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“The definitive history of YHA”

Two books, Richard Schirrmann - the man who invented youth hostels and Open to All - how youth hostels changed the world.  Both are available from Amazon. The biography of Schirrmann is available as a Kindle book £2.50 or paperback £3.99. Open to All is available as a paperback (£9.98) and kindle (£4.99). Youth hostels... Continue Reading →

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Boxes, bombs and treasure

Just when I thought I had finished, three boxes came along and knocked all my plans down like skittles. I've been writing about Jack Catchpool, first secretary of the Youth Hostels Association, and his life of adventure and travel, for two and a half years. A complete first draft was done. I had a bit... Continue Reading →

A celebration

I've searched for a photo of the YHA celebrations at Ashridge Park in Hertfordshire, that marked YHA's 21st birthday in 1950, for a long time. And, when I least expected it, one turned up... The photo shows Jack Catchpool, YHA's first national secretary and the equivalent of today's chief executive, seated on the left of... Continue Reading →

Bonny in its best

The youth hostels at Maeshafn and Holmbury St Mary had proved too expensive for the new YHA, and its executive committee determined it would lease or buy property rather than build from scratch. The experience and expense did not end architect-designed, purpose-built hostels, not for a few years anyway. But those that followed haven't always... Continue Reading →

Power stations, motorways and ultra-modern hostels

Purpose built hostels showed that the youth hostel movement was new, bold and contemporary, aligning its supporters with other modern movements. But a movement is a coalition that relies on many different supporters and when the costs of purpose built hostels became obvious, against the cheapness of using existing empty properties, the desire for new,... Continue Reading →

The hazards of archiving… and a rare find

Here's the latest news from YHA’s archives, courtesy of John Martin, YHA’s honorary archivist. John writes in the following article that over the years YHA has been pretty good with its retention of important archival material. "The prime objective of a company’s or charity’s archive is of course to retain its governance records for consultation,... Continue Reading →

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