Committee Members

Secretary:                       Vince
Simmonds
Treasurers:                     Mike and
Hilary Wilson
Membership Secretary:    Fiona
Sandford
Editor:                            Greg
Brock
Caving Secretary:            Rob
Lavington (aka – Bobble)

Non-Committee Posts

Tackle Master:                Tyrone
Bevan
Hut Warden:                   Roger
Haskett
Hut Engineer:                  Paul
Brock
BEC Web Page Editor:   
Estelle Sandford
Librarian:                        Graham
Johnson
Hut Bookings:                 Fiona
Sandford
Floating Member:            Bob Smith

Club Trustees

Martin Grass
Nigel Taylor

Editorial

As we had two BB’s (No’s 519 & 520) in quick succession
I waited a little bit longer before publishing this BB. 

It is good to see that this BB contains a number of quality
articles with good pictures and high quality surveys.  Long may this continue as it carries a good
reputation for the club.  A number of
articles included within this BB are from people who haven’t written articles
for quite some time.  I’m always grateful
for articles from any BEC member so hopefully these articles will inspire some
other members to get typing.

 ‘The Belfry Dig’ is
well and Tony Jarratt has an article which will appear in the next BB.  This will include acknowledgements of all
those involved in doing the fantastic job of placing the concrete pipes in the
entrance.

Well done to Phil ‘Madphil’ Rowsell and everyone else
involved who have made the breakthrough and done the first roundtrip trip in
Eastwater from Morton’s Pot to Lambeth Walk. It should be noted that this is a serious and committing trip and advice
should be sought from those involved in the connection before attempting to do
the trip.  Madphil will write an article
on his return from Tazmania, which will hopefully make the next BB.

 

Recent Committee Business

Equipment

Further to discussions at the AGM and at recent Committee
meetings I would like to remind all members that no club ladders are to be used
without a lifeline.

BEC Membership

Renewal Forms have been either sent by post and/or e-mailed
to all members.  As with previous years
if you want to take advantage of the discounted renewal rate of £30 single/£44
joint membership excluding public liability insurance cover (see next item!)
please let me have your money by 30th November 2004. After this date the
membership fees will be £35 single/£49 joint membership excluding public
liability insurance.

“Public Liability Cover”

Please can all members requiring “Public Liability Cover”
for Caving under The BEC’s Insurance please notify me by the 15th December 2004
in order that we may furbish The BCRA with a list of all members requiring
cover.  As with last year, an additional
premium will be payable – to be notified.

Next year the renewal form will be altered to include a
space for this information!

Sybil Bowden-Lyle(145)

Sadly Sybil Bowden-Lyle passed away on the 25th October
2004.  A memorial service was held in
Calne on the 6th November 2004 at which the club was represented by Sett.

Eric Towler

Of interest to older members we have been informed of the
death recently of Eric Fowler.

Donations

Thank you to Life Members Mike Baker (392) and Ken Dobbs
(164) for their donation towards BB distribution and as always Dizzie
Tompsett-Clarke (74) for her ever useful donations of stamps!

Annie Audsley(1266)

Annie is at present in

Poland
teaching English.  She can be contacted via her e-mail which is in the printed BB.

Matt Tuck

No longer a member but for those of you who want to stay in
touch Matt is now in

Canada

and his address is in the printed BB.

Members Hut Keys

All members are entitled to a key to The Belfry these are
available on payment of a £10 deposit from Vince Simmonds (Secretary) 

Club Members Websites

I have now uploaded my new website.  It contains lots of photos and reports from
various caving expeditions and trips as well as photos of the various other
activities I get up to.

The address is www.gregbrock.co.uk

If there are any other club members with personal websites
who would like the rest of the club to know about it please contact me.

 

Membership Statistics

Graphs produced by Sean Howe

Ed –     I’m sure all those at the 2004 AGM will
remember the comical Membership Secretaries report comically delivered by ex
Membership Secretary Sean Howe.  For
those of you that were not at the AGM and also for those who need reminding of
what Sean said here are some of the graph’s Sean produced at the AGM.

Note:    All information contained in this article has
been gleaned from the Belfry Bulletin since it was first published.

 

 

A Statistical History of the BEC

By Andy Mac-Gregor

Start

Five apprentices from a well known electrical contractors
decided they wanted to go caving.  They
were Harry Stanbury, Tommy Bartlett, Cecil Drummond, Ron Colbourn and Charlie
Fauckes, who began a series of trips to Mendip and the formation of the B.E.C.

They had, at first, no intention of forming any
organisation, until tackle became a problem. They heard of another group of enthusiasts who had recently formed
themselves into a “Caving Club”. The secretary of this club was located and Charlie Fauckes was sent to
see if they could join.  He came away a
disappointed man after a point-blank refusal to even consider “your
sort” as members.

They held a meeting and it was decided, in June 1935, to
form their own organisation.  Their
initial membership was about a dozen which included the five originals.  At this inaugural meeting they drew up a
constitution which has virtually remained unaltered through the years.

Membership did not increase greatly in the following
years.  They were not keen, anyway, on
having too many members at first as they felt they did not have sufficient
know-how or facilities to hold them after they had joined.  The outbreak of war in 1939 found the club in
a strong position although the membership was still only fifteen.

As the war progressed, most of the older members were called
up, so that if they hadn’t been for one fortunate circumstance the club would
have had to close down, as did other Mendip clubs, for lack of active
members.  There were only two left, Harry
Stanbury and Cecil Drummond.  They were
fortunate to absorb the Emplex Cave Club. The E.C.C. membership comprised members of the staff of Bristol
Employment Exchange who had formed a club for similar reasons.

1940/41 the number of new members usually equalling those
called to the forces, but 1942 saw the most severe crisis in the club’s
history.  There was a massive call-up,
the result of which left only about half-a-dozen active members, all of whom
were actively engaged in the war effort and so had very little time for
caving.  As all members in the forces had
their subscriptions waived during the duration, the club was badly hit
financially.

For six months they struggled on and then came
salvation.  A number of persons of fair
caving experience applied for membership. It is mainly through the hard work and support of two of these men, Dan
Hasell and Roy Wallace, that the club was put on the way towards the prominent
position it holds in the caving world today. The club was revitalised and it is from this time that the Membership
numbering system began, in 1943, which is why most of the original members do
not have a number.

During the Blitz years, one of our members, John (Jock)
Kinnear, offered to write a history of the B.E.C.  All the original records, logs, etc., were
posted to him; they never reached him and as a mail train was blitzed the same
night, it is reasonable to assume that they were destroyed with the train.  As a result of this loss, there is no early
record of Club activities prior to 1943.

For further reading on the history of the club, refer to
Harry Stanbury’s article in BB number 429 in 1985.

Headquarters

In 1946 it was felt to be time to consider having a
headquarters on the Hill.  Our first
temporary H.Q. was the stone hut across the valley from the present Belfry
site.  It had room for just six bunks and
although it was completely inadequate for a club membership of 80, it was at
least a toe-hold.  Shortly after this an
old cricket pavilion on Burdown became available and this was purchased, transported
and quickly erected on the original site across the valley, in time for the
terrible winter of 1947.  It was later
moved to the present site, in 1948 (for an account of the move, see BB14).  The hut became too small as the club
increased, so a new one was found at Rame Head in

Cornwall
, bought, dismantled and transported
to the site in October 1948.  After many
months of work this became the third hut.

In 1953 an extension was added to the Belfry, which became
the women’s sleeping quarters and made possible an enlargement of the kitchen.

In 1968, the hut suffered severely in a fire and had to be
demolished.  The hut was cremated one
Saturday by club members, after all the insurance had been settled. (See BB 259
for details of the fire).  For
approximate 18 months, the Belfry consisted of the tackle store, which was
temporarily converted to house six bunks.

A new stone/brick hut was erected on the site and is the
headquarters we know today.

The club also held meetings, which started in 1943 and met
on Thursdays nights, initially at Harry Stanbury’s house, which also housed the
library, but when this became too small for the increasing membership, the
meetings then took place in St. Michael’s Parish Hall, Redfields in 1949.  These moved to the St. Mary Redcliffe
Community Centre in August 1950.

By 1957, many members were going to the Waggon and Horses
pub at Redcliffe first, rather than going to the hall, and this slowly became
the meeting place on Thursdays, though the library stayed at Redcliffe Hall and
the hall was also used for the A.G.M.  By
1952, the meeting room had moved to

Old
Market Street
,
Bristol
,
though this didn’t last long and they reverted to St. Mary Redcliffe, though
the A.G.M. was still held in Old Market.

During 1948 we absorbed the Clifton Caving Club and ‘Shorty’
formed a

London

section of the club.  This continued
until 1953, by which time most membership had moved away from

London
.

In 1968, the meeting room at St. Mary Redclife and to be
vacated and the Thursday meetings were move to the Old Duke,

Kings Street
, opposite the Landogger
Trow.

In 1969, the Waggon and Horses pub was closed, and all
Thursday night meeting were then held in the Old Duke.

The last notice is that the
Bristol
meeting had reverted back to the Seven Stars, by

Bristol
Bridge
.  Whether these are still continuing, is
unknown by the author.

Membership

Records which exist first began in 1943, when members were
allocated numbers.  The only surviving
member from 1935 was Harry Stanbury and he became number 1.  There were 14 members all told in 1943, and from
the graph opposite, one can see the rise and fall of members for any particular
year up to 2003.

From 1943 to 1945, the numbers increased gradually until
1946 when 37 new faces became members. The same year our dig at Cross Swallet brought us in contact with The
Bridgwater Caving Club, the majority of whose members became members of B.E.C.
– Sett, Alfie, Postle, Pongo, Don Coase, Shorty, Dizzie and Freda Hutchinson to
mention a few by name.  We also absorbed
the Mendip Speleological Group and became, individually, very active in the
formation of the Cave Diving Group.

During the war, all members who were serving with the armed
forces were given free membership, but this was revoked in 1948, as the issuing
of Belfry Bulletins by post to members who had not been heard of for a while
seemed a waste of materials, money and time.

From 1951 to 1954, the membership numbers declined from 129
to 126.  This was mainly due to more
members leaving rather than joining.

From 1948 to 1980, the average numbers of persons applying
for membership and becoming members for at least one year was an average of
25.  From 1981 to 1995, the average
yearly increase was 15 and only 10 since then. The largest increases for any given year were 41 for 1949, 39 for 1963
and 1976, 37 for 1946 and 2967, 36 for 1947 and 35 for 1975.  The lowest increases for any given year were
4 for 1974, 5 for 1992, 6 for 2002, 7 for 1996 and 2001, 9 for 1983, 1986, 1997
and 1998, 10 for 1981 and 1982, with 11 for 1987 and 1999.

It can be seen that the level of memberships dropped
remarkably from a peak of 249 in 1990. This is when mountain bikes started to make an appearance.   Many sports, just not caving, have lost
members to the new sport of mountain bikes in their various forms.  The outbreak of foot and mouth in 2002 did
not help matters.

The number of members the B.E.C. have had in total stands at
1298 at the time of writing this article. 298 only stayed for one year, presumably left when they found out that
they had to pay an annual subscription. 192 lasted 2 years, 133 lasted 3 years, 110 lasted 4 years and 81 lasted
5 years.  Here the average levels out
with an average of 35 lasting between 5 and 10 years.  These periods are the average time that a
person stays with the club.

Most members leave because they stop caving and are not
interested in the sport anymore.  A few
leave to join other clubs as they move out of the area.  Some, unfortunately, have died whilst members
of the club, and we even had one member, Mike Foxwell, murdered at

Suez
in 1951.

1968 saw the majority of Life Members appearing.  This was due to a form of raising money
quickly to re-build the burnt out Belfry. At the moment we have 27.  At the
peak we had 54 life members.

In 1956 the first full list of Club membership was published.  It contained 117 names.  The membership list in 1967 contained 217
names of which only 41 names are on both lists. The membership list in 1977 contained 201 names of which only 94 names
are on both 1967 and 1977 lists, whilst there were 34 names from the 1956
list.  About 14 of the 34 names were not
on the 1967 list, but have returned to the fold.

Committee

In 1946, the committee posts were elected and allocated at
the A.G.M.  In 1950, this was dropped in
favour of the elected members to the committee being sorted out amongst
themselves in order to shorten the length of the A.G.M.  In 1978, the committee posts were once again
selected at the A.G.M.

The committee has always consisted of the following posts
from 1947:-

Honorary Secretary

Harry Stanbury (1947 to 1950);
Dan Hassell in 1951; Bob Bagshaw (1952 to 1966); Roger Stenner in 1967; Alan
Thomas (1968 to 1974); Dave Irwin in 1975; Mike Wheadon (1976 & 1977); Tim
Large (1978 to 1983); Bob Cork (1986 to 1988); Mike McDonald in 1989; Martin Grass
(1990 to 1994); Nigel Taylor (1996 to 2001); Vince Simmonds (2002 to present).

Honorary Treasurer

Harry Stanbury (1947 to 1950);
Bob Bagshaw (1951 to 1973); Barry Wilton (1974 to 1978); Sue Tucker (1979 to
1982); Jeremy Henley (1983 to 1986); Mike McDonald (1987 & 1988); Steve
Milner in 1989; Chris Smart (1990 to 2001); Mike Wilson (2002 to present).

Caving Secretary

The Caving Secretary first appeared in 1951.

Mervyn Hannam (1951 to 1954 &
1957 & 1958); Alfie Collins (1995 & 1956); Roy Bennett in 1958 & 1967;  (1957 to 1963); Mo Marriott (1960 To 1964);
Dave Irwin (1965 & 1966 & 1970); Andy MacGregor (1968 & 1969); Tim
Large (1971 to 1973, 1976 & 1977); Dave Stuckey in 1974; Andy Nichols in
1975;  Nigel Taylor in 1978; Martin Grass
(1979 to 1983); Stuart McManus (1984 & 1985); Mark Lumley (1986 to 1989);
Peter McNab in 1990; Jeff Price (1991 to 1995); Andy Thomas (1996 to 1999);
Rich Long (2000 & 2001); Greg Brock (2002 & 2003); vacant in 2004.

There was an Assistant Caving
Secretary in the following years: Alfie Collins in 1953 & 1954; Mike Palmer
in 1964; Keith Franklin in 1965 & 1966; Andy MacGregor in 1970; Tim Large
in 1975.

Climbing Secretary

The Climbing Secretary first appeared in 1950 but had
disappeared by 1976.

Roger Cantle (1950 to 1952); Pat
Ifold (1953 & 1954 & 1956); John Stafford in 1955; Kangy King (1957 to
1963); Roy Bennett (1964 to 1966); Eddie Welch (1967 & 1968); Malcolm Holt
in 1969; Fred Atwell in 1970; vacant in 1971; Nigel Jago (1972 to 1974); Gerry
Oaten in 1975.

Hut Warden

Doan Coase (1947 & 1948);
Tony Setterington (1949 to 1954 & 1957 to 1963); Alfie Collins (1955 to
1958); Tony Setterington (1959 to 1963); Gordon Tilly (1964 to 1960; Phil
Townsend in 1959; Jock Orr in 1970 & 1973; Keuth Franklin in 1971; Dave
Irwin & Jock Orr in 1972; Nigel Taylor in 1974; Colin Dooley in 1975;
Christ Batsone (1976 to 1979 & in 1985); Garth Dell in 1980; Dany Bradshaw
in 1981; Mike Dick in 1982; Phil Romford (1983 & 1984); Tony Jarratt (1986
& 1987); Andt Sparrow in 1988; Peter McNab in 1989; Chris Harvey (1990 to
1992); Extelle Sandford (1993 & 1984); Angie Cave in 1995; Rebecca Campbell
(1986 to 1999); Bob Smith (200 & 2001); Roger Haskett (2002 to present
day).

There was an Assistant Hut Warden
in the following years: Tony Setterington in 1948; George Lucy in 1952; Alfie
Colins in 1954; Spike Rees in 19955 & 1956; Kevin Abbey in 1964 & 1965;
Keith Franklin in 1966 & 1970; Dave Searle in 1967; Bob Cross in 1969;
Nigel Taylor in 1973.

Hut Engineer

The Hut Warden and Hut Engineer was a combined post until
1955.

Mike Jones (1955 & 1956);
Spike Rees in 1956; Brian Prewer (1958 & 1959); Spike Rees (1960 to 1962);
Garth Dell (1963 &1967); John Ransom in 1964; Alan Thomas (1965 &
1966); Phil Townsend in 1968; John Riley (1969 & 1970); Pete Ham in 1971;
Pete Stobart in 1972; Rodney Hobbs in 1973; Martin Bishop in 1974; John Dukes
(1975 to 1977); Martin Bishop in 1978; Nigel Taylor (1979 to 1982 and 1990 to
1992 ); Phil Romford in 1983; Dany Bradshaw (1984 to 1988); Nigel Sprang in
1989; Tim Large (1993 & 1994); Any Cave (1995 & 1996); Nick Mitchel
(1997 to 1999); Toby Limmer (2000 & 2001); Neil Usher & John Wilson
(2002 & 2003; John walsh today.

Equipment Officer

Doan Coase (1947 & 1948);
Tony Setterington in1949 and as Assistant Equipment Officer in 1948; George
Lucy (1950 & 1951).  Renamed Tackle
Officer in 1952.

Tackle Officer

Mike Jones (1952 & 1953); Ian
Dear in 1954; Norman Petty (1955 to 1965). Renamed Tacklemaster in 1956.

Tacklemaster

Norman Petty (1956 to 1971);Bill
Cooper in 1972; Maike Palmer in 1973; Graham Wilton-Jones (1974 to 1978); John
Dukes (1979 to 1983); Bob Cork in 1984; Tim Large in 1985; Steve Milner (1986
to 1988); Stuart McManus (1989 to 1991); Mike Wilson (1992 to 1996);Richard
Blake (1997 & 1998); Mike Willet (1999 to 2001); Mike Alderton in 1992;
Tyron Bevan (2003 to present day)

Honorary Editor

Dan Hassel (1947 to 1949); Jon
Shorthose and Don Coase in 1951; Harry Stanbury (1952 to 1956); Alfie Collins
(1957 to 1967 & 1970 to 1977); Dave Irwin (1968 & 1969, 1978 to 1980);
Graham Wilton-Jones (1981 to 1983); Robin Gray (!984 & 1985); Dave Turner
(1986 to 1988); Ted Humphreys (1989 to 1992); John Williams (Jingles, 1993 to
1996);
Estelle Sandford (19997 to
1999); Martin Torbott (2000 to 2001); Adrian Hole (2002 & 2003); Greg Brock
in 2004.

Honorary Librarian

The Librarian was on the committee up to 1951, when it
became an ex officio post.

Angus Innes (1947 to 1951); John
Ifold (1952 to 1960); Sybil Bowden-Lyle (1961 to 1964); Joan Bennett (1965 to
1967); Dave Searle (1968 to 1973); Dave Irwin (1974 to 1979); Chris Batsone
& Tony Jarratt (1980 to 1984 with J’Rat carrying on until 1989); Mike
McDonald (1990 to 1992); Dave Turner (1993 to 1995); Alex Gee (1996 to 1999);
Graham Johnson (2000 to present day).

The following posts have not been a constant feature of the
club between 1947 and 2004.

Membership Secretary

The Membership Secretary first appeared in 1976, but prior
to that there was an Assistant Secretary from 1948 to 1956.

Assistant Secretary: Jim Weeks in
1948; Pam Richards in 1959; Frank Young in 1950; Ken Dobbs (1952 to 1955); Alan
Sandall in 1956.

Membership Secretary: Angie
Dooley in 1977; vacant (1978 to 1980); Fiona Lewis (1981 to 1984); Brian
Workman (1985 to 1087); John Wilson (1988 to 1992); Nigel Taylor (1993 &
1994); Richard Stephen (1995 & 1996); Roz Bateman (1997 to 2002); Sean Howe
2003 to present day.

London
Representative.

Don Coase in 1949; John Shorthose
from 1950 to 1952.

Ladies Representative

Sybil Bowden-Lyle in 1950; Jill
Rollason in 1951; Clair Coase in 1952 & 1953; Judy Osborn in 1954; 1955
& 1956.

Committee Chairman

Dan Hassell in 1950; Tony
Setterington 1951 to 1960?); Alfie Collins (1961? to 1967 & 1971 to 1977);
Dave Irwin (1968 to 1970 & 1978 to 1980). No mention is made of this post after 1980.

Auditor

This post has never been a
committee post.  It was filled by Joan
Bennett from 19?? to 1986 and then Barry Wilton from 1986 to 20??.  The dates are a bit vague as a period of
about 10 years the AGM was not reported in the BB, and from 1994, only one has
appeared, the 1999 AGM, which appeared a year later.

Other Officers

From time to time there have been
other posts within the club, namely: – Minutes Secretary (Committee); Editor
Caving Reports; Producer of Caving Reports; Postal Person.

Comments From Various
Club Officers

Librarian.  Whenever there is a new Librarian, their
first report invariable states something along the lines: – “I have spent the
first year cataloguing the library.” 

Caving Secretary.  Whenever there is a new Caving Secretary: –
“Does anybody know who are the Cuthbert’s Leaders.  The list does not appear to be up to date or
it has been lost.”

Tacklemaster.  Whenever there is a new Tacklemaster: – “Most
of our day to day tackle is missing.” “Can everybody please return the tackle they have to the tackle
store.”  “It appears that most of the
tackle in the tackle store is not ours.”

AGM and Dinner

The AGM and dinner were held on the last weekend of January
up until circa 1960, when they were transferred to the first weekend of
October.

1967 was the first year in which the AGM was started in the
mornings as a 2.30pm start invariably did not allow enough time for members to
change before the Dinner, or to fully discuss member’s resolutions.

Also to speed up the proceedings, the reports were published
in the BB prior to the meeting, rather than having to be read out on the
day.  This was first started in 1969.

Belfry Bulletin

In 1947 the Belfry Bulletin was first published and its
success can be judged by the fact that after 57 years it still appears.

In the first year, the BB was published in foolscap (13” x
8”).  It changed to quarto (10” x 8”)
after the first year, then to Sixmo (8” x 5”) in 195?, back to quarto in 1968, then
A5 (8¼” x 5⅞”) in 1973 and finally A4 (11¾” x 8¼”) in 1977.

In 1947, 7 issues were published, increasing to 11 in 1948
and 12 in 1949.  It became monthly issues
up to 1980, with a few hiccups on the way. Each year also represented a volume, so that by 1980 we were up to
volume 34.

1951 saw the first hiccups when only 8 issues were
published.  Combined issues 46/47 and
49/50 appeared.  Issue 49 had a few
partially printed issues, but was never published and all articles bar one
appeared in issue 49/50.

1956 saw the next hiccup when only 8 issues were published
again, with a combined issue 101/102.

1959 and 1967 only had 11 issues, and this was mainly due to
printer problems.

1970 saw a jump in issue numbers due to a counting error by
the editor, so numbers 263 to 269 inclusive never have existed.  Volume 24 No. 1 was issue 262 was January
1970 with February 1970 being Volume 24 No.2 being issue 270.

1971 has 11 issues and so did 1975 and 1977, mainly due to
shortage of material.

1976 was another hiccup year with only 8 issues being
published and issue 341 being typed, but never issued due once again to
printing problems.

From 1981 to 1985, no more than 8 issues were ever
published.  In 1981 and 1982, the
numbering system was carried on for each month, so there were a fair number of
double numbered issues, namely; 393/394, 395/396, 398/399, 402/403/ 404/405,
406/407, 408/409, 410/411 and culminating in 412-415.  After this, the BB reverted to single
numbered issues and ceased to be a monthly bulletin.

Volume 37 only had 6 issues and it covered two years, 1983
and part of 1984.  1984 had 4 issues;
1985, 6 issues; 1986, 6 issues; 1987, 5 issues; 1988, 4 issues; 1989, 5 issues;
1990, 5 issues; 1991 5 issues with 1992 having only 4 issues.  Volume 47 covered two years, 1993 and 1994,
with 8 issues in total.  Volume 48 had 6
issues.

Volumes 49 and 50 had six issues each covering two years
each (1996 to 2000).  Volume 51 also
covered two years but only had 5 issues. 2002 had 2 issues, whilst 2003 had 3 issues.

One of the jobs of the editor is to ensure that all articles
are free from spelling mistakes.  One
cannot rely on a spell checker, so all article need to be read through
slowly.  Relying on the spell checker can
produce inaccuracies as can be seen from the poem below.

Eye have a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plane lee marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a quay and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong or write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee four two long
And eye can putt the error write
Its rare lea ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its litter perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

For the last few years, the BB has had a lot of very good
articles, but unfortunately very little or even no news items at all.  Most BB’s up until the late 1980’s, had a
varying amount on news and notices concerning new discoveries and what was
going on in the caving world.  As an
example; I only knew of the existence of
Slaughter
River
Cave
in the

Forest of
Dean
, by watching a programme on the
television, concerning extreme archaeology.

Now we have a web site, the possibility of putting news on
the site on a monthly basis would help to impart news to members who live away
from Mendip.  This was the original
intention of the BB, to inform distant members of occurrences in the caving
world, especially on Mendip and affecting the B.E.C.  The news could then be transferred to the BB,
when it is published, and the web site wiped clean, so as not to build up a
large amount of outdated information, and the news kept for posterity in the
BB.

 

Peru Caving Expedition
2004 Yauyos District of Central

Peru


By Greg Brock

As we stepped out the hired/borrowed 4×4 trucks at 4378m
above sea level the effects of the altitude and lack of acclimatization finally
hit us.  Suddenly a young and fit
international expedition could hardly move from the confines of the trucks.  It wasn’t long ago that we were all fighting
our way through various international airports and then risking our lives in a
cab journey from

Lima

airport to Nick Hawkes (BEC) house. Unfortunately our first bit of exercise was up at 4378m as we had sat in
trucks up until this point.  We headed
down Sima Pumacocha 2 (SP2) to rig the first pitches before heading back down
the valley to recover.  It somehow took
us 4 hours to rig 80m of cave.  The
locals were very keen that we drunk coca(ine) tea, which is apparently their
cure for altitude sickness.

Sima Pumacocha (The Cave of the Mountain Lake Lion) was one
of our main objectives for the trip. Explored to a depth of 638m to a sump in 2001 & 2002.  It was hoped that an ascending muddy passage
(Road to Certain Death) down near the sump would bypass this sump and previous
limit of exploration.

The next day, 7th September, we headed back down SP2 to
continue rigging the pitches.  Today I
was feeling a lot better which was probably a combination of being better
acclimatized, the coca tea and diamox tablets (prescribed altitude drugs).  While these activities were going on in SP2
others were rigging the huge entrance shaft of SP1 and also the higher entrance
of Qaqa Mach’ay.

We had now rigged down to the x-files ledge and the trips
were starting to get longer so we decided it was appropriate to have a day off
and visit the San Valentino Mine.  All
the bang fumes, lorry fumes and wine at high altitude on our tour round this
mine meant that most of us went back feeling worse from our day off than if we
had been caving.  The mine was protected
by heavily armed guards and after a conversation in Spanish between Nick and
the guard we were allowed in.  We were
shown a very impressive selection of rock samples and geological maps from the
mines and given samples to take with us. We were then provided food in the Café where we were treated like
royalty.

After recovering from our rest day Pete Whitaker , Chris
Densham & myself headed back underground to carry on with the rigging of
SP2 (10th Sept 04).  Chris insisted on
taking his newly acquired video camera on every trip and as it was kept in a
yellow pelican case he soon got the nickname “Yellow Peril
Productions”.  With lots of rope,
Drills, Batteries, Rigging Gear and more Hangers than we knew what to do with
we headed very slowly into the cave with our train of gear.  Once at the X-Files ledge Yellow Peril
Productions kicked into action and wanted to film us rigging across X-Files and
down into Cascade de Don Jesus.  This was
protested greatly my Pete and myself. However we soon made it to the bottom of the big pitch where we reached
the “Horizontal bit”.  This
consisted of a steeply inclined passage full of house sized boulders.  From Here we rigged to the bottom of Rolling
Thunder before a shortage of gear, battery power and enthusiasm prompted a
return.

After a hard slog up all the ropes we reached the surface at
3am and was greeted by a freezing cold night. A great contrast in weather to the boiling hot day we left when we
entered the cave.  By the time we reached
top camp our gear was beginning to freeze so it was a case of getting changed
quickly eating some food and going to bed.

After a few hours of shivering sleep we headed back down the
mountain to try and regain some energy. 12th Sept 04, Snablet and I reached the previous limit of exploration
and started bolting up an ascending muddy tube which was hoped to be a sump
by-pass (Road to Certain Death). Unfortunately this was not the case and it dropped straight back into
the sump pool.  After some looking round
for other leads we headed out.

Further trips into SP2 were done for photography and then
the de-rigging commenced.

Meanwhile SP1 was connected via a 282m pitch to “The Shining
Path” in SP2 making a fantastic exchange trip.

Further details can be found from the expedition’s website
that Ian McKenzie and the rest of the 2004 team set-up:
http://members.shaw.ca/pumacocha

More Photos and surveys can also be found at
www.gregbrock.co.uk/Photos/2004_Peru.htm

By Greg Brock

 


 

 

Pete Glanvill’s Navy

By Pete Rose

About 20 years ago Nick Chipchase and myself visited the
Taunton/Ilminster canal tunnel. The entrance was off the A378 Taunton to
Langport road at NGR 312 222 and on the north side of Crimson Hill. We walked
into a limestone blocked tunnel in a south direction, in ever increasing depth
of mud. There were stalactites hanging off the roof, and after a few hundred
yards we were thigh deep in goo. We promised to come again with a variation on
a snow shoe, but never did.

This autumn Pete G was contacted by the owner of the
southern entrance, over at Beer Crowcombe to come over and investigate his part
of the tunnel. “Oh, and bring some inflatables”. “Minty” the inflatable sheep
came to mind, but Pete G  “the man for
all scottish lochs” and his one-oared self -sinking devices was on top of the
situation.

One Sunday in Nov. Pete had arranged to meet me at Hatch
Beauchamp with Ken Passant. I duly then followed him all over Crimson  Hill(Alt 280ft)  looking for Beer Crowcombe, eventually
arriving at a cottage with a large cutting in the back garden (NGR 324 207).
The owner showed us some steps cut into the bank leading down to the edge of
the tunnel and several feet of water. We retreated to Pete’s  new Ford Ranger…(tonka the diesel
evaporator).  Here the boot revealed two
inflatables…one was a kids paddling pool type, in blue with flower patterns on
it, the other a yellow 3 man “ row to your cruiser”. The owner looked on as Ken
blew….. and blew, and …blew,  and Pete
stomped… and stomped  and stomped on his
foot pump. There were two gentle hissing noises coming out of both!.  The poor fellow went away and returned with a
compressor. This succeeded in producing louder hissing noises, so some gaffer
tape was produced and stuck to the inside of the yellow dinghy. Ken decided to
rush off with the blue one while it was still ok and was seen 20 yds up the
tunnel in no time, complete with oars and light. Pete. G and myself arrived
next .I was holding the tape on until Pete got in the dinghy( I did tell him to
hold onto the tape). He  managed a yard
or so before the rapidly deflating boat shipped muddy water and he abandoned it. Pete managed to struggle over to Ken ,
in waist deep mucky water, where  there
were large straws hanging down from the ceiling…6 feet long or so.  Camera in hand Pete G was flashing away,
helectites in the alcoves, so Ken decided to make a dash for the distance parts
of the tunnel. As he disappeared from sight, on a slight curve, we could hear
the gentle hissing. “ I ‘m coming back, either swimming, or paddling “ shouted
Ken.

  There was a lovely
echo

 “O.K.  Dinsdale, We know you’re in there an you got
da money, Hand it over now  or you wont
be coming back”!

   Ken eventually
returned, and the blue paddling pool was re-inflated for a 2nd attempt. I now
managed to kneel in the boat and carrying various flashbulbs, floated 20 yds to
the stal. I managed a few bulbs before I scraped the side of the boat on the
wall, which made the hissing louder, and the retreat even quicker. This
signalled the end of the tunnel exploration.

We then packed up everything, with Pete showing the owner
some good digital piccies, and had a look up the road at a collapse in a field.
The tunnel appears to have been filled in from the field or maybe there was a
route down to the bottom originally (unlikely).This collapse is half a mile up
the road ,and the tunnel must have been a mile or so long .So well worth a
look, but take canoes, short ones, cos you wont be able to turn around ! Merry
Xmas.

Pete Rose.

 

Caving in

Zanzibar
,
A Pathetic Attempt

By Pete Rose

The Rose family holiday this year  was a safari to
Africa, arranged by a friend in Crediton. David Wendover was working in  Dar-Es-Salaam as an agricultural advisor to
the Dutch Govt. and asked if we would like to visit, together with his wife
Nita, and go on safari. Etc.  I visited
J-Rats in August to see if there were any books on caving in Africa and
unfortunately the Speleo club of

Berlin
’s
Report  was not available. I then
resorted to the internet and only found mention of caves in Tanga in the North
of Tanzania and some in
Zanzibar .I managed to
hint at the wondrous possibilities of a week in

Zanzibar
on the beaches etc , and only a
ferry boat away from  Dar. This did the
trick and the ladies, Sue and Nita were already lining up a visit to the spice
plantations etc. We arrived in Dar early Sept ,still the dry season and  taking the mozzies seriously with anti
malarials/deet repellent etc

David and Nita drove us 400miles  west of Dar to the

Ruaha
National
Park
for the first week, via a one night stop with
Sven ,a nutty swede ,all alone, no beer, running a campsite. There was an
obligatory stone throwing contest at a large rogue baboon who was stealing
food   .Wow! This is a superb Park and
rarely visited as everyone goes north to the Serengeti/Mt Kilimanjiro area. The
Camp was run by  the  English Fox family from Tavistock  and consisted of stone bandas (huts) along
the Gt Ruaha River which was barely flowing .Only  30ft from the edge ,we were constantly
watching elephant  ,hippo,  giraffe ,crocodile, babboons, fish eagles
,Kudu,  Impala .The lions were roaring
away at night, with hyaena(cunning buggers) replying ‘whoop,whoop’, just behind
us. We managed  a bottle of wine every night
to get to sleep, as there were feet padding around outside and there were no
windows, just nets , and the lights went out at 10.30.We had guides each day,
and opened the windows of the Nissan, to take piccies. ,carefully, to avoid
tsetse fly, who seemed to arrive at 30mph provoking panic. (n.b. avoid dense
bush, and the wearing of blue/black clothes).We didn’t want to leave, and t’was
a 12 hour drive back, with the first 50 miles or so on dirt tracks ,avoiding
the ‘never ending road’,so named, and now the quickest route,to Irringa. .                                                                      

Back in Dar  there was no sign of any postcards, or travel
details to caves in Zanzibar or Tanga so ,with David working the 2nd week, we
left on a ferry  to Stone-town with a
light and walking boots .The ferry was an hour and a half of bliss in flat calm
conditions and was a modern  fast- type
complete  with “mind  your head” in english. One  noticed all the road signs were
ex-british   in Dar!”  In Stone-town port we queued to show our passports  and found a taxi  to  Mtoni Marine  a few miles north . Nita had stayed here
before and we dined on the beach  that
night…..curry night! The next day  I
asked about caves and  the island was
full of them (reef limestone),but where?. Everyone recommended a tour of the
former slave caves combined with a spice plantation tour. The first full day
there was a trip to the north east by taxi, to Msembe, costing  thirty US. dollars for the day .Wow ,beaches
of white shell material ,emerald green/blue seas. I looked at a map and there
was the magic word  ‘cave’.

Mangapwani   . There
it was on the local map…Coral cave and Mangapwani  cave close together, maybe linked? Only 10
miles up the west coast from us. Mtoni’s arranged a  day trip with a group tour  to a plantation and  the caves for only 11 dollars each including
lunch.

We were picked up by an open 12 seater  at 10am and off to the plantation for a long
walk. lunch  was Ugali…rice and meaty
gravy. At the end we were sold various spices and given coconuts to drink/eat.
Finally we headed off to the coast to the cave. The entrance,nr a beach  , was a concrete stairway down to a large
chamber where slaves were stored for transportation. There was a pool of fresh
water and a muddy pathway . the chamber was about 80mtres by 25 wide and 15
high. I produced my led light  and
wandered off  from the main group ,much
to the surprise of  the guide, who didn’t
really like being underground. His torch was as dim as my 4led light, but he
followed me north along a wide but not very high passage, muttering about bats.
There were no formations and the sticky mud was quite slippery. I guess we went
several hundred metres until the passage dipped to some low crawlways and a
wall with hanging bats, quite small bats.( I whispered  that the B.E.C were kind to bats ) .The guide
was glad to turn around here and as the others were waiting I couldn’t get to
do the southerly route from the entrance chamber. This  apparently leads to a large pool that can be
traversed to a tight climbable second entrance nr the beach, although the
direction seems wrong if the coastline is already n-s. My knees were rather
muddy  so the coach drove off to a
deserted beach and we swam for a half hour. A local lad sold me some beer from
a cool-box…500 tanzanian  schillings for
a beer ,normally 200 schillings.(one US dollar to 1000 schillings). I gave him
a dollar and waited for 20 mins for the change. .he was expecting  a tip , so I said I would take another beer
as change which  confused Him.

Next day we went to Stone town to look for postcards and gifts.
I searched for an hour and finally found two types of postcards for the
Mangapwani caves . I bought up the remaining stock at 100schilling each…offers
to…!    The return trip on the ferry was
grim as the weather had changed and the sea was choppy. In fact we were stuck
on the open top deck of the ferry for 2 hours with waves crashing over us. The
locals had sussed this out and were down below, which was difficult to get to
down some slippery steps .We got soaked. Our last few days were spent in Dar and
at the yacht club, a few hundred yds from the house. We went out on David’s
boat, which was memorable for Sue and Nita’s swim to the shore,  and farther away than they thought .An
anxious glimpse, as they both crawled ashore through large waves..

At the Caving Conference in Kendal  I spotted the Speleo Club of

Berlin
’s stall and
bought a copy of the report..

Tanzania

19994-2000,with a nice discount for a Mangapwani   postcard. Thus…….


Mangapwani
Cave
,  located at 6deg00’08’,3’’ S .  039deg11’28,6’’E ,Alt 16mtre

Length 300metre,16metre deep .formed in reef
limestone.(survey completed)

MWERA River Sink, reported to be under a waste site on the east coast

Haitajwa Hill cave. (Chomowan). nr  Dimani village ,a large hill with a cave and pumping station

Machomvi  Ndogo .a
rock shelter, 1km from Haitajwa, with 4mtre high,5 mtre wide entrance leading
down to a pool of water

Machomvi  Kubwa  80mtre sw of Ndogo .on one side of a doline
of 20metre diameter, a walk down to a pool and rock shelter 8mtre high,12 metre
wide

Pango Ya Kivuli  Jambiani.(east coast).car track to the north leads 2km to water tank.
cave entrance20 mtre south of the car track,250mtre to east of water tank  .doline leads down  one side to 1.5metre high,7 metre wide
entrance.35 degree slope down to10 metre by 4mtre wide     deep water pool. Abri-formed ceiling
covers a room 20×8 mtres wide.

Pango Kumbi  Difficult to find ,roughly from south  Jambiani ,about 2,5km to west and same distance south on a track
navigable by car .first entrance reached sloping down  12metre from a doline.  Tunnel is 10metre high ,20metre wide, with daylight openings The main tunnel
ends at another entrance  Total  length 150mtre,with pool.

All references by Speleo club

Berlin,
Tanzania

1994-2000. thanks and  acknowledments.

Other ref. Halliday. W.R .. (1974).Caves and Karst of
Zanzibar ,an initial reconnaissance-Cascade Caver,13(3)p5-6.

Tanner.B.(1982)
.Zanzibar
Caves -Spelophant Bulletin-Cave
Exploration Group of E.Africa,6,p22;

Nairobi
.

p.s. I don’t think there are crocs on Zanzibar  but don’t take  my word for it, having watched lots of pairs of orange dots every 10 feet
along the Gt Ruaha river at night . “Akuna matata”……..no worries.

Pete Rose.

 

The BEC in Daren Cilau 2004

By Mark ‘Gonzo’ Lumley

A lot of work has been done by a small number of BEC and
Chelsea cavers over the past 12 months in the Hard Rock Extensions.

Things were kicked off by a long clean up camp at the
Restaurant at the End of the Universe for Jake (Graham Johnson) and Mad Phil
(Rowsell).  The place was gutted and it
just remains for 30 plus BDH’s of rubbish to be taken out of the cave, and a mountain of mouldy sleeping bags
to  be disposed of before we are left
with a manageable, lightweight bivouac site! Gonzo (Mark Lumley) and Mad Phil
did a couple of 48 hour camps at the

Hard Rock Cafe, pushing the choke beyond 12 o’ Clock High
(Chokes Away) for about 10 ft. This is a strategically magnificent site, being
perched above the San Augustin streamway just before it terminates, tantalizingly
close to the terminal sump in Agen Allwedd. Found originally by Peter Bolt and
Nick Wall the site has been dug over the years by many of the Hard Rock
regulars and extended by about 50 ft along the right hand wall of a strongly draughting boulder choke. Next
camp we were joined by Henry Bennett, NikNak (
Wessex)
and Charles Bailey and Adrian Fawcett (

Chelsea
).
An extension of about 15 ft was gained. Unfortunately the site degenerated once
again into an unstable choke requiring drill, bang and spare pants! Work
continues.

On the next 2 day
camp
Gonzo, Charles and

Adrian
revisited Chokes Away and then started
digging beneath the north wall (see attached drawing)  of the low section of the Oregano trail, just
before climbing up into  12 o’ Clock High
(a site pointed out by Phil on the previous camp). A  low, wide passage was revealed with a
promising draught and pushed for  about 6
ft. The passage is almost completely packed with sand and  fallen blocks of roof (reminiscent of the dig
through Acupuncture  passage, for any
veteran Daren diggers reading this!). Since then we have returned for a 48 hour
and then a 72 hour camp and extended the dig to about 30 ft.

Bizarrely we seem to have lost the draught at the very end
but will persevere as the passage seems to be trending upwards at long last and
will hopefully pop up into air…

The logistics of a remote site like this make the 3 day
camps infinitely preferable as we can then put 2 long (8-10 hour) digging

shifts in and make significant progress before slobbing out
back at  camp. Meanwhile, Duncan Price
and some of the other divers have been diving in 6ft scaffold bars for us. We intend to use these on a number of  sites including the massive choke at the end
of Aggy Passage (flyovers). Anyone keen to join us can just contact me at
markcreativeedge@btconnect.com. Next camp will be Jan 14-17 followed by further
camps throughout 2005 every 6 weeks or so.

We tend to head in Friday afternoon/evening. You’ll need dry
clothing  to sleep in but there are
plenty of sleeping bags. Gonzo

 

Mel-low digs and Russian Woman Hands.

By Richard Long

The lure of the digging session has never been very high on
my agenda as far as caving goes. I had a few moments of madness in

America
,
brought on by spicy food, huge amounts of Mexican beer and Chivas Regal.
Although, I soon came to my senses when I got back on the Hill.

This is a dreadful affliction of hard work; too thin holes,
loose rock and worst of all having to carry heavy bags of things!!!Apparently
you are expected to haul big batteries, drills, and drill bits, not little
normal drill bits! Nice little bits that normal folks use, the people who will
spend the weekend knocking up a pretty coffee table, a set of bookshelves or a
DRINKS CABINET, something useful. No, not these, these drill bits are the ones
that could be used as full size throwing spears to bring down one of those big
old woolly Mammoths.

You know the ones, they used to wander around in the
Hunter’s car park with several disreputable elk and a couple of rhino and then
end up down hunters sink. Probably after overdoing it a bit on an excess of
some sort of ancient dodgy alcoholic brew and a game of sofa rugby.

As you have probably guessed, hard work and I are not
comfortable bedfellows. However, working as a tutor, they actually force you to
take days off, lots of days, lots and lots of days off, well someone has to do
it.

So, I threw myself into my forced vacation, lots of reading,
some painting, trying to learn german, as I had just been there and loved it.
Started to do a bit of sculpting in wood until my arms got tired and then
decided I should begin taking Dorothy Gibbons dog, Ben, for long walks! It was
a lot easier on the arms.

Well, it fell to pass that I met the good man, Jake, on one
of my travels. Foolishly, I allowed him to lull me into a false sense of
security. We fell into conversation about Unlucky Break, well I hadn’t been
there, fancy a bit of a trip?

Little voice in head saying, “Run Forrest! Run like the
wind!!”

 “Going to pop in with
a bit of bang, interested?”  the
smooth-tongued digger went on.

 “Don’t listen, don’t
do it!!!” the voice screamed.

For ages I have grinned broadly at Mad Phil and Jake and
turned down the attractive offers of helping them out in Morton’s. Of course,
that was when I was sane. I was the Lord of Laziness, the King of Idle, the
Sultan of Sloth. Oh no, I listened to him; I was seduced by the magic of
explosives and loud bangs. Oh, a bit of clearing as well, not much mind you!
The die was cast. I was trapped. I was even excited!

I sat there at the entrance of Eastwater, the sun was
shining, God was in his heaven, and all was right with the world. Jake turns up
with a couple of bags and in we go. It’s dark!! I quite like Eastwater, however
due to my manly physique, there is places I have difficulty with. As Tony
Jarrett will confirm on my attempt to get down the Primrose Path, fat buggers,
consider thy diet, as Chaucer once said. Or it could have been some other chef
on daytime T.V.

Any way we get through the Woggle press, have a bit of a
nice slide, straight across the crossroads and into uncharted territory for me.
Bit of a wriggle and out into a nice wide rift and then a bit of a grim greasy
climb. Lots of heavy breathing, cursing, praying, twisting and eventually I
reached the top. Just so that I can bend myself into the shape of a pretzel, a
sort of American biccy for the uninitiated, and go down the other side into
Unlucky Strike.

The chamber requires an abseil and a scramble and then a
more or less blank wall. There is a duck on the left, which Mad Phil has
investigated and then typical Mad Phil style has to be dragged out by his back
legs. To the right a bit of a slot and an aven, which doesn’t appear to go
anywhere, but in between is a nice little cubbyhole, with possibilities. This
doesn’t matter, because we’re going to bang it anyway! A good reason to be a
caver, alcohol and explosives! Not necessarily in that order.

We have a bit of a nice mellow scrabble about in the loose
stuff, cooo, it moves, its not to bad. Whack it a few times with a lump hammer,
it breaks and the little cubbyhole gets bigger. Do you know what? We can feel a little draught. I am almost excited
again.

Well the pubs open, we’ve cleared a few buckets and Jake is
making a fantastic wall in the aven, so drill it, bang it and beer. Now we’re
back to the drill, the drill is fine, the bits ok, the batteries, well, they
need a little bit, that’s not meant to be a pun, to be desired. Seeing as Stu
Sale rescued them from a bin in the army depot where he was stationed, I
suppose we shouldn’t grumble.From then on it’s drill a bit, change the batt’s,
swear, drill a bit more until the jobs done.Out we go and it’s a successful,
brain shaking, stomach churning, leg wobbling bang, lovely.

Jake and I go in a few more times, nice and relaxed, more
airflow, bigger hole, it’s good. We are joined by our new little chum Rob, just
joined the BEC, but keen. He went at the rock like a mad dog! Should have
brought him before.

Well, we dig when we feel like it, no mad rush; it’s been
there for a while, its mellow, and really relaxed. Gradually, the hole gets
bigger, deeper, just Jake and me, more and more draught, now we can see little
formations and the start of a phreatic tube. We are really excited. Soon Mad
Phil returns from

Austria
,
where he has been with HARDCORE Russian cavers. So for the next few days we all
speak in very bad Russian accents, this is grown men, sad or what?

On Phil’s return the wonder of his Hilti bar comes into
action. What a fantastic piece of potentially dangerous kit. I love it, you can
bang and stay right there and carry on scrabbling. Well, a couple of trips more
and the tube is more or less big enough to drop down through, in theory. Jake
and Mad Phil offer to let me go in first; this is a fantastic honour for me.
Well I get in to the tube, not even greased up, and begin the trip through the
birth canal. Little bit of a problem trying to get my ample buttocks through a
tight bit, but some howling, cursing and squirming and I’m through into a
widening phreatic.

Swivelled around onto my back and I can see it opening up,
pretties ahead very low, its taped now and hopefully they will survive. Then
out onto a sloping ledge and there is a big rift chamber and a good bacon style
curtain. The chamber stretches ahead about ? But, below my feet it drops away
down into a widening rift, not to be attempted on the rope we have. In comes
Jake and Phil to join me in the new chamber, we like it!! Many thanks to my
chums for allowing an idle geezer, with hands like a Russian women to enter the
new bit first.

I’m almost hooked.

Nurse, bring the medication, QUICK!!!

 

 


Loxton
Sand
Quarry
Caves

By Nick Harding &
Nick Richards

A small overgrown quarry located just west of the Loxton –
Christon road at N.G.R. 37475605 contains a number of minor caves.

The quarry is in strongly dolomitized limestones where
discrete beds have degraded to fine sand. Small-bore cave labyrinthine cave
passages (generally three-quarters full of sand) have been intercepted. These
passages were excavated over the period 2000-2001in an early attempt to find
Loxton Cavern.

Site 1. The main cave

The main entrance is near the road in the south-east corner
of the quarry. A 2m slide into a low chamber leads after 4m to an upward crawl
for 3m to a second entrance in an open pit just above the south face of the
quarry. Just before the crawl a tight passage on the right affords access to a
third entrance in the south face of the quarry. From the pit a further crawl
for 5m gains yet another entrance in the extreme south-west corner of the
quarry. The cave is about 22m long and in no place over a metre high. There are
numerous impassable side passages.

Site 2.

Above the quarry and on the north-west corner of the quarry
plot is a small chamber. Excavation in the floor allowed a 2m slide down a
bedding plane to a lower entrance. The bedding plane was separated from the
surface by a ‘skin’ of rock only 30cm thick. One or two other impassable side
passages were found.

Site 3. The badger hole cave

Just over the west boundary of the quarry plot is a defunct
badger hole. Probing ascertained that the hole was a rock tube. Excavation in
sand down to 3m reached a solid rock base passing many impassable passages and
tight bedding planes.

Near the top of the hole a crawl was followed west for 3m to
a small bedding plane 3m by 2m with a large fallen slab on the floor. All this
part of the cave was filled in.

At the entrance hole a crawl northwards for 4m leads to a
right angled bend and tight squeeze in sand to a tiny chamber where it is just
possible to turn around. A choked extension is visible.

Site 4. The truncated chamber

In the east face of the quarry is a recess some 3m by 2m and
2m high evidently a chamber truncated by the quarry, it was probably filled
with sand.

Site 5.

Above the back of the quarry on an overgrown ledge is a
small slot in solid rock. It is impassable after 2m.

Conclusions.

The sandy nature of the rock and the lack of structurally
coherent passage indicate caves formed by the reduction in volume of the
limestone during dolomitization. Digging would reveal passage of similar nature
but it is unlikely any major cave lies in this area.

 

 


Loxton
Sand
Quarry
Cave
– and it’s environs

The Two Nicks

Being the early exploits of the two Weston gentlemen in the
search for the Lost Cave of Loxton in their pre BEC days.

Loxton Sand Quarry is on the Christon-Loxton road just
before the road descends into the latter village. It is a small overgrown place
that contains further evidence for Loxton Hill being half decent cave country.
The Two Nicks dug here but to break the monotony did some digging at Hatley
Rocks on Worlebury hill where the beginnings of another small cave system seem
to be manifesting (more on that in a future BB).

Much like the Star Wars movies we’re telling this tale
somewhat back to front because the more exciting adventure of our Loxton Cavern
exploits produced more startling results than our initial forays in the area,
some four years ago, which are described in the following brief descriptive
account of the discovery of a small cave system in the sand quarry that lies
adjacent to the road into the village of Loxton. 

Way back at the turn of the new millennium your two heroes
began noisily ferreting around in the undergrowth of Loxton Hill with the sole
purpose of finding Catcott’s Lost Cave and drinking some beer afterwards…Our
two reasons being the hunting of Catcott’s Lost Cave, drinking some beer and an
almost fanatical devotion to the Pope – amongst our reasons…I’ll come in
again…Caves – Beer, what else is there?

Akin to the methodologies of the Spanish Inquisition there
was much jabbing in odd holes around the quarry face, which revealed little of
any value as 6 inch wide gaps are not the best place to start digging for
missing caves or indeed the extraction of wildly implausible confessions. In
June of that year we had fallen upon a low arch in the South East corner of the
quarry and decided that that would be our first dig site as it looked the most
promising.

The quarry itself was small and overgrown sporting a lush
almost tropical feel in the summer months. Large fronded ferns gave the
impression we were pipe smoking, tweed wearing adventurers digging in an exotic
location such as Manacapuru in Brazil or Mushenga in the Kasai-Occidental,
(steady on!) accompanied by the monotonous ‘tweep’ of some ridiculously ornate
bird. The arch itself had once been the entrance to Mr. Brock’s house so we
were a little wary that the striped gentleman and his boisterous cohort might
still be at home. But it was long abandoned (except for the fleas and a small
tuft of hair much akin to a badger’s wig!) Digging began in earnest (who took umbrage and left – bad gag! But kept
in for reference purposes) and the arch was widened. We also began to remove the
rotted stump of a long since retired tree that was sort of, kind of barring the
way. Well it wasn’t but we just wanted to waste a few digging sessions to check
out the lie of the bedrock.

When the entrance was wide enough – after a number of visits
– we took it in turns to slide in and have a sniff around removing spoil as we
did so. The entrance opened into a low flat chamber, thick with sand and badger
bedding. On numerous visits afterwards this packing was removed without
incident but not before a guest digger nearly cashed in his vinegar soaked
chips when a large boulder thumped unceremoniously and somewhat belligerently
into the spot where his head had been only seconds before – or so he claimed.
In truth, we believe it was probably a boast to make him sound more windswept
and interesting and cursed ourselves for not thinking of it first.  

An examination of the surroundings proved to be worthwhile,
as there appeared to be a number of ways on and plenty of enticing arches,
recesses and cool blasts of air (the source of one being Nick H pumping one off
near a packet of freshly opened Fox’s Glacier Mints during a lunchtime break).
Digging in the fill to hunt for the floor of the chamber we found an egg and
promptly named the chamber – (quelle surprise!) – The Egg Chamber.

We spent numerous visits clearing out the fill – mostly of a
sandy nature to reveal a reasonable little system – not Optimisticheskaya or
Fisher Ridge admittedly but it lifted our hopes in our quest for the big boy.
With hindsight of course this was woefully misguided but hey, that’s the nature
of the beast. Any hoo, we cracked on apace, working occasionally at the surface
further up the quarry face. Not as dramatic as it sounds – where we were
working it was only about twenty odd feet up a generously relaxed slope.

We widened what turned out to be a bisected chamber back
filled with a good deal of spoil. This was subsequently removed (to an extent –
the lazy genes kicked in along with the ancient call of the pint) to where it
connected with the rest of the system down slope. We called this the

Cave of
Emus
– (absolutely no idea why – it just
sounded silly and was therefore fully justifiable).   At the base of the

Cave of
Emus

was a small rounded ‘room’ called Aunty’s Chamber and this too connected, in a
semi-roundabout sort of way, with the rest of the small system. At the base
were other tight little holes in which hands and arms were thrust in best
veterinarian manner but alas, to no avail.

At the top of the

Cave of
Emus
we dug out the
Tunnel of Glove (sadly no small boats, pink heart shaped stal or cheesy music)
a comfortable crawl to a small chamber in the corner of the quarry.  During a semi-vigorous ferret Richards found
an old glove – hence the name. The corner chamber opened out back into the
quarry through a low arch with a number of small recesses and holes that hinted
at monstrous caverns beyond. Actually they didn’t but one can dream. 

On the back wall of the quarry were the remains of another
bisected chamber filled with large boulders. Various orifices were probed but
nothing was discovered by way of further passage, although there was obviously
a connection with the corner chamber just below the surface. The small system
in essence had come to a stop, which was a bloody shame but there we go.

If there are any ways on we don’t know of any. Not that we
checked every square inch (lazy genes again) but it was soon evident that this
had nothing to do with Loxton Cavern and as that was our goal we felt we had
given about as much time as we could to this little project.

On odd occasions, between digs, we had sniffed about the
rest of the quarry looking for other holes to jab things into – sticks mostly
but the odd finger and elbow were also employed along with the Richard’s excuse
for a fag – the draught test using a lit cigarette. There were a few recesses
but nothing that fired the schoolboy enthusiasm beyond a desultory umming and
ahhing and the odd ‘bugger…’(as in the expletive that is)

SITE 2

In the

North west

corner of the quarry, just below its upper reaches level with the field we
discovered the remnants of another small system and what looked like evidence
of a small drive as the limestone wall looked too straight to be natural. This
we thought might relate to the ‘cutting’ made by the old boys in the early
reports by the usual suspects. But nay verily, twas not so.

Small chambers were cleared out but to little avail. We even
stuck out along the back wall in an effort to look for ways into the hill but
again – nothing.  On return visits it was
quite satisfying to see the grass and earth slope that we had undermined
sagging gently like an old matted carpet. If Loxton Hill collapses at any time
we will not be held responsible because we will have run away.

Realising that this too was a dig that was going nowhere we
repaired to a local hostelry, as one is prone to do on such occasions, to give
considered debate between mugs of foaming brew as to what to do next.

Our trips to the quarry usually meant parking up and making
the journey, without small wiry Sherpas to carry thermoses (what is the plural
of thermos?) and sandwiches through the woods and down to the Sand Quarry from
above. At the top by a wire fence, if you can use fence as a broad optimistic
euphemism for a single line of knackered barbed wire, was a hole – or rather
the long abandoned home of the striped one. No confusion should be drawn
between the tunneling Okapi of Compton Bishop just across the way.

Checking to see if Mr. Brock was out of town, long gone in
fact, we started a dig there and soon some discoveries were made. At first we
headed down and at about five or six feet came up against a narrow bedding
chamber to our right and further down some interesting chambers and sand filled
passages the latter of which were somewhat precarious.  One small chamber behind us may have led on
down slope i.e. eastwards into the quarry but was somewhat small to negotiate.
We scraped together a theory that it may have connected to the Sand quarry cave
down below but that, although pure speculation may not be beyond the realms of
possibility.

The hole at this point was now around 10 feet deep but there
existed no strong evidence that we were on the right trail (remember we were
still looking for Ye lost cave at this point). Nobody had been this way before.   We back filled and set off into the hill, as
a large roomy chamber seemed to be looming behind a large boulder barring the
way.

Several digs saw us working our way over and around this
beast until we were finally able to manoeuvre it out of the way. Beyond was
indeed a small chamber – not too high but large enough to fit a pair of Nicks
into. The chamber itself was sloping roughly north east by south west – not
exactly but near as damn it. The northern section of this chamber was filled
with rubble, to the west there was an undercutting and to the south it dipped
away filled with sand and soil. Again much probing was done here but sadly
nothing seemed to be happening.

Just near the entrance beneath the tree that stood atop the
hole a low crawling passage headed northwards which was pushed a few times to a
flat out crawl that turned west. Digging here proved to be tricky – only
because it was so flat with just enough space to move around – the floor is
filled with sand and with a bit of flipping of the fins one could do a
reasonable imitation of a turtle laying its eggs in the sand of an equatorial
beach. The passage then turned west and pinched down to a too tight and very
narrow (shameless tautology) crawl. Further digging may reveal developments in
this direction.

This area is worth further investigation but as with the
other digs we knew that no one had been this way before. Despite the new
discoveries we were keen to crack on and find the Loxton Cavern that still lay
two years ahead in its rediscovery – and you all know about that one now.

 

Club Rules

These rules are nothing new they have just been slightly
amended by the 2004/2005 committee.

1.             The Charges for Members and Guests staying in
The Belfry or Camping in The Snake Pit are displayed in The Belfry Foyer or can
be obtained from The Hut Warden.  The
Charges are applicable to all persons staying at The Belfry and must be paid
promptly before departure.

2.             ALL Members and Guests are expected to do their
fair share of cleaning before departing The Belfry.

3.             Caving Equipment and Attire must be confined to
The Belfry Changing Room.

4.             All damage to The Belfry must be repaired or
paid for by the persons responsible.

5.             It is expected that between the hours of
Midnight and 8am Members and Guests show consideration to those wishing to
sleep. Members and Guests must sleep in the bunk room not in the Lounge,
Library or Attic

6.             The last person to leave The Belfry must ensure
that services are turned off as appropriate, and that The Belfry is left in a
secure condition in accordance with notices displayed and/or common sense.

7.             The Hut Warden is appointed to control The
Belfry and site and in any dispute his/her decision is final.

8.             Any member who brings or invites any visitor to
The Belfry is responsible for the conduct of that visitor.

9.             The use of “Controlled Substances” in The Belfry
is prohibited.

10.           Members and Guests shall be responsible for
writing their intended trip up on the notice board including an ETO. Whilst on
the trip no rubbish is to be left in or around the cave and no damage should be
intentionally done to formations.  On
returning the trip will be erased from the notice board before embarking on any
other activity. Members should write up a report of the trip in the Club Log
Book.

11.           No excavations are to be undertaken in the name
of The Bristol Exploration Club without approval from The Committee.

12.           The rules governing access and use of the Club
library should be strictly adhered to.

13.           The membership of any individual who fails to
pay his annual subscription by 31st December following the AGM in October shall
deem to have ceased.

14.           The Bristol Exploration Club or any individual
member there of will not be held responsible for any accident caused through
any fault in ladders, ropes or any other cause whatsoever whilst the person
concerned is taking part in any activity organised by The Bristol Exploration
Club or it’s individual members.

15.           It is expected that the name of The Bristol
Exploration Club be upheld.  Any member
whose behaviour falls short of this in so far as to bring disrepute upon the
club or to cause endangerment or distress to other members and their guests
and/or members of the public and their property shall be summoned to appear
before the Committee to explain their actions. It will be The Committees decision on the appropriate action to take
after all the evidence has been considered. This could range from a warning, to
suspension of membership for a period of time or dismissal from The Bristol
Exploration Club. The member concerned would have right of appeal to The Annual
General meeting.

 

T-Shirts

The committee have decided on a new logo to celebrate this
years anniversary. We are having a number of tee shirts printed for sale.  The price is the same as the old tee shirts
£8.00 each they are in blue only.

 

If you are interested please contact Tyrone Bevan:

Dates for your Diary

25th & 26th September 2004       BEC Working Weekend
2nd October 2004          BEC AGM &
Annual Dinner
23rd October 2004         Rescue Practise,
Eastwater
5th November 2004        20:30 – BEC
Committee Meeting
3rd December 2004        20:30 – BEC
Committee Meeting

 

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