Founded in 1968 by 3 Rossendale Fell Rescue Team members, who lived in the Bolton area, the Team has grown from its small beginnings to be one of the busiest and best equipped teams in the country.
The early years, as with many foundling organisations, was one of sheer hard work to raise minimal amounts of money for essential equipment which was initially transported both for exercise and incidents in privately owned vehicles.
The first vehicles owned by the Team were all old “second-hand” ones past their best before date, they were cherished and nursed by the dedicated membership. Much is owed to these early pioneers, most of whom have long left but two remain in the team – Alan “General” James, one of the original founder members, now a life Vice President, only stopped active service in early 1999 due to a job move to the London area. (Alan moved back up North in 2003 and promptly resumed his service in the team). Geoffrey H. Seddon, currently Deputy Team Leader, joined within a few months of the Team’s inauguration and has served as Team Leader (7 years) and Chairman.
The 1980’s saw consolidation of the Team with a gradual improvement in the quality and quantity of equipment and vehicles. During this decade we saw the implementation of structured training and the MRC casualty care course and certificate. By the late 80’s and early 90’s, training was based on a professional and formalized activity.
As a “fringe” Mountain Rescue Team based in an rural/urban area, the local moorlands generated few incidents. Even up until the early 90’s fewer than 10 incidents per year were the norm. In the 70’s and 80’s 2 or 3 call outs per year were common.
The combination of a large urban catchment area for membership and low incident rate meant a very high level of training was able to be undertaken. Morale was maintained by training weekends in the Lakes or North Wales with the added bonus of possible calls to assist local teams. At this time in the Team’s development, Stewart Hulse, the leader of Langdale Ambleside MRT at the time, and Tony Jones, then leader of Ogwen Valley MRT were especially supportive and encouraging.
The advent of the West Pennine Moors Recreation Area, coupled with the fruition of years of liaison meetings with the Lancashire and Greater Manchester Police Forces and the Lancashire and Greater Manchester Ambulance Services saw a dramatic rise in call out activity from 1994 onwards as the professional expertise and resources of the team were recognised on a wider basis. We can now expect upwards of 100 incidents attended by the team per year.
1999 also saw the team with its very first new vehicles – 2 Landrover 110″ County Station Wagons and a Landrover 110″ hardtop. The first two being first response vehicles and the hardtop van an Incident Support Unit. In Autumn 2003 the Team commissioned into service its fourth brand new Landrover, principally utilised as a personnel carrier.
In April 2011 the team replaced its 1999 purchased Land Rovers with three identical brand new Land Rover Defender Mountain Rescue Ambulance vehicles. As of June 2011 the team operates four Land Rover Mountain Rescue Ambulances, a Ford Transit Minibus (donated by GMP in early 2010), a 3.5m semi-rigid inflatable SAR Boat, a fully equipped catering trailer, and a control vehicle (the team maintains a cargo trailer which generally carries our two Aireshelta tents).
2003 was the year that we lost our much loved home at the New Overdale Youth Training Centre, as well as the vehicle storage at the Carnaud Metal Box (CMB) factory in Westhoughton.
The Overdale base consisted of a modest garage, just large enough to fit a Land Rover into it, with a roof space just large enough to hold a meeting in. But, it was home and it had been home for 32 years since 1971. Many of our Team members regarded it as their second home – Just ask the TL’s partner, Ann! The New Overdale site had been sold for property development, and so, sadly, ended the lease of the garage there.
The CMB factory had served as a vehicle storage facility for 3 of our vehicles for many years, and the security staff had put up with our comings and goings at all times of the day and night! Sadly, the factory was scheduled for closure and within the space of a few months, we were faced with not only the loss of our training base, but also with nowhere to store our 4 vehicles!
Fortunately, the reality of homelessness never struck. Thanks to our recently-established links with Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service, and the long-standing relationship with Greater Manchester Ambulance Service, we were offered 2 new homes. The first came from GMFRS, in the form of a two bay garage at Bolton Central Fire Station. The second offer, from GMAS, gave us not only a place to garage our 2 other vehicles, but also offered an excellent training/base prospect, which we duly constructed.
To accommodate our ever growing fleet of vehicles, GMFRS came to our aid again with garage space at Bolton North Fire Station.
Team Leaders of Bolton Mountain Rescue Team since it was founded in 1968:
|Michael Hope-Ainscough||Team Controller||1968-1969|
|Mike Marshall||Team Leader||1968 to early 1969*||6 months|
|Derek Mottershead||Team Leader||Early 1969 to 13/09/1973*||4 years|
|Geoff Seddon||Team Leader||13/09/1973 to 13/03/1981||7 years 6 months|
|Bob Hutchinson||Team Leader||13/03/1981 to 12/03/1983||2 years|
|Howard Hill||Team Leader||12/03/1983 to 11/03/1989||6 years|
|Garry Rhodes||Team Leader||11/03/1989 to 16/03/2016||27 years|
|Alistair Greenough||Team Leader||16/03/2016 to current|
*These exact dates are unknown – can any of our readership help?