A Little bit of History

TynLon The Ceunant Mountaineering Club has a long and colourful history going back to the mid 1950s. But first of all what about that name?

Although most of us are based in the Midlands we have strong links to the mountains of Snowdonia. The club's first climbers cottage in Snowdonia was "Pen Ceunant". Pen means head or top. And Ceunant means a ravine or gorge. The old cottage is now a cafe on the railway path up Snowdon. The stream that drains Cwm Brynog starts the descent of a gorge at this point, hence the name. We kept the name after we moved to our new cottage at Ty'n Lon in 1958.

TynLon A note on pronunciation with thanks to Derrick Grimett
"Ceunant"

Pronounced halfway between 'ki' as in kite and 'kay', not as 'koy'. I cannot think of an English word with precisely the same sound but 'kaynant' is near enough.
"Ty'n Lon"
This is how the name of our cottage is spelled, ty'n being the abbreviated form of tyddyn (pronounced 'tithin'). Tyddyn means small farm or small-holding and 'lon' means lane. So Ty'n Lon is the small-holding (in or by the) lane.

How it all began

In the autumn of 1953 The Birmingham and District Group of the Mountaineering Association held its inaugural meeting at the Friends Meeting House, Bull Street, Birmingham.

The group constitution was very rigid. Only members who were certified as competent leaders by the Mountaineering Association (MA) could lead on club meets. And in 1956 the MA decided that only those who had passed Intermediate training courses could remain members. The majority of the Group, deploring this restrictive attitude, decided to leave the MA and form a separate club.

The Ceunant Mountaineering Club was formed on the 9th May 1956. The object of the new Club was to "provide facilities for the pursuit of mountaineering in all its aspects" and the constitution, though more flexible than the previous one was still pretty rigid by today's standards. Members were classed either as "Grade A Competent Climbers" or "Grade B Mountain Walkers". A "Grade A" member had to be able to "lead or second on V.Diff. climbs" and a "Grade B" member was not allowed to climb on club meets unless he was led by a "Grade A" member and had the meet leader's permission. At the 1957 AGM common sense prevailed and the offending clause was removed from the constitution.

Perhaps the most memorable events in those early days, were the weekends at Pen Ceunant and the coach meets. As private transport was rare, coaches were used for most weekend meets. Sometimes the Club had a coach to itself, but more often than not, shared one with either the Stoats (Birmingham University), or the Cave and Crag Club. Though a rather expensive and relatively slow means of travel, coach meets were very popular, the rather boring journeys being livened up by free-for-alls, poker schools and the Stoats' excellent repertoire of disgusting songs.

The first three Annual Dinners were held in Birmingham at The Crown, Corporation Street; The Imperial, Union Street; and finally The White Horse, Congreve Street, where the antics of one of our distinguished guests caused the demolition of half of the gents' toilet. It was decided after this to hold future dinners in Wales. Indoor Meets were held at the Friends' Meeting House, Moseley.

In 1958 the Club became affiliated to the British Mountaineering Council, thus achieving recognition in the world of mountaineering clubs and paving the way to official representation on the Council's Committee.

Also in 1958, two observant members noticed an empty property in Nant Peris, and on making enquiries found that it was for sale. An appeal was made to the members and by mid-May the cottage was ours for 130. After many weeks of hard work the cottage was ready for occupation during Whitsun 1959. Over half a century later and thanks to the hard work of countless club members we are still enjoying the mountains from our base at Ty'n Lon

The above is based on an article by Mary Kahn and Tony Daffern. The full version can be found in our 50th anniversary magazine.