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A Brief History of Camping in the UK

A Brief History of Camping in the UK

Camping, or the practice of spending time in the great outdoors in a temporary shelter, has a long and storied history in the United Kingdom. From the early days of the Industrial Revolution to the modern-day popularity of glamping and camping pods, camping has been a beloved pastime for generations of Britons.

 Camping in 1900

Camping was popular in the 19th century


The history of camping in the UK can be traced back to the early 19th century, when wealthy members of the upper class began to venture out into the countryside for extended periods of time. These early pioneers of camping would set up elaborate tents and encampments, complete with servants and all of the comforts of home. This type of camping was more like a vacation than the rugged outdoor experience we think of today, but it set the stage for the future of camping in the UK.


As the 19th century progressed, camping became more popular with the working class as well. In the late 1800s, the first camping clubs began to spring up around the UK, offering like-minded individuals the opportunity to share equipment, campsites, and experiences. These clubs were often founded by groups of friends or co-workers who wanted to escape the city and spend time in the countryside.


War time camping


During World War I, camping experienced a surge in popularity as soldiers returning from the front lines sought refuge in the natural beauty of the UK. Camping became a way to reconnect with nature and escape the horrors of war. This trend continued in the post-war years, as the government encouraged people to take holidays and explore the country.


The roaring twenties and thirties


In the 1920s and 30s, camping became more affordable and accessible to the masses. New lightweight tents and camping equipment made it easier for people to pack up and head out into the countryside. The first commercial campsites began to appear around the country, offering basic facilities like running water and toilets. These early campsites were often located near popular tourist destinations, such as the seaside or the Lake District.

 World war two camping

Camping during World War II


During World War II, camping once again became an important pastime for Britons. The government encouraged people to take holidays at home rather than travelling abroad, and camping was seen as a patriotic way to support the war effort. The war years also saw the rise of the caravan, a mobile home that could be towed behind a car. Caravans allowed families to travel further afield and explore more remote parts of the country.


After the war, camping continued to grow in popularity. The 1950s and 60s saw a boom in domestic tourism, as more and more families took to the road and headed for the countryside. The rise of the motorway network made it easier than ever to travel long distances, and campsites began to spring up in more remote and wild locations.


From the seventies to present day


In the 1970s, camping began to evolve once again. The popularity of backpacking and hiking led to the rise of wild camping, where people would pitch their tents in remote locations without the need for a formal campsite. This type of camping was often seen as more adventurous and challenging than traditional camping, and it appealed to a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts.


In recent years, camping has continued to evolve and adapt to changing tastes and preferences. The rise of glamping, or glamorous camping, has made it possible to enjoy the great outdoors without sacrificing comfort or convenience. Glamping pods, luxury tents, and eco-friendly cabins have all become popular options for those who want to experience nature in style.


 So much choice in the 21st century

The history of camping in the UK is a long and fascinating one, spanning over two centuries of cultural and social change. From the early pioneers of the Industrial Revolution to the modern-day glampers, camping has remained a beloved pastime for generations of Britons. Whether you prefer a traditional tent or a luxury pod, there is no denying the joy and freedom.


If you are thinking about camping, then check out our shop for all your camping needs.

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