ABSTRACT

Urban parks were often viewed as ideal spaces for sporting occasions. The initial focus on sports such as cricket, bowling and tennis gradually evolved as the twentieth century proceeded. This chapter examines the pattern of this evolution. It looks at the impact of World War I on park usage and the different types of legislative provisions that impacted on the commercial activities in public parks. Parks were now just one option for more sophisticated leisure consumers, who could choose from cinemas, dance halls, theatres and day trips to the seaside for their recreation time. Parks were notoriously weather-dependent and newer innovations, such as open-air sunbathing and swimming, proved very popular. An emphasis on physical activity for women was also a feature of urban leisure, and the diversity of options placed unique pressures on the urban park in the 1920s and 1930s.