The Holiday Fellowship: the inter-war period

Notwithstanding Leonard’s vision to “bring holidays within the reach of poorer folk and to this end to keep the arrangements as simple as possible”, the HF developed along similar lines to the CHA.  In the Lake District, Newlands Guest House, gifted to the HF in 1913, continued as a Spartan mountain centre.  Hawse End, close to Derwent Water, was leased for ten years from 1927-1938 to cater for the ‘not-so-young’.  As Leonard explains in Adventures in Holiday Making:

Hawse End gave rise to some strong criticism.  Only a quarter of an hour’s walk from Newlands, it was a sort of antithesis to all that the latter, and the Fellowship as a whole, was supposed to stand for.  A stately residence standing in exquisite lovely grounds, it was so costly to upkeep that we had to charge the top figure on our list.  To attract the elderly folk who could afford to pay, we basely deserted our principles by allowing excursions to be optional, abandoning our boot cleaning and bed making customs, and giving an extra course for dinner – biscuits and cheese!!! 

Nevertheless, Derwent Bank on the shores of Derwent Water, which replaced Hawse End in 1938, provided very similar accommodation and continues to this day as one of HF Holidays favourite centres.  In furtherance of its ideals, the HF did establish a number of mountain centres and camps in the 1920s and 1930s.  As early as 1920, army huts on the Morfa, at Conwy close to ‘Bryn Corach’ were acquired and refurbished for use by school and youth groups.  A mountain centre consisting of wooden chalets and a communal building containing the kitchen, common room/dining room and one bath/shower [for up to 30 campers] was built at Wall End Farm in Langdale in the Lake District.  This and other camps catered for ‘School Journey Parties’ from schools throughout the country.  

In 1934, HF opened its first Family Centres at Marske on the North Yorkshire coast, and Milford on the Solent.  By 1937, the HF had 34 centres in Britain accommodating some 37,000 guests and foreign centres in the Tyrol, Normandy, the Black Forest, Pyrenees and Switzerland.  By comparison, the CHA had 27 centres accommodating some 27,000 guests.  Looking back in 1934, Leonard comments in his Adventures in Holiday Making that the outstanding feature of the holiday movement he had helped to pioneer had been the youthfulness of its membership and the low price it had been able to offer at its guest-houses.  ‘Comradeship’ had been a keynote of both the CHA and the HF.  However, he expressed a note of caution about the future:

In the early days we believed in very simple ways and fairly strenuous ones, offering cheap holidays and discouraging dressiness and unnecessary expenditure on excursions.  The CHA fell away somewhat from these ideals, for middle-class folk joined it and demanded more expensive standards – which we gave them.  It was chiefly on this account that the Holiday Fellowship came into being: to revive fading ideals and get back to the old ways.  Looking at our centres today, we of the Fellowship appear to be falling away as seriously as did our Mother organisation.  Here, I suggest, is the danger that lies ahead for the movement.

The Holiday Fellowship: post war expansion

Thomas Arthur Leonard, founder of the Co-operative Holidays Association and Holiday Fellowship was born at 50 Tabernacle Walk, Finsbury, London on 12th March 1864. He died at his home ‘Wayside’ in Conwy, North Wales on 19th July 1948.

By common consent, the CHA originated in 1891 when T A Leonard, Minister of the Dockray Square Congregational Church in Colne, Lancashire, took 32 members of the church’s social guild on a four day’s holiday to Ambleside in the English Lake District.

T A Leonard resigned from the CHA in 1913 to form the Holiday Fellowship in a renewed effort to establish holidays that would be genuinely working-class in appeal and composition. The split with the CHA was amicable and there was no thought of competition between the two organisations.

There is a wide-ranging bibliography of books, Government reports, journal articles, theses and dissertations relevant to the study of ‘Rational’ holidays and the history of the Co-operative Holidays Association and Holiday Fellowship.