We recently came upon some delightful archive footage of people climbing at Stanage in 1946, produced by William Gordon Gregory. Featuring hemp ropes, plimsolls, Tricounis and Clinkers, this silent film shows post-war climbing in the Peak District to be vastly different to our modern-day mix of dynamic ropes, sticky rubber and cams...
The film follows a pair of walkers, who decide to take up the sport after watching people climbing at Stanage Edge in awe. They begin learning on the gritstone outcrops and venture to Snowdonia at the end of the film.
UKC got in touch with William Gregory's son - renowned climber Dave Gregory - to find out more about the film and his father. He told us:
"My father was a teacher in Sheffield who started a photography business 'Burncross Equipment' to bring in more income to support our family. He wasn't a climber himself, but an encounter with climber Bob Samson - who came looking for work - gave him the the idea of filming some climbing in the Peak."
When asked if his father's film had inspired him to take up climbing, Dave told UKC:
"Not at all, I was only young, about 11 or 12. It hadn't entered my mind to start climbing, even after seeing the film. I got into it a bit later through a friend from grammar school - Jim Proctor - who just happened to meet Bernard Steele of the Peak Climbing Club."
Dave went on to become a climbing Graduate Training Officer, taking schoolchildren from Sheffield out climbing, and a Secretary with the British Mountaineering Council. Dave has also written climbing guidebooks as well as a book of climbing short stories, A Necklace of Slings - a mix of fact and fiction from his climbing life.
Regarding his father's filmmaking, Dave told UKC:
"He scared me stiff! He once was making a film about open-cast coal mining, where they use a long jib and a monster cable to rip up the surface soil. He climbed up to the end of this huge thing to film!"
William Gordon Gregory may not have been a climber in the conventional sense, but it seems he wasn't afraid of heights...
>>>The film can be watched on the Yorkshire Film Archive website here.