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As a result of nearly all the members of the Editorial Board going away on holiday at the same time, an event unprecedented in club history will take place – the B.B. will be coming out before its published date this month, and you should be reading this in June.

It will not be possible to include all the caving log for June, but the remainder will be published in the B.B. for August, along with the log for July.

More than ten years have passed since we last had a page of cartoons – remember “Half Pint’s” page –we have now had a firm promise, and the first of our new series may be included in this issue.

Apologies to all, especially the author, about the announcement of caving Report No. 3.  Owing, as they say, to pressure of work, it has not actually been published yet although the date on the covers says ‘May’.  This matter, as they also say, will receive out early attention.

June Committee Meeting

The plans for the new, stone built, tackle store ands changing room have been passed by the Wells R.D.C. but we still have to wait for approval from the Ministry of Town and Country Planning.  It was agreed that work should go ahead as soon as we had permission.  Arrangements for the redecoration of the living room and kitchen and the job of the creosoting the outside of the Belfry were discussed.  The following new members were elected: -

Albert Francis, Arthur Siddaw, Jim Leigh, Janet Boot, Richard Hartley, Stewart Always, Frank Darbon and Dave Hoskyns.

New members are reminded that back numbers of the B.B. are available, price 3d each, if still in stock. Please apply to the edition or any members of the board.


We have received the following from Claire: -

The large attendance and the spirit shown at the gathering for distribution of Don’s ashes was much appreciated by his mother and myself.  Thank you, everyone.


Bristol Museum

The museum is short of a large number of old copies of the B.B. and wants to make up a complete set. It is not possible to provide the following from stock of back numbers: -

1 to 27, 90, 97, 104, 106, 107, 108. 

If anyone can spare these for donation to the museum, it would be appreciated.

The Maypole Series

The inevitable reaction to a first visit to the Maypole Series, after climbing up what seems to be a never ending series of fixed ladders and chains, is that surely the present end of the series must be near the surface.  Recent work has given an indication of the depth of the series and incidentally clarified thoughts on the structure of the upper part of the Cuthbert's system.

The entrance to the Maypole Series (Ref. 1.) has been known since soon after the St. Cuthbert's Swallet was first entered.  Easier exploration took priority and it was not until the 16th Feb. 1957 (Ref. 2.) that a tentative maypole was tilted at the hole at the top of a twenty five foot pot. The trip failed but the problem was clear and at the beginning of March, a longer maypole enable Don Coase and Tony Rich to climb to the bottom of yet another pot.  More maypoling, under the direction of Rich revealed the series as it is now.  Later mechanization, using two chains, a steel fixed ladder and a crude pulley has made the series readily accessible (Ref. 3.) and it should be restated that the line at Pulley Pitch (Ref. 4.) has been underground in St. Cuthbert's for at least three years and has been used extensively, and is therefore suspect. It is recommended that a tested rope be used to hold the ladder while the ladder is climbed.  The nylon line should be used only to pull the main rope into position.

At the beginning of this year, Norman Brooks was contacted end asked if he would be willing to use radio apparatus of his own design to measure the depth of the final (highest) chamber.  He agreed, and so a C.R.G. Grade 4 survey was started to give an idea of where the final chamber lay in relation to the entrance.  This has been completed.  The next step is to use the apparatus and it is hoped to try this sometime in the summer.

It can be seen from the survey (which will be found on pages 3 and 4 of this B.B.) that the total depth of the bottom of the Maypole Series is 260', the height gained in climbing the series is 175', which gives the depth of the final chamber as 85' below ground level.  Assuming approx. 10% margin of error to cover both human and instrumental errors, the depth becomes 75 - 95'.  This is the same level as Arête Chamber and the top of Pulpit Pitch in the Entrance Series. It also corresponds to the estimated height of the roof of High Chamber.  The lowest point on the section on the survey shows an arrow pointing to Lower Traverse Chamber.  This passage leads to a window in the roof of Lower Traverse Chamber and a drop of twenty to thirty feet to the main stream passage.

The pots in the lower part of the series have been equipped with permanent tackle.  Short Chain Pitch is about fourteen feet and is inclined at about seventy degrees.  Above this pitch are two small, well shaped pots which rise six feet between them. The entrance to the series proper is the largest pot which is vertical and has a twenty foot permanent steel ladder standing on an interesting sill, making a total pot height to the top of the ladder of twenty four feet (Ref. 5).  Long Chain Pitch is twenty feet high and is steep, being about vertical at the top. An awkward Chockstone Pitch, surprisingly exposed at the upper part, to the twenty feet of Pullet Pitch, the final proper pot of the series.  The remaining sixty five feet of vertical height are gained easily over two hundred feet of passage following the major jointing.  It should be noted that a trip can be made more comfortable for a party if the leader dams the stream at the top of each pitch.

The survey was primarily intended to give an indication of the position of the highest point in the Maypole Series.  It can be seen from the survey that point, Escalator Passage, is 140 feet at 610 from the entrance.  In relation to surface detail, this point is about twenty to thirty feet the other side and to the right of the dam in the Cuthbert’s depression.  The Muddy Boulder Ruckle is thought to lie under a small pond filled with tussock grass.  This probably has no particular significance in that the stream from the Maypole, originating in the Muddy Boulder Ruckle, is probably seepage water from the larger area of the depression.

In general, the most striking feature of the series is the rapid gain in height of 110' over the first hundred feet via the succession of pots.  An interesting feature is the pronounced way in which the upper part follows the major jointing of the limestone.  Most possibilities of ways on appear to have been tried but determined effort may be rewarded at (a) ESCALATOR PASSAGE which ends in a narrow rift too tight to force but widening beyond (b) at either of the openings to the left and right of Escalator Passage, though the North East one is excessively loose (c) APPENDIX PASSAGE which ends as a gravel choke or (d) In the MUDDY BOULDER RUCKLE where decaying vegetation may be found after forcing a tight squeeze.

Care should be taken, as always during exploration, to avoid irreparable damage to natural phenomena. It is hoped that a more descriptive account of this series will appear in the next St. Cuthbert’s Report.

Acknowledgements are made to Messrs Fred Davies and Tom Neil who did the majority of the survey work with me, and to some members of the club, particularly Alfie Collins, who helped with much useful advice.


1.                  B.E.C. Caving Report No. 2, Page 8.

2.                  Diaries of Don Coase and Roger Stenner.

3.                  B.B. No 114, July 157.

4.                  B.B. No 119, December 1957.

5.                  B.B. No 125, June 1958


Notes on the Survey.

The instruments used were a prismatic compass, a copper tape in an aluminum case and a clinometer. Time spent on surveying was approximately 22 hours.  The accuracy of the survey will not be known until the end is fixed by radio methods and it is depressing to realize that the circle error at the end of this long open traverse could be of the order of fifty feet radius.

How to Write an Article for The B.B.

It is a fact most wonderful and strange to contemplate that our club consists of some hundred and twenty members, most of whom can read and write.  It can be further be shown (as Euclid, no doubt, would have put it) that it requires two articles of average length to complete the usual 8 page B.B.

We are now in the happy position of being able to draw a conclusion.  If every member wrote an article once every four and a half years, this would be sufficient to fill the B.B. ad. inf.

The next move in this erudite argument is one of extreme subtlety.  Each member must be persuaded to write an article.  Obviously here a snag arises.  One can imagine the reader, aghast at this suggestion, pointing out that it is inhuman to expect each member to produce one article every four an a half years.  “No man,” one can imagine him saying, “Could work at such a feverish rate and retain his sanity!”  This is, of course, agreed.  Fortunately, as the man with the flat back tyre said, a solution is at hand.  Owing to the average stay in the club per member being of the same order as the frequency with which he should write an article.  EACH MEMBER NEED ONLY WRITE ONE ARTICLE during his entire stay in club.  It is generally conceded that this intellectual effort, although still severe, is possible.

At this stage, the reader has, it is hoped, been fired with enthusiasm to take up this fearsome challenge, only to have his aspirations dashed once more to the ground by the next obstacle.  “What,” he asks, quite reasonably, “Can I write the article about?”  Agreed, this is something of a facer.   The equipment needed at this stage by the intending author is known as an idea.  An idea is not easily come by.  In this respect it resembles a clue, and people have been known to go years without either.

Don't despair! You too can have an idea – and remember, you have four and a half years to have it in! A widely held belief asserts that the average bloke can produce an idea in two years, and exceptional individuals, by sheer concentrated effort, have been known to reduce even this fast time. This is, of course, without the benefit of our system.  With the system, an idea is GUARANTEED to occur.  To obtain the full benefit of this amazing system (send no Money!) you have only to peruse the following little questionnaire.  Just read the questions and pick the group most suitable to your circumstances: -


Are you        (l) An active Caver/Climber/Belfry visitor?

            (2) Still alive?


Were you     (1) An active Caver/Climbcr/Belfry visitor?

                   (2) Young once?


Are you        (1) An infrequent visitor to Mendip?

            (2) A Bloke-who-has-gone-to-live-an-ellofalong way away?


You have picked?  Good.  Now read on:-


GROUP 'A'. In your active career you MUST have been on a trip in which something unusual, interesting or amusing happened - just one at least!  Listen to the lines shot at the Belfry, Hunters &c.  YOU probably shot one last weekend!  Write it down.


GROUP 'B'. All the remarks of group 'A' apply to you, but in addition, you obviously know that things arc not what they were (they never are!)  These poor blokes who go caving/climbing/drinking/&c now, never knew what is was really like &c &c.  Tell them!


GROUP 'C'. When you do come to Mendip, what’s it like?  Has it changed?  Any new caves?  What are you doing now anyway?  Anything interesting? What’s your part of the world like?

Of course, it is possible to have an idea without, or in spite of, the system above.  Let us rashly assume that you have an idea of what to write about.  Now you must decide in what form to write it.  The table of weights and measures may be of use here: -


2 Poems

2 Letters

2 Articles

= 1 letter

= 1 article

= 1 screed

Poetry requires fewer words per line than prose and also makes you appear cleverer than you really are. This is obviously worth looking into. A letter is easily written and can always be padded out by telling the editor what a fine magazine he runs. This automatically ensures publication. Only the advanced writer should attempt a screed.

Let us now consider the system in action.  Bert Bodge, who has recently joined, is persuaded down Swildon’s (on which trip some of the ladder rungs slipped while Bodge was climbing back up the twenty) and he later goes down Stoke Lane.  After these two trips, he never goes caving again, but remains in the club and eventually moves to Kerrimuir where he is employed by a ball manufacturer.  Now let us see what Bodge has found to write about: -

B.B. 128

(Sept. 1958)  “My First Caving Trip.”  A novice’s impressions of Swildon’s Hole (article)

B.B. 131

(Dec. 1958)  “A Recent Visit to Stoke Lane Slocker” (article)

B.B. 136

(May 1959)  Letter replying to ‘Geologist’ pointing out that Stoke is different to Swildon’s

B.B. 141

(Oct. 1959)  Letter replying to author on article on tackle about the slipping of rungs.

B.B. 142

(Nov.1959) Poem.  “When you’re climbing up a ladder”

B.B. 146

(Mar.1960) Letter replying to ‘Hydrologist’ pointing out that Stoke is different to Swildon’s

B.B. 148

(May 1960)  Poem.  “Going through the sump in Stoke”

B.B. 174

(July 1962)  “Some interesting fact about Kerrimuir”

B.B. 177

(Oct 1962)  Letter inviting any member to drop in when passing through Kerrimuir.

B.B. 181

(Feb 1963)  “Mendip revisited” (article)

B.B. 190

(Nov 163)  “Early Days in Swildons and Stoke Lane” (article)

It is, you will no doubt agree, surprising to see how much can be written about practically nothing. This article has been written on the same principle just to show how easy it really is.



Caving Report Number 3 “The Manufacture Of Lightweight Caving Ladders, By Bryan Ellis”, is now on sale.  Make sure of your copy.  Price 2/-


Our Congratulations to Mervyn Hannam who, we understand, is shortly getting married.  Also to Roger Stenner for getting his degree.  How did you manage it, Roger?

Second International Congress of Speleology.

This is being held at Bard, Lecce, Salerno this year from the 1st to the 8th of October. The fare will be about £24 return. Any members who are interested should get in touch with Bob Bagshaw.

Cave Research Group Meetings

Northern General Meeting             17th May, Durham (now over).
Southern General Meeting            12th July, Hereford Museum.
A.G.M.                                       8th November, George Hotel, Tideswell, Derbyshire

International Speleological Camp.

In connection with the Brussels International Fair and the Brussels International Colloquium on Speleology (4-6 July) a camp is being organised at Complain-au-Pont, 16 miles from Liege, Belgium.  The camp will be open from 25th June to 31st July to cavers, climbers, walkers etc. Tents will be provided but camper will have to provide their own sleeping gear.  Food will be provided and facilities available for self cooking if preferred.  Tours will be arranged to Belgian show caves and beauty spots as well as to “wild” caves.  Apply to The Secretary, “ Camp Speleo 1958”, Ruo Tanixho, 35 Bressoux, Liege, Belgium.



The Belfry Bulletin. Editor: S.J. Collins, 1 Kensington Place, Clifton, Bristol 8
Secretary: R.J. Bagshaw, 56 Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol 4