Author Topic: North Manchester Caving Groups  (Read 825 times)

Offline langcliffe

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North Manchester Caving Groups
« on: November 29, 2019, 07:14:27 pm »
The library has been given a photograph album of Dales caves taken about 1950 (probably plus or minus 2 years). They were taken by a chap called Albert Wilkinson, (1926-1989), who married a lady called Elizabeth Emmen in 1952. I am trying to establish the name of the caving club that they belonged to. It must have been a reasonably large club, as they managed to get the resources together for a trip down Lost Johns' Cave via Dome Pitch, to Lyle Cavern with a camera - no mean feat in the days of rope ladders, wet pitches, and bicycle lamps. Members included "Reg", "Stinky", "Eric",  and "Betty" (probably his wife). We suspect that the club was based in the North Manchester area, but we don't know for sure. They were almost certainly Dales based.

Has anyone got any suggestions about the name of the club? Do the names mean anything to anybody? One candidate is North Manchester Caving Club, but I have no idea when they were founded.


Offline mikem

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Re: North Manchester Caving Groups
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2019, 11:53:36 am »
It seems that Grampian have copies of NMCC journals 1 & 2 (1969 & 70), whilst RRCPC have no.2 - maybe one of those has a bit of their history in? (the Caving Library appears to have neither).

Black & Tans Mountaineering & Caving Club were around then (although SE side):
https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/rock_talk/who_founded_the_black_and_tans_mc-521218

Offline Graigwen

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Re: North Manchester Caving Groups
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2019, 12:10:07 pm »
NMCC were in the electron ladder fabrication business in 1970/72. This was organised by a guy called Steve Greatorex if I remember correctly.

Two of their electron ladders were still in use in one of the I'r de o Ddraenen digs in 2017 !!!

.

Offline ALEXW

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Re: North Manchester Caving Groups
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2019, 02:50:46 pm »
I was a student at North Manchester Grammar School in the late 60s. I used to cave at weekend with Frank Addis my physics teacher.
I think he caved with The North Manchester Caving Club. I remember spending hours sawing aluminium tube to the correct length for making into ladders.
I remember doing Alum on a prototype ladder made with electrical conduit rungs spaced at, what seemed like, 2 foot spacing. I was fastened to a lifeline by an ex-army steel crab into a hemp rope wrapped around my waist about 5 times. My caving outfit at the time was a boiler suit and layers of wool, a bit heavy when wet. I later bought a goon suit and made my own wet suit with very inflexible neoprene, glue and yellow tape.
I remember the name Steve Greatorex.

Offline ALEXW

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Re: North Manchester Caving Groups
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2019, 02:56:00 pm »
A quick google "frank addis caving" came up with some links".

Offline mikem

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Re: North Manchester Caving Groups
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2019, 03:14:59 pm »
Frank Addis was still an active member into late 1970s / early 1980s.

Offline langcliffe

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Re: North Manchester Caving Groups
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2019, 03:39:24 pm »
Thank you for your replies. I was corresponding with Frank Addis when we were digging Long Rift Pot in 2008, but unfortunately the address I had now bounces, but I suppose 11 years is a long time.

Offline mikem

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Re: North Manchester Caving Groups
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2019, 03:47:58 pm »
Possibly the same as contributed a photo 3 years ago: https://www.ravenstonedale.org/link/2016/link-june2016.pdf

Offline Jenny P

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Re: North Manchester Caving Groups
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2019, 02:34:26 pm »
The group in question actually made caving ladders and these are seen in more clearly in some of the photos which have not yet been posted online.  The ladder-making would have been in the late 1940's or early 1950's - the photos are undated but we know the photograph album ends in 1952 and that the photographer, Albert Wilkinson, and his then girlfriend Betty Emmen (who he married in 1952), were involved in a cave rescue from Alum Pot in September 1948.  We know that Albert and Betty were caving with people their daughter referred to as "Rovers and Rangers" from Middleton in North Manchester, so a possibility is that this could be a Scout group in North Manchester, as opposed to a "caving club".  (She does say that they were part of a club but she doesn't know what it was called.)  However, the group were sufficiently organised to be making their own ladders so this does sound more like a caving club than a Scout group.

The ladders were wooden rungs and hemp sides, as seen in the photo in Lancliffe's original post.  One type, seen there, simply involved rungs with a hole bored, threaded onto the rope and a single knot holding the rung in place (provided the ladder was hung the right way up!).  The other type involved opening the lay of the rope to push the rung through and then whipping the rope above and below the rung with cord to fix the rung in place.  There is a comment in the album re. a photo showing this second type of ladder that it was superior in quality but took longer to make so they tended to make the single-knot variety.

Offline Jenny P

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Re: North Manchester Caving Groups
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2019, 02:22:43 pm »
Just checked the original Albert Wilkinson photo album again now it's come back to the British Caving Library and noticed the comment written in the album about the rope ladder made by opening the lay of the rope to push the rung through and then whipping the rope above and below the rung with cord to fix the rung in place.  (This ladder appears in several of the photos and is very easily identifiable, as opposed to the "knotted rope" version which is also in the photos.)

Albert remarks that "... this was the first ladder we made ..." and then goes on to say they changed to the knotted rope version because it was quicker to make.  If it was the first ladder, then that makes it 1948 at the latest because that's when their club was rescued from Alum Pot after a flood on 12 September 1948 and they'd been going for some time by then.

The chap who seems to be the leader of the group and appears in most of the photos is nicknamed "Stinky" and I wondered if that was because he favoured the small carbide lamps we used to use, which were always called "stinkies".  Albert and his girlfriend, who became his wife in 1952, are in many of the photos and are recognisable.

We don't have any of the North Manchester Caving Club items in the British Caving Library but, from the earlier responses, it sounds as if they might have been formed in the 1960's (their Journal No. 1 was dated 1969 according to Mikem) - so that's too late for our group, which was going strong in 1948.

So, who were the club?

Offline langcliffe

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Re: North Manchester Caving Groups
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2019, 02:45:49 pm »
So, who were the club?

I've been going through the CRO records for the period, and my firm favourite is currently the Lancashire Climbing and Caving Club. They were founded in 1936, and referenced by the CRO in the 1948.

Does anyone have any contacts for them?

Offline mikem

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Re: North Manchester Caving Groups
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2019, 04:46:03 pm »
"The club has a proud history of cave exploration but, sadly, despite the word “Caving” appearing in the club’s name, underground activity has, over recent years, gradually declined to almost nothing."

They do have photos from back in 2006: https://lancashireclimbingandcavingclub.co.uk/gallery/album/caving

Offline langcliffe

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Re: North Manchester Caving Groups
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2019, 04:49:42 pm »
"The club has a proud history of cave exploration but, sadly, despite the word “Caving” appearing in the club’s name, underground activity has, over recent years, gradually declined to almost nothing."

They do have photos from back in 2006: https://lancashireclimbingandcavingclub.co.uk/gallery/album/caving

Thank you - I  had found their website and sent off a request.

Offline mikem

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Re: North Manchester Caving Groups
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2019, 05:35:17 pm »
I expected you had, but thought the people in pictures might be recognised by some...

Offline Jenny P

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Re: North Manchester Caving Groups
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2019, 06:05:44 pm »
So, who were the club?

I've been going through the CRO records for the period, and my firm favourite is currently the Lancashire Climbing and Caving Club. They were founded in 1936, and referenced by the CRO in the 1948.

Does anyone have any contacts for them?

Right, we do have at least one journal of the Lancashire Caving & Climbing Club in the British Caving Library.  It hasn't been properly catalogued yet but I will check on this one tomorrow and see what date it is and whether it throws any light on this.

Offline langcliffe

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Re: North Manchester Caving Groups
« Reply #15 on: December 03, 2019, 06:07:58 pm »
So, who were the club?

I've been going through the CRO records for the period, and my firm favourite is currently the Lancashire Climbing and Caving Club. They were founded in 1936, and referenced by the CRO in the 1948.

Does anyone have any contacts for them?

Right, we do have at least one journal of the Lancashire Caving & Climbing Club in the British Caving Library.  It hasn't been properly catalogued yet but I will check on this one tomorrow and see what date it is and whether it throws any light on this.

I have had a reply from the Lancashire Climbing and Caving Club, and they have kindly agreed to look into it.

Offline mikem

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Re: North Manchester Caving Groups
« Reply #16 on: December 03, 2019, 06:17:48 pm »
GSG have Vol.3 Nos. 1, 2 (1963-64). Red Rose have a better selection (& from the right time):
Newsletter (1948 – 1949)   Nos. 1, 2, 5 & 15.
 Journal   1951, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011.
 Millenium Anthology   2001
 Bulletin   Summer ’76

Offline langcliffe

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Re: North Manchester Caving Groups
« Reply #17 on: December 03, 2019, 11:15:02 pm »
GSG have Vol.3 Nos. 1, 2 (1963-64). Red Rose have a better selection (& from the right time):
Newsletter (1948 – 1949)   Nos. 1, 2, 5 & 15.
 Journal   1951, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011.
 Millenium Anthology   2001
 Bulletin   Summer ’76

It's good to know that they exist. It means that the LCCC have a good chance of getting a definitive answer to whether or not it was their club involved.

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: North Manchester Caving Groups
« Reply #18 on: December 04, 2019, 08:33:50 am »
I was a member of the LCCC whilst at school.

Of note is the fact that it was originally "Lancashire Caving and Climbing Club" but much more recently it seems to have changed its name to "Lancashire Climbing and Caving Club".

I was very active with the club for a few years, with involvement in the Blea Gill Cave discoveries, among other stuff (i.e. when caving had a strong focus and there was lots going on). Some of the very senior members were very much around at the time: I remember many of them well but I don't remember (or even remember hearing of) any of the names mentioned in relation to the photos. So I'm wondering if the club concerned was a different one altogether and not the LCCC.

Offline Graigwen

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Re: North Manchester Caving Groups
« Reply #19 on: December 04, 2019, 09:09:20 am »

I think he caved with The North Manchester Caving Club. I remember spending hours sawing aluminium tube to the correct length for making into ladders.
I remember doing Alum on a prototype ladder made with electrical conduit rungs spaced at, what seemed like, 2 foot spacing. ...
I remember the name Steve Greatorex.

Now I remember, that at the time most electron ladders had rungs at 9" spacing but NMCC offered a cheaper version with rungs at 12" spacing - this cheap version is the one I obtained from them. My last order was greatly delayed and Steve Greatorex offered the explanation that the clubs premises had been damaged by fire. This might have been as late as 1972.

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Offline mikem

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Re: North Manchester Caving Groups
« Reply #20 on: December 04, 2019, 11:00:00 am »
I was a member of the LCCC whilst at school.

Of note is the fact that it was originally "Lancashire Caving and Climbing Club" but much more recently it seems to have changed its name to "Lancashire Climbing and Caving Club".
They are still listed on UKClimbing under the first name (this would have been some time ago):
"Caving meets for the troglodyte minority (NOT compulsory!) occur every fortnight."

& posted as recently as 2009:
"Have a number of folks who take part in both.
Next trips are
Deaths Head/Big Meanie exchange - Sun 29/3
Little Hull Pot - Sun 12/4
New Goyden Pot - Sun 26/4
All 3 are SRT trips though so I guess for folks experienced with the necessary skills/equipment"

Were still using the former website in 2013 (links take you to the new website):
https://www.shepton.org.uk/calendar/away/north-wales-fri-23082013

In 2018, the CNCC contacted them (amongst others), as had not been to any meetings in the previous 4 years:
"Lancashire Caving and Climbing Club: Confirmed that their club only ever really had a few active caving members, and caving activities have now ceased. The representative said he is now a member of RRCPC and is kept well informed by their representative."

Journals don't seem to come up that often (as some being offered for silly prices), but, unlike some other climbing clubs, they do appear to have kept their records (p.3):
http://www.flarchives.co.uk/uploads/1/9/7/5/19752675/news_from_the_archives_edition_171__jun_2016_.pdf
& https://lancashireclimbingandcavingclub.co.uk/history/

Apparently the Wessex have their 1986 Bulletin, which only "contains a report on diving in the Bahamanian
Blue Holes as part of the Operation Raleigh programme", of caving interest.

Offline Jenny P

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Re: North Manchester Caving Groups
« Reply #21 on: December 04, 2019, 12:14:51 pm »
I have now had a chance to check the BCL copies of the Lancashire Caving and Climbing Club Journal from 1953 to 1974 plus a single issue for 2002.  Vol. 1, No. 1 for 1953 has a list of members but they are all given in the format A. Bloggs or C. Dennis (Miss) so can't be related to the Christian names and nicknames associated with the Album photos.  There are around 70 members and the addresses given for them do include some addresses in or near north Manchester including several from Oldham but no record of Elizabeth Emmens or Albert Wilkinson.  (Although Betty and Albert had got married in 1952 and Albert had also gone to Peru in 1952 so it's likely that they wouldn't still have been on the list in 1953.)

We also have one single copy of an LCCC News Bulletin, Vol. 1, No.7, Spring 1948 but this is almost entirely concerned with climbing and mountaineering trips except for one item about the caves in South Wales.  Again, almost all references to people are in the format "initial, surname".  The only Christian names which appear are: George, Lionel, Lon [sic], Dan, Hubert, Mavis, Keith and Iris.  The Potholing Meets secretary is given as Miss D. Barron.

Somehow the style of the writing is rather "up market" and doesn't seem quite consistent with the first name and nickname style of the photo album.

I have checked again and we don't have any copies of North Manchester Caving Club publications so it's impossible to check the album against these.

Offline mikem

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Re: North Manchester Caving Groups
« Reply #22 on: December 04, 2019, 01:22:16 pm »
As you noted before, NMCC Journal 1 was 1969, so the club may well not have existed in 1950s.

"The Black and Tans from Manchester used the [Cioch Climbing Club - Stoney Middleton] hut for dossing and occasionally paid their fees." during the 1960s - so nicknames may have been more consistent with their members, but they don't seem to have left much in the way of written records...

Alternatively, John Warburton just did a Berger trip with the Rucksack Club & they've been going since 1902:
"Its been over 30 years since i was in the Berger, with a large club team of Rucksack,Karabiner,and Black and Tans cavers":
https://rucksackclub.org/2018/11/10/gouffre-berger-expedition/

The Karabiner Club were also caving at about the right time:
https://www.karabiner.org/articles/viewer.php?aid=2976

Not that Albert Wilkinson comes up in relation to any of them!
« Last Edit: December 04, 2019, 01:50:38 pm by mikem »