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Request for info on Birkbeck and Metcalfe

David Rose

Active member
I recently read the account in Boyd Dawkins's book Cave Hunting of his descent of Alum Pot in 1870, which was organised by John Birkbeck (of Gaping Gill fame). This was a direct descent by winch, following Birkbeck's earlier descent via Lower Long Churn and The Bridge in 1847.

I seem to remember there was a Descent article about this a while back - does anyone recall which issue? Or have a copy they could scan and send to me? And does anyone know anything about  the "three ladies" who went to the bottom in 1870?

Finally, does anyone have any further info or references about Birkbeck and his friend Metcalfe, who also took part in these expeditions?

Thank you in advance.
 

Pitlamp

Well-known member
Howard Beck's GG book from 1984 is probably helpful.

Also probably worth doing an author search in BCRA: "Stephen Craven". He is a meticulous historical researcher and I'm sure there's stuff from him in there which is directly related to your query.

I also think there is something in one of the CPC Journals about this, along with a photograph of beams across the top of Alum Pot for winching.
 

Pitlamp

Well-known member
Also, early YRC Journals - all available online - are generally useful for this sort of information.

Beware - you may get distracted and spend a lot of time browsing. It's always time well spent though!
 

Pitlamp

Well-known member
Found it! This may be of use:

Craven S A, 1978, "The History of Alum and Diccan Pots." CPC Jnl 5 (6) 321-329.

There are some contemporary images in the photographs section of this Journal (unnumbered pages) including a picture of the beam across the shaft top. The article includes a very comprehensive reference list, some fairly obscure.

Mary at BCA Library would sort scans for you, I'm sure. She's always extremely helpful.

 

mikem

Well-known member
He's also written stuff in Descent (one with Chris Howes):
https://www.wildplaces.co.uk/info/authors-c.html

May be something useful in this GG article:
https://www.wildplaces.co.uk/descent-245.html

Steve Craven has also written in more recent YRC journals, including one about chauvinism in early reports.

This is from 1902:
https://www.yrc.org.uk/journal-and-image-archive/journal-selector/yrc-journal-1902-vol-2-no-5/alum-pot/
 

mikem

Well-known member
From 1908:
https://www.frcc.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Vol1-2.pdf

YSA index is also available on wildplaces website
 

mikem

Well-known member
As are some of their journals (starting 1907):
https://www.wildplaces.co.uk/html/YSA1.pdf

https://www.wildplaces.co.uk/html/YSA2.pdf
 

David Rose

Active member
Thank you to all contributing to this. Does anyone know what methods people such as Eli Simpson used for surveying before WW1? I see that in the second YSA journal (1909) he says they had surveyed 26,000ft of passage since 1904.

Fascinating that they were already using fluorescein dye.
 

mikem

Well-known member
More about birkbeck's climbing:
http://www.northcravenheritage.org.uk/NCHTJto2009/Journals/2009/Birkbecks/JohnBirkbeck.html
 
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