‘From Birkenhead to Everest’ Mountaineers commemorated 100 years on

A series of thought-provoking events will mark the centenary of a 1924 Everest expedition where two climbers with close ties to Wirral lost their lives attempting to reach the summit.

As part of Wirral Borough of Culture 2024, local residents and visitors are invited to a series of events throughout June, remembering two intrepid explorers, George Mallory and Andrew ‘Sandy’ Irvine.

Jason Gooding, Director of Neighbourhood Services, said, “100 years ago George Mallory and Sandy Irvine became pioneers in their attempt to climb Mt Everest. Sadly both disappeared and much debate continues to this day as to whether they made the summit or not before they perished.

“We’re really proud to recognise their achievements as part of Wirral’s year as Liverpool City Region Borough of Culture, which is well underway with local arts and heritage organisations stepping up to get involved. I hope the people of Wirral can be inspired by the daring story of these two local men, during these special events.”

While Sandy Irvine was local to Birkenhead, having grown up in one of the original villas surrounding the historic Birkenhead Park, George Mallory spent time in his childhood in Birkenhead, where his parents lived at St Johns’ Vicarage, on Slatey Road.

Events specifically linked to the commemoration of the 1924 British Everest expedition include:

  • A photography exhibition titled ‘Sandy Irvine, from Birkenhead to Everest’, which will be held at the Birkenhead Park visitor centre. The exhibition will run from Saturday 1st June till Sunday 18th August and will display an in-depth account of Birkenhead-born mountaineer Andrew ‘Sandy’ Irvine and his position in the expedition. 
  • The Williamson Art Gallery will showcase a talk by Sandy Irvine’s great niece, the historian Julie Summers. Julie will provide exclusive insights into her great uncle’s life at Park Road South, Birkenhead, and his role in the historic expedition. This event will take place at 6th June at 6pm, the same date that Sandy Irvine and George Mallory left camp to head to Mount Everest’s summit for the last time. 
  • The installation of two blue plaques for both family houses as a reminder of Andrew Irvine and George Mallory lastly seen ‘going strong for the top’ of Mount Everest on 8th June 1924 – as testified by their fellow mountaineer, Noel Odell, in his account of his final sighting of them on that day on the summit ridge of Everest.

Julie Summers, Historian and great niece of Sandy Irvine, said, “I have long been fascinated by the story of my great uncle, Sandy Irvine, as have many Everest enthusiasts the world over.

“So I’m thrilled to take part in Wirral’s celebratory events, during this centenary year of one of mountaineering’s most enduring mysteries. I am looking forward to delivering a talk at the Williamson Art Gallery with my own insights as a historian into Sandy Irvine. I would like to thank the people of Wirral for celebrating this piece of local history 100 years on.”

Julie Summers’ talk at the Williamson is sold out. 

For more on Wirral’s Borough of Culture 2024 events, visit: Wirral Borough of Culture 2024 (visitwirral.com).

Mount Everest : Credit: Carsten.nebel – CC BY-SA 3.0
George Mallory : Photographer unknown
Andrew “Sandy” Irvine : Photographer unknown
Montage : Birkenhead News : (L-R) Andrew “Sandy” Irvine and George Mallory

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