Page 1

SLATER & BOSWELL

69

UNRAVELLING THE GLACIAL GEOLOGY OF THE IPSWICH AREA THE WORK OF SLATER AND BOSWELL HOWARD MOTTRAM George Slater was born in 1874. Percy Boswell was born in 1886. George Slater was “a northerner”. Percy Boswell was “a local lad”1. Slater took up his second teaching appointment in 1897; it was at the Ipswich Evening Technical School. Boswell took up his second teaching appointment in 1905, also at the Ipswich Evening Technical School. Slater was a founder member of The Ipswich & District Field Club which was inaugurated as the Ipswich & District Teachers’ Field Club in 1903 (14 February). Boswell probably didn’t become a member until sometime in 1905, as he is not listed as such until the AGM of 1906 (6 February). Geology was only one of the disciplines covered by the club, but the influence of these two members2 ensured the furthering of geological knowledge locally through lectures and field trips. The club also provided Slater and Boswell with an early outlet for their own researches. Slater had started recording exposures of pits in the Ipswich area in 1900 and he led the Field Club’s second ever field trip in 1903 (23 May); it was to Bolton & Laughlin’s Brickyard (this is now surrounded by the Dales housing estate of north Ipswich). In 1904, Slater invited the eminent East Anglian geologist Frederic Harmer to the Hadleigh Road site and Harmer advised Slater on the complex geological features of the site. A year later, Slater had a letter published in the East Anglian Daily Times (22 December 1905, page 8). In this letter he alerted people as to how the layers of sediments had been ploughed up into a confusing mix by the last ice-sheet and he appealed for someone to take photographs of the excavations. Boswell seems to have taken on the role of photographic recorder. His involvement in capturing local geology on film is clear3 and there are several albums in which virtually all of the photographs are attributed to Boswell 4. There are four albums of the Hadleigh Road area and one album of Bolton & Laughlin’s Brickyard. The photos cover the period of 1905–1913 and, to a much lesser extent, 1932–1934. Perhaps more importantly, accompanying the photos are drawings by Slater that clarify the geological details of the photographed exposures (Plates 18 & 19). In 1907 (27 July), Slater and Nina Layard led a joint visit of the Ipswich & District Field Club with The Geological Association to Hadleigh Road and to Coe’s Pit in Papermill Lane, Bramford (“Claydon Chalk Pit”). The write-up includes early drawings by Slater of sections showing distortion of some strata from several sites (Hadleigh Road, Coes Pit, Baylham, Haughley and Grove Lane in Ipswich). The 1910 (16 July) field trip with The Geological Association went to the Croft Street area of the Ipswich railway tunnel and to Bolton & Laughlin’s site. It is interesting to note that the 1910 field trip was co-led by the selfstyled archaeologist James Reid Moir and that at the field meeting there was discussion on the presence of flints above the London Clay. Several people

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 50 (2014)


70

Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 50

believed that the flints had been worked by mankind and three months later, Reid Moir launched himself on the scene with exclamations that man evolved in pre-Crag times. In 1912, Reid Moir announced that a skeleton found at Bolton & Laughlin’s Brickyard was of pre-glacial age. Slater thought otherwise and his review of the matter reflected his own ethos that conclusions must be founded on careful examination of, and logical interpretation of, the evidence5. Slater then returned to the meticulous recording of his sites and later that same year (8 June), he explained the Hadleigh Road site to a Geological Association field meeting led by Boswell. Imperial College in London accepted Boswell as a student in 1912. A year later he became a research student and subsequently a demonstrator there. Boswell was able to collaborate further with Slater by analysing the mineralogy of some of the sediments from the glacially disturbed sites in the Ipswich area. In this, Boswell’s first period at Imperial College, his wider geological interests started to blossom and in 1917 he relocated when he was appointed as Professor of Geology at Liverpool University. Boswell’s energies then became taken up with other researches and responsibilities and his output on Suffolk geology faded away6. There was also a corresponding hiatus in his photography of the Ipswich sites. Slater continued to focus on unravelling the glacially disturbed geology of the Ipswich area. Notes on his early field maps and in the photo albums compare some of the structures to barchan-like features that form in sand and snow. By 1917, he had started to explain, via the Ipswich & District Field Club, what he had recorded. He gave a lecture (29 April) “Disturbance in the Gipping Valley”, led a field trip (15 September) to Bramford (Blood Hill?) and at Ipswich Museum (10 November) he gave a demonstration entitled “Explanation of Case Illustrating Glacial Studies in Ipswich”. Imperial College in London took on Slater as a lecturer and demonstrator in 1919. Although his attention was temporarily deflected to other matters such as the sands of Leighton Buzzard, he persevered with his work on understanding his Ipswich sites. In this pursuit he was keen to see other sites and he started to examine and diligently record the extensive sections of the glacially disturbed geology in the cliffs of Weybourne to Happisburgh in north Norfolk. Slater’s notes show that it took until 1928 to complete this work although other sources indicate that it took until 19327. In 1921, as the expedition glaciologist for Oxford University, Slater investigated the modern day glacier on the Norwegian island of Spitzbergen. His observations of material trapped in the ice had a fundamental influence on his understanding and interpretation of glacial processes. In 1925, he investigated Pleistocene glacial deformation on the Danish island of Møen. In his write-ups of the Spitzbergen and Møen sites, published in 1925 and 1926 respectively, he stated that investigating these glacial sites was driven by his interpretational work of his Hadleigh Road and other East Anglian glacially disturbed sites. Slater used the knowledge that he gained from visiting glacial sites outside the UK to support his interpretations of the effects of ice movements

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 50 (2014)


SLATER & BOSWELL

71

in the Ipswich area. In 1926, he set out the principles of ice effects in a paper published by The Geological Association. He followed this up in 1927 with his amazing paper on the Ipswich area which included cross-sections to illustrate the complex glacial tectonics, notably of the Hadleigh Road area (Plate 17). Slater had become an internationally recognised expert on glacial tectonics and he provided the Quaternary chapter of a textbook8. Over the succeeding few years he also visited and published on other modern, Pleistocene and even Carboniferous glacially disturbed sites9. Slater’s interpretations had evolved so that he championed englacial mechanisms for disturbance and contortions. He usually proposed that large slabs of frozen material were sometimes picked up by ice-sheets, became contorted as the ice movement was deflected over and around resistant obstacles, and retained the contortions after being left behind when the ice melted. Other workers championed pro-glacial mechanisms. That is to say, they proposed that material in front of an ice-sheet was sometimes bulldozed ahead when the ice moved forward so puckering up the material and then the material was overridden by the ice so further contorting the material. In 1931, the Danish geologist Axel Jessen was critical of Slater’s published work in respect of the glacial features of Lönstrup cliffs in Denmark. Jessen condemned Slater for ignoring Jessen’s earlier descriptions and pro-glacial explanations and Jessen criticised Slater’s accuracy in examining and interpreting the features. Slater replied condemning the accuracy of Jessen’s work. Imperial College appointed Boswell as professor in 1930. In this, his second period there, Boswell was more able to visit the Ipswich area again and there are photos for the period 1932–1934; his output on Suffolk geology was rekindled10. When The Royal Society of London held its annual themed meetings it set up presentations/discussions for invited audiences. These were called conversaziones and Slater exhibited in 1937 (6 May). His topic was entitled “The Ipswich Fossil Glacier” for which he used a wooden model of the Hadleigh Road area (Plate 16). Following renewed excavation at Hadleigh Road between 1930 and 1934, Slater was able to update his work and produce a revised model of Hadleigh Road. He also produced a revised model for the Bolton’s site. A note on some paperwork indicates that Slater produced the new models in 1938. They were produced at a reduced scale and size to his previous models. Of these updated models, only the model of the Bolton’s site is known to still exist. In 1938, Slater was again invited to exhibit at a Royal Society of London conversazione (18 May) and his display was titled “Geological model of Bolton’s Brickyard, Ipswich”. For this Slater used his updated model of Bolton’s brickyard. By 1938, Boswell’s health had deteriorated so much that he retired, aged 52. The retired Boswell continued to be active in academic circles but he was probably too unwell and too far away in North Wales to visit the Ipswich area.

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 50 (2014)


72

Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 50

Slater retired the following year, aged 65. The retired Slater continued to live in Brixton, London, and he exhibited his models at the Geological Survey Museum in South Kensington for an annual reunion of the Geological Association in 1943 (8 May) and for the 18th International Geological Congress in 1948. Slater produced a typescript “Plastic ice work” which he donated to the Geological Survey in 1950 along with his final section of the Hadleigh Road area and the sections of the Weybourne to Happisburgh cliffs, but most of his material was given to Cambridge University in 1951. Over the years, some of Slater’s material has been lost but, fortunately, the original models of Hadleigh Road and Bolton’s Brickyard appropriately passed on to Ipswich Museum where they can still be seen. George Slater died in 1956. Percy Boswell died in 1960. Their legacy remains with us. Acknowledgements I am indebted to: Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service (High Street, Ipswich) for providing invaluable access to Slater’s two original geological models Suffolk County Council’s Ipswich Record Office (Gatacre Road) for access to the Ipswich & District Natural History Society archives and to microfiche images of old local newspapers Imperial College Corporate Records & College Archives for access to Slater’s notebooks and letters for the period 1922–1949 The Royal Society of London’s Archives (Modern Records) for information relating to its conversaziones Further Information Boswell, P. G. H. 1957. In Annual Report of the Council. Obituary to George Slater, Proc. Geol. Assoc. 68: 97–98. Mitchell, G. H. 1961. Percy George Hamnall Boswell. Biographical memoirs of the fellows of the Roy. Soc. 7: 17–30. Notes 1 Boswell came from Woodbridge. His father set up a printing business which still continues today. Appropriately, the printing business is currently sited on glacially disturbed ground at the Hadleigh Road Industrial Estate in Ipswich. 2

Both men were particularly influential when holding office (Slater 1903– 1904 and 1906–1910 and Boswell 1908–1912?), but they also contributed significantly throughout their membership. Both may have had some “ups and downs” with The Ipswich & District Field Club, vis:

 Slater stood down as one of the Secretaries in 1904. The reason is not stated but a clue may have been given at the 1906 AGM (20 January) when Slater was offered the Vice-Presidency. He agreed to accept after remarking that everybody must do something to help.  At the 1907 AGM (9 February) Boswell was elected as Record Secretary but he resigned very shortly afterwards according to the minutes of an Extraordinary Meeting (23 February).

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 50 (2014)


SLATER & BOSWELL

73

1903 (23 May) – Slater led visit to Bolton & Laughlin’s Brickyard. Slater, G. & Layard, N. 1907. Excursion to Ipswich and Claydon, in connection with the Ipswich Field Club. Saturday, July 27th 1907. Proc. Geol. Assoc. 20: 186–192. 1908, reprint of above in The Journal of the Ipswich and District Field Club 1. Layard, N., Reid Moir, J. & Slater G. 1911. Excursion to Ipswich Saturday July 16th 1910. Proc. Geol. Assoc. 22: 11–16. 1918 (22 June) – Slater led visit on The Chalk escarpment of the Gipping Valley. 3

In the account of the 1907 field excursion, P. Boswell is credited with having taken the photographs of the Hadleigh Road site. In 1909 (2 April), William Whitaker of the Geological Survey gave a lecture to the Ipswich & District Field Club. The minutes of the meeting show that in the discussion at the end of the address, Boswell was involved in photographing geological exposures. The meeting was reported in the East Anglian Daily Times (Monday 26 April, page 5) in an article entitled “The Camera and Geology”. In it, Boswell is stated as having started geological photography five years earlier. On Slater’s “Map of the Hadleigh Road Area Ipswich (Geological) 1916”, one of the annotations states “see series of photos …. taken December 1906 by Boswell of this area”. Slater was capable of taking photos as witnessed by a large proportion of those that he used in his Spitzbergen paper published in 1925. 4

The dating of the albums is difficult. One album clearly attributes the photos to “Professor Boswell”, but Boswell did not have this title until 1917. Many photos are earlier than this date and it is probable that the well organised and methodical Slater started to compile the albums before this. As the labelling shows no change in the handwriting, it suggests that all of the photos and accompanying interpretive drawings were reorganised after the last entry i.e. after 1934. 5

Slater G. 1912. The occurrence of a human skeleton in glacial deposits at Ipswich. Geol. Mag. 9: 164–168.

6

Boswell became the first editor of the Journal of the Ipswich & District Field Club in 1908, a position that he probably held until he moved to Imperial College in 1912. In the higher academic world of Imperial College he would have been expected to publish his own work via the more recognised geological organisations such as The Geological Association and The Geological Society. Teaching was a reserved occupation during the First World War and, with fewer authors about, this is perhaps why he was asked to write some articles for the Journal of the Ipswich & District Field Club in 1914. Certainly during this period when he was at Imperial College and overlapping into his first few years at Liverpool University, Boswell turned out quite a lot of original material relevant to the Ipswich and wider East Anglian area. By the mid-1920s, his output on Suffolk geology was largely a consolidation of previous work.

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 50 (2014)


74

Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 50

Boswell, P. G. H. 1908. Bentley excursion. Geology Section. Journal of the Ipswich and District Field Club 1: 13. Boswell, P. G. H. 1912. Excursion to Ipswich and the Gipping Valley. Saturday, June 8th, 1912. Proc. Geol. Assoc. 23: 229–237. [This has a nice 1:10560 geol map of the area] Boswell, P. G. H. 1913. Reprint of above in Journal of the Ipswich and District Field Club 4. Boswell, P. G. H. 1913 Excursion to Bentley, Suffolk. Saturday, April 5th, 1913. Proc. Geol. Assoc. 24: 327–331. Boswell, P. G. H. 1913. Notes on the Chalk of Suffolk. Journal of the Ipswich and District Field Club. 5: 17–26. Boswell, P. G. H. 1913. The age of the Suffolk Valleys, etc. Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc. 69: 581–620. Boswell, P. G. H. 1914 (5 Dec) “Underground in East Anglia”. Lecture to the Ipswich & District Field Club. Boswell, P. G. H. 1914. On the occurrence of the North Sea drift (Lower Glacial), and certain other brick-earths in Suffolk. Proc. Geol. Assoc. 25: 121–153. Boswell, P. G. H. 1915. Excursion to Ipswich and Claydon. July 3rd, 1915. Proc. Geol. Assoc. 26: 327–330. Boswell, P. G. H. 1916 (4 Nov). “The evolution of the East Anglian River System as exemplified by that of the River Stour”. Lecture to the Ipswich & District Field Club. Boswell, P. G. H. 1916. The petrology of the North Sea drift and upper glacial brick-earths in East Anglia. Proc. Geol. Assoc. 27: 79–98. Boswell, P. G. H. 1917. The geology of the Woodbridge District (Suffolk). Journal of the Ipswich and District Field Club 5: 1–12. Boswell, P. G. H. 1917. Underground in East Anglia, recent borings and what they teach us. Journal of the Ipswich and District Field Club 5: 13–33. Boswell, P. G. H. & Double, I. S. 1922. The geology of the country around Felixstowe and Ipswich. Proc. Geol. Assoc. 33: 285–305. Boswell, P. G. H. 1922. Excursion to the Felixstowe and Ipswich district. Whitsuntide, June 3rd to 7th, 1922. Proc. Geol. Assoc. 33: 306–312. Boswell, P. G. H. 1924. The faunal relations of the Crag deposits of the Bentley district, Suffolk. Proc. Geol. Assoc. 35: 212–220. Boswell, P. G. H. 1927. The geology of the country around Ipswich. Explanation of Geological Sheet 207. Mem. Geol. Surv. Boswell, P. G. H. 1928. The geology of the country around Woodbridge, Felixstowe and Orford. Explanation of Geological Sheets 208 and 225. Mem. Geol. Surv. Boswell, P. G. H. 1929. The geology of the country around Sudbury (Suffolk). Explanation of Geological Sheets 206. Mem. Geol. Surv. 7

Slater, G. 1919–1932. Drawings of the quaternary sequence of the northeastern coast of Norfolk. (See web-site of Quaternary Palaeoenvironments Group, University of Cambridge) Boswell, P. G. H. & Slater, G. 1923. Whitsuntide excursion to the Cromer and Norwich districts. May 18th—23rd, 1923. Proc. Geol. Assoc. 34: 223–232.

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 50 (2014)


SLATER & BOSWELL

75

8

Slater, G. 1925. Observations on the Nordenskiold and neighboring glacier of Spitzbergen, 1921. Journ. Geol. 33: no 4, 408–446. Slater, G. 1926. Glacial tectonics as reflected in disturbed drift deposits. Proc. Geol. Assoc. 37: 392–400. Slater, G. 1927. Studies in the drift deposits of the south-western part of Suffolk. Proc. Geol. Assoc. 38: 157–216. Slater, G. 1927. The structure of the Disturbed Deposits of Møens Klint, Denmark. Trans. Roy. Soc. Edinburgh 55: 289–302. Slater, G. 1927. The disturbed glacial deposits in the neighbourhood of Lönstrup near Hjörring, north Denmark. Trans. Roy. Soc. Edinburgh 55: 303–315. Slater, G. 1927. A “new section” in the Upper Drift deposits of Toronto. Royal Soc. Canada, Transactions series 3, 21, section 4: 37–46. Slater, G. 1927. The structure of the Mud Buttes and Tit Hills in Alberta. Bull. Geol. Soc. Amer. 38: 721–730. Slater, G. 1929. Quaternary period, 457–498, in J. W. Evans & C. J. Stubblefield, eds., Handbook of the geology of Great Britain: a compilitive work. Thomas Murby & Co, London. Slater, G. 1929. The structure of the drumlins exposed on the south shore of Lake Ontario. New York State Museum, Bulletin 281: 3–19. Slater, G. 1929. The Dawpool section of the Dee Estuary, Cheshire. Proc. Liverpool Geol. Soc. 15: 134–143. Slater, G. 1930. Studies on the Rhone glacier 1927 – The structure of the ice in a compressed zone on the south-eastern part of the glacier. Proc. Roy. Soc. London. Series B 106: 203–215. 9

Slater, G. 1931. The structure of the Bride Moraine, Isle of Man. Proc. Liverpool Geol. Soc. 14: 184–196. Slater, G. 1931. Disturbed glacial beds in Denmark. Geol. Mag. 69: 143–144. [This is in response to A H Jessen’s criticisms re Lönstrup]. Slater, G. 1932. The glaciated surface of the Nooitgedacht, near Kimberley and the Upper Dwyka boulder shale of the eastern part of Griqualand West Cape Province) 1929. Roy. Soc. South Africa, Cape Town. 10

Boswell, P. G. H. 1931. The stratigraphy of the glacial deposits of East Anglia in relation to early man. Proc. Geol. Assoc. 42: 87–111. Boswell, P. G. H. 1938. Whitsun field meeting, 3–7 June 1938. Ipswich district. Proc. Geol. Assoc. 49: 410–414. H B Mottram The Warren Duckamere Bramford Ipswich IP8 4AH

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 50 (2014)


Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 50

H. Mottram

76

Plate 16: Detailed view of Slater's original model of the Hadleigh Road site. The model uses a series of “slices� through the ground (p. 71).

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 50 (2014)


SLATER & BOSWELL

77

Plate 17: Slater’s map of the geology of the Hadleigh Road site which he updated over time as excavations and other works revealed new information (p. 71).

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 50 (2014)


78

Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 50

Plate 18: photo (by Boswell) and interpretative sketch by Slater of an exposure at Hadleigh road site in 1906 (p 69).

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 50 (2014)


SLATER & BOSWELL

79

Plate 19: Photo (by Boswell) and interpretative sketch by Slater of an exposure at Hadleigh Road site in 1906 (p 69).

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 50 (2014)

UNRAVELLING THE GLACIAL GEOLOGY OF THE IPSWICH AREA THE WORK OF SLATER AND BOSWELL  
UNRAVELLING THE GLACIAL GEOLOGY OF THE IPSWICH AREA THE WORK OF SLATER AND BOSWELL  

Howard Mottram

Advertisement