SCoM & Manchester Skiing History


By: Rick Mayers

When I first mentioned to the committee that I would like to include some history of the club on the website, initially it was just aimed at past meeting minutes, newsletters, etc; and thanks to Jane Fairclough (originally Belfield) who has provided an amazing number of documents I am well on my way to be able to include a large amount of information on the website. We now have documents dating back to the late 70’s giving a glimpse of what members of the club were up to and how they got there skiing fix in those days.

The earliest committee document mentions fun races at Rossendale ski slope and that they would be organising ski weekends in March and April to Aviemore for the grand sum of £23.00, but special parking rates would be investigated as they were quite high for the weekend. Maybe we might be thinking of skiing in Scotland again in the future if travel abroad is as difficult as it has been over the last 18 months.

However, after reading the early minutes and news bulletins it’s clear that in the early days of the club, a big part of club skiing activities was in and around the UK, including on various slopes in the Peak District. I was previously aware of this, but not really to the extent of skiing and the frequency during the winter that meetings were expected to be held. Clearly current weather patterns have seriously reduced the possibility of skiing on our doorstep, but it would be great to see what the early members got up to in those days and the locations they used to ski. There is a great article by a long-standing ski club member Roy Dearden on the website, giving his early recollections of skiing with the club.

This leads me nicely to the purpose of this article. Without more help from the members, I won’t be able to document what the club and its members have been up to over the last 51 years the club has been in existence. It would be amazing if you could pass on any brief recollections you have of early events, and any photos you would be happy to share.

This also can include anything to do with skiing in around Manchester.

My first memory of skiing in Manchester in the early 80’s was not as you might expect on snow or on the dry ski slope in Rossendale, but actually underneath the arches at Victoria Station. This is where you could have your first ski lessons on a very short dry ski slope provided by Ellis Brigham.

Whilst trawling the internet for anything to do with skiing in Manchester I came across a ski event held in 1960 which I was completely unaware had happened, especially as it was so close to where I grew up, and I had played as a youngster on the actual slopes.

It was the brainchild of two Norwegian students studying at Manchester University and clearly missing their usual pastimes back in Norway. Obviously, whilst sat in city centre pub, they decided, and why not, to build their own ski jump and hold a competition. The obvious thing to do in a city known more for its rain, than its copious amounts of snowfall.

They decided to construct a ski jump in Reddish Vale which is located between Denton and Stockport, and on March 3 and 4 1960 two ski jumping competitions took place. They constructed 12m of scaffolding, set above a steep embankment which made a natural landing slope and refrigerated vans brought snow from Devil’s Elbow in Scotland. I believe they also shipped in some artificial snow from Chester.

If you are interested, more information can be found at www.reddishvalecountrypark.com.