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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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Hostel hut history

Down a short path from the hostel at Idwal Cottage, in a grove of trees, is a piece of YHA history. In the grounds of one of YHA's longest serving hostels, it's also a link with the days when architects designed hostels for YHA. Today there's a boom in designer hostels but the idea isn't... Continue Reading →

Youth hostels and the Road to Wigan Pier

Rudyard Lake in 1935, a year before Orwell's visit, photo courtesy YHA Archive I’ve always admired George Orwell. His beautiful prose is like a window pane. I studied his essays in sixth form and bought his collected essays and journalism that same year. I still have copies of those four volumes. Who couldn’t help but... Continue Reading →

Always intent on better lives

Jack Catchpool and a history of youth hostels The struggle to improve lives fascinates me. It’s an endeavour, sometimes called the life reform movement, that defines the first half of the twentieth century, the era out of which youth hostels leaped, and is the reason why, when I first came across a second-hand paperback copy... Continue Reading →

Youth Hostel Pioneer

Jack Catchpool was the key figure, the central force, the driver, coordinator, and chief pioneer of youth hostels. Using all his enormous skills, a wide network of allies and supporters, and his simple faith as a Quaker, he spread the idea of youth hostels throughout England and Wales to the world. This book, due out... Continue Reading →

Floods and common space

The changing places of youth hostels On a flying visit to Cumbria, we managed a night at the hostel in Keswick. We stayed in a balcony room with a view of the town's Fitz Park, and the river that, in recent years, has flooded twice. Twice the flooding river wrecked the hostel's ground floor and... Continue Reading →

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