UKC

Arthur Dolphin (1925-1953) metallurgist and climber

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Hi, wondering if anyone has this out-of-print book: 

Memories of Dolphin: The life of a climber remembered by Tom Greenwood

https://www.hebdenbridge.co.uk/news/2010/12.html

.. and knows if it discusses Dolphin's engineering.

I am especially curious to find out if he developed any climbing equipment.

Thanks in advance!  

(for my climbing research work at bigwallgear.com)

John Middendorf

 Roberttaylor 02 Mar 2022
In reply to Deuce4:

There's a poster on here who sells books in aid of, I think, Community Action Nepal. I remember her having that book in a list of books for sale recently; if it has gone it might be worth dropping her a line, as she often has rare and unusual climbing books available. 

 Offwidth 02 Mar 2022
In reply to Roberttaylor:

Linda Orritt selling books for Community Action Nepal

https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=743917&v=1#x9596233

I hadn't realised that second hand prices for the paperback with DVD had gone so high (the only ones I could find after a quick search are over £50). It wasn't very clear to me if it was available or not on Kindle.

Post edited at 06:14
 Mick Ward 02 Mar 2022
In reply to Deuce4:

I don't know about Arthur Dolphin but a guy called Trevor Peck was an active new router in the 1950s/60s. He ran a large engineering company and used his engineering expertise to develop climbing equipment. 

There was Denny Moorhouse who founded DMM. And there must be many others. As someone who struggles to change the proverbial lightbulb, I've always been in awe of British (especially English) engineering expertise. Although I'm the very last person qualified to judge, it seems truly world-class. 

There must have been a whole host of British climbers cum engineers, quietly working away in their garden sheds. An unwritten history here, methinks. 

Incidentally Arthur Dolphin did the FAs of some beautiful routes in Yorkshire.

Mick 

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In reply to Deuce4:

I have a copy of the book.

I've just skimmed through it again, but couldn't see any reference to ARD having made any of his own climbing gear.

... I'll take another more leisurely look, and see if I missed any mention.

 McHeath 02 Mar 2022
In reply to Mick Ward:

Now why the hell should you get a dislike for that?!

There's also Hamish Macinnes of course, not a professional engineer but the son of one, with a bent for the technical and a very practically thinking and inventive mind. He developed the first all metal climbing axes and went on to design the famous Terrordactyl, which was top of the range for years; also the Macinnes Stretcher for mountain rescue, the first folding one of its kind, which became standard equipment worldwide. 

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 Offwidth 02 Mar 2022
In reply to McHeath:

The BMC and UKC have a few nice historical summaries buried away...a couple of examples: 

https://www.thebmc.co.uk/the-legacy-of-peter-hutchinson-founder-of-mountain-equipment-and-phd

https://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/brands/troll/

Mountain Heritage Trust has a lot of old gear and information on that. So it's always worth contacting them.

https://www.mountain-heritage.org/

Then there is the book by Mike Parsons and Mary Rose on the 'lost' history of clothing innovation for some of the early Everest expeditions.

https://www.abebooks.co.uk/first-edition/Invisible-Everest-Innovation-Gear-Makers-Mike/30474977936/bd

It's really needed someone to write a book about the hardware side for a long time, so I wish John luck.

changing the subject, I know I'm a broken record on this but dislikes here are almost meaningless and the sooner the site dumps them the better... if you want crazier levels just look at what wintertree got on his potassium chloride 'prepper' pub thread. Unless of course he is just an evil genius who did all that amazing covid work just to lure us in.

Post edited at 10:06
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 Rick Graham 02 Mar 2022
In reply to Deuce4:

Have you looked at karabin climbing museum ? It used to be called Nut Story IIRC.

In reply to Mick Ward:

I'm pretty sure I recall a programme on the telly that included details of a piece of home made metalwork that Peter Harding fashioned specifically for the FA of Prom Traverse

In reply to Mick Ward:

Arthur Dolphin also cleanly top roped Wall Of Horrors a decade before it's first ascent which was pretty astounding

Edit for spelling

Post edited at 10:20
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 Mick Ward 02 Mar 2022
In reply to McHeath:

I get one or two dislikes for practically everything. Presumably I've upset someone, somewhere along the way. Would obviously be better if they'd just get in touch and sort it out. I'm more than happy to say I'm sorry. 

Hamish MacInnes is a superb example of the engineering blend of creative and practical. What a mind! And what a difference he made to the climbing world. 

Mick 

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 Mick Ward 02 Mar 2022
In reply to Sam Beaton:

Great to see the examples posted about. And of course, Harding was a technical bod as well. 

Climbing engineers coming out of the woodwork (or should that be metalwork? Shows my ignorance!) Anyway, good on 'em.

Agree, have always thought that Dolphin's top-rope of Wall of Horrors was amazing for his time. Apparently he meant to lead it - but sadly fate intervened. 

There's a great - but poignant - bit in Harold Drasdo's book 'The Ordinary Route' about the shock of learning about Dolphin's death. He was such an inspirational figure to Harold and his mates. I always have a sense of him (and others) at Almscliff. 

Mick 

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In reply to Deuce4:

Nope; I've looked again but still can't see any references to him making his own kit.

There's a contribution from Harold Drasdo referring to ARD's equipment, but that's about it:

As with everyone else, he used Italian hemp until nylon appeared and he climbed in rubbers. I don't recall him in PA's which I didn't see in England until 1954 or '55. He used slings liberally in the modern fashion. I remember him having three of us hang from the first piece of nylon (No. 1) I ever saw in order to show how strong it was; and I remember him producing a friction karabiner designed by Ken Tarbuck about 1952 - a type I've not seen since. He sometimes wore (on gritstone) a very heavy jacket, rather like a combination between a Parka and a paratroop jumping jacket. I top roped a route at Ilkley later called Short-Circuit and led by Peter Tuke; A asked about it a few days after I did it and when I showed it to him he did it very rapidly on a rope wearing this jacket and a rather clumsy looking pair of boots - there was nothing so elegant and efficient as the Terray-type boots available here at the time. On hard Lakeland routes in wet conditions he climbed, as everyone did, in socks over rubbers. He probably first used Vibrams about 1950 or '51.

His climbing covered a period in which there was a considerable increase in numbers and a development in the ability of regular climbers. However, in the two years or so before his death, I doubt whether there were more than five or six of us from Bradford and Leeds who climbed in the VS standard more or less every weekend in the Lakes. And I could probably count on both hands the regular weekenders in the Lakes who were climbing at that standard - certainly not more than twenty climbers, I'd think. Several Welsh visitors were of course climbing difficult routes when they came up and there must have been a larger number of climbers in Wales who hadn't yet made themselves known in the Lakes. In addition there were A's contemporaries - people like Des Birch and Joe Griffin - who nevertheless climbed difficult routes even perhaps by today's standards.......

 ThunderCat 02 Mar 2022
In reply to Mick Ward:

> I get one or two dislikes for practically everything. Presumably I've upset someone, somewhere along the way. Would obviously be better if they'd just get in touch and sort it out. I'm more than happy to say I'm sorry. 

I also have attracted a phantom disliker Mick.  I wouldn't let it bother you (and I don't think it does).

I could post about the time I donated both my kidneys to homeless orphans, and I'd still get at least one dislike.

I put it down to some sort of sexual frustration / tension

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In reply to Mick Ward:

For another take on the expertise of British climbing engineers, there's Dennis Gray's account in one of his books of the miserable failure of their attempts to make homemade pegs.

jcm

 james mann 02 Mar 2022
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

Think this might be in Drasdo’s The Ordinary Route not Dennis Gray but could be wrong. 
 

james

In reply to james mann:

A story about casting pegs in one of Dennis’s books. Not surprisingly they snapped when loaded.

 Duncan Bourne 02 Mar 2022
In reply to Deuce4:

Arthur also featured in one of Johnny Dawes videos

 mrphilipoldham 02 Mar 2022
In reply to ThunderCat:

Probably because you meet strange men off the internet in Asda car parks, you wrong'un!

There is some really good stuff here, thank you all for responding.

I am still in the 1930s in my ongoing research, but when I get to 50s the lead of the British into the 70s is very important to my story, leading up to routes like the Nameless ascent on Trango in 1976, and I really appreciate the help from knowledgable climbers.

Trevor Peck is another climber I hope to find out more about, as well as early stuff from Clog and DMM.  All my earliest gear seems like it was from UK, usually bought second hand, eventually supplemented with Chouinard stuff as it became more available in the 1970s.

I will post again soon here with timeline questions.  Thanks!!!

 ThunderCat 03 Mar 2022
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

> Probably because you meet strange men off the internet in Asda car parks, you wrong'un!

Not just asda carparks either. 😂

 Phil Kelly 03 Mar 2022
In reply to Mick Ward:

> Trevor Peck was an active new router in the 1950s/60s. He ran a large engineering company and used his engineering expertise to develop climbing equipment. 

HTH Peck Ltd. Peck Stockings!

 Mick Ward 03 Mar 2022
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

Oh you meanie!

I remember a lovely little hex that a guy called Tom Woulfe gave me in Ireland. He'd machined it in University College Dublin where he worked. Even I could see it was a work of art. Tom was your original mad inventor, bearded, bespectacled, bitterly acerbic. He belayed me on my first real lead, a 500 foot V Diff in the Mournes. I was all bloody day on it! For once, Tom was the soul of gentleness, sympathetically encouraging my (generally protectionless) progress. 

The things you remember... What happened to that lovely little hex? And Tom, bless him??

Mick

 Mick Ward 03 Mar 2022
In reply to Phil Kelly:

Haven't you got a photo of Peck's super-duper van parked below Millstone, Phil? Odd to think of him as the original van dweller, albeit in some style! 

Mick 

 Phil Kelly 03 Mar 2022
In reply to Mick Ward:

I do have some photos of the van (it’s actually the second or third iteration according to Barrie) and also what looks like a Daimler parked under the crag.

Not my photos though.

 stewart murray 03 Mar 2022
In reply to Deuce4:

Nothing specific to Arthur Dolphin but this link has information about early versions of nuts.

https://www.needlesports.com/Information/Features/Nuts-Museum

I don't think that there were any significant advances in protection during the late 40s - early 50s when Dolphin was climbing, though jamming pebbles in cracks and threading them might have come in around this time.

Andy Gamisou 04 Mar 2022
In reply to ThunderCat:

> I could post about the time I donated both my kidneys to homeless orphans, and I'd still get at least one dislike.

How would they cook them if they're homeless, or are you expecting them to eat them raw?  Also is the NHS picking up your dialysis for life tab?

> I put it down to some sort of sexual frustration / tension

Well, there's no accounting for tastes on this area.

 Co1in H 04 Mar 2022
In reply to McHeath:

Probably because the reply is off subject and moves from a specific query about Dolphin to gear innovaters of the 50s/60s, which wasn't asked for. Later posters expand on this and get dislikes as well. Maybe.

 ThunderCat 04 Mar 2022
In reply to Andy Gamisou:

> How would they cook them if they're homeless, or are you expecting them to eat them raw? 

Raw, fava beans and a nice chianti, obviously.

In reply to Roberttaylor:

Yes I do. Thank you very much for the reference. 


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