured the country. The American Harley Davidson, finished his show by leaping backwards over seven chairs, turning a complete circle in the air.

The range of activities that could be carried out on skates was clearly one of skating's appeals, including roller push-ball, roller football, and very popular fancy-dress carnivals. Keen skaters formed racing and hockey clubs, which played each other through organisations like the Amateur Rink Hockey Association, and the London Roller Racing League.

The Role of the National Skating Association

Although its principal interest was ice-skating, the controlling body for roller-skating was the National Skating Association. Founded in 1879, and still going strong, the NSA oversaw the rules for amateur and professional competitions. Its patrons included the King, the Prince of Wales and Members of Parliament.

The Decline

Popular interest around the country in roller-skating began to wane from 1911, probably because of developments in the picture industry. The specialist magazines had all closed by the end of that year. Many companies went bust, and others shut their doors and the buildings were converted into other uses, including as picture houses. Many rinks, continued to flourish, like those at Crystal and Alexandra Palaces and the Westover in Bournemouth until the First World War, and Alexandra Palace after the War.

More Events through June and July to mid August

To 23 June. Thursdays-Saturdays. 11am-5pm. Rachel Garfield. The Struggle. Exhibition. The period we live in – straddling two millennia and two centuries – seems (from Rachel Garfield’s perspective) a good moment to take stock of some of the big questions that have preoccupied the generations of the 20th Century. Commissioned by Beaconsfield, The Struggle is a new trilogy of essay films – in development - exploring the impact of politicised family interactions on the adult. Starting with The Straggle – a study focusing on individuals whose parents were left-wing activists – The Struggle progresses through Garfield’s engagement with people whose identities have been formed in homes where the ethical environment was dominated by religion and the military. If you have been shaped by a political, religious or military upbringing and would like to talk with the artist or be interviewed please contact Exhibition includes earlier collaborative work: Rachel Garfield and Stephen Dwoskin, Here There Then Now, 2009.

Wednesday 13 June. 2pm. George McKay talks on Radical Gardening. George's new book, Radical gardening: politics, idealism & rebellion in the garden, aims to show how notions of utopia, of community, of peace and of activism are worked through in the garden. After the talk, at about 3pm, free tour of WCML’s little-known garden, which is home to an astonishing range of unusual trees and plants. Ring 0161 736 3601 to book a place. Working Class Movement Library, Salford.

Wednesday 13 June. 5.30-8pm. Black Activism in Britain in the 1930s and 1940s. First Kath Locke Memorial Lecture by Maria Noble will explore the nature of, and in particular look to the contribution of Manchester-based activist Ras Makonnen. Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre, Sackville Street Building, Sackville Street, University of Manchester, M1. Free with refreshments. RSVP to  or call 0161 275 2920.

Thursday 14 June. 6pm to 8.30pm. The Lone Protestor. Fiona Paisley in conversation with Bernardiine Evariisto about Fiona’s new work on the life of Anthony Martin Fernando, an Australian Aboriginal who protested  against British imperial rule while he lived and worked in London and Europe during the 1920s and 1930s. Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 4QH. RSVP to Free although registration is required for catering numbers. Cohosted  by Aboriginal Studies Press, the Equiano Centre UCL & the Raphael Samuel History Centre.

Thursday 14 June. 7pm. `Politics in the Piggery': Chartism in the Ouseburn, 1838-1848. NELH/NEPP talk Mike Greatbach, Lit & Phil, Westgate Road. Newcastle. The Ouseburn Chartists organised an independent association for political reform against a backdrop of local business expansion and transport developments that made this decade one of Ouseburn's most prosperous. So, who were these working men that succeeded in establishing an independent Chartist association during such changing times, and what factors influenced their actions? Mike Greatbatch has championed the heritage of the Ouseburn since 1998 and is now a volunteer in the North East Popular Politics Project.

Saturday 16 June. 10am-4pm. People’s History of Berwick and the Borders Day School.  Berwick Youth Hostel, Dewars Lane Granary. NEPPP day school will be a practical introduction to ordinary people’s stories in Berwick and the Border areas. You will hear of work already being done and the day will include sessions on the use of libraries and archives, the internet and training in oral history.  Everyone is welcome but booking is essential. Contact or 07761818384. There will be a collection on the day to cover room hire. Food will be available on the premises.

Saturday 16 June 2012. 11am. Upstairs, Downstairs at Toynbee Hall, East London, 1880-1914. Talk by Lucinda Matthew-Jones. National Waterfront Museum, Swansea. Historical Association branch event – free. 07971 665594;;

Saturday 16 June. 7.30pm. Songs of Celebration inc. Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast. Henley Choral Society concert featuring British composers on a theme of celebration. Inc. Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast; The Turning Year by Cecil Armstrong Gibbs; Ralph Vaughan Williams Five Mystical Songs; Flourish for a Coronation, Musical Director Will Dawes. Tenor Guy Cutting (who will sing Onaway! Awake, Beloved); bass Dominic Bowe; 100-strong chorus and superb accompanist David Smith.  St Mary’s Parish Church, Hart St, Henley. Tickets £12 (under 18’s - £8) from Ticket Secretary 01491 572795 or Gorvett & Stone, Duke Street, Henley-on-Thames. Will Dawes said: “Guy is a prodigious talent. Currently in his final year at Oxford and a choral scholar at New College, he is already doing great things professionally.” A short extract from Longfellow’s poem will set the scene. &

Monday 18 & Tuesday 19 June. 2-8 pm. Thames Tunnel  Public Exhibition on Thames Water’s revised proposals for handling the works on Albert Embankment. Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel, 18 Albert Embankment, SE1. Information about these changes are available on their website The consultation closes on 4 July at 5 pm.

Monday 18 June. 6.45pm. Friends of Durning Library Summer Party. Durning Library, 167 Kennington Lane, London, SE11.

Monday 18 June. Doors open 6.45pm.  The Sugar Girls. Talk by Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi. Tales of hardship and love in Tate and Lyle’s factories in Silvertown during the 1940s and 1950s. Free  entry, light refreshments available with a suggested donation to Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library. Tate South Lambeth Library, 180 South Lambeth Road Vauxhall, London, SW8.

Tuesday 19 - Saturday 30 June. 11am-5pm. Phillipa Egerton Art and Cakeheads Exhibition. Wandsworth artist and H&SA Diary & News reader Phillippa is showing her cake heads inc. The Queen and William and Kate at the Sprout Gallery in Tooting: 74 Moyser Road, SW16. Last year she did three heads - Ed Miliband, Gaddafi (who was raffled) and Saddiq Khan, who cut his own head. She will also be showing urban paintings and prints. Ann and I have several of them.

Wednesday 20 June. 6.30 for 7pm (NOT 21 June as previously advertised). KOV Forum AGM and general public meeting, Carmelita Centre, 41 Vauxhall Walk, SE11.

Thursday 21 (5-8pm) & Saturday 23 June (10am-1pm).  Eastbury House Planning Consultation. Carmelita Centre, Vauxhall St.  See To comment on the application go to and use reference 12/01768/FUL/DC_KTH to view the planning documents.

Friday 22 June. Sam Bamford Day in Middleton. Sam was a weaver, writer and political radical who led the Middleton contingent who marched to what became the Peterloo Massacre. Guided walks at 10am and 2pm, and a talk at the Middleton Arena in the evening followed by live music. To book a place on the walks ring Dave Lees on 0161 643 6558.

Friday 22 June. 7.30-9.15pm. The Straggle in Open City Docs Fest. Experiments in Time: Artists Documentary. Screening as part of the Elegies for Ideologies programme, alongside works by other artists including Phil Collins and Uriel Orlow. Rachel Garfield participates in a panel discussion following the film programme. Find full festival information and buy tickets here: Linked to The Struggle Exhibition at Beaconsfield gallery (see above).

Saturday 23 June. 11am till 1pm. Vauxhall Gardens Community Centre AGM. 100 Vauxhall Walk.

Saturday 23 June
2.30-4.30pm. Remembering Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (15 Aug 1875 - 1 Sept 1912) - an African British musical genius & pan-Africanist.  Free. To book: History consultant Kwaku leads on a family-friendly audio-visual presentation on the life and work of the composer and pan-Africanist on behalf of BTWSC/SCT100PM Collective. ‘Hear some of SC-T's music and find out a bit more about this once global superstar! Gayton Library, 5 Saint John's Road, Harrow, HA1 (Harrow On The Hill). 020 8427 6012.
7.30pm. Croydon Bach Choir Summer Concert. Conductor Tim Horton. St Matthew's Church, Chichester Road, East Croydon. SC-T’s A Tale of Old Japan, op. 76, and Vivaldi Gloria. Tickets £10 at the door or telephone 020 8405 2172. Croydon Festival event.

Sunday 24 June. 2-5 pm. Vauxhall Park Summer Fair. Donkey rides, bouncy slide, mini bouncy castle, dog show with Olympian theme, football, stalls, hot food (from Tastes of Spain), ice cream, popcorn, strolling juggler, jazz band, children’s games galore, Punch and Judy and fortune telling.

Tuesday 26 June. 6-8pm. Rethinking early Quakerism and its origins. Talk by Dr. Ariel Hessayon (Goldsmiths) at Quaker History Meeting,  Quaker Centre, Friends House, 173 Euston Rd, London, NW1. Of all the new religious movements and sects that emerged during the English Revolution of 1641–60 the Quakers were the largest, most successful and enduring. In this talk Hessayon begins with a summary of the main scholarly literature on early Quakerism and an assessment of its merits. He will examine the origins of the name comparing it with the ways in which polemicists used other terms of abuse, before suggesting that Quakerism had multiple beginnings rather than a singular basis. Other aspects of early Quakerism that he will discuss include its defining characteristics, social composition, and the beliefs of its adherents such as their attitude towards the Bible; their anticlericalism and hostility to tithes; their pleas for religious toleration and their calls for legal and medical reform. He will examine Quaker preaching, literary style, modes of speech, use of silence and prophetic behaviour within the context of a widespread belief in an imminent apocalypse. Among the reasons for the success of early Quakerism were the appeal of its message; an organised program of evangelism wedded to contemporary political concerns; the willingness of believers to undergo sufferings and even martyrdom for their faith; the resilience of those engaged in pamphlet wars with competing sects and other detractors; the effective manner in which money was raised to finance and distribute these publications; the ability of the leadership to impose doctrinal uniformity and overcome rivalry and schism; and the ways in which Quakerism was able to evolve and adapt so as to survive the Restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660 and the changed political and religious landscape that came in its wake. The Library will be open that day until 6pm. Register for a free place at

Wednesday 27 June. Living with Uniformity: the Church of England and Dissent, 1662 to
1689 Conference to mark the 350th anniversary of the Act of Uniformity
. The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester.

Wednesday 27 June. 2pm. Joseph O'Neill’s The Manchester Martyrs. Talk about the 1867 events surrounding the execution of three Irishmen in Salford for the shooting of a policeman. The executions served as a spur to those seeking Irish independence. Working Class Movement Library, Salford.

Saturday 30 June. 4pm. Cutting "The Queen's Head". Phillippa Egerton. Part of exhibition at Sprout Gallery - see 19-30 June above. 

Saturday 30 June. 6.30pm. Vulture’s Picnic: a tale of oil, high finance, and investigative reporting. Talk by Greg Palast. £3 entry, redeemable against any purchase. Housmans, 5 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross, London N1. 020 7837 4473; Vulture's Picnic is Greg's hard hitting expose of the oil industry, the banking industry, and the government agencies that aren't regulating either. Greg’s radical journalism first came to my attention as Secretary of Public Utilities Access Forum in Britain in the 1990s over the privatisation of the utilities. Lively and provocative it should be a good evening.
Wednesday 4 – Friday 6 July. Literary London 2012: Representations of London in Literature, an Interdisciplinary Conference. Institute of English Studies, University of London. Conference theme:

‘Sports, Games, and Pastimes’. A rich and diverse programme of papers worth looking at.

Wednesday 4 July. 7.30pm. Organ recital and lecture about St. Peter’s organ. £8/5.  St Peter’s Church Kennington Lane (Vauxhall end), London, SE11. The Church is an excellent venue for live music. 

Saturday 7 July. David Killingray. 'The Revd Dr Theophilus Scholes (1865-1940?): black Baptist critic at the heart of Empire'. Lecture to the Baptist Historical Society Conference, Regent's Park College, Oxford.
Saturday 7 July. 7.30pm. Music at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. Opera with London Early Opera Orchestra, with narration by Dr Alan Borg. £15/10.  St Peter’s Church Kennington Lane (Vauxhall end), London, SE11. 

Sunday 8 July. 5pm. Piano concert - fantasy sonatas by Beethoven and Schubert. Leslie Howard. £8/5. St Peter’s Church Kennington Lane (Vauxhall end), London, SE11. 

Tuesday 10 July. 8pm. Sex, Lyres and Audiotape. Storyteller and musician Clare Goodall brings the history of music to life. St Peter’s Church Kennington Lane (Vauxhall end), London, SE11. 

Wednesday 11 July. A.D. George - Trafford Park, 1896 and beyond. Talk about the history of Trafford Park, from country estate and deer park to becoming one of Europe's largest and busiest industrial parks employing thousands including Library co-founder Eddie Frow. Working Class Movement Library, Salford. 

Friday 13 July. 7.30pm. Once upon a time in Knoxville. Screening of film by Will Fraser. St Peter’s Church Kennington Lane (Vauxhall end), London, SE11.   

Saturday 14 July. Chartism Day 2012. 10am-5pm. People Museum, Manchester.

Saturday 14 July. 2 - 5pm. Archbishop Sumner Primary School Summer Fete. Wincott Street, Kennington, London, SE11. School’s first ever summer fete to be opened by Kate Hoey; stalls, face-painting, fun activities for the kids,  tombola,  fire engine courtesy of the London Fire Brigade, entertainment from the school brass band and steel pans, cake sale and  barbecue. The school grounds are well worth seeing and on past performance the school musicians will be well worth seeing. £1 adults, 50p children.

Sunday 15 July. 6.30pm. Choral Evensong with first performance of newly-commissioned Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis by Ian Shaw. St Peter’s Church Kennington Lane (Vauxhall end), London, SE11.

Wednesday 18 July. 6.30pm. Guided walk along Clapham Park Road to Park Hill and the surrounding area. Led by Peter Jefferson Smith. Clapham Society. Meet at the clock tower outside Clapham Common Underground Station.

Thursday 19 July. Gaining power: challenges facing activists. Resource for London, 356 Holloway Road, London, N7. National Coalition for Independent Action CIA is joining forces with NatCAN to bring together activists to look seriously, and not so seriously, at the question of power and how to challenge the status quo. But NCIA needs your help to shape the programme. Please tell NCIA what topics you want to discuss, or speakers you would like to hear - email or add your comments to the online discussion on the NatCAN website here: The event is free. If you can't make it to the meeting you can always sign up to the NCIA group on NatCAN:

 Thursday 19 July. 1.15-2pm. Esther Bruce: A Black London Seamstress. An illustrated talk by Stephen Bourne about Esther Bruce and other black Britons represented in the National Portrait Gallery collections. National Portrait Gallery, 2 St Martin's Place, London WC2H 0HE. Admission Free. Part of promotion of Stephen’s new publication by History & Social Action Publications. 

Wednesday 25 July. 2pm. Gillian Lonergan - The co-operative movement's use of film. Talk ranges from film of the Blackpool Emporium and a Stanley Holloway monologue from 1938, to a short animation on the Rochdale Pioneers produced last year. Working Class Movement Library, Salford.

Thursday 10 – Saturday 12 August. Emblems of Nationhood: Britishness 1707-1901 Conference.
School of Art History, University of St Andrews.

Saturday 11 & Sunday 12 August. ILP Clarion House (Nelson) Centenary Celebrations. Having given a talk on Friday 8 June as part of the Wandsworth Heritage Festival about organised cycling and politics in the 1890s and 1900s, inc, the South London socialist Clarion Cycling Club, my thanks to Paul Salveson’s newsletter for information about the centenary of the ILP Clarion House at Nelson. The activities include walks from the former Nelson Socialist Institute in Vernon Street  to the Clarion House, to the cottage which was the first Nelson Clarion House at Thorneyholme Square, and  Nabs House, (the second Nelson Clarion House. Veteran cyclists will arrive riding bikes from c. 1912. Further details on

Wednesday 15 August. 6.30pm.  A guided walk round Clapham Old Town, the heart of historic Clapham. Led by Anne Wilson. Clapham Society. Meet at the clock tower outside Clapham Common Underground Station.