Martini and Rosso’s sponsorship of the Women’s World Cups in 1970 and 1971 Celebrating 50 years since an innovative sports partnership began
Most people think that sponsorship of sport, particularly women’s sport is a new thing. But far from it. In the nineteenth century newspapers used journalists like Nellie Bly, a pseudonym for Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman (1864-1922), who worked for Joseph Pulitzer at the New York World, reporting, amongst other things, on prize-fights. On 14 November 1889 Nellie Bly left New York by ship in an attempt to beat the feat made famous by French author Jules Verne (1828-1905) by circling the globe in less than 80 days. The New York World, sponsored and facilitated her trip. On 25 January 1890 Bly succeeded having taken 72 days, six hours and eleven minutes to travel just under 25,000 miles for a reported cost of $1,500. Both Nellie Bly and Pulitzer understood that women pioneers could make the news as well as report on it.
Women’s football had started in 1881 as a professional entertainment and, by 1921 had become so popular that the FA, the ruling body in England, saw fit to prevent women from playing on grounds of clubs affiliated to it, and to say that they considered the game ‘unsuitable’ for women. So women’s football became an unregulated activity, played mainly to raise money for charity. It was only in 1969 that FIFA, the world governing body, thought that they should now being to consider women’s football as part of their remit. But businessmen were ahead of them, and saw the potential of the activity. Amongst them Martini and Rosso.
Martini and Rosso History and Sport Sponsorship
In 1863 Alessandro Martini and Luigi Rossi took over the National Wine & Spirits Distillery in a small village near Turin. In the twentieth century, the four Rossi di Montelera cousins (owners of the Martini & Rossi company) were all keen sportsmen. This family passion became a company policy, to use sport, be it professional or amateur, a base on which to build the company image. Theo was a real sportsman: he had been world speedboat champion and taken part in Olympic bob; while Metello founded the Martini International Club in London in 1958, established to support “all areas of culture, science, art and sport”; however, the club was particularly “involved in car and motorbike racing, all winter sports, nautical sports, horse riding, golf, tennis and fencing”.
Martini & Rossi understood the communicative force of this cycling and motor sport and decided to sponsor leading events from 1914 onwards. The First World War soon interrupted but, in 1925 in Turin the Gran Coppa Martini & Rossi cycling race was launched. This sponsorship reached its peak with the Tours of Italy in 1934 and 1936. In the first race, the company sponsored the cup awarded to the rider who was considered Gran Premi della Montagna or King of the Mountains, and had two bespoke advertising cars designed specially for Elixir China and Martini Vermouth to follow the race. In 1936 it had a luxury 8-cyclinder Isotta Fraschini with an enormous cardboard bottle of Elixir China mounted on the bonnet. Some sight for dry throated and thirsty cyclists on the dusty roads of the peninsula!
Martini & Rossi entered the world of car racing after World War II. The name appeared on bridges over racing tracks or along guardrails. Martini Racing would soon after appear and the distinctive livery, especially at events like Le Mans 24 Hours, a feature for over 30 years. The legendary Martini Racing Team was founded in December 1970 as an offshoot of the Martini International Club. Martini moved increasingly into sponsoring women’s sport, including the Martini Fencing Trophy, sponsorship of the first women's football World Cup, supporting the Women's Himalayan Expedition and the women's golf Open.
The 1970 Women’s World Cup
In 1970, the FIEFF (International Federation of European Women's Football), based in Torino, organized the first women's football World Cup in Italy. The Championship took place between July 7th and 15th, at the end of the men's football World Cup in Mexico.
Eight of the most representative teams in the world were invited: Austria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, England, Mexico, Switzerland, (West) Germany. The matches took place in the stadiums of Bari, Bologna, Genova, Napoli, Milano, Salerno and Torino. The World Cup had a considerable public success, so much so that the final at the City Stadium was followed by as many as 50,000 spectators.
The Martini International Club often sponsored amateur sports, where the economic gain did not represent the most important goal for the athletes, and became the sponsor of the 1970 competition.
Conclusion Trofeo Martini & Rossi
In addition to an economic support to the event, Martini & Rossi decided to award, on the model of the Jules Rimet Cup, a special trophy called Trofeo Martini & Rossi. The golden cup was inspired by the famous sculpture Nike of Samothrace, or Winged Victory, displayed in the Louvre Museum. The players of the tournament team would be given a copy of the trophy while the original was kept by FIEFF.
The 1970 Women’s World Cup is today considered as "unofficial" since, starting from 1991, a world championship of women's football was organized by FIFA. The competition organized by FIEFF took place again, in 1971, in Mexico, once again with the support of the Martini International Club. We can also see a range of memorabilia, such as these sports bags that were given to competitors. A pioneering milestone in sponsoring and staging women’s football.
Celebrating the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Ireland (Dundalk) versus England (Manchester Corinthians) International women’s football match 10 May 1970
On 10 May 1970 Prestatyn and Rhyl Lions Club, hosted an international football match at Prestatyn Harness Race Stadium, between England, (Manchester Corinthians/ Nomads), and Ireland (Dundalk Ladies). Kick off was 3pm which is traditional, but the reason that this was unusual was that the ban on women’s football which had been in place since 1921 was only recently overturned during the course of 1969. So the ban had been in place for almost 50 years. Admission was 1 shilling (five pence), and children could enter for free, with the funds raised going to local charities in the Flintshire area. So Wales was pioneering here, as the race stadium ground was being used since the FA in England had not yet lifted the ban on women playing on its affiliated club grounds. A crowd of 4000 found the match thrilling,
But who were the sides, and how had they come into existence?
Corinthians-Nomads Globe Trotters (Manchester) Football Club
The English club was much more experienced, having been formed in January 1949 by Percy Ashley who had run the club for nineteen years until his death. A well-known scout and referee, who coached and managed the team initially led by his daughter Doris as captain. By 1970 Corinthians, with Nomads as their second team, had established themselves as an international touring club who had raised over £250,000 for charity, including a three-month tour to South America, to mainland Europe and North Africa. They became particularly famous in 1957 winning a European Championship Cup with Manchester City FC’s keeper Bert Trautmann as translator. In 1960 they added the Venezuela International trophy to the other 50 trophies that held. When women’s football was acknowledged by the FA, in the form of Women’s Football Association, created in 1969, Corinthians won the Deal International Tournament in 1968 and 1969, so by the time they met Dundalk they were seasoned international campaigners. Little wonder then that they won 8-1.
From the Goalkeeper Christine Miller, to the back five, there was class in England’s defence. These included captain and full back Pauline Quayle, Janice Lyons, Margaret Wilde, Margaret Taylor and Margaret Temple. The attacking players were even more outstanding. Margaret ‘Whitty’ Whitworth, Patricia Qualye, leading goalscorer Sheila Isherwood, Sue Kelly and Jean Wilson. Wilson would play in the first official England team in 1972 organised by the WFA.
Dundalk Ladies AFC
The Dundalk Ladies were formed in 1968, and had established themselves as Irish champions. This was their first overseas game and so their experience level was much less than Corinthians. This had mainly been developed though indoors matches and small scale games. Players include:
Joan Williams, Jacinta Williams, Anne Osborne, Madge Martin, Nellie McShane, Staisa Wogan, Margaret O’Callaghan, Marie Conway, Paula Gorham, Stella Clark, Geraldine Murphy, Kathleen Osborne, Bernadette Martin and Kay Dillon. Paula Gorham scored the goal for Dundalk, called a ‘fierce free kick from 30 yards’ in the newspaper. Unsurprisingly the same Irish newspaper, The Drogheda Argus and Leinster Journal, commented that at least two of the English goals were offside and the exact score was unclear, some remember at seven goals to one, others eight.
CEAD MILE FAILTE-A Hundred Thousand Welcomes (in Gaelic)
Although the match was very friendly in its staging and considered a great success, there were controversies. Paula Gorham almost scored twice for Dundalk, with a late penalty hitting the woodwork.
Emma Clarke (born 1871) was a Lost Lioness, a Pioneering Victorian Football Player But Much Remains to be Known About Her Life…
Who was Emma Clarke?
In 1894 Nettie Honeyball formed the British Ladies Football Club (BLFC) with Lady Florence Dixie as its non-playing President. There were in all around fifty members of the club, playing and non-playing. Wearing blouses instead of the regulation shirts, and blue serge knickerbockers, shin-pads, ankle protectors and boots, the team trained before their first match, with ex professional and coach J. W. ‘Bill’ Julian, who had played for both Royal Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, before finishing his career at Dartford and opening a sports shop in Plumstead. The women covered their heads with fisherman’s caps, as it would have been convention of the time to appear in public with some form of headgear.
Versions of this team, and its breakaway competitors held over 150 matches between 1895-1903, latterly against men, which were some of the most lucrative fixtures.
Largely due to Honeyball’s shrewd PR campaign, the first BLFC match, held on 23 March 1895, at Crouch End Athletic Ground Hornsey, drew over 10,000 spectators. It was considered a financial and sporting success, and The Shields Daily News of 25 March told its readers that ‘the players mainly belong to London and the suburbs but a few hail from the country.’ Most were of independent means, the paper went on, but a few were married women. One of the earliest BLFC players was Emma Clarke. The 1891 census gave her occupation as a nurse, and so the newspaper report was perhaps not entirely accurate.
It has been claimed by a number of people that Emma was mixed heritage and so could be the first British-Asian woman football player. However, the paper-based evidence does not suggest this, and it may be that only family history sources could confirm one way or the other. So what do we know so far from the data?
Emma’s father, John William Clarke, aged 28, married Caroline Harriet Bogg, aged 21 on 3 May 1863 in Plumstead. John’s father, William, was a labourer, and Caroline’s father was an overlocker. John was a labourer at the Royal Arsenal, where Emma’s brother would later join him. Caroline's mother came from a long established Cornish family, as her maiden name was Granville. The Boggs were of Irish-Scottish heritage going back to at least the 18th century.
Emma’s birth certificate, gave her date of birth as 2 December 1871 in Plumstead. The birth and marriage certificates going back to the grandparents therefore do not show any mixed British-Asian heritage. But one aspect of her life has given rise to suggestions that Emma may have mixed heritage. Caroline Bogg’s father served a period of service in the army of just over four years in Ceylon, where Caroline was born, just as her older sister Mary Ann had been born in Dublin when the family was there. As both Caroline’s mother and father were registered on the birth certificate and went on to have other children, there is no evidence from the paperwork to suggest that Caroline was illegitimate. Indeed given the size of the British army in the Empire at the time, having a child while serving overseas was not that unusual.
A final case has been made for Emma’s being illegitimate, and this of course is just as difficult to evidence. If this is the case, it would mean that, even if either Caroline or John were unfaithful, the marriage seems to have been successful, with at least five children appearing after Emma, including her blonde sister Florence with whom she played football. As we know, families can have secrets but for now the paper trail is at an end. Unless of course you can help with further evidence?
Newspapers and Photographic evidence
As we know, women’s football was really topical at the time, so the British Ladies Football Club matches were reported widely. There were also lots of photographs, telling us quite a bit about the team, and in some of these photographs Emma appears to have darker skin than some other players, although this isn’t always the case depending on lighting, whether the photograph was taken indoors or outdoors, and the wider context. Certainly some photographs were portraits of the team. There is one photograph in the National Archives on which someone has written Emma Clarke on the reverse side and this is in good condition, and so does seem to support the theory that one of the 1895 team was of mixed heritage. However, other surviving photographs are not so conclusive.
We do know that the newspapers often referred to the players by hair colour. The Northern Whig from Belfast has a piece written in 1895 about lady footballers which includes Emma Clarke, who played right back. It calls her brunette, aged 21, and says that she is a native of Plumstead. It also mentions her sister Miss F. Clarke, who is 17, blonde and also of Plumstead. However, if we look at the census data our sisters are 24 and 19 respectively.
So it appears the sisters went on tour outside of London. The Belfast Newsletter of 20 June 1895 ran an article that was very celebratory of the women’s teams, naming both Emma and Florence amongst the players, with 6000 people in attendance. Emma’s football career appears to have been short-lived and she was very active, and touring in 1895 and 1896 but a split in the team saw her appear less often in the newspapers. Florence and Emma played in a match against the male team Preston North End Juniors at Cliftonville Belfast, in June 1895, drawing 2-2, after which there was an exhibition women’s match. Florence had enough energy leftover to win a 120 yards race for gold and silver medals.
Emma Jane Clarke seems to have married Thomas Reginald Porter in 1899 who was a Navvy in the 1901 census. at Woolwich Register Office on 28 October 1899. Emma’s father was listed here as John William Clarke deceased, formerly a Foreman at the Royal Arsenal. Thomas' father, also Thomas, was a coachman. Witnesses were Charles Edward Clarke and Jemima Ann Clarke. Both were Emma's siblings. Thomas is shown as 23 years of age, and Emma was 27 in the 1901 census when their first daughter Ethel Lizzie is listed. In the 1911 census, a son, Charlie Reginald had joined the family, at 7 Rose Villa Station Road, Abbey Wood, Plumstead.
Emma died aged 53 years, in 1925 living at 125 Abbey Road, Belvedere. The cause of death was carcinoma of uterus and asthenia. Thomas was present when she died and registered the death the same day. Emma’s daughter died in adolescence and her son married but had not children, dying in 1977.
It is important to say that the photographs sometimes show players who look darker skinned than others, and there is a chance that Emma Clarke was of mixed heritage, or that other players may well be of mixed heritage, but the research has yet to be done more broadly on the team. The author invites further evidence, and has not concluded definitively one way, or the other. Certainly the photographs suggest the possibility of mixed heritage, and hence the difficulty of being conclusive.
Finally, the newspapers often referred to a Dutch lady playing for the team which has been interpreted by some historians to mean a woman who had mixed heritage. However, the term ‘Dutch’ may have several meanings. The popular Music Hall song of 1892 called My Old Dutch, performed by Albert Chevalier, implied that his wife was his best pal, thought to combine cockney rhyming slang for ‘dutch plate’ or mate, and ‘duchess’. Similarly Dutch was used to refer to objects, and people, as of substantial build, and a Dutch wardrobe would therefore have been a well-built model. We know that Nettie Honeyball weighed 10 stones, so she would have been robust for her time, as perhaps footballers generally were. So, like references to hair colour we have to be careful when using newspapers, photographs and genealogical sources. Still much more to find out about Emma and Florence Clarke.
The author acknowledges, and is grateful for the research assistance of Amanda Callan-Spenn and for the collaboration and comments of Bill Hern, David and Roxanne Gleave.
It would seem that Ethel Edburga Clementina Scott, a member of the British 4 × 100 metres relay team which took the silver medal at the Women’s World Games in Prague in 1930, might be the first woman of Caribbean descent to represent Britain internationally in athletics.1 Women’s World Games took place in Gothenburg (1926), Prague (1930) and London (1934), although it is not clear that Ethel ran. Britain sent a team to the 1932 and 1936 Olympic Games but she does not seem to have been present. Her family was not wealthy, and so her ability to travel may have been limited. Ethel was a sprinter, often specializing in shorter distances like 60 and 100 metres. She probably came to prominence as a result of civil service sport championships, which were frequent enough and high profile to be reported in The Times. For instance, on 10 June 1929, The Times Ethel is reported as winner of a 100 metre race, representing the Ministry of Labour, in a time of 11.4 seconds. On 8 September 1930, The Times reported that she won her 60m heat in front of 15,000 people, in a dramatic race but didn't do well in the final, as some of the leading sprinters in the world were racing. Scott travelled from Prague onto Germany along with Ivy Walker, Florence Latham and Muriel Cornell. We know that she was still active in 1938, and continued to take part until 1950 but if you have any more details of her athletics career or life, please get in touch.
Her father, David Emmanuel, was from Westmoreland, Jamaica. He was a merchant seaman and carpenter, and her mother, Jane, from Essex. Ethel was born on 22 October 1907 in Plaistow, and baptised on 13 November 1907 at St Andrew’s, Plaistow. She died on 7 March 1984, unmarried, in Barking. According to a family history written by his grandson, David Emmnuel Scott, had been born on the 5 April 1865, was killed in action at Scapa Flow on 24 August 1914.2 Having joined the Royal Navy in 1892, he served on HMS Urgent. David settled in Britain in 1900, working as a general labourer. He married Jane Pilgrim, who was from an agricultural family, in 1905 and they had four children: Walter born in 1906; Ethel in 1907; George in 1910, and Marjorie in 1914. David joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve in 1914 and died in an accident near the Orkney Islands in 1914. Jane was initially denied a war widows pension because David had not served for long enough.
Ethel worked in the civil service and as a medical secretary. Along with Ivy Walker, Eileen Hiscock and Daisy Ridgley, Ethel took a second place to Germany, and rising international standards combined with more participating nations so that the British team won just four medals in 1930. Other competitors and administrators involved in the widening scope of international women’s sport have yet to find their place in history and more transnational research needed to address this agenda.
Women’s Athletics in the 1920s and 1930s
In 1921 a women's section was formed at London's Kensington Athletic Club. Sophie Eliott-Lynn and Vera Palmer, later known by her married name Searle, helped to found Middlesex Ladies' Athletic Club in 1923 after being important members at Kensington.3 However, the number of working class female athletes was also growing. Business houses hosted athletics meetings for women (including the Dunlop corporation, Lillywhite’s clothing, Lyons Tea Houses, the Post Office, the Police and Selfridge’s Department Store), as did universities like Manchester in 1921 and Birmingham from 1922. War-work, often done alongside men, could be both strenuous and dangerous, either munitions manufacturing on the home front, or nursing at the front line. For instance, Elliot Lynn rode a Harley Davidson as a despatch rider for the War Office and served in France in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) before returning to her agricultural and zoological studies in peacetime.4
In 1921, female representatives from France, Great Britain, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland took part in an international athletics meeting inaugurated by Alice Joséphine Marie Million, better known by her married name, Alice Milliat, staged in Monte Carlo. The key figure in regards to increasing the IOC schedule for women, was a French rower who went on to lead an international movement. Alice Milliat, she inaugurated an international congress on women and sport attended by American, Austrian, British, Czechoslovakian, French and Spanish representatives. The purpose of this meeting was to gather support for women’s track and field events to be included in the International Olympic Committee’s version of the Games. Milliat’s main target was to persuade the Swedish administrator Sigfried Edström that the International Amateur Athletics Federation, of which he was head, should promote women’s sport.
Milliat had first visited Britain in 1920 as a non-playing administrator with the Paris-based Femina women's football team. She was much impressed by the local hospitality and public support for the Dick, Kerr Ladies football team in Preston. In her subsequent career as an administrator and activist, Milliat devoted considerable energy to promoting women's sports, not just track and field. With the expansion of the programme of the Olympic Games now overseen by the international federations of sport, rather than local organizing committees, Milliat viewed female track and field athletics disciplines as fundamental to the expansion of the programme.
The International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) had been created in August 1913 with Sigfried Edström elected as its President. The IAAF worked closely with the IOC because of the central role of track and field athletics in the Olympic programme. This enhanced Edström's relationship with de Coubertin and therefore his administrative career. In 1920, Edström was co-opted as a member of the IOC, and one year later he joined the first executive board.
While women's swimming, diving, skating, tennis and a mixed yachting event would feature at the Antwerp Olympic Games in 1920, female track and field athletics were not admitted. As a direct response to the International Olympic Committee's refusal of Milliat's request that these events be included in the 1920 Games, the Monte Carlo Games were followed by a conference where, on 31 October 1921, the Fédération Sportive Féminine Internationale (FSFI) was formed. The inclusion of women’s track and field athletics in the Olympic programme became politicized to an unprecedented degree. Milliat became the head of the FSFI lobbying the IOC, until the IAAF took control of the women’s programme in 1936.
After the first Women's Olympic Games held in Paris (1922), Milliat gave in to pressure to rename these meetings the Women's World Games. Subsequent meetings in Gothenburg (1926), Prague (1930) and London (1934) were held apart from, but in tandem with, the IOC version of the Olympics and effectively merged at the Berlin Games in 1936. Since the British Women’s Amateur Athletic Association participated in Milliat’s Women’s World Games, hosting the 1934 competition, as well as sending teams to the IOC Olympics in 1932 and 1936, access to international competition helped youngsters like Ethel Scott to win her place in history.
Conclusion the integration of track and field athletics into the Olympics
Muriel Cornell for instance, went on to join the British Amateur Athletic Board in 1934 and, the following year became the WAAA representative on the BOA Council. The British team manager in Berlin, Muriel also officiated at the London Olympics in 1948 and helped to set up a national coaching scheme. Although this was an emerging transnationalism, the parallel Women’s World Games and IOC competition provide examples of unmistakable connectivity between different kinds of sport and therefore diverse women from a range of backgrounds.
1 Mel Watman ‘Women Athletes Between The World Wars’(1919–1939)’ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press accessed 22 February 2020.
2 David Scott of Collingham Collingham in the Great War: David Emmanuel Scott 1865-1914 accessed 22 February 2020.
3 Mel Watman ‘Women Athletes Between The World Wars’
4 Mark Pottle ‘Sophie Catherine Theresa Mary Heath, Lady Heath (1896–1939)’ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Oxford University Press accessed 10 February 2020.
Introduction: Good Evening Mr Bond
In her diamond Jubilee year of 2012 Queen Elizabeth II, aged eighty-six, appeared to parachute into the Olympic stadium from a helicopter, to open the Games with James Bond, played by Daniel Craig. As well as showing a sense of humour, and showcasing British creativity, this was a characteristic way of using film to tell a story of how pioneering the monarchy could be, even at an advanced age. Arguably no other monarch has used sport to such an extent, in such a long reign to align themselves with the wider public. And it is unlikely, with Prince Charles and Prince William already older than Elizabeth was when she came to the throne, that any of her heirs will be able to use sport, and especially equestrianism and the Olympic Games, to the same effect again.
A perceived ‘new’ Elizabethan era began as soon as Elizabeth came to the throne. This reinterpreted aspects of British history and popular culture in the 1950s and 1960s following the coronation of young and glamorous monarch Elizabeth II. Although Elizabeth II was already married and a mother by the time she came to the throne, unlike Elizabeth I, the British media drew strong links between the two women, and their respective monarchies. Queen Elizabeth II has favoured equestrian pursuits above all her other sporting commitments. The young Elizabeth Windsor was often photographed in connection with sport, and horses in particular. This was something that the Queen Mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, encouraged, herself shooting small bore rifles aboard HMS Vanguard while en route with the King to tour South Africa in 1947.
Princess Elizabeth had been a focal point at the 1948 London Olympic Games, along with her sister, Margaret, and husband, Philip whom she married in 1947.
The Royals were clearly not a family like anyone else. But an invented tradition suggested that they were, away from the ceremonial aspects of monarchy. This illusion was created partly through the considerable resources of the Royal public relations offices and the use of new communications technology, such as Technicolour film and colour photography.
A few years later, World Sports: International Sports Magazine, which was established as the official publication of the British Olympic Association, was prompted by the accession and coronation of a twenty-seven year old female head of state to issue a commemorative edition, celebrating a new Elizabethan era: 'Of rich inventiveness, achievement and glory-in sport and all things.' The young Queen and her consort celebrated the place of the Royal family in relation to the British sporting establishment. In 1949, the Duke of Edinburgh became President of the Marylebone Cricket Club, at that time the leading body for world cricket, and Elizabeth II became the first Queen Regnant to attend a cricket match at Lord’s in 1952. We can also perhaps picture the bright yellow ensemble in which the Queen awarded Bobby Moore the World Cup trophy in 1966, and the way in which he wiped his hands so as not to stain her white gloves.
The Olympic and Commonwealth Games in the 1950s
Elizabeth II was a constitutional monarch, and Head of the Commonwealth at the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver; the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games, and the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Cardiff. Although the Olympic movement remained ambulatory, hosted at Helsinki in 1952, and Rome in 1960, the role of the British in promoting the Games would continue to be considerable.
It mattered little that, personally, Elizabeth was more interested in the unusual Equestrian Games, held in Stockholm in June of 1956 because Australian quarantine rules regarding horses would have meant that animals would need to spend months in the country before the Olympic events. Elizabeth and Philip stayed aboard the Royal yacht in Stockholm, and added to their official duties with a holiday so as to stay for all of the equestrian events. The British Empire and Commonwealth Games would follow in Cardiff in 1958, presided over by Lord Aberdare and promoted by Ted Glover and former Olympic swimmer Margaret ‘Pip’ Linton. Sporting events were then fundamental to the way that modern monarchy connected with a wider public. The changing nature of Britain’s place in the world was reflected by the way that the British Empire Games changed to become the Commonwealth Games as the 1950s and 1960s progressed.
Elizabeth II and Equestrianism
In the media’s coverage of a new Elizabethan age, the young monarch’s interest in the outdoor life was represented to have both ancient antecedents and modern expressions. A good horsewoman, Elizabeth II’s equestrian skill was as much showcased by the ceremonial aspects of her duties, such as Trooping the Colour, as by her private taste for active leisure. As Stephen Gundle has said:
In February 1952 Time magazine selected the 27 year old princess as the world personality who most embodied the hope of the times. She captured on an international scale the magazine asserted the mysterious power of ancient monarchs ‘to represent, express and effect the aspirations of the collective subconscious.’ In fact, the era had seen the overthrow of more than one monarchy and, it was the youth and beauty of Elizabeth that appealed most.1
There was a global glamour in aristocracy, and the carefully orchestrated sense of lavish ritual that accompanied Elizabeth’s monarchy made her the most celebrated of luminaries. In many senses, the more relaxed side to her personality was shown through sport, and active leisure pursuits also characterised the enthusiasms of her growing family. However, this was a highly groomed and polished presentation of the private life of the Royal family, making them icons of style.
Elizabeth II’s Olympic legacy
The British Olympic Association had always been keen to have more Establishment support for its activities and it would be Elizabeth Windsor, more than any previous monarch, who would cement ties between the British Royal family and the Olympic movement. However, her presiding personal interest was equestrianism, and in particular horse racing. With the birth of Prince Charles in 1949, many newsreels emphasised that, as well as being a Head of State, Elizabeth was also a young wife and mother, performing a duty to the nation in providing a future heir. The birth of Princess Anne followed soon after in August 1950 and, she would remain Elizabeth’s only daughter and become the first British royal Olympian in 1976. Anne had won the individual European Eventing Championship in 1971, and with it the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Joining Dame Mary Glen Haig as British representative to the IOC in 1988, Anne is still President of the British Olympic Association. As Director of the London 2012 Games, Anne oversaw an opening ceremony in which her mother appeared to parachute into the stadium with James Bond. Zara Tindall, who was awarded an Eventing silver medal in 2012 by Princess Anne, her mother, has followed in the family tradition. Tindall had already won the Eventing World Championship in Aachen in 2006. So it is not Elizabeth’s male heirs who have been the Olympians, but the female line. It will be interesting to see if this continues.
1 Stephen Gundle Glamour: A History Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008 pp.207-208.
1.1 New Book British Olympic Women: a history (Routledge, 2020)
Jean is currently completing a 120,000 word manuscript that we hope will be out by the Tokyo Olympic Games of 2020, with the academic publisher Routledge. This has been a huge project, covering 120 years of history, and with Olympic spectacle shaped by world events. The Olympic Games are the single biggest sports spectacle in the world and the most significant showcase for women athletes in the twenty first century. That increasing numbers of women, in a widening range of disciplines, have changed the Games between 1900 and 2020 is obvious to even the most casual observer. However, the extent to which women have transformed the Olympic Games remains to be more fully understood.
1.2 How long have women been part of Olympic spectacle?
The British have played a prominent part in modern Olympic tradition since a version of the ancient games was resumed in Athens in 1896, though no women competed in this first edition, so far as the evidence shows. It is nevertheless encouraging to look at the sheer diversity of women who have represented Britain since the first female competitors took part in the Paris Games of 1900. For example, the youngest female competitor in Olympic history was Cecilia Colledge who skated in the 1932 Los Angeles games at eleven years and sevent y-eight days. The eldest female competitor so far was also British. Lorna Johnstone first took part in the 1956 Stockholm dressage individual competition, appeared again in the 1968 Mexico individual and team events and finally performed in both at the 1972 Munich games, aged seventy. The book will be the first monograph on British women in the Olympic movement more generally.
1.3 What is this book doing that is unique?
Women competitors may have become more central to the work of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the British Olympic Assocation (BOA) since the 1980s. We now also have to understand the Olympics and Paralympic Games as mega events, some would say giga events One of the big research questions then, is how did British women who looked to become Olympians achieve their ambitions? What were the frameworks imposed on female athletes, individually and as a group, by the IOC, the BOA and the various affiliated sporting international federations? Who are our two thousand British female Olympians 1900-2012? What are their stories? Why are they more women not well-known as British sporting heroes?
2.1 History and Heritage Scoping Study for British Judo
Jean has been discussing a heritage scoping session with British Judo in 2019. Work throughout 2020 will focus on documenting, cataloguing and, preserve the collections of British Judo, and also in conjunction with the University of Bath Special Collections which houses the Richard Bowen collection. The forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022 provides a focal point for our ambitious plans, which, although in the early stages have a number of stakeholders active who will help us to achieve our aims. Jean has worked at the University of Bath Special Collections for several years on projects, and her PhD student Amanda Callan Spenn recently completed her thesis on Sarah Mayer, an actress and the first Western woman to achieve a black belt in Japan, in the early 1930s.
3.1 Legendary Lionesses
jjheritage.com launched the Legendary Lionesses webpages in 2019, after helping the FA to track down the names of every player to have appeared for official England teams, since they were launched in 1972. At the moment we are focusing on the Captains, having launched pages based on interviews with Sheila Parker and Carol Thomas/ McCune. We are looking to add more content on squads, such as the inaugural 1972 lineup that we currently have and, please, if you have more details, please get on touch. Especially if you have photographs, and player memorabilia.
4.1 The Manchester Corinthians Women’s Football Club formed in 1949
jjheritage has also launched a Manchester Corinthians page to document the history of the club, which was formed by Percy Ashley for his daughter, captain and leading player, Doris, in 1949. It is well known that the FA banned women’s football from the grounds of Association-affiliated clubs in 1921, on the grounds that the organization perceived that football was ‘unsuitable’ for women and too much money raised for charity had been absorbed in player expenses. So Corinthians were formed in the midst of that ban, and by the time the FA lifted the ban on women’s football in England in 1969, Corinthians and Nomads had between them raised over £275,000 for charity; mostly for the Red Cross and Oxfam.
This club has an amazing history: and here is their song
We’re the Corinthians
Football ladies from Lancashire
Blue and Black for Corinthinas
Boy, What a team!
Fa la la la la la
We’ll beat anyone who we play
Makes no difference, home or away
We have the talent
Our youngsters are gallant
Corinthians from Lancashire
Please get in touch if you know of anyone who played for the team, and have any memorabilia.
5.1 An Ethnography of Swimming Outdoors
As you are probably aware Jean completed the first of her planned triathlons in 2019, and a duathlon and has committed to more next year. With Barbara Bell, an academic who recently left Manchester Metropolitan University, Jean is part of a project funded by the Leisure Studies Association, to swim in various historically significant locations in the UK and overseas, especially our historic Lidos and outdoor pools. Swimming is both a sport and leisure activity that can be undertaken in a variety of ways. In this project we reflect on why we like to swim outdoors, what the mental health, and physical health benefits to each of us are, and how it helps us to write. The project will expand in 2020 to more Lidos and historic pools, after Jean was able to swim in the historic Art Deco Molitor Pools in 2019. Again, if you have suggestions, please get in touch.
So plenty to be going on with, and with more triathlons planned and some outdoor swimming events, jjheritage.com wishes our readers and clients a healthy, happy and prosperous 2020.
Introduction: Looking back on jjheritage’s third anniversary in October 2019
Several projects were completed in 2019. Or should we say milestones of ongoing projects were met?
Warwickshire Triathlon 6 October 2019
It was a warm and clear day on Sunday 6 October for the Warwickshire Triathlon events at Stratford Upon Avon with many tourists encouraging the participants in the pool, on the cycle and on the run. After the recent rains, the run route which goes along the towpath for a short distance, was a concern but not too bad underfoot. A fun but challenging event, this was Jean’s second Sprint Triathlon of 2019 (400m swim, 18 kilometre cycle and 5K run), distance as well as a duathlon event with her niece Kelly. In 2019 British Triathlon has a social media campaign, #TriLikeMe designed to show that triathlon is for everyone, and this was certainly in evidence with a range of different abilities. Kelly’s husband Stu, who has done a wide range of sporting challenges in 2019 joined us and enjoyed the event. More to come next year, provided that winter training goes well.
The Silverstone Experience opened to the public 25 October 2019
The newly launched £19.2 million The Silverstone Experience (TSE) opened its doors in 2019 at the entrance to the circuit, with commanding views from the café area over the infield, as well as parts of the circuit. With half the funds provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the dedicated heritage themed exhibitions and archive collections are housed in a refurbished World War Two aircraft hangar. TSE aims to ensure that the heritage of Silverstone and post-war British motor racing is interpreted for today’s public as well as protected for future generations. The new visitor attraction’s strategy is to use contemporary history and sports heritage, particularly to inspire young people, by celebrating the circuit and the country’s position at the heart of the global motor sport industry.
Jean has recently written an article about TSE visitor attraction, to come out in a book edited by Dr Kevin Moore, Dr Christian Wacker and Professor John Hughson in 2020, outlining the key contributions to academic debates around sporting museums, and motor sport. This is a relatively under-researched aspect of sport history and heritage. Motor sport has been neglected in the academic literature on sporting museums, which has also tended to neglect young people under the age of eighteen as a distinct population, or to assume their presence as part of a wider visitor audience. This is changing in large part due to more complex use of audio-visual technology as part of museum design, and now there is an emergent research agenda around whether history and heritage can be used to inspire young people in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) subjects. We will return to this subject in 2020. As TSE moves into the next phase of delivery, these will be key questions.
Looking forward to New Beginnings in November 2019
Legendary Lionesses: England Women Internationals 1972-2019
As well as these milestones, several new projects will be launched by jjheritage over the course of 2019 and into 2020. One of these, Legendary Lionesses, concerns research that has been done by us over the summer of 2019 into the history of the England women’s Senior Team from 1972 to the present. Again this is intended for a book length treatment and watch out for several updates here. Particularly if you have new information and collections from women players that we might use to research and better tell the story. Our aim is the tell the story through the decades from the official England team, starting in the 1970s and working backwards, and forwards, to cover all aspects. Jean has interviewed several of the England captains across the decades and will continue this work over the Winter. This is intended as a free resource ahead of England hosting the women’s Euro 2021, and will also form part of a HLF bid. Jean has been contacted by several host clubs and regions of Euro 2021 for heritage projects and if you’d like her to consult on your project please do get in touch.
The Run, Swim, Cycle Historian
Jean has run, swam and cycled some of the iconic British races, from the London marathon to the Great North Run, to swimming the Great North Swim, and the Serpentine as well as completing her first triathlons this year. Starting in November and moving into next year jjheritage will launch the Run, Swim and Cycle historian where we will extend this by covering iconic geographies in the UK and abroad. Watch out for updates on this, along with a funded project by the Leisure Studies Association called the ethnography of swimming with academic Dr Barbara Bell, and artist Deborah Lovegrove. You can follow us on Twitter @JeanMWilliams for updates.
Send Her Victorious and the Hidden Histories of the Olympic Games
As 2020 is an Olympic and Paralympic year, with historic Tokyo as host venue, we will also be hosting a curated and dedicated space to the history of the Olympic Games as you may not know them. Watch out for more updates as we turn from 2019 to 2020. As part of this work we will also be scoping a study of the archives collections of British Judo.
Watch this space!
Introduction: forming a heritage and arts startup in 2016
jjheritage.com was formed by Professor Jean Williams and Joanna Compton in Autumn 2016 responding to the growing global creation of dedicated museums and archival collections related to sport and the arts particularly. Jean, who had previously worked in fashion-buying, and as a teacher of English, Drama and Theatre Studies, had recently taken a voluntary severance departure after almost twenty years in a specialist sports history research centre, and used part of the funds to establish the company. Joanna, who has a legal, project management and fundraising background joined with her expertise to provide the regulatory framework for a variety of projects. Since October 2016, jjheritage has amplified both the range of its work in public history, and world-leading connections with sports governing bodies.
So the first year was very much about establishing company core values and practices, and working on the website with our colleagues Pink Frog Media. As a female owned and led startup, we identified where our core business might lie and contacted as many of our current network as possible to let them know that the new company was registered and open for business. Jean had run several businesses alongside her academic career over the years, from hospitality and event management to catering, having also taught these subjects in colleges. The interest in heritage also had a much longer background, when Jean worked with Prof Jeff Hill and Dr Kevin Moore on a sport and heritage AHRC funded project Sport, History and Heritage – a study in the public representation of sport (2006-08). Jean published a chapter on the public representation motor sport, particularly the Indianapolis 500 in the United States in 2012. So what has happened since?
Hitting the Ground Running: The First World Football Culture Summit, China 2016, to an AHRC PhD studentship 2017
In October 2016 Williams was invited as a guest of the National Football Museum to talk about her ongoing research at The First World Football Culture Summit, Zibo National Football Museum China. Dr Kevin Moore, Director of the National Football Museum had already hosted President Xi Jinping and then British Prime Minister, David Cameron at the museum and this visit to China was part of the return cultural diplomacy between the two countries related to football. You can see the video of Jean’s reception in Zibo here. We spent a week in China and it really felt like a great way to launch the new business. The National Football Museum houses the FIFA-Langton collection, the largest of its kind in the world. Williams has consulted with the National Football Museum since it was first established in 2001, as an expert helpjng with the annual Hall of Fame nominations, and with the Walk of Fame. Jean had also co-curated a £30,000 funded exhibition A History of the World Cup in 24 Objects in 2014 with Dr David Goldblatt, and has advised on a number of other funding bids including work on 1966 and purchasing the Chris Unger Collection.
As a non Executive Director of The Silverstone Experience, a new heritage visitor attraction at Silverstone Circuit, 2016/7 was a key year in moving from Stage 1 to stage 2 Heritage Lottery Fund project management and with a very busy set of meetings, the new facility will open in Autumn 2019. Jean had spent a lot of time researching the archvial collections of the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) at Silverstone and had supervised a Master’s level student who went on to work in the collections so it was very rewarding to see academic work lead to postgraduate level employment in the sporting heritage sector as it grows. Other students have also volunteered their time at Silverstone, so that was also satisfying. Williams has been privileged to recorded oral histories to produce exhibition content for The Silverstone Experience, including Lady Christabel Watson, and Liz Zettle.
More pleasing still, Jean obtained an AHRC PhD studentship with The Hockey Museum Woking, through the The National Football Museum consortium. These studentships, worth £70, 000 are designed to give the students both PhD level expertise and six months of experience working with a museum, and archive to improve their employment prospects. Building on Jean’s expertise in oral history, the project will interview and archive oral histories of female hockey internationals from 1945 onwards.
Expanding Our Portfolio of Clients 2017/9
As Academic Lead to the Hidden Histories of Women’s Football Project (September 2017-8), Williams convened the largest international conference solely dedicated to women’s football to date. Held on 8/9 March 2018 in the National Football Museum’s main gallery, to mark International Women’s Day, almost 100 people were in attendance and, wider public recognition of women’s football included a civic reception at the Lord Mayor of Manchester’s chambers. This was amplified when Jean and the National Football Museum held the first and largest reunion of England women players 1949-1993 on 30 September 2018 for National Sporting Heritage Day. More, and larger, reunions are planned for Autumn 2019. This was supplemented by media work, and producing two journal special editions from the conference with papers published by museum professionals as well as academics.
Jean also volunteered on the steering committee of the Notts County FC football in the Community Heritage scoping study, and liaised with Notts County Cricket Club on their collections.
Most notably, clients in 2018/9 included the FIFA World Football Museum; the Football Association at both St George’s Park and Wembley Stadium. FIFA (formed in 1904) acknowledged the history of women’s football before their involvement in 1969, was important to establishing the first women’s world cup in 1991. Williams co-authored, with FIFA World Museum of Football staff, and journalists, The Women’s World Cup (2019), two copies of which were circulated to all 211 FIFA member national associations at a conference to mark the eighth Women’s World Cup in Paris, June 2019. The first 60 pages of a 300 page volume explain why the first Women’s World Cup was held in 1991 (compared with 1930 for the men’s inaugural tournament), and what went before. Williams had unprecedented access to the FIFA archive in Zurich in Autumn 2018, to augment her existing research for the book.
In 2018/9 the FA asked Williams to curate and present an exhibition on the history of England at St George’s Park. Williams presented to head coaches Gareth Southgate, Phil Neville and 40 technical staff on 14 September 2018. Subsequently Williams has also consulted on permanent heritage-based installations across the FA sites, including the England caps wall.
What next in Autumn 2019 to celebrate our third birthday as a company?
Jean will provide heritage scoping for British Judo this Autumn, following links with the University of Wolverhampton and with a view to the forthcoming Commonwealth Games.
Public Library work continues with the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Jean provides advice on sporting obituaries for each year as well as writing entries on Lady Arran, 2016; Dame Mary Glen Haig 2017; Eileen Gray and Rosalind Rowe 2018. More Olympians will follow in 2020.
With The Silverstone Experience opening this Autumn, and Jean speaking in Paris on 8 November on the history of sports clothing, there are a range of projects to keep jjheritage.com busy. Look out for new announcements on our website. In particular, more work on the history of football in England will follow this autumn, and our Olympic work will amplify ahead of Tokyo 2020.
Other links you may find useful
Media work since 2016 has included:
1. BBC Radio 4 Late Night Women’s Hour with Lauren Laverne on The History of Women’s Sport broadcast 26 August 2016
2. Sky Arts in consultation with the British Library My British Library Series, filmed with Benjamin Zephaniah for his programme on Rebels and his support of Aston Villa, broadcast on Sky Arts 15 November 2016.
3. Channel 4 and Clare Balding When Football Banned Women documentary film first broadcast July 2017.
4. Bill Wilson The story of women's football in 10 objects BBC Business News 6 March 2018
5. Icons BBC2 January 2019-Williams co-shortlisted the 4 sports candidates (Pele, Billie Jean King, Muhammed Ali and Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson) for the Sport programme on a 7 person panel led by Kelly Cates and Colin Jackson. Ali won by public vote and went to the final, where the public voted for the most important person of the twentieth century, in February 2019, broadcast live on BBC 2
6. Bill Wilson’ Mexico 1971: When women's football hit the big time’ BBC Business
7. Ultimate Football Fan TV Women in Football: No Easy Game 26 April 2019
8. Central TV News ‘Women’s Football History’ 2 and 3 April 2019 Jane Hesketh.
9. Grant Wahl ‘How the Women's World Cup and USWNT Were Built From Scratch’ Sports Illustrated podcast 06 June 2019
10. Outside Right podcast 20 May 2019
11. Greg Jenner ‘History of Football’ You’re Dead to Me 13 September 2019.
The Museum at FIT is an internationally recognized collection of fashion design, celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in 2019. Based in New York city, the Fashion Institute for Technology is a college for design, fashion, art, communications, and business. Founded in 1969, the Museum was installed in the current building in 1974, and exhibitions began to be presented in 1975. Dr. Valerie Steele has been director of The Museum at FIT since 2003 and chief curator since 1997. Over 100,000 visitors, from academic researchers to generalists visit annually, and the mission of the Museum is to advance knowledge of fashion through exhibitions, programs and publications. The Museum at FIT, accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, is one of a few specialized collections, including the Musée de la Mode, the Mode Museum, and the Museo de la Moda.
Prof Jean Williams represented jjheritge at the Museum at FIT for a week of research with a view to developing our sports clothing expertise and, it is an experience to be highly recommended. Whatever your specialism, there is a really rich range of material available. The museum's permanent collection encompasses some 50,000 garments and accessories from the 18th century to the present and, significantly, the objects are often presented first. Methodologically, this focuses the attention of the researchers on the thing itself, which may seem an obvious point, but one that is often overlooked in the search for contextual detail in catalogues and so forth. So for reasons of space, we have limited this blog to discussions of 1. Equestrian wear and motoring clothing, 2. Swimwear and 3. Case study of Abercrombie and Fitch est. 1892.
Equestrianism meets automobilism
One of the things that was really evident from the equestrian and mototring clothing was the continuity of materials, and designs based on seasonal circumstances. So that when equestrians wore light, long dust-jackets of cotton for the Summer these garments were often designed to keep dust off the hind quarters of the horse, as well as the body of the rider. Similarly, when early automobilists took to the streets in their vehicles at the turn of the twentieth century, dust jackets, although much shorter in cut were very much in vogue in the summer months along with veils and large wide-brimmed ‘picture’ hats for women, and peaked caps for men. So much so, was this kind of headwear symbolic of motoring that young women who could not afford a vehicle would wear large hats in the street, only to be taunted by young boys with calls like, ‘Where’s your car, miss?’. In the Winter months too, heavier fabrics, like leather, fur and glamorous velvet were adapted from equestrian fashions to motoring styles, and here the wide brimmed hat was a necessary defence against inclement weather, with goggles and leather headwear for men increasingly used, as a nod (if you will excuse the pun) to military styles. Significantly, society equestrians and automobilists wanted to be seen on their journey, so there is often a lot of intricate embroidery and detail in these fashions.
As Jean has already argued in articles like Aquadynamics and the Athletocracy the county of Leicestershire in England, has a unique place in the development of racing sportswear, using very fine silk racing swimsuits for men from the turn of the twentieth century, and for women since at least the 1912 Olympic Games although expensive and specialist items of clothing for elite races, the fine qualities of the suits showed that fit and racing technology could enhance the experience of swimmers more used to the everyday qualities of woollen suits. Not known for their hydroponic qualities!
Unlike equestrian and motoring clothing, which relied upon layers for comfort, and outerwear for protection against the elements, swimwear had major links with underwear. Swimming bloomers for men and women could be fashionable, although not to our taste today. For instance, sailor-style necklines were indicative of leisure-wear generally and used for styles for both men and women, and, from the 1890s patented sea-side wear celebrated both swimming itself and lounging on the beach, or near water. So there were rational elements affecting women’s clothing particularly as heavy ankle length dresses were proven to hamper efforts to swim during disasters, and there were perceptions that women were less often taught to swim than men. So swimming was a life skill, and life saving received a Royal approval in 1904 in the UK.
As time went on swimwear became ever more brief and more technically constructed. This linked with changes in body shape, and personal grooming which emphasised the revealed body as toned, honed and young. For the lucky few cruise wear became a staple of an upper class wardrobe, as those who could afford to do so followed the sun, year round.
Sportswear and leisurewear: Abercrombie and Fitch est. 1892
One of the rich sources for the researcher of sporting and leisurewear is the history of branding available at the Museum at FIT. Few today know for example, that multi billion dollar company Abercrombie and Fitch, began as an outfitters for those who enjoyed the great outdoors, in 1892 by David T. Abercrombie. A topographer himself, Abercrombie favoured camping style canvas and twill clothing in serviceable designs, which were nevertheless elite in tone because only the upper classes had the leisure and money to purchase specialist items, such as he provided. Ezra Fitch, initially a customer and then a partner in 1900, realising that selling a lifestyle could appeal to those in New York who never intended to spend more time than was strictly necessary outdoors. The two men quarrelled and, ultimately, Fitch’s vision was the more persuasive, so much so that by 1907 Abercrombie left the business to pursue the outdoors market. By 1910 both women and men were catered for in the Abercrombie and Fitch vision, although women have generally been less well catered for in sports clothing compared with men, in stark contrast to other areas of fashion. Made fashionable by a host of pioneers, A&F has evolved to one of today’s luxury lifestyle brands, whether worn inside, or out on the great outdoors.
As British Grand Prix weekend approaches, we take a look at why Silverstone holds a unique place in the world motor racing calendar. The area around Silverstone Circuit is a complex site with a rich and diverse history of settlement and use from pre-historic times. The history encompasses both tangible and intangible heritage values. The geology, topography and landscape have played an important role in shaping and influencing the use of the site. Over time, a very diverse set of populations, has subtly built on a previous use, some of which can be still evidenced at the motor racing circuit today. In this sense, it is one of the most historic circuits on today’s Formula One calendar, and through this wider mediation, the heritage is broadcast to a global audience. However, the use of the circuit is much more diverse than one large race, once a year, with important motorcycle, sports car, classic car and cycling events. Most days of the year, the circuit is in use and operates very much as a year-round business.
Older History around Silverstone Circuit
Straddling what are now the counties of Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire, in prehistoric times the area is likely to have been wooded, populated by clusters of hunter-gatherers foraging the landscape. Archaeological evidence suggests activity in the Mesolithic, Neolithic and Early Bronze Age. Late Iron Age and Early Romano-British pottery were recovered during demolition and excavation work, begun in 1941 to establish an airfield on the site, and digs continued for over a decade after the Second World War. The area was wooded at the time of the Domesday survey of 1086, and under Royal control. Although the exact date of Benedictine settlement is unclear, it is thought to be before 1133.
The circuit is also close to the Roman Road between Towcester and Alcester. Of most archaeological significance to the site was a monastic house, Luffield Abbey. Today, Abbey is the first turn on the circuit, and Luffield the seventh. Probably because of its position close to Watling Street, an important Briton and Roman road, Luffied could sustain a Priory and an Abbey, probably because of the numbers of pilgrims going to Canterbury and St Albans, and returning after pilgrimage. Following the dissolution of the monasteries, the land passed into the ownership of a series of land holdings. Throughout the Eighteenth Century, Luffield Abbey remained attached to Stowe through a succession of inheritance. Luffield Abbey is one of few ancient parishes in the country with no church at its centre. The only extant remains from the Priory is a fishpond, and the stones from the Priory building are thought to have been incorporated into Luffield Abbey Farm, which today, on the circuit, houses the British Racing Driver’s Club (BRDC) archive, and is also familiarly known as the BRDC Farmhouse.
St. Thomas a Becket Chapel
First of all, note the single ‘t’ in Becket. This can drive local historians crazy, as now, over time the circuit uses two ‘tt’s in spelling Beckett. Language can evolve and change in this way, so it can be worth noting the change. Thomas Becket (1120-1170) when, in dispute with Henry II, as Archbishop of Canterbury over the relative power of the King and the church, was tried and convicted for contempt of Royal authority and malfeasance at Northampton Castle in 1164. A small chapel near Silverstone village was built when, after his assassination, Becket was made a Saint in 1173, and there are other local landmarks bearing his name. Turns at the circuit called Becketts and Chapel Curve commemorate this. Foundations of the Chapel remain close to ‘Chapel ’ on today’s circuit, and have previously lain within the 750 acres of circuit grounds, before some of this land was released in the twenty first century. Meanwhile, sinister sounding Maggots Moor, next to the village of Whittlebury, is referenced in Maggots bend.
From 1711, with the arrival of new Head Gardener, Charles Bridgeman, Stowe Woods, formerly part of Whittlewood Forest, was incorporated into a new landscape design. Stowe was substantial and complex, based on a large number of straight ridings and sinuous paths set in woodland, with a series of key vistas onto local landmarks. Northampton Drive, Stowe Woods and the Ridings were closely integrated with other elements of the Stowe ornamental landscape known as the British Forest style. Stowe House, an independent school and an estate run by The National Trust, has close links with Silverstone, and it is thought that local youths from the school were amongst the first to race around the airfield, well before official racing began.
Wellington Bombers, World War Two and Racing Begins
The airfield opened in March 1943 as a Royal Air Force Bomber Command Station in its own right, and was used by an Operational Training Unit No.17. The airfield consisted of three concrete runways and a perimeter track, and the site was equipped with aircraft hangars, accommodation blocks and a control tower, responsible for the training of bomber crews, mainly for night-time raids into occupied Europe, flying Vickers Wellington Bombers. The site is estimated to have accommodated around 2000 airmen and up to 200 Women's Auxiliary Air Force members (WAAFs) at the height of its operational power. A memorial remains on site to six aircrew killed on 3 October 1943, and survivors like Sergeant Reg Hyde, although badly burned, were treated with the latest medical technology as members of the well-known ‘Guinea Pig Club.’ The airfield was closed in 1946, and in 1948 was converted into a motor racing circuit, initially utilising the runwaysand perimeter track and after much informal racing had taken place.
Conclusion The Silverstone Experience
The newly launched £19.2 million The Silverstone Experience (TSE) will open its doors in 2019 at the entrance to the circuit, with commanding views from the café area over the infield, as well as parts of the circuit. With half the funds provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the dedicated heritage and archive spaces in a refurbished World War Two aircraft hangar, will aim to ensure that the heritage of Silverstone and post-war British motor racing is interpreted and protected for future generations. The new visitor attraction will use contemporary history and heritage, particularly to inspire young people, by celebrating the circuit and the UK’s position at the heart of the global motor sport industry.
Posts written by Jean or Joanna.