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This photo shows a group of friends from Merseyside (and an assortment of nattily dressed bystanders) on a trip to Germany in July 1929. Their mission? To experience for themselves the youth hostels which had been opening there since 1909. They returned home deeply impressed, with a resolve to set up an equivalent organisation in Britain.

The young man in the front row, wearing shorts and an open blazer, is Tom Fairclough. In December 1929, he became the first regional secretary of the Merseyside Branch of the British Youth Hostels Association. The following April – 90 years ago this year – the national movement was formed, granting young people access to adventure on an unprecedented scale.

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