RRCPC Newsletter
Volume 41 Number 3 Article 2
December 2004

Obituary - Eric Holland

I am sad to report that a friend and our neighbour, Eric Holland died on Wednesday 21 July aged 70 after a long fight against cancer.

Eric was active with the Red Rose in the early exploration of Easegill Caverns. He was posted to Malaya for his National Service where he explored the Batu Caves. As one of the original Leslie Thomas's 'Virgin Soldiers', he became a Buddhist, married a Chinese - Malay girl, Pat and had a daughter Susan.

On returning to England he lived at Stainton Hall which he and his daughter shared with a steam-roller. He took a keen interest in explosives and the local iron-ore industry. He was the last person to fill and send to grass a wagon of iron ore from Margaret Mine, the last mine to operate in the Furness Peninsular.

Eric was a writer and an imaginative artist, particularly of mining scenes. He wrote a mining/caving handbook (Underground in Furness), a companion to Norman Thornber's Pennine Underground. His interest in the Copper Mines at Coniston, led him to produce two books on these; a field guide and a more detailed historical work. His interest in the Austrian connection also took him to Austria to look at their mining history.

He was a founder member of Cumbria Amenity Trust (CAT) mining historical society.

Eric had a particular affinity for the Welsh, having worked at a coal mine in Flintshire. His fine baritone voice stood him in good stead in the pubs on the trips he led to the North Wales underground slate quarries.

Not only was Eric interested in everything underground, he was passionate about all things steam. His own steam roller won best in Class at last year's Cumbria Steam Gathering, and he was all ready to be there again this year had his illness not prevented him.

He was a member of CAMRA and as a keen supporter of real ale, was critical of take-overs by national brewers and the demise of local brews.

Later in his life, Eric became a mature student at Lancaster University, where he obtained a degree.

Older Red Rose members will remember Eric for many reasons; Dave Creedy and Duncan Baldwin for taking them down the Coniston Copper Mines which they then graded VD - very dodgy. Others will remember him for his mad doctor after-dinner turns; when the 'mad doctor' carried out an operation on his patient, producing a collection of animal parts he had obtained earlier that day from an abattoir. On one occasion the high spot was a spleen which, when produced with a flourish, caught and broke the chandelier overhead.

He is survived by his second wife Mo and his daughter Susan from his earlier marriage to Pat.

His wake at Greenside House with his steam roller, Rambler, gently chuffing away, was well attended by his family and many friends. This was an occasion he would have appreciated and as one person was heard to say, "it was the best funeral he had ever been to", which is a reflection of the respect his many friends had of Eric.

Peter Llewellyn

Eric Holland at Oxford Pot (from the Ron Bliss archive)

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