British Cave Research Association Online Archive

BCRA Online Archive

Peter Binns Collection


Photograph of Peter Binns in Hensler's Master Cave the day after its discovery. Photograph: Fred Davies

Peter Beuzeville Binns (1917-2002) played a significant role in the reorganisation of British Caving after the Second World War. Born in Abergavenny, his parents moved to Lancashire when he was a teenager, and he often holidayed with his aunt in Austwick, when he enjoyed caving. Eli Simpson also lived in Austwick, and he proceeded to enrol Peter and school friends as apprentices. In 1934 when he was just sixteen, he stayed in the shooting hut on Leck Fell with his friend Lawrence Buckle for a week, when they helped Simpson explore and survey the upper reaches of Pippikin and Nippikin, and had sorties into other caves in the area. The following year, he spent a full month helping Simpson - collecting speleothems! That was the year that Simpson formed the British Speleological Association.

Peter became a fully fledged member of the BSA, and he is probably best remembered for the surveying and photography trip into the Hensler's system with Monty Grainger, Fred Davies, and Peter Longbottom the day after it was discovered, when he assisted Grainger with the surveying. Peter features in the accompanying iconic picture of the twin stalactites in the Hensler's Master Cave taken by Fred Davies.

After the war, the national British Speleological Association fragmented with much acrimony including accusations of financial impropriety against Eli Simpson, resulting in the expulsion of a number of senior members, including Peter Binns. Many of the northern cavers left to establish the Red Rose Cave and Pothole Club, the Northern Pennine Club, and the Northern Speleological Group. He, with a number of others including Aubrey Glennie, Lewis Railton, and Marjorie Railton established an alternative speleological organisation in late 1946 / early 1947, the Cave Research Group, which was probably why he (and others) were expelled from the BSA in August 1947. The CRG was initially run from a shed at the bottom of Peter's garden. Peter was a banker by profession, and he remained treasurer of the CRG until 1968. The CRG eventually merged with the remnants of the BSA five years later to become the British Cave Research Association. Peter also joined the Northern Pennine Club, although he was not a founder member.

We are grateful to Peter's son Michael for scanning Peter's material and making it available to the BCRA Online Archive. Only half of the material supplied has been put online, but digital images of the rest of the material are available on application. Michael has compiled a comprehensive catalogue which is available here, which should be consulted with the associated notes and key available here. He is happy for the photos to be used in a non-commercial way by the BCRA and any other speleological organisation for educational and research purposes, but requests that the source be acknowledged. They are not available for commercial use.

1934 Holiday caving journal
54 images (18.2 MB)
Northern Pennnine Club
10 images (5.3 MB)
Gaping Gill
33 images (16.1 MB)
Yorkshire caves
55 images (32 MB)
Ogof Ffynnon Ddu
16 images (9.2 MB)