Birmingham Sports & Recreation

Dave Woodhall reviews a new nostalgic book release.

Birmingham Sport and RecreationAnother in Amberley Books’ range of historical tomes. This one mainly covers the period from 1900-39, when working people were enjoying increased leisure time and able to watch and participate in an unprecedented range of activities.

There are photographs of sporting events at all levels, ranging from the city’s professional clubs (including a rare shot of Villa Park from 1902 I hadn’t seen before) to school sports days. There are some lovely pictures of bowling greens and golf courses, showing that even as recently as the immediate post-war period there were many areas of Birmingham that remained comparatively rural.

Theatres, cinemas and dancehalls form a large part of the book, and will doubtless bring back many happy memories to their former patrons, as will pictures of early vehicles and day trips to the Lickeys and beyond.

Unlike most Amberley publications there are no ‘now’ pictures to provide a modern contrast and there are far too many examples of the authors not having much, if any, idea of the background to a shot. But these drawbacks aside, the book provides a useful and revealing look at the development of the city in the early part of the twentieth century.

Birmingham Sports & Recreation From Old Photographs, by Eric Armstrong & Rosemary Stafford. (Amberley Books, £12.99.)