Gaining a PhD is not the end, only the beginning!

Since gaining a PhD in Cultural History in February 2015, Douglas has been pursuing his research into the activities of the Co-operative Holidays Association (CHA) and the Holiday Fellowship, two organisations founded in 1893 and 1913 respectively by Thomas Arthur Leonard, a congregational minister in Colne, Lancashire; their purpose to provide ‘simple and strenuous recreative and educational holidays’, which offered ‘reasonably priced accommodation’ and promoted ‘friendship and fellowship amid the beauty of the natural world’.

Douglas has presented papers on various aspects of his research at conferences organised by the Leisure Studies Association and the British Society of Sports History, most recently at the Recording Leisure Lives Conference in March 2016 at the University of Bolton.  His paper ‘International Friendships’ with the Co-operative Holidays Association in the years leading up to the First World War, presented at a symposium hosted by Manchester Metropolitan University Sport and Leisure History Group in June 2014, has recently been published by MMU in a collection of papers entitled: Sport and Leisure on the Eve of the First World War (ISBN: 978-1-910029-15-2).  His article entitled : The democratisation of tourism in the English Lake District: the role of the Co-operative Holidays Association and the Holiday Fellowship has been awarded the J.K. Walton Prize for 2016 by the Journal of Tourism History for the best work by a PhD recent graduate [the prize is named after John Walton, who recently retired after a long career in the field of tourism history and was formerly Professor of Modern Social History at Lancaster University]. The Journal of Tourism History article, published in August 2016, explores the role of the CHA and Holiday Fellowship in making the Lake District more accessible to lower middle-class and working-class holidaymakers with a focus on healthy recreation and the quiet enjoyment of the countryside.  It can be accessed via the following link:

Douglas is currently writing a book on the life and legacy of T.A. Leonard and the history of the Co-operative Holidays Association, which was re-named the Countrywide Holidays Association in 1964 but was always known as the CHA.  Leonard not only founded the CHA and the Holiday Fellowship but was also instrumental in the establishment of the Youth Hostels Association in 1930 and the formation of the Ramblers’ Association in 1935.  He was a stalwart of the campaign for national parks during the 1930s.  On his death in 1948, he was hailed as the “Founder of co-operative and communal holidays and Father of the open-air movement in this country”.  The book details Leonard’s achievements and also tells the story of how the CHA dealt with the far-reaching social, economic and cultural changes of the twentieth century.  To be published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in 2017, the book is entitled “Joy in widest commonalty spread”, the motto of the CHA taken from a Wordsworth poem, ‘The Prelude’.

To find more information about Douglas’ research, log on to his website