First World War YMCA ‘Huts’


Euston Hut, London

A couple of years ago, I discovered (in my own collection!) a group of 50 magic lantern slides  relating to YMCA wartime huts. This meant nothing to me but the photos were very interesting and, with a little bit of research on the internet, I discovered that during the First World War, the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) opened hundreds of recreation huts, here and abroad, that were a home-from-home for British and Allied, off-duty soldiers and sailors. They could relax, eat, play games and some huts provided medical care and put on concerts. Many were close to the front line, so the volunteers who manned them knowingly put themselves in danger. This may have been a Christian missionary activity for the YMCA but for the young men who used them, the huts were probably oases of normality in the horrific world they found themselves in. 

Message from King George V
‘Ceylon Hut’, Paddington, London

With the help of Sue McGeever, who lectures on this subject, I published a booklet on the subject which is available on Amazon. This is an interesting example of how images on magic lantern slides can shine a light on a previously unknown (to me) part of our history.

If you found this interesting, please share it with your family and friends. If you’re not reading it on my ‘Magic Lantern World‘ website, then please visit. There are over one hundred illustrated articles about Victorian slide projection and links to my historical photo-booklets on Amazon, my Ebay shop for magic lantern slides and Etsy store for historical photo greetings cards with a twist. You can read about my authentic Victorian magic lantern shows and talks on ‘Optical entertainments before the movies’ and lots more!

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