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Berta Gough

Women, history and hostels #4 We’ve many reasons to be grateful to Berta Gough (above left). She was one of the small band on Merseyside who opened the first youth hostels in Wales, and some of the first in Britain. She took part in early important meetings that set the tone for youth hostels to... Continue Reading →

Connie Alexander

Women, history and hostels #3 Connie Alexander epitomised the best of those who ran youth hostels, a woman with a lively sense of adventure, full of genuine care for others. Wardens, as hostel managers were then known, were hard to find at the beginning. YHA paid them them “a pittance”, about £50 a year, and... Continue Reading →

Dorothy Tomkins

Women, history, hostels #2 When it came to opening youth hostels, women often did the work like architecture student, Dorothy Tomkins, who led the work at Winchester. She was unemployed, available and, with a good knowledge of buildings, was ideal to furnish and prepare an old mill to be one of Britain’s first youth hostels.... Continue Reading →

No one but a desperate woman

Women, hostels, history #1 Gwen Moffat wrote that “No one but a desperate woman”* would have gone to work at the remote Ro Wen youth hostel in Snowdonia in 1952. Each morning, after the hostellers left, she washed sheet sleeping bags used the night before. She repaired Primus stoves, storm lanterns and Tilley lamps, almost... Continue Reading →

Steps Bridge, a bit of personal history

I dreamed of running ‘my own’ youth hostel. When a couple of youth hostel jobs in the south-west of England came vacant and the region was looking for new wardens, I applied. A gang of us, prospective wardens in our mid 20s, toured the empty properties. We picked them over and smelled the damp, before... Continue Reading →

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