The Spirit of Youth
- A Pageant of Youth: ‘Keeping Fit Through the Ages’
Held by the Birmingham Union of Girls’ Clubs and the Birmingham and District Federation of Boys’ Clubs.
Place: Central Hall (Birmingham) (Birmingham, Warwickshire, England)
Number of performances: 2
21 and 22 March 1939
Performances were held in the evening
Name of pageant master and other named staff
- Pageant Master: Wordfold, Olive
- Compere: Mr. M. Fraser
- Prologue and Epilogue: Mr. Cecil Burton
- Chairman: Councillor Sir Ernest Canning, J.P.
Names of executive committee or equivalent
- Chairman: Mrs. Davy Udal
- Hon. Secretary: Miss V. Hilton
- E. Buckley, Esq.; Mrs. Laurence Cadbury; Miss E. Downes; Miss S. Forster; Miss J. Graham Hall; Mrs. Lambert; Mrs. Monkhouse; G. Monkhouse, Esq; J. Pearson, Esq; J. Marshall Smith, Esq; Miss A.K. Southall
Names of script-writer(s) and other credited author(s)
- Burton, Cecil
Names of composers
- Parry, Hubert
Numbers of performers
Object of any funds raised
- Grandstand: No
- Grandstand capacity: n/a
- Total audience: n/a
Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest
Synopses, where available, are taken from the programme.
Episode I: ‘The Stone Age’
Producer: Mr. John Pearson
‘The survival of the fittest’ might have been the slogan of our primitive ancestors, whom we see keeping themselves fit by hunting and warfare. The women, mere chattels with no rights of their own, tend the fire and wait upon their menfolk.
Episode II: ‘Revelry in the Middle Ages’
Producer: Miss Powell Tuck
Civilisation has advances! Woman is no longer a mere drudge, the age of chivalry has brought her freedom to express herself in movement and dance. We see ‘The Setters Brawl’, one of the first known ‘Set’ dances of English History.
Episode III: Merrie England
Producer: Mr Cecil Burton
Dancing, sport and music have by this time become part of the national life. Bowls, jousting, wrestling, part-singing all contribute to the well-being of mind and body. Villagers and courtiers find a common pleasure in whatever recreation is the order of the day. So we see a revel on the village green, celebrating the defeat of the Armada.
Episode IV: From Cromwell to Victoria
Producers: Mrs. Lambert, Miss Graham Hall, The Misses Simpson and Miss Waterman
History moves forward several hundred years. We see the Puritans and their dislike of anything that could be called worldly enjoyment or recreation. The reaction which followed is expressed in superficial arts and graces. This in its turn leads to a period characterized by the dignity and simplicity of the nursery rhymes and singing games. The episode closes with the return to frivolity of a different kind, when the first ballroom dance appears during the early years of the reign of Queen Victoria.
Episode V: In Town To-night: Birmingham, 1890
Producers: Miss Baird, Miss Inns and Miss Waterman
Episode VI: 1939
Producers: Miss Ruth Keeble and Mr. Hughes Jones
To keep fit has become a conscious aim. Men and women, boys and girls, whatever age or size regard the Keep Fit Class as part of their normal routine, if not the highlight of it. Here we see the youth of Birmingham keeping fit and enjoying it.
Episode VII: Finale
A reminder! Already we owe a great debt to the club movement for what it has already done. We believe that this great movement cannot stand still for it has caught the spirit of our City.
The Pageant ended by Singing Parry’s England and God Save the Queen
Key historical figures mentioned
- The Bounrnville Youth Orchestra conducted by Mr. H. Allen
- Madame Ethel Gradwell’s Choir
- Soloist: Mr. M. Perry
- Oboe Soloist: Mr. F.E. David
- Recorder: Miss Todhunter
- Piano Accompaniment: Jenny Wankling and Olive Perry
Newspaper coverage of pageant
Book of words
Other primary published materials
The Spirit of Youth’: ‘A Pageant of Youth “Keeping Fit Through the Ages’. Birmingham, 1939.
References in secondary literature
Archival holdings connected to pageant
- Copy of programme in Birmingham City Library.
Sources used in preparation of pageant
Held in March 1939 at the Central Hall, Birmingham, this pageant was organised by the Birmingham Union of Girls’ Clubs and the Birmingham and District Federation of Boys’ Clubs. It is an example of one of the many interwar pageants staged by youth groups, the Girl Guides and Boy Scouts also being notably active. Interestingly, the theme of this pageant was ‘Keeping fit through the ages’. This emphasis reflected contemporaneous concerns about the importance of physical health to the overall vitality of the nation – an emphasis given added sharpness, perhaps, in the context of mounting international tensions. The Pageant was held in the same year as the much larger Birmingham Centenary Pageant, and it is likely that a number of performers from the Spirit of Youth performed in that.
How to cite this entry
Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘The Spirit of Youth’, The Redress of the Past, http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/995/