The Co-operative Holidays Association and the cultural formation of countryside leisure practice

Snape, Robert ORCID: 0000-0003-4229-0926 (2004) The Co-operative Holidays Association and the cultural formation of countryside leisure practice. Leisure studies, 23 (2). pp. 143-158. ISSN 0261-4367

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The Co-operative Holidays Association was founded in 1893 by the Rev. T A. Leonard, a Congregationalist Minster in Colne, Lancashire. Its aim was to provide organised holidays in the countryside for working-class people as a moral and cultural alternative to the commercial seaside resorts. The Association was not simply a holiday club but a voluntary leisure organisation committed to the promotion of specific cultural values. Adopting the work of a number of nineteenth century cultural critics, notably Arnold, Ruskin and Morris, the Co-operative Holidays Association was grounded upon the concept of the countryside as not only a physical but also a cultural and spiritual alternative to the city and industrial materialism. Its holidays thus sought to recreate the primitive communal lifestyle idealised in Romantic interpretations of pre-industrial pastoral society and to educate participants in the cultural interpretation of the countryside and landscape. Its antithetical approach to conspicuous consumption and material comfort became a focus of conflict as the proportion of middle-class members increased after the turn of the century and led to the formation of a schism in 1912. This paper assesses the significance of the Co-operative Holidays Association to the development and consolidation of a dominant cultural mode of countryside leisure practice and also explores the extent to which its self-identity was formed by taste and cultural values rather than social class.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an electronic version of an article published in Leisure Studies, Volume 23, Number 2, April 2004 , pp. 143-158(16). Leisure Studies is available online at:
Divisions: University of Bolton Research Centres > Centre for Research for Health and Wellbeing
Depositing User: Scott Wilson
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2013 12:51
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2018 10:08
Identification Number: 10.1080/0261436042000226345

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