Exploration Club, The Belfry,

, Priddy, Wells,

. Telephone: Wells (0749) 72126.

Editor: G.

Having kipped in the car at Litton after a heavy session at
the queens Arms, a female member of the Club got up in the very early hours to
relieve herself.  A local resident chose
this same early hour to walk his dog. The incident became the talking point for a whole parish council
meeting.  Council investigations are
under way.  The cartoon on page 6 is the
result.  Bolt has many other cartoons in
the pipeline.

Explorations and surveying of Hanging Chamber,

(the high level
to oxbow Maypole) and Maypole Alpha are now complete.  The survey appears on p. 22.

The following is extracted from the Yorkshire Subterranean
Society Newsletter:  Would the people who
complained about the state of the Belfry remember that we are a caving
organisation and that we should not expect the Ritz when we visit other
areas.  I for one was glad of the
friendly atmosphere we all had with the Mendipians. Garto Barstow.

Just a few short lines to add to Garto’s remark about the
Ritz.  There are none of us presume we
are to be treated with waitress service. I for one complained bitterly about the condition of the Belfry.  Caving organisation we might be; pigs living
in hovels we are not!  There was not one
working/cooking area clean, let alone to be expected to prepare meals.  God alone knows how we got away without
food-poisoning.  To finalise, the
bunk-room and the bunks stunk abominably of urine and other
unmentionables.  Many of the women
complained, and equally as many men.

Many thanks to Buckett for helping enormously with cutting
stencils, for a whole weekend, and to Ann for plying us with numerous cups of
coffee and delicious food.




/ the Hole in the Road

by Brian Prewer.

Friday 23rd. April – Lunchtime.

“Wells Police here! – We’ve got a council man down here
who says one of his JCB’s has nearly fallen through a hole in the

Old Bristol Road
“.  A few words with the council man revealed
that indeed a large hole had appeared in the bottom of the trench being dug for
British Telecom near Milton Lodge.  An
inspection during lunch hour proved that it was not a mineshaft or culvert but,
in fact, natural cave with stalagmites and flowstone visible from the
surface.  Rather alarmingly it was noted
that the highest part of the chamber was only two feet below the road
surface!  Without a ladder it was
impossible to see the full extant of the chamber.  The Irish lad who drilled into the hole was
lowered down on the JCB boom for a quick look!

At 7.00pm, Rich West and I met Ron Higgins, the council man,
rigged a ladder from the car bumper and descended.  The chamber had already been visited before
us!  On the floor were several
footprints.  Ron confirmed that no-one
had entered the chamber that day other than us. A closer inspection of the quite distinct heel prints showed splash
marks and pita, clearly indicating that the prints were quite old.  (Wig has now found a report suggesting that
Balch and his contemporaries entered a chamber in this area many years ago)  (Not confirmed – A.J.)

The chamber, in horizontally bedded ‘dolomitic
conglomerate’, was roughly 40 feet long and 15 feet wide, with a small grotto
at the most southerly end.  At the
opposite end a small hole could be seen beyond a mud and stal bank.  No other passages of any significance were

After thanking Ron for allowing us to have a look at his
hole in the road he explained that he would be grateful if the cavers could
make appropriate measurements and tell him where the cavern lay in relation to
the surface.  This we undertook to do and
Ron departed saying that he would leave the cavern to the cavers for the

Saturday 24th.

A B.E.C. digging team removed the mud and stal bank at the
northerly end of the chamber and pushed through it into a second chamber
roughly 10′ by 8′ and 12′ high.  Some excellent
mud formations were photographed by Phil Romford before they were damaged.  The way on was down a muddy tube to the
left.  Feverish digging by Andy Sparrow
and ‘J-Rat’ soon opened the tube to ferret size and allowed them to pass on to
chamber 3.  The remainder of the party
were either too round shouldered, barrel-chested, too old, too large or too
long for this muddy tube and left to get hammers, chisels, drills etc.  Within an hour the ferret hole had become
‘Hughes’ size.  Andy and J-Rat had, in
fact, passed another two muddy squeezes to enter chambers 4 and 5, each one
progressively smaller and muddier. Meanwhile ‘Wig’ had started the survey for our council friends so that
they could establish how far up the road the cave went.  The total length was estimated at about 100
feet of passage heading roughly off under the wall into Milton Coombe
arboretum.  After boardroom discussions
held later that evening it was decided that Alison and Pete Moody (of the other
club) should be invited to inspect the last chamber.  Carbon dioxide was thought to be present near
the end.

Sunday 25th.

The M.C.G. (the other other club) made an early descent
before church and it is even rumoured that Simon was seen below at 9.00
a.m.  (The cider farm opens at 10.00
a.m.)  A

party including Alison and
Pete arrived at a more sensible hour and went through to chamber 5, where
Alison pushed on into Chamber 6, 30′ away. At this point a mud fill from the surface blocked the way.  The survey will probably show that this point
is very close to the valley side in Milton Coombe.  The party retreated to make way for other
cavers and the survey party in the afternoon. It is interesting to note that the afternoon survey party had to abandon
their trip due to bad air – probably because of too many people and the
disturbance of much glutinous mud.  Also,
during the afternoon, the press and T.V. arrived along with several local
councillors and various other important looking gentlemen.  Trips around the first chamber were conducted
by various muddy cavers.  A dig beneath
the stal bank at the southerly end was commenced by the M.C.G. and continued by
the B.E.C.  Progress was rapid in the
soft clay but more work needs to be done.

Monday 26th.

The powers that be have decided that the hole ‘belongs’ to
British Telecom and that they must decide how to fill or cap the hole.

During Monday evening Wig completed the survey and it was
handed over to British Telecom by Tuesday. Does this qualify for the Guinness Book of Records?

By the end of Monday the JCB’ s had moved away – they are
going to have a try at the other end of the road!  Better luck there – they might find the


Tuesday 27th.

British Telecom hinted that they would rather cap the hole
in the road than try to fill it in.  This
would allow them to make inspections of the roof, etc.



News And Notes From The Caving Secretary

Martin Grass

South Wales


This is a new find by the South Wales C.C. which has
considerable potential.  The cave is situated
approximately half a mile south of Sink Y Gaidd, it is phreatic in origin, and
has been explored for 1000 feet to a depth of 50 feet.  Work continues with high hopes of ‘Caverns
measureless to man’.

Also in the same area a shaft 100 feet deep has opened up
half a mile up valley from Sink y Giedd. It is choked by boulders at the bottom and takes some of the Sink y
‘Giedd water .


On Sunday 11th April someone removed the gate and padlock
from this cave to gain access.  The
entrance has now been filled in, until a caver proof entrance can be
fitted.  The Ogof Craig y Ffynnon C.C.
have a good idea who is responsible and are considering taking legal action.


A B.E.C. team consisting of G.Wilton-Jones, Duckett Tilbury,
Jane Clarke, Tim Large and Martin Grass have opened up a 40 foot pot in Dali’s
Delight, leading to a small stream and a static sump pool.  The shaft was reached after two successful
bangs, the first using a cone charge which Tim had perfected.  The stream route is narrow and needs
blasting.  All members are welcome to
help.  Contact any of the above.  Hopes are high of entering the Mazeways series
and providing a dry by-pass to the 320 foot sump.  This site has been made an official B.E.C.


The South Wales C.C. have requested that any members (of
B.E.C.) requiring permits/leaders to S.W.C.C. controlled caves should go
through the Caving Secretary (Martin Grass, tel: 0582 35145).  This will make their job much easier and stop
non-club members using our name to gain access. (This has actually happened at Otter Hole).

This also applies to the caves controlled by the Council of
Northern Caving Clubs.

Martin Grass

Northern Caving


See above request regarding access.


This resurgence for Goyden and New Goyden Pots: has been
dived to a staggering 1300 feet (sump 2) without reaching air-space.  This makes the sump the fourth longest in the
country, and the largest known sump that has not been passed to dry
passage.  The “big four” are as
follows: –

1)       1)
West Kingsdale –
Cave to Keld Head,
           6,000 feet

2)       2)
(sump 9),
Yorkshire.                                         1,500 feet

3)       3)
Peak Cavern; Far Sump, Derbyshire.                                       1,427feet

4)       4)
Nidd Heads (sump 2),
Yorkshire.                                             1,300

(this is a 2,600 foot dive as no airspace is reached as in
Boreham and Peak).



Diving back into Far Sump to continue exploration Martyn
Farr bolted up an aven in the extensions and found a very large chamber (the
largest in the system and not much smaller than the entrance chamber).  “T’Owd Man” had been here before
but no mining had been carried out, and where he had entered the cavern could
not be found, al though the roof is the most probable point.  This was so high that Martyn’s, light could
not reach it.  The only possible ways on
now are by a lengthy bolting operation to a very high level passage or by
diving the sumps found on early explorations”

Access to Peak is now closed until the next season, so we
will have to wait until then for further news.



On Saturday 7th November 1981 Ian Caldwell (D.E.C.) and
Chris Milne and Pete Moody (both Wessex C.C.) placed a “bomb” (a few
ounces of explosive on the end of a long stick so it would wedge against the
roof) in the 6th sump of Stoke Lane Slacker. A few months later the site was visited again and Pete Eckford (B.E.C.)
and Chris Milne were able to pass the tightest part of the sump and enter an
air-bell.  The bang had worked!

On 6th March 1982 Ian and Chris returned and passed the sump
proper to be the first people to enter Stoke Seven since 1965.  They explored some large side chambers off
the streamway and found one or two promising dig sites.  On their next visit they hope to pass sump 7
and continue the unfinished exploration of Stoke Lane Eight.  Ian says that Sump 6 is very tight for about
two feet and is only just passable with a caving helmet on.  A full report on the history of diving in

Stoke Lane
is being
prepared by Wormhole (Ian) and should appear in the B.B. soon.

As a sequel to this last trip, Ian returned to Stoke the
following day to collect some kit he had left at Sump 2.  On calling at the farm to collect the key he
was bitten by the farm dog.  After a
visit to the Bristol Royal Infirmary and a few anti-tetanus jabs he was O.K.
but they were a bit concerned that he had gone down Stoke with an open cut,
plus, he had never had a tetanus jab before.




Slide Show

A slide show by Paul Deakin will be held at the Belfry in
the near future.  Details of date and
time will be published in the next B.B. and on the Belfry Notice Board.



Ross White has now safely returned from
after fighting the Argentineans.  In true B.E.C. style he did everything to
excess in being part of the group which shot down a helicopter and damaged a
corvette.  He also placed “B.E.C. get
everywhere” stickers in various huts on the island as well as the ship he was
kept on, and in a swimming pool which acted as a prison!  The luxury hotel in

to which he was transferred, is also liberally decorated with the famous
bat.  We can now truly say that the
B.E.C. really do get everywhere!!  Well
done, Ross, and welcome home.


I hear from a reliable source that the intelligence services
in Argentina fear the Brits are going to use some new, secret weapon using bats
code-named” B.E.C.”  Will they
carry heat seeking missiles or just give rabies to all the dagos in the



Some Thoughts On Nickel Cadmium Cells

by Pete Eckford

Most of the Club are aware that some of us use
“dry” nickel cadmium cells for caving lights.  Some think we use the Rx -range, as bought in

etc.  To clear up this misapprehension I
put pen to paper.  The Rx range are O.K.
for the kids toys but both the Rx 14 and the Rx 20 are expensive for what they
are, i.e. both 1.2 amp hour, and the construction is such that they both soon
become useless for caving.

The type I feel is best suited to caving is the NCC range –
NCC 400(U 2 size) 4 amp hour and NCC 200 (HP 11) 2 amp hour.  The NCC 400’s fit into PVC waste pipe with a
blank at each end.  The NCC 200’s fit
into standard Radio Spares die-cast boxes. I make clips for mine but there is no need because the cells can be
obtained with solder tags.

What sort of light do they give?  Well, that depends on the bulb.  I tend to use three cells with a 0.5 amp
bulb.  That gives 1.8 watts, about half a
three cell nife, but by improving on the reflector in the headset very little
difference is noticed.  How long do they
last?  Well, again that depends, but the
above with NCC 400’s would last eight hours. Now, because of the many combinations I enclose a table to give an idea
of the type of cell, expected duration and light output.

How do you charge them? Well, you can charge them with a large resistor but I charge mine
through a constant current charger. There are many circuits; all have advantages and disadvantages.  As long as the charger is able to take caver
abuse I don ‘t think it matters.

The advantages of the cells? Well, they don’t leak.  They are
light and small.  If you treat them right
they will last for years.

NCC 400

4 hours

8 hours

12 hours

Approx. cost

NCC 200

2 hours

4 hours

6 hours









2 cells

1 amp

0.5 amp

0.3 amp



2.4v bulb

2.4 watt

1.2 watt

0.8 watt









3 cells

1 amp

0.5 amp

0.3 amp



3.6v bulb

3.6 watt

1.8 watt

1.2 watt









4 cells

1 amp

0.5 amp

0.3 amp



4.8v bulb

4.8 watt

2.4 watt

1.6 watt









5 cells

1 amp

0.5 amp

0.3 amp



6v bulb

6 watt

3 watt

2 watt





Swildons  –  Vicarage Passage

by Phil Romford


I thought that it would be of some interest to publish this
article on S.M.C.C. digging in Vicarage Passage.  I wrote this piece in early 1969 to have it
published in the S.M.C.C. journal, the S.M.C.C. being my club at the time.  However, due to political upheavals around
this time I decided to leave the club. Consequently I was left with my unpublished manuscript.

Looking back on the dig now, it is a shame, I think, that we
did not persevere.  The

however, namely Ian Jepson, Glyn Bolt, et al; are now re-working it.  I wish them luck.

Vicarage Passage Dig, Swildons, up to 1968.

This, one of our nowadays regular club digs, has been one of
some dispute for several years now, with Willie Stanton prophesying its
eventual passage to the Black Hole Series (1), Derek Ford disagreeing, of course,
and everyone saying that it can’t possible go. I must confess that the latter is the most probable when one considers
how long this particular dig has been going.

The original dig was started in 1962 after a breakthrough
was made from the Troubles series to the Swildons 2 streamway.  This was done as an inter-club effort with
trips lasting of the order of 14 hours or so, which succeeded in breaking
through, in fits and starts to Vicarage Pot. Then on to the “U” tube dig (1) which was worked almost solely
by M.N.R.C. members, two of whom soon after joined the S.M.C.C. to carryon with
Vicarage digging.

The M.N.R.C. started the present dig about six years
ago.  About six months later it became a
solely Shepton dig.

I think it is generally considered to be one of the most
remote and correspondingly filthy digs. However, a few of us insist on seeing the dig go if at all humanly
possible.  On most of the digging trips
we have had in Vicarage over the past five years we (that is, your scribe and
Bob Craig) have usually managed to cajole some unwitting caver into assisting
us.  I must admit that some of our
members have been there more than once, though some have vowed, “Never
again”, (2) as have most outsiders. Nevertheless; it does make a good trip before digging.

The present dig is situated at the farthest extremity of
Vicarage Passage beyond, the “U”, tube.  The nature of the neighbouring passages is
somewhat maze-like, with Hairy Passage being the most tortuous.  After the “U” tube one comes to a
ten foot drop which appears to be formed in a joint plane, and this is easily
climbable.  From here one proceeds up a
300 slope for about 30 feet which brings one to an inclined bedding passage
which is going down at an angle of about 250. This passage leads directly into the dig, where it is still in the form
of an inclined bedding passage, but somewhat smaller.  The dig also appears to be taking the form of
a “U” tube dig.  All of the
passages described have an almost totally phreatic origin with an almost negligible
amount of vadose trenching.  This seems
to be typical of all the Vicarage Passage series.

At first sight, upon arrival at the dig, the uninitiated
would probably think that he had arrived at a sump pool, but this water was
easily baled out through the eye-hole (fig. 1). After baling, the next problem comes with the slimy ooze of mud which is
usually about a foot deep, and must be removed before one is able to dig solid
clay and gravel.

Although the dig had always filled, with water in the past,
it used to take a number of days.  By now
it will fill almost to overflowing in a matter of a few hours, possibly only
two.  This change took place after the
July 1968 floods, but it is not known whether the floods had any bearing on the
dig, although it is known that the flood water reached at least as far as the
“U” tube (2), or whether it is due to further lengthening of the dig,
which brings us nearer to a pool on the other side.  This latter seems the more likely.  I think a pool must lie on the other side as
the water which flows back always reaches the same level, that is, to within
4-5 inches of overflowing through the eye-hole.

When the dig was first started the mud and gravel was fairly
easy to remove, even if it was wet, as at the time the mud stayed fairly
firm.  However, recently, with the great
amount of water and the greater length of passage, it has become increasingly
difficult to use ordinary digging tools, so we decided that we must resort to
chemical means.  This took the form of
Polar Ammon Gelignite.  This has been no
inconsiderable help, as to date it has gained us about nine feet of
passage.  So far about 4¼lb of PAG has
been used, 4 lb, of this actually detonating, the other ¼lb being found with a
foot of Cordtex sticking out of it (3)

This charge was laid as two separate ¼lbs about one foot
apart, the Cordtex joining these two being bound in the recommended ICI
manner.  Needless to say, I shall not be
using this technique again underground as this is not the first time this has
happened in a cave (4).  Fortunately the
charge was wrapped in a watertight polythene bag, so had fared well as far as
sweating was concerned.  It was,
therefore, safe to move and place another charge alongside it.  Although the bang was not sweating, I must admit
that I was, and quite profusely, at the time of moving it.


This is where my original script finished.  The intention was to continue with a second
article to describe our findings, but due to lack of helpers Crange and I
decided to give it up.


(1) M.N.R.C.  Jnl., 1, (2), 28 An account of Vicarage

(2) S.M.C.C.  Hut Log Vol. 6   20. Vicarage.

(3) S.M.C.C.  Hut Log Vol. 6   42. Vicarage.

(4) S.M.C.C.  Hut Log Vol. 6   46. Lamb Leer.


Building For The Belfry

by Jill Tuck

(for new members who wonder why we have such a gaunt looking
tackle hut)

In 1957 the wooden Belfry was bursting with people caving
kit, useful


boots and old socks.  More space was
essential.  However, if you are in an
area scheduled as one of Unusual Scenic Interest, you have the choice of
building on the sly and swearing that it was there before the 1949 Act, or
doing it the long, more certain way, via planning committees.  The chances of getting away with anything
were fairly small as it was known that planes were carrying out aerial surveys,
so the B.E.C. had to decide to sink their principles and do things
legally.  Legally, of course, meant

Stage 1 was to have preliminary talks with the Council
Planners to see what might be permitted. They really wanted to refuse all new buildings except farming, but also
wanted to see the end of temporary wooden buildings on Mendip, and a return to
traditional style.  Mendip at the time
certainly had architectural heritage of functional beauty and uniformity (i.e.
corrugated asbestos roofs and materials taken from the nearest semi-derelict
site).  A century or two passed and the
huge tonnage of stone already on site weathered gently and was almost
permanently crowned by Neddy’s motor-bike.

Eventually Pat Ifold drew up plans of a practicable and
attractive building of Mendip stone which had a ridged roof and a Dutch chimney
at the visible end.  Months passed, then
the planners refused consent.  Dutch
chimneys were not allowed and the building had to have a ‘traditional’ tiled
roof.  A quick count around the locality
showed that roofs were about 40% rusty corrugated iron, 40% corrugated asbestos
and 20% in a plethora of materials and colours (plethoras were always popular
on Mendip).  The Planning Committee would
not admit our argument.

Stalemate.  The stone
pile developed moss and a pleasant patina from cowsh.  The position was serious, not because of the
tiles but because of the cost of the wooden frame to support them.  This roof would have doubled or trebled
costs, even if second-hand timber were used. Every week the members drank to the confusion of their enemies, while
prayers were said by the club committee as they re-examined their assets and
found them too small.

The planning committee relented a little and ruled that the
building could have an asbestos roof if nobody could see it.  They themselves sketched out the traditional
Mendip dwelling which they would like to see; bearing in mind the visual needs
of the area, the impossibility of a tiled roof, and the size required.  Thus was born the Mexican jail, for whose
design the B.E.C. had no responsibility whatever.  The Planning Committee also ruled that
windows were to be traditionally oblong, but the rounded tops were defiantly
put in by Alfie and myself who could not stand the look of the place as now

After a few more centuries, the official plans were
passed.  At the end of 1958 a little gang
of members assembled, on site with poles and string to mark out the quoins
(corners).  The gang stepped back to
admire their work, until it was suggested that they measure the diagonals.  This showed a difference of several feet –
red faces all round.  Things were at best
on the way and the foundations went in.

With the help of our professional adviser, Albert, stones
were put in to get the verticals in at the corners or, as professional parlance
had it, “the quoins were set up”. We were using a Mendip mix of concrete using limestone dust, so Albert
demonstrated the correct amount of water to add to get it ‘daunch’.  The stones had to be laid with the strata
horizontal, as blocks put in vertically (termed butterflies) would crack off
layer by layer in wet or frosty weather.

(If you see a house with a wall looking like crazy paving,
you know that the owners are going to need a replacement job in a few years

Having learned the vernacular, we were off.  Eventually it was time to lay the floor, and
ready-mix concrete was ordered.  Alan
Sandall had volunteered to meet and deal with the load, but there was no sign
of the wagon at the expected time.  It
turned out that the driver had decided that he knew better than the person who
gave him the route plan, and had not only got lost but also sprung a puncture.  When at last it arrived, the delayed mix had
outlasted its time and was only just jettisoned before it set.  Alan lost much of the flesh from his hands
but managed to get the concrete in place chunk by chunk.

The walls continued to rise but it took three years to get
to the parapet.  For one thing, work was
limited to guaranteed frost-free week-ends. For another the mix was very liquid and Mendip Stone trapezoid or
triangular, so we could never build more than about nine inches high at a
session without the new part subsiding under the weight.  The bulk of the building work was done by
Alfie Collins who specialised in the block work inside and the technical stuff
like the wooden moons for the window arches, and myself, who built most of the
stone outer.  The shed was called the
Vestry, where members would be vesting themselves caving rig-out, but the name
never caught on.  Finally I sculpted the
gargoyle of after-gin caver (from life), and the gutter to it and the roof were
installed.  Finally, did I say?  It took years to stop water running uphill
along the convenient gutter arrangement demanded by the council, and to keep
the inside rooms dry.  The building time
taken and the limited working time available made it clear that any new Belfry
would need to be put up by an outside firm. Still, the tackle shed did get finished and served as H.Q. and sleeping
accommodation for a vital time after the wooden Belfry No. 2 made a funeral
pyre of itself.

For the record, and for people who would like to date Belfry
photographs, the work timetable was as follows:


Tackle shed building progress.

Work started late autumn 1958; Floor laid 3.9.60; Shower and
washbasin, Easter 1961; Windows puttied, Easter 1961, internal doors fitted,
Painted, May 1961; Walls and parapet finished, October 1962.           


Bi-Monthly Notes

Reads Grotto.  Pete
and Alison Moody visited this site, near G.B. Cavern, recently and after a
period of digging broke into over 1000 feet of cave reaching a depth of around
300 feet.  There are loose boulders in
the entrance passages – these are the reason Willie Stanton did not bang
there.  There is a Cuthbert’s type rift
near the beginning, there are many good formations (which are unfortunately already
being damaged despite the very few visits into the cave, mainly by experienced
cavers) and a large chamber towards the end. This final chamber approaches G.B. Main Chamber in size, and the two are
only 50 feet apart.  The present end of
the cave is a loose run in of boulders forming a choke.  The system is already gated and access is
very strictly controlled by Charterhouse Caving Committee.

Charterhouse and

.  Several of the caves in these two areas have
been broken into recently or have had locks and/or gates damaged.  Access restrictions are liable to increase if
this vandalism continues.

B. E.C. Caving Meets. Two of the best attended caving trips this year were the Wookey Hole
(dry) trip and

.  Perhaps some of the participants would care
to write an article.

The usual hordes turned up in
at Easter, but failed to drink Crickhowell dry.  The White Ensign flew patriotically over the
site, accompanied a new Bertie flag, courtesy of Trevor.

B.E.C. members joined Speleo Nederland in
for trips in Calf Holes – Browgill, Out Sleets Beck and Link – Pippikin.  The social scene was constantly livened by
Martin Scatliffe (Bradford F.C.), who does an excellent Rain-dance.


Geevor Mine

by Chris Batstone

During a not so sunny summer day Hike (Quackers) Duck and I
paid a visit to Geevor Mine for a look at the tin concentrating plant.

Geevor, since its formation from two small mines in 1911
(Wheal Stennack and
North Levant) has become
probably the major concern in tin mining in the county.  During the past twenty years the workings
have expanded to take in the old submarine workings at Levant Mine while
considerable interest is shown at present in working the Crowns section of the
old Botallack Mine.

Although the values of tin from the ore are nothing like
those that were worked during the heyday of Cornish mining the efficiency of
the concentration process can win enough tin to make working payable.

The concentration mill is situated near the shaft head at
Victory Shaft.  All the are from the mine
reaches the surface via this shaft.

From the shaft the ore is passed, over a Grizzley screen to
separate the more manageable rocks from the larger, unmanageable ones.  These large rocks pass through a jaw crusher
where the rocks are squeezed and broken between two hard metal plates until
they are of a manageable size for washing.

Washing is carried out using water pumped out of the mine
itself.  The ultra-fine sand or slimes
from this process are settled out to provide low grade tin concentrate, approx.
10% tin, which is generally sold off with no further treatment.

The washed ore is then crushed down to the consistency of
fine gravel and put through what is known as heavy media separation.  The less dense waste rock will float to the
surface of the heavy media pulp (such as ferrosilicon and water) whereas the
more dense are bearing rock will sink and settle out.

The ore is passed over fine vibrating screens to separate
the fine slimes from the coarse sands which are passed through a Newell Dunford
ball mill to further reduce the ore.  The
ball mill consists of a revolving steel cylinder loaded with steel balls, and a
mesh screen to control the size of the particles in the discharge for the first

The pulp is normally classified into size to supply a range
of spigot discharges for the shaking tables; the table middlings are further
re-ground by a Hardinge ball mill and re-tabled.  The shaking table consists of a slightly
inclined rectangular, or similar, surface of wood approx. 15 feet by 5′ feet,
covered with linoleum and small wood “riffles” and is given a shaking
motion along its major axis by an eccentric drive.  The riffles guide the pulp, which is fed onto
part of the top edge of the table and tends to flow at right angles to the
shaking motion.  Clean water is also
added from a perforated pipe, and this flows over the remaining edge at the top
of the table.  The jerking movements
throw the more dense particles along the length of the table further than the
less dense particles and the washing water carries the gangue material further
down the table.  The result is that the
ore is separated and carried further along the table in the direction of
motion, so coming off the discharge end of the table higher up than the waste,
or tailings.  Middlings and tailings can
be cut out by the placement of takeoff troughs to catch the various products as
they come over the edge of the table.

The black tin or cassiterite is passed from the shaking
tables through a froth flotation process: this removes impurities such as
copper, arsenic, zinc and iron sulphide. The flotation process relies on making the surface of some minerals
repel wetting by water, while allowing other minerals to be wetted. The minerals
which repel wetting tend to concentrate from the pulp and attach themselves to
an air-water interface, usually air bubbles blown in the pulp.  These form as a froth on the surface and this
is skimmed off.  The collector chemical
is frequently a zanthate (or dithiocarbonate) whilst pine oils or similar
additives form the frothing agent. Unfortunately no method has yet been found for the flotation of tin and
this process is used only to separate impurities.  When no more material is floated the contents
of the flotation cell are run off for final concentration and then passed
through a magnetic separator.  This
separates the high grade tin concentrate from the medium grade concentrate
which is approx. 20% pure and contains oxides of iron and other impurities.  This is sold with no further, treatment.  The high grade concentrate is dried and
packed into 50kg bags ready for sale to the smelters.

It is hoped the above article has given the reader some idea
of the complexity of tin ore dressing. An average of some 200 tons of tin will be recovered from approx. 20,000
tons of ore.

The Geevor Mine is well worth a visit.  A small but comprehensive museum also been
started on the site.  Unfortunately the
cost of visiting this is extra.



Of Spirits And Men

by “Honk”.

Anybody familiar with the BEC will know that they are famous
for two pastimes.  Drinking and caving,
the former being the most popular.  It is
also wall known that many Mendip cavers like to combine the two, resulting in
the occasional Saturday night, drunken caving excursion into Swildons.  It would seem that drunken caving is a fairly
modern phenomenon, originally conceived by the BEC, who were the first Mendip

However I have evidence to suggest that the first Caving
piss artist, lived and died in the seventeenth century.

Most, cavers know of Pen Park Hole.  It is a small but interesting cave, located
in the heart of a council estate in Southmead Bristol.  This cave has many claims to fame; its strange
location; its tidal lake; its rich history. I have, though, left one item from the list. 

Hole was the
birthplace of the whole caving and drinking concept, as I shall explain.

Back in July 1669, a certain adventurer called Captain
Sturmey, decided to explore the newly discovered Pen Park Hole.  So on the second of July, with a miner hired
for the purpose, Sturmey descended the cave. After three hours of candlelight caving, Sturmey came across a vast
cavern, which he explored with great joy until his joy was presently turned to
amazement and he was much astonished by the sight of an evil spirit, and for
that reason did go thither no more.  (A)
This encounter with an evil spirit would suggest that Sturmey saw a ghost, but
upon leaving the cave, Sturmey suffered from a malady known to all Belfryites
as his own account suggests. “But for four days after my return I was
troubled with violent headaches which I impate to my being in that
vault”.  (A) Unfortunately Sturmeys
condition worsened and he died within a fortnight of leaving the cave with
“a high fever and a pallid countenance”.  At this stage I will point out that the words
“spirit” and “headache” are synonymous with one another when
associated with alcohol.  It seems to me,
that contrary to popular belief, Captain Sturmey died, not though encountering
a supernatural creature, but from drinking too much.  The symptoms he suffered after the trip
certainly seam to indicate the common hangover! In that historic caving trip Sturmey made two “firsts”.  He was the first explorer of Pen Park Hole

first drinking caver.

So when you next sip beer in the Hunters, or sample the
delights of a Belfry barrel, spare a thought for Captain Sturmey who discovered
“Belfryitus” long before the Belfry existed.

A. Both taken from Philosophical Transactions No 143 by Sir
Robert Southwell, dated 1670.


Bi-Monthly Notes Continued

Northern news.  The
exploration of Nidd Heads has continued beyond Martin’s latest bit of
news, and the underwater passage is now the second longest explored in

.  In Gaping Gill one member of a party
abseiling the Main Shaft by way of the Rat Hole lost control and was
killed.  It appears that he had only
practised in trees previously, and attempted the descent using only three bars of
his rack.  Another caver, already safely
at the floor, held the rope in an attempt to control or slow the other’s fall,
but to no avail.  He was hit by the
falling, caver and received serious injuries.

In Diccan Pot a caver fell from a ladder and was found
to be dead when lowered to the bottom.

Mendip.  Trevor Hughes
has now received official permission to dive Rodney Stoke Rising (the
little green door in the mountain) and first priority will be to pull out the
boulder which has prevented previous access.

Martin Bishop has once, again organised digging at Cheddar
(First Feeder) Main Rising
.  At
present, mid-May, this rising has almost dried up and any water that is
emerging from among the boulders is actually flowing back towards the cliff!

World Depth Record.

The Gouffre Jean Bernard has been pushed to a depth of
-1494m.  The Groupe Speleo Vulcain took
five Gays in February to dive through the 1981 (-1455) endpoint.  They reached a 4th sump at the new record
depth which they reckon is un-divable.


Mendip Rescue Organization.

Cave Rescues and Incidents for the Year ending 31st January 1981.

Over the year we have had a wide variety of call outs.  Apart from the now usual alerts and searches,
we have persuaded a girl to dive back through sump 1 in Swildons, assisted two
exhausted girls up pitches, helped two injured boys after they had fallen down
pitches, unplugged a stuck caver in Longwood and attended another who suffered
a fatal heart attack .in nearby G.B. Cavern. At the end of this more than busy year, a large contingent of Mendip
cavers went on a works outing to help colleagues from
at Agen Allwedd.  From
this variety, however, we must note that four incidents on Mendip have involved
inexperienced teenagers, three of which were led by teachers or instructors
rather than club cavers.

Sunday 3rd February 1980.         Swildons Hole.

Dr. William Stanton was alerted by the Police from Frome at
1540 hrs.  He contacted the informants
who had correctly remained at the Priddy Green telephone box and learnt that 19
years old Joan Cooper from

Berks, was exhausted and unable to climb up the short pitch at the foot of the
old Forty Foot Pot.  William then
telephoned the Belfry and Chris Batstone took charge of the call out there.  Dr. Don Thomson was told of the incident and
he advised that the Reviva warm air breather should be used to prevent possible
exposure problems.

Mike Duck, Jim Watson, and Trefor Roberts were underground
within twenty minutes of the callout and were followed by a five man party with
the Reviva.  Other parties were in the
cave at the time and were able to give assistance.  Brian Prewer established a radio link with
cavers stood by at the Belfry from Priddy Green.

Miss Cooper was helped out of the cave by 1630hrs and taken to
the Belfry to change and warm up.

Sunday 24th February 1980.       Swildons Hole.

Three climbers from


were reported by local cavers to be doing a Long Round Trip earlier in the
day.  They had been seen underground
using maps to find their way.  When they
had not surfaced by 2330hrs, cavers were stood by at Priddy and the police
informed.  The overdue trio surfaced
shortly after midnight having underestimated the difficulty of the trip.  One was particularly tired a he had not done
much caving before.

Friday 22nd February 1980.        Cuckoo Cleeves.

David Irwin was contacted by Frome police at 2000hrs with
news that a 14yr old boy in a party from Dorchester school,
had fallen and broken a leg.  It appears
that Nicholas Amor got ahead of another party of local scouts who were also
doing the cave.  On descending the
entrance pitch and hurrying through the ruckle, he is thought to have tried
jumping the 13ft pot!  He sustained a bad
fracture of the leg.

Cavers at the Hunters Lodge Inn were alerted and Rod Harper
quickly responded with a strong party and essential rescue equipment.  Rod used his veterinary’s skills to good
effect and Amor was soon hauled out to have his injuries inspected by Dr. Don

He was then taken by ambulance to hospital where he remained
for several weeks owing to the severity of the fractures.

Friday 11th April 1980.   Box
Stone Mines, Wiltshire.

Devizes contacted Brian Prewer and asked him to telephone
Chief Inspector Cooper at Corsham regarding a possible incident in Box Stone
Mines.  Two girls exercising horses near
the mines had heard voices that might have been cries for help.  A check had shown that no one was thought to
have gone down the various entrances, but, a bunch of freshly picked primroses
was found near the railway tunnel.

The Police wanted a search of the mines to eliminate the
possibility of any Children being lost there.

Brian alerted Bob Scammell, Keith Newbury and Chris Batstone
in the area and asked them to conduct a search of the main routes.  Tim Large raised a standby party and David
Irwin was ‘ advised of the incident.  He
then collected equipment from the Belfry and made his way to Corsham keeping in
radio contact with Eric Dinford.

The search party spent from 1730 to 1915hrs looking around
the main routes but found nothing.  It
was assumed that the children could have entered Box Tunnel and travelled
through it so that the voices had been heard from one of the air shafts.  The Police called off the search at this at
this point.

Monday 5th May 1980.   Brown’s
Folly Mine, Wiltshire.

A call was received by Brian Prewer at 1945hrs from Devizes
Police who, reported that the parents of four teenagers had informed them of a
party missing in the mines.  Brian
immediately contacted Bob Scammell at Bathford who went straight to the site
and got on with the search single handed. Chris Batstone and Martin Bishop stood by.

Bob soon found the missing party of seven youths lightless
at Clapham Junction.  Apparently ten had
entered the mines earlier after few had claimed to have been down them the
previous week.  Then for some
inexplicable and irresponsible reason, the three with good torches left the
remainder with failing lights and simply went off to a local public house.  It was left to the parents to raise the
alarm.  All were out of the mines by
2100hrs having been underground in light clothing or about six hours.  No one took kindly to the youths regarding
the incident as a huge joke and they got a well deserved dressing down.

Chief Superintendent S.J. Ashley subsequently wrote to thank
MRO or helping and paid tribute to Bob Scammell in particular.

Saturday 25th May. 1980.           Longwood

At about 1415hrs Andy Williams went to the Hunters Lodge and
reported that a large man was stuck in Longwood with Geoff Price and another
caver on the wrong side of him to give assistance.  He was John Hopton from Fishponds,


The Police and Bristol Water Works were advised of the
situation and Alan Thomas went to the cave to assist, arriving at about
1430hrs.  Meanwhile Brian Prewer and Bob
Scammell went for hauling gear, whilst Stewart McManus and Tony Knibbs provided
back up.  Dr. Peter Glanvill as alerted
and Tim Large and Nigel Taylor set up radio contact from the cave to the
Belfry.  Mr and Mrs Trim kindly allowed,
access through the farm and were most helpful. The victim was soon moved by help from the right direction and out of
the cave by 1600hrs none the worse for his experience.

Saturday 7th June 1980.             Manor
Farm Swallet:

Howard Barker aged 34 from Targarth, Powys, and Miss
Josephine Laver, aged 25 years from Salisbury Whiltshire, went down the cave at
1430hrs.  Both had been caving together
for several years.  A ladder was used on
the Entrance Pitch and ropes were carried for September Rift and the pitch in
Curtain Chamber.  The trip went well
until they turned to the pitches on the way out.

When Josephine became exhausted and unable to climb up the
awkward September Rift, Barker had to leave the cave for assistance.  He reached the Belfry at 1900hrs and
explained the situation to Nigel Taylor who raised a party of seven to form a
hauling party.  Brian Prewer was alerted
and the police informed of the incident.

The BEC party reached the cave with Nigel at 1920hrs and
were soon underground.  By using a sit
harness, it was a straight forward matter to assist Josephine Laver up the rift
and then out of the Cave.  All had
surfaced by 2000hrs and everyone stood down. Miss Laver was not hurt so she returned to the Townsend Campsite, Priddy,
with Mr Barker.

Saturday 16th August 1980.        G.B. Cavern

Yeovil Police contacted Brian Prewer at 1753 hrs to report
that a caver in G.B. was having trouble with his breathing.  The informant had wrongly left the telephone
and so further information was unobtainable.

David Irwin was requested to go to the cave at 1755hrs for
an on the spot assessment and after experiencing difficulty in making a
telephone connection to the Belfry, Brian alerted Marilyn McManus to establish
an alternative radio contact there.  She
also raised Wessex Cave Club members. Fred Davis was called at 1810hrs and a party with Chris Batstone and
Dany Bradshaw left the belfry about same time. Meanwhile, Dave Irwin reported that 33 year old Ian Mille from

had suffered a
heart attack at the foot of one of the climbs in Mud Passage.  Dr. Don Thomson was called at 1825hrs and
asked to attend.  Jim Hanwell was then
contacted and all went to the cave.

Fred Davies went underground at 1845 hrs and found BAR and
ECM being applied by the earlier arrivals. He continued with this until Dr. Don Thomson reached the scene at
1900hrs to report that the patient had died. The deceased was hauled to the surface by 1950hrs and the cave cleared
by 2015hrs.  Another party below
completely missed the entire incident which had lasted only 2⅓hrs.

Apparently, Ian Miller had no previous caving experience but
had requested joining a small well equipped group visiting the Ladder Dig
Series.  He appeared to be in some
distress on the way out and then suddenly collapsed.  At the Inquest, it was recorded that death
had resulted from a heart attack probably brought about by unaccustomed

Wednesday 1st October 1980.                Swildons Hole.

Brian Prewer was contacted by Yeovil Police at about 2230hrs
concerning a 14 year old girl who was refusing to return through Sump I.  Apparently, two teachers had taken ten girls

the cave at about 1700hrs.  The party was
well equipped with wet suits, boots and lamps to a standard beyond that
expected for such a group on their third caving trip.  Moreover it was planned to visit Swildons II
via the streamway and sump.  One teacher
with nine of the girls was met on their way out at the Twenty Foot Pot by Greg
Villis and Dave Gill.  They learnt that
the other teacher had remained on the far side of Sump I with

Rebecca Lane
was refusing to dive back after experiencing some, difficulty in going through
on the way in.  Whilst Greg hurried to
sump one to help, Dave left the cave ahead of the school party to call out MRO.

Brian Prewer happened to be in the company of several MRO
wardens and cavers on receiving the alert. He contacted David Irwin and Martin Bishop and the first rescue party
was underground within 30 minutes of the callout.  A substantial group followed with comforts,
warm clothes the Little Dragon warm air resuscitator and a small breathing
apparatus in case Rebecca would prefer it to dive back.  A telephone line was established through the
sump and Dr. Don Thomson was present.  In
the event Rebecca refused all encouragement to help herself.  Eventually, with both parties on either side
of the sump in telephone communication, she was carefully lowered into the pool
and hauled through none the worse for the experience.  After some hot food and warm air, all made a
rapid exit to be clear of the cave by 0200hrs on the Thursday.

It is vital to note that the telephone communication was
essential to co-ordinate both parties when such a “pull through”
technique is used.

Saturday 8th November 1980.                 Sludge Pit.

Anthony Dearling a Scout Leader mainly involved in
introducing  novices and those of medium
experience on occasional caving weekends to Mendip since 1974, took a party of
seven down the cave just before mid-day. Two sixteen year old beginners were present, one being Martin
Jackson.  All were members of the 2nd
Syenham Scout Group.

After about 2¼ hours underground, the party started its
return with the leader moving directly ahead of the two novices in front to speed
up the journey out.  At this point,
Robert Jackson at the rear of the trio missed his footing to fall about 6.5
meters down the rift in the main passage beneath the Upper Series.  He sustained facial injuries and was badly
shaken.  It appears that he may have
fallen owing to the failure of his carbide lamp so that he was with out light
when crossing the rift.  The incident is
thought to have occurred at about 14hrs. After assessing the extent of Roberts injuries, the leader sent out
Susan March and Alan Jackson to raise the alarm.

Brian Prewer was alerted by Yeovil Police at 1530hrs, but
was unable to gain more details other that someone had fallen in the cave since
the informants has left the telephone. Brian contacted David Irwin who went straight away to gather more information at the scene.  He found Alan Keen, Adrian Vanderplank and
Glyn Bolt from Upper Pits already on their way to help with hauling gear,
ladders and a carrying sheet.  They
entered the cave less than 30 minutes after call-out.  Meanwhile Brian stood a party of six and
asked Dr. Don Thompson to attend.  The
injured boy was able to help himself quite well in the circumstances and was
assisted out of the cave by 1650hrs.  Dr.
Don Thomson examined his injuries and then he was taken by ambulance to
hospital in


to have deep cuts stitched and an X-ray.

Weekend 17 – 19th January 1981.           Agen Allwedd

Three dozen Mendip rescuers went to help
who were bringing out a patient with a broken leg from
Southern Stream Passage.  Another two
dozen stood by.  The full report of this
mammoth operation belongs to the South Wales Rescue Organisation of
course.  However, we may record that the
controller, Brian Joplin, found out radios a great help and the little Dragon
warm air breather proved invaluable.  We
are especially grateful to the Warden of Crickhowell Youth hostel for his
hospitality to all from Mendip.

J.D. Hanwell.
Hon Secretary & Treasurer,
Mendip Rescue Organization.

IMPORTANT:     Informants
must remain at their telephone until contacted by a Warden for full details of
any incident.


Bi-Monthly Notes Continued

Quarry.  The current state of play on this issue at
the C.S.C.C. meeting March 13th 1982 would appear to be as follows:-

The Cerberus, in conjunction with the Somerset Trust for
Nature Conservation, have made a formal offer to

through agents.  There appeared to be no other interested
parties.  The C.S.S. have stated that
they will control the cavers but could not give any guarantee of access to the
caves for C.S.C.C. members at the present time. C.S.C.C. may be prepared to support C.S.S. in their negotiations if the
access to the Caves becomes clarified.

Northern news from B.C.R.A. journal, Caves and Caving.

N.C.C. seem to have found another streamway in Pipikin.  Some areas in the cave are so confusing that
they are intending to re-survey the system.

After work by Red Rose and N .C.C., Lost Pot was
briefly connected to Lost Johns, but one wall of the pot collapsed
seriously injuring a caver.  The pot has
been sealed to allow the boulders to settle.

In King Pot over 15,000 feet of passage have been

Dale Barn Cave is well over 9,000 feet long.



Letters to the Editor,  etc.

, SW 7

Dear Editor


Concerning the B.E.C. Dinner – no disco, please.  It is out of character with the occasion and
would be a distraction where none is wanted. I go berserk at discos, while
there are those who do not like them.

A dinner to one’s liking? Herewith a cautionary tale about habits picked up when abroad.  A girl I was with in


persuaded me that the escargot or French snail is a succulent dish, as it
proved to be.  Each animal is taken from its
shell, cleaned, cooked and put back with a delicious garlicky sauce.  Given a pair of tongs to hold the shell and a
winkling-out fork, off you go, not forgetting to mop up the sauce with soppets
of the bread provided.  One wet and cold
November evening, I arrived in the Spanish city of

. Finding a promising restaurant I sought a menu, and there it was –
caracoles – the Spanish snail.  Just the
job before a plate of roast lamb, Spanish style.  A dish was put before me.  It was full of a soupy stew in which the
shells of the snails could be distinctly seen. No tongs winkling fork.  What to
do?  Luckily a girl at the next table was
served with the same dish, and I sat fascinated while she tackled the snails,
chatting all the while with her companion. You pick out a shell between finger and thumb, and there is the stewed
beast looking at you, horns and all. Applying your lips to the snail you suck it out of its shell, but of
course it will only come so far.  Holding
the snail in your teeth, preferably with lips parted, you pull the shell
smartly away from, you when – SPLAT, the far end of the snail detaches itself
and literally smacks you between the teeth. One chews, savours and swallows – unless the snail is a bad one which
you can soon tell by the taste. Fortunately I was hungry, having started from hot and sunny Peniscola
with a hangover first thing in the morning, hence only a couple of cups of
coffee on the slow mountain road to Zaragosa. So, with a few glasses of wine and one eye on my fellow snail-eater the
plateful soon disappeared.  It is not an
experiment I would care to try again, although it certainly won’t stop me from
sampling dishes as yet un-tasted.

I can hear the voice of Mendip saying; “Serve the
bugger right for mucking about with foreign food” (sorry –
“crap”).  But wait – my ears
were pinned back this evening by an opinion on traditional English fare which
sailed forth from the BBC “Grouse – the meat of that scented bird tastes
like the flesh of an elderly courtesan marinated in a bidet” – well, yer
pays yer money and – which reminds me, sub. Herewith.

All best wishes for arrangements for the Dinner, which
occasion I hope to disgrace with my presence if possible – meanwhile, as the
Spanish say, ‘Good appetite’ –

Yours &c.


But of course, it must be Keith Murray.

P .S. There seems no reason why impoverished non-members
should not be able to subscribe to and receive the BB unless this happens to be
the last straw which breaks the backs of printer, publisher and distributor.




Dear Fiona

Herewith my sub for 1982. Sorry about the delay in sending it, which has nothing do with lack of
means, or interest in the club, but a lot to do with human lethargy!

Why (and I’ve made this point several times before to
various people) don’t you consider the use of Banker’s Orders.  The ‘non-active’ member can hardly be blame
for not living, eating and sleeping “BEC”, and a brief note at the
bottom of one page of a rather irregular BB is easily ignored or forgotten.

I’m sure the club loses many members each year because of
this.  I know that in these inflationary
times Subs go up each year, but as you will have received at least the amount
of the previous year’s sub., I think the Club should be able to stand the cost
of sending out a new Banker’s Order and request for the balance to those who
pay that way – or, to put it rather bluntly, if the Club can’t be bothered to
make some effort to keep its old members, then it won’t have any grounds to
gripe if they don’t renew their membership.

If you feel you can’t raise this with the Committee or if it
has already been considered and turned down, then I’d like to see this letter
passed on to the Editor, with your, and/or the Committee’s views, for
publication and discussion.

Best wishes,

Chris Howell


Any individual is welcome to arrange payments to the Club
through their own Bank to: –



Branch No.. xx xx xx

Account No.. xxxxxxx.

I would point out, however, that as the subs change from
time to time, it would be better to arrange to pay by Direct Debit rather than
Banker’s Order.

Direct Debit enables the Club to take the amount of subs
relevant each year without returning to the Club member each time far a new
signature.  The members will be informed
of the change in subs in the BB before the subs are due, and if any memeber
disagrees with the amount, the Direct Debit may be cancelled at any time.

If Banker’s Orders are used the member must be prepared to
sign a new order every time the subs are changed.

We will try to arrange far some Banker’s Orders and,
preferably, Direct Debit arms to be duplicated, and these can be distributed
through the B.B. if the response merits it.

Sue Dukes.


The letter below has been received as a result of our
sponsored cave trip.  The trip raised the
sum of £500 which was divided between the school below and the High Wycombe
Mentally Handicapped Society.



Dear Mr Tilbury,

I write to thank you for the generous donation of £250 for
the children of this school.  We are a

for children with a wide range of
learning difficulties including mental handicap.  Your kindness will enable us to provide more
effective help for the children in our care.

Please convey my thanks and appreciation to members of the
Bristol Exploration Club.

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Cann.


St. Cuthbert’s Swallet III

by Phil Romford

This year is to be the time for cracking the Cuthbert’s III
problem.  III? you say.  Yes III. We must find it!

Since 1968, the year of the Cuthbert’s 2 breakthrough, a
varying amount of work has been done in numerous places in an attempt to extend
the cave, namely at Sump 2, the Man Trap, the downstream end of Sump 1, to name
but a few.  The work up until the end of
1981 culminated with Dutch (S.M.C.C.) Tim Large and myself, plus various B.E.C.
and S.M.C.C. members, preparing for the big push.  Some blasting was done in the roof of sump 2,
the idea being to remove about 500mm to allow access to the 3rd air-bell 5 metres
in, to save baling.  However, we only
proceeded about 1.5 metres.  On two
occasions Tim and I baled Sump 2 into the last dam, in the first instance to
look at the problem, and in the second instance to place bang in the roof.

Tim and I feel that we should continue pushing Sump 2, as
this currently takes all the combined stream water.  It does, however, back up in, severe flood
conditions – we have seen tide marks up to 2.5m above normal stream level.  There are, we realize, some people who will
disagree with our decision for various reasons. We will give it a go all the same.

In order to achieve our goal we must make further
preparations, namely, more dam building. Dutch, with other S.M.C.C. members, has started work upstream, of Gour
Hall which is yet to be completed.  I,
with the help of Chris Batstone and Jem, have started new dams in the
depression.  These surface dams will
control water from Mineries Pool, the Plantation Stream, and hopefully the
Shower Bath and Maypole streams. Finally, to complete our control of cave water we will build one dam at
Sump 2, close to the water/roof line, to reduce the quantity of water to be
baled, and one dam downstream of the Eight foot Pot in II, to act as a
catch-tank in case of any upstream dam failure.

When these preparations are complete the work plan will most
likely be to have organised working weekends on a shift rota.

So, be warned, you active B.E.C. members.  Your help may be called for!  Soon, we hope.

Since we have to bale sump 2 to dig the end, there will
inevitably be a danger of being flooded. To try and alleviate this problem I propose that some small breathing
apparatus be available for the endangered diggers.

So, Biffo, Quackers, R’pic, et al., be prepared to loan kit,


Bi-Monthly Notes continued

Northern news from B.C.R.A. journal.

In Garsdale a find of over half, a mile is still being
explored and surveyed.  The entrance is
loose, tight and flood prone.

Craven P.C. have extended Cliff Force Cave by 1,500 feet of
high level passage running from the chamber with the Gigantoproductus fossils
poking out of the wall, to join the main passage further upstream.

The fixed ladder has been removed from P 8. You now need to
take two of your own.

Northern Sump Index. This fascinating document is free to C.D.G. members, but is a must for
any caver interested in northern caves, whether divers or not.  When will there be similar productions
covering Mendip,
South Wales and Derbyshire.

After the Easter meet four of us went over to


to do some of the more well known systems. In the extremely dry, sunny conditions we were able to, do


in perfect safety.  We also visited St.
Catherine’s – Doolin, Faunarouska, Cullaun 2 and 5, Pol an Ionain and, of course,
O’Connor’s Bar.  Apparently Pat Cronin
and Ken James were out there just before us, and discovered five new
caves.  How about something for the B.B.

B.E.C. lapel badges. Pin on enamel lapel badges depicting a bat and the Club initials are now
available, price £1.50.  Get your order
in now, as they are going fast.  Contact

You will notice that several of this B.B.’ s pages are
photo-copies (Not apparent on this re-print). Many thanks to Jeremy Henley for providing us with this facility at cost

If you don’t want the June/July D.B. to be empty please
start writing now.




Bolt Belays For SRT

Taken from NCA
Equipment Committee Information Report No. 80/3 by Paul Seddon.


Over the past few years there has been a large increase in
the number of expansion bolts that have appeared at the heads of pitches, a
situation that in the interests of cave conservation is to be discouraged
unless the bolts are absolutely necessary.

Examination of the cause of this increase reveals that there
are probably two main reasons.

The first lies in the fact that Single Rope Techniques are
becoming increasingly popular, and that what often constitutes a good position
for a ladder belay (by tradition usually not a bolt) may not be suitable for
S.R.T., because of the necessity for a free hang for the latter.  However a bolt belay positioned to suit
S.R.T. will usually be perfectly suitable for a ladder belay.

The second reason is simply a lack of trust in bolts placed
by other people, and judging by the state of some of them, they can hardly be
blamed.  It is not uncommon to see
anchors sticking out from the rock by as much as 5mm, or to see loose anchors
due to bad drilling, or even to see them placed in detached blocks or flakes –
all of which are potentially lethal.  Yet
a properly placed anchor (which is well greased immediately after insertion) is
not only very safe, but is also virtually maintenance free, and should be
useable for many years even in the damp environment of the cave.

What can be done to prevent the spread of unsightly Bolt
Rash in our caves and at the same time increase the safety of bolt belays?

Perhaps part of the answer is to make sure that when each of
us needs to place a bolt, we do so correctly so that subsequent parties will be
confident in them, thereby eliminating the necessity to place a bolt of their

The Self Drilling Anchor

At the present time the most popular method of bolting is to
use the 8mm self drilling anchor.

The anchor is made from hardened tubular steel, has cutting
teeth at one end and is threaded inside the other.  It is fixed in the hole by driving a conical
wedge into the toothed end which expands the anchor and jams it against the
sides of the hole.  A hanger with two
holes (one large enough to take a carabiner) is fixed to the anchor by means of
an 8mm diameter set screw, otherwise known as a “bolt” which should
be made of high tensile steel (Fig. 1).

Safety Through Back-Up

How safe is the self-drilling anchor?

Whilst it cannot be denied that therre are inherent
weaknesses in design, and although theoretically things could go wrong,
experience has proved the self-drilling anchor system to be extremely safe,
when properly placed together with a back-up bolt or natural belay.  In a ladder system the lifeline should hold
if the ladder fails but in SRT the Main Belay at the pitch head must not fail
under any circumstances.  The back-up
anchor (Fig. 2) substantially reduces the chances of a serious accident if for
some unknown reason the primary anchor, or one of its component parts did happen to fail.  A development of the back-up anchor is the
shared anchor (Figs. 3 & 8) which is safer for reasons explained later, but
sometimes impractical to rig.  Although
relatively new in the UK this system of linking two anchors to provide the main
belay has been used very successfully for several years in other countries,
where it is considered that the chance of failure of both anchors or their
component parts in anyone incident is so low that any inherent design weakness
is an acceptable risk.


Recommended Procedure.

The safety of a bolt belay is dependent upon three main

a)       The
quality of the rock.

b)       The
correct positioning of the anchors so that the load is transmitted in the
correct plane by the hanger to the bolt and via the anchor to the rock.

c)       The
correct insertion of the anchor. i.e. the drilling of the hole and fixing of
the anchor.

What then is the ideal position for a bolt far SRT?  Of course it depends upon the nature of each
pitch head, but in each case the basic requirements are as follows:

a)       The
.  This should be sound.  By visual inspection and by tapping with the
hammer, check that you are not about to drill into a detached block which may
become even more detached when a load is applied!  Avoid places giving a dull hollow sound.  Calcite (stal) is also best avoided where
possible, it is not as strong as limestone, and in any case may just be resting
on mud (and therefore insecure).  Where
an ideal placement is impossible, make sure that the back-up anchor is well
placed in solid rock with no slack in the connecting rope.  Each bolt produces an area of stressed rock
for a distance equal to the anchor length on each side of the hole, so make
sure the anchors are far enough apart not to’ interfere with each other, or
with a free edge of rock {Fig. 4}.

b)       Positioning
the Main Belay

1.       The
best arrangement is to use two anchors loaded equally (Fig. 8) to form the Main
Belay (shared belay).  The two anchors
should be a safe distance apart and may even be located on opposing walls
leaving the hang point in space.  If
equally loaded each anchor takes less than the full load, thus is less likely
to fail and will not produce a shock load on the remaining one, even if one
should fail.  A more common but less
satisfactory arrangement is two anchors one above the other (Fig. 2) (back-up
belay).  As long as these anchors are
more or less vertically in line with each other the distance apart is not
critical bearing in mind the comments in a). However ensure that the connecting rope has as little slack as possible
(not always easy) and remember that the upper anchor will take a shock load if
the lower anchor fails, so place both with equal care.  Often this situation may be improved by a
form of shared anchor, the theory, being that there is little point in having
two anchors available and loading only one. (Fig. 3).

2.       Try
to position the rope so that it hangs free immediately it leaves the anchor
carabiner (Fig. 5).  Also ensure that the
knot will not abrade against the rock (Fig. 6). If this is not possible use a rope protector, or extra carabiners or
maillons (Fig. 7).

3.       Do
not forget that for S.R.T. a completely free hang for the whole pitch is best
so position the anchor with that in mind.

4.       Place
the main anchor high enough to allow for easy access to the belay ledge (either
from ladder or rope) on the return 1.5-2m above the ledge is about right.

5.       Could
the pitch be wet on your return?  Try to
position the anchor so that the rope or ladder will hang clear of the water.

If the Main Belay with its two anchors has to be placed out over the pitch to
satisfy some of the above requirements, a traverse rope is best placed high and
diagonally in towards the belay ledge to aid movement back on to the belay
ledge on the return trip (Fig. 8).  (It
is more difficult to get off the rope than to get on it).

The traverse rope provides a back-up for the Main Belay and may be attached to
a natural anchor.  A single anchor is
normally sufficient at intermediate belays (abrasion points) as the Main Belay
provides back-up from above (Fig 8).

c) Drilling

1.       Screw
the anchor on to the threaded portion of the Driver, making sure that the head
of the anchor is tight up to the locking nut, so that stress is taken by the
nut and not by the threads.


2.       It
is essential to drill at right angles to the rock (Fig. 9) otherwise the hanger
will not sit correctly and may stress the bolt unnecessarily.  Avoid drilling the hole so that it is
pointing up into the rock, because then the holding power of the anchor relies
solely on the wedge fixing.  The anchor
is  designed to do this but the first way
described is much safer as it relies more on the lever principle.

3.       The
first few millimetres of drilling are the most critical.  Take care to keep the teeth of the anchor in
exactly the same position at the early stages of drilling to ensure that a
perfectly round hole of the correct diameter is formed.  Later when the anchor is about 15mm into the
rock this will be automatic.

4.       Use
a hammer with a head weightt of approximately .5-1 kg.  A standard piton hammer is ideal.  Drill the hole by hammering the head of the
Driver, at the same time rotating it in a clockwise direction to prevent the
anchor sticking in the hole being drilled. Rapid light to medium blows are best. Heavy blows tend to damage the anchor teeth.

5.       Withdraw
the anchor frequently and tap the end of the Driver (not the anchor) to free
any spoil.  The frequency is particularly
important when the rock is wet as the spoil becomes a paste and can be
difficult to remove.  A small piece of
strong wire is invaluable to poke out any that is obstinate.  A length of plastic tubing is useful to blow
any debris from the drilled hole – and avoids dust in the eyes.

6.       Drill
as described until the locking nut is flush with the rock surface.  Now continue drilling until any weathered
unstable surface rock is passed and the head of the anchor lies slightly below
the surface of un-weathered, sound rock.

7.       Withdraw
the anchor, blow out the hole to clear any spoil and tap all spoil clear from
the anchor.

8.       Visually
inspect the anchor in the (unlikely) event of any hairline cracks replace it
with a new one.

9.       Insert
the expansion wedge slightly but firmly into the drill end of the anchor.  Take care not to cause any expansion of the
anchor whilst doing this.


10.   Replace
in the drilled, cleaned-out hole and this time without rotating the Driver, hammer
the anchor home.  DO NOT OVERHAMMER.  When the anchor will go no deeper into the
hole any extra hammering will only reduce holding power and may split the
anchor or surrounding rock .

11.   Check
that the anchor is a good tight fit by applying a little backward .and forward
pressure to the end of the Driver.



If the anchor is loose it is probably due to:

a)       Bad
drilling causing the hole to be too large a diameter to set the anchor. or

b)       Fractured
anchor (unlikely). Or

c)       Wedge
not driven home – could be soft rock or a weakness at the bottom of the drilled
hole.  Try setting it further into the
hole by hammering the Driver (gently). If the anchor remains loose do not use it.  Place another anchor and destroy the loose
one by filling it with mud or by destroying the internal screw threads.

Remove the Driver by unscrewing in an anticlockwise direction.

12.   It
is very important that the head of the anchor does not protrude from the
hole.  It should lie flush with or
slightly beneath the surface of the sound rock. (Fig. 10).  Again check the end of the anchor for any
possible hairline cracks.

If the anchor protrudes from the hole. (Fig. 11) or any cracks are visible do
not use it.  Place another anchor and
destroy the protruding or cracked one.

13.   Equally
bad is a cone shaped hole caused by poor drilling (Fig. 12).  Here the load is not transferred properly to
he rock causing the anchor to be incorrectly stressed.  Place mother anchor.

14.   Offer
up the Hanger, insert he high tensile bolt and tighten.  Care should be taken to ensure he bolt is the
correct length for the anchor.  Those
supplied with commercial kits currently available (Troll. Petzl) are correct.  The Hanger should lie flat against solid rock
so it may be necessary to cut away any protrusions or weathered rock.  This can be achieved by using the anchor
(attached to the Driver) as a chisel, but a piton with a chisel end is better.

15.   Do
not over-tighten the bolt.  Finger tight
plus half a turn with a spanner is sufficient. A bolt breaks when the total force applied (load applied plus tightening
force) exceeds the breaking load.  By
over tightening the load which can be supported is reduced.  Over tightening can also have the effect of
beginning to extract the anchor from the hole.

16.   The
Hanger should be positioned so that the carabiner hole is in line with the
direction of pull.

17.   To
protect inserted bolts from corrosion and therefore increase their safe working
life, a liberal coating of thick grease should be applied to the inside of the
anchor AFTER insertion (but NEVER before). Also smear the bolt head if the hanger is to be left in place.

18.   There
are several arguments as to whether bolts and hangers should or should not be
left in place.  One argument in favour is
that it is easier to see a hanger than the end of an anchor, and therefore
there is less likelihood of it being missed and another anchor being placed
unnecessarily.  Also the bolt will keep
grit, mud and water from the inside of the anchor and delay corrosion.




On the other hand, if the hanger and bolt are not in place
it is easy to check the anchor and one will not be put in a position where one
is tempted to rely on an unsafe anchor, a bolt that may be too short, or a
hanger that may be over-worn.  (Remember
that hangers. particularly alloy ones, wear rapidly with continuous use).  On balance it must be safer to supply one’s
own bolt and hanger because then presumably the quality of the various parts is
already known or automatically checked before use.  Some type of plastic plug that could be left
pushed into the anchor would solve the problem of keeping out mud, etc., and if
this was brightly coloured, spotting it would be made easy.


Fig. 13 Some knots used in SRT

Further reading:

Techniques de la Speleologie
by Georges Marbach and Jean-LouIs Recourt.  Probably the best book on the subject.  Unfortunately it is only available in French,
however in most cases the many excellent drawings speak for themselves.

Vertical Caving by Mike

Single Rope Techniques by
Nell R. Montgomery

© 2024 Bristol Exploration Club Ltd

registered in England and Wales as a co-operative society under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, registered no. 4934.