Spectacle, Ritual and Festivity in the Ilford Hospital Carnival, 1905-1914

SPORT AND LEISURE HISTORY SEMINAR

‘THE DRAB SUBURBAN STREETS WERE METAMORPHOSED INTO A VERITABLE FAIRYLAND’: SPECTACLE, RITUAL AND FESTIVITY IN THE ILFORD HOSPITAL CARNIVAL, 1905-1914

Speaker: Dion Georgiou (Queen Mary, University of London)

Time and Date: 5:15 PM, Monday, 5th November.

Location: Gordon Room (Room G34), Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU.

Ilford, in Essex, typified the rapid suburban expansion that took place around London during the late Victorian and Edwardian era, its population quadrupling during the 1890s and then doubling again during the 1900s to reach nearly 80,000 by 1911. This huge growth in population fuelled demand for the establishment of a local emergency hospital and in order to finance this development, residents held an annual carnival every July from 1905 to 1914. The carnival was a huge success, raising increasing amounts for the hospital each year and eventually attracting crowds estimated at over 100,000.

This paper will use the carnival to examine the relationship between leisure, place formation and suburbanisation. It will firstly analyse the carnival as a spectacle, examining the combination of tradition and modernity in its visual appeal, the role of technology and commerce in creating and reproducing the carnival’s imagery, and the geographies of cultural production and dissemination involved.

The paper will then evaluate the carnival as a ritual, examining how it brought meaning to suburban space and time by playing a part both in the expression and formation of local identities and in the nascent social calendar of the district. Finally, it was explore the carnival’s festive dimensions, demonstrating how the event also conversely alleviated the restrictions and routines of everyday suburban life.

Dion Georgiou is undertaking a PhD on the subject of suburban carnivals in late Victorian and Edwardian London in the School of History at Queen Mary, University of London, having previously completed his Degree and Masters there. He is also currently editing special editions of The London Journal on ‘Leisure in London’s Suburbs, 1870-1939’ and of Sport in History on ‘Sport’s Relationship with Other Leisure Industries’ (with Benjamin Litherland).

All are welcome. For more information, please contact Dion Georgiou, at sportshistory@hotmail.co.uk

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