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Committee Members

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

Non-Committee Posts

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

Club Trustees

Martin Grass
Nigel Taylor


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

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

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

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


Recent Committee Business


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

BEC Membership

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

“Public Liability Cover”

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

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

Sybil Bowden-Lyle(145)

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

Eric Towler

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


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

Annie Audsley(1266)

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

Matt Tuck

No longer a member but for those of you who want to stay in touch Matt is now in Canada and his address is in the printed BB.

Members Hut Keys

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

Club Members Websites

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

The address is www.gregbrock.co.uk

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


Membership Statistics

Graphs produced by Sean Howe

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

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



A Statistical History of the BEC

By Andy Mac-Gregor


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

By 1957, many members were going to the Waggon and Horses pub at Redcliffe first, rather than going to the hall, and this slowly became the meeting place on Thursdays, though the library stayed at Redcliffe Hall and the hall was also used for the A.G.M.  By 1952, the meeting room had moved to Old Market Street, Bristol, though this didn’t last long and they reverted to St. Mary Redcliffe, though the A.G.M. was still held in Old Market.

During 1948 we absorbed the Clifton Caving Club and 'Shorty' formed a London section of the club.  This continued until 1953, by which time most membership had moved away from London.

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

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

The last notice is that the Bristol meeting had reverted back to the Seven Stars, by Bristol Bridge.  Whether these are still continuing, is unknown by the author.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Most members leave because they stop caving and are not interested in the sport anymore.  A few leave to join other clubs as they move out of the area.  Some, unfortunately, have died whilst members of the club, and we even had one member, Mike Foxwell, murdered at Suez in 1951.

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

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


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

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

Honorary Secretary

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

Honorary Treasurer

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

Caving Secretary

The Caving Secretary first appeared in 1951.

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

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

Climbing Secretary

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

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

Hut Warden

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

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

Hut Engineer

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

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

Equipment Officer

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

Tackle Officer

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


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

Honorary Editor

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

Honorary Librarian

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

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

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

Membership Secretary

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

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

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

London Representative.

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

Ladies Representative

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

Committee Chairman

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


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

Other Officers

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

Comments From Various Club Officers

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

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

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

AGM and Dinner

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

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

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

Belfry Bulletin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Peru Caving Expedition 2004 Yauyos District of Central Peru

By Greg Brock

As we stepped out the hired/borrowed 4x4 trucks at 4378m above sea level the effects of the altitude and lack of acclimatization finally hit us.  Suddenly a young and fit international expedition could hardly move from the confines of the trucks.  It wasn’t long ago that we were all fighting our way through various international airports and then risking our lives in a cab journey from Lima airport to Nick Hawkes (BEC) house. Unfortunately our first bit of exercise was up at 4378m as we had sat in trucks up until this point.  We headed down Sima Pumacocha 2 (SP2) to rig the first pitches before heading back down the valley to recover.  It somehow took us 4 hours to rig 80m of cave.  The locals were very keen that we drunk coca(ine) tea, which is apparently their cure for altitude sickness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Greg Brock




Pete Glanvill’s Navy

By Pete Rose

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

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

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

  There was a lovely echo

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

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

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

Pete Rose.


Caving in Zanzibar, A Pathetic Attempt

By Pete Rose

The Rose family holiday this year  was a safari to Africa, arranged by a friend in Crediton. David Wendover was working in  Dar-Es-Salaam as an agricultural advisor to the Dutch Govt. and asked if we would like to visit, together with his wife Nita, and go on safari. Etc.  I visited J-Rats in August to see if there were any books on caving in Africa and unfortunately the Speleo club of Berlin’s Report  was not available. I then resorted to the internet and only found mention of caves in Tanga in the North of Tanzania and some in Zanzibar .I managed to hint at the wondrous possibilities of a week in Zanzibar on the beaches etc , and only a ferry boat away from  Dar. This did the trick and the ladies, Sue and Nita were already lining up a visit to the spice plantations etc. We arrived in Dar early Sept ,still the dry season and  taking the mozzies seriously with anti malarials/deet repellent etc

David and Nita drove us 400miles  west of Dar to the Ruaha National Park for the first week, via a one night stop with Sven ,a nutty swede ,all alone, no beer, running a campsite. There was an obligatory stone throwing contest at a large rogue baboon who was stealing food   .Wow! This is a superb Park and rarely visited as everyone goes north to the Serengeti/Mt Kilimanjiro area. The Camp was run by  the  English Fox family from Tavistock  and consisted of stone bandas (huts) along the Gt Ruaha River which was barely flowing .Only  30ft from the edge ,we were constantly watching elephant  ,hippo,  giraffe ,crocodile, babboons, fish eagles ,Kudu,  Impala .The lions were roaring away at night, with hyaena(cunning buggers) replying ‘whoop,whoop’, just behind us. We managed  a bottle of wine every night to get to sleep, as there were feet padding around outside and there were no windows, just nets , and the lights went out at 10.30.We had guides each day, and opened the windows of the Nissan, to take piccies. ,carefully, to avoid tsetse fly, who seemed to arrive at 30mph provoking panic. (n.b. avoid dense bush, and the wearing of blue/black clothes).We didn’t want to leave, and t’was a 12 hour drive back, with the first 50 miles or so on dirt tracks ,avoiding the ‘never ending road’,so named, and now the quickest route,to Irringa. .                                                                      

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

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

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

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

At the Caving Conference in Kendal  I spotted the Speleo Club of Berlin’s stall and bought a copy of the report.. Tanzania 19994-2000,with a nice discount for a Mangapwani   postcard. Thus…….

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pango Ya Kivuli  Jambiani.(east coast).car track to the north leads 2km to water tank. cave entrance20 mtre south of the car track,250mtre to east of water tank  .doline leads down  one side to 1.5metre high,7 metre wide entrance.35 degree slope down to10 metre by 4mtre wide     deep water pool. Abri-formed ceiling covers a room 20x8 mtres wide.

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

All references by Speleo club Berlin, Tanzania 1994-2000. thanks and  acknowledments.

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

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

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

Pete Rose.


The BEC in Daren Cilau 2004

By Mark ‘Gonzo’ Lumley

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

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

Hard Rock Cafe, pushing the choke beyond 12 o' Clock High (Chokes Away) for about 10 ft. This is a strategically magnificent site, being perched above the San Augustin streamway just before it terminates, tantalizingly close to the terminal sump in Agen Allwedd. Found originally by Peter Bolt and Nick Wall the site has been dug over the years by many of the Hard Rock regulars and extended by about 50 ft along the right hand wall of a strongly draughting boulder choke. Next camp we were joined by Henry Bennett, NikNak ( Wessex) and Charles Bailey and Adrian Fawcett ( Chelsea). An extension of about 15 ft was gained. Unfortunately the site degenerated once again into an unstable choke requiring drill, bang and spare pants! Work continues.

On the next 2 day camp Gonzo, Charles and Adrian revisited Chokes Away and then started digging beneath the north wall (see attached drawing)  of the low section of the Oregano trail, just before climbing up into  12 o' Clock High (a site pointed out by Phil on the previous camp). A  low, wide passage was revealed with a promising draught and pushed for  about 6 ft. The passage is almost completely packed with sand and  fallen blocks of roof (reminiscent of the dig through Acupuncture  passage, for any veteran Daren diggers reading this!). Since then we have returned for a 48 hour and then a 72 hour camp and extended the dig to about 30 ft.

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

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

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

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


Mel-low digs and Russian Woman Hands.

By Richard Long

The lure of the digging session has never been very high on my agenda as far as caving goes. I had a few moments of madness in America, brought on by spicy food, huge amounts of Mexican beer and Chivas Regal. Although, I soon came to my senses when I got back on the Hill.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, we dig when we feel like it, no mad rush; it’s been there for a while, its mellow, and really relaxed. Gradually, the hole gets bigger, deeper, just Jake and me, more and more draught, now we can see little formations and the start of a phreatic tube. We are really excited. Soon Mad Phil returns from Austria, where he has been with HARDCORE Russian cavers. So for the next few days we all speak in very bad Russian accents, this is grown men, sad or what?

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

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

I’m almost hooked.

Nurse, bring the medication, QUICK!!!



Loxton Sand Quarry Caves

By Nick Harding & Nick Richards

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

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

Site 1. The main cave

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

Site 2.

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

Site 3. The badger hole cave

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

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

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

Site 4. The truncated chamber

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

Site 5.

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


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



Loxton Sand Quarry Cave – and it’s environs

The Two Nicks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We widened what turned out to be a bisected chamber back filled with a good deal of spoil. This was subsequently removed (to an extent – the lazy genes kicked in along with the ancient call of the pint) to where it connected with the rest of the system down slope. We called this the Cave of Emus – (absolutely no idea why – it just sounded silly and was therefore fully justifiable).   At the base of the Cave of Emus was a small rounded ‘room’ called Aunty’s Chamber and this too connected, in a semi-roundabout sort of way, with the rest of the small system. At the base were other tight little holes in which hands and arms were thrust in best veterinarian manner but alas, to no avail.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Club Rules

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


If you are interested please contact Tyrone Bevan:

Dates for your Diary

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


Don Coase

It is with extreme regret that we must announce the death of Don Coase which occurred on Friday January 31st 1958 following an operation.  To his wife Clare and his small son we offer our deepest sympathy

The passing of Don Coase represents a great loss, not only to his family and friends, but to the club as a whole and the entire caving world.

Don joined the B.E.C. in 1946, after an active career with the now disbanded Bridgwater Caving Club, and at once became one of our club’s most active members.  In June, 1947, he became the first man to dive the sump in Stoke Lane Slocker, and thus discovered the large system beyond.

An enthusiastic club member, he played a major part in the erection of the original Belfry; becoming the first club member to sleep there.  He became its first Hut Warden until his work took him to London.

In spite of the distance, his interest in caving remained as great as ever.  He organized, with John Shorthose, a B.E.C. London Section which became very active and continued the work in Stoke Lane, the survey of which was largely carried out by Don.  A draughtsman by profession, his surveying work was always of a very high order.  In addition to his work with the London Section, he took every available opportunity to visit caving areas, and many of us will remember ‘Rasputin’, his motorcycle, on which he travelled a remarkable number of miles.

About this time, he became interested in the Cave Diving Group and rapidly became one of its most skilled divers.  In 1949, he discovered, with Bill Mack, the Water Passage at the far end of Peak Cavern in Derbyshire.  He was also well known for his diving work in Wookey Hole, in connection with the Somerset Section of the Cave Diving Group.  Other cave discoveries included that of Llethrid Cave, South Wales, in 1949.

Although he preferred the practical side of caving, he could always be relied on to help out with the organization of the club and thus in 1951 and 1952, he became Editor of the Belfry Bulletin, jointly with John Shorthose.  In 1953, married and back again in Bristol, he became Caving Secretary.

It is difficult to think of any branch of caving in which he did not actively participate.  A keen photographer, he was author of the chapter on cave photography in 'British Caving', which was sponsored by the Cave Research Group, in which he also took an interest.  As Caving Secretary, he helped to construct much new tackle, including the hand climbing line or ‘Knobbly Dog’.  He took an active part in the Mendip rescue Organisation being a Warden and was elected a Registrar of the Mendip Cave Registry.

In 1953, be began his last and greatest piece of cave exploration in St. Cuthbert’s Swallet and devoted hundreds of hours leading its exploration, surveying, photographing and erecting permanent tackle in the cave.  He collaborated in writing the first report of this work, and has been working and writing on this cave ever since.  At the time of his death, he was interested in the problems of water flow in the cave system.

While in no way minimising the teamwork which has gone on into many of these projects, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the club owes a great deal of its present position to the leadership, work and enthusiasm of Don Coase.  He will be greatly missed.


The news of the death of Don Coase arrived after this B.B. had been, stencilled.  We scrapped pages one and two as a result.  We are sure that readers will forgive the appearance of the B.B. under the circumstances.  A few of the notices and other items may be able to be squeezed in somewhere.  There may be a lack of joining of this new page 2 with the original page 3.  Again we apologise and will try to straighten out matters in our next issue.


Water Temperatures

A further letter has been received on this subject:-

The testing of Thermistors involves the continuous and accurate measurement of temperatures, so if anyone wants any thermometers checked against certificated standards, we will be pleased to do it.

Secondly, I have a thermometer reading to 1OC, which I will lend on indefinite loan to a responsible person.

Back in 1950, I wrote a report on a Hermiston combined thermometer-hygrometer.  This was designed for normal atmospheric observations. With a little thought and redesign, it could probably be made to cover the ranges 7.5 to 12.5 degrees C, and 95 to 100% relative humidity.

As you will realize, this will be a piece of electrical equipment and will be rather delicate and will require a water proof container.  I can probably find a meter and all the other gear, but what I need to know before I go ahead is, would such a piece of equipment be useful, and would the ranges suggested above the best?  If not, can you tell me what you want?  To complete the picture, the meter I have in mind has 50 divisions which would enable you to read temperatures of air or water to 0.1OC and relative humidity to 0.1%.  I hope this information can be of use.


Thanks for the offer and information, Sett.  Dealing with the first two points, Mervyn Hannam has calibrated and given Norman two thermometers, so we will keep your offer open until they have been broken.

The combined thermometer-hygrometer sounds a very useful bit of apparatus and we will certainly take you up on this one, providing it can be made reasonably robust.  You know the kind of treatment it would be liable to! As to scales, I would suggest a slightly wider range for humidity; say from 90 to 100 percent.

The only snag is that the readings would not cover the range of temperatures and humidities at or near the surface.  These could be taken with ordinary instruments.  The advantage with this combined instrument would be if the detector element was separated form the meter.  One of the disadvantages of a sling physcometer is that, when you stop whirling it to take a reading, the wet bulb temperature alters quite quickly and may give rise to a false reading.  The same thing applies to a lesser extent when removing a thermometer from a stream to make a reading.

D.A. Coase


Johnny Ifold, our Librarian, got up and complained, quite rightly at the A.G.M., that we never seem to be able to get a list of new publications in the club library.  This is the latest list received from Johnny: -

Speleon.  Volume 7. Numbers 1, 2, 3 & 4.
Cave Science.  Volume 4.  Number 28.
British Caver.  Volume 29.
Speleolog.  Volume 4.  Numbers 3 and 4.
The Speleologist.
N.S.S. News.  Volume 15.  Numbers 9, 10 and 11.
Mountaineering.  Volume 3.  Number 2.
                        South Wales Caving Club.  No. 21.  November 1957.
                        Cave and Crag Club.  Volume 6.  No. 4. November 1957
                        Oread Mountaineering Club.  Vol. 5.  No. 1. November 1957.

The Dinner

The Eighth Annual Dinner of the Bristol Exploration Club was held at the Cliff hotel, Cheddar.  This year, being sober all the evening, I was actually able to observe the proceedings - a thing which has not previously been possible, and I came to the conclusion that, in the time-honoured manner, a good time was had by all.

After a preliminary canter round the hotel bars, we got down to dinner itself.  The food was adequate and promptly served.  The after dinner speeches were enlivened by a very fair mannequin display, organised by Kangy (Hartnell) King, in which Gaff Fowler came on in a boiler suit of incredible whiteness, and other costumes for the coming season on Mendip were also displayed.  The company were most impressed by the summer layabout outfit modelled by Russ, who seemed to have a natural flair for the part.  The Hunter’s drinking suit we much admired, and looks like being in great demand.  The gaunt figure who entered later demonstrated the latest bathing wear.  Dress conscious cavers will note that only one caving boot is being worn with the swimming costume this year.

The entire show was recorded for posterity by one Cecil B. de Price helped by his assistant, J Arthur Rees who took a genuine H certificate type film of the show.  Mr. Ellis, proposing the toast of ‘Absent Friends', read out a letter from Tony Rich, explaining that he was now down to ‘A moose or two’, and this was followed by a Spelaeode from Alfie, which I think was a new one.  The company then made their way to the bar next door.

Soon a skiffle school, two sing songs, and various groups of blokes conversing arose.  At one stage, Dan Hasell called for hush and made a speech of thanks to Bob Bagshaw.  We all drunk his health and gave him three cheers.

A goodly selection of old timers were present.  I can't name them all, as I can’t remember some and don't know others, but Postle and Dizzie were present, Jonah drove all the way down from Newcastle, and of course Dan Hasell was there wearing his chain and badge of office.  I noticed that no note was passed to Dan this year and that the Hasell waistcoat, although startling, was eclipsed by that worn by Roger Stenner.

A good dinner on the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

       (Name supplied)

Last month, we published an account of a trip to South Wales to vist O.F.D.  We now have an account of the same trip by another of the people who took part.  We thought it would be a good idea to print this one now, to see if their stories tally!

Caving in South Wales

While at the South Wales Caving Club’s dinner in Cardiff, I was able to meet the secretary, Mr. David Jenkins. As a result, he gave permission at very short notice, for a party of B.E.C. members, not exceeding 6, to stay at their headquarters and arranged to find a leader to take us to see some of Ogof Ffynon Ddu.

Daphne and I thus arrived at the S.W.C.C. cottage on the evening of Friday, 29th November after a pleasant ride from Cardiff. After a delay because of fog, the a delay while a few pieces which had been mysteriously knocked off the Velo, were brazed back on, Norman Petty arrived with Russell Jenkins (complete with a bag of corned beef sandwiches) and only 14 hours late.  Had not the driver been Norman (No-prang-since-1950) Petty, the appearance of the Velo may have led the observer to believe that the machine had been laid down, perhaps after cornering too fast on a bald front tyre.

After an evening at the Gwyn, during which Russell tried with no success to give away some of his corned beef sandwiches, a rather chilly night was spent in the S.W.C.C. visitors cottage.

Next day, Bill Little and a friend took Norman, Russell (with his corned beef sandwiches) and myself into the cave.  Bill gave us an extremely interesting running commentary complete with any relevant history or anecdote, while we went through the entrance series to the stream, up into the escape route, through the Rawl Series, up the Waterfall series to the Crystal pool Chamber where a maypole party was just packing up.  After helping to get the gear out of the series, we met another party that had just been doing some work in the Boulder Chamber.  A new series now leads off bypassing the collapse under Starlight Chamber, and several hundred feet of passage, with three sumps large enough for divers, have been found so far.  That day a new extension had been found to go back to with an arms length of a point where Dai Hunt and Peter Harvey had given up digging five years ago.  The trip ended with a pleasant paddle back down the stream passage.

After an autopsy by Bill Little with the help of the survey, Norman and Russell (with a battered packet of corned beef sandwiches) left for Bristol while Daphne and I went back to Cardiff after a very pleasant weekend.

Roger Stenner

A Technical Survey of Current Methods of Mining Tin in Cornwall

by P.M. Blogg

I had to call it that because I thought it stood a better chance of being printed, but a better title would be: -

Four Men in the Cart

Or possibly, “Not me…….I did the washing up yesterday.”

On Friday, 2nd August 1957 four distinguished idiots with the best of intentions and the least of money, set forth from Bristol to explore the Cornish tin mines.  On Saturday, 17th August – 15 days, 1,000 miles, 40 gallons and innumerable pints later, they returned not one scrap wiser.

Before leaving, knowing that we would be using (in the main) ex-W.D. tinned food, I asked if anyone had thought of bringing a tin opener.  Yes, we were all right.  Spike had one, Gaff had one and Sago (who tells us that he has been caught before) had several.

We drove overnight to Penhale Sands near Newquay and arrived about 2.30 to spend the night.  We chose a likely spot and were just thinking of getting out when two gentlemen in khaki suits, wearing boots and carrying loaded sten guns, ran towards us shouting.  We left.  It appears that the army runs a holiday camp there.

Before passing on next day we visited the lost church of St. Piraws.  We got lost. Whilst deciding on the way out, it was agreed to have breakfast.  The cookers were prepared and it only remained to bring out the tin openers and get cracking.  We had breakfast in a café.

That afternoon we drove to Coverack determined to relax for a day or so before starting on the serious side of our trip.  Suitable accommodation had to be found, and it was to that end that we enquired at a garage.  This garage was undoubtedly the most dirty, broken down collection of wooden huts ever thrown up at any roadside by anyone anywhere.  The owner, a middle aged chap of about ninety five, grudgingly gave us fuel and even more grudgingly, our change.  It was in such an attempt to see what held the roof of this poverty stricken service station off the ground that Gaff and Spike tripped over the two most immaculate and highly polished Rolls Royce’s that they could ever wish to see. The owner told us that he only kept the big one ‘to take his wife to market’.  He said that Roils had offered him £4,000 for her.  We said that we felt that this was a fair price for his wife.

We were recommended to a Mr. Mason.  ‘First on the right at the bottom of the hill.’  The hill descends almost vertically for about five hundred feet and ends in the sea.  There were no turnings left or right.  Mr. Mason was eventually found, and we enquired after barns, stables, outhouses, sheds, haystacks, silos, pigsties etc.  Mr. Mason was pessimistic.  He had nothing fit for human habitation.  We explained that we were hardly human and could thus dispense with this proviso and at length, and with profuse apologies, he showed us his 'Old Barn'.

We thought that we knew all about barns, but this one was admittedly unusual.  For a start it had a telephone.  It also had electric light (with switch), a radio (working) an electric kettle (serviceable) and running water (cold) (very!).

It was one evening there that we decided to go into a nearby village for a drink.  This village was about two miles cross country and about nine by road.  There was a well marked track on the map, and we agreed to use this.  The start of this track gave us no trouble (except to courting couples who didn’t see the joke) and the first half mile of moor land was simple and the track easy to follow.  It was when the M.T. disappeared into a clump of bushes, that we had our first clue that all was not well.  Sago had the map and said it showed quite clearly that we were going in such and such a direction with relation to a set of radio masts which we could see to our front.

Very slow progress was made over rough ground when Spike suddenly staggered us with one of those cool, clear headed, far seeing, all embracing yet concise statements for which he will one day be famous.  He reckoned that we were lost.  I agreed with him.  Gaff and Sago agreed to the extent that we didn't know where we were (which was something) but pinned their faith on those radio masts, so clear for all to see. However, it seems that the Air Ministry, with a complete disregard for our well-being, had erected an identical set of masts directly behind us.  We admitted defeat and retraced our tracks back to the road.

It was that evening that we were defeated at our own game.  It happened this way.  Sago was buying the beer (surely this is a mistake? - Editor) and noticed on the landlord's shoulder what at first sight appeared to be a grasshopper.  About two inches long; it was coloured dull green and seemed to move about.  It was so lifelike that it was obviously a rubber imitation.  The temptation was too great.

 “Excuse me, I hope you don't mind me asking but what's that on your shoulder?"

The answer, in a patronizing tone, “A grasshopper, sir,” caught us all on the wrong foot.  Sago quickly replied, “Oh yes.  I forgot it was Tuesday (it wasn’t) and the damage was done.

The weather was set so fine, and the forecast so sure that we should have rainstorms, hail, sleet, thunder and perhaps snow on high ground, that we decided to camp.  I use the royal 'we', actually they decided. We set the site near St. Just amongst the surface buildings of the disused Levant mine.  We were in what a camper would refer to as a sheltered spot, protected from the rough sea winds by nothing whatever.

On the door of the old engine house was a notice “The property of the Cornish Engines Preservation Society,” and a note to the effect that the key could be obtained at Truro.  The door finished about a foot clear of the ground and about a ton of boulders had been piled in to fill the gap.  Truro seemed a long way off and so in no time at all we had an entrance three feet wide, one foot high and extremely wet.

The beam engine was small by Cornish standards, though its beam was about twenty feet long.  It was of traditional Cornish design, with the valve gear operated by the beam.  The boiler was housed in a separate building which is not now standing.  The beam was pivoted in the middle, one end being connected to the proverbial wheel (about fifteen feet in diameter) which drives the winding gear and can be slowed adown and perhaps stopped by large planks of wood which bear on the rim.  This engine is in an excellent state of preservation and well worth a visit.

One bright evening, after we'd had a few pints for supper, we were returning to the camp when a car closed up behind the Rover, and doubtless presuming we were locals and hence knew the road, drove on sidelights about 3 inches away.  As it happened, we didn’t know the road and after crossing two halt signs at high speed, turned a nasty bend without slackening the pace. We never saw our companion again. This corner was later named ‘Rhubarb Bend.’  It is a galloping bend which tightened up on the way round and just where the average goon would run out of roads is a patch of Rhubarb.  Good solid local stuff about eight feet high with enormous leaves.

It was at this stage that Sago took over the moral leadership of the party.  We had, in his view, come over to see a tin mine and here we were camped next to one and doing nothing.  He was going to see about getting us down.  Usual method.  Ask at the local garage.  Yes, the tin mine was working.  All the men were on holiday and we would have no trouble getting down with the maintenance teams.  All we would have to do would be to see the Underground Manage who drinks at the North Inn and all would be well.

We find the pub, buy beer, and survey the situation.  On the mantelpiece is a lump of rock.  We examine it and Sir Mortimer Fowler tells us that it is a common sample of the tetragonal prisms of Cossilerite, with the terminal pyramids complete, in a schist of ferruginous silica.

A worried little man in the corner corrects him.

 “No, no zur.  That be a lump of tin ore what we mine down yer.”

 “Oh, yes,” say sago.  “We know. We’re going down the mine tomorrow.”

And here we must leave them for now.  Will they get down the tin mine?  Will they heck!  We will continue this next month. – Ed.


To Beryl and Pat Ifold, a daughter at last!  LORNA JANE. Weight 7lbs, 1½oz.  Height 21”.  Born Saturday, 18th January.


Do Not Miss an illustrated talk by Oliver C. Lloyd   U.B.S.S.

Thursday, 20th February ’58 at 7.30PM

St Mary Redcliffe Church Hall


Editor: S.J. Collins, 1 Kensington Place, Clifton, Bristol 8
Secretary: R.J. Bagshaw, 56 Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol 4
Printers and Distributors: C. Rees, 2 Burghill Road, Westbury-on-Trym
: (new address will be published shortly)
R.J. Price: 70 Somermead Road, Bedminster, Bristol 3
Miss J. Rollason: 157 Pen Park Road, Southmead, Bristol


The Mendip Cave Registry

For some time now, a group of cavers drawn from nearly all the clubs concerned with caving in the Mendip area have been engaged in compiling a Register of information on all Mendip caves.   Members of the B.E.C. are helping with this work, which has now reached the stage at which the officers of the Registry feel that its existence and aims should be brought to the notice of many Mendip cavers as possible.  We feel we can assist by publishing the whole of a recent circular written by the Chairman of the Registry.  This follows below: -

“The desirability of having a central source of information on Mendip caves has become increasingly apparent over the last few years.  It is probably true to say that as much information is being lost to the caving world as is being gained by new exploration.  Some pioneer cavers of the early days of the century have left us, taking with them much useful knowledge and who knows how much information is locked up in the personal diaries of eminent cavers of yesterday?

Several individuals have thought of, or even tried to produce, a complete record of Mendip cave information; but it was not until 1956 that representatives of most of the Mendip caving clubs met to consider setting up a registry. The result of this first meeting was the Mendip Cave Registry.

Since 1956, its officers have met on 17 occasions and have, after a considerable spate of debate and experiment evolved a system which it is hoped dill serve the needs of the¬ Registry for many years to com.

It was recognised at an early stage that the Register must be easily accessible to the caving public and arrangements have been made for it to be permanently available at the Wells County Library and at the Central reference Library, Bristol. It will take the form of a twin lock binder and will no doubt in time, develop into more than one volume.  The Register is based on the 2½ Ordnance Survey maps, and each map will be divided into four quarters; each quarter sheet will form a division of the register, and the information appertaining to each map section will follow the map.

The work of preparing the register will never be complete while cave exploration continues and publications are produced.  It is also inevitable the registrars will miss some references and information may be incomplete in other ways, but the object of preserving information that might otherwise be lost, and of making available to cavers a more complete record of information that at present exists, will certainly be achieved.

The volume of initial work is tremendous and it is bound to be some time before the Registers are placed in the Libraries.  There is already a very keen and hard working team, but the more help forthcoming, the quicker will be the Registry’s progress.  If any reader is willing to offer help whether financial, clerical, or in active research, he or she should write to the Chairman: Mr. Howard Kenny, Tudor Cottage, Beryl Lane, Wells, Somerset

If any club members want to know more about the Registry, the club has two members on its Governing Body, M. Hannam and A. Collins.



At 14.30hrs on Saturday, 29th March, Miss Daphne Anne Collistep Clague was married to Roger Stenner. The Bride, who wore a traditional white wedding dress of sort of lacy stuff, looked well and quite composed. The bridegroom has cleaned his shoes for the occasion and was dissuaded from wearing a striking M.R.A. uniform hat by his determined parents.  The wedding guests were numerous and of three types; relations, college friends and the B.E.C.  At the extremely amiable reception, after innumerable toasts, college friends and the B.E.C. found much in common, more particularly as the college friends were well flavoured and very feminine young women!  The evening ended at approximately 2030hrs as Daphne ands Roger left.

R.S. King

Club Library

The following books and publications are now in the club Library: -

The Caves of Mendip by N. Barrington
Sandstone Climbs in South West England.
The River Scenery of the House of the Vale of Neath
C.R.G. Occasional Publications No.1.  The International Expedition to Gouffre Berger.
Axbridge Caving Club Journal, Volume 1. No. 3
One Thousand Metres Down by Jean Cadoux

March Committee Meeting

The March Committee Meeting was attended by the whole of the committee.  Amongst matters dealt with were the new club duplicator, the provision of mains water and the new Belfry, the club Lantern and Slides, certificates for Honorary Life Members, the state of the club tackle, improvements to the Belfry kitchen, suggestions for a suitable memorial to Don Coase and the appointment of a new M.R.O. representative.  R.S. King was co-opted on to the committee as Climbing Secretary.

Caving Log for March 1958

March 1st:          Swildon’s.  Leader Marriott

                          G.B.  Leader Alfie (Photographic)

                          Cuthbert’s.  Leader Prew (Trip to sump)

March 2nd:          Eastwater.  Leader Roger Burky (Beecham Series)

March 8th:          Eastwater.  Leader Mike Wheadon (Ifold Series)

                          Goatchurch.  Leader Roger Burky

                          Sidcot.  Leader Roger Burky

March 9th:          Lamb Leer.  Leader Roger Burky

March 16th:         Cuthbert’s.  Leader Kangy (Maypole Series survey)

                          Swildon’s.  Leader Prew (Top Series)

March 23rd:         Swildon’s.  Leader Mike Wheadon (To Sump 1)

                          Cuthbert’s.  Leader Kangy (Maypole Series survey)

                          Great Oone’s Hole.  Leader Prew

                          Goatchurch.  Leader Norman Petty (Photographic)

March 30th:         Cuckoo Cleeves.  Leader Roger Burky

                          August Hole.  Leader Ken Dawes (S.M.C.C.)

As will be seen from the above, it has been decided to print a list of trips as entered in the caving log in the B.B. each month.  This will be followed by special articles on any of the trips, as in the past; or extracts from the log where the trips are of unusual interest.  In cases where the leader of a trip is not mentioned, the person who wrote the trip up in the log will be taken to have led the trip.


This month, all the trips were routine type trips, the only unusual occurrence being the remark made by Norman Petty after leading the Goatchurch trip on the 23rd.  He was heard to state that in his opinion, Goatchurch was more dangerous than Cuthbert’s.

In Search Of Snow

It is sad to note that, although some parts of the country had some of the heaviest falls of snow since 1947, none of it fell where it would be most appreciated.  In the first two months of this year, the climbing section made three trips to North Wales in search of snow conditions and drew a blank every time.

The first trip was made on January 18th, in a luxurious hired vehicle and a motorcycle.  The Saturday was so very wet that shopping at Arvon’s in Bethesda seemed the only worthwhile thing to do.  That particular weekend, England was playing Wales at rugby so the next call was at Llangollen where we bought a pint and asked to watch the match on telewele.  No telewele. It was the same at the Brittannia (authentic spelling) The Victoria and the George.  So with no telewele to watch, but with four pints of excuse apiece inside us, we headed back to the hills and a wireless set.  That evening we met in the Bryn Tyrch.

Sunday dawned more reasonably.  Overcast still but snow had fallen; enough to make things look pretty and ruin the roads for driving.  After a brisk walk round, we left early to get clear of the snow bound roads by nightfall. Even so, the motorcycle took 3½ hours to reach Shrewsbury, normally a two hour run.

The next trip was planned for mid February, when we could most expect snow.  Meanwhile we had heard that snow had fallen in the right place on January 23rd.  Some of this lasted until Saturday, but the only good snow was found in Cwm Glaswyn, making gullies on the north face of Yr Wyddfa possible.  By Sunday, the thaw removed even this.

On the 14th February, two new Ford Consuls, with a compliment of twelve, headed for the Promised Land.  Some promise! The only reason why anyone at all went above a thousand feet on Sunday was because Roy and Joan Bennett left early to walk on the Glyders.  Despite protests, Johnny Attwood insisted on dragging us through very heavy rain on an alternative route to the Glyders because ‘The two B’s were out in it.’ The two B’s (an apt appellation this time!) were not ‘out in it’ but by this time had returned without our knowing and were warmly reading in the car.  Our alternative route to the Glyders led us into Cwm Idwal, where we photographed remarkable line squalls blown across Llyn Idwal by eighty to a hundred mile an hour gusts of wind.  Then into the Nameless Cwm where we found one gully with the remains of a fine cornice at its head.  A ceremonial line of steps was kicked up this, and we headed splish-splash for Isaf, Mrs. Griffiths ands the Bryn Tyrch.  Sunday started with a remarkable sunrise and continued with unremarkable trips round Snowdon.

Acting on a hunch (and with ulterior motives) Mossman and King packed crampons, axes, many changes of jerseys, trousers and anoraks and mentally prepared for the unforeseen hazards, drove to North Wales on the 1st March.  Again, snow had fallen during the week and what remained, though only enough to outline the crests of the mountains and cwms, enhanced our appreciation of familiar scenery.

Saturday was bright and dry, with a strong wind which moved loose low cloud formations through the valleys and around the peaks.  No snow, but who cared?  We went to Snowdon and followed the Pyg Track to the foot of Crib Goch where we veered right and followed an interesting path rounding the Red Ridge into Cwm Glas to the foot of the Crib Goch buttress.  Reade’s route was dry.  This route contains a step across, rather like Knight’s Climb at Cheddar, with the added attraction of a rather steep wall with a variety of small holds on it.  At one point it was discovered that one can employ a hold previously un-encountered, this was provisionally named a ‘Right Buttock Hold.’  After this climb, we made a circular tour of our route by climbing Crip-y-Ddsgl and walking back down the Pyg Track.  Evening – Bryn Tyrch for beer and friends.

No one really believed Sunday.  A high bright blue sky with a slight breeze of sufficient strength just to move little wisps of cotton wool cloud along the slopes.  We breakfasted hurriedly.  Fragile feelings were dispelled with aspirin and we set out for a perfect days climbing in glorious weather.  After King and Ulterior Motive  had reached the summit of Craig Yr Isfa by climbing the nine hundred feet of Amphitheatre Buttress, low cloud form the sea could be seen pouring over Pen Yr Olwen and Daffyd to disperse in shreds over Ogwen.  A mist form in the Amphitheatre and suddenly a Broken Spectre with its attendant circular rainbow appeared.

A slow walk back via Afon Llugwy gave us marvellous views of the beautiful cloudscapes and made us quite forget that once again we had not taken our snow and ice equipment from the car.


A Cave at Newton Abbot

The cave is located six feet above the ground level in the of a disused quarry off the Totnes road about one mile from Newton Abbott.  It seems to have been start of a fair sized chamber broken into by quarrying, running in level for about twenty four feet before beginning to rise at thirty degrees or so in a due south direction.

At about sixty feet in, at section ‘f’ a smaller passage runs off downwards at the side of the main passage.  From this, narrow passages drop down on the right following the bedding plane which is at about sixty degrees in a south east direction.  The most likely looking is at 'fa 3' which can be seen to drop about fifteen feet, and almost certainly continues beyond this.  Unfortunately its position, angle and smoothness made it a more than one man job to investigate at the time.  At section ‘c’, a passage runs off to the left, but seems likely to connect back to the quarry lace.  It seems unlikely that the choke at ‘h’ would be worth following up, as it must be getting fairly close to the surface.  I have found one or two other possible holes while I have been down here, but the people I’ve nattered to don’t seem to want to get on close terms with ‘orrid ‘oles.

Ken Dobbs

Editor’s Note.    Most of our readers will remember Ken Dobbs, but for our newer member’s benefit, Ken played a very active part in B.E.C. affairs before he went to live and work in Devon.  Amongst other jobs, new cave which we reproduce below.

Life in Canada

Being extracts from letters written by Tony Rich to Roger Stenner.

Tony Rich asked me to get a B.B. article from his letters to me, and as last month’s B.B. suggested some letters from foreign parts might be of interest, here goes!

Arriving in Vancouver in August, three B.E.C. members, Rich, Lamb and Jenkins, found work out of the question and crossed the Rockies to Calgary – a 29 hour coach journey.  With only 25 to 30 dollars left, things looked grim, but Tony Rich was able to enquire about guitars.

Meeting a man from Kingswood in charge of the only garage in Calgary (a huge place) Tony got a job as a motorcycle mechanic, but was soon promoted to Deputy Sales Manage – they didn’t trust him with the Harley-Davidsons!  The family were they had their digs took them to Banff National Park in the Rockies – a fabulous place where one can walk up to bear and buffalo etc., if one so desires; swim in the hot pools at 80 to 88 degrees F in the open air and small the sulphur – sorry, sulphur.

Tony was then offered promotion to Sales Manage if he would stay on permanently, but refusing to do this, he was put out of work again.  With things again very black, he bought three long playing records and mailed them to me to keep for him.  Money has very loose connections with Mr. Rich!

Soon work came from the Frontier Geophysical Limited, an oil prospecting firm.  In this kind of work, any, including Tony Rich, are expected to do a bit of all kinds of things such as truck driving, surveying, manual work of various kinds, and work in connection with life in the backwoods. Tony was almost at once shifted 120 miles north at 24 hours notice (with an extra five dollars a day for inconvenience) for a rush job working twelve hours a day seven days a week.  Tony had to drive a truck all the way, although he had no licence.

Hard working usually breeds hard living, and Tony can tell many humorous stories as a result.  Rival crews, for instance, lined up in the main street of Ponoka for a real set to, with a very cut gentleman about seven feet tall emerging to make peace, all because of a dance hall incident.

Everything is closed on Sundays, but at a minute past midnight everything opens again!

The weather is fantastic at times.  At one stage, the temperature varied between 14 degrees of frost, with snow at 8 am and 80OF at midday.  This was in September.  By January, the temperature was fairly steady at about 30 degrees below zero.  Drilling 300 feet deep holes, 4½ inches diameter needs plenty of water for lubrication and drivers are supposed to drive as fast as possible between the hole and the nearest lake.  Turning on narrow roads is done simply by reversing fast into the ditches bordering the roads.  Drivers not driving as fast as the rest of the crew (who take hair raising risks) are invited to leave.

In February, the party Tony works with was moved right into the bush from Drayton Valley - and there were moose and caribou in Drayton Valley - further into the foothills of the Rockies, with linx added to the fauna.  The advance party, with Tony, arrived at midnight with the temperature thirty below and with no fuel.  His mattress froze to the bed, and in the morning he spent an hour under the truck with a propane lamp before gearbox could be operated.

The party was hit by bad luck.  Thirty thousand dollars worth of drilling rig burnt out, the centre cog of the crew, the operator, was gassed by carbon monoxide.  Tony crashed a truck, the seismograph failed to work, the cook left and accidents with a drill lost a fifteen thousand dollar contract.

Life in the bush means that the money piles up, and Tony has bought himself a complete set of photographic gear as a result.  Although many things do not appeal to Tony in Canada – he gets tired of being above ground, he likes the life, and claims it has made him very fit.

R. Stenner

Ten Years Ago (or nearly so!)

Having a bit of spare space in the B.B., we thought it would be a good idea to print a short extract from the B.B. of April 1948 – ten years ago, but we found that in fact, no B.B. was published for that month.  Here is an extract from the B.B. for March 1949, by Pongo, who thought that the description of the Natterer’s bat in ‘British Bats’ by Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald was quite applicable to the inhabitants of the Belfry.

“The Natterer has much hair on its face.  It goes into caves for hibernation at the end of September and does not resume activities until the end of March.  There is no segregation of the sexes during hibernation.  The Natterer is very gregarious and sociable, living in large colonies.  It is little affected by the weather, though it dislikes a cold east wind.  The time of its evening flight is very variable. There is much squeaking before emergence.”

Climbing Notes

The loose rock on the pinnacle of Knight’s climb in Cheddar Gorge has become even more unstable since the winter through frost action.  Climbers are recommended to climb the pinnacle from the cleft, taking the inside wall or the pinnacle instead of it’s shattered outside edge.  This will help to keep bits of Cheddar from dropping onto the weegies.

In North Wales, Mr. Williams of Gwern-y-gof-Isar has banned the Wallasey shower from his farm.

The bunkhouse at Gwern-y-gof-Isar needs to be booked well in advance and is 2/- per person per night. Barns and camping are 1/-.  The bunkhouse at Mrs. Jones, Blaen-y-Nant, is available again and seems to be easily booked.

Climbing Secretary.

Climbing Books

These climbing books were missed out of the January B.B. in error.  Our apologies to the climbing fraternity, who will find them below. They were sent to us by the Caving Secretary.

“Selected climbs in the range of Mont Blanc

By E.A. Wrangham, George Allen and Unwin, 216 pages (18/-). Contains descriptions with diagrams over a hundred routes.  This is the first Alpine Guide to be published in English since 1910 and if it sells well, others will be forthcoming.

“Mountain Rescue Handbook.”

Is a must for mountaineers and can be obtained from the Secretary of the Mountain Rescue Council, Hill House, Cheadle Hulme, Stockport, Cheshire.  Price 1/- post free or at a reduced price for larger orders.


The price of the B.M.C. magazine is now 2/- and can be obtained from Mr. A. Coates, Greystead, Milespit Hill, London, NW7.  Copies of this are in the club library.


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



It is some time since we made any mention of further improvements or alterations to the Belfry bulletin.  It is a sobering (horrid expression, that!) thought that about one in five of the present members of the club were not around before the present Editorial Board took over the management of the club’s magazine, and these people do not remember any of the features of the B.B. of old.  One of these features which we should like to see re-instated is the occasional page of cartoons which older hands will remember as ‘Half Pint’s Page,’ conducted many moons ago by Johnny Dwyer.  We hope to persuade someone to have ago now and then.

Another idea which we are toying with has been requested by several members who are not on Mendip often, or who are temporarily in exile in furrin parts.  This is a regular short column of a ‘personal’ type, giving news of members who are away or who we don’t see very often.  This seams a reasonable idea, but we don’t know whether we should get enough ‘gen’ to keep such a column going.  If any readers feel that this, or any other scheme, is a good idea; we should like to hear from them.


Annual Subscriptions

The Hon. Treasurer would like to remind members who nave not yet paid their subs that these are due. Why not surprise him and pay now?

Changes of Address

Ian Dear is now at: - 70 Redferne, Portland, Dorset

Dave England is now at: - 28b Mendip Road, Bedminster, Bristol 3

New Members

We should like to welcome the following new members: -

392       M.J. Baker, St. Paul’s College, Cheltenham, Glos.
393       J.R. Brown, 13 Alexandra Road, Bath, Somerset
394       Miss V.A. Hudson, 71 Hill View, Henleaze, Bristol

Annual General Meeting and Dinner

A resolution was passed at the last Annual General Meeting recommending that the date of the A.G.M. be changed to some other part of the year when travel arrangements are less likely to be disorganised by weather conditions.  The early part of October has been suggested.  We should like to appeal to all members who hold strong views on this subject to write to the Hon. secretary saying: -

a.                  When they would prefer the A.G.M. to be held yearly in the future.

b.                  When they would prefer the Annual Dinner, if this is to be held separately.

Monthly Film Show.

The next show or slides to be held as part of the winter programme at Redcliffe Hall will be on the 27th of March, and will be on the subject of: -


The talk and slides will be given by Frank  Farley.

Free Beer

Members of the B.E.C. are invited to assist in the consumption of a nine gallon barrel of beer and a cake to celebrate the forthcoming wedding of Roger Stenner and Daphne Clague.  This will be in the Caver’s room at the Hunters Lodge, which has been booked for the evening as a private room for the 22nd of March.  Members should form an orderly queue outside the door at 7 pm.

Library Books

In order to assist in the preparation of an up-to-date list of books in the club library, members are requested to return all books in their possession as soon as they have finished reading them.

Club Officers for 1958.

These are as follow: -

Hon. Secretary and Treasurer

Caving Secretary

Climbing Secretary

Hut Warden and Editor, B.B.

Tackle Officer

Committee Chairman

Belfry Engineer and Assistant Hut Warden

Assistant Librarian and B.B. Board Member

Hon. Librarian

Board Member

Board Member

R.J. Bagshaw

M. Hannam

R.S. King (Kangy) (Co-opted)

A. Collins

N. Petty

R.A. Setterington

B. Prewer

D. England

J. Ifold *

R.J. Rice

Miss Rollason *

(Members with asterisk are not on the club committee)

Extract from the Axbridge Journal. Vol. 2  No. 2  September 1954.

In Henry VIII’s reign, a lead tablet was found at Wookey Hole thought to be one of two commemorating a Roman victory over some Mendippers called ‘Cangi.’  Mr Balch regards them as native Bronze Age stock.

Long years ago, the Roman cads
Did battle with the Mendip lads
And down at Wookey Hole did knock
For six, the native Bronze Age stock.
And when they thought the Cangi dead
They took a whacking lump of lead
(Or maybe two) and promptly wrote
A rather boastful sort of note.

It’s fifteen hundred years or more
Since Roman legions left our shore
The Goths soon pranged the Roman mob
And Vandals finished off the job.
But all the time, the Cangi still
Inhabited the Mendip hill
And thus the modern Kangy may
Be seen upon the hill today.

So after all is said and done
It can’t be said the Romans won!

Letters to the Editor

To the Editor of the Belfry Bulletin

Dear Sir,

In a recent issue of the Belfry Bulletin, you published a list of additions to the club library but all these were club periodicals and in my opinion, a list such as this is of little practical value.  The library is one of the assets of the club, so would it not be possible for the Librarian to prepare an up-to-date and preferably classified list of the contents of the club Library and for this to be published as a supplement to the B.B. before it is out of date?  Periodicals that are received regularly by the club could be given in the catalogue by their title, name of the issuing club, and the date of the earliest number held, e.g.; The Belfry Bulletin (Bristol Exploration Club) Monthly, from No. 123 (April 1958).  It would thus be unnecessary to publish a list of every number received, only of new books, occasional papers and of periodicals that are no longer received, with the date of the last number.  It should not be impossible for you to finds room in the B.B. to publish a shortened list such as this, every one or two months.

Yours, etc.

                        Bryan M. Ellis

Editor’s Note.    This has been taken up by the Committee and an effort will be made to provide such a list.


To the Editor of the B.B.

I should like, if I may, to be allowed a little of your valuable space to express some thanks publicly.

Recently I was required to make a fairly heavy contribution to some favourite charity of the Oswestry Magistrates, for passing through their territory too quickly.  My companions on this climbing trip to North wales; Messrs Mossman, Bonner, Chamberlain, Marriot, Iles and Jenkins voluntarily and generously shared this expense between them.

                                                            Thank you


To the Editor of the Belfry Bulletin

Dear Sir

The recent work on water temperatures by Don Coase, Paul Burt and Norman Petty provides invaluable evidence towards identifying the Plantation Stream in Cuthbert’s Cave. However, I would suggest that a lack of knowledge about the degree of variation in temperature due to changes in cave configuration and evaporation rates renders this method somewhat unreliable at present.

For anyone prepared to undertake it (not me!) a study of factors governing changes of temperature in cave water would surely be a useful and original piece of work for its own sake. Results of this study may lead to a real appraisal of the reliability of the method of stream tracing.

I am at present in a position to carry out quantitative analysis of chlorine, hardness and total alkalinity etc. on water samples and shall be pleased to undertake this job for anyone working on cave water problems.

M.J. Hannam

Editor’s Note.    I have also heard from ‘Digger’ Harris that Prof. Palmer has details of some methods of water tracing which may be of interest to those engaged in this work.

Continuing our Sordid Saga of the Cornish Tin Miness

Four Men in the Cart

From this point, the conversation went something as follows: -

Worried Little Man: “You’ll not get down.”  ( North Country Accent).

Sago: “Oh, Yes we will!”

W.L.M.: “I say you'll not get down.”

Sago: “Oh, Yes we will!  All we have to do is to see the Underground Manage, tell him the tale, and he’ll take us down like a shot.”

W.L.M.  "I still say you’ll not get down.”

Sago: "It's as good as arranged.  You don’t know what you're talking about!”

Worried Little Man drinks up beer and goes.

Friendly Type approaches and says, “You shouldn't have said that you know.”

Sago: “Why not?”

F.T.: “That was the Underground manager.”

We left.

That night, we had rain, storms, hail, sleet, thunder and for all I know snow on high ground.  We curse all weather forecasters as being an incompetent shower of morons.

Some days later, we decided to take a river trip in the mouth of the Helford River.  A craft was hired and we boarded by means of a floating jetty.  At least, it probably would have floated when unladen, but with five men and a boy on it, it was clearly not equal to the job.  Gaff and Sago had their cameras with them and I therefore include the following notes for anyone who takes a photograph on the seas. It appears that cameras which can be thrown, dropped, battered, bent, have cups of tea poured over them and be exposed to sandstorms will just not work if they think they are in a boat. It also appears that exposure meters will never work again of they so much as hear of the mention of ‘boat’. These items one therefore puts in a polythene bag, wrapped in oilskin, coiled in a towel and packed in an anorak until needed for use.

When the great moment arrives, the cameras are produced and the person steering the boat has a problem. He must not put the bow into the tide nor, of course, the stern.  If he gets broadside on, that is the death of all cameras within a thirty mile radius. The boat is held steady but the composition is not right.  From the description they give of the picture they want, the best place is about thirty feet above the rocky outcrop.  You give up.

At this stage, to complete the morning's entertainment, the propeller is fouled by some weeds.  Spike immediately diagnoses the trouble, and because ‘he knows about boats’ and because nobody else wanted to get wet, he hung over the blunt end to free the screw.  We learn that even with the gears in neutral, the screw still turns at fair speed.  Spike withdrew his battered hand to tell us of this.

The return trip was made in three stages. Cornwall – Hartland – Belfry.  (Not a word to Alfie – we ‘forgot’ to mention that we stayed the night in the Belfry). We had a lengthy trip around Bideford to find a Simonds House.  Experience has shown that the local beers are all right for shaving in, boiling telephones, cleaning cars and removing wallpaper, but they should not be drunk.

From all this you might think, serious minded types that you are, that the whole trip was a waste of time. You are probably quite right, but I know three other members who won’t agree with you.

P.M. Blogg

Adventure in Portugal

In August 1957, Nick Barrington travelled to Portugal with a research expedition to visit a little known limestone area.  He has sent us the following account….

Spinnlng in space is a weird sensation.  Here was I being lowered on a rope down a sheer drop in the great cave of Moinhos Velhos - the largest underground system so far discovered in the country.  As the chamber started spinning at an alarming rate, my thoughts flashed back to the preparations of last year.

The original idea had been to carry out exploration of some of the lesser known Czechoslovakian caves. The idea soon caught on and an advertisement in Sennet – the University of London newspaper – and in the New Scientist produced a well balanced team.

Troglodyte Nyte, an all night skiffle dance held in Chiselhurst Caves was organised to raise funds.  About seven hundred people were expected, but by midnight over sixteen hundred had paid for admission, press included!  We certainly earned our money, for only six Elsans had been ordered, so a shuttle service had to be run!

Owing, to the political situation, an alternative plan to Czechoslovakia was then sought, and after research at the Royal Geographical Society, our destination was changed to Minde, in Central Portugal.

A thirty one seater Bedford bus was bought with the earnings of of Troglodyte Nyte and immediately called Lillian – she was a beauty!  A scientific programme of work was evolved and an application for recognition by the Royal Society proved successful – the only caving expedition ever to have received such support to date.  In addition, the expedition, now formally called The University of London Speleological Expedition to Portugal, was also recognised by Portuguese scientific bodies.

July was a hectic period. Examinations played havoc, and we had the job of crating some four tons of equipment.  The last person to join the expedition did so only three weeks before our departure.

August 2nd dawned bright and clear.  On arrival at Dover, we presented our sheaf of documents, only to be told that our CD3 Bank of England Exploration Order was for racing motorists and the spare parts of their cars. Poor Lillian – she did not quite come up to this standard.

Arriving after midnight at Boulogne, we drove until 6 am when we had an offside rear tyre burst.  After seven hours delay, this was repaired and we motored south through France to Biarritz where two further tyres blew out on the hot road and we were stranded.  It was our good fortune that we should be within two miles of the British Consulate General and by the camping site of Chambre d’Amour.

A telephone call to Dunlop in Birmingham brought speedy assistance, and with four new rear tyres we reached our destination one day late.

On arrival, we were nearly arrested on the spot for bringing forty guns into the country.  This, we later found out was their misunderstanding of the word karabiner.  They thought we each had two carbines.  Another link in Anglo-Portuguese history had been forged.

At Mira d’Aire we were officially welcomed.  Instead of camping on a mountainside and carrying water long distances, we pitched our tents on the football ground.  Like lightning, village officials organised tables, electric light and a supply of water (scarce in this district) was piped form a nearby cave. Our hydrologist’s first job was testing it.  Coming direct from a cave he found no mosquito larva or sea monsters present.

Members of the Geological Service, Portuguese Speleological Group and Ministry of Interior and Mines came and camped with us helping in many ways with our basic work and exploration. Our tents were pitched within a few hundred yards of the largest Portuguese cave, in which we were destined to spend over a week of exploration and research.

A complete and accurate survey of the main gallery was produced and a close study of water and air flow in the caves gave us the key to the unusual annual flooding of the valley floor.

In addition to Moinhos Velhos, we made a detailed survey of two other large caves – Pena and Contenda. Our two geologists managed to make a comprehensive geological map of the area which helped us greatly with the geomorphology of the caves.

On conclusions of our time at Mira d’Aire, we went to Lisbon.  We stayed in the four roomed flat of two of our new-found friends, and it was quite a sight to on Sunday morning to see forty of us in their fifth storey flat! We returned to this country after our stay in Lisbon, having taken part in an interesting and profitable expedition.

North Wales

A party of B.E.C. types left the Centre at 7.30 one Friday, bound for North Wales.

We hired a Vanguard shooting brake and everything was going smoothly until about 11 o’clock that night, then it happened.  Fut, Fut….then silence!

We were between Shrewsbury and Llangollen, so we started pushing to the next garage, which was only half a mile down the road.  It proved impossible to wake the owner, even with the help of his Alsatian, so we started pushing again.

Eventually we arrived at another garage, also shut, and decided to wait until the morning.  Some bods slept in the brake, but it was not until 11.30 that it banged (literally) into life.  Bills were paid and thanks tendered and we were on our way again. After only two more stops, one for dinner and the other unprintable, we passed the farm and motored on down to Milestone Buttress.

The evening was spent at Mrs. Griffiths for supper and the Bryn Tyrk for liquid refreshment.  Next morning, we all left for Carneddan. After a little toil up the mountain, Totty and Maurice decided to walk around the top while the rest of us descended to the base of Craig Yr Isfa, where we ascended the Amphitheatre Buttress. The latter proved to be a pleasant hard diff.  Some of the holds of which had been polished over the ages.

We departed and arrived at Mrs. Williams just as dusk was falling.  We all packed up and piled into the brake and left at about six o’clock.  The trip home was uneventful except for the odd half hour spent in changing the near side rear tyre after a puncture.  We arrived back in Bristol about 11.30 on Sunday night after a nice weekend trip.

Russell Jenkins


We are pleased to announce that at last we have got a new duplicator for the Belfry bulletin.  This is the first number to be printed by it, and we hope that it will lead to clearer copies in the future.


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



This is going to be very brief note this month.  In fact, in the ordinary course of events, there would have been no editorial at all – there being nothing to comment on but seeing that we only have one article to print this month perhaps this will not come amiss.

As we stated when we took over this job, if we got a shortage of articles and contributions, we would just press on by ourselves.  This has occurred this month, and the following B.B. is the result. This is just a gentle hint.


April Committee Meeting

Owing to the unavoidable absence of the Hon. Sec., no new members were admitted to the club. Business dealt with included the decision to sell the old duplicator, the purchase of some wood from the Shepton Mallet Caving Club for the new Belfry kitchen renovations, an approach to be made to the National Smelting Co. about the possibility of getting some slag for the approach to the Belfry, the construction of some more standard ladders for club use, and the provision of a suitable memorial for Don Coase.

Disciplinary action was taken by the committee against those taking part on a Swildons trip on the 21st February.  A letter of apology has been sent by the Caving Secretary to the M.R.O.

Annual Subs.

The Hon. Sec. wishes to remind all members that their subs should now be in.  For the paltry sum of 12/6 you can remain a member of this club for a whole year!  Life Membership, at five guineas (note the high class currency used) is also getting popular.

Coach Trip to Clovelly

We now have a club member who is a fully qualified coach driver!  Any club members and/or friends interested in a coach trip to Clovelly, returning via Lynmouth and West Somerset coast road on Whit Sunday please contract Alfie.  There are about 20 spares seats.  Coach will pick up and return to various points in Bristol and also at the Belfry by request.  The fare will be 19/6, and the driver will be the inimitable Dave Hunt.

Climbing Guide.

A new publication, Climbing Guide to Dartmoor and South West Devon, has been received from the Royal Naval Ski M.C. and is now in the club library.

This guide contains descriptions of climbs on the Dewar stone rocks, 8 miles from Plymouth, Sheep's Tor, Vixen Tor, Morwell Rocks, Hay Tor group and other Tors on Dartmoor.  A visit to these cliffs makes an interesting weekend.  The guide is 8/- per copy and may be obtained direct from the printers:-

Holbrook and Son Ltd., 154-5 Queen St., Portsmouth.

Change of Address

R.J. Bagshaw, our Hon. Sec., will be moving in mid May.  His address will be: -

699 Wells Road, Bristol 4

Summer Holidays

Ian would like to know if any other members were interested in a Youth Hostel tour of North West Scotland towards the end of June.  Write to Ian Dear, 78 Reforne, Portland, Dorset.

Annual General Meeting and Dinner

Since no replies were received in answer to the request in the last B.B., the committee have decided that these shall in future be held on the FIRST SATURDAY IN OCTOBER each year. The next one will be this coming October.  Details will be announced later.


A 10 inch long playing record will shortly be made of the second, third, fourth and fifth of these poems. These are tales of the bloke who put carbide in his beer, the digging machine, the type who made artificial stalactites and the tale of the bloke who found caving dead easy.  It is also hoped to include Oliver Lloyd giving some of his songs to guitar accompaniment.  The records people want an idea of the number of copies that are likely to be sold, so if you want one – the price will be about 25/- - please get in touch with Alfie. It will probably not be possible to re-order once the first lot have been sold.

B.E.C. Abroad

News of some of our roving members.

DENNIS KEMP left London airport on Friday 11th of April, bound for Karachi.  He is one quarter of a British four man expedition who are going out there to climb the Biafo Glacier in the Karakoram range in North Pakistan, and from thence climb and survey any likely looking peak.  Before leaving, Dennis said that he intended keeping his eyes open for caves in any of the limestone regions through which he passes, so there is a possibility of a B.E.C. caving trip in the Himalayas at some time in the future. Better start saving now!

TOM FLETCHER, who came home from Tanganyika early last June for a spell of leave, and promptly went off on a Greenland Expedition, has now returned to Africa.  As he was only in the country for about a week before sailing to tropical lands once more, we were unable to take him on a long promised trip to the bottom of Cuthbert’s.  How about a write up on the arctic trip Tom?

ANGUS and MAGGIE INNES, whom older club members will remember, and who left about two years ago to travel round the world on a motorbike, are now in New Zealand.  We have no details of how they managed to run the bike over all that water!

Rumour hath it that JOHN LAMB will be returning soon from Canada.  TONY RICH is in regular contact with several members, and we should have some more news soon.

We should like to thank the members who have supplied the above information.

Caving Log

5th April         Goatchurch and Rod’s Pot.  Leader ‘Mo’
7th April         Cuthbert’s – trip to sump.  Leader ‘Mo’
13th April       Vole Hole.  Sinking of third shaft begun.  Alfie and Jill.
                     Cuthbert’s.  Maypole Survey.  Survey taken out of Maypole Series
                     and through to Upper Traverse Chamber.  Leader R. King.
                     Swildon’s Four.  Leader Ken Dawe (S.M.C.C.)
                     Cuthbert’s.  Maypole survey completed.  Leader R. King
19th April       Vole Hole.  Shaft No. 2. Alfie and Jill
20th April       Cuckoo Cleeves.  Leader Mike Wheadon
26th April       Cuthbert’s.  Photography and dig at first chain.

Exploring By Camera

..... or how not to take pictures round corners, by Alfie.

I have often wondered whether it would be possible to push a camera round the odd corner in a cave which is too small for the human bod (especially mine!) to wriggle round, and when the film is developed – revealing no doubt some huge chamber richly encrusted with formations, it would then be a worth while matter to call in fuor Price to blast a way in.

On the face of it, the thing looked easy, so easy in fact that I have been tempted to try it. First, a peculiar device was constructed, consisting of a lot of assorted bits of steel rod, with adjustable joints here and there; a clamp for the camera and flashgun, and a whacking long lead for firing the bulb when the crucial moment arrived.

The next stage was to choose some suitable cave where there was an ‘orrid ‘ole too small to admit the human frame.  Luckily my partner in crime on this expedition knew of a cave in the Bristol area which would fill the bill, so without further ado we sallied forth.

The camera was set up on the end of the aforementioned system of rods and joints, the shutter opened, and the camera slowly worked into the ‘orrid ‘ole by the aid of a very dim light.  At once snag number one became apparent.  The ‘orrid '’le, too small to admit the human frame as promised, was also too small to admit the camera and flashgun assembly as mounted.  The camera was slowly pulled back again while two brains worked at high pressure to find solution to this baffling problem.  At last it came!  Like all great inventions, this one was simple.  We turned the camera through a right angle on its clamp and it now went through easily.

Snag Number two, which consisted of the question of what direction to point the camera in when we had. got it round the corner, was partly solved by the solution to Snag No.1. We could only push the wretched thing in one way anyhow.  This we did, and when we found that it was swinging free in space the other side of the ‘orrid ‘ole, we solved the rest of the problem by the simple expedient of ignoring it and just applying an electrical contact to the end of the cable. This should, of course, have caused the flashbulb to ignite.  The camera was slowly pulled back to see what had gone wrong with the bulb.  A loose connection was quickly diagnosed and the camera slowly lowered once more into the ‘orrid ‘ole.

In order to understand the cause of the next accident, it is necessary to describe the way an electrical connection was made at the operator's end of the cable.  This consisted of touching two wires together which had been carefully kept apart while the camera was being slowly lowered in.  As a result of the use of this ingenious method, the bulb fired this time when the camera was being slowly lowered in.  Once again, we were back to square one.

After many such amusing incidents, an exposure was finally made, and Jill and Myself waited impatiently for the thing to come back from Kodak’s.  Imaging our surprise when we found that a correct exposure had resulted! Admittedly, it only showed a rock face very much out of focus over most of the area of the frame, but it's the principle of the thing that counts!

Seriously though, we have found that it is possible to estimate the distance away of objects by noting the focus, and on one side of the frame is a definite indication of a way on. We think the method may be of use, and have learnt a lot, the hard way, about the design of means of holding and moving the camera.

Editor's Note  (same bloke as Author)

After having written the above, Kangy gave me a cutting from the Times of April 21st.  It refers to the exploration of unopened tombs by Italian archaeologists by a similar method.  A small hole is first drilled in the top, and the equipment is lowered in.

Cooking For Cavers

With the recent introduction of more and better cooking facilities at the Belfry, it is now possible for the inhabitants to enjoy a more varied and interesting diet.  With this in mind, we publish a short selection of recipes from that interesting and unusual book, “Cooking for Cavers”, shortly to be offered for sale to the public at a fantastic price.

Baked Beans a la Hobbs.


1 tin Baked Beans
1 bottle Coate’s Triple Vintage Cider.


Stagger from bed.  Cast bleary eye round kitchen.  Locate ingredients.  Imbibe sufficient liquid from bottle to find tin opener.  Open tin.  Imbibe more liquid to fortify constitution.  Wait until floor becomes steady before lighting gas.  Catch sight of beans.  Close eyes, grope for bottle.  Swallow. Repeat as necessary.  Turn beans out carefully into a saucepan.  Finish bottle to settle stomach.  Throw beans into rubbish bin.

Shepton Tea.  (This is suitable for Belfry residents only.)


1 motorcycle
1 Thirst
1 Idle Nature


Start motorcycle and allow to warm gently.  Add pillion passenger to taste.  Travel at moderate rate to the Shepton Hut.  Supervise tea making, beating where necessary.

Cuthbert’s Surprise


6 assorted tins of feeod.


Remove labels and shuffle tins.  Select three tins at random.  Open and pour contents into a saucepan.  Bring to boil and serve.

By following this recipe, it is possible to enjoy an interesting variety of dishes, many of the combinations being refreshingly novel.

On no account should a tin of Carbide be included in this recipe.

Policeman’s Lot


1 Coke Stove
Parafin to light
Any breakfast materials


Pour paraffin into frying pan and light stove by sliding under coke.  When coke has caught, remove frying pan, add cooking fat to taste and place pan on cooking stove with breakfast materials. Light gas.  Dowse resulting flames with washing up water and throw burnt clothing on stove.  Replace pan on cooking stove and cook breakfast until quite black.  Remove from gas and allow to cool in pan.  Beat carbonised breakfast into fat and use to black lead stove.  Gaze hungrily at shining black coke stove and wait for Hunter’s to open.

Caving Reports

Caving Report No.3, on the Construction of Lightweight Tackle, by Bryan Ellis, will be out this month. Price will be fixed when costs of production are known.