19th March 2003

 

TOP DESIGN FOR A MOUNTAINOUS TASK

 

Half a century after the triumphant ascent of Everest, the boot originally designed for the conquering team has been entrusted to University of Lincoln students for restoration.

 

Second-year Conservation and Restoration degree students Sarah Stannage (24) of Wittering and Caroline Rawson (19) of Hedley have spent 12 weeks working on the boot and its display cabinet.

 

In May 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest in the first ever recorded conquering of the 29,035-foot mountain. 

 

The British Everest Exhibition Assault Boot was designed by the Satra company in 1953 solely for the final ascent and was intended for only one week’s wear.

 

However, when they reached camp III at 20,000 feet - one month before the summit was reached - Edmund Hillary and the party began to suffer from cold feet so in a bid to prevent frostbite they decided to use the boots for the remainder of the trip. 

 

This was, in fact, the first time an Everest expedition was completed without the occurrence of frostbite.

 

Currently owned by the Kettering Manor House Museum in Northamptonshire, the display – originally made for a shop window to celebrate the conquering of Everest - was sent to the students for them to restore and conserve. 

 

“The boot was very frail and dirty with many rips,” said Sarah. “The cabinet was chipped with damaged labels and the crampons were suffering badly from corrosion.

 

“We have spent the time cleaning and repairing the boot and making it more stable to prevent further deterioration. We’ve also retouched the cabinet and made new labels replicating the old style.”

 

“It has been very interesting to see how advanced the technology was for its year,” said Caroline. “The boot is made from nine layers of both natural and synthetic textile and is incredibly light.”

 

“We are very lucky to have links with the Kettering Manor House Museum,” said Chris Robinson, BA Conservation and Restoration programme leader.  “We have a mutually beneficial arrangement which allows our students the experience of restoring a variety of artefacts and the museum has their pieces restored and conserved.”

 

Go to photo

--------

For more information contact: Gill Noakes, Press Assistant, University of Lincoln

Tel: 01522 886244 or Email: gnoakes@lincoln.ac.uk

Search the university’s news archive at http://www.lincoln.ac.uk/news