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“The Sure Shield of Britain and of her Empire in the Hour of Trial”: sailors in the First World War

Given the upcoming centenary of the Great War this year it is understandable that we find ourselves saturated with discussions of the tragedy that befell the European empires in 1914. Yet, despite this wide and encouraging engagement with the topic, the key focus of popular debate is centred on the many millions who died fighting […]

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The Culture of a Victorian Coaling Station

It is well known that the late-Victorian navy was immensely popular in the public imagination and celebrated as a symbol of Britain’s power and empire. This link between the navy and the Empire very real, and the most obvious manifestation of this link was at overseas naval stations. British seamen would often seek British and […]

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Alfred West’s Life in Our Navy catalogue, 1912. Courtesy of the Wessex Film and Sound Archive.

The British Empire on Celluloid – Alfred West’s “Our Navy”

John M. MacKenzie argued that early film transposed popular imperial propaganda from the music hall stage to the screen.[1] He cited the films of R. W. Paul and Cecil Hepworth on military life as being influential for amalgamating military spectacle and popular entertainment.[2] Often overlooked, filmmaker Alfred West from Gosport, Hampshire, was one of British […]

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The Boys’ Brigade in Port Towns – Camping and the Case of Bristol c.1888-1920

  In 1888 the Boys’ Brigade in Scotland was prevalent in portside cities. Glasgow (93 Companies), Edinburgh (17), and Ayr (6) were home to the largest Battalions.[1]  When the movement became established south of the border this pattern was replicated.  By the end of the century London was the second largest area of strength nationally […]

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Play Up, Play the Game! The Press and Civic Rivalry between Port Town Football Clubs in the Edwardian Era

The role of class, gender and place identity formation through the support of the local football team has been explored by a number of historians.[1] Through local rivalries and the celebration of civic pride football supporters were able to make sense of their urban environment and their place in the world.[2] Portsmouth’s ‘Pompey Chimes’ chant […]

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