The Children’s Inn

Published 2 May 2021

Once a coaching inn, and now a holiday home for Girl Guides.

Tucked away on a side road to the hamlet of Rowarth is a former coaching inn that – since the 1920s – has been a holiday home for children.

Changes in the local population led to the inn being closed, but in 1926 three school headteachers from nearby Manchester took over the building. This was an era when access to the countryside was limited, and many people lived in dense housing in a heavily polluted cities surrounded by mills and factories.

The idea was to create a holiday home for school children to come in groups. They’d be able to escape the city and get into the countryside, even if it was only for a short stay. It’s something that happens in schools to this day, often involving youth hostels and outdoor activity centres. But back the Youth Hostel Association didn’t exist, access to the countryside was limited. What became known as The Children’s Inn was a pioneer.

It also wasn’t to last. Six years later the Inn closed thanks to changes in the City of Manchester’s educational policy.

In another universe perhaps the tale ended there, but The Children’s Inn – and a converted barn next year – are still fulfilling the same role many years on. The building was taken on by the Girl Guides and the now named Inns at Rowarth have been welcoming children ever since to their building right on the border of the Peak District.

The nursery rhyme themed sign for the Children’s Inn at Rowarth

A lovely tale you may think. But there’s Scout and Guide camps across the country. What makes this facility special? Well, it also has another moment in its history. Sort of.

In 1932, not far from the inn, a camp was held by members of the British Workers Sports Federation held a camp. And that camp led directly to probably this country’s most famous act of wilful trespass – the Kinder Trespass.

Founded in 1923, the BWSF was part of the Workers’ Sport Movement. It was a movement established to spread peace and understanding across the world, through sport.

The BWSF’s branches regularly held camps. One such camp in Easter 1932 saw members from Lancashire and London meet and stay at a site close to the Children’s Inn.

One day during that camp they decided to explore some of the many hills that can be found close by to Rowarth. They decided to go to Bleaklow.

Their climb of this fell – now part of the Pennine Way – was blocked by gamekeepers representing the landowners. Mere commoners weren’t allowed on these fells, these hills that were so valuable for shooting the birdlife that lived on it.

Back at their camp, the frustrated members of the BWSF decided to take action. Just a short way from this children’s accommodation, action was planned with the aim of opening the countryside to all. And it was all conceived a short way from these stone walls near a small hamlet.

History can be created in even the quietest of places.

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