Objects Database

Brades Ice Axe (modified)

Accession Number


Object Name

Brades Ice Axe (modified)




Hermione Cooper

Accession Date


Brief Description

Brades Ice Axe (modified) with wooden shaft and serrated pick. Attached rope wrist loop.


wood, metal, rope


Shaft 61(L) head 29(L) cms

Number Of Objects


Inscription Description

On pick "BRADES 1943" and ↑


brown, silver




Brades seems to have begun life way back in 1782 when a man called William Hunt bought the Brades Estate near Oldbury, Birmingham and started a steelworks there. The company became William Hunt & Son in 1809 though the Brades trade mark remained, quickly gaining a prestigious reputation in the 'edged tool' market, which in the early days included items such as axeheads, hatchets, trowels, spades, garden shears, wood chisels and scythes.
With that kind of expertise it's little wonder that the Ministry of Defence approached them in the 1940's to make ice axes for the various mountain troops who were operating in World War Two. Though we are not 100% sure it's pretty certain that's what happened. It's also interesting to note that the Scottish Regiment known as the Lovat Scouts went to train amid the icefields of the Canadian Rockies in 1943 and were issued with Brades ice axes.
Mountaineers in the 1940's and 50's relied heavily on ex-army gear and the government surplus shops were selling off Brades Axes, amongst other things, as you can see from the advert opposite.
Having acquired one of these axes, climbers often shortened them to make them more manageable when climbing steep ice so a pal of Eric Derwin's (who donated this axe) has done a very good job of shortening this one. Another interesting variation on a Brade's original.

Acquisition Method

Donated by Eric Derwin

Acquisition Date


Condition Check Date



Spectrum : UK Museum documentation standard, V.3.1 2007



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