Topical History

History of Camping

While the need for camping has been around for much longer, Thomas Hiram Holding founded the idea of ‘recreational’ camping in the 1880’s. Later he would write the first Campers Handbook in 1908.

His knowledge of camping came from childhood experiences when he crossed the American prairies with his parents in 1853. Also being a cycling enthusiast he embarked on a journey across Ireland with 4 friends, during which they camped. He wrote a book about this experience, titled Cycle and Camp in Connemara, in which he invited others to contact him if they were interested in cycle camping. This led to the formation of the Association of Cycle Campers in 1901, founded with 13 members. The first meeting of this association was the founding of the organization that is known today as The Camping and Caravanning Club.

One of the earliest campsites was the Cunningham Camp in Howstrake on the Isle of Man, believed to opened in 1894. Opened for the summer season, this site expanded continuously in terms of size and visits over the over the following decade.

Popularity of the activity quickly grew and by 1906, having several hundred members. The first Club Site was opened in Weybridge in June of that year. A sub-group led by Thomas Holding initiated the founding of The Camping Club. Later the two organizations amalgamated and formed the Amateur Camping Club. In 1910 this club then merged with the National Camping Club, and membership grew over 800 campers.