British Cave Research Association Online Archive

BCRA Online Archive

BSA Associated Material


This material from the Peter Binns Collection casts an interesting light on the British Speleological Association from its inception in 1935 to its fragmentation in 1947. Peter was caving when a schoolboy with Eli Simpson from 1934, exploring and surveying systems such as Nippikin and Pippikin. He became a very active member of the Association, and was renowned for surveying the Hensler extension in Gaping Gill with Monty Grainger, Fred Davies, and Peter Longbottom the day after it was discovered. The photographs show how the BSA organised mass meets in different area, staying in either camps or convenient properties such as the then-abandoned farmhouse in Crina Bottom and the shooting hut on Leck Fell.

Peter's time with the BSA was brought to an ignominious end in 1947 when he was expelled at the same time as six other prominent members - Frank Butterfield, Arthur Gemmel, Aubrey Glennie, Mary Hazelton, Gerard Platten and Norman Thornber. The politics within the BSA had become pretty toxic since the end of the war. In 1946 several members of the elected Council objected strongly to Eli Simpson's continued authoritarian approach to running the Association, and Peter Binns, in his role as Treasurer, publicly accused him of financial impropriety. Passions were running high - in a letter to Frank Butterfield written in the September of that year, Peter Binns expressed the view that Simpson "was a cunning and dishonest man".

As a direct result of these difficulties, Binns, Glennie, Hazleton and others established the Cave Research Group, an alternative scientific body, which seem to have provoked the expulsions. John Hooper, a member of the BSA Council resigned in disgust, writing in a public letter to Platten: "Firstly, therefore, I must say that I strongly disapprove of the recent action of a limited and unrepresentative portion of the B.S.A. Council in expelling a number of members (yourself included) and in their policy of pursuing a feud with the Cave Research Group".

The scientific section of the BSA and the Cave Research Group merged in 1973 to form the British Cave Research Association.

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