Exploration Club, The Belfry,

, Priddy, Wells,

Editor: Dave Turner

Annual General Meeting – 1st October 1988 at 10.30

There will be an election for the Club committee this year
and voting forms are being sent with this BB. Please either send them to Bob
Cork or bring them to the AGM.

Annual Dinner – 1st October 1988

As everyone already knows the dinner will be held at The

High St
Wells – 7.30 for 8.00.  Tickets £11 from
Trebor last date for booking is 25th September, choice is veal or beef.  At the last count Trebor has already sold 105
tickets.  The coach from The Hunters ts
being organised by Mr. Nigel as usual.


Thanks are due to Roger Dors for supplying the sleepers for
the Chariot Race and for organising the bar.

Treasurer’s Report 1987/88

Again we have had a very busy financial year with
considerable turnover, generated by such events as the Wessex Challenge,
Dinner, advance sales of the Cuthbert’s Report and repayment from our insurers
for part of the cost of the tackle store roof. Also a ‘donation’ from the MRO for their share of their part of the


a)       As
far as expenditure is concerned, this has mainly involved the purchase of more
library units, continued Belfry improvements, the provision of more fire
prevention measures and of course the usual bills.  We still have to persuade the Electricity
Board to come around and check the equipment for fault to try and explain our
high bills.  I suspect we will have to
re-arrange and consolidate our electricity system as per Pat Cronin’s
recommendations to try and get the bills down.

b)       The
Belfry has not quite been self-financing, but not far from it.  It shows a deficit of only £184.  Considering we have spent a lot on Library
units and Belfry units we’ve done pretty well and under ‘normal.’ circumstances
it would finance itself quite easily.

c)       Last
year the BB cost £753 to produce, this year it is £930, due in part to more BB’
s, inflation and the change in printers.

d)       There
is only one more library unit to purchase – just as well as they seem to be
taking longer and longer to churn out. This large drain on resources will thus soon evaporate.

e)       The
telephone cost us £342 this year against £8 income.  This is another slight anomaly which is being

f)        As set out during the A.G.M. last year, we have
spent much more on ‘caving’ this year i.e., tackle £400 instead of £182 last
year.  This was made up of SRT rope
bought cheap in

ladders, ladder making gear etc.

g)       £540
has been ‘spent’ on the Cuthbert’s Report, that is a transfer of £400 to the
account from our General Account to help bolster it up, plus sundry expenses
such as computer equipment to allow Dave Turner to set up the production.

h)       Last
years expenditure on Tackle Store repairs has been partly offset by an
insurance cheque and MRO donation, but we still have a deficit of £625 which
will have to be written off.


a)       On
the income side, the main item is of course Hut Sheets/Bednights.  The main problem this year has been the
gradual collapse of the Hut Sheet system.  Members seem incapable of filling it in properly.  Names and other detail is either illegible or
in 3 ft high letters.  Failing to put ‘M’
for Member and ‘V’ for visitor means we cannot monitor increases in bednights
and the Hut Warden cannot tally the money in the box with what’s on the
sheets.  The situation has not been
helped by the change over in Hut Warden or the theft in the Spring when 3 Hut
Sheets and at least £100 vanished.

I regret that I cannot therefore return any meaningful analysis on the numbers
that have stayed at the Belfry nor the exact monies derived from
bednights.  Not exactly satisfactory,
i.e., will tighten up the situation with the new Hut Warden.

Bednight income last year was some £2226, this year it is about £1820 (taking
into account the theft).  Oddly member
and guest bednight income is almost exactly the same as last year (as far as
the garbage written on the Hut Sheets can tell us) the difference being the income
we don’t now get from the Army and Navy who we have succeeded in frightening
off.  A salutary lesson?

b)       We
made a profit of £18 on the Dinner last year – should we make more?

c)       The
Wessex Challenge profit was £188 – an acceptable level?

d)       We
sold more Tee and sweat shirts so our excess of original expenditure over
income is now down to £92.

e)       I
have not included advance sales of Cuthbert Reports here as this ‘income’ will
soon become expenditure in due course when the report is printed.

f)        The St. Cuthbert’s Cave fees only amounted to
£22.  Did only 73 people go down this


This is still bumbling along but no takers in 1988.  The fund is now £308 with another injection
of £100 due in November from our General Account.

4.         Our General
Fund Building Society Account currently stands at £790.

5.         Our
financial priorities I feel are as follows for this year:

a)         Complete drying room.

b)         Sort out telephone and electricity expenditure.

c)         Finance the Cuthbert’s Report.

d)         Sundry repairs and Belfry improvements.

6.         I can find no justification to raise
Subscriptions or Hut fees this year. Please, please help cash flow by paying both on time and when
required.  The Membership Secretary this year
will rigorously enforce the situation this year and Subs are due by Jan 1st
1989.  Non-payers by this time risk
having their BB’s withheld – it’s only £12 for heavens sake.  Why should we spend money on postage etc
chasing non-payers?


7.         Advance sales of The Cuthbert’s Report
is now £804, including a £400 BEC injection, thus £404 divided by £5 equals
about 80 pre-sales.

M C McDonald (Trebor)


Hut Warden’s Report

Seriously though, in the past few months a great deal of
work has been done on the place by the few notable regulars who are prepared to
get off their backsides and contribute a bit of hard work to their club, as
opposed to the vast majority who just gob-off about the state of the place over
a beer in the Hunters and do sweet F.A. to remedy the situation.

Most of Dany’s recommendations have been carried out since
May along with numerous other jobs.

I shan’t be living locally next year and so it’s pointless
for me to stand as Hut Warden, although I’m quite prepared to take some other
post on the Committee… or perhaps I’ll just gob off about the state of the
place from behind a tankard in the Hunters … !

Special thanks to Stumpy without whose help we wouldn’t have
a gas bottle store, a secure key cupboard, 3 working showers, hot water in the
kitchen, unblocked drains and someone who’s short enough to rest your tankard
on their head while gobbing off about the state of the hut in the Hunters.


Tackle Master’s Report 1988

This year, a big thanks must go to Tom Chapman who has
looked after the Club’s equipment during the months that I have been
abroad.  He has also found time to
construct some spreaders, tethers etc which were desperately needed to
compliment the stock of ladders.

The BEC SRT ropes have been used on a few occasions.  They are freely available for those wishing
to cave off Mendip, simply get in touch with the Tackle Master.

Additions to the store are 3 lifelines (various lengths), 4
tackle bags, 100m Bluewater II and as mentioned above, spreaders and
tethers.  Andy Sparrow has generously
donated a new Lizard SRT rope cleaner.

As usual people simply do not book out equipment and so as
usual I am unable to account for the whereabouts of some of the equipment.  Perhaps they will all miraculously re-appear
on the day of the AGM (as usual).

The Tackle list is on the following page.

The tackle list is as follows (2/9/88): –



x 16

(+ 2 retired and 2 missing)



x 6

(lots missing)



x 12




x 2

(+ 100’ and 80’ missing)



x 1




x 1


Tackle bags (med)


x 2

(+ 2 missing)





Bluewater II


x 1




x 1




x 1




x 1

)  Held by Tackle Master



x 1




x 1


Tackle bags


x 5


Hangers and maillons


x 20


Rope protectors


x 4


Steve Milner

B.B. Editor’s Report

I have only managed to publish 5 BBs, including this one,
since the last AGM.  I have found it
increasingly difficult to find the time to compile and type the material given
and this is the reason that I have decided to stand down from the post at this
year’s AGM.

As in the previous 2 years I have had a lot of support from
a number of members who have taken the time either to write articles or to hand
me interesting cuttings for me to publish. My thanks again to all the people who have taken the time to contribute
– a club bulletin can only be interesting if members actually write for it.

I wish my successor every success and offer my help to get
him, or her, started.  I shall now
concentrate on working on the typesetting of the Cuthbert’s Report.

Dave Turner.


Important notice to st. Cuthbert’s leaders

I have been asked by the Committee to change the lock on St.
Cuthbert’s Swallet and issue keys to all leaders.  As the current list of leaders appears to
have been lost (Notice how things have gone downhill since I gave up the
job!)  I have listed below the names of
as many as I can remember.  If you are
not on it, please contact me urgently. The new lock will be placed on the cave on Saturday 3rd September.  This will have given everyone plenty of time
to read this notice and contact me [You’re joking – it’s already 19th September
as I key this! – Ed].  A new key will be
issued when you send a stamped addressed envelope to:- Martin Grass, 80 White
Post Field, Sawbridgeworth, Herts CM21 OBY.

A separate letter will also be sent to all leaders.

Martin Grass.

Club leaders

Dave Irwin

Brian Prewer

Martin Grass

Chris Castle

Ted Humphries

Steve Tuck

Tim Large

Ian Caldwell

Nigel Taylor

Mike Palmer

Tony Meadon

Brian Workman

Dave Turner

Andy Sparrow

Chris Smart

Pete Glanvill

Roy Bennett

Alan Butcher

Greg Villis

Stuart McManus

Mike McDonald

Chris Batstone

Graham Wilton-Jones

Guest Leaders

Alison Moody (WCC); Ken Gregory (CSS); Graham Price (CSS)

Cave Leaders

As the club has gained a lot of new members in recent years
I thought it would be useful to publish a list of club leaders for various
caves.  If you require a trip please give
the leader as much notice as possible.

Dan yr Ogof and


Graham Wilton-Jones, Tim Large,
Mike McDonald, Martin Grass and Richard Stevenson

Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 1

Graham Wilton-Jones, Greg Villis,
Mike Palmer, Richard Stevenson, Martin Grass, Brian Prewer and Dave Irwin

Reservoir Hole

Graham Wilton-Jones, Martin Grass
and Dave Irwin


Jeremy Henley and Chris Castle.

If anyone would like a trip down Ogof Craig y Ffynnon or
Peak Cavern I can also organise that.

Martin Grass


Letter from Pat Cronin

Enclosed in the last BB was an article about the CSCC
AGM.  I took offence at its lack of
accurate information.  If that is all you
can extract from a five hour meeting of such importance as this one was about
perhaps either, you should have attended or sent someone in your place, so as
to gain a true record.  What happened
will have a direct affect on how Mendip deals with the growth of the commercial
interests in the Caving of Great Britain.

[Ed’s reply – whilst agreeing with the importance of such
meetings I feel it is totally unreasonable to expect the Club’s editor to
attend them all.  It surely is up to Club
members who attend, especially those with strong feelings, to make a report for
the BB.  I approached a number of members
for a report of the meeting but all I received was as published in the last BB.  The usefulness of the Club’s bulletin is in
the hands of those who write articles for it – so perhaps Pat you could write a
rather belated report for the BB.]

Deepest Hole on earth found in MP

The following extract is from our roving reporter Matt Tuck
(who gets Everywhere)

(Cutting from an Indian newspaper)


– A more than l000-ft­deep hole, claimed to be the deepest in the world, has
been discovered in Dewas district in Madhya Pradesh state.

Hindustan Times reporter
quoted Dr V S Vakankar, who discovered the hole, as saying “it is a rare
geological phenomenon”.  The hole is
a natural tunnel about l00-ft-wide and more than 1000ft deep.  ‘So far no such deep tunnel was reported
anywhere in the world” Dr Vakankar was quoted as having claimed.

Dr Vakankar, who died last Monday opined that some miracle
must have come from the outer space, hit the space and made the hole.  No geological phenomenon can account for the
formation of such a hole.


Belfry Bulletin No. 48

A short note by Dave Irwin

In the recently published index of the B.E.C. Publications
it stated that Belfry Bulletin No. 48 was not published.  Soon after I received a letter from Roy
Poulson, librarian of B.C.R.A., enclosing an incomplete copy of Belfry Bulletin
No. 48!  The photo-copy I have has been
copied and is now in the Club library.

The BCRA copy, obviously part of the former C.R.G
collection, comprises the first two pages. The copy is dated June 1951.  A search
of the subsequent Belfry Bulletins (Numbers 49/50, 51 and 52) gave a clue to
the summary below.

Belfry Bulletin No. 49/50, a. combined issue, states on page
1 “We would like to apologise to members for the delay in the June
issue.  “We are combining the July and
Aug. numbers to keep things moving.  We
would also apologise for the way we have to split Pongo’s article to finish the
last B.B.”  Above this apology was
hand-written the following  “PLEASE.  WE HAVEN’T PUBLISHED THE START OF – “FESTIVAL
CAVING”. CAXTON.”  It would appear that
part 1 of “Festival Caving” was never published.  A manuscript written across the top page
states “I’ve sent a copy of this back to Shorty.  Ken.”

The content of the first two pages of Number 48 is as

First page:

Mendip Rescue Organisation

G.B. Restrictions

Caving Section News [including
Avon Gorge caves]

Bats by John Ifold

Page two:

Club Library

Inquiry [

Stoke Lane
– who was digging in Bone

Some caves near

by Merv. Hannam

However, the notes on M. R. O., Club Library and the note by
John Ifold were reprinted in Belfry Bulletin No. 51.

So, it would appear that at least the two pages of Belfry
Bulletin No. 48 was printed.  Was it
published?  A copy has got into the B. C.
R. A. Library.  It is unlikely that this
copy was circulated in the usual way as it would not have had the note written
by Ken at the top of page 1.  It must be
assumed to be an accidental copy, one given to the C.R.G.  Further, so many of the more important notes were
printed in Belfry Bulletin Number 51.  I
can only come to the conclusion that this is an accidental copy that has’
leaked’ out of the editors hands at the time. The issue was partially printed but never completed.


A letter from abroad.

After reading the many articles of daring exploits of tough
cavers enduring hardships in exotic places, I packed my wife into the car,
bought a ticket to

and headed south.  The trial began almost
immediately, with the realisation that we were facing a 9 hour crossing to St
Malo, but there, I should have read the small print.  No problem I thought as the Ship slid away
from the quiet city of


into the teeth of a force 9 gale.  I,
breakfast and two stomachs later we bumped into

and began a fortnights game
of pinball with the French drivers. After assuring my wife that we would not avoid the beaches altogether we
arrived near the West coast of

.  Very old city, I believe that at one time we
[the Brits] owned it, sometime around Henry the Umpteenth.  After spending a very pleasant overnight stop
and half the next day around the city we once again went toward the coast,
Fouras, La Rochcelle.  The place would make
your toes curl, as far as the eye can see you have one of the most attractive
tourist traps I’ve ever seen, steeped in History, after some long siege 5000
were left out of an original 28,000 a bit on the expensive side.  Once my obligations were completed i.e. the
seaside bit we left the barest of fronts [kwoo kwoo] for the pleasant climes of
Dordogne. I had no idea where to start, I had with me much info on everything, I
was carrying a library to be proud of. What turned out to be the deciding factor was time, we didn’t have a lot
left.  So wanting to see some painted caves
instead of painted women for a change I settled on the following.


This site is 26 Km Northwest of Les Eyzies.  The centre of the caving area, for those of
you who are saying “we know where it is” will have to be patient.  I was advised not to waste my time by several
English cavers, but I’m glad I found out for myself.

Montignac comes over as another Cheddar Gorge, fascinating
but too many tourists.  It’s here in the
centre that you buy your ticket.  The
times of the various language tours of the site are listed so if you are early
enough you can have your pick of approximately 4 English speaking tours.  I was lucky, no queue, and the next trip was
in 2 hours, time enough for dinner.

Lascaux II is constructed in an old shallow quarry 400 yards
Lascaux I, to the right of the car park
as you enter.  It was created because of
the effect the early developers had not seen in altering various aspects of the
entrance of the cave.  The insertion of
the staircase into the Hall of the Bulls meant air temperature and flow were no
longer anything like the chill environment of the original site.  Likewise when the air ventilation system was
installed this brought in the spores from the wood surrounding the site and
accelerated vegetation growth within. This was realised early on and steps were taken but it was ultimately
decided that until they completely understood how the place could be maintained
as close to it’s original condition the site would be closed.  So now the only people allowed into
Lascaux are scientists dignitaries and politicians.

Lascaux II has been reproduced by taking stereoscopic
photographs every 2 inches along the passages. From these wooden profiles were made. Once these were assembled they were checked to see if they were accurate
to the shape of the original passage. Having assured themselves that these profiles were correct they were
reproduced in steel.  Once these had been
set into position, they were covered in steel mesh and finished by having concrete
poured into the gaps.  If you like,
imagine a passage through a pack of cards, the cards then being spaced
apart.  As the concrete was setting
“plasterers” worked the surface of the concrete to be as faithful and
as accurate as possible, they boast of an accuracy of +-5mm.  The paintings were created using similar
styles, materials and techniques as early man. The effect is quite a shock.  The
tour begins with a 10 minute talk within the first two airlocks.  From here you step through into the Hall of
the Bulls.  See it.  There is still, however a chance to gain
access to
Lascaux 1, that is to write to the
gentleman, whose address appears at the end of this article.  Five, yes five persons are allowed each day,
five days a week.  When you write you must
also state any professional qualifications and your reason for wishing to see
the paintings.  Being a plumber isn’t
enough apparently.

Although I’d been impressed by seeing the art of man
reproduced, it was still not the real thing so delving into the mobile library
I came upon Grotte de Font de Gaume. After
Lascaux this is the next best and
still open to the public.  It is stated
at the entrance that only 340 a day are allowed.  I have my doubts as to how many went in on
the day I was present.  At 9am there was
a queue some 100 yards long when I arrived, this slowly increased a further 30
yards.  3 hours later everyone had a
ticket.  An estimate of around 400 I


This site is located at the Eastern end of Les Eyzies on the
Sarlat road, at the side of the road. This cave was well worth the visit. The paintings mostly of Bison and deer are quite vivid.  The cave does not have any chambers like
Lascaux, so it is difficult to stand back to get a good
look at them.  Even so examples such as
the bear are quite clear from a distance of 3 feet.  This is without doubt well worth a
visit.  Get there for your ticket around
8 am, I mean it, to avoid disappointment.


The only reason I stopped for this site was that I had never
heard of it.  Just West of the road at
Manaurie.  It is a small and expensive
family business.  The cave consists of a
low passage some 300 feet of which is given over as the show cave.  The guide assured us the passage carried on
for many kilometres, beyond the squeeze. It is a well decorated cave of I believe some antiquity.  Length of trip 18 minutes for 18 Francs

Beyond these torments there’s not much to tell of really
other than hardship and privation, in local hotels.  Oh one point of interest was that we ran out
of cash whilst in Les Eyzies due to not informing VISA that we were going to
use it for cash abroad, don’t make that mistake.  You may not be as lucky as Pauline and I in
persuading the local Bank Manager into lending yourselves £50 of his own money
[with no security] to get you back to the coast.  Was it my pleading eyes or Paulines short
skirt or mabye it was because we were in his office for 2 hours and he just
wanted to stop Pauline talking?

One last thing I would like express my thanks to all those
people who made this trip possible, A R Jarrett, accommodation, illumination
& phrase book,  S J J P C McManus,
things that you inflate, & and world atlas. Last but not least my employer, who allowed me the time off of work an
allowance and who held my position open [snigger] until I returned, me.

Pat Cronin.


UBSS Sessional Meetings 1988/9.

I would be grateful if you could publish the following talks
in your newsletter and we will be pleased to see any interested persons at
these meetings which are held at 8pm at the UBSS Spelio Rooms, Students Union,

Queens Road,

(all dates are on a Wednesday).

19th October 1988. ‘Cave Diving
and Natural History in the


by Chris Howes.

30th November 1988. ‘A Look at

‘ by Andy Buchan.

1st February 1989. ‘Caving in

‘, by
Chris Smart.

3rd May 1989. ‘Bats- Above and
Below Ground’ by John Hooper.

The UBSS AGM will be held at 4pm on Saturday, 11th March
1989 and the Guest Speaker will be Andy Currant of the


but his topic is not yet known.


The Trans-Exe Canoeing Drink

Kangy, June ’88

My experience of the BEC is that it is peopled by people who
use impeccable logic.  Like ‘I need a
drink with whatsistoddy where’s the nearest’.

If you are at Dawlish and you have to sort out great things
with your mate at Exmouth then a round trip of about 40 miles awaits you and
the return trip ought to be made sober. However, just think, it’s only a mile across the Estuary.  And the return trip needn’t be restricted.

Jonathan and I had dined and wined well with his landlord at
Dawlish and thought about seeing Gareth who was running an outdoor pursuits
centre indoors at Exmouth and needed to get out.  Jonathan said “We could take the
double” and I smiled about all sorts of things.  Wine, sons, alternative points of view, the
pleasure of sea canoeing, being afloat at night.

We launched off the beach at Dawlish Warren at 9.30.  It was dark but there were plenty of shore
lights to aim for.  We paddled parallel
to the coast until we worked out what the tide was doing and then really
punched the canoe along until we were warm and happy.  Almost there (it seemed to me) we grounded on
a sand bank.  Jonathan towed the canoe
and I became concerned about water creeping into my welly-boot.  The shore loomed ahead as a shadowy lighter
grey band, the house line was black and lights twinkled.  The water was ankle deep and so I sprinted
for shore leaving Jonathan to it.  As I
dived into the fast flowing deeper bit, tripped by the bottom falling away, I
heard delighted laughter which stopped as I submerged.  I’d failed to realise that the main channel
cut us off from the shore and now I had to fight the tide as it gripped, trying
to sweep me away.  My embarrassment was
made worse by Jonathan’s grin but I was lucky, stayed on my feet and swayed
forward pushing against the tug of swift water until I could grab the safety of
the canoe.  The distance remaining to the
shore became obvious as we paddled hard to counter the rip.  Suddenly it was all over and we dragged the
canoe up the beach and hid it by a fence.

We made our rendezvous with Gareth at The Deer Leap
pub.  (Sitting outside in our wet gear,
little skirt-like spray decks about our waists and peering over our buoyancy
aids I had an insight about posers, – they wouldn’t look at us.)  Had a good drink.  Went back to the beach, launched, said cheerio
to Gareth, and two paddle strokes later lost sight of him in the shadow of the

The tide must have been out. We marched over sandbank after sandbank. Fell about pissed.  Launched and
re-launched.  Found a lead which we could
follow home, enjoyed a flat out burst of speed, sang, and then the lights went
out.  Well, we were near enough to make
out the outline of the necessary seawall so that was all right and so were we.

© 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.