MEMORIES OF LODDINGTON YOUTH HOSTEL
Do you remember the Youth Hostel at Loddington? It opened its doors to members of the Youth Hostels Association in 1946. 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.
Another 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.
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.