CHA Guest House, 1909 MYD36584. Courtesy of David Joy
The Countrywide Holidays Association was founded in 1893 by the Rev T A Leonard, a minister of the Congregational Church at Colne, Lancashire. He was an enthusiastic lover of the countryside and felt strongly that the young men coming to his church should fully share in the pleasures of the countryside. He started by organising cheap trips to the Lake District and elsewhere using lodgings and a common meeting place such as a school or village hall. Eventually a company called the Co-operative Holidays Association was set up in 1897. Its stated objectives were “to provide recreation and educational holidays by purchasing, or renting and furnishing, houses and rooms in selected areas; by catering in such houses for parties of members and guests, and by securing helpers who will promote the intellectual and social interests of the party with which they are associated”.
Hebden was chosen as the site of one of their specially built holiday centres, which opened in June 1909. The guest house was timber built and considered by some to be an eye-sore when it first went up. Many guests returned year after year no doubt inspired by the words on the wall of the Common Room “As the sun lightens the world, so may our loving kindness make bright the house of our habitation”. Today the timber buildings have become private homes.
Joy, David (2002) Hebden. The History of a Dales Township. Hebden: Hebden History Group
http://www.dswebhosting.info/GMCRO/ – archives of the Countryside Holidays Association (ref no GB124.BCHA) held at the Greater Manchester County Record Office. Includes an essay on the history of the CHA
http://www.cha-walking.org.uk/site/home.htm – website for the Countryside Holidays Association