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BBC Nation on Film: Youth Hostelling the first 100 years. This is the story of how one of the most influential youth movements of all time used film to open up the countryside to the masses. For generations the promotional films of the Youth Hostel Association have encouraged millions of people to expand their horizons and see the world through fresh eyes. Now after years of lying unseen the films are being broadcast together for the first time. The follow a journey through decades of what it means to be young and as youth hostelling celebrates its first hundred years show how our relationship with the British countryside has changed forever.

TITLE - Youth Hostelling the first 100 years.
TITLE - Nation on film

BARBARA - Heading towards the Youth Hostel Association headquarters in Derbyshire film archivist Binny baker is about to pick up a collection of vintage films she is hoping with help shed fresh light on an organisation which has given millions of people their first experience of the great outdoors.

BINNY - I know by experience that there will be all sorts of surprises hidden within those boxes and it's just how many we will find. I don't doubt that there will be some interesting stuff but it's just how have the films faired over the years.

BARBARA - Youth hostelling started in Germany in 1909 and spread to Britain in the 1930s from the outset the people behind its progress here quickly understood the importance of film in promoting its message. The films Binny has come to look at were recently unearthed during an overhaul of the YHA's records. She has already viewed some but today she's joining the association's voluntary archivist John Martin to assess what other hidden treasures may be hidden here.

JOHN MARTIN - When we have collected the archive here they have come from various different sources and some of the sources are clearly much more complete than others.

BINNY - I want to have a look at some of these older ones and quite often you can tell just by the box that the tin cans. This one YHA Freedom 9.5mm. 9.5mm is one of the earliest film formats that people could use.

BARBARA - Inside a hand written note which promises to take John and Binny right back to the very start.

JOHN M - This is interesting because this is a list of some very early youth hostels mentioned is Wallington and the history of that camp is extremely important.

BINNY - This looks to me like an original because you can see the different colours in film stock there is dark and then light and that's part of the way that the film has been exposed and those little gaps there are where they have been spliced together. This is going to be an exciting film because it's not a print it's a camera original. Here in our hands and on these shelves is the history of the YHA in the 20th century.

BARBARA- Before taking the films back to the safety of her temperature controlled vaults Binny is keep to gain John's expert knowledge of this early find.

BINNY - This is the first image it look 1930s and here is the This Freedom YHA Title. Once we take this away and do some proper work on it I can tell the quality with be fantastic.


JOHN M- Northumbrian Hostels this will be interesting.


BINNY - What was the significance of the Northumbrian hostel?

JOHN M - It was the very first of the YHA's regions and the Travellian's were among the chief instigators at the very beginning of the association in 1931 and 1932.

BARBARA - Among the gems here are shots of early YHA activity at Wallington Hall the home of Sir Charles Travellian an early benefactor and a brother of the association's first president. Later emerging from the film what are thought to be the first moving images of Sir Charles himself.

BINNY - So what did they donate was it money and buildings?

JOHN M - Yes part of Wallington hall become one of the very first youth hostels.

BARBARA - With access to the countryside far more restricted that it is today it was crucial that the YHA attracted the landed gentry to its cause.

JOHN M - Amongst Londoners there were some very socialist and liberal landowners, like the Travellian's, who were very keen to encourage this kind of activity on their land. This will be an official film and it would be duplicated.

BARBARA - The concept of hostelling flourished as part of a broad liberal movement lead by rambling and cycling groups who wanted to get the working classes away from polluted urban areas into the great outdoors. Once established it quickly became a cause among both the rich and poor.

JOHN M - Behind the youth hostellers association at the very beginning there was very defiantly a lot of serious thought and financial support although the YHA was never in the 1930s all that well off it couldn't have got where it is now having within five years over two hundred hostels without a great deal of support by well-meaning people who could afford to do that.

BARBARA - As Binny takes the rolls of film back to her base in Yorkshire for preservation she is excited by the secrets they may contain.

BINNY - We have got the history of the Youth Hostel Association over at least seven decades so that is really exciting. I was very optimistic at the very beginning that this sort of archive hunt that we would have a nationally significant collection and the more we look the more we'll find.


BARBARA - The early snap shot of hostelling in Northumbria is dwarfed by the discovery of the YHA's first film aimed at boosting recruitment in 1933 just two years after the first hostels were opened in Britain the association was already striving to assert itself on an ambitious scale. It set out its manifesto in a drama called Youth Hails Adventure. The film, which would have been shown in church and village halls, advertises the YHA's twin aims of bringing the classes and sexes together in a new apolitical but democratic movement. For John Walton, professor of social history at Leeds Metropolitan University, the film represents an early example of proper gander.

JOHN W - The crucial point about this film is that it was made in the early 1930s at the lowest point of the great industrial depression that really begins in1929 there is a fear of revolution there is a fear of communism all this is designed to make people feel comfortable and contented with their lot. It's designed to defuse tensions and prevent past conflict. I think it is very impressive to see that they are using film but worth noticing that it's not a talkie. Talkies were available by 1933 but they don't actually use them. It is something exciting and new, it's new opportunities to show spontaneity in all sorts of ways and what's interesting is that they do have the resources to do it.

BARBARA - Each character in Youth Hails Adventure is carefully chosen for what they represent in the social structure at the time and film was the perfect way of getting this message across as a medium which was spreading fast among all social economic groups.

JOHN W - It's really featuring workers of a big London firm wanting to escape on holiday. The youth hosteller has been angelical about the YHA to the boss's son. He's quite drawn to the idea of the YHA but at the same time he needs to be won over so he's doomed anyway to go off on holiday with his father.

BARBARA - Despite the films ambitious scale there are still some tell tail signs that they were working to a limited budget.

BINNY - A lot of the sets are outside and you can tell that because the wind blows through the set and that's a great example of frugal film making at that time they probably couldn't afford a big indoor set that was lit so the alternative to that to get the lighting right for the film was to get an outdoor set and film on a sunny day.

BARBARA - The film questions the value of the typical seaside resorts of the era showing these as less fun than the YHA's dynamic new holiday movement.

JOHN W - What we have here is the boss's son being board at the grand hotel sitting outside having breakfast quite comfortably but really wishing he was somewhere else and you can see the idea dawning on him that it would be really nice to go and join his friends at the youth hostel. And here he is writing his letter of application, you actually have to get your YHA card, you have to be a defined member of the organisation. So there is a mystical rite of passage about joining the YHA.

BARBARA - Also central to the film was the promotion of female emancipation.

JOHN W - The bicycle was a great agent of women's liberation in the 1890s onwards. We see them frequently riding in mixed parties but innocently in a camaraderie sort of way. Sexual contact is certainly not what the YHA thinks they should be interested in what they should be doing is forming healthy relationships that might lead to marriage while being very well behaved in the meantime.

BARBARA - While the film was intended to have universal appeal some of the imagery was surprisingly daring.

JOHN W - The scenes of nudity are completely unexpected. I'm absolutely astounded that this would have been shown without being cut and that in the 1930s there is an increasingly relaxed attitude to the display of parts of the body that had hither to been hidden but this means legs and arms and it means open necked shirts and not wearing hats it does not mean mooning.

BARBARA - With all of the characters eventually joining together to build a new hostel, including the initially sceptical factory owners, the film acts as a recruiting tool right across the class divide.

JOHN W - What this is doing is showing people how they can make a practical contribution to the development of this virtuous new organisation.

BARBARA - Some of the most dramatic images from the early YHA films are of mountaineering, traditionally a rich man's past time, by the 1930s and 40s climbing was becoming a more democratic sport and the YHA was keen to show itself helping to make it accessible to all. At first they had to overcome the difficulty of capturing film in a potentially dangerous location.

BARBARA - Today mountaineering cameraman Ian Burton, who worked with Griff Rees Jones on the BBC Series Mountain is hoping to find out how they did it. Used to scrambling up mountains with the lightest of modern equipment, today is going to be different. Joining Ian at the Cow and Calf rocks in Yorkshire is film historian John Adderley, who has brought the kind of 16mm camera the YHA pioneers would have used.

JOHN A - This is a Cine-Kodak Special, which was a very popular camera in the 30s and 40s I believe. There is no auto iris or focus, it's wind up so you need to have plenty of wined for the shot that you want to take.
BARBARA - Before Ian begins his climb the two men asses the original cameraman's handy work.

IAN - You can see the climbing gear is absolutely horrendous, it's just a piece of rope tied around his waist, and you wouldn't want to hang off that.

BARBARA - The footage may look dramatic but Ian is not convinced the cameraman is taking as much of a risk as the climbers.

IAN - By looking at this it doesn't give you any example of where they are they may only be ten feet off the ground it could be very easy to get to but in those days it would have looked amazing.

BARBARA - With John's expert advice Ian is given a quick lesson in how to use the vintage camera. Ian's subjects today are a couple of climbing guides well used to tackling crags like these he sets off for the sort of vantage point he thinks his predecessors would have used.

IAN - It looks really high which is the key thing. It's about ten meters up so it's safe as houses but looks really dramatic. It's such an awkward camera to use.

BARBARA - One problem faced by Ian and his predecessors is the limited amount of film.

IAN - It's really frustrating because it's a really terrible camera to use, it is lovely using film again but I have no idea whether it's going to be any good.

BARBARA - With his film finished and the weather deteriorating Ian has no option but to climb back down. In the 30s the climbing films would have been sent away for processing. Today Ian and John are in for an anxious wait.

IAN - It looks really jittery and old fashion looking so they didn't walk and act like that it was the camera. The viewfinder is not in a helpful position so for usability it is absolutely terrible. I would have said I'm amazed we had anything shot but actually it has produced quite remarkable results. They were the pioneers and I feel quite envious of that to be a pioneer like they were using the technology that hadn't really been used before it must have been a great feeling.


BARBARA - At the Yorkshire Film Archive, where staff have begun the task of cataloguing and restoring the YHA's collection archivist Binny Baker has made an important discovery. The box she is concentrating on contains four separate reels of one film entitled The Magic Shilling. Produced in 1949 it was the first film to be made after the Second World War when film stock was scarce and access to the countryside was restricted. The YHA needed another big promotional push.

BINNY - You notice that nobody has looked at this for a long time. And one of the first things we noticed was that it was a negative film so prints might have been done from it and this was the film that actually went through the camera. This film we thought was going to be called The Magic Shilling and as soon as you start it, here it isn't it is called The Magic Triangle. One of the slight concerns was this reticulation that you can see here is deterioration of the film stock. We then transferred it via a telecine machine and during that process there is some enhancement that you can do to get what would be the real essence of what that cameraman wanted because over time it loses tension, the film warps there are all sorts of things that with modern technology you can almost get it back to it pristine best.

BARBARA - One key difference in The Magic Triangle is that all references to class have been swept away. Instead it concentrates on another of one of the YHA's core aims, the desire for international harmony in a world torn apart by five years of world war.

BINNY - This as a film was much more about the whole work of the Youth Hostel Association but it based it on a couple who had joinery association so there's a story but it also widens out and on the four different reels it has a whole different set of areas that it looks at. It looks at internationalism, it looks at the camaraderie of the youth hostel members, it looks at the hostels and the British countryside, and it looks at the industrial nature of the towns that people came from in order to come to the countryside so it covers a huge aspect of the work of the organisation.

BARBARA - Oscar winning film producer Lord Puttnam is a former chairman of the council protection of rural England who began his career in advertising.

LORD PUTTNAM - These films depict an attitude to the countryside, which is essentially English more than British, its pastoral, its romantic, its broadly encouraging and highly traditionalist. They have become really interesting social documents.

BARBARA - But as a means of promoting the YHA's cause he feels The Magic Triangle is a lost opportunity.

LORD PUTTNAM - I'm frustrated by the fact that it could have and should have been done better. It didn't strike me as having been made for a professional screening it would have been loved by the people in it but if look at that film as to the American, German and French films of the period it depicts a very English attitude to a very English countryside. It wasn't that the idea was bad it was that the execution was bad and there was a lack of self-belief in the film.

BARBARA - Although the film may have lacked style it was certainly well timed. The post war generation was the first to benefit from legislation introducing paid holidays.

TITLE - Prof. John Walton - Social Historian.

JOHN W - Everybody has got a certain amount of money but they have to think about what to spend it on because they had rationing right through on some things to the early1950s. They had shortages on all sorts of basic commodities getting out into the countryside must have been a tremendous safety valve for people after the war and once it became possible to travel again.

BARBARA - But although the audience might have had more money to spend the YHA had to be careful with its own resources and that included a clever piece of recycling.

BINNY - One of the things that are really fascinating about this particular film is that later on in the collection later on in the years they used it again and cut it up into pieces and made two separate films using the original footage from this film. And it was a really exciting discovery to find that when looking through those films that suddenly you were looking at the footage and seeing that shot again and thinking about where it has come from.


BARBARA - One of the re-edited films Yostling is designed to promote the pleasures of youth hostelling in Britain cut down to less than twenty minutes it's intended to deliver the YHA's message much more quickly. Even its intertitles are more suck synced.

BINNY - They were a very frugal organisation they worked with volunteers they weren't going to spend their money unwisely.

BARBARA - For all their pastoral charm both Youth Hails Adventure and The Magic Triangle were filmed when there were continuing tensions about access to the countryside. The 30s had seen mass trespasses as the bargaining rambler's movement sought to sweep away restrictions to open land and the campaign for greater rights to roam continued after the war. But the YHA makes no reference to this bitter conflict with land owners in any of its films.

TITLE - Chris Darmon - YHA Chairman.

CHRIS - The YHA was specifically founded in this country as a non-political organisation. Almost from day one we were not seen as a pressure group, we were not seen as a group like the ramblers association who were campaigning for access to the countryside so the YHA members got involved in what they were doing we as an organisation didn't and I think that has perhaps helped us in overall good sway over the whole of our existence.

BARBARA - The YHA also had to tread carefully when it came to sexual politics, although clearly promoting equality and community the films had to satisfy everyone that the YHA was respectable.

LORD PUTTNAM - The depiction of this chased organisation was to reassure parents or to make girls feel more secure about going away to an YHA. I could equally make the point that maybe a lot of the people they might have liked to have attracted were turned off by it.

BINNY - Great shots of people having to separate in these films in virtually every decade when it's bed time. In each film there is a point where it shows that it's time for bed and the girls go into one room and the boys go into the other and you see the internal shots of the dormitories where people are getting changed. YHA were obviously trying to make a big thing of that in order to convince parents and people generally that it was an upstanding organisation and it wasn't going to put up with any hanky-panky.
BARBARA - Central to many of the films is the role of the YHA's wardens many of whom cut their teeth here at Idwell cottage in Wales which was often used as a location for filming. It's the oldest youth hostel in Britain still in use and two days before officially reopening after a major refit a group of ex-wardens are returning for the first time to see how life here has changed.

Woman (white jumper) - The hostel has changed so much since we first knew.
Man (glasses blue rain coat) six beds two times three and everybody on a Friday or Saturday night would try and get one of these beds to go sleeping outside.

BARBARA - Joyce and John Pope were the wardens here in the 1950s.

JOYCE POPE - We had to feed them and keep the place clean and turn them out at 10 am and let them in at 5pm and generally keep order.

BARBARA - And hostellers didn't just come here for the climbing.

JOYCE POPE - It was mainly for the lads this hostel.

JOHN POPE - The YHA slogan in those days for girls was Your Husband Assured.

BARBARA - The job of warden was a powerful position incorporating the roles of regimental sergeant, chaperone and parent.

JOHN POPE - The name for youth hostel wardens in Germany is housefather and housemother. You were the parents. We had not authority outside of the hostel at all if they were doing things outside the hostel they shouldn't have been doing the police would blame us for it but we had no authority we could only advise.

BARBARA - The key part of every hostel is the shared common room where people of all walks of life were encouraged to meet, romance often blossomed here.

JOHN POPE - The common room was very closed in and we had 40 to 45 people and it was very tight so we were all thrown together. In those days it was usual to make your own amusements in the common room and the tradition was that there would be a sing song in the common room each evening.

BARBARA - Back inside the common room watching films of Idwell's past echoes of those early days return and fragments of the songs have stayed in the memory too.

Group singing.

BARBARA - Lights out was usually enforced by the warden at 10pm however good the singing. And the ethos of equality and shared experience meant everyone who stayed overnight had to do a chore before leaving.

JOHN POPE - It was a movement and people joined it partly because of the accommodation and partly because of the spirit of the YHA which was something quite different to promotional organisations.

JOYCE POPE - And also it kept the costs down because we didn't have to employ staff to do all the chores and it made it possible for anybody to come because it was very cheap.

BARBARA - From the outset the YHA was keen to encourage greater international understanding. Among those inspired by this message was a Manchester schoolteacher Dr Graham Pink. As an amateur cameraman he established film making as a part of the children's education and recorded his classes first ever trip abroad. A fortnight youth hostelling to Switzerland in 1963.

DR GRAHAM PINK - I've had an interest in still photography since I was a lad and I was given my first camera when I was in secondary school which was a box camera. Once I started working I bought a Bolex camera and an 8mm and I set up a film club in the school and we would make little films. This is the sort of camera I would have used, 8mm film so very tiny film and it gave a good result with Kodachrome film. It was quite heavy when I had all my gear for the holiday I just managed to collect as much film as I could. We had a very pleasant couple of weeks travelling between three hostels in all and we made this film.

BARBARA - Filmed by one of the pupils as he prepared to capture some of the stunning scenery. Dr Pink was determined the boys should get the most out of the YHA's opportunity for cultural exchange.

DR GRAHAM PINK - We wanted our pupils to meet people from Switzerland itself and of course if you go to a hostel you find there are visitors there from all over the world, if we had gone to a hotel or a bed and breakfast we wouldn't have experienced that. They were there abroad meeting new people and having studies something of the history, geography and geology of the country they could see first-hand. This was great fun for them and it was the middle of August and they were making snowballs, which was an event. Later on when I formed a filmmaking club in school I could show it to the pupils and ask them how they would improve the film and how would you edit it? I think it gave them a wider view of the world, it gave them a view of how other people lived it was their first trip to Europe and I like to think that it broadened their outlook on life. I'm sure it opened their eyes.

BARBARA - As Binny builds up a clearer picture of what the collection contains one film makers name is beginning to stand out from the 1950s archive.


BINNY - On this old label here this says Western Lakeland 16mm in conjunction with G Moorwith and with Cowen of Keswick. That is interesting because Cowen is a film maker who made two very significant films for the organisation so if additional film has been put into this film it's another example of reusing film. Already I can see that there is a break in the films perforations so it may not even go through this machine if you look there it's not straight so I'll need to look quite carefully as I don't yet know the age of this film. It is scratched which means it has been played a few times. The clouds move over the mountains in a massive panoramic view. I'm going to have to make a few repairs. On the original films they use cement joints, which dry out depending what the conditions were so this will just be a temporary fixture. It maybe that this is the original copy of the film as I can see the cuts in the film where it has been edited. An early example of colour this is Kodachrome which is lovely despite the scratches on it. This is one of the first ones that we have seen the only other colour ones that we know in this early period are by Cowen as it said on the box this will be by the same filmmakers.

BARBARA - Cleaned and digitally re-mastered the beautiful clarity of these images can finally be enjoyed in the way that the cameraman would have intended.

BINNY - We aren't getting as much inspiration for recruitment in this film although it has the YHA sign. Something I haven't seen before three men taking out the dustbins. If our research is right on these films these colour films are from Cowen and he was obviously the filmmaker of choice. We don't know a lot about him although we know he was from Keswick. We have done some research into the institute of amateur cinematographers because a lot of filmmakers joined that association and cine clubs right over Britain but he doesn't seem to be a member of that.
BARBARA - At first Binny's research into this filmmaker throws up few leads but a few weeks later there is a break through. At a house in Southport more rolls of film shot by W. Cowen take pride of place in the home of a close relative Alan Bale.

ALAN B - He was called Bill Cowen to his family and most people who knew him. He was my Grandfather he was born in 1897 so he was one of the last Victorians. He ran a camera shot so he would have had access to the materials and to the cameras. He always enjoyed still photography so he was a happy amateur photographer before the war. In the 50s and so on he became a professional cameraman.


BARBARA - Bill Cowen's natural gift behind the camera is shown to great effect in the YHA film Breaking New Ground. Here the camera lingers on the delights of a rural Britain that was rapidly disappearing. Cowen was clearly filming with the future in mind. But it was his next film that was to cement his reputation.


BARBARA - Where all ways meet, is the youth hostels first film with sound. It began in style using one of the great broadcaster's voices of his generation the Welsh poet and BBC war time correspondent Winford Thorn Thomas.

ALAN B - As far as how he knew him I don't know he maybe knew him through photography or broadcasting maybe he had been working in the Lake District and my Grandfather met him. It must have made the film a success having a well-known broadcaster doing the voice over. Where all ways meet was centred on the Lake District which was his home and it shows a lot of the great landscapes of the Lakes. I would imagine it was one of the first films that he made professionally and it seems well shot. It's great to see that part of my Grandfather's past come to life.

BARBARA - Bill Cowen's early work for the YHA was to provide a spring board to a successful career in film, eventually leading to a job on the award winding TV wild life series Survival a passion sparked to life by shooting images like these.

BARBARA - Another recurring theme in all the films is food and particularly the legendary cooked breakfast a meal seen as the height of luxury when many of these films were made.

Man (purple jumper) - When I first started youth hostelling food such as this was very tightly rationed. Those of us who lived in the towns we were lucky when we came out because we would past a farmer who would sell us one or two eggs. None of us were well off so to minimise our own personal cost we scrounged food from home. We sometimes spend two hours in the kitchens because we would always be laughing and joking together and there would be a cup of tea on. Afterwards those who hadn't cooked did the washing up. It was fun it was enjoyment and in spite of my efforts today the boys would do better than the girls and we all learnt our elementary cooking here.


BARBARA - After the promotional output from the 1960s one film stood out The Hostellers a quietly subversive film it began to ask some serious questions about the YHA's aging hierarchy. It focused on the building of the very first floating hostel in England and featured a young hosteller from Yorkshire called Ken Moody.

BARBARA - Ken had been one of the founding members of the floating hostel Sabrina and helped to kit it out. For a month in the summer of 1964 he would find his views on the YHA's establishment under careful scrutiny.

KEN MOODY - I had been to Sweden and I stayed in the floating hostel in Stockholm harbour so I knew it could be done and we thought that we could get a Yorkshire keel and put one in Selby on the canal and turn it into a youth hostel. The contactor was a barge operator in the Selby area and he towed it up for us and put it through the locks and onto the canal at Selby and we pulled it by rope.

BARBARA - Nearly 50 years later Ken is preparing to go back to Selby to meet the filmmaker who chose him as a focal point for one of the YHA's most defining films. Gloria Sacks was an assistant editor with the British Transport Film Unit and was looking to advance her career when she was offered the chance to direct a film part funded by the YHA to publicise its activities.

KEN - They put the boat alongside that cabin.

GLORIA - We were working along that side. What happened to the boat?

KEN - After the YHA finished with it, it was moored up there for a while and local children played on it and vandalised it and after that they sold it to somebody and then they towed it away and has now been converted back into a house boat.

GLORIA - Why did the YHA give it up?

KEN - It wasn't making any money for them and it wasn't up to the standard of modern hostelling it was a simple hostel.

BARBARA - After filming the sequence on Sabrina Gloria's film widened out to become something that challenged the YHA to its very core. An uncensored vehicle for the views of the 60s generation with Ken and a friend Brian Cotton travelling around the hostels in Britain free to say whatever they felt.

GLORIA - I was very board with commentary talking about the things you could see on the screen anyway I found it very boring and I wanted something that was more free and real. We did interviews with them and from those interviews we edited the verbiage and built the film around it.

KEN - We really did feel like we were the new young rebels of the YHA. We made mistakes, we said the wrong things but we didn't expect that it would all be included.


BARBARA - Filming The Hostellers took a month improvisation was the key even when inventing a suitable girlfriend for Ken.

KEN - Rather than take a girl up to Scotland for the scene the assistant director had his young wife with him who fitted the bill. I lent her my father's bike and we put it together.


GLORIA - To somebody who had never been hostelling it gave I hope a reasonable picture of what hostelling was about, happy days.

BARBARA - Ken's influence on the YHA's promotional output didn't end there he later joined the national executive and successfully argued that members should be allowed cars to travel to hostels.

KEN - The die herds of the YHA believe that youth hostels were there for people with very limited means who cycled and walk and that didn't have cars. But cars were becoming cheaper and people were using them to get to where they were going walking and climbing. People were still fighting it into the 70s and 80s but we won the battle.

BARBARA - A significant development which would be incorporated into a film at the end of the flower power era called Passport to Rhome.

BINNY - Passport to Rhome was a brave attempt to bring the YHA up to the 1970s.

BINNY - They start with what really is a very posh girl who is anti-going to the countryside and her boyfriend drags her away to the countryside and she is very negative, the whole film starts in a very negative way.

TITLE - Lord Puttnam - Film Producer.

LORD PUTTNAM - In a sense it uses class as a tool and then proceeds to immediately miss use it. I thought they were reflecting the YHA as it probably wanted to be thought of as opposed to offering me a glimpse of what life might have been like.

BINNY - The way in which they communicated using film was to try and fit in with that feeling of the time so people who had moved away and were trying new things they wanted to draw those hostellers back into the organisation and to encourage people who hadn't started and hadn't enjoyed the countryside to bring them back in.

JOHN W - I found Passport to Rome excruciatingly embarrassing. It seemed to bring together all the sorts of people you would least like to meet; doing all the sorts of things you would least like to be involved in. It had this caricature of the worst kind of folk club.

JOHN W - Then they are highlighting that there are lights out and that people have to go to bed at a certain time and the warden enforces that so they are highlighting discipline.

JOHN W - And they bring in this pathetic subversive response that is embarrassing in every dimension. It's deeply uncool.

LORD PUTTNAM - It's depicting a world which I absolutely accept might have existed in the very early 1950s but that world was dead and gone in 1965 it was an inaccuracy on the day it was made.

BARBARA - The promotional films had always been a mixture of the amateur and the professional but throughout the 70s and early 80s they appeared to stagnate more films like Passport to Rome featuring the hostellers themselves and predictable trips around the countryside failed to chime with the increasingly sophisticated visual demands of the TV watching generation.

BARBARA - The YHA began to reposition itself as a place for families instead of just for the young. Later the chores would be sacrificed to health and safety and the ban on alcohol lifted.

JOHN W - The rules of the 70s are about increasing pressure to conform and consume in terms of how you present yourself and what you are interested in. And it's difficult for the YHA to slot into that. So the problem is do you try to cling on to your existing constituency which is getting smaller or if you try to reach out more broadly what do you do?

BARBARA - A radical rethink was needed and it came with a ground breaking film in 1984 which featured actors from the hit children's TV program Grange Hill. Enter The Adventure was commissioned by former YHA chairman Headly Allcock.


MAN (glasses purple jumper) - It went modern it went to directly using a computer, we were using professional people and we were aiming straight at modern young people and we talked to them in their own language.

BARBARA - Not only did Enter the Adventure try to answer the specific needs of a new generation of teenagers but to reflect the wider changes in society too.

MAN (purple) - Totally different and the new friend was a coloured guy and that's another shift that is emphasising that the youth hostel movement is universal it's open to all.

BARBARA - As well as trying to prise youngsters away from their TV's and fledgling computer games the association was also struggling with the competition of cheap family holidays abroad.

MAN (purple) - This era when it became possible for ordinary working people to go and have a fortnight holiday in Spain. We needed people to use and stay at our hostels. It was no longer the sing song in the common rooms in the evening. There was no longer the do it yourself entertainment.

BARBARA - For actor Lee McDonald it was a chance to get away from his Grange Hill character Zamo.

LEE - I'm a London lad and everything to me was inner London to me and I didn't see much countryside except my mum's caravan. It was just different and it just showed you that it wasn't expensive and that you could just go off and enjoy yourself in the country. I think that was my first awareness of youth hostels and I could do it and friends of mine could do and get involved.

LEE - When I got the part in the film it was so different to what you would normally do. Normally you would say your lines but this was to go off and do activities which were really good. There was canoeing, cycling and horse riding. I really wanted to do the horse riding I love horse riding since then and I got horse riding which was brilliant. I think there is always a need to get kids out and into doing activities and I think more so now than back then. I think there is so much more computer games now more than there was then, youth hostels should get out there and blitz the kids and get them doing stuff.

BARBARA - Today as the youth hostelling movement celebrates it 100th birthday it's still using films to spread its message. But gone are the old fashioned dramas and lingering images of the countryside.

TITLE - Chris Darmon - YHA Chairman.

CHRIS DARMON - If you can't get the message over in five minutes it's almost a message that is dead in the water. It's the delivery of that film and how we present it. We are probably going to need to deliver messages via young people's mobile phones but that will be taking that tradition on in to the future and actually delivering directly.

BARBARA - But while the fabric of the youth hostellers association remains essentially the same the social conditions in which it exists have been totally transformed. And for lifelong member Dr Graham Pink the future is something he is willing to invest in. He spent a quarter of a million pounds of his own money helping to refurbish Keswick youth hostel in the Lake District hoping it will be part of a vibrant hostelling network available for young people with limited means for many years to come.

DR GRAHAM PINK - This is an example of what can be done with an old building and turning it into a very nice modern youth hostel for the 21st century. When I offered to make a contribution to the YHA I thought I don't want to leave it until I died I would rather give it while I'm still alive and then I can see the results of it and that's exactly what I've got here it is very rewarding to come back here and see the excellent work they have done and see the enjoyment people are having particularly the youngsters although they might not appreciate it so much right now but really they have done an excellent job and it's nice to know that they are learning to use hostels and getting pleasure out of them that I had 60 or 70 years ago.

BARBARA - The promotional films of the YHA, intended as a positive vision of the future have succeeded in capturing key elements of our past in which our ideas of youth and freedom, adventure and independence have changed beyond recognition.

JOHN W - I think the YHA has become inevitably more middle class and perhaps more conformist in all sorts of ways including being conformist to consumerism. I think it has had to; it would have gone through the wall if it hadn't. But I think its future is very different.

LORD PUTTNAM - This was very early environmentalism movement not based on the science but based on the instinct that there was a lot to be gained from nature. And within nature was a place where your better instincts were likely to be stimulated.

BINNY - Here we have a youth organisation that started internationally moved to Britain and they followed its movement through the 21st century on film. There is hardly any other collection that reflects that enthusiasm for film and that one dimensional look at an organisation in the same way. It spans an organisations history through film.