Sport continued to be important to the British people during the interwar period. The Victorians had endorsed sport as a means of fostering manly and national spirit. There was great prestige attached to sporting events such as the FA Cup final, the Grand National and the Olympic Games. The British Empire Games was established in 1930 as another arena to promote sporting activities and demonstrate loyalty to the Empire.
Healthy body culture spread across Europe, pioneered by the Germans and the Swiss. There was a growth in mass sporting facilities in the 1920s and 1930s that increasingly included more women. For example, the formation of the Women’s League of Health and Beauty in 1930 aimed to improve women’s physique. Two years later, British women first participated in the Olympics games.
The mass media explicitly made the connection between beauty, health and sport through its coverage of sport stars, dancers, gymnasts and even sunbathers. Exercise was not exclusive to adults as it was considered a healthy component to the upbringing of children. It was an activity that all of the family could take part in.
The films held by the Screen Archive South East provide a glimpse into a variety of sports undertaken during this period. Importantly, they reveal the relationship between the clothing and the body in motion – something that surviving dress or still images cannot provide.