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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 (£9.99) and kindle (£3.39). Youth hostels... Continue Reading →

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A fashion for England

In 1932 YHA aimed to make touring affordable by creating circuits and chains of hostels especially for young people like Hilary Hughes and her friend Margaret who toured through Hampshire and the New Forest that year. [1] They were part of a fashion for travel, to discover Britain, which arose after the first world war.... Continue Reading →

The right time

Barclay Baron, first chairman of the Youth Hostels Association (YHA), in his later years recalled that YHA could not have chosen a more difficult time to start than 1930. His reflection of the beginning of youth hostels seems reasonable. We have an impression of the years that followed, up to the second world war, as... Continue Reading →

Breaking a mould

The original idea of youth hostels had been for small groups in big cities to open chains of youth hostels stretching into the countryside. A group based in Oxford took that further by opening a hostel in its own urban base, reshaping the idea and origins of hostels. YHA’s first handbook in 1931 showed towns... Continue Reading →

Huts, farms and Cornish dreams

This photo fascinates me. It’s one of the early hostels in the West Country but it looks more like a shack in the Wild West. Perhaps it’s the casual way the man in the photo leans against the building or something to do with his neckerchief. He looks like he might be hiding a gun... Continue Reading →

A Derbyshire chain

It’s natural, for anyone living in a city or town, to look beyond roofs, to bounding hills at the end of streets, where you, on railway or road, might go. Youth hostels began in Britain’s towns and cities with a dream of going far, of a walking tour or a bicycle ride to an unseen,... Continue Reading →

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