The finest ever

A visit by Tom Fairclough, one of the founding members of YHA, to Germany in 1929 is well recorded. That visit inspired him to found the first youth hostel group in Britain at the end of 1929. Less known are earlier visits by others, that help to show the widespread, grassroots nature of YHA at... Continue Reading →

Stepping stones

Youth hostels, good-will and reconciliation Youth hostels had always been practical, all about self-help, with “a vigorous tradition of eager volunteers going off on their weekends to help build or convert new hostels...” * Jack Catchpool, first national secretary of YHA (England and Wales), was sure that, in bringing young people together to work at... Continue Reading →

A good war

Houghton Mill Youth Hostel drawn in 1944 Youth hostels had a good war. Less than ten years old when hostilities began, war could have destroyed them. But against the odds they decided to carry on. Jack Catchpool was still secretary and GM Trevelyan, the historian and author, was still president. John Cadbury took up the... Continue Reading →

Pushing the boat out

26 Bedford Square, London Different people in different places, through the winter of 1929 / 1930 were trying to start youth hostels. None was making progress until the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) took a hand. The NCSS was the ideal sponsor for the new venture. Today, it’s the National Council of Voluntary Organisations.... 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 →

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