A Brief History of the Technical Speleological Group

The TSG has a complex history, being the latest of a succession of caving organisations based in the area. The story reflects the changing national bodies and divisions of the caving community, until it emerged as the current club in 1973. The following text describes its evolution.


The earliest minutes that can be located relate to the North Midlands Group (NMG) of the British Speleological Society (BSA) from March 1963. Members present were Miss CM Rawdin (Association Hon. Secretary), Mrs KM Gilbert (Association Hon. Treasurer), Mr JG Clarke (Acting Secretary), Mr G Boldock, Mr P Crabtree, Mr JC Gilbert, Mr H Jackson, Mr H Lord, Mr D Manton, Mr B Pickering, Mr AL Pill, Mr J Randles and Mr R Toogood. Members not present were Mr RA Batchelor (Chairman), Mr M Clarke, Mr P Crabtree, Mr K Pearce, Gary Kitchen, Eddie Mason and Mr PB Smith. Unfortunately Mr L Salmon was deceased at the time of these minutes.


The Technical Projects Unit (TPU) was formed round about April 1965 and ran parallel with the NMG. some members were involved in both of the groups. As the name suggests the group was mainly involved in Technical Projects and with aiding the Derbyshire Cave Rescue Association (DCRO). Many references were made about the making and selling of ladders to raise funds.

In October 1969 an Extra Ordinary General Meeting was called to determine whether or not the TPU should continue and this meeting also addressed the question of the lack of premises. The meeting determined that the TPU should continue in its present form however in the future it would be more active in normal caving. It was hoped that this would generate more interest in the group. The meeting also resulted in a change of Secretary as the general consensus that the Secretary (Mr R Foster) had not been very efficient. Mr Foster agreed this and promptly resigned. Mr JR Woolridge was proposed as Secretary by Mr J Smith, which was seconded by Mr PB Smith.

Merger talks begin...

At the monthly TPU meeting of October 1970 considerable discussions ensued about a possible TPU - NMG merger. All at the meeting were in favour and the Secretary was asked to write to the NMG to enquire about their views on the subject.

The merger was again the subject of discussion at the December 1970 meeting. NMG had confirmed that they thought it was a good idea but reservations were voiced by Mr H Lord. He said that the group needed to consult with all those who had put time and money into the Chapel premises before a decision could be made. The matter was adjourned until the next meeting.

At the January 1971 TPU monthly meeting there was only one NMG member not connected with the TPU present, which was considered by some members to show a lack of interest on behalf of NMG. Mr PB Smith stated that he thought that the disadvantages of the merger far outweighed the advantages. The future of the group depended on keeping up good relationships with the locals and at present new members arrived singularly whereas with a merger there may be a big influx of new members which may cause comment and concern from the locals. The main problem of sleeping in the premises was raised. Mr M Cooke understood that the bunk rooms had been made ready to accommodate people after the BSA AGM effectively opening it as a Hostel. Mr PB Smith explained that this was only for one isolated incident and not general practice. The point was made that a small number of people do need to stay at the Chapel unofficially as a great deal of work is done by this group. The Chairman emphasised that the premises are only a workshop/store and that at present we are on good terms with the locals and the council who believe we are a rescue centre, with emergency sleeping arrangements. It was eventually decided that the merger should not go ahead but that efforts should be made to forge closer relationships with NMG in activities common to both groups.

Changes afoot

During the November and December monthly TPU meetings considerable discussions ensued about the report presented by Mr PB Smith concerning a meeting between the BSA and CRG to discuss the feasibility of forming a new organisation.

The NMG was dissolved at the February 1971 AGM.

At the TPU AGM in February 1972 the Secretary reported that the membership had increased considerably as a result of the NMG folding up.

At the TPU monthly meeting of May 1973 it was decided to continue as an independent organisation in the event of a BSA/CRG merger.

Birth of the TSG

In June 1973 the new provisional name Technical Speleological Group was proposed in the event of the dissolution on the BSA.

The TSG was formed and a new Constitution proposed at the December 1973 monthly meeting.

Extract from the Secretary's Report AGM February 1974.

This has been a year of great significance to the group. With the merger of the BSA/CRG the Technical Projects Unit of the British Speleological Association has ceased to exist. At last years AGM it was decided to become an independent group should a merger take place. Hence the group is now an independent group with a new name Technical Speleological Group (TSG) from June 1973.

The TSG continues to be an active part of Peak District Caving.