RRCPC Newsletter
Volume 45 Number 4 Article 4

October 2008

Harry Holliday’s photo-album: Lancaster Hole, 1956

Peter & Julie Mohr

Some years ago we were surprised to spot a couple of photographs of Lancaster Hole in the Manchester Museum. At that time the displays were of the traditional type in nice wooden cabinets, and tucked away in a quiet corner was a diorama of a limestone cave, explaining the formation of stalagmites & stalactites.

In order to give the visitor a feel for the ‘real thing,’ the artificial cave was illustrated with impressive black & white photographs of the Colonnades and the Graveyard. The original prints were attributed to Harry Holliday. Not long after, the Museum was closed for modernisation and the ‘cave’ dismantled.

Harry Holliday still works as a volunteer curator in the geology section of the Museum and recently we met-up with him to look at his photo collection. Harry has a long history of potholing, cave photographer, mine explorer and mineralogy. During the 1950s-60s he did much of his caving with the Derbyshire Caving Club, but also made several visited to Ease Gill. His mine explorations extended to Nenthead Mines and he has done much exploratory work in the Alderley Edge Mines. These days his mine trips are somewhat curtailed and much of his time is now spent cataloguing mineral & crystal samples in the geology collection.

His photographic technique was straight forward, using a folding Kodak Brownie camera and flashbulbs rather than flash-powder (see Descent 198, 2007, for Ron Bliss’ technique).

Harry’s treasure is his huge photo-album, which houses a collection of wonderful underground shots – black & white views of cave formations and cavers from all over, but it was the Ease Gill photographs that caught our attention – the pictures of the Colonnades and Graveyard were there along with many others. Harry was kind enough to allow us to scan a few of his photographs for the Newsletter, shown below.

Old photographs are important to speleology. They document the technical & social history of caves & cavers, and more important, they provide a valuable conservation record of cave formations (Descent 192, 2006.)

We are grateful to Harry for this glimpse of Ease Gill from the 1950s.

(The titles of the photos are those used in Harry’s album. The names of the cavers in the pictures are not known)

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