The John Beck and Doug Nash Collection

Photograph of Doug Nash

Doug Nash (1921-2016)

(Return to Collection Registry)   The Doug Nash / John Beck collection is an important collection of Derbyshire material collected over a period of seventy years. John Beck, Doug Nash and Glebe Cottage were a legend among Derbyshire cavers and it had become the established custom for anyone making a new discovery to go and tell John and Doug all about it, while drinking endless cups of tea. Cavers knew they could rely on John's discretion if it was a "secret dig" and he took over as the Derbyshire Cave Registry Secretary from some time in the 1980s, so it was a natural for him to become the editor and compiler for "Caves of the Peak District" for the 1991 and 2010 editions.

John died in 2015, and when Doug died the following year their combined caving and mining material was bequeathed to the BCRA, and passed to the BCL. The majority of Doug's own material related to mining history and included the Nellie Kirkham collection and this was all passed to the Peak District Mines Historical Society, with the agreement of the BCRA. PDMHS retained the published books and journals in their own library, but passed on the archival material to the Derbyshire Record Office where it is available for public consultation. Nellie Kirkham's field notes were scanned by Mark Noble, and have been put online by the PDMHS

John's main interest was caving and cave surveying. He moved to share Glebe Cottage with Doug in the mid-1970s, shortly after he had finished his first degree. He then did a PhD at Leicester University under Trevor Ford on "Aspects of Speleogenesis in the Carboniferous Limestone of North Derbyshire". A copy of this is held by the BCL, along with his collection of theses by other caver and scientists. These range from Gordon Warwick's thesis from the late 1940's on Derbyshire reef limestones of the Manifold and Dove valleys, to more recent work by other well known cave scientists.

Photograph of John Beck

John Beck (1946-2015))

John collected books on caving and caving journals and the combined collection of his and Doug's books was considered a "resource in common" to be consulted by whoever called at Glebe Cottage. It was Doug who maintained a record of publications which came into the house, although he didn't keep a record of all the surveys. These publications have been merged with BCL's own existing stock with duplicates passed on to other clubs or individual cavers.

John also had a collection of aerial photos, some dating back to 1948. These are catalogued and annotated to indicate which items of geological and/or speleological interest are on each photo. There is also a spreadsheet listing of all the various tubes and plan chest drawers of surveys and maps and what was in them. It runs to over 7,000 items but the tubes themselves are not numbered and the labelling on them is brief and cryptic, so much work is required to establish what is where.

John's caving notebooks are currently held in six archive boxes and each notebook is dated. These contain notes on every caving trip he did, what he found, all his many digs and also, of course, sketch surveys.

There is much work to be done to properly catalogue and organise the material, but in the meantime further details may be obtained from the BCL Librarian, and some of the material may be inspected by prior arrangement at the BCL premises in Glutton Bridge.