Objects Database

Cornelius Whitehouse Ice Axe

Accession Number


Object Name

Cornelius Whitehouse Ice Axe




Hermione Cooper

Accession Date


Brief Description

Cornelius Whitehouse Ice Axe, steel head, wooden shaft, adze, serrated pick. Metal ring around wooden shaft, wrist leash attached. Screw, in wooden shaft, to prevent metal ring coming away from axe. Pointed spike on ferrule.


wood, steel, canvas


28.5(head) x 62(l) x 6.5 (d) cm

Number Of Objects


Inscription Description

On head in a rectangular box"CORNELIUS WHITEHOUSE AND SONS LTD, CANNOCK, ENGLAND" Also "↑ 1944"




Cornelius Whitehouse & Sons Ltd.

Object Production Place

Cannock, England

Object Production Date



Cornelius Whitehouse & Sons - makers of the ice-axe we have here in the collection - were one of Britain's best known manufacturers of wooden handled tools in the early 1900's and interestingly, many of their products, such as axes, billhooks, braces, hedging tools etc. are very collectable nearly 100 years later and come up for sale regularly on the internet.
It's no surprise therefore that the War Department asked them to produce a batch of ice-axes in 1944, presumably for issue to mountain troops. Loads of gear became surplus to requirement when the war ended in 1945 and was sold off to an eager outdoor market. Whether or not the original owner of this axe, Robert Fraser, bought it ex WD or was issued it we are not sure, but he was in the RAF and became one of their first dog handlers - we think in the 1950's. He subsequently donated the axe to his nephew (in law), George Bruce, hillman and long serving member of Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team. George kindly passed it on to us.
British made ice-axes are a bit of a rarity, especially from the early days, with the majority of axes being imported from the continent, so this is a very nice and pretty rare addition to our collection.
NB The shaft has been shortened a little from the original.

Acquisition Method

Donated by George Bruce

Acquisition Date


Condition Check Date



Spectrum : UK Museum documentation standard, V.3.1 2007



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