The Londoner not only works strenuously, but makes the most of his hours of leisure. The weekly half-holiday enacted by a beneficent legislature is generally devoted to games of one kind or another, and during "week-ends" the river is crowded with pleasure boats, and the roads with motors speeding to the Surrey Hills or the South Coast resorts, or northward to such delectable regions as the Chilterns. In 1922 the London County Council sanctioned the playing of games in the public parks on Sundays. We can do no more than mention the headquarters of the various forms of sport, and the leading annual events
is played at the Horticultural Hall, S.W.- where the All-England finals are held – at the Alexandra Palace, Crystal Palace and elsewhere.
The Serpentine in Hyde Park and the sheets of orna- mental water in Regent’s Park, Battersea Park, Finsbury Park, Victoria Park and Southwark Park are used for boating, the County Council charge per person being 6d. an hour. Parts of the River Lea are also available. But the most popular boating resort among Londoners is the Thames from Hammersmith to Maidenhead and Henley. The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, invariably attended by huge crowds, is rowed on the Saturday before Holy Week. The course is from Putney to Mortlake, a trifle over 4 1/4 miles. Oxford, dark blue; Cambridge, light blue. Of the Regattas, the most famous is that of Henley, usually held at the beginning of July. Other Regattas are held in July and August at Molesey, Staines, Kingston. Richmond, Marlow, Bourne End, etc. Motorboat racing is popular on the Welsh Harp, Headon, and elsewhere.
Provision is made for this popular game on a number of club grounds. The L.C.C. maintain public greens in Battersea Park, Finsbury Park and Ravenscourt Park, and provision is also made in many of the suburban parks.
Lord’s, at St. John’s Wood is the headquarters of the Middlesex C.C. The principal annual fixtures are Eton v. Harrow and Oxford e. Cambridge, always attracting large crowds. Kennington Oval, on the south side, is the headquarters of the Surrey C.C. There are many private cricket grounds, and pitches and allotted to regular players in most of the local parks.
It need hardly be mentioned that the metropolis has plentiful provision for dances. From the great costume and other balls at the Royal Albert Hall, Covent Garden Opera House, etc., to the various suburban dance halls there are floors to suit all tastes and all pockets. Many of the larger hotels and restaurants make a feature of dance teas or dance dinners and suppers.
The freshwater angler can do fairly well in the neighborhood of London, but a short journey by rail or road is generally necessary. Fishing in the Thames is free up to the London Stone at Staines, and beyond that there is also plenty of fine fishing, the only places on the main stream where riparian owners have succeeded in maintaining their "rights" being in the Maidenhead district and one or two other small reaches. All tributary streams are strictly reserved. To fish from the weirs it is necessary to obtain a permit from the Thames Conservancy (10s. per annum). Coarse fish, such as roach, chub, dace, perch, barbel and pike are fairly abundant. A good deal of restocking is done. The Lea is also frequented (especially at Rye House, Hoddesdon); and the rivers Colne and Chess, on the north-western confines of Middlesex, and the Essex Blaekwater have many admirers. But enthusiasts will not look for detailed information in a book of this general character when they are so admirably served by special publications.
The aerodromes at Croydon (starting-point of the Continental air services), Hendon, Brooklands, and Hounslow are the principal centres for civilian flying " Joy Rides" can be arranged on almost any day when the weather is favourable.
The principal London clubs playing the Association game are: Arsenal (Gillespie Road, Highbury, N.), Brentford (Griffin Park, Brentford, W.), Chelsea (Stamford Bridge, Fulham Road, SW.), Clacton Orient (Millfields Road, Clapton, N.E.), Crystal Palace (Selhurst Park, Croydon), Fulham (Craven Cottage, Fulham, S.W.), Millwall Athletic (The Den, New Cross, S.E.), Queen’s Park Rangers (Loftus Road, Shepherd’s Bush, W.), Tottenham Hotspur (Tottenham, N.), West Ham United (Boleyn Castle, Upton Park, E.). The Leading amateur teams are the "Corinthians" playing at the Crystal Palace; and the "Casuals," playing at Kingston;
Cup Final matches are played in the fine Stadium erected at Wembley Park in connection with the Empire Exhibition. At Leyton is the Army Sports Ground. Rugby is also becoming increasingly popular, and there are several first-class teams in London The Rugby Union International matches and the Oxford v. Cambridge University Match are played at Twickenham.
There are public 18-hole courses at Hainault Forest, at Mitcham (Prince’s) and in Richmond Park, and practice is permitted in the early morning on public open spaces like Hampstead Heath and Clapham Common. In the various Golf Annuals will be found a complete list of the golf courses near London. In most cases visitors introduced by members are allowed to play for a day or two free, or on payment of a fee of about 2s. 6d. a day (generally more on Saturdays and Sundays). For weekly and monthly players the charges are reduced.
The meetings are announced in the London papers.
The racemeeting which most appeals to the Londoner is undoubtedly the famous Derby, run at Epsom on a Wednesday either a fortnight before or a fortnight after Whitsun, and succeeded two days later by the Oaks. On a Derby Day all the roads and railways leading south from London are packed with people, and the sight on the course is one never to be forgotten. Ascot Week, a great Society gathering, generally attended by the King and members of the Royal Family, comes a fortnight after the Derby. Goodwood races begin on the last Tuesday in July, Other races are held at Alexandra Park, Sandown, Kempton Park, Windsor, Hurst Park, Gatwick, Newbury, etc.
Both hard and grass courts are provided in many of the public parks and squares, and can be used on pay- ment of a small charge per hour. The Championship of the World is generally decided towards the end of June at the All England Lawn Tennis Club at Wimbledon. The Covered Court Championship and the Amateur Championships in tennis and racquets are usually held at the Queen’s Club, West Eensington.
takes place on the famous track at Brooklands, easily reached by rail from Waterloo, and there is "speed track" racing at various centres nearer in. See current newspaper announcements.
in many of the parks and squares.
There are "real ice" rinks at the Ice Club, 19 Grosvendor Road, SW. 1, at Richmond, and elsewhere. Only at rare intervals are the waters around London frozen for a long enough period to give skaters satisfaction. The chief resorts are the Serpentine in Hyde Park, the lake in Regent’s Park, the Hampstead Heath and Highwater ponds, the Welsh Harp water at Henson the Long Water at Hampton Court, the Pen Ponds in Richmond Park and Ruislip Reservoir.
Swimming and private baths, maintained by the local authorities, are to be found in nearly every quarter. An open-air swim can be had in the Serpentine, Hyde Park, before 8 a.m. and during summer months between 6 and 8.30 p.m. also; at the Ponds on Hampstead Heath, and in most of the parks.