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Sunday, 26 July 2015

Out of retirement

In my last post I mentioned "my orange tent".

The the Good Companions Major was bought in June 1960 when I was 19 yrs. old, so it is now 55 years old.

The cost was £13.17s.6d. plus £2.5s.0d. for external angle poles, and £3.11s.6d. for a sewn-in ground sheet, along with an Optimus Paraffin stove for £2.18s.6d

As an impecunious employee I had to resort to hire-purchase incurring charges of 8s.6d. and six monthly payments of £2.18s.0d.

Our motley crew of climbers would go off to The Lakes, or the Sheffield edges and other venues at weekends and mine was the biggest tent. In bad weather there would be half a dozen of us crammed in there.

Other memorable trips amongst many saw that cherished tent on Sky, Arran, Rum and various other Scottish locations, Wales, the Ring of Kerry, and a motoring trip through France to Spain and back through France to Amsterdam, and later used as a play-tent in the garden by son and daughter and their friends; it certainly had a lot of use.

I was interested to see how the old friend had fared after years of storage so it came on the Liverpool trip. I was surprised to find out how big, and heavy its packed size was, and also pleasantly reminded that it is possible to stand up in the middle. I felt as though I was sleeping on the floor of St. Paul's Cathedral.

The material is cotton and still holding out fairly well, but I don't think it would stand much of a storm.

Happy memories.

Click to enlarge to see deatals of printed documents.

Not very well pitched,. The flysheet is crooked and I had not squeezed the a-poles up tight enough, but it was only for one night and the weather was fair, and we wanted to be off to see the Gormley statues.
Details of cost from the multi-page hire-purchase agreement which was signed over a sixpenny stamp. All typed - no word processors in those days
Completion letter for hire-purchase agreement. The language is almost Victorian
(enlargement below)


AlanR said...

Gosh. I had the Good Companion senior in blue with angle poles. It was a very sturdy tent and one of only a handful of tents that stood up to a real wild storm in Wasdale.
Mine was Ventile.
Amazing that you still have yours and all the paperwork.

Sir Hugh said...

AlanR. - Ventile was good material. I'm not sure if it was an option at the time, but probably, and perhaps an extra prohibitive £1.10s.0d. putting it beyond my reach?

Sir Hugh said...

I've just noticed that the letter was signed pp by one one J. Lawrie - Robert Lawries were another quality supplier of their own manufacture boots and outdoor equipment and RL was quite an interesting character -

I wonder if the name is just coincidence?

AlanR said...

I think they were different.
You may find this link nostalgic. Scroll down it pasted the first couple of adverts.

Sir Hugh said...

AlanR - Some nostalgic names there. I just wondered if it might have been some relation of the Lawries, working for Blacks in a subordinate tole. It is a fairly unusual name with the coincidence of the same retail operation.

Alan Sloman said...

A brilliant post, Conrad!

My mate Bob Butler had "our" tent - a Good Companions 2 man tent with a single internal pole - we never needed a fly sheet - it did us quite a few adventures in the Lakes, the Pennine Way and the South and North Downs (which were closer to home)

I had the one pint primus stove and billies but then, when funds allowed (morning and evening paper rounds, plus church choir wedding fees) I bought an Arctic Guinea - with two 'A' poles, snow valances, proper wrap-over tied doors and flysheet for our winter escapades in Scotland and the northern Pennines. That was bloody heavy though - all up it was 21 lbs! But we could get three in it for summer and it was palatial for two in winter.

I still have the Primus stove (and the gold and red tin box it came in) and it still works perfectly.

John J said...

My Good Companion (with fly-sheet and 'A' pole) stood up well to high winds provided it was erected tail to the wind. I recall camping in the Mendips in the 1970s in a howling gale, the only tents that stayed up were my Good Companion and the Force 10s on the site.

The 'A' pole was a real deluxe option, I held on to those poles long after my Good Companion eventually fell apart and used them on a subsequent ridge tent. It dramatically transformed an otherwise ordinary shelter, improving stability and doing away with the pesky front vertical pole.

Happy memories, thanks Conrad.

Sir Hugh said...

Alan Sloman - We regarded the Arctic Guinea as a sort of professionals' tent. We also aspired to the Blacks Mountain Tent. A guy we didn't know rolled up in Langdale one weekend with a brand new one and contrived to set it on fire - he was ok but I've never seen anything disappear so quickly - it was like one of those bewildering magic tricks.

JJ - Happy memories indeed. Did you do any more of the Holland events or just the one - I understand there are four walks? I hadn't remembered the anecdote I posted on comments until curiosity had me Googling Nijmegen then it all fell into place.

John J said...

I did the full four days - and great fun it was too. I need to extract a digit and update my blog properly!

Anonymous said...

Great history with all those documents Conrad. Who and where are Blacks now. I still have my Blacks Tinker cotton tent with specially sewn in groundsheetand of course that special A pole. I used it for backpacking in the 60's and for the kids later. Indestructible.
We had a Dutch version of the Good Companion for family holidays, all I have left are some tent pegs.(divorce settlement!)

Sir Hugh said...

JJ - looking forward to hearing more.


bowlandclimber - That conjures up an unusual picture of the haggle over the tent. Sounds as though it would make a good story.

Laurence Milton said...

It's good to have that history, I am still using (2) Blacks Good Companions Standards with ext fly and A frames when I can, as there is a dearth of smallish, remotely affordable cotton/canvas tents available now.
I don't know how you could get 6 (!!) in a Major, unless people were a lot smaller then? Two is a tight fit in the Standard, and really tight without the extended flysheet!

Sir Hugh said...

Laurence Milton - Welcome to my blog. I must say I enjoyed writing that post, especially as my archives contained various, what I refer to as, "blogger's gifts".

When I said"half a dozen crammed in," that was not for sleeping purposes, just a social gathering while we were sitting out the rain in Glenbrittle or wherever; my GC tended to be the largest tent amongst the ragged group of climbers (and drinkers) that I was involved with in my late teens and early twenties - happy days. And, of course, mine was the GC "MAJOR", you could even stand up in the centre.

Laurie said...

Indeed my glorious Standard has been swapped for an even more glorious Major and extended flysheet...well 2 of them, just love 'em!

Sir Hugh said...

Laurie - welcome to my blog. Are they in good condition - must be many years old now?

Laurie said...

The standard I recently sold was superb and strong, the majors as far as the tents are concerned, are perfect; but the extended fly has had repairs before I acquired it, and quite a few. Its waterproof and sets well, but I don't quite have the confidence in it should it blow up. I am on the hunt for a better extended the meantime, if blowing hard, I use an excellent condition standard size fly.....
The oldest standard I had was a 60's one and just fine, the majors are early 70's.

(Spent last night in a pelerina namioty, otherwise known as a polish army lavvu, brilliant 1 man canvas tent! I use a GC standard A frame to hang it..........)