The John Woolley Photograph Collection

Photograph of John Woolley

John Woolley, August 1939

(Return to Collection Registry)   The John Woolley Collection is a collection of several thousand mostly medium format photographic slides of general caving interest taken mainly in the 1950s and 1960s, which was donated by his family to the British Caving Library.

John Woolley (1914-2002) was a pioneering photographer at the forefront of new technologies and techniques. He graduated from Birmingham University with Honours in Zoology and Chemistry and a PhD in Chemistry, followed by a career as a Research Scientist with I.C.I. Ltd. For many years he carried out research in colour photography for ICI-Ilford, and applied the skills he developed to his hobbies of cave exploration. He received a Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society for his work in this difficult field. In 1964 he was the official stills photographer on the Gouffre Berger expedition, and his photographs were used by the BBC in a film they made of that expedition. Without doubt, he was one of the best cave photographers of his generation.

This important collection is held at the British Caving Library. It has yet to be thoroughly itemised, but subjects include:

  • Photographic slides taken during the 1964 Gouffre Berger expedition
  • A large set of slides of cave fauna
  • A large set of slides of minerals
  • A photographic record of the now blocked Peak Dale Quarry Cave
  • Photographic slides of the formations in Peak Dale Tunnel as they were in 1967
  • Many photographs of slides in Poole's Cavern
  • Miscellaneous slides of UK caves, mainly Derbyshire but also Bar Pot and Ogof Agen Allwedd
  • Landscape shots from both the UK and the Mediterranean karsts

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