People sometimes ask simple questions about youth hostel history that quickly get complicated.
This week someone asked when YHA’s Enterprise scheme started. That’s easy. YHA launched its current licensing scheme in 2003. Under the scheme YHA licenses individuals and organisations to run youth hostels.
If it works well you will never need to know who actually owns and runs a youth hostel. They’re all the same for people using them.
That was the easy bit. It gets complicated because private operators and other organisations have always run youth hostels as part of YHA’s network. Private individuals owned and ran the majority of hostels in the early part of the 1930s under very vague arrangements.
By 1937 these arrangements were getting more and more problematic. The issue of self catering especially caused problems. Owners wanted to sell meals. YHA and its members wanted to make their own choice.
Gradually YHA began whittling the numbers down as it began to own more and more of its own hostels. But it never managed to quite get rid of it.
Arrangement with private owners continued right through until the Enterprise scheme launched in 2003. It was something new and nothing new at all.