AUDIO: Tom Proctor and Stoney Middletonby Phil Kelly - The RockArchivist Project Aug/2010
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Preparations are well under way for the Stoney Middleton Revival Weekend on Saturday/Sunday 11th/12th September 2010. This is a full weekend of climbing and a trip down memory lane as climbers old and new come together to celebrate the history and the future of climbing at Stoney Middleton. Breakfast and a BBQ is being layed on courtesy of the BMC, Wild Country and UKClimbing.com, climbing all weekend, pints in the Moon, and all will recorded digitally for posterity and published.
Phil Kelly of the RockArchivist project, one of the organisers of the Stoney weekend, has been busy continuing his scanning and indexing of the UK's new route books but has some even more exciting news.
First is the publication of the Giles Barker Audio Tapes that include interviews with Tom Proctor, Andy Pollitt, Joe Brown, Don Whillans, Nat Allen, Paul Nunn, Ed Drummond, John Allen, Chris Gore, Richard MacHardy, Al Parker, Steve Read, Geoff Birtles, Chris Jackson, John Loy, Ron Townsend, Roy Leeming, Gary and Phil Gibson, Herbert Hartley, Gabriel Regan and others talking about climbing, new routing, competition, controversy and other subjects.
We preview a taster episode here, Tom Proctor talking about the Stoney Middleton routes, Damocles and Dies Irae.
Second, Phil has also published archive material from Cioch Climbing Club, the original (and only?) climbing club of Stoney Middleton.
Phil explains in detail below. All material published at www.rockarchivist.co.uk and as the audio episodes are published we shall be starting a thread at UKClimbing.com on each episode for discussion.
The history of rock climbing in the Peak District has always been a talking point, with so many activists, personalities, egos and in some cases agendas that those who write the histories that we see recorded in the guidebooks have a practically impossible task on their hands.
An impossible task that is unless the proper research is done, and the results digested and cogitated, rather than relying on regurgitating previous historical notes and adding a new era of spin.
One person who realised the need for thorough research was the late Giles Barker, a key member of the 70s and 80s BMC Guidebook Team.
An archaeologist by training, Giles extended his other passion, climbing history, into the research and writing of a book charting the history of Peak District climbing from the days of J.W. Puttrell up to the present day (the late 1980s) and this was planned for publication under the project name Peak Performers. Giles' extensive research led him to meticulously record taped interviews with the book's subjects, a veritable red carpet of names and personalities.
Sadly, Giles died in a tragic caving accident in 1992, before completing the manuscript for his book, and for many years the tape recordings which he made were forgotten, until last year when a number of things happened totally independently and the tapes were uncovered, digitised and deposited with the Mountain Heritage Trust for location within a permanent archive.
I learnt of the existence of these tapes late in 2009 during the initial setup work on the RockArchivist project web site, and after discussions with the Mountain Heritage Trust, Giles' family and also the interviewees themselves decided that we should look to publish as many of the tapes as we could online.
In the weeks before the Stoney Middleton get-together (UKC News Item) now is probably as good a time as any to kick off a weekly serialisation of these tapes. What we now have is a whole host of recordings (around 40+ hours) of Peak District luminaries talking about climbing, new routing, competition, controversy and other subjects. I have edited these down into episodes of around 20-25 minutes, and laid them out as high quality AVI recordings via Vimeo.
The serialisation starts today with a special 2 episode release of the late Tom Proctor - a real legend of Stoney Middleton development - talking about his early days soloing on Birchen Edge and his first forays into Stoney Middleton itself.
Click Play To Listen
Along with this serialisation, and again in preparation for the Stoney get-together, the RockArchivist site will also publish the surviving documentation from the Cioch Climbing Club; the original (and only?) climbing club of Stoney Middleton. Members included luminaries such as Jack Street, Geoff Birtles, Chris Jackson amongst others and the club was responsible for considerable development at Stoney and a number of other venues. Amongst the surviving documents are the club log books and a number of the ballads and sagas written by members, such as the Saga of Scoopio Walletti and the Ballad of Vector Buttress. Priceless!For those who want to read and understand more about the Cioch Club, Chris Jackson's excellent site is a great starting point: Cioch Club Days. At and Around Stoney Middleton 1961-67 by Chris Jackson
Next Tuesday I'll also post the next 2 episodes of Tom's interviews, before moving on after this to a 6-episode series on Andy Pollitt.
Other names in the list of interviewees include: Joe Brown, Don Whillans, Nat Allen, Paul Nunn, Ed Drummond, John Allen, Chris Gore, Richard MacHardy, Al Parker, Steve Read, Geoff Birtles, Chris Jackson, John Loy, Ron Townsend, Roy Leeming, Gary and Phil Gibson, Herbert Hartley, Gabriel Regan and others.
As the audio episodes are published we shall be starting a thread at UKClimbing.com on each episode for discussion.
Words of thanks need to be extended to a number of people for their assistance in bringing both the tape recordings and the Cioch archives into the public domain:
Firstly, to Giles Barker himself, without whom this unique piece of history would not exist in the first place. I'm proud to publish this series in your name, Giles.
The Barker family, who have embraced the project and are keen to have Giles' work published for the historical record and in Giles' name.
To the interviewees that have kindly agreed to take part in the project so far, and in the future. Some are yet to be contacted but up to now, 100% have agreed to take part. Thank you for your generosity and confidence.
To members of the Cioch Climbing Club: Geoff Birtles, Jack Street, Chris Jackson and John Atkinson. These documents haven't been seen for 30+ years and again I'm proud to reproduce them on the site. Thank you again!
The original digitisation of the analog tapes was done by Paul Diffley of Hotaches. Thanks Paul, you saved me a lot of work!
Lastly, to Maxine Willett and the Mountain Heritage Trust. Thank you for your support and confidence in the project. I look forward to doing more in the future with you!