The Myers Collection
Jack Osborne Myers (1925-2008) will be for ever remembered by northern cavers for the book "Underground Adventure" that he co-authored with Arthur Gemmel, and which was published in 1952, widely considered to be one of the best British caving books. The late 1940s were a 'golden age' of potholing, and many major new systems were being entered, including Notts Pot, Ireby Fell Cavern, Lancaster Hole, Simpson Pot, Penyghent Pot and Ease Gill Caverns. Gemmel and Myers were at the centre of many of these explorations, and their accounts communicate vividly the excitement of exploration. Much of his earlier caving was done with the British Speleological Association, but as a result of the shenanigans that pervaded the caving community in the post-war years, he joined the Northern Pennine Club in 1948.
Jack was a Bradford lad, born in 1925, his parents being Luther and Clara. He graduated from Leeds University in 1945 with a degree in Geology and Mathematics when he was just 20, and spent most of his career there as a lecturer and researcher in the Department of Mining. He was awarded a PhD in geophysics in 1958.
He started caving when he was just 16, with J.B. Stott, their first recorded exploration being in Rowten caves in June 1941, using candles for illumination. By June 1942 he had met up with Eli Simpson, and for the next few years was closely associated with the British Speleological Association. He was involved in the original exploration of Disappointment Pot in March 1944, which he followed up with a number of surveying and photographic trips, and he gained a reputation for being a serious and scientific caver. To judge from his caving logs, the reputation was well deserved. The original explorations with which he was involved included those of Notts Pot, Lancaster Hole, Ease Gill Caverns, Penyghent Pot, where Myers' Leap is named after him, Pikedaw Calamine Caverns, and Magnetometer Pot, where a magnetometer was employed to locate the metal work that had been used to cover the entrance.
His active caving career was cruelly restricted when he contracted poliomyelitis in 1959, a not uncommon disease in the 1950s. This left him with reduced mobility and strength, but he was the sort of character who made the best of what was available, and was soon to be seen back in the hills at the controls of at first, a Haflinger, and later, a small three-wheeled Honda all-terrain bike.
He left his collection to the Northern Pennine Club, and it has a permanent home at Greenclose, the Northern Pennine Club's base. However, his executor generously gave permission for it to be digitised, so it could be enjoyed by the whole caving community. His family retains the copyright. Alan Jeffreys and John Manchip from the Grampian Speleological Group undertook the task of photographing and processing the bulk of the material in Edinburgh using equipment supplied by the British GeologicaL Survey. This was a hugely time-consuming task, and we are deeply indebted to them for their efforts.
We have been heavily dependent on John Cordingley's article about Jack Myers in Descent No. 205, and for the article he wrote for the North Craven Heritage Trust, when preparing this introduction.
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