The Call of the Open Air

Weoley Castle and Allens Cross Review July 1935

‘The Call of the Open Air’, Weoley Castle and Allens Cross Review, July 1935

Having experienced a successful (if a little wet and muddy) camp on the Welsh Borders this summer, I feel a little disappointed that I forgot to pack a copy of the ‘notes for the inexperienced’ on camping, detailed in the Weoley Castle and Allens Cross Review of July 1935 (above).

Call of the Open AirThe notes include tips on tent siting, stormy weather, equipment and most topical of all ‘Weather.’ It is a strange comfort that the author’s opening paragraph refers to the summer with a bracketed ‘if we have any’, so I’m guessing seventy odd years ago we were in a similar damp state at this time of year:

‘A bright yellow sunset means wind; a pale yellow one, rain. A clear sunrise usually means rain… A misty halo round the moon means rain.’

Summer holidays and specifically family holidays for residents of community associations feature frequently in the Associations’ newsletters. In May 1934 there is a call for a scheme ‘for providing holidays for family groups’ in the form of ‘guest houses… established close to the sea’ with a provision ‘for looking after the children… [with] facilities for outdoor games for the older children and the adults’ (Weoley Castley Community Association Journal, May, 1934).

In 1938, the federation of Birmingham Community Associations ran their first joint camp with a rented bungalow at Barmouth for ‘dining and recreation purposes’ with sleeping accommodation under canvas. It seems to have been a success with 84 members from community associations using it in 1939.  1940 proved a problem with a Government ban on holidays due to war, but reports for subsequent years are good with increasing numbers using the bungalow, especially since improvements such as the ‘installation of electric light’.

Weoley Castle Community Assocation Holiday Camp Bungalow

By 1944, 200 members used the facility and in 1948 the Federation of Associations decided to take on an additional centre in Conway, North Wales, abandoned as an idea in 1949 due to lack of funds, even though ‘the demands for economical holidays was noted’.

Despite the failure of the Conway plan, the holiday bungalow at Barmouth continued to thrive well into the 1950s with greater comforts put in place and the Birmingham Council for Community Associations buying in it 1958.

For anyone not lucky enough to be staying in a deluxe holiday bungalow this Summer, look out for those high flying rooks…

Nikki Thorpe
Outreach & Education Officer