Our History

The following account was provided by Mike Ainscough and Alan Southworth on how Bolton Mountain Rescue Team came about:

“It all started with a few friends who, with a shared interest in caving & fell walking had an interest in rescue services. Back in the mid-1960s teams were less formal regarding membership and hence we had a loose association with the Settle/Ingleton Cave Rescue team. This led to also a similar association with South Ribble MRT and then regular members of Rossendale Fell Rescue Team.

In 1967 plans were being made for designating the Rivington/Anglezarke area as “The West Pennine Moors” and to develop access for informal recreation. We reasoned that with an upsurge in use there would be a need for a rescue team in the Bolton area, and to form one would save us the journey to Haslingden for weekly team meets.

A few likely recruits were sounded out and it seemed the idea could be viable so the three of us, Mike Hope-Ainscough, Glen Atkinson and Mike Marshall had an article outlining the proposal printed in the Bolton Evening News, convening a meeting at the Bob’s Smithy Inn. Memory places this sometime late summer 1968, late July or August.

It was quite well attended. The decision was made to form a team with Mike as Team Controller. I was to act as Secretary and Mike Marshall as Training Officer. We continued to meet weeknights and most weekends at Bob’s Smithy for a few months.

Recruits at the first couple of meetings included Alan & Josie Southworth, the two Gibson brothers, Brian Almond, Ian Bain and Peter Noblet and others I cannot remember the names of. Several ladies joined, Margaret Huckings and Lynn Thompson among others. I decimated the Worsley Venture Scout units by recruiting John Entwistle, Alan James, Howard Hill, Ian Aldred, and also Geoff Seddon, Geof Sharp and others.

Within a few months, we managed to obtain use of the attic of the Bolton Recreation Club in Back Kensington Place. We painted walls, sanded floors and eventually made equipment lockers. It proved adequate and homely.

Equipment was a priority and funds had to be raised. Charity nights at the Cromwellian Club, Bark Street were popular. An issue of “Non Active” Membership Cards at £1 and Patron cards at £2 brought in a fair amount. Most was raised by the collection and sale of waste paper, and a friendly landlord of a pub on Bury Road lent us his barn as a store.

By 1969 the team was wealthy enough to purchase a Thomas stretcher and casualty bag, I had a day off work to collect it from the maker. Ropes, slings and ironware completed our basics. To promote a team “image” the recently formed Karrimor Company made us overbreeches in double thickness navy blue waterproof material, elasticated so as to be able to be put on over boots and gaiters. Industrial waterproof jackets with hoods in fluorescent orange completed the outfit, each buying our own from the team’s stock.

A generous member supplied a set of Pye Bantam S/W radio sets which with a base aerial gave good communications on exercises and with other teams on call outs. Transport was by means of personal vehicles. My ford van, another’s Bedford dormobile type van, its nickname irreverently daubed on the back doors. Mike Marshall obtained an ex WD 3 ton Morris truck. It was great but his employers, kicked off at him keeping it at his tied cottage so it had to go. A serious attempt was made to flatter the Ford Motor Co. that their “rugged” Transit van was man enough to transport a Mountain Rescue Team, and would they give us one? Alas, a strike halted production so they could not spare one.

Training was held one week night at base or moor and at least one weekend covering sweep search and quarry ropework techniques. Many were held at a base in Longsleddale which Jim McVeigh of South Ribble and the Lancashire Mountain Accident Panel used as a base. Snow, crag, and scree techniques were learned here. Apart from giving safety cover to organised events on our West Pennine area we were used as back up to local teams in the Lakes, Derbyshire and occasionally Wales. In January 1970 a dozen or so members went to Torridon for a week’s Highland snow & ice climbing, four first winter ascents were logged on Meol Gorm, near Applecross.

Getting ever more professional, we took training courses in first aid at Preston Royal Infirmary, aircraft with RAF Stafford and mutual training with Bolton Fire brigade. Back then, local events were pre-planned but call outs usually came via the then Lancashire Constabulary based at Castle Street Police Station, our muster point for calls initiated to Mike Ainscough and filtered down to members.

Fortune shone on the team when in 1971 premises at New Overdale were offered. These were ideal: a training space, ground floor, and a GARAGE.

These early years of make do, learning on the job, fun, friendship and by hard work laid the foundation of fifty years of service.