The Papers of Tressilian Charles Nicholas

Scope and Content

Comprising field notebooks and correspondence in relation to expeditions 1910-1920s; field and excursion notebooks 1930s-1980s; and correspondence relating to the Geological Society Club and International Geological Conferences and other academic interests; a postcard collection; and lantern slides to accompany expedition material.

Administrative / Biographical History

Tressilian Charles Nicholas was at Trinity College, Cambridge, but studied under the lectureship of those at St Johns College including Alfred Harker, Henry Woods, and John E. Marr. He became the first research fellow in Geology at Trinity.

At Easter 1914 Nicholas started to remap geology of the Llyn peninsula of North Wales with a party of Trinity undergraduates. However, as war broke out in August that year, this was the end of the project.

He was trained at the war office to take up the post of map officer as soon as the Second Army HQ was formed in France. However, he was first diverted to join the assembled expedition to the Dardanelles, and emabarked at Avonmouth on 20 March 1915. He disembarked at Alexandria on April 1st. It was during this period that Nicholas met T.E Lawrence, at that time an archaeologist, who acted as a liaison with the survey of Egypt and offered to do map printing that the army may have required.

During the Dardanelles campaign Nicholas, based at Army HQ on the island of Imbros, was able to utilize captured Turkish sets of many sheets covering the Gallipoli peninsula and Asiatic shore of the Dardanelles, including the site of Troy. The subsequent Sulva landing was a failure as troops had little or no previous battle experience.

In an article in the Journal of the Gallipoli association, Nicholas recalls persuading Leo Amery, who was about to return to England as Kings messenger after a hazardous escape from Bulgaria, to carry back in the diplomatic bag a large fossil tooth of a Mastodon which he had dug out of a cliff, but never expected to get back to the Sedgwick museum.

He was awarded the Lyell Fund 1917. Nicholas was later demobbed in 1919 at Crystal Palace as a Major.

Nicholas died in 1989.

[Currently no further biographical information]


Original order of the files amalgamated into boxes (boxes 559-561) in the 1990s has been lost. No clear original order of these records, or the others exists.

The collection is still to be arranged and catalogued.

Access Information

The papers are open for consultation by researchers using Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences. However, as the papers have not been appraised, there may be some closures.

The Geological Conservation Unit [Brighton Building] is open from Monday to Friday, 10:00-13:00 and 14:00-17:00. A prior appointment made at least two weeks in advance, and two forms of identification are required.

Please contact the Museum to ask about the collection or to make an appointment.

Other Finding Aids

The DDF Archive Inventory spreadsheet is available which contains basic box listing entries for the legacy records of the Sedgwick Museum and Department of Earth Sciences. There are additional detailed notes available (not yet typed) about some of the boxes (boxes 559-561). Please ask staff for further information.

Archivist's Note

This collection level description was created by Sandra Marsh of Sedgwick Museum in December 2010 using information from the papers themselves, from a speech Nicholas gave to the Sedgwick Club in 1980; and from an article in the Journal of the Gallipoli Association (No 59, 1989).

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies, photographs, and printouts from scanned images may be provided. Charges may apply. Readers may also use their own digital cameras subject to copyright legislation and in-house rules.

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and should seek advice from Sedgwick Museum Staff.

Please cite as Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, The Papers of Tressilian Charles Nicholas, NCLS.

Appraisal Information

The collection is still to be appraised.

Custodial History

11 boxes and 3 archive boxes were identified as being records created or retained by Nicholas. These were repackaged into 17 conservation grade boxes during the DDF project (2010-2011)

As no documentation could be recovered in Museum correspondence files to ascertain the provenance or acquisition details of the papers, it is not clear when these records were originally physically transferred to the Museum.

The records had been transferred from the Sedgwick Museum [Downing Street, Cambridge] to the Geological Conservation Unit [Madingley Road] between 1991-2009.


No more records are currently expected.

Related Material

There are records relating to Nicholas at Trinity College, Cambridge, references Trinity/Add.Ms.a/346 and Trinity/JRMB/A1/181.

Geographical Names