British and Irish Climbing guidebooks – The 2013 Supplement

Posted by Niall Grimes on 12/06/2014

Such is the way with recording history – as soon as you do it it’s out of date. Alan Moss’ recent, exhaustive catalogue, British and Irish Climbing Guidebooks 1894 to 2011 – A Collector’s Guide, was an exhaustive directory to the state of play of over a century of guidebooks. Since its recent publication, it will come as no surprise to hear that the light it shone on the subject has shown up some anomalies.

To address this Alan has now published a supplement to his original. In addition to listing over forty corrections and updates to the material in the original book it also details all forty newly discovered old guidebooks and all recently published guidebooks up to early May 2104.

This is a limited edition numbered and signed supplement (100 copies). The supplement has paper covers and was designed to fit neatly into the back of the original book. To obtain a copy, please contact Alan Moss directly. The supplement costs £5, including postage. All profits from this book will be donated to St Gemma Hospice Leeds, which looks after terminally ill children. You can still buy the original book from the BMC shop.

In other news, Alan is also in the final stages of creating a companion guide to Alpine guidebooks. Alpine and European Climbing Guidebooks 1863 – 2013 details all English language guidebooks to the Alps, other Mountain Regions of Europe, Ski Mountaineering and Via Ferrata guidebooks, together with Rock Climbing guidebooks to Europe. Again, please contact Alan for further information about this publication.
 


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Anonymous User
16/06/2014
It is good to see that Mossy is keeping our guidebook record up to date with his latest British Guidebooks supplement. Maintaining this record is a thankless job, but one which I feel is sorely needed.

Now that it is so easy to produce a selective guidebook with minimal effort and without even climbing the routes (just walk round with a camera and a definitive guidebook when the light is right), it is easy for climbers to fail to appreciate the importance of previous guidebooks and even single crag pamphlets. This is a great pity, because, these guidebooks represent the most comprehensive record of the history of the development of British rock climbing.

I know that there are many climbers who think that this database of past guidebooks is a somewhat esoteric document only of interest to guidebook collecting obsessives, but climbers should appreciate the vital role that our definitive guidebooks have played in the development of UK climbing. The dedicated and often unrecognised efforts by all those climbers who helped to check, clean and write up route descriptions in these guidebooks did much to popularise climbing in the 60s, 70s and 80s, in particular, by opening up crags and stimulating craggers to push the boundaries to climb. Walls can never substitute for real rock and anyway walls only started because guidebooks had done much to popularised climbing and identify lots more local possibilities.

When I started to climb, in my own local area of Lancashire the nearest crags where climbs were written up were Widdop (2hrs each way) and Laddow (even further), but Gray West's 'Peak Limestone', Tony Howard and the Rimmon's efforts to write up the Chew quarries, Mike Mitchell's 'Climbs on Yorkshire Limestone' and Ray Evans Wilton guides opened up lots more climbing on our doorstep.

Besides these guidebooks being useful to sustain interest in our smaller crags, comparing successive guides provides many interesting insights.

However, by providing a catalogue of our guidebooks, the book also shows how lax we have been in maintaining our historical records. So I would urge any climbers who have old guidebooks which are either not listed, or are incompletely listed (usually this means that there is no cover photo shown), to contact Mossy or the BMC to fill out the blanks. Furthermore, for those of us who are passionately interested in the history of British climbing and our definitive guidebooks or even interim pamphlets as crags were developed, it would be extremely valuable if the BMC could undertake a comprehensive scanning exercise to try to scan all British rock climbing guidebooks before a selected date, which would help to maintain the record and could even be released on CD.

Les Ainsworth
16/06/2014
Alan Moss has done a great job detailing the history of British & Irish Climbing Guidebooks. It's not only a historical record but a guidebook of guidebooks. Discover new places to climb throughout Britain & Ireland that you'd not previously heard of. They may be on your doorstep.
Anonymous User
17/06/2014
An extremely useful addition to the great work and a must have reference publication for climbers and collectors of these books. Like others I look forward to the European climbing bibliography which is to follow shortly. Steve, Fountain Books
Anonymous User
26/06/2014
I admit to having an interest in this guidebook record having helped with sub editing. I am pleased it was completed as we needed an update since Bridges & Neate books done many years previously were out of date and incomplete.
Sarah Whitehouse

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