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Youth Hostel News

[This section is under construction].

Youth Hostel News, Dalesman, 1948 Vol. 10 pp.300-301


Regional Office:

Room Four, 100, High Street, Skipton.

Telephone: 576.

(courtesy of the Dales Countryside Museum, Hawes)

The following is a transcription from the above Magazine:

© Thoralby Through Time

"Youth hostellers at work in the garden of the Bishopdale Hostel, Easter, 1948.



The Rookery, Bishopdale, was once a country mansion - but that was many years ago [1874-1921]. Subsequently it served as a co-educational school [1940-1945] . In August, 1946, it was opened as a youth hostel under the wardenship of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Gummerson. There were already well known, having served the Association at Swinklebank, in the Lake District, Jereusalem Farm, near Colne, and again at Kettlewell, and could count scores of hostelling friends from all parts of the country.

When he went to The Rookery, Mr. Gummerson found the extensive gardens in a sad state of neglect. He soon learned that folk up and down the dale were talking about the place, saying that things were not the same since "the gentlemen" left. Such remarks, he confessed, rather touched his pride, even though no personal reference was implied. The garden was too large for him to tackle single handed; yet he could not stay on at Bishopdale Hostel amid the scene of desolation it presented.

That was why, at the beginning of 1948, he drew up a plan for the cultivation of the kitchen-garden. At first there was no active response to the appeal for help which Mr. Gummerson had put up on the notice-board. It was a girl hosteller who made the first offer, and her example set the lads going; soon the work was in full swing.


Visitors who had helped once came again, new ones joined in. Mr. Gummerson found that voluntary work was gladly given when it was realised that the fruits of the labour were to be enjoyed communally by the hostel-members themselves. The initial hard work of reclaiming much of the overgrown and weed-infested land was followed by systematic planting and tending of the growing plants.  So, slowly but surely, Mr. Gummerson had the supreme satisfaction of seeing his hope fulfilled; and the results for this first season have been fully justified the experiment. Careful rotation planting will ensure the hostel a good supply of home grown vegetables all year round, while the fruit crop - apples, pears, plums, greengages, as well as many bush-fruits - has been preserved on a large scale for winter use.


On Saturday, 25th September, wardens invited as many as possible of those who had contributed to the success of the scheme- a careful record of all workers had been kept-to celebrate the harvest festival, and some sixty guests were present - hostellers from London, Lancashire, Tyneside, as well as from our own West Riding. The big hall of the hostel presented a gay and novel appearance. Garden tools of all descriptions decorated the walls; a magnificent show of mixed vegetables filled a large table against one wall whilst opposite was set out a fine display of bottled fruits and preserves. Strings of shallots suspended over doorways, and leeks hanging gracefully from the great staircase and landing lent an aroma to the air which mingled pleasantly with stronger ones wafted from the kitchen. A beautifully-designed menu gave promise of gastronomic pleasures to come, and be it noted that almost everything on it came out of the garden.

At 7-45 p.m. the company sat down to the ample and delicious supper, after which Mr. Gummerson rose amidst the acclamation of the guests. He spoke of the origin of the work, and paid tribute to the workers. Jim Foulkes responded on behalf of the gardeners, and David Shaw, after adding his own tribute to the originator of the scheme, and to those who had carried it through, pointed out that to make the most of the results it was necessary to have great experience in cookery and housecraft, and that Bishopdale Hostel was singularly fortunate in this respect. This brought sincere applause from Mrs. Gummerson and the great work she had done.

The story of this happy week-end at The Rookery has a moral behind it and a lesson for all hostellers. The lesson is that much more can be done with hostel property-our own property-than has been done to the present. Some hostels, it is true, have no gardens, or only small ones, in which the wardens may prefer to manage without help. But there are very many where something could be done. Let us benefit by the example and spirit of Bishopdale and offer our thanks and congratulations to the wardens for their personal hard work and for the inspiration they have given us.


One final word-there is plenty of work to do there; the flower garden hasn't been touched yet, so what about it, hostellers?" 

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