With all of this snow and wintery weather affecting the majority of the UK you might be looking forward to your next summer beach holiday more than ever.  To help pass the time towards next summer this week’s SPOT newsletter begins with two short papers from the Sports and Leisure History Seminar on the topic of Post-war British Holidaymaking.  The first speaker, Dr Martin Cohen painted a picture of post-war British holidaymaking both in the UK and abroad.  Cohen describes how nostalgia for 1930s seaside holidays drove families back to the British beaches despite tough austerity measures, inadequate facilities and overcrowding.  Even those who were able to afford foreign holidays still came up against similar difficulties including rationing limitations.  However, the overwhelming desire to return to pre-war lifestyles overcame these problems and helped form the basis for a new consumerism of holidays and leisure activities. 

The second paper, presented by Dr Susan Barton is a study of the development of package holidays during the 1950s to 1970s and in particular the rise of Spanish holidaying.   Barton discusses the development of cheap flights and foreign holidays made cheaper through the inclusion of hotel accommodation in the price.  Tour operators not only gained concessions from hoteliers but also arranged for new hotels to be built under special agreements.  Not everything about the situation was ideal however.  Aircraft and airports lacked efficient procedures and safety and comfort remained an issue.  Tour operators also worked under strict regulations.  Cheep costs of package trips were restricted through the Board of Fair Trade and holidaymakers faced a cap of £50 spending money in foreign countries (which also included the cost of the hotel).  These rules were relaxed in the 1970s with the creation of British Airways and the Civil Aviation Authority, leading to the full development of cheap flights and package holidays that we continue to enjoy today.

Moving away from summer holidays, the Voluntary Action History Seminar provides us with a paper discussing fundraising activities.  “The history of the world can produce no parallel to the extraordinary record of this poem”, this was the assessment by the Daily Mail newspaper on Christmas Day, 1899.  Of course this was a blatant self-promotion for their paper, but, as Dr John Lee argues, it was also a genuine reflection on the success that Kipling’s poem The Absent-Minded Beggar had produced on the British nation.  The use of Kipling’s poem at the heart of the Daily Mail’s fundraising campaign to provide support for soldiers and their families was not only innovative at the time but also highly successful.  For John Lee, the poem’s unique popularity represents an opportunity to glimpse the national mood between 1880 and 1920, when, for a brief period of time, men of letters rose to popularity and were able to exert a significant cultural authority over the country.  From the perspective of English Literature, Lee delves into two inter-related issues; first that of capturing the cultural significance and popularity that the poem invoked at the turn of the century; second the role of Kipling himself.  Today Kipling is best remembered for his discovery of India as a subject for English Literature, but at the time he was equally praised for his pursuit of the private soldier.  The ‘celebrity’ status of Kipling meant that only he could get away with a poem like this, whilst only the Daily Mail could conceive of a campaign which utilised Kipling’s status to great effect. 

This week the SPOT newsletter also introduces our first podcasts in French.  The IHR have entered into collaboration with University of Paris IV-Sorbonne and the Intellectual History Group (University of Paris VIII-Vincennes-Saint-Denis) to produce podcasts of the Franco-British History seminar.  Our first two papers deal with very different themes.  The first paper is by Arnaud Page from Paris IV, who discusses the institutionalism of social sciences particularly at the London School of Economics (1895-1914).  The second paper is by Charles-Edouard Levillain from IEP de Lille, who presents on the ideological origins of the Anglo-Dutch Alliance and in particular on Francois-Paul de Lisola in the seventeenth century. 

Sport and Leisure History
22 November 2010
Post-war British Holidaymaking
Dr Martin Cohen (Queen Mary University)
Full Up for the Coming Season: Post-War Holidaymaking in Britain, 1945-1948
Dr Susan Barton (De Montfort University)
Brits Abroad: British Government Policy and the Development of Popular Tourism in Spain, 1950-1970
Voluntary Action History
22 November 2010
Dr John Lee (University of Bristol)
Following ‘The Absent-minded Beggar’: a case-history of a fund-raising campaign of the South African War
Franco-British History Seminar/Séminaire franco-britannique d’histoire
Université Paris IV-Sorbonne
18 November 2010
Arnaud Page (Paris IV)
Institutionnalisation des sciences socials au tournant du vingtième siècle: le cas de la London School of Economics (1895-1914)
Translation: Institutionalisation of Social Sciences at the turn of the twentieth century: the case of the London School of Economics, 1895-1914
Franco-British History Seminar/Séminaire franco-britannique d’histoire
Université Paris IV-Sorbonne
25 November 2010
Charles-Edouard Levillain (IEP de Lille)
Francois-Paul de Lisola et les origines idéologiques de l’alliance anglo-néerlandaise (1667-1677) 
Translation: Francois-Paul de Lisola and ideological origins of the Anglo-Dutch Alliance (1667-1677)