RRCPC Newsletter
Volume 44 Number 1 Article 10
October 2007

Ron Bliss: Obituary

Ron, or to give him his full name, Ronald Alfred Bliss, was born in Folkstone, Kent and moved to Lancaster with his parents in 1940 when he was thirteen. He was called up for National Service in 1945 and served in the R.A.S.C. From entries in the diaries he kept Private Bliss did not like army life and literally counted down the days until he was demobbed in April, 1948. Back in Civy Street Ron served an Apprenticeship and became a coach trimmer. Whilst he worked until retirement his interests in Caving, Photography and Music were far more important to him. He joined the Red Rose Cave and Pothole Club in 1949 and was a member, later an Honorary Life Member, until he died.

Ron Bliss, 1927-2007

I first met Ron Bliss when I joined the RRCPC in 1949. Fanatical cavers, we used any means to get to Bull Pot Farm. Bus from Lancaster to Kirkby Lonsdale, then a 5 mile walk - even resorting to cycling - the ride back, often against the wind carrying wet gear showed our dedication. Then Ron got a motorbike and our transport problems were solved. Almost, bikes were a bit unreliable and we became expert mechanics as well as expert cavers. Ron was also a tough guy, a coach fitter and carpet-fitter by trade, he didn't appear to feel the cold. On one unforgettable occasion we came out of Lancaster Hole, wet and to freezing temperatures only to find my motorbike with a flat back tyre. Ron fixed the puncture whilst I shivered and swore "never again". At least until next weekend. Ron always had technical skills and his interest in photography has recorded the Red Rose above and below ground for over half a century.

From black and white to 35mm slides and on to digital Ron must rate as one of the most talented photographers around. Ron's photographic models rarely appear in more than a couple of shots. When you have stood in a deep pool or under a waterfall while Ron set up his flash powder or flash bulbs, as well as put up with the noise of an ammunition box clanking through the snake in Oxford Pot you left the honour of being in Ron's photos to new naïve recruits to the club.

Ron has featured prominently in the clubs photographic competitions over the years and I have lost count of the number of times he has won the prestigious Giles Barker trophy for the best photo of the year.

Ron's talents also included audio and sound effects. Early club dinners were famous for their tape type shows based on the goon show and were take offs of the caving year and its characters. Jim Eyre did the scripts - we were the actors - and Ron did the recording and sound effects. I think the cast had as much fun as the audience.

For the best part of 60 years Ron was one of the clubs most enthusiastic and consistent members. For many years he was the Warden of Bull Pot Farm. An unenviable task. Keeping a rabble of unruly cavers in order took some doing. Ron was never known to lose his cool.

Ron's claim to fame was the discovery of the connecting passage between Easegill and Lancaster Hole. "Poetic Justice" was a triumph after the disaster of "Ignorance is Bliss" Passage which led northern cavings elite back into Oxford Pot instead of the master cave a few weeks earlier. Now he had his real Master Cave and an easier way into the unexplored caverns beyond.

On the clubs 25th anniversary a photo of the members was taken at Stop Pot where Lancaster Hole joins Easegill Caverns. Ron decided to take it the old way using flash powder. The resulting explosion nearly took the roof off and was followed by dense smoke. It almost goes without saying that it also produced one of Ron's perfect pictures.

The club was to celebrate Ron's 80th birthday in September 2007 but sadly he died just a few days short of this landmark. In spite of health problems even a few weeks before he died he still sparkled with enthusiasm when he showed off his latest photos and computer wizardry. Over the last few months of his life Ron made a DVD of the Caverns of Casterton Fell which was to be previewed at his party. It was agreed to go ahead with the party anyway in celebration of his life. The DVD brought back many memories for club members and will, for the future, record many of the wonderful passages and formations in pristine condition for all time.

Tom Sykes
September 2007

Lancaster Hole, Aquamud Sump

Easegill, Thackery's Survey

County Pot

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