In 2018 we were thrilled to acquire a small collection containing some seriously important British rock climbing history.
Nat Allen was an active climber in the mid to late 20th century who put up many new rock climbing routes, was a founder member of the Alpine Climbing Group and the Rock and Ice Club, volunteered for many years on the guidebooks committee, and was known for his enthusiasm and generosity as a climbing partner and friend.
The Nat Allen Collection at the Mountain Heritage Trust includes photographs and slides taken by Nat Allen as well as a fascinating scrapbook with an amazing surprise.
Among the photographs are many of legendary British climber Joe Brown:
There are also some great shots of Don Whillans, including this one with Chris Bonington:
Along with photos and slides there is also a scrapbook:
Along with the usual press cuttings from newspapers and magazines relating to climbs and climbers that were important to Nat, one end of the book features a unique record of one of Britain's most iconic groups of climbers - the handwritten minutes of the formal meetings of the Rock and Ice Club. The Rock and Ice Club was a group of Manchester climbers who came together in September 1951 and became known for their focus on climbing to a high standard. Its membership included some of the most formidable climbers of the day - Don Whillans, Joe Brown and Nat Allen among them.
Business at the first AGM in 1952, held at the Little John Inn in Hathersage, focused on coaches for transporting members to meets, the acquisition of a club hut and whether women should be allowed in it (after heated debate it was decided that they shouldn't), late payment of subs, reduced rates for anyone serving in the Armed Forces, increasing membership numbers, the organisation of the club's first dinner at the Pen-Y-Gwyrd Hotel in Snowdonia, and a joint meet with the Cromlech Club.
The Nat Allen Collection was an unusual acquisition for the Trust in that it was a purchase from a dealer. We don't ordinarily have a budget for acquisitions, but fortunately, after Jeff Ford (one of our former Trustees) spotted the collection for sale, we were awarded a grant of £300 from the Friends of the National Libraries to ensure the preservation of this nationally important collection.
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