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Caving Report. January to June 1954.

By ‘Alfie’

According to the usual custom very little caving was done before Easter, although according to the Log, I should imagine that the amount of activity compared favourably with similar periods in the past. Trips entered before Easter included a G.B.; three Full Swildons; Three top of Swildons; the Burrington Caves and a top of Eastwater.

The main features of the Easter Weekend were two Cuthbert’s trips on Good Friday and Easter Sunday which were the first photographic trips down this cave. Three Swildons trips, two Eastwater and a G.B. completed the weekend. Visitors included bods from Reading University and several Derbyshire types.

Between Easter and Whitsun trips included two Full Swildons, a Goatchurch and an August Hole.

The shocking weather at Whitsun cut down caving considerably, but another Cuthbert’s trip took place, also a Swildons and an Eastwater.

The Redcliffe surveying restarted on 9th of April and has been progressing steadily. Plane tabling of detail is almost complete and final detail sheets are being prepared of most sections of the system. As the overlaying road plan is received, the final map will be started on. This is going to be drawn on a scale of 1:200.

Future caving events include a scheme to dig out Hunters Hole during the last week in July. Also, if anyone feels like a dig immediately after August Bank and would like to contact me, I have details of a very promising Swallet on Eastern Mendip which might go with quite a small amount of digging.

‘Alfie’

Conversation Place

Present – Mik Jones, Judy Osborn & Dave England.

Jones: -“When we’ve got a place of our own we’ll have a dirty great work-shop in the garden”.

England: - “There’ll be enough dirty work going on without having a special shop for it”.

Change of Address

May we stress to all members that if you change your address it is essential that you inform us as soon as possible. We’re overworked, not paid and we’re not psychic either. Sorting out grouses wastes time that we can’t afford, especially when they are about non-receipt of BB that is solely due to the person concerned forgetting to tell us that he has moved.

K.C.D.

Forestry.

A number of young trees have been planted near the Belfry. We hope that in the future they will replace those used to grace the site. May we request that members do not interfere with these trees and exercise care if and when they move amongst them. They are chestnut and pine and are planted mostly near the walls.

Climbing Section

We now have no climbing hut in North Wales. If you require further details or alternative accommodation please contact Pat Ifold.

Additions to Club Library.

B.C. & C.C. Journal Vol. 3. No. 3 Mch. ‘54
B.C. & C.C. Journal Vol. 3. No. 4 Apl. ‘54
B.C. & C.C. Journal Vol. 3. No. 5 May ‘54
N.S.S. Newsletter Vol.12. No.3 Mch. ‘54
N.S.S. Newsletter Vol.12. No.4 Apl. ‘54
Bulletin 15 of N.S.S.
W.S.G. Newsletter No.28. Oct.’53
W.S.G. Newsletter No.30. Dec.’53
W.S.G. Newsletter No.32. Feb.’54
W.S.G. Newsletter No.34. Apl.’54
W.C.C. Newsletter No.44. 1954
S.W.C.C. Newsletter No. 7, Jan 1954

J. Ifold

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A ‘Pongo’ Book Review

‘The Darkness Under the Earth’ by Norbert Casteret.

(Dent, 15/-).

The publication of a new book by Casteret is always an event though many people feel that none of his books have come up to the standard of ‘Ten Years under the Earth’.

‘The Darkness under the Earth’ consists of two halves – or rather about 1/5 and 4/5. The first part is called ‘The Joys of Speleology’ and is concerned with the exploration of a number of ice caves on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees.

The second part – ‘The Dangers of Speleology’ – is a catalogue of the accidents which have befallen people in caves. It makes rather doleful reading, but the repetition of accident after accident is certainly very effective in making the author’s point that although some accidents are due to bad luck, in most cases they could have been avoided, or the consequences minimised. Casteret does not pretend that he has never done any of the foolish things he writes about – he has merely been lucky in avoiding the worst consequences.

Some of the accidents are almost unbelievably foolish. A party went down a pothole, using ropes to get down the pitches. Being short of rope they pulled the ropes down after them when they were all at the bottom! When they did not return a search party set out and eventually found them. They were most annoyed at being searched for and they said that they were quite capable of looking after themselves, in spite of the fact that had been sitting helpless at the bottom of the cave for 30-odd hours.

I hope that the B.E.C. does not need the warnings Casteret gives, but reading through his book should make all of us conscious that caving is not child’s play and that if we want to get home outside of 6 foot box we had better take reasonable precautions.

R.M.W.

Kracks in Klassics for Keener Kavers

By Prof. Krun Spelunk.

After a Full St.Cuthbert’s.

Ah, my bone ache, my limbs be sore, alas I have the sciatica full evil in my hip.

John Skelton.

New Belfry Illuminations

Pendent by subtle magic, many a row of starry blazing lamps fed with naphtha and asphaltus.

John Milton.

Closing Time

The Tuneful voice was heard from high,
Arise ye more that dead.

John Dryden

Sett indulging in Technical Explanation

His listening brethren stood around, and, pondering on the faces fell.

Ibid.

On coming off a bike.

Were it not I have a lucky wooden skin, I had been hurt.

William Butler Yeats.

New system of Jobs at the Belfry.

I am sent with broom before
To sweep the dust behind the door.

Shakespeare.

Belfry Stew.

Thou comest in such questionable shape.

Ibid.

Waiting to use the stove.

And now about the cauldron sing
Like elves and fairies in a ring.

Ibid.

N.B. Prof. Krun. Spelunk graduated from Nine Barrows College (Prodd) in 1945 with first class honours in Mendip Folklore and Cave economics. He has published several papers, most of which are buried in the field behind the Belfry.

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It is a very long time ago that a membership list was published in the BB. There must be a large number of members who have no idea where some of their ‘oppos’ live or if there are other members ‘around the corner’ from them. Consequently I propose to publish each month (providing of course that I receive them) lists of member, their membership numbers and their addresses. Regarding the latter item I would refer you gentle reader, to page one of this issue. These lists will be printed in alphabetical order to avoid any recriminations from anyone who may be tempted to think that his (or her) name should ‘go in’ before anyone else's.

T.H. Stanbury.

Membership list No. 1 1954.

D. Ackland No.301 94, Grittleton Road, Horfield, Bristol. 7.
A. Ball No.295 36, Manchester Road, Stockport, Cheshire.
Roy Bennett No.214 37, Queens Road, Ashley, Nr. Bristol.
J. Buxton No.201 Nr. Ashbourne, Derbyshire
S. Bowden-Lyle No.145 185, Church Road, Redfield, Bristol.
Ray Brain No.36 10, Weston Ave., Cossham Road, St. Georges, Bristol.
Viv. Brown No.270 1, Luccombe Hill, Redland, Bristol. 6.
Don & Clare Coase Nos34 & 211 Batsford, Lower Failand, Nr. Bristol.
Tony Crawford No.71 10, Elm Close, Hendon, London, N.W.4.
R.E. Collier No.302 35, Swiss Drive, Ashton Vale, Bristol. 8.

Request.

Although it is only June thoughts are already turning towards the Xmas BB. There is very little for it yet, but I am hoping to produce an even larger one than last year's, providing that I receive suitable material. So start early this time and send in contributions as soon as you can, and anyway not later than the second week in November. If your contribution is especially for the Xmas issue please mark the MSS ‘XMAS ISSUE’ at the top so will not be disappointed.

T.H.S.

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T.H. Stanbury Hon. Ed. 48 Novers Park Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
K.C. Dobbs Esq:, B.B. Distribution, 55 Broadfield Road, Bristol .4.

High Camp on Crib-y-Ddysgl (3,493ft.)

By   Dennis Kemp.

w/e 6/7 February 1954.

Party: Reg Atkins, Walter Sharpley, Keith Chambers and writer.

At 3.30pm we arrived at Nant Peris after a slow bumpy, skiddy journey from London on icy broads.  In the morning we were all up by 8.30, each of his own accord, as the weather was so fine.  A clear, brittle blue sky of Alpine depth of colour; a warm sun on the face; yet intensely cold in the shade.  I took my thermometer out; -4deg. C.  When water was fetched from the stream, just 20 yards away it started to freeze in the bucket immediately; minute needles of ice a centimetre long and as fine as hydroquinine crystals, swirling around and congealing to a stiff paste before the return journey was completed.

A hearty breakfast, then packs were packed, tents were shared out, and we were off for the steep and sometimes loose slopes that lead from Nant Peris to Clogwyn station on the Snowdon Railway.  We were carrying two tents between us, two sleeping bags apiece and plenty of spare clothing and food.  About 45lb. packs.

It took some three hours to reach our objective, the summit of Crib-y-Ddysgl.  The snow was not good on the way up: it was far too cold to compact into, steps and footholds just crumpled away into powder snow.

The first thing to do was to get the tents set up.  Then a brew.  “What’s the temperature up here?" asked Walter, warming his hands under his Duvet jacket, having just tied the main guy to the concrete trig. point with his gloves off, I checked, -6deg. C.  A rapid calculation; “That’s s about 11 degrees of frost Fahrenheit” said Reg.  “Not as cold as I’d expected”.

Long strings of people were passing the tents, parties doing the Horseshoe in this glorious Alpine weather.  “Crib Goch is terribly icy”  “You’re not Really going to spend the night up here?”  “Hey, Joe come and look at these gormless b-----s!!”  We supped pints of hot steaming tea at the entrance to the tents, just to tantalise.

Then came a gentle stroll to Y Wyddfa, the summit of Snowdon.  Clouds were surging up in the valleys to the south and east, and soon the countryside was transformed to a flat plain of white, slowly moving cloud, with a suspicion of Lliwedd’s summit below us, and 28 miles away sharp and clear in the distance, Cadcr Idris’s dark and impressive crags.

The wind changed a point or two to the S.W.  Cumulus anvil clouds started rising, and we watched for the Brocken Spectre.  Our two tents seen from this distance looked minute pinheads on the crest of the Ddysgl.

We lingered on until the cold and the impending storm drove us back towards our camp.  For all the signs were of bad weather to come.  I had often witnessed fine weather turn sour in just this way, but had never before slept on the mountain top in defiance of it.  Not in winter, at least.

We were alone on the mountain by four o’clock, when the last of the Horseshoers were hastening towards their huts, hotels and Worthington E at the P.Y.G.

"One thing about winter, camping” said Reg who's tent I was sharing.  “If the tent blows down at dusk, there’s a good 12 hours or so before daylight again!”  The wind flapped the tent and a gust of powder snow filtered in.  I went outside and piled extra rocks round all the guys.  All these were anchored to rocks, of course, for the ground was too frozen for tent pegs.

We dozed in our sleeping bags till 7pm.  The wind was in gale force by now, banging and whistling at the two canvas intrusions on the mountain crest. All my bits and pieces of food, primus, spare clothes were in my rucsac together with my feet; a good way of keeping them warm when camping on snow.  My boots – already frozen when taken off - were my pillow.  It pays to have everything packed in case of an involuntary departure during the night.

 “Let’s have a leisurely meal now”, Reg suggested.  “It’ll pass the time - and I am hungry too; haven’t eaten since breakfast”.  I unpacked my feet and then the primus and the food.  Reg cautiously unlaced part of the door and reached outside for a mess-tin of snow.  Gusts of powder snow came in and the whole floor was dusted white in four seconds flat.  I thought thankfully of the struggle I’d had to move into place the huge boulder which was our main guy anchor.

The wind hammering away suddenly intensified and we stopped operations to listen, diagnosing every movement of the tent as a parting guy-line.  At half seven, with an almighty clout from the wind, the tent heeled over and started down the slope.  I stopped trying to light the primus, Reg forced his frozen boots on and we went outside to investigate.

 “......... cold --- ...... here. ....”

“Well, it’s not exactly warm inside”.

“……..guys are ok…. pulling across the ice.”

 

The boulders had failed to freeze in time, and the whole tent and boulder system was being blown sideways across the ice we had pitched on.

Reg’s voice came floating in from outside;  “…...Can’t stand.....”

“What?”

“………..pright in th……..”

“Can’t hear you!”

A face and a lot of powder snow came in the door.  “Can’t even stand upright myself.  We’ll be in Cwm Glass soon at this rate.”  One of the dural poles, stressed by the shifting of some of the guys, bent smartly in two to give weight to his words.

I has already re-packed everything and had struggled to get my boots on.

 “It’s not so cold, you know, the temperature has gone up to minus five.”

“----------the-------------temperature.”

Walter stuck his head out of his tent, grinning at our plight. "You want to get a decent tent” he jeered. The wind snatched and he looked apprehensively at the trig point.  It was still holding.

“Come share my palace, boys!”

We didn’t fancy spending the night in our sleeping bags in whatever shelter we could dig out of a snowdrift, so we accepted gratefully.  First sleeping bags and then packs were passed in.  Two packs were belayed outside.  The remains of Reg’s tent were buried under as many stones as we could find.  Then came the difficult business of getting four bods into a tent meant for two.  It was only 6ft. long, 4 wide and 4 high, and already contained eight sleeping bags.  The conversation would have made interesting hearing.

We only had 46 cubic feet to share between four, so every move had to be studied and mutually agreed upon.  At last all was secure.  The wind made a dull booming sound against the tent and hit against it as though with a giant carpet beater.  It was practically impossible to sleep with this din not six inches from our ears: it was quite impossible to move, being held as in a vice by tent walls and your neighbour: but it was not terribly cold.  All the same, I managed to doze off now and again, although it was a confused disturbed slumber mingled with dreams and nightmares.

Walter and I had our heads at one end of the tent; the others slept the other way.  We discussed the situation.  Will the tent prove strong enough?  “It has stood up to worse than this”, said Waiter proudly; “But it’s getting on in life now”.  Will the weather get worse?  In the normal course of events, yes, till three or four in the morning.  Should we evacuate now.  No certainly not, if it blows down, could not blow away with four inside it.  The route down, easy as pie in summer, is not to be undertaken at night in a blizzard in winter.  Any danger from frost-bite?  Very little with such crowded conditions.  Should conditions become so fantastically bad we needed to evacuate, then the route finding would be within our capabilities – otherwise what business had we up here, anyway?

After about 8 hours had passed we had a general post to relieve to some extent our cramped muscles.  I looked at my watch.  It was 11pm.

Another 8 hours passed, and it was midnight.  Snow was pelting on the canvas sounding exactly like hail.  We judged that it must be raining in the lowlands, and that a thaw was setting in, the temperature had gone up to -3C.

Suddenly I woke with a start:  I had been dreaming and was in a bit of a panic.  I had parked the Land Rover in a car park, and had gone off for five minutes.  When I came back there were twenty or thirty other Rovers there, all exactly alike, and I just couldn't find which was mine.  It was snowing, and I to find it and get away smartly, as someone was stuck in the entrance rift to Cuthbert’s and the Rover was wanted to tow him out.  If I could get to Mendip in time. . . . I rushed from car to car, wiping the snow off each in turn, getting more and more frantic until I woke up.  The wind had changed 180 degrees, and fine snow was drifting in the ventilator and settling on my face.

Up to now, the wind had been pretty high, but with the change in direction it started trying; really hard to whisk us off the mountain.  A feeling of anxiety pervaded the tent.  Were we to be blown down after all, at 3am?  The trig. point to which we had been so successfully belayed for half the night was now down-wind.  A pile of rocks was our anchor up-wind.  Would they hold?

They did hold, and at 7am. we considered the luxury of a brew.  It was quite obvious that this would not be possible unless someone quit the tent to make more room.  Before I had time to think, I was the clot enough to say it out loud.  There was a silence.  All turned to look at me.  “Good idea” they said.  “What are you waiting for?”

Outside, it was still blowing great guns.  It was quite impossible to stand upright against the wind; I staggered like a drunken man.  The tent was covered with ice, and the guys were the centre of a cylinder of ice some three inches across.  Snow had drifted under one of the eaves of the tent but most had gone with the wind.  The rocks and the trig. point had all grown grey ice formation into the wind: grey, because the component crystals are so small.  I passed the time by taking some photographs, but again the shutter was so erratic with the cold and the camera difficult to hold still.  I made a time exposure of one second, but the shutter took more like five seconds to tick over.

It certainly was not so cold as yesterday, but luckily still cold enough to stop the snow being wet.  A mere minus two degrees!  After coffee, we packed, took the tent down, tidied up as much as was possible - though another trip will be necessary to complete this in the spring - for tidying was not easy with the wind and the driving snow, which whipped everywhere; into packs and pockets, stinging eyes till they smarted, and the tears ran; finding the joint between glove & sleeve, jacket & trousers.  The tent, frozen and covered with ice, full of wind-drift, weighed nearer 45lbs. than its proper 15.

We had hoped to descend today by the way of Crib Goch & its North Ridge.  With this wind in our faces it was out of the question.  Visibility was only a couple of yards despite full daylight.  The only safe way down was by the track to Llanberis, the track that runs beside the railway for part of its route.  But, first, find your track.  Go down at 90 deg. to the wind, said the compass.  This we did until a vague snowdrift warned us to turn into the wind, along the track.  It was important not to miss this point, as the slope further down becomes steeper, and has been the scene of a number of winter accidents.

The next half-hour was the worst of the whole weekend.  With the stinging snow in the eyes it was next to impossible to look ahead: staggering with the weight of packs and the force of the wind, progress was a fight and a misery.

Suddenly we broke through the bad weather, like a diver breaking through the surface of water into the land of air and light again.  The sun was shining in the distance over Anglesey.  Cloggie stood gaunt and white on our left, looking for all the world like a miniature Grandes Jorasses.  But I had no film left in my camera.

Back in the valley, with the thaw raging, a couple of cyclists went past without a glance at us, sodden, wet and tired.  “Doesn’t it look nice in the snow” said the girl.  “Yes, doesn’t it” agreed the youth.  “You know, I’ve been up there to the top of Snowdon.  Last August Bank Holiday.  It’s not hard, you know, there is a good path.  Shall we…..”

D.Kemp.

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Older members who remember Jim Weekes will be interested to know he is now a much married man and has recently become father of a daughter Nicole.

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Further Congratulations.

From the Dark Horse stable Prop. Bob and Coral Bagshaw comes news of another addition to their string.  This time a son.  No more is, known at this time.

 

Caving in Ireland July 1954.

By R.M. (Pongo) Wallis

My summer holiday this year has been spent caving in Ireland. It was my first trip over there and was thoroughly enjoyable.

The party consisted of Johnny Pitts, Joan Light, Donald Thompson and myself. John and I travelled over via Hollyhead - Dun Laoghaire and we were to meet the others at Mitchellstown with the car which we collected at Dublin. Unfortunately, about 10 miles outside Dublin the car rotated about the wrong axis (horizontal instead of vertical). When we got out we found it would still go but was rather the worse for wear. When it had been reported to the Guarda (Police) and to the hirers it was taken back to Dublin and we had time to wonder what to do next. The first thing was to get in touch with the other two, which we eventually managed and it was arranged that I should meet them at Lisdoonvarna in Co. Clare on Monday, where we were due to go on Tuesday in my case.

I duly travelled down to Limerick on Monday, leaving John to, argue about the car, and then out to Lisdoonvarna by bus meeting the other two at Limerick. We arrived at Ballynalacken Castle that evening and were greeted by Mr. & Mrs. O’Callaghan Joan & Don were old friends from previous stays. We found a party of 8 from U.B.S.S. under Prof. Tratman in residence and hard at work on their Cullaun caves as well as anything else in sight.

Our enthusiasm must have been tremendous, as next day we set out for Doolin, about 3 miles away loaded up with 40 feet of ladder, lunch, cameras, &c. Luckily the local priest came by and gave us a lift there and was most interested in the whole proceedings. Doolin, in my opinion, ought never to have been discovered. It starts with a very wet section where we got wet up to the neck, and after another couple of hundred feet or so one is again almost completely immersed. After this it is reputed to get very large and one just walks for 2,000yds. or so, but this we took on trust, as we were by now very cold and completely covered in very wet mud, having rashly explored a flat-out muddy crawl. We also thought that the water was unpleasantly high and as it was raining outside we didn't want to get trapped. When we got back, our suggestion that the place might flood has treated with great scorn, but to our delight when U.B.S.S. went there to continue their survey a day or two later, the entrance was completely sealed. Later that evening John turned up - - no car, alas! – but with J.C. Coleman in his car. Jack was extremely sporting and next day which was very nice and fine, took us all out for a general look round which included almost everything of note from Ballyvaughn in the north to the cliffs of Moher in the south. After tea at Lisdoonvarna in the Irish Arms we began on the stout drinking. This continued till about 1am. and was then continued at Ballynalacken till about 3.

It is not surprising that next day our enthusiasm was rather reduced and our caving was restricted to a little cave just down the valley discovered by C.P.C. This was well worth exploring, although rather hard work as the passages are a bit small, as it has an extremely fine formation in the final chamber. Really good formations and chambers of any size themselves, are not all that common in Co. Clare.

One can hardly go to Lisdoonvarna and not go down Pollnagollum and next day (Friday) Mr. O’Callaghan very kindly drove us over there. We got rather tired of walking down the stream way but reached the end in due course. Arrived back at P.G. Pot we wanted to go back upstream as there was still some time before we were due to be picked up but the water was too high.

Saturday was a bye-day spent looking at sinks, risings &c., and hoping that the water would go down. Sunday was, a rather better day but the streams were still up and the day was spent looking for sea-caves. We found an old remnant of a canyon passage very close to the sea and all solemnly did the complete traverse of it -- possibly as much as 100 feet.

By Monday the water had dropped enough for us to get into Coolagh River Cave. Once again, this involves getting very wet right at the entrance, but thereafter it is of a very respectable size, and one wades along the Main Drain for half a mile or so to the final sump more or less without having to bend one’s head. Cullan II which we visited next day has something in common with this Main Drain Passage (as, I suppose do most of the caves in the district) but it is rather narrower and has rather less water. Prof. Tratman called it a ‘Gentleman’s’ cave and as such it rather suited us. Wednesday was devoted to Faunarooska – at least we think it was. We were rather vague as to its exact whereabouts and so we proceeded to walk along the shale-limestone boundary until we found what looked like a hopeful sink. In point of fact, there were far too many of them – about six in a quarter of a mile. We had to explore them all omitting any which looked too wet or uninviting. The first possible proved rather a bloomer on my part as after quite a good start it turned into a foul little hole involving crawls in a very muddy stream, so we gave it up. John and I then went on to the next in line thinking the others would follow in a minute. Actually, they failed to find the place at all and of course this proved to be the one in question. Not that they missed very much; it is a very narrow canyon passage with the tightest of meanders. We were never more than ten feet apart but saw very little of each other. It just went on and on, always almost exactly the same and after about half an hour we got fed up and turned round and came back.

That was the end of our caving. We had a good excuse not to cave on Thursday as we didn’t want to take wet caving clothes back with us.

Co. Clare is about as different as from Mendip as it would be possible to find, both in its caves and above ground too. There is still any amount of work to be done there and it can be combined with a most enjoyable holiday. Not the least part of the enjoyment was due to the hospitality of Mr. & Mrs. O’Callaghan at Ballynalacken Castle who seem to be able to cook just as well when the kitchen is cluttered up with 12 people’s wet caving things – and seem to enjoy drying them too.

R.M. Wallis.

Notice

Don Coase has been persuaded to bring along his projector and colour slides to Club the last Thursday in September. Bob Bagshaw wishes to announce that there will be no extra charge.

K.C.D.

Notice

Nomination forms for the 1955 Committee will be found in the October issue of the BB. NOW is the time to start thinking up resolutions for the A.G.M. There are only five months to go!

K.C.D.

Change of Address.

Johnny (Menace) Morris now resides at: - 5, Glendaragh Road, Teignmouth, Devon.

Committee Reports.

It has been decided that a short resume of each committee meeting shall be put into the BB.

Summary of July Committee Meeting.

Arrangements for the next Annual Dinner were discussed and it is hoped to arrange the details shortly.

Fred Targett is hoping to lay the concrete soon for the new kitchen extension and detailer.

Enough dural tube for the Cuthbert’s Maypole has been authorised, also a new book for the library – Casteret’s ‘Darkness Under the Earth’.

A coach trip to the Devon Caves may be organised if sufficient members are keen.

Summary of August Meeting.

Arrangements for the 1955 Annual Dinner were again discussed and it is hoped that an early announcement of the arrangements will be possible this year

The question of concreting the new Belfry Kitchen was raised. Fred Targett has again been approached.

Summary of September Committee Meeting.

The arrangements for the 1955 Annual. Dinner have now been settled. The dinner will be held at the Star Hotel, Wells on Saturday January 29th. 1955. An extension until 11pm will be arranged and Entertainments provided. The tickets will cost 8/6 each and will include the dinner and entertainments. Transport will be provided from Bristol at an extra charge.

The matter of concrete for the new kitchen was again discussed. Fred Targett has promised to do this as soon as he can.

The following new Members have been elected to the club: -

Donald King – (Full member)
John Leach – (Full member)
Stan Freeman – (Associate member)
Dave Morgan – (Associate member)
Alan Merry – (Junior member)

A charge of 2d will now be made for milk and added to Belfry dues. A standing order for 1 quart will be placed with Mrs. Dors and may be collected by any member on Saturdays.

‘Alfie’

Membership list No. 3 1954.

Please notify Hon. Sec. of any mistakes or omissions.

G. Fowler No.278 99, Springleaze, Knowle, Bristol.
D. Fowler No.279 9, Brixton Road, Easton, Bristol.
Stan Gee No.268 40, Church? Heaton Norris (?) Stockport.
Dave Gwinnel No.239 78, Days Road, Bristol. 5. (Forces)
Keith Gardner No.251 22, Wesley Hill, Kingswood, Bristol.
Stan Herman and Mo The Swallet, Staunton Lane, Whitchurch.
M. Hannam No.104 14, Vyvyan Terrace, Clifton,, Bristol.
B.W. Hockey No.300 Post Office, Checkerell, Weymouth.
‘Digger’ Harris No.304 14, Market Street, Wells, Somt.
Pat Ifold 75, Peverell Drive, Henbury, Bristol.
John Ifold No.97 Leigh House, Nempnett, Chew Stoke.
Roy Ifold N0.102 1, Saville Place, Clifton, Bristol.
U Jones No. 285 Wellman Villa, Hermitage Road, St. Johns, Woking.
K Jones No.225 12, Melton Crescent, Horfield, Bristol. 7.
Tim Kendrick No. 131, Cherry Street, Bingham, Notts.
D Kemp No.289 Scarsdale Villas, London, W.8.
A. Knibbs 13, River Walk, Walton-on-Thames
Lamb No. 260 365, Filton Avenue, Bristol. 7.

We have the World’s Biggest Cave on Mendip!

Eating lunch underground in the Carlsbad Caverns, Mew , where the dining room is said to hold 2,000 people, a woman turned to he neighbour.

“I believe this is the biggest cave in the world?”

“No, we have bigger ones in Texas.”

“Oh, I don’t know that. Where are they?”

“I couldn’t say, Ma’am. We haven’t found them yet!”

From ‘Reader’s Digest’
“p”

Can You Read?

Do you like reading? Do you know that almost every worthwhile caving book together with a large selection of climbing and travel books is in the club library? Johnny Ifold is the club Librarian and would be only too pleased to furnish you with any book you might like. Johnny’s address is Leigh house, Nempnett, Chew Stoke, Near Bristol. For conditions of borrowing books you are referred to BB 80 of April 1954.

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T.H. Stanbury Hon. Ed. 48 Novers Park Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
R.J. Bagshaw, Hon. Sec. 56, Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol.4.
K.C. Dobbs Hon. Ass. Sec. BB distribution. 55 Broadfield Road, Bristol .4.

Further Exploration of the Magpie Mine, Derbyshire.

By R.M. Wallis.

In September 1950 I had occasion to report on a visit to the Magpie Mine near Bakewell.  A second visit which I made recently has served to confirm some of the observations which were made before and to make others.

On this occasion I was accompanied by John Pitts.  Les Thompson was to have come up, but discretion apparently proved &c.  Anyway, he didn’t turn up.  Forewarned is fore-armed, they say, so this time we wore as little as possible for the first (wet) part of the trip and carried dry trousers etc. to put on after the worst was over.  We observed in 1950 that the water was cold.  I can confirm this.  I know what it must be like walking about without any feet.  Those who still have the relative B.B. will be able to discover that one enters the mine via the back door (or, maybe, main drain) passing a number of Danger notices &c.  The Danger notice is still there, but the iron-work of rails and so on has now been removed so one steps straight into the water without any preamble.  The ‘Sough’ (drainage tunnel) is artificial all the way and is roughly square section about 8ft. each way, though it varies a bit.  It is also roughly straight though it wobbles about from side to side.  The depth of water varies but at most it is just about waist deep, but it is also clear and the surface so smooth (despite a considerable current) that there was not the slightest difficulty in seeing every detail on the bottom.  We saw a number of fish up to about ¼ mile from the entrance -- possibly trout, and up to about ½lb. in weight.  They seemed to be quite normal, but very tame.  They were mostly swimming head to stream and just maintaining their position and only swam a yard or two when disturbed by our legs.

Most of the water comes in via cross joints, though these are small and few in number.  They are all phreatic joints, the water gushing out on both side of the passage, sometimes under quite a pressure.

Our dining room of four years ago seemed rather changed, so we pressed on a bit further and came upon some apparently quite recently laid drain-pipes, half covered with ‘deads’.  There was only a short length of these and then we went on beside the water on a raised path, where we tried some voice carrying trials.  The walls are fairly smooth, but the limit of intelligibility seemed to be about 75 yards.  The sound was still quite loud at 100 yards but it was so muffled as to be useless.  After going some way along here we came to a wall built up right across the passage but with a small door in it.  We got through, climbed up a couple of short ladders in quite good condition and were immediately in the main mine gallery which extended in both directions.  We explored to the end in one direction (about ¼ mile) and had our lunch and then went off in the other direction when we very soon reached the bottom of the shaft.  The iron ladders seemed to be quite good, though not very firmly fixed, so we didn’t try them.  We could see daylight at the top (Though apparently the top of the shaft was closed, as it was very faint) but it certainly was not 600 feet deep as I reported last time.  The workings extended a further very good ¼ mile before coming to a blank wall and none of the side passages went for any distances.

Some of these had quite interesting deposits.  One, which seemed to be following nothing in particular, had eight 4ft. deep shot holes drilled in the end wall and just left, a newspaper here dated 6th. August 1953.

Taken by and large, it isn’t a very interesting mine, but despite the warning notice at the entrance it seems to be quite safe and in generally good repair.  Although some work has clearly been done since we last visited it there was no evidence of very recent work.

If, repeat, if, I go again, I shall take simple surveying tackle and see which shaft it is one gets to the bottom of.  The survey should be extremely simple, the length of the legs being only limited by the length of the measuring tape.  Of course, if anyone else likes to go and precede me………..!

R.M. Wallis

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To R.M. Wallis Esq.,
Private Secretary to his Grace the Duke of Mendip,
The Castle,
Priddy,
Somerset.
The Belfry,
Priddy,
Somerset.

3rd. June 1954

Dear Mr. Wallis

It is with great pleasure that I learn from our letter of 30th. April of the satisfactory impression received by your employer, His Grace the Duke of Mendip on the occasion of his recent visit to the Belfry.

The suggestion made by His Grace concerning the washing down of the cave which had been provide for him at a convenient distance from the Belfry has been duly noted, but I fear that some time must of necessity elapse before adequate arrangements can be made.  The reason for this delay is due to the decision, reached after lengthy discussion, to wash down the walls with beer.  This, we feel, besides cleaning the walls, will impart a pleasant and home-like atmosphere which I am sure your employer will appreciate, besides adding to the efficiency of carbide lamps filled in the cave and to the flavour of the tea made underground.

With regard to the matter of His Grace’s clothing, you will no doubt have noticed that a roof is provided on top of the Old Belfry.  We respectfully suggest that should his Grace deposit his garments thereon, not only will they remain in the immaculate condition which we have come to associate with His Grace’s attire but, owing to the corrugated nature of the roof, a pleasing and novel effect will be imparted to His Grace’s trousers which should greatly enhance the reputation which His Grace already possesses as a leader of fashion on Mendip.

Touching upon the matter of your employer’s Bentley, I wish to assure you that both members of our club who were able to write have been closely questioned on this matter and that every effort will be made to avoid a repetition of this incident.

I remain,
    Yours faithfully,
          S.J. Collins,
Hon. Assistant Caving Sec.

Prehistoric Art at Stonehenge

By Keith S. Gardner.

Although this title may be a little misleading the fact remains that in July 1953, a discovery was made which has startled the Archaeological world almost as much as the Piltdown revelation.  Whilst preparing one of the stones for photography Mr. R.J.C. Atkinson M.A., F.S.A. suddenly noticed the outline of a dagger cut into the surface; on further examination the representation of an axe head was seen and in the days that followed the number of carvings increased until 40 or 50 examples are now known on various stones (all Sarsen).

The interesting point however is not so much the existence of these works but their significance, for in spite of the weathering, the features of the weapons remain very clear.  The pommel is broad and the blade long, straight edged and narrow, the base termination on either side in a short ‘horn’.  These features are not British but are Mycenaean in character; in fact, the closest parallel comes from one of the graves in Mycenae itself.  As no actual specimens of these daggers are known in this country or N.W. Europe, it is assumed that the carving was executed by someone who had been to the Mycenaean region, or rather come from that area, as subtle difference.  In , this type of dagger is dated at 1600 – 1500 B.C. so that it would appear to follow that these particular stones were erected not later than, say, 1470 B.C.

It is interesting to note that axes and identical daggers are to be seen on some stones in Badbury Barrow, Dorset, which by judging by its Wessex type cinerary urns is dated at 1550 - 1400 B.C.

I will now sit back so that the sceptics can tell me that they were carved by Salisbury schoolboys!

Keith S. Gardner.

Change of Address.

A.J. (Tony) Crawford, No.71, 57, Hamilton Road, Golders Green, London, N.W. 11.

Membership list No. 2 1954.

R.J. Bagshaw                           56, Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
Alfie Collins              No.89        27, Gordon Road, Clifton, Bristol.
Brian Dixon              No.282      50, Claremont Road, Bishopston, Bristol.
K.C. Dobbs                               56, Broadfield Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
Mrs. Pat Easdan      No.266      12, Cotham Side, Cotham, Bristol.
Dave England                            16, Springlease, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
Chris Falshaw          No.232      50, Rockside Drive, Henlease, Bristol.
Tom Fletcher            No.269      The Old Mill House, Barnah, Nr. Stamford, Lincs.
Laura Ford.              No.273      Homeland, Sandy Lane, Newcastle, Staffs.

Extra Rations

By Jack Waddon

On a recent weekend’s climbing in North Wales, heavy rain made sleeping out impracticable, so Bob Crabtree and I used a Dutch Barn for sleeping accommodation.

On the first morning, a hen came wandering into the barn, and after much scratching round, finally settled on the sleeping bag of the still dormant Crabtree, where it remained for some time, making odd clucking noises.

Crabtree was eventually awakened by the hen’s jubilant cackling, as it scampered away leaving a monster-sized egg behind for his breakfast.

Since that occasion it was noticeable that the Crabtree sleeping bag was always carefully laid out to present as attractive a resting place as possible, but I regret to report that no further hen-fruit was forthcoming.

J.W.

Personal.

Congratulations to Tony Crawford on his marriage to Miss Joan Sayer last September.  I am very sorry this notice is so late but it is only recently that I have heard of his change of status.

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The well of inspiration seems to be shortly drying up.  I am having to draw rather heavily on my strategic reserve of material.  Therefore I am asking with rather more urgency than usual for someone to come to my assistance with material for future issues.  As I reminded you in June, Christmas is just around the corner as far as the BB is concerned.

T.H.S.

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We are looking forward to publishing the first official account of Cuthbert’s very soon now.  This report

is being eagerly awaited by the caving fraternity as being the story of the largest and most important cave discovery on Mendip for some time.

T.H.S.

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T.H. Stanbury             Hon. Ed. 48 Novers Park Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
K.C. Dobbs Esq:,        B.B. Distribution, 55 Broadfield Road, Bristol .4.
R.J. Bagshaw             Hon. Gen. Sec. 56, Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.

 

Notes on Cave Surveying

By S.J. (Alfie) Collins.

Cave surveying is not difficult.  Almost any caver, with a bit of patience can turn out a reasonable survey of a cave.  These notes, I hope, may be a help to cavers who are interested in doing some surveying underground and for general caver who may like to know what is going on when a survey is in progress.

A survey can be very useful to a caver.  Besides showing the general layout of the cave, where the main pitches, and places needing tackle are, and many other details of the cave structure, it can also used to point the way to further work, such as the joining up of two passages or the possibility of finding another entrance to the cave system.

The exact location of any interesting finds or specimens can be marked on a survey.  This may be important as a guide to further work in the same place.  A passage not previously noticed can be checked against the survey to find out whether it has been previously explored.  Finally, the surveying of a new cave is a means of showing other cavers what sort of cave has been discovered and what they are likely to expect on visiting it.

A survey need not necessarily be a very elaborate affair using complicated equipment.  The Cave Research Group divide surveys into seven classes according to their accuracy as follows: -

GRADE 1.

A rough sketch of a cave drawn entirely from memory after leaving the cave.  This is the type of plan that is drawn usually by a caver to show others roughly what the cave is like.  No scale is used and all distances and directions are guessed.  A lot depends on a good memory and an ability to visualise the cave after you have left it.

GRADE 2.

A rough sketch of a cave drawn in the cave.  All distances and directions guessed at.  No equipment is used.  Two useful tips here.  The first applies to all surveys.  Have as much light as you possible can, it’s much easier to estimate the size and shape of a cave if you can really see it.  Secondly, for guessing at angles stand up and point your arms in the two directions and then look at the angle between your arms.  Of course, you can always stand up!

GRADE 3.

This and all the higher grades are made by using instruments.  Grade 3 by using the simplest possible instruments – a small cheap magnetic compass for directions and a knotted string for distances and the Grades 4, 5, 6 and 7 by using more elaborate equipment which will be described later in these notes.

Not all cave surveyors use these grades, but whether they are used or not, an estimate of the accuracy of the survey should always appear on the final drawing.  If this is not done, mistakes may be made by other cavers who assume that your survey is more accurate than it is or your survey may not be used to its full advantage if it is not thought to be as accurate as it is really the case.

 (To be continued)

Additions to Club Library.

The Darkness Under The Earth.  (Norbert Casteret.)
Transactions of the C.R.G. Vol.3.  No.1.
Proceedings of the U.B.S.S. No.1.  Vol.7.
Cave Science no.22.  Vol. 8.  1953.
The Birmingham Cave and Crag Club  No.8.  Sept. 1954.
The Birmingham Cave and Crag Club  No.7. July/Aug. 1954.
The Birmingham Cave and Crag Club  No.6.  June 1954.
C.R.G.  Newsletter No.46.  May/June 1954
N.S.S.  Newsletter No.6.  June 1954
N.S.S.  Newsletter No.7.  July 1954
N.S.S.  Newsletter No.8.  August 1954
W.C.C.  Newsletter No.47.  September 1954

Comment

I should like to congratulate the Belfry Engineer on the water system now fitted.

It seems a bit unfortunate that through some temporary fault in the ‘eau’ is only forthcoming during inclement weather and that the resurgence is located somewhere in the roof of the men’s quarters.

As a point of interest perhaps ‘yet another Scientist’ or one of his ‘oppos’ could carry out an investigation on the comparative rate of flow of water in Limestone and woodwork.

‘Oldtimer’

Exploring a Well

By R.M. (Pongo) Wallis.

A short while ago, the Liverpool City Archivist got in touch with John Pitts, apparently via the C.R.G. and asked if he could investigate a well they had discovered on a building site.  John asked me to go along with him and bring some tackle.  Luckily, I had just borrowed about 40ft foot of B.E.C. ladder to take to and I also had about 80 feet of my own so I took this as well.

The site was quite close to the cathedral and the well had been broken into from the side.  Everything was laid on for us, including electric light on a long lead.  The well looked pretty deep so we linked up all the ladder and tethered it to a board conveniently placed across the top of the shaft, giving the ladder a nice clear drop all the way.  John went down first and reported that the ladder exactly reached the bottom.  After a good look round he came up and I went down in my turn.  It really was an extremely nice climb with the ladder hanging free and no waterfall pouring down on top of one.  The shaft was dug through sandstone and the way and was quite vertical.  The well sinkers had finished it off very nicely, putting a herring-bone patter, about 9” deep all round the 6’6” diameter shaft and all the way down.

Unfortunately, there was nothing to be found at the bottom, except a lot of loose bricks.  There had possibly once been a tunnel leading off on one side, but we could not dig away enough bricks to find if there was really was one or not.

We then adjourned with the Archivist to the local, where he told us that he had been able to find out about the well.  It had been dug about 1800 by the first water supply company in Liverpool, the water being pumped out by a large engine over the top.  About 1809, a disastrous fire had broken out close by.  It never recovered from this, and from that fact that far too may other wells were being dug locally so that the water table was disastrously lowered.  The well then was turned into a septic pit for which purpose it was used until about 1840.  Thereafter, its history vanishes.

Personal

We are delighted to announce the Engagement of Tony Setterington (Sett) to Miss Winnie Gale.

Committee Notices.

The Committee regrets to have to inform the motor-cycling fraternity that the tea towels in the Belfry are not supplied to clean their machines.  THIS PRACTICE WILL, REPEAT, WILL STOP.

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Will patrons of the Belfry please park their transport clear of the track.  We now have neighbours ‘pigging’ it in the next field and the track is in regular use.

Annual Dinner and A.G.M.

The Annual Dinner and A.G.M. will be held on Jan. 29th. at 7.15 and 2.15 respectively.  The Dinner will be at the Star Hotel in Wells and the cost is 8/6 p.h. including entertainments.

Resolutions for the A.G.M. are still awaited by Assist. Hon. Sec.

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Apologies are offered for the very belated arrival of this issue.  As you will have noticed it covers both October and November.  There are two reasons for this.  Firstly, there is, as yet, very little copy for the Xmas issue and the material reserved for the November issue will help swell it; and secondly I have had very little time at my disposal recently and have therefore been only able to cut stencils at rare intervals.

T.H.S.

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The Editor urgently appeals for material for future issues of the BB.  With the completion of the Xmas issue there is literally nothing left.  Unless considerable amounts of material suitable for publication are received in the very near future the Belfry Bulletin will cease publication with the Xmas Issue.  The BB was first published in Jan 1947 and except for a few odd occasions has appeared every month since.  It seems a great pity that in an organisation the size of the B.E.C., a newsletter such as the BB cannot be continued and I am sure that we shall be able to weather this critical time given the active co-operation of the ‘Literary types’.

T.H.S.

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As most 'Club members know the club can supply them with ‘bits and pieces’ for their acetylene lamps.  Fresh supplies of these spares have now arrived and the following can be supplied: -

Lamps. (complete)        10/6.
Jets.                            6d.
Felt Pads.                    2d.
Spring Clips.                 3½d.
Prickers.                      4d.
Pad Holders.                 6d.
Rubber Rings.               2d.
Bottoms.                      2/6.
Reflectors.                    2/6.
Ingiters.                        ½.
Helmet Brackets.          1/3.

All the above can be obtained from Mike Jones.

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A little bird has told us that the ‘Hunters Hole’ has ‘gone’ and that ‘they’ are in.  Good show this.

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R.J. Bagshaw             Hon. Sec. 56, Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
K.C. Dobbs                Hon. Assist. Sec., 55. Broadfield Road, Bristol. 4.
D.A. Coase,               Hon. Caving Sec. Batsford, Lower Failand, Nr. Bristol.
A. Collins,                  Hon. Assist. Caving Sec., 27, Gordon Road, Clifton, Bristol.
R.A. Setterington,       Hon. Hut Warden, 21. Priorswood Road, Taunton.
P. Ifold,                      Hon. Climbing Sec. 75 Peverel Drive, Henbury, Bristol.
R. Bennett,                 Hon. Tackle Officer, 37, Queens Road, Ashley Down, Bristol.
J. Ifold, Hon.               Librarian, Leigh House, Nempnett, Chew. Stoke, Nr. Bristol.
T.H. Stanbury,            Hon. Editor, 48 Novers Park Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.