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Gower – Pays des Caverns

by  Keith Gardner

Most people, when they think of South Wales and its caves, travel in their mind’s eye northwards up the valleys to Craig-y-Nos, to such caves as Dan yr Ogof of Ffynnon Ddu.  Very few know anything about that prolific hunting ground, Gower, and still fewer even bother to visit this wild and beautiful peninsula.  Perhaps this is because most of these caves lie on the coast and sea caves are never popular with speleos, being the haunt of ‘weegies’.  Gower caves, however, are not all purely formed by the sea – many of them the remains of ancient swallet systems long since dissected by the advancing ocean, and standing now on raised beaches.  The Atlantic breakers have eroded the lower levels of breccia and other filling, leaving us with double-deck caves, one above the other, or with shelves and galleries of stalagmite covered breccia adhering to the walls high above our heads.

For many thousands of years man has made these caves his home, in fact the earliest known burial in Britain was found here.  At Goats Hole, Paviland, in the 1820’s Dean Buckland started an excavation and discovered the headless remains of a young man, smothered in red ochre and laid out in ceremonial fashion.  With the body were found shells, ivory ornaments, the skull of an elephant and flint implements which dated the burial as Aurinnacian.  Cat Hole in Parc le Breos, has also been proved to have sheltered Palaeolithic man of this period, and in Bacon Hole a few years ago was thought to have been made the great discovery of cave art!  Ten wide red bands were noticed on the wall of the inner chamber and l’Abbe Breuil, the world’s famous expert on French and Spanish cave art, likened them to eight similar ones at the Grotte de la Font de Gaume at les Eyzies.  Modern opinion, however, now attributes them to natural causes…?

After the Old Stone Age we find Mesolithic represented on Burry Holmes, an islet on the N.W. coast, although the writer hopes to find traces of cliff top sites similar to Cornish ones, this coming spring.  The Neolithic and Bronze Ages also left their mark in the caves, but are chiefly remembered by megaliths and barrows on the moors.  King Arthur’s Stone on Cefn Bryn and the Parc le Breos tomb being fine examples.

With the age of Iron and the infiltration of Roman cultures we again find surface monuments in the way of hill forts, etc., but many relics of occupation were left in the coastal caves.  Our friend Ted Mason has found traces even of Saxon visitation in Minchin Hole.

Minchin is an impressive site, being a deep and narrow ravine with its landward end roofed in.  Ninety feet above the floor is a hole which once must have borne an active stream, and the presence of passage entrances high up in the side walls suggests that is has cut through and even older system.

Perhaps figures are needed to persuade the Craig-y-Nos fan: in eighteen miles of carboniferous coast line there are over sixty caves – an average of approximately one every five hundred yards!


Additions to Club Library.

British Caver Vol. 25.  1954.
Out of Doors July/August. 1954.
True (U.S.A. Pub.)  July. 1954.
Newsletters S.W.C.C.  No. 9.  July. 1954.

In True there is a report of a cave with the main chamber 1½ miles long, with a photograph of it.

J. Ifold.


Stan Gee is now stationed at Borden, Hants, and would like to know if anyone is interested in organising a trip to Godstone Chalk Workings, or if anyone knows of any archaeological work going on in the area, which is not far from London.  His full address is: -

T23025204 Dvr. Gee S., 13th. Army Fire Brigade, R.A.S.C., Borden, Hants.

A little bird has whispered that Stan is getting married in April and will, he hopes, be on Mendip about this time.

Gazzum’s Brain Child.

By Jill Rollason.

Egbert Ethelred Gilbert Gazzum
Was a caver full of enthusiasm;
As soon as he a grotto found
He raised his heels and went to ground,
And others tried to coax around.
But soon he found, despite his craving,
That Cavers were not made for caving:
Some were too fat, some were too tall,
While some just wouldn’t cave at all.

Now Egbert had an active brain
And friends to whom he could explain.
He spoke to them of caverns which,
Because of squeeze or awkward pitch
Were doomed to say unvisited
While cute types went to Gough’s instead.
The Studious engineers and craftsmen,
And soon produced a marvellous plan
Of a super-mechanised caving-man
(With sketch to show where it began).

They built it up from servo-tabs
And engines whipped in dribs and drabs,
With axial compressor made
To fit the Glyco-cooling blade;
Then so as not to work by halves
They gave it gyroscopic valves.

“I know,” exclaimed young Egbert Gazzum,
“Let’s cover it with ectoplasm”.    And as it looked a chilly job
They threw in a de-icing knob.
They added for his comfort’s sake
Enormous stomach built to take
Beer, cider, gin and Sett’s mistake,
With valves devised by crafty brain
To stop it coming up again.

Their work was done, but how to make
The thing get up and stay awake?
They brought in rocket-fuel inventors
From Harwell and some other centres,
Who settled down in happy glee
Beneath a fog of secrecy,
And finally evolved a cross
Of sprocket-oil and candy floss,
Of Teepol, gelignite and glue
Which made a nauseating brew.
They sprinkled in an ounce of sand,
And fingers from a climber’s hand
Which after long disuse had dropped
When climbs for rug-making were swapped.

The hour had come, grave locks amid,
They raised his centrifugal grid
And peered into his attrody.
“Good Lord”, cried Egbert with a shout,
“They’ve left his ultra-prisms out!”

They nabbed a funnel from the store
And locked and bolted every door,
Then poured the noisome mixture in
To gurgle down his abdomen.

A million volts went through and through,
The robot’s face went mauve and blue –
Then experts pushed with cotter pin
A thermostatic capsule in.

At length our Egbert went in glee
His haunts on Mendip Hills to see,
And showed Stan there a monster place,
The refuge of his fellow race.
He saw their yachts tied up to trees
In circles round the Minories,
And eyed until his head was giddy
The Daimlers parked as far as Priddy.
They entered in the Belfry first
Whose occupants were wondrous versed
In scientific lore and learning
(Like axle jumps and sprocket-turning)
In which they all were most discerning.

But Stanley sniffed: before they knew it
He showed then better ways to do it,
‘Till after blows and protests vocal
They went to sorrow at the local.

Egbert Ethelred Gilbert Gazzum
Had still not lost enthusiasm,
But as his babe and B.E.C.
Could do naught else but disagree,
He felt ‘twas best their paths diverge
When next he felt the caving urge.
Accordingly, one summer’s morn
He grabbed his clothes all ripped and torn,
He went alone, some time to pass
At Hunter’s Lodge with brimming glass.

It so occurred as there he mused
Thinking of caves his friend refused,
That suddenly he saw a girl
 (Of ins and outs and blonde curl)
Who set his whole mind in a whirl.
For she was slim enough a lass
The Devil’s Elbow swift to pass,
Her eyes were long, her ankles neat,
Her eyes a-gleam, her lips a treat.
I short, she was the perfect pip
To take upon a caving trip,
So Egbert thought the little drip.
He told her so, and showed her snaps
Of favourite caves and perhaps
She thought that he intended wrong,
He said he’d bring a friend along.

So once again young Stan he brought
To Mendip where an inn they sought.
Here Egbert filled him up with beer
Which made his antics rather queer,
For liquor on an empty tum
Is not the thing advised by Mum
(Though preferable to drinking rum)
His charming friend he introduced
To Stan, whose eyes turned red and fused,
But having put this detail straight
They got to Swildons, rather late.

Egbert Ethelred Gilbert Gazzum
Pushed friend into the dirty chasm,
And soon here was a Mighty Hall
Were lads had ducked ‘neath waterfall,
For Stan set all his valves in action
To dig away by screw-attraction
His gyroscopic blades grew hot
But made quite double of the Grot,
‘Til soon the blonde and Egberts stood
Gazing upon the icy flood.
The cavers’ chiefest foe is friction
Stan had conquered this affliction,
And now with pre-fabrical spade
Young Stan a super stairway made
And into other caverns strayed.

Our Egbert spoke of rock with zest
The girl friend showed great interest.
He talked of stalagmite formation,
Helictites and their location,
Then, solely to inform his guest
They sat awhile to have a rest.
They did not think of Stan, though he
Still dug his way ecstatically:
This was his life, the sprocket oil
That filled his veins was on the boil
And he could not want no other toil.
But soft! His supercharged leapt –
Upon the air sweet perfume crept,
And ectoplastic nose a quiver
Stan hurried down along the river.
His life was short, his deeds were great,
The robot met a noble fate.
For, though all bods presumed him drowned,
A secret whiskey still he found.
What better prizes underground?

What of the blonde, you ask no doubt –
‘Tis certain she did not come out.
Egbert Ethelred Gilbert Gazzum
Had changed his first enthusiasm.
Ideas had flowered since he’d met her,
Limestone was fine: but girls were better.


The above epic was far too good to be printed a little at a time, and I hope that Jill can supply us with more of a similar nature later.



I should like to thank all those who have been sending in material for the BB since Christmas.  We are ensured of publication for some time to come.  This does not mean, however, that the flow should stop; on the contrary, let it increase into a flood, and then we can increase the size of the BB.  It has been my ambition to double the number of pages for some time, and with the assistance of all, it could be done.



T.H. Stanbury, Hon. Editor, 48. Novers Park Road, Bristol. 4.


Apologies are offered to those few members who found last month’s page 4 printed upside down.  Also for the error on page 2.  The articles listed were found at the Belfry and claims are invited for them.  These errors were due to over-enthusiasm on part of the printing staff.

List of members 1950   No.4

Gerry Orren                c/o Elder & Fyffes Ltd., Likomba Plantation, Tike Post Office, British Cameroons. B.W.A.
Miss Doreen Vickery   Seaton Lodge, Station Road, Staple Hill, Bristol.
Harry Shelton             18, Walsh Avenue, Hengrove, Bristol. 4.
Tony Preston              43, West Town Lane, Brislington, Bristol. 4.
Fred Shorland             P.O. Box 37, Causeway, Southern Rhodesia.
Ron Newman              77, Beaufort Road, St. George, Bristol. 6.
John Adams               27, Granby Hill, Clifton, Bristol. 8.
Ray Wade                  101, Princess Victoria Street, Clifton, Bristol. 8.
Michael Farr               1, Sion lane, Clifton, Bristol. 8.
David Williams            Arch house, Victoria Square, Clifton, Bristol. 8.
Tim Kendrick              Cherry Street, Bingham, Notts.
John Shorthose           Hon. Sec. B.E.C. London Section, 26 Gateside Road, Upper Tooting, London, S.W.17.
Miss Vi iNseal            35, Pesherton Roiad, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
Tom Ratcliffe              12, Mayfield Road, Dagenham, Essex.
G.S. Rendall               10, Hillaries Road, Erdington, Birmingham 23.

Climbing Section Report No.2.

Whitsun Meet, 27th. – 29th. May 1950.
Place:-Blynant Farm. Idwal. N. Wales.

There were present at this meet ten B.E.C. members and one non-member.

Although inclement weather threatened, two parties climbed Seniors Climb (or Two Tree Climb) on Y Gribbin.  One of the parties headed by L. Davis then tackled Home Climb.  Rain then prevented further comfortable climbing and a general withdrawal down to Capel was made successfully.

Sunday 28th.  A glorious day.  Three parties climbing.  Sun Wall Climb on the Slabs led by J.H. Crabtree.  North Buttress and Grove direct lead by J. Morris on Tryfan and Chasm route on Glyder Fach.  A couple other climbs were done on Fach but were not recorded.

Sunday 29th.  Several of the party returned home, but some remained and Silvern Traverse on the Mile Stone was climbed.  The weather was not so good on Monday although luckily it remained dry.  This climb proved both interesting and spectacular not only to the types partaking of it, but also to the trippers on the road.  A part of Rowan Tree Slabs are crossed in the Traverse and the point of note is the crossing of ‘Soap Gut’.  The meet finished with a pint at the Royal, Cape Curig, where many farewells were made with promises to return.

The main lessons of the meet to be borne in mind are as follows,

1.                   Indiscriminate drinking of water is not a good thing.  Several members of the party suffering from Stomach complaints.

2.                   The old rhyme about Skye is just as applicable to North Wales.  ‘If of a wetting you are shy, you had better not go to Skye’.

3.                   When a time is given to return from a climb always stick to it, it save unnecessary worry and wasted effort.

To sum up:- The meet proved most successful and much climbing was done.  The Section is now getting on a firm footing and is gaining in experience.


Report on the Exploration of Crystal Pot.  July 1949.

By P.M. Browne

Information reached us that a deep gulf had recently been opened in a quarry at Mells.  No time was lost in testing this statement and it was found to be correct.

An opening some 200 feet above the floor of the Quarry entered the top of a vertical shaft. A lantern lowered into the pot came to rest about 35 feet down on a narrow ledge, the place was quite spacious.

A hurried journey was made to fetch 40ft. of ladder and a long tether.  At the cave entrance belays were very scanty, but a short metal ladder, spanning the gap, helped considerably.

With ladder fixed and self leading, the pitch was passed without much difficulty by a party of four, Mr.  & Mrs. L.M. Browne, Mr. Evemy, the quarry owner, Mr. J. Broadley and the writer.

The cave was found to consist of the 40ft. pot, at the bottom of which a rock bridge led to a small cavern the walls of which were entirely of calcite crystals, as was the ‘Bridge’ itself.  It was on account of these glittering walls that we gave the name’ Crystal Pot’ to the series.

Two good photographs were taken of the entrance and one, rather dark but clear, of the ‘Bridge’.

Please note that the crystals referred to above bear no formational relationship to stalagmites or stalactites, but seem to be the result of total submersion under high pressure.

The whole cave has since been completely obliterated by the progress of the quarry.

P.M. Browne.  Frome.  Nov 23rd 1949.


Congratulations to Dizzie and Postle (Mr. & Mrs. J.M. Tompsett) on the birth of a daughter (Marilyn Brenda).  Both mother and daughter are doing well.  May she turn out as good a sport as her parents.

The marriage between Henry Shelton and Miss Jo Gill took place on Saturday, 10th. June at St. Nicholas Church, Whitchurch, Bristol.  The club turned out on force and the happy pair were presented with an old horse-shoe tastefully decorated with a bit of old rope, by the Hon. Sec.  The church Gateway was festooned with ladders and ropes, and a mounted escort in caving clothes and helmets was provided.  Good luck to you both, Henry and Jo.

Photographic Competition.

It is a long time ago that the club held a competition.  This is something new and we hope that those ‘camera-minded’ members whose efforts in the past have been so much admired and criticised will show us their mettle.  The rules are very simple, and are as below:-

1.                   Only members of the Bristol Exploration Club are eligible to enter.

2.                   Entries will be divided into 2 classes,

a.       Photographs of Caves,

b.       Photographs showing some activity of the Club or individual members apart from anything which falls in Class a.

3.                   Entries must not be smaller than post-card size, mounted for preference, but may be larger.  There is no limit to the number of entries any member can submit.

4.                   Each entry must be accompanied by an entry form and must be lettered for identification, i.e., a, b, c, etc. to correspond with the form.  The form must have the following particulars- Name & address, make and type of camera and lens if known.  Whether developed and/or printed commercially or by the competitor himself.  If possible all technical data should be given.

5.                   Each entry must be accompanied by a 6d. postal order.

6.                   Entries must reach the Hon. Sec. by Nov. 30th. 1950.

7.                   Due allowance will be made in the judging for the type of camera used.

8.                   The 1st., 2nd., and 3rd. in each class will, be announced at the next A.G.M.  The prize will be 1st. 1 year’s Annual Belfry Subs., value £2/2/-; 2nd. 1. year’s Annual Subscription, value 10/-; 3rd, 1 week (7 nights) at Belfry, value 8/9.  In each class a special prize of photographic materials to the value of 10/- for the best photo in either class taken with a camera of present day value of less than £5.

9.                   The best entries will be exhibited at the next A.G.M.

10.               The judges will endeavour to criticise in writing each print submitted.

11.               The committee of the B.E.C. reserve the right to borrow any negative for the purpose of making a lantern slide from it to add to the club collection.  Whilst taking every care, they will not be responsible for any loss or damage to the negative whilst in the club’s possession.

12.               No person can win, more than one prize.

13.               The judge’s decision is final.

14.               The judge for this competition shall be Mr. Don Coase and Mr. John Shorthose, who are barred from submitting an entry.


We hope to include the entry form with this issue of the BB, but if not it will be in the next.  Further forms can be obtained from Hon. Sec.  Members may ask why a form?  This is so that Hon. Sec. can separate names and addresses from prints.  Each competitor will receive a number so that judges will have no idea who submitted any particular print, although they will have the technical data at their disposal.



On Tuesday June 6th. certain members of the Club visited the Mineries for a swim, afterwards visiting the Belfry and partaking of stew.  When a small party of members, including the undersigned visited the Belfry the following evening, both Belfry doors were wide open and the remains of the stew were festering on the plates.  This is disgusting behaviour and if in future any such occurrence is noted, I shall be forced to take suitable action.

(signed) D.H. Hasell, Chairman.


Owing to the curtailment of his spare time Jimmy Weekes has had to resign from the Committee.  It has been decided to co-opt to the committee in his place Ken Dobbs, who is one of the most active cavers in the club.  At the same meeting it was decided to co-opt Roger Cantle to the committee to represent the climbing section that has been going great guns recently.

Annual Dinner

We are hoping to hold the Club Annual Dinner in September or October.  This is a date that we hope all members both young and old will make a point of keeping.  The venue is not yet finalised, but it will not be in a pub.  So the younger members need have no qualms about attending.  The price will, we hope be in the region of 7/- a head.  Please let the Hon. Sec. Know if you are contemplating coming to this dinner so he may have an idea how many to cater for.  There is of course no objection to any member bringing his or her girl/boy friend.

By the way, ‘letting the Hon. Sec. know’ doesn’t mean writing to him in about 6 or 7 weeks time.  Pick up your pen and paper now; if you can’t write ask Mum or Dad to do it for you.


Club Library

There are still quite an astonishing number of books still not accounted for.  Will any member with club books in his possession PLEASE either send it/them back or, drop Hal Perry a line to tell him where it/they are.


To remind you that there are trips to: -

August Hole July 1st.; Trip to Pyrenees July 8th. - 23rd.; Lamb Leer, 15th. July; London Section Mendip meet July 25th. -  August 8th; G.B. Beginners trip 30th. July.  For details see your programme card.


Leaders are still need for trips for September, October and November, and articles are still needed for the BB.


Thanks to Fred Targett for providing a lorry and lots of cheerful assistance to move tons of slag for the car park.


T.H. Stanbury,            Hon. Sec. 74, Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
F.W. Young,               Hon. Assist. Sec., The Barton, Stanton drew, Nr. Bristol
W.J. Shorthose,          Hon. Sec. London Section B.E.C. 26, Gateside Road, Upper Tooting, S.W. 17.
H. Perry,                    Acting Librarian, 20, Northfield Avenue, Hanham, Bristol.

Starting Cave Photography

By D.A. Coase

This article is intended to help those members whose first attempts at Cave photography have not been too happy, and who may, perhaps, therefore have become discouraged, or blamed their cameras for the failure to get good photographs.  This is not usually justified, as any camera which will take good pictures out of doors (that means any camera, in fact) can be used for cave work.  Perhaps it should be explained here that the more expensive and more complicated cameras are designed to enable a wider range of subjects to be tackled than is possible with the simpler models, and for this reason are essential for some cave shots as they are for certain open air subjects.  In many cases cameras with expensive wide aperture lenses have to be ‘Stopped down’ to give the required depth of focus, which immediately puts them on an equal footing with the simpler cameras.  We shall therefore assume that you have one of these simpler cameras, and that you are sufficiently experienced in its use to turn out reasonably good photographs out of doors.  If you feel that you are not, then, then a few rolls of film used in getting to know your camera, and a shilling or two spent on one of the many excellent little books now available will be well worth while.  In going through this process you will almost certainly find that there are some things that just cannot be done with your camera, and the same limitations will, of course, apply with equal force underground.  Therefore don’t waste film or invite discouragement by trying to take photographs that just can’t be taken with you apparatus - keep within its limitations and it won’t let you down.  To sum up, any camera can be used for cave photography, provided you know how to use it, and exactly what it can’t be expected to do.

With regard to films, there is perhaps now even more choice than many of us were accustomed to before the War, but with this difference, that the brand one is used to can’t always be obtained.  It is therefore almost a counsel of perfection to suggest sticking to the film you always use, but if you can do so, it will be found well worth while.  If you haven’t a favourite film, either Verichrome or Selochrome will be found as good as any to start with, as they are specially made to cope with slight errors in exposure, and are quite ‘fast’ enough for most purposes.

For lighting there are several methods which have been used, but the commonest and one of the cheapest is undoubtedly flash-powder.  This can be bought in small quantities of ½ or 1 ounce, and should be mixed used carefully according to the instructions printed on the packet.  You must be particularly careful to keep both the powder and the touchpaper dry, and your own ingenuity will no doubt suggest a suitable method of doing this - you'll be wanting a container for the camera which can be relied on to keep water and mud out, in any case, and of course you’ll need something to light the touchpaper.

If you can carry it, (or, much better, persuade someone else to carry it) you will find a tripod very useful, as otherwise you may hay have some difficulty finding somewhere really suitable to put the camera for the shot you want to take.  A tripod also helps to keep the camera clean, as well as holding it quite steady during the actual exposure.

In taking a cave photograph, the usual sequence of operations is 1. Choose the Subject; 2.Put the camera in position; 3. Put the flash in Position; 4. Open the camera shutter; 5. Fire the flash; 6. Close the shutter; 7. Wind on the film; these are dealt with in order as follow: -

1. Choice of Subject.

This is obviously a matter of personal choice and can include formations, passages, chambers and cavers in action.  For a start you will be well advised to leave out people and concentrate on the smaller chambers – the ‘Old Grotto’ in Swildons is quite useful and to practise on anything much larger may introduce more complications than necessary, as also may mean anything much smaller.

2 .Choice of Camera Position.

This is one of the more difficult problems, as a cave floor is usually far from level, and almost invariably dirty; a tripod is a great help at this stage but an awful nuisance to carry around.  On the other hand, there are often ledges of rock or loose boulders which can be pressed into service.  Normally you will want the major object (or person) somewhere near the middle of your picture, and you will find that tilting the camera up or down to, secure this can give marked distortion which is rarely pleasant, as stalactites usually hang vertically and look better that way in a photograph.  Remember too, that unless you have a focussing adjustment on your camera, you should not put the camera nearer to the subject than about 12-14 feet, or the picture is sure to be ‘fuzzy’, and for the same reason try to avoid anything in your picture space much nearer than your main subject.  For cave work, the type of view finder usually fitted to cameras will be found of very little use: - you will be very fortunate if you have a direct vision frame type finder, or can get one fitted, as the only practicable method of working with the more usual ‘brilliant’ finder is to persuade a ‘stooge’ to wave a torch around so that you can judge where the edges of your picture will come.  If all else fails, simply point the camera in what you hope is the right direction and await results.  While setting up the camera be particularly careful not to put your hand too near the lens, nor to breathe on it, or it will be clouded over by a film of condensed water, which may take quite a long time to clear in the damp atmosphere of a cave.  To complete setting the camera, fit a lens-hood adjust the ‘stop’ or aperture of the lens.  On most box cameras and the simpler folding ones, this is already fixed by the maker, and may be taken as f/16, but if yours is variable, set it to the position marked f /l6 or ‘bright’.  The stop fixes the amount of light passed by the lens, and consequently the amount of flashpowder you will need to get a properly exposed picture.

3. Placing the Flash.

When placing the flash, quite, apart from any consideration of the amount you are going to use, which we’ll deal with later, you will need to take two things into account.  Firstly, make sure that there is no odd stalagmite or body which will cast an unwanted shadow on your subject, and secondly you will want the light from your flash to fall in the right direction to give the effect you are after. Volumes could be (and have been) written on this subject, but the old advice to have the flash slightly above and behind the camera, and a little to one side continues to hold good for all but the most ‘dramatic’ effects, and the time for ‘stunt’ lighting is after you have learnt to take reasonably consistent photographs with this well-tried set up.  Especially if you have no lens-hood, you should be especially careful that no light from the flash can reach you lens, either by placing a tin, or a small piece of rock or even; a colleague in the way.

When everything else is ready, measure out your flashpowder on to a spare tin lid which you have kept dry for the purpose.  The quantity of flashpowder depends on the film, the stop used, and the distance between the flash and the subject, and since the film is assumed to be Verichrorne or Selochrome, and the stop f/16, the amount to be used may be taken from the following table, and should be right for normal cave scenes, but if the walls are very dark, double the quantity, or halve it if they are very light, (i.e. covered with white stalagmite).


















Such a table can only serve as a rough guide, and if you find that your negatives are consistently too thin (under-exposed) you should use more than the amount of powder indicated, while if your negatives are too dark, decrease the quantity.  For measuring out the flashpowder, the makers used to issue small scoops holding 10 grains, and if you can scrounge one of these, your problems are solved, if not, you may be able to borrow one and copy it.  Failing this, you will find that 10 grains of flashpowder is just about the maximum quantity that you can pile on to a sixpence.

When you have measured the powder, insert the piece of touchpaper, which, of course, must also be kept perfectly dry.  Sprinkling a little powder part of the way up the folded touch paper makes the operation more certain, while drying the touch paper in front of the fire before the expedition may also help.  For the same reason, don’t put out the flashpowder until you are ready to use it, and always keep the tin tightly closed.

4. Open the shutter

after you have made quite sure that there are no lights in front of the camera.  Use the Time setting of the shutter (marked’T’).  Then

5. Light the Touch Paper

and wait for the flash to go off.  Be particularly careful only to light the touch paper and not the powder, and to keep your hands (and face) well away from the flash.  If the touch paper goes out, when you are quite certain that it really has gone out, try a fresh piece, which is much safer than trying to relight the old one.

6. Close the Shutter then,

7. Wind on the film,

 and you are ready to start all over again,

Now a few general points.  A cave is a wet place and very soon gets misty with water vapour.  If you are going to get wet, try to take your photographs before you do so, if this is at all possible.  Otherwise, work as quickly as possible without rushing things unduly, and avoid smoking until you’ve got your picture.  If the cave has a natural draught, try to arrange the order in which you take your shots, so that the draught blows the smoke away from your next subject.  Don’t forget that you are still caving, so must observe the usual safety precautions. You need at least one other person with you, and he is liable to get rather bored with the proceedings unless he also is a photographer.  In the latter case, it is quite possible to set up his camera at the same time as yours and take two views of the subject with the same flash.

Well, that is the story, so now it is up to you to have a go, I’d be interested to see any results you get, and if I can help with any advice, or by answering questions, then I’ll certainly do my best.

D.A. Coase

Photographic Competition.

It has been decided that as a year’s Belfry Subs. is not useful to all, an alternative lst. Prize of TWO years’ Annual Subscription would be offered.                      T.H.S.

Notice of London Section Meeting.

The next Meeting of the London Section will be held at 32. Montbelle Road, New Eltham, by invitation of Monty and his wife, on Sunday, September 24th.

Report on the London Section Mendip Meet. 1950.

The London Section again invaded the Belfry in force during the week or so that preceded the August Bank Holiday.  It had been hoped that the major item on the agenda would be to finish off the Stoke Lane survey, but in the event, the really keen types were not able to be there all at the same time, and the amount of rain which had been falling during the previous weeks had made Stoke even less inviting than usual.  In an admirable burst of enthusiasms, a load of gear, including the compass was taken to the sump early in the week, ready for the survey party, but was forced to remain there until the Saturday of the Bank Holiday weekend, when there was a dual purpose trip.  This did complete the data for a centre-line survey of the parts of the cave beyond the sump, and also one or two photographs which are worth seeing, apart from the usual proportion which art not.  D.A.C. chose this trip for some experiments with colour film, and it may be said that some of his transparencies have to be seen to be believed.  Not so the remainder.

The previous evening a small party of the L.S. was able to secure permission for a photographic trip into the upper series at Wookey Hole, and here again results were largely not up to standard owing to over optimistic views taken by certain flash-bulb manufacturers as to the light output of their products.

Warning to others here.. . . take these figures with a few grains of salt, or preferably flash-powder.  The chief protagonist of flash powder succeeded in burning his hand with some and a Johnson flash-gun in Bowne’s Hole, though the injury was unexpected rather than serious.  On the same afternoon a general tour of the known swallets of the Stoke Lane area was undertaken by six of the party under the general guidance of a certain ex-RAF type who now assists in the making of maps to mislead people who prefer to use this method of finding their way.  The gent's navigation on that afternoon is going to take some living down.

Other expeditions included a little Swildons, a G.B. (mainly photographic); an Ife Hole (mainly pornographic} and several Hunters (mainly paralytic).  Comments so far received from the now re-dispersed L.S. indicate that they, at least, had a very good time, and typical is the remark of one member who wrote that he had done more caving that week than during the whole of the rest of the year put together.  It looks as though we shall be coming down again next summer.



The editor has recently received several suggestions that the Belfry Bulletin should be enlarged. To enlarge the BB is not quite so simple as it sounds. Firstly more material is needed, and this is the chief editorial worry.  Secondly the production dept., who spend a lot of their spare time working on the BB would have one third more printing to do for each extra page.  The third factor, that of extra cost is for the time being a debatable one, but will shortly become less important as our expenditure in other directions grows less.  An interesting point is that some of those who have made this suggestion have never sent in a line of any sort for inclusion in the BB, but are always super - critical of those few who are pulling their weight.  If you want a bigger BB, and the production Dept. are willing to have a bash, it's up to you; send in more material and you will get one.

List of Members 1950. No. 6

Ken Dobbs,                     55 Broadfield Road, Bristcl. 4.
Omar Taylor,                   c/o Mrs. Lyon, Carmangary, Henderson Street, Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire.
Derek Wood,                   113 Congre Grove, Filton Bristol.
Tony Bamber,                  135 Hornby Road, Blackpool, Lancs.
Miss Margaret Pope,        42 Filton Grove, Horfield, Bristo1.7.
Mrs Betty Shorthose,       26 Gateside Road, Upper, Tooting, London.SW 17, (BALham 545).
B.A. Walker,                   76 Willoughby Road, Langley, Slough, Bucks.
Mrs. Jean Collins,            c/o Leigh House, Nempnett, Chew Stoke, Nr. Bristol.
H. Tearks,                       Webbington House, Loxton, Somt.
Miss Daphne Weeks        164 Sylvia Ave., Knowle, Bristol. 4.
Jack Waddon                  7 Haydon Road, Taunton, Somt.
John Mason,                   77, Hamlins Lane, Exeter, Devon.
W.A. Montgomery,          32. Montbelle Road, New Eltham, London, S.E.9.
Ron Gollen,                     58, Harrowby Road, Grantham, Lincs.
Dennis Chadwick,            63, West Cromwell Road, London, S.W.5.

A Weekend in South Wales.

By John (Menace) Morris.

The other weekend Don Coase dragged me off to Craig-y-nos, and the Friday night found us at the S.W.C.C. cottage chasing the mice that had used Don’s sleeping bag as nesting material.  After a reasonably early breakfast neat morning we set off for Ffynnon Ddu.

I didn’t know quite what too expect, but I was really surprised at the size of the place.  To warm up, we did some delicate climbing up into some of the higher passages.  Then we went to attempt the ‘stream’ passage.  Stream!!!  I was horrified at the foaming torrent.  Don said it was impossible to try to go on.  However it thought it would be possible to get at some phreatic passages about 60 feet above the stream.  We had 120ft. of Alpine line with us, so we roped up and arranged a complicated system of fixed handline, belays and lifeline and organised ourselves into the firm of Ropework Colossal & Co. Ltd.

To my rock-climbing mind, struggling on dripping, rounded stalagmite bosses over a raging torrent seemed rather horrifying but Don seemed to enjoy it.

We eventually reached the higher system and commenced to crawl, squirm and curse our way through it; every now and again we had imposing views of the stream 60ft. below.

At one pointing a particular tight bit, there was a fierce and horrible torrent of oaths from Don, who had caught his hair on fire.  The smell was really grim, and Don seemed quite peeved that I should find it so funny.

Then while I was in the lead I found a muddy pipe which had never been tackled, so off I went with Don right behind.  Then came to the worst z-bend I had ever seen, lined with mud and half with water, and in which I had to revolve three times.  I could see the passage getting bigger beyond a boulder and after a terrific struggle I became badly stuck and also in a panic as I couldn’t breathe properly, so we had to retreat.  We eventually got back to the cottage, having had a wonderful day.

I would like to say how well the South Wales Caving Club entertained me and that I appreciate it very much.

J.V. Morris

The Magpie Mine, Nr. Bakewell, Derbyshire.

By Pong Wallis.

Recently a visit was arranged to explore the Magpie Mine nr. Bakewell. Geoff and Leslie Thompson, John & Michael Buxton & I met at the entrance at 10.30 to be confronted with a formidable barricade of timber and wire and a large notice ‘Danger – Trespassers will be prosecuted’.  Nothing daunted, we changed and set off up the tunnel, a drainage channel or ‘sough’.  For the first 20 yards we were able to keep clear of the water by walking on an old set of tram rails, but when these ended there was for it but to get in up to the waist.  The mass groans testified to the coldness of the water, but we continued up a fine tunnel about 8ft. high and wide and walking along a sandy floor beneath the water which was flowing strongly against us.  A strong draught blew in our faces.  We continued thus  for about ¾ of a mile, though for the latter half the water gradually got shallower and was no more than knee deep, but of course we were thoroughly chilled in our legs by this time, so its main effect was to make walking easier.  Towards the end, a path had been built up to one side of the tunnel and we were able to get out of the water completely.

We sat down thankfully in a small chamber and emptied our boots and wrung out our clothes and then set off to explore.  The first feature that struck us was the profusion of calcite crystals everywhere, and everyone collected some very fine samples of dog-tooth.  A large number of passages were explored, but all ended at a blank wall, so the water was followed for a further ¼ of a mile or so until a high narrow rift was reached.  Somewhere hereabouts is the bottom of a 600ft. shaft, but all the passages which seemed safe to explore again led to dead ends, so the search was abandoned and we returned to our depot and ate lunch before once more immersing ourselves in the water.  The trip back was much quicker as we now had the current with us, but we were very glad when the cry of ‘daylight’ was heard.

From the entrance to the foot of the shaft is about 1⅛ miles, but the passages did not go quite straight, so that all told we must have explored the best part of two miles of tunnel. There is very little crawling to be done as most of the passages are 6ft. or more in height; but one section of about ½ a mile involved bending over somewhat as the roof is about 5ft. it is rather tiring on the back.

There is very little dripstone to be seen, but the quantities of calcite crystals is very large and very good specimens can be found.

The mine is at present being re-opened for working and further passages may be made safe in the near future and more exploration becomes possible.



The editor has received a letter from J.M. Tompsett who asked that it should be printed in the BB.  This letter has been passed on to Ted Mason, but we have not yet received his reply.  The full text of the letter together with Ted’s reply will be printed in BB 40.

Club Annual Dinner.

We had hoped to include the final gen on the Dinner in this BB, but at the time of going to press this has not arrived.  We hope however to include and insert which will give you the details with this issue.  Failing this each member will be notified as soon as possible.

T.H. Stanbury


T.H. Stanbury,            Hon. Sec. 74, Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
W.J. Shorthose,          Hon. Sec. London Section B.E.C. 26, Gateside Road, Upper Tooting, S.W. 17.
H. Perry,                    Acting Librarian, 20, Northfield Avenue, Hanham, Bristol
R. Cantle,                   Leader, Climbing Sect., 46, Cherrington Road, Henleaze, Bristol. 7.

Important Notice to all Bristol Area Members

As from Thursday September 7th. we shall be holding our weekly meeting at St. Mary Redcliffe Community  Centre.  This is situated in Guinea Street, and turning off Redcliffe Hill.  The Pets’ Paradise is on the corner of Guinea Street, and you will find that the Centre is about 25 yards down Guinea Street on the right.

The new meeting place is far superior to the old one and is far more central for all, although those few members in the Redfield area will have be wander further a field.

Don’t forget!  Until the end of August at St. Matthews Hall, and then, starting on Thursday September 7th. at St. Mary Redcliffe Community Centre.


Gentle Dizzie

‘Dizzie is a gentle creature.  Anyone can sit on her back, and she does not worry.  Her keeper says that a man could put his head in her mouth with complete safety’.  Childrens Newspaper.

Upon reading the above we thought that Dizzie had turned cannibal, but found that the Dizzie mentioned above is a hippopotamus, and NOT our gentle Dizzie.

Hon. Sec. has received the following letters: -

June 17th.

Henry and Josephine (Shelton) wish to thank our friends in the B.E.C. for the lovely presents, and we appreciate very deeply the support given us at St. Nicholas Church on June 10th.


The Barton.
Stanton Drew.
Nr. Bristol.

28th.June 50.

Our Dear Friends,

May on behalf of Marie and myself, thank you from the bottom of our hearts, for the beautiful wedding presents that you have given us.  We did not give you much warning as to the date of our marriage, because we were both scared as to what reception would be waiting for us when we got out.  Now, we are sorry we did not tell you.  You would have had a laugh, and we would have had some unique photos.

Marie would have had the sympathy of all you unlucky (?) spinsters, whilst; I should have had those envious glances from all you unlucky (?) bachelors.

Never-the-less we shall tell you when we get married again, so you can all come up and see us,

Yours sincerely,

Mr. & Mrs. F.W. Young.

Sales Service

Owing to an increase in price from the wholesalers, we very much regret that the following goods are slightly increased in price: -

Premier Lamps from 8/6 to 9/3.

Bottom and caps for above from 2/3 to 2/5.

Spare burners (Jets) for above from 4d. to 5d.

All other goods as before.

We supply:-

Helmets, caps, lamps and spares, and all caving and climbing and camping wants at the lowest possible costs to members.


Next comes an account of a new cave system found by Roy Ifold and Co. very recently.  There is much work to be done there still, and we here take the opportunity to congratulate Roy and his stalwart band on their discovery.

The Discovery and exploration of Ife Hole, a new cave near Chewton Mendip

by Roy Ifold.

The new system was discovered during the course of a survey of interesting swallets by Mervyn Haman and myself.  We were wandering around the countryside asking 1ocal people for information when we met an elderly gentleman with a shot-gun.

He told us of a cave in a quarry, which he had been down when a boy.  Following his directions we found the entrance, and made a primary exploration.  The cave was found to consist of a large chamber with two entrances.  This chamber is, or was, roughly 40 feet long by 10 feet wide and the same high, with the floor sloping at angle of 45 degrees.

Since then we have dug in various directions with the assistance of Norman Petty, Jill Rollason and others.  First of all we attacked the bottom of the boulder slope.  This soon yielded to our efforts and revealed a small hole completely surrounded by loose rocks.  This hole led, by way of a small squeeze to a rift chamber 30 feet long by 10 feet wide by 40 feet high, the floor of which should to yield to digging.  This chamber is something like a wash-basin with the plughole blocked by boulders.  When these are moved the floor on the western side vibrates.  As these boulders require a lot of digging we are leaving them for the time being.

We next dug in the north side of the chamber.  This revealed a 35 foot chamber running at right angles to the other and ending in a choke.  This is the present scene of our labours, and so far have found two small chambers.  We have made a line survey of the system as it stands at present and a detailed plan will be completed later.

The cave appears to be of phreatic origin, with water rising from the lower tunnels.  The system then became silted up until it was re-opened by Vadose water, a process which appears to be still in progress at the present time.

The cave is inhabited by long-eared bats and numerous spiders, rabbits, etc.

We should be grateful if any members contemplating a visit to Ife Hole would let the writer know.  A club trip to the cave is being arranged in the feature.

R.A. Ifold.


Gerry Orren is still shooting bananas in the Cameroons, he has taken enough time off to do a bit of climbing and has sent in the following: -

Up Mount Cameroon on Liquorice Allsorts

By ‘Orrible Orren

Having just finished eight weeks hard slogging in the bush, and having had six hectic nights training on gin and beer, I decided the time was ripe to climb Mount Cameroon.

So Easter Saturday found my room-mate Bob and I driving in a truck up to Buea, which is the British Admin. Centre on the lower slopes of the mountain.

After having contacted the guide and bearers and distributed the loads, we left Buea post office (3,600ft.) at 2.00pm.  First we climbed the hill and followed a narrow trail to hut 1.  (an old German wooden bungalow) at 6,000ft.  From here we pushed on up through the bush and finally emerged onto a steep grass slope at 4.15pm.  Up and up we slogged, over one false crest after another.  Looking back we were rewarded with a magnificent view from Victoria right round the coast and mangrove swamps and intersecting channels to the Cameroon River estuary and Douala and down south to Gaboon country beyond.  The plantations on Tiko plain were spread out below us like a map.  By now we had reached the very steep escarpment and had to pause more and more often to rest.  The wind blew quite coldly up there and going up the broad face of the mountain I felt like a fly crawling up a wall!  At last, at 6.15pm just as light was fading, we stumbled over the crest to hut 2.  (9,000ft.) a tin shack situated in a small gully.

As usual the primus refused to function so we so we resorted to warming tins on the fire the bearers built.  The first can of soup that I jabbed with the opener spurted all over me and covered my pull-over with ‘Oxtail’.  However, with some spam and bread inside of us, we lay down to sleep on a sloping board covered with straw.  A few minutes later a tornado hit us and we lay there all night shivering, waiting for the roof to blow off.  Luckily at about 6 the next morning the rain stopped and the roof was still with us leaking badly.

After a meal of beans and spaghetti (good old Heinz) we set out to reach the top.  At first our route lay up a ridge through a scattering of shrivelled moss-hung juniper trees and then up two long steep escarpments of grass and rock.  I found a lava-cave about here and it appeared to go back a long way.  The roof appeared to be rotten, and not having either time of lamps, we left it and climbed on.  Once over the top of the second ridge we caught the occasional glimpses of the summit up ahead, thro’ gaps in the racing cloud.  Now the terrain took on a night-marish aspect and we scrambled up through gulleys of black volcanic ash and yellowish moss.  The wind was terrific and the clouds were wet and clammy and we had to keep waiting for one of the boys who was feeling the altitude and the effects of the climb.  So, uttering foul oaths about mountains in general and with continues exhortations to ‘George’ to ‘Keep moving’, we scrambled up the last slope of black slag to hut 3, (12,500ft.).  This was a tin hut about 10 feet square.  Inside we lit a fire on the dirt floor and whilst chewing bread, beans and liquorice allsorts, we inspected the scribblings on the walls of earlier travellers, through smoke-bleared eyes.  In a wooden box we found the Log Book and a thermometer (Temp. 42F.)!!! and after entering our observations we prepared for the final assault.  By now the wind was phenomenal and at our first try we were forced to lie flat on a ridge between two craters to stop ourselves being blown off!!!.  Discretion being the better part of valour, we retreated back to the hut.  The wind showed no signs of abating however, so we tried again.  This time, by scrambling on all fours along the ridge, we made it to the top.  (13,360ft.)

Lying flat, we put our names in a bottle and replaced it in the cairn of stones.  I took a few snaps lying there, but they didn't come out clearly. Then began the long descent at 12.30pm., and going down proved to be far worse than climbing up.  In no time at all my legs felt like two sticks of rubber.  Arriving back at hut 2, at 2.15pm. we found another party in possession.  We had overtaken them the day previous in the forest and they had spent the night at Hut 1.)  So we pushed on down and struggling down the steep escarpments with the aid of two long sticks we reached Hut 1 at 5pm.  We decided to stay there the night as two carriers were lame and one had a fever.

So once again the old tin-opener went into action and with a bellyful of spam and beans we wedged ourselves on a narrow bedstead and lay there watching the rats run around the room in the lamplight.  That night we have another heavy storm and we lay awake and ate liquorice allsorts!!

The next morning the rain stopped and at 7.30am. we stumbled and slid our weary way down to Buea, reaching there at 9.15, exactly 43¼ hours after setting out.  Here we heard that the previous two nights’ storms had destroyed about a million stems of bananas on the plain and played havoc with telephone wires, roofs and trees all over the place.  Sitting here, typing this epistle my legs are one big ache, but it was worth it and I’d go up again tomorrow.------IN A BATH CHAIR!!!!!!!

Note: - Mt. Cameroon, an active volcano, 13,360 feet high, last erupted in 1922, when a huge stream of lava flowed down the south slope into the sea.  It is now two years overdue for its next blow-up.

G. Orren.


It; is surprising how few members apparently can write.  I have heard various persons say that various other persons are coming to the Dinner, but have myself heard nothing from the persons concerned.  Will those members who are coming and who have not informed me PLEASE do so at once or else run the risk of being left out when the final arrangements are made.

T.H. Stanbury.

List of Members 1950.  No. 5

Keith (Snogger) Hawkins     9, Quarrington Road, Horfield, Bristol. 7.
Miss Sybil Bowden-Lyle      31, Highworth Road, St. Annes, Bristol.
Tom Pink                           53, Burnthwaite Road, Fulham, London S.W.6.
Assist/Insp. Brian Coase    B.G., N.R. Police, P.O. Box 17, Lusaka, N. Rhodesia
Hal Perry                           20, Northfield Ave., Hanham, Bristol.
Len Burroughs                   1, Ri hmond Park Road, Clifton, Bristol.
Pat Ifold                             32, Coburg Road, Montpellier, Bristol. 6. (58545).
J.E. Monson                      85, Warley Hill Brentwood, Essex..
Frank Young                      The Barton, Stanton drew, Nr. Bristol.
Cliff J. Brodie                     10, Whatley Road, Clifton, Bristol.8.
Colin Andrew                     170, Westbury Road, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol.  65841.
Norman Fillmore                 14, Delving Road, Southmead, Bristol.
Miss Jill Rollason               157, Pen Park Road, Southmead, Bristol.
Maurice Brain                    22, Blaise Walk, Sea Mills, Bristol. 9.
Norman Petty                    12, Bankside Road, Brislington, Bristol. 4.

Dry Humour.

     How doth the little Stalagmite
Improve the shining hour,
     Whilst sitting on his cave bottom
And waiting for a shower?
     His pal, the Stalactite, doth hang
Above him in the posture
     And rations his all-patient friend
With monthly drops of moisture.
     How Thirsty then our lowly mite
Must get there in September,
     When whether he was wet last month
He really can’t remember.
     Just think how dry would you and I
And our friends at the Hunters
     Become, if we felt like a pint –
And had to wait for years, sir!

E. Vale


We have a very cheap line in small pin badges in white metal; they 9d. each, first come first served.  These badges are good value for the small cost and have been made for use until the enamel ones turn up in the distant future.


T.H. Stanbury             Hon. Sec. 74, Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4. (Bristol 77590)
F.W. Young,               Assist. Hon. Sec. The Barton, Stanton Drew, Nr. Bristol
W.J. Shorthose,          Hon. Sec. London Sect. B.E.C., 26. Gateshead Road, Upper Tooting, London, S.W. 17.
Hal Perry,                   Acting Librarian.  20, Northfield Avenue, Hanham, Bristol.

Annual General Meeting.

A report of the 1950 Annual Genera1 Meeting will appear in the March BB.

Change of Address.

Members are asked to note that the Hon. Sec’s address has been changed.  Address all letters to Hon. Assist. Sec. if possible; failing this to T.H. Stanbury, c/o D.H. Hasell, 1, Stoke Hill Cottages, Chew  Stoke, Nr, Bristol.  The Telephone Number 77590 is now longer applicable.  This address is only temporary and any further change will be notified in the BB.

The Growth of Stalagmites and Stalactites. 

by R.M. Wallis.

Although stalagmites and stalactites are such a prominent feature in most caves, it is surprising how few cavers have any clear idea of how they are formed.  It is the intention of this article to remedy this as far as possible by setting out the processes involved in simple language.  No apology is offered for any wounded susceptibilities in the scientifically minded – they should have a good idea of the subject already and this account is not written for them.

It must be admitted at the outset that there is a fair amount of doubt about the actual processes involved, but current theories are described here and seem to deal with the matter satisfactorily.

All our caves of any importance are situated in Limestone, a rock which is composed almost entirely of Calcium carbonate.  In pure water, limestone, like all other rocks, is practically insoluble – it will dissolve to an extent of only one part in 30,000 of water.  However, water will dissolve carbon-dioxide, a gas which is exhaled in the breath and is produced in burning and so is found in the atmosphere.  It is therefore picked up by water which will then dissolve limestone much more easily, though still in small amounts -- about one part in 7,000.  (This is not strictly a true process of solution as a chemical reaction is involved, but it may be regarded as solution without affecting the argument).  This increase in the dissolving power of the water is an essential factor in the formation of dripstone.

Most people are aware that water dissolves the limestone, and jump to the conclusion that deposits are formed simply by the evaporation of water leaving the limestone behind.  A moment’s thought will shew that this can only very rarely be the only mechanism, and in fact is usually of negligible importance.  In most caves the air is very humid, as is shown by one's breath forming a mist.  The air already holds as much water vapour as it can.  This of course means that water vapour cannot evaporate, or at least only very, very slowly so that the water drops which are seen on the end of growing formations grow too big and drop off before they can deposit any of their load of limestone on the end of the stalactite.  It may be argued that if the water is saturated with limestone, any evaporation would cause a little addition to be made to the end of the formation and this would be generally true.  But is the water saturated?  It may be in some cases but unfortunately we have very little evidence on this point.

The presence of carbon dioxide in the water overcomes the difficulty of lack of evaporation.  Imagine that water laden with carbon-dioxide is trickling through tiny cracks in the limestone above a cave passage.  These cracks are completely filled with water so that the lower down in the rock we go, the higher is the pressure due to the head of water above.  Now there is a scientific law which states that the higher the pressure, the more gas will dissolve, so the solubility increases also.  But as soon as the excess pressure is removed the gas will come out of solution, as you can see happening when a beer bottle is opened.  Now the water cannot hold so much limestone, so this comes out of solution also, and without any evaporation having occurred.  The excess pressure will be released as soon as the drop appears on the roof of the cave as then the head of water is no longer acting upon it.

The limestone appears in the drop as minute particles evenly distributed through it.  These will tend to be drawn to the outside of the drop where it is touching the roof, so that a ring of particles will be formed on the roof.  The same will happen with the next drop and so on and so on, and in course of time a thin cylinder will appear – in other words, a straw stalactite will be formed.

It seems likely that all stalactites begin life as straws.  They grow by having successive layers built up on the outside and the central hole fills up, leaving only a very narrow tube down the centre.  If a cross-section is polished, the successive layers can be clearly seen by their slightly differing Colours due to the different amounts of impurities present.  What decides when a straw begins to thicken instead of continuing to lengthen, we do not know.  Some straws grow to great lengths, occasionally up to 10 or 12 feet, but these are likely to be broken before this (even if there are no cavers about) or the change comes upon them and they start to thicken.

Although the material of the formation s has been referred to as ‘limestone’ there is rather a difference between massive limestone rock and dripstone, although they are chemically similar.  Limestone has no particular structure, but dripstone is crystalline and is in fact calcite – the familiar ‘dog toothe’ Spar.  They may also accur as a different crystal structure, ‘Arragonite’ which is just another and rarer form.  Straws, even quite long ones, are often a single crystal.  Dripstone is usually purer than the original limestone as much of the impurity is not dissolved.  Small amounts do appear of colours from yellow to pinks and reds.  Manganese gives browns, and copper green.  Iron is widely distributed on Mendip as Ochre, and accounts for the prevailing rather dirty colour of the deposits.  Occasionally, however, they are very pure, and then show up a brilliant white – parts of Stoke Lane show outstanding pure dripstone.

So far as we have accounted for pendant stalactites.  We will go on to stalagmites, helictites, and other phenomena in another article.

 (Part 2 of this very interesting article will appear in next month's B.B. Ed.)

Climbing Section Reports.

New Year’s Weekend – Dec. 30/31st. 1950.
Climbing at Blaenant Farm.

Attending: -

J.V. Morris; J.R. Crabtree; R.W.G. Cantle; P. Ifold; R.H. Newman; Miss J. Treble.

Saturday 30th. Dec.  Weather: - Thick snow, cold and windy.

J.V. Morris, P. Ifold & R. Cantle set off for Llanberis to climb Castle Gully on Dinas Cromlech.  The snow was very thick at the P.Y.G. and it was quite an effort getting the car up to Pen-y-pass.  The car was left at the top of the pass and the party tramped off down the Llanberis Pass.  Crossing the scree we slogged up the snow slopes to the foot of the climb.  The Cave Pitch was climbed. R.W.G. Cantle leading, followed by P. Ifold and then J. Morris.  J. Morris led through a flake on the side of the chimney where a belay was found.  R. Cantle then led up to within 6 feet of the check stone with only 50ft. or so of the climb to complete.

Here the climb had to be turned, the going had been extremely hard, the leader having to dig his way up the chimney all the time.  Here the leader dropped his axe (on purpose).  The cold was terrific, and for the second week running, an honourable defeat.  A rapid abseil to the belay below.

A further abseil over the cave, and the climbers were off.  A rapid search for the axe, a rapid boulder hop, and a poor scree run saw us off the rock and on to the road.  It was by now snowing fiercely and it was with relief we arrived at Pen-y-pass to drive by car to Capel for a first class meal and a good night at the Royal Hotel.

Sunday December 31st.  1950

Weather still uncertain – snow, wet and slushy.

R. Crabtree, J. Morris, R Cantle climbed Wall Climb. R. Crabtree doing a very fine lead on the first pitch.  This climb is a V.D., and under these conditions was very fierce.  The rock was cold and wet and it was not advisable not linger on holds.  J. Morris led the Traverse and the climb was finished.  This climb is short but very strenuous.  We then traversed on to the Milestone Ordinary Route and finished that.  We climbed off the N.W. Face down a badly iced gully and this was only done by roping down.  Altogether a good day’s climbing and a weekend well spent.

R.W.G.C. 4/1/51


John Ifold is now Club Librarian.  He was elected at the A.G.M. to replace Angus Innes now in the forces.  Thanks are due to Hal Perry, who, as acting Librarian has been looking after the library since Angus’ call-up.

There are a number of books that are outstanding.  Members having any such books in their possession are asked to return them as soon as possible, either to Club on Thursday evening or direct to John Ifold at Leigh House, Nempnet, Chew Stoke, Nr. Bristol. (Telephone Blagdon 432).

Johnny has asked that any member who is willing to loan or give books to the Club Library to either bring books to Thursday meeting or to contact him at the above address.

A new Library list is in the process of being made and a copy will be circulated to every member as soon as it is ready.

Archaeological Section

Bulletin No.3.  Belfry Site.

Since the last report no further news has been received by me regarding the Belfry Site, except that a new Map Tracing has been received from Geoff Ridyard, to replace the one that was mislaid.  As soon as I get the date for the starting of the Trial Trench, I will inform you.

K.S. Hawkins,
Archaeo. Corres. Sec.

London Section Dinner.

On Saturday 3rd, March 1951 the London Section are holding a Dinner.  The cost not more than 10/- each.  All members are invited to this Dinner the first to be held by the section.  Further details will be circulated to those interested as soon as available.  Will all persons who contemplate attending please let Johnny Shorthose know as soon as possible so accommodation etc. can be arranged.  (His address will be found at the end of this bulletin).

Account of a visit to Derelict Lead Mine in Swaledale, nr. Richmond, Yorks. 

by Jack Whaddon.

The Moors to the S.W. of Richmond, Yorks, have been mined extensively for both lead and coal in the years gone by.

So, on the afternoon of 25th. Nov, 1950, myself and another member of Catterick Rover Crew hiked along a rough track on the S. bank of the Swale.

This track was made of slabs of limestone laid end to end, stretching from the ruins of an old smelting works below Richmond Castle to one of the old lead mines upstream, which was our objective.

Two adits lead into the mine.  We entered by the lower one, which is about three feet above the river level, and was probably used to drain the workings.  It had been raining heavily during the previous week, and quite a stream of water was flowing out of the mine.

The mine itself consisted of several parallel passages which were at right angles to the mineral lodes.  Many of the tunnels contained up to two feet of water, whilst others came to a sudden end where the roof had collapsed.  Stalagmite coated the walls of many of the tunnels, and at one place (at the bottom of a shaft) several roots and twigs were ‘petrified’ by a coating of stalagmite.

There was fair amount of malachite (green carbonate of copper) in the lodes, and some of this had been dissolved by the water, tinting the stalagmite flow green.

It was dark when we emerged from the mine, so we headed up to the moors, where, after spending an evening holding up the bar of the local inn in the usual manner, we slept out in spite of the weather, which was extremely cold, even for Yorkshire.


by Holler.

  Stalactites – I think – grow up, not down,
Or have I got it the wrong way round?
  To avoid confusing appellations
I’ll refer to them merely as formations.

  And sandstone, limestone, O.R.S.,
Get me in a hell of a mess.
  And so – in case thee experts mock,
I’ll drop all names and talk of rock.


T.H. Stanbury,                 c/o Stoke Hill Cottages, Chew Stoke, Nr. Bristol.
Miss D.S. Bowden-Lyle,   31, Highworth Road, St. Annes Park, Bristol. 4.
W.J. Shorthose,              Hon. Sec. London Section B.E.C. 26, Gateside Road, Upper Tooting, S.W. 17.
R. Cantle,                       Leader Climbing Section, 46, Cherrington Road, Henleaze, Bristol.
K.S. Hawkins,                 Sec. Archaeological Section, 9, Quarrington Road, Horfield, Bristol. 7.
J. Ifold,                            Hon. Librarian, Leigh House, Nempnett, Chew Stoke Nr. Bristol.

List of Publication’s available in the Library of the Bristol Exploration Club.

The address of the librarian is appended at the bottom of the back page of every Belfry Bulletin.


The British Caver. Vols,12; 13; 14; 15; 16; 18; 20; 21;
Cave Science (B.S.A.) Nos. 3; 4; 5 ; 6; 11; 12; 15; 14;
Transactions of the Cave Research Group. Vol.l.No3. ;Vol.l.No.4.
Caves and Caving (B.S.A.) Vol.l. Nos.1; 3; 4; 5;
C.R.G. Newslettes 1948, Nos 12 /20; 1949,Nos 21/26; 1950, No 27.
Belfry Bulletin (B.E.C.) Nos.5; 6; 7; 8; 10; 11; 12; 13;
Cave Surveying (C.R.C.)
Derbyshire Lead Mining Glossary (C. R.G.).
Cavern Guide
U.B.S.S. Proceedings Vol. 5, No.1; Vol. 5, No. 2.
My Caves                                        N. Casteret.
Ten Years Under the Earth                N. Casteret.
Au Fond des Gouffres,                      N. Casteret.
Dan-yr-Ogof Official Guide.
Pennine Underground,                      Thornber.
Caves and Caverns of Peakland.
The Falls and Caves of Ingleton,        J.L. Hamer.
The Story of Wookey Hole                Thornycroft.
Mendip Caves and Rock Shelters.     H.E. Balch.
Journal of the Craven Pothole Club Vol.1, Nos 1; 2;


Climbing Mount Everest                    G. Ingle Finch.
Climbing in                             J.E. Barford.
The Welsh Three Thousands             T. Fairbank
Snow on the Equator                        H.W. Tilman.
Mountains of the Moon                     Synge
The Ascent of Nanna Devi                 Tilman.
Epic of Mount Everest                       Sir F. Younghusband.
Rockclimbing and Mountaineering      C. Brunning


History of the Devonshire Scenery     Clayden
Bristol and Gloucester District Geological Survey
Geology in the Service of Man
Principles of Geology Vols 1 & 2       Lyell
Water Pollution Research 1933/45 & 1946.

(to be continued,)