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In 1930, a group of volunteers set up an association to provide young working people with an affordable escape. YHA was born.

85 years of YHA

The date was December 1930, the place Pennant Hall in North Wales. It’s now 85 years since the first YHA property opened its doors, but our overall mission as a charitable organisation has stayed clear: to inspire all, especially young people, to broaden their horizons, gaining knowledge and independence through new experiences of adventure and discovery.

To help them appreciate the life-enhancing rewards of the coast and the countryside. To allow them to enjoy and understand the cultural value of our towns and cities. It’s been a remarkable eight and a half decades. We live in a different world today, but our core values – adventure, inclusivity, freedom, experience and discovery – remain as relevant and important as ever.

Thanks to our members and supporters

We’re delighted that last year we worked with more than 515,000 young people, something that simply wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our members and partners. We pride ourselves on providing unique opportunities to grow, explore, relax and learn, and we’re still fully committed to reaching and inspiring the lives of one million young people a year by 2017. Here’s to the next 85 years.

Did You Know? In 1952 the first YHA Songbook was produced, to encourage common room singalongs.


1930: The first YHA Hostel is inaugurated.

1931: A further 75 hostels open across England & Wales.

1945: Membership numbers double by the close of WWII.

1950: A peak year, with a total of 303 hostels open.

1980s: National framework fully established.

2002: YHA head office moves from St Albans to Matlock.

2013: The Queen officially unveils YHA South Downs.

2015: YHA celebrates its 85th anniversary.

Also in 1930:

– Englishwoman Amy Johnson flies solo from London to Australia

– Uruguay win first FIFA World Cup

– Arthur Ransome publishes Swallows and Amazons

– Sean Connery is born

To find out more about our story and the unique opportunities we’ve been creating, watch our film.

Written by Ruby Higton

Here is Ruby and she is a digital marketer at YHA. She looks after all things social media, as well as content writing for and SEO. Her favourite YHA is YHA Perranporth.

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