How the “Happy Wanderers” came into being
Five lads were exploring around Castleton in Derbyshire. We bumped into each other once or twice and formed a lasting friendship. We visited Peak Cavern, Winnats Pass, Giants Hole and Peveril Castle. There was Malcolm (Tiger) Culshaw from Southport, Pete Matley from Salford, Frank Shuttleworth (Bazz of Bolton) and Philip Wallace from Bolton and myself from Barrow. It was summer 1955. We decided to meet up again the following Easter at Ingleton.
So in 1956, after exploring a few caves around Ingleton and Clapham, we decided to form ourselves into a proper group. It was Aug/Sept 1956 we held a meeting in the Wheatsheaf Hotel, Ingleton. My sister Jennifer and I attended this meeting and the other four friends. What should we call ourselves? We liked wandering around, three of our members came from around Bolton and followed Bolton Wanderers F.C., the German folksong was doing the rounds “The Happy Wanderer”. So there we had our name “The Happy Wanderers”. Pete Matley was our president.
The first place we stayed was in Ned Coultherd’s barn opposite the New Inn, Clapham and sometimes under the viaduct at Ingleton! Then Jack Holland, landlord of the New Inn, let us stay in the old cottage behind the pub, which is now the car park. Now, a few others were coming up to join us – Johnnie Seaton, Ged Dodd, Keith Robinson, Jack Pearce, Ian & Hughie Gilmour, Jeff Fitters, Alan Edmonds and others.
We used this cottage until the end of 1957. In 1958 we occasionally stayed in the building that is now the CRO headquarters in Clapham. We also sometimes stayed in the old shippon adjoining Ned’s barn, home to a group of cavers from Manchester. Next, we moved to the Flying Horseshoes at Clapham Station and shared Kendal Caving Club’s cottage. We then moved to the Craven Heifer, Ingleton. The licensees then, Mary and Tom Coates, let us stay in the outbuilding at the back. That would be the end of ’58, ’59, up to 1960. In the early 60s we had a converted shippon behind the Marton Arms at Ingleton, when Les Waite was landlord. We had that until about 1966. Now, our ‘hostels’ were being needed by the owners for development.
The next move was to Braida Garth in Kingsdale, where Jim Batty was the farmer. We had a 12ft x 24ft wooden chicken shed, which we did out with bunks, sink and outside toilet. We were there up to nearly 1980.
These are my memories of the early days of the ‘Happy Wanderers’, and I am glad it is still going strong.
The Happy Wanderers in the 1950s
The recent article by Mike Myers has stirred the memory of Bob Gillibrand who is a long time friend and associate of the Happy Wanderers. Bob has put together a short memoir of a few months during the mid-fifties that he spent with the founder members who are mentioned in Mike’s article.
I spent a few months with them about 1956? We would meet up in Ingleton on a Saturday night in the Wheatsheaf Hotel or the Institute. Later in the evening we would hitch a lift to Clapham and walk up to Ingleborough cave and sleep in the entrance. Sunday morning we would give Arnold Brown our shilling and be in the cave all day.
Arnold was great, he was only anxious once when we had constructed a wooden scaling ladder, all he asked that we take great care carrying it past the formations in the show cave. Happy days!
Malcolm (Tiger) Culshaw wore shorts winter and summer; in Ingleton he was always referred to as knobbly knees. I always thought that he lived in Birkenhead, but he definitely worked on the Liverpool dock Tugs. Frank Shuttleworth was an apprentice butcher in Bolton and Phil Wallace was an apprentice electrician also in Bolton. Pete Matley from Salford had in the past, had an argument with a plate glass window and had suffered a damaged hand.
Malcolm obtained lots of wire rope and Phil acquired some steel conduit to use as rungs, with these they made a couple of rope ladders. The end of the each rung was squashed onto the cable and a pin passed through the wire. This method of construction caused the end of the rungs to be flared and it was lethal to the thighs when climbing the ladders. The eyelets on the wire rope were made with a piece of small bore copper tube crushed three ways. It held, but looking back it probably just coped with the load.
I lost touch with them when I had to work on a job at Jute Industries in Dundee for eight months. I think the first time I saw Mike Myers was either during that year, or the year after at a joint Red Rose, Northern Speleological Group meet at Lost John’s.