The first youth hostels

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Youth hosel at Street, leased from the Society of Friends and probably the first “proper” youth hostel to open in Britain. (Photo courtesy YHA Archive at the Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham).

This time of year always reminds me how quickly youth hostels happened.

The first moves to start youth hostels happened at the end of 1929. Less than eighteen months later the first youth hostels opened in time for Easter.

In that short time they had signed up members, raised funds, formed regional groups, found buildings, equipped and opened them. I doubt we could do anything as big as that as quickly today if only because of all the legal hurdles we would have to jump.

Youth hostels at Street and Idwal Cottage in Wales opened in 1931 and they’re still open. Others included Gyffylliog in Wales, one near Bath and the City Mill in Winchester.

There’s a bit of debate about how many others opened but Helen Maurice Jones and Lindsey Porter think that regional groups opened 11. The York Rambling Club of the CHA and HF opened another at Crake near Easingwold in Yorkshire.

Whatever the debate, the opening of so many youth hostels in such a short time remains a remarkable story.

John Martin’s full listing of youth hostels is available online if you want to find more about each individual youth hostel’s story.  The listing is available through the Cadbury Research Library at the University of Birmingham and is available on line here.

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