Author Topic: A good book on the history of British caving  (Read 1450 times)

Offline RM

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A good book on the history of British caving
« on: April 13, 2018, 01:06:19 pm »
Hi all

after a good book or two on the history of British caving. I have The Darkness Beckons, which covers cave diving very well, but I'm after something to cover dry caving to a similar degree.

Thanks

Rob

Offline andys

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Re: A good book on the history of British caving
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2018, 01:21:05 pm »
For the Dales scene, see if you can get hold of a copy of Gemmell and Myers "Adventure Underground" (1952). When you've finished that, get a copy of "Underground Adventures" by Dave Haigh and John Cordingley (2017) to get the sequel!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Underground-Adventure-Gemmell/dp/0905903196

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Adventures-Underground-Tales-Exploration-Yorkshire/dp/0952670194/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1523622011&sr=1-1&keywords=adventures+underground
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Offline Alex

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Re: A good book on the history of British caving
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2018, 01:24:18 pm »
I guess us dry cavers are just not as interesting, I can't think of anything that covers dry caving history in general. Probably because there would be so much to say, as there has been so much discovered. Just take Matienzo, they released 50 years of caving History there and that took up 500 pages, for that one area in Spain.

As mentioned above there are area specific journals.

UK is a big place as far as caving is concerned but I am sure something could be put together from all the club journals and guide books, such a thing would be a monster unless cut down dramitically.
Anything I say is represents my own opinion and not that of a any club/organisation that I am a member of (unless its good of course)

Offline Martin Laverty

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Re: A good book on the history of British caving
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2018, 02:28:56 pm »
Ric Halliwell's A Century of British Caving (1900-1999) - http://www.sat.dundee.ac.uk/~arb/cpc/century.html - is a good start. For elaboration and earlier events (Kent's Cavern has inscriptions from 1571; Pen Park Hole was descended by Capt Sturmey in 1669 and surveyed in 1682; Mr Rushworth reached the bottom of Alum Pot in 1830...) you have to hunt around a bit in libraries, secondhand bookshops, or the numerous journals now online. The British Caving Library website has a page of links at http://caving-library.org.uk/catalogue/links.shtml , or you can search its catalogue, which may also include links to online content.

Although not just about Britain, T.R.Shaw's History of Cave Science is worth searching out and may still be on sale. The BCL also has a link to the original thesis, A history of the scientific investigation of limestone caves, to 1900 , which is available as a downloadable pdf from Leicester University, and was the basis for his book...

Offline mrodoc

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Re: A good book on the history of British caving
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2018, 09:47:54 am »
Peter Johnson's half a century old History of Mendip Caving is worth  a read and was a revelation when I started caving. It has been rubbished many times but at least he got something published. The MCRA will be publishing something similar in the not too distant future  that has been extensively  researched and should be free the bias that the original book had attributed to it by some reviewers.

Offline tony from suffolk

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Re: A good book on the history of British caving
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2018, 06:30:09 pm »
Peter Johnson's half a century old History of Mendip Caving is worth  a read and was a revelation when I started caving. It has been rubbished many times but at least he got something published. The MCRA will be publishing something similar in the not too distant future  that has been extensively  researched and should be free the bias that the original book had attributed to it by some reviewers.
A copy of this lurks in my bookcase somewhere. Mr Johnson certainly appeared to have a rather controversial view on the role certain historic characters played in the discoveries on Mendip during the early part of the last century. Still worth a read though, along with H.E. Blach's "Mendip - Its Swallet Caves and Rock Shelters".
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Offline ZombieCake

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Re: A good book on the history of British caving
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2018, 09:41:19 pm »
A few more from the early days:

Wookey Hole, It's Caves and Cave Dwellers (H E Balch - 1914)
Cave Hunting (W Boyd Dawkins - 1874)
Caving, Episodes of Underground Exploration (E A Baker - 1932/5)[/li][/list]


Bit wider in scope as well:

Underground World (Thos W Knox - 1879/82)
The Subterranean World (George Hartwig - 1885)
Famous Caves & Catacombes (W H Davenport Adams - 1886)

See if I can dig out some more stuff from the bookshelves.




Offline RM

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Re: A good book on the history of British caving
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2018, 02:22:24 pm »
Thanks all for the input on this topic.

Much appreciated

One more entirely random questions for the oldies out there. Does anyone know when the first "British Caving Association" started. I realise the NCA was before the BCA, but was there anything before? And when did it start?

Cheers


Offline Ian Ball

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Re: A good book on the history of British caving
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2018, 02:56:03 pm »
BSA, British Speleological Association was formed in 35 I think.

Offline andys

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Re: A good book on the history of British caving
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2018, 02:57:00 pm »
Others will correct me if I'm wrong here, but I think the first "attempt" to create a national body was when Eli Simpson formed the British Speleological Association in, I think, 1935. However, and despite the name, this was really just a "Dales thing" and got quickly plagued by politics. After the war, the Cave Research Group came to the fore as a national representative body, but the emphasis was on cave science rather than caving. Ultimately, that role was taken on by the British Cave Research Association (BCRA) - which still continues as an important constituent part of the BCA to this day. It the meantime, each caving region had developed its own regional council - e.g. the Council of Northern Caving Clubs (CNCC) for the Dales etc, etc - and the National Caving Association (NCA) developed as a sort of federation of these. In parallel, various specialist bodies had formed their own national structures including, for example, the Cave Diving Group (CDG) and the various rescue organisations. Finally, the BCA came about to try bring the whole into a single body which would be recognised, e.g. to government, at at national level.
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Offline RM

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Re: A good book on the history of British caving
« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2018, 03:39:44 pm »
Thanks guys that's really helpful.  :)

Offline bograt

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Re: A good book on the history of British caving
« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2018, 05:46:57 pm »
British Speleological Society and Cave Research Group merged about 1970 to form the British Cave Research Association (BCRA).
 Some time during the '60's the regional bodies (CNCC, DCA, CCC, MCC, CSCC) combined to form a nationally recognised representative body, the NCA, this was thought to be a good idea to represent caving as a unified national sport to central government. Various other relevant groups were included at the time and were also added over the years (BCRC, BCIC, BCRA, CDG, etc.).
 The NCA plodded on for some time until cavers began to re-think how they wanted to be represented and the whole system was revamped sometime in the late '80's, early'90's, that led to the renaming to the BCA.

  At least that's how this senile ex-caving decrepit recalls it !! :'( :'(
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Offline Ian Ball

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Re: A good book on the history of British caving
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2018, 06:48:10 pm »
I think the BCA is more likely to be early 2000s?

Offline bograt

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Re: A good book on the history of British caving
« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2018, 07:01:11 pm »
Maybe so, memory's a bit mush since my 'episode'  ;)
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Offline Jenny P

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Re: A good book on the history of British caving
« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2018, 08:21:10 pm »
The first truly British caving association which covered both the Regional Councils and the scientific bodies: BSA, CRG and Pengelly CST, plus the British Cave Rescue Council and other nationally representative bodies was founded in 1968 as a "federation", called the "National Caving Association".  (It was called National, rather than British, because at the time it was hoped that the Northern Irish clubs might wish to be involved - in fact they later became part of the all-Ireland federation instead.) 

Initially Club and Individual cavers were NOT allowed to have membership, their representation came through the Regional Councils of Caving:  CSCC, DCA, CNCC followed by CCC in 1969.  BSA and CRG combined in 1973 to form BCRA and this became one of the two "scientific bodies".  Many of us were not happy with the situation where clubs were not allowed to be "members" and pressurised to allow Clubs, and even individuals, to become members of NCA.  (See the references in Descent to "The Gang of 13" in 1993.)  There was fierce resistance in some quarters to the idea of individual cavers being allowed to be members of NCA although it was reluctantly accepted that clubs might become members.

It had become clear by the late 1990's that NCA was not really working as a "national body", it wasn't truly representative of British cavers and caving. Things came to a head when it became clear that PL insurance for cavers had to work through individuals and could not be done just on a club basis.  There was a lengthy consultation process and the British Caving Association came into being in 2004, taking over from NCA fully in 2005.  BCA has both club and individual membership and also retains elements of the original "federal" structure of regional councils, scientific bodies and other nationally representative bodies.

The recent BCA AGM has now set up a Working Group to look into its structure, to see how it currently operates, and to look at how this might be improved in the future.  The Group is due to report to BCA with a view to possible changes by the AGM in 2019.

Offline bograt

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Re: A good book on the history of British caving
« Reply #15 on: June 22, 2018, 11:01:27 am »
Another contributory factor to the inclusion of individual members was the development of SRT, huge groups and clubs were no longer required to lug miles of ladders around the countryside when a couple of cavers with a bag full of rope could do the job easier.
 Just an example of caving keeping up with the times.
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