History of the Hash House Harriers

To begin at the beginning, as they say in all the best yarns, one should go back to 1938 in Kuala Lumpur in what is now Malaysia when a group of ex-patriates associated with the rubber plantations started a modified paper chase in order to work up a decent thirst before retiring to the Selangor Club. There the restaurant was known locally as the “Hash House” so naturally the name was adopted by the Harriers and in contrast to other groups undertaking similar activities the name stuck - Hash House Harriers.

The particular genius of the founding father, A S Gispert, nicknamed “G”, was to make the traditional hare & hounds running more fun by making it non-competitive.

So we will move on quickly to the Second World War and its aftermath in which became known as the Malayan Emergency when British and Australian troops joined in the fun. When posted elsewhere they began new chapters and the Hash House Harriers spread throughout the world rather like the COVID virus spread from it's origin in China. You knew that too? Well, perhaps not the fact that Hashing is an affliction akin to COVID but how’s this for exponential growth:

Date    Event

1938                  Kuala Lumpur H3 (Mother Hash) founded

1947                  Royal Bordighera H3 founded – first known offshoot, ceased early 1960s

1962             Singapore H3 founded

1962             Brunei H3 founded

1967             Dhekelia H3 – second hash in Europe (Cyprus), after RBH3 above

1967             Sydney H3 – first Hash in Australia

1969             Longmoor H3 founded – the first Hash in UK (Hampshire area)

1971             Fort Eustis H3 – first Hash in the North America

1971             Commando Forces H3 founded – previously thought to be the first Hash in UK

1971             Westcombe Park H3 founded – oldest monthly running Hash in UK

1973             KL H3 1500th run – 35 other Hashes “known” to exist

1974             Bicester H3 founded – oldest weekly running Hash in UK

1975             Surrey H3 founded

1976             London H3 founded

1977             90 Hashes known in 35 countries

1984             Harrier International founded

1986             555 Hashes known in 85 countries

1988             700 Hashes known in 125 countries

2000             1570 Active Hashes known in 184 countries with 200,000 hashers


Both servicemen and diplomats have been largely responsible for the contagion spreading of the hash. Previously it was believed that the first known hash in the UK was the Commando Forces H3 based at Plymouth, founded in 1971 by Col Ray Thornton, but evidence has shown the first was the Longmoor Hash, which Capt Richard McAllister started in May 1969.

These flourished in the early seventies but like many military hashes petered out when postings decimated the membership. Longmoor was the “mother hash” for the Fort Eustis Hash in USA whilst Ray Thornton also went on to found Bicester, Donnington and Looe & Liskeard, all of which still hash today.