BCRA > Information

The British Cave Research Association is a UK-registered charity that achieves its objectives by

  • supporting cave and karst research
  • encouraging original exploration (both in the UK and on expeditions overseas)
  • publishing speleological information
  • organising educational and scientific conferences and meetings.

BCRA is administered by a Council of trustees and is a constituent body of the British Caving Association (BCA), with which it cooperates on many projects.

Summary information about BCRA's activities is given below. Many of the entries have links to pages with more detailed information.


BCRA Information
  Membership and Subscription Fees  
  Summary Information and links: bcra.org.uk/fees  
  Membership of BCRA is open to all members of the British Caving Association. This arrangement ensures that members are covered by BCA's Public Liability Insurance. There is a substantial discount for student members of BCRA. Membership confers the right to vote at BCRA's AGM and to nominate and vote for Council members.  
  You do not have to be a member of the BCRA to take part in its activities or to purchase its publications. However, if you do want to join BCRA, please note that membership of BCA is handled as an 'option' to our parent body, the British Caving Association. The shortcuts, above, take you directly to application forms for membership and subscription to BCRA periodicals.  
  For more general information, including a list of fees and benefits please see the BCA Membership Information pages. Our membership benefits vary slightly depending on the category of membership. Individual members receive our periodicals Speleology (3 per year) and Cave & Karst Science (3 per year), as well as reduced admission fees to meetings and a discount on BCRA publications.  
  We publish an occasional brief newsletter to keep in touch with our members. This is mailed to all members and is also available online. To keep in touch regularly, we suggest that you follow us on Facebook, Twitter or our Bulletin Board, or subscribe to our Notices E-list   Facebook  Twitter  
  BCRA publishes a range of books and periodicals...  
  Cave and Karst Science (ISSN 1356-191X) is BCRA's peer-reviewed science journal, published three times a year. Paper subscriptions are available to members and non-members. It is also available online, free of charge, as part of BCRA's commitment to open access to scientific research.  
  The Cave Radio and Electronics Group Journal (ISSN 1361-4800). CREG is one of BCRA's Special Interest Groups. CREG is probably the leading organisation of its kind in the world. It produces a quarterly journal, which is available as a paper or an online subscription. The online content is free to BCRA members.  
  BCRA Review. Until 2014, BCRA's "bulletin" was BCRA's magazine Speleology (ISSN 1478-999X), but this has now ceased publication. Instead BCRA publishes an Annual Review shortly before our AGM; usually in October. It contains reports of the previous year's activities, together with annual reports from BCRA officers and a copy of our annual report and accounts that we send to the Charity Commission. This Review is primarily an online PDF publication although it is shipped on paper to our Member Clubs (those that receive C&KS on paper) and to our overseas Journal Exchange partners; and paper copies may be purchased at our meetings, whilst the limited print stock lasts.  
  The Cave Studies Series is a set of introductory booklets on a range of cave-related topics. It provides an introductory text aimed at the sport caver who has become interested in some other aspect of speleology. We are always willing to consider possible new titles and to discuss projects with potential authors. There are plans to make some of the titles available online in the near future.  
  Caves and Karst of the Yorkshire Dales (ISBN 978-0-900265-46-4) is a major new book from BCRA, which presents a comprehensive overview of all aspects of the caves and karst of the Yorkshire Dales. It is the long-awaited successor to the 1974 publication Limestones and Caves of Northwest England but is a much more comprehensive treatment because of the many cave discoveries in the last 40 years and the new information that is available on the underground and surface features.  
  BCRA published a number of other items, which are described on our publications page.  
  Grant Aid  

BCRA Research Fund. BCRA has managed a research fund for many years and in the past ten years the fund has been boosted by several bequests. In 2005 we launched a new initiative that made available a total of £45,000 up to the end of 2014. We have allocated a further £25,000 for the five year period starting in 2015.

The objective of the fund is to raise interest in caves and to further our understanding of them and the technologies employed to enter and explore them. The BCRA Cave Science policy focusses on four major themes: speleogenesis, archaeology/palaeontology, biology and technology. However worthwhile projects in other areas of research will also be considered. At the core of our intentions is a desire to make the caving community and the scientific community more aware of the scientific importance of caves - and the synergy between exploration and science. It is a requirement of awards that the findings of the research be published in a BCRA journal and recipients are encouraged to present their results at a BCRA Cave Science Symposium and/or the national caving conference, Hidden Earth.


BCRA / Hidden Earth Cave Science Bursaries. This scheme was launched in 2013 and provides undergraduates and those undertaking taught masters degrees with research bursaries of a few hundred pounds to help with expenses associated with their dissertation research. It is part-funded by the surplus from the national caving conference, Hidden Earth

The project must be undertaken in a wild (non-commercial) cave. Every year there are many dissertations in tourist caves most being undertaken by non-cavers who have no real interest in caves. Bursaries would not be awarded for research of this type - there has to be a clear commitment to caving. Projects can be within any area of cave science but the topic must have been approved by the applicant's academic supervisor. The BCRA can offer support to undergraduates in those departments where there is no academic staff member with any knowledge of caves.

Bursaries of around £500 and exceptionally up to £750 will be awarded. The student will need to make the case for what the award will be spent on - and this can include travel to the research area. We are expecting that some proportion of the award will be retained until the student has completed their work and reported it.

  The Ghar Parau Foundation (GPF) is sub-charity of BCRA that manages an investment fund to provide grant aid to assist British caving expeditions to all parts of the world. It focuses on expeditions that include innovative exploration or scientific study and is keen to encourage young cavers into expedition caving, in order to maintain an active caving community in the years ahead.  
  The UK Cave Conservation Emergency Fund (UKCCEF) is a charitable fund administered by BCRA to support projects that further the conservation of threatened caves and cave features.  
  Prizes (for further detail see Caving Awards)  
  The Arthur Butcher Award. This was first awarded in 1988 and is presented for, broadly speaking, "excellence in cave surveying". As well as a cash prize, the winner gets to keep for a year the trophy - a miner's dial formerly owned by Arthur Butcher. This award is usually presented at the Hidden Earth annual conference. For further information see Caving Awards.  
  The E.K. Tratman Award is an annual award, given by the Ghar Parau Foundation (a sub-charity of BCRA) for the best contribution to British speleology in print. This can be in the form of an article, report or book. This award is usually presented at the Hidden Earth annual conference. For further information see gharparau.org.uk.  
  BCRA / Hidden Earth Cave Science Bursaries For further information see BCRA Research Fund  
  The Premier Trophy. This was first awarded in 1975 and is presented to the winner of BCRA's annual Photo Salon event, which usually takes place at Hidden Earth, the national caving conference. As well as a cash prize, the winner gets to keep for a year the trophy - an engraved replica of the millionth lamp manufactured by the Premier Lamp Engineering Co Ltd.  
  Historical Caving Material. BCRA owns a large collection of historical caving material including sketches and notebooks that belonged to some of the pioneers of UK cave exploration. This material is now stored, under controlled conditions, at the National Geoscience Data Centre of the British Geological Survey. An extract of this collection - Eli Simpson's record books - can be viewed, alongside other items, on our archive web site. We also have an audio archive, with interesting tales from well-known cavers, past and present.  
  Cave Registry Data Archive. This archive is adminstered by BCRA's Cave Surveying Group. The archive provides a useful tool for current projects as well as archiving raw data which, although not required to be published itself, is nevertheless vitally important when it comes to extending on a previous project - the loss of data has been a major problem historically. Although it is envisaged that the main useof the archive is for survey data, it is available for all types of data, including surveys or scientific measurements.  
  Events and Meetings  
  Symposiums: BCRA currently organises an annual Cave Science symposium and occasional Cave Technology symposiums. These one-day meetings allow researchers to present cave science and technology papers, which may appear subsequently in one of our periodicals. They are friendly events at which academics, students and interested amateur cave scientists attend and give presentations. They are usually followed by a one-day field meeting in the local area or by local demonstrations of equipment in use. These events are organised are organised either by local cavers and members of BCRA or in collaboration with an organisation that has similar interests to BCRA. For further information, see the diary section on our home page, or the postings on our web forum.  
  National Caving Conference: Hidden Earth Each year, for over 30 years, a national caving conference has been held in the UK. The full conference weekend has a packed programme of presentations on British caving, including expeditions, new discoveries, technical updates, cave science talks and audio-visual shows. Equipment suppliers and caving clubs have stands in the exhibition hall, which also features Art, Photo and Video salons and various competitions. The conference is an ideal place for the exchange of ideas, the planning of new ventures, and for meeting old friends. The Art competition is organised for Hidden Earth by the International Society for Speleological Art. The Photo Salon is organised for BCRA by the Cave Photography Group.  
  Field Meetings. Other events and field meetings are organised from time to time. For further information, see the diary section on our home page, or the postings on our web forum  
  National Caving Library  
  The British Caving Library (BCL) is a national research and reference library based in the Peak District, owned by BCRA and staffed part-time by a librarian. It mostly comprises published and archived material collected by BCRA and its predecessor organisations, with a minority of the items on long-term loan from clubs and individuals. The library function with the generous financial assistance of the British Caving Association, through which the library is able to offer its services to all cavers and to all those interested in cave science and related topics. Services and materials include...
  • Books; reports; maps, charts and surveys
  • Over 150 non-UK journal titles
  • Over 300 UK journal titles and club bulletins
  • Journal exchanges: foreign and UK organisations
  • Photocopying and computer facilities
  • Online catalogue
  • Audio archive with more than 100 interviews
Enquiries via phone, email or personal visit. See: caving-library.org.uk
  Special Interest Groups  
  BCRA supports a number of Special Interest Groups (SIGs) that allow BCRA members to associate and communicate in a more specialised way than is possible through the general membership. Some SIGs produce a newsletter or journal and organise regular meetings or training sessions. Currently active SIGs are...
  • Cave Archaeology
  • Cave Biology (via office of the Biological Recorder)
  • Cave Radio & Electronics
  • Cave Surveying
  • Explosives Users
Also see BCRA Grading System for Cave Surveys.
  BCRA Structure (Constitution, AGM, History and Links)  
  BCRA is a UK registered charity, and a constituent body of the British Caving Association, undertaking charitable activities on behalf of BCA.  
  The BCRA constitution was last amended at the AGM on 27 September 2008.

Constitution, last modified 27 September 2008 (PDF 41K, two pages)

Changes introduced at AGM on 27 September 2008 (PDF 50K, two pages)

  For information about this web site see Accessibility, Copyright and Policy Info  

BCRA is responsible for two restricted funds (the BCRA Research Fund and the UK Cave Conservation Emergency Fund) and one subsidiary charity - the Ghar Parau Foundation (subsidiary charity 267828/1), which has its own governing committee and trustees, who are elected by BCRA Council. See Grant Aid, above. (The other sub-charity, the BCRA Library and Heritage Fund, has now been dissolved).

  BCRA's Annual General Meeting is now usually held at the Cave Science Symposium in October. (It used to be held at the annual caving conference, Hidden Earth, in September). AGM notices and AGM minutes are posted on the BCRA web site.  
  History: The BCRA arose from a merger of the BSA and the CRG. When the NCA was formed, BCRA became one of its constituent bodies. (See Origins of BCRA and A description of the NCA). Now, some years later, we have finally completed another change: In 2005 NCA was dissolved and the new British Caving Association took over the 'national body' services from NCA and BCRA. At the start of 2006, we announced a new membership structure for BCRA, which limits BCRA membership to BCA members, who pay a supplement to join BCRA. See The BCRA / BCA 'Road Map' (103K PDF. Speleology 5, pp42-43). BCRA now focuses on cave science, technology and heritage matters; the latter involving the cataloguing of the vast amount of library and archive material that BCRA has collected over the years.  
  Links: For some caving links see the BCRA home page.
Aliases for UK Caving Information: british-caving.co.uk | britishcaving.co.uk | britishcaving.org.uk

British Cave Research Association (UK registered charity 267828). Registered Office: The Old Methodist Chapel, Great Hucklow, BUXTON, SK17 8RG
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