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Youth Hostel - The Rookery

[This section is under construction].

Following the closure of The Rookery as a School in 1945 it became a Youth Hostel in 1946, but the following article shows that negotiations for this to happen began as early as 1934, no doubt the outbreak of war in 1939 led to a delay in this happening, instead it became a school 'away from the bombing'.

"Leeds Mercury 25 October 1934




Negotiations are being carried out by the West Riding Group of the Youth Hostels Association for a new hostel at Wainstalls, near Halifax, to accommodate six of each sex, and an announcement regarding its opening is anticipated during the next day or two. The Group is also negotiating for a centre in Bishopdale.

All hostels under jurisdiction of the Group are to remain open throughout the winter months. 

The annual meeting of the Group will take place at Bradford on November 24, and it is hoped to have an attractive speaker for the meeting.

"Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer 15 September 1945

New Youth Hostel in Bishopdale

© Thoralby Through Time

The Rookery, Bishopdale, a 17th century mansion, has been acquired by the West Riding Youth Hostels' Association.   

It has accommodation for 80, and will be in use towards the end of the year."


"Yorkshire Evening Post 24 June 1946

Bishopdale Hostel


ANOTHER link in the walking chain in Yorkshire will be formed by the opening - which I hear is fixed for August 17 - of the Rookery, Bishopdale, as a youth hostel. Arrangements have been completed by the West Riding group of Youth Hostels' Association.

The mansion, which will accommodate 80 hostellers, is on the Wensleydale side of Kisdstones Pass, about five miles from Aysgarth, and from Buckden, Wharfedale, within walking distance of Kettlewell, Dent, Askrigg and Ellingstring.

Mr. and Mrs. R.B. Gummerson, who have been hostel warden for 12 years and have managed the Kettlewell hostel for the past three years, have been appointed wardens at the new hostel.


"Bradford Observer 29 July 1946

The Rookery


ANOTHER parking party is to get busy next week-end. This working party has no connection with Sir Stafford Cripps, but consists of a dozen or so youth hostellers who will spend Bank Holiday at the Rookery, Bishopdale. This is the West Riding's latest hostel, due to open on 17 August, and the advance party are in for a busy time preparing the building for visitors. Already the warden and his wife have moved in from Kettlewell hostel.

The house has not been occupied for nearly a year, so that there will be plenty of scrubbing to be done. Washing crockery, erecting beds, sorting out equipment, distempering - all this mus be tackled, and if there are any spare moments, well, there's always the garden to be weeded.

"Western Daily Press 7 August 1946

Youth Hostel Notes

... New hostel in Wensleydale - Bishopdale: The Rookery, Bishopdale, via Leyburn, Yorks, M. and W. 80 Meals provided. Provisional date August 17. Correspondence before opening date to Mr. Gummerson, Whernside House, Kettlewell, clearly marked "Bishopdale Hostel. " Position on map: A large house (marked on map) set back from Bishopdale road, at foot of Kidstones Pass on S.E. slopes of Stake Fell O.S. 20 and 21". ...

"Barnoldswick & Earby  1 November 1946

Craven Wheelers.

Ribblesdale and Littondale were visited by the Craven Wheelers on Sunday. They rode over Nappa to Long Preston and then took the moorland road to Settle where most of them had lunch, though several members went on to Stainforth for lunch. Afterwards the tow parties combined again and went over the Peny-y-gent and down to Halton Gill, Silverdale road past the foot of [missing]. Then they rode along Littondale through Litton and Hawswick to Kilnsey where they halted at Long Ashes for tea. The return journey was by Threshfield, Cracoe, and Skipton.  The Wheelers were also represented during the weekend at Bishopdale and York Youth Hostels. The Wheelers have arranged to stay at hostels during the coming weekend".

"Yorkshire Evening Post 23 December 1946

Christmas at Hostels.

MORE THAN 800 young people will be spending Christmas at the 16 West Riding youth hostels. Bookings have been heavy, and Christmas fare will be provided at all the hostels. Special parties are being held at Malham, Ingleton, Stainforth, Kettlewell and Linton.

The new hostels at Bishopdale and Pateley Bridge are having their first Christmas, and the wardens intend doing all in their power to make the occasion an enjoyable one for the young people".


"Halifax Evening Courier 14 January 1947


With a view to encouraging visits to hostels by organised parties of boys and girls who are not members of the association, the existing facilities have been extended, it is stated. Parties are permitted to stay at Bishopdale, Burley, Woodhead, Dentdale, Linton and Stainforth hostels, at any time except during public holidays, and in the weeks before and after August Bank Holiday.

The two hostels opened in the Dales were "The Rookery", Bishopdale, linking Wharefdale with Wensleydale; and Nidderdale, a row of four cottages within two miles of Pately Bridge.

"Yorkshire Evening Post 30 July 1947


Diary of a Yorkshire Gossip of the Day

Mr. G.'s

"Land Girls".

MR.R.B. GUMMERSON, warden of the Bishopdale Youth Hostel and the subject of a recent article by my colleague Con Gordon, is going ahead with his plans for getting the hostel garden into good order after many years of neglect. To help him he has obtained three gardening assistants, to whom he refers to as his "three land girls."

These assistants, who spend the whole day weeding appear to enjoy the task, are three young goats, staunch vegetarians, with inexhaustible appetites, they will eat anything in the greenstuff line.

It is surprising how much ground they have cleared in a few weeks.


"Yorkshire Evening Post 10 March 1947


A grand week-end

Leeds Group of the Holiday Fellowship had a change from usual procedure on their ramble last week-end.

On Saturday they took a coach up Wharefdale to Buckden and walked over to Bishopdale Youth Hostel, where they spent the night. On Sunday, they had a full day's ramble in Wensleydale, and the coach picked them up in Aysgarth at tea-time. The 30 members who took part had a really enjoyable week-end.

"Yorkshire Evening Post 24 March 1948


Diary of a Yorkshire Gossip of the Day

Canine 'cracks'

BISHOPDALE has now another talking dog, which I am told, shows every sign of being eventually as "eloquent" as his illustrious father..

Since Punch, 12 year-old talking Labrador belonging to Mr.R.B. Gummerson, wandered away from the Bishopdale Youth Hostel last May, nothing has been heard of him. Punch previously written of in the Evening Post, had a short repertoire which had been taught him by his master.


Now, Mr. Gummerson tells me, Punch's son "Mij" is slowly responding to efforts to teach him his father's tricks. Two-year-old "Mij" can now bark the number of years in his age and in response to the  query, "Are you hungry?" he can yap out a convincing "I am." But he hasn't yet got down to learning Punch's tricks of barking out answers to multiplication tables and sitting in at dominoes.


Incidentally I hear they are getting together quite a menagerie at the hostel. Two Alpine goats are due to kid this Easter to add to the family.

"Shipley Times and Express 21 April 1948



... SHIPLEY ROAD CLUB. - Saturday-Sunday: Bishopdale Youth Hostel wee-end. Sunday: meet S.P.H., 9 a.m.: lunch, Falshaw, Buckden; tea Craven Heifer, Stainforth.

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?" 







"Yorkshire Evening Post 18 June 1953

Diary of A Yorkshireman



THOSE who saw the Aysgarth Falls Youth Hostel in the days when Bishopdale Hostel (The Rookery) was closed and its goods and chattels removed to Aysgarth, expressed sympathy with the warden, Mr.R.B. Gummerson, at the job of tackling such a place.

There was plenty of space, but the building could be - and often was - described as a shambles.

A great alteration had been achieved. Dark passages have been brightened up by artistry of clever hostellers. One small room is to be an aquarium, with appropriate murals.

There is still much work to do outside. A large grass plot is slowly being turned into a kitchen garden. At Bishopdale, Mr. Gummerson supplied the hostel kitchen with vegetables "What was done at the Rookery can be done at Aysgarth," he says."

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