SWANAGE Youth Hostel has reopened following a £1.5million refurbishment.

Pupils from the town's St Mary's Catholic Primary School were guests of honour at the opening ceremony.

The school has a special relationship with YHA (Youth Hostels Association) Swanage, after using its classrooms when two of its own classrooms were under construction two years ago.

Following the hostel's six-month refurbishment, the building has 11 new en-suite bedrooms and one filly accessible bedroom for wheelchair users.

YHA (England and Wales) chief executive James Blake said: "YHA has been in Swanage for nearly 70 years and while the youth hostel may have been given an extensive face lift, one of the things that has not changed in that time is our charitable purpose.

"We know the transformative power of travel, adventure and discovery for young people and creating an environment like we have done at Swanage will enable even more young people and their families to access life enhancing experiences with YHA.

"I am delighted at what we have been able to achieve at YHA Swanage. The youth hostel looks fantastic and it could not have been done with the very generous support of YHA members and benefactors."

The Victorian building was gifted to the Ministry of Education in 1948. Since then more than one million young people have visited.

Today, YHA Swanage welcomes nearly 18,000 young people and their families every year.

Following the refurbishment visitors numbers are expected to increase by another 2,000 guests a year.

Hostel manager Garry Hayman said: "I am delighted that while we have modernised the building, we have been able to completely retain its Victorian heritage.

"Already the refurbishment has made a big difference to the school groups who stay with us.

"Prior to the investment we were unable to accommodate wheelchair users but now we have the fully accessible bedroom we are able to welcome even more young people to stay with us.

"The team and I are all set to go. The bigger communal and dining spaces are great.

"It is lovely to see groups get together at breakfast and in the evening to talk about their day's adventures. Prior to the refurbishment they were split across a number of small rooms. The creation of open spaces has made such a difference to the youth hostel."