Leisure and Entertainment in 20th Century

The period 1900-2000 saw the introduction of an extensive range of leisure, recreational and entertainment facilities in Dartford for the benefit of local people, and for people outside the local area. A gradual reduction in working hours and a higher level of disposable income for many people throughout the twentieth century created the demand for places and facilities where people could relax, enjoy each other's company and actively pursue mutual hobbies and interests. The days when leisure and entertainment could only be found in pubs and church halls were long since gone. Variety was the keynote of the leisure revolution.

Leisure became an increasingly important component in people's lives and there were growing expectations that basic leisure and recreational facilities should be provided by local employers and the local council.  There was a demand for the recreational use of parks, allotments and open spaces; the construction of sports pitches and swimming pools; the opening of libraries and museums, and the provision of community halls, community centres, and sports and social clubs. Special interest clubs and societies developed all over as people with similar hobbies and interests met together on a regular basis.

The invention of new technologies and new forms of entertainment at a national and international level created, at various times, a local demand for fashionable leisure venues and facilities such as cinemas, theatres, roller-skating rinks, sports centres, water parks, coffee bars, theme pubs and discos. Some leisure facilities came and went as fashions and commercial opportunities changed. An increasingly mobile population meant that people could travel further afield by car, bus or train, to be entertained.

As the twentieth century progressed, there was greater emphasis on home-based leisure and recreation. The invention of radio, television, video-players, hi-fi sound systems and personal computers meant that people could experience entertainment in the comfort of their own homes at little or no extra expense. The coming of television heralded the rapid decline in attendance at cinemas and eventually led to their closure. Perhaps the biggest revolution in leisure was generated by the emphasis on sports and personal fitness from the 1960s onwards, leading to a huge demand for sports facilities of every description and a renewed interest in both personal and team sports.


Please access the resources below.


Class Clips - Air Travel in the 20th Century


BBC School Radio - Britain Since 1930s - Transport


BBC School Radio - The spread of talking machines


BBC School Radio - Britain since 1930s - The Media


The History of the BBC - The story of BBC television