Sport by Dr Denise Amos

Royal shooting party at Welbeck Abbey, 1897.
Royal shooting party at Welbeck Abbey, 1897 (Photograph courtesy of Bassetlaw Museum).

Nottinghamshire has a wealth of sporting history; some of which carries on today and others have long been relegated to the history books. Volume 2 of The Victoria County History of Nottinghamshire (VCH), published in 1910, lists hunting, racing, shooting, angling, cricket, rowing, swimming and athletics as some of the sports enjoyed in the county. It is not always easy to differentiate between sports and pastimes. Some sports were quintessentially for the working man and others were literally the ‘sport of kings’; a photograph taken in 1897 shows the Royal shooting party at Welbeck. Other examples show that in Collingham, near Newark, ‘a favourite Sunday amusement with the poor of this district was to hunt squirrels in neighbouring woods.’ At the north side of Newark Market Place stands a wooden post with a chain which was originally used for bear and bull baiting, which was suppressed by an Act of Parliament in 1835.  There is a graphic description of bull baiting in the VCH under the title of ‘Old-Time Sports.’ Maypole dancing and Plough Monday (which is still celebrated in the village of Tollerton) were also classed under old time sports.

Jenkins Engineering Works, Retford, Ladies Football Team in 1917.
Jenkins Engineering Works, Retford: Ladies Football Team in 1917 (Photograph courtesy of Bassetlaw Museum).

Many sports clubs were to be associated with the local industries in the county. Raleigh, Boots and Players of Nottingham all had thriving sporting clubs, as did the main breweries in the county: Home Brewery, Kimberley Brewery, Mansfield Brewery and Worksop and Retford Brewery.  Ransom and Marles, the ball bearing factory at Newark, also had a variety of sports clubs. Jenkins Engineering Works in Retford had a ladies football team as early as 1917. Schools were also keen to promote sport, none more so than the Magnus, Newark and Nottingham High School for Boys.

It would be impossible to write even a short entry on all the sports so a selection is featured here: