To mark National Sporting Heritage Day, we take a look at the sources we hold on Sport in Hampshire in our Printed Collections.
The sources can be found in our Cope Collection, which is a major resource for the study of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
For studying the history of sport in Hampshire, A History of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Volume V, Victoria County History, (1912) is a useful text. In its chapter titled “Sport Ancient and Modern”, the volume tells the reader about the introduction of foxhunting, and the ancient origin of flat racing in Hampshire, as well as shooting, and angling. There is also a section on sport in the New Forest, written by the Hon. Gerald Lascelles:
“Fishing is not one of the special features of New Forest sport, although in the streams of the forest itself are to be found plenty of small brown trout, diminutive in size but excellent in flavour, and very good baskets have sometimes been realised, chiefly with the worm.” [Page 568]
The chapter finishes on cricket, where it explains how first-class cricket was born in the small village of Hambledon, which is located approximately 15 miles north of Portsmouth:
“The great players of the club in the latter half of the eighteenth century besides Richard Nyren, were John Small, sen., a shoe maker and musician, who is said to have pacified an angry bull in the middle of a paddock by playing on his violin. His cricket balls were celebrated for their excellence, and Mr. Budd bought the last half-dozen he ever made at a guinea a piece; he was the best batsman of his time.” [Page 574]
Other useful historical resources relating to sport include the Hampshire Papers publication series, which cover cricket and football. In his work Association Football in Hampshire until 1914, Norman Gannaway explains how the first reference to football being played in Hampshire is in Vulgaria, a publication published in 1515 by Headmaster of Winchester College, William Horman.
After explaining the important contribution that public schools made to nineteenth-century football, Gannaway goes on to discuss Hampshire club football, where he confirms Fordingbridge Turks as being the oldest Hampshire football club in existence.
The Cope Collection also features the Sport in the South official directories, which date from the twentieth century. The publications feature strategic plans of the Sports Council, ‘Sport in the South’ award winners, lists of national sports centres in the southern region, and adult education sports opportunities.
As well as holding Hampshire sport histories and publications, we also hold an important visual record of sports teams and sports facilities. This can be found in the Peter Cook Postcard Collection, which contains over 3000 postcards of Southampton. These include images of cricket teams and bowling teams, and others showing the old Bowling Green. Examples can be seen at the beginning of this blog post, and below.
Sports facilities displayed include the Central Baths in Southampton, which were located in Harbour Road. Containing the Southampton Olympic Pool, competitors travelled from afar to use the 100 feet bath and diving tower with its various heights. Due to new regulatory standards, such as the need of a separate diving pool, the Central Baths were knocked down in 1964. The facility was replaced by what is now the Quays Swimming and Diving Complex.
The postcard collection also features images of Southampton Football Club’s previous football ground, The Dell; and the Municipal Sports Centre in Bassett. The postcards provide a useful resource for studying the development of the city over time, and the leisure facilities provided.