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Club Displays Historic Photos Of Climbers And Campers

At a camp on Ben Nevis in 1934.  © The Camping and Caravanning Club

An exhibition is to go on display in England and Wales sharing a recently-rediscovered collection of historic photographs from the 1930s. The exhibition – ‘Climbing, Camping and the Club’ – features 35 black and white photographs taken by members of the Camping and Caravanning Club’s Mountaineering Section, as it was then known.

The Club was founded in 1901 and past presidents have included Captain Robert Falcon Scott of the Antarctic and Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Scouts. Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to summit Mount Everest with Tenzing Norgay, was also a Vice-President of the Club until his death in 2008.

In total, the collection consists of 18 albums spanning 1932 to 1984, containing over 2000 photos, most of which include captions detailing the location, year and often the people featured in them. The exhibition will run from 25 June – 9 July (9.30am-5pm) at Castleton Visitor Centre in the Peak District National Park before moving to Plas y Brenin National Outdoor Centre in the Snowdonia National Park from 12 July – 8 August (12pm-6pm). Admission is free.

The four themes of the exhibition are: early women mountaineers; climbing equipment of the 1930s; camping in the mountains; and regional imagery (namely the Peak District, the Lake District, Scotland, Snowdonia, and the Alps).

For the Club, Simon McGrath said, “The albums were recently ‘rediscovered’ in the Club’s archives and we wanted to share these wonderful photographs for the first time publicly because they give us a fascinating insight into the lives of early recreational climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers. The photographs show us how and where they camped, and what equipment they used. They also give us a glimpse into the camaraderie of the campsite for these early members of the Club.”

The Club’s Mountaineering Section was formed in 1932 at its inaugural meeting in Edale, in the Peak District. It later changed its name to the Mountain Activity Section in 1987 and is still an active group within the Club whose members enjoy walking and cycling.

The collection reinforces the Club’s heritage as a membership organisation that has both encouraged people to enjoy the countryside through camping and helped shape the development of pastimes such as recreational mountaineering. The Club was a founding member of the British Mountaineering Council and also took part in the Kinder Scout Mass Trespass that secured access rights to open countryside for walkers.

Ms Terry Tasker, Chair of the Mountain Heritage Trust, said, “A different aspect to British mountaineering has been shown through newly discovered historic photograph albums, which re-live the memories and authenticate the past, embodying the wider focus of what the Mountain Heritage Trust is about. They depict a different facet of climbing that was parallel to the early pioneer Alpine and Himalayan climbers from the 1930s through to 1984 and particularly demonstrate some early women climbers.” fff

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