MEMORIES OF LODDINGTON YOUTH HOSTEL
Do you remember the Youth Hostel at Loddington? The building was purchased in 1943 and opened its doors to members of the Youth Hostels Association in 1945. If you have tales to tell or memories to share, please send them via the Feedback Form in the right hand banner. One such contact is that made by John Shelton, a son of a former warden. Mrs Shelton was in charge from 1948 to 1955 when the family moved across the road to Holly Cottage which Mr Shelton had purchased from the Allerton Estate and skilfully restored.
Click on the photo above to visit a page of photos donated by John Shelton.
Sally Bybee writes:
My mother used to be a regular visitor to Loddington Youth Hostel when she was aged 18 in 1944, sometimes making up working parties. During that year she was involved in helping to make a promotional film for the hostel called 'They Came To A Village'. My mum was filmed with co-star David Stanley riding her bike down the hill into Loddington village. The film was later premiered at Waterloo Hall in Leicester. I have an old photo of a group of youngsters including my mum taken in front of the Youth Hostel. Mum is now 87 and says that those Youth Hostelling days were some of the best of her life. Hope this interests someone.
[Note: Sally's Mum must have been on the 1944 working parties getting the hostel ready for opening n 1945.]
Sally has sent this wonderful photo taken in 1944 of the "Film Working Party"
Back Row left to right: Ray Bailey Ernie?, Les Hales, Jim Plack
Front Row left to right: Barbara Ward (Sally's Mum), Jo Oley, Betty Souter, Kay Lee
Loddington Working Party Film Extras 1944
Keith Bloomfield recalls his visit to the hostel in 1948...
I live in Uppingham, only just up the road from Loddington, and it was only recently that I realised that, in August 1948, I stayed the night at the Youth Hostel there. We were on a long cycle ride and had come from Hanwell hostel near Banbury - next stop Tickhill near Doncaster 62 miles away. We did big mileages in those days and thought nothing of cycling along the Great North Road.
My old diary doesn't say much about the place except that the food was 'meagre to say the least', but that was a common complaint in the late 40s. It also mentions ' an immobile mouse' but I'm not sure what that means - maybe a dead one..I think we must have bathed in the nearby stream before signing in for the night at 5pm (when doors opened).
Happy Days in those austere years after the war when there was precious little food around.
Loddington hostel was but one stop on a mammoth cycle ride (on a sit-up-and-beg model) from County Durham to Cornwall and back.
John Brown writes that:
"I do remember days from 1952 at the hostel. I visited it regularly from Leicester.
I remember the hostel very well, my friend Terry and I cycled from work on Friday nights, it did seem a very quiet time there. but we always had a great time, the next day we always went over to Whissendine hostel through some quiet lanes and tracks
The nearby village of East Norton was a busy place to pass through."
Another recollection is from Des Baker in Cleveland, Ohio, USA who writes: "2 of us hitch hiked from Sheffield to Loddington on 23 Sept 1956. I have a YHA postcard somewhat different to those shown. Also during our 1 night stay there was a guy named Victor Streeter who sketched me (and others)in crayon. It was good then but looking back on it now 54 yrs later...I can't see any change!"
Bill Goodge recalls that "I stayed at Loddington Youth Hostel several times during my cycling club days in the '60's, including the weekend of the British Cycle Tourist Competition in 1963. I particularly remember the grand piano in the common room, which I enjoyed subjecting to musical abuse."
John Dyson writes: My first visit to Loddington was in 1962, and it was the very first Youth Hostel I had ever stayed at. It was a trial run for a planned cycling holiday to Towyn in Wales with my cousin. It involved staying overnight in Shrewsbury Hostel, and we needed to know what hostelling was like before we set off on the big adventure. The warden of Loddington Hostel was then a Mrs Loosely. We knew nothing about hostelling and on our arrival stood knocking the door for several minutes before a not very pleased Mrs Loosely answered it. We were not to know that one was supposed to just enter Youth Hostels without knocking, to report to the reception. However this was to be the first of many a "bednight", not only at Loddington, but many other Youth Hostels. Loddington was a fairly large hostel of some 40 beds. The 1962 YHA handbook informed us that there was a store at the hostel to buy food for those cooking their own, but the warden would also provide meals for those who required them.
A celebrity to be stayed here
Audrey Walker informs us that "Several years ago, my husband and I went to a literary lunch at Kings Lynn where Alan Sillitoe of 'Saturday Night and Sunday Morning' fame was the guest speaker. All three of us stood outside for a cigarette and got into conversation. When we told him we came from Belton-in-Rutland, he said he knew it well which we found quite surprising. He explained that as a teenager, trying to escape into the countryside from his home city of Nottingham, he used to set off on his bike and Loddington was the furthest he could ride in a day. He used to spend the night in Loddington Youth Hostel and cycle home the following day. I often wonder whether his second novel 'Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner' was based on those journeys on his bike."
Doug Fairgrieve writes that "As I remember the installation of the water main involved digging a trench from the outside wall nearest the"W" for well slab, across the back of the building and round by the 'front door'. There is a minimum depth for such pipes but the trench only had to be left open for inspection every so often. Bernard, Regional secretary and organiser of working parties, was wise to this and the surface of the trench tended to rise upwards between inspection holes."
He also recalls helping with the construction of the Field Study Centre, a wooden building behind the hostel.
Visit the page below for further info and photographs of the Field Study Centre.
- The YHA Field Study Centre
A Field Study Centre was erected in the grounds of the hostel by volunteers. It was an attempt to increase hostel usage and did so, but not sufficiently to enable the hostel to remain open.
The hostel store also sold postcards as illustrated here
It also reported that there was a shop and Post Office 2 miles away at Belton (now Belton in Rutland) and a Post office 1½ miles away at East Norton. Neither of these facilities remains today (2006). The handbook entry also carried a warning to cyclists about the “Dangerous z bend and hill on the road from East Norton”. That danger is still there.
I soon became involved in the Leicester Group of the YHA and spent many a happy time at Loddington. There were celebrations, such as Bonfire Night, as well as committee meetings and working parties.
The 1957 annual report of the Leicestershire and Rutland sub-region of the YHA carries a note that “At Loddington alterations to provide inside toilets on the ground floor are now complete, and the drying room and several other rooms have been redecorated. Almost all of this work has been done by volunteers.” Working parties were a tradition and in the mid 1960s a team of volunteers helped to install mains water to the hostel when the facility arrived in the village. This involved digging a trench across the front lawn to the water main, and installing large tanks in a room on the third floor of the hostel. There was an interesting Fire Escape from this room, which consisted of jumping out of the window attached to a rope, which was contained in a drum that limited the speed of descent. I think it was called a “Davy” escape. Some members were brave enough to test it! Rather like abseiling.
Prior to the mains arriving, the water had been obtained from a well. This well was inside the building and covered by a stone slab, which I think had a letter W on it. It worried some members when they discovered the well was lined with lead.
Apart from the drying room there was a kitchen for those preparing their own food, a dining room and a common room. The common room is shown in this photo.
The wooden shutters on the windows made it very cosy in the winter when the stove was lit. The reception was a curved counter under the large sweeping staircase, rather reminiscent of a hotel reception.
The future of Loddington Hostel became rather uncertain in the later1960s, especially with the then decline in cycling. Usage was falling and it became difficult to attract wardens. Mrs Lucely had left to be followed by Mrs Livermore, and Mrs Lockton. Then Mrs Ellison arrived and she was to become the last ever warden at Loddington. The local group had done its best to rejuvenate the ailing hostel by erecting a large wooden structure in the garden, which was equipped as a field study centre. The usage of the hostel did increase, but not sufficiently to avoid its closure at the end of 1969. A sad day for all involved.
Don't forget, if you have memories of Loddington to share, please send them using the Feedback Form in the Right Hand Banner.