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All content copyright The Sedgwick Club 1880-2018.

Club History

The Club was founded in memory of Adam Sedgwick in 1880 and since then has grown and developed over time to what we see today. At the first meeting the rules were set out, this is a copy of the rules as laid out at that first meeting.

"At a meeting held on Sat March 13th 1880 in W. Diddlemiss's Rooms at St John's College, Messrs Curtis, Diddlemiss, Evans, Rotoff & Watts being present. W Curtis was in the chair. It was resolved that a club should be formed having the following rules and Objects:


  1. That the club should be the Sedgwick Club.
  2. That the object of the club be to promote the study of geology by the reading and discussion of papers thereon.
  3. That the club should consist of members only of the University of Cambridge.
  4. That the number of members do not exceed ten. (altered to 12 in 1890)
  5. That the officers of the club shall consist of the President and the Secretary who shall hold office for a term and be eligible for re-election.
  6. That there be an election of officers at the last meeting of each term.
  7. That the duty of the secretary be to announce the time and place of meeting, to keep the minutes of the proceedings and to preside in the absence of the President.
  8. That the club shall hold a meeting at least once a fortnight.
  9. That the time of the meeting shall be 7.30pm on a Saturday.
  10. That the meetings take place in the rooms of members of the club and a paper be read by the member in whose rooms the meeting is held.
  11. That the member who reads the paper may introduce a friend with the consent of the other members.
  12. That no new member shall be admitted unto the club unless propsed and elected by a unanimous vote.
  13. That these rules be subject to alteration and addition."

Almost every year after its foundation the Sedgwick Club ran yearly field excursions and from these trips sets of notes, photos, sketches, maps and diagrams have been found and are now in the Conservation Laboratories of the Museum. This annual field trip has been replaced by the "Magical Mystery Tour" in modern times, which involves a weekend excursion at the beginning of Lent term to an unknown location. Careful minutes and accounts were taken throughout the the whole history of the Club, which have also survived.

Below is a cartoon sketch extracted from the 1883 St David's field note book.

Many famous people have passed through the Club, Miss Gertie Elles being one of the most famous and one who played a vital part in the Club's running. Miss Elles is famous for her study of Graptolites and how they could be used to demonstrate how detailed morphology, on well controlled palaeontological sequences, could be made to reveal refined stratigraphic results. Miss Elles took part in many of the Club's annual field trips and appears throughout her life in many of the journals and photo albums in the archives.

Other distinguished members include (not all can be mentioned here!): Dr JE Marr - famous for his work on the Lake District; Dr Tom McKenny Hughes - supervised the building of the Sedgwick Museum; Dr Alfred Harker - a petrologist who started the Harker Collection of Rocks and Minerals held in the museum; Prof WW Watts - President of Imperial University of Science and Technology 1934-1936, Sir David Attenborough, and there are many more!

More recent bits of history include this anecdote supplied by Dr Clive Oppenheimer:

"As for recollections, I think my election was one of the more controversial ones. In the ballot, I received more votes than Club members! Most of them in the form of a crudely photocopied ballot paper, with the (same) signature photocopied, too! It had nothing to do with me, I hasten to add, and suspicion pointed at a certain Part II student. This was all highly irregular of course, and a new vote was held - the first time this had happened in the Club's history apparently... "

In 1996 the Club performed an exchange with a student group of Geologists in Suriname called GEM. Unfortunately GEM were unable to return the visit and the scheme collapsed. However, the plaque to commemorate this visit is displayed in the department Coffee Room to this day.

This website was first created in 1998 by Liam McGee, and later redesigned by Bob Myhill. The current design is by Simon Matthews (2013).