Bentley Beetham Collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises 16 boxes of glass lantern slides, 2 albums of photographs and a file of documents. It records Beetham's interest in climbing and natural history, notably the 1924 Everest expedition and in Teesdale. The two albums of photographs and most of the documents (newspaper cuttings and expedition schedules) depict the progress of the 1924 Everest expedition through Tibet to the foot of Everest and the ascent of the mountain. They provide a detailed record of Tibetan life along the route and the assault on Everest. Many of the lantern slides also cover this (some duplicating the photographic prints). The other lantern slides record ornithology, scenery and school life around Barnard Castle, climbing and landscapes.

Administrative / Biographical History

Bentley Beetham was born in Darlington on the 1 May 1886. His early interest in ornithology and climbing combined with his photographic skills to produce the record preserved in this collection. He became a schoolmaster at Barnard Castle School in 1914.

His combination of skills made him an important member of the 1924 expedition to climb Mount Everest and led to his creating a photographic record of the expedition. The expedition party, Edward Norton, Geoffrey Bruce, Andrew Irvine, George Mallory, Noel Odell, John MacDonald, Edward Shebbeare, Howard Somervell and Bentley Beetham, left Darjeeling in March 1924 and travelled through Tibet, reaching Everest at the end of April. After two attempts at the summit in early June, and the deaths of Irvine and Mallory during the second, the expedition returned through Tibet, reaching Darjeeling towards the end of July.

Beetham continued teaching biology at Barnard Castle School, where he continued his climbing, ornithology and photography, interests that were combined in field trips and his fostering of an outdoor approach to the subject. After his death the Bentley Beetham Trust was founded to preserve his collection and foster interest in his life and enthusiasms.


The lantern slides are boxed in groups by subject matter in the arrangement they were in when received by the Library.

Access Information

Open for consultation. Glass lantern slides are not normally produced due to their fragility, as there are digital surrogates available in their place.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by the Bentley Beetham Trust, 2004.

Other Finding Aids

The collection can be viewed online, via a searchable website

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Sub-Librarian, Special Collections (e-mail and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material. See