The biggest battle in finding out about youth hostels and their history was finding good sources of information. I found it in books, on websites, in libraries or archives – more about that below.

If there’s anything more you want to know and can’t find it here, contact me.

Here’s my list


Special Collections, Cadbury Research Library

Holds the official historical archive for YHA. The Archive includes national and regional records, reports, minute books, handbooks, publications, photographs, personal memories, Local Groups materials, and ephemera representing its 80-year span. The materials have come from internal sources, former employees of YHA and the public in general.


Youth hostels story by Oliver Coburn.

Written in 1950 the book celebrates the first 20 years of youth hostels in England and Wales. Sometimes available second hand.

The Magic Triangle by Anton Grassl and Graham Heath

A short history of the world youth hostel movement. Published in 1982, it’s as close to a history of international youth hostels as you’ll find. Sometimes available second hand but it can be pricey.


An historical listing of all youth hostels and associated accommodation by John Martin, YHA Volunteer Archivist.

The listing is in the nature of a perpetual draft, and is constantly revised and can be found here.

Douglas G Hope’s website

Focused on two organisations that pioneered the provision of outdoor holidays for working people in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, the Co-operative Holidays Association (CHA) and Holiday Fellowship (HF), both founded by Thomas Arthur Leonard, in 1893 and 1913 respectively.  Can be found here.

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