Call for donations to our handling collection

As part of our on-going Heritage Lottery Funded Man and Mountain project, we are engaging children in the history of mountaineering and looking to develop a handling collection that can be used by schools for educational purposes.

There has been huge shift since the 1950s from the use of wool, silk and cotton; to nylon, plastic and ‘technical’ fabrics. Whilst we can show children pictures of items in the archive, or those on display in the Keswick Museum, it is much more interesting and engaging if they can examine physical clothing and objects. Most our current items in the archive have been given on the understanding that they will be preserved, so cannot be used for public handling. We do have a very limited miscellaneous handling collection, but are looking for a range of items that are listed below.

Do you have, hidden in a cupboard or at the back of the garage, any of these items and could you donate some to our educational program? If so please get in contact with our Learning and Engagement Officer –

Early/ Pre 1960:

  • Wool walking/ climbing breeches
  • Knee length knitted wool socks and short socks
  • Wool flannel shirt, cotton shirt
  • Wool jacket (eg: Norfolk or ex-military)
  • Wool knitted jumper
  • Cotton/ wool/ silk underwear – long johns, vest etc
  • Nailed boots (probably from earlier time)
  • Cotton windproof jacket /smock (eg: Ventile)
  • Canvas Gaiters
  • Hawser laid rope, hemp or nylon
  • Canvas knapsack – external or no frame
  • Dachstein wool mitts


  • Nylon walking breeches or trousers
  • Loop stitch socks
  • Early Helly Hansen or similar ‘fur’ fleece jumper
  • Early HH thermal top
  • Plastic winter boots
  • Nylon gaiters
  • Wool balaclava
  • HH fleece/nylon mitts
  • Early waterproof nylon jacket and trousers
  • Large rucksack with rectangular external frame

Other items

  • Down high altitude suit
  • Examples of old camping stoves (eg: Primus, old gas stove, solid block stove, tilly lamp)
  • Windshield and billy cans, metal waterbottle, enamel cup
  • An old canvas mountain tent
  • Old Climbing helmet

Equally, any more contemporary items would be very welcome, but please contact our Learning and Engagement Officer before sending – debbie@mountain-heritage.orgThis could be done anonymously, or could have your name attached to show that it had been donated. All donations will be recorded and catalogued on our system. We would welcome as well any personal history or anecdote connected with the item which would make the item feel more real and personal. Gear that is worn and well used is ideal!

Mountain Heritage Trust has some limited funds for learning resources, so we can reimburse postage, or you could drop them at our office in Threlkeld or at the Keswick Museum.

We would like to gather these items together before the start of the Autumn term, so would be most grateful to receive them as soon as possible. All items will be handled in supervised groups for educational purposes and will be checked before and after each session.

We appreciate your consideration and hope you can donate some items. They will really bring learning alive to help young people understand the rich history and heritage of mountaineering and inspire them to go adventuring themselves!

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