The Predecessors of Dry Slopes
Prior to the first permanent dry slopes in the 1960s, there were two development stages in England.
The first involved teaching skiing on flat gradient ‘hard surfaces’ (in school halls and playgrounds, village halls and the like) as pictured above.
The second was the development of a brush board portable slope – effectively large wooden boards where the brushes were placed in vertical lines, as pictured below.
Austrian Ski Instructor Herbert Neurauter established himself in South West England in the early 1950’s and set up weekly ski instruction evening classes on hard surfaces outdoors (asphalted playgrounds) and wooden floors in village halls and schools indoors aimed principally at pupils planning to ski abroad.
By the mid 1950’s, he had acquired ‘brush boards’ to demonstrate techniques and took his ‘portable’ ski slope to his ‘hard surface’ teaching venues.
In 1956 he opened a ski shop and ski hire in Barton Street, Gloucester and imported wooden Kastle and Kneissl skis, Tyrolia cable bindings and leather Humanic, Dynafit and Henke ski boots. Alongside the ski shop he also opened a tour operation personally accompanying holiday makers by train to his home region of Oetztal in the Austrian Tirol to further progress their newly acquired dry slope skill.
In 1961, Herbert Neurauter organised a ski mobile tour of cities in Southern England (including Birmingham, Oxford, Southampton and London) to promote the benefits of learning to ski on brush boards in the UK before adventuring on a ski holidays abroad.
Information and images kindly supplied by Peter Neurauter