John Dower Memorial Youth Hostel, Malham MYD36585 (c) YDNPA, 2023
Malham Youth Hostel opened in 1938 and was the first purpose-built Youth Hostel in Yorkshire. It was built on the site of the old Malham Sheep Fair. Funding came from the King George’s Jubilee Trust. The Hostel was designed by a local architect, John Dower, who lived nearby in Kirkby Malham. It was meant to look like the local farmsteads around it but has since been altered and extended. John Dower was also a national figure in the National Park and Youth Hostel movements and at the time of his tragically early death aged 47 he was President of the Ramblers Association. The Dower Report that he wrote for the government and presented in 1945 was instrumental in the setting up of the National Parks of England and Wales. Importantly he also believed passionately that National Parks should be there for all to enjoy whatever their background. The Youth Hostel movement was one of the ways that young working class people at that time, could access these beautiful places.
His wife, Pauline and father-in-law, James Trevelyan (both important in the National Park and Youth Hostel movements) dedicated the hostel to his memory in 1948. A plaque in the common room reads:
“John Dower 1900-1947
Architect and Town Planner, devoted his life to the cause of National Parks and preservation of the English countryside. He designed and built this hostel, which was dedicated to his memory in 1948”.
Anon (1938) ‘Malham Youth Hostel’ Craven Herald Newspaper. 22nd July p7
Hartley, Marie & Ingilby, Joan (1991) The Yorkshire Dales. Otley: Smith Settle
Litke, Sara (1998) National Parks: Their Origins and Development. Brecon: Brecon Beacons NPA Occ Paper 1
Youth Hostel News (1948) ‘Memorial to the Late Mr John Dower’ The Dalesman. Vol 10 p227