A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 4, the City of Gloucester. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1988.
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Social and Cultural Life
Gloucester's development as a commercial and manufacturing centre in the mid and late 19th century and the growth of a large working-class population had a distinct influence on its social and cultural life. Although the social attractions of nearby Cheltenham were more popular with the gentry, the city's status as a cathedral and county town ensured that Gloucester was not totally abandoned by county landowners. Many such as William Henry Hyett of Painswick and Thomas Gambier Parry of Highnam figured prominently in its institutions. (fn. 1)
The growth of suburbs and of slums posed the greatest challenge to organized religion in Gloucester by the 1830s. (fn. 2) Missionary work among the poor was as much concerned with education and social conditions as with public worship and was fruitful for nonconformist groups, many of them new. Nonconformity, which also satisfied the aspirations of many leading merchants and industrialists, became a significant element in the life of the city. A British school was opened in 1841 and the principal groups, the Independents, Wesleyan Methodists, and Baptists, later displayed their wealth and confidence in large chapels with imposing street fronts. (fn. 3) Anglicans built several schools in the city in the 1830s and early 1840s, and in the 1840s they also provided churches and schools for the new working-class areas of Barton End (St. James), High Orchard (St. Luke), and Kingsholm (St. Mark). (fn. 4) Much of that work was initiated or sustained by clergymen, including John Kempthorne, rector of St. Michael 1826–38, who planned the church at Barton End, and Thomas Hedley, perpetual curate of St. James 1841–8, who built the school there. (fn. 5) More notable was Samuel Lysons, rector of Rodmarton, who built the church and school at High Orchard, an area inhabited by dock labourers near his Hempsted Court estate. (fn. 6) In the larger parishes or districts the parochial clergy were assisted by stipendiary curates. (fn. 7) Gloucester's importance as an ecclesiastical centre was diminished by the union of the sees of Gloucester and Bristol in 1836, following which the bishop, James Monk, left the city. (fn. 8) The dean, Edward Rice, who was also non-resident, took little interest in the life of the cathedral and city, (fn. 9) and a teacher training school and a church music school started in Gloucester in the 1840s were both short lived. (fn. 10)
Church life revived following the return to the city of a new bishop in the later 1850s (fn. 11) and the appointment of Henry Law as dean in 1862. Law (d. 1884), a prominent evangelical who played an active part in the city's philanthropic institutions, removed secular monuments from College Green. Under him the cathedral's fabric was restored (fn. 12) and its music improved by 1865 when the composer and instrumentalist Samuel Sebastian Wesley became organist. (fn. 13) Charles Ellicott, bishop from 1863, opened a theological college in Gloucester in 1869. It closed before his episcopate ended in 1905. (fn. 14) From the later 1860s parochial life flourished. Partly at the instigation of the merchant William Charles Lucy a new church was built for St. Catherine's parish, which had been without one since the mid 17th century. (fn. 15) The revival, which included the opening of new schools (fn. 16) and missionary work in Kingsholm, (fn. 17) Tredworth, Millbrook Street, Longlevens, and Tuffley, (fn. 18) owed much to clergymen such as John Emeris, perpetual curate of St. James 1848–72, and his curate John Alington. (fn. 19) In the late 19th century the established and nonconformist churches continued missionary work throughout Gloucester and in outlying places such as Coney Hill and Saintbridge but, although several churches and chapels and many more halls were built, (fn. 20) some areas remained without suitable places for worship. In one of his first acts Edgar Gibson, bishop 1905–22, appointed a commission which led to the provision of two more churches and a reorganization of the city's parishes. (fn. 21)
In general, relations between the established and nonconformist churches in Gloucester were good. The evangelical movement, which strongly influenced many aspects of life, brought members of different churches together for missionary work. (fn. 22) The levying of church rates aroused most controversy in St. Michael's parish in 1837. (fn. 23) In the mid 19th century the growing confidence of Roman Catholics, who rebuilt their church in Gloucester, (fn. 24) brought assertions of the city's protestant tradition, including the erection of an imposing memorial to the martyred Bishop John Hooper. (fn. 25) Within the established church High Church practices were observed for short periods at St. Aldate's church and St. Paul's church (consecrated 1883), (fn. 26) and the main centre of Anglo-Catholic worship was St. Lucy's Home of Charity, (fn. 27) founded in 1864 by Thomas Gambier Parry and closed in 1933. (fn. 28) Among the evangelical parish clergy John Luce, vicar of St. Nicholas 1877–1923, who ran a mission room in the Island from 1879, fostered particularly close ties with nonconformist groups. (fn. 29)
The eradication of crime and of the associated evils of drunkenness and prostitution attracted the energies of social reformers, in particular clergymen and members of the small Quaker meeting. As early as 1836 the town clerk reported that the growth in the port's trade had increased the incidence of crime in Gloucester. (fn. 30) Missionaries were active among seamen and boatmen frequenting the docks and the quay. The most successful centre for such evangelism was a mariners' chapel, built in the docks by private benefactors and opened in 1849. A mission to Norwegian seamen was provided with a chapel in 1878. (fn. 31) In the mid 1850s a lodging house within the shell of the Greyfriars church was a sailors' home. (fn. 32) The home, which moved to a new building in Ladybellegate Street in 1862, (fn. 33) was closed in 1879 because the number of ocean-going vessels entering the docks had declined. (fn. 34)
In the mid 19th century public houses, already plentiful in the older part of Gloucester, became more numerous near the docks and around the cattle market. (fn. 35) In 1877 the city had 121 alehouses and 86 beerhouses. (fn. 36) Many were in newer working-class areas, and soon afterwards the city magistrates shut some of the worst beerhouses, including several in Westgate Street. (fn. 37) The temperance movement, which attracted fierce opposition from the liquor trade, (fn. 38) was widely supported, and Bands of Hope promoted the abstainers' cause throughout the city. (fn. 39) The movement's leader was the merchant Samuel Bowly (d. 1884), who formed a temperance society with fellow Quakers and became president of the National Temperance League. (fn. 40) In the 1860s, after the closure of the public conduit in Southgate Street, private benefactors and the temperance society provided drinking fountains at the docks, Tolsey, park, and cattle market. (fn. 41) The success of a coffee house in the docks, opened by the mariners' chaplain in 1877, led to the formation of a company which by 1883 had opened five more coffee houses in the city. (fn. 42)
Many philanthropic organizations and individuals addressed problems caused by demoralization, poverty, and unemployment among the working classes. Members of most churches supported an industrial ragged school, built in 1852 in Archdeacon Street, one of the most deprived parts of the city, to turn children there from lives of crime. (fn. 43) In 1897 the Church Army opened a home in New Inn Lane to give work to destitute and unemployed men. It moved to London Road c. 1913. (fn. 44) The reform of prostitutes was undertaken in the Magdalen Asylum in St. Mary's Square, which closed in 1874. (fn. 45) A temporary refuge opened by 1870 was replaced in 1873 by a home built by Quakers led by Eliza Sessions, where girls were employed in domestic service and laundry work. Known as the Home of Hope, it stood east of the workhouse near London Road. (fn. 46) The Magdalen Asylum's work was revived in the late 1870s, and from c. 1900 it included a training institution in domestic and laundry work at Picton House in Wellington Parade, provided by William Long. (fn. 47) Missionary work among women was also undertaken by St. Lucy's Home of Charity, which ran a children's hospital from 1867, an orphanage from 1870, and a reformatory at Newark House, Hempsted, from the early 1880s, (fn. 48) and by a club founded in 1879 by Constantia Ellicott, wife of the bishop, to train factory girls for domestic service. (fn. 49) Outbreaks of hooliganism were frequent in the city in the later 19th century, (fn. 50) and organizations providing a recreational outlet for youths included branches of the Gordon League and of the Young Men's Christian Association formed in 1885 and 1895 respectively. (fn. 51) During the acute economic depression of the mid 1880s the city corporation provided some temporary employment. (fn. 52) The local politician, John Ward (d. 1895), whose beneficence enhanced his popularity among labourers, gave an annual Christmas dinner for the poor from 1884. (fn. 53)
A Chartist meeting in the city in 1839 drew a large crowd but more out of curiosity than commitment. (fn. 54) Although Gloucester was not associated with radical politics, numerous organizations were formed there for the benefit of the working classes, many by labourers themselves. Trade unions, which were active by 1835, (fn. 55) and other friendly societies, including branches of the Odd Fellows and by 1851 the Ancient Order of Foresters, increased in number. (fn. 56) Local institutions encouraging thrift included a savings bank, which closed in 1886, (fn. 57) and a penny bank, which was open from 1859 until 1905. (fn. 58) A co-operative society, started by railway and dock employees in 1860 for the purpose of retail trade, had 2,128 members in 1878 and 8,600 in 1910. In 1879 it began providing loans for house purchase and founded two scholarships at the School of Science. It also had a library until 1900. (fn. 59) The trades' council formed in 1890 also promoted workers' education, (fn. 60) and in 1908 a branch was formed of the Workers' Educational Association, founded by Gloucester-born Albert Mansbridge. (fn. 61)
A mechanics' institution, established in the late 1830s and sustained for several years by William Higgs, had a reading room and organized literary and scientific courses and musical entertainments. (fn. 62) It had been dissolved by 1852 when Higgs opened a short-lived public institute. (fn. 63) Higgs also took a prominent part in an evangelical society for young men which was organized by David Nasmith in 1839 and had its own library. (fn. 64) In 1855 a working men's institute was opened with the support of leading merchants, notably Joseph Sturge, in a new building in lower Southgate Street with lecture and reading rooms. Despite closure for several periods it was a centre for social gatherings and missionary work in the later 19th century. (fn. 65) Several other working men's clubs established at the turn of the century grew out of church missions, as in the parishes of St. James and St. Mark. (fn. 66) The institute in Southgate Street was largely superseded c. 1916 by a club in Barton Street run by the Gloucester Labour party. (fn. 67) The club, which occupied a former chapel acquired in 1904 by socialists, (fn. 68) moved to a new building there in 1983, (fn. 69) and the Labour party opened new offices there in 1963. (fn. 70)
From the 1850s the Conservatives and Liberals established a number of politicobenevolent associations for working people. (fn. 71) The most successful was the Gloucester Working Men's Conservative Benefit Association formed in 1880. It had over 7,000 members in the city and county by 1901 when it became the Gloucester Conservative Benefit Society. (fn. 72) The smaller Gloucester Liberal Benefit Society, founded in 1887 and renamed the Gloucester Mutual Benefit Society in 1936, (fn. 73) was among several provident institutions to lapse following the introduction of the National Health Service in 1948. (fn. 74) The Conservative society continued to flourish and in 1968 merged with its parent society in Stroud to form the Original Holloway Society, (fn. 75) which in 1985 ran two homes for old people at Tuffley.
The Liberals and Conservatives also established social clubs for leading townspeople and the county gentry. The Liberal club, formed in 1877 at Ladybellegate House and transferred in 1890 to Suffolk House, closed in 1927. (fn. 76) The Conservative club opened at Constitution House in 1883 (fn. 77) and remained there in 1985. Other organizations catering for the social needs of leading citizens included freemasonry, which was revived in Gloucester in 1844 after a lapse of several years. (fn. 78) The Barton Street corporation, an ancient mock institution supported by gentlemen, met at the Vauxhall Gardens in 1835. It elected officers and held a court, and apparently lapsed in 1848 or 1850. (fn. 79) The county gentry had their own club in the city by 1870, but it was later amalgamated with the Gloucester Club, formed for business and professional men in 1874. (fn. 80) Women were admitted to membership from 1979. (fn. 81)
The newspapers published in the city in the mid 19th century reflected the division of political opinion in Gloucester. The Gloucester Journal and Gloucestershire Chronicle, the main papers, were respectively Liberal and Conservative in affiliation. After David Mowbray Walker's death in 1871 the Gloucester Journal was bought by Thomas Chance, who in 1879 formed a partnership with Samuel Bland, owner of the Citizen. (fn. 82) The Citizen, which was published daily from 1876, was the most successful of many newspapers started in the later 19th century. (fn. 83) Others with some success were the Liberal Gloucester Mercury, begun by Charles Jeynes in 1855 and published weekly until 1884, and the Conservative Gloucester Standard and Gloucestershire News, published weekly between 1870 and 1902. (fn. 84) The partnership started by Chance and Bland dominated newspaper publication in Gloucester until 1928 when Northcliffe Newspapers Ltd. bought the business and amalgamated the Gloucestershire Chronicle with the Gloucester Journal. (fn. 85) From 1981 the Gloucester Journal appeared as a weekly supplement to the Citizen. (fn. 86) In 1980 an independent radio station, Severn Sound, commenced broadcasting from Gloucester to the city and county. (fn. 87)
In the later 1830s the Bell hotel in Southgate Street and the King's Head hotel in Westgate Street were important social centres for prominent citizens and the county gentry, and were identified respectively with Conservative and Liberal interests. (fn. 88) The landlord of the King's Head, where corporation dinners were revived in 1838, (fn. 89) was John Dowling, who was elected mayor in 1844. (fn. 90) Of his sons John (d. 1841) was rector of St. Mary de Crypt and master of the Crypt school and James (d. 1885) bought Barnwood Court. (fn. 91) Among lesser inns the Lower George in lower Westgate Street retained some importance as a meeting place in the mid 19th century. (fn. 92) Like other coaching inns, including the Boothall inn in Westgate Street, the King's Head lost much of its trade to the railway and by 1865 its hotel had been closed. (fn. 93) The Spread Eagle hotel in lower Northgate Street, near the cattle market and railway stations, enjoyed a period as a major social centre (fn. 94) and was rebuilt by a company which bought it from the corporation in 1864. (fn. 95) It closed as a hotel in 1896 (fn. 96) but the taproom facing the market remained open intermittently until 1972. (fn. 97) The Bell, which was acquired by a company in 1864, remained an important meeting place for many years and closed in 1967. (fn. 98)
In the mid 19th century the Shire Hall and the Tolsey were used for large public gatherings, as was the corn exchange opened in 1857. (fn. 99) The Shire Hall assembly room was the city's main concert hall and from 1849 it had an organ, paid for by a subscription organized by a choral society. The organ was rebuilt by subscription in 1910 when the composer Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry, Bt., owner of the nearby Highnam estate, paid for the rebuilding of the room's orchestra and the addition of a gallery. (fn. 100) Many smaller halls were opened in the later 19th century, including in the 1870s the Wellington Hall in Longsmith Street and the Glevum Hall in lower Southgate Street. (fn. 101) Frederick Goddard's piano factory and warehouse in lower Northgate Street were used as assembly rooms by 1881. (fn. 102) To mark the centenary of the Sunday School movement in 1880 a fund was launched to build a hall in memory of Robert Raikes. The project encountered many difficulties, during which in 1884 the Baptists built their own Raikes Memorial Hall in Brunswick Road, and the money raised was later used in the building of a public library. (fn. 103) Anglicans and Primitive Methodists commemorated the centenary of 1880 with new places of worship. (fn. 104)
In the early 1840s Gloucester had several libraries and reading rooms, including those of the mechanics' institution. A commercial library and reading room (fn. 105) remained open until the early 20th century. (fn. 106) The Gloucester Literary and Scientific Association, founded in 1838 by prominent citizens, local gentry, and clergymen, organized lectures and acquired the city's principal library. (fn. 107) In 1860 it opened a museum in Southgate Street, in accommodation provided by the poet Sydney Dobell, and the exhibits included items from the collections of Thomas Barwick Lloyd Baker and William Vernon Guise. (fn. 108) County landowners, notably Thomas Gambier Parry, also figured in the movement to open schools of art and science in the city. From 1872 the schools were housed in a new building in Brunswick Road, paid for mainly by subscriptions and vested in the Gloucester Science and Art Society. It also housed a museum, incorporating that of the literary and scientific association. In 1893 a hall, built for the science and art society by Margaret Price as a memorial to her husband William Edwin Price, was opened next to the schools. The city corporation, which took over the buildings and the running of the schools and museum in 1896, adapted the Price Memorial Hall for the museum in 1902. (fn. 109) In the later 19th century there were several attempts to run a free lending library at the working men's institute and in 1887 ratepayers rejected the idea of a free public library in a poll. (fn. 110) The city corporation, which in 1895 purchased the books of the literary and scientific association, (fn. 111) began a free library service in 1897. (fn. 112) From 1900 it was housed next to the Schools of Science and Art in a library built to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee with funds raised by private benefactions for that and other purposes. (fn. 113) By that time Gloucester had become a centre for higher education in the county. (fn. 114)
As a county town and regional centre Gloucester was also the meeting place for many societies. One formed by landed interests in 1833 for the encouragement of agriculture, arts, manufactures, and commerce held an annual agricultural show in the city until 1855, when it merged with a body at Cirencester to form the Gloucestershire Agricultural Society. (fn. 115) A farmers' club founded in 1840 organized lectures and monthly discussions in Gloucester. (fn. 116) In the later 19th century and the early 20th the county agricultural society met several times in Gloucester, (fn. 117) where an annual root, fruit, and grain show and an annual rose show, both organized by county societies, were held from 1863 and 1888 respectively. (fn. 118) In 1853 the Royal Agricultural Society held its annual show at Gloucester. During the event, which brought a great influx of visitors, the city was decorated with triumphal arches and there were flower shows at the Spa and in Cheltenham. (fn. 119) The society returned to Gloucester for its show in 1909. (fn. 120) The Three Counties' Agricultural Society, formed in 1921 by the merger of the Gloucestershire and the Herefordshire and Worcestershire societies, met on the Oxlease several times before the Second World War. (fn. 121) Among professional bodies in Gloucester from 1888 was an engineering society, which had a library and a reading room. (fn. 122)
Gloucester's music festival, which had grown out of the triennial meeting of the choirs of Gloucester, Hereford, and Worcester cathedrals, was conducted on a larger scale from 1835 and lasted for four days from 1838. It drew large crowds to the city, particularly after the opening of the railway, and was usually supported by the county gentry. From the later 1840s local choirs participated in the festival, which included oratorio performances in the cathedral, secular evening concerts in the Shire Hall, and a ball. Clerical objections, particularly to the use of the cathedral, were voiced, most trenchantly by Francis Close, vicar of Cheltenham, and to allay criticisms the Gloucester meeting introduced choral services in 1853 and replaced the ball with a sermon in 1874. Such criticisms, which culminated at the Worcester meeting of 1875, (fn. 123) were heard again at Gloucester in 1925. (fn. 124) In the mid 19th century the timber merchants Price & Co. gave their employees money to pay for admission to concerts at the Gloucester meeting. (fn. 125) After the death of S. S. Wesley, the cathedral organist, in 1876, the meeting's repertoire was broadened. The standard of performances improved in the late 19th century, and from 1892 choirs from outside the three counties were no longer used. In the early 20th century the meeting was attended by leading British composers and several European figures, notably Camille Saint-Saëns in 1913 and Zoltán Kodály in 1928 and 1937. (fn. 126) The festival remained the principal musical event in the city in the mid 1980s, when there was also an annual festival of the arts in Barnwood, established in 1965. (fn. 127)
Life in Gloucester was enriched by a variety of musical and dramatic societies and clubs. Gloucester Choral Society, which originated with concerts organized by William Higgs from 1845 to promote the mechanics' institution, was formally constituted in 1848 and, following its disbanding, was re-formed in 1861. (fn. 128) Orchestral concerts were given by a philharmonic society, which had lapsed by 1864 when some members forced a new group. (fn. 129) In the early 1860s wagon works' employees formed a brass band. (fn. 130) The composer Alfred Herbert Brewer, a native of Gloucester and cathedral organist from 1896, was an important influence on musical activity. He conducted a male-voice choir, the Gloucester Orpheus Society, established in 1898, and he founded the Gloucestershire Orchestral Society in 1901. He was knighted in 1926 and died in 1928. (fn. 131) Gloucester had several dramatic societies in the later 19th century and the early 20th, including the Mynd Players founded in 1923. (fn. 132) Gloucester Operatic and Dramatic Society began as a light opera group in 1913 and performed drama from 1936. Following the closure of many halls in the city centre the society converted a Salvation Army citadel in King's Barton Street as a theatre, opened in 1963 and used until 1985. (fn. 133) A division within the society in 1920 led to the formation of the Caer Glow Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society. (fn. 134) The poet William Ernest Henley (1849–1903) was the son of a Gloucester bookseller, (fn. 135) and the poet and composer Ivor Gurney (1890–1937) the son of a city tailor. (fn. 136) A story about another local tailor, John Prichard (d. 1934), apparently inspired the children's book The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter. (fn. 137) Among local writers was the printer John Bellows (d. 1902), a Quaker whose interests included philology, archaeology, and foreign travel. (fn. 138)
Major national events, such as coronations, royal weddings, and military victories, were celebrated enthusiastically and in the mid 19th century were often marked by a procession of the corporation and Bluecoat schoolboys. (fn. 139) The traditional procession of Bluecoat boys to the cathedral ended in 1882. (fn. 140) Other public ceremonial centred on the cathedral benefited from a widening of College Street, the main approach to the close, in the early 1890s. (fn. 141) To mark Queen Victoria's Golden and Diamond Jubilees a beacon, forming part of a national chain, was lit on Robins Wood Hill. (fn. 142) The city received few royal visits and when Queen Victoria changed trains there in 1849 spectators pressed forward and became mixed up with her party. On a similar occasion in 1852 the public was excluded from the station's platforms. (fn. 143) Edward VII's presence in Gloucester in 1909 for the Royal Agricultural Society's meeting was the first formal visit by a reigning monarch since 1788. (fn. 144) Because of its regional importance Gloucester was in 1860 the location for a large review of volunteer troops from surrounding counties. (fn. 145) Among volunteer troops raised in the city in 1859 were two rifle corps, one being connected with the docks. (fn. 146) Although a militia regiment was stationed in Gloucester for many years (fn. 147) and the county yeomanry trained there in 1836 and 1837, (fn. 148) the city was not made a military centre in the reform of 1872. (fn. 149)
Gloucester's fortunes as a fashionable resort were not revived by improvements at the spa, where a billiard room and bowling green were opened in 1836. (fn. 150) The spa's attractions were noticeably diminished by the construction of a railway along the south side of the grounds in 1848, (fn. 151) and in 1861 its proprietors conveyed the spa to the city corporation for inclusion in a public park. The park, which also took in Rignum Stile Field and most of Lower Barton Hill, two fields east of the spa grounds, (fn. 152) was opened in 1862 and became Gloucester's principal recreation area. In 1863 private benefactors paid for a bandstand and the removal to the park of the Eastgate market fountain. (fn. 153) Under the corporation the spa was little patronized (fn. 154) and the Spa hotel, which the spa proprietors had sold in 1835 (fn. 155) and which had been used as judges' lodgings, became a school in 1867. (fn. 156) The pump room baths, which were connected to the city's water mains, (fn. 157) fell into disrepair and were removed in 1894, (fn. 158) and the medicinal springs were closed, following contamination, in 1926. (fn. 159) The Vauxhall Gardens, the pleasure ground in Barton Street, were built on from 1863, (fn. 160) but a bowling green survived behind the Vauxhall inn until the mid 20th century. (fn. 161) In 1879 Thomas Dutton created the City Gardens in Dean's Walk as a public pleasure and recreation ground but the venture was unsuccessful. (fn. 162)
The opening of the park in 1862 encouraged popular sporting activity, particularly cricket and football, (fn. 163) and the spa grounds were used by several of Gloucester's many new sports clubs in the later 19th century. (fn. 164) Sports and games continued to be played on the meadows to the north and west of the city. (fn. 165) From the 1890s the corporation made greater provision for recreation. It opened playing fields in Kingsholm and Priory Road in 1894 and 1901 respectively, (fn. 166) and in 1900 it took over a recreation ground at Saintbridge, laid out by Upton St. Leonards parish council following the inclosure of open fields in 1897. (fn. 167) Gloucester Cricket Club had its ground at the Spa from 1863, (fn. 168) and a pavilion erected there in 1869 was replaced in 1883 by a larger building. County cricket was played there by 1884 (fn. 169) and until 1923. (fn. 170) A gymnastic society formed in 1863 held athletics events at the Spa and swimming races in the Gloucester and Berkeley canal. It was apparently wound up in 1872 (fn. 171) but later clubs organized athletic sports in the spa grounds. (fn. 172) A bowling and quoits club was established there in 1866. (fn. 173) Bowling was very popular in the early 20th century and public greens were opened at the Spa in 1913 and 1922. (fn. 174) In 1924 there were at least eleven greens in the city, including one laid for the Liberal club at Suffolk House in Greyfriars in 1921. (fn. 175) Gloucester's first lawn tennis club was begun in 1878 (fn. 176) and the spa grounds included several courts by the mid 1880s. (fn. 177) Public courts opened there in 1915 were replaced by new ones in Parkend Road in 1922. (fn. 178) A cycling track was opened in Tuffley Avenue in 1895. (fn. 179) Gloucester Golf Club, established in 1896, had links in Barnwood. In the early 20th century golf was also played in Churchdown (fn. 180) and in Brockworth, where the Gloucester club had a course from 1910 until the Second World War. (fn. 181) There were several shooting ranges in Gloucester in the 19th century and the early 20th. (fn. 182) The principal outdoor range for both city and county was nearby at Over. Opened in 1861, it was closed in 1895 and replaced by a range at Sneedham's Green in Upton St. Leonards in 1904. (fn. 183)
At a national level the city became identified with rugby union football through the successful Gloucester Football Club, formed in 1873. The club moved its ground from the Spa to Kingsholm in 1891, and since 1896 many members have obtained international honours. (fn. 184) In the 1970s the club won the national club championship several times. (fn. 185) Of clubs playing association football the most important was Gloucester City Association Football Club, originating in 1889 and re-formed in 1925. From 1935 it had its ground at Longlevens (fn. 186) and in 1964 it moved to a new stadium in Horton Road, (fn. 187) which was later also used for dog races. (fn. 188) A more important centre for greyhound racing was a track at Longlevens, opened in 1933 and closed in 1983. (fn. 189)
The Gloucester and Berkeley canal and the river Severn were used for recreation in the mid 19th century, when summer excursions along the canal were popular. (fn. 190) Several rowing clubs held races near the city before the formation in 1861 of Gloucester Rowing Club. (fn. 191) That club, which had a boathouse on the canal below Hempsted bridge, held an annual regatta on the canal from 1921, at first near Epney and later above Hempsted bridge. (fn. 192) A consortium formed in 1963 to solve the club's difficulties and including the city education committee and the King's school built a new boathouse and bought new craft, which were used by children attending secondary schools. (fn. 193) Male swimming and bathing in the canal continued after 1873 (fn. 194) when James Blake built an outdoor pool by the river Twyver in Millbrook Street. In 1891 the corporation opened two indoor pools, one convertible as a gymnasium or skating rink, as part of the new public baths in Barton Street. (fn. 195)
Popular entertainment in the mid 19th century took a variety of forms, including touring circuses and menageries. (fn. 196) Public executions, the last of which was above the lodge of the county gaol in 1864, also attracted many spectators. (fn. 197) Gloucester's annual race meeting on the meadows near Over bridge (fn. 198) was deserted by the county gentry and was replaced in 1839 by a smaller event organized locally. (fn. 199) The larger meeting was revived several times, including in 1861 and 1870 when it took place in Meanham north of the railway, (fn. 200) but despite its popularity among the townspeople (fn. 201) it had no lasting success. To benefit from Gloucester's more central position the promoters of the Hereford races held an annual meeting in nearby Maisemore in the later 1880s. (fn. 202) The main regular entertainment was the pleasure fair held with Barton Fair and the hiring fairs. It drew large crowds from both town and country and survived several attempts to suppress it on the grounds of danger to public order and morality. (fn. 203) Carnivals were held in 1925, 1930, and 1936 to raise funds for the Gloucestershire Royal Infirmary, (fn. 204) and in the late 1950s the city corporation established an annual festival with a carnival procession. (fn. 205)
The theatre in Westgate Street, known as the Theatre Royal from the late 1830s, (fn. 206) was bought in 1857 by John Blinkhorn, a railway contractor. (fn. 207) He enlarged the building, which reopened as a theatre and assembly room in 1859. The theatre was run from 1873 by Thomas Dutton (d. 1893) and celebrated its centenary in 1891 with a performance by Henry Irving, Ellen Terry, and members of the Lyceum company in aid of local hospitals. Under Charles Poole, the owner from 1903, it was a variety theatre and picture house. It was partly demolished in 1922 during conversion as a store. (fn. 208) The old Boothall was used regularly for popular entertainments in the mid 19th century and became the Alhambra music hall in 1869. (fn. 209) It was more successful than a music hall in lower Southgate Street, opened the same year, but fire closed it in 1874, and from 1876 the building was used as a circus and skating rink, known as the Royal Albert Hall. (fn. 210) Later it was a variety theatre and from 1907 a picture house. (fn. 211) In 1909 Goddard's assembly rooms became a cinema called the Theatre de Luxe, and from 1911 a cinema club occupied a building in Eastgate Street, which was also used as a theatre and from 1915 was called the Hippodrome. (fn. 212) Roller-skating rinks were opened in a former tramways depot in India Road in 1909 and in a new building in Brunswick Road, on the side of St. Michael's Square, in 1910. (fn. 213) The latter became a drill hall for many years and was demolished in 1934. (fn. 214) At that time the George Street corn exchange was used also as a dance hall. (fn. 215) Gloucester had six cinemas in 1935 and four in 1960. Two in Barton Street later became bingo halls and in 1984 the only remaining cinema was that opened in King's Square in 1956. (fn. 216) One bingo hall was converted in 1985 by the Gloucester Operatic and Dramatic Society as a theatre.
After the First World War the corporation increased the number of public parks, ornamental gardens, and playing fields in the city. (fn. 217) It enlarged the Kingsholm playing field in 1929 and opened tennis courts and a putting green at the Oval, in the south end of the city, in 1931. (fn. 218) Some ornamental gardens had formerly been in private ownership, including that at Hillfield in London Road acquired by the corporation in 1933. (fn. 219) Playing fields were also provided outside the city boundary, notably by Hucclecote and Longlevens parish councils in the late 1930s. (fn. 220) The Plock Court playing fields at Longford, established by the city corporation at that time, (fn. 221) covered 22.66 ha. in the late 1970s. Many of Gloucester's sports clubs were connected with large factories and businesses in the mid 20th century. (fn. 222) A sports ground in Tuffley Avenue, laid out by the wagon works company after the First World War, (fn. 223) was the venue for county cricket in Gloucester from 1924 (fn. 224) and was bought by the city council in the mid 1980s. The council also extended its museum and library services. A folk museum was opened in lower Westgate Street in 1935 (fn. 225) and the former Bearland fire station was adapted as a transport museum in 1977. (fn. 226) A children's library, begun at Suffolk House in 1938, (fn. 227) moved in 1967 to Greyfriars House where it was joined by a music and gramophone record library started in 1963. (fn. 228) The Wheatstone Lecture Hall, opened at the Brunswick Road museum in 1947, (fn. 229) only partly compensated for the disappearance of many important public meeting places in the mid 20th century, notably the former corn exchange in 1938 (fn. 230) and the Shire Hall assembly room in the early 1960s. (fn. 231) The city's memorial to its dead of the First World War was unveiled in the main park in 1933. (fn. 232)
From the 1920s the drift of population from the older parts of the city to the suburbs, evident in the mid 19th century, had a pronounced impact on social and cultural life. (fn. 233) Church and village halls were built in outlying areas, including Barnwood, (fn. 234) Longlevens, Hempsted, and Hucclecote, (fn. 235) and after the Second World War community associations were active in such places and a number of community centres were built. (fn. 236) Local voluntary organizations, many of them small, sustained a range of sporting and artistic activities throughout the city. From 1959 both the city and county library services established branches in the suburbs, where the first purpose-built library was opened in Matson in 1963. By 1974 libraries had also been built in Lower Tuffley and Hucclecote, (fn. 237) both as part of new community centres. (fn. 238) In the 1960s and 1970s the city council increased the opportunities for recreation. To the public baths in Barton Street it added a third swimming pool and a large leisure centre, opened in 1966 and 1974 respectively. The leisure centre included a hall, which was used for concerts as well as sports, a theatre, and a dance hall. (fn. 239) The council, which constructed a boating lake near Westgate bridge in 1975, continued to lay out new playing fields and other sporting facilities (fn. 240) and Beaufort school at Lower Tuffley, completed in the early 1970s, also served as a sports centre. (fn. 241) The traditional use by Gloucester people of Robins Wood Hill for recreation was confirmed in the 1970s when the council laid out part as a country park (96.32 ha.), opened in 1975, (fn. 242) and a country club catering for a range of sporting activities was established at Larkham Farm in Matson with two golf courses and an artificial ski slope. (fn. 243) The potential of the docks for recreation and leisure was acknowledged in plans for redevelopment, and from 1978 an arts trust held concerts in a barge moored there. (fn. 244) One warehouse was converted as an antiques centre from 1979 (fn. 245) and another included a museum of advertizing and packaging from 1984. Excursions along the canal continued.
Gloucester's cultural life diversified after the Second World War. A small Ukrainian community was established in and around the city and had its own church. (fn. 246) An Irish society was founded in 1964. (fn. 247) From the 1950s the arrival of immigrants from new Commonwealth countries, particularly from the West Indies, led to the growth of ethnic communities in the Barton Street area with their own clubs and places of worship. (fn. 248) Among them were Moslems who built two mosques. (fn. 249)