Birmingham’s Civic Recreation League

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Increasing numbers of girls and young women entering into munition and other types of factory work, rather than their traditional roles in service or as shop girls, seems to have caused collective panic about the risks to their moral welfare. Working long hard hours, including shift work, still left them with free time and more money in their pockets than they had previously. And with many fathers absent at the front, and mothers also engaged in work outside the home teenagers, and girls in particular, experienced far more freedom.

In November 1916, Neville Chamberlain, in his role as Lord Mayor, proposed a Civic Recreation League which would co-ordinate and expand existing voluntary clubs and provide municipal funding to  ‘see that they did not come to harm, and to provide them with some alternative to the streets, the cinema, or the public house’.

A volume of ephemera including posters and flyers advertising the activities of many of the clubs and societies set up under the banner of the Civic Recreation League can be found in the Local Studies collections at the Library of Birmingham (LF36.99 Acc No. 408343) and viewed in the Wolfson Centre by appointment. It will also be included in our pop-up exhibition for the project launch on Monday 12th September. Included are several flyers for the Stirchley Girls Club for Munition and Other Workers held at the Stirchley Institute on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and alternate Fridays. The activities on offer included singing, drama, military drill and Swedish Gymnastics and ‘DANCING’.

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