A BRIGHT new future beckons for the former Earby Youth Hostel, which will be opening as an independent environmentally sustainable hostel.

Re-opening of the hostel, on Birch Hall Lane, will emulate other small hostels which have been reincarnated following withdrawal by the Youth Hostel Association (YHA).

Earby Youth Hostel, known as Glen Cottage originally opened in 1958, was previously owned and managed by the Youth Hostel Association and provided much needed budget accommodation for walkers, cyclists and tourists being a vital stopover for Pennine Way walkers.

Over the years the hostel has made a vital contribution to the local economy and community of Earby and the local area. Prior to becoming Earby hostel in 1958, the previous owner of Glen Cottage was Katherine Bruce Glasier, a prominent social reformer and political activist in the early 20th century.

On her death in 1950, the Katherine Bruce Glasier Memorial Fund was established to help acquire Glen Cottage as a permanent memorial to her, and the hostel was donated to YHA.

However, the YHA ended its long involvement with Earby hostel at the end of January 2017, a fate similar to several other smaller rural YHA hostels.

The YHA has a long history of hostelling and Earby played an important part in that history over the years.

In 2010, TV botanist Professor David Bellamy planted a tree at Earby Youth Hostel to celebrate 100 years of YHA hostelling.

The celebration event involved representatives from Pendle Council, who bought the building in 2007, the Friends of Earby Hostel and local residents.

Professor Bellamy, who was president of the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) for more than ten years, planted the oak tree in the hostel garden. He was helped by ten Earby Springfield Primary School pupils.

Such has been the strength of feeling over the history and importance of the hostel to the local area and economy, a collaborative partnership led by Earby Town Council with backing from the Friends of Earby Hostel, Pendle Council and Friends of Nature UK have worked hard to carve a new future for the hostel.

Those involved in the partnership also wish to retain many of the original aims behind why the building was first dedicated in memory of Katharine Bruce Glasier, including encouraging visitors and young people to enjoy the local countryside.

Earby Town Council has recently take ownership of the hostel. New managers are in the process of being appointed, who have a vision of how they wish to develop the hostel with a strong emphasis on promoting environmental sustainability.

The vision for Earby Youth Hostel also includes offering comfortable, good value accommodation to groups, individuals and families who want to explore the Lancashire and Yorkshire countryside and towns.

Modernisation work is progressing which will hopefully see the hostel reopen in early 2018.

Renovation work on the interior and exterior of the hostel includes renewed heating and showers which is being funded by investment from Earby Town Council, Pendle Council’s West Craven Area Committee and the new hostel managers.

Proposals are also being put together for converting the dilapidated hostel garden into a woodland and wildlife sanctuary. The garden has immense potential for making a significant environmental contribution to both Earby and the wider community.

This depends on securing an environmental grant from a regional funding agency. This work will also be partly funded by the Friends of Earby Hostel.

The grounds are close to open countryside and lead up to Earby waterfall; the Pennine Way and local children’s play area.

One of the strengths of the way the new independent hostel will be run involves the new managers working directly with Earby Town Council and being closely linked into the wider community of Earby and the local area.

Councillor Chris Tennant, chairman of Earby Town Council and chairman of Friends of Earby Hostel, said: “The village and community of Earby are justifiably proud of Glen Cottage and the role it has played.

“This is the culmination of a lot of effort by the Town Council, Friends of Earby Hostel, Pendle Council and many others who wish to see the hostel survive and thrive as affordable holiday accommodation.

“Earby Town Council's direct role is an exciting and unique example of how town and parish councils can play in representing the interests of the local community, promoting a greater commitment to promoting environmental sustainability alongside benefitting the wider local economy.

“We are looking forward to working with our prospective new hostel managers who will bring zest and enthusiasm in making the Earby Independent Hostel a must place to visit and be part of.”

Pendle borough councillor and Earby town councillor Morris Horsfield added: “The hostel is part of a wider investment strategy planned for the town that is making a strong statement about Earby being a place to visit and enjoy.

“The hostel refurbishment works and the proposed garden plans will together with our great countryside and cycle routes help ensure both the hostel and local economy thrive.”

Lisa and Mark Baxby, the prospective new hostel managers, said: “We are really excited by this opportunity to re-establish Earby as an independent hostel and have been encouraged by the commitment and enthusiasm from Earby Town Council and the volunteers of the Friends of Earby Hostel to get the hostel up and running again.

“We are keen to create a warm welcoming place for people to stay whilst enjoying the outdoors and exploring the local area.”