Herbert E. Balch
|Herbert E. Balch|
4 November 1869|
|Died||27 May 1958
|Occupation||Archaeologist, Speleologist, Geologist, Naturalist|
Herbert Ernest Balch (4 November 1869 – 27 May 1958) MA FSA was an English archaeologist, naturalist, caver and geologist who explored the Mendip Hills' underground labyrinths and pioneered many of the techniques used by modern cavers. Due to his success in later life there is now a street, Balch Road, named after him within the city of Wells.
Balch was born in Wells, Somerset on 4 November 1869, and gained a scholarship to The Blue School in Wells. He left school at 14 and became messenger boy at Wells post office and then working his way up to postmaster.
In 1893, Balch founded Wells Museum, which is now known as the Wells and Mendip Museum. Balch's fine collection of local artefacts and memorabilia still form the core of the museum's displays, which retains the best qualities of a private Victorian collection. He rose to become president of the Wells Natural History and Archaeological Society.
Balch conducted excavations in conjunction with the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society such as Chelmscombe Cave in Cheddar Gorge. The most famous site that Balch excavated was Wookey Hole Caves, where he led excavations of the entrance passage (1904–15), Witch's Kitchen and Hell's Ladder (1926-1927) and the Badger Hole (1938-1954)
Balch was a member of caving clubs such as the Wessex Cave Club. He was a serious speleologist and often made ten-hour trips wearing cloth cap, old suit and tie. Balch Cave near Stoke St Michael is named after him.
- Balch, Herbert E.; Baker, Ernest Albert (1907). The Netherworld of Mendip: Explorations in the Great Caverns of Somerset, Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Elsewhere. Kent: Baker/Simpkins, Marshall, Hamilton.
- Balch, Herbert E.; Dawkins, William Boyd (1914). Wookey Hole; Its Caves and Cave Dwellers. Oxford University Press.
- Balch, Herbert E. (1926). The Caves of Mendip. London: Folk Press.
- Balch, Herbert E. (1929). Mendip-the Great Cave of Wookey Hole. Wells: Clare, Son & Co.
- Balch, Herbert E. (1935). Mendip-Cheddar, its Gorge and Caves. Wells: Clare, Son & Co.
- Balch, Herbert E. (1937). Mendip : its swallet caves, and rock shelters. Wells: Clare, Son & Co.
- Hooper, James (7 June 1994). "To he who lit the Stygian caves". Depth through thought -OUCC News. Oxford University Cave Club. Retrieved 2008-05-02.
- "Wells Natural History and Archaeological Society". Wells Museum website. Retrieved 2010-11-10.
- "A Brief History of Archaeological Research in Somerset". Somerset County Council bebsite. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
- Stanton, Willie (6 January 1990). "A caver's centenary / Review of 'A Man Deep In Mendip, The Caving Diaries of Harry Savory 1910-1921' edited by John Savory". New Scientist. Retrieved 2008-05-02.