Roped Climbers Plunge to their Deaths

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Lakeland Tragedy - Friday, July 7, 1933


Pillar Rock, Ennerdale Valley, Cumberland (Lake District in England)
(Pillar Rock from the path going up to Pillar's summit. The Ennerdale Valley floor is 2000 feet below)

Son and Daughter of Astronomer Killed
Roped together, the bodies of two climbers, brother and sister, were found at the foot of Pillar Rock, Ennerdale Valley, Cumberland. They had fallen 600 ft. to their death, and had remained undiscovered for a night and a day.

They were: Claude de la Cherois Crommelin, twenty-four, an electrical engineer, of Ulundiroad, Blackheath, S..E., and Philomena Mary de la Cherois Crommelin, twenty-seven, a teacher at Craiglockhard Training College, Edinburgh.

The couple were the son and daughter of Dr. A.C.D. Crommelin, the distinguished astronomer, who was for thirty-six years at Greenwich Observatory and has been President of the Royal Astronomical Society.

[Crommelin, Andrew Claude de la Cherois (1865 - 1939) A. C. Crommelin was born in Cushendum, Co. Antrim, Ireland, on the 6. February 1865. He was assistant at the Royal Greenwich Observatory between 1891 and 1927 Crommelin died on the 20. September 1939. Obituaries ar in Mon. Not. RAS 100 (1939/40), p. 234-26 and in Ciel et Terre 56 (1940), p. 166-68 ]


View toward Wasdale Head from Great Gable mountain

Hazardous Task
Mr. and Miss Crommelin arrived by car at Wasdale Head on Saturday and camped near Burnthwaite Farm. They had been going to the farm for evening meals but on Tuesday did not appear and the police were informed. Inquiries showed that they were seen on their way to the famous Pillar Rock on Tuesday afternoon.

A search party was organised at Wasdale while another set out from Frizington. Constable Nixon and Mr. Robert Wilson, a farmer, left their party to explore Walker's Gully, on Pillar Rock, and they found the bodies at the foot of the gully. Mr. Wilson went for assistance and the aid of local shepherds was obtained.


Wasdale Head Inn

Stretchers were brought from Wasdale Head Hotel, and ten men started their hazardous task of carrying down the bodies - a task which occupied over three hours. It was nearly midnight on Wednesday before the bodies were brought to Burnthwaite. Identity was established by a driving license.

Walker's Gully on Pillar Rock - famous for its many varied climbs - was named after a climber who was killed there forty years ago. Since then there have been several fatal accidents.

"I knew nothing of their death until a policeman came and told me in the middle of the night," said Dr. Crommelin, the father at his Blackheath home yesterday. "They had set out to ascend the Pillar Rock in the Ennerdale Valley, a well-known and difficult climb. My daughter was a greatly experienced rock climber. My son was also a climber, but not as experienced as his sister. I did not want them to go. But she had a strong influence on him and persuaded him to go to Lakeland."

Dr. Crommelin retired from Greenwich Observatory six years ago.

Maps of Lake District: