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The time is once more upon us we must begin to think of such things as A.G.M.s and Dinners, starting of course with nominations.  Following the custom started last year, we shall not be printing forms for nomination, since only a few are used and two hundred used to be printed.  Instead, if you have a particular person or persons in mind you would like to see stand for the 1965 committee, ascertain if they are willing to stand if elected and then write as follows: -

To R.J. Bagshaw, Hon. Sec., B.B.C. 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.

I wish to nominate…………………for the 1965 committee.  I have ascertained that he/she/they are willing to serve on the committee if elected.

………………..(Name). ………………..(Membership No.)

and send it or give it to Bob Bagshaw.  In accordance with the club constitution, members or the retiring committee who are willing to continue if elected are automatically nominated.  This year, apart from ‘Mo’ Marriott, who does not wish to stand again, all the members of the present committee are prepared to continue. There is thus no need to nominate any of the following: -

R.J. Bagshaw, S.J. Collins, N. Petty, R. Bennett, J. Ransom, G. Tilly, K. Abbey, M. Palmer.

Nominations should reach Bob as soon as possible.  Voting forms will NOT be sent with the September B.B. but will be sent by post to every single member of the club.  In case of joint members, a separate envelope will be sent to each.  A short, factual write up on all candidates will appear in the September issue of the B.B.

Practice Rescue

by Mike Palmer (Assistant Caving Sec.)

Whereas I agree with most of what ‘Mo’ says in his article, his last one paragraph prompts me into making a few suggestions that might overcome the ‘soaking’ experienced by the victim, especially if it means avoiding the wire rift.

I feel, having watched the operation at Traverse Chamber Pitch and helped in the operation at the other two pitches, that with only with a little bit of thought and engineering, the handling of the victims at these three pitches could be made a lot easier.

To outline the basic idea, a small sketch might be explanatory being most adaptable, in the main, to Traverse Chamber Pitch, shown on the next page.

No doubt the angle of the cross line would nothing like as severe as sketched, but it shows the idea. All this can be rigged up by the laddering party and the rawl bolts can be put in at any convenient date.  The idea of the rope secured at the bottom of the carrying sheet is to steady the victim on the descent and if anything were to happen to the cross line, the body would be held reasonably safely by the two ropes, one from the top and one from the bottom.

On the other two pitches, similar plans could be adopted, this time employing stemples (of Eastwater fame) or two rawlbolts with a chain slung between them.  The idea this time is to raise the hauling point above and in front of the haulers.  On Gour Passage Pitch especially, this could be of some help, because on the rescue, great difficulty was encountered due to the victim being pulled into the side of the pitch instead of up it.  Also of course, the inevitable tangle with the ladder and lifeline was experienced.

Roughly the same procedure could be applied on Pulpit Pitch, but possible first of all the amount of gear should be considered.  On the rescue much more rope and greater lengths were found to be necessary and this caused a rather long delay.    The tying of a rope to the base of the carrying sheet as shown in the sketch was used and found to be very useful in keeping the victim away from the water.

The poor victim suffered quite a lot of battering on the last two pitches, besides getting soaked, so I would think that any method that could be evolved to overcome this would be welcomed, especially by the ‘unfortunate’.

One last point I would like to add is that several other leaders considered the method practicable and possible labour saving, so I should be very interested to hear of any comments.

Odd and Ends

Solution to last month’s anagrams.  1. G.B. Cavern; 2. Lamb Leer Cavern; 3. Arête Pitch; 4. Maypole Series; 5. Saint Cuthbert’s Swallet; 6. Forty Foot Pot; 7. Badger Hole; 8. Eastwater Cavern. 9. Primrose Pot.

Overheard in the Hunters  “A caver is a member of a caving club who is not renovating an old cottage.”

Comment by Alan Thomas on returning from Swildons IV. Swildons 4, Alan Thomas 0!


Many members of club contributed recently towards a wedding present for Roger Dors and Jacky.  We have received the following letter from Roger….

108 Hampton Road,
Bristol 6.
14th August

Dear Friends,

Thorough the medium of your magazine, my wife and I would like to express a very big thank you for the generous cheque which you gave us as a wedding present.

Wishing you all continued and safe prosperity on Mendip.  Thank you again,

            Yours Faithfully, 
                        Roger Dors

Tourist Routes

by Dave Irwin

Due to the increasing dumping of carbide, handling of formations, breaking of formations in the cave etc., it has been suggested by another leader that it would be a good idea to fix standard tourist routes through the cave which would be graded to suit the party.

Before suggesting routes that I think would be suitable – to get the ball rolling – perhaps I might highlight some of the spots that have been spoiled…

1.         Base of Cascade

Could not parties be taken into Harem Passage and approach the Cascade from the Railway Tunnel and leave via the Tunnel?  Ban the climb by the Curtain.

2.         Curtain Chamber.

Isolated curtains have been broken.  The remedy is to omit Curtain Chamber completely from Tourist Trips.

3.         Boulder Chamber.

Carbide dumping goes on throughout Boulder Chamber, mostly at the foot of the climb to Annexe Chamber, alongside Quarry Corner, at the turn off to the Cascade, at Vantage Point etc.  Mostly within fifty or sixty feet of the Kanchenjunga Carbide Dump.  Has this been dumped by official parties or has it been dumped by leaderless parties entering the cave during the week by the old entrance which is not locked?

There routes are suggested. A normal route, a severe route and an intermediate route of V.Diff. standard. They are as follows: -

Normal Route

Arête, Wire Rift, Quarry Corner, Harem Passage, Rabbit Warren, Rat Run, Cerberus, Stalagmite Pitch, Duck and out via Rabbit Warren Extension.

Normal Route

Arête, Wire Rift, Quarry Corner, Harem Passage, Rabbit Warren, Duck, Stalagmite Pitch, Dining Room, Cerberus, Rat Run, Everest, Out.

V. Diff Route

Arête, Wire Rift, Quarry Corner, Harem Passage, Rabbit Warren, Rat Run, Cerberus, Stalagmite Pitch, Duck, Rabbit Warren Extension, Catgut, High Chamber, Pillar Chamber, Wire Rift, Out.

Severe Route

Arête, Pulpit or Wire Rift, Quarry Corner, Harem Passage, Rabbit Warren, Rat Run, Cerberus, Stalagmite Pitch, Duck, Rabbit Warren Extension, Catgut, High Chamber, Harem Passage, Fingers Traverse, Everest Passage, Stream passage via Bypass Passage, Water Chute etc, Out.

These routes have deliberately left out September, Coral, Curtains etc. to preserve formations and keep parties out of the potentially dangerous Coral/Long Chamber area.  What do other members feel or suggest about this subject?

Book Review.

Potholing: Under the Northern Pennines. by David Heap.  Pub. Routledge & Paul.  Price 35/-

Anyone who enjoyed the exploration cum guidebook of underground adventure will have to add this volume to his caving library.  The author, as well as having a sound knowledge of British caves, has led expeditions to Norway, the Gouffre Martel and La Grotte de la Cigalene. He describes normal caving trips to several of the more severe systems with sufficient detail to be a guidebook. Caves covered in this way include Penyghent, Lost Johns, Grange Rigg, Providence Pot to Dowe Cave, Swinsto Hole and Simpsons.

Dave Irwin

Caving Log

Edited by Barry Lane

June 1964

On the 13th of June, Andy MacGregor and Dave Smith explored a hole near the top of Upper Traverse Pitch in St. Cuthbert’s and found it to be a much quicker route to lower Traverse Chamber than via Sentry and Bypass Passage.  In Swildons on the 14th, Roger Stenner met with some trouble on the Forty, when a girl damaged an arm muscle and somehow got her boots caught up in the ladder about halfway up.  A Cambridge University lad then went up the ladder behind her, and managed to remove her boots.  The girl then came out of the cave without much fuss and without needing further assistance.

Castle Farm was dug on the 20th and 21st by Roy Bennett, the Franklins, Barry Wilton and Dave Irwin. Dave’s report states that the floor was lowered and digging was continued at the side rift at the bottom of the shaft.

On the 25th of June, Dave Irwin took a party into St. Cuthbert’s and noticed that one of the small curtains in Curtain Chamber is broken!!  This may be due to carelessness when walking to the main part of the chamber. Alan Thomas and Geoff Bull dug in Hunters Hole on the 27th.  From their report, a recent collapse on the right hand side of end of the dig reveals a solutional tube going up for about thirty feet, containing straws.  The work on Hunters Hole has recently been revived by Alan, who is showing a very great interest in it.

To give members some idea of the numbers of trips made in the month of June, the log shows Swildons – 3 trips, Hunters, - 2 trips, Castle Farm dig – 1 trip and Cuthbert’s – 14 trips. The most popular cave may easily be spotted, but not all trips are entered up in the Caving Log, so a few more can be probably added to this number.  Perhaps these trips are not entered because people think they would be of no interest in the log, but every trip is of some interest (besides being required by Club rules! – Ed.)  Another reason may be that non-Belfryites do not use the Caving Log, and I think it would be a good idea if a secondary log was kept for this purpose at Redcliffe.

July 1964

On the fourth of July, Jim Giles and party took 22 feet of maypole to Lake Chamber in St. Cuthbert’s to explore the aven above it.  The lake was found to be full.  Lengths of maypole were erected below the large aven and a climb was made to the stal. ledge which forms a false roof to the lake.  A ladder was then made fast to the next ledge and with the aid of a skilful lasso throw, this was climbed.  A further climb was then made to the top of the aven, which unfortunately closed after a short horizontal passage was followed for about ten feet.

The other aven was then tackled from the second ledge, again using lasso techniques, but this also closed. Yet another aven, much shorter than the others, was tackled, but this followed suit.  The resulting score was thus. Cuthbert’s 3, Jim Giles nil.

Hunters Hole was dug on every weekend in July, and even twice on some weekends.  Alan Thomas, who is the main force behind the dig, was helped quite a lot by members of the Westminster Speleo-Group, who between them put in quite a lot of useful work on the dig.

On the 5th of July, Ray Mansfield plus party maypoled the hole in the roof of Coral Chamber and found that it led to a tight solutional passage.  Phil Kingston and Ron drake maypoled the hole in the roof of Pillar Chamber on the 18th, and discovered that the passage led to a high rift which was climbed for thirty five feet, a bedding plane, six feet wide, then extended for four feet, when the whole thing closed down suddenly.

A bit of “Straightening out” was done in Rocky Boulder and Coral series on the 17th by several Cuthbert’s leaders.  Rocky Boulder Series was apparently conquered and everything explored to the bottom of the final chamber.  Other passages above this final chamber were examined and the confusion over “which is Annexe Chamber?” was ironed out.

Tony Meadon and Mike Luckwill had a look at some passages behind Kanchenjunga and found some very sharp and unusual calcite formation, plus a beautifully stal. encrusted area containing many crystal pools.  Tony states that this must not be used as a route to High Chamber!

 ‘Mo’ Marriott has repaired the winch at Castle Farm and reports that it will now lift a weight of one hundredweight.

Climbing News

North Wales, 25th, 26th and 27th July.

To the climbers encamped in the Ogwen Valley, Saturday was not encouraging – with intermittent rain and low cloud over the mountains.  However, toward the East one was dazzled by a slight lessening of the gloom and it was decided that a valley walk in this direction would be in order. We set off therefore across the slopes North of the A5 and following an aqueduct, arrived at the upper end of Llyn Cowlyd.  This lake is in a very pleasing setting but is rather spoilt by a dam and other oddments at the outfall end.   The largest oddment was a control tower shaped rather like a Martian space ship, to which the B.E.C. gained access.  The sluice controls were all carefully locked however, and visions of cutting of Liverpool’s water supply faded rapidly.

After some lunch, the col to Llyn Bigau was traversed and Cwm Bigau ascended under the faultless navigation of en ex local bloke called Dermot (see B.B. Number 18!!).  At the head of the Cwm, the impressive cliffs of Craig-yr-Isfa rose into the mist, while the walkers did likewise over rocks and scree to the left.  At the col a split developed, and some descended to the campsite via Pen-yr-Helgi-Du while others took a lower route by Ffynnon Llugwy.  This is a very pleasant walk and much to be recommended on an off day.

Sunday’s weather was just as un-encouraging as on Saturday and certain (un-named) persons went touring by motor car.  Other more intrepid spirits approached Moal Siabod from the South with the object of ascending it, but gave up in the face of incredible odds (general lassitude etc.) To salve consciences, King, Reynolds and Bennett did an evening climb on the right hand end of Gault-yr-Ogof.  The climb did not appear to be in the guidebook, and the description of a different climb was used, leading to some confusion en route.

Sun appeared on Monday, and the residue of the party (King and Bennett) partook of an enjoyable amble up the Gashed Crag of Tryfon thus bringing the weekend to a close.

Roy Bennett.


Next Climbing Meet.       North Wales.  19/20th September

Obituary.  Lionel Williams.

It is with regret that we report the death of Lionel Williams while climbing in Skye. Although not widely known to caving members, Lionel was an active and popular member of the climbing section and will be greatly missed.

We wish to convey our sincere condolences to his family.

Alan Thomas’ Weekend

I have just spent a very pleasant weekend with my brother and his wife introducing their children and my dog to the joys of caving.  On the whole, Buster complained the least.

We started very suitably with Denny’s Hole which, for the sake of the children, we descended with a hand line.  Buster seemed quite happy at the end of the cave, but soon became bored so I brought him out.  It was then that I met a party of three intrepid explorers about to descend by our rope.  Two of them wore shorts but the third – obviously a man of greater experience than his fellows – wore trousers.  He was the leader of the party as you can tell (quite apart front his being in front) by the fact that he wore as helmet and carried a copy of Balch’s book – open at the page – in his hand.

When Tommy brought the children out and began to coil up the rope, cries from below implied that we were leaving the intrepid explorers to die in true melodramatic fashion.  I then climbed down Fox’ Hole – mainly to show off – and was surprised to find the amount of passage at the bottom.  In the afternoon, we went to Stoke Lane and Browne’s Hole, now sadly damaged by Blasting.

The next morning we rose early (G.M.T.). You have to when you are living in a caravan with two children and three dogs – and headed for Burrington before the Whitsun rush. After looking at Avelines etc., we entered Goatchurch and descended as far as the Drainpipe.  You may judge how long it is since I have been in Goatchurch from the fact that I didn’t know that there was a squeeze just before the Drainpipe.  We left then cave as it began to fill up (with people).

The same morning early (Belfry time) we collected John Cornwell and Tim Atkinson from Hillgrove and prepared to descend St. Cuthbert’s.  Quote, “I don’t doubt that it’s a very nice cave but I can’t see what useful purpose would be served by my going down it.” – Guess who.  I have never been so impressed by anything in my life. St. Cuthbert’s is fab.  With one exception, which modesty forbids me to mention (Alfies Hole? – Ed.) it is the finest cave on Mendip and its state of preservation say much for all concerned.

In the afternoon we looked at Sandpits and then joined up with Molly and the two children who had been to Wookey Hole.  Next day Tommy and Molly and eleven year old Pamela went down Swildons with Bob Lawder while I looked after seven year old Scott and cooked the dinner.  Scott dropped 2cwt of cast iron on his foot, but the dinner was alright.

Altogether it was a very rewarding weekend.  The general solicitude for my well being is gratifying.  I was at a loss to explain why I had never been down St. Cuthbert’s before.  I don’t mind being asked how old I am.  There has been a lot of this sort of joke lately – largely the Editor’s doing, I suspect. Some years ago, when Pop Harvey offered me his chair at the Hunters it was very funny.  It was only this weekend that I realised that one or two youngsters were doing it as a matter of course.

Mathematical Puzzles

by Sett

June’s problem was intended to be much easier for the amateur than for the mathematician.  It is solved, for all practical purposes, by making a scale drawing of the wall and the stalagmite bank and fiddling a ruler about until the length of fifteen feet rests on the floor and the wall and just touches the bank.  The correct answer is 13’ 11”.

Tony Meadon sent in the only solution, a correct one, and has been paid his pint.  His solution was slightly different from mine but achieved the same result.  If we try to set up this problem in mathematical terms, we find that we are involved in solving a quartic equation.  This can be avoided by first finding the area of the triangle formed by the floor, wall, and ladder and the substituting.

Let the height up the wall be H, the length from the base of the wall be L and the perpendicular from the corner of the floor and wall to the ladder be A.  Then the area of the big triangle is HL/2 or 15A/2 or 4(H – 4)/2 + 42.  Therefore HL = 15A and H + L = 15A/4, therefore (H + L)2 = (15A/4)2 and H2 + 2HL + L2 = (15A/4)2.  But H2 + L2 = 152 and 2HL = 30A.

Substituting and solving for A, we get: -

A + 5.207 or -3.073.

HL = 78.1

Therefore H = 13.90 or 5.61.

This Month’s Problem.

When the U.B.S.S. were doing an archaeological survey on Read’s cavern they laid out the floor in a grid to help them in their final report. The grid started at the centre and proceeded outward as in the sketch.  They soon noticed that a large number of patterns appeared amongst the numbers.  If you draw a large grid, you will see these patterns.  Amateurs, a pint prize for the longest list of patterns. Mathematicians, a further pint prize for the longest list of patterns with an explanation as to why these patterns should appear.



















Election of the 1965 Committee.

We notice that other organisations are copying the B.E.C. and holding their election in October. As far as the club is concerned the names of candidates have now all been received by the Hon. Sec., and you will be getting your ballot forms shortly by post.

Last year, a write up was published in the B.B. as part of ‘Stalagmite’s’ article for that month. This was, of course, his own opinion. A number of members have asked that we include a write up on similar lines this year, but we felt that perhaps it should be more on imperial lines.  What we have done, therefore, is to state the previous committee work done by each of the candidates who have been on the committee before, on the basis that their work should be sufficiently well known.  In the case of new candidates, we have tried to indicate their main interests briefly.  This does not imply that they have no other interests, or that the previous committee members have done nothing except sit on the committee!  Readers will appreciate, however, that any further elaborations would inevitably bring the write up in to the realms of personal opinion, and this we are trying to avoid.

Candidates are listed in alphabetical order and their last committee jobs are in brackets following their names.

Kevin Abbey.          (Assistant Hut Warden, Minutes Secretary and B.B. Postal Department 1964)  Elected to the committee 1964.

Bob Bagshaw         (Hon. Secretary and Treasurer 1964) Elected to the committee 1952. Hon. Sec. and Treasurer 1952- 1964.

Roy Bennett (Climbing Secretary 1964)  Elected to the committee 1953.  Tackle Officer 1953 and 1954.  Re-elected to the committee 1964.

“Alfie” Collins          (Committee Chairman and Editor, B.B. 1964)  Elected to the committee 1953.  Assist. Caving Secretary 1953 and 1954.  Assist. Hut Warden 1954.  Caving Secretary 1955 and 1956.  Hut Warden 1955-1958.  Editor B.B. 1957-1964.

Keith Franklin.        (New Candidate)  Active caver and climber.  Working on Castle Farm Swallet.

Dave Irwin.    (New Candidate)  Active caver.  Belfry Regular.  Working on Castle Farm Swallet.

Phil Kingston.         (New Candidate)  Active caver.  Belfry Regular.

Mike Palmer.          (Assist. Caving secretary 1964) Elected to the committee 1963.

Norman Petty.        (Tackle Officer 1964)  Elected to the committee 1957.  Tackle Officer 1957-1964.

John Ransom.         (Belfry Engineer 1964)  Elected to the committee 1963.  Belfry Engineer 1963/64.

“Sett” Setterington.  (Served on Committee 1959-63)  Hut Warden 1950 to 1954.  Hut Warden 1959 to 1963.  Chairman of the committee 1950 to 1963.

Alan Thomas.         (New Candidate)  Active caver.  Discovered Hunters Hole 1954.  Interested in Belfry site.  Working on Hunters Hole, Belfry site and Cuthbert’s entrance.

Gordon Tilly. (Hut Warden 1964)  Elected to committee 1964


The annual General meeting and Dinner will be held on SATURDAY OCTOBER 3RD, 1964.  The A.G.M. will be at Redcliffe Hall and the dinner at Fairfax House.  Details will be sent with voting forms.

Thrupe Swallet

An account of early work by the M.E.S.

“Stalagmite” refers in the Belfry Bulletin No. 192 (February last) to the excavations at Thrupe Swallet in 1936.  These excavations were carried out by the Mendip Exploration Society (the Welsh branch of which was later to become the South Wales Caving Club) in co-operation with Gerard Platten.

A regional water survey Committee was formed in 1936 to investigate the Mendip water sources and, for this purpose, Mendip was divided and allocated to five organisations existing at the time – M.N.R.C., U.B.S.S., Wessex, M.E.S. and Gerard Platten’s team.  The territory of the last two was in East Mendip and, to avoid conflict between the clubs, it was agreed that the “Water” areas would serve as the territory of each club for all caving purposes.  It was agreed between the M.E.S. and Gerard Platten that they would work jointly in East Mendip for the purposes of the water survey.

Soon after this territory system was established, Gerard Platten drew attention to the possibilities of Thrupe Swallet and excavations were carried out from September to December 1936.  A small low chamber (about ten feet by five feet by four feet high) was found near the surface and on working through the left hand side of the floor, as small chamber at a lower level was discovered, filled with silt and small stones.  The final depth reached was twenty feet below the surface.  The far wall was solid and well stalagmited, but below and around the remaining sides, nothing but boulders could be seen, and the task of trying to remove these was a heavy one.

The excavations nearly ended in tragedy.  As the last member of the team was crawling back through the small entrance chamber the ceiling – which consisted of a large rock – subsided and would have completely settled down, had not the head of the pickaxe which the member was carrying prevented it (Memo: Always carry a pickaxe through unstable squeezes! – Ed.). He was held firmly between the floor and the ceiling in the space separated by the points of the pickaxe. Gerard Platten and the other members of the team worked frantically to lift the huge rock and release the man who was shocked, but one the worse for the incident.  After this, the entrance of the swallet was in such a chaotic state that it was decided, coupled with the experience of the near fatality, that the team would abandon further work at Thrupe Swallet.

For some time, the jib erected by M.E.S. over the swallet consisting of two long larch poles – one as a mast and the other cabled to it as a swing jib (the pulleys were removed) remained as witness to the excavations.

A report of the swallet appeared in Volume I (1936-7) of the Journal of the Mendip Exploration Society.

Edmund J. Mason.


To the Editor, Belfry Bulletin.

I see that B.B. No. 197 mentions the volcanic eruption of Mount Pelee which destroyed a town in 1902 having a population of over 30,000 in less than two minutes.

Is this a record?

“Worried Chinaman”.


Don’t forget the A.,G.M. and Dinner!  (Saturday: October 3rd)

Caving & Climbing Meets

1.         September 19/20.

Climbing Meet.

2.         October 11th.

Caving Meet.  Stoke Lane Slocker.  Meet at the Belfry 11am.

3.         October 17/18.

Climbing Meet.

4.         November 1st.

Caving Meet.  Eastwater Swallet.  Balch Memorial Trip.  Period Dress to be worn.  Meet at Belfry at Noon.

5.         November 14/15.

Climbing Meet.

6.         November 28/29.

Caving Meet.  Castle Farm Pot.  Digging and/or Exploration weekend.

7.         December 5/6.

Climbing Meet.

8.         December 12/13

Caving Meet.  South Wales Area.  Will those who are definitely interested please contact the caving secretary as soon as possible.  Trips will be arranged to Ogof Ffynnon Ddu; Pant Mawr; Tunnel Cave and possible Dan-yr-Ogof.  There will almost certainly be a limit on the size of the party, so get your booking in early!!!


For further information on climbing meets contact the climbing secretary.  For further information on caving meets contact the caving secretary.  (Climb. Sec. Roy Bennett. Cav. Sec. ‘Mo’ Marriott or successor).

Notes:  For all climbing meets and the South Wales Caving Meet, hut fees are payable in advance. If any person backs out without finding a suitable replacement, his fees will NOT be refunded.  Make sure that you are there.  Please support the meets – after all, you asked for them!

North Wales (13/14 June, 1964.)

Having driven from Bristol in the best of British weather, Tony Dunn, Lionel Williams, Chris Hall and Brian arrived at Williams’ Farm undaunted, and to celebrate arrival, the rain stopped until we had pitched our tents and crawled in – when it immediately started again.

However, Saturday morning was rather better with little wind and plenty of cloud – but no rain and 10.30 saw us off to a quick hike by car to Llyn Ogwen and then by foot over the top of the North side of Carneddau.  The objective was the Western Gully and the Last Ridge.  The Guidebook gave us a very clear start to the climb, which proved to be impracticable so, with the exception of Lionel who decided that it would be quicker to jump – or so we had thought (in fact he was abseiling on a rope that did not appear to be attached to anything – Fantastic!) we scrambled down again and ate lunch looking down the Valley of Echoes (it didn’t) to Bethesda.

After lunch we went right down to the bottom of the crag and started to climb from its correct source. Being a gully climb, we expected conditions to be wet and mucky, but this surpassed all our expectations.  The first few pitches were quite easy and without exception, we reached the stance below the crux rather wetter than when we started.  From this stance, one is supposed to climb up and left into a large mossy cave.  Chris thought he would go up and right and ended up swinging gently on the rope, via the runner.  When he opened his eyes, he found himself on the same level as his second, who was doubtless left with no misunderstandings as to the effects of gravity. Having reached the cave, we climbed out of it again onto a smooth surface, broken only by two jugs and some very thin holds.  By standing on the lower jug, one could mantelshelf onto the higher one.  From there it was “Faith and Friction” and, without really knowing how it was done, we were past it.  All done by combined tactics.  Brave the fellow who went first! 

From there to the top was really nothing more than a scramble and when we got there the sun was shining.    Then, at great speed, we headed for Ogwen Cottage, arriving at it by the formidable looking ridge on the opposite side of the road.  To our surprise we were met by Roy Bennett and Alan Sandall, who had both arrived late on Friday night with wives and children.  Shame on both of them who B. and B.’d “Because it was too wet.” However, back to camp for food and sleep.  How we slept!

Sunday saw us all out to the Gribben where Roy, Tony and Lionel went off to climb Angular Chimney and Chris and Brian tanked off up the Slab Recess Route, showering boulders on the queue who were waiting at the bottom.  Lunchtime arrived, after which we split up again, Tony and Lionel to climb Zig Zag and Chris and Brian to attempt Monolith Crack.  Chris managed it by taking off his boots, which were too big to get into the crack, and most of his clothes.  The language from there on was an education!  Having emerged at the top and belayed, Brian started.  He ended up being jammed in a horizontal position at the mouth of the crack with his foot stuck!  He had to be extricated by the party who followed him up.  So ended the Monolith Crack.

During this ‘entertainment’, Joan and Roy ambled round Llyn Idwal.  The time being nigh up, we all piled into cars and headed back to Bristol, arriving at 11.30, having had a very pleasant weekend.  Roll on the next time.

Chris Ball.


Owing to the need for rapid publication of this issue of the Belfry bulletin, we have no Caving Log this month.  However, Alan Thomas has sent in this snippet which may interest the more statically minded.

On August Bank Holiday Monday, Andy Mac-Gregor (age 23) led a party of five active cavers, whose combined ages made up a total of One Hundred and Eighty years.  The party went down St. Cuthbert’s.  Neither Gordon Tilly nor Alan Thomas were present.

Stop Press.

Cave Preservationists may be interested in a short news item which appeared in today’s Telegraph (Thursday, September 10th).  It appears that a man who broke – or rather, is accused of breaking – a stalagmite at Wookey is being summoned under the Malicious Damage Act of 1861, Section 51 “that he maliciously damaged a stalagmite and thereby did injury exceeding the sum of £5”

This appears to raise the interesting question of what, say, such items of underground scenery as the cascade in Cuthbert’s is worth!

News of the World – Supplied by Alan Thomas.

Tom and Rusty Neil now have a son, Alex, born 5th June in Montreal.

Alan Nash is back in England on a course and hopes to be at the Dinner this year.

Norman Brooks has moved to New Zealand and when crawling around the floor at work, feels nostalgic for Mendip

Jim Simons, Alan Nash and others have formed the ‘Cave Exploration Group of East Africa’ in Nairobi.


Here it is – a little late as we suggested it might be, but we won in the end.  This is the new cover, size and type.  Any resemblance to the old B.B. is purely accidental.

It might interest newer readers to note that the B.B. in its original form was foolscap size – the size of this one when folded out flat.  It changed after fifteen issues to quarto size, and now has reduced its size once again.  If it goes on getting smaller, there will come a time when you’ll need a microscope to read it!

Seriously, we hope members approve of the new disguise and are all promptly inspired to write sheaves of articles to fill its pages.  One snag about this layout is that the B.B. can only come out in multiples of four pages, so that if there is not enough for an eight page magazine, we will have to cut right down to four.

In the past, there have not always been enough copies of the B.B. for everyone to get a copy.  In that case, the postal department have been giving priority to club members, which is only fair, and some of the clubs to whom we send copies of the B.B., have thus had to go without.  We hope that, mow we have made these improvements to the B.B., it will be possible to guarantee a copy each month for everyone, including all the clubs to whom we apologise for the poor service they have had in the past.

It only remains for us to let you get on with reading this, and to wish all club members, and all cavers and climbers a very happy and prosperous new year.


January Committee Meeting

At the January meeting of the committee, L.R. Mortimer and Miss Pat Irwin were elected members of the club.  Good progress on the new hut was reported.  The climbing secretary reported that the last organised club trip proved to be badly supported.  Another trip will be organised in February.  Permission was given for Cave Science to reprint any information on St. Cuthbert’s.


A show entitled “Caving with a camera” will be given by Dennis Kemp at Redcliffe Hall on Thursday, 8th February at 8pm.


The next guest days for G.B. have been provisionally sent out by U.B.S.S.  The days for the B.E.C. are January 30/31 and March 12/13.


“Prew” is willing to take his car up to the Annual dinner of the Bradford Pothole Club, which is being held at the Devonshire Hotel, Skipton, on Saturday, 6th February at 6.30 for 7pm.  Anyone interested in attending this dinner and going up in “Prew’s” car should contact him at once.  From what we know of the B.P.C., it should be well worth going up to Skipton for!

Before & After

by R.J. Bagshaw

Before I visited G.B. recently, I had not been there for about ten years, and it was forcibly pointed out to me by the Hon. Editor that both old and new members might be interested in the changes I noticed during that time.

The first, and most welcome change was transport.  Back in the good old days when caving was caving, the trip to G.B. was made either on push bikes; or by bus to Burrington, followed by a gentle walk over the top.  Now, in this spoon fed age of Goon Suits etc., we arrived by car.  Even the field gates were now replaced by cattle grids to ease the journey.

On arriving at the barn, it was found to be nearly full of hay – a luxury unheard of in my courting days.

We walked over to the cave, and were greeted by the sight of a concrete blockhouse with its devilish cunning burglar proof door (?).  The entrance squeeze seemed more difficult than it used to be in my day, and I was inclined to put it down to the exertions necessary to unlock the trapdoor, or possible the weight of the blockhouse.  A further possibility to this theory put forward by Professor Devenish that the growth of the caves is not limited to stalactites, but is shared by the rock.  I cannot see any other explanation than one of these three.

The grottoes gave the impression that the vandalism over the past ten years was less than the years which went before.  On the other hand, the best formations tend to get vandalised first and this may merely mean that there has been less left for vandals to damage since I was there last. The Letter Box afforded more evidence that rocks grow larger and therefore all squeezes grow smaller a la Dev. This was borne out by the fact that only one member of the party came through fast enough to need persuading not to continue down the drop.

The Devil’s Elbow was nearly unrecognisable.  It was bone dry!  Although the passage was smaller, the absence of water was a great improvement, but I missed the ladder at the end.

I should like to meet the persons who have obviously spent so much time sharpening the rock edges between the Devil’s Elbow and the Gorge.  On second thoughts, perhaps my hands are softer than they used to be.

Just in time, I remembered to keep high enough in the squeeze into the Gorge to avoid the Devenish effect.  The Gorge is still a very impressive sight, but the White Way has lost all its former beauty.  The terminal passage has been expanded, and many other side passages opened.  No doubt by much toil and effort on part of the U.B.S.S.

On the way up the Gorge, a noticeable increase in the size of the boulders was observed.  The slope also seemed more steep, perhaps indicating that the rate of growth of cave rocks increases with the altitude above sea level.

The return to the surface was rapid.  Comparatively, at any rate, but there was a considerable delay before the locks could be securely fastened.  On returning to the barn, a dead cow was observed which certainly was not there ten years ago.

There are no prizes for guessing the word deleted form the title of this article by my better half!

Belfry Binder…….a comment on last month’s article.

George Lucy was heard to remark in the Hunters on Christmas Eve, that the article on the Belfry Binder was very fair, but that for fifteen seconds, one should surely read fifteen minutes.  He also said that a good Binder should be such that no individual ingredient could be identified in the final mixture as served.  We asked the author – Sett – for his comments.  Sett said that some stews were indeed as George described, but nevertheless, he had given the correct and traditional recipe.  If the Binder, after having been cooked, is left to simmer while people come out of cavies and got changed, it will change to the appearance and consistency which George describes.

Solution to the Christmas Crossword.

Sorry that the solution is all long and thin – it just happened that way


































































































































































































































Letter To the Editor of the B.B.

Dear Alfie

During a discussion at the works, the Belfry Radio set was mentioned.  An innocent bystander, during an interval in the conversation, asked what the Belfry consisted of and, giving us no time for an answer, remarked in a somewhat lugubrious voice, “Oh, it’s one of those exclusive country clubs, I suppose.”  We answered him that it is.

Truth surely is stranger than fiction!

                                                            Yours, too,    R.J. Price.


A weekend in North Wales is being organised by Geoff Mossman, who should be contacted for details.  The date is 5/6/7 February and the hut of the Vagabonds has been booked.

Moving Picture.

We know there are plenty on the wall, but if you want to help make the beggars really move, contact Bob Price, who is getting up a team to make a documentary film in 16mm plus sound of the club.

An Evening on the Cut

by Lady Chatterbox

On Thursday, the 26th November, 1959, after club, a large party of assorted loafers, nits, and hangers on – in short, B.E.C. members, deposited themselves in a steaming heap outside Auntie Syb’s for coffee (you, not I!).  By the time Syb arrived with Mossy and Dick – we had all begun to think that Syb had said, “All come round for coffee”, and then made tracks in the opposite direction.

Once inside, I was amazed to see that crumpled barbed wire seemed to be preferred to flowers.  I say this, as every pot capable of holding weeds etc., was filled with the former commodity, or oddity if you so prefer. Odd bottles peer from corners in the approved tradition of the club, and though the decidedly strictly Syb and Landlady, it is lightened by the modernising influence of Indestructible Alf’s rear bumper bar.  Coffee was served from an ancient and broken (pointed out by our hostess) jug.  It was a relic of the war (Crimean?).  The coffee was enjoyed by all, and Russian hats tried on.  It was found that either the average Russian is a pin’ead or the average B.E.C. member is a big’ead.  Those present were: -

Mr & Mrs Bennett
Indestructible Alf
Obscene Obbs
Might Mouse Sandall
Luscious Plum Sandall
Auntie Syb (Hostess)
My Old Man
And your correspondent.

Things must be looking up! This was the second invitation to visit and slander somebody’s residence.  As usual, I enjoyed it.  If Syb was to move to Clifton, I could do a S.H.O.T.B.E.C. on her.  Time will tell.

Digging News

Visits were paid recently to quite a few of the sites which are at present being actively dug on Mendip, and we wondered if club members would be interested in the present state of the art as applied to some of these holes.  If we have got any of our facts wrong, profuse apologies will appear in next month’s B.B.


This hole, situated on the green between Maine’s Barn and the old piped water supply, is being dug by the S.M.C.C.  All are welcome to lend a hand when they are in residence, however.  A really professional concrete shaft has now been installed, and work is continuing on opening the rock space beneath.  This consists of shifting the odd flakes which block the way on.  It is, of course, hoped that this dig will lead directly into the aven in Swildon’s IV, but if it doesn’t, it looks fairly likely to lead somewhere and will doubtless increase the underground knowledge of the area. Incidentally, the word ‘they’ at the beginning of this description refers to the S.M.C.C., who should be contacted for any further information or with any offers of assistance.


The initial work on this swallet – a B.E.C. dig – was described last year in the B.B.  Work was then stopped during the dry weather, as the diggers felt that a knowledge of the behaviour of the stream at this stage was pretty essential.  The stream has now been running, and has been found to sink not where supposed, but in between the original and new entrances to the cave.  Since a fair amount of work is likely to be involved, an agreement has been reached with the S.M.C.C. to proceed with the dig in the spring as a joint B.E.C. – S.M.C.C. dig.  The local farmer has been contacted again and is quite willing to allow any work to proceed in the swallet as long as the swallet remains cow-proof.  All who have seen the stream in spate running into this hole agree that there must be something underground at Emborough.


We understand, although we have not yet had a chance to go and see this dig, that the prospects are good. The dig is being conducted by Mike Holland, and when asked about progress he reported that this was occurring in a downward direction!  An interesting feature of the stream entering the hole is that it rises only a short distance away, to sink again almost at once into the hole.  Rumour has it that recent Mendip catchwords will be suitably immortalised underground in this hole if a suitable cave is entered.


Another S.M.C.C. dig, this sink at the moment has a stream of remarkably cold water entering it. Should it become necessary, this stream could easily be diverted.  The hole, or as much as could be seen without getting wet, looks very interesting, although the entrance may prove too tight.


No work has been done in this shakehole since the last boulder breaking up session.  The only chance of further progress appears to involve the removal of a further lot of rock from the floor of the pitch.  Anyone interested in flogging a dead horse should get in touch with Alfie.


No recent news from the M.C.G. who are digging this hole has been received.  When last visited, they were digging through the infill under the roof, and following the course taken by the water which drains into the hole. Any further news will be reported.


THE BELFRY BULLETIN. January 1960.  No. 143.

Secretary, R.J. Bagshaw, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.

Editor, S.J. Collins, 33 Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8.

Postal Dept, B. Prewer, 14 Egerton Road,, Bath, Somerset.


We sometimes imagine the editor of some new caving club journal putting a sheet of paper into his typewriter and, while he waits for inspirations to arrive, typing ‘Volume I, Number 1’ at the head of the paper.

Statistically speaking, the chances of his reaching g Volume II are not very good.  It is therefore with some degree of pride that we present this two hundredth issue of the B.B.  The B.B. has had its fair share of ups and downs in the past and, on two occasions at least, it would have not been surprising if its publication had ceased but somehow, in the general manner of the B.E.C., it seems to have survived in spite of circumstances.

The B.B. has been called a lot of things in its time, not all of them complimentary.  This, to some extent, may be due to its rather odd position amongst the Journals of Mendip.  It is not a completely serious Caving Journal – although from time to time it does publish articles which can stand comparison with anything that is produced elsewhere – an example of which appears in this issue.  It is not, on the other hand, simply a newsletter.  The present editor likes to think of it as a club magazine which, like the club it serves, does good work from time to time but does not take itself too seriously.

As far as the future is concerned however, 1965 will see some new innovations in the field of caving journals with the advent of nationally distributed properly printed ‘glossy’ magazines like the Speleologist.  Whilst welcoming this and other magazines of its type we feel that it would be a bad thing if the club journals were to decline into newsletters as a result.  To a great extent, this will depend on the relative amount of serious authorship which the club journals can still attract in the face of temptation to authors of better presentation and more widespread distribution which the national journals will be able to offer.  It thus becomes of some importance to the club to improve the layout and all round appearance of the B.B. and steps are being taken to effect this type of improvement.

It is hoped that, starting in the New Year, the B.B. will be produced by offset litho process which should result in a neater looking appearance, enabling drawings to be included with fine detail and headings etc. to be more evenly printed.  At a later stage in the year, it is hoped to be able to get the B.B. actually typeset and, in conjunction withy the use of a better grade of paper, this should result in a professional appearance

As mentioned in the recent A.G.M., all this will cost the club rather more than the present magazine, which is produced on a ‘shoestring’ budget, and it will be largely wasted unless articles of all types, but of a high standard, are forthcoming.  During the last few months, there has been a good steady flow of material for inclusion in the B.B.  Let us see whether, in 1965, we can improve both the appearance and the standard, and eventually the size, so that the chances of the B.B. reaching its Four Hundredth Edition are not impaired by us.



Don’t forget you may purchase B.E.C. CAVING REPORTS from Bryan Ellis.  He also has a number of surveys and other caving literature.  Why not get in touch with him and treat yourself to some interesting reading matter???

A.G.M. & Dinner

The 1964 Annual General Meeting of the B.E.C. opened at 2.45pm, there being over 50 members present. Dan Hassell was elected as Chairman unanimously.  The Chairman then called for the ballot papers and any members resolutions.  ‘Mo’ Marriott. ‘Spike’ Rees and Nigel Hallet were elected as tellers for the ballot.  The tellers retired to count the votes (presumably so that they could take their socks off and count up to twenty).  Meanwhile, the Chairman read the minutes of the 1963 A.G.M., which were accepted by the meeting.

The Hon. Secretary then gave his report.  There had been 31 new acceptances for membership during the year.  Thus intake of about 30 new members per annum was typical of the last few years, but as fewer members were leaving the club, the total membership was rising and now stood at 172.  The Dinner was being held in Bristol this year.  Members were sorry to hear of the deaths of two members during the year – Lionel Williams and Ian Dear.  Ian had left £150 and all his caving and climbing equipment to the club and had in addition left a further sum of £300 to assist junior members who wished to cave abroad.  The remaining point the Secretary wished to bring to the attention of members was that during the year, a National Caving Organisation has been suggested, but this suggestion is not acceptable to Mendip clubs, who are forming a body with the object of maintaining the status quo.  The adoption of the Secretary’s report was proposed by R.A. Setterington and seconded by Gordon Tilly.

The Hon. Treasurer then gave his report.  For some reason, the traditional pretence of surprise at finding this was the same bloke was absent this year.  He apologised for the incomplete nature of his financial statement but explained that £29 had been received from the Hut Warden too late for inclusion.  Receipts from Redcliffe and from membership fees have increase this year.  He reminded members that he had said last year that the expenditure of £5 on tackle was, in his opinion, too low.  However, £60 spent this year was probably too high to be continued at this rate (cries of ‘Stop-Go economy!’).  The Belfry Expenditure includes the cost of the water heater and the new mattresses but not the £29 receipts.  We now have paid our share of the C.C.C. legal expenses and the deficit on club ties means that a large stock now exists for people not wearing them.  To sum up, the clubs financial position is adequate and should be further improved when the legacy is received.

Oliver Lloyd asked how would the legacy be invested?  The Hon. Secretary replied that it would be invested in Savings Bonds.  Mike Luckwill asked how it was intended to be used.  The Chairman said this subject would be coming up later.  Gordon Tilly then proposed that the report be adopted and this was seconded by John Ransom and carried.

The Caving Secretary being still occupied with the counting of votes, the Climbing Secretary gave his report next.  Trips have been run as announced during the year in the B.B. and elsewhere.  These have been mainly to North Wales, but Cornwall and Dartmoor have also been visited and a fair amount of local climbing has also been carried out.  There have been quite a few requests for information but now many new recruits have been forthcoming.  There was no questions, and the adoption of the report was proposed b y Gordon Tilly (who could not in any case equal Mike Luckwill’s record for proposing reports at the A.G.M. since he will not be able to propose the acceptance of his own Hut Warden’s report later in the proceedings!) and seconded by Kangy King.

The Tackle Officer’s report followed.  He stated that this year, no tackle had been lost.  We are now the proud possessors of 410 feet of ladder and 780 feet of lifeline. We have 16 tethers, ranging from 18 inches to 27 feet and we should finish up, when the present ladder building programme is completed, with 630 feet of ladder.  Dave Irwin asked whether the expenditure quoted by the Hon. Treas. Covered all the remaining ladder. The Tackle Officer said that it did all except the wire.  A vote of thanks was recorded to the Tackle Officer for his work in producing so much tackle.  The adoption of the report was proposed by Mike Luckwill and seconded by Gordon Tilly and carried.

The Editor of the B.B. then gave his report.  Since most of what he said is in the forward to the issue of this B.B., it will be omitted here.  John ransom proposed the report be adopted.  This was seconded by Gordon Tilly and carried.

The Hut warden announced that bed nights were again very high and stood at approximately 1800.  Very few breakages had occurred at the Belfry. The hot water system has gone a long way towards dealing with the washing up situation, but has proved expensive to run.  He suggested that it was enough for the time being.  The Hut Warden concluded his report by saying that he would like to express his thanks to club members for their co-operation and particularly to Sett and Jan.  Kangy asked why the hot water system was held to be expensive.  He wondered if Gordon could enlarge on this point.  Gordon replied ‘not particularly’.  Some discussion on the cost followed.  Alan asked if this year’s committee could do an analysis of the cost.  The Chairman suggested that this be left to the Committee to decide whether they considered this to be necessary.  Alan Thomas asked if the heat from the Belfry Stove could be utilised in some way. Alfie thought that this was not really practicable.  Frank Darbon then proposed that the report be adopted.  This was seconded by Alan Thomas and carried.

The Hon. Sec. then read a note from Bryan Ellis who stated that no Caving Reports had been published during the year, but that the sales of the previously published reports continue. A balance amounting to £4.17.8 is in hand towards the cost of publishing a further manuscript.  Alan Thomas asked whether anyone knew if a further manuscript was in the course of preparation.  Alfie replied that he thought one was being prepared by Dave Irwin on the Long Chamber area of St. Cuthbert’s.  This was confirmed by the author. The Chairman suggested that continued publicity be given to the sale of caving Reports in the B.B.  This was noted by the editor.

The Hon. Librarian’s Report followed.  Borrowing was sporadic amongst the older members but continues amongst the younger members.  There had been some 114 borrowings during the year.  Ian left the library all his books and surveys and maps of caving areas.  As a result we have new maps of all the caving areas in Great Britain.  The library copies of the B.B. were being bound.  There were no questions and Alfie proposed that the report be adopted. This was seconded by Frank Darbon and carried.

The Belfry Engineer then gave his report.  A coal and coke bin had been made in the Belfry and two large lockers which were big enough to take rucksacks.  The leaks have been repaired in the roof.  A urinal had been built out at the back.  The Belfry had been creosoted, the ceiling had been done, the asbestos panel for the chimney is being fitted and the car park extended.  There were no questions and Gordon Tilly therefore moved that the report be adopted.  This was seconded by Sett and carried.

At this stage the result of the ballot became known and was read out by the Chairman.  Voting was as follows: -

Total number of members voting…87.  Votes cast for Bob Bagshaw (79); Norman Petty (78); Roy Bennett (75); Alfie (74); Alan Thomas (65); Kevin Abbey (64); Dave Irwin (63); Gordon Tilly (53); Keith Franklin (47); Mike Palmer (44); Sett (43); John Ransom (38); Phil Kingston (20). The Committee therefore consists of Bob Bagshaw, Norman Petty, Roy Bennett, Alfie, Alan Thomas, Kevin Abbey, Dave Irwin, Gordon Tilly, and Keith Franklin

After an adjournment for light (non-alcoholic) refreshments, the Caving Secretary gave his report.  He said that the general level of caving had shown an increase, with Cuthbert’s overshadowing all other caves in popularity. There had been no major discoveries outside Cuthbert’s.  However, activity was increasing in digging projects.  Castle Farm Swallet was being energetically pursued, also Hunters Hole. B.E.C. members has also been active in work on the S.E. Inlet Series in Swildons.  The level of co-operation amongst cavers was good, but there was some room for improvement.  A practice Rescue had been held in Cuthbert’s.  The New Entrance was now in full commission and the Old Entrance had been filled in.  He concluded with a plea for some serious scientific studies in Cuthbert’s. Questioning the Caving Secretary, Roger Stenner asked why the work on new caves in South Wales had not been included?  The Caving Secretary said that he thought this work had occurred last year, and asked whether more recent work had been written up in the log.  Gordon Tilly proposed that the report be adopted and this was seconded by Alan and carried.  A vote of thanks to the Caving Secretary was proposed by Kangy King and carried.

Under ‘Members Resolutions’, Alfie proposed that “No person under sixteen may stay at the Belfry without the previous consent of the Hut Warden and the presence of Parent or Guardian”. This was seconded by Gaff and carried (38 for, 3 Against)

A resolution ‘that every effort again be made to install the new shower system within the next six months’ was proposed by Jill Tuck and seconded by Alfie.  Alan Thomas reported that work was in hand but was being delayed at present due to a general shortage of copper pipe.  The motion was carried nem. com.

A further resolution by Jill Tuck ‘that more blankets be acquired for the Belfry’ was seconded by Roger Stenner and defeated (1 for, 38 against).

Another resolution by Jill Tuck ‘ that a new telephone line be laid out on Cuthbert’s’ was discussed and an amendment was proposed by ‘Mo’ in view of the technical possibilities ‘that a communications system be installed in St. Cuthbert’s’  The amendment was seconded by Alfie and the amended resolution was carried unanimously.

The meeting went on to discuss the terms of Ian’s bequest. Since this will be the subject of a separate announcement, it is omitted from these notes.  There being no further business the Chairman declared the meeting closed.

The Annual General Meeting was followed by the Annual Dinner which was held for a change this year in Fairfax House, and the Co-op Headquarters, in Bristol.  Whether the choice of venue was due to the B.E.C. uncanny knack of anticipating the next government is not clear but, at any rate, those who feared that they might have to drink Wheatsheaf beer were soon put at their ease.  It is reported that the actual meal (which the writer personally regards merely as serving the function of blotting paper at these functions) was not adequate for some of our growing lads!  The general feeling seems to have been that it was not bad, but should have been better for the extra money.

The speeches went off well, Alan Thomas’ new gimmick this year being the use of a tape recorder to enable ‘absent friends’ to reply in person.  Unfortunately the volume was not as high as the size of the gathering warranted. The speeches (including the presentation of a useful present to Kevin Abbey) were followed by one of Kangy’s floor shows.  This time it took the form of a pageant of ‘Caving through the Ages’.  This commenced with a wonderful spectacle of Barry Wilton as Homo Speleogenesis – and Early Homo, who demonstrated the origin of ‘painting by numbers.’  Next we saw Frank as a Celtic Caver (complete with A.O.I.F.L. which he waved triumphantly). This was followed by an Elizabethan Caver – portrayed by Keith Franklin and showed us Sir Fancy Cake nonchalantly playing shove ha’penny while the Wessex were invading Cuthbert’s.  Having won his game, he then pulled the plug out of the dam and drowned them.  This was followed by a Victorian Caver in the person of Gaff Fowler – engaged in robbing caves of stal. and oppressing the working classes (played by Roy Bennett). Finally, we had a glimpse into the future and saw a Super Caver in a topless wet suit.  Keith Franklin played this part as well as the City Gent Type Caver who followed.  I have, of course, missed out the touching scene which came between the Victorian Caver in which Balch meets Martel in Celtic embrace.

More drinking followed this pageant when another series of interludes occurred.  Oliver Lloyd was persuaded to sing his trilogy of Swildons songs; a man recited a poem and a slightly shambolic singing act took place. A static exhibition featured various aspects of club activities.  Displays of caving and climbing photographs; recent progress in St. Cuthbert’s; Castle Farm Dig; the B.B.; Caving Gear and a collection of finds in cave quarries were arranged round the walls of the room.  The dinner appeared to have been a success – at least, not many grumbles have been heard to date!

Note:    This account of the A.G.M. and Dinner is not an ‘official’ one or guaranteed free from mistakes.


R.J. Bagshaw.            Hon. Secretary and Treasurer.
N. Petty.                    Tackle Officer
Roy Bennett.              Climbing Secretary & B.B. Postal Department.
Alfie.                          Committee Chairman and Hon. Editor, B.B.
Alan Thomas.             Belfry Engineer.    Kevin Abbey.  Assistant Caving Secretary.
Dave Irwin.                  Caving Secretary and Minutes Secretary.
Gordon Tilly.               Hut Warden.
Keith Franklin.            Assistant Caving Secretary.
Joan Bennett.             Hon, Librarian.

State of the parties. Caving Secretaries Party 3, Independents 6.

The Sequence of Development of St. Cuthbert’s Swallet – Part 1

by Derek Ford.

This account is written for fellow members of the Bristol Exploration club in the hope that it may help them to enjoy their favourite cave even more.  It is based on a study made there during the summers of 1960 and 1961. This was aimed at determining the mode and sequence of development down below, which was then compared to similar studies made of Swildons Hole; G.B. Cave; the Gough’s group of caves at Cheddar, and Wookey Hole.

In many respects St. Cuthbert’s proved to be the most complex and interesting of these caves. This is partly because it is the oldest (the sequence for events at G.B., for example, is much shorter) and partly because, in the past, it drew its water from an unusually large surface basin with a varied assemblage of rocks.  Today the cave drains something less than half a square mile of the adjacent parts of Stock Hill and North hill, but in former times, its took water from well north of the Miners Arms via Stock Hill – North Hill Valley.

This narrative gives a sequential description of the creation of modern scenery in the cave. It omits almost all the evidence, for the sake of brevity.  When typed out with the evidence my account of the cave ran to over 200 pages, supported by some 30 diagrams.  St. Cuthbert’s is really quite a place.

Its history is divided into phases and sub-phases, distinguished by greater or lesser changes in the prevailing dynamic conditions.  These phases are can be grouped into three major stages of development: Phreatic Erosion, Vadose Infill and Vadose Re-excavation.


For the purpose of this description, the cave may be divided into four areas having distinctly different forms.

First is a central complex of partially collapsed chambers, extending to form Long Chamber and Coral Chamber in the west, to the September Chambers in the east.  These chambers rest on, or close to, the base of the limestone which are here lying on shaly transitional strata sloping at about 38 degrees to the S.S.E.  The chambers follow the bedding planes and several systems of joint and fault fractures, which coalesce in this area – creating a very tangled structure.

Second is the Gour Rift.  This is the biggest passage in the cave, following a major vertical, fault. The original Gour Rift of the explorers is only the South Eastern end of it.  To the North West, Cerberus Hall, Mud Ball Chamber and Lake Chamber are further accessible parts – separated from each other by places where stream laid fill and stalagmite reaches the roof.

Third is the Warren area.  This includes all the passages between the central complex and Gour Rift – Everest Passage; the Fingers; The Rabbit Warren; The Railway Tunnel; Main Stream Passage; The Warren Extension and The Tin Mine.  All are comparatively small and were developed to convey water from the big chambers to the north, to the rift passage.

Fourth are a series of comparatively recent inlet passages which developed to feed the Central Complex or underneath it long after it had been expanded by water from other sources.  The inlets are the Arête Route,  Pulpit and Lower Traverse Chamber Route, Maypole Series and High Chamber.


The Phreatic Expansion.  About two thirds of the volume of the known cave can be attributed to solution under phreatic conditions (complete water fill beneath a water table surface) or to collapse which followed immediately after that fill was drained.  There are two distinct phases of phreatic expansion

(a) Phreatic Bore Passage Phase.  In this phase, water entered the known cave through Rocky Boulder Series and the collapsed area at the N.W. corner of Upper Traverse Chamber. The contemporary water table was at, or above 660 feet O.D.  A series of long narrow rift chambers was opened below it, between Coral Chamber and Upper Traverse Chamber.  They were drained into Gour Rift by a remarkable system; the Warren “bore passages”.  By this trem, I mean a very efficient conduit, with minimum wall friction and little or no wastage of the solvent power of the water eroding large blind alleys.  The Warren bores were very efficient, being nearly circular in cross-section (a circular pipe has least friction) and following fairly direct linear courses.  There were four principle bores, all converging to flow to the E.S.E. and arranged in a tier – the highest to the north.  The highest drained the southern end of Upper Traverse Chamber and may be followed east from the junction of that chamber and Harem Passage, to a stalagmite choke.  The second was the Railway Tunnel draining an early rift in the area of the Cascade and the southeast part of Boulder Chamber.  It spilled some water south (down dip) through lesser bore passages. Due to this loss of water, the dimensions of the Tunnel are progressively reduced.  The third bore was much the smallest.  It ran from Everest Passage, through the Fingers and the centre of the Warren, to the top of the Sewer and Plantation Junction.  It received many tributaries from Tunnel Passage and distributed water to the fourth bore.  The latter is the oldest part of the Main Stream Passage.  It began at the head of Everest Passage, drawing water from the precursors of Everest Boulder and Curtain Chambers, spilled a little into the Rat Run and then meandered E.S.E. to turn into its discharge – the Great Rift – at the Dining room.  Here the roof of the rift (Cerberus Hall) is exceptionally high, being driven upwards by the erosive power of waters delivered into its base with some force. These waters then moved S.E. towards the present termination of the cave.

The three higher bores all fed into Plantation Junction.  East of their terminal chokes, the Upper Traverse and Tunnel bores (the two largest) split into a series if distributaries, which can be seen, almost entirely choked with stalagmite, crossing the extension passage at its floor level.  Beyond it, they turned south, developing the choked passage which the Plantation Stream follows today and reaching the junction at some place beneath the great sand and stalagmite bank there.  From the junction, the water cut a fine elliptical bore passage straight to Beehive Chamber, where it turned steeply upwards (Pyrolusite Series) to enter the Gour Rift more or less directly above the highest gours.  The modern route from Beehive Chamber to the rift is a subsequent bore passage, also climbing up to its outlet.  As at Cerberus Hall, the roof of Gour Rift is highest over these points of input.

The dimensions of individual bore passages remain nearly constant between tributaries or distributaries. Thus, making some assumptions, it is possible to calculate the velocities of the formative flow through them. Velocities are very low, despite the efficient flow cross sections of the passages.  The picture is one of water moving slowly through a mesh of pipes from one system of semi-static reservoirs (the central complex) to another (the Gour Rift).  Correspondingly, the water table was exceptionally flat and stable and the time taken to expand the cave thus far was possible as long as all its later phases combined.

(b) Phreatic Disintegration Phase.  A change in the dynamics of flow, or chemistry, of the groundwater then tore much of the efficient mesh of bore passage apart and greatly increased the volume of the cave.  The water table remained at 600 feet.  Most of the bore passages developed into bedding planes, the line of the plane bisecting the tube.  Disintegration took the form of a wide expansion along the plane, on one or both sides of the tube.  Often the lower half of the tube was destroyed altogether.  This can best be seen along the direct traverse from The Fingers to the Sewer.  Most of the Sewer Passage is a result of this phase.  So is the manner in which the south wall of the extant Railway Tunnel is torn out along the guiding plane.  To the west, the roof of the tunnel can be traced curving up a great joint surface over the foot of the Cascade.  The floor here was entirely dissolved away.

There was much expansion in size of the Central Complex.  The most important development was a direct connection between the complex and the rift, short circuiting the old flow lines, through Long Chamber and Curtain Chamber, joining the Rift at roof level at the choked point between Lake and Mud Ball Chambers.  Theses two chambers are largely a product of the phase.

A new phreatic stream from an independent sink entered the system during this phase.  It opened up September Series and thus impinged on the Eastern end of the bore passage mesh.  This was overloaded as a result and the extension passages below Cross Legs Squeeze were developed as remarkable sub-water table overflow channels. In many parts it will be found that their course is not controlled by any notable fractures at all.

(c)  The fall of the Water Table.  At the end of the second phase, the water table fell from above 660 feet to a little below its present level of 380 feet O.D.  The rate of fall was slow at first but there were no prolonged stands above 380 feet.  The vertical amplitude of the drop – at least 200 feet – is greater than any detected in the other central Mendip caves that I have studied and requires explanation.

Fall of the water table in a Mendip inlet cave, such as St. Cuthbert’s is caused by a fall of roughly equal proportions at the outlet.  In simplest terms, falls at the outlet caves such as Wookey and Cheddar, can be attributed to falls in the level of a past sea filling the Somerset Moors to the south. There have been several such falls from maximum level above 500 feet O.D.  The vertical amplitude of each fall was around 100 feet or less.  Swildons Hole is a complicated cave to explore because it has developed new systems of passages in response to each of the four major falls of the water table transmitted to it by the outlet.

St. Cuthbert’s shows only one fall, its amplitude as big as the aggregate of the four in Swildons Hole. This is because its outlet lies amidst an unusual geological complexity, called the “Ebbor Thrust Zone.”  (F.R.A. Welch, 1929.  Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London, Page 45).  During the phreatic phases, St. Cuthbert’s discharged its water through caves in Ebbor Gorge.  Cave remnants can be seen at the steepest point there (Bridged Pot Shelter, &c). The level of the discharge was above 500 feet.  It was held at this height by a block of impermeable rocks, quartistic sandstones of millstone grit (lower coal measure age) infaulted across the mouth of the gorge. These functioned as a subterranean dam and held the water up at Ebbor Gorge during the several falls of sea level on the downstream side.  Finally, when the sea level stood at somewhere around 240 feet O.D., the pressure effected by the groundwater held above 500 feet caused a leak to develop around the side of the dam.  Wookey Hole is the downstream end of this underground leak.  The breakout at Wookey drained St. Cuthbert’s via the present terminal stream passage.  During the phreatic phases the water probably left Gour Rift via its impassable narrow southern extension and/or avens in the roof close by.

When the water table fist began to fall in the cave, a new swallet developed at the surface, close to the modern entrance.  Once underground, its stream bifurcated.  The larger part opened the Arête and Wire Rift Passages, though not to their modern dimensions, whilst the smaller passed into Maypole Series, joining the accessible passage there at the highest right hand bend (going upstream).  A tall but very narrow rift was opened, the great potholes being later features.

Three gravitational streams now ran into the Central Complex.  One of these (Rocky Boulders and Wire Rift Water) flowed through Boulder Chamber into the head of Everest Passage where it undermined the phreatic honeycomb of the disintegration phase, causing a great deal of collapse, which remains as the base of a long sequence of deposits.

The second of these streams (Northwest corner of Upper Traverse Chamber and Wire Rift) flowed into Cascade Chamber and through The Fingers to join the first.  It too caused collapse all along its route.  The combined stream entrenched the floor of the lowest bore passage (Main Stream Passage) but did not follow its old route through the Dining room into the Rift.  Instead, the flow broke laterally into the Sewer.  This lay at lower elevation, causing a waterfall and the abandoned plunge pool which is now Stalagmite Pitch.  There was also entrenchment between Plantation Junction and Gour Rift. At the cavers entrance to the rift it is twenty feet deep and thoroughly choked with later stalagmite.  The third stream (September Series) precipitated much of the collapse there.  Rock fall has been so heavy in this part of the cave that little detail can be distinguished.

2. The Main Fill Period.  The rest of the history of the cave is a sequence of alternating phases of erosion and various kinds of deposition by gravitational waters. During the first half, deposition predominated and the cave was pretty thoroughly plugged up to 640feet O.D. This period may be called the “Main Fill.”  It had many phases and sub-phases.

In the central and south eastern parts of the cave, the first phase alone was significant.  Fast streams from Boulder Chamber and Upper Traverse Chamber plugged the terminal stream passage with an assorted mixture of silt, sand, pebbles and good sized stones.  Much of the material comes from erosion of the north side of Stock Hill and places further north.  It filled back to Plantation Junction and then choked the entire Warren, Everest and Main Stream Passage areas. Much of it can still be seen.  For instance it composes most of the west wall of Everest Passage: a few feet below Plantation Junction, remains are jammed in the roof, eighteen feet overhead.

The filling of this phase stopped when the accessible parts of the Railway Tunnel were about a third full. Two later phases of coarse stream deposition can be recognised in the remains preserved along the north wall there. The central deposit has a few of the larger stone sizes (cobbles) which distinguishes it from these above and below. At the close of the third phase, the further parts of the Tunnel were fully choked also.

The streams thus clogged their first vadose route to Gour Rift.  As a result, they were spilled through the abandoned phreatic short circuits into Lake and Mud Ball Chambers.  From here to the S.E. the floor gradient of the rift was evidently much lower than gradients elsewhere in the cave.  This permitted sequences of gradation deposits to be laid upon it.  The long series of phases and sub-phases of the main fill is largely derived from analysis and correlation of two exposures of the rift fill.  One is seen in the S.E. corner of Mud Ball Hall, the other is the climb up from the Dining Room to Cerberus Hall.  These two sections are more complex than any others that have yet been described at sites deep within British Caves.

Rhythm is characteristic of their sequence.  Any one phase begins with the deposition of the unsorted, coarse stream fill described above.  Then follows a layer of small pebbles and sand, indicating a reduction of rate of flow of the steam and, almost certainly, its volume.  The next is finer still, of sand and clay only and this is followed by a layer of stalagmite.

Stalagmite sub-phases are common throughout the vadose history of the cave.  The evidence is quite clear that, when they occurred, there was no proper stream flow in the cave.  The only water underground was that permeating tiny cracks, becoming saturated with solutes in them and so depositing calcite when it reached larger cave spaces.  It must not be supposed that calcite deposition by permeating waters goes on continuously in an air-filled Mendip cave, spilling into the big stream channels if these are temporarily abandoned by their erosive waters.  Small forms may be continuous but otherwise the record is again clear, in all of the caves mentioned.  Periods of vigorous stream flow are periods when the permeating waters erode away the formations that they have earlier deposited.

The depositional phase described is thus one of progressively reduced stream flow, terminating in a cessation of flow and general stalagmite deposition.  The next phase may begin with some vigorous erosion of the stalagmite by a renewed stream.  Coarse deposits follow before there has been much clearance; then a reduction of flow, with sand deposition, and so on.  In the western half of the rift, the record shows five of these gradational phases, the first correlating with that which plugged up the Warren.  The last is incomplete, being halted when the fill reached the low roof between Mud Ball Chamber and Cerberus Hall.  It may be presumed that there were further depositional phases in the higher parts of the cave, but no certain evidence is preserved.  At its peak, the main fill extend to choke up most of Wire Rift (remains can be seen in two high false floors there).  There can have been little open cave below.

The Extension Passage was choked.  First by fill carried down the Warren Passage which crosses it, then by the September Stream itself.  The original phreatic passage (Continuation Chamber to Plantation junction) remains largely choked with coarse fill.  In Extension Passage, the most striking feature of the fill is the great depth of stalagmite layers.  The best section can be inspected at the entrance to Helictite Passage.  A stalagmite floor there is 36 inches thick; it rests on coarse fill burying an earlier stalagmite.  The floor was deeply entrenched on the west side by a stream which then filled up to the top of the extant passage (Cross Legs Squeeze). Continuation Chamber was also quite choked.  A good stratigraphic section is exposed at the climb down into it.

No other Central Mendip cave has been so clogged with stream as St. Cuthbert’s.  This is because it had a much larger catchment basin during the Main Fill times, including a great deal of easily erodible Mesozoic rocks.

(To be concluded in the CHRISTMAS edition of the B.B.)

Editors Note:     lthough it goes against the grain to have to cut the main article of this B.B., its total length is such that it cannot at the moment be included in a single B.B. without some production difficulties.

Caving Log

….for August and September.

Edited by Barry Lane

On the 3rd August, another incident occurred in Swildons whereby a party was trapped because of the absence of ladders.  Fortunately, the “rescue” was only a case of Noel McSharry and Alan Thomas taking ladders to the top of the pitch.

On August 15, digging tools were brought out of the S.E. Inlet Dig in Swildons by Alan Coase, Barry Lane and Chris Harvey.  The dig has been has now been abandoned since a recent breakthrough revealed 15 feet of passage which closes down to ‘an almost impossible choke’.

Dave Irwin was “at home” in the Marble Hall area of St. Cuthbert’s on the 22nd, with Mike Luckwill and Phil Kingston.  A choke was pushed at the south end of Coral Chamber, to a 50 foot pot which was choked at the bottom.  Stones were dropped through holes in the choke and travelled a fair way.  A further look at Marble Hall revealed a boulder ruckle with a very large passage leading off.

On a trip to Trat’s Temple on the 28th, Chris Harvey climbed to a hole high up in the stream way, but unfortunately slipped.  He did not describe the hole when writing up his trip in the Caving Log!

Tony Meadon and Mike Luckwill investigated the sump at the bottom of Cone Chamber on 28th, which has earlier been reported dry. Digging commenced with bare hands and the length of the passage increased by six feet, revealing a promising dig.

Roger Stenner went down St. Cuthbert’s on September 2nd to examine some of Don Coase’s surveying gear, and brought out his tripod for cleaning.  Roger also requests leaders to ensure that old surveying stations have not moved or tampered with, as the new surveys will not make them obsolete. They will also be of great value when other people’s surveys are tied in.

On the 15th, Alan Thomas and Dave Irwin removed some of the fill from the bottom of the 50’ pot mentioned earlier, which is near Marble Hall.  Alan had some trouble climbing out which, at the top, is reported to be ‘extremely interesting’.

On the 18th, these same two pushed a passage into a chamber above Long Chamber Extension.  A way on can be seen but needs some enlarging.  A fine set of curtains were noted, also an erratic which grows upwards in the stal. floor.  On the very next day, the passage was again pushed by Geoff Bull, Tommy Thomas, Pete Hudson and guess who?, but was found to close down after about sixty feet.

On the 25th of September, Alan Thomas and Dave Irwin inspected a hole in the roof of Pillar Chamber, near the three runged ladder.  They followed a passage or forty feet into a reasonably sized chamber which was immediately above the chamber at the top of Rocky Boulder Passage. Several other holes were noted on route. A hole in the roof of this chamber led to an even larger chamber with a vertical rift on the left hand wall. This rift is apparently very well decorated.  A bedding plane at the lower end of this chamber seems to have possibilities of connecting with a bedding plane off Long Chamber.

The Belfry Needs You Too!

What an excellent thing it would be if we had some tools at the Belfry.  If every member of the club presented one tool, this would make a nucleus of over 170 tools which could be used to improve and maintain the Belfry. Have YOU an old tool you could give the club?  Perhaps your tool is old and worn; perhaps it is bent or misshapen; perhaps you do not know what it is for or you have grown tired of it.  Perhaps you have two.  Whatever its condition we should very much like to receive it.  Tools of every description come in useful.  Tools donated will be kept under lock and key by the Belfry Engineer so that they last.  A list of all tools and their donors will be published in due course – sharpen chisels, reset saws etc.  Please respond to this appeal if you can!

Mendip – Sixty Years Ago

by Alan Bonner.

I recently bought a set of bound copies of ‘The Climbers Club Journal’ for the years 1898 – 1904, and, under the heading “Kyndwr Club Notes” found the following report which I hope will be of interest to the caving members.

At the close of 1902, two members, Baker and Bamforth, accompanied by Mr.  Morland and Dr. Sheldon, went into eight caverns in the neighbourhood of Burrington and Cheddar in Somerset.  They attained a number of points that had never been reached before and secured an interesting series of photographs.  A great deal of work remains to be done at these two spots. Later on Baker and Bamforth joined a party led by Mr. H.E. Balch of Wells – a most persevering speleologist - who has put into practice some ideas of his own with excellent results.  His speciality is excavation.  At Eastwater, on the top of Mendip, he sunk a shaft into a swallet and so discovered a great cavern, through which a stream flows on its way to the water caverns of Wookey Hole.  On the occasion referred to, a party of nine penetrated to a depth of more than six hundred feet below the surface, and to a distance of two thousand feet from the cave mouth.  The cave is exceptionally difficult.  Its passages are so narrow as to be almost impracticable, the explorers having, to give just one instance, to crawl through an S-bend with a diameter of nine and a half inches.  There are awkward vertical drops, with deep pots lying in wait beneath them; long craggy canyons across slopes of 500 and –worst of all – enormous accumulations of jagged rocks, through the midst of which it is necessary to crawl and wriggle, carrying quantities of ropes and other apparatus.  Though it proved that the Eastwater Cavern drains in to Wookey Hole, all attempts have so far proved unavailing to explore the canals and water pipes that lie between.

At Wookey Hole, the upper galleries as well as the water caverns were explored, with a view to finding the connecting links and since the Kyndwr man left, Mr. Balch has cut a way into a new cavern of almost unparalleled loveliness, which promises to lead on into the unknown region between the two series of caverns.

The report goes on to mention the Cheddar Caves and Lamb Leer and ends: - ‘There is a lot of cave work to be done in Somerset and many promising caves have hardly been touched.’

The Kyndwr Club appears to have been formed in Derby in 1900 or a little earlier and, from the reports in the Journal referred to, were very active in the caving and climbing fields.

Sett’s Mathematical Puzzles.

Pending an answer to the last problem, which will appear in next month’s B.B., you may like to try this “quickie”.

One year, Ben decided to count the total number of pints he served at the Hunters to cavers, so he kept a tally.  On totting up the final figure for the year, he noticed that it ended with a 4 and that, if he moved this 4 to the other end of the number, the new number thus produced was exactly 4 times as big as the one he had got.  What was the number?


Rash Prophesies Department

We made ourselves look pretty silly last month, didn’t we?  Bragging about the new cover and stapling machine when it turned out that neither were ready for last month.  In fact, we had to hold last month’s B.B. back but even so, the printers let us down.  Anyhow, after a false alarm, here actually is the new cover.  We hope you like it because you’re stuck with it for at least eighteen months.


When a caving incident receives national publicity, we feel bound to follow with a description of our own, if only to let absent members and other cavers know what actually did happen. In this particular case, the knowledge is first hand, and the account in this month’s B.B. is largely that given to the M.R.O. by Marriott, who led the party involved.

Once again, we sadly note the numerous errors and the distortion of the facts towards melodramatic indulged in by many of the national dailies.  In particular, the bit about communication not being established, which appeared in at least one account, can be refuted by Ken, Prew, and myself, who were in touch with one another by means of a writing pad in a tin, for the whole time.

Silver Jubilee

This is the club’s Silver Jubilee Year.  In this issue is a letter by Tony Johnson on this subject.  It would be a good thing if some of the older members could give a bit of thought to any sort of article describing the early years of the club!                                                                                                       “Alfie”

February Committee Meeting

The February meeting of the committee was held at the Belfry on the 7th.  The following new members were elected and we take this opportunity to welcome them to the club.  M.H. Evans, B.G. Clark, R.C. Hawkins, R.J. Roberts, W.F. (Jug) Jones, and George and Shirley Weston.  The last two are Joint Full members and all the others full members.

Other business dealt with included a discussion on the recent incident in Cuthbert’s, and suggestions for further increasing the safety aspects of this cave, the provision of fluorescent lighting in the Belfry, the proposed film to be made of the B.E.C., and the usual monthly reports given by the officers of the club.


(A report on the incident in St. Cuthbert’s Swallet on Sunday, 24th January, 1960)

The party consisted of thirteen members of the Gloucester Speleological Society, plus K. Franklin and myself acting as guides.

The party entered the cave at 1.00 pm, noticing a small amount of water running into the entrance rift, which caused two of members of the Gloucester party to turn back and return to the surface.  The remaining thirteen of us pressed on, meeting a party led by Mike Palmer when we reached Mud Hall.  Since one of the Gloucester part had experienced some difficulty in negotiating the Wire Rift, he decided at this stage to return to the surface with Mike Palmer’s party.

The remainder of our party, now reduced to twelve, went on and did the usual “Weegee” trip.  On the return journey it was decided to split the party at Upper Mud Hall, and since three of the Gloucester people had previously visited the cave, they went ahead with two others while K. Franklin and myself followed with the slower people.  The object of this move was to avoid the delay which accompanies a party of this size at the bottom of the entrance rift.  When this point was reached by the slower portion of the party, at approximately 6 pm we found that two members of the first party had succeeded on climbing the rift against a considerable volume of water while the others were waiting for us, owing to lack of and non-functioning electric lights.

I then offered to climb the rift next and give the rest of the party illumination and assistance with the rope if necessary from the top.  This suggestion was agreed to, and I then climbed the rift.  On reaching the top, I began to encourage the next chap who, by this time, was nearly halfway up by giving him a heave on the rope.  At this stage, his light went out and he became to be a trifled worried.  It became obvious that he would have to return to the bottom and be assisted by fresh people on the line.  I therefore advised him to return while this could be organised and meanwhile get out of the water.

Meanwhile, at the Belfry, the first members of the party had reported the heavy water flow down the Entrance Rift and Rowena offered to change and go as far as the bottom of the Rift, to let the rest of the party know that assistance was available if required. Rowena met me at the top of the Rift, and volunteered to go down to check if the second man had got down all right. I then returned to the Belfry to call out assistance.

Alfie was getting into a Goon Suit as I arrived, and informed me that he had contacted Ken at the Shepton Hut by phone, and that Ken was standing by and changing.  As Alfie left for the cave, Prew arrived and was put in touch with events.  He immediately formed a party to attempt to make the dam more effective, but it was soon agreed that little immediate reduction of water was possible by this means. Ken and Alfie then entered the cave, and, on reaching the top of the Rift, Ken went down after agreeing a code of signals on the rope and promising to come straight back and report on the condition of the rift and the party below.  He soon returned and reported that the party were in good hearty, but that it would not be advisable for them to come out just yet, as they were a little tired after their trip and rather wet.  He suggested that he return to the bottom to reinforce the party there. Alfie returned to the Belfry and, with the others, got hot tea, dry clothes &c together to be lowered down the Rift.  This was done and the M.R.O. called out.  They brought enough Goon Suits to equip each caver still at the bottom with one, and organised the Fire Brigade to come up an pump the pond out into Plantation swallet.  The M.R.O. call went through about 8 pm.

Prew, Mike Holland, Alfie &c then started lowering the supplies down to the people below. Contact with the party at the bottom was originally carried out by Ken and Alfie shouting to each other, but this was soon replaced by the use of a message pad and pencil which could be lowered up and down on the rope.  A point to note here.  Light articles, such as clothing, will not go down the Rift easily in polythene bags and a bag full of stones was improvised to give the bags enough weight.  The supplies ware organised form the Belfry and the Shepton Hut were soon reinforced with Goon Suits by the M.R.O. and supplies of chocolate, cigarettes &c which Brenda and Jill organised from the local shop.

The M.R.O. arrived on the scene very quickly, and also the Fire Pump which, by 9.45 was pumping the pond out at a very impressive rate.  At about this time, a veritable horde of reporters, photographers (moving and still) and general hangers-on descended on the site like a swarm of locusts. By 10.45 the water flowing down the entrance rift had considerably decreased and the first of the people below came out.  Further pumping stopped the flow completely & the last man form the Gloucester party reached the surface by 1am.

Kit was then recovered from the cave and taken to the Belfry, where utter confusion appeared to reign, owning to the fact that thirty or forty people plus a vast amount of kit were all crammed into the building.  However, this was all gradually sorted out.

One unfortunate aspect of this affair is that it was not discovered until we were actually in the cave that two of the party were novices (from a caving point of view) although one was an experienced climber and the other had had considerable experience in old iron workings.  It was one of these people who failed to climb the Rift on the first attempt.  In view of this, it would have been inadvisable to have encouraged him to make a second attempt immediately after his failure. Fortunately, and perhaps due to this prudent attitude, the situation at no time got out of hand and, thanks to the prompt assistance of the M.R.O., the Police and the Fire Brigade, the whole operation was carried out very calmly and smoothly.

                                    From an account by C.A. Marriott.

Letters to the Editor

333 5th Street
Shawinigan Falls

Dear Hon. Ed.

Reading the Christmas number of the B.B. which has just reached me by a rather roundabout way, I see a notification for change of address.  Here is my present one, but please keep the one which is at present ‘on the books’ as my permanent address.

Although my copy of the B.B. is not quite hot off the press, I find it very interesting.  I see from the address list that Tony Rich is now in Calgary.  That is only 2,000 miles from here!  Quebec is inhabited by ‘frogs’; and Shawinigan is only 5% English speaking.  Thus I am trying to learn French as fast as possible on the principle of when in Rome doing as the Romans do!

I have a job with Shawinigan Chemicals in the Technical Service and Development Department on Vinyls and other plastics.  Only a few of my fellow technicians can speak English.  It is rather like living in a sort of Americanised France.  In the hills near here (locally termed the ‘bush’) there are many lovely lakes surrounded by forest.  They are wonderful for boating; swimming; water skiing or fishing in the summer.  At the moment, most of these lakes have many inches of ice and in the north where the temperature drops to -40 of -60oF, several feet of ice are formed.

There is plenty of snow here.  We had the first of it in the middle of October.  I have been skiing every weekend since before Christmas.  I’ve been to New York twice and seem “My Fair Lady” the last time.

How’s the dig on Priddy green?  Still draining the cowsh from Maine’s Barn to Swildons?  Whilst the rest of you are all draining the Hunters dry, I suppose!

                        John Pegram


To the Editor, B.B.,

Dear Sir,

Where are they now? Where are the people who have helped over the years to build the B.E.C. up to what it is now?  Some of us are still circulation, some tragically are no longer with us, but very many have just disappeared into the shadows.

I wonder where ‘Andre’ is now.  Before the B.B. was ever dreamed of, way back in the early 1940’s, Andre was by way of being a club chronicler in cartoon.  Unfortunately, few of his efforts survive.  What of Johnny “half Pint” Dwyer that cussed but intrepid pillion rider of the Cantle motor cycle.  What of Roger himself?  I believe he is to be found rushing round Gloucestershire in a radio controlled car – a ‘respectable’ married man.  Thinking of climbing and North Wales, I wonder where that diminutive Merseyside dynamo Bob Crabteree is yarning these days.  Others of the climbing fraternity, Ron “Holler-in-the-Night” Newman and Johnny “Menace” Morris more fortunately have not completely gone and may still be seen at club now and again.

John Bindon is another to have departed, and his exceptionally fine tenor voice is no longer heard in the Hunters.  Of similar vintage, who can remember Tim Kendrick flying into Cuthbert’s depression one summers day?  This would go on forever.  Postle and Dizzie and their famous chariot “Sue”, Tony Bamber, “Foulmouth” McKee and many more.

Luckily some of these old stagers ate still going strong.  Dan Hasell springs to mind at once.  I don’t think he would like to be known as the wise old man of the B.E.C., but his experience has been invaluable to us on more than one occasion.  He probably doesn’t remember, but he was the first to take me up on Mendip and the Hunters.  Sett seems to go on and on.  Sett, for whom Hal Perry once wrote (after one of his prangs which he indulged at the time)

Now there’s Sett of battered face
Likes to fester on apace,
Taking corners over faster
Often leads him to disaster.

There are dozens more. Some known to the present population, some rarely mentioned names, stretching back almost into prehistory; when the B.E.C. was vastly different form its present prosperity.  I can remember long discussions during those happy evenings with Harry at 74 Redcatch Road when in fear and trembling we decided to sink everything and bog (was it £25?) and buy a hut to use as a Mendip Headquarters. How this hut is no more and a stone one is rising in its place.

As a gesture on the Silver jubilee of the club, I wonder if it would be possible to send a complimentary copy of the B.B. to those old but lost friends whose addresses are not too out of date.  Even if some never find their final recipient, I feel that some at least might be glad to know that the old club is still alive and kicking and perhaps renew their acquaintance.  You never know.

                        Tony Johnson

Editor’s Note.    At the risk of a wildcat strike in the Postal Dept, I think this could be arranged.  We do owe these members quite a lot, and this would be a nice way of reminding then that they are not quite forgotten.

British Overseas Caving Expedition.

A preliminary notice appeared in a recent B.B.  We have now been sent more information.  The expedition will be arranged for 1961 and it is desired to know a little known caving area in Europe, so as not to duplicate the work of earlier such expeditions.  If any member has any definite knowledge of an area fulfilling those conditions, he is asked to get in touch with: -

                        Alan Fincham
                                    The University,

Or via the club secretary. Further notices will appear in the B.B. on this subject from time to time.


It seems absurd to suggest it, but there are still some of this year’s subs outstanding.  Why not astound the secretary abet actually paying them?

Use of a Barometer

Roger Stenner has written to point out that the conclusions printed at the end of the article ‘Use of a Barometer in Cave Surveying’ which appeared in the recent Christmnas B.B. were not these which, in fact, he supplied.  This is true and we should like to may it quite clear that this is not our usual practice.  There are, however, reasons which will be sent to the author.  Should he not agree, a further article on this subject will be printed in the near future.


The Hut Warden would like to remind you that kit is left at the Belfry at YOUR OWN RISK.  Old caving and other gear is liable to be turned out periodically and may be destroyed.  Don’t let this happen to you!


THE BELFRY BULLETIN. February 1960.  No. 144.
Secretary, R.J. Bagshaw, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.
Editor, S.J. Collins, 33 Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8.
Postal Dept, B. Prewer, 14 Egerton Road,, Bath, Somerset.