Nostalgia: White Rose Pothole Club’s anniversary appeal

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The White Rose Pothole Club dates back to 1953. It was originally formed by a small group of cavers who worked for Southern and Redfern Refrigeration Engineers in Bradford. The change in name was due to membership being drawn further afield. In 1954 the White Rose Pothole Club was born.

Marking its 60th anniversary this year, they are holding an appeal to get past members to join them as they celebrate.

Claire Cole, social secretary at the club says it has been a struggle so far: “We are trying to find members and there must be at least 120 names who have been members of the club for the past 50 years. It has been difficult as some have passed away and even don’t feel able to travel.”

The club is one of the premier caving clubs in the country with a variety of activities available including expeditions and also cave exploration.

Steve Warren, 76, a past president of the club recalls his time with one of the founding members, Douglas Richardson. “We started caving at the same time, around the late 1950s and we would meet up from time to time.”

In the time that he ran the club it flourished and he was highly respected. As a former president of the club Steve had many duties to uphold, and “was president for three to four years. I had to represent the club, I got to know all the members but it was also about having fun and adventures.”

Andy Cole, 53, trainee officer, has been a member since 1984 and, when talking about the older members, said: “I met some of them, in those days they often came to have a go, went on some of the wet trips but then tended just to move on, finding it wasn’t to their liking.”

Andy was in his mid 20s then and can still recall the reasons he joined: “A lot of us used to go climbing beforehand, we met people through mutual friends who said they were part of the White Rose Pot Hole Club.”

For the 60th party Claire wants to organise a display board, with events happening around the club and old photographs of past and newer members. There is a guest speaker coming – Harry Long from the Upper Wharfedale Rescue Association.

The club has long been allied with rescue work particularly the Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association. Many members past and present belong to the team, ready to respond to a cave or fell rescue call out any time of the day or night, 365 days a year.

Steve thinks there will be a good turnout of members in the end as the club is all about comradeship: “It’s all about being with good faithful companions, there is people that I haven’t seen for 20-30 years and we’re still really good friends.”

It’s in those times of danger that sticking together really counts. Steve believes caving is an activity with hidden dangers. When he was nearly hit by a boulder the size of a living room couch, his friend’s attentiveness protected him.

“We were 200ft down in an underground pothole and we just heard this noise, my friend knew what it was and pushed me into a crevice. He said that another man had a lucky escape as the boulder just scraped past his helmet.”

They have also made major discoveries during their time at the club. Andy was the first person to enter Hagg Gill Pot, a mile ‘through cave’ passage. “A member called Phil Rider discovered it on a weekend, on his own after he heard running water, he dug a hole but then just left it to go on holiday.” Andy was the first person who went in after they found out it existed.

The White Rose Pothole Club will marks its anniversary with a dinner to be held at the Herriots Hotel, Skipton on Saturday March 29. Contact: or 01535 634784.


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