Sport

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Architects and Designers: Gordon and Ursula Bowyer ◦ Theme Convener: B. W. Rowe, o.b.e., m.c.

 

The “Health” Pavilion dealt with the physical well-being of the British people. The “Sport” Pavilion deals with their games and open-air recreation.

The British are possessed of a gift for inventing their own games and for adapting other people’s. They have inherited the sports and sporting traditions of many strenuous races; and once a game has come their way, they have been adept at working out the rules, regulations and manners that will suit it best. They have been the great codifiers of sport; and, once they have got a game codified, they have carried it with them overseas, where the people of other nations have then found themselves solemnly playing it according to British rules.

Thus, certain quiet-spoken bodies, which govern the conduct of various games in Britain, have found themselves invested with an unquestioned international authority. What the Marylebone Cricket Club and the Lawn Tennis Association say, is law — all over the cricket-talking and tennis-playing world.

Nature herself furnished the British Isles sumptuously with peerless turf for games and priceless ground for field sports. The tools and instruments of sport have for hundreds of years been developed and perfected by dedicated British craftsmen.

If British players no longer lead the world in the playing of the five greatest British games — cricket, golf, tennis, rugby union football and association football — that is not now widely considered to be a matter for heartbreak. The important fact is that more and more people in the British Isles are taking part in organised sports and games, because they enjoy doing so.

No question of world championship intrudes into the playing of the pub-games, such as darts, shove ha’penny and skittles, in which the British take a peculiar delight, or the classic sports of the British countryside — hunting, shooting and fishing.

In the world of yachting, the British still contrive to make the best of both worlds. Their yards turn out full-grown yachts of championship quality; while their lakes and meres and ponds give hospitality to hundreds of Model Yacht Clubs, where thousands of owners of model yachts or hydroplanes compete in local regattas—under the same sort of conditions as can be seen on the South Bank Exhibition Model Pool.

After the Model Pool, the Boat Pool — where lie life-size the finest products of British builders, whose yards line our coasts and rivers. Among them are the punt, the child’s paddle boat, and the rowing boat which all British men, women and children start to covet as soon as they catch a sight, or a smell, of the sea.