Everest endeavour marked by blue plaque

Man in front of a cottage unveiling a blue plaque to mountaineer Bentley Beetham
The plaque was unveiled on the centenary of the expedition [BBC]

A teacher who was part of an attempt to conquer Mount Everest, has been honoured in the village where he lived.

Bentley Beetham was a schoolmaster when he was chosen to join an expedition to reach the summit in 1924.

The team included George Mallory and Sandy Irvine, who died just below the summit, and mystery surrounds whether they managed to reach the top.

On the centenary of the attempt, and to mark Mr Beetham's part in it, a blue plaque has been unveiled at his former home in Cotherstone, near Barnard Castle.

Mr Beetham was born in Darlington and studied at Barnard Castle School, where he later worked as a biology teacher.

He learned his mountaineering skills in the Lake District but had never climbed in Asia prior to the expedition.

Although he became ill and was unable to take part in the final push to the top, he documented the attempt in a series of "internationally important" photographs.

Graham Ratcliffe, who was later to become the first British climber to scale Mount Everest from its north and south sides, said the 1924 attempt was like "the moon-landing".

"No one knew what was going to happen, it was a leap into the unknown," he said.

Peter Collyer, was responsible for organising and installing the blue plaque, believes the achievement of all eight climbers in 1924 deserves to be honoured.

He said it was extraordinary what they did with the equipment they had at the time.

"Beetham wore two tweed suits, one on top of the other, and had hobnail boots."

He described the teacher's photographs as "absolutely stunning... every single one of them a work of art.’"

A collection of the images is on display at Durham’s Oriental Museum until September.

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