News from Played in Britain

Played in Britain puts 'Sport' back into British Library

October 28 2010

Duncan Heyes, Curator in Modern British Collections at the British Library

Duncan Heyes, Curator in Modern British Collections at the British Library, takes possession of Michael Braham's collection. Copies should be available for Readers from mid 2011.

Thanks to Played in Britain and a solicitor from Southport a surprising gap in the nation's archives has at last been filled following the donation of a large collection of Sport weekly magazines to the British Library. For years researchers have noted that the newspaper library at Colindale does not contain issues of this once popular weekly magazine, which ran from c.1938 to 1956. Now, to the delight of sports historians, that gap has at least been partially plugged.

Commenting on the transfer of the collection, Played in Britain series editor Simon Inglis explained the background.

'In common with many researchers I had been aware for some time that Sport magazine, which was also known as Sport Weekly and later as Sport Express, appeared to be missing from the archives at Colindale. Records suggest that the magazine may have started in around 1938, restarted in 1947, and continued in publication until August 1956, when it suddenly disappeared.

'In its time the magazine had been extremely popular, particularly as it carried detailed records of football matches, team line ups and so on, but also covered such sports as rugby league, speedway, ice hockey, athletics, and even table tennis.

'Admittedly its main focus was on the pools, and there was a bit of a London bias. But its range was certainly unusual. Brian Glanville, who started contributing articles on European football to Sport in the early 1950s, reckons the magazine was almost a weekly bible for news and statistics buffs.

'As such, no-one could quite understand why it was not archived at Colindale. You do see copies of it for sale on various internet auction sites. But trying to gather a complete set would be nigh on impossible'.

It was while researching the Best of Charles Buchan's Football Monthly that Inglis was first led to an avid football historian called Michael Braham.

Braham, a solicitor in Southport, mentioned in passing that he had a collection of Sport magazines in his loft. Even better, on hearing from Inglis that the British Library had no copies available for public reference, Braham generously offered to donate his collection.

Over the next few months Inglis checked and catalogued all 375 issues of Braham's collection, and was able to confirm with the library that these issues were indeed missing from Colindale.

After taking possession of the collection last week, the British Library's Duncan Heyes, a curator in Modern British Collections, has thanked Played in Britain and Michael Braham for filling the mysterious gap, and adds that the issues should be available for public reference some time during mid to late 2011.

For the record, the issues of Sport and Sport Express (as it was known after September 1954) now being processed by the library date from April 1949 to the final issue on August 30 1956.

Unfortunately six issues from that sequence still remain missing, these being from December 1950 (nos. 151-154), January 1951 (no. 157) and July 1956 (no. 440).

If any Played in Britain reader has any of these copies, or any copies dating from before April 1949, and who would be willing to donate them, please contact us.

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