The Gerard Platten Scrapbooks

Photograph of Gerard Platten in about 1937

Gerard Platten, 1937

Gerard Platten (1899-1970) is probably best known for his journal The British Caver, a bi-annual publication of material relating to caves and caving in Britain and the rest of the world. He produced this for almost 30 year years, originally by himself, but later, as his health degenerated, with a number of helpers. In 1964 it was taken over by Tony Oldham.

Platten was a very active caver in the 1930s, being instrumental in opening up Cow Hole on Mendip, and organising much of the exploration of Dan Yr Ogof. He was also a prolific collector of caving material - books, pamphlets, ephemera, and just plain information. In the late 1930s and early 1940s for a period of about six years, he maintained a set of caving scrapbooks, containing a cornucopia of material relating to caving, including photographs, maps, re-typed articles, and re-drawn surveys. These he passed round to a select few cavers who in return gave him information. In total, he produced 40 of these scrapbooks, of which 12 are currently unaccounted for (if any of these turn up we would be grateful if you would let us know).

Those that were available at the time were indexed by Dave Irwin in 1989 for the Wells and Mendip Museum, a copy of which may be downloaded here (30Mb PDF file). Alan Gray also went through the same scrapbooks, and compiled a list of all original Mendip-related material which may be found here (PDF file). The photographs were scanned and some are available on the MCRA website. Volumes 1, 12, 20, and 27 were found later and Dave Judson produced a table of contents for each. Their availability is shown in the notes below.

Gerard Platten bequeathed his caving collection, including the scrapbooks, to the Wells and Mendip Museum, where they may be inspected. The following table summarises the current availability of the scrapbooks. Currently only Volume 20 is available online.

Volume Location Pages Online Notes
Index Wells and Mendip Museum Here Index to many of the scrapbooks compiled by Dave Irwin in 1989
1 Wells and Mendip Museum 1-449 Dave Judson's contents list available
2 Wells and Mendip Museum 450-726 Included in the Dave Irwin index
3 Wells and Mendip Museum 727-1008 Included in the Dave Irwin index
4 Wells and Mendip Museum 1019-1287 Included in the Dave Irwin index
4A MISSING 1300-1360 Listed in Vol 4 Index Pages 1300-1360
5 Wells and Mendip Museum 1360-1569 Included in the Dave Irwin index
6 MISSING
7 Wells and Mendip Museum 1724-1912 Included in the Dave Irwin index
8 Wells and Mendip Museum 1908-2074 Included in the Dave Irwin index
9 Wells and Mendip Museum 2080-3415 Included in the Dave Irwin index. Page nos. 2351-3350 unused
10 Wells and Mendip Museum Not Numbered Included in the Dave Irwin index
10A Wells and Mendip Museum Index Volumes 1-10
11 Wells and Mendip Museum 3596-3746 Included in the Dave Irwin index
12 MISSING Location known - being pursued by the BCL - TOC available here
13 MISSING
14 Wells and Mendip Museum 4200-4319 Included in the Dave Irwin index
15 Wells and Mendip Museum 4320-4482 Included in the Dave Irwin index
16 MISSING
17 Wells and Mendip Museum 4747-4827 Included in the Dave Irwin index
18 Wells and Mendip Museum 4935-5179 Included in the Dave Irwin index
19 MISSING
20 MISSING Here Location known - being pursued by the BCL - TOC available here
21 Wells and Mendip Museum Not Numbered Included in the Dave Irwin index
22 MISSING
23 Wells and Mendip Museum Not Numbered Included in the Dave Irwin index
24 MISSING
25 Wells and Mendip Museum Not Numbered Included in the Dave Irwin index
26 Wells and Mendip Museum Not Numbered Included in the Dave Irwin index
27 MISSING Location known - being pursued by the BCL - TOC available here
28 Wells and Mendip Museum Not Numbered Not indexed
29 Wells and Mendip Museum Not Numbered Included in the Dave Irwin index
30 Wells and Mendip Museum Not Numbered Included in the Dave Irwin index
31 Wells and Mendip Museum? Included in the Dave Irwin index
32 Wells and Mendip Museum Not Numbered Included in the Dave Irwin index
33 MISSING
34 Wells and Mendip Museum Not Numbered Included in the Dave Irwin index
35 MISSING
36 Wells and Mendip Museum Not Numbered Included in the Dave Irwin index
37 MISSING
38 MISSING