Sunday, January 01, 2017

Charles Masterman defends roller skating in 1910

Charles Masterman is my favourite Edwardian Liberal.

Here he is in 1910 as Chuchill's deputy as the home office commenting on proposals for a by-law prohibiting roller skating on the pavements of the Metropolitan Borough of Stoke Newington:
“It is always the amusement of the poor which is found intolerable by the middle classes. A very good case could be made out for prohibiting hide-and-seek and other children’s games (elderly passengers are knocked down) dancing with street organs or whatever other children’s amusements are possible in a town where not one in ten of them ever reaches a public park or playground… Why should the demands of one local authority be allowed to create a fresh criminal offence for children?… 
"If children are allowed to run at full rate on the paths, why should not they be allowed to propel themselves on small wheels fixed to their feet? 
"Perhaps the local burgesses would like a ‘speed limit’ both for running and roller skating."
Churchill had more time for the burgesses of Stoke Newington, but in the end the by-law was not approved.

We could have done with Masterman 20 years ago, when New Labour was intent on banning the amusements of the poor.

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