A good war

A short history of youth hostels and the second world war. As youth hostels define a role for themselves, in the crisis of Covid 19, here's a look at their history in an earlier crisis, which may or may not be helpful, as the times and the challenges faced then were very different to those... 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 →

Working for peace

Image courtesy HINI In the offices of the youth hostels association of Northern Ireland (HINI), they hold an album of photos, in old brown fabric. The album is full of pictures taken in a post-war world out of which people climbed, away from the horrors of total war, holocaust and nuclear armageddon. The people in... Continue Reading →

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 →

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