For 70 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.
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.