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Historical Caving Attire

alanw

Active member
Somewhere I have seen a photo of a young lad by the now broken stalagmite boss in Giants Hole.
...
am not putting a search into google for the photo though!
Using site:ukcaving.com should render a lot of google searches safe (though don't search for "Barenaked"!)

I didn't find the photo you mentioned, but I did find this thread:
 

Tripod

Member
Sometime early to mid 1970s. Wetsuit made from a kit (pattern plus materials), otherwise army stores long underwear, football shirts and wooly jumpers, with boiler suit over. Australian Army nailed climbing boots discovered behind the counter in Wakefields, Nife cell and 'stinky'.
 

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Tripod

Member
I'm glad there aren't many beards in that pattern these days.
You are not the first person, on seeing that photograph, to mention the beard, which I thought of as being perfectly normal/reasonable at the time. I was working in a hospital and would occasionally be reminded that my hair and beard were getting long. On applying for further training at another hospital I was turned down as "not being of their standard" despite possessing more than enough qualifications. Even dafter, years after, that on applying for a course I was asked "how long have you had your beard"? I now have baldness and a well trimmed goatee.
 

pwhole

Well-known member
Well maybe too many patients thought they'd had a visitation from Jesus overnight and complained? I'm sure baldness and a well-trimmed goatee is far more reassuring. Or is it...? ;)
 

Mrs Trellis

Well-known member
I remember that photo but I think it was dated (1947?) before Pillar Crawl was opened up (1953?). I also think he was wearing swimming trunks.
 

Mrs Trellis

Well-known member
here you go chaps and chapesses

 

Brains

Well-known member
here you go chaps and chapesses

Sadly not all the links work in that thread, and the relevant b+w images seem to be missing...
 

mrodoc

Well-known member
I have some 60's fibre helmets and functioning carbide lamps if that is of any interest. Caving with a candle stuck on a plastic helmet causes the helmet to melt a bit - I tried it once!
 

Tripod

Member
I have some 60's fibre helmets and functioning carbide lamps if that is of any interest. Caving with a candle stuck on a plastic helmet causes the helmet to melt a bit - I tried it once!
Caving with a candle stuck on a 60's fibre helmet makes a hole in the helmet - I tried it once!
 

AR

Well-known member
Best stick to the top hat - it worked for me.
A Bradda doesn't melt or catch fire, but I can say from experience (having borrowed Wacker's for a costume trip into Alderley Edge) that you end up covered in wax dribbles.
 

mrodoc

Well-known member
I have a photo of some historic caving attire being worn at a DSS 50th Anniversary AGM held in Baker's Pit.
 

EFRESHW

New member
I have to say a big thank you to the overwhelming response I have been given from this post! It's so lovely to read all the links, the experiences and everything that you have wanted to share with me. I will be making this in to a short documentary, so it's good to hear about it. Do keep the thread going and message me if you have anything else you'd like to share. I'm hoping to get an interview with someone explaining how the carbide lamps work!
Elise
 

Mrs Trellis

Well-known member
Re carbide lamps - the Premier Cap lamp consisted of two chambers which screwed together with a rubber seal in the middle. The bottom container was for (calcium) carbide and the upper one for water. The latter had a spigot in the centre which dripped water onto the carbide generating acetylene - a dial type thing on the top controlled the flow. The acetylene rose to the upper chamber where there was a "jet" in the middle of the lamp which was lit. The jet was surrounded by a reflector (some used big ones) and these had a flint wheel built in to provide ignition of the acetylene. They went out under water.

Petzel made an expedition version with a large separate generator and flexible tube leading to the burner.

In the 1970's there was a move to stop cavers dumping waste carbide in caves and people began to bring it out in ammo cans which resulted in a serious accident in Aggie (iirc) when the acetylene still being generated was ignited by a caver opening the ammo can.

I can remember the guides at Blue John having a huge lamp a bit like a watering can with the flame emerging from the "spout" and the reflector a hand held thing like a cymbal.

 
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Tripod

Member
Isn't there a risk of spontaneous combustion from pressure build up of Acetylene in a sealed container? This could apply to carrying (almost) spent Calcium Carbide out of caves.
I have wondered which came first in blowing up glass bottles - a popular pastime from before my time, which I would never indulge in of course. Would the bottle explode from the build up of gas pressure alone, or plus combustion pressures? If in my youth I had tried this stunt I could report that the result was dramatic but that question was unanswered.
 

grahams

Active member
Back in the 60s, when we used to live down Sleets Gill because it was the easiest cave to reach by cycle from our home town, one of my mates used to cave in his only smart clothing - a crimplene suit. A quick brush to get the mud off and he was ready for an evening out.
 
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