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Although the large Spring Number is not with us, we are attempting once more to produce a twelve page  B.B.  This month, we take advantage of this increase in size to print a long article taking up most of the B.B.  To these of you who are not interested in cave surveying, we apologise and hope that the next time we print an equally long article, it will be on a subject you are interested in (within reasonable limits, of course!)

This article, as well as being long, is of a controversial nature, as it suggests a modification, to a well established practice.  Whenever the B.B. has printed articles which were felt to contain some controversial elements in the past, these have always performed like damp squibs, and not raised a single voice of agreement or dissent.  We hope that, in this case, we shall get some correspondence  agreeing or disagreeing with  the article, as the subject of cave surveying is one in which there may well be considerable scope for new ideas.



Whitsun weekend. There will be a club meet at Gaping Ghyll.  A coach is being arranged by Brian Prewer.  Anyone interested should get in touch as early as possible.  It was suggested that the club should visit Lancaster Pot, but this has proved impossible owing to the grouse season, approximate cost 35/-.  Date June 10th.

Some (Controversial?) Thoughts on Cave Survey Gradings.

by  Bryan Ellis

This article in no way tells you how to make a cave survey.  It deals only with one aspect of the completed survey that of applying; a grading of expected accuracy.  It is important to remember that the views expressed are solely, as far as I know, those of the author and must not be taken as representative of those of the B.E.C. committee, nor of the editor, nor of any other member.  The purpose is to express on paper some of the views of the author in the hope that they will provoke discussion.  Now that you have been warned, here goes.

Some form of survey grading is very desirable so that, by simply looking at this figure, the reader may make a reasonably reliable estimate of the accuracy to be expected. However, at the same time it is even better if accompanying each cave survey published there is an article describing the instruments used in making the survey; how the figures are calculated and the survey plotted; a list of known closure errors and so on.

Let us take four hypothetical cave surveys, those of Axbridge Hole; Burrington Cavern; Cheddar Sleeker and Draycott Swallet.  A beautifully produced survey of Axbridge Hole is published without any accompanying screed!  The survey looks very good but even the closest examination fails to reveal any sign of a grading.  It is therefore impossible to arrive at any estimate of its accuracy.  It is hardly likely that a   survey would be produced as elaborately as this for anything less than a Cave Research Group grading of 5, but one cannot be sure.  Perhaps I may know the surveyor and therefore know the instruments that he uses and can guess that the accuracy is perhaps between the grades of 5 and 6.  But this is only guesswork and if I don't know him, I would have no idea at all.

Our second hypothetical survey has been published, in a club journal; this of Burrington Cavern.  Once again, close scrutiny of the map fails to show any sign of a grading.  This time, however, the situation is much better because there is an excellent article by the surveyor accompanying the survey.  This article describes in great detail the instruments that were used, the way in which he made the survey, calculated the position of each station - and he also gives a table of known closure errors.  This article is a model of what such an article should be except that even in the text there is no indication of the grading claimed.  Possibly the idea is that, by giving the reader all the details, he should be left to form his own conclusion, but before he can do so he must read all through the text.  He can get no idea from the survey itself.  Furthermore, the surveyor himself is the best judge of the accuracy to be expected and if he gives an opinion then perhaps the reader may like to adjust it slightly after reading the text.

The third survey is of a cave known as Cheddar Slocker and, like the first, is a well produced sheet but without any accompanying description.  This time, examination of the survey shows that the surveyor has claimed a grading if 5.  Anyone looking at this map now knows that, as a minimum, a calibrated prismatic compass; metallic tape and a clinometer were used.  It is therefore safe to assume that the survey is accurate enough for most purposes.  However, as there is no accompanying article, there is nowhere to state what instruments actually were used, nor of the closure errors that were found in the closed traverses in the cave.

Finally, we can consider the survey of Draycott Swallet, our final hypothetical survey.  This survey has been published in similar form to those of Axbridge Hole and Cheddar Slocker, but this time it has been sold together with a small booklet.  On the sheet is found the grading claimed by the surveyor and therefore an estimate of accuracy can be made immediately.   In the booklet are found all the details of the survey and its making, so if anyone is interested, they can read through it and then they should have an even better idea of the accuracy of the survey.

The idea of quoting at length the details of these surveys is to give the reader an idea of why I consider both a grading and an accompanying screed to be the ideal.  The grading on the survey is a “quick reference” guide and the article gives greater details.

Mention has already been made on several occasions of the grading.  I have stated why I consider one to be necessary (yes, the word 'necessary' is purposely used instead of merely 'desirable') but on what are these  gradings going to be based?  If it were possible, then the ideal would be a grading based on the known accuracy of the survey.  However, this is very rarely, if ever, known and therefore some other method must be used.  In many surveys there are closed traverses and it could be assumed that the closure errors on these loops are representative of the whole survey.  The total probable error of the survey could then be determined and the grading based on this figure.  This system would be satisfactory if every survey contained a closed traverse but many do not, especially surveys of individual passages such as those produced of new extensions to caves.  This system cannot therefore be used unless one is going to have one system for those   surveys including a closed traverse and another for those that do not.   This would be most undesirable.

Another basis on which an estimate of accuracy can be based is, on the instruments that are used and the  accuracy with which they are read. The assumption of which this system is based is not ideal because the   accuracy attained with the same instruments used by different surveyors will vary as also will the results by the same surveyor under different caving conditions.  Despite this, a fairly simple system of grading can be devised that will give an indication of the accuracy to be expected.

In 1960, the Cave Research Group of Great Britain published a paper on cave surveying by A.L. Butcher and this included a system of survey grading recommended by the C.R.G. This system is based on the  instruments used, and has been repeated in 'British Caving.'  It is, in my opinion, far from ideal but, as it has been given national publication and is used by practically all cave surveyors it should not be changed now unless anyone can design the perfect answer.  Not agreeing with the Cave Research Group (and many Mendip cavers do not) is not an excuse for trying to replace the present system by one that is only slightly better, if at all.

Having said that the present system is not ideal I should be more explicit and give my reasons for saying this, my main criticism of the C.R.G. gradings is that it appear to have been designed for specific combinations of instruments, and there is no way of arriving at a grading if a different combination is used other than be guessing at the equivalent degree of accuracy.  Partly following from this criticism is my second, that there is no provision for using any form of clinometer to measure slopes until one reaches grade 5.  Figure 1 shows the percentage error that occurs in a plan if the angle of inclination is ignored and it will be seen that a slope of 8o introduces an error of 1% while a slope of 16o gives an error of 4%.  As the angle increases, the error increases even more so, and with an angle of 25° there is a 10% error.  This should show the importance of slope when making a cave survey of any reasonable accuracy.  Even with roughly measured plans of approx. grade 3, it is often useful to take readings of slope, but no credit can be taken for the increased accuracy obtained when using the present C.R.G. System.  If it intended to produce a section as well as a plan, then it is important that angles of inclination should be measured.  Figure 2 shows the changes in height (for various angles of inclination) that are not going to be recorded if no account is taken of slope. For a cave 1,000 feet long, and having an average slope of 10o, a vertical change of 175 feet will be lost. My own experience of cave surveying has shown me that it is extremely difficult to estimate angles in a vertical plane with any accuracy, and this has been borne out by tests on other people. For this reason, it is most desirable to measure angles of slope and not estimate them.  A slope of 5o will not be noticed normally in a cave and while it will introduce an error of half a percent in the plan, three feet will have been lost, in the section with a survey leg of thirty feet.

During the year, the Northern Cavern and Mine Research Society published their own grade of survey. This is just a single grade, approximately equivalent to C.R.G. grade 6, to which they intend making all their surveys. The amazing thing about this grade is, that while they intend to use a tripod mounted prismatic compass marked in half degrees and read to one sixth of a degree, they only consider desirable and not essential, the use of some form of clinometer.  They aim always to measure horizontal distances, to the nearest inch, and then calculate the co-ordinates of their stations using five or seven figure logarithms.  In my opinion, some of these measurements, and the calculations, are going to be considerably more accurate than others and the resulting survey is going to have a far greater error than they intend.

Having made criticisms of the C.R.G. system of grading, can any improvements be suggested?  I made   the criticisms and therefore I will give my suggested modification of the scheme.  My aim is to make the   scheme less specific in the instruments to be used for the survey so that a grading can be obtained, without guesswork, when using a combination of instruments other than one of those listed by Butcher.  It also decreases the guesswork when arriving at a grading after' using an instrument not included in my list,   because the instruments are listed in order of increasing accuracy and because the accuracy of the instruments are sometimes given.

In table 1 will be found a list of instru¬ments, and other means most likely to be used when making a cave survey, and alongside each is given a number.  The scheme simply consists of adding together the numbers shown against each instrument that was used in making the survey, and the result is then that of the cave survey.  One feature of this scheme is that the surveyor is “allowed” to increase or decrease the final grading, thus obtained by half a grade.  This is to take into account factors which cannot easily be written down as hard and fast rules; such factors as the care, with which the surveyor made his instrument readings; the  conditions under which these readings were made; known closure errors, etc. In other words this allows the surveyor latitude to alter the grading slightly either way depending on how accurate he feels the survey should be.

Another feature is the increasing of a grading by half a grade if the 'leap-frog' method is used with hand held instruments.  In this method, the surveyor, instated of starting at Station 1, taking, readings to Station 2,  then moving to 2 and taking readings to 3 etc, starts at Station 2,  takes readings to 1 and 3, then moves to  4 and takes readings to 3  and 5, and so on.

A couple of examples should remove any doubts about the working of the scheme.  Thus, a survey is made using a metal tape and a calibrated compass and a clinometer both mounted on tripods and the   readings being accurate to + or - half a degree, then the numbers are 2 + 4 = 6 and a grading of 5-5 to 6.5 could be claimed.  As another example, if to make a survey a cloth tape; a hand held, prismatic compass and a hand held clinometer (both accurate to + pr - 1o) were used, then the grading would be 1.75 + 1.75 + 1.25 which gives a total of 4.75.  As it is not intended that survey gradings should be given other than as whole or half numbers, then the surveyor would claim either 4.5 or 5 depending on whether or not he thought the survey was as accurate as possible with the instruments used.

It will be found that, in most cases, the gradings obtained with, this scheme agrees with those given against the examples listed on page 393 of “British Caving”.  The main variations occur round the original gradings of 4 and 5.  As already in intimated, the author has always thought that the difference between these   two gradings is very wide; not only does one have to use a calibrated compass to increase from grade 4 to  grade 5, but a clinometer must also be used, and this can lead to a very great increase in accuracy.

Table 2 shows a comparison of gradings between the examples given in “British Caving” and the gradings that are attained by this scheme.  It will be seen that the maximum, grading on this system is 7.5 as compared with a C.R.G. maximum of 7.  However, it is extremely unlikely that anyone making a cave survey with the instruments required for the maximum grading would at the same time be confident enough of his results to claim the extra half grade, knowing what this implies. To keep the results similar to those of the C.R.G., the range of gradings can be limited to any whole or half number between 1 and 7.

A point which arises from a study of table 1 is that normally cave surveys should not be made using instruments that on the table occupy more than two adjacent horizontal lines. If a wider range than this is used, then one of the instruments or methods will be considerably more (or less) accurate than the others.  Any such combination can give rise to a false reading on the scheme.

The only originality, in this scheme is an attempt to standardise a procedure that cave surveyors have been making ever since the Cave Research Group first published their survey gradings - denoting on a cave survey the appropriate grading when a method of survey was not identical with one of the examples they gave.  The variations between the gradings given by this system and those originally described by the C.R.G. are very small, and if this system were adopted there would be no need to alter the gradings. I feel that this system is little, if any, more complicated than the original but is definitely more consistent and more comprehensive.

I have now finished saying my little bit about the grading of cave surveys, but I would like to hear other people’s reactions to my thoughts.  Possibly those of people with experience of surveying would be the most enlightened, but this is not necessarily so as all cavers look at surveys at some time or other.  Now it is your turn.

B.M. Ellis. November   1961.

Table 1

Instruments used to make measurements of….



Inclination and results taken into account when drawing plan.

Estimated out of cave  

Est. noted in cave

Pacing, counting of body lengths.........

Marked string, or cord


Cloth tape



Metal tape, Chain


Tachometer &c













Estimated out of cave  

Est. noted in cave

Hand held compass, readings ± 5o

Hand held prismatic, readings to ± 1o






Estimated out of cave  

Estimated and noted in cave

Hand held clino, readings ± 2o

Hand held clino, readings to ± 1o







If “Leap-Frog” method used with hand held instruments increase above readings by 0.8


Calibrated prismatic compass and clinometer, tripod mounted, readings to ± 0.5o


Theodolite, astrocompass or similar, tripod mounted.  Readings within ± 0,25o of true


Factor available to surveyor to alter final grading to take account of conditions at time of survey, care taken over readings, , known closure errors etc...+ 0.5"


TABLE 1.  Calculation of grading


Table 2.  Comparison of Gradings

Method of Survey

C.R.G. Grade.

New System grade.

Sketch plan from memory, not to scale.



Sketch plan roughly to scale.  No inst. used.  Directions & distances



Simple compass (± 5o) and marked string.



Prismatic compass (± 1o) and cloth tape or marked string.


3-0 - 3-5

Calibrated Pris.  Comp. (± 0.55o) metal tape and clinometer.


4-5 - 5-0

Tripod mounted prismatic compass   (± 0.5o) Clinometer (± 0.55o)



Theodolite, tachometer, metal tape.


6.5 - 7-0

Balch's Hole Extension

by Jill Rollason.

In January 1962, rumour had it that another 1,500 feet of passage, thick with stal, had been discovered in Balch's Hole after entry via a maypole pitch and a trip was arranged for interested B.E.C. members - mainly, photographers.

The extension is a high level passage, entered from Pool Chamber.  It is necessary to climb about fifteen feet on the maypole ladder, and about a further fifteen feet up a steep and difficult rift.  At the head of the rift is a narrow chimney about ten feet deep which leads into the FOURTH CHAMBER, which is richly ornamented with white and cream flowstone, several narrow curtains, and miscellaneous white stalactite.  To  the right can be seen a slope covered with tiny peach-tinted gours and a fine growth of red ''flowers" in a  pool - now dry but with remains of a false floor. The rock appears to be hardly more than compacted clay, and I was glad to move to the next passage which has obviously been shaken in the distant past (possibly by fault movement) but looked a little more reliable.  Here there is a pillar-cum-boss about five feet tall and two and a half foot in diameter which has been cracked into three pieces and moved about a foot out of alignment. The break has not been caused by recent quarry blasting since new stalagmites about four inches tall are growing in the old position.

The  FIFTH CHAMBER, which slopes at about  60 - 70° with a steep boulder scree on the near side, leads to a sump about sixty feet below, and the SIXTH CHAMBER which is angled at about fifty degrees and ends in a bedding plane with two sumps at the bottom. Stalagmite formations are plentiful in both chambers.

I was a little disappointed with this series after the enthusiastic reports which had been given, because I did not think it as attractive as the rest of the cave, but the formations, which have been compared, with  those in September Series in Cuthbert’s, are certainly well worth seeing.

It must be regretfully reported that within these few weeks of the cave’s discovery, many straws have been broken and flowstone ruined by mucky hands - all thoughtlessly and completely unnecessarily.  It is impossible to blame anyone except members of recognised, clubs, since; these are the only people who have been invited to visit the place.

Note 1.  The Maypole has now been replaced by a fixed wood and wire ladder.

Note. 2.  The water filled passage in Pool Chamber described in the previous article has been tested by diving and proved to be merely a pool.


The Belfry Bulletin. Secretary. R.J. Bagshaw, 699, Wells Rd, Knowle ,
Bristol Editor, S.J. Collins, 33, Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8.

Diving Operation.

There will be a diving operation in Swildons on the 23rd of June this year.  The intention is to get a diving party into Swildons VI by the direct stream route and then to push ahead into VII and beyond until they run out of cave, sumps or divers.  A support party will be required to go into IV via Paradise Regained and Blue Pencil and to free dive into VI.  All active members having the required degree of fitness are asked to get in touch with the organiser, Mike Thompson.  Others may be required elsewhere in the cave.  These people should also get in touch with Mike, who will be glad of their help.

Midsummer Barbecue.

Owing to the diving operation, this will be held this year on the 16th June.  Names should be given to Garth.

Annual Subscriptions.

These should all be in by now.  At the risk of repeating ourselves, we quote the little mnemonic which appeared on this subject several years ago

Annual subs should all be in
Ere the month of May begin.
Any bod who fails to pay
Doesn't get B.B. for May.


The Hut Warden would like to thank Dizzie and also John Lamb for donations of cutlery for the Belfry. He is still short of KNIVES.


The Hon. Librarian would like to remind all who attend club on Thursdays that the Library is open every week for the borrowing of books


It is with regret that we learn of the death of Professor L.S. Palmer on March 17th, after a six month illness.  Prof. Palmer, as most members will know, became Honorary Curator of the Wells Museum on the death of H.E. Balch, its founder.

Concretions in Balch’s Hole

by Jill Rollason.

The formations in this cave warrant a description, since (1) the editor could do with the material for the B.B. and (2) the stal is in a class of its own from the technical aspect. Generally speaking, it is re-crystallised, extremely fragile, and as clear as ice - especially the straws, which look like the "glass rain" that continental speleologists call them.

Helictites are very frequent, particularly in Erratic Passage, as is to be expected; and can only be bettered by those in the newly discovered Ladder Dig extension in G.B. Cavern. Again, they appear to be completely crystalline and transparent as ice and, although some are extremely involved in shape, many are only simple projections from straws.

However, the stalactite of Balch's Hole is probably its most individual feature.  The typical example is very pure white in colour, re-crystallised and joined to the roof by a narrow neck which gives the growth a strong resemblance to the shape of a carrot.  Some of these 'carrots' hang at the end of slender straws and it appears that they start off as a thickening of a straw and develop outwards and upwards as well - possibly in the crystalline period.  There is no simple explanation of this thickening since each 'carrot' that I examined had the straw running through the middle, and in more than one case, the interior of the straw is unobstructed.  The second interesting feature of the stal in this cave is that it is in most cases strongly phosphorescent, glowing a brilliant emerald green for several seconds after exposure to flashbulbs.  Efforts have been made to capture this effect on colour film, and a separate article on this aspect of Balch's Hole is being produced by Mike Baker.

Bug-Hunting in Cuthbert’s

by Richard Roberts

Caves are regarded by most people as completely lifeless but life underground exists, although to a markedly less extent than above ground.  Life underground requires, basically, two things.  One is water or moisture and the other is organic material capable of being broken down and digested.  Caves are usually fairly short of the latter but not absolutely bare of it. Pieces of wood or decaying leaves swept in by a stream provide excellent breeding grounds for cave fauna, but the most interest¬ing of these are out of reach of the stream, even in times of flood. Small pools way off the stream way are often full of life.  This is especially true of St. Cuthbert's.

When presenting a survey of cave life, special care must be taken to separate the habitual cave dwellers  (Troglobites) from the cave dwellers carried into the cave by accident (Accidental Trogloxenes) and those creatures which enter the cave for a certain period of their life  cycle (Trogloxenes).  We are only interested in the former.  These are usually allied to similar species above ground, but have evolved in such a way that they adapt themselves to life underground.  They lose their sight, and hearing becomes of little importance in this dark world, which is silent except for the sound of water moving and the very occasional rock movement.  Unfortunately, very little is known of their breeding habits as they are exceptionally difficult to observe in their natural environment.  This is a field of science which is comparatively unknown and a great deal of help is afforded to the expert by the amateur collector.

In St. Cuthbert's, I am starting work on a complete survey of the life-cycle within the cave and the fauna present there.  So far I have been collecting specimens from the better known parts of the cave.  This is very important because the caver tends to wipe out the colonies of insects living on these main routes.  One careless step can often destroy the work of many hundreds of years.  I decided to start in the obvious places such as the bottom of the entrance rift, which fairly abounds with several types of flies.  These must be   something in the region of twenty or thirty small flies here.  They appear to be related to the common fly present throughout the summer.  Also there is a larger, variety very similar in appearance to the Mayfly although somewhat smaller.

A thorough search in a small tributary stream entering here also led to the discovery of some life. A small colony of flat worms, about four millimetres long was living in the stream bed.  They were coloured white with small black spots along their backs. They were very similar in appearance to a young centipede.

Lower down, at the bottom of Arête Pitch, a colony of Collembola - small, maggot-like creatures about one to two mm long, which live on the surface of the water - proved a good hunting ground.  This species is very common in caves, but there are about a hundred different types of Collembola which have so far been collected in British Caves.

In Pulpit Passage, there are very many ledges on the left hand side, out of the flood level of the stream, which contain small pools.  In one of these there is a colony of blind shrimps of the order Amphipoda. These shrimps are very similar to the fresh water variety, but are completely colourless and blind.  Perhaps a colony is too strong a word for these. These were about four, but no doubt others were in the close vicinity.

Returning to the Old Route, there are several colonies of Collembola in the trench leading down to the top of Ledge Pitch.  The passage above the Wire Rift is also well populated.  Above Upper Mud Hall there are several pools which always suffer from the caver’s boot.  In the present year and a half, a flourishing colony of some forty Collembola has been destroyed.

In the lower reaches of the cave, below the Dining Room, there are several small groups of Asellus. These are very similar in appearance to the shrimps, but have ceased to move on their side and are slightly larger. In the Great Gour, and also some of the small gours a great many blind shrimps have been seen and one or two collected. It seems quite reasonable to suppose that a large number of these are living there.

Several other specimens, mainly Collembola, have been found on tourist trips to other parts of the cave. Notably, these are, the Rat Run; Rabbit Warren; Maypole Series; Harem Passage; Cascade Chamber; Everest Passage and September Series.  Here I would like to add a plea.  In September Chamber there is a small pool in the rocks near the taped formations.  It is to the left of the tape and about ten feet from the side of the chamber.  Please avoid contaminating this pool.  It contains a flourishing colony of Collembola which are of a variety which I have never before seen underground.  It would be a great shame if this was carelessly destroyed.

I would like to finish by saying that none of these specimens has yet been properly identified by the C.R.G. but the specimens can usually be identified down to the 'order' by the amateur.  If anybody is interested in starting this kind of work or helping me in it, I shall be very interested to hear from them.

Bushman Art

by K.S. Gardner.

I was very interested to read Sybil's article in the Christmas B.B. on her search for Bushman art in South Africa.  Over the years, quite a large number of B.E.C. members have got around to the Franco-Cantabrian group of deep-cave paintings and engravings, but I think this is the first recorded visit paid by a club member to the bush.  For the archaeologically minded, a few words on the comparison between the two groups might not be out of place.

The Palaeolithic art of Europe lasted over a considerable time span, possibly 25,000 years or more.  In this time, various material cultures supplanted or fused with local predecessors - Aurignacian, Magdalenican, etc, and eventually there seems to have evolved an "art for art's sake", particularly in the 'mobile' art such as decorated spear throwers etc.

Basically, however, regardless of the material culture or the art 'school' (for even then there were impressionists, cubists, renaissance etc) the underlying motive was magico-religious.  Models in clay of animals, ritually attacked with spears, paint¬ings with arrows superimposed, pregnant cows, bison in the act of mating all bear silent testimony to the rituals enacted to ensure full herds and success in the chase 20,000 years, ago.

How then, does Bushman art compare?  To start with the Bushman himself.  Probably once the aboriginal of Africa, he is small, yellow skinned and a nomadic hunter now diminished to a few thousand strong in the South African Bush.  He is not by any means a Negro, but must have been absorbed or liquidated by that race with the exception of the few thousand.  His art is found preserved in sheltered “abris” in the rocky open country of South and East Africa.  As with the Palaeolithic art of Europe, there are many instances of paintings being superimposed on earlier ones and of different styles being used.

The Bushman as he is today is apparently artless and certain schools of thought have expressed doubts as to whether he or his ancestors were responsible for the Bushman Art. According to Stow, Adams and others however, there is no doubt that, even if modern Bushmen do not paint, they understand perfectly the messages on the rock walls.

Another point in favour is that the humans portrayed are art recognizably Bushmen - short yellow men - and in several frescoes are to be seen fighting with taller Negro people. It has been recorded anyway that a boer actually watched an old Bushman at work on a fresco.

The subject of the art is usually of common wild animals with more humans than in the old European pictures.  Symbols such as Sybil’s dots are not uncommon.  Hunting and fighting are portrayed presumably in a pre-arranged attempt to ensure success.  A group of ostriches followed by an "ostrich" with human legs - reminiscent of the sorcerers and animal men of Europe - have been interpreted by Bushmen as 2 males   (black) 3 females (blue) and a 'nusa' Bushman hunter - a sub-tribe who were apparently known for this method of hunting.

The methods used are also not unlike the early European.  Hollowed out stone palettes; paints of metallic oxides ochres, and animal fats have been identified.

It has not been possible to provide a direct link between Europe and the Bush, but it does serve to show just one more instance of the almost indestructible instincts and skill of man regardless of colour or race.  From Australia to Greenland, Siberia to Africa; from 40,000 years ago to the present day, the primitive races have retained their artistic instincts and skills unaffected by the temporary gloss of 'civilised' Europe and its contemporary daubs.

Further Thoughts on Surveying

by S.J. Collins.

Bryan Ellis concluded his article last month by hoping that it might lead to further discussion of this aspect of caving in the pages of the B.B.  This article is at least one such result - I hope there will be others.

I should like to make my first point by considering the hypothetical case of the average caving type who has just bought a copy of the latest survey of some Mendip cave.  Two things are involved here to start with. Firstly, that he has paid several shillings for his copy - probably as much as he would spend on beer for a night at the Hunter's - so we must assume that he thinks the survey worth having. Secondly, the survey he has bought is the final result of much hard work by the surveyor who, presumably, had some purpose in mind when he decided to spend so much of his time and effort on the job.

At the risk of being facetious, I should like to consider both these points which are normally taken for granted and ask.  What did the caver buy the survey for?  and, Why did the  surveyor do the  survey in the first place?

I recently conducted a little survey of my own amongst some of the owners of cave surveys to ask what they use them for, and in many cases they admitted that the surveys were very rarely even looked at once purchased.  (Mike Baker mentioned an ingenious use for a cave survey which, unfortunately, lies outside the scope of this article).  The motives of cave surveyors are rather more complex, but, having done some surveying myself, I must admit that I never gave much thought to the uses of the work I was doing.

I should like to postulate three possible uses for a cave survey as follows:-

1)                  To act as an illustration when describing, discussing or planning a trip.

2)                  To act as a measuring tool for exploration or other scientific purposes.

3)                  To act as a map on which to find one's way round the cave system.

Now the C.R.G. system is excellent as far as it goes, and the advice and methods given in 'British Caving'   contain, in my opinion, nothing taut good sound sense.  The gradings, however, refer to the expected accuracy of the centre line only.

Let us start by considering accuracy.  Even experienced cave surveyors can sometimes be way out on accuracy.  On the 5th Cuthbert’s survey trip (1/12/56), a five point closed traverse taken with a metallic tape and tripod mounted astrocompass, failed to close by 11° and several feet.  On an open traverse, this error would have remained undetected. The only real check on the accuracy of open traverses is to compare them with a second set of readings - preferably independently carried out.  Such a check is available in Stoke Lane Slocker, since both Coase and Warburton have surveyed this cave.  In this case, an excellent agreement results - to the credit of both the surveyors, and the accuracy of each survey is thus removed from the realms of conjecture. What we seem to want, in my opinion, is a distinction between the present grading of expected accuracies and the cases where evidence can be brought to substantiate the claims.

Unfortunately, a direct comparison between Coase's and Warburton's surveys is not possible owing to the fact that the former is to a scale of 1:250 and the latter 1:240. This is because some surveyors work to scales based on eights of an inch and others to scales based on hundredths of a foot.  The first give scales of the type 1:48 1:96 1:240 1:480 etc and the latter give scales of 1:50 1:100 1:250 1:500 etc.   I personally favour the latter as it forces all who handle the survey to use surveyor's scales instead of ordinary rulers, and if you only want a rough guide, you can take the nearest eighths scale as being approximately correct.

Mention of scales brings us to the next point.  The amount of wall and passage detail; the accuracy to which this is drawn and the 'pictorial' quality of the survey depend largely on the scale to which the survey is drawn.  It is of very limited extra use to draw an accurate centre line survey to a large scale if advantage is not taken of the opportunity to include more of this kind of detail.  On the other hand, a less accurate survey with lots of detail, drawn up on a suitable scale, has a greatly increased usefulness.  A suitable scheme would be to agree on a range of scales and a suitable amount of detail to be normally associated with each.  As the scale got larger, conventional signs would presumably make way for a more detailed pictorial representation.    Such scales could well be as under:-

'A' = 1:50.  'B' = 1:100. ‘C’ = 1:250.  ‘D’ = 1:500.  'E' = 1:1,000.  'P' = 1:2,500 (approx 25"/mile).  'G'  = 6''/mile.

The last two would be used mainly for superimposing onto O.S. maps.  Thus, an accurate survey if a  small cave for, say, archaeological purposes, could well carry a grading of 6A which would mean that, in addition to the centre-line grade of 6, the survey had been plotted to a scale of 1:50 together with all the agreed detail appropriate to  this scale.  The same survey data, if used to add this small cave onto a map of a larger nearby system could result in, say, a grade 6D survey of the two. Surveys in which little attention is paid to detail, and hence the detail for the scale used is below standard, would just be known by a single grade number as at present.  There would be no stigma attached to this type of survey, it would just be recognised as being a different type of survey.

Which brings me (at last!) right back to my first point.  What sort of survey are we producing and is this really useful to most of the owners?

The answer to the first question, I would suggest, is that while we are no doubt attempting to caver all the uses postulated earlier, we are really only succeeding in covering the second use try means of our accurate centre line.  This has, of course, been of great advantage to those who have extended caves or linked passages as a result of survey data, examples are the mud passage in G.B. - a very useful piece of work, and the Fingertip Squeeze forcing in Stoke - a neat proof of the survey, but of little practical importance.

We are, nevertheless, mostly prepared to admit that a good centreline survey has its uses apart from its primary one in enabling connections to be found etc.  Might therefore, other types of survey only aimed at, say, illustration of routes to be taken, be of equal use?  The diagram of Cuthbert’s in the Belfry is one such survey - if you use the term in a wider sense.

It is at this point that I imagine I will be found to disagree with Bryan.  I think that every cave surveyor, when starting a cave survey, should ask himself what kind of survey he is contemplating and how best he can collect the necessary data and then present it on paper.  By all means let him use the present system, complete with C.R.G. gradings if it fits in with the sort of survey being undertaken.  On the other hand, some more imaginative surveys and presentation methods would be of great value and should in no way be looked down on. Even if they fall short of the intended aim at least they are trying to find new methods of acquainting people with a particular cave and perhaps, as a result of several attempts to introduce some new thought into the art of cave surveying, some future set of standards might emerge which will cover all aspects of the survey in a manner which will be just as universally acceptable as, say, the O.S. conventions art on surface maps.  Until then, let us experiment and work towards the day when cave surveys will fall apart from constant use in the same manner as paper backed maps!


The Belfry Bulletin. Secretary. R.J. Bagshaw, 699, Wells Rd, Knowle, Bristol 4.
Bristol Editor, S.J. Collins, 33, Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8.
Postal Dept. C.A. Marriott, 7'8, Muller Rd, Eastville, Bristol.

After the appearance of the January B.B. early in the month of Feb., it should cause little surprise that this one will be received by most members in the month of March. We are not setting out to claim that this is a good thing, and to doubt we will catch up and members will have received the regulation number of issues of the B.B. before the year is out.  On thing which has been holding back production, is the small amount of stuff in the ‘float’.  Hint.



Tackle Store Keys

The distribution of keys to the Tackle Store is as follows.  G. Dell (Belfry Engineer); R. Bennett (Caving Sec.); N. Petty (Tacklemaster); G. Tilly (Hut Warden); D. Searle (Assistant Hut Warden) and Dave Irwin (M.R.O. Warden).  The key held by Garth will be taken over by Alan Thomas as Hut Engineer.

Urgent Appeal

In spite of his appeal at the A.G.M. and subsequent reporting of same, the Hut Warden has still not received any GIFTS of SAUCEPANS.  The Belfry is now down to THREE and it will soon be no longer possible to do cooking other than frying.  PLEASE, if you have any old but serviceable saucepans at home, persuade your parents/relatives/landlady/butler to donate them to a good cause. – The Belfry.

Climbing Note

(Weekend 28/29 January, 1967)

Heayg: Pat Ifold, John Stafford, John Eatough, Dave Radmore, Mark James and Kangy King.

Scotty Dwyer Bunkhouse:  Bob Sell, Pat Barnett and Angela Lester.

Saturday provided low clouds but no rain.  The whole party went to Cwm Idwal and James, King and Radmore to the Tennis Shoe. Down early and back to the Bunkhouse for coffee.  On Sunday, the party attempted the Snowdon Horseshoe, but it was too windy.  Conditions were too bad for Reades Route so James, King and Angela did the Parsons Nose which was just right in the wind and rain.  It was very wet.  The rest of the party walked and Eatough found a six inch juniper type tree, the biggest he’d seen.

R.S. King

Have you paid your sub yet?

Yes, we know that it’s tradition in the B.E.C. not to pays subs on time.  It does cause extra work though, because in some cases it is not known if a member has left the club or only just gone into hiding.  Some people who have complained about not getting a B.B. have found on enquiry that it has been because they forgot to pay their subs. Don't let this happen to you!

Cuthberts Diving Operation

(24th and 25th of February)

This operation was based on two sets of teams – the digging and diving teams.  The job of the diggers was to dig a trench into the sump and to enlarge it as far as they could reach.  When the limit had been reached, the divers would then set about digging underwater, and the diggers would remove the spoil into Gour Rift.

The amount of water going into the cave was reduced by dams at the Mineries Pool and in the depression. The first digging teams then dug a trench into the sump and widened the sump passage.  The first diving team then assembled and tested the ‘surface demand’ breathing apparatus and then helped with the digging.  Digging carried on to two o’clock on Sunday morning when it was decided that the diggers were of no further use, and the teams from there on were reduced.  Three men were retained to assist the divers, who were carrying on digging under water. The digging became subject to setbacks caused by the undermining of the silt banks by the stream and resulted in their collapse.  Diving continued until two o’clock when the increased water coming into the cave, and the extremely cold conditions under which the divers worked during their ten minute submersions, resulted in the abandonment of the diving.  On Sunday, all that remained was to retrieve all the gear.

The telephone worked perfectly throughout the weekend, and was essential to the successful running of the shift rota.  The gas cooker provided by Sybil functioned well and produced vast quantities of much needed soup.  On the digging side, plastic buckets and a metal sledge were extremely useful for removing the spoil from the sump.  From the diving point of view, the surface demand B.A. was found to be too expensive on air and so diving tended towards the use of self contained sets.  The actual digging underwater was carried out by means of a small garden trowel, which was used to push spoil into the sides of the sump.

Those who dived would like to thank the girls who cooked soup; made coffee; provided hot water and tended to our needs so admirably, to which the thanks of the diggers must be included.  Lynne, Sybil and Joan of the B.E.C. and Sally and Joan of the Wessex were those concerned.  Acknowledgements must also go to Luke Devenish for the loan of the Surface Demand B.A., and to the numerous others whose aid made the running if not the result, a success.

The final distance into the sump reached was between 9 and 10 feet.

Digging in the sump will be continued by members of the C.D.G. and a damming system will be continued by various club members.

P.A. Kingston

Green Shield Stamps.

An appeal is being made for members to give Green Shield Stamps to the Club.  Many members who get the chance to collect stamps at garages etc., and probably have no use for them.  Please give such stamps to the Hut Warden in future.  This will save money for the Club.

Long Term Planning (3)

The February meeting of the Long Term Planning Committee was one in which members reviewed the work done to date.  The secretary explained that the Grant forms had now been received and that he had made contact with an official in Whitehall.  Nothing could actually be done with the forms, however, until the stage of having definite plans for the proposed new hut has been reached.

The Secretary’s scheme for forming the club into a company was then produced.  The Memorandums and Articles of Association had been prepared. He was instructed to obtain legal advice at this stage.

Alan reported that he was still negotiating for the additional land and that this was not without some hope.  Ben was seen about using his track for access to the site, and it was found that this could be done under some conditions – although this might not be a practical proposition.  The committee then went on to review the situation generally and finished up with an on the spot inspection of the site.

It is expected that the Committee will shortly be in a position to begin the actual job of laying out of the building and siting it.  Much of the preliminary work has now been done and this will soon begin to show results. In spite of the fact that some members may consider the space given in the B.B. to be a waste, it is felt that members should be kept as up to date as possible on what the Long Term Planning Committee is doing and be given every opportunity to comment.  If any members have points they wish to raise on any subjects so far discussed, or on the actual layout of the Belfry, please write to the Secretary, S.J. Collins, Homeleigh, Bishop Sutton, Somerset and your letter will be read at the next meting.

Why do you go Caving?

Some time ago, a questionnaire was distributed to cavers which, in addition to asking questions something like: - “Are you married/single/divorced/thinking about it?” asked people to give an honest answer to the eternal question “Why do you go caving?”  As very few would be able to think of a convincing answer to such a question, a selection of model answers was provided, the answer to be ticked in order of preference, e.g.: -

1.                  “Because I like meeting people.”

2.                  “To get away from it all.”

3.                  “Because I like it”


4.                  “Because my girl friend/ boy friend/wife likes it/thinks I like it/thinks I ought to like it.”

5.                  “To prove myself”

….or something like that.

Wouldn’t it have been much easier to answer if the questionnaire had been slightly differently phrased?  For instance……

In no other sport does one so frequently avoid asking oneself,  “Why do I do it?”  Please avoid answering the following questions dishonestly.

1.                  Are you a caver? If so, do you go caving?

2.                  Did you go to school?  If so, why?

3.                  Where were you educated?  If so, did you learn anything?  If so, What? When? Which? How? Why?

4.                  Are you married/courting/trying/being trying/being tried/chasing/being chaste/thinking about it/ trying not to think about it/don’t know?

If so, why?  Why not?  Who? Where?  What?  Which? When?  How?  How many? How often?  What do you mean?  What was the question?  And if not, why not?

5.                  Do you avoid caving, Climbing, Diving, Swimming, Drowning, Drinking, Working, Washing, Caving, Washing up, Climbing, Caving, Washing up, Answering Questionnaires?

Here are some model answers, in any order…

a.                  Don’t like it.

b.                  Don’t

c.                  Wife/Girl friend doesn’t like it

d.                  Too Wet/Tired/Old/Fat/Drunk/Morrow

e.                  Other interests

f.                    Don’t Know/Care/See why I should answer/Know what you are talking about/ Be impertinent

g.                  Opening time.

Editor’s Note     This was sent in some time ago by R.A.B.?  R.A.S.?  R.J.B.? (I genuinely can’t read the signature!)

We would like to wish all readers a very happy 11/12ths of a New Year.  It has taken rather longer than expected to recover from the Christmas bumper number, and most members will not be getting this one until January is over.  With luck, however, we hope to catch up.

Somebody suggested that now the B.B. has entered its 21st volume, it can be said to have come of age. This suggestion was countered by the Editor (who had visions of having to produce two large B.B.’s in a row) by pointing out that the B.B. was first produced in January 1947 and thus it will not be 21 until next January.  Still, it’s a thought and perhaps some older members who remember early B.B.’s might care to comment by writing something for a “Twenty First Birthday” number. You have a year to produce something, so there isn’t much excuse.



Goon Suits.

These are available from Alan Coase at 42/6 delivered or 35/- when Alan is on Mendip.  Write to: - A. Coase, 35 Broughton Road, Croft, Leicestershire.

NiFe Cells.

The club are arranging to get Goon Suits from a source in Scotland for sale to members at 40/-.  These will be down on Mendip at Easter.  Meanwhile if anyone is feeling desperate/affluent, one can buy Goon Suits at 50/- from the Army Surplus Stores (Hotwells Rd. & Grosvenor Rd.).

BEC Survey Course

The first B.E.C. course on Surveying is now fully booked up, but it is planned to run a further course if demand persists.  For the benefit of those who may wish to consider having a go the course runs over three days – two on one weekend and one on the next.  The first course is on the 18/19 of February and the 25th as follows -

Saturday 18th February.  (At the Hunters.)

10.30 – 11.

11.    – 12.

12.    –   1.

  2.30 –  3.

  3.     –  4.

  4      -  5.

Reasons & Aims of Surveying.

Low Grade Surveys.

High Grade Surveys.



Drawing and Presentation.

(S.J. Collins.)

(D. Irwin.)

(R.D. Stenner.)

(R.D. Stenner.)

(B.M. Ellis.)

(D.J. Irwin.)

Sunday 19th February. 

Practical work.  Surveying in the Railway Tunnel and/or Rabbit Warren areas of Cuthbert’s. Alternatively in Goatchurch and Avelines.

Saturday 25th February.  (At the Hunters.)

2.15 – 3.30

3.00 – 4.30

Calibration of Instruments.


(D. Warburton.)

The Maypole Sink

The method of tracing streams by the variation of hardness and water temperatures was described as an interim report by Roger Stenner in the Christmas B.B. (Volume XX).  Here is an actual example of the method in use.

(The Location of the Maypole Sink without the aid of Chemicals)

The temperature of the Maypole Series stream is sometimes significantly different from the rock temperature at that depth in the cave.  Readings taken in December 1965 showed: -

Maypole Stream, Traverse Chamber            8.60
Main Stream, Water Shute                              8.55
Kanchenjunga Drip                                          8.95

All temperatures being in degrees centigrade.

This would indicate that the source of the Maypole Stream is a local swallet.  An analysis of water samples taken in May 1966, gave the following results for water hardness (In parts per million of Calcium Carbonate).

St Cuthbert’s Pool                                               148 ppm
Plantation Stream                                               114 ppm
Maypole Series Stream (Long Chain Pitch)  143 ppm
Pulpit Passage (East Inlet Stream)                150 ppm

The fact that the Maypole Stream is softer than water from S. Cuthbert’s Pool proves that the pool cannot be the sole source.  Admixture with softer water is indicated.

A swallet exists as in the sketch on the next page, in which water from St. Cuthbert’s Pool is mixed with the softer Plantation water.  No other local swallet fulfils these requirements, and it must therefore be the Maypole Sink.

This swallet has long been thought to be the Maypole Sink.  The survey points to a source in the vicinity of the swamp I have drawn as the St. Cuthbert’s Pool, but hitherto this belief had remained unproven.

R.D. Stenner


We have received the following from “St. Cuthbert”: -

To the Editor, Belfry Bulletin.

Dear Sir,

I am so glad my letter sparked off such delightfully witty replies.  What a pity their authors chose to hide their talents under nome de plume.

Yours Faithfully
            St. Cuthbert

Long Term Planning - 3

There were no further letters from members to the Long Term Planning Committee at their last meeting. Some progress was reported on moves to assess the Government Grant for possible snags, and the proposal to explore the possibility of making the club into a Company limited by guarantee.

The main subject of the month was that of Situation.  What could we best do with our present site, or even should we stay on it?  It was decided that we ought to stay for a variety of reasons. We have agreed to do all we can with a view of seeing how best to fit in with our immediate neighbours, and to re-open negotiations with the Paper Mill to see if we can buy some more land adjacent to the Belfry Site. If we can do that we may be able to alter the position of the track and there is a scheme to see if we can purchase the other track (the one which used to lead to Art Dor’s milking shed) so that we can let Walt use it and close the present “Belfry Avenue” to all except the club.

The Old Barn was also discussed.  The Committee arranged to buy this for £50 last year for a variety of reasons – mostly as an insurance against various eventualities.  It was decided by the Long Term Planning committee that we should hang on to this, and not try to dispose of it.  It could well prove a long term asset to the club.

We are also going to ask the Hon. Treasurer at the next meeting of the General Committee to start collecting money by any means that he can at present as we feel that a certain amount of this type of exercise could begin now, even before the club have been asked to decide.

Next month, the Long Term planning Committee are going to review what they have done to date, so if any member has any point of view to express, now is the time!

Swildons Goes to Wookey

A five year hydrology study of the underground water distribution on Mendip is being undertaken by Dave Drew in connection with the Water Board.  Eventually, a full report on this will be published, but some of the findings to date are of interest.

Lycopodium spores (which are seeds of the Club Moss and being extremely small and light are ideally suited to this type of exercise) were put in the streams entering a number of Mendip Caves at noon on New Year’s Day 1967.  The first samples form the resurgences at Wookey and Cheddar were then collected eleven hours later.  Results from then were as follows: -

Cuthbert’s (Via Plantation)

11 hours

To Wookey


16 hours

To Wookey


25 hours

To Wookey


20 hours

To Cheddar

Manor farm (U.B.S.S. Dig)

20 hours

To Cheddar

Spores placed in various caves were stained to that their origin could be sorted out at the resurgence. With the sole exception of Cuthbert’s, all the times are the transit times from entrance to resurgence.  In the case of Cuthbert’s the first sampling and so the actual time may well have been much quicker than the 11 hours noted. In addition, it is known that water takes approximately 1½ to travel from Wookey 15 to the entrance.  Thus from the entrance of Cuthbert’s to the first known upstream place in Wookey must take less than 9½ hours.  The time taken for the water to travel from the entrance of Cuthbert’s to the sump must be subtracted from this total, and we are left with the conclusion that water travels extremely rapidly across the unknown gap between Wookey 15 and Cuthbert’s Sump, which supports the theory that some of this distance could well be open passage rather than seepage below the water table.  Let us hope that at least some of this conjecture will be removed by the forthcoming diving op. in Cuthbert’s Sump.

Surveying Cuthberts

by Dave Irwin.

Early in 1966, it was decided to commence a new survey of the know system at a minimum of C.R.G. Grade V that would be published in parts with the ‘definitive’ publication on the cave. The reader might well ask “why?” when so much has been done in the past.  The lack of passage detail and permanent stations is the simple answer, which made the tying in of side passage extremely difficult.  It is hoped to make the survey a complete one, including all passages where practical – if any one would like to survey the route through the boulder floor of cascade Chamber they are welcome!

A large traverse of the main cave is almost complete – when it is closed it will form the basis of the survey.  (Plantation Junction – Stal Pitch – Cerberus Series – Everest – Boulder Chamber – Pillar Chamber – Wire Rift – Pulpit – Traverse Chamber – Upper Traverse Chamber  - Harem Passage – Rabbit Warren and back to Plantation Junction.)  In addition to this, the Mud Hall area (between Rocky Boulder Passage and the New Stream Route) Rabbit Warren to Sump and Cerberus series are almost complete, together with numerous traverse lines crossing the Cascade area (Fingers, Railway Tunnel and Boulder Chamber).

To date, most of then survey is to Grade VI and it is hoped that it will stay at that standard.  As regards the survey as now drawn up, there are two surprises (a) The sump Passage runs down dip and (b) Harem passage is immediately above Bypass Passage subject to traverse correction.  The equipment being used by myself is a combined mounted abney level and prismatic which is tripod mounted.  This cuts time to a minimum and up to 38 legs have been surveyed in less than two and a half hours.  Many thanks to Bryan Ellis for this great advance in cave surveying. Roger Stenner is using a conventional compass and a tripod to Grade VI.  In each case, the ‘leap frog’ method is being used and so far has given very good results with closure error of between 0.45 and 0.9%

When will the survey be completed?  The answer to that is anyone’s guess, but the end of 1968 should be a reasonable estimate – sooner if other surveyors come forward.  What about it, Alfie?

Finally, thanks to all who have helped sometime under very uncomfortable conditions – particularly Dermot Statham and Joan Bennett.


Annual Subscription. It is, we know, a tradition in the B.E.C. to be late with subs.  We are mostly familiar with the little rhyme which goes “Annual subs must all be in – ere the month of May begin – and the bloke who fails to pay – doesn’t get B.B. for May.”, which is all very well as far as it goes.  One of the big snags about this is that it is useless to put a notice in the May B.B. saying that if you haven’t it (the May B.B. that is!) it is because you haven’t paid you sub.

This year we are trying two new moves in this battle of wits and members who have not paid off their subs by the end of April will get getting a reminder note INSTEAD OF the may B.B. In addition, the names concerned will be given to the Hut Warden with instructions to charge as visitors until such time etc.  Just think, you could frustrate all these cunning schemes by simply PAYING YOUR SUB. Why not foil the Committee’s plans this way.


Monthly Notes – No 1

by Dave Irwin

To keep members abreast with news of the caving world, this page will highlight some of the events; new publications, etc., in the form of potted notes.  Those members hearing of any suitable news, please contact me immediately, so that we can keep the B.B. really up to date.

LOG BOOKS.  The B.E.C. log books for 1956-58 are missing.  Are you sitting on them?  Have a look please.

BRIDGE CAVE ( SOUTH WALES).  C.D.G. have passed long sumps and have discovered about a mile of large sized passage. A dry bypass round the sumps has been found.

EASTWATER.  W.C.C. have re-opened the Dolphin Pot Route.  Tackle required: 32’ ladder, 5’ belay and 50’ lifeline. (W.C.C. Journal, November 1966).

LONDON UNIVERSITY CAVING CLUB’S JOURNAL No. 1.  This is obtainable from Bryan Ellis.  Good transcriptions of Trou. De Glaz and Hammer Pot, Yorkshire, both with tackle list.  Also descriptions of Meregill Hole (Yorks) and Oxlow-Giants connection ( Derby) worthy buying at 1/6.

St. CUTHBERT’S.  Maypole Series being closed to all tourists from May 1st 1967 for biological research. (details later).  B.E.C. divers ( Kingston, Lane and Priddle) have now dug sump to a total length of 13-14’.  The roof is rising.  Surveyors have competed Pyrolusite, Gour Hall Area and Ledge Pitches to entrance.  Surveys and reports available later this year.  5,560 feet of cave has been resurveyed.

St. CUTHBERT’S REPORT.  B.M. Ellis is prepared to accept firm orders for all 15 parts to be issued in the next two years or so.  Part ‘O’ published Oct ’66, Part ‘A’ (History of Cave) available midsummer 1967.  Gour Hall and Sump Area Report available Sept/Oct 1967.

FAIRMAN’S FOLLY.  (DIG – MENDIP).  W.C.C. have reached old buckets left by B.E.C.

CUCKOO CLEEVES.  Entrance is unstable.  Believe passage below shaft being cemented.  If not, take care.

LOST JOHN’S ( YORKS).  Permanent rawbolt at head of Centipede Pitch.  5’ belay now required.

SWILDONS.  Mike Boon dived sump 12.  Found rift with depth of 20’ with air space at top.  Boon and support party withdrew owing to air cylinder running low.  N.W. Passage being surveyed by S.W.E.T.C.C.C. to high grade.

HISTORY of MENDIP CAVING.  Davies & Charles.  ( Newton Abbott).  Price about 35/-.  To be published later this year.


To the Editor, Belfry Bulletin.

Dear Sir,

The B.E.C. never ceases to amaze me.  The course in cave Surveying which was held recently was a splendid thing.  I should like to compliment the instructors on the clear and interesting was they were able to pack the information into the day. And what pleasanter classroom could we have than the back room of the Hunters?  The practical work which followed was equally well organised, and I should like to see many more such courses run by people in the club who have extensive technical knowledge.

I know you do not make a practice of publishing appreciations of club activities, but perhaps you could make an exception in this case.

Yours Sincerely
Alan Thomas.

The Mendip Cave Registry

Most cavers on Mendip have heard of the Mendip Cave Registry, and quite a few of them have made some very valuable contributions towards it over the past ten years.  But how many know how to avail themselves of the information which the registers provide?

In this article, I hope to shed a little light on the workings of the Registry and the Registers.

On the 25th May 1956, the Executive Committee of the Mendip Cave Registry was formed.  The Committee consisted of eight people.  Five of them were Registrars, whose job it was to get the information for the Registers.  The other three were administrative, being Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer.  In October 1962 however, the Executive Committee was increased to sixteen members, of whom twelve were Registrars.  This increase enabled the preparation of the Registers for the libraries to progress more rapidly, and by October 1963, the first two copies were ready to take their place in the Bristol Central Reference Library and in the Wells Library. A third copy was kept by the secretary, both to answer postal enquiries and to ensure that the Registers could all be kept up to date by adding to his copy and exchanging it for one of the library copies.  The copy removed from the library could then be amended and exchanged for that in the other library, and so on.  In this way, all the registers could be kept up to date without the libraries being kept short of copy.

The placing of the registers at Bristol and Wells did not mean the end of the work for the Registry, far from it.  The Executive Committee immediately began investigating various methods of reproducing the Register at an economical price that it could be offered to interested organisations.  It was eventually decided to use the Rank Xerox method of copying and the work of brining the secretary’s copy up to this standard began.  This entailed revising the existing pages, reading Club publications (we understand they even read the B.B.! – Ed) and personal caving logs and diaries – as well as the work of checking the various sites of caving and speleological interest in the field.

Work progressed steadily over the next three years and in June 1966, over 200 register sheets were Xeroxed and made into six new copies of the register.  Two of these copies have been sold, complete with binders, to the Bristol Central Reference Library and the Somerset County Library.  The Cave Research Group and the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society have also purchased copies.

The registers are based on the Ordnance Survey “two and a half inch to the mile” maps.  Each sheet has been divided into quarters and each quarter sheet forms a division of the register.  The maps are filed in ascending numerical order, with the quarter sheets filed in the order SW, NW, SE and NE.  The relevant information on caves etc. typed on ledger sheets, and these are filed following the quarter sheets on which they appear.  The type of information given on the sheets is: -

(a)                Type of site (Cave, Swallet, Depression etc.)

(b)                Grid Reference to 8 figures (10 metres) if poss.

(c)                All know names.

(d)                Owner and tenant of land.

(e)                Restrictions of access.

(f)                  Brief notes of the cave.

(g)                References in books etc. of scientific or historical interest.

(h)                Details of any surveys available.

The brief notes only include a full description of the site if this is not otherwise available in a readily accessible book such as Barrington’s “Caves of Mendip”.  It is not intended that the register should be an enlarged form of this book, but that it should give information not readily obtainable elsewhere, together with references to the more readily available information and accounts.  It is hoped that, in particular, the register will be of the most use to a person wishing either to find out what has already been recorded about a site, or looking for a reference to specific information on a certain cave.

The work of the Registry will never be completed while caving is carried out on Mendip and if anyone would like to help in this work, he can contact me at the Belfry most weekends. The work, as I have said before, consists mainly of literature searching and fieldwork.  The former involves reading caving books and club publications and noting all references to Mendip Caves so that the information can be included on the relevant sheet of the register – a nice easy way to do your caving!  The latter consists of walking over the ground looking for sites, more strenuous than the former but a very pleasant way of spending an afternoon or two.

Anyone who has personal caving diaries containing description of original explorations, digs etc. is also asked to contact the Cave registry in order that the information in the diaries can be recorded in the Registers for the benefit of other cavers. People with such diaries may be interested to know that it has been arranged for any caving diaries or caving photographs of historical interest that are donated or bequeathed to the Registry to be stored in the Somerset Record Office at Taunton.  Here they will be readily available for reference by anyone interested, but, as nobody id allowed to take them away there is no danger of their ever being lost. Furthermore, they will not come under the control of any single club which could make it difficult for the average caver to consult them.

G.D. Tilly.


HAVE YOU PAID YOUR SUBS YET? A clear conscience costs only 12/6 – why not pay NOW!

Long Term Planning - 5

At the March meeting of the Long Term Planning Committee, The Chairman reminded the meeting that tome was getting on, and that there was not a great amount of time left before the Committee must put ist findings to the club.  The Secretary pointed out that this must be done before next year’s A.G.M. and accordingly the Committee decided that it would attempt the difficult job of deciding on the shape of the new building at its next meeting in April and have full plans prepared by its meeting in May.  This will enable the various planning and other permissions to be sought so that the result of these can be made known when the Long Term Plan is presented to the club as a whole.

There are, a few snags. We may be able to negotiate a new access to our site – and we may be able to enlarge it, but we shan’t know the answers to either of these questions in time to draw up the plans.  We shall thus try to draw up a plan which can be modified if the need arises.

Drawing up plans for new Belfries is an occupation which has become quite a tradition inn the B.E.C. and we feel that a number of members may feel that the have the answers to all our problems.  Unfortunately, this B.B. will be in most members’ hands rather late for them to be able to send anything into the secretary, but it may not be too late for your bright idea to get incorporated into the plans, so send it in to S.J. Collins, “Homeleigh”, Bishop Sutton, Somerset and it will be considered.  There are no prizes!  A specification for the new building has already been produced, and we have an idea what a fearsome job it is to try to get everything in.  We are aiming at a building of about 1,400 sq. ft. floor area, to sleep between 30-36 men and 6 women.

When everything has been finally settled, a report will be issued by the Long Term Planning Committee and sent to every member of the club.   This will happen about late August or early September and will give members about a month to six weeks to study it before The Annual General Meeting. Some suggestions as how best to tackle the problem of deciding whether to go ahead or not will be included. These will be no more than suggestions as the club is, of course, perfectly at liberty to discuss the scheme in any way the A.G.M. might decide.

Again, in order to save time, the main Committee have agreed to start with the introduction of certain money raising schemes.  If the Long Term Plan is turned down at next year’s A.G.M. any monies collected will be returned to those who gave or lent them.

Now that most of the decisions about the plan have been made, it is suggested that these reports on the activities of the Long Term Planning Committee should cease being written up in the B.B. as there is little but hard routine slogging in front of the committee from now on.  We expect you will be pleased to be able to read some more interesting article that this in future B.B.’s.

Meanwhile, and this is the last time we shall be mentioning this, if you have any thoughts, or queries, or want to know any of the ideas held at present, ask any member of the Long Term Planning Committee or write to the secretary of the Committee – Alfie. We don’t want to keep members in the dark over what we are doing but equally, we don’t want to keep boring them with reports which are bound to become less interesting from now on.

S.J. Collins.
Secretary, L.T.P.C.


It would refreshing to see some new names attached to articles in the B.B.  Have YOU ever written anything for the B.B.?  Why not have a go?