It all started back in the late 1970s when Ian Lonsdale – then a chef at Smithills Coaching House near Bolton – started to get together a few Lancashire climbers for an annual get together and strictly tongue-in-cheek review of the past year's successes and failures.
Ian's formula was simple. Hire a room, sit everyone down, have an after dinner speaker, some silly awards, a disco, and dance/drink the night away.
At the very first dinner Ian introduced the famous 'awards'. Typically irreverent in tone, these awards became quite sought-after (not), and although a list of who received what was never kept, some of the highlights include:
The Golden Fall Award – to Jerry Peel for his top-to-bottom lob off Max in Wilton One.
The Overhead Cammer Award – awarded to Geoff Mann for using runners above his head on an early repeat of Vampire (probably the first Friends to be used in Wilton too).
The Blue Chipper Award – awarded to Hank Pasquill.
Bullshitter of the Year – awarded to Pete Grimshaw.
The Enigma – awarded to Mark Leach.
The Star Trek Award – to Ray Evans and Hank Pasquill for boldly going where no man had ever gone before
At the last dinner in 2001 we also awarded Ian himself with a special award, the Hard VS 5b. F£$%^*&g Desperate! award, to celebrate both Ian's support of the team and also to commemorate the many Lonsdale routes that were awarded the Hard VS 5b grade when E3 5c would have been closer to the mark.
In the early days the choice of speaker was easy. Although it was never officially mentioned, the speaker would usually be from Yorkshire. Pete Livesey and Ron Fawcett both took their turns, as did Dennis Gray, Keith Myhill, Ian Macnaught-Davies and even Don Whillans. Indeed the roll call of speakers over the years reads like a who's who of the 70's, 80's and 90's climbers' glitterati.
When we last held the annual dinner, back in 2001, we had the treat of Gary Gibson breaking the word on his drive and ambition, and also a bit of his naughtiness. Everyone I spoke to that evening said we couldn't let the 2001 dinner be the last ever, and that we should do it again, no matter what.
Well, it's been ten years now. We're all older and possibly (though unlikely) wiser, but we're not one's to let zimmer frames and failing eyesight cloud our ambitions. Indeed, a quick Facebook chat with Mick Lovatt (who still dines out on his nickname of 'the Perfect Man' 25+ years after it was first coined) last year and Smithills was booked once more for 4th November 2011.
But as anyone who has organised this sort of even knows that's the easy part! The work really started last month when it really was necessary to organise a speaker, and to let everyone know the event was actually back, for one night only.
The next job was to find a DJ. Hold on though. Doesn't Craig Smith do a bit of DJ'ing? Call Mick Ryan; get him to speak to Craig.
A week later and the deed is done, we have John Dunne lined up as the sacrificial Yorkshireman speaker and Craig Smith 'spinning the decks' for us. A perfect combination, and a great climax for the Black Pudding Team dinners, of which this will most definitely be the last.
The tickets for this year's dinner are limited to 124, of which over half have already been sold within a month, so if anyone out there thinks they should be at this year's dinner and wants a ticket then it's time to do something about it before it's too late. Contact me for further details.
Phil Kelly runs The Rock Archivist attempting to collect together a whole raft of historical resources, image and index them and then publish them online. So far a number of new route books from Pete's Eats, Stoney Middleton, The Outside, Rock 'n' Run, Brian Cropper, The Black Dog (Lancashire) and Eric's Café at Tremadog are all on line, together with some of the tapes from the late Giles Barker's series of audio interviews and an incredible tape of Rowland Edwards discussing early developments in the Wilton Quarries and the log books of the historic Cioch Club from their days at Stoney Middleton.
This archive will be of interest to those around at the time and younger climbers wanting to know the history of some of the routes that are still great challenges today and also as an indication of the humour, the rivalries, the controversy and the partnerships that existed and which mould the sport together.
If anyone has any resources that they think would benefit from being made available in this way, I'm sure Phil would love to hear from you!.
Cruise on over to The Rock Archivist.
You can contact Phil by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org