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Savage Arena - The Joe Tasker Story

Savage Arena has now moved to Keswick - click here for details. This page will remain as a permanent tribute to Joe.

This exhibition tells the story of the life of former Ushaw student and world famous mountaineer, Joe Tasker.  The exhibition contains many of Joe's personal photographs and possessions and also tells his story through film.

The Early Years

Joe’s early years and education sparked a passion that went on to shape his future. Adventurous and independent as a child, his initial experience of rock climbing at Ushaw began a life-long fascination.

Born in Hull in 1948 Joe was the second of ten children in a close-knit and supportive family. When Joe was seven years old, Tom and Betty Tasker moved the family to Teesside, where Joe attended St Thomas’ Primary School in Port Clarence. After a move to Billingham, Joe developed an interest in the outdoors when he joined the Scouts and was taken on trips to the Lake District and the Cleveland Hills. Friends and family also recall childhood antics such as climbing up lamp posts and on the gates of Middlesbrough’s Transporter Bridge.


Joe attended Ushaw College from 1961-1968 with the initial idea that he might be suited to the Priesthood. Achieving good academic results, Joe became inspired by the book The Climb to Hell by Jack Olsen. This was read out during silent meal times in the College refectory and described attempts to climb the North Face of the Eiger. In 1966, a climbing group was set up by College Professor Father Tony Barker, and Joe eagerly started rock climbing in the old College quarry. At the age of twenty Joe left Ushaw to study sociology at Manchester University, but returned in later years to give lectures on his mountaineering exploits.

High Fact:

The Ushaw College quarry lies half a mile behind the Main House and was created when sandstone was dug out for building works to the College. The quarry, only twenty feet high with two walls only thirty feet across, was the focal point of Joe’s early training in rock climbing


The Exhibition

Savage Area - The Joes Tasker story is located in one of our newly refurbished exhibition rooms on the West Ambulacrum. These two brand new rooms will showcase a range of exhibitions and displays related to the history and people of Ushaw College

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