George and Ashley Abraham

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George and Ashley Abraham (George Dixon Abraham, 7 October 1871 – 4 March 1965; Ashley Perry Abraham, 20 February 1876 – 9 October 1951) were brother climbers and photographers who lived in Keswick, Cumberland in the English Lake District. They made a photographic record of the exploits of many of the climbing pioneers, especially Owen Glynne Jones, with whom they formed a close climbing partnership from 1896 until his death in 1899. Most of their work was done between 1890 and 1920 and forms a valuable record of the evolution of early rock-climbing in the English Lake District.

Rock climbing[edit]

Portrait and signature of Owen Glynne Jones from his book Rock-climbing in the English Lake District
Photograph from Jones's book, Rock-climbing in the English Lake District

One of their many first ascents in the Lakes was the 74 m "Keswick Brother's Climb" on Scafell crag on 12 July 1897, now considered "Very Difficult" in the British grading system. Another memorable first ascent was of "Crowberry Ridge Direct" (graded "Severe") on the Scottish Munro Buachaille Etive Mor in 1900.

After their co-operation with Jones in his very successful Rock Climbing in the English Lake District (1897), they produced companion volumes, Rock Climbing in North Wales (George, in 1906) and Rock Climbing in Skye (Ashley, in 1907). These attempted to emulate Jones' exuberant style, and were of course illustrated with their own photographs.

Many of their climbing photographs, (including the classic portrait of Owen Glynne Jones), were reproduced in Alan Hankinson's Camera on the Crags. A large selection is also in the possession of the FRCC (The Fell and Rock Climbing Club of the English Lake District), of which the brothers were founding members.

The Abraham's photographic shop in Keswick, built in 1887, was taken over in due course by local mountaineer George Fisher; the modern shop still contains many memorabilia, including photographs, from the Abraham's era.

One of George Abraham's daughters, Enid J. Wilson, was for many years the Lakeland diarist for The Guardian newspaper. On 8 May 2011 a granddaughter of Ashley Abraham appeared on BBC1's Antiques Roadshow displaying a number of period photodraphs and glass photographic slides.

References[edit]

  • Alan Hankinson (1975), Camera on the Crags, Heinemann Educational.
  • A. Phizacklea (1996), Scafell, Wasdale & Eskdale, Fell and Rock Climbing Club of the English Lake District.
  • Anita McConnell, ‘Abraham, George Dixon (1871–1965)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004

See also[edit]

  • M. J. B. Baddeley - a leading writer of a Lakes guidebook in the older text-based style
  • W. A. Poucher - who further developed the Abrahams' style of highly-illustrated guides