Presented by: Doug Hope

The Co-operative Holidays Association (CHA), founded in 1893 by T A Leonard a Congregationalist minister from Colne, Lancashire, was established to provide ‘simple and strenuous recreative and educational holidays’, which offered ‘reasonably priced accommodation’ and promote ‘friendship and fellowship amid the beauty of the natural world’. It pre-dated the Youth Hostels Association by almost 40 years and pioneered holidays for young people in the outdoors long before organisations such as Outward Bound and the Brathay Trust were established and local authorities became involved in outdoor education centres. The role of the CHA in the English Lake District is a microcosm of the changes and continuities in the national development of the Association. The Lake District was the destination of the first CHA holidays in 1893 and until the establishment of youth hostels, the CHA and its sister organisation, the Holiday Fellowship, dominated the provision of recreational and educational holidays there. As the range of outdoor holiday providers expanded after the Second World War and outdoor activities diversified, the CHA concentrated on providing holidays based on healthy recreation and quiet enjoyment. Based on broader research, this paper examines the role of the CHA in the discovery of the English Lake District by ordinary working people as a destination for outdoor activities and assesses the influence of the CHA in the changing perception of Lakeland from shrine to nature to national playground.​

Article © Douglas Hope