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The Printer Apologises

First for the lateness of the April BB, which was due to matters beyond his control.  Secondly for the bad print of No.22.  His apprentice ‘hadn’t a clue’ how the duplicator worked and did his best in his ‘Bosses’ absence.

Thirdly for the paper in this issue.  We are out of stock of our usual brand and this is all we are able for the time being, to get.  Lastly to those unfortunates who will find that page six has been printed upside down.  This certainly has added a touch of the unusual to the BB, and was due to one of those errors that creep into the best of regulated printing establishments.

J. Caxton

Trip to

Names are rolling in, and though rather early to pass any comment it appears that a really good party will go.  No details, other than those already circulated, are to hand but those whose names have been handed in will be notified as and when the details arrive.  Maps of the area can be obtained from the Automobile Association, Sheet 767 of Michelin Maps is the relevant one, and also sheet 93 The Rhone Valley.

Caving Helmets

Owing to high pressure research work on the part of the Committee we are pleased to announce that we are able to sell caving helmets at a new low price of 6/6.  This is quite a saving on the old price.  They will be ordered each month, with a delivery of about 14 days after the firm’s receipt of order.

Two Cavers Go Climbing

by D.A. Coase.

Having seen and immediately obtained a small booklet entitled ‘Sandstone Climbs in S.E. England’, the first fine Sunday (Jan 30th.) found Geoff Ridyard and the writer boarding a Greenline Bus for East Grinstead.  A two mile walk followed, through delightful country, until, turning up a track, Stone Farm Rocks were reached.

First things first, so we sat on top of one of the rocks and had lunch.  The situation of the rocks couldn’t be better.  The outcrop, which nowhere is above 25ft. high runs East and West and faces South, looking over a wide valley with the infant River Medway beneath (which by the way exhibits some very nice meander loops).  The far side of the valley rises towards Ashdown Forest.

But to business, so we donned our plimsolls, for nailed boots are barred, owing to the damage they would do to the rock, which is a soft, yellowy-brown sandstone.

The first climb we tried ‘East Jordan’, a youngster had blithely danced up whilst we lunched, and Geoff seemed to manage it without trouble, but I found it quite an effort.  Then, our enthusiasm aroused, we started on ‘Key Climb’.  This involved straddling up between two blocks for ten feet, then swinging on to the main rock and climbing a narrow chimney to the top.  The fun was swinging over to get into the chimney.  Geoff, after a struggle got across, but I got stuck completely and had to jump off and start again.  I might add we hadn't a rope, we had discussed taking to clothes line but decided that wasn’t quite the thing.  The second attempt by climbing I found easy.

We then wandered along the outcrop, climbing anything we thought we could manage.  One boulder about 12 feet high gave us fun owing to the overhang at the base, but after trying four or five times and falling off (about 4 feet), we conquered it.

On ‘Inaccessible Boulder’ again we had the same problem, with an overhang to get onto a ledge traversing round the rock about 8 feet up.  It wasn’t until later that we found the easy way up.  From here three routes lead to the top.  Two were immediately dismissed as beyond us, and the third again an overhang, wasn’t so nice.  At last Geoff gave me a shoulder to stand on and once up I saw an obvious handhold that was invisible from below.  Then with my moral assistance Geoff managed it.  Although this climb is graded as an "easy difficult" we both found it quite a problem.

Another climb we tried, involved traversing along a narrow ledge and then climbing the ‘nose’ of the boulder.  In its self, it was quite easy, but to complicate matters a holly tree grew against the face.  As I swung on top of the rock, my posterior pivoted out from the face, straight into the prickliest part of the tree.

To finish up, we tackled a slightly tougher climb.  Quoting the guide book ‘Stone Farm Chimney’ (Easy Severe) Face R.  The tight overhanging portion is made by monkeying up the front flake, A Delightful Climb’.  (The underlining is the writer's).  The chimney starts off about two feet wide, just too narrow to chimney decently then, about ten feet up, it narrows to about nine to twelve inches.  The instructions are to climb the flake, but my caving instincts coming to the fore, I swarmed up in the chimney.  Geoff and I both got up eventually but it was more by BF and BI than orthodox climbing.

So we called it a day, just as the sun set, and walking back in the gathering dusk a very necessary pot of tea, after which we caught the bus back home, two tired but very happy cavers, bitten by a new bug.


The Belfry

New Lining Sheets are being purchased for the Belfry Mk. II, and should have arrived by the time this BB reaches you.  Will all those with time to spare please turn out and help to finish off the interior so that the ‘Painting Squad’ can take over.  The wiring of the interior of the new hut has been completed and points are being provided for such luxuries as electric razors and flat irons.  It is to be expected as a result of these innovations that an entirely new species of Homo Subterraneanis will make his appearance on Mendip complete with neatly pressed overalls and a face as smooth and clean as a baby’s back.

By the way for the benefit of the newer and younger members: -

Do not in any circumstances start or try to start the motor-generator.  The set has been recently damaged by someone whose enthusiasm outweighed his discretion so that having ‘made it go’, he couldn’t stop it and the engine suffered in consequence.  The two batteries are always left charged so that anyone using the hut will have adequate lighting.  Of course if the radio is left on all the time the batteries will discharge faster and members are asked to use their common sense as to how long they use it.  Setterington who is Hut Warden has charge of the generator and he alone, or someone personally delegated by him at the time, has authority to touch it.

As the new hut nears completion, the day for ‘moving in’ draws nearer.  The hew hut will be a very different place from the old one, and the Chairman of the Belfry sub-committee has been asked to draw up a  list of those things which members using the huts are expected to observe.  This list, which will be circulated to all members, will be regarded, as provisional, and we shall welcome suggestions, in writing, please, and/or amendments from all members.

T.H. Stanbury


The most Hectic Caving weekend for some time was undertaken at Easter.  Over thirty persons slept at the Belfries (or is it Belfrys?) and more than fifty members and friends were on Mendip.  The thirty sleepers were per night and not over the period.  All the major Mendip Caves were visited together with a large number of the smaller ones.  The evenings were spent in singsongs and a good time was had by all.  This constitutes a record for the Club.  The previous highest sleeping figure was 25.  Whitsun is just around the corner, and indications so far are that it is going to be even more successful than Easter.

List of Members 1949  No. 2

G. Platten              Hon. Editor, British Caver, Rotherfield, Fernhill Lane, New Milton, Hants.
E.J. Steer              c/o 23, Andover Road, Knowle Park, Bristol. 4.
G.T. Lucy              28, Bibury Cerscent, Henleaze, Bristol. 7.
P.A.E. Stewart       11, Fairhaven Road, Redland, Bristol. 6.
P.T. Reed              53, Dongola Road, Bristol. 7.
R.G. Belamy          5, Heron Road, Easton, Bristol
P. Browne             5, Trinity Parade, Frome, Somt.
A.J. Crawford         10, Elm Close, Hendon, London, N.W. 4.
A.M. Innes,            Hon. Librarian, 246, Filton Ave., Horfield Bristol. 7.
Mrs. Thompsett      Greenhatch, Isle Abbots, Nr Taunton, Somt.
R. Cantle               46, Cherrinton Road, Henleaze, Bristol. 7.
R.A. Setterington,  Hon. Hut Warden, 21, Priors Wood Road, Taunton, Somt.
R.M. Wallis           Briarcroft, Marlborough Close, Latchford, W.O., Warrington, Lancs.
J.M. Thompsett      Greenhatch, Isle Abbots, Nr Taunton, Somt.
E.H. Cole              174, Baginton Road, Coventry, Warwickshire.

From The Hon. Sec.’s Postbag

From Terry Reed at Trinidad

I’ve heard of two caves in this island, both carrying streams.  Both have wide passages, up to the width of a room.

I.                           Is at Point Ballen and is about 45 vertical feet deep.  It is at sea level and has a fresh water stream inside.

II.                          Is at Arema in the mountains.  It is situated on a private coco (Nut or Food? Ed.) and is about 100 vertical feet deep.  There is a stream in the cave which is entered through a 20ft. pothole, the real entrance to the cave being in its side.  In this cave there are many rifts or swallet holes communicating with the surface.

My informant is an old half-caste man so I think he can be regarded as reliable - except as regards distances inside the caves.  He went down the Arema cave when he was a kid.

 I have phoned the Museum at Port of Spain and confirmed that these caves exist and that there are dripstone formations in the one at Point Ballen although they didn’t know if there was stream inside.

I have bought a big bottle of Rum for the Club.  (Sorry to raise your hopes boys.  Put those tongues back in your jaw.  Terry has already handed over the Rum and it has been sampled and disposed of by ‘Thursday-nighters’ long since.  Ed.)


The B.E.C. is living up to its reputation as watch finders.  At G.B. last Saturday another wrist watch was found.  This watch had however, already been reported lost by a visitor who was in the Cave the previous weekend.  We suggest that persons taking watches underground should either make sure that the strap is secure or put it in a pocket where it will be safe.


Stoke Lane Photos are out of stock for the time being.  A new supply will be along soon and anyone who has sent in a request for a selection and has not received any is asked to be patient, they will be sent out as soon as possible.

The Caves of Buckfastleigh, South Devon. 

by  J.V. Morris.

Since I have been stationed at Plymouth I have almost more opportunities for caving than before I was called up.

Practically in the village of Buckfastleigh, which is as far from Plymouth as Priddy is from Bristol, are two caves, Reed’s Cavern and Bakers Pits Cave.  Reeds and Bakers are really one and the same system and there are two connecting passages, one of which is too small to get through, even for Don Coase, (I know because I tried it and nearly ruined myself for life), the other is blocked to prevent people from smashing up the formations in Reeds.

Baker’s Pit is a very fine cave, although all the formations of the less robust kind were destroyed long go.  The Main Boulder Chamber is of considerable size, and in the right hand wall at different levels there are many passages, large and small which go to make up a really fine maze, even more complicated than the one in Goatchurch.

The way into the lower series is down the ‘Great Rift’, but seeing that there are three great rifts, it makes things rather difficult.  There is no mistaking the way however, once the right one is reached and descended, as there is an A.A. notice saying something about ‘Impossible Hill impracticable to motorists’, at the bottom.

The route from the rift lies along the Traverse, ending in a small chamber, with a dirty little hole in the floor.  Then comes the grind, it is a tunnel about the size of the Drain-pipe in Goatchurch; the only difference is that it is on an angle of forty-five degrees, has a right angled bend in the middle, with a two foot vertical step on the bend, and is cut down to three-quarters of the size of the Drain-pipe with ‘Stoke-Laneish’ mud.  Hence the name ‘The Grind’.

At the end of the Grind there is a very high chamber, with a horrid, hole about 18 feet deep at the end, the, ‘ole is a lot easier to climb than it looks.  From there the chamber runs downwards at a fairly steep angle with a stream running down it.  Unfortunately owing to the lack of time, that is as far as we got on the last trip, but I hope to get to the end this weekend.

Reed’s Cavern

This cave although it is in the same system as Bakers Pits, it is a very different kind of a cave.  It is quite a large cave, and for its size it has more formation than any other cave I have seen.. It is literally packed with every kind of formation, ‘pillars, straws, helictites, coral, and dripstone’. Yes, and even cave pearls, in fact I can honestly say, it one of the most beautiful caves I have ever seen.

It was found comparatively recently, although the entrance has been known for years.  It was found by Mr. A. Reed, who is President of the Devon Speleos.  After a good deal of digging they got into Easter Chamber, the main chamber of the Cave.  Luckily, no one can smash the formations as there is a steel door almost hidden under a mass of padlocks at the entrance.

There are about four different levels to Reeds, all of then complicated and full of formation, and on the whole it is a really interesting cave.

Pridhamsleigh Cave

Up till now I have not had the chance to go down this cave, but hope to this weekend.  By what I have been told it is a wet, muddy cave with plenty of tight bits.  It also has a large underground lake in one place 60ft. deep.

There is also a pot in the floor of a quarry just outside Buckfast.  It is a 45ft. overhanging ladder pitch, into a chamber, with some passages leading off.  Not having had it chance to try and kill myself in it yet, I'm afraid I don't know much about it.

I can certainly recommend any member of the B.E.C. who has time, to come down to this area for some really good caving.

J.V. Morris

(Since John wrote the above article much water has gone down the swallets, and we hope that he will send us a further article to bring our Devon information up to date. Ed.).


The Caving tempo of the Club is increasing considerably.  The weekend of 7th-8th May saw four caves visited by four large and independent parties.  Strange as it may seem, the reports reaching Jim Weekes who is Hon. Recorder are in inverse ratio to the number of excursions undertaken.  The Editor has been asked why so few reports ever reach the BB.  The fact is that although members very often come across interesting facts underground, they all seem shy of committing those facts to paper.  Please make every effort to send in these reports.  Let the rest of the club know what you have found, seen or deduced, a very brief note will suffice for routine trips with amplification as necessary.

List of Members 1949 No. 3.

J.K. Bindon            19, Morse Road, Redfield, Bristol.
P. Daymond          95, Cheddon Road, Taunton, Somt.
F. Seward              38, Uxbridge Road, Slough Bucks.
S.J. Collins            58, Beaconsfield Road, Mottingham, London, S.E.9.
P. Woodroffe          192, Heythorpe St., Southfields, London, S.E.18.
J.L. Hull                 137, Filton ave., Horfield Bristol. 7.
G.S. Treasure        Stoke Lane Poultry Farm, Stoke St. Michael, Nr Bath, Somt.
J.W. Ifold               Leigh House, Nempnett, Throbwell, Nr. Chew Stoke, Somt.
A.J. Needs            62, Callington Road, Brislington, Bristol.
Miss M. Thomas    6, Hill Crest, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
R.A. Ifold               32, Coburg Road, Montpelier, Bristol. 6.
E.O. Howell           4, Compton Drive, Sea Mills Park, Bristol. 9.
M. Hannam            14, Vyvyan Terrace, Clifton, Bristol. 8.
R.E.J. Gough         Camp farm, Elberton, Olveston, Bristol.
E.J. Mason            11, Kendon Drive, Westbury,-on-Trym, Bristol.

Sales to Members

The following ‘Cavers Aids’ are available, and if something not on the list is required such as camping gear, etc., write to Hon. Sec., who will get it for you.

Cap Lamps (gas) complete,
Spares for above (everything except the main water container)
Helmets (two different types and prices)
Miners Caps with lamp bracket,
Y.H.A. Membership Application Forms,
Camping Club Application Forms,

Lamps are usually from stock, other goods except forms in about 10 to 14 days according to makers delivery.  Don’t forget to state size for helmets & caps.

Why not aspire to Fame?????

Send your literary efforts to Hon. Editor.  Tell the Club all about your thrills and spills.  Help to make the BB a NEWS magazine; it’s up to you, so send in contributions large and small.


As we have remarked before, the club is becoming a matrimonial one.  We are delighted to announce the forthcoming marriage of our two members R.T. Humpidge and Miss Freda Chapman on July 16th.  Good luck to both of them.

The Belfry.

There are quite a number of items required to complete the new Belfry.  If anyone knows anyone who could obtain cheaply for the club any of the following list, please let any Belfry Committee or General Committee Member know at once.  We realize that a certain number of these items are obtainable at a price.  We have sunk a considerable amount of our resources into the Hut, and therefore want to obtain them as cheaply as possible.  If any member would care to present some or any of them, the rest of the members would bless his name for ever more.

Most of the list can be classified as ‘fittings’, but it is fittings such as these that will make all the difference between a Slick and a comfortable Headquarters.  We want the Belfry talked about wherever cavers and suchlike bods meet.

A.C. Johnson

Ed. note. Tony means ‘praised’ when he says ‘talked about’.  The old Belfry is already nationally famous (or is it Infamous).

Lengths of 6'1ong weatherboarding.
Lengths of Skirting Boards.
Guttering and Downspouts.
Barrels and/or water butts.
A small trolley or Wheelbarrow for local hauling.
Aluminium Sheets of all shapes and sizes.
A rectangular Kitchen Sink.
Strong Compact chairs, folding or nesting type would ideal.
A strong folding table.
A number of large stew pots, saucepans, kettles, fry pans, water containers, cups, plates, and knives, forks etc.
Curtain material.
Mattresses, Blankets and other bedding,
A bell mounted on a spindle for a Belfry on the roof.
(To summon the faithless to food, Ed.)

Belfry Cooking.

At the last Belfry Committee Meeting the idea was put forward that Calor Gas be installed for cooking instead of the range or primii in the summer.  The advantages are numerous:-there is less risk of fire; it is far cleaner for the hut; it is far more hygienic for the food (fancy stew not tasting of paraffin?) is less trouble.  The initial cost of such an installation has been worked out to be in the region of £12/-/-.  The General Committee when approached turned down the scheme on the grounds of expense at the present time when expenses are so high.  It was agreed however, that providing no objections were raised a levy of 3d. would be put on all Belfry charges, the money so collected being put into a fund for the purchase and installation of the equipment.  Before this levy is imposed we should like the views of members about the matter.  Would any member who does not agree with the proposed levy please inform the Hon. Sec. by 1st. July.  If no objections are received it is proposed to institute the levy from that date.  Any objection received will be considered on its merits before the ‘Tax’ is imposed.


Work on the new hut is going forward in a very fine way.  The internal fittings for the kitchen are under discussion and you are invited to submit schemes for it. The main lining is almost complete, but the ceilings and a part of the Ladies room remains to be finished.  It has been agreed that no internal decoration shall be done until the lining is finished, but the iron-work on the bunks has to be brushed and painted, the outside to be cleaned and creosoted, the site to be levelled and the vehicle park laid down, paths to be laid and surfaced with slag, the old huts to be renovated, cleaned and waterproofed, and converted into changing rooms and tackle store.

You will see from the above list that there is quite a lot left to be done so come along to the Belfries and wade in.  The more you do the less there will be to do.

Trip to Valence

The Hon. Sec. has received a list of 14 names for this trip.  Others would like to have gone but had made previous arrangements.  No details have yet (12th June) been received from M. Ageron, but each person on the list will receive full details as soon as they are available.


Work at Cross Swallet is going with a swing and a vast amount of spoil has been removed from the hole.  If enthusiasm is anything to go by, great things will be happening there shortly. Each time your roving reporter turns up at the site the place is swarming with eager members, each one doing a specific job.  The fact that there are no slackers accounts for the tons of infilling removed.  Caving trips are averaging two and three each weekend, these being undertaken not by just one or two but by considerable parties.

One of the highlights of the month was the conducting of a party of 12 Mormon Missionaries around the Upper Series of Swildons.  The sole casualty was our Hon. Sec. who fractured his left ankle.  This should teach him that Theology and Speleology are not similar sciences.


Our popular member Sam Treasure of Stoke St. Michael has written an article on Stoke Lane which has just been printed in the ‘Somerset Legion News’ the British Legion publication.  He has given us the OK to reprint it in the BB, and this we hope to do in the July issue.


A party from Woking Service of Youth Council are coming to Mendip as our guests on the weekend of July 9th – 10th.  It is hoped that the clerk of the weather will smile on them as this is their first visit to Mendip.  They intend to visit Swildons and/or Eastwater.  We should be glad if members could be available to ‘take them around’ in the usual B.E.C. manner.


From the Hon. Sec’s Post Bag.

From Terry Reed again on the Amazon: - We are steaming cautiously up the south bank of the Amazon which resembles Milk Chocolate.  I have contacted Rio re, caves in the area but am not very hopeful.

From Cerry Orren:- Tomorrow I am sailing for the British Cameroon’s, West Africa, to survey Banana Plantations, so I shan’t be able to join in activities for some two years.  The plantations are at the foot of Cameroon Mountain which is 13,000ft. high.  I don't know if it is of limestone, but any ‘dirty oles’ in the region will be explored and I hope to report t o the BB of anything found.  Best wishes to the Club!

From John Hull lately beside the Bitter Lake and now en route for : -I’ve been lapping up the BB and the new Belfry will be quite a place.  I've read somewhere an article on ‘Caving in ’, I can’t quite remember where could anyone give me any information on that point?

Lascaux-A Commentary’
by A.H. Broderick. (Lindsay Drummond, 15/-)

Reviewed by Pongo Wallis,

The most notable feature of this book is the photographs of the remarkable paintings in the caves; these take up about a third of the book.  The text is divided into three main sections.  The first deals with the discovery of the caves, the second is a brief summary of other painted caves, while the remainder is a description of the paintings and the artists techniques.

The object of the paintings is perhaps the most intriguing part of the subject.  It seems most likely that they have a magical significance.  In many primitive tribes today there is a belief that the possession of a drawing or model of a man gives the possessor power over the subject - photographs have sometimes suffered severely at their hands on this account.  What could be more reasonable, therefore, that making a drawing of an animal will make it easier to catch?  Some hunters went even further - for example, the clay statue of a bear which Casteret found at Montespan, and which was riddled with spear thrusts.

In this connection it is interesting to note the almost complete absence of human beings from the pictures, except occasionally in an extremely stylised form.  This could not be due to technical difficulties, as the standard of the animal drawings is very high.  But unless the Aurignacians were cannibals, and I know of no evidence that they were - there would be little point in drawing men.  Similarly, fauna which were very common and easily killed do not appear to a great extent.

Magic was not needed to hunt them, and primitive people do not use magic unnecessarily.

Although the paintings show a very close observation of the animals drawn, they are almost entirely isolated pictures of animals – there is no story to them, or composed picture.  Of the hundreds of paintings in the caves, only a very few fall into this class.  Of these, two are notable.   One is a pair of bison charging at the viewer, and the other is a wounded bison goring his attacker; whereas the animal is very faithfully portrayed, the man is extremely stylised, rather like a child's ‘match-stick’ drawing,

Whether or not this particular aspect of caves is your particular interest, I should certainly try to have a look at this book, if only at the photographs, which are really outstanding.  The text, I leave to you, but in any case, it is quite short.


Caving in Devon 

by J.V. ‘Menace’ Morris

Pridhamsleigh Cave

Editor’s Note.  John took the hint from the last BB and within a few days of publication this article arrived.

I last told you about the caves called Bakers Pit and Reeds Cavern.  I will now try and give you an idea what Pridhamsleigh is like.

The entrance is very large and is situated in a wood of that name, above the Buckfast-Ashburton road.  A small passage leads off into a real maze, with every bit well supplied with sticky, horrible mud; in fact I can safely say that it beats anything on Mendip as far as mud is concerned.

The first chamber is called the Bishops Chamber, which has many ways leading from it as we found to our cost.

There are three places worth getting to in the Cave, although one can wander for hours.

One is the lake, it is not large as lakes go, but it is very deep, somewhere in the region of 30 feet!  There are some fine formations here and the usual mud.

Another is the Deep Well.  This is really a fine rift 20 feet across, just too wide to chimney, the walls covered in mud, and 30ft. of water underneath.  It is great fun leading across this with the rope.  The best way is to traverse high up on one wall; and just as you make the final dash you slip and fall into the Well.  When this happens the air goes blue and the water boils.  Once across, a passage of good formation is followed to the Sump, either by swimming or chimneying along the roof, taking care not to damage the very fine formations.

The Sump looks quite passable, but I have not yet tried it, and I cannot get anyone to back me up.

The last place of interest is Anemolite Alley.  This is a low ascending tunnel containing some very beautiful pure white anemolites.  When first opened some pre-historic badger dung was found (very pre-historic).

The real job in the cave is to find one’s way out again.  On the last visit it took us three hours to find the way out again.

Any party wanting to visit this cave would be advised to contact Mr. Reed of D.S.S. (Hon. Sec. has address.  Ed.), as this will save a lot of time, and no doubt the D.S.S. would allow them to use their H.Q. for changing Etc.

J.V. Morris


The British Broadcasting Corporation (Television Department) have given the club a donation of £5/5/- for the part we played in making a Television News Reel last Christmas.  Thank you very much B.B.C. for your generosity.  Thanks too, to those individuals both in the club and Broadcasting house (Bristol) who took so much trouble on our behalf.  The donation has been put into the Hut Fund.

Redcliffe Caves

The B.E.C. has received, from the Bristol Corporation, permission to survey and examine the Redcliffe System.  These caves have been purchased from their original owners by the Corpn., but have not yet been handed over.  When they take possession we shall be able to start work.  It is proposed to work there on Thursday evenings as well as weekends, but the dates, there will be meeting at Redcatch will be notified, when possible in the BB.  The caves cover a large area, parts of which have been filled in and blocked off.  Older members will remember trips to Redcliffe a number of years ago when Dan Hassell crawled down an open sewer.

Dr. Wallis of the City museum is giving us all the assistance he can and has put at our disposal a survey of one part of the system.  Any antiquarian finds will of course go to the City Museum.



Redcliffe Caves

As yet no new has come through from Bristol Corporation but as soon as the OK is given you will be notified.  The survey of part of the system in the possession of Dr. Wallis has been copied, and upon examination is seen to be only a fragment of the whole system.  There are a number of entrances and passages that we already know about that are not on the map, although the area covered by it is considerable.


The party from Woking Service of Youth Council who visited us in July had a ‘wonderful’ weekend and are looking forward to their next visit as soon as they can fix one.

Somewhere in the region of 1,000 people (yes, a thousand), have spent nights at the Belfry so far this year.  This includes parties from all over and not only those organised 1ocally.  If our attendances keep on increasing at this rate, it seems as though yet another Belfry will have to be purchased, or insertions of sheet rubber put in the walls to cope with the ‘mudding crowds’.


The Stoke Lane Photos are again proving very popular.  Hurry up if you want a set.  A reminder to those who have these Photos and have not returned them or paid for them.  PLEASE return the unwanted ones with the money, for those purchased so that those who are ‘in the Queue’ can get a selection without delay.


AFRICA CALLS, to our members.  There are quite a few of BECites and club contacts in Africa now.  We have had suggestions that an ‘African Section’ be formed.  This would be mainly a ‘Correspondence’ section, but would doubtless help, to while away the exiles spare minutes.  Lists of Members in Africa will be circulated to anyone interested in such a section.

Programme August, Sept. & October 1949.

July 29th. - August 2nd. Bank Holiday meet at Belfry,
Caving in all directions with special emphasis on Stoke Lane.
August 13th. Sat, Longwood and August Hole,
August 20th. -.‘Aug. 28th. French Trip to Valence,
Aug. 28th, Swildons Hole,
Sept. 10th. Burrington.
Sept, 25th. Eastwater, both routes,
Oct,.15th, G,B,
Oct. 23rd. Muddy Mendip Mine Shafts,

We hope to hear of the handing ever of Redcliffe Caves to the Bristol Corporation soon in which case trips to Redcliffe will take place during the week.

Stoke Lane.  A Serious Warning

Members entering Stoke Lane are warned of loose boulders.  A short time ago a party had a very narrow escape from serious accident when a boulder weighing in the neighbourhood of' 24 cwt. fell from the pile on the slope from the stream to the Main Chamber.  It hit Sybil Bowden-Lyle in the back but luckily had no very serious consequences.  Hard luck Sybil it’s a good job that you're tough.

Change of address

We have received several complaints recently from members that their BB’s have not been arriving.  Invariably these complaints have come from members who have changed their address.  If members who move would notify the Hon. Sec. of this their BB’s would eventually arrive at the new address, and would do away with the myth that the committee are clairvoyant, or have a chart of each member whereby his or her movements are automatically traced by radar.

T.H. Stanbury

List of members 1949.  No.5

In response to requests Christian names or the name by which the member is usually known is now included in these lists.

Bill Mack,                       313, Watford Road, St. Albans, Herts.
Miss, Pat, Brazier,           14, Kendale Road, Bridgwater, Somt.
Mrs, Lynne Eno,              Brook Gardens, Compton Greenfield , Nr, Bristol.
Miss Violet Inseal,           315, Potherton Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
Tom Driver, 10,                St , Pauls Road, Clifton, Bristol.
G, (Tom) Ratcliffe,            12, Mayfield Road, Dagenham, Essex.
R.H. Morgan,                   4, Brook Road, Montpelier, Bristol. 6.
Bernard Smailes,             16, Armoury Square, Stapleton Road, Bristol.
Frank le R, Perroe,          University Settlement, Barton Hill, Bristol. 5.
Mrs. Freda Humpidge,      38, Devonshire Road, Westbury Park, Bristol. 6.
R.T. Humpidge,               26, Cavendish Road, Henleaze, Bristol.
Os Rendell,                     19, The Drive, Henleaze,  Bristol.
Miss Sybil-Bowden-Lyle,  31, Highworth Road, St. Annes Park, Bristol. 4.
Tom Pink,                       53, Burnthwaite Road, Fulham, London, S.W.6.


Volunteers are needed for ladder making.  The job is extremely simple and those who are interested are asked to contact either George Lucy or Hon. Sec. who will tell them what is wanted.

Meeting of Bristol Members

Although too late for inclusion in the last BB proper, a printed slip was inserted in each copy.  In case there were any that were missed here briefly is a resume of the leaflet.

From July 21st. until Sept, 21st, we shall be meeting in rooms at the rear of St. Matthew’s Parish Hall, Redfields.  This is a 1½d bus ride on routes 8 or 9 from Old Market, getting off at the stop past Lawrence Hill Station.  Almost opposite the bus stop and on that opposite side of the road, i.e. left hand side looking towards Bristol is St. Matthew’ Church.  Besides the church is a road.  At the top of this road is the Parish Hall.

I am given to understand that the Church Scouts meet in the main hall on Thursdays, so if you see swarms of them when you enter you will know that you are in the right place.  We hope to have notices up to direct you to our entrance at the rear.

At the last meeting at Redcatch it was put to those present that a small levy would have to be made to cover the cost of rooms and all agreed that this would be the best way of doing it.  Therefore a sum of 6d. a head would be charged to all persons, both members and non-members, using this room on Thursdays.  There must be no exceptions to this or we shall run heavily into arrears.  Member bringing along visitors are asked to explain to them that it will cost them 6d, and explain the reason for the charge.

T.H. Stanbury.

The Belfry

The fine weather has helped to defeat the target set by the Belfry Committee, and in fact very little work has been done in the last few weeks.  A calor gas stove or rather cooking unit, thanks to the good offices of John Ifold and Dan Hasell has been purchased very cheaply making a saving of several pounds on the estimated cost, and thus bringing nearer the day when we can advertise The Belfry modern country residence, all mod, con., h.&c. in all beds., Gas and Electricity modern sanitation etc.


The following article has been gleaned from various old guide books and as all the caves mentioned are between Perranporth and Tintagel is called:-

Cousin Jack's Caves.

by a Cousin Jack!

The caves mentioned below are only a few of the many caves of the district and this article is not intended as a ‘Caver’s Guide’ but merely a very brief description of the most well known.  The compiler can accept no responsibility if the seeker cannot find any of the caves mentioned as he has never visited them, (shades of Snogger Hawkins.  Ed.) but the locations are all authentic if Ye Olde Cornish Guide is anything to go by.

Chief among the attractions of Perranporth is Chapel Rock, and hard by is Western Cavern.  This is very difficult of access and often contains a great deal of water in its rocky pools.  Care should be taken that the tide is on the ebb as the unwary are easily trapped if it is flowing.

Moving north to East Pentire Head, a cave can be explores by climbing down the side of the cliff through a somewhat small opening.

Again on the move north, we reach Newquay.  Here are a number of caves that can be described in greater detail.  The Tea Caverns are situated below Towan Head, where a zig-zag path leads down to the caves.  The Tea Caverns take their name from the fact that in by-gone days they were used by smugglers and more specially for the storing of contraband tea.

At the bottom of the path already mentioned an archway will be encountered, after a number of boulders have been negotiated, leading to a small beach.  To the left of this is an opening that leads into a spacious cave with a narrow passage at the end, leading in turn to another cavern, with two fine arches opening on the sea.  By wading through a shallow pool of water, ingress can obtained into yet another cavern.

To find Tea Hole, the hiding place of the smugglers booty, it is necessary to pass through the right hand arch, beyond which a pathway cut in the rock leads up the face of the cliff to the headland.  At the beginning of this pathway is the Tea Hole, a tunnel only about 5 feet high, and not so wide as that.  This tunnel bears round to the left, and comes to an abrupt end, opening into the main cavern, and led many years ago by means of a plank to a continuation of the hole on the opposite side, now alas gone and only a memory.

The cunning situation of this smuggling hole will not fail to be noticed by the visitor.  The cliff top can be regained by ascending to the path that leads up from the entrance to the Tea Hole.

The Bishop's Cave lies at the base of Cligga Point.  At the upper end of this will be found the 'Creeping Hole' a short cut through the rocks which will be found useful as a means of getting through from Cligga Beach when the tide is going out.  Between Cligga Point and the next bluff is a disused mine shaft into which the sea has access.  Further on is a small cave, the roof of which is fern clad.  Porth Estuary lies just around Glendorgal Point and on the other side of Porth is Porth Island, the extreme end of which is known as Trevelgue Head.  In Trevelgue Head is a curious Chasm in the rock known as the Blow Hole, and terminating in a large cavern, the Mermaids Cave.  This cave was much used by Smugglers and can be explored at low tide.  It is the Blowing Hole that is the main attraction of the island.  At half tide the water sweeps into the cavern and expels the air therefrom through this narrow orifice with such power that the water comes but with a rush and a roar and a huge cloud of spray is cast out.  This can easily be seen from Newquay.  There is also a blowhole in the Profile Rock at Boscastle.

At very low tide it is possible to visit a cave called Piper's Hole, that derives its name from the whistling noises made by the are expelled from the crannies at the top of the cavern as the rising tide rushes in below.

At Porth also are the Banqueting Hall and the Cathedral Caverns.  The Banqueting Hall stands to the right of the entrance gully to Porth Beach.  There are two entrances to the cave which is about 200 feet long by 60 feet high and about as broad.  The main entrance fronts the sea; the other consists of a small hole at the base of the cliff that forms one side of the cave.  Concerts used to be held in this cave, the acoustic properties of which are magnificent.  In this cave there is also an emergency exit in the roof at the furthest end from the sea.

The Cathedral Cavern nearby, is a fine example of a ‘pillared’ cave.  In the winter of 1883/4 one of the great pillars collapsed and the appearance of the cave was somewhat altered.  As the cave is of considerable extent, and is pitted with waterholes, lights should be taken.  The two passages that will be found just inside the entrance become one again at the extremity of the cave.  White marble has been quarried away from the interior of the cavern which by the way has another opening called the pulpit, to the left of the main entrance and slightly up the face of the cliff.

Further east towards Watergate is the Boulder Cavern which takes its name from the huge masses of boulders that strew its floor, and just beyond is Fern Cavern, its roof a mass of Asplenium Marinum fern fed by the moisture that filters through from above.

At Bedruthan Steps is the Great Cavern with a wonderful arched opening, and a smaller cave quite close by, which is a veritable labyrinth of tunnels.

From the Hon. Sec’s Postbag.

From Tom Pink with the postmark Lauterbrunen.  A postcard of Jungfraugruppe and the following: -

Dear Hon. Sec.  Although I have spent days wandering these mountains and valleys the caving aspects are very poor.  It is certainly no hunting ground for Speleos, the rock is mainly basalt and limestone with few faults.  Best wishes to B.E.C.

We have received from Terry Reed an account of his wanderings in a cave in Curacao, which is too long to be included under the ‘Post Bag’ but will be printed later.  His two plans of caves at Coombe Martin are still awaited from the ‘Drawing Office’.

French Trip to Valence.

It is not known at the moment whether this BB will reach members before the departure date for or not.  But at the next meeting of the persons going the final details were settled and it was very gratifying to the Hon. Sec. to find the whole party accepted his itinerary for the trip without question.  Many hours of hard work has gone into the preparation and organisation of this trip (of course the details from arrival at Valence until departure again are nothing to do with the B.E.C. but are arranged by C.N.S.), direct dealings with French railways etc, cutting the cost considerably over the whole trip.  That we have been able to have these direct dealings with ‘Furrin parts’ is due entirely to Mrs. Stanbury's father, Mr, George Hale, who is very well known in the world of Rugby, and has a phenomenal mass of information about foreign travel and its snags.  Thanks a lot Mr. Hale.


In the June BB a list of articles wanted for the Belfry was given.  Since this we have received a considerable amount of odds and ends, amongst which are;- two mattresses, the gift of Mrs. Stanbury Sen. & Mrs. Rendell, a 40 gallon steel barrel and a number of smaller containers from Les Peters; a promise of a sink; two bells, stew-eaters for the calling of, one from John Ifold the other 's owner unknown, and last but far from least, a Beer Engine (for water pumping) from John Bindon.  Thanks a lot your co-operation is very much appreciated.  Come on the rest of you, turn out your attics!!!


Important Notice to Members in the Bristol Area.

As from Thursday July 7th. we are no longer holding our usual weekly meeting at 74, Redcatch Road.  The great increase of popularity of these meetings has increased to an impossible number those who wish to attend with the result that the accommodation has now become inadequate.  We hope to include with this BB a note stating that a room has been obtained, where we can carry on.  As this room will cost a small sum each week those attending will be charged a small levy to cover this charge.  The immense success of the club in the last few years has been in no small measure due to those Thursday meetings, and the club will always be in debt to the generosity of Mrs. Iris Stanbury who so willingly put up with hordes of cavers trampling over her carpets, dropping cigarette ash, and generally making themselves at home in her dining room.

These meetings started in 1943, and have continued without break, except during illness or holidays until the present time.  The business transacted on Thursdays with the Hon. Sec. can be arranged by phone until a new hall or room is obtained.  Members are asked to use the Belfry as a meeting place and are reminded that all those things that, for a very short time, they will miss on Thursdays will return as soon as can fix it up.  Subs, when due, can be paid either to Hon. Sec. or any committee man, and those who want helmets, lamps, or anything in that line can still get them as usual.


MORE STOKE LANE PHOTOS HAVE ARRIVED, SEND IN YOUR ORDERS. Price 6d. each these is a set of six of these really fine photographs available to each of the first 6 applicants.  If you applied when out of stock, please apply again, as your order may have been mislaid.


Belfry fees.  As no one objected to the proposed Levy of 3d. all belfry charges as from 1st. July are subject to this extra charge.

Can You Find A Better Hole? 

By S.G. Treasure

Stoke St. Michael or Stoke Lane, is a village situated on East Mendip mid-way between Wells and Frome.  A Somerset guide book has described it as ‘compact but uninteresting’ – that being true up to a point.  In this case, however, it is what cannot be seen is what matters.  A geologist, for instance, would be in his element, as he would find coal, quartzite, limestone, firestone, sandstone and basalt.  A pretty feature is the mill stream which runs through the village and enters a swallet in limestone rock about 800 yards from the village centre, reappearing at a spot known as St. Dunstans Well, some 1,000 yards away.  For many years past boys of all ages have been going in and out of the cave without discovering anything worth while, and it was not until June 1947, that some members of the Bristol Exploration Club made a grand assault and pursued the passage through a water trap, finally coming upon what have been described as the most beautiful caves in Britain.

After meeting these people and hearing their wonderful stories I felt, as Wilfred Pickles would say, that I wanted to ‘have a go’, so in July 1947, I joined a party led by Mr. Don Coase, including two doctors and a professor, and we entered the cave at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon.  We wriggled and squirmed for about 1,500 feet through narrow passages full of jagged rocks, and sometimes the crevices were so tight that we had to breathe out to squirm through.

We passed through a leech infested pool and another watercourse covered with slimy mud where we crawled sideways to squeeze our way through, and after an hour of most arduous going we reached the water barrier or ‘sump’ as it is known.  Here we lined up to receive instructions from our leader, the idea that we had to step down into the water reaching to our necks, and we had to wade through to the further end, dipping our heads in places to avoid the jagged rocks.

There we found the water disappeared under a huge rock, and our leader explained that each one must take a deep breath, dive under and come up the other side.  I duly took my place and dived under, and never was there a hand more welcome than that of Mr. Coase when he pulled my head up out of the water and shouted ‘ ok breathe in’.  When we were all through we passed on, thoroughly drenched, to a more roomy chamber where we duly congregated and re-grouped.  I took off as many clothes as I possibly could, wrung them out and shook them and put them on again, and this seemed rather more comfortable.  From then on the going was much easier and we walked through the stream, finally being able to climb into the chambers, to find that what the exploration party had told us was perfectly correct.

There are about eight chambers of immense size, with pure white banks of stalagmites cascading towards the cavern floor like a frozen waterfall.  The curtains and draperies give a metallic ring when they are struck in passing and streaks of colour add to their loveliness.  In the chamber thousands of stalactites hang from the roofs, and in some of the caverns the floor, walls and ceilings are completely covered with stalactite and stalagmite formations.  The main chambers, too, have many beautiful grottoes with stalagtitic columns joining floor to roof, and natural frescoes streaked with red arid ochre colouring,  The ‘Throne Room’ is an impressive sight, the chief feature being two huge stalagmites which have been likened in appearance to Queen Victoria confronted by a pageboy.  Making our way across the slippery floor studded with ‘candlestick’ stalagmite formations we came upon a charming grotto - a real gem of the cave system.  In the centre was a pool with tiny ‘candlestick’ formations sticking up through the water, and these gleamed and sparkled like diamonds as they caught the light from our lamps.  The whole cavern was just as a child would imagine fairyland to be, with banks of ‘Snow’ and hundreds of little ‘icicles’, and the floor covered with stalagmites of many hues, this indicating various mineral deposits.

In one of the chambers a human skeleton has been found, and also skulls of animals but it has not yet been possible to determine the age of the skeleton.  As mentioned earlier, however, we had with us two doctors and a professor, who examined the remains and decided that they had been there for something like 1,700 years.  An additional skull was, incidentally, discovered while we were there.  The mystery of it all is that they could not possible got through by the way that we know today, so that many centuries ago there must have been some other entrance.

Walking through these caverns was like being in another world; in fact, so far removed that one would  not have been surprised to have met fairies, or gnomes or suchlike, such a veritable fairyland it was, everything so perfectly clean and shining in contrast to the dusty atmosphere of the world high above us.

After having our fill of heavenly beauty we commenced our return journey, again having to dive under the rocky barrier at the sump, and began our crawl back to the outside world.  After going a short distance, however, we came to a rather difficult obstacle known as the ‘Chimney’, and the member of the party ahead of me must have been so intent on getting out that he did not turn and help us through this trick spot.  This left the writer in the lead, and crawling on we came to a fork.  Here we decided to fork right, but very soon found the pathway shelved away to nothing, and the only thing to do was to retrace our footsteps (backing out in reverse) and take the left fork.  By this time our supply of carbide was running low and we tried several ways before finding ourselves on the right trail.  I would like here to mention Dan Hassell, the man next to me, who went off along a passage on his own, to find himself in the hopeless position of not being able to get further forward or move back.  To make utters worse his lamp went out and for a time he was in a sorry plight.  I managed wriggle back to him, light his lamp and yank him out, during which time he swore and cursed ( and I might add that he had a very rich vocabulary) and threatened to murder the members of the vanguard party, who had by this time reached the open air.  I did my best to suppress him by reminding him that is was Sunday and that at this time most good people were just about walking home from church.  Fortune then smiled on us and we found ourselves heading in the right direction.  It was then only a matter of patient crawling and sliding through the slimy mud. At last we saw a light – Harry Stanbury, the Club Secretary, was a one-man rescue party.

We finally stepped out, into the sunshine of 9 o'clock, very weary, our legs, knees and elbows bleeding, and looking nothing on earth.  After a few minutes later I was back at home having a most welcome hot bath while supper awaited me.  And then to bed, to dream of diving the sump, skulls and fairyland caverns.

S.G. Treasure

Editor’s Note

The member of the party who left Sam in the lurch was not a member of the B.E.C. as you have probably guessed.  Had he been, the parties would never have been separated.  This reads crazily, but readers know what is meant.


In response to the request for names for Badges, 35 names were received.  In view of this it was decided to go ahead with the ordering of the badges as soon as funds permit.  Which means when we have written off some of our liabilities.  This list will be retained in the Sec’s stupendous filing system until the great day.

First Aid Kit

A new small First Aid Kit has been purchased and is at the Belfry.  This kit is for emergencies ONLY, and is not to be used for the purposes the old one was.  In addition to this watertight kit in its metal case, Les peters is drawing up a list for a more general kit for us.  The small kit is really intended to be suitable to take underground, and its contents in the form of ampoule etc., cannot easily be replaced.

Tackle Officer

In view of the fact that Setterington as Hut warden and Chairman of the Belfry sub-committee that George Lucy has been appointed Tackle Officer.

T.H Stanbury


The following has been sent by a club antiquarian to the Editor:-

This appears to be an account of an early descent into a Mendip Cave, although the beginning is missing.  The author name is lost and in any case the authenticity is doubtful as this extract clearly dates well before the earliest known exploration of Swildons Hole to which we believe the account refers.

……………..wild and ruffianly crew as I ever set eyes in and stank.  But, being desirous of seeing the abyss, I did consign my soul to God and we did set off.  They did provide me with a candle that the darkness might be somewhat relieved, and trembling I was led down a narrow passage leading from the light of day.  They obliged me to pass upon a narrow ledge by a great abyss, whereat I was fearful, but despite a great torrent falling I did pass safely, and presently did come to what they termed ‘Jacob’s Ladder’.  I said that I considered this most inaptly named as Jacob’s Ladder led to Heaven, but this surely to the very portals of Hell.  None the less I was constrained to go down it and so came to a grotto of surpassing beauty far exceeding any of those I have seen in the houses of the rich.  On this I feasted my eyes, and thinking that this fearful journey was now at an end did start to return.  But I was told that this was but the beginning, and so, wading down a stream, whereat, I became most wet, did reach the top of a great waterfall.  A ladder rope was hung over, but I did refuse to descend, whereat; they tied a rope about me, and did lower me to an unprecedented depth.  I was then dragged yet a very great way further down the stream, passing on the way much of very great beauty; yet I was so cold and fearful that I did not head it.  On reaching the bottom, there was a pole (must mean ‘pool’ Ed.) of Stygian Blackness, one did step in it and calling in a most horrible and blasphemous manner did say it was cold.  Whereat I did flee from that place for fear of eternal damnation for such swearing.  Nor could I rend my garments for they were already all but rent from me.  Nor will I ever again venture into that most God-forsaken and impious region.

From Hon. Sec’s Post Bag.

From John Hull in M.E.L.F.

The Ataka Mountains are very strange.  A couple of weeks ago I made a trip into the hills and found a couple of small caves.  They are in the queerest rock I have ever seen, the whole rock face, and it was some 300 feet high, was cast in a solid mass of dark brick red rock of sandy type, which could be made to give a shower of red sand, by rubbing it with the heel of my boot, and the cave was cut out of this rock by water action in a series of curves just like the diagrams of curves one sees in the text books.  I crawled along a narrowing tunnel for some 60 feet and never saw anything to break the even surface until the roof came to within nine inches of the floor and I could proceed no further.

In this range one feels that, given a sharp spade and a lot of time, you could make your own cave system without hanging around for a few million years waiting for nature to do the work for you.

List of members 1949   No.4

Geoff W. Ridyard        14, Harvey Road, Crawley Green, Herts.
Miss Pam Richards     The Cottage, Wellsway, Keynsham, Somt.
Reg. H. Hazell            34, Jubilee Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
Gerry Orrah                38, Hazelbury Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
Miss M. May              The Chantry, Old Church Road, Clevedon., Somt.
Miss Doreen Vickery   Seaton Lodge, Station Road, Staple Hill, Bristol.
Henry A. Shelton        18, Walsh Avenue, Hengrove, Bristol. 4.
Tony Preston              43, West Town Lane, Brislington, Bristol. 4.
John Swift                  3, Wellesley St. Lawrence Hill, Bristol.
Fred Shorland             P.O. Box No.1280, Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia.
Ronald H. Newman     77, Beaufort Road, St. George, Bristol. 6.
Tony Riddell               13, Randal Road, Clifton, Bristol. 8.
Alex McKoy               14, Clifton Down Road, Clifton, Bristol. 8.
Hagen D. Schoner       21, Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol. 8
John W. Adams          27, Granby Hill, Clifton, Bristol. 8.
Raymond Wade          101, Princess Victoria Street, Clifton, Bristol. 8.
Michael Farr               1, Sion lane, Clifton, Bristol. 8.
David Williams            Arch house, Victoria Square, Clifton, Bristol. 8.
G.P. Donald               Rackwood, 5, Anthony Ave., Lilliput, Parkestone, Dorset.
Tim Kendrick              Cherry Street, Bingham, Notts.

In Belfry Bulletin No.3, Dated April 1947, there was printed a brief account of the club's history.  Since this account was written a very great increase in club contacts, facilities, membership etc., has taken place.  Below is the original article reprinted for the benefit of the hundred odd members that have joined since it was published, and brought up to date by the inclusion of an account of the doings of the club since it was written.

A short History of the Bristol Exp1oration Club. 

By T.H. Stanbury

I do not suppose there are many members that know how the B.E.C. came into being, or the hard work that has been necessary to put the club in the position that it holds today.  It is the purpose of these brief notes to acquaint those who are interested with a few facts about the earlier days of the BEC.  The first notes will, I am sorry to say, be very sketchy as all the early years were lost in the blitz.  They were posted to me from Keynsham, and never arrived, so I have only my memory to assist me.

In 1935 a group of my fellow-employees approached me and asked if I would be willing to take them to Burrington and other places caving.  Most of these lads had a little experience of Caves and Caving, and as my own experience was little greater than theirs, I was extremely diffident about the whole arrangement, but agreed. The following Saturday I took them to Goatchurch, and the trip turned out to be a great success.  The next four week-ends we were similarly employed and the difficulties began to loom large before us.

How could we get to the ‘Deep’ caves?  How could we get ladders, ropes etc. needed for them?  Would the owners let us into the deep caves?  There were two solutions.

The first and most obvious was that we join one of the recognised and established Cave Clubs of the district.  Enquiries were made and the matter discussed at length.  It was decided that in view of the fact that we were a group of working class men and that there were a number of points in the existing societies we did not care about, that we should not associate ourselves with any existing body.

The second course open to us was to form an entirely new caving club, and after many hours of thought and with many misgivings the Bristol Exploration Club was duly formed with an initial membership of about a dozen.  I very much doubt if the project would have been undertaken if we could have foreseen all the difficulties and troubles that would beset us.

At the inaugural meeting a set of rules were drawn up, and although they have been modified and added to, to cope with changing conditions, they were essentially the same as are in use today.

For a time all went smoothly; our subscriptions enabled us to buy ladders and ropes, etc., and we launched out into; official’ notepaper.  A bat was adopted as our emblem, although he did not find his way to his place on the notepaper until much later.

We familiarised ourselves with all the smaller caves, and then began our attention to the larger ones. Here, too, we were successful, learning the hard way, with no-one to advise or otherwise help us.  Our first year concluded with the knowledge that we were still in existence, and if not exactly flourishing, we were holding our own.

Membership did not increase very much in the few following years.  We were not keen on too many members at first, as we felt we did not have sufficient knowledge to hold them after they had joined.  We preferred to move slowly, consolidating our position as we went, so that when the time came, as we confidently expected that it would, when members started to role in, we should be in a position to offer them something really good.

As our small band moved about the hills we naturally came in contact with members of other societies, and for a time we were regarded with contempt and sometimes active dislike by a number of them.  This was perhaps natural, as we were without experience and as such were a danger in their eyes, to ourselves and others.  I hasten to add, that those days are now long past and that the most cordial relationship now exists between ourselves and every other major society on Mendip or elsewhere.  The reception by other cavers rather chilled our enthusiasm, but hardened our resolve to make the B.E.C. a success, and the outbreak of war in 1939 found us in a stronger position than ever before, although membership was still only 15.  We had suffered one bad loss, our treasurer, who was also our photographer; had been stricken with an affliction of the eyes necessitating his withdrawal from all club activities.  The last trip that he came with the Club was to Lamb Leer, where we were the guests of the UBSS.  Since these notes were written we have welcomed him back into the ranks of the faith full recovered and still keen on caving.  As we were without a Treasurer, it was decided to combine the office of Hon. Sec. and Treasurer, and I have had the honour to have held the joint post ever since.

The older members were called up, one by one, so that except for one fortunate incident, we should have had to close down, like other Mendip clubs for lack of active members.  We were lucky enough to absorb into the B.E.C. the Emplex Caving Club.  The E.C.C. was composed of employees of the Bristol Employment Exchange and had formed a club on similar lines for similar reasons as the B.E.C.  These men have since done, and are still doing, yeomen work for the Club.

1940-41 saw us jogging along as before, a number of new recruits always balancing those called up, but 1942 saw the most severe crisis in the history of the B.E.C.  There was a very violent call-up, the result being that we were left with only about half a dozen active members, all of whom were actively engaged in the war effort.  As those members in the Forces (and still are) made honorary members during their term in the service, we were badly hit financially.  For six months we struggled along, and then came salvation.

A number of persons of fair caving experience applied for membership and from that moment our troubles vanished.  It is mainly through the hard work of two of these men R. Wallace and D. Hassell, that the club is where it is today.

In 1943 a forty foot duralumin and steel wire ladder that is very much lighter than the modern French ones, was constructed, followed later by a similar one of 20 feet in length.  These ladders were answer to the problem of transporting tackle to Mendip on Push bikes.

In 1943, 44, 45.  Our membership increased by leaps and bounds and we emerged from our obscurity, as we knew that we should, to take our place among the most active clubs on Mendip.

The year 1946 our membership rose to 80 and we were able, through the generosity of a Mrs. Iris Stanbury, to purchase a large hut as a Mendip Headquarters.  Our dig at Cross Swallet brought us in contact with the Bridgwater Cave Club, the majority of which are now hardworking B.E.C. men.  We absorbed the Mendip Speleological Group, and became, individually, very active in the Cave Diving Group.  We became members of the Cave Association of Wales (now defunct) and also of the Cave Research Group.

1947, with its terrible winter the club hut was erected and became a valuable asset.  The Belfry Bulletin was instituted as an experiment and has become an unqualified success; 1947 also saw the important discovery of Lower Stokc Lane, of Browne’s Hole, and the initial penetration Withybrook Swallet, a weeks sport was held in Derbyshire and several weekends in and Cornwall were enjoyed by all.

In 1948 membership stood at 98, and a considerable increase in the caving tempo was noticed.  A survey of Stoke Lane was published and was exhibited at a Caving Exhibition at the City Museum.  This Exhibition organised by the city in conjunction with the local Societies was a great success, the photographs loaned by B.E.C. being one of the highlights of a good all round show.

1948 saw the absorption of the Clifton Caving Club, and the formation of a London section of B.E.C.

Through the years the club library has been greatly enlarged and extended, every opportunity being taken to increase it.

Also in 1948 another milestone was reached.  Thanks to the co-operation of members who between them advanced the necessary cash a second hut was purchased.  This hut still is the course of being fitted internally.

Half 1949 is behind us and for this year the activities of the club have far surpassed those of any other complete year.

We can look forward to the future with every confidence and we still claim as we did in 1935, that the Bristol Exploration Club is unique in that it is a ‘personal’ club, wherein everyone whatever their age or standing is welcomed, and is encouraged to take an active part in the running of the club.

List of Members 1949.  No. 6

Assistant Inspector Coase, B.G., N.R. Police, P.O. Box 17, Lusaka, N. Rhodesia
Hal Perry                           20, Northfield Ave., Hanham, Bristol.
Pat Ifold                             ‘Fylde’, Weston Road, Long Ashton, Bristol.  LA3266.
J.E. Monson                      32, Coburg Road, Montpelier, Bristol. 6.
Francis Young                   The Barton, Stanton Drew, Nr. Bristol.
Garry Vincent                    68, Branksome drive, Filton, Bristol. 7.
Cliff Brodie                         56, Gerrish Ave., Redfield, Bristol.5.
Colin Andrew                     170, Westbury Road, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol.  65841.
N.L.J. Fillmore                   14, Delving Road, Southmead, Bristol.
Miss Jill Rollason               157, Pen Park Road, Southmead, Bristol.
Miss Diana J. Beaumont     1579, Bristol Road South, Rednal, Birmingham
Maurice Brain                    22, Blaise walk, Sea Mills, Bristol. 9.
Norman Petty                    12, Bankside Road, Brislington, Bristol. 4.
Miss Christine Hobbs         The Bungallow, Crown Hill Farm, Winford, Nr. Bristol.


The Belfry Bulletin is very urgently in need of articles suitable for publication.  Surely somewhere in the club there are some who do something interesting sometimes?  Except for about half a dozen there seems to be no one who ever goes anywhere, sees anything or even hears anything.  The publication of the BB depends on the efforts of ALL to keep it going, and if others will not stir themselves to help it will have to be closed down.

T.H. Stanbury


The old order changeth.  The heading for this BB was drawn by Sybil Bowden-Lyle.  Don Coase who is the official ‘Draughstman’ of the club is very busy and is able to help us for a few issues, so Sybil bless her heart, has stepped into the breach.  Thanks a lot Sybil


The wanderers have returned from the International Convention at Valence.  They all agreed that they had a wonderful time, Setterington who led the party say that it was the best week he has ever had in his life.  Those who were able to go were: -

Tony Setterington (Leader), S.G.SW. Herman, R.J. Bagshaw, K. Dobbs, G. Fenn, L. Peters, M. Brain, R. Brain, J. Ifold, R. Ifold, F. Young, C. Andrew and R Woodbridge.

Between them they are writing a report on their doings, which will, after being suitably edited and censored, be printed in the BB.

Hon. Sec. has returned from the Pyrenees and will also write a short resume of his wanderings when the piles of correspondence that he has to wade through have suitably lessened.

Meeting Place for Bristol Members

Our new meeting place at St. Michael’s Parish Hall has been a great success, and we have extended our lease of that room until the end of the year.  Originally we stated that meetings would take place until Sept. 29th., but this is now amended to read until the end of December.  Bring your friends along there is plenty of room for them.


I have seen the official photograph of the B.E.C. delegation taken during one session of the Convention at Valence.  Never have I seen such rapt attention on so many faces before.


Greetings from

Hon. Sec, has received the following from the Treasures, who are on vacation in .

A card to greet you from , hoping you are well and enjoying life.  No signs of caves here, plenty of holes (mines down 5,000ft) Yours sincerely, The Treasures.

Important Notice to London Section

John Shorthose has moved from Marius Mansions.  His new address is: -

W. J. Shorthose,
26. Gateshead Road
Upper Tooting,
London S.W.17.

John’s phone number will remain BALham 7545, but there will be a delay whilst the P.O. engineers do their stuff.  During this period John can be reached at work, REGent 4126 during working hours.

To reach Gateshead Road, from Trinity Road Tube Station walk south along Balham High Road about 150 yards to Beechcroft Road, turn right.  The first left is Fishponds, and Gateshead Road is first left right along that.  This all sounds very involved, but less than five minutes walk from Trinity Road.

The Belfry

Thank you; Mr. Browne for the gift of a bell; Mrs. Miller of Redcatch Road and Messrs. R.J. Hurford for the gift of a full size bath and a sink, Mrs. Rendell for a mattress, and some carpets for the sleeping quarters.

Welcome home to Pat Ifold.  Pat, the third of the Ifold ‘Triplets’ has recently reached home after walking from Sicily.  We are hoping he will able to tell us all about his doings and undoings during his trek.


How many members know the procedure to follow in the event of an accident underground?  There has been of late a very noticeable increase in the number of accidents that are taking place underground.  The Hon. Sec. fractured his ankle, Sybil got biffed in the back by a boulder, John Morris fell of a ladder on Swildon’s 40’ (where was your lifeline John?) and sundry smaller incidents in other caving organisations.

The next issue will contain a reprint of the instructions for calling out the Mendip Rescue Organisation, as large numbers of members have joined since the original instructions were printed and there still no M.R.O. notices displayed at Mendip Cave Entrances.