Meeting & Talk 16th May 2022

Spring Meeting

The meeting was attended by some 20 stalwart previously paid-up members (all memberships having lapsed during 2020 and 2021).

Following the talk by Liz Woolley (details below), the Vice-Chair, John Talbot, said that with the anticipated resignations of Mary Thompson as Chair and Sue French as Treasurer, the Society would need to appoint a new Chair and Committee.  

While he was prepared to serve as Chair and Julie McDonnell was also prepared to continue as Secretary, there would be a need for a Treasurer and at least one other Committee member to handle the booking of speakers and venues as well as the arrangement of visits/outings.  He invited all those present and other former members to publicise and canvas interest in the Society among their friends and neighbours with a view to holding an AGM later in the summer to formalise the appointment of a new Committee and initiate a future programme of activities.  

Talk by Liz Woolley 

“Leisure and Entertainment in Victorian and Edwardian Oxford”

Liz Woolley1

In the mid nineteenth century changes in employment practices and rising real wages meant that ordinary working people found themselves, usually for the first time, with leisure time and with spare money to spend on recreation. All sorts of establishments arose to fulfill the new demand for entertainment, many of them aimed at keeping people out of the pub. 

Liz Woolley's talk described where and how Oxford citizens spent their free time, and how the middle classes attempted to impose ‘rational recreation’ on their working-class.

Liz Woolley2


New establishments included sports facilities and clubs, the public library, public baths and bathing places on the river, cinemas and theatres, fairs and circuses.  

Liz Woolley3

Activities included organised sports and other outdoor recreational activities, lectures and concerts. 

Liz Woolley4

Many of the buildings that sprang up to accommodate and support these activities can still be seen around Oxford today.

About the Speaker


Liz Woolley has lived in Oxford since 1984. She completed an MSc in English Local History (with Distinction) at the University of Oxford’s Department for Continuing Education in 2009, having gained a Diploma (also with Distinction) in the same subject in 2007. She is an experienced speaker, guide, tutor, researcher and writer who is keen to help individuals and groups to enjoy finding out about the history of their local area.

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