1940 Rucksack frame

In the 1940s I was a member of the CHA Hiking Club and every weekend we went for day walks on the moors around Oldham – bare hills devoid of forest and full of drystone walls where farmers had used the stones collected in clearing their fields for ploughing.

I had a frameless rucksack – all I could afford – and decided I would make a frame to keep the sagging and sweaty rucksack off my back to allow ventilation. Somehow I managed to acquire some aluminium sheet (probably offcuts from the AVRO factory in Chadderton that made the Lancaster bombers) and designed a riveted frame, curved to fit around the back of my hips with a leather belt tightly stretched between the ends with swivelling bolt connections to permit the belt to adjust to the contours of my back.

This was one of the earliest ‘designs’ I can remember doing and making. Dad had a garage for the car with a bench and I fitted an engineer’s vice to it and with a few rudimentary tools I was able to cut the 1/8” aluminium sheet with a hacksaw, drill holes with a brace and bit and make rivets from the aluminium bits left over. A soft leather pocket at the top to hold the frame to the rucksack and it served me well for several years until 1947 when I came to Australia. I should have brought it with me.