A life changing experience

“How does a life-changing experience start? With some, it’s a single event; with others it creeps up on them over time.” Sir Chris Bonington has been a long time supporter of youth hostels. He’s one of those who found adventure through youth hostels and never looked back, and youth hostels were one of the events... Continue Reading →

YHA, the right to vote and young people

Democracy is coming to the YHA. Not as Leonard Cohen imagined, with a driving drum and a rousing chorus but democracy all the same. One-member-one-vote democracy. After the Youth Hostels Association's annual meeting in London on Saturday 30 June, from next year all members over-16 will be able to vote in elections to YHA’s Board... Continue Reading →

Hostel work, Gwen Moffat and Rowen

Rowen - photo by Gwen Moffat, courtesy YHA Archive at the Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham. While qualifying as a mountain guide, the first British woman to do so, Gwen Moffat worked at the youth hostel at Rowen in North Wales in 1952. I wrote about her experience in my history of YHA, Open to... Continue Reading →

Radical roots

Chatting to a reporter from the BBC last week while taking part in an interview about the history of youth hostels, I was reminded that youth hostels were radical when they began and how much work had to be done to secure their future in 1930. Youth hostels are such a part of life for... Continue Reading →

What’s brewing

News about what I've been up to How do you improve lives? When life for many in our society does not seem to be getting better and probably worse, when inequality is growing, when lives are getting meaner and communities more shrivelled, it came as a bolt from the blue to realise that others had... Continue Reading →

Malham – a family affair

The youth hostel at Malham is a lasting testament to one man and the history of his wider family’s long association with youth hostels.  John Dower, a local architect, designed the hostel in 1937. He also designed the youth hostels at Eskdale in Cumbria and at Bellingham in Northumberland. He achieved a wider reputation when... Continue Reading →

Hostels coming to the USA

Two cyclists and a bluebird from the YHA (England and Wales) handbook of 1942. Isabel Bacheler Smith designed them for the American youth hostel’s magazine The Knapsack. She founded the youth hostels association of the USA with her husband Monroe. In the summer of 1933 Isabel and Monroe Smith toured Germany with a group of Boy... Continue Reading →

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