In the Beginning (By Douglas T Richardson)
I make no apologies for digging up the past for: I am the past. It started one evening in August 1953 when a friend of mine, Derrick Whiteley, approached me and asked if l had ever been caving. Well one does not often get a chance to blow one’s own trumpet so l pulled out treasured snaps depicting my efforts at caving some years previous and a much-thumbed Norman Thornber Pennine Underground. We had a few trips together then Derrick got a job at Southern and Redfern Ltd, Refrigeration Engineers, Bradford where he persuaded a number of his newly acquired workmates that potholing was an exciting pastime. The Southern & Redfern Caving Club was created. This had advantages, the use of one of the firms lift trucks for transport, disadvantage – the management of the club limited to employees of the firm.
By May 1954 the membership was being drawn from further afield and it was decided we should go it alone. A new name was required and the White Rose Pothole Club was born. We held our first White Rose Pothole Club meeting on Sunday 2nd May 1954, the venue being Calf Holes Pot, Birkwith, Browgill, Old Ing and Dismal Hill Caves.
The 1980’s (By John Rockett)
Joe Querns and I purchased an old ambulance. I was the driver, and Joe was the Flight Hostess and Cook. The Whittingham brothers were frequent flyers, with Big Al riding shotgun providing repairs using parts he found blowing around. A paraffin camping stove mounted in the cabin. The air filter was an old frying pan. The exhaust system cut-up Hamlet Cigar tins.
We’d just finished a trip down Swinsto, so of course Joe went straight to his on-board stove to brew-up. We didn’t have any alcohol to get the paraffin stove going, so he used his lighter to heat the coils. As usual, Joe had to knock off to light up his pipe. Unknown to him the flame had gone out, and the white vapours were filling the cabin. Joe sparked up. Outside, we saw a brilliant flash of yellowish light followed by black smoke spewing from the cabin.
Out walked Joe, looking like Wylie Coyote when the Acme All-purpose Stove failed. Eyes wid open, eyebrows gone, thin wisps of hair stood straight up and curled at the tip. A thin trail of blue smoke emerged from his pipe.
The 1990’s (By Richard Bendall)
In February 1999, Steve Warren and Phil Ryder spent a snowy day checking out features on Grassingon Moor in preparation for some notes about the caves and mines of the area. On March 5th, Steve Warren and Richard Gibson were up there for a look at the enigmatic Palfrey Pot. Returning by way of Fossil Pot the pair did no more than poke their heads into the entrance rift.
Five days later, on March 10th, after a period of heavy rain, Richard Gibson returned with Richard Bendall for a look at the blind rift at the bottom of the 11m entrance shaft to Fossil Pot and claimed that they could hear a stream through a small hole in the west wall near the north end of the rift.
Five days later again, a determined effort was made to enlarge the hole using the Hilti drill. Three weeks elapsed before Richard Gibson could squeeze through into a second rift.
Three days later Anthony Wood (Woody) made a perilous climb into the roof of the second rift to emerge into a 500m extraordinarily configured cave system.