Played in Britain

Charting the heritage of a nation at play

We publish books about Britain's sporting heritage. If you like an old scoreboard, or a mildewed pavilion; if you would like to know where to find the world's oldest bowling green, or the best Art Deco grandstand in London; if you're fed up with homogenised, commercialised sport, and long to dive into a Victorian swimming pool with gorgeous ceramic tiling; if you think potting balls all afternoon in a dimly-lit billiard hall is definitely not time mis-spent; if you have ever wondered why tennis and suburbia go together so well, then Played in Britain is for you...

Find out more about Played in Britain, our books and our authors

I love this kind of history... The great value of the books is that they help us to remember, to see more clearly, and hopefully to preserve the many ways in which Britain is a country shaped by sport.

Sarah Crompton, Daily Telegraph

Played in Britain
Christmas Cracker

Win a book from Played in Britain!

All you have to do is tell us – what is this man holding?

Email your answer to by midday Friday December 16, together with the title of ONE Played in Britain book that you would like to receive as your prize. (UK entries only)

Three lucky winners (picked from a hat) to be announced on December 16 and books posted that day.

Played in Britain news feed: reporting on Britain's sporting heritage

Unique 1980s leisure centre in London listed

Unique 1980s leisure centre in London listed

November 3 2016

Years behind schedule and massively over budget, Brixton Recreation Centre was one of Britain's most sophisticated leisure centres when it opened in 1985. But now the six-level centre, with a swimming pool on the first floor and a climbing wall in the atrium, is much loved and well used. In 1996 it made history when Nelson Mandela visited. Two decades later it has been listed Grade II by Historic England.

Visit the Historic ngland website for more on this story and the listing description

World Cup hero honoured at Craven Cottage

World Cup hero honoured at Craven Cottage

October 3 2016

Where once stood a controversial statue of Michael Jackson at Craven Cottage football ground on the banks of the River Thames, Fulham FC have unveiled a rather more meaningful sculpture of former full back, George Cohen, one of the World Cup winning team of 1966. The artist, Douglas Jennings, was also responsible for the statue of Johhny Haynes on the Stevenage Road side of the ground, as featured in Played in London.

To watch a film of the unveiling, visit

Heritage Lottery Fund to hold sporting heritage live chat

Heritage Lottery Fund to hold sporting heritage live chat

September 29 2016

To celebrate this year's National Sporting Heritage Day (which is on Friday September 30), on Thursday September 29 the Heritage Lottery Fund is holding a live chat session from 12.30-1.30pm. Experts will be on hand to answer questions relating to HLF funding and offer advice on other aspects of sporting heritage.

For more information, visit

Blue plaque for footballer Laurie Cunningham

Blue plaque for footballer Laurie Cunningham

September 22 2016

Laurie Cunningham has become only the second professional footballer (after Bobby Moore) to be commemorated with a blue plaque. The plaque, at his former family home in Stroud Green, north London, honours Cunningham achievement of being the first black footballer to play a competitive match for England and the first Englishman to play for Real Madrid in modern times.

For the full story of the plaque and of English Heritage's new diversity initiative, visit

Classic 1930s bowling green in Carlisle to be built over

Classic 1930s bowling green in Carlisle to be built over

September 21 2016

A bowling green at one of Carlisle's celebrated State Management Scheme pubs, the Redfern Inn, is to be built over with seven houses, despite efforts to save it. Opened in 1939 and featured in Bowled Over, the Redfern was one of four such Carlisle pubs with greens, only one of which survives, at the Magpie.

For more on the story, visit
Download an extract on Carlisle's State Management Scheme from Bowled Over, by Hugh Hornby

London sporting buildings on show at Open House Weekend

London sporting buildings on show at Open House Weekend

September 17 2016

This year's Open House weekend is, as usual, a great opportunity to visit some of the capital's most interesting sporting venues, old and new. All featured in Played in London, the list includes the Lee Valley Athletics Centre and QE II Stadium (Enfield), Greenwich Yacht Club (Greenwich). Hurlingham House (Hammersmith & Fulham), Uxbridge Lido (Hillingdon), Ironmonger Row Baths (Islington), Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge (Waltham Forest, illustrated), Tooting Bec Lido (Wandsworth). Royal Automobile Club swimming pool (Westminster).

For more details, visit

Selected titles from Played in Britain

Played in Tyne and Wear

Played in London

Charting the heritage of a city at play

By Simon Inglis

Book information | Buy now

Uppies and Downies

Uppies and Downies

The extraordinary football games of Britain

By Hugh Hornby

Book information | Buy now

The Best of Charles Buchan's Football Monthly

The Best of Charles Buchan's Football Monthly

Edited by Simon Inglis

Book information | Buy now

Full of warm nostalgia, but in a serious meaty way, absorbing detail and fascinating social history… the usual Played in Britain trick (is) luring you into their world and making you care as much as they do about something to which you’d barely given a thought before. And… the quality of the photography is superb.

The Observer

For me, this series of books is invaluable. Previous lack of attention by sports historians to the built environment and the way this reflected or impacted on sport is now being redressed. Long may this excellent work continue.

Richard W Cox (University of Manchester) Sport in History

I love your books... keep this wonderful stuff coming.

Brenda Grace, Pontefract

Hugely impressive and immensely important, Played in Britain (is) rapidly becoming the guardian of the nation's sporting heritage.

A marvellous series - how did we ever do without it?

Brian Salter, East Grinstead

Played in Britain has a reputation for thoroughness and insight... editor Simon Inglis deserves credit for the clarity of his vision.

John Burnett, Folk Life: Journal of Ethnological Studies