The Bob Leakey Collection

Photograph of the Reverend William Black

Bob Leakey in 1959

(Return to Collection Registry)   Bob Leakey (1914 - 2013) needs little introduction to most British cavers - he was truly a legend in his own lifetime. His caving exploits included long solo explorations into the far reaches of Mossdale Caverns; the solo exploration of the back-end of Ingleborough Cave through the Near Wallows; free-diving a flat-out sump allowing a full exploration of Disappointment Pot; and pushing though a particularly nasty duck in Hull Pot. During the war he made a number of solo first ascents in the Himalayas.

When Bob died in 2013 his family generously donated some of Bob's caving material to the British Caving Library, a catalogue of which is available on request. The collection is particularly interesting in that it documents several important elements of UK caving history.

The Northern Speleological Group

When Bob Leakey was expelled from the British Speleological Association, ostensibly for not sharing information with their Hon. Recorder Eli Simpson, he formed the Northern Speleological Group in October 1953. This was a very active club for many years, amalgamating with the Black Rose Caving Club in 1960. The Bob Leakey collection contains all the material from the early years of the NSG - including Bulletins, Minutes, correspondence, finance, and exploration notes.

The Cave Preservation Society

Bob Leakey was involved in many of the explorations in the Lancaster Hole - Ease Gill Caverns, and was perturbed by the damage done to the floors and formations. As a consequence, in 1952 he established the Cave Preservation Society - a national organisation dedicated to looking after our caves. It was only active for four years, but in that time was involved with taping routes through caves, clearing rubbish from caves, advising on digs, producing a cave preservation code, writing articles in caving magazines, and lobbying planning departments. It was fifty years before its time. The collection contains what is probably a fully comprehensive set of material relating to the society.

The Neil Moss Incident

Bob Leakey attended the attempted rescue of Neil Moss in Peak Cavern in 1959, and formulated strong views about how it had been conducted and the decision to leave Neil Moss's body in situ. He gathered together a lot of newspaper clippings and the full Coroner's report, and entered into correspondence with all the people on the original trip, trying to elicit their version of the events. He then wrote a long article on the incident which was critical of the Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation - a critique which was vigorously rejected by Les Salmon and the DCRO. All this material is held as part of the collection.

Other material includes a considerable amount related to the Cave Rescue Organisation and cave rescue in general, and a lot of newspaper clippings relating to the Mossdale incident.

Further details may be obtained from the BCL Librarian, and the material may be inspected by prior arrangement at the BCL premises in Glutton Bridge.