Alpine Club (UK)

Alpine Club (UK)

The Alpine Club was founded in London in 1857 and was probably the world's first mountaineering club. It is UK mountaineering's acknowledged 'senior club'.


On 22 December 1857 a group of British mountaineers met at Ashley's Hotel in London. All were active in the Alps and instrumental in the development of alpine mountaineering during the golden age of alpinism (1854–1865). It was at this meeting that the Alpine Club, under the chairmanship of E. S. Kennedy, was born. John Ball was the first president and Kennedy, the first vice-president, succeeded him as president of the club from 1860 to 1863. One hundred and fifty years later, the Alpine Club continues, and its members remain extremely active in the Alps and the Greater Ranges, as well as in mountain arts, literature and science.

For many years it had the characteristics of a London-based Gentlemen's club, including a certain imprecision in the qualification for membership (said to have been 'A reasonable number of respectable peaks').

By the mid 20th century however, the club had evolved into the UK's senior mountaineering club with a clear qualification for membership, for both men and women, and an 'aspirant' grade for those working towards full membership.

Though the club organises some UK-based meets, its primary focus has always tended towards mountaineering overseas, and it is associated more with exploratory mountaineering than with purely technical climbing (the early club was once dismissed as doing very little climbing but 'a lot of walking steeply uphill'). These higher technical standards were often to be found in offshoots such as the 'Alpine Climbing Group' (ACG), founded in 1952.

The club has produced a suite of guidebooks which cover some of the more popular Alpine mountaineering regions. It also holds extensive book and photo libraries as well as an archive of historical artifacts which are regularly loaned out to exhibitions. The club's history has recently been documented by George Band in his book "Summit: 150 Years of the Alpine Club", and its artists in "The Artists of the Alpine Club" by Peter Mallalieu. Its members' activities are recounted annually in the club's publication the "Alpine Journal".


*1857–1860: John Ball
*1860–1863: E. S. Kennedy
*1863–1865: Alfred Wills
*1865–1868: Leslie Stephen
*1868–1871: William Mathews
*1871–1874: William Longman
*1875–1877: Thomas Woodbine Hinchliff
*1881–1883: Thomas George Bonney
*1884–1886: Florence Crauford Grove
*1886–1890: Clinton Thomas Dent
*1890–1893: Horace Walker
*1893–1896: Douglas Freshfield
*1896–1899: Charles Pilkington
*1899–1902: Dr James Brice (later Viscount Bryce)
*1902–1904: Sir Martin Conway (later Lord Conway of Allington)
*1904–1906: George Forrest Browne, Bishop of Bristol
*1908–1911: Hermann Wooley
*1911–1914: W. E. Davison
*1917–1919: John Percy Farrar
*1920–1923: J. Norman Collie
*1923–1926: Charles Granville Bruce
*1926–1929: Sir George Henry Morse
*1929–1932: Claude Wilson
*1932–1934: Sir John Withers MP
*1935–1938: Edward Lisle Strutt
*1938–1940: Sir Claud Schuster GCB (later Lord Schuster)
*1941–1943: Geoffrey Winthrop Young
*1944–1947: Leo Amery
*1947–1949: Tom George Longstaff
*1950–1953: Claude Aurelius Elliott
*1953–1956: Edwin Savary Herbert
*1956–1959: Sir John Hunt (later Lord Hunt)
*1959–1962: George Finch
*1962–1965: Howard Somervell
*1965-1968: Eric Shipton
*1968–1971: Charles Evans
*1971–1974: A. D. M. Cox
*1974–1977: Jack Longland
*1977–1980: Peter Lloyd
*1980–1983: J. H. Emlyn-Jones
*1983-1986: R. R. E. Chorley
*1986: A. K. Rawlinson (died in office)
*1986–1987: Nea Evans
*1987–1990: George Band
*1990–1993: H. R. A. Streather
*1993–1996: Mike Westmacott
*1996–1999: Sir Chris Bonington
*1999–2001: Doug Scott
*2002–2004: Alan Blackshaw
*2005–2007: Stephen VenablesCurrently Paul Braithwaite


The current headquarters of the Alpine Club are at 55 Charlotte Road, on the edge of the City of London. The club acquired the freehold of this five-storey Victorian warehouse in 1991, Date accessed: 09 January 2008. and the club's lecture room, bunkhouse, library and archives are in the building.

The club's first premises were at 8 St Martin's Place, Trafalgar Square, where it rented rooms in 1858. Date accessed: 09 January 2008. In 1895 the club moved to 23 Savile Row, and from 1937 to 1990 the club was based at 74 South Audley Street in Mayfair, London (in 1936–1937 the surveying firm of Pilditch, Chadwick and Company had converted the ground floor of the building into suitable premises for the club). 'South Audley Street: West Side', Survey of London: volume 40: The Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair, Part 2 (The Buildings) (1980), pp. 303-315. Date accessed: 09 January 2008. This survey claims the club moved to South Audley Street in 1939. The club library was at the back of the building, in what was once the picture gallery of Sir William Cuthbert Quilter. In 1990 the club sold its lease and – before moving to Charlotte Road –briefly shared quarters with the Ski Club of Great Britain at 118 Eaton Square.

ee also

*"Alpine Journal"
*Swiss Alpine Club
*Club alpin français
*Climbers' Club
*Fell & Rock Club
*The Rucksack Club
*Scottish Mountaineering Club
*British Mountaineering Council

External links

* [ The Alpine Club website]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.