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What is a Climbing Wall

Bildering And Bilderers
Geoffrey Windthrop Young
Arthur Pinner

First True Climbing Structure
Clark Schurman
Camp Long

Post War Development

1960's Boom
Britians First Climbing Walls

1970's Development

Climbing Wall Manufacturers
Bendcrete Climbing Walls
DR Climbing Walls

University Walls
Brunel University
Spire Rock
University of Washington

The 1980's Wall Development
The invention of the bolt on Hold

First Commercial Climbing Centre
Vertical, In Seattle
Mile End, London

The 1990's Beginning of the Golden Age

21st Century Climbing Walls and the Future


Buildering is the physical act of climbing on buildings and other artificial structures. It is also known as urban climbing or stegophily In the USA it is commonly known as Structuring. The word "buildering" is a portmanteau combining the word "building" with the climbing term "bouldering".

Buildering can take a form of most disciplines of rock climbing but the most common is bouldering and bildering tends towards ascending or traversing shorter sections of buildings and structures. Generally frowned upon by property owners, some turn a blind eye to it. As with traditional rock climbing, routes are often established and graded for difficulty, though not commonly published.

Buildering is not a modern phenomenon it goes a long way back in climbing history. There are two distinct elements to buildering as far as we are concerned; climbing buildings as practice for rock climbing and climbing buildings for no other purpose than, because they are there. Newell Martin climbed on the Yale campus in the 1870s. The first bildering guide was written in the 1890's by Geoffrey Winthrop Young whilst he was at Cambridge University, The Roof-Climbers Guide to Trinity was publish tongue in cheek in 1900 and Published Eton, 1905, Spottiswood and Co. Ltd. Oliver Perry-Smith climbed on buildings in Philadelphia after returning from Elbsandstein in the early 1900.

The birthplace of rock climbing is always claimed by Wasdale in the English Lake District, and in the 1890's there was already a classic buildering problem.
The famous Barn or Stable Door Traverse at The Wastwater Hotel. The picture shows Dr. Joseph Collier at the crux, watched by his frequent companion.

A. E. Field Photo by the Abraham Brothers. A. Harry Griffin in his book The Coniston Tigers of 2000 describes the problem. “Outside the hotel, in the inn-yard, was the Stable Door (or Barn Door) Traverse - quite a gymnastic feat. You had to climb up the rough slabs on the right hand side of the wall and then make a delicate traverse, on very poor holds, into the open door about ten feet above the ground." 

The Barn is still there today and as the Abraham Brothers photographs are very famous in the early development of Victorian rock climbing it is not uncommon to see tourists having there picture taken in front of it.

According to John Gill, “ Due to renovation the traverse is no longer possible.” Well there is a challenge for someone.
Stable, Barn Door Traverse

Newspapers Articles
Newpapers from the early part of the 20th century contain many examples of Bildering feats mainly from none climbers. Notable amongst these were climbing feats in the depression era by people making a living, such as Harry Gardiner, but also some wonderful stories such as Arthur Pinners.
in 1901 Kansas boyCalvin Pearl Titus gained fame by Climbing the Walls of Peking.
In 1937 The Night Climbers Guide to Cambridge was Published as The Night Climbers of Cambridge by Whipplesnaith (1937), Chatto & Windus Ltd, London.

Middle Era Bildering or The Golden age of Bildering
The two world wars in the first half of the last century helped bring down the social class barriers and rock climbing, that was once dominated by the professional class and the university students, was opened up to the working class due to the increase in income and, for the first time, paid holidays.

The first British National Park, The Peak District, was designated in 1951 opened up the countryside to the working population of the conurbations of Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield for the first time. The motorbike at this era further opened up the countryside and helped the working class made their mark in rock climbing.

All these events helped rock climbing and especially local outcrop climbing increase in popularity and of course when you couldn't get to the crags, buildings were everywhere and, like G.W. Young or Whipplesnaith, were are obvious draw to climb on. Bildering was really helped by the rise of road transport and Dr Richard Beeching. The Beeching cuts slashed the rail network from the mid 1950's and gave climbers an enormous amount of urban buildings, bridges and embankments to be climbed on.

Modern Era Bildering
Since it's hey day in the early 1970's bildering by genuine climbers has continued to decline with the rise and use of climbing walls. Bildering is still popular with some die hard climbers as demonstrated by a certain climbing club holding a meet at the famous venue of The Pump House in Fallowfield. Recorded Date - 7th November 2010.
Fallowfield Pump House Fallowfield Pump House Fallowfield Pump House
Fallowfield Pump House Fallowfield Pump House Fallowfield Pump House

How to find The Pump House -,-2.205527

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