Mountaineering library finds a perfect home

The first meeting of the Fell and Rock Climbing Club at the iconic Wasterwater Hotel

The first meeting of the Fell and Rock Climbing Club at the iconic Wasterwater Hotel

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ONE of the world’s most renowned collections of historic books on climbing and mountaineering has found a permanent new Lake District home.

The Fell and Rock Climbing Club’s library of 2,000 books was received by the Armitt, Ambleside, at a reception at which Alan Hinkes, the only Briton to have climbed all 14 of the world’s highest summits, was guest of honour.

The FRCC’s library grew from books donated by members, with many works dating back to the 1900s, by the fathers of British rock climbing and mountaineering.

The collection covers every aspect of mountaineering and hill-walking, from the Lakes to Antarctica.

Among the oldest is Joseph Budworth’s 1792 work, A Fortnight’s Ramble in the Lakes, one of the first books about walking for pleasure.

The books chart some of the most epic events and adventures in 20th century British rock climbing and mountaineering and mark the growing popularity and technical achievements of the sport over many decades.

Books were left wherever members gathered, including the Wasdale Hotel and the Club’s Raw Head climbing hut in Langdale, and were subsequently brought together as a library and cared for by Bobby and Muriel Files, past FRCC president and librarian respectively.

Museum curator Deborah Walsh also discovered a series of glass lantern slide show reels.

They document the preparation for the 1921 expedition to Everest and the first use of oxygen in climbing.

They were projected onto the walls of the museum when the collection officially opened on Friday at an event also attended by FRCC member and club president, John Barrett.

Ms Walsh said: “It is of great satisfaction to the FRCC and the Armitt Museum and Library that the most significant collection of mountaineering books in the country has come together in the heart of the Lakes and is now accessible to all.

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“I’m still finding out how rare some of the items are.”

She added that the FRCC books overlapped and complemented the Armitt’s own unique collection of early guide books, making it one of the best resources of its kind anywhere.

Mr Hinkes told Armitt members, friends and guests that the Lakes were still the finest place on earth to hill walk and climb.

Among his favourites is Striding Edge on Helvellyn, though the wide variety of views to be found at lower level on Loughrigg Fell had become another particular pleasure.

The Armitt boasts the largest collection of Kurt Schwitters paintings outside the Tate and 450 works by Beatrix Potter.

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