MCG Occasional Publication No. 5
Mendip Caving Group
A Retrospective View
MCG Occasional Publication No. 5
Editors: Joan Goddard, Tony Knibbs
Mendip Caving Group 2007
Mendip Caving Group is a registered charity No. 270088
It is eleven years since the last major publication, during which time Mendip Caving Group has celebrated its Fiftieth Anniversary. The purpose of this publication is to give readers a flavour of those 50+ years but is not intended to be a comprehensive historical document. Following this introduction is a Concise History of the Mendip Caving Group by Tony Knibbs which serves as a framework into which articles can be placed. The main source material has been old newsletters and journals and, of course, memories.
In his article "A Caver's Ramblings into the Past" Malcolm Cotter described the events leading to the formation of the Group by four founder members, two of whom (Malcolm and Dennis Hemmings) we were able to welcome at the Fiftieth Celebration Dinner at Combe Lodge. Of course, the present membership will remember Malcolm for his enthusiasm for all things to do with caving and especially for his devotion to the exploration of Upper Flood. A special edition of the Newsletter paid tribute to Malcolm after his untimely death in 2006; MCG owes its very existence to Malcolm's enthusiasm and vision back in 1953.
Two other members who contributed to the success of the Group in its formative years have written about those times; Tony Crawford has lived in New Zealand for many years but remembers Mendip as if it were yesterday and his writings recall Malcolm's early role in the development of the Group. Richard Woollacott's "Rather Random Memories" is wonderfully descriptive.
Anyone who has been on a foreign caving holiday/expedition will recall friendships forged and a team spirit that continues long after returning home. Most foreign trips have been written up elsewhere so "Expeditions and Holidays - the first 50 years" written by Joan Goddard is intended very much as an aide memoire. The photographs in particular should jog a few memories.
"Tackle and Equipment" by Tony Knibbs explains how caving has changed since 1954 - caving trips that were arduous in the 1950s are now just Sunday afternoon bimbles because of improvements in clothing and equipment.
The final contribution was to have been an article bringing the Upper Flood story up to date with the discovery of Golden Chamber during the Group's 50th anniversary year. The amazing discoveries since then have put such an article beyond the scope of this publication - they will be written up in a future publication dedicated to Upper Flood Swallet.
This publication has been gestating for a few years and has been picked up and put down by more than one editor. Its foundation was laid by Yvonne Rowe who systematically abstracted information relating to the development of the Group from many of the old newsletters and journals . This proved a valuable source when producing this journal, and the abstracts are now housed in the library as a useful data source.
We hope you find this a "good read". If it encourages you to dig out old photos, a personal log or diary entries to share with the rest of us, that will be our reward - there must be many more tales out there just waiting to be told.
Thanks to the contributors, and to those who have helped in other ways, for patiently answering questions, supplying and identifying photographs, and to Linda Milne for proof-reading the final document. It has been very much a joint effort and it is not possible to thank everybody - you know who you are and we are grateful for all the help you have given.
The acknowledgement which appears on a photograph reflects its source. This does not always mean that person is the photographer but that he/she donated it to the Group's collection.
Compilation of this publication has relied heavily on the contents of the Group's library and the personal recollections of many people. The library is of significant and lasting value. Personal recollections are most reliable when held in written form, memories become fallible. Photos need conscientious filing so if you haven't done so already start recording for the future now.
[Note: photos in this html version are low res b&w copies from the paper document, not originals]
Mendip Caving Group. UK Charity Number 270088. The object of the Group is, for the benefit of the public, the furtherance of all aspects of the exploration, scientific study and conservation of caves and related features. Membership shall be open to anyone over the age of 18 years with an interest in the objects of the Group.