1 January 2007

Grenville Arthur James Cole (1859–1924): the cycling geologist

Publication: Geological Society, London, Special Publications
Volume 287
Pages 135 - 147


Grenville Arthur James Cole (1859–1924), Professor of Geology at the Royal College of Science for Ireland, was an avid cyclist and shared this passion with his wife Blanche. Born in London, Cole studied at the Royal School of Mines and lectured for a number of years at Bedford College for Ladies. Largely concurrent with his professorship he served as Director of the Geological Survey of Ireland at a time when it was in moderate decline.
He undertook many cycling tours around continental Europe and Ireland. These trips were recounted in two early travel books. The Gypsy Road: a Journey from Krakow to Coblentz, published in 1894, provides a delightful account of a tour undertaken by him on a tricycle and his companion on a penny farthing, across what is now Poland, the Czech Republic, and eastern Germany. In a later slim volume entitled As We Ride, co-authored with his wife, a number of expeditions to France and the Balkans are eloquently described. Between 1902 and 1908 he organized a week-long geological excursion to various parts of Ireland for his students, and transport was by train and bicycle.
His cycling trips provided him with the opportunity to collect research materials, make geological observations, and to photograph features of interest. Subsequently much of this material was used in his publications and in teaching. Cole's main academic studies were in igneous and metamorphic petrology. He valued and promoted fieldwork as an essential component of geological training. He was heavily involved with professional and amateur scientific societies, and was a prolific author of both academic and popular geological papers and books.

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cover image Geological Society, London, Special Publications
Geological Society, London, Special Publications
Volume 2872007
Pages: 135 - 147


Published: 2007



P. N. Wyse Jackson
Department of Geology, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland (e-mail: [email protected])

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