"Buildering" and Cambridge University

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Thu Dec 2 01:49:01 UTC 1999

     I just went through THE NIGHT CLIMBERS OF CAMBRIDGE (published October 14, 1937) by Whipplernaith (pseud.).  The word "buildering" is not there.  They called themselves "climbers" or "roof climbers."
    The book is worthwhile for its amazing photos of kids hanging all over various Cambridge University buildings.  I swear I saw a young Jesse Sheidlower in one of the photos.
    On pg. 74, the book made note of another book, ROOF CLIMBER'S GUIDE TO ST. JOHN'S.
    It appears that Geoffrey Winthrop Young (1876-1958), shown on WorldCat as the author of 34 books, started all this.  There's his THE ROOF-CLIMBER'S GUIDE TO TRINITY (1900, but published anonymously for obvious reasons; Trinity College at Cambridge, not the one in Dublin).  There's also his WALL AND ROOF CLIMBING (1905).
     The OED has:

_roof-climb_ v. intr., to climb over the roofs of buildings; so _roof-climber_, _roof-climbing_ vbl. sb.
1951 "M. INNES" _Operation Pax_ VI, vi. 286 If you *roof-climb,...then you just can't...sit in libraries too.
1932 _Daily Mirror_ 28 May 6/4 An appeal to undergraduate *roof-climbers is made in the "Cambridge Review".

    You'd think SOMEONE at Oxford would do a little better than that on this new Cambridge fad!
    This (which also doesn't mention "buildering") is from READER'S DIGEST, October 1953, pg. 54:

_A strange and daring hobby_
_of British undergraduates_
By Philip Whittemore
     It was at Oxford that I began to understand why the British were the first to conquer Mt. Everest.  In the company of three lithe and knowledgeable undergraduates I spent a Sunday morning wandering through the city's ancient streets and the college quads of stony lace.  But we were not just sight-seeing; the three students were members of that secret band known as wall climbers, or night climbers, or "stegophilists"--from the Greek _stege_, meaning roof, and _philos_, crazy about.

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