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Readers will, no doubt, have read in the national press that another fatal accident had occurred in a Mendip cave.  This time in Longwood, where a member of a Bristol College of Technology party, Miss Heather Muirhead, died at the bottom of the entrance pitch in flood conditions. This sad occasion once more highlights the effects of sudden and abnormal weather conditions.  The plan to bring the Cuthbert’s water under control is now well advanced and we as a club would do well to intensify our efforts to complete this job and thus remove any similar danger from our own doorstep. This is possibly the best way we can help M.R.O. and Mendip caving as a whole.


Once again, the B.B. is being published late in the month, again owing to a shortage of material. We realise that, in spite of the effort made recently to find out what members wanted to read about, the B.B. is not making the grade.  Lack of caving due to the weather may be partly to blame, but apart from this, the remedy is in YOUR hands.


Apologies are due to the Axbridge Caving Club & Archaeological society for the statement in the Christmas B.B. that the B.B. was the only monthly caving magazine on Mendip. The Axbridge monthly News letter also shares this distinction.

Club News - A Monthly Review of Club Activities

Caving Meets 1963.

The second Caving Meet - a tour round Redcliffe Caves in Bristol, was rather disappointing.  A very large number of members and friends attended, but we were all put in our place very soon by the guide who told us that this was not a caving trip!  Unfortunately, we were only shown over about half the area of caves that is accessible without going through the second doorway - about a third of the area previously mapped by club members.  The guide, incidentally, seemed to view the copy of the survey produced during the trip with some doubt as to its accuracy and usefulness, and proceeded to enliven what would otherwise have been a boring trip with some “facts" about the caves.  The first fact, he explained, was that nobody knew how old the caves were.  He then came out with the remark which still has us baffled that the caves were 'built by hand but nothing was dug out' - a remarkable achievement.  We later learned that no one knows how the air gets into the caves.  The door through which we entered is presumably ruled out for some reason.  Possibly the air has hot obtained the permission of the City Engineer's Department to enter by this means!  In spite of the frustration however, the trip was an interesting, if short, re-acquaintance of the B.E.C. and Redcliffe Caves.

The next on the list of 'official' meets is one to Fairy Cave Quarry on Sunday, 28th April.  The meeting time has now been altered to 1200 hrs at the Belfry.

After this, a trip to Agen Allwedd is planned for the weekend 24-26 May, and the Meet will be held in the Crickhowell area.  It is hoped to take several parties into 'Aggy Aggy' with members of the Chelsea Speleological Society acting as guides.  Will the interested members contact the caving secretary as soon as possible and in any event, not less than three weeks before the date of the trip, in order that ‘blood chits’ can be sent in.  Any people requiring transport, or with space for passengers in their own transport please inform the caving sec.  More details in the April B.B.

Skiing '63

Although not wishing to be quoted as saying so, it does appear that the snow has gone.  What has been variously described as the worst winter since 1740 or the coldest since 1823 has also proved to be a considerable trial to the mountaineers amongst us.  Weekend after weekend we've had to go to suitable slopes and ski.  Weekend after weekend we've discovered that the local ski runs were still with us and have been obliged to go out, often in conditions of bright sunshine, and spend whole days dragging our weary selves and skis to the top of slopes, only to slide down again.

The result of this excessivity has been to polish the competence of those who could ski and provide an opportunity to learn to others.  It can be claimed, I think, that "Mo" Marriott, John Eatough and I have learned to slide and turn with some degree of certainty, certainly enough to be able to enjoy a good downhill run, while at the other extreme, the Bennetts and Attwoods have had enough concentrated practice to take any combination of snow and slope with vigour.  Regulars at the various sites have been Tony Dunn indoctrinating his daughter and Audrey Attwood snatching runs-in between rescuing young Simon from a conviction that snow equals sand.

Even among this small company, every opportunity has been seized to further the downhill versus ski-mountaineering controversy with the exponents of each about equally divided. The argument was never resolved, and we hope never will be but it was interesting to the last weekend of perfect snow that the down pull hitches were fully exploited and to hell with broken legs. Incidentally, the only casualty recorded was Dave Radmore who sprained a knee on Pat Ifold's home made skis.  A downhill accident.

The most useful ski runs to come to light were at Burrington (Sheet 165 488580) at Swainswich (Sheet 156 753695) below the garage and at Lansdown (Sheet 156 722705).  There were several other runs (including one in my back garden) but the ones given above proved the most consistent.  The Burrington course had a suit suitable nursery slope while on one weekend at least, a, cross-country course was enjoyed on top.  This particular site (I'm afraid it was the weekend of the Lamb Leer Meet) saw an impromptu ski meet of at least a dozen B.E.C, members.  The Eatough stop was demonstrated at this meet, I remember.  A sort of slow, graceful, vee movement of the planks culminating in a pushing of the face in the snow.  Charming.

About this time Marriott reported good snow at Swainswick and it is here, perhaps, that the best local runs will be found in future.  Very conveniently situated next to the road is a varied slope dipping for about 250 feet. The slope is wide and dotted with trees making a most interesting run.  The whole valley in fact has possibilities.  It is one of the few places, where, within seconds of leaving a road, you can have a skiing accident cheaply.

Lansdown for skiing was discovered at the end of the season.  We had decided that, now our favourite spots were bare of snow, we would look around.  We came across a first class undulating field with snow in perfect condition.  The club got what may be its best runs for 1963 on this when Attwood avoided a Monday morning feeling by skiing instead.

R.S. King.


A very well attended lecture at the Museum Lecture theatre was given by John Eatough on Wednesday, March 20th.  A reasonably large section of the audience were found to be wearing the right tie, and forgathered in the Museum after the lecture for coffee.  Apart from a spot of bad work on the projector in the early stages, when the general level of illumination was somewhat low, John's slides came out extremely well on the mammoth screen.  The talk went down very well with the public and the questions were varied at "question time" after the lecture.  A point for other lecturers to note - John was completely audible in the large; hall with no amplification system.

Thoughts of a Claustrophobic Mum.

We are particularly pleased to print the following poem, as we think it is a completely new departure in opening up a new source of contributors to the B.B.!  It has been sent to us by the mother of one of our younger members, and is entitled

Can someone' PLEASE explain to me
The 'joys' of speleology?
Where is the pleasure to be found
In crawling, mole like, underground?
Better far see flowers bloom
Than burrow midst the stygian gloom.

When sun is shining, blue the sky,
And sweet the lark sings up on high,
What is the dark compelling urge
That in these cavers bosoms surge
Which takes them groping, slipping, sliding,
To where nocturnal bats are hiding?

Lit only by a tiny lamp
Into the earth, grave like and damp,
Amid the mud, through hidden stream,
Without, the daylight's heartening gleam,
Entombed in deep-red Mendip clay.
They scorn God's precious gift of day.

Exploring the dark Orpheus state
To deepest cavern, where may wait
The soul of Palaeolithic man
Dead scion of cave-dwelling clan,
Inhabitants of constant night
Eyes catlike, un-attuned to light.

And in the end, what have they gained?
When, muscles aching, sinews strained,
Emerges the weird troglodyte
Blinking owl-like in the light
To live again, as normal men
That curious, earthbound denizen.

For mothers yet, the aftermath.
Mud clogged sink and dirt rimmed bath.
Rucksack and helmet in the hall
And Mendip dirt thick over all
But calm for a while, the worry past,
Our caving son's safe home at last!


P.S. Will some troglodyte take up the challenge and write a poem extolling the virtues of his pastime?

Well, how about it, blokes?     (Ed.)


Congratulations to Brian ("Prew") and Brenda Prewer on the birth of their son, Steven. Also to Ron ("Kangy") and Ann King on the birth of their son, Jonathan.


Have you paid your sub yet?        You HAVE?  Then it can't be you we're knocking at!

On the Hill

(or T.W.T.M.T.W.)

Another of the regular 'features' suggested in the Christmas B.B. starts this month.  We hope that this survey of what is going on Mendip will contain a good proportion of caving news and-keep members up to date on what is going on....

Reading club journals the other day, I came across an article on page 156 of the Wessex Journal which suggests that a suicide cult has developed on Mendip - abseiling. Unfortunately, the writer could not know what was to be actually printed since, on page 161, a further article appeared extolling the virtues of abseiling.  It seems that the practice is to abseil quite longish pitches, which, if one can trust the rope, seems quite a fair idea, but to me leaves one major question unanswered.  How the hell do you get back up?  If abseiling in caving is to become a general practice, I think the time has come for me to change my address, conveniently omitting to tell M.R.O.

I hear that some of the Cerberus members made a trip to Blakes Farm Slocker (U.H.?) in an attempt to re-open and extend same, but have given up because of water and too much work involved.  However, at their cottage great efforts have been made and a garden wall knocked down to make a gate for a car park.  Now they needn't bother with parking meters!

There is a rumour about the Stoke Lane area that some fine, upstanding quarryman is going to blow the top off Bone Chamber.  This is the best by-pass to the sump that I could think of.  There is obviously an opening for this chap to deal with some other Mendip caves.  A counter rumour is that the quarry is up for sale.  Apply Treasure, Stoke Lane.

Chelsea Speleos are still going great guns in South Wales, braving snowdrifts on the tram road to get to their Sunday school, and underground in Aggy Aggy, braving the rigours of what now appears an excessively long trip to find and explore ever more and more passage.  They're certainly doing a grand job.

The Charterhouse Caving Committee also seem to be doing their best to ensure that access is maintained to caves in their area.  I hear that they are trying to produce the be-all and end-all of blood chits.  A very difficult task, and surely, even when accomplished, no more legal than any other?

Border Caving Group are beginning to appear on Eastern Mendip nowadays. These lads from the Aldershot area are at Cerberus Cottage, affiliated I gather. Maybe they will come up with something new in that area.  Someone should.

The Shepton brood are still alive, rather involved in electro survey equipment but I'm sure willing to entertain guests with suitable T.  Of other clubs, very little has been heard this month.  Axbridge is doing a bit of digging in odd places; M.C.G. and the Marquess have gone very quiet and so have the University of Bristol Splinter groups.

There are some unusual happenings in the B.E.C.  Someone went caving?  An editor was plainly heard to shout out loud, "I'm not writing the entire ruddy thing!" and someone was seen in the Belfry marking exam papers!

With the advance of the year into spring, the usual queue of weegees should re-appear at Maines Barn. I shall be pleased to be able once-more to get to the Hunters and enjoy the fine choral masterpieces, though even this seems to be one of Mendip's dying arts.


Brickbats Dept.

The notice at the bottom of this page we find a trifle disturbing.  While nobody would suggest that cavers deliberately try to avoid paying what nowadays is a small sum to the farmer, it is evident that many members tend to forget this item when changing to go underground.  It would be a bad thing if we got a reputation of dodging this sort of thing, and we hope that readers will take the Caving Secretary's notice seriously.

Censorship Dept.

Having told our anonymous correspondent 'Stalagmite' to be as forthright as he likes, we have had to delete a passage from his contribution this month, as we feel that - however justified his comment might be - it is hardly in the best interests of our sport, all this is not intended to make a mystery out of this subject, but to make clear to any contributors to the B.B. that criticism of other organisations are best dealt with by a  direct approach, and not through the medium of the club magazine.


In spite of everything, we are still living very much from hand to mouth.  If you have done anything worthwhile, which you feel would interest other club members (especially original caving) PLEASE send it along.


Finally, apologies for the lateness and lack of 'finish' of this B.B.  This is due to 'pressure of work'!



Would all club members PLEASE NOTE that a fee of ONE SHILLING is payable for each person going down G.B. cave and that this should be paid to the leader of the trip or some other person nominated to collect the money ON THE DAY OF THE TRIP.  On each of the last four occasions when the club has visited G.B., there has been a considerable discrepancy between the number of people on the trip and the amount of money collected and this has resulted in either the Caving Secretary or the leader of the party being OUT OF POCKET. At the time of writing, the discrepancy for the latest trip is £1.12.0!!  In addition, the leader of the party should ensure that some paper and a pencil are left at the entrance and ALL members should sign their names when entering the cave and cross them off when leaving.

C.A. Marriott,
Caving Secretary.

New Discoveries in Stoke Lane

by Mike Thompson.

Previous to the recent dive in Stoke Lane, there have been two attempts to pass the final sump.  On the 10th Septembers 1956, John Buxton ran into technical difficulties and was not able to do more than probe the sump without equipment.  He found what appeared to be the way on at a depth of about eight feet and to the right of where the stream entered the final pool.  On the 9th May, 1959, Phil Davies carried out a solo dive.  Passing through the opening discovered by John, he emerged into a chamber with a small air space.  Beyond, he entered what seems to be a submerged bedding plane four feet wile and eighteen inches high at a depth of five feet.  This sump was penetrated for about eighteen inches.

In 1960, those of us who dive in Somerset prepared a diving programme.  Stoke Lane was included more to make weight than because we had any real hope of making progress.  Never¬theless, on the 16th September, we met at the farm, "we" being a large party of Wessex, Shepton and B.E.C. members.  We made our way to Bone Chamber where diving commenced without delay. Steve Wyne-Roberts took first turn and vanished for an unconscionable length of time.  We got to the point of wondering whether to send in second divers when he returned, and, with a splendidly dead-pan expression, announced that he had passed the sump and that Stoke Lane III went “marching on". The sump was approximately twenty five feet long and contained a ferocious underground squeeze at presumably just beyond the point where Phil had turned back.  His consolation for having been so near must be that, with the type of equipment that he was wearing, it would have been impossible for him to have passed the squeeze.  Fred Davies then dived towing a line, and I followed.  Steve had not underestimated the squeeze, which would be tight above water, let alone below it.  Once past it, we emerged into a small pool, the commencement of a tunnel ten feet high and about as wide.  As soon as Steve rejoined us, we set out to explore.  This part of III is very similar to II.  At two points there are great piles of boulders similar to the Main Chamber, holding out promise of a high level system.  Further on, in a big passage entered on the left, are magnificent stalactites.  All this was too good to last, and after about four hundred feet, we found ourselves ruefully gazing at another sump.  The passage had become very tortuous and low, the sump occupying its full width, about twelve feet.  We turned back, but within a few feet I noticed an ascending tunnel.  We found ourselves in a complex of passages about four feet high, their floors covered in orange gours.  More by luck than judgement, we took the right turnings, passed a very low duck, and dropped back into the stream, having bypassed the sump. Once again the passage was big enough to walk along, but this time it rapidly decreased in height, developing into a wide bedding plane half full of water.  We crawled along this for about two hundred feet until we suddenly entered a cross rift.  Our combined electric lights were unable to show us the top, which must be seventy or eighty feet above the stream.  The continuation of the waterway now entered a waterlogged fissure, reminiscent of Buxton's Horror in Swildons V.  We penetrated this for about thirty feet before calling it a day.  We still had not reached another sump, but, judging from the quantities of foam on the water it was not far away.  The passage appears to widen below the surface, so we still have another diving prospect.

"And there" as Balch would have said, "the matter rests." and I would add “but not for long!"  We hope to be back in III this year, our first task being to open the sump for non-divers, or even create a new entrance.   There will be plenty of work for everyone if we are to explore, photograph and survey the new series.

Changes of Addresses

Jill Rollason is now at 141, North Road, St. Andrews Park, Bristol.

Noel McSharry's present address is 4267236 J/T N. McSharry, 303 S.U., R.A.F. Khormaksar, B.P.P.0.69.


With the advent of the lighter evenings, climbing has been recommenced in the Avon Gorge and it is hoped to meet every Thursday between 6 and 7 pm.  Information about any particular Thursday can be obtained at the Waggon & Horses the previous Thursday or by telephoning Roy Bennett during working hours at Avonmouth 3631, Ext 208.  New members are very welcome.

On the Hill

(or T.W.T.M.T.W.)

The spring has sprung; the grass is riz, I know where some weegees is.  They’re down in Burrington Coombe, in Goatchurch.  Scouts combined with the Bristol Cine Club are doing a film on a rescue in a Mendip cave.  Can Goatchurch be flooded?

Judging by the water which was going down Pete Bird's dig the other day, it could be.  This dig was taking an impressive amount of water. Pete certainly deserves to be right about this dig, and it would be nice to see this sort of persistence rewarded.

The M.R.O., in the shape of Luke, arranged for some cavers to appear on T.V. sometime in the future. A suspense film, provisionally called ‘Operation Mole’ supposed to be taking place in Derbyshire, actually filmed at Wookey by the Glasgow studios.

Leaders nowadays are getting to be an ever increasing problem, from our own elaborate St. Cuthbert’s Leader System (I wonder how many actually know the system?) to the question of who is qualified to lead trips down most Mendip caves.  Surely not anyone or we merely repeat the latest Longwood debacle.  Unfortunately, I have no constructive ideas, so I will leave it to those who have. Comments please.

Clubs are having a comparatively quiet time, only a few gems of information have reached my shell like ears. The Shepton brood have appeared in a new type of caving headgear, which has also spread rapidly to some parts of our own club - Firemen's helmets, reminding me 'for arl the whorld of an old rhyme'.  With additional accessories, this could be the ideal equipment to deal with Firemen's Hole.

Nothing new has come from Wessex, although seeing one of the older 'empire builders' visiting again, I thought that maybe a new empire was in the offing, but no.  Wessex still chilly.  A bit more digging has been going on, it is rumoured, on Eastern Mendip by Cerberus and their minions, Border and H.M.S. Ariel, at St. Dunstan's Rising.  Working upstream from a rising has not so far proved very successful on Mendip   (C.D.G. at Wookey excepted).   I wish them the best of luck.

The M.N.R.C. nowadays leaves a big query.  No one seems to know what they are doing and, apart from a few members to be seen at the T.V. audition, they seem to be dead or at least dormant.

Axbridge are still doing their odd digging (I can find out nothing specific) and not only in caves. I see recently that they corrected the B.B. thinking that IT was the only monthly caving magazine on Mendip. Shocking!

News from our own club is by far the most startling this month.  Garth has taken leave of his senses (about the only sort of leave he'll get! - Ed) and has decided that 22 years in the army will help him recover them. Maybe it will.  It took me about two days in the service to find out that I'd had enough, and two years compulsory is more than enough for anyone. My spy reveals that there is a movement afoot which will put caving before drinking.  Surely the last possible thing to happen in a caving club of such repute.

In accordance with the B.B. article on writing an article it seems that on average already I should have retired and YOU should be writing this article.  This could be a good idea.

Thought for this month: Ponder on how difficult it is to think of a thought that will last a month.

P.S.  Can anyone tell me via the B.B. whether any work has been done at Cross Swallet since Fincham had his bang?


Climbing in North Wales

The North Wales snow had gone, at least the snow in our area had, and so the ice axes were left behind.  Instead of the anticipated snow climbs it was decided to walk to the cwm on the North side of the Carnedds, from the Manchester University Club hut at Tyn-y-Maes and attempt a roped climb.  Though the snow had melted and gone from the peaks and ridges, the cliff, being a North Face, was covered in unstable ice and a moderate route to the ridge was decided the safest.  The day was completed by some members of the party ‘bagging’ the peak of Carnedd Dafydd and following the ridge parallel to the Capel Curig-Bethesda road and dropping down to the hut.

Saturday evening was spent at the local pub where four members of the party gave a demonstration of snooker (“What’s the purple ball for?") while another two of the party took on a team from the local populace.

Tryfan, being convenient, was the obvious choice for Sunday's climbing and after some hair raising situations due to the intensity of the wind plucking climbers from the rock face, Gashed Crag and the First Pinnacle Rib were climbed.  Up to the moment when the two parties rendezvoused by Llyn Ogwen following the climb of Tryfan, the weekend had been conventional enough with numbers of the party remarking that the weather, apart from the wind, being extremely pleasant; but a minor drama was to follow.  Noreen. Crockford, who had declined to climb either of the two routes, walked to the summit to wait, but after an hour of intense cold, moved off the summit to the wall on the saddle between Tryfan and Glyder Fach.  The first party to the summit, Tony Dunn, Peter Scott and ‘Mo’ Marriott, descended to the wall, not finding Noreen and returned to Llyn Ogwen.  The second party, Geoff Mossman,  Steve Tuck and Lionel Williams, unaware of the events, returned to Llyn Ogwen without going to the summit.  When it was confirmed that Noreen was not with any party, Peter Scott and ‘Mo’ Marriott returned to Tryfan.  However, soon after their departure, Noreen returned and after ascertaining that she was safe and well, the rest of the party departed.  The weather on Tryfan had meanwhile closed in with snow and freezing rain on the saddle and summit and the cloud base had lowered to almost road level, making conditions fatiguing.  After two hours on the mountain, the search party returned to Llyn Ogwen.  It was then decided to spend another night at Tyn-y-Maes and return to Bristol on the Monday.

Caving Log

The only trip of note in January was the caving meet to Lamb Leer which has already been reported in the B.B.  On February 10th, John Cornwall, Kevin Abbey and Garth did some further pushing in the Long Chamber extension, and also removed some more of the telephone wire.

Various trips were done to Swildons, Eastwater, St. Cuthbert’s, August and Goatchurch during February and March.  These were of a routine or a photographic type except one quick look at the Cuthbert’s entrance situation on the 10th March to examine the effects of the cold spell with particular reference to the new subsidence at the top of the old entrance shaft.

P.S. Kevin Abbey (9th March) wishes to point out to Val Jones that he has also done Swildons Sump I twice!

This month we again have a larger B.B. with a caving article (by a well known climber) a climbing article (by the Caving Secretary) and an article on a rescue operation (practice) in Cuthbert’s.  As usual, we have Stalagmite's comments on the Mendip scene in addition to the above. This goes to show that we have got some people in club who can both do things and write about them afterwards. We even have a small surplus of material this month ready for the July B.B.  There are still some areas in which work goes on conducted apparently by illiterate members.  If you have done anything worth recording in the B.B. why not let us know?


Annual Dinner

The question of entertainments for this year's Annual Dinner is beginning to puzzle the Committee once again.  Some members, so we hear, would like a photographic competition to be held again. Others, perhaps, would like something new or even nothing at all.  PLEASE let any committee member know if you have any ideas on the subject.  The B.E.C. Annual Dinner usually goes down well, but much depends on what YOU would like to do after the actual grub part is over. This is YOUR chance to help decide!

There will be a Caving Meet to the Forest of Dean area on the Weekend of July 13/l4 with the Gloucester Speleological Society as hosts.  An organised skittles match and beer up will occur on the Saturday night at a hostelry to be chosen by our hosts.  Would all those interested please contact the Caving Secretary C.A. Marriott, 718, Muller Road, Eastville, Bristol.

British Speleological Association 1963 Conference & Exhibition.

Bob Bagshaw hopes to attend this at Sheffield University from Saturday 10th August to Monday 12th August.  He is willing to take passengers by arrangement.  Conference includes slide shows, visits to caves, films etc.  Apply to Bob for details.

Cave Research Group 1963 Southern Meeting.

This will be held at 5.0 pm at the Church House, Lion St, Brecon on Saturday 29th June 1963. Contact Bob Bagshaw for further details.

Aggy Aggy Meet

by  "Kangy" King.

Ogof Agen Allwedd is that very large cave in South Wales which occupies so much of the Mynydd Llangattwg, a few miles from Abergavenny. Vital statistic wise, its underground passages undermine an area equivalent to the quadrilateral formed by Priddy - Priddy Nine Barrows - Stock hill and the Hunters.  The present length of passage is reputed to be ten miles or so, mostly horizontal, which is the way exploratory parties tend to finish. The recent increase in these statistics has only been obtained by organising trips on expedition lines and spending many days underground.  The cave entrance series has been explored since 1946 but it was not until 1957 that the huge Main Passage was discovered, since when the known mileage has increased steadily.

The B.E.C., unfortunately, has not been active in Aggy Aggy and has only made the occasional tourist trip over the last five years.  The recent meet in Llangattock quarries proved to be the most successful of all, largely because this time, we had the considerable assistance of The Chelsea Speleological society in a guiding capacity.  The majority of the party arrived at the most beautiful and convenient scarp edge of the Llangattock nature reserve during Friday night. Their anticipated early Saturday start was delayed by further arrivals during the morning.  With domestic arrangements in hand, two groups were assembled.  The first, of Bennett, Mo, the Franklins and Kangy entered first on what was intended to be the longer trip.  The second group was Joan Bennett, Tony Wring, Ray Ball and his mate.  Later - much later - Mighty Man Sandall turned up with Norman Petty, two prospective members, Pete Scott and the decorative Noreen. Sandall, as in past years, intended to find his way to the Turkey Pool, though how he proposed to reach it via the mile and a quarter Southern Stream Passage only he can tell.  Incidentally, the Shepton Mallet Journal No 5 (now on sale!) describes the diving of the downstream sump at the end of this passage.

For the convenience of the reader, a diagram of the main, layout of the cave is given below.  For the more interested, there is, in the club library, a copy of publication No 10 of the C.R.G. entitled Ogof Agen Allwedd.

The first group to enter (that containing our Hon. Caving Sec.) was probably the most fortunate, in that at Easter a connection was made between the Coal Cellar Passage and Midsummer. This enabled a grand tour to be made. The route was through the entrance passages and the Main Stream to the Coal Cellar, into Summertime Series and then out via Turkey Series and the Main Stream.  This took nine jog trotting hours.    Highlights seen must be seen to be believed!

It is possible to feel several ways about Aggy.  There is the feeling of tedium - the endless jogging through identical passages, the half mile sideways walk with little room to enjoy the occasional blissful rotation of the neck, the stooping passages too low to walk and too tall to crawl and endless.  There is the feeling of awe as, after the numbness of endless passage, comes the startling realisation of immense space.   Especially in St. Pauls Passage there is this feeling as, stumbling along intent on boulder hopping, yet eyes lifted and strained against the darkness of a vast hall, the architectural dome of St. Pauls is reached.  This is a marvellous place and tedium is forgotten. Later, when a trip is over and the cuts and bruises have faded with the memory of the pain of the sharp stones in the crawls, there is another feeling or perhaps a satisfaction and that I suppose is why Agen Allwedd will be well worth visiting again.

Our thanks are due the C.S.S. for a fine trip.

Weekend On The Dewerstone

by "Mo" Marriott.

The Dewerstone rocks are situated in the thickly wooded valley of the river Plym on the South West edge of Dartmoor (N.G.R.  538638). They are near the village of Shaugh Prior (pub) and can easily be reached either from Tavistock (ten miles) or Plymouth (eight miles).  The Dewerstone is a granite outcrop composed of a group of ribs, buttresses and one or two small pinnacles, offering climbs of up to two hundred feet in length.  There are also one or two small isolated towers of granite in the same valley, and a few small outcrops at the top of some of the tors.

The party that finally congregated at the pleasant camp site near Shaugh Bridge was very much a family affair, with Dorothy Waddon and family, Dave Quicke and family, “Kangy" King and family, Tony Dunn and family (staying near Tavistock) plus Roy and Joan Bennett and myself.  The climbing party consisted of Bennett, King and Marriott with Dave Quicke joining us on several occasions.  The Saturday afternoon saw B. K. and M. setting off with great intentions who, after a quick look at the main face of Devil's Rock (and deciding to leave it well alone!) launched themselves at Pinnacle Buttress (v.diff.)  However, after the previous weeks of practice on the somewhat delicate subtleties of the Avon limestone, the rough, strenuous and comparatively holdless granite came as rather a rude shock.  After Pinnacle Buttress the climbing was continued with the short severe traverse of "Suspension Wall" high up on the main face, finishing on Devil's Rock. From the top, of Devil's Rock, the upper buttresses were visible - a few hundred yards up the valley -the left one showing a well defined steep arête.  After examining this arête from a distance, we decided to cross the wooded gully between the outcrop and have a closer look at this climb.  The climb proved to be steep and exposed, though not difficult, probably one of the best long routes in the area which is not more than severe.  This completed the climbing for the day and we returned to the campsite.

The next morning, B. K. and M. returned to Needle Arête with the purpose of obtaining a cine film record of the climb.  Roy and I roped up for the climb while Kangy perched himself precariously ready to film the epic ascent.  About two and a half hours later, and having ascended and descended the climb at least three times, the epic was complete.  In the finished film the climb takes about three minutes.  Nevertheless, the result was surprisingly successful in view of the difficulty of access to the climb and the high wind that was blowing at the time.  At this point, Roy went off to do a climb lower down the valley with Joan, while Kangy and I moved up to the Right Upper Buttress where a rather unsuccessful two hours followed. Two abortive attempts were made at climbs, one of which ended at the foot of a fierce open corner, and the other when a vital piton was found to be missing ("Armada").  We returned to the foot of Devil's Rock, where we were joined by Roy Bennett and Dave Quicke.  The two pairs then ascended Colonel's Arête and Reverse Cleft - both v.diff. - and returned to camp.

On the final day, the previously brilliant weather showed signs of breaking up, but undaunted, B. K. and. M. returned to Devil's Rock and proceeded to attack "Route B" (v'.diff).  The upper pitches of this climb were very entertaining, the final rib being straightforward though astonishingly exposed.  The last member of the party completed this part of the climb in steady rain.  In order to keep reasonably dry we decided to drop down to a small outcrop buried in the woods and tackle some short severe problems in the shelter of the trees. There followed two hilarious hours. The first antic was performed by myself (on a top rope) on a short, very strenuous overhanging problem with the curious name of 'Twittering Crack'.  After thrutching up to within a few feet of the top, I decided that the final move was too much for me and proceeded to reverse the climb.  On reaching a small chock stone jammed in the crack - the only recognisable hold on the whole climb - in the words of the prophet "it came away in my hands" and yours truly launched out into space clutching the chock stone.  However, all was well and I was lowered gracefully to the ground by Mr. Bennett. In view of the incident, future visitors to the Dewerstone will please make the following alteration to the guide book.  On page 17 under "Twittering Crack", delete the words 'hard very severe’ and insert   'impossible'.

The next trick was performed by Mr. Bennett on a neighbouring climb called “Saints Niche". After climbing into an uncomfortable niche in a slightly overhanging corner, the problem was to get out of the niche again, onto the wall of the corner in order to negotiate the overhang on to the slab above.  Mr. Bennett got into the niche, all right but after a considerable length of time (while Mr. King and I chatted and ate lunch) the origin of the name of the climb became apparent.  Obviously someone, seeing a motionless climber contemplating the crux of this climb had mistaken him for a religious effigy placed there by the natives!

The third and final trick occurred on a climb called “Cesar's Nose", the final pitch of which consists of a crack rising upwards diagonally to the right.  This had to be treated as a sort of an upside down, lay-back with both hands and feet in the crack.  To quote the guide book 'The difficulty is to get the feet into the crack without being forced off balance by the bulge above it'.  After one member of the party had done this move twice the other two still refused to believe that it was possible and they both insisted on doing a desperate traverse below the crack on imaginary holds.

After this, Dave Quicke joined us again and a weekend of very pleasant climbing was completed with the two pairs ascending “Reverse Cleft" and "Pinnacle Chimney". The Dewerstone is deceptive in that at first sight the climbing does not appear very extensive.  However after a few hours it becomes apparent that there are a lot of very interesting climbs in the area and since it is the granite outcrop nearest to Bristol; it is certainly well worth a weekend's visit.

(References are made from the ‘Climbing guide to Dartmoor & S.W. Devon’ published by the Royal Navy Ski & Mountaineering Club.)

On the Hill

(or T.W.T.M.T.W.)

June, being the sixth month, start of summer and the seven months bad weather, "makes it ideal for caving.  At least for the M.R.O. and C.D.G.  Talking of the C.D.G., they held their A.G.M. and dinner recently where a new constitution was agreed (and by some disagreed) upon.  The Group has been reorganised on a regional basis with a co-ordinating National Committee and plans are in hand to catch up with all the work that should have been, done in the last ten or so years.  Apparently, the name was not changed, as some gossips, would have it, to the 'Shepton Mallet Cave Diving Club’ but, as may be expected, the Family managed to work its way into further power.  On a more serious note, the excellent work put in by the C.D.G. recently at Stoke (see Mike T’s write up in the April B.B.) is well worth a mention and can be classed as really great work.  With the advent of the new equipment that's rumoured - a new super light compact set - I see practically no obstacle to bar their way in the future, not even Cuthbert’s Sump.

Three members of M.N.R.C., it is reported by some accident went caving in Swildons and there is even a rumour abroad that they intend to reopen Cuckoo Cleeves.  Winter is truly over, the dormant awake!  Whilst on the subject of reopening, a friend of mine told me he’d heard from a friend who'd heard etc that Cow Hole is virtually open again, needing only a slight bang to finish the job.

During the Merry Month of May, a radio programme called 'Down your way’ visited Cheddar and its caves. While interviewing a Mr Robertson, one of the cave managers, a few of his theories were broadcast.  In fact, what he had to say on the subject of natural occurrings was most enlightening, even if the truth was distorted some. His own pet, obviously of the Cheddar Main Drain dream, is the idea of blasting down to some lakes below the system. Whilst talking of Cheddar Caves, the national press reports that the marchioness has notions of painting murals - modern type - on some of the cave walls.  There ought ter be a law!  Did you know that one of the gift shops on the Golden Mile actually SELLS lead slag from Priddy to tourists?  On this score, the Belfry is sited on a goldmine!

At the recent A.G.M. of the East Devon Caving Group, a number of strange resolutions were passed. One stated that the group did not believe in the locking of caves as a general rule.  Money was then spent sending copies of this resolution to other clubs with a request that it be stuck on notice boards.  What a pity that the money was not made instead into a donation to the Rescue Organisation or the Cave Registry.  I am told actually that the U.B.S.S. did get as far as leaving the letter laying on top of a glass cabinet in their rooms for a while where it was possible for members to come across it accidentally.  The B.E.C., adopting a more positive approach, tore their copy up.

In the latest Wessex Magazine, a lengthy article by Dennis Warburton on cave surveying and grading will be found to give an excellent expose of the shortcomings of the present C.R.G. system.  In addition to this article (18 pages of script) Dennis has also written a two page report on the Wessex Easter Yorkshire meet.  At this rate, he'll not only be accused of Empire Building, but also of running a subversive paper!

I'm told that the Shepton Co. nowadays is becoming a family affair and that only relatives need apply for membership.  I think that the ultimate here must surely be a takeover bid for Priddy.  For weeks, Simmonds, Maine etc read Thompson, Ellis, Davies etc.  Still on the subject of the Family, the Shepton, so it seems, enjoyed the Guinness when in Ireland but state that it was not this but the weather that curtailed their caving activities.  Members preferred swimming in the sea to swimming in caves.  However, the club's septennial pilgrimage was made to the site of the ambush at Kilmichael just outside the town of Macroom.

The South West Essex Technical College Caving Club, (or SWETCC - pronounced " Sweat Seas") leave in July on their expedition to Norway where they hope to explore and survey some new caves.  Very nice too at about £60 for eight weeks holiday!

Two very welcome 'oldies' - Derek (Prof) Ford and Joe Candy appeared on Mendip recently, returned from Canada.  What price a 72 hour Cuthbert’s followed by a weekend of crow scarers?

Only two more gems before, news of the B.E.C.  The B.D.C.C. are going this year yet again to the Pyrenees. This is getting to be as regular as some people's trips to work.  The other is the formation of yet another caving club, the Evening Post C.C. Surely these people could have joined one of the existing clubs on Mendip, there’s enough to choose from!

Club News.  Greetings to Sybil who is, I am informed, cooking in the back of beyond, Australia and commiserations to Mike Wheadon who's GETTING MARRIED.  No wonder Mendip is getting deserted.  Thinking of deserted brings me to the Army Game, our boy Nigel Hallett, wise enough to kick himself out, is heading for Canada.  There's hope for Garth yet!  It costs a mere £20 to get out in-the first three months.

As you heard, our illustrious editor chopped the script a trifle in April.  I suppose it prevents him having to give me a scattering of libel reports.  Thinking of our editor, I notice that an article on cave naming was used to make space (surely enough appeals for copy have been made now) and whilst slightly at variance over personal naming (can you imagine, say Eastwater with a Cholmondeley-Featherstonehaugh link?)

Thought for the month. Life gets complicated.  It seems that the M.N.R.C. are now to be known as the  "Speleological Group of the Mendip Nature Research Committee of the Wells Natural History & Archaeological Society.  Do you think it will be possible to write a song for a future song competition about the S.G.O.T.M.N.R.C.O.T.W.N.H.A.A.S.?

A Practise Rescue in St. Cuthbert’s

by K.Franklin.

One of the major problems involved in a rescue in St. Cuthbert’s is the negotiation, by a person incapable of helping himself up the Entrance Rift.  It had been stated by various people that it was possible to pull someone up the rift, so a practice rescue was organised on Sunday 9th June to confirm this.  Several systems were to be tried but this was found to be unnecessary as the first method proved completely satisfactory.  The equipment used was the ladder, a rope, a sling and three karabiners. The sling (a rope with a five inch loop on either end) was placed around the chest, under the armpits of the 'injured person' and clipped onto either side of the ladder with two 'krabs'.  The third clipped the two loops of the sling together and acted as a pulley for the rope.  This was belayed to the bar across the (bop of the rift, through a waist length to keep it directly above the rift, passed through the third krab on the outside of the ladder, and back to the person doing the pulling.  This method gave a 2:1 mechanical advantage and proved that one person, using this system, could easily pull another up the rift. Two other people were required; one to pull up the ladder and the other to climb behind and ensure a smooth pull by adjusting feet etc.  After this very encouraging operation had been carried out, a second bar was driven in immediately above the rift to give a more direct pull and perhaps enable two people to do the pulling.  Also an attempt to get the bergen stretcher down the New Entrance was made but proved not to be successful. Further work is required at the bottom of the new shaft and should be made a priority.  There seems little point in getting an injured person out of the main part of the cave, but finding the last few yards to the surface impassable.

Editor's Note; a diagram of the method of fixing the krabs will be found below.

A few comments on the rescue may perhaps be added here.  I understand that the bod is pulled up on the ladder.  As an example, I personally cannot climb past the bulge on the ladder, as I find there is not enough room for me and a ladder rung.  Can I ask the author if this method would be suitable for someone my size?  Also, whilst the work required to enable the stretcher to be got down the cave is obviously useful and should, as the author says, be given priority, should not the digging of the drain into the new entrance also be given a high degree of priority?  The chances of people being trapped by water are statistically greater than that of a spinal injury and the provision of the drain would complete the work of ensuring that Cuthbert’s could be removed from the list of caves which are dangerous in time of flood.


Members have been subjected recently to a state of affairs in which the B.B. for April has not reached some of them until the middle of May!  This is the worst lapse which has occurred in the publication of the B.B. for some time, and one for which the Editor is, unfortunately, responsible. The 'Powers that be’ have decided that he must spend some of his time in heathen places in the far North, where they have been making him work.  This has tended to upset arrangements for the B.B. but it is hoped that this phase is now over and we can get back to normal.

The intention this month is to try to produce a twelve page B.B. but whether or not this occurs depends to soma extent on the amount of material received, which still remains depressingly scarce.

Another innovation designed to speed up the delivery of the B.B. is the splitting of members into two lists - a postal list and a list for those who normally have their B.B. delivered by hand.  If this means that occasionally someone who happens to be at club or at the Belfry cannot be given a B.B. because they are on the Postal List, it seems a small price to pay for prompter deliveries all round.

Gifts of foolscap duplicating paper (13 x 8 inches) would be much appreciated as present supplies are beginning to fall off, and the only alternative would appear to be actually buying the stuff!


Letter To the Editor of the B.B.

Dear Sir,


I should be very interested to hear from anyone who knows anything about this small cave, which seems quite unknown to local cavers.  The cave was situated at the bottom of the quarry worked on the South East side of Charlton Road, and is now buried under about 100 feet of rubbish, so it is not possible to verify any details from inspection.  A sketch map of its location is enclosed.

My recollections of the cave are very vague, but I remember it as roughly circular, about 15 feet in diameter, and about three feet high.  The entrance was approximately ten feet wide and inside it was necessary to crawl over a large pile of boulders, so that the actual height was at least double this.  A short passage led off at the back.

There was no stalactite formation or sign of water in. the cave.  It might have been artificial, but the presence of the boulders and the fact that the quarrymen never made use of it suggest, that it was a natural cavity broken into during quarrying operations.

I should be interested to know if anyone has any more definite information on this little cave, or on another said to exist on Troopers Hill, St. George, Bristol 5.

Jill Rollason

Editor's Note:     Jill is collecting information on all caves in the Bristol area as she is the registrar for this district in the Mendip Cave Registry so any information on Bristol Caves would be useful.

On the Hill

(or T.W.T.M.T.W.)

Once again, despite much research and travel, reports of other clubs are still few.  Cerberus have held their A.G.M. and are still muddling along despite their new Constitution & Rules.  A particular point to note for Treasurers and the like is that the ratio of their funds - (pounds/members) is 2/1.

I see from the local press that Axbridge Caving Club and Archaeological Society are in exactly the reverse state to Cerberus regarding finance. They're having trouble renting their museum.  Perhaps a transfer of capital (with suitable interest rates, of course) could be arranged. The obvious comment - with reference to a remark in a recent B.B. - is that a monthly magazine is proving more expensive than was thought!

I hear a whisper of yet another caving club, namely the Severn Vale C.C.  (News certainly does get around - I have just received a copy of their first newsletter - Ed.)  Presumably they cave on the Bristol-Cardiff railway line in the Severn Tunnel.  This is an occupation that presumably won't be affected by redundancy and there are still as yet many unexplored railway tunnels.

My forebodings of a stinking programme turned out by television with their suspense play "Pitch of Terror" were, in fact, only too true.  Of course, they could not know that normal caves don’t have synthetic rocks and I would definitely advocate to all club committees that if they can install a gradual changeover from present caves (located underground) to caves of expanded polystyrene  (located in studios) the accident rate could be reduced no end.

I am told that the B.E.C. turned up in force at Fairy Cave Quarry recently.  Could this be a new suicide cult?  Almost unusual event occurred there when Bob Bagshaw got clobbered, thus disproving the theory that you can't get blood out of a stone.    Of course Bob always could.

The cessation of (T.W.) 3 will be quite a blow to some of our more square-eyed members, particularly a certain editor who was observed sneaking away from the Hunters before closing time in order to speed its departure.  He must now also buy a replacement to a rather famous beer mug (marked Gents) which came to grief recently.

I hear tell of a splinter group, if I might borrow the term, meeting in a pub in Wells on Saturday lunchtime.  One of the group tells me that more work is done there than at meetings.  Obviously more beer   is drunk.

Thought for the month: To write an article for the B.B. takes approximately one month's research, 90 minutes writing and only five minutes to read.  Is it worth it?


Club News - A Monthly Review of Club Activities

Caving Meet

The meet at Fairy Cave Quarry held on the 28th April was literally a knockout, as Bob Bagshaw will assure anyone.  There was a grand attendance of approximately thirty members, some new and some old. The assembly was more or less complete by 1.30 pm as arranged and those wishing to explore Balch's Hole or Hilliers went off with their respective leaders.  Fernhill was also laddered for those who wanted something to cool off on.

A point for leaders of any caving trip to note became evident during this meet.  It was that particular care in the spacing of people ascending ladders should be taken, to ensure that any falling objects - be they rock or caver - do not have any injurious effect on the person/persons below.

Several of the leaders remarked that large parties in such relatively small systems were hardly practicable.  This should also be noted for future occasions of this nature.  All those present seemed quite agreed that the meet was a success, everyone having enjoyed themselves.  The quarry was still in one piece when everyone had left by 6 pm, much to the relief of the inspecting eye of Mr. Garlick.

Michael Palmer.

Junior Section

A Junior Section of the B.E.C. is being run, the main purpose of which is to encourage and arrange caving trips for members of the B.E.C. under 20.  A preliminary list of trips has already been arranged and if it is found that these are successful, further and more extensive trips will follow. For further information about the Section and the trips, please contact Kevin Abbey at 15 Gypsy Patch Lane, Little Stoke, Bristol.  The trips are as follow:-

16th June            G.B. Meet at Young's Barn at 12 noon.
23rd June            Eastwater - Twin Verticals.  Meet at Belfry at 12 noon.
30th June            Swildons IV.  Meet at the Belfry at 10.30 a.m.
6th July               Stoke Lane.  Meet at Cooks Farm at 1 pm.
14th July             Lamb Leer.  Meet at cave at 1pm.

General Topics

The Hut Warden has added up the bed-nights so far this year and we are amazed to learn that the thousand mark has already been passed.  It looks as though yet another record number is on its way this year.

Any bright ideas for things, to do after the dinner this year will be appreciated by the committee. Some people feel that a change from the very successful photographic and song competitions would be a good thing this year, but the feelings of club members would be most helpful here.  Get in touch with ANY committee member if you have a bright idea or any strong feelings about the dinner and entertainments.


The usual midsummer barbecue will be held this year on Sat. June 22nd and all Mendip cavers and friends are invited.  The cost per head will be six shillings and this should be sent to Kevin Abbey, 15 Gypsy Patch Lane, Little Stoke, Bristol who will be in the Waggon & Horses on Thursdays and the Hunters on Saturdays.

Please don't leave it until the last minute, and in any case, book at least a week before the event, as arrangements for food and drink have to be made in advance. 

On the Naming of Caves

This article is partly the result of lack of other, and more suitable material for this month's B.B., and partly because, to the best of my knowledge (whatever that may mean in my case!) I have never yet heard of an article being written on this subject before.

I expect that a number of things may well be at variance with other people's thoughts on this subject, but this article is not intended to be a laying down of the law on the subject so much as to show one person's viewpoint.

The recently proposed name of Easter Hole for a new cave (yes, yet another one) in Fairy Cave Quarry has shown that we are in some danger of repeating ourselves if we are not careful on Mendip.  There is another Easter Hole, of some years standing, at Hillgrove.  Duplication of cave names is not a good thing,  as this means that at best the name has to be followed by the area in which it is located, and at worst would lead to a lot of misunderstanding, such as half a trip turning up at  the wrong hole.

We have, in fact, used up all the holidays on Mendip, as we have Easter, Whitsun, August and Christmas holes and further extensions of this particular method of naming holes (Boxing Hole, Maundy Thursday Hole  etc) would soon get  out of hand.  Likewise, the general method of referring to the date of discovery - such as the November the something grotto in Swildons - tend to be difficult to remember and too alike for easy remembering.

Another method widely used on Mendip for naming caves is to associate the cave with remains found usually while digging it out.  Thus we have Badger, Bone, Bos, Cow, Fox's, Hyena, Pig's, Rhino, Sow's, Toad’s and finally Zoo.  This system could again be extended to cover other types of remains which could result in Bicycle Hole, Bedstead Hole, Boot Hole - to name but one.  Again, this system would seem to be largely played cut.

The practice of naming holes according to local geography is, on the other hand, an excellent one in theory but one which can again go astray in practice, a cave called, say, Pen Hill Swallet situated reasonably near that geographical feature is excellent until somebody discovers another cave even closer to Pen Hill, whereupon it becomes necessary to explain that Pen Hill Swallet is the one of a pair which is furthest from the hill itself.  This is, admittedly, not likely to occur often, but should be watched if the cave is to be called after some geography which is not specific enough. Otherwise, it becomes necessary to subdivide the caves as in BanwellBoneCave; BanwellOchreCave and BanwellStalactiteCave.

At first sight, the use of discoverer’s initials, even with the two letters or "G.B." variety seem to have the advantage of variety, with 676 possible combinations and 17,576 if three letters are employed, but again, this is largely illusory. Even now, with only three such names on Mendip (or two if you belong, as I do, to the Midway Blocker School of thought) it has been known for confusion to arise between G.B. and G.G. 

The trouble is that two many letters of the English language end with the sound ‘ee’.

People's names, on the other hand, although frowned on by many, do have the advantage of not confusing people, even if they reveal nothing useful about the cave concerned. If I appear to have an axe to grind here, this is not really so, as the name of a small cave near Hunters Hole was intended by the rest of the digging party to be facetious at the time, and the stubborn refusal of this cave to get any larger is probably the result!  In general, I would say that it would be reasonable to try a more descriptive name and only resort to this form of cave naming if all else fails, or if there is some special reason, such as the need to butter up the local landowner &c.

Turning now to internal cave naming, we enter an even more difficult and controversial field, and again, no system wants, pushing too far.  For instance, the 'tying together' of names in one part of a cave is excellent up to a point (e.g. Traverse and Upper Traverse Chambers in Cuthbert’s) but should be stopped before they read like a description of a caving trip.  We should never reach the stage of Upper Chamber South West Extension Passage and the like.

While I am all in favour of the sort of descriptive name for a difficult cave feature - nobody, for instance, would mistake the general idea behind names like the Keyholes, The Nutmeg Grater, the Vice and the Sausage Machine - they do seem a bit confined to conveying the idea of tightness.  We seem much worse off if we want to convey the idea of exposure, instability or how wet the caver gets as distinct from how much water flows through the passage in question, incidentally, we have two Letter Boxes on Mendip as well as two Sewers.

At this stage, it may well be wondered if I am actually in favour of anything.  In fact, it is not as bad as this would suggest, as I am mainly endeavouring to point cut the dangers of letting any of the basically sound systems get out of hand.  Of course, I have my own preferences, in common with most people.  One of these  is for what I call imaginative naming - places like the Oubliette Pitch in Cuthbert’s Sentry Passage, Tor Chamber, The Throne Room, and so on. Another idea which appeals to me is the practice of naming parts of a cave series with connected names, like Damascus in the St. Pauls Series or the Trafalgar Chamber - Victory Passage - Strand association of ideas in Cuthbert’s September Series.  This, by another association of ideas reminds me that we have two Pillar Chambers on Mendip.

The other one (in FairyCave) is a good illustration of the next point.  How do you name a bit of a cave anyway?  In the case of a cave like Cuthbert’s, the method is quite easy.  The discoverers have a natter; decide on a name, get it agreed to by the Leaders Meeting and it goes into the records.  In cases however where different clubs use the same cave with little contact with each other, the same places get different names.  For instance, the B.E.C. always refer to the Wet Way, the Long Dry Way and the Short Dry Way in upper Swildons, but the Wessex call them the Wet Way, the Pretty Way and the Middle Way respectively. The surveyor usually has the final decision in many cases, although sometimes things get changed by common usage - like Rod's Pot.  In the early days, St. Cuthbert’s was often referred to as St. Cuthbert’s Pot  (rather than Swallet) and I will back the chances of the form Balch's Hole to eventually beat the official designation of BalchCave.

The question of how much naming you go in for, as distinct from what you call things anyway, is another controversial question but should surely be a function of the amount of attention paid to any particular part of a cave.  Where intensive work of some sort is going on, names tend to proliferate as the heed to pinpoint places in the cave increases.  Good examples of this occurred during the phase of intensive photography in Balch's Hole recently, when some much photographed individual groups of stal, such as the Golf Clubs or even single pendants, like Baker's Erratic, got names.  While the need to use such names is usually transitory, they do have a use in future studies in drawing attention to a large amount of work done in the part of the cave concerned.  An example here in G.B. is the Upper Grotto – Elephant’s orifice - Double Passage - Loch Lomond - Letter Box - Ten Foot Pot and Devil's Elbow, all within a hundred feet or so of passage.  In contrast, The White Passage - much longer and bigger with no names until you get right to the end.

To sum up.  While I think that most of the naming on Mendip is good, many of the systems used cannot be pushed much further without running into some difficulty, the future thus appears to call for a greater degree of ingenuity.


P.S. Please don't call any new cave Hawthorn Hole!  Apart from the fact that it is a bad name as there are   ‘n’ depressions on Mendip with Hawthorn Trees in them, there is a special reason for this request!

Englifh Traveller

Extracts from the New & Complete

Written and compiled by a Society of Gentlemen and published byAilex. Hogg, November 22nd  1794.

(This book has been loaned to the editor of the B.B. by Chris Hawkes, Editor of the Wessex Journal, to whom we are indebted for the following, which readers may, find amusing.....)

            This county ( Somerset) is famous for its lead mines, the principal of which are situated among thofe mountains called Mendip-Hills.  The ridges of thefe hills run in a confufed manner, but moftly in an Eaft and Weft direction, and are of a very unequal height. The foil is barren and the air cold, moift, thick and foggy.

Frome is a large town, but the Streets are irregular and the houfes in general mean-------a band of profligate fellows in the reign of King William III built huts in the foreft adjoining to this town, where they coined money and paffed it off to the people of the neighbouring towns, but being difcovered, they were all apprehended and executed.

Shepton Mallet is an ancient, large and prosperous town.  The fituation of this town is exceedingly difagreeable, and the ftreets are narrow, irregular and ill-paved.

Wells is pleafantly fituated on the borders of the Mendip-Hills on the little river Welve. It is a fmall well built city, the houfes are neat, many of them elegant, and the ftreets well paved and clean.

Two miles from the city of Wells, and in the lower part of Mendip-Hill: is the famous triple grotto called Wokey' or Okey-Hole.  It is the moft celebrated cavern in the Wrft of England, and therefore frequently vifited by ftrangers.  You afcend the hill about thirty yards, to the cave’s mouth, before which there lies a prodigious ftone of an irregular figure.  The entrance, which is not very narrow, is about fifteen or twenty feet long, and opens into a large cavern or vault refembling the body of a cathedral-church, the upper parts of which are very craggy and abound with pendant rocks which ftrike the fpectator with terror, efpecially as they appear by candle-light and by which they may very plainly be feen, notwithstanding what Mr. Camden fays to the contrary.  From almoft every part of this roof, there is a continual dripping of apparently clear water, though it contains a large quantity of ftony particles, as is evident from feveral ftony cones which were here about thirty years ago.  The bottom of this vault is extremely rough, flippery and rocky and abounds with irregular bafons of water, but there are none of thofe beautiful cones mentioned above, they having been taken away and prefented to the late Mr. Pope, of Twickenham,  to decorate his artificial grotto.

.....Not far from Chedder is a ftupendous chafm, quite through the body of the adjacent mountain. It appears is if the hill had been fplit afunder by fome dreadful convulfion of nature.  We walked a confiderable diftance in this chafm, between the impending rocks on either fide which, to ftrangers, exhibit an awful appearance…………..near to this is another remarkable cavern, into which you enter by an afcent of fifty fathome among the rocks.  This is not so large as Wokey-Hole, has no river flowing through it, nor does the water drop fo freely from the roof.

We could go on quoting for ever from this fafcinating - sorry, fascinating book, but an observation on the inhabitants of Somerset seems a good place to end!  We quote: -

The inhabitants of Somerfetfhire are, in general, plain, fimple and honeft; yet the lower fort in company with ftrangers are conftantly boafting of their fuperiority, and confider the people of other parts of the kingdom as greatly inferior to themselves. Thofe, however who have had a liberal education, and whofe minds have been enlerged by reading and converfation, are fenfible, polite, obliging and affable, very couirteous to ftrangers and eager to learn of the nature  of trade in  other parts of the of the island.

Change of address.

Garth Dell's new address will follow in next month's B.B. in the meantime, anyone who wants to get on touch with him may apply to Kevin Abbey, who has his present address.


The Belfry Bulletin. Hon. Sec. R.J. Bagshaw, 699 Wells Rd, Knowle, Bristol 4,
Editor, S.J. Collins, 33 Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8.
Postal Department, R.S. King, 22 Parkfield Rank, Pucklechurch, Near Bristol.

Shove Ha'penny Tournament.

A grand Tournament has been started on the lines of everybody playing everybody else, to run from a fortnight ago until the day of the Annual Dinner (First Saturday in October). All who wish to take part, see the organiser at the Hunters.

Bed Nights.

The all time, record is about 1,430 odd.  We reached 1,400 last weekend, with a full two months to go.  Looks as if the Belfry is popular this year.

Belfry Redecoration.

This will be going on full steam over the fortnight either side of August Bank Holiday.  Members staying over this period are asked to keep out of the way of the decorating activities as much as possible.


Thanks to those who have sent in articles.  We are doing a bit better now and may be able to have a bigger B.B. next month.  Keep it up!


To the editor, Belfry Bulletin.

I recently received my February B.B., which miraculously arrived after about four re-addressings including one due to a 12,000 mile removal, hence the delay in writing this letter.

I was interested to read once again of the editor's amazing system for writing B.B. articles and wish to vouch for the fact that it actually works, in case anyone should doubt it.

The literary activities of Bert Bodge were placed before us a few years ago as a shining example. Reading this caused an Idea to be planted in my mind, which, after about six months to mature, gave rise to an article. This article in turn gave rise to correspondence.  If six months is about the average time for ideas to mature into articles, I'm afraid that this letter extolling the system will be crowded out by the avalanche of articles which must be arriving now.  I feel that the possibility of producing correspondence is worth mentioning and should be included in the table of weights and measures as follows; 2 articles = 1 screed = 1 correspondence producing article.

Norman Brooks.

P.S. Although there may be those in the club more qualified to comment on the drinking habits of the antipodes, the most startling thing that I, as a new arrival, noticed was not that the pubs close at 6 pm - I was prepared for that - but that they dish out the beer with a long hose reaching all parts of the bar and drink it out of little glasses not much bigger than eye baths.  I have never seen this in print, maybe the B.B. could claim a first on it!

Bath Stone Mines - Their History and Method of Operation

by Mike Calvert.

This article is intended as a follow up to the trip to the Bath stone workings.  I trust however that it will not be too difficult to understand if you did hot come on the trip.

History:  This is very difficult to follow up as there is an acute shortage of information available. Legend has it that in the VIIth Century A.D., Adhelm, later to be St. Adhelm, came to Box and dug the ground there. It is said that he thus discovered the stone now known as Bath Stone.  The first positive material is that in 1727 Ralph Allen came to Bath and commenced underground quarrying of Bath Stone on Coombe Down which was used to build such places as the Circus and the Royal Crescent in Bath. No real detail is traceable until 1883. From then on until about 1930, the quarrying of Bath Stone was a major industry, and Bath Stone was being used for many of our stately homes all over the country.  From the 1880’s onward, nearly all the so-called Bath Stone was obtained at Box or Corsham, as the Coombe Down supplies had been exhausted as a commercial prospect.  The rock at the former places came in bigger blocks that that at Bath and was considerably more stable in quarrying. Hence less roof supports were needed and the cost of mining the stone was cheaper.

The Quarrying Process: The method of quarrying Bath Stone by underground means changed very little from 1880 to 1930 and one description will fairly cover all cases.  I take my extract from the Bristol Master Builders Association Journal of September 21st, 1904.

The article concerns a visit to Monks Bark Quarry at Corsham.  The quarries were owned by Bath Stone Firms Ltd., later to become the well known Bath & Portland Stone Co. Ltd.

“This firm has quarries at Combe Down, Farleigh Down, Box an. in Corsham.  The stone is extracted from the quarry as follows: - The first procedure when at the rockface is to drive adze shaped picks six to seven feet into the top foot of the rockface, putting longer handles on the pick as it goes further into the rock.  The width of the hole thus formed varies according to the width of the bed.  In Monks Park, these are twenty five to thirty feet wide. In the Box workings they are from twelve to twenty feet wide.

Next, a one handed saw is brought into action.  These saws are in lengths of four, five, six and seven feet.  They are broad at the head or extreme point.  The saw is first worked in horizontally, dropping a little as it goes in, and thus opening the rock down to its next natural parting. When this has been done on either side, the block is separated laterally from the parent rock.  Levers are then inserted into the bed or natural parting at the bottom of the block and these levers are weighted and shaken until the block is forcibly detracted from the back.  It is then drawn down by crane power and the broken end and the bed dressed with an axe so as to make the block shapely.  It is then placed on a trolley and allowed to run to the loading platform.

After the first block has been removed, it is evident that the workmen have access, by that opening, to the back of the bank of stone and they avail themselves of this to work the saw transversely which, separating the block from the back or hinder attachment, renders all further breaking off unnecessary, so the first block of each face is the only one which is broken off.

To each face, or heading of work, a ten ton crane is erected in such a position as to command the whole face.  These cranes are now constructed telescopically so as to accommodate them to slight variations in the headings arising from different depths of the valuable beds.  After the block of freestone has been loosened in situ, a Lewis bolt is let into the face of the block, the chains of the crane attached to it, and the block then drawn out horizontally.

In one quarry at Monks Bark there is a machine worked by compressed air for picking the rock above the face at the roof.  It is estimated that three million cubic feet of rock per year is dug out by the firm”

This description gives a fairly good idea of the method of extraction but it misses out several details. I have gathered together a fair number of these details from a number of sources and rolled them into one illogical article, but I was pushed for time when trying to please our editor and write him an article.

The entrances to the workings vary immensely in character, the type of working which has its entrance going into the side of a hill generally has a horizontal or very slightly inclined entrance but those which enter the surface generally have sharply inclined shafts which may drop a hundred feet or more before the main workings are encountered.  Other connections with the surface are ventilation shafts.  These are usually narrow, vertical and round shafts which were dug from the surface downwards.  These may be up to one hundred feet in depth and remember, there were no pneumatic drills in those days!  The shafts were dug with a pick and shovel and a winch to take away the rubble.  Yet a third type of connection with the surface are vertical shafts about ten feet square dug to extract the stone when the workings became very extensive.  These are encountered in the Box workings.

Now to the inside of the workings.  These are of two types which depend on the extent of the beds.  They may be either single passages following a bed or, where the bed is very extensive, the workings are one mass of interconnecting passages.  Generally, the passages are ten to twelve feet square in section.  In the former type of working, the roof is generally a little insecure and is propped regularly by short wooden poles near the ceiling.  In extensive workings, blocks of rock are left periodically to support the roof.

As the quoted article suggests, transport in the workings was by trolley.  These were of various types - flat low ones for transporting the stone, boxes for transporting horses and carts for the men.  The trolleys were pulled by horses in the main, but one reference I found for 1883 mentioned a steam engine pulling the trolleys.  The trolleys had flanged wheels and ran on lines similar to railways.  In some workings, traces of sleepers can be found, in others there are no such traces. If an inclined shaft was used as an entrance, the trolleys were pulled out by winch, and once the horses were down, they stayed down like pit ponies.  The stones cut averaged thirty to forty cubic feet and the miners used benzoline lamps in the 1880’s but turned to acetylene lamps at a later date.

There were stonemason's shops in Box where stone could be cut to order and this became of great importance in the 1920's.  Previous to this, the stone was sent out the same size as it was cut.  There were also machine shops of various types for making trolleys, engines and cranes.  Once the stone had been quarried, it was dried before use.  The usual procedure was to stock all the stone quarried during the summer months of in large piles outside the workings.  These then provided the supply for the following winter. The winters stockpile was used during the up summer.

For anyone who is interested, the author will be willing to take people round the workings at Kingsdown near Bath. These are the best workings to see how the stone was quarried, with a face crane left in position when the workings were abandoned.  There are also numerous one handed saws and some double handed ones.  There are a mixture of passages, mostly straightforward although some are complex.

“On The Hill”

or T.W.T.M.T.W.

Mendip, the world of beauty that few ever see.   So reads a headline of the Bristol paper of June 21st and underneath is a quite factual article on Mendip and its caves now well written, thanks I'm told, to Kevin Abbey who deleted some rather imaginative passages such as "..at the top of the Gorge in G.B. is a permanent flashing red beacon to guide cavers back to the surface."  Mr. B.J. Iles goes on to cover some of the larger swallets, vandalism and even B.E.C. leaders.  I see that only the B.E.C. is mentioned, could the 'editor' be biased?

Another article recently appearing in print was an item on photography underground by Nick Barrington in the Amateur Photographer with, so the experts tell me, quite good shots of Balch, Swildons and Cuthbert’s.  It strikes me as odd that none of our well known club photographers have not already exhausted this theme.

News from the other clubs is at its lowest ebb and I suspect that my gleanings will already be common knowledge.  Cerberus, on Eastern Mendip have, it is reported, been busy in St. Dunstan's and current rumour is that it is going! Incidentally, I am told that no committee meeting has been held by C.S.S. since their A.G.M. in April!  This apparently leaves an annoying state since their Trip Sec. retired and to date no new appointment has been made.  It is rumoured that "Prew" is taking over this vacancy.

The C.D.G. have been diving again in Stoke, surveying their previous discoveries.  Were these discoveries in any other cave, I'd be quite interested in a speedy opening up of these extensions – but in Stoke Lane Slocker - I ask you!

The S.M.C.C. have - apart from Family ties with the C.D.G. been very quiet lately.  The Wessex magazine this month appears to have been a takeover over by Tony Oldham & his nom de plumes (or should it be noms de plume? - Ed.) with several articles in his own right plus a report on Mr. Jiffre's underground sojourn.  What price written by other than Alfie?  Rumour has it that the M.C.G. are blossoming forth again, but still no news of the S.C.O.T.(M.N.R.C.) O.T.W.N.H.A.A.S., the U.B.S.S., the A.C.C. and others.

The Mendip Cave Registry held a meeting in June and I gather that results so far are very satisfactory and reports, with few exceptions, are rolling in.  I for one will be very pleased to see the end product.

The Charterhouse Caving Committee, which started in a legal frenzy, seems not to have progressed any further than reiterating the rules pertaining to G.B.  It should be noted that Mr. Young at Longwood will now permit only two parties down at any one time.  Better give him plenty of warning!

News of the club is also limited.  The Annual Barbecue on June 22nd went with a swing and no doubt an article will be forthcoming on this subject.  There were several suited gentry present from the Chelsea Speleological Society present - no doubt on holiday from Aggy Aggy.  In case no one else remembers to thank the organiser - my thanks!

From Clapham comes news of a cave guide - Mike Boon.  With the marriage stakes we hear of Jug Jones  (R.I.P.) recently wedded and legal like, a point of interest to a recent rescue at Dow Cave, stated by a radio announcer, was that it cost the rescued several pints.  Obviously well informed!  Thinking of pints, one of my informants, snooping round a certain Saturday Meet hears whispers of promised barrels later in the year.  No doubt the usual grapevines will bear out the truth of this.

Thought for the month: To date, O.T.H. has incited no comment by way of reply to the B.B.  If you agree with all that I've said, think how humdrum you really must be!