Martham had a Youth Hotel from 1969 to 1985. It was at 66 Damgate Lane (TG 456191).
*The hostel was opened on 1st August 1969 after much delay caused through refused planning consent, which was finally overturned. The first hope of opening had been in 1966 and later an opening day of 1st July 1968 was mooted but not achieved. In 1969 the Youth Hostel Association hand book gave brief details and expressed a hope that it would be open soon. The hostel was planned as a centre for canoeing by its warden Arthur Cornford who had formerly been a warden at Goudhurst, Cranfield, Kent and Tanners Hatch Hostel in Dorking, Surrey. The hostel was in two parts: a farmhouse called Orchard House which dates back to the 1870’s and was the former home of a wherry skipper. It was previously occupied by Mr & Mrs Debbage. Behind it was the extension, a specially constructed building to Arthur Cornford’s own design to provide accommodation for canoeing activities and store supplies for visitors. The hostel extension was built by the Martham firm of Harriss Builders.
Arthur, and his wife Barbara, used to provided guided walks for local people which would finish with a welcoming hot cup of chocolate or coffee in the communal kitchen at the hostel. For many years Barbara contributed to the Yarmouth Archaeological Society’s activities and was the editor of the Norfolk Research Committee’s Bulletin as well as being a teacher. She wrote a wonderful book called “Medieval Flegg” (IBSN 0 948400 98 6) that provides a wealth of information on historical aspects of Martham. It is a must read for anyone interested in the history of East & West Flegg from 1086 to 1500.
The Cornfords retired in 1983 and sold the hostel to Heather & John Johnson to continue as an accommodation hostel. It closed on 31st October 1985 at the end of the holiday season.
There was actually a dwelling on the same site according to the 1842 Tithe Award list/map and it was owned, along with two adjacent pastures, by John Dawson who farmed about 16 acres around Damgate.
*With grateful thanks to the Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham.