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Archaeology of domestic life in early 20th century Britain

The aim of this blog is to publish data on early 20th century buildings, whilst this is still accessible. Much material of interest to the historian is being destroyed through 'home improvements' and DIY, and objects are increasingly being divorced from their context through dispersal after the death of their owners. By creating an easily accessible contextual record of material culture, it is hoped that those interested in this period of history may have a resource through which the details of domestic life might be studied.

If you have any artefacts of interest, or make discoveries during the process of your own investigations that you would like to share, please contact me!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Objects of leisure: ec20 winter sports for the well-off woman

As it's been snowing, it might be interesting so see some of the objects used at play in the winter during  the early 20th century.

During the 1920s and 1930s, women did not generally wear trousers; the skirt, although still worn by some for sports such as skating, were cumbersome (and at times surely dangerous). So clothing used within other sports that necessitated trouser-type garments - notably horse riding - were often appropriated for a range of sports. Jodhpurs had been worn for some time; increasingly during the 1920s and 1930s, the side-saddle skirt (beneath which they were previously worn) was abandoned. Before trousers, they provided a comfortable garment for women engaging in winter sports such as skating and skiing, and during other seasons of the year, cycle and motor-cycle riding. The lose fit - as epitomised in the laughable 'elephant ears' - protected modesty, and provided comfort and ease of movement that may have been quite liberating in comparison to every-day wear.

Here's the sort of thing that was worn the well-to-do woman before WWII, after which trousers were more frequently worn by women - being introduced for war-related work (such as Civil Defence and Fire Service) that was neither modest nor safe to undertake in a skirt:

Skate-wear (above and below): leather skates worn with jodhpurs and knit-wear

The ('Lilley & Skinner') skating boots above are likely to be pre-war examples, probably dating to the 1920s (or perhaps the 1930s, as the boot length is a little shorter that early examples). Above the eyelets are studs around which the lace is wound.They came complete with leather lace-guards. the blades seem much narrower than modern skates, and are much harder to walk in! The text on the blades read:


The blade plates are stamped '690', 'No. 15' and '101/4'. The sole of the boot is stamped '7' - they correspond in sie to a modern 7, although are quite narrow across the foot - and 'CUSHION INSIDE'.

The interior heel is stamped & painted in gold 'Sports'

The Patent application number is '90X587' (a number higher than the 1920s examples at Mancester Museum), with a number after this '70610K3'. Below this is '7 274'

Label on tip of skis

There are a few interesting websites and blog posts on 'vintage' skis for further info...

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