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Industrial Revolution: 1770s to 1830s

Culture and Leisure


By John R Burnett

Glasgow Sweepstakes Traditional sporting events were held on holidays. For example, the annual football match on Shrove Tuesday continued until it was banned in 1819 because it was too violent. On New Year's Day shooting matches with blunderbusses were held. At Govan "idle boys and half-tipsy operatives" paid a penny to have a shot at a tethered cock: the individual who killed it won the carcass.

Queer Folk o' the Shaws Several attempts were made to start horse races near the city, but two long-established meetings were within reach, at Stirling and Paisley. Horse racing was not always honest: races were sometimes fixed. Bare-knuckle boxing was even more dishonest. A match between a weaver and a bottle-blower was held at Meadowside in 1833 – well away from the city, but with easy access (and escape) by river. The Glasgow Herald saw "as select a parcel of vagabonds as we have ever seen congregated in so small a space." Cockfighting was equally disreputable: the cockpit at Rutherglen Bridge in the 1780s did not survive for long.

Whitevale Bowling Green Sport became much more popular after the Napoleonic Wars and its focus was Glasgow Green. Cricket was introduced on the Green and there was a vogue for rowing races on the Clyde: thousands stood on the Green to watch. By the 1820s there were at least three bowling greens and their number grew in succeeding decades. Clubs such as Wellcroft, Whitevale and Willowbank, along with clubs in north Ayrshire, used the best turf, and so emphasising the bowlers' skill rather than luck: in this, Scotland led the world.

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