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It doesn’t seem very long ago that we were celebrating the publication of the hundredth issue of the B.B., and yet here we are a quarter of the way towards our second century. The rather dubious looking heading of this page is supposed to be marking the occasion.

Readers may have noticed a gradual deterioration of the quality of the typing of the B.B. of late. This is not due to the new duplicator, which is behaving very well, but is because this typewriter is in need of overhaul.  In particular, the tops of capital letters are not coming out properly.  We are hoping to have this attended to before the printing of July’s B.B.

The publication last month of Caving Report No.3 has, we hope, accomplished two things.  The first is to convince one and all that we do intend these to appear at intervals – however irregular – and the second and most important is to get some of the methods of tackle construction used on Mendip down on paper.  To our knowledge, in this club alone, at least five types of ladder have been constructed and it is doubtful whether more than a few individuals are familiar with the methods used.  We could do with a few more write-ups on this subject for caving reports.



Dear Mr. Collins,

I was very interested, in Belfry Bulletin No 123 (April 1958), to read the article by Ken Dobbs on 'A cave at Newton Abbott.' This cave is known as Conitor Cave, after the quarry in which it is situated.  There is a brief mention of it in 'Britain Underground' and it is also listed in 'British Caving'.  In so far as there is a main route through the cave, this runs downwards, and is reached by a number of holes that drop down to the right - as mentioned by Dobbs (who must have looked down a difficult one, as there is an easy way down just beyond!)  These holes lead to a roughly horizontal corridor, form which a variety of interesting squeezes which look as if they ought to go on.  Some do, for a short distance, but narrow fissures or cemented boulders have prevented us from getting very far.  There are some very colourful red flows and curtains in these lower Grottos.

I gather from Ken Dobbs' letter that he hasn't come across any cavers in Devon.  Perhaps he would like to get in touch with us some time?

Yours Sincerely

John Hooper
(Recorder & Editor, D.S.S.)

Editor’s Note:    We publish the above for the benefit of any members who find themselves in Devon.  You look as if you’ve got some caving organized, Ken!

May Committee Meeting

The May meeting of the committee dealt mainly with routine matters; the provisioning of the more tackle, the renovation of the club lantern and slides, the arrangements for creosoting the Belfry during the summer.  The date of the next, and subsequent Annual General Meeting and Dinner was fixed, as announced in last month’s B.B., as the first Saturday in October. Discussion on a suitable memorial to Don Coase continued.

The following new members were elected: - G. Todd; D. Soutar; P.C. Wilson (Junior) and A.C. Coase.

Log  for  May  1958

4th  May

Vole Hole.  Digging of the 3rd shaft continues.  Jill and Alfie have now reached half way down again.


Eastwater.  Trip to Primrose Path and Rift Chambers, Leader, “Prew”

4th  May

Cuthbert’s.  Maypole Series Survey.  Also surveyed High Chamber and examined approach to Hanging Chamber. Leader “Kangy.”  (A more detailed account by Kangy follows later in this issue.)

10th  May

Hunter’s Hole.  Rawlbolt fitted for main pitch.  The rawlbolt for the lifeline belay could not be fitted owing to the breakage of hammer!  The trip went on and continued digging at the bottom.  Leader, Ian Dear.


Cuckoo Cleeves.  Trip to end.  Leader, Ian Dear


Cuthbert’s.  A four hour digging trip in the “Tin Mine” in the Rabbit Warren Extension.  A stream can be heard.  Leader, “Prew.”

17th  May

Cuthbert’s.  A photographic trip.  On this trip, a new passage on the left of Lower Traverse Chamber was entered.  A series of oxbows ascending rapidly and eventually joining, the Old Route Stream approx. forty feet above the Water Chute.  Another extension leads to the top of Lower Traverse Chamber.  Leader, Chis Falshaw.  A sketch map is appended below: -


The two trips following are out of chronological order, we apologise for this.

3rd May

Cuthbert's.  Brian Ellis and Chris Falshaw went to Plantation Junction were instruments were set up.  Chris came out and Bryan stayed taking photographs.  Chemicals were put in Plantation Sink and Chris went down cave to Join Ellis.  Continued to sump

4th May

Cuthbert's.  Retrieved apparatus from Plantation Junction.


Further researches in Cuthbert’s
Have now inconclusively shown
That water swallowed in Plantation
It not passed by the Junction alone.

Chris has promised a more scientific account later.  Meanwhile, the editor, who has restrained his poetic outbursts in the B.B. for some months now, can contain himself no longer and inflicts the following on you:-


Chris F. made preparation
For an investigation
To find the destination
Of water from Plantation.
This science application
Had chemical foundation.
To show, by combination,
The water’s percolation.
They hoped to find relation
Of stream configuration
And rate of transportation
By Ionic Migration.
Chris had co-operation
From Bryan, who did station
At lowest elevation,
Himself for the duration.
They waited with elation
And much anticipation   

Then checked their installation
With great exhilaration.
But then, with lamentation,
There came the realization.
There was no correlation.
In fact, complete negation!
This caused great cogitation
And lengthy meditation
Until their cerebration
Reached absolute stagnation.
So if, when on vacation,
You try participation
With gen instrumentation
To find this deviation,
Don't let your new vocation
Cause undue perturbation.
Just stop, and yell “Damnation!”
And try intoxication!


Cuthbert’s  Hanging Chamber

Cavers familiar with the Maypole Series have been aware of the presence of what seemed to be a hole high up in the left hand wall (facing upstream) of Bridge Chamber - The entrance chamber to the Maypole Series, containing the fixed ladder and short chain pitches.

Until recently, the nearest anyone had been to it was at the time of the first maypole attempt on what is now the permanently laddered pitch.

On that occasion, 16th Feb., 1957, R.S. King climbed to a small ledge formed by the stal flow on the wall (indicated by the pin figure in the sketch on the next page).  The stal above appeared to be too steep to climb, and the ledge too small to support a maypole and crew.  This was confirmed by ‘Mo’ Marriott, who climbed to the same spot almost a year later.

During the surveying of the maypole series early this year, it was noticed that it might be possible to examine the hole from the chamber at the bottom of long Chain Pitch.  With this in mind, a party took strong lights and a few weeks later climbed into the narrow inclined rift from this chamber and found that it did indeed overlook Bridge Chamber.  By strange and hazardous contortions, it was found possible to illuminate the hole and with satisfaction, a fine white cascade was glimpsed.  More immediate surroundings contained a narrow, steep sloping, muddy ledge and a small stal ledge.  Both could be utilised during the engineering which must precede access to the hole.

At Whitsun, a party carried exploration a stage further and dropped a ladder onto the muddy ledge from the viewpoint.  It was found possible to step from this ledge to the stal ledge.  From this airy stance, it could be seen that the hole has considerable depth and height and is, in fact, a chamber containing some important formations.  Independent opinions of each of the four in the party give the cascade an estimated height of fifty feet.

The problem is now clear, and materials and a method are available to solve it.



A Pyrenean Picnic or Anglia Abroad

by Tony Johnson.

This long screed may be helpful to anyone looking for a trip abroad which is not infected with G.B. plates and yet is not too far off the beaten track.  When planning our 1957 summer holidays, this was our main thought.

We started out from Bristol at 6.00 on a Friday evening and by 7.30 next morning were safely on the quay at Le Havre.  From our experience, we can safely recommenced the night B.R. service from Southampton.  The “Normani” is one of the post war vessels and is very smooth.  Crossing this way is dearer than the short routes (especially as there is longer bar time) but when you add up the fuel bill down to Dover and through Northern France, I doubt if there is anything in it starting from the West Country. Added to this is the attraction of starting off in France after a good sleep (all berths arc comfortable and cheap).

Our first days run was to be the longest of the whole tour.  Straight south across the Seine Ferry, on through Le Mans, the Mulsanne straight, Tours and Poitiers towards Bordeaux, and the Spanish frontier.  It was a hot sticky day, so we stopped short of Bordeaux on the higher ground.  The Boule D'Or at Barbezieux was our first port of call, 6 pm and 410 miles from the channel!  Dinner was typical.  It lasted most of the evening.  One thing, was different though, the father and mother of all thunderstorms arrived and as we ate and drank, the lights went dim and bright by turns, finally packing up to be replaced by huge candles.  This storm lasted into the night with lightning of every conceivable colour.  We could look at the maps by the light.

Breakfast in the morning, was what was to become typical, ¬croissants and a huge bowl of coffee consumed in the bar.  Then out into the sun in search of a metre of bread, a bottle of wine (3 or 4/-) and a kilo of peaches (6d or 9d) as a basis for lunch.  Back again to settle up and depart.  The Boule D' Or was typical of the hotels we found in the small towns of the main tourist routes with good food and drink - clean and cheap.  A few comments on French hotel technique may not come amiss here to those who, like ourselves, have not had any previous experience.  Firstly, and most important, get a Michelin Guide.  It is far and away the best and most comprehensive guide I have yet found. Hotel proprietors live in fear and trembling of it and if they see you carrying one they will not over¬charge. Next, never be afraid to say the room you are shown is too dear if you think it is.  They will usually show you something cheaper!  Unless you understand what you are ordering (which we didn't) stick to the fixed meal at night; odd special dishes cost a lot more and the normal food is almost certainly very good.  Drink local wine unless you suspect it or have a very strong desire for something special.  It is usually good and very cheap.  Don't bother about garaging vehicles.  They seem to be all right left lying about the place, especially if British. Finally, don't hesitate to add up and check the bill.  It's probably O.K. though; and don't bother about tips except special ones as you have probably paid for them already under the heading "s.t.c."

To resume then, Sunday morning fine and fresh after the storm saw us driving the Anglia down the miles of tree lines straight towards Bordeaux.  Our first diversion came soon.  A large blue coach sat on its backside in the middle of the road.  The two rear wheels had had an argument and parted company, leaving the rest of the coach to slide along without them.  Nobody worried - most of the passengers were picking flowers!

On past the huge Pont de Pierre into Bordeaux in the middle of Sunday morning.  What a scrum!  Rather like a cross between Oxford Street and Petticoat Lane with all the shops going full blast!  Turn left and out again to the south and the hills, but first more petrol - trois mille francs d'essence (super of course) just over 6 gallons for almost £3 - This was before cheap tourist petrol.  From now on, we should need to keep that tank full, we thought, as petrol stations were likely to get further apart.  140 miles later, we arrived in Pan and lunch was due.  From here we saw our first view of the Pyrenees, but this was rather disappointing and rather like the Lake District from the Pennines.

A few miles out of Pan and the off the road and down to a stream for lunch.  You notice off the road.  Don't stop on the road.  If you do, mobile gendarmes appear from everywhere if you don't pull onto the verge. Out, primus stove and water keg; on soup, coffee etc. wine in the stream to cool and off we go.

After lunch, we first got out the sectional Michelin maps of the Pyrenees. Up to now we had navigated on the Michelin road book, but now we were leaving the Houtes Nationals for the yellow, white and dotted roads.

Our route now lay upwards towards the frontiers.  Firstly through pine woods, past numerous hydro electric barrages, then up through the spruce trees until we came out into a long snaking valley above the trees. Huge boulders and cliffs all round us disappeared into low cloud.  Then there was the frontier barrier, 6,400 feet up.  Beyond, we could see the clouds broken up with sunny patches on the rough dirt Spanish road.  The time was 3.30 and we were on the frontier 45 hours and 720 miles from Bristol.  Not fantastic perhaps, but not too bad considering we had done a lot of sightseeing and photography on the way.

However, we weren’t intending to cross over just yet, so back we went down the road beneath the clouds. This was the contrast we were to find a number of times in the next ten days - cloud and paved roads in France (albeit damned "bombee" in places) and sunshine and dirt roads in Spain.  It seems that the clouds pile up against the French side of the Pyrenees.  This accounts for the almost incredible green of the French landscape compared with the scorched appearance of the Spanish side.

It was now 6 o'clock and time to look for an hotel.  Here we made a mistake which we were careful not to repeat.  We picked out a place which turned out to be a shocker. Instead of departing for somewhere more convivial, we persisted.  It was like some vast barracks.  I do believe we were the only people to stay that summer, certainly that night.  So be warned if a place has an air of deserted grandeur about it, it is probably deserted for a very good reason, so steer clear!  French and Belgian tourists aren't fools and they are the main source of income in the Pyrenees.

                                                            (To be continued.)

H.E. Balch

It is with regret that we must record the passing of Mr. Balch, on, we understand, Whit Monday. Mr. Balch was an Honorary Life Member of the B.E.C., and so perhaps we may be permitted to add our own club's tribute to his long lifetime of work on Mendip caves.

For the last three years of his life, he was reluctantly confined to bed, but even then he spent them being through all his caving memoranda and tidying up all the loose ends. We received a letter from him asking several questions about the Redcliffe Cave system in Bristol only a few months ago.

Humour has it that he did a 'top of Swildons' at the age of eighty two!  This was typical of the keenness he showed.

His work at Badger Hole, his books, and his Curatorship of the Wells Museum are well known to all cavers, and he was never too busy to chat to cavers, giving novices and experienced cavers the same courteous attention.

Those who never saw him have missed what every Mendip caver considered to be part of his education - those who knew him will we are sure, join with us in mourning the passing of a great and well-loved caver.


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



The original function of the Belfry Bulletin was, as its name suggests, to report to club members on the progress made on the construction of the club hut – The Belfry.

The last month has seen spectacular progress made on the Belfry site.  The redecoration of the living room is almost compete; the kitchen has been tackled and only requires a few finishing touches; the exterior  of the hut has been creosoted and, joy of joys, we have obtained permission from the Ministry of Town and Country Planning to go ahead with the building of our new stone tackle store and changing room and have lost no time in starting to dig the foundations.

As far as we know, the new stone building will be the first permanent building ever to be erected on Mendip for the purpose of caving, and those of us who remember the old Belfry in its heyday will feel that it is appropriate that this new building should be rising, as it were, from its ashes.

Appeals are not indulged in much in the B.B. nowadays, but we feel that an exception could well be made at this stage to appeal to all members on two counts.  The first is that we now have a nice looking, freshly painted, clean hut.  Let us all try to keep it the best on Mendip!  The second is that the erection of the new hut will take a lot of work. We have never lacked willing hands in the past, who put up the New Belfry and added the extension and porch. Let's get that new stone hut up before the winter!

Finally, a big "thank you" to all members who have sent in material for the B.B. of late. At the moment, we have a surpl¬us, so don't be worried if your article doesn’t appear in this B.B. and don't stop writing!  We use it up very quickly!

" Alfie. "

July Committee Meeting

Arrangements for the redecoration of the kitchen and the creosoting of the outside of the Belfry were finalised at the July committee meeting.  Other matters deal with were the provision of nylon lifelines, Certificates for Hon. Life Members and the provision for a club tie.

The Tackle Officer reported that we now possessed four 20ft and one 15ft standard lightweight ladders.  With two more 20 foot lengths under construction.  It was also agreed, in view of the new decorations, to prohibit the use of paraffin for burning purposes in the Belfry.

Change of Address.

Alfie has now moved to 33 Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8

Annual Dinner.

This will be held at the CAVE MAN RESTAURANT at CHEDDAR on SATURDAY  OCTOBER 4TH, 1958.  The price of tickets will be 10/-.


We must apologise to “Kangy” whose letter would have been printed at this point in the B.B., had it not been lost in the Editor’s recent moving activities.

Make a note of the date of the Annual Dinner & A.G.M. - Oct. 4th!


Caving Log

1st June

Vole Hole.  Digging continued.


St. Cuthbert’s.  Tourist trip to Sump.  Leader N. Petty.

7th June

Swildon’s.  Trip to Sump II.  Leader, Roger Burky.


Beginners Top of Swildon’s from St. Annes Board Mill .  Comments included Yarroo!, St. Michael & all angels preserve us!, Let me get at Falshaw!, Help, help I’m sinking!, HaHaHaHeHeHe! &c.  However, all want to cave again.  Leaders, C. Falshaw and B. Ellis.


St. Cuthbert’s.  Digging in the Tin Mine.  More stal chipped away and a small chamber 2’ high with a stal floor and some straws seen.  Leader Kangy.


St. Cuthbert’s.  Digging in Tin Mine.  With a fair squeeze accompanied with the noise of breaking straws, Vivienne and Chris managed to proceed into a fair sized chamber.  This sloped downwards away from the dig to a streamway.  Upstream was a sump.  Downstream another squeeze was negotiated with the aid of the stream.  The passage then descended to a small pool (not a sump).  Further progress should be possible.  A sketch plan is shown below.  Leader Chris Falshaw.




Stoke Lane.  Leader R. Burky.

14th June

Eastwater.  (Both main routes).  Leader F. Darbon.


Vole Hole.  More digging.  Alfie and Jill.


Ludwell Cave.  Leader R. Burky.

16th June

Hunter’s Hole.  Digging in Railway Tunnel.  Leaders D. Hoskyns and D. Soutar.

20th June

Swildon’s Four.  Leader D. Hoskyns

23rd June

Whitcombe’s Hole.  Leader D. Hoskyns.

25th June

Hunter’s Hole.  Digging in Railway Tunnel.  Leader D. Hoskyns

26th June

Swildon’s.  Trip to Sump I.  Leader D. Hoskyns.


The next entry, dated 26th June, is completely indecipherable and looks like Phantom Swallet.  Could this be Plantation?

28th June

Holwell Cave.  A party of six arrived at Holwell Cave in the Quantocks to explore and survey it.  The cave is a system of small passages forming a three dimensional maze.  In the main passage, some excellent aragonite crystals were observed.  Leader Prew.


St. Cuthbert’s.  A further extension of 20 to 30 feet was forced in the Tin mine Passage.  This is very wet and tight.  Leader Chris Falshaw.

29th June

Vole Hole.  Shoring.  Alfie and Jill.

4th July

Vole Hole.  Shoring.  Alfie and Jill.

5th July

Vole Hole.  Shoring.  Alfie and Jill.


Goatchurch.  Leader Mike Wheadon.


Swildon’s.  Trip to sump I.  Leader Dick Cook-Y


St. Cuthbert’s.  Attempt to pass sump in Tin Mine. Passage.  A large stal flow impeded progress and much water entered the sumping suit.  Mighty Man Sandall then attacked the stal barrier and a sizeable hole was produced.  This was passed feet first, partially floating into a circular chamber 20’ diameter and 20’ high with 3’622 of water and no apparent outlet.  Leader Chris Falshaw.

6th July

Sandford Levvy.  Leader R. Burky.


August Hole.  Leaders Mike Palmer and Mike Wheadon.


Vole Hole.  More navving.  Jill and Alfie.

7th July

Great Oones Hole.  Mr. R. Price and Miss J.P. Rollason inspected this by the light of matches only.  Mr Rees and Mr Collins were unwilling/unable to climb to the entrance, but directed operations form the road.

9th July

Vole Hole.  Alfie, Jill and Bob Price.


Banwell Bone Cave Bone Cave plus Bakers Extension.  Leader Bob price.



12th July

Eastwater.  Beecham Series.  Leader R. Burky.


St. Cuthbert’s.  Coral Series.  Leader C. Falshaw.

13th July

Hunter’s Hole.  Discovery of Sanctimonious Passage (see separate article).


St. Cuthbert’s.  To sump.  Leader Prew.


St. Cuthbert’s.  Maypoling in Hanging Chamber.  Leader R. King.

19th July

Swildons.  To Sump II.  Leader I.A. Dear.

20th July

Eastwater.  Dolphin Pot.  Leader Dave Tattan.


Swildons.  To Sump I.  Leader Dave Tattan.


Hunter’s Hole.  (See separate article).

21st July

Swildons.  Top Series.  M. Tooke.

24th July

Lamb Leer.  Leader D. Willis.


St. Cuthbert’s.  Digging in “New System” which was started by N. petty at the bottom of the entrance shaft.  By removal of several unwanted boulders, it was possible to enter the upper part for a rift passage after negotiating a tight squeeze.  At first the way on was not obvious, the the obstruction proved to be composed of a very soft ochreous stal easily removed to reveal a deep ‘ole in a rift.  The rift was descended to a floor of ochre deposit into which one could ‘happily’ sink to one’s knees.  In the up dip direction, the passage became completely choked.  Continuing down dip for some 20-30 feet brought us to a pretty little grotto to one side of which and Eastwater type bedding passages descends from choked inlets to the region of the grotto.  The passage directly at the back of the grotto is completely choked and digging will ruin the fine decorations.  It is thought that this rift is an upper level of the entrance rift, but this will have to be checked by surveying.  It was decided to call this part of the cave Ochre Rift.  A Grade 1 survey follow: -




Estimated length is approximately 100’.  B.E. Prewer and A. Fincham.

26th July

Eastwater.  Dolphin Route.  Mike Wheadon.


Cuthbert’s.  Ochre Rift.  C. Falshaw.


Eastwater.  At 4.454 pm, Roger Horton ( Wessex) arrived at the Belfry to inform us that a chap was stuck in the squeeze at the top of the 180’ Primrose Pot.  Four B.E.C. members turned out and all the others stood by in case a large party was needed.  On the way to the cave, another member of the Wessex party informed us that medical attention would be necessary.  The M.R.O. were then informed at 5.00 pm.  Three B.E.C. members reached the top of Primrose Pot at 5.10 pm.  Mike Wheadon went through the squeeze and by pushing the bod from behind, while others pulled from above, he slowly came through.  His condition was good, although tired.  After a short rest, the party started towards the surface.  En route for Rift Chamber, M.R.O. arrived.  Whole party was out by 8.00 pm.  On the surface, a large party of cavers from various clubs, including the original party of Wessex, were ready should they be required.  N.B. It was rumoured that “Spike” complete in caving kit, was in this party.



29th July

Swildons.  Leader K. Robbins.

30th July

Cuckoo Cleeves.  Leader E. Lambert.

31st July

Hilliers.  Leader Mike Wheadon.


Hunters Hole

Sanctimonious Passage

On Sunday, 13th July 1958, a party descended Hunters Hole under the misdirection of Ian Dear with the intention of digging at the end of the Railway Tunnel.  Before work was started, an attempt was made to reach a small ledge eight feet up the right hand wall and seventeen feet from the bottom of the main pitch.  Ian had attempted to climb up to this ledge a fortnight earlier but, due to mud covered rock and loose boulders, had been unsuccessful.  On this occasion, a lighter person wearing rubber soled boots was able to make the climb by using another persons back as a start and then, when on the ledge, cleared most of the loose boulders, thus enabling others to climb. It should be pointed out that many of the boulders are still loose and care should be taken when climbing this.

The removal of a few more boulders enlarged a hole at the back of the ledge and it was possible to squeeze through into a boulder floored passage about three feet wide and two feet high.  The passage ends after fourteen feet, but just before the final wall is reached it is possible to squeeze between two boulders which brings one to the edge of a pot six feet in diameter and nine feet deep.  It is an easy climb to the bottom, and a low passage leads off parallel to the Railway Tunnel of the main system.  After thirty feet, including a further squeeze, a small chamber is reached where there is a four foot drop. Near the roof is a small grotto from which leads a small passage which closes down after six feet.

Below the grotto a passage leads off, and after proceeding through a fourth squeeze, the top of another pitch is revealed.  This was named ROVER POT and is eighteen feet deep.  It is probably easy to climb, but a short rope or a ten foot ladder belayed from a convenient spur of rock six feet down makes the climb much easier. At the bottom of the pitch is a fairly large chamber with a passage continuing at right angles to the Railway Tunnel, but unfortunately this closes down after twenty two feet and is blocked by a stal flow.  The final passage is some twenty lower than the bottom of the Railway Tunnel and more than ten feet lower than reached so far in the dig.  It is the lowest part of the cave and approximately 160 feet below ground level.  The total passage length is about 125 feet.

It is probable that readers will wonder about the name given to the new extension.  It so happened that the previous night a visitor to the Belfry had been offended by the lads, and rather than spend a night in such company, had packed his bags and made the 150 mile journey home by car.  It was felt that such gallant behaviour should be commemorated and hence the name!

During the following week, the passage was surveyed Bryan Ellis and Brian Sneddon as part of a survey of the complete cave which is hoped to publish at a later date.  Although the measurements for the survey are made to C.R.G. grade 5, the survey accompanying this screed (or article? See B.B. No. 126!) has only been drawn up roughly, and not more than grade there is claimed.

The following weekend, another descent was made, and after a superb tangle of ropes, caused by Ian’s attempts at directing the lowering of tackle down the main pitch, had been sorted out, digging was started at the terminal stalagmite and the mud filled passage. Both look promising and it is intended to carry out further work at both places in the future.  While this was going on, work was also carried on in Dear’s Ideal.

(We regret that this article has had to be cut short to allow the survey to be included.  A full report will be published in B.E.C. Caving reports at a later date.  Ed.)

To the Editor Belfry Bulletin.

Early this year a B.E.C. party was trapped below the 40' pot in Swildons because a second group took out the tackle believing the first party to be already out of the cave.

The misunderstanding that took place calls for some comment on cave leadership and safety.

1.                  Every party should have a recognised leader responsible for making all major decisions and for seeing his party has got adequate lighting and clothing.  He should also look after the safety of his group and ensure that nobody is persuaded to go beyond his capabilities, and help and advise novices.

2.                  With a party of equal caving experience, this leadership will be rarely exerted, but nevertheless a leader should be chosen and must be able to exert authority if necessary in case of accident, dangerous exploration &c.

Under club rules all trips should have a leader whose decisions must be obeyed.  There is a tendency nowadays to ignore advising novices on carrying equipment and techniques.  A practical training in this is essential and to supplement this letter I shall be submitting an article on caving equipment and methods shortly.

M. Hannam.
Caving Secretary

Open Letter

To those Whom the Cap Fits: -

During the Bank Holiday weekend, some members of the Wessex Cave Club were interrupted in the process of setting off some fireworks etc. outside the Belfry.  This is fair enough and we would be a pretty dim lot if we couldn’t take a joke.  What we don’t think very funny; however, it is the attempted setting off of a detonator on the roof of the Belfry porch.  This could have been dangerous to anyone passing at the time, particularly as there were two expectant mothers at the Belfry that day.  A dim view would also have been taken by our Fire Insurers. In addition, the frivolous use of explosive materials would result in the withdrawing of “bang” licenses.  On top of this, the perpetrators of this joke attempted to light an electric detonator by setting fire to the leads! Obviously anyone so unaware of its use should not be handling a detonator anyway.  We trust we have made our point clear.


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




The B.B. published after an A.G.M. is invariably rather full of club affairs, and this one is no exception. In addition to the remarks about the B.B. which readers will find in the account of the A.G.M., we should like to remind them of Jonah's offer of photographic assistance which we hope is still open and which we have never had the opportunity to use.  Who is going to be the first to send in an article with photographic illustrations??

We have also been asked to remind members that Caving Reports are normally obtained through the Secretary, either by post or directly at Redcliffe.  They may now be bought on Mendip (at the Shepton Hut) and there are a number of back copies of the B.B. for sale there at 3d each.

The Editorial Board now consists of Alfie (Editor), Bob Price (Printer), Jill Rollason (Checker), and Prew and Tony O'Flaherty (Addressing and Postal Department).  We should like to take this opportunity of thanking all past members of the Board for their help.


September Committee

At the September Committee Meeting, Keith Robbins was elected as a Junior Member. Amongst other business dealt with, Norman Petty agreed to fit doors to the cupboards in the Belfry kitchen; the speeches for the Annual Dinner were arranged; the laying of hardcore outside the Belfry and progress on the new building were discussed and it was agreed to purchase new spades at 5/6 each and more nylon rope. The club insurance cover on the Belfry is being looked into with a view to raising it if necessary.  The Tackle Officer also announced that preparations for a new wire in the wire rift are in hand.  The meeting was concluded by the chairman formally disbanding the committee pending the election of the 1959 committee.

October Meeting

The first meeting of the 1959 Committee was held at the Belfry on the Sunday following the A.G.M. The committee appointed club officials as follows:-

Committee Chairman

R.A. Setterington.

Hon. Sec. & Treasurer

R.J. Bagshaw.

Hut Warden & Editor, B.B.

A. Collins.

Printer B.B.

R.J. Price.

Caving Secretary

R. Bennett.

Hut Engineer & Asst. Hut Warden

B. Prewer.

Assistant Librarian & Min. Sec

C. Falshaw.

Tackle Officer

N. Petty.

Lamp Spares


Climbing Secretary

Pat Ifold.


J. Ifold.

In addition, it was agreed to proceed with the doors and other carpentry in the kitchen.  It was agreed not to hold the dinner at the Cave Man again.  Keith Asquith was elected a member. It was agreed to obtain one more lorry load of hardcore for the Belfry outside.  Other items dealt with included fire fighting equipment for the Belfry; arrangements for obtaining materials for the new building; Cuthbert's survey equipment and caving and climbing tackle.

Report of The A.G.M.

The 1958 Annual General Meeting of the Bristol Exploration Club was held at Redcliffe Church Hall on Saturday 4th October 1958.  The meeting started at 3 p.m., at which time a quorum of 28 members were present.

The minutes of the 1957 meeting was read by the Hon. Sec. after R.A. Setterington had been unanimously elected Chairman; and were adopted by the meeting.

The Hon. Secretary mentioned in his report that 21 new members had joined the club in the eight months since the last A.G.M., but in spite of this, club membership was only up to 115.

The Hon. Treasurer declared that the club’s finances were in a healthy position and the cost of the new Tackle and Changing Hut could easily be borne.  Mush of the increased receipts were due to the greater number of Life Memberships being taken out.  He also announced that a sum had been collected for a memorial to Don Coase, but he was keeping this separate from the club finances.

The Hut Warden announced that Belfry Bed nights were greater than those at the same tine last year by about 300 bed nights and that all records would be easily broken by the end of the year.  He attributed this to the bad summer which resulted many members staying at the Belfry, and there was some mention of a number of unemployed in club.

A report in the Belfry Bulletin followed in which the Editor pointed out that the B.B. was tending to cost rather more than had been originally agreed on when the present Board took over its running.  A discussion followed in which R.M. Wallis, speaking as a member who was rarely able to come to Mendip, pointed out that the B.B. should not be hampered through lack of funds.  This was agreed by Dan Hasell.  Bob Price then made a plea for some volunteers for the Addressing Dept.  Prew and Tony O'Flaherty responded and become members of the B.B. Board.

The Caving Secretary commented on the high level of caving activity this year.  Arising from his speech, it was agreed to advertise a club trip in the B.B. at suitable intervals.  The new caving secretary to arrange this.

At this stage, the result of the ballot for the 1959 club committee became known and was read out by the Chairman.  The committee again consist of 10 members, as there was a tie for the last place.  It consist of: - R.A. Setterington; R. Bagshaw; C. Falshaw; N. Petty; A. Collins; R.J. Price; B. Prewer; P. Ifold; R. Bennet and ‘Mo’ Marriott.

The Tackle Officer's report followed.  He announced that club now possessed 136' of lightweight tackle and 45' of Ultra lightweight as well as a new 100' of nylon line.

The Hon. Librarian reported that Clare had donated most of Don’s books to the Club Library.  We now have 40 books but it appears that some 70 must be missing, judging by old lists.  The Chairman suggested that Chris Falshaw and Johnny Ifold get together and attempt to trace the missing books.

The Climbing Secretary reported that active membership of the section had increased and suggested that camping equipment be purchased by the club for the climbing section.  It was agreed to leave this matter to the 1959 committee.

Sleeping arrangements at the Belfry provided the main talking point under the heading of ‘Member’s Resolutions’ and the meeting ended with a lively discussion on the subject.


Editor's note on the above.  This account of the A.G.M. was taken from notes made at the time, but is not an 'official' account.  The full proceedings may be seen by members on application to the club secretary.

Caving Log

3rd August

Alfie’s Hole.  Party removed rocks in chamber.  A hole in the floor uncovered from which a passage can be seen.  The boulder pile is far too unstable to allow penetration yet.


St. Cuthbert’s.  Leader A. Sandall.  Trip via Old Route to sump.


St. Cuthbert’s.  Leader “Mo”.  Down Old Route up to High Chamber and Cascades.  Back up Pulpit Pitch.


St. Cuthbert's.  Leader Chris Falshaw.  Down Pulpit Pitch to Dining Room then via Lake Chamber.  180’ of new passage discovered on way out.


General Note.  Club Record.  24 people down the cave and total man hours was 145.


St. Cuthbert’s. Leader N. Petty.  Tourist and digging trip.  Digging in mud choke by Beehive. Swildon’s.  Leader K. Robbins.  Tourist trip to Sump I.

4th August

Alfie's Hole.  More muck removed from floor of chamber.  Alfie removed one small stone from bottom.  Ten seconds later, cave had to be evacuated owing to imminent collapse of boulder pile.

6th August

Cross Swallet.  Alan Fincham spent two hours knocking rocks off and breaking them up. Way on is still not clear.


St. Cuthbert's.  Bryan Ellis and Chris. Surveying in the Rabbit Warren.

8th August

St. Cuthbert's. As above.

9th August

St. Cuthbert's. As above.


St. Cuthbert's.  Leader Prew.  Down to Dining Room and brought out telephone.


Tankard's Hole.  Leader R. Stenner.  Survey started, after cave had been dug out again.


Blake's Farm Swallet.  Leader Mike Wheadon.  Party went to fullest extent of known cave. Chris went on along a streamway until finally stopped when his light went out.  He was rescued by Bryan!


Swildon's Hole.  Trip to sump I via Tratman's Temple and the Blasted Boss.  Leader Keith Robbins.

10th August

St. Cuthbert's.  Leader Mike Wheadon & Prew.


Swildon’s Hole.  Trip to Sump II. Leader K. Robbins.


Tankard Hole.  Survey continuing. Leader. R. Stenner.

16th August

Tankard Hole.  Survey continuing. Leader R. Stenner.


August Hole.  Leader “Mo” Marriott.

17th August

Swildon’s Hole. Upper Series.  Leader K. Robbins.


St. Cuthbert’s. Leader Mike Wheadon.  Grand tour of system including Rocky Boulders and Maypole.


St. Cuthbert's. Leader Kangy.  Hanging Chamber entered and penetrated to its top by a series of feats with Maypoles, ladders ropes and other climbing devices.


Swildon’s Hole.  Photographic trip.  Jonah.

19th August

Swildon’s Hole.  Leader George Honey.  One scout fell into the second pot twice.

21st August

Swildon’s Hole. Photographic trip.  Jonah.


Hollowfield Swallet.  Leader Chris.  Lassoed a nearby boulder and dropped down to 'Main Chamber' went on to a flat out crawl which became silted up after twenty feet.


St. Cuthbert's.  Leader Chris.  A passage running parallel to Harem passage was investigated.  40’ of new passage entered.

23rd August

St. Cuthbert’s.  Leader Kangy.  Cross Leg Squeeze and Hanging Chamber.


St. Cuthbert's.  Leader Bryan Ellis.  Tourist trip.


St. Cuthbert's.  Leader Mike Wheadon.  Following Chris's last trip, passage continued through ­boulder ruckle into fairly large chamber with some black stal.  A drop through the floor brings one to a streamway which can be followed to a sump.


Swildon’s Four.  Leader Alan Fincham.  It was noted that water coming down the Maypole Pitch by the final sump was contaminated and a connection with Priddy Green Farms is suspected.

30th August

St. Cuthbert's.  Leader Chris.  Investigation of passages in the catgut extension.

31st August

Hillier's Hole.  Leader Prew.


St. Cuthbert's.  Leader Chris.  Tourist Trip.


Alfie's Hole.  State of affairs at bottom of chamber inspected.  Not as bad as feared.  Hole might still go!

31st August

Vole Hole.  Dig abandoned and excavation started to be filled in.


St. Cuthbert's.  Leader Mike Wheadon.  Found a further small chamber well decorated.


August Hole.  Leader Bob Bendall.  Tourist trip to end of cave.


St. Cuthbert's.  Leader.  N. Petty.  Drilling holes in Wire Rift for new wire.

4th September

Eastwater.  Leader  Keith Robbins.

6th September

St. Cuthbert’s. Leader Kangy.  Photography in Curtain Chamber.


Swildon’s Hole.  Leader Roger Burky.  Sherpa trip in preparation for W.S.G. trip.

13th September

Alfie's Hole.  New entrance started.  One side of top shoring completed.


Goatchurch and Sidcot.  Leader R. Stenner.

14th September

Alfies Hole.  Shoring continued.


Swildon’Four.  12 Hour Sherpa trip.  Dave Balcombe and Kangy.

20th September

St. Cuthbert’s.  Roy Bennett and Chris Falshaw.  A large boulder complex was entered which extended from the Railway Tunnel to Upper Traverse Chamber.  It requires much sorting out.


Swildon's.  Leader R.  Stenner.  Top Series with Expresso coffee.

21st September

St. Cuthbert’s.  Leader Mike Wheadon.  Catgut Extension.  Another chamber discovered.  Report will follow later.

22-23 Sept.

St. Cuthbert’s


A party of four, including Mike Wheadon, Mike Palmer, Albert Francis and Prew went down at 8.30pm and went straight down to Catgut Extension.  Went into chamber found by Mike Wheadon on the 21st September.  SIZE IS SIMILAR TO THAT OF QUARRY CORNER.  THE FORMATIONS AT THE TOP END OF THE CHAMBER ARE PROBABLY AMONG THE FINEST IN THE ENTIRE CAVE.  The chamber was named September Chamber.  At this bottom of the chamber, a small hole led to a chamber in the centre of which was an aven.  The top could only just be seen with the aid of a powerful lamp.  Height is over a hundred feet.  From here, a bedding plane continued down dip to an old stream passage, having excellent formations.  This carried on until a T-junction was reached.  Left is a short passage.  Right goes for about 70-100' and many ways are still to be looked at.  Series is called September series.



27th September

St. Cuthbert’s.  Leader Chris Falshaw.  Went to September Chamber which is quite magnificent, the profusion of stalactites being amazing.

28th September

Eastwater.  Leader Tony O’Flaherty.  Down to the first vertical and back.

29th September

St. Cuthbert’s.  Leader Mike Wheadon & Prew.  Trip to Catgut Extension.  Photographs taken and formations taped.  New passages discovered.  Trafalgar Chamber, Strand and Victoria Passages.  All of the party were slightly shattered by the magnificence of the series.


Congratulations to Dave Radmore whose wife has recently presented him with a daughter, Carol, weight 6lbs.7oz.

Congratulations also to Joan and Tony Crawford on the birth of their son, Roger Alan.


AN APPEAL to all members to turn out cupboards, attics, and other odd corners.  Have you a club library book, for instance, propping up one side of your piano?  Please let Johnny I. or Chris have any club books you might find!

Caving Trips.

If you are organizing a trip, let the caving sec. know, so that it can be advertised in the B.B. or send or give the information directly to the Editor or any member of the Board.

New Building.

Don’t forget.  FREE BED NIGHTS to all who WORK on this job. Work will be starting in earnest very soon.  Come and do your bit!

Racing In North Wales!!!

The hand of fate fell heavily on two club members, inflicting them with that dreaded malady, 'Midsummer Madness', the effects of which are not so long lasting or so consequential as Spring Fever, but much more horrific.

This illness started when Alan Bonner and myself accepted the invitation of Rex Aldridge to join the Yorkshire Rambling Club’s meet to attempt the Welsh 3,000's in North Wales on June 21st - midsummer day.

After three and a half hour's sleep, we found ourselves deposited in the Pen-y-pass Hotel car park, to make up a total of 19 starters.  The clouds were down low and hanging heavily on Crib Goch with no wind to harass it.  The time was 4.30 am.  A fast pace was set, and we were soon in a thick, muggy blanket of cloud walking up the steep side of Crib Goch and doing a balancing act on the ridge leading to the pinnacles.  By now there were four of us in the leading group, which was reduced to three when Rex tried to turn the last pinnacle and so lost valuable minutes.  1 hour 50 minutes from the start, we were past Crib-y-Ddisgl and on top of Snowdon.  From there we belted down the railway track to Clogwyn station and then plunged down a fine scree slope to Llanberis Pass.  Alan Bonner was the first down at 6.50 am approx., myself being delayed a few minutes by a call of nature.

Older members of the Y.H.C. were installed in Bendy Mawr hut and cooked us a very welcome second breakfast. Rex, Alan and myself set off for Nant Peris just before 8 am and were soon climbing up the long, tedious slopes of Glydir Fawr.  Because of the cloud, we did not find the best way, climbing up amongst loose boulders. We then realised that we were possibly off route when a raven croaked some 100' below us.  Rex's map reading and compass work was first class in that we were in cloud while traversing. Elidir Fawr, Y Garn, Glyder Fawr and Glyder Fach.  It was not until we descended to Bwlch Tryfan that we saw our first cloud free peak, Tryfan. From the summit it we eased our way down a gully on the N.W. face bringing us down to the main road at Milestone Buttress, and so to the Midland Club Hut where more food was waiting.

We left the hut at 3 p.m. under a bright sun and headed to the east ridge of Pen-yr-oleu-wen, making our way over the steep, broken and vegetated slopes until we found a track which led to the summit. We rested in the hollow cairn and enjoyed the excellent view.  The rest of the peaks on the Carnedds were easily reached, compared with the previous going, reaching the last peak at 730 pm.

The last part of the trip down to Bethesda was taken seriously, as the thought of a beer and closing time at 10 pm occupied our main thoughts.  We cut through a churchyard to arrive at a pub at 9.30 p.m.  Our conscience was eased by finding the vicar installed there. We were met by our friends of the Y.R.C. who plied us with pints and transported us back to their club hut. Our thanks are due to them for providing us with food en route and to Rex Aldridge for inviting us to the meet.

Geoff Mossman

Social Column

It must be recorded that at the Hunters Lodge on Saturday 11th of October, Sid Hobbs drank screech from a ladies shoe!  To the best of out knowledge this has not been attempted before at the Hunter's. Sid seems to be surviving well!


The Belfry Bulletin. Editor: S.J. Collins, 33 Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8
Secretary: R.J. Bagshaw, 56 Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol 4




To most older members, the idea of holding the Annual Dinner and A.G.M in October will be somewhat of a novelty.  It nearly caught the Editorial Board out last month, and the nomination forms were only printed at the last moment.  For the same reason, this B.B. has had to be deliberately held back, so as to give the nomination forms a chance to come back before the voting forms so out with this B.B.  The usual reminders - don't forget to vote, please try to turn up to the A.G.M., and do come along to the Dinner!

Last year, we only just had a quorum for the A.G.M. and in fact the meeting had to wait a bit until this was obtained we have never yet managed to cance1 one because of lack of bods and Dan's idea last year of having the A.G.M. in October was to make it easier for people to get there.  It's on the SATURDAY, OCTOBER 4TH and the A.G.M. starts at 2.30.  See you there.

" Alfie."

Committee Meeting

At the August Committee Meeting, the following were elected members of the club; Michael Cunningham and David Brown.  The committee then went on to finalize the wording of the new certificates for Hon. Life members.  The installation of a calor poker for lighting the stove was agreed to.  A letter from the M.N.R.C. proposing a memorial to Mr. Balch was read and the committee agreed to the idea of such a tribute. The Cuthbert's leaders list was extended (an up to date list of leaders will be found elsewhere in this issue). Albert Francis agreed to accept the job of foreman in charge of the erection of the new building and it was agreed to make a start on the reduction of mud from the Belfry site by having one lorry load of quarry waste delivered.


Will all members won have moved during the last year check that Bob Bagshaw or Bob Price have got their present address?  We shall be beginning to think about the Christmas B.B. soon and they will be wanted for the usual list of member’s names and addresses.

Letter To The Editor

To the Editor, B.B.

I was most interested to read Kangy’s article on the Maypole Series in B.B. no 126.  I agree it is depressing that the survey error will be up to fifty feet, but need it be this great?  At present there seem to be three possible methods of getting distances and bearings (1), by using a tape measure (2) by optical methods (3) by radio methods. Method (1) is O.K. for short distances but much time is lost in running out the tape and getting the mud off it before a measurement is taken.  Method (2) could be used, using the crossed lights principle, rather than the camera type of rangefinder.  The main advantages are that it can be operated by one man and ranges to places normally inaccessible can be measured.  (3) offers the advantage of being able to measure distances through rock, and so long traverse errors can be eliminated.  The method allows the possibility of surveying underground with reference to fixed surface points.

Could the "bods who know" please comment on the above, and perhaps reply in the B.B. for the enlightenment of people like us?

Yours etc.  George Honey.

Editor's Note:     There's a lot of scope for comment here and we shall be pleased to print replies.  I don't see how you are going to measure distances by radio methods - surely you will need some form of radar and the rock limits you to very low frequencies. Perhaps Norman Brooks could enlighten us as to how his radio device works and what it does?


An account of recent activity by Chris Falshaw

It is ironical that the smallest piece of passage discovered recently is the most important.  This is the connection between the Rabbit Warren and Catgut.  The passage, or squeeze as it really is, is not particularly tight, but awkward. Going through it one finds ones legs all mixed up, hence the name Cross Leg Squeeze.  The Rabbit Warren has been the scene of two other discoveries in recent months, the Tin Mine and an extension to the Soap Flake Pool.  The latter was entered after removing a stalagmite barrier at the far end of the pool.  It is now possible to float backwards through a narrow opening in the curtain into a small chamber.  There are no signs of any continuation.  Apart from some nice curtains, the chamber has nothing to recommend it except free bathing facilities.  The Tin Mine Dig finally yielded after great efforts by some imported members of other clubs.  A tight squeeze can be negotiated into a medium sized chamber well decorated with straws.  This chamber, like Continuation Chamber, has two streams entering.  One is through an extremely small hole in the roof and it is doubtful whether this could be ever followed up.  The other enters through a stone choke in the north end of the chamber. There may be a diggable way round this sump.  The streams join in the chamber and proceeded through a steeply sloping squeeze into a low passage which has been followed for fifty feet when the stream appears to run back underneath itself into gravel.  Some excavation has open carried out at this point.  Once again, the passage has nothing to recommend it except free bathing facilities, total immersion being almost inevitable.

It is now the 'open season' for maypoling and some good work has been done in this field.  Maypole - a steeply ascending gully running parallel to and on the western side of the Maypole Series has been entered and penetrated for 3 poles vertical distance (not rods and perches, poles).  It is thought that this gully may join up with Hanging Chamber, but sundry ironmongery is now needed to provide a reasonable safety margin.  Maypole was entered on the same day as and is a passage about sixty feet vertically above the curtains and leads after 100' to the top of the cascade (can you do a traverse from this into Long Chamber, or am I showing my ignorance? Ed.)  There are some fine organ pipes at the far end. Maypole was entered on August Bank Holiday Sunday.  It is situated at the end of Disappointment Passage which is a tributary passage just below Gour Passage Pitch.  Here a twenty foot pitch leads to a further 150' of steeply ascending rift with occasional squeezes and pools.  This passage could be pushed further with slight widening.  It is estimated that this rises over 200' which would put the furthest point reached fairly near the surface.

Some digging has been carried out at the bottom of the entrance shaft.  The original purpose of this was to facilitate shunting operations for certain of our larger members.  Ochre Rift was entered and now extends for 100'.  The passage seems to run in the direction of Arête Pitch and there are two digs available at the lower end.  A grade 4 survey of the region would confirm whether digging would be profitable or not.  An interesting series of passages have been entered in Lower Traverse Chamber.  The main oxbow is excessively tight at the lower end but widens out eventually into a large bedding plane which is forty feet above the main stream.  It is possible to cross over the streamway and enter the top end of Lower Traverse Chamber.

Projects in hand for further exploration includes a dig in Beehive Chamber where it is hoped that an alternative route for the stream may be found, and various scaling techniques are being used to got into Hanging Chamber.  The other places where extensions to the present system are most likely to be found are Coral Series, Continuation Chamber, Cerberus Series and the Pyrolusite Series.

Regarding the survey, the position is as follows; Don Coase had surveyed from the duck to the Railway Tunnel, a distance of 1,300 feet at a C.R.G. grade 6 standard.  Kangy has surveyed the Maypole Series at a grade 4 standard and run a centre line to the entrance.  Bryan Ellis and myself were engaged on a grade 5 survey of the Rabbit Warren when the Cross Legs Squeeze was discovered.  We have now surveyed from Continuation Chamber through the Catgut to the start of the Maypole Series.  Thus Continuation Chamber is now roughly fixed with relation to the surface, and appears to be somewhere under the Beeches back garden, not, as rumoured, the S.M.C.C. detailer.  This position is interesting as, if the water flowing into Continuation Chamber is in fact from Plantation Swallet, then this does not cross the present Cuthbert’s System, as was originally supposed, but flows across the valley north of the present entrance.  Bryan and I now intend to continuing survcying through Harem Passage to the Rabbit Warren, and on the way, link up with Don Coase’s survey.  Alfie is at present engaged in modifying astro compasses for continuation of the grade 6 survey.

Other work of a more scientific nature being carried out includes a continuation of the temperature readings at odd intervals, and an investigation into Ochre stalactites.  If anyone has any information on this latter subject, I shall pleased to hear from then.  Experiments have been carried out using a notched weir for water flow measurement.  So far these have not been successful.  It appears that half the water flowing in at Plantation gets lost before it reaches the duck!!  Some water tracing experiments have also been carried out using paper maker's alum and an ion exchange column.  Results again were suspect for a number of reasons, the chief of which was insufficient planning prior to the experiment.

Chris Falshaw.

Situations Vacant.

Builders' labourers will shortly be required by the B.E.C. on the construction of the new stone tackle shed.  The committee have agreed to allow FREE BELRRY NIGHTS to all who come and work on this job.  Will anyone who is willing to put in some work on this contact Alfie or the Works Foreman, Albert Francis.

Letters Re Letters

Editor's Note. The recent publication of B.B.C. Caving Report No 3. on the construction of light weight tackle by Bryan Ellis, has caused quite a lot of thinking on this subject. As a result, we arc printing two of the letters received in this B.B.

To the Editor, B.B.

Dear Sir, 

I have read with interest the B.E.C. Caving Report on lightweight ladders.  Something that occurred to me when reading it was that the rungs, which are very slender, were not checked or tested for bending.  Presumably the fact that intensive use had not produced a bending failure of the rungs may be considered good enough.  I have calculated that the maximum bending moment that the rungs will sustain without breaking to be 168lb/in.  This means that the weight of a 170lb/in concentrated on one rung is loading this to a point near its limit.  While this is excellent design for ultra lightweight tackle which is used with care by experienced people, I think that a factor of safety of 4 would be right for general caving use.

Shock loading, mentioned by Mr Ellis in the report, means in effect that any weight applied to the ladder is doubled.  Thus an overall factor of safety of 4 would give a factor of 2 under the conditions of shock loading.  For this, a suitable rung would appear to be 5/8" by 14 s.w.g. in the same metal. The reason that rungs of this ladder have not bent is probably, as Mr Ellis says that shock loading is exceptional and that it is rare that all of ones weight is applied to one rung.  Much body weight is taken by the hands so that the weight is distributed between two or three rungs.

In spite of this criticism, I shall continue to use, if I may, the tackle designed by Mr Ellis.  It is light, easy to manage and perfectly safe if used within its limitations.  Furthermore, I weigh less than the average man.


(For reasons of space, the calculations which Kangy supplied with this letter have had to be omitted. The safety factor he obtains from the bending moment quoted above of 168lb/in. is 1.5. i.e. it would require 256lbs applied to one rung to break it in bending.)


To the Editor, B.B.

I would be grateful if you could find space to publish the following addition to my report on the manufacture of lightweight caving ladders.

Since the report was originally written, I have had occasion to manufacture a further two hundred feet of ladder to this pattern.  Ever since the first ladders were produced I have not been very keen on the soldered end loops despite the satisfactory results with tensile tests, and with the new ladders, tabureting was used for those loops.  This consists of cold pressing an alloy collar around the wire rope, the pressure being so great that the collar alloys with the wire.  Messrs Tratman and Lowther on the centre, Bristol, will do the required tabureting with very little delay and charge 2/6 a loop for up to six, and 2/- a loop if a lager number are done at the same time.  This makes a much neater and more reliable job, especially as the wire rope manufacturers state that the rope should not be heated at all - not even for soft soldering.

B.M. Ellis


Officially, this club has an Archaeologist, but in practice no archaeological work has been carried out since the execration of the Roman settlement behind the Belfry.  Most of the workers then were from the Bristol Folk House.  The reason for this would seem to be twofold.  Firstly, archaeological excavation is naturally destructive and a good deal of experience is required before a group of people can, so to speak, "pay their way".  Secondly, while a number of members are interested, it is very debatable whether such interest is keen enough to merit starting work on any organized project.

However, if sufficient members are genuinely interested in carrying out field work (not necessarily excavation) they would be most welcome.  Although Mendip has been closely investigated, there still remain a number of problems on which a trained group of field observers could carry out important work.

In order to provide the necessary training, I am prepared to supply aerial photographs and maps and form a small group to work over known field monuments at week ends and possibly with informal indoor sessions during the week.  Eventually such a group should be capable of working independently on unsolved problems.

Should anyone be interested in joining such a group, could they please contact the undersigned.

F.S. Gardner.


The Clevedon Archaeological Society are holding their Annual Dinner at the Highcliff Hotel, Clevedon on Sat. Oct. 25.  A lecture on the Sutton Hoo treasure ship will precede the dinner.  All members of the B.E.C. are cordially invited.  Price of dinner 12/6.  Lecture 2/-.

Annual General Meeting

To be held at Redcliffe Community Centre at 2.15pm on Sat. 4th October 1958


1.                  ELECTION OF CHAIRMAN





6.                  HON. SECRETARY’S REPORT

7.                  HON. TREASURER’S REPORT

8.                  CAVING REPORT

9.                  CLIMBING REPORT

10.              TACKLE REPORT

11.              BELFRY REPORT

12.              LIBRARY REPORT

13.              BELFRY BULLETIN

14.              MEMBER’S RESOLUTIONS

15.              ANY OTHER BUSINESS

The meeting will be followed by the ANNUAL DINNER to be held at the Cave Man Restaurant, Cheddar.  A coach has been arranged to start from Redcliffe after the A.G.M.

The Financial Statement for the eight months Jan – Aug 1958

Financial Statement For Eight Months to the Thirty First August 1958

Annual Subscriptions



Annual Dinner:


Redcliffe Hall:




Belfry Bulletin:


Public Liability Insurance



Postages, Stationary etc.


Loans Repaid:

British Mountaineering Council Sub





Less Expend


Less Cost


Less Hire



Stencils, paper




Less Levy









£64-16-  2

£47-  6-  9

£42-12-  0

£40-19-  6

£  12-  5-6

£    7-  0-0



£    8- 14-0

£    7- 10-2


£    7-   0-0

£    0- 16-6




£  70-15-3


£  17- 9- 5


£    1-12- 6


£    5- 5- 6

£    1-11- 8

£  96-14- 4


£  16 - 4 -2

£    8-10- 0


£    6-  3-10

£    2- 17-10

£    2-   5- 1

£    2-   0- 0

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



As announced in last month’s B.B., the postal department has been reorganised, and is now in the care of 'Prew' and Tony O'Flaherty.  Owing to the fact that they both live in Bath, there has been a little delay in organising the sending off of the October B.B., but we hope that all is now under control.  A further improvement will soon come into operation as we now have an addressograph machine!!  Members living in odd places will soon receive their B.B. with their address tastefully printed, and, we trust, earlier in the month!

Alan Sandall and 'Spike' have both volunteered to help out with the production of the B.B. as and when required.  It is a pleasure to welcome them back to the Board.  This means that we now have a goodly collection of people who are familiar with the slightly cockeyed system by which the B.B. is printed, bound and distributed so that we are not so likely to be held up through a vital member of the team being unable to help.

Our usual Bumper Fun Book for Christmas is well under way and we hope that it, will be ready nice and early in December.


Committee Meeting

The November meeting of the committee discussed progress made on the present Belfry - improvements to the kitchen are continuing - and also progress on the new hut.  This is proceeding satisfactorily and the foundations are now in.  Provision of a tent for the climbing section, to be hired from the club by the weekend was agreed to and a suitable tent is being purchased details of its use will be announced in the B.B. when it becomes available.  A lock has been put on the M.R.O. box.  It was agreed to send Norman and Chris to the Balch Memorial Meeting to represent the club.  Roy agreed to inspect the club stretcher.  It was agreed to publish a vote of thanks to Sid Hobbs for his work in looking after the Belfry Detailer.

Caving Trips.

Following a resolution approved at the recent A.G.M., a list of future caving trips will be printed at intervals.  Members are asked to submit details of trips to the Caving Secretary.  At least one trip will be arranged every other month suitable for novices and any preferences as to time and place should be communicated to the Caving Secretary.

Caving Trips for November.

Sunday 16th November.  Agen Allwedd (Aggy Aggy) S. Wales.  Details from Norman Petty.

Sunday 30th November.  Tyro’s trip at 11 am of Top of Swildon's.  Meet at the Belfry.  Leader 'Prew' .

New Hut.

We still need willing hands to build this hut!  When you next use the Belfry, think of those past club members who put it up so that YOU could be comfortable on Mendip.  Now's your chance to do YOUR bit!  Remember, there are FREE bed-nights for all who WORK at this job.

For those who prefer to sing their notices, we have:-

"Cavers sitting in a daze
By the stove's heat-giving rays
Foreman from the building bawls
“Stop flipping rays and raise flipping walls!”

Caving Log

5th October

Swildon's.  To the bottom of the forty under very exhilarating conditions.  The duck on the way to the forty was a sump and was sumped by myself owing to the difficulty I would have had with the squeeze above it.  When we entered the cave, the water was one inch above the grating.  Leader, Ian Dear.

11th October

?????????  Digging was started in this cave by Prew, Mike Wheadon, Alan Sandall, Bill Benyon and Chris.  The shaft goes down three feet and a bedding plane was entered extending for 15 feet.

12th October

Eastwater.  Trip to sand chamber and back via the Dolphin route.  Leader Mike Palmer.


Alfie's Hole.  Shoring continued and collapse is unfortunately now prevented.  Some very unorthodox shoring installed in what must be the only spiral shaft on Mendip!

18th October

Swildon's.  Weegee trip to sump I.  Leader Ian Dear.


Swildon's.  Trip to first sump.  The party would not believe the leader when he told them that the water in the double pots was only eighteen inches deep.  Leader Ron Bater.


Alfie’s Hole.  A seven hour shoring trip.


Ease Gill and Lancaster Hole.  A two and a half mile trip by Mike Wheadon, Prew and Len Dawes in conjunction with W.S.G.

19th October

Swildon's  Tackle collecting trip by Mike Wheadon and Tony O’Flaherty.

25th October

Lamb Leer.  A party of five including Mikes Palmer and Wheadon.  Prew and two others descended complete with four pints of screech for two people who were camping for the weekend.  Goods were delivered safely.

25th October

Vee Swallet.  Boards placed near entrance to prevent further muck washing into tunnel, which can now be excavated with ease and earth stuffed behind aforesaid boards.  C. Lewis, M. Collins, A. Burt and P. Miller


Eastwater.  Leader Tony O’Flaherty.  Encountered 17 tourists which caused much delay!

Letters To The Editor

          S.S."Alan Macbeth!!

To the Editor, B.B.

Dear Sir,

I believe I remember reading some months ago in the B.B. that members would be interested to hear from their fellows in "furren parts", so here goes.

For the last ten days or so, we have been working down the East African coast, discharging cargo at Mombasa and Tanga.  From there we go on to Dar-es-Salaam and then a long pull across the Indian ocean to a one horse town near Cochin, in South India, where we start loading for home.

The weather here in E. Africa is pleasantly cool for an area so near the equator and we often have rain at night, especially in Mombasa.  The engine room is still uncomfortably hot and we are not looking forward to India where it will be a lot worse – anything up to 125O.

Last week, four of us were able to get away to a game reserve in Kenya.  We had two whole days off - a rare event in the Merchant Navy - and we made the most of it by hiring a car and having a good look at the African bush.  Even the main roads are un-metalled for the most part and in the reserve itself they were so bad that I managed to put a 2½" gash in the petrol tank driving over a large boulder.  There was plenty of game about, and we were lucky enough to catch sight of three cheetahs sunning themselves on a large anthill. As we had neither telescopic lenses nor much time, we were unable to get any decent photos of the wild life. Nevertheless, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, arrived back at the ship very tired and dusty after our expedition to the interior.

Tony Dunn.


Flax Bourton.
5th November (of course!)

To the Editor of the B.B.

Dear Sir,

Seeing the footnote in last month's B.B. about Sid Hobbs' exploits in the Hunters makes me cast my mind back to other notable occasions; back to the days when the room across the passage was exclusively the B.E.C.'s week in and week out, and which other people entered strictly at their own risk!  In those days, every weekend gave us something to remember it by.

Who can remember the fantastic singsongs that took place every Saturday; the time when a limerick session lasted for 23 minutes non-stop without repetition, and it was found that one limerick plus chorus took 20 seconds; the “anti-social” games of bridge that used to precede the singing; indeed, “Hunter's Bridge” in general. Can anyone remember the rules?

Can anyone remember the only time that the sergeant from Wells came into our room on a Saturday night? Small wonder that Casey was worried for by all the rules the table should have been covered with bridge cards and pennies.  By some fluke, someone had brought up a pack of 'Lexicon' that night and we were trying it out.  The law retired perplexed and defeated.

Thinking of the Hunter's means thinking of people too, both cavers and locals, for I think at that at that time we were much closer to, and more a part of the local folk.  I can think of Hal Perry, of the magnificent voice and beard, with his pint pot of orange juice; of Pongo doing the Can-Can; of Sett and George Lucy having some involved scientific argument; of half-pint, Roger Cantle and Sago; of Johnny Ifold’s uncanny knack with cards.  And the girls too, especially one, who shall be nameless, who amazed an outsider by knitting, reading, singing, drinking, smoking and holding two conversations all at once!

Then above all, there was Ben ands Mrs Dors.  If it hadn’t been for them, the Hunter’s evenings would never have been.  The B.E.C. owes a lot to them.  And the other locals too, Gilbert, Art Dors, Pop Harvey, Bert Russell and that huge man from Cheddar who could persuade Ben to do a jig. If they had acted differently we should not have had the fun we did.  Always too, to bridge the gap between us and the locals, there were people like Dev and Les and Mary Browne.

The drinks too were as diverse as the drinkers.  Scrumpy, Orange, Bamboo, etc.  Remember the stout shandy craze one hot summer when you had to find a drinking partner as it took three bottles of Liffey Water to make two good drinks?

There are just as many memories from outside the Hunter’s.  Who can remember Tim Hendrick flying around with the Harvard and “shooting up” the Belfry from zero feet on occasion?  I wonder where the photo of him flying past the old Belfry has got to? And what about the day Angus, in full dirty caving kit, pedalled a push bike of the diving board into a mineries full of swimmers.  Above all, what of the ‘Menace’ whose exploits could fill a book?  Surely some of the old gang with better powers of description than myself could amuse the current Belfryites and it could certainly bring back memories to some of the earlier fraternity.  Perhaps even His Grace the Duke of Mendip, Baron Priddy could, through his secretary, utter some reminiscent words of wisdom on the subject.

                                                            Yours etc,
                                                                        Tony Johnson

P.S.  Please, for an iggerunt one, what is screech?

Editor’s Note:    Screech, Tony, is the current name for rough or scrumpy on which Sid is the present virtuoso.

The B.E.C. Goes West

by Jack and Dorothy Waddon

For some weeks early in this year, proposals for spending the Easter weekend had been the subject of much controversy in the Waddon household.  To camp or not to camp, that was the question.  To the argument that “We always camped before at Easter” came the reply that this year Easter was earlier than usual and it was also much colder than normal.  Eventually, the female side won by craftily pointing out that if we used ‘B and B’s instead of camping, we would be able to bring back far more geological specimens than we otherwise would if we were loaded up with the tent, sleeping bags, primus etc.  As a result, it was decided to spend the weekend geologising in North Devon and leaving camping until warmer weather.

On Good Friday morning, as we were about to set off from Taunton, where we had stopped overnight to break the journey, a large black contraption with burnished copper tank agleam thundered up the street; Keith Murray astride “Louise”, the mostly 1922 Brough Superior 1000cc twin.  He was on his way to study the mineralogy of Cornwall!  After a cup of tea, we were off on our respective journeys westwards.

On our way through Lynmouth, we looked in at the Sunny Lyn camp site, where Norman Petty had said that he would be camping for the weekend.  In company with Norman were Alan and Carol Sandall and Roger and Daphne Stenner.

An aroma of fried onions hung about in the Lyn Valley during the time these stalwarts were in camp, from the hot dogs which Norma dispersed to all and sundry from time to time. The evening was getting rather late and very cold, and after remarking on the rapid growth of the ice crystals in the water bucket, and making the observation that it looked like snow, we went on to the farmhouse where we were to spend the night, but not before Roger Stenner had announced that in the absence of a sleeping bag, he was making do with a flying suit “inner” and a layer of clothing.

Next morning, we looked out on a white landscape and the snow was still falling fast!  On top of Exmoor, the snow was two or three inches deep and the road conditions were a little dicey in places. As we dropped down to Comb Martin, on the coast and a lot lower, the snow gave way to a steady rain.  Parking the Ariel, we set out on foot to geologise in the area.  At Combe Martin are some famous silver mines, which were extensively worked at various periods from as early as the 13th century to the latter end of last century. The silver obtained from these, and other mines at Beer Alston in Devon is said to have financed various several of the wars with France which English monarchs at one time indulged in. The ore is a highly argentiferous galena, containing about 80 to 120 ounces of silver to a ton of lead.  In fact, the silver content was so high that the lead was a relatively unimportant by-product.

The mines at Coombe martin are mostly in the hills to the North East of the village.  One of the very early mines is situated high above the village, in the south slope of the valley.  It is approached up a long steep lane, rightly called ‘Watery Lane’, and it was while visiting this spot one Boxing day a few years ago that I managed to get four bike load of Belfryites successfully bogged down!  This time, however, we were interested in the newer mine on the North East side of the valley. Most of the many adits and shafts which formerly existed are now blocked, but within almost a hundred yards of Comb Martin Main Street is a very small preserved adit, which has a shallow dam across the entrance and is used as a reservoir for supply to a nearby market garden. It is possible to enter this adit wading through the water and penetrate the old workings for a considerable distance. The water gradually gets shallower, until at about 75 feet in, the adit floor is reasonably dry.

The Combe Martin Mines are located for the most part, in the Ilfracombe beds, a series of grey shaly slates attributed to the mid Devonian.  The high calcareous content of the rock was clearly demonstrated by the presence of dripstone and stalactites in a small hollow from which a spring rose.

A quick search at the spoil heaps at the entrance to the adit and in the nearby sunken lanes, proved profitable, and produced various pieces of veinstuff; quartz, shot with flakes of muscovite (white mica) some very small pieces of the ore which was worked (gelena) and unexpectedly enough, some large lumps of siderite or “white iron ore” (iron carbonate).

An inspection of the beach at Combe Martin produced very little.  There were several boulders composed mainly of quartz and interspersed with chlorite, a complex silicate frequently found as “gangue” mineral. Some of the boulders contained pieces of dolomite (magnesium carbonate) and a small amount of umber.  Umber is a dark brown variety of ochre which has at one time worked in from a neighbourhood for use as a pigment.  The river which flows down the valley and enters the sea at Combe Martin is, in fact, called the River Umber.

A rather dicey scramble round the rocks, above the outgoing tide brought us to “ Wild Pear Beach”, a secluded spot in which were patches of an edible variety of seaweed, used to make 'laver bread' locally.  There are several small sea caves in the cliffs all around this area but all the ones which we examined were very short, about ten to fifteen yards long.  Most of them seemed to be formed by erosion by the sea along vertical mineral veins. Overlooking the beach at this point are the “Little Hangman” and the “Great Hangman”, two hills which rise steeply above the surrounding land, and which give their name to the “Hangman’s Grits”, a series of shales and clay slates which extend across much of Exmoor and the Quantocks.

Before turning in that night, we paid a visit to Lynmouth to see how the campers were faring.  The news that Roger Stenner had that day ridden in to Barnstable and bought a sleeping bag, having found a flying suit inadequate caused little surprise.  Sid Hobbs and two more Belfryites had also passed through that day heading west, and as far as is known have not been since.  We paid our respects to the campers and set out to spend the rest of the weekend geologising further inland, where we actually saw the sun for a short time!  Somehow, I don’t regret the fact that we weren’t under canvas last Easter.

Minery Photograph

The photograph of the St. Cuthbert's Minery in production was copied from a print belonging to Gil Weeks - a local septuagenarian well known to club members who visit the Hunters. Gilbert worked at the minery and can remember such things as when the bowl shaped depression south east of the Belfry was an ore washing reservoir.  Nowadays it tends to be used as a reservoir for the Belfry’s organic matter!

The date of the minery photograph is between 1890 and 1910 and the presence of new sheds and the twin stacks are probably the blast furnace stack, indicate that it was taken during the last revival of the works between  1902 - 1908.

In 1890, only the St. Cuthbert's lead works was in operation, dealing entirely with tailings and old slag debris.  Although new equipment was installed about this time, a fall in the price of lead caused the works to close on 1897.

During 1902, a company, the New Chaffers Extended Mining Co., recommenced operations and a new blast furnace was installed.  The buddling troughs were replaced by modern equipment and a light railway was built to transport material to the furnace.  This company kept in operation until 1902, when a further fall in the price of lead caused it to cease, and mining on Mendip came to an end for the last time.

M. Hannam

Editor's Note.     Readers who are interested in this subject will remember the articles by Mervyn Hannam in B.B.'s last year.  Since he wrote then, I happened to be having a natter with Bert Russell who tells me that the story of Mendip smelting very nearly had another chapter added to it.  It seems that, I think in 1923, he was employed by a company to collect samples of slag from the heaps and as a result, it was decided to reopen the smelting works.  A celebratory dinner was held in the Star at Wells, but at the last moment, money was not available and the project fell through.  He reckons even now, that a small modern working, employing just a few men and using electricity, might pay.  It would be interesting to have: Mervyn’s comments on this.

Returning to the photographs now in the Belfry, the lower of the two is a copy from the print possessed by Gil Weeks, which in turn is a copy of the original print.  The upper photograph was obtained by touching up a similar print of the lower photo; rather clumsily I’m afraid, and re-photographing.  It says a lot for the quality of the original when you consider that the upper photograph has been through no less than four cameras!


THE B.B. EDITOR S.J. COLLINS.  33 Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8