History, The 1960s

This account of the history of South Ribble Orienteering Club (SROC) is based on the 'The History of South Ribble Orienteering Club - The First Thirty Years' by former SROC President, Roy Woodcock. Details of how to purchase this booklet can be found below.

NB. The results included in these pages are from the National Championships (i.e. British & Scottish Championships) and JK events only. Results of Regional Championships can be found in Roy Woodcock's excellent publication.


The first ever Lake District Mountain Trial was run. This event encouraged fellwalkers and mountaineers to cross mountainous terrain as quickly and safely as possible. Two competitors that day were Maurice Collett and Maurice Dean, both of who became long serving SROC members.

Gerry Charnley, also to become a SROC member, was introduced to orienteering by Baron Rak Lagerfelt the Swedish orienteering ambassador, whilst attending the Olympic Games in Helsinki.


The format of the Lake District Mountain Trial was changed. Instead of competitors being given the route in advance, they were provided with map references and left to determine the best route between controls for themselves. Thus the event became based on similar lines to orienteering.


Peter Williams and Jim McVeigh formed the South Ribble Fell Search and Rescue Team with headquarters in Penwortham, near Preston. Most of the thirty people who enrolled were due to become founder members of South Ribble Orienteerng Club.

The first Scottish Orienteering Championships were held at Dunkeld on a day when the Scottish Orienteering Association was also formed.


his60_1.jpg (11548 bytes)Gerry Charnley and Ken Turner (see picture), who had met whilst climbing in the early 1950's, organised the first open orienteering event in England at Whitewell near Clitheroe on 24th November. The event was limited to competitors over the age of eighteen and used self-inking rubber stamps so that runners could stamp their cards at each control. Seventeen runners started and fifteen finished.


A second event was staged on 9th February at Tockholes. Entries even included competitors from Finland and Switzerland. Many of the runners that day were members of the South Ribble Fell Search and Rescue Team who went on to compete in the Scottish Championships in October and the West Midlands Championships in November.

The inaugral meeting of South Ribble Orienteering Club was held on 4th December 1964 at the Rescue Team hut in Penwortham. Jim McVeigh was elected President, Ken Turner was elected Chairman and Frank Milner was elected Secretary and Treasurer.

Within twenty four hours of SROC being formed, club members were winning at a night event at Sutton Park near Birmingham. In addition to winning the Senior and Junior team events, they recorded a second place in the Senior event and a first and second in the Junior.


On 8th January the first of many monthly Club meetings was held at the Rescue Team hut. This was followed in March by the first Club newsletter. The Club staged it's first event of the year at Gisburn Forest on 11th April.

The first South v North challenge took place at Leith Hill in Surrey on 2nd May. This event was the brainchild of John Disley, 1952 Helsinki Olympic bronze medallist in the 3000m Steeplechase. Notable runners that day were Roger Bannister (the first man to break 4 minutes for the mile) and 1956 Melbourne Olympic medallists, Chris Brasherhis60_2.jpg (10464 bytes) (3000m Steeplechase, gold) and Gordon Pirie (5000m, silver).

At the next Club meeting on 7th May the first Club badges were issued. These were based upon the first control kites used for orienteering in the North West.

The second event of the year was held in the Duddon Valley on 16th May.

It was about this time that Jan Kjellström visited England on a sales promotion for Silva Compasses. Jan's father Alvar was one of the owners of Silva Compasses. During this time Jan stayed with Gerry Charnley, who he'd met at an international orienteering event in Belgium.

his60_3.jpg (34847 bytes)At the Club meeting in June it was decided that the Club colours be green and discussions also took place regarding the production of two colour maps.

During the period June / July several SROC members represented England at competitions in Compiègne and Gérardmer in France. These were David Knowles, Ken Turner and Tom Sykes (see picture, back three on right), and Gerry Charnley and Frank Miller (see picture, front row).

During the fourth Scottish Championships at Aberfoyle on 23rd and 24th October, the SROC Junior Men's team won the Junior Trophy.

In early November the English Orienteering Association was formed. Chris Brasher was elected as Chairman and Gerry Charnley was elected Secretary. Later that month came the inaugral meeting of the Northern Orienteering Association in Liverpool on 11th.


The first SROC Annual General Meeting took place on 11th February and a Constitution was agreed. Senior subscriptions (19 and over) were set at ten shillings and Junior subscriptions (15-18) five shillings.

A SROC event was held at Warton Crag on 27th February and a night event at Bleasdale on 12th March using the usual Ordnance Survey map photocopies. Elsewhere, the first English Orienteering Championships were held at Hindhead, Surrey on 22nd May.

At the June monthly meeting the Club League was devised. Club members had to compete in five events to qualify with the winner of a class receiving the same number of points as there were starters, the second place runner, the number of starters minus one and so on.

At the July meeting, the system was amended so that anyone finishing in first, second or third places in their class received five, three and one bonus points respectively. Also at this meeting Jim McVeigh donated the President's Trophy Shield for the winner of the Club League.

The first Northern Championships were held in Grizedale Forest on 11th September. The event was organised by Gerry Charnley, Ken Turner and Lol Clarke and featured the first countdown whistle start system. In this system competitors are called up three minutes before their start time and pass through a series of holding pens before starting. This method is still universally used today and in 1966 was the suggestion of Jan Kjellström, who was staying with Gerry Charnley at the time.

The Club's final event of the year was held at Loughrigg Brow near Ambleside on 9th October, using a 1:25,000 map.

The year finished with the cancellation of the many events due to an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, including the Scottish Championships.

December's monthly meeting was the last to be held at the Rescue Hut in Penwortham, with the Club moving to licensed premises at the Sumpter Horse Inn, also in Penwortham.


The second AGM was held at the Sumpter Horse Inn on 5th January. Associate Membership was introduced at two shillings and sixpence. The first President's Shield winner was Philip Cosgrove.

In February Lol Clarke was elected Chairman of the Northern Orienteering Association. Sadly this month will forever be remembered for the death in a road accident of Jan Kjellström in Sweden. The Club sent a letter of condolence and the English Orienteering Association announced it's intention to obtain a memorial trophy for which the Club sent a donation.

The first event held in his memory and bearing his name was staged at Hindhead, Surrey on 18th and 19th March. Today this has evolved into the Jan Kjellström International Festival of Orienteering and is run annually during the Easter weekend.

During the Spring the Lakeland Phoenix Club was wound up resulting in the Collett family joining SROC.

The start of June saw SROC organise it's first score event at Quernmore. At the June monthly meeting SROC members requested that the Secretary enquire about the cost of nylon orienteering suits from John Disley. These were later advertised in the first British Orienteering Federation newsletter, following the formation of the British Orienteering Federation at Barnard Castle on 17th June. The first British Orienteering Championships were staged the next day at Hamsterley Forest with courses planned by Lol Clarke.

In the Autumn, John Disley introduced the National Orienteering Proficiency Badge Scheme with gold, silver, bronze and iron badges. This scheme continues today.

On 26th November, after consultation with the local police, Maurice Dean and Dave Dennison organised the Club's first Street event in Preston.

At the December meeting the news broke that foot and mouth disease had again caused all events to be suspended.


The third AGM was held at the Sumpter Horse Inn on 11th January. Unusually the President's position was left vacant, the members deciding to seek someone from outside the Club. Tony Scales won the President's Shield.

March saw the monthly meetings move to the Moor Park Hotel in Preston. Lol Clarke was elected Chairman of the newly formed North Western Orienteering Association (NWOA) which replaced the Northern Orienteering Association.

With the foot and mouth restrictions ended, the first event of the year saw 176 competitors at Leighton Hall on 21st April.

Later in the year Maurice Collett was the first Veteran in the Senior Men's class, and Lorna Collett the first Veteran in the Senior Women's class, at the Scottish Championships. For good measure Paul Collet was second in the Junior Men.

In the Autumn, the Club staged another score event on Loughrigg Fell. Club members were also requested to provide photographs and articles for the Club archives some of which survive to this day.his60_4.jpg (13760 bytes)

The Autumn also saw the first Mountain Marathon at Muker in Swaledale during 21st/22nd September. This was before the days of sponsorship by Karrimor and was organised by Gerry Charnley and a number of volunteers including members of SROC. The event was hampered by bad weather and only eleven of the seventy eight teams finished. The winners were Bob Astles and Ted Dance (see picture).


The fourth AGM was held at the Moor Park Hotel on 7th January. Tom Sykes won the President's Shield.

The Club staged successful events at Whitbarrow and on Blawith Common.

During the summer the NWOA staged the 'Long Weekend' event, a two day (individual and relay) event centered around Finsthwaite. It was this event that went onto become the renowned 'Mammoth' weekend.

By late summer the Club had nearly ninety members and a decision was taken to split the Club into a Northern and a Southern section, with the dividing line being the River Lune. Ken Turner wrote to everyone, explaining the decision was due to the large geographical spread of members which stretched from the Southern Lakes to South Lancashire.

The northern section held their first meeting at the Duke of Cumberland Hotel in Kendal on 28th October. Maurice Collett was elected Chairman and Bryn Jones was elected Secretary.

Individual success in 1969 was achieved by Lorna Collett, who became the Club's first ever British champion at Kirroughtree in Scotland.

History - The 1970s >>

The History of South Ribble Orienteering Club - The First Thirty Years

A more detailed account of SROC's evolution and achievements is available in the 'The History of South Ribble Orienteering Club - The First Thirty Years' by former SROC President, Roy Woodcock.

Copies of this 65 page A4 booklet, which includes several black and white photographs from the early days of orienteering in England, are available from :

Roy Woodcock
11 Kensington Road

Cheques for £4 should be made payable to "SROC" (all proceeds from the sale of this booklet go to SROC). Please include an A4 sized SAE.

"This is more than the history of a club; it is effectively the record of the birth and the development of a new sport" - Ken Turner


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Last Updated : 27.07.07