The Concept of Leisure: Three Classic British Cultural Pursuits

In the scheme of history, leisure is a fairly new concept. After working and conducting a daily routine, a person has time and money to spend on pursuits that entertain them. Britain in the 21st century was alive with new forms of leisure. With money in their pockets from industry jobs, people created a whole genre of hobbies and pastimes. Below, we dive into British culture and give three popular pastimes that have slowly become entwined with it.


The game of bingo has been around for some time and dates to a similar game from ancient China, with more contemporary roots in 16th-century Italy. It came to the UK around 1900, but it would not be until the sixties that it became a truly British pursuit.

There was a perfect storm of events that led to this. The first was the rise of leisure pursuits. A post-war boom was taking place, and an industrial society had created a generation of people that now had money to spend on this new cultural concept. Added to this was a relaxation in the perception of gambling, meaning that bingo was now being played in burgeoning social clubs and private halls.

This interaction has always remained a part of the culture and has not gone unnoticed by online developers. Live bingo is now available, which uses streaming technology to send a video of a bingo caller to the device of online players. Thus, they get the physical interaction of a bingo hall, with the convenience of playing from home. This has led to a whole new audience for the game who crave casual pursuits without having to leave the home.


Darts can be traced back to the 1300s and developed from archery. A military hobby, the board used was originally a slice of a tree trunk. Its internal rings would become the divided target still used in the game today, with point scoring based on how close to the middle you could get the dart itself.

Its popularity grew with the pub culture of the thirties. A sport that could be played by all, regardless of athletic ability, it was the perfect accompaniment to socialising after a hard day’s work. Organised competitions began in the thirties, and the National Association of Britain was founded in 1954. Since then, the era of television and later streaming has maintained the game’s cultural relevance, with old and new audiences flocking to watch live games in thrilling arena bouts.


Often overlooked as a hobby, knitting was once firmly associated with the older age groups of society. The reasons remain unknown, though it could be that in the extremes of this age group, it has traditionally been used to repair and create clothing for functional needs. Crafts such as knitting have now had a resurgence in popularity. In 2020, it was estimated around one million people took up the hobby. As consumers move toward sustainability, knitting has opened up to new demographics. A large percentage of this also included male knitters; stars like Tom Daley and knitting influencers have made crafting cool.

While entrenched in British culture, it is not only residents of the UK that can enjoy them. You can often find them being enjoyed in countries across the globe. Try them out and you just might discover a brand new hobby.

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