The story of the heroic attempt to rescue a trapped caver from the narrow confines of a shaft in the depths of Peak Cavern in March 1959
Castleton’s Peak Cavern is one of Derbyshire’s foremost show caves, with a centuries-old history of legend and human habitation. On March 22 1959 Neil Moss entered the extensive and labyrinthine passages beyond the show cave in the company of a small party of fellow cavers; they were set to explore a narrow shaft that led down from a large chamber nearly a mile from daylight.
Neil willingly descended the shaft in the hope of discovering new passages beneath, but a series of unfortunate circumstances led to his becoming trapped. Subsequent attempts to free him began what developed into the biggest cave rescue attempt this country has ever seen. Well over 200 cavers and rescue workers, as well as countless villagers, were involved. Many fought deep underground to release the Oxford undergraduate from the grip of the hard unyielding rock, but he sadly died 35 hours after first becoming trapped.
The events of that weekend and its tragic outcome were themselves the stuff of nightmares, but the persistence and heroism of his would-be rescuers, many of whom had never ventured underground before, lifted the spirits. Today the rescue attempt is remembered by cavers not only for its sad outcome, but for being a catalyst for the complete reorganisation of the Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation.
This film has been extensively researched to be as factually accurate as possible and may help dispel some of the myths that persist to this day surrounding the rescue attempt and its aftermath; it is told by some of those directly involved nearly fifty years ago.
Shown at Hidden Earth 2006 and Castleton History Society 2007. Excellent reviews and comment from both cavers and members of the public.
You can buy the DVD on the Mountain Rescue England & Wales website here.
Also read their article about the tragedy which features my sourced images and original diagrams here.
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