A Few Things We Do Cave Rescue. Fell Rescue. Water Rescue. Animal Rescue.
For over 65 years the U.W.F.R.A. has been rescuing people and animals from the caves and fells around Wharfedale, Nidderdale, Littondale and Mid-Airedale.
The majority of its work involves attending incidents involving people or animals in difficulty in caves, potholes, mineshafts, on fells, crags or anywhere not accessible to the normal Emergency Services.
The team is made up of over 60 well trained and well equipped volunteer cavers, climbers and mountaineers and is on call 365 days a year.
Its membership live in ''The Dale'' or travel from as far away as Leeds or Bradford and are prepared to respond to a callout at any time of the day or night and in the worst of weather conditions.
Whilst it has been called to assist at major national incidents, such as the Lockerbie air crash, it has also had its own difficult rescues, such as the successful extraction of 2 trapped cavers through 200 metres of flooded passage at Sleets Gill.
Rescuing exhausted and injured cavers and fell walkers who are lost or have broken bones is more the norm.
The Association''s activities also involve helping local farmers, usually with, livestock stranded on crags, in mineshafts, rivers or snow
The Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association UWFRA was set up in August 1948. It was the rescue of a lamb that first inspired Len Huff and Ken Smallpage to start the Association, the rescue of animals has continued to be a key part of the team''s work.
What''s In A Name
UWFRA’s address `The Hut` may be a little confusing, but when the team was first inaugurated in August 1948, we kept our meagre supply of borrowed and loaned equipment in the local police cell. Over the first three years much talk took place of obtaining a garden hut or shed, and where it could be sited, but eventually a disused railway parcel van, was bought from British Rail and moved from the station platform of the Grassington and Threshfield Station onto a nearby car park. After much needed renovation, inside and out, the association had its `new` headquarters where it could house an increasing amount of equipment and hold its meetings. It was familiarly known as `The Hut` a name, which has continued ever since.
Some 14 years went by and the parcels van was outgrown. The team managed to obtain a much larger building, a disused signal box, but this was some 300 metres away down the railway line. The parcels van was moved out of the way on rollers and after much preparation, the signal box was moved by crane and low-loader into the vacated space. This building on two floors, allowed for storage, lamp charging, a radio room downstairs and a large meeting room upstairs.
In 1972 we learned that the ground upon which the signal box stood had been sold for housing development. A nearby friendly quarry owner, loaned us the temporary use of a storage building for our equipment and meetings had to be held in any available large room.
After lengthy negotiations, and with the help of a number of benefactors, the team moved into a new building in 1976. This was the first centre in the country built purely for the purpose of mountain and cave rescue, which gave the planners a few problems and explains why building looks more like a four bedroom house!
The new building was officially opened by the Prince of Wales in 1978. The new headquarters allowed space for all the varied equipment, a lamp room, a specialist diving gear room, a radio and communications room, control room, meeting room, office, kitchen and drying room.
Since 1978 there have been two extensions built to house the vehicles, trailers and to provide space for training. There is talk of a new extension to house the increasing amount of equipment owned by the team.
Arrange a Talk
Want to learn more about UWFRA, how we operate, the types of rescues we undertake and find out about our history? We also cover personal safety when out and about.
We are more than happy to give talks to groups and organisations about the team, either at our base in Grassington or at another venue of your choice. Talks last approximately an hour.