In 1984 there was a dearth of caving clubs in Cardiff that were open to all: clubs that had previously existed had become moribund while others were intended for a specific segment of the population, such as a university club and another for medics based in the Heath hospital. A first meeting took place in June that year and that autumn regular weekly get-togethers began in The New Ely pub in Cathays. The first official meeting of Morgannwg Caving Club, named in Welsh for the old county of Glamorgan ('Morgannwg', by the way, is pronounced 'morr-gan-oog' – at least approximately), given that in the early days (and still) members were drawn from wide and far, took place on 18 December 1984. From the outset, the club's aims were simple: to provide a focus for regular meetings, but to remain non-bureaucratic in nature.
The club quickly grew in strength, from the start meeting every Wednesday night in a local pub to arrange caving trips over the weekend or longer excursions further afield. In May 1986 the club's first journal appeared, by which time a regular meeting place had been established at the Old Illtydians Rugby Club in Splott. The use of the venue came about in a roundabout way, being arranged by one of the club members with a connection to the rugby club's committee and thus Morgannwg CC became honorary members of the Old Illtydians. Not only did this mean that a bar was available with plenty of seating, there was also a skittle alley for occasional interclub challenges and an upstairs room for slideshows.
Another journal appeared in December 1986, with issue (3) reaching us in 1993. This recorded the death of club member Giles Barker while caving in Spain and, in due course, Morgannwg joined with Giles's other club, the Red Rose CPC, to create a memorial trophy that is awarded annually in the sphere of cave photography. Details of that award, first presented in 1993, are maintained both on this website and on the Red Rose website.
As local cavers will know, the caving world in South Wales changed dramatically the following year. A fourth journal appeared in 1994, which noted the ongoing Morgannwg CC dig at Ogof Draenen, a dig that had taken place every Thursday night (plus some weekends) since 1991. That three-year dig came to a culmination when a scaffolded shaft gained a depth of 8m before, on 6 October 1994, it broke through into the start of an incredible discovery. Within weeks the cave had reached a length of 15km, then thundered onwards into history.
Two parts of the cave that were found in those first days of exploration were named after the club and its meeting place: Morgannwg Passage and the nearby Old Illtydian's Chamber at the end of Gilwern Passage. The early months and years of exploration were recorded both in the pages of Descent and in Morgannwg CC's fifth (and to date, final) journal, which appeared in September 1995 with one article being a history of exploration to that date, with a definitive record of all passage names found up to June that year. In 1996 the club was responsible for setting up the Pwll Du Cave Management Group to oversee the conservation of and access to the cave – a cave which is still being explored (Morgannwg members are still digging). The club's association with Draenen and the nearby Lamb & Fox public house is also reflected in the many meetings that have taken place there, including annual Christmas dinners (though not always held at Christmas) and naming the void roughly beneath the pub as Lamb & Fox Chamber.
In 2001 the club moved its regular meeting place to a new venue in a more salubrious area of Cardiff's environs that was more convenient to its members: The Oystercatcher on the outskirts of Penarth. In 2011 another move was made to the Windsor Arms, just up the road towards the town centre, but when this was put up for sale another search for a home ensued in early 2014. After trying out a couple of pubs, we turned back to Cardiff city and met in the Three Elms in Whitchurch. In the best fashion of itinerant clubs, yet another move was initiated in 2015 when the Three Elms was closed for refurbishment, and from that summer the club moved to the Earl Haig, also in Whitchurch. You'll find club members there on most Wednesday nights from around 9.15pm.