Tuesday, 17 February 2015

The Scafell tragedy of 1903 Broadrick, Jupp, Garrett, and Ridsdale.

Like myself, walkers of the Lakeland fells begin out of a desire for fresh air, peace from the routine and pressures of work, pure exercise and not least, to test oneself in the face of nature. It is not really a sense of the history of a place or area that initially drives you to walk the fells or climb the rock faces, yet you cannot do so without beginning to gain some knowledge of the events that shaped the landscape and the people who worked the land, or enjoyed their own quest for adventure. Some events are known only to local people and a select few, yet others are known by a much broader audience.
One such event was the tragedy of 21 September 1903 when four ground breaking climbers, R. W. Broadrick, H. L. Jupp, A. E. W. Garrett and S. Ridsdale, set out to climb the rock faces of Scafell which tragically ended in the death of all four climbers. It is not my intention to enter into any great detail the reasons why this came about, many other sites go into this and I am a walker not a climber. 
The brief circumstances are they met another party of climbers near Lord's Rake and departed from them at around 2.30pm, each party doing separate climbs. The other party returned back along the rake at around 5.40pm and found all four climbers roped together at the foot of the rock-face, Broadrick, Jupp and Garrett were already dead. Ridsdale, although seriously injured was imploring the others to look after his colleagues, unaware they were dead. One of the other parties raced for help and on returning at around 8.30pm they managed to get Ridsdale down to the valley by 03.30am. They reached the valley floor and Ridsdale was still alive, yet by the time they got to the Wasdale Hotel he had passed away. That is a time span of nearly 10 hours between knowledge of the incident to recovery of the injured party and that is only to the valley floor.
 From my experience, in today's modern age, from discovery a winch helicopter would be on the scene within 45 minutes and the injured would be at Hensingham Hospital (Whitehaven) within 10 minutes of scene evacuation, or 15 minutes to Carlisle, or 40 minutes to Newcastle for more specialist accident treatment. How times change
The other bodies were recovered the following day and the inquest held on 23 September (a modern inquest would be at least one year, if not approaching two).


Wasdale Head with Great Gable at it's head, St. Olaf's church in the foreground trees.


Many walkers search out the cross while at the base of Lord's Rake, knowing of this iconic monument, mentioned in many reports on the internet and books. There are also references and images of the Grave within St Olaf's Church near the valley head.

St Olaf's Church, Wasdale Head (note the shadow of the entrance gate off the lane).

Above is the church with the first grave being the one containing three of the climbers who fell. It was a tradition to be buried where one fell, not unlike The Alps, Himalayas or war graves.

The grave


Inscription
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
 HENRY L. JUPP SECOND SON OF
CHARLES JUPP OF CROYDON
AGED 29
ALSO OF ALGERNON E. W. GARRETT
ONLY SON OF THE LATE
COMMANDER E. GARRETT R. N.
(OF DEVONSHIRE) AGED 27
ALSO OF STANLEY RIDSDALE
SECOND SON OF
ALFRED RIDSDALE OF KEW GARDENS
AGED 26.
WHO LOST THEIR LIVES ON SCAWFELL
SEPT. 21ST 1903.
"ONE MOMENT STOOD THEY AS THE ANGELS STAND
HIGH IN THE STAINLESS IMMINENCE OF AIR
THE NEXT THEY WERE NOT, TO THEIR
FATHERLAND TRANSLATED UNAWARE"

The rock face before the Lord's Rake ascent going to the right (difficult to make out but the cross is at the end of my dogs tail
The cross inscribed into the rock face
The carved initials to the right of the cross

Lord's Rake route is an inevitable and famous route onto this second highest fell in England. Many of those walkers are aware of the tragedy from literature on the internet or guide books bought on Lakeland walking routes. Those that are inevitably look for the cross at the base of the rake, carved into the rock face in tribute to the four fallen climbers who lost their lives on that fateful day.

Lord's Rake
I decided to post this account as one part of the event is largely unknown. As stated above, the incident, memorial cross at the base of Lord's Rake and the grave in Wasdale are all well known, to greater or lesser degrees. The one article missing from the story is that of Broadrick. He was an individual from Windermere and the family had his body returned for burial there. The only information I can find referring to his burial site is a local newspaper recognising the centenary in 2003, yet any commemoration appears to have only been held at Wasdale.


St Mary's church, Windermere.


Richard W. Broadrick's Grave

The grave inscription

The Broadrick family graves, R. W. Broadrick is the second right.

It seemed an appropriate tribute to have at least one site on the internet where all four climbers can be commemorated next to each other, albeit in photographs on an internet page. They died together, let them at least (albeit visually) Rest In Peace together, finally.





















2 comments:

  1. Thank you for your description and pictures. My great uncle James Haarbleicher died on 22nd May 1893 following an accident on the mountains at Wasdale head. He got separated from his sister in the fog and fell to his death. Your blogg gives an understanding of what may have happened.

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    1. I havew a news article on your Great uncle's death if it helps you?

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