News from Played in Britain

Played in Britain honoured at Parliamentary reception

May 10 2008

Played in Britain's contribution to sporting heritage was yesterday marked by a House of Commons reception, hosted by English Heritage's Chief Executive Simon Thurley and sponsored by Telford MP David Wright.

A large gathering of Members of both Houses, together with English Heritage representatives, sponsors and invited guests also heard details of two new research projects forming part of English Heritage's contribution to the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

Work on Played in London, the sixth city study in the series, it was announced, is about to start under the auspices of English Heritage's London Region. The study, to be written by Simon Inglis, will be published in October 2011.

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Chief Executive Dr Simon Thurley described the Played in Britain series as typifying the spirit of enthusiasm and commitment which characterises so much of English Heritage's work.

Photo: Jon Spaull

At the same time research has also begun into a second Olympic-related publication, to be written by Dr Martin Polley of Southampton University. The British Olympics - Britain's Olympic Heritage 1612-2012, will tell the story of how this nation has nurtured the Olympic ideal over the last four hundred years, from its earliest revival in early 17th century Gloucestershire up the modern day Olympics.

Welcoming the guests, the Telford MP David Wright spoke of how he had fallen in love with the Played in Britain series from its inception. He also praised English Heritage for its support of the research work. Sport is such an integral part of modern society, Mr Wright argued, that its heritage cannot and should not be neglected.

Speaking as host, Chief Executive Simon Thurley agreed that the work of the Played in Britain team exemplified the enthusiasm and commitment that characterised so much of English Heritage's work. It also played a vital role by engaging a wider audience in the issues affecting the historic environment.

Speaking on behalf of all the Played in Britain authors, researchers and production team, series editor Simon Inglis emphasised that although a key theme of the series was the pursuit of fun, and that working on the series was itself tremendously enjoyable, the team remains genuinely committed and serious in its efforts to record, celebrate, and where appropriate, conserve the best of Britain's unique sporting heritage.

'In some instances,' Inglis warned, 'we are too late, and must be content to pick up the pieces. Often our researchers visit a club or a site, only to be told that we are five or ten years too late.

'Within the heritage industry - itself only a relatively recent phenomenon,' he added, 'sporting heritage had been barely considered until English Heritage took up the mantle in 2001, as part of the cultural programme linked to the 2002 Commonwealth Games.'

Since then a dedicated team of people had worked long and hard to assess what gems have survived, and what is at risk.

Played in Britain, he concluded in a stirring address, 'is not just about sport, and not just about buildings and sportscapes.

'It is about us, the British people. Who we are, how we choose to conduct ourselves, and how we choose to interact with one another.

'Played in Britain is, in short, a reflection of how we play the game!'

Attending the reception were numerous MPs and members of the House of Lords, plus English Heritage Commissioners, representatives from Arsenal Football Club, the British Olympic Foundation, the Newmarket Horse Racing Museum, de Montfort University, Heritage Link, Greenwich Council and sponsors S+P Architects.

Speaking after the reception, Simon Inglis expressed his thanks to Peter Just at English Heritage for organising the reception, and to Telford MP David Wright for sponsoring the event.

'This show of support means a lot to us all on the team,' said Inglis, who, as he left the Commons, was delighted also to learn that the Football League scroll he had donated to Sport Relief on behalf of Played in Britain had been sold that very afternoon at Sotheby's for £400.

This is addition to over £600 raised recently by Played in Britain for the Willow Foundation.

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