Former youth hostels of Great Britain

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Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   Text © Copyright March 2017, Stephen Craven; licensed for re-use under a Creative Commons Licence.


INTRODUCTION


Background

The idea for this article came from a discussionExternal link on the Geograph forum in March 2017 which highlighted that fact that there are hundreds of former youth hostels in Great Britain. Many of these closed over the years due to declining use or building decay, but from the early years of the 21st century the policy of both YHA and SYHA changed significantly.

Instead of providing budget accommodation in mainly rural areas, with minimal paid staff and the expectation that hostellers would bring their own bedding and help with the cleaning and other chores, both associations now seek to provide reasonably priced accommodation of a decent standard in professionally run and fully catered hostels, mainly in cities and tourist hotspots. That decision has led to most if not all of the small rural hostels closing in the last 20 years. This article seeks to collect photographs of those buildings before they are gone for good.

Scope

The hostels in this list were all at one time owned, leased, operated or at least affiliated to either the YHA (Youth Hostels Association of England and Wales) or the SYHA (Scottish Youth Hostels Association), but are no longer open as such.

For the time being, only mainland Britain (and the Isle of Wight and Isle of Man) are covered; hostels in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic (which have other youth hostelling associations) are not covered.

The other criterion for inclusion is that either there is already a photograph of the former hostel building on the Geograph website – whether during or after its time in use as a hostel – or the building is believed to be still extant, and capable of being photographed for the project.

Excluded therefore are hostels which were always independent of YHA/SYHA; those that are still owned or operated by one of those bodies; and those that have been demolished without (so far as we know) having been photographed for this project.



Sources

Most of the entries on here were identified by fellow Geograph contributors, including some of those whose photos are credited here. Especial thanks to Martin Phelan, Oliver Dixon and Philip Halling who provided considerable numbers of links to follow.

A few others were known to me personally having stayed there in the past.

Special credit must go to John Martin, YHA archivist and also a Geograph contributor, whose document YHA England and Wales - Historical listing of all youth hostels and associated accommodation was downloaded from the Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham LinkExternal link (version dated January 2017). Dates of opening and closing of English and Welsh hostels are mostly taken from there.

John’s magisterial work contains far more detail than can be reproduced here, not only factual but also stories of individual hostels from past users, and is itself a work in progress. This article combined with his research should provide all the information you could want on closed hostels.

Collaborative project

There are certainly other former hostels in Great Britain, but which ceased to be used as such many years ago. It is possible that some of these are still standing and have been photographed for the site; if so you are welcome (as a registered Geograph contributor) to edit the article to add them. Likewise if you can provide missing opening or closing dates.

If you have stories to tell of the hostels I suggest you contact John Martin via his profileExternal link.

The above text is © Stephen Craven 2017

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