Thomas R. Flintoff (1904-1994): Habits, Culture & Belief – Writing Lives

Thomas R. Flintoff (1904-1994): Habits, Culture & Belief

“Little did I realise when I was standing there that the church and Sunday school would play such a prominent part in my life” (Flintoff, p.1)

Thomas R. Flintoff was born into a strong Christian working-class family. The opening to his memoir titled ‘Friday The Thirteenth May’ (Thomas R. Flintoff, date unknown) contains strong religious connotations informing the reader of his beliefs through his attendance of Sunday school at his local church St Saviours. As the memoir was written when Flintoff was much older he was able to reflect back on his life and upon the positive impact religion had upon his life. “It was probably through attendance at Sunday school and church, together with he influence of a loving Christian home which developed my real background, stimulating my thoughts and dominating my actions throughput my life’ (Flintoff, p.1)

St Saviours Church, Avenham. Preston
St Saviours Church, Avenham. Preston

Thomas’s attendance at Sunday school is representative of the fact that working-class children were more likely to attend Sunday school than any other boys and girls from different social and economic classes.

We do not learn of any social and leisure activities until Flintoff indicates how games played between children changed and depended on the time of year. These games included: top and whip, hop scotch, marbles, kites and jacks and bobbers etc. Having to play such games on the cobbled streets is an example of the restrictions of working-class activities.  ‘All the games could be played in the street, for there was very little traffic, and very few telephone wires or electricity wires n which kites could become entangled’ (Flintoff, p.5) Like many other working-class children leisure activities stemmed from activities that were organised by clubs or by the church. Flintoff discusses Sunday school at length and explains how on the occasional Sunday afternoon there was a chance to visit the pictures.

It appears that work was the main priority for Flintoff. With his father passing away at such a young age his mother found it difficult to combine long shifts at the cotton mill with raising a child with little money. As a result Flintoff deemed it priority to seek employment at the earliest opportunity in order to aid his mother financially. ‘With night classes, and homework, there was little opportunity for what might be called leisure activities, but on Sunday afternoons there was an occasional chance to go to the pictures’ (Flintoff, p.18)

As Flintoff grew older so did his hobbies and interests. Flintoff’s passion for sport increased and he became active in a variety of sports. This began with Flintoff and his friends forming a summer cricket team and as result of their success they formed what is still present today in Preston, Deepdale Cricket Club.

Flintoff also enjoyed playing tennis, and was a member of three different Tennis Clubs. Each tennis club represented a different organization he was involved with including Sunday school and the Junior Conservative Association.

Aside from these leisure activities Flintoff describes in interest in politics. He joined the Junior Conservative Association which played a huge role with his life. Although Flintoff refrains from referring to this in great detail I believe this interest was the route to him publishing his own political writing.

After reading Thomas R. Flintoff’s memoir it becomes apparent that leisure activities were a luxury rather than a necessity. Instead his focus was mainly on labour and education. He was a motivated and self-driven individual who was eager to gain a career before enjoying the pleasure of leisure activities.

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