Victorian mountaineering magic lantern slides


‘Mountaineering’ would, I suspect, be too grand a word by today’s standards, ‘climbing’ might be better. Whatever we or our ancestors call it, the fact is that people climb a mountain ‘because it’s there’. This quotation, by the way, is usually attributed to Edmund Hillary, the man who conquered Everest in 1953 but it was actually said thirty years earlier by George Mallory, who died during his attempt to scale the mountain.

I digress. The point of this story is that in Victorian times, men and women climbed mountains for fun and the photographic evidence is on magic lantern slides, three of which I would like to share with you today.

They were taken by the Abraham Brothers, who had a photographic studio in Keswick in the Lake District (North West England). Their work is well known in the climbing fraternity as the Abrahams were the first to conquer many Lake District peaks and they published a number of photographic books on the subject. To take their dramatic shots, they had to carry very heavy equipment (mahogany plate camera, glass photographic plates and all the necessary accessories) to the required location ….. a remarkable feat.


It is interesting to see the clothes that the male and female climbers wore and their safety equipment ….. a rope! I wonder how many died from exposure or falls whilst having fun? I suppose they were no different to our modern free-climbers who, if you watch them on Youtube, are undeniably a breed apart from those of us who feel uncomfortable being on top of a skyscraper, never mind climbing up the outside of it.


If you found this interesting, please share it with your family and friends. If you’re not reading it on my ‘Magic Lantern World‘ website, then please visit. There are over one hundred illustrated articles about Victorian slide projection and links to my historical photo-booklets on Amazon, my Ebay shop for magic lantern slides and Etsy store for historical photo greetings cards with a twist. You can read about my authentic Victorian magic lantern shows and talks on ‘Optical entertainments before the movies’ and lots more!

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