Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association column: New HQ is a far cry from our first home

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After many months of having an empty headquarters during our major building extension and with equipment and vehicles spread far and wide, we finally got everything back and we are now operating from our base again.

Needless to say we are all delighted at the improved building with its extra facilities, writes David Dennis of Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association.

It is a far cry from our first home some 68 years ago when it was an empty police cell at Grassington Police Station – our first chairman was the local Police Sergeant.

In those days we just had bits of rescue equipment either borrowed or made ourselves.

We eventually progressed to a disused LMS railway parcels van bought for the princely sum of £1 - the team secretary was the Stationmaster at Grassington.

But even with well placed racks the parcels van soon outgrew the growing equipment storage needs and our next home was to be a redundant wooden signalbox bought for just £10 but on condition that we moved it ourselves - well just one of the many situations we are tested on as members.

Our days in the signalbox came to an abrupt end when the site owners gave us notice to move to make way for residential properties.

With nowhere to live and by then a lot of equipment it was a case of who will rescue the rescuers.

Thankfully, a local quarry owner, on hearing of our plight, offered us the use of a disused store and a garage on a temporary basis.

Our next and final move was to our current site where, after much fundraising and self help, we achieved the very first purpose built Mountain Rescue Post in the country.

Being in the Yorkshire Dales National Park Area the building regulations were extremely tight and from the outside our headquarters looked like a large detached house - clearly the authorities were considering the longterm should the team not survive in its operations for one reason or another.

This new home met all our existing needs and allowed for growth as the number of rescues increased but it is true to say we could not have really envisaged the huge demand for our services today’s world requires but at the time we were delighted and especially when HRH Prince Charles came to Grassington to officially open our state of the art new Headquarters.

Over the years the huge growth in call outs brought more members and more equipment and vehicles.

A number of minor extensions and building adjustments were necessary but in the end we had to bite the bullet and go for a major and very expensive extension.

Looking back to those far-off days in 1948 the road may appear to have been a long one to get to this point.

It is a team view that it is a road without end as the search for ways to constantly improve our facilities and training methods and equipment continue in our quest to save lives out in the Dales.