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In last month’s B.B., a sentence in the article ‘Towards a National Council?’ caught my eye.  The author says “Perhaps the most difficult part of this matter is to produce an argument of substance against a national Council.  Should this be formed, and then followed up with affiliation to the C.N.P.R., it might mean that we poor cavers would be able to obtain grants from the state to build ourselves luxurious caving huts.”

With all respect to the author of the article in question, I suggest that it is only difficult to produce arguments against this type of thing if one sticks to a purely materialistic view.  Once this viewpoint is challenged and the outlook correspondingly shifted, counter arguments can be produced thick and fast.  Here are a few samples….

Firstly, all arguments in favour of a National Council which are based on some form of increased efficiency such as better dissemination of scientific data; national availability of scientific experts and other forms of increased efficiency presuppose that it is a good thing for caving to be run the same way as an efficient factory or scientific institution.  The thing that seems to be in danger of being forgotten is that caving is a PASSTIME – not a vital part of the export drive.  Ask yourself a moment.  Would you really like it if all the problems connected with caving were solved or within sight of solution?  If, for example, a foolproof cave locating machine were developed so that there could never be any more speculation as to whether a particular dig might ‘go’?  If such a powerful amount of scientific push had been brought to bear that there were no worthwhile questions left to ask? If communications: tackle: lighting: clothing: diving equipment etc. were all completely perfected?  If surveying, photography etc. had been so well developed that these processes had been reduced to a completely routine following of instructions?  The worker in leaves does so primarily for his own amusement and a drive to work him out of a job might be fun while it lasted, but what then?

Secondly, all arguments based on the provision of bigger and better huts; government subsidies and helping hands of one sort or another presuppose that rich clubs are better than poorer ones.  If we must generalise here, the reverse is probably nearer the truth.  Any club which is spoon fed soon loses its initiative and becomes mentally fat and indolent.  Clubs need a certain amount of difficulties to overcome.  If one grants the ‘luxurious caving huts’ mentioned by the author, one must suppose that the inhabitants are much too comfortable to do any actual caving from them.  The alternative seems to be the erection of vast caving barracks, full of brainwashed, regimented cavers.

Lastly – as I feel this should be kept reasonably short – there is no point of expanding caving just for the sake of having greater numbers of bods around.  Caving is – or was – more of a way of life and the best cavers have usually been those who have discovered the sport for themselves rather than those who have been ‘sold’ it.  Caving needs individualists and a move to turn it into a mass sport will frighten off these people into some other – less crowded – pastime, in which there is more room for them to be themselves.  This will be a great loss to caving.

To sum up.  There are those whose hobby is caving.  There are also those whose hobby is organising. The latter are, by definition, parasitic on the former since they must have a group of people to use as their ‘raw material’ for their queer hobby.  Such people will be happy organising any group of people who are weak minded enough to let them climb on their backs.  Both mice and cavers go underground at times.  Let us make sure that the resemblance goes no further.



The Royal Geographic Society are preparing a pocket size handbook by Lt. Col. J.M. Adam, R.A.M.C. This is to be published by Hodder & Stoughton at about 10/6.

The book has been prepared by medical and non-medical men with considerable expedition experience and is designed to meet the needs of expeditions out of range of medical assistance.

R.S. King.


Will all Cuthbert’s Leaders who require a key to the cave contact Dave Irwin.  His address is 9 Camden Hill Gardens, London, W.8.  This should be done as soon as possible and a ONE POUND deposit is requires for each key.  The deposit is returnable in full on return of the key.

Don’t forget the date if the A.G.M. and Annual Dinner!  These will be held as usual on the FIRST Saturday in OCTOBER (which this year is October 1st.).

Mendip Rescue Organisation

The Mendip Rescue Organisation is an ad hoc body which exists for the purpose of effecting cave rescue.  It is run by a committee of wardens, who see to the purchase and replacement of equipment, the posting of notices at cave entrances and keep lists of cavers willing and able to help.  Their main function is to operate the call out system so that a rescue may be undertaken smoothly and expeditiously.  The record for the last complete year – as published in the Hon. Secretary’s Annual Report for 1965 – shows that this is done and that is why the Organisation receives the support of cavers on Mendip, both as individuals and through their clubs.

But there is more to it than that.  Everybody who caves on Mendip is considered to be a member of the Organisation.  All are responsible for making cave rescue possible and are liable to be called for help.  This can best be done if the individuals have had some experience of rescue work and a minimal knowledge of First Aid.  To this end, the Mendip Rescue Organisation actively encourages the carrying out of rescue practices.

These are best done by a party of eight tough cavers, who normally cave together and know one another well.  Such groups are normally found within a single club, and for this reason clubs are encouraged to form such groups.  This should be done whether or not the group can be called out in such an emergency, or whether the cavers come from nearby or a distance.

The correct drill is for the group that wants a rescue practice to fix a date and time, choose a cave and subject, provide the team and let the Hon. Sec. of the M.R.O. know in plenty of time (two months is usually enough).  The Hon. Sec. will then arrange for a warden to attend the practice in the role of umpire or adviser and to bring the carrying sheet and hauling ropes and demonstrate the correct method of using them.  Ladders, lifelines and leadership should be provided by the team.

Practices on these lines have been held by the B.E.C., the U.B.S.S., the Wessex, the Axbridge, the London C.R.O., the Border and Oxford University Caving Clubs.  Others are contemplating following suit.  Everyone who has the welfare of his fellow cavers at heart is asked to try to do likewise.

The absence of the drainpipe of the Forty Foot Pitch in Swildons has created a hazard which has resulted in many cases of cavers being unable to climb.  Some of these result in M.R.O. callouts while others are managed by cavers on the spot.  It is felt that more could be done in latter way, now that the M.R.O. is keeping a pulley permanently on the iron bar in Suicide’s Leap.  The parties will need a hundred foot full weight nylon line, which they can usually provide themselves, and the ladders must be hung from new fixtures on the far side of the pot.  The iron bar must not be used for ladders.  It was put there for rescue purposes only.  Instructions on how to rig the hauling pulley have been posted in Maine’s Barn, and it is intended to leave with Mr. Maine a spare hauling ripe and carrying sheet.  If it is used, then Nr. Maine will give a standby warning to M.R.O.

O.C. Lloyd.  Hon. Sec.

Editors’ Note     The above is an extract from last years report and B.E.C. members will know that a great amount of time has been put in by club members on perfecting rescue techniques in Cuthbert’s – work which paid off when it was used on a real rescue recently.   Members may not, however, know that our Caving Secretary and Assistant, Dave Irwin and Keith Franklin have both been made Wardens of the M.R.O.  The extract from the annual report has been published in the B.B. at the request of the Hon. Sec., M.R.O. to give B.E.C. members a little more information about the M.R.O. and its activities.


Are you keeping SATURDAY OCTOBER 1ST. free (For you-know-what?)


Cave Photography [1]

From time to time, articles on Cave Photography have appeared in the B.B.  The first of these was in B.B. No. 39 for September 1950 and was for the benefit of beginners.  It was called “Starting Cave Photography” and was written by the late Don Coase, who was amongst our best cave photographers at the time.

The second article appeared in B.B. No. 69 for May 1953 and was written by “Pongo” Wallis, who was on of the first members to take up colour photography and who described some of the techniques of colour photography in caves.  The third article – again by Pongo – appeared in B.B.’s No 115 and 116 for August and September 1957 and was on Stereoscopic Photography. All these articles are still worth reading and copies of these B.B.’s are to be found in the club library.

By way of contrast, the author of this article is not in the same class today as Don and Pongo were in their day, and he has only two excuses to offer for writing on this subject at all.  One excuse is that it has, after all, been some time since a general article on cave photography appeared and things have changed quite a lot in the intervening period of time.  The other – and more pertinent reason – is that there is a temporary shortage of material for this particular B.B. as the Editor used up nearly all the stockpile last month.

The Camera

Let us start by looking at cameras.  Very few people choose a camera just for taking down caves, but some may think of buying one or moving on to a better one, with caving particularly in mind. As Don pointed out in his original article, it is possible to get very reasonable results down a cave even with a cheap camera providing it is used within its limitations.  In general, there is a vast range of cameras available today and any attempt to do a Which?” would need more space than the whole of a B.B. so a few general remarks are all that can be made.

Firstly, what size film do you want to use?  35mm is very popular and perhaps more in use than any other now.  Reels come in 20 or 36 exposures and colour slides work out about 1/- each.  The large number of exposures on one reel is useful, if a little frustrating at times. With fast black and white film using available lighting (not flashbulbs) it is possible to be extravagant with film at very little cost.  A further advantage of the 35mm size cameras is that, when taking colour, nearly all projectors will take the 2” x 2” slides which result.  On the other hand, larger sized films give better definition and have the additional advantage that, when taking colour (which is very expensive compared to 35mm!) shots can be trimmed down to 35mm size and better pictures composed by this method.

Having more or less decided what size film you are going to use, the most important consideration is the price you are going to pay for a camera.  These days, cavers are often seen with cameras which, in Don and Pongo’s day, nobody would have been able to afford, however keen they were.  You may only want to do some cave photography as a sideline and not spend too much on the camera or have lots of other things to spend the money on.  Apart from second hand cameras – which can sometimes be bought at very favourable terms – there are roughly three main price brackets.  The first are cheap cameras up to roughly £10.  Some of these are quite reasonable for cave photography as there is no point in having a complicated shutter in any case and, if a reasonably fast film is used and lens stopped down, a cheap lens can perform quite well under these circumstances.

The next price range is roughly from £10 to about £35.  For this sort of money you will get a good lens and a multispeed shutter (which you don’t really need) and some of the cheaper reflex cameras come within this range – at any rate at second hand prices.  The last category is the “sky’s the limit” and for more money you get interchangeable lenses, coupled rangefinders, pentaprisms, built in exposure meters and a host of other gadgets.

Now it happens to be an awkward fact that – if you consider a camera just for caving purposes – nobody makes anything like the ideal camera, and so any camera you choose is bound to be a compromise, unless of course you have picked it mainly with non-caving photography in mind.

The ideal caving camera would be tough, and able to stand at least the occasional knock without damage. It would have to be a good quality lens, preferably interchangeable so that a wide angle lens could be used when required.  It would be a reflex so that you could see exactly what you were going to take, even in the poor light available (many ‘ordinary’ view finders can hardly be used in caves as there is not enough light) and you would also be able to check that the scan was correctly in focus.  On the other hand, the ideal caving camera would only have a simple shutter (since really short exposure times are rarely necessary in cave photography) and would not have a built in exposure meter (apart from flash, all other lighting is far too dim to register on an exposure meter) and neither would it have any form of double exposure prevention.  Most cameras today have a single lever or button which cocks the shutter and winds on the film.  Flashguns are not always the most reliable of devices in the damp atmosphere of a cave and this means that, if the flashgun doesn’t go off, a frame of film has been wasted.

It has already been said that a camera along these lines cannot be bought and so the choice must be a personal one.  In the opinion of the writer, the best choice would include facility for changing lenses and for the camera to be a reflex.  Failing that, he would plump for a reflex with as wide an angle single non-interchangeable lens as possible, and failing that again, a camera with any good lens.  In the cheap camera category, he would go for as good a lens as possible and a robust form of camera construction. 

 (to be continued).

It is the usual practice to ask for nominations for the next year’s committee in the August B.B., but the Committee have decided this year to put this forward so as to allow plenty of time before the nominations close and the actual voting forms are prepared.

Perhaps you are completely satisfied with the committee and the way in which the club is run. Pirhaps you can’t think of anyone else you would like to see “have a go” at any of the jobs which must be carried out each year.  If you are not in this state, then it will do no harm to think of who, in your opinion, could make a useful addition to the committee next year.  Don’t forget to ask their permission before you nominate them.  When you have done this, send or give a note to Bob Bagshaw, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4, saying that you would like to nominate the following for the 1967 committee.  You may nominate as many as you wish.  By the way, you might like to be reminded that, according to the club constitution and rules YOU MAY NOT VOTE at the A.G.M. unless you are PAID UP at the time.  (Neither may you be elected to the committee).  This rule has sometimes been treated liberally inn the past, but anyone who might wish to enforce it would be within their rights, so play safe and make sure that your membership is currently paid up.



IF YOU CAN HELP to improve the Belfry facilities by lending a hand with repairing the Belfry; building the new showers etc, PLEASE get in touch with Alan Thomas at the Belfry, Club or by writing to Westhaven School, Uphill, Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset.  We have the plans passed, and the money allocated but NO OFFERS OF LABOUR.  How about it?

Future Meets.

August 6/7        South Wales. Details at club or Belfry.

August 13th.      G.B. This will NOT include the Ladder Dig Series.

August 14th.      Stoke Lane.  Meet at cave entrance 11am.

August 27/29     (Bank Holiday)  Agen Allwedd. Summertime and Southern Stream Passage. Camping.  Names of all interested to be sent to Dave Irwin, 9 Campden Hill gardens, London W.8. by August 13th in order to obtain permits.

September 18th.            G.B.  LADDER DIG SERIES.  Meet at cave entrance 11am.  This trip is limited to B.E.C. members ONLY.  Names to Dave Irwin by September 1st at the latest.

G.B. Ladder Dig Series.

A circular sent from the U.B.S.S. indicates that the L.D.S. will be open to visits from other clubs by August 31st.  The biological programme is taking longer than expected.  The circular makes special note of the immense boulder ruckle. Its nature is such that a party must be limited to 6 and it is to be made up of experienced cavers.  An interim report is expected with survey in the U.B.S.S. Proceedings (Vol 11, No 1) due out in November 1966.  Off prints will be available at low cost.  For the B.E.C. trip on September 18th, arrangements are being made to stagger parties in the cave.  Photographers will be included on the first trip.


ALAN THOMAS is joining a team from the Derbyshire area to explore a pothole in Northern Greece.  The entrance shaft is almost a thousand feet deep!    No doubt the Christmas B.B. will be a bumper number including reports from both the Austrian and Greek expeditions.  This year, members will have visited Austria, Greece, Morocco and Ireland.  Not bad for the “boozy crew!”


There have been some complaints that certain members spend a large amount of their time sitting around the Belfry stove talking about the good old days.  We never did that in the good old days!


The next edition of the British caver will be available in August 1966.  Price 10/9 from Gerard Platten, Rotherfield, New Milton, Hants. The S.M.C.C. Journal (Ser 4 No 1) June 1966 is now available and includes Bob Craig’s report of a discovery in St. Catherine’s II and B.M. Ellis’s “Some Caves of North Wales” detailing location and description of each one.  This publication is available from Bryan Ellis.


The club is now actually engaged on two digs.  Emborough Swallet and Springwood Swallet.  Anyone wishing to help, let either Dave Irwin or Alan Thomas know when they will be available.  (A chance to sunbathe too!).  M.C.G. are digging Sand Passage in August/Longwood and are also continuing their mammoth task at Blackmoor Swallet.  From all reports, this Velvet Bottom dig is quite promising.  The Wessex are working at the termination of the August Stream Passage and the U.B.S.S. have applied for permission to dig in Read’s Grotto.


The restarting of Emborough – a favourite for many years of the Editor’s – had led him to one of his (luckily now rare) outbursts of dubious rhyming….

Come on and dig in Emborough,
It’s deep, it’s wide. It’s big!
I doubt if you’ll remember a
More entertaining dig.
In August or December, a
Good dig will keep you fit.
So DIG WITH WIG in Emborough
And shovel out the grit!

…..which, on being shown to the rival dig proprietor, Alan Thomas, caused him to coin a slogan…..

“Maesbury – the YOUNG man’s dig!”


According to the signature on this letter to the Editor, we have a distinguished correspondent – who appears to be one up (as older members will remember) on His Grace the Duke of Mendip…

To the Editor, The Belfry Bulletin.

Dear Sir,

There are a number of complaints that I would like you to bring to the attention of members. First, I received no B.B. during the month of May.  This was presumably due to the gross inefficiency of the producers or distributors. I found this particular irksome as some months ago, I was asked to help staple the magazine.  If people are going to undertake a job, why can’t they do it without running to others for help?

The flush toilets at the Belfry are not yet completed.  Some time ago, I actually offered to help whilst I was waiting for my lift home (which was, of course late) and the Belfry Engineer declined my offer because it said it was not convenient.

A caving meet I attended recently left much to be desired.  The transport with which I was provided was unreliable.  We were expected to leave in the morning before I had my breakfast.  I did not like the cave we visited and I am sure that the Caving Secretary could have chosen a more interesting cave.  Also, if he had picked the weekend before, the weather would have been much better.

Why do we all have to have the same food at the Barbecue?  Surely the organisers could take orders in advance and cook people what they want?  I thought it was a good idea to have chicken this year and was able to get there early and so had three pieces, but I understand that some people who came later had none.  This was bad organising.  I must finally stress that I am only trying to offer constructive criticism in the hope that those who are supposed to be running the club may benefit.

                        Yours faithfully,
                                    St. Cuthbert.


…and a card sent to the Belfry from Alan Jackman: -

c/o M.C.U.
R.A.F. Muharraq
B.F.P.O. 63.

Dear Fellow members,

Just a few lines to say that I will be out here in Bahrain for the next two years, but hope to be back caving around May 1968.  I hope to be going on a trip to the Lebanon in about three month’s time and I would be very glad to hear from anyone in the club who has been climbing or caving there.

                        Happy Caving,
                        Alan Jackman.

…a chance for any globe-trotting members to pass on useful gen!

Whitsun in Yorkshire

by Kevin J. Barnes

The Saturday morning of Whitsun witnessed the gathering of B.E.C. members as they arose from deep slumber at the Skirwith Farm camp site.  It was such a glorious day that the party packed equipment into rucksacks and prepared to walk to Long Kin West on the South-western side of Newby Moss.

With Phil (I’ve been there before) Kingston in the lead, we set out.  Two hours later, we had not located it until Roy Bennett saw some cavers in the distance. We arrived at the hole to find a party coming out.  After some time lying in the sun, we laddered the two hundred and seventy foot pitch.

The difficulty came in deciding who should be the first to descend.  The lot finally fell to Roy, who descended followed by Phil, myself and Norman Petty – who was insistent that it was his twenty first birthday. The rest of the party acted as support group on the surface.  About seventy feet down the pitch was a ledge but the rest of the pitch – except for a minute ledge two hundred feet down – was a sheer drop.

Everyone was able to climb up easily, times ranging from eleven to fifteen minutes.  When the ladder was pulled out and laid across the Yorkshire Moors, the length of it was wonderfully impressive.

On Sunday, the Bennett’s set out for G.G. to test the Bradford Club’s winching.  The winch turned out to be the nearer to free fall than jumping off the Clifton Suspension Bridge.  The remainder, Dave Irwin, Tony Meadon, John Manchip, Phil and myself carried on to Grange Rigg.  The entrance was fairly narrow and luckily the pot was nearly dry.  The crawls were interesting, varying from flat out over large stones to a knee wrecker along the opposite ledges of a high rift – the Anemolite Crawl.  The pitches are six in all and are of fifty, ten, fifteen, thirty five, fifteen and twenty feet respectively and usually consisted of a short drop on to a ledge followed by the rest of the pitch.  We descended the last pitch and entered a chamber, but we were unable to find the terminal sump.  The trip in all took four and half hours.

The only other interesting point was the walk back.  Dave and myself walked down to Clapham and along the road, while the others went across the moor.  The former trip took three hours and is graded S.S.

Cave Photography [2]

After the article last month, I was asked by one or two members to be a little more specific about cameras.  Another members suggested that perhaps my facts were a trifle out of date and said that the camera position was better that the impression I had given.  All of this is very good, and I am sure that if other (and better!) cave photographers keep pointing out this sort of thing, we shall between us write a much more useful series of articles.

I have done quite a bit of looking up ‘gen’ on cameras since last month.  There is an enormous range and it would be quite out of the question to quote more than a few of them so I have taken some examples along the lines laid out in the previous article.  Thus, none of the cameras to be mentioned are equipped with exposure meters – these cannot register on the available lighting one has in a cave (carbide lamps etc.).

In the cheap class, the Kodak Instamatic range are simple ‘snapshots’ cameras but are useful from the caving point of view by having built in provision for ‘flashcubes’ which are assemblies of four flashbulbs with their own reflectors.  The Instamatic 104 comes for £6/12/5.  A slightly more expensive simple camera with built in flashgun is the Zeiss Ikomatic F at £10/5/6 or the Voightlander Bessy K at £14/19/4 although this is rather expensive for the type of camera. All these take Kodak quick loading cassettes, which give a slightly smaller picture than 35mm normal frame seize, being 28mm square.

For slightly more, you can still get the Werra I (now called the Werra I de Luxe).  This East German camera gives you a Tessar lens, M & M flash and built in delayed action (useful for including yourself in groups etc.) for £19/18/- the author has a Werra I for some years now and can testify that it is practically cave-proof.  It, and all the next group are 35mm cameras.  Slightly cheaper (at £13/13/11) is the Silette F which has a built in flashgun.

Apart from some recently introduced Russian cameras (the Fed is the only one actually known to the author) the cheapest cameras having interchangeable lenses is probably the Werra III de luxe at £32, although you can get a single lens reflex with interchangeable lenses cheaper than this (the Exa 1A for £22).  With a few exceptions, single lens 35mm reflex cameras with interchangeable lenses then run on to the £70 - £80 class, all of which are very good cameras (they should be at that price!).  An interesting variant from the usual run is the Exacta Varex II B which has a 26 speed shutter which can controlled exposures down to 12 secs. and has a ‘T’ setting as well as the more usual ‘B’.  Finally in the 35mm class, for the enthusiast, the fixed lens Nikonos might be worth looking at, as it is sealed against mud, sand, and is completely waterproof and guaranteed to work at any temperature between -4oF and +104oF!

Twin lens reflexes of the ‘Rollei’ type start at about £30 and go upwards.  Whatever camera you get, it is a good idea to collect as much information on the available range before making a final choice and, whenever possible, finding someone who has used the camera you have in mind – as some cameras have built in snags which are never mentioned in the advertisement blurb.  A common fault of this type is faulty flash switches and/or sticky shutters under cave conditions.

S.J. Collins.


Don’t forget that the A.G.M. and Dinner will be on Saturday 1st October.  If you are entering for Photoessay Competition – time is beginning to run out!!!

Have YOU any particular ideas you want to do at or after the Dinner this year?  Why not let a Committee member know if you have?  It’s not quite as much fun as grumbling afterwards, but much more constructive!


The Annual General Meting will be held at Redcliffe Church Hall, Guinea Street (our old club premises) at 2.30pm on Sat. 1st October.  If you are in any doubt of way, you will find a number of club members in the Waggon & Horses beforehand.

Long Term Planning.

Members will find nearly all of this B.B. taken up with a screed on whether we should think about building a permanent Belfry or not.  Sorry, but this should only happen once in a blue moon.  There is a questionnaire about this with the B.B. and the committee would be pleased if as many as possible returned this to the Hon. Sec. If you find the 4d to spare, bring it to the A.G.M.  (the questionnaire – not the 4d!).

Photoessay Competition.

Closing date for this is Thursday before the dinner (29 September).  Arrangements have been made for an independent judge to judge the entries that night.


Please see that all tackle is properly booked out and signed for on all occasions – even on rescues. It is the only way that a check can be kept on tackle, to make sure it is there when YOU want it next.

Dinner Tickets.

17/6 per head.  Apply to Bob Bagshaw, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.


Caving Meets.

October 8/9 (Please note the change of date) to O.F.D. and D.Y.O. Accommodation S.W.C.C. cottage (room for 10).

November 13th.  Lamb Leer. Meet at cave at 11am.


Permits issued to members at the start of the permit scheme are due to be renewed on the 13th of September 1966.  To assist the Hon. Sec. please write now, stating ONE of the following: -

(a)                I am under 21 (give date of birth) and am not married.

(b)                I am over 21 and have reached this age since completing a C.C.C. indemnity form.

(c)                I am over 21 and had reached this age before completing a C.C.C. indemnity writing.

Club Tent.

It has now been agreed that the rates for hire of the club tent shall be 2/- per weekend and 5/- per week.  This is for club members and is not affected by the number actually sleeping in the tent or the number of nights actually used.  In the case of weekends, it is in order to have the tent on Thursday night before the weekend.  If nobody is going to use the tent for the following weekend, it will be in order to return the tent on the next Thursday, but it must be returned before that if asked for, otherwise it will be charged for at the weekly rate.

Caving Reports.

The following reports are available from B. M. Ellis, Knockauns, Combwich, Bridgwater, Somerset.

No. 1  (Revised 1963).  Surveying in Redcliffe.              (3/-)
No. 4  Shoring of Swallet Cave Entrances.                    (2/6)
No. 5  (Revised 1966)  Headgear & lightning.                 ?
No. 6  Smaller Caves of Mendip.                                  (3/-)
No. 10  B.E.C. Method of Ladder Construction.             (3/-)
No. 11  Long Chamber/Coral area of Cuthbert’s             (3/6)

Do We Want a New Belfry?

When the stone Belfry was built, it was intended to provide changing and washing facilities for cavers – in fact Jill Tuck hoped at the time that it would become known as the Vestry. Providing some space for changing in was comparatively easy, but a number of people have looked into the washing situation (from a theoretical point of view, of course!) and the general opinion seems to be that the building is unsuitable for this purpose. Accordingly, the Belfry Engineer drew up a plan for a shower building.  This plan has been passed and the Committee have allocated the money. With any luck, this problem will then be solved.

One thing that bothered the committee at the time (apart form who was going to buy their beer) was that we ought to be careful about where we put this new building.  It will not be very big, but, given the average bad luck, it might be erected just where it got in the way of any future plan for expansion or alteration of the Belfry Site.  After some thought, it was agreed to detail a few people who were interested in the site to form a Long Term Planning Committee.

This committee soon found that they agreed on a number of things (like who was going to buy them all beer).  They thought it would be a good thing, for instance, if the car park was moved to the other side of the track, leaving the Belfry side free for any future building. It was when they started to examine schemes for this future building that some differences began to be seen.

At first, the idea was to iron out all the differences between the scheme proposed, and to present a plan to the club at the A.G.M.  However, if the club decides to take on a project of the sized involved, there will be no hope of success unless nearly every member is prepared to give it his backing.  It was thus decided to publicise the problem in the B.B., so that every member could get some idea of what might be involved before anybody actually became rash enough to suggest anything (pardon the pun) concrete.

Raising the Lolly.

Before we see how much we might be up against, let us see what we have done in the past.  The basic structure of the present Belfry cost £100 and the extension £37.  In present day terms, we can say £300 and £74 respectively.  Even so, this is a fleabite compared with the sort of money we might be talking about now.  If we had a Belfry built (without any fancy bits) it might cost somewhere in the region of £2,000 to £2,500.  We could raise this sort of money by (a) borrowing form outside sources – this would mean payment of interest, might be difficult to arrange because we are not a legally constituted body, and in any case, the money might be difficult to come by. (b)  Borrowing from members, would get rid of most of the difficulties of (a) but would take about £145 from every single member.  It would take nearly 25 years of paying this back by doubling Belfry dues.  A combination of the two increases would still take about ten years to pay it back. A third method (c) of raising the money by somehow earning it must be thrown out at once – it would be easier to build the whole thing ourselves than to try this.  There remains (d) which is to forget the whole affair.

Can we reduce this costs?

Estimates tend to vary, but if we assume a building of about 30’ x 50’ in which we do most of the preparation for foundations; build the walls; fit doors and windows and do the wiring and plumbing BUT have all the plastering carried out professionally, have the entire roof constructed for us and have a professionally laid floor, we might get a cost structure like this: -

Foundations and flooring




Doors, windows, etc.

Cement mortar (about 10 tons)

Concrete blocks

£ 150

£ 200

£ 100

£ 100

£   75

£   35

£ 130

£ 790

Which will do as an approximate estimate for the purposes of this argument?  Let’s now assume that we can expect members (or some of them) to support the effort at the rate of £10 per member, and either loan the money or put in the equivalent amount of work.  If we rate time at 10/- per hour (as a direct labour costing) we obtain….

Materials, professional labour etc @ £790

Building walls, etc.

Fitting, plumbing, wiring etc.

= 79 members @ £10

= 17 members work.

=   4 members work.

Could we do it (if we wanted to-)?

In theory, certainly we could.  In practice it would depend – as most things do – on a few key people.  Here is a suggestion of how it perhaps could be made to work.

1.                  79 members willing to loan, on a long term interest-free basis (and it would be long term!) the sum of £10 each would have to be found AND PAY UP.  The money would, of course, be refunded if it was found impossible to put the rest of the scheme into practice.

2.                  21 members would have to be found and be prepared to work.  Some enforceable method of guaranteeing that they did not go back on their word would have to be found, and the volunteers would have to agree to its inclusion in their ‘terms of contract’.

3.                  In fact, the whole job would have to be undertaken with this degree of seriousness. A Superintendent would have to be appointed, who would be responsible for organising the work force, appointing local ‘foreman,’ arranging time keeping etc.

4.                  A Planner/Purchasing Officer would also have to be found, preferably a member in the building trade, who would prepare accurate estimates, act as Purchasing Officer with the responsibility of keeping the job supplied with raw materials and arrange stage inspections with the local authorities etc.

At this stage, one imagines most readers thinking what a daft and impracticable scheme this is, and wondering if the editor is really all that short of things to put in the B.B. or whether he is enjoying wasting the club’s paper and time by flogging some weird hobby horse in public.  Before we all condemn this – or any other scheme – out of hand, let us take a look at one or two further aspects of it.

A Building rather than a Caving Club?

Fears that the work should turn the club into a building club ought to be reasonably groundless. Given good organisation – and we might as well pack up this or any similar idea straight away if we cannot set up a good organisation – we should be able to do the whole job in three to four months.  During this time, essential caving facilities would be kept going on site, but the use of facilities would be kept restricted to builders and keen cavers only.  No sightseers, idlers or layabouts.  This might actually result in an increase of caving.

In case there are visions of blokes labouring away for years. With members’ sons picking up the trowels form the faltering hands of their old fathers, let us be clear that we are not proposing to build a medieval cathedral.  The Herculean effort demanded from each of the volunteer workers only amounts to two whole weekends, one day and two evenings.  Let us try again, to let it sink in…


…which is not impossible, or even unrealistic.  The average volunteer should be able to squeeze in a little caving in during the other….


….he will NOT be working on the building during 1967.

Another objection might be that there seems to be no provision in the scheme as outlined for the club to provide any of the money.  The club will, of course, have to finance the tools – including the purchase or hire of a cement mixer, and will also probably be put to some expense in arrangements to be made during the demolition and rebuilding phase.  As for the rest, it should be possible to repay loans in five or six years if the club were prepared to put up with some of the increased charges.  If possible, these could revert back after repayment as they have done in the past. A calm look at the whole business says that it is not impracticable – providing it gets the support it needs. Schemes might be introduced in addition to provide forms of incentive for those giving time or money.

What sort of Belfry do we want?

Assuming, for a mad moment. That a permanent building is contemplated, much thought will have to be put into the actual design and construction of the building.  The size and shape must obviously be considered with costs in mind, but is must equally be realised that the actual size and shape of the building can have a great effect on those using it.  Here are a few controversial points in connection with this….

1.                  There may well be a danger in making the place too big – even if we could afford it.  A very large building might lead to an unwieldy state of affairs, or to the need for far more discipline than we need at present.  Alternatively, it may lead to the formation of splinter groups.

2.                  A separate room for serious caving studies is a temptation.  The danger of this to a separation between the more serious and more frivolous minded would be very real here.  There is a lot to be said for making people live together and put up with each other’s requirements.

3.                  There is much to be said for and against a separate kitchen.  This point needs careful thought.

4.                  Do we really want/need a women’s room?  Many caving and climbing clubs seem to manage well without one, as indeed we did many years ago.  Again, this wants thinking about.

Is it all worth it?

This is the crux of the whole affair.  Supposing that we found enough heroes/suckers to undertake this work, and enough people to finance it, is it really worth the candle?  It is perfectly possible, one assumes, to go repairing the present Belfry for ever, until eventually there is not a single piece of original wood left in the building.  For many years now, various club members have suggested a permanent club building.  It would seem that now is as good a time as any to face the problem squarely, and either get on with it or forget it.  I would further suggest that if we do decide to forget it then, unless something happens to change the situation overnight we should bury the idea for a goodly number of years.

S.J. Collins.


The following surveys are also available form Bryan Ellis (see page 2 of this B.B. for his address).

Brownes’ Hole (2/-)   Eastwater (2 sheets) (8/3)   Lamb Leer (3/4)   Pinetree Pot (3/-)   St. Cuthbert’s (plan)  (3/3)  Stoke Lane (4/3)   Goatchurch (2/6)   Holwell Cave (2/9)   Pate Hole (2/3)   Quaking House Cave (2/6)   St. Cuthbert’s (section) (2/6)   September series (1/-)   Swildons (4/3)   Caves of Cheddar Gorge (4/3)

Packing and Postage…1 sheet 1/-   2 sheets 1/6   3 – 4 sheets 2/-.

Cuthbert’s Leader’s Meeting.

The Cuthbert’s Leader’s Meeting will be held on SUNDAY 25th SEPTEMBER at the NEW INN, PRIDDY at 2.30pm. The Caving Secretary would like to see a better attendance than last year.  ALL CAVERS WELCOME – You don’t have to be a Cuthbert’s Leader.

Please make an effort to attend!

Annual Dinner.

The Eighteenth Annual Dinner of the B.E.C. will be held at the Cave Man Restaurant, Cheddar, on Saturday October 1st 1966.

Tickets at 17/6 each are obtainable from the Hon. Sec. R.J. Bagshaw, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.

Water Tracing in Cuthbert’s.

The Paper Mill have especially asked that no investigations involving the use of radioactive tracers should be employed in Cuthbert’s.

Annual General Meeting.

Of the 1966 Committee, the following have expressed their willingness to stand if elected.  R.J. Bagshaw, N. Petty, S.J. Collins, G. Tilly, A. Thomas and R. Bennett.  In accordance with the club constitution, these are automatically nominated.  It will be seen that three of the members of the 1966 committee are standing down, and this makes it all the more important that there should be a good crop of nominations.  Closing date for nominations is FOUR WEEKS before the Annual General Meeting, so doing a furious sum in my head; I make the closing date FRIDAY 2ND SEPTEMBER.  There is still time to nominate anyone who you feel would make a good committee member next year.

The 1966 Committee are sending in the following resolution to the A.G.M.: -

“That item 9 of the Club Constitution be amended as follows,

9. The membership of the Bristol Exploration Club shall be divided into six classes as under: -







Honorary Life Membership.

Life Membership.

Full Membership.

Junior Membership. (Under 18)

Joint Life Membership.

Joint Full membership.



Annual Subscription

Annual Subscription


Annual Subscription







Application for membership by persons under 21 years of age must be accompanied by written permission of parent or guardian.  Life membership may only be applied for after five consecutive years of membership. All Life Members are requested to confirm their address annually to the Hon. Secretary.

The inference of the last sentence being that the absence of an annual notification might lead to a stoppage of sending of the B.B.

Raucher Week

by Dave Irwin

By invitation of the Austrian VEREIN FUR HOLENKINDE a party 12 B.E.C. members arrived at the Ischler Hutte 10 miles east of Bad Ischl in the foothills of Totes Gebirge on the 9th of July 1966.  Later that day, a small opening ceremony took place at which we had an official speech of welcome given by the chairman, Kurt Trozel which was followed by the raising of the flag to the strains of their club song.

Sunday morning saw the start of the week’s business.  This was a series of lectures by Dr. Albert Morrokutti (of Tantalholhe fame) on caving equipment and rescue techniques.  The stretcher used in the demonstrations was a collapsible canvas bag lined with about an inch of foam rubber and laced up along one edge.  It seemed extremely warm and comfortable. The cold conditions of the Upper Austrian caves would necessitate such a piece of equipment particularly if the rescue was a prolonged affair.  The only part of the victim exposed was his face.

The B.E.C. party were given the south end of the Gross Sud Gang (Great South Passage) with two points for exploration – the Donnerschacht (Thursday Shaft) and the B.E.C. Absweigung (B.E.C. Cleft).  So, early on Monday morning the party set off for the cave with Helmuth Planner and Wolfgang Huemer.  Earlier, a sherpa party had gone in before us taking into the cave all necessary ropes and ladder.  Laden with rucksacks containing everything but the kitchen sink – including of course sleeping bags and airbeds – we scrambled in through the entrance of the cave with the thought that it was the last daylight we would see until Thursday afternoon.  From the entrance we took the normal route to the large chamber – Gigantadom (Gigantic Cathedral) through Fledermausgang (Bat Passage) to the start of the Great South Passage.  Instead of branching off into a series of muddy phreatic tubes, we continued in the ‘T’ Hall and climbed up the 22m (72’) pitch.  A much cleaner way!  After a seemingly long time, we arrived at the bivouac site and prepared our bed spaces by levelling the sloping mud floor.  It had taken over five hours to reach the bivouac site and although it was only three in the afternoon, it was time for a meal and a kip.  The party slept for nearly twelve hours and breakfast was served soon after six the next morning.  The bivouac site at times appeared like something out of a Walt Disney horror cartoon. The rocks were etched into fantastic shapes forming pendants and holes in every conceivable direction, and when lit by members of the party moving about the area, lighting effects were quite startling.

Breakfast over, the party split up into two groups, one to attempt the Donnerschacht and the other to push the B.E.C. Cleft and other passages off the Great South Passage. The shaft party (Mo Marriott, Phil Kingston, Keith Franklin, Cedric Green and Dick Wickens set off to find the shaft wet due to rain overnight.  By our standards the water was not much, consisting of a heavy drip. A lack of waterproof clothes and the thought of wearing wet clothes for several days in a temperature of about 2-3oC did not appeal, so another shaft was searched for.  Meanwhile Phil Kingston found another shaft (Disappointment Shaft – Enttauschungachacht) this being deep and muddy but fairly dry in the upper reaches.  This was descended to a ledge 15m (50’) down and another ladder lowered to a total depth of 45m (148’).  At this point, the rift descended to what the party estimated as another 100’ or more, but the lack of a suitable belay meant returning back to bivouac site for the necessary equipment.  Roy Bennett and Wolfgang Huemer again descended the pitch to the second ledge and inserted bolts for belaying purposes.  Mo Marriott descended the remaining sections of the shaft on Wednesday to a total depth of 95m (312’).  The following description is Mo’s own account.  “From the second ledge down the rift continued at an average width of about 2m until a further ledge was reached at about 18m (59’) below.  At this point a band of massive, highly fossiliferous limestone was noted.  Then followed a steeply inclined section with ill-defined ledges for about 8m and this terminated at the top of a free hanging section of about 24m (80’) to the bottom of the pot, this section of ladder ended in a small plunge pool and a small stream was noted flowing out of the back (west) wall of the rift.  In the westerly direction, the rift had closed up completely, but to the east it continued – at first horizontally, then steeply sloping over a bed of jammed boulders.  A few metres east of the plunge pool, water was descending from a shaft in the roof of the rift, and this water plus that from the west wall of the rift was seen to sink in the floor of the rift about ten metres or so from the plunge pool.  About 20m from the pool, the rift suddenly turned north.  At the intersection of the two arms, a further shaft was noted, also with water which sank immediately through the floor.  At this point, an easterly extension of the rift could be seen high up in the last mentioned shaft, but a floor level, the rift was unbroken in an easterly direction.  The northerly extension of the rift only continued for a few metres before it closed down to about 15 – 20cm.  However, it could be seen that after 2m or so it opened up again into quite a large space where the walls could not be seen.  Stones thrown through the gap appeared to drop a further 10m or so. Other things worth mentioning about this lower part are as follows.  The limestone at the bottom was quite dark in colour – in contrast to the creamy colour higher up.  All the water entering the rift appeared to sink into the floor quite rapidly, and no water was heard running in the space beyond the narrow extension of the rift. Stones dropped down the Donnerschacht were not heard from the third ledge, so this rules out a connection between the Donnerschacht and the two shafts seen entering the rift.  The Donnerschacht could connect with the space beyond the north extension, since sound would not be propagated too well through the narrow gap.  However, the absence of water – or at least the sound of it – argues against this. The laddering of the various sections was carried out without any serious difficulties, and the system was found to work quite well.  The intermittent nature of the draught (which appears to emanate from the lower region in the Donnerschacht area) was observed quite clearly during the operation. Although the findings at the bottom of the shaft were not very encouraging a second trip could be worth while for two reasons.  Firstly, the narrow section at the bottom could easily be attacked with hammer and chisel and/or explosives and secondly, a short climb in the roof just before the narrow point might bypass the squeeze altogether.  To this end, some simple climbing equipment would be necessary. The Donnerschacht itself could be descended, bearing in mind that one has about 120m to go (390’) before reaching the lowest estimated point of the other shaft system!  Also the rift-like holes on the other (east) side of the Donnerschacht have yet to be explored.”

The B.E.C. Cleft party (Dave Irwin, John Manchip, Geoff Bull, Joan Bennett and Doug Craig) first inspected a small hole near the bivouac site.  While the remainder of the party were tying the entrance of the hole in with the Austrian survey stations, Dave Irwin and Wolfgang Huemer descended a narrow rift and entered a bedding plane.  Off to the right a small tube led to a twenty foot deep shaft.  Another hole was seen on the opposite side, but maypoling equipment would have been required.  The bedding plane dropped away steeply to an 18’ deep stream passage formed mainly by phreatic water, but a small amount of vadose modification had taken place at floor level.  The passage was then followed upstream for about 200’ where it terminated  at the foot of a large shaft whose floor was strewn with boulders.  In the centre, a three foot wide and about thirty foot deep rift cut across the floor. Water was flowing at the bottom, and a heavy water drip could be heard lower in the rift.  On the opposite wall, a large passage could be seen but it was impossible to reach it without climbing aids, as the walls sloped steeply into the rift.  The survey shows the passage heading away from the known cave and should be visited. Near the shaft, short stalactites were noted – a rarity in this system.  One high level passage led upwards and connected near the head of Disappointment Shaft.  A small stream entered the passage about two thirds of the way along from a small hole on the right at the head of a mud bank.  Following downstream from the 18’ climb, the passage terminated after about 30’. On the side was another shaft – quite vadose in character – perhaps 50 to 60’ deep.  A heavy drip fell into the shaft from small tubes in the roof and would have made the descent extremely uncomfortable.  At the bottom, a rift ran in an easterly direction.  This passage was called Biwacgang (bivouac Passage).

A short shaft was descended by Don Craig near the B.E.C. Cleft and about 30’ from Gafahrerbereich, but was found to be the intersection of two rifts that closed into impassable fissures.  The westerly rift probably connects with the large side passage in the B.E.C. Cleft. This is almost certainly the upstream passage that connects with the main passage of the B.E.C. Cleft at the stream entry point, but was not laddered as it narrowed in a similar manner to the lower parts of the B.E.C. Cleft.

The next port of call was the B.E.C. Cleft itself.  This again had disappointing results.  A narrow passage ran along the main rift whose dimensions are quite impressive – about three feet wide and seventy feet deep.  A wide ledge can easily be reached with a 25’ ladder at a lower level.  All possible points were examined, but the way on was always too small to pass.  The rift is a vadose meander that could be traversed along at various levels (at two points, ladders were required for 10’ and 20’ pitches) on fairly wide ledges.  At one point, the roof was reached again, and the way on continued into a tight phreatic tube that would have been extremely difficult on the return.  The stream level was looked at and the squeeze passed, but the paths led in an upward direction to the ladder area.  The total explored depth of the B.E.C. Cleft is about 145’.

South of the B.E.C. Cleft, a large shaft was found by Don Craig.  (Brucheschacht).  Below it, a meandering rift was proved to connect orally.   The small stream in the rift was probably another that fed the B.E.C. Cleft.  The floor in this area of the Great South Passage was fractured in several places, and all seemed to interconnect.  Various other passages were inspected, but none offered any interest except two – where more than 40’ of ladder would have been required.

On our return to the surface on Thursday, we learned that Dr. Morrokutti’s party had discovered about 2km of new passage!  Herbert Franke (author of ‘Wilderness under the Earth’) was at that moment in the cave making a geological survey of the new passages. The following day (Friday) saw the party generally cleaning kit and walking on the Scheonberg.

On Saturday, several members went with Helmuth Planner into the Long Passage and the new extensions found a few days previously.  Last year’s explorers terminated at the head of two shafts, one having a depth of 222’ and the other about 80’ separated by a 3’ wide traverse across which Dr. Morrokutti’s party had to pass.  The far side of the traverse led to an ever increasing size of passage that displayed some unusual rock pendants.  These were ‘growing’ upwards on the walls and floor of the passage, some as high as 6’. A short distance beyond, a group of calcite formations were seen.  The best was a column about 15’ high with a circumference of 9’.  A long ‘Aggy’ type passage was now followed and numerous example of sponge work were to be seen,.  The rock was quite white – known as Balk.  This being fairly soft and quite recently laid down in Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.  This displayed many large fossils, hence this particular series of beds were called Mischelbalk (Mussel Limestone).  Two interesting features were noted in this passage.  First, a small flow on a wall that formed into what appeared to be collapsed calcite bubbles.  The appearance was quite metallic and silvery in colour.  The other was a group of columns that has sheared off from the roof by mud movement of over six inches.

The total depth of the Raucher is now approximately 900’ and this entire system can be bottomed with only 20’ of ladder!  Although the discoveries this year were, in the main, found by one party, there is no doubt much needs to be done and enough to keep the Austrians happy for years. One last point worth mentioning. Much less carbide was used than expected.  1lb/day had been suggested but in fact only half that quantity was used.

In conclusion, I should like to thank our Austrian friends for giving us the opportunity of joining them on their annual club meet.

N.B.  A survey of the Great South Passage and the B.E.C. survey of the new discoveries may be seen in the club library.  Scale 1:550.

Editor’s note on the above.          The taking up of practically the whole of one B.B. – kept down to a maximum of four pages for the time being owing to immediate uncertainties about the duplicator situation – is not in the normal line of B.B. construction.  However, this was the official club trip and it was felt that members might like to read about this soon after the event.  We a wait the details of Alan Thomas’s adventures in Greece!

Odd Note

Readers may remember the Thomas Effect – discovered by Alan Thomas whilst staying down St. Cuthbert’s which states that Kendal Mint Cake flashes when broken in the dark. This is due to Triboluminescence.  Other triboluminescent substances (apart from sugar) are ice, mica and some uranium salts.

Change of Hon. Sec.

As all members will know, Bob Bagshaw has retired after 15 years as Hon. Sec. of the B.E.C.  When he moved some time ago from 56 Ponsfords Road, Knowle to 699 Wells Road, Knowle, it took some of us quite a time before we had really memorised the new address.  Now we have another one which we must memorise.

Most of us have occasion to get in touch with the Hon. Sec. at least once a year and so, whilst introducing our new Hon. Sec. to you via the B.B., we are printing his address in bold type to help you (like myself) who always have difficulty in getting a new address right….

R.D. STENNER; 38 Paultrow Rd.  Victoria Park, BRISTOL 3

The Editor is sure that you will join him in welcoming Roger to this unenviable job, and will give him as much help as you can.  Best of luck, Roger!

Long Term Planning.

Those of you who were not at the A.G.M. will be interested to hear that a six man committee has been set up to prepare plans for a permanent Belfry.  The club has not yet decided to go ahead, but the committee has been given the job of preparing plans in case it does.  If YOU have any views on this matter, please get in touch with any member of the planning committee.  The address of all members of it will be printed as soon as the Editor has them.  Meanwhile, those of which he knows are…S.J. Collins, c/o “Homeleigh”, Bishop Sutton, Somerset.  P. Ifold, “Sunnyside”, Rectory Lane, Compton Martin, Somerset.  A. Thomas, Westhaven School, Uphill, Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset,.  R.S. King, 22 Parkfield Rank, Pucklechurch, Nr. Bristol…. And questionnaires form last month’s B.B. may still be sent to Bob Bagshaw, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4 or to Roger.

Annual General Meeting.

In view of the length of the notes taken from the recent A.G.M., it has been decided to print them in full in the B.B. for Christmas, rather than overload a normal size one in the meantime.  The Christmas B.B. will also contain a complete list of club officers for the year. Meanwhile some of these are to be found below…

Hon. Secretary                  R.D. STENNER

Hon. Treasurer                   R.J. BAGSHAW

Caving Secretary                R. BENNETT

Climbing secretary             E. WELCH

Tacklemaster                     N. PETTY

Hut Warden                       G. TILLY

Assistant hut Warden         D. SEARLE

Belfry Engineer                  G. DELL

Hon. Librarian                    JOAN BENNETT

The Committee have co-opted G. Dell to act as Belfry Engineer.


The M.R.O. are holding an open meeting at Priddy Village Hall on Sunday, 13th November at 2.30pm. All cavers are welcome.

Financial Statement for the Year to 31st August, 1966.

Annual Subscriptions



£137- 6- 9

Redcliffe Hall:





Less Hire

£  9-15-0

£  11-19-1


National Development Bonds

£  6-18-8



Post Office Savings Bank

£  2-  1-7

£  10-  0-3

Ties and Car badges



£    4 - 9-0

Goods for Resale:





Less Purchases

£  9-18-10

£  15-19-0

Annual Dinner:


£98-  3-  6



Less Cost

£93-  0-  0

£    5- 3- 6




£    2- 9- 6




£187- 7-  1





Belfry Expenditure



£  53-11- 6

Postages and Stationary



£    2-16- 1

Belfry Bulletin:

Covers, paper, etc.






£  57-11-10

Library Purchases



£    4-  3- 0

Public Liability Insurance



£  13-  6- 2

Tackle Insurance (two years)



£    6-  0- 0

Charterhouse Caving Committee



£    4-  0- 0

British Mountaineering Council (2 years)



£    4-  0- 0

Langdale Mountain Rescue Team



£    1-  0- 0




£  35-16- 6

First Aid Kit



£    2-13- 0




£    2-  9- 0




£187-  7- 1





Total Club monies at 31.8.65



£235- 5- 4

Less Deficit as above



£    2- 9- 6









Post office Savings Bank Account



£277- 7- 6

Less cash Overdraft



£ 44-11- 8





British Speleological Association 1966 Conference

If you are one of those who have read this notice and say “So what?” or words to that effect, we should like to point out that those few members who went to recent B.S.A. conference (and some of them went at first just out of a sense of duty) finished up by becoming very enthusiastic about it.  Nearly all agreed that it had given them new slants on caving and that those who didn’t go missed a very good thing.  We are sure that the same applies to this M.R.O. meeting, and urge all who can to attend.

A write up on the B.S.A. Conference follows……

By Eddy Welch

On September 10th – 12th, the Student’s Union Building of the University of Bristol was the scene of the annual conference of the British Speleological Association.   Subjects discussed were as diverse as recent the discoveries in Dan-Yr-Ogof and early visitors to Mendip.  Educational lectures included micro-organisms in relation to food and energy sources in caves and the water table concept in limestone.  Foreign parts were ‘visited’ with news from Australia and demonstrations on how to be got out of wet, tight spots were given in the conference swimming baths.

The conference opener, Sir John Wedgwood, stressed the fact that caving has become respectable and that we are no longer looked at as juvenile delinquents.  The extent of the growth of caving as a science and a sport is shown by the news that the Duke of Edinburgh is to be patron of the 19767 all-British expedition to the Gouffre Berger, led by D. K. Paerce.

High spots remembered included the “Burial at sea” appearance of the voluntary sump rescue victim – and the consternation of one lowered carefully into the water with the ‘open to atmosphere’ valve open!  And the reluctance of northern cavers to pay anything towards a cave, as they fear this will be the thin edge of a wedge towards higher costs of caving.

Editor’s Note:    As well as the M.R.O. meeting, we would commend to club members the special exhibition at present running at the Bristol Museum on the B.E.C.  This exhibition closes on the 29th of this month, and includes pictures of the new parts of Dan-Yr-Ogof taken by Alan Coase.  These pictures will be found in the Geology Gallery.  Why not make a trip to the museum and see what a fine club you belong to?


Firstly, from our ex-Hon. Sec

699 Wells Road

Dear Members,

Now that we have recovered somewhat from the wonderful presentations made to us at the Annual dinner, my wife and I would like to express in more coherent form our sincere appreciation.  The silver tankard will always be an appropriate and treasured reminder of my association with the club, and my wife will take great pleasure in wearing the beautiful silver broach. 

We both thank you all very much indeed

Yours sincerely,
Coral and Bob Bagshaw.


Our second letter is from that venerable (I think that’s the right word) gentlemen who seems to be taking over where ‘Stalagmite’ left off….

To the Editor, Belfry Bulletin.

Dear Sir,

I should like to pass comment on the A.G.M. that I recently attended.

First, let me say that it would have been very much better if more members had made the effort to be punctual so that the meeting could start on time.  I remember what happened last time so I waited for quarter of an hour before going round to the hall myself, and even then found that we had to wait for the quorum.

Secondly, I think that sobriety should be a minimum qualification for attendance; one member was quite clearly present in spirit only.

I was sorry I was not nominated for the Long Term Planning Committee, especially as people seemed to be nominated who were quite unknown to the rest of us (who is Pat Ifold?). I would suggest that this committee consider whether we need to have any sleeping accommodation at all.     Everyone has a car and most of the people who go caving come out for the day anyway. What we want in the Belfry are some first class changing and washing facilities and a club room where members can meet and talk.  The Belfry in its present form serves only to encourage festering.

Yours Faithfully
            St. Cuthbert’s

Well, there you are. Perhaps you agree with him. If so, or if why not write in and tell us?

Steepholm – with the Other Club

by Bob White

A tranquil sea under a pleasant sun was the setting as 19 of us cavers made the trip from Weston in a small boat, to land on the pebble beach lying under the crumbling concrete defences now with corroded shutters and rust stained, cracked wall.  The overgrown zigzag path rising steeply through the trees, reaching up to the hand-hewn sturdy barracks at the cliff top, seemed endless as we toiled upwards in the thundery atmosphere, weighed down by provisions and camp beds etc.  Shocking two old dears who were paddling on the slipway by Weston with their dresses nearly at knee-height, we had carried aboard two crates of ‘life preserver’ and now, as we struggled up the old narrow gauge railway which clings to the route of the path and had been built many years ago to carry shells and supplies to the fort, we looked forward to a handsome cup of tea at the barracks.

Standing at the very top of the sheer cliffs in the still of twilight, buffeted gently by the scented breeze – only the mournful cry of gulls marred the peace of this sanctuary (until we arrived, anyway) although when the fisherman’s cottages were used (before pollution spoilt the catch of sprats and cod off the island) and soldiers manned the many guns, the pub (which is now in complete ruins) must have seen many a jolly night similar to the Hunters.  Looking across the blue seascape, dashed here and there by white horses caught by the beams of a dying sun, there was a simple feeling of peace which made a lovely change from the more usual violent Mendip Saturday evening existence.

Late into the night we sat on the roughly made plank benches around a hot spitting wood fire in the ancient blackened chimney breast of the barracks, enjoying the warmth of the fire and beer with everyone turning in at about one o’clock.

After a late breakfast most of us, with the exception of Pam Davies (who woke to find herself complete with bed and shortie nightie on the cliff top) made our way to the shore for the ‘serious’ side of the expedition.  Unfortunately, for some time the waves crashed relentlessly against the base of the cliff and stop us from reaching these vast caverns, but eventually we decided that the tide was indeed going out and proceeded to First cave and thence to Hall cave.  Our gear consisted mainly of trunks, plimsolls and torches and one point worth noting is that salty water soon makes the scratched caver resolve to wear a boiler suit next time.  The caves are on the South to South East side of the island and have been mainly seaworn. Everyone had an enjoyable time scrambling in and out of the various holes, and a round trip was possible for smaller people between First Cave and an opening further along the cliff. Tony Philpott was first through this connecting passage which has a fair little stal. rift.

The technical side of our activities over, everyone split up (must have been rather messy – Ed) and enjoyed themselves in various parts of the fair island.  Some of us went swimming, although poor Pam once more found herself in trouble since she seemed to enjoy swimming around fully clothed! One of the other habitations of the island was a priory, which was built in the XIIIth Century, consisting of only one cell.  This old chap was unfortunately convicted of Grand Larceny and hanged.

The wild life consists mainly of various types of seagull which appear quite tame.  Several rabbits were also spotted as was a slow worm. The gulls fly to Weston on day trips and return with food to eat in peace.  The island is believed to be in the parish of St. Stephen’s – the church near the centre in Bristol – but this is not definitely known to be true.

Trips can be arranged with the consent of the Trust, who send along a representative with each party. This trip was very well organised and perhaps it would be a good idea to revive the B.E.C. trips to the island, which do not seem to have taken place for some years, providing as it does, an agreeable and worthwhile substitute for Mendip.