The ascent of Napes Needle in 1886 by Haskett Smith is reckoned by many to mark the foundation of the sport of rock climbing. In 1936, Haskett Smith (aged 74) was taken up the Needle for a 50th anniversary ascent by Theo Chorley and Gustave Robert Speaker whilst a crowd of 300 watched from vantage points. Speaker commissioned Una Cameron to produce an artistic rendering of the Needle to be cast in bronze. The first casting of this statuette was presented to Haskett Smith by the FRCC in 1937. A second cast was made in 1938 which is still owned by the FRCC. In 1946 Haskett Smith died and the bronze disappeared. Despite much searching the statue remained lost until 1979 when a painter and decorator was pricing a job for a Mrs Wright of Purley. He noticed the bronze propping open the garage door and guessed it had something to do with climbing. He mentioned that his daughter was a climber and he was begged to "take the ugly thing away as it was on it's way to the tip" and was also told that Mrs Wright's late husband had been left it by Haskett Smith. Many years later, his daughter rediscovered it in her attic and sold it to Stephen Reid.
Despite the success of the thread in locating two living relatives, Stephen hasn't yet been able to make the connection between Haskett Smith and Wright and complete the story but maybe there is more to follow.
Thanks to Stephen Reid for the historical details.
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