About Duncan

I began working in youth hostels for a short summer season while I looked for what adults called “a proper job”.

I never found one and spent the rest of my working life with YHA.

I worked as an assistant, as a warden and manager at hostels in Essex and the South-West, before a spell as regional manager. I ended a happy, lucky and unintended career as YHA’s head of corporate affairs in 2013.

When I realised that no one had written a complete history of YHA since 1950, writing one became my next job.

I’m increasingly interested in the origins of youth hostels, where they came from and what drove their remarkable growth, and I’m now working on a biography of Jack Catchpool, YHA’s first “chief executive”, his adventures, travels and the pioneering years of youth hostels. 

If you’re interested in the history of hostels, and the ideas and people behind them, tell anyone you can any way that you can about this website and everything here. You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter.

Open to All, the story of youth hostels in England and Wales is available from bookshops and on line £9.98.

Richard Schirrmann – the man who invented youth hostels, is available as paperback £3.99 or as a Kindle edition £2.50.

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