Leisure and Community Life

The agricultural labourers in the 19th century, like their counterparts today, worked longer hours than the majority of labourers in the city. The working week in the towns was decreasing throughout the 19th century, particularly from the Factory Act 1833 to 1847, when the working week was fixed at 56 hours. Bank Holidays became general in 1871 and the 'annual holiday' became more common.

The working people of Dore would have little leisure time by modern standards. The children, then asnow, found simple pleasures. The Parish Records show unfortunate deaths in children skating on dams and drowning accidents, when they were either swimming in or playing by the water. The Church had a Sunday School with annual outings and teas. Whether the problem was truancy, or parental pressure on their children, to employ themselves elsewhere is unknown, but in 1895 the following message was places in the Parish Magazine of Dore:

"Just one word of warning and advice to all our friends who wish their children to benefit from the education of the present day, and it this, that they must send them regularly to school, and make every sacrifice they can for their child's welfare. There is nothing so detrimental to progress in this respect than irregular attendance."

For the young men of the village there was the Dore Mutual Improvement Society. One of the main aims of the Society was to promote reading. Regular requests were made the parishioners for books and periodicals. In December 1985, when boasting fifty members, a Conversazione was held: "During the course of the evening songs and instrumental pieces were rendered. A lantern demonstration was given by Mr Arthur I. Richardson. Interesting exhibits were lent by several ladies and gentlemen in the neighbourhood, to whose great kindness we are much indebted for the extreme interest and pleasure which was afforded. we are anxious to arouse and stimulate the taste for sensible and interesting literature; we beg to remind our friends again that a present of periodicals and books (and we venture to think that there must be quantities lying idle that would be appreciated amongst us) would be most acceptable to our young men."

In a lighter vein: "A popular amusement, in the way of a paper chase over the moors, was provided for the young men and lads of Dore Village on Easter Monday afternoon, and it proved to be (with the beautiful weather) a great success. The 'meet' was in the Dore Church School, from whence the 'hares' were set off about 2pm and 15 minutes afterwards the 'hounds' followed in 'full cry'. The run was made by Totley Bents, across the moors by Number Seven Shaft over the tunnel, along the bridge, then by Dore Moor Inn, and home. A meat tea was provided for those who ran (and 30 all told), to which, needless to say, full justice was done."

The village had a branch of the Girls' Friendly Society the aims of which were stated as: "an association of women for the encouragement and preservation of purity, of dutifulness to parents, faithfulness to employers, temperance and thrift, and as such is worthy of support and encouragement." The G.F.S. had a sewing class , which was well attended. They were given material which they made up and sold "for the benefit of society". Lectures were given by local ladies on useful topics such as health in the home.

Further evidence of the desire to improve and educate the villagers was demonstrated by the opening of a reading room in a cottage in the village in November 1896. By December of the same year the Parish Magazine reported that it was "well patronized." In October 1897 there were requests for the names of gentlemen interested in forming a Literary Society.

For adults there was the Dore Recreation Society. In January 1896 they organised a concert: "the Dore Brass Band gave their Annual Concert in the Dore Schoolroom, on Monday, January 27th, before a large and appreciative audience. The programme was a very taking one, and reflects credit upon the Bandsmaster, Mr Henry Taylor. The energy and enthusiasm displayed by our Village Minstrels in their well-rendered parts, was worthy of a troupe who make greater profession in the art of producing side-splitting jokes. Our village band is worthy of the best support; we have not forgotten their kindness rendered to our School Processions at Whitsuntide."

Dore and Totley churches had an annual Parochial tea, where the food was mainly donated and followed by a concert. There were many Partish concerts, which appear to have been very well attended. One ambitious production in 1895 had Mr Fred Farnsworth conducting the Dore String Band, in a floral cantata entitled 'Spring Flowers'. The Dore Church Congregational Tea was held on Shrove Tuesday. The Parish Magazine included a Testimonial for a 'society entertainer' who was due to perferm at the tea. "The drawing room entertainment which Mr Howlett gave in Mr C___'s Schoolroom was of a highly satisfactory nature. The entertainment was gone through with an easy, gentlemanly deportment, and contained nothing that the most sensitive person could reasonably object to. His reproduction of character was excellent and truly life-like, and calculated in every way to secure repeated invitation."

A group not connected directly to the Church was the Dore, Totley and Holmesfield Agricultural Society. They had an Annual Show which in 1895 was held on the Cricket Field, Dore.

Much leisure time must have been spent in the three public houses in the village: the Hare and Hounds, The Devonshire Arms and the Dore Moor Inn. No specific reference to intemperance has been found, but the village was aware of the problem as in 1897 the Reverend F.P. Downman, Organizing Secretary of the Church of England Temperance Society visited the village, to give a Lantern Lecture on work in the Diocese of Southwall, showing the results of the work on education, commerce and religion.