3 A.M. in a London Station Hut


This poster, produced by an unknown publisher in England in 1915, shows a Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) facility for soldiers, with men sleeping on couches, in chairs, and on the floor in the middle of the night. The YMCA was founded in 1844 by George Williams, a worker in the London drapery trade who was concerned about the welfare of his fellow workers. The YMCA spread to other British cities in the 1840s and became a global organization in the 1850s. During World War I, the YMCA provided relief services to troops at facilities such as the one depicted here. Within ten days of the declaration of war, the YMCA had established no fewer than 250 recreation centers in the United Kingdom. Known as “huts” or “station huts,” the centers provided basic comforts and a touch of home to soldiers, many of whom were young, from rural areas, and away from home for the first time. They offered tea, sandwiches, reading materials, and a place to rest. Many of the centers were at or near railroad stations or other places through which large numbers of troops passed. YMCA centers also were established at the front in France.

Last updated: July 3, 2014