Author Topic: Fred Davies - Quintessential Mendip Caver and more.  (Read 607 times)

Offline Russell Myers

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Fred Davies - Quintessential Mendip Caver and more.
« on: June 28, 2020, 07:06:28 pm »
Sad to have to post that Fred passed away last Saturday 20th June aged 87. I did some memorable caving with him both on the Mendips and in the North; notably a trip down Top Sinks on a falling flood to Lancaster Hole sump and back out the same way on a rising flood to emerge in Easegill flooded from side to side, pitch black, raining sideways and thick fog. We hit the fell wall but didn't know whether to go up or down to the Farm - epic. Needless to say I'm writing this.
Brian Prewer has given me permission to post his obituary to Fred:
OBITUARY
Fred Davies
Fred Davies passed away on the 20th June after a long illness.  Although Fred was primarily a Mendip caver he spent many hours caving in the Dales mainly with the CPC.
Fred was born in Street in Somerset & grew up in the area going on to Exeter University to study physics. From university he did his National Service at Catterick camp as an instructor. This of course gave him the opportunity to spend weekends caving in the Dales, the Army kindly providing transport & equipment.
After National Service Fred went into teaching finally teaching physics at a private school in Bruton. After marrying Andy they settled in a small Somerset village called Neighbourne near Shepton Mallet. Fred lived in Neighbourne for 55 years.
Fred was a regular Mendip caver with several notable discoveries to his name. Cowsh Avens in Swildon’s, North Hill Swallet & Manor Farm Swallet were three caves that he was heavily involved with. Around that time Fred became a founder member of a multi club digging group called NHASA, North Hill Association for Spelaeological Advancement, about that time NASA were sending people to the moon.
Fred dug with NHASA for many years from North Hill to Windsor Hill, Manor Farm, Twin Tees & Lodmore. These were all long term digs some lasting over 8 years.
For many years Fred was a Warden of the MRO, Mendip Rescue Organization (now known as MCR). He was involved in many of the more serious rescues & became famous for this rescue technique known as “Fred’s Boot”. This technique was reported in an article in the medical journal The Lancet by the then MRO doctor, Don Thompson. A caver described by Don as being in a “blue funk” & perhaps requiring a bit of assistance up a flooded pitch had “the boot” applied in the appropriate place.
Over many years cavers from Mendip would travel north for the GG winch meet. Fred would have been one of them, enjoying camping with some of his family down at Crummack. He developed a great relationship with the farmer at Crummack who allowed Fred to camp there even after everyone else had been banned. I can always remember Fred & his son-in-law Brian Workman setting out from the beer tent in the dark heading back to Crummack. Follow a bearing of 120deg Fred would say. They never missed the camp!
Fred caved with Eric Hensler in GG finding the Short Hensler’s link. He also helped with CPC trips to Mendip leading various trips.
I was still a school when I first met Fred, we caved together on Mendip from about 1953 onwards. Wednesday night was digging night & we both enjoyed the get togethers & of course the chat in the pub afterwards. Fred had a very active & full life & will be missed by his many friends & family & by Brenda & I in particular. Condolences to his wife, Andy, &  his very extensive family.
 Brian Prewer
JFK: Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

Offline mrodoc

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Re: Fred Davies - Quintessential Mendip Caver and more.
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2020, 10:59:40 am »
I am fortunate enough to have known Fred.  It is to my eternal shame that I didn't get round to interviewing him about his exploits, he having made the offer some years back. However I have a recent recording made in the company of among others the Mendip stalwart Jim Hanwell at a 'coffee morning' at the Belfry (BEC club hut) where older cavers gather  periodically to chat about the past. It is my intention to edit this and place it in the audio archive. I also have film of Fred singing at a couple of events. Just before he passed away he also communicated some interesting observations on the circumstances surrounding the death of Jack Waddon in the  Mineries Pool way back in 1962 that had a profound effect on the direction the CDG took, Fred, amongst his other activities, having been a pioneer cave diver. He will be sadly missed. The accompanying photograph shows him in Twin Titties (currently closed) just after a major breakthrough that has not been followed up due to the cave's closure.

Offline Russell Myers

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Re: Fred Davies - Quintessential Mendip Caver and more.
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2020, 07:37:48 pm »
That's a great photograph - captures Fred down to a T (if you'll pardon my pun in an obituary).
JFK: Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

Offline Sid

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Re: Fred Davies - Quintessential Mendip Caver and more.
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2020, 11:34:15 am »
Another pic from the archive

Swildon's Cowsh Aven by MCRA, on Flickr

 

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