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The New B.B.

Now that we have a complete magazine (with cover!) out we have been able to listen to some of the comments.  On the whole, these have been favourable, the cover especially being approved of.  One complaint, however, seems to be the smaller amount of material in the magazine.  This is largely an illusion as eight pages of this pne are equivalent to 6.9 pages of the older style.  In spite of this, we agree it does look smaller and so, for this month at least, we are producing a twelve page magazine.


March Committee Meeting

The March meeting of the club committee elected the following as members of the club, and we welcome them to the club: - Mike Holland, Brian Iles, Garth Dell and James Hook. Other business dealt with included the provisioning of spares for the Belfry stove, the purchase of new drinking mugs, the sending by post of the B.B., arrangements for various trips at Easter and Whitsun, the provision of a club badge (again) and the attending of the Axbridge dinner.

March Committee Meeting

The February meeting of the committee was held at the Belfry on the 7th.  The following new members were elected and we take this opportunity to welcome them to the club.  M.H. Evans, B.G. Clark, R.C. Hawkins, R.J. Roberts, W.F. (Jug) Jones, and George and Shirley Weston.  The last two are Joint Full members and all the others full members.

Other business dealt with included a discussion on the recent incident in Cuthbert’s, and suggestions for further increasing the safety aspects of this cave, the provision of fluorescent lighting in the Belfry, the proposed film to be made of the B.E.C., and the usual monthly reports given by the officers of the club.


A trip to Porthwarra ( Cornwall) is being arranged for Easter for climbing, walking, mineshaft exploration etc.  Contact Roy Bennett or Geoff Mossman for further details.

A trip to Speakes Hill is being arranged for Easter.  Contact Keith Gardner for further details.

A trip is being arranged for Whitsun to gaping Gill, and it is hoped to get enough people to hire a coach. Further details may be obtained from ‘Prew’.

Keith Asquith

It is real regret that we have to publish the sad news of the sudden death of Keith Asquith.  He died at Bingley, while returning from Bradford on his motor bike after attending a B.P.C. committee meeting on Tuesday, March 8th. To all his many friends, both in the B.P.C. and on Mendip, we offer our deepest sympathy.  All of us who knew him will miss him very much.

Caving Log

For January and February 1960.

2nd Jan.  Hunters Hole.  Ian Dear, L. Mortimer, Alan Nash, Dave Hoskyns and Nigel Hallett did a five hour trip and removed a roof fall at the end of the dig.

3rd Jan.  St. Cuthbert’s.  Mike Baker led a tourist trip of four to the sump.  A peculiar humming noise was noted caused by water flowing against small curtains and flutings on Stalagmite Pitch.  This noise could be heard from beyond the Dining Room entrance.

10th Jan.  Eastwater.  Mike Palmer led a novice trip in the Upper series.  Down to the two rifts and back up the bedding planes.  A steady, pleasant trip.

10th Jan.  Swindon.  Trip about Upper Series by John Ransom, Pat Irwin and other undecipherable characters led by Tony O’Flaherty.

16th Jan.  Goatchurch.  Photographic trip down this dangerous hole by Jill and Alfie.

24th Jan.  Hilliers Hole.  Alfie, Jill, Prew, Jug and Rowena.  Very wet conditions.  Photographs taken under difficulties.

24th Jan.  St. Cuthbert’s.  Party of people from Gloucester. A full report of this trip appeared in last month’s B.B.

24th Jan.  G.B.  ‘Mo’ led a trip to Main Chamber via the Mud Passage returning to the surface after examining several interesting side passages.  A very enjoyable trip.

24th Jan.  Eastwater.  Leader Ian Dear with Meg Evans, Bryan Clarke and Jim Hill.  Went to the top of Dolphin Pot.  Did not get lost on way through Boulder Ruckle coming out.  Got lost on the way in instead.

24th Jan.  G.B.  Keith and Pete Franklin, Pat Irwin, Jim Hill and ‘Mo’ descended to Main Chamber via Mud Passage and did White Passage and Rumba Alley.

6th Feb.  Gough’s.  A super-severe trip by Alfie, Jill, Colin and Jug.  Guide instructed the party on principles of cave formation.  Party expresses suitable amazement.  It appears they are all formed by water!

15th Feb.  Swildons.  Trip to Breakfast Chamber, but after dinner in Trat’s Chamber the party returned. Wet.  Tony O’Flaherty, Jug, etc.  The time taken was considerable but was not noted in hours, minutes and seconds. It was an enjoyable trip and well organised.

15th Feb.  St. Cuthbert’s.  Keith and Pete Franklin, Frank Darbon, G, Robson, Silcox, G, Harrison, Colin, Alan Sandall and ‘Mo’ did a trip to September Series (went through ruckle both ways with no mistakes).  Some photographs of formations were taken by Frank and several other people spent some time in thrutching about in odd holes.

20th Feb.  Goatchurch.  Party of 5. K.S. Gardner, G. Dell, M. Iles, J, Hill and Lady Chatterbox!  Down to Water Chamber.  G.D. & J.H. through Drain Pipe.

20th Feb. Swildon’s. Ralph Lewis, Anne Kirk, Jim Phillips, Noel, John Holloway plus Sybil.  Short Dry way to 40.  Beginners led out and as expected careered off into Long Dry.  Visit to Straw Chamber on route.  Party divided some going short dry and others wet way. Success!  First trip for 2½ years without ill effects.  (Sybil).

21st Feb.  Eastwater.  Colin Knight, Jug, Jim, Mike and Gloria.  Turned back at the top of the first pitch.

27th Feb.  Eastwater.  Primrose Path.  Jim Hill and Garth.

28th Feb.  St. Cuthbert’s.  Leader Mike Baker.  A tourist trip to the sump and back with the Beechen Cliff Speleos.  Also N. Petty, R. Stenner and Jim Hill went down to the Dining Room with the DON COASE memorial tablet and a supply of cement.  The ladder on the Wire Rift was made more stable. The tablet was inspected in the Dining Room and is still in one place.

28th Feb.  Swildons.  Leader P. Roberts and five Beechen Cliff Speloes.  Tourist trip to Lower Series.

28th Feb.  Priddy Green Swallet.  Removing debris – more bang.  Good results, much more debris to be removed now – Sybil.

Surveying in St. Cuthbert’s

By Bryan Ellis

As far as the author is aware, there are three ‘part surveys’ of St. Cuthbert’s.  The first of those is the survey of one route through the cave from the duck towards the entrance which was started several years age by Don Coase.  This survey progresses as far as the junction of Everest and main Stream passages.  It had been surveyed at Grade 6 and when it has been continued to the entrance, it will form the basis of a survey of this grade. The lower grade surveys of side passages can then be tied to it.

The next survey was one of the Maypole Series made by “Kangy” King.  This has already been published in the B.B.   As King wished to determine the position of the end of the series in relation to the surface, he continued a line survey from Upper Traverse Chamber to the entrance via the Wire Rift.  He only claimed grade 4 for this survey but a clinometer was used and corrections were applied for sloping measurements.

The third survey is one made by Chris Falshaw and myself.  This is a grade 5 survey.  The intention was to survey the Rabbit Warren but, while surveying the ‘T’ Junction Chamber, some very inconsiderate young men came along and opened up Cross Leg Squeeze into the Catgut Series.  The result of this was that the survey was then continued through this series into High Chamber and Upper Traverse Chamber instead.  This enable the survey to be tied in with Kangy’s survey and therefore with the surface.

Recently, I have continued the third survey by surveying Upper Traverse Chamber and down to Harem Passage, into Cascade Passage and from there; a line survey was made to Fingers and down Everest Passage as far as the Main Stream.  This has enabled Coase’s survey to be tied into the other two.

All these surveys were drawn to the same scale by yours truly and fitted together as well as I could. From this drawing (made at a scale of 1/305 or 1mm to 1ft) bearings and distances to salient features were measured and these points re-plotted at a scale of 1/1250 or 105ft/inch.  The “25 inch” map of the area was then enlarged to double the scale and the two plotted on one diagram.  The features between the plotted points were then sketched in.  It will be remembered that parts of the survey were line diagrams only so that shapes of these passages are figments of the author’s imagination.  These parts comprise Cascade Passage, Boulder Chamber and all the route from there to the entrance.  The most important words in the title of the accompanying diagram are ‘sketch of’.  No particular accuracy is claimed – it is probably equivalent to a grade 3 survey only – and I would not be very surprised to find the position of the duck to be a couple of hundred feet from the position shown.

The idea in publishing this plan now is twofold.  First, it shows that some progress has been made on the survey of the cave and secondly, it does give an APPROXIMATE indication of where the cave goes.

Editor’s Note.    Some copies of this B.B. may not have a copy of the plan described in this article.  The circulation of the B.B. has gone up a bit since Bryan asked Jonah to print the plans for this article.  This article is continued on the next page.

Now for plans for the future.  Alfie Collins still hopes – if his health will permit – to continue the high grade survey to the entrance.  For myself, now that the diversion through the Catgut Series has been completed (except for the September Series) I intend to continue with the original plan of surveying the rabbit warren and Extension.  The only change is that, instead of surveying from Continuation Chamber ‘outwards’, the plan is now to survey from Cascade Passage to the main entrance near the Dining Room and then across to Plantation Junction and up into the Rabbit Warren Extension.

The amount of cave surveyed so far adds up to 3,000 – 3,500 feet, so there is plenty let for any leader who feels like who feels like a bit of surveying.  For anyone else who wants to survey, I could always do with an assistant! At the moment the most important piece which requires surveying is to continue the high grade survey at least as far as Kanchenjunga so that the Maypole Series survey can be tied in more accurately.

Finally, if anyone holding any survey data taken in the cave would let me borrow them so that I can plot them accurately, I would be most grateful.  At the moment I have only sketches and working drawing to go on.

B.M. Ellis.

Editor’s Note.    Since I can, and feel I should, write a bit more than a short comment on the above, I shall be publishing my contribution to the present Cuthbert’s survey position in an article next month.

Letters To the Editor, B.B.

Having read Roger Stenner’s article in the Christmas B.B., I am rather wondering which is the quickest and most accurate method of cave surveying.  Certainly taking readings off the aneroid is much quicker than numerous measurements with a steel tape, but which is the more accurate over a whole system.

Surely the barometric method must be, since one is measuring absolute depth from the surface; whereas, with, the conventional method, one is measuring height from a point which may itself be a doubtful position.  If an accuracy of  18” can be obtained, this is a very good method indeed, as is represents an error of only 0.5%.

By the way, hasn’t Sett left out two important ingredients in his article on Belfry Binder? (1) An ounce of dark shag twist baccy (fag ends will do if not obtainable) and (2) A quart of Ben’s best screech!

                        Yours,     George Honey

Editor’s Note.    Unfortunately, in an accurate line survey using any form of theolodite (such as an astrocompass) all the heights ‘come out in the wash’ anyway and you could not measure plan distances with first computing or scaling heights to reduce the slant distances to their equivalent plan distances.  The aneroid however, would give a useful check with, as George points out, an accuracy independent of the number of previous legs in the survey and thus avoid cumulative errors.  It would also be very useful in determining heights before an accurate survey has been done.  This might be useful in the study of gradients of streams etc.

Sett, of course wrote his article as a serious guide to the cooking of Binder.  Some odd things have crept in at times, though, reminds us of the old limerick: -

‘There was once a diner of Crewe
Who found a dead rat in his stew.
Said the waiter, “Don’t shout
And wave it about,
Or the rest’ll be wanting one too.”


Dear Sir,

I have written and article on the formations which I noted when I visited St. Cuthbert’s last July, which you may reproduce in whole or in part in the B.B. if you so wish.  I feel it is rather teaching the proverbial grandmother to suck eggs for a one trip tourist to write an article on this subject for members of the B.E.C., but the fact that I have done so may serve to show that the rip was not entirely fruitless and that the B.E.C. leaders are doing a great job in showing tourist like myself around this fine system.  You may rest assured that at least some of the routine tourist traffic is prompted by a little more than just idle curiosity!

One thing I greatly appreciated may interest you.  St. Cuthbert’s, to say the least of it, is a little strenuous for me and when we had seen most of the big chambers and were touring the Rabbit Warren Extension, I began to get weary.  On reporting this to the leader, Roger Stenner, he at once abandoned the trip to Gour Hall and we went down to the Dinning Room for a rest and a bite.  After this, we came out by the quickest route and I was thus able to make my own way out without any help.  I think that this kind of leadership contributed immensely to making the trip a happy and memorable for me.  It might easily been otherwise if the, “Oh, you’ll be alright, let’s go on,” line had been taken.  I hope this will be of some interest.

                        John H. Tucker.

Editor’s Note.    It isn’t often the club gets thanked by a visitor.  We hope this will put new heart into all leaders.


We have also been sent some extracts of the doings of Tony Rich, who is still in Canada.

I quit the Frontier Goodyside Ltd. in June.  I was out of work for three weeks – worked on an oil rig for three days – fired – and came to the conclusion I was not cut out for a roughneck.  Then worked at Rocky Mountain House for a couple of weeks – quit – and went to work for the provincial government at the Department of Highways at St. Paul in Alberta.  The pay was not bad at 360 dollars a month (just realised I got a $ sign on this typewriter and didn’t use it! – Ed.)  I was a materials inspector working in a field lab testing road building materials and then the road itself when built.  Then they gave me a special job because of my seismic experience.  I had a diamond coring drill mounted on the back of a three quarter ton truck and I drove over Northern Alberta taking samples of various highways with all my expenses paid. This meant, however, that I was without car.  One day while stationed in Edmonton, I decided to drive the ninety miles to Bagshaw to pay the girl friend a visit. Got stuck in the mud and broke the drill getting out.  Women get a guy into more trouble!  I was three weeks out of a job again, during which I went hunting.  Only got 5 pheasant, 6 partridge, 4 duck and 3 grouse. Not enough snow for big game.

I then got a job with a geophysical company as surveyor.  The date was now 16th of December (I think).  I moved up to Fort Nelson on the Alaska Highway 70 miles N.E. of the town.  Colder than hell up here and only four hours of sunlight.  I got stranded the other day forty miles from nowhere, then I hit a snow bank.  While I put chains on, a pair of eyes watched me from the bush – a wolf most likely- they get curious.  Still stuck, so I slept it out until 3.30am.  Seen only one moose so far.  Chased her for half a mile with the trck.  There are cougar tracks around.  Found a bear’s den today.  Kinda scared to take a look.  There’re pretty mean if you wake them up.

(Tony Rich’s address id c/o Box 126, Bagshaw, Alberta, Canada.)

Locals Slide Show

Members may wish to know how the slide show for the locals went the other weekend.  In spite of the heavy snow and bitter cold weather, quite a few people turned up, and we just collected the money to pay for the hall. If the weather had been better, we might have filled it!  Many thanks to all who lent slides and apologies for lateness in returning them. A local newspaper did us proud for the occasion and we reproduce (we hope with their blessing) the account on the next issue.

Every weekend, and on many a weekday too, the cavers come to explore the underworld of Mendip.  Most of the “locals” regard them with some kind of amused tolerance – and never, unless to rescue some lost sheep of calf, venture beyond a yard or two into the entrance of any cave, swallet or other natural fissure.

Sensational scares, made the most by the national newspapers, occasionally publicise underground accidents and difficult rescues, but in view of the hundreds of explorations being made, these misfortunes, are very few.  And of these that do occur the vast majority befall people who lack experience or have had not the good sense to team up with the proper equipped group.

What is the thrill that takes all these people down below, apart from the adventurous call to tackle the unknown?  Well, here’s a chance for us surface types to see some of the wonders of subterranean Mendip from the comfort of a chair in a well warmed hall.  The Bristol Exploration Club, as a reward for all the Mendippers who have helped them in so many ways, are staging a collection of colour slides of the Mendip caves in Priddy Hall tonight (Friday).  For most of you reading these lines, there is still time if you are interested.  The exhibition starts at 7.30 pm.  Admission free – but there will be an opportunity to make a contribution to club funds if you wish.

Some of these colour slides are truly remarkable, and nearly all are spectacular.

                        (from a local paper)


The B.B. files have recently been tidied up and we have found to our horror that THEY ARE NOT COMPLETE. Have you got any of the following numbers of the B.B. that you no longer required?????  If so, PLEASE let us have then to complete the files.

48   103  104   105   107  108   109   110  111   113   114  115   117   138.

If you cannot spare them for us to keep, we have a volunteer who can type them out again.

Odd Items

C.C.P.R. Courses.  Bob Bagshaw has been sent the booklet issued by the Central Council for Physical Recreation and gives complete details of their courses for 1960.  A variety of pastimes from Archery to Weight Lifting are listed.  There is no caving but the Council runs courses on mountaineering and mountain activities.  If any member is interested, he should get in touch with Bob.

Kiwi Wet-Pruf.  We have been sent a letter from the advertising department of the above firm, stating they have been sent a quantity of back numbers of caving journals which they have read ‘with interest and in some cases, amusement’.  They would like to point out that Wet-Pruf would be useful in the care of caving boots.  We pass this on in case it really is.  They said they had enclosed a sample tin, but no tin was received!

Building A Belfry – Part Six

On looking through Tony Johnson’s fine series of articles on “Building a Belfry” which appeared in the B.B. during 1952, it seemed only right to try to bring the series up to date.  The result is below.  Incidentally, you will soon be able to read the original series in B.B. Digest No. 2 which will be coming out this year sometime.

Resume of paper read before the Amalgamated Society of Jerry Builders at their second unbelievable general meeting.

There come a time when even the best hastily assembled, carelessly moved and badly maintained buildings begin to show the first signs of decay.  This will normally manifest itself by some slight symptoms, recognisable only by the skilled builder, such as the compete collapse of the main floor joists.

When this occurs, the best course to pursue is undoubtedly that of deciding to replace the entire building.  By adopting this procedure, any further attempts at maintaining the old building may be dismissed with a suitable gesture as being hardly worthwhile. Meanwhile schemes can be discussed by all and sundry as they sit comfortably round the fire in the New Belfry while the Old Belfry slowly falls to pieces.

A body of opinion could no doubt be found who would contend that the presence of a picturesque ruin adjacent to one’s country seat adds interest to the general surroundings.  It certainly was true of the Old Belfry, as it slowly listed more and more to port (or starboard – depending on which way you looked at it!)  This delightful state of affairs might well have gone on for years were it not for the visit of a local surveyor who, after a cursory glance, pronounced it to be an eyesore.

A group of skilled wreckers (yes, the B.E.C.) at once approached the building and after a few minutes, reduced it to its component parts. This operation was considerably speeded up by the presence of Sago on the roof, who like the captain of his ship, finally went down with the building.

The large pile of wood which remained was rapidly used up in a number of cunning ways.  The Old Belfry door may now be found in the shaft of a small Mendip cave for instance.

For the next move, a tractor and trailer is essential.  These are provided by Johnny Lamb and a hectic weekend, during which gangs of female labour are assembled at the site, results in the transport of a huge pile of building stone to the Belfry site.  This stone, as everybody is most anxious to explain to each other, is for the walls of the new hut.  Everyone agrees this is a fine start and spur on the girls to shifting more stone.

As the months pass, the pile of stone gradually weathers in and becomes part of the general scenery. Grass grows up where the Old Belfry used to be.  Some day, we shall have a new hut.

(to be continued)



Secretary, R.J. Bagshaw, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.
Editor, S.J. Collins, 33 Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8.
Postal Dept, B. Prewer, 14 Egerton Road,, Bath, Somerset.



On several occasions we have been asked – mainly by editors of other caving journals – whether it would be permissible for them to reprint or to quote from articles appearing in the B.B. and enquiring whether such articles are in any sense copyright.

For the benefit of any others who may be about to ask the same questions, there is no form of copyright whatever claimed for any article appearing in this magazine.  We rely, of course, on the good manners of anyone who reproduces material from the B.B. to acknowledge the fact in the accepted manner.

Whilst on this subject, perhaps we should also state that the views of any contributor as expressed in the B.B. are not necessarily those of the editor, and that his views are not necessarily to be taken as representing those of the club ass a whole. In general, any material of a controversial nature is normally discussed with the committee before being published in the B.B.

We note that some other caving journals are subject to copyright restrictions.  No doubt they have their reasons.  In some of them, there is a little we should like to copy. However, we like to feel that others may, if they wish, feel free to copy from the B.B.



Dear Sir,

I keep receiving a copy of your Belfry Bulletin.  Obviously something has gone astray with your addressing system as I have no knowledge of caving.  Perhaps the real recipient of my copy means to you and points out that he does not receive his Bulletin.  I hope, for the clubs sake, that he pays his subscription.  If not, then you must find his correct address and do the necessary. Perhaps he will ‘astound the secretary and send in his subscriptions.’

I’m afraid that I must admit to reading your Bulletin.  I have found them very interesting – though not to the extent of wishing to become a pot-holer or cave man or whatever you call yourselves.  You must have some very interesting tales and experiences to tell.

Thank you for increasing my general knowledge.  A speleological society would certainly have me stumped in any quiz.  Congratulations on your new cover; good luck to you cave men, and may you find many interesting things in your most unusual hobby.

                        Yours sincerely
                                    A.J. Cornish

P.S. I hand your Bulleting round the office where nobody has heard of Speleology.  Poor ignoramuses!

Editor’s Note.    Mr Cornish has been receiving the W.S.G. copy of the B.B. in error.  He seems the sporty type, however, and we have written to acknowledge his letter. It isn’t often we get a layman writing in the B.B.


The report of the April Committee meeting will be found on a later page of this B.B.  The Caving Log will be published next month.

This Or That?

Members will no doubt have come across magazines such as “Which”.  We have receive the following article on the same lines from the cavers Advisory Bureau.

Although members of the B.E.C. are well aware of the quality of the B.B., it is rumoured that some cavers are so unfamiliar with this popular publication that they have sometimes joined other clubs in order to receive a copy of other caving magazines. The Cavers Advisory Bureau has now conducted a series of tests between two caving magazines, and hopes that readers will be interested inn the results that follow.  Two dissimilar magazines were tested.  One, a monthly issue (The Belfry Bulletin) and the other issue less frequently and referred to as the Other Journal.

General Information

Both magazines were tested for wedging properties and here the O.J. scored heavily as its thickness enabled the most decrepit table to be steadied easily.  It could also be left longer in such a position than the B.B., as it was needed less frequently as a reference.

Neither of the magazines were likely to explode when placed in a draught of less than 45 feet per second.

Both periodicals could be used for cleaning purposes, the absorbency of each being similar.  Here, 99% of the users said that they preferred the O.J., as it has less staples proportionally to the number of pages available.  (The other user was eccentric).

Crease Resistivity

Tests were made as follows. 60 copies of the O.J. and 220 copies of the B.B. were placed evenly under the bunk of Mr. Colin Rees under his sleeping bag, on which he was invited to rest his body for a period of eight hours.  No satisfactory result was obtained as Mr Rees fell asleep while smoking, reducing mattress, sleeping bag and magazines to indistinguishable carbonated matter. It is hoped to repeat this experiment when the Belfry has been rebuilt.

Washing Tests.

These were equally inconclusive.  35 copies of each magazine were placed in Lady Well for 1 hour after the spring had been swollen by 1.035 inches of rain.  All the magazines began to fade after 6.7 minutes and after 30 minutes of immersion, it was found that 95% of the pages had disappeared.  A similar test was conducted in anti-freeze, but the samples corroded.  A crowd of members were seen later crouching by the streamway and panning for the gold washed out of the covers, actually recovering enough to plate a large wooden spoon.

Reading Material

Analysis showed that the O.J. contained more full stops than the B.B.   Testers complained that, because of this, more breathing was required when reading the B.B. aloud, and in this respect it appeared that the B.B. was more breathtaking than its rival.  On enquiry, it was discovered that regular readers of the O.J. tended to improve their breathing by lung exercises at tap-room level, so that this difference may not be significant.

The O.J. was found to contain less consciously humorous articles than the B.B.  Neither magazine contained a picture of Marilyn Monroe.


The Caver’s Advisory Bureau therefore finds the O.J. more suitable for practical purposes, and its choice in the matter of reading material was found to be a question of taste.  For Caving News; accuracy; topically; wit; intelligence and economy, the Best Buy was found to be the BELFRY BULLETIN – 12/6 per year.

Cuthbert’ Survey

In last month’s B.B., we suggested a write-up on the present position, and future prospects of the high grade Cuthbert’s survey started by Don Coase. The article which follows is the result: -

In the article on this subject written last month by Bryan Ellis, the Grade 6 survey started by Don Coase was referred to.  I am in the position of being able to throw a little more light on this work, and this seems a good time to do so.  After the cessation of work caused by Don’s death, very little has been done; but recently, interested seems to have revived.  As a result, this article will also include some suggestions for the future.

The Grade 6 survey was started at what was then the sump, and Don intended to complete a continuous open traverse all the way to the entrance as a first stop.  From point, he intended to complete a series of closing traverses, which would fill in the reminder of the main routes through the cave and fill the remainder of the main routes through the cave and also check the accuracy of the original traverse.  Where small loops could be incorporated into the main traverse on the way, this would be done to avoid too much going over the same ground twice.

The first three trips were occupied in going along the relatively straightforward route from the sump to Plantation Junction.  We took a lot of detail measurements, as Don wished the survey to be as detailed as possible.  This passage may always be an open traverse, and so extra care was taken to ensure that errors did not crop into the results.  On some of the stations, more than one of us read the astrocompass and agreed on the angles as recorded.

The fourth trip brought the survey up to the junction of Everest Passage and the fifth trip did the first closed loop between the Fingers and Cascade Passage. Unfortunately, this traverse did not close by as much as eleven degrees and several feet.  The next trip (and last, as it happened) spent the whole time re-surveying this loop, which now closes exactly.

Since then, Jill and myself have spent two short trips in showing that it will not be possible to run a line from the entrance to the bottom of the entrance pitch.  This then is the work which has already been done in the cave.

The results obtained to date have, of course, been plotted and a survey of that portion of the cave so far covered has been on the Belfry wall for some time now.  The data book is, at present, in my possession.

One of the things which needed alteration was the station numbering system, and I have rewritten the data using the system adopted by Bendall and Crickmay in their survey of G.B. in which such a traverse has a reference letter; each main station has a number; and each subsidiary substation has a final small letter. Thus a particular traverse might be called ‘B’ traverse and stations would be numbered B1, B2, B3, etc.  A small side passage running off at the point B2 would then have stations along its length labelled B2a, B2b, B2c, etc. The traverse to date has thus been labelled ‘M’ traverse (For Master) and main stations up to M245 exist.

Work is in hand to copy data into two new books, which may then be added to by any team of surveyors who want to add to the Grade 6 length.  This length, incidentally, is just over 1,000 feet at present.  The idea of two books is merely to guard against loss.

The results for M traverse will give all the stations positions and details, all the inter-station detail and the calculated Eastings and Northings of each station.  Thus any other surveying teams can pick up from any of the stations already covered and can draw their own version of the survey from the data already in the book, and go on from there.  It will not be necessary into have anyone “in charge” and, if all surveyors calculate their own Latitudes and Departures, a master drawing can be produce by anyone from the data without drawing errors becoming cumulative.

I hope to be able to do some more myself before I am very much older, but if indolence should get the better of me, I am sure that the book will gradually get filled up until all the system has been recorded.

It is at this point that I feel the club will have a great opportunity.  Cuthbert’s is probably the most complex cave system in this country, and no ordinary method of presentation is going to do justice to such a complicated undertaking as the completed survey will have become.  It would be a fine memorial to the work of Don Coase if the survey was presented in book form – a Cuthbert’s Atlas – in which pages of maps alternated with the description of the part of the cave.


Lady Chatterbox’s Column

Risking dismembering and subsequent other diverting and friendly overtures by the chief participant, here is a somewhat hackneyed and bleary-eyed account of a wedding.

Those on parade were: -

Maurice Iles – Marijeanne Ashby
Best man?  Sid Obbs.
Husher Upper.  K.S. Gardner.
Large Blonde Bridesmaid (old enough)
2 same ditto (not old enough)

Maurice Iles wore his suit and Mr. Hobbs his sporting outfit.  Contrary to public belief, caving boots were not worn.  The Bride wore cream figured brocade with an Anne Boleyn type headdress and carried a bucket of mixed freesias.  The large bridesmaid wore mauve and the two small ones turquoise and they carried buckets of anymoles.  A reception was given by the Bride’s mum and was held at Keenes on the Wells Road.  Much sherry was then consumed (especially by the B.E.C.)  The Bride and Groom went away in a red Dauphine car.  (Undecorated – as we had been threatened).  They left for parts unknown to us and themselves, on the theory that no ruse telegrams could be sent.  Sid Hobbs was last seen in full cry after that large bridesmaid.

Digging News

Priddy Green Swallet

Enthusiasm is rising fast as the dig progresses and gets quite rapidly longer and deeper.  Apart form the smell (which is quite unlike any other cave, but which you get used to) it is now possible to go quite a decent distance from the shaft.  After climbing down the rock face below the shaft, a drop of a few feet leads to a passage which doubles back beneath the entrance.  A turn to the left at the end of this brings you to a downward sloping passage which is the present scene of work.  An enlargement of this passage can be seen at its lower end.  Prospects look very good.

Cooper’s Hole

The Mendip Cave Group, when contacted a few weeks ago, tell us that they are continuing excavation.  When last inspected, this dig had a mechanised mud removal device working!  They are certainly shifting a vast amount of infill from the hole.

No further reports from Nine Barrow Swallet, Emborough or Alfie’s Hole.


If you consult the O.E.D., you’ll find an entry strange
An editor is therefore defined as one who does arrange
Or annotates another’s work – another’s you will note
I wonder if the bloke who wrote that realised what he wrote!
I’d like to meet the gentlemen who wrote the O.E.D.
And get them all to have a bash at editing B.B.


Have you left any old caving or personnel gear at the Belfry? Check with the Hut Warden if you value it.  He may throw it out if he considers it is of no use!


Secretary, R.J. Bagshaw, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.
Editor, S.J. Collins, 33 Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8.
Postal Dept, B. Prewer, 14 Egerton Road,, Bath, Somerset.



Erratic Publications Dept.

At this time of year the spasmodic appearance of the B.B. is thrown further out of gear by the holiday season.  Thus, members who obtain their copy of this illustrious journal by post will not receive this one much before July.  Gradually, it is hoped, we shall get back to publishing the B.B. somewhat nearer the beginning of the month.  Until then, we must ask members to be patient.

Silver Jubilee Number

Comments on this number were mainly favourable – except from Bob Bagshaw on being told the cost of the special cover!  We have another article in reminiscent vein this month.


It seems we dropped a clang the other month.  Or legal advisor (Dennis Kemp) sent us a postcard – appropriately enough – a picture of the Old Bailey on the front, and pointed out that the copyright of an article rests in any case with the author and exists automatically.  It does not have to be claimed and it cannot be given away. If this is so, it would seem that the practice of claiming copyright by caving journals was in any case, unnecessary. However, we mustn’t get ourselves involved in any further arguments on this point.


Lady Chatterbox

Gaffy Fowler, at present serving in the R.A.F. as an officer called at 10a to say “Howdo!” on Saturday the 21st May and informed your correspondent with a great show of teeth that he GOT MARRIED AT EASTER!  He appears to have the ideal set-up.  He is away, so his bride lives with her mum and with him at weekends.  I bet she holds the record for the most “Gone back to mum bride” of the lot.  I duly tackled him about the provision of a barrel or two and was told there would be one in July or August.  He is going to be a Hunter Pilot (aircraft, not pub) in September.  Someone should ask the Air Ministry if they really want window boxes as standard G.A.F. equipment, or bent front forks – that is, assuming that Hunters have front forks.

Sidobbs is still courting. A boozy do was held recently in the Mossman residence (described some time ago by the same authoress in her ‘Stately Homes of Clifton’ – Ed.)  Some members of the B.E.C. discovered the Hula Hoop he keeps there.  A more erratic display of wriggling has never before seen in public.  One member turned up with a bottle of rum, and was last seen propping up the wall in the all moaning about “falling in luv again” and singing some song about a machine, nuff said.

C.A. Gardner.

Pine Tree Pot

The Mendip Cave Group, at their recent and most successful Hut Re-warming Party, announced the discovery of a new cave at Charterhouse.  This is provisionally known as Pine Tree Pot, and contains a fine grotto and a thirty five foot pitch.  Access is not possible yet, but we will keep you in touch.


Somewhat belated congratulations to MIKE and JUDY on the birth of their son.  Sorry we have no further details.

Fings Ain’t Wot They Used To Be

By Norman Brooks

Many years ago, in my first days of caving, I paid a visit to the Hunters Lodge.  There I encountered a group who were about the most outstanding loud singing and hard drinking mob of characters I had ever met.  They were, I was informed, the B.E.C. and they even had their own private room at the pub.  Later, some friends of mine were actually allowed to visit a hut about a quarter of a mile from the Hunters.  They came back with truly fabulous tales, saying that the place was called the Belfry and that it was where the B.E.C. lived.

Such a club was not for a mere nobody like myself, but perhaps if I caved diligently and listened hard at the Hunters, I too might attain the standard required to consider the possibility of being allowed to join the elite.

In due course, I managed not only to achieve my ambition, but gained the still greater honour of being placed on the Belfry Regular’s list for two years running.  My visits are rather infrequent nowadays but it was with hope expectation, based upon memories of the past that I returned at Easter. After all, it was on an Easter Saturday a few years ago that a census was taken in the cavers room at the hunters showed that no less than 66 people were present and all having a whale of a time. Yes, Easter would certainly be the right time of the year to return to the B.E.C.

As I entered the Belfry, I noticed that there were not many there.  This was not too upsetting, as I had heard that things were going from strength to strength.  The only obvious explanation for the extreme youth of the youngest occupant was that membership of the B.E.C. was getting so tight, like many famous public schools, you have to have your name down from birth.  Presumably, the baby had been brought out to be viewed by the Committee with a view to accepting it for future membership.  Later on, I observed several changes in practice which I found to be truly puzzling.  Firstly, the wearing of ties hand the appearance of creases in trousers.  One used to require a good excuse, such as the Annual Dinner, before such a lapse from correct dress would be permitted. Was the Annual Dinner now at Easter or – terrible thought – was this the done thing today?

Secondly, the sparse attendance at the Hunters and the invasion of the singing room by shoe halfpenny playing foreigners on the Saturday evening shook me up.  This really was disconcerting.

Sett being absent, the Hut Warden’s duties were performed by a deputy who used an ingenious system of remote control and deputy-deputy.  In spite of this, I do not think the Committee should take too seriously the suggestion that a closed circuit television system should be installed between the Belfry and the Shepton hut as an aid to good Hut Wardening.

Another thing I found odd was the increase in overnight fees.  It used to be 1/2d, including 2d for milk.  It is now 1/6d with the 6d, I am told, for water.  Since water is cheaper than milk this little example of the mysterious workings of the laws of economics is absolutely beyond my comprehension.  Beer is even dearer than milk, so if the taps ran beer would it be possible for the overnight fees to be reduced?  I urge the Committee to give their most serious consideration to this matter.

One occurrence that never would have happened when I was a regular was that one day absolutely everybody went caving.  This was quite a record and shows that not all changes are on the debit side.

Maybe the reason for everything being different last Easter was that the members deliberately organised it that way.  The club has always seemed to function by a method of opposites.  If you took a keen caving type of visitor for a weekend, nobody would go caving but instead would go drinking or be taking it easy after drinking, the visitor would be disgusted.

If, on the other hand, you brought along a keen drinking visitor, then everyone would be caving and he would be dis-enheartened.  The type who was a keen caver as well as a keen drinker would probably find that everyone else was intent on some abstruse, highly technical discussion. If you tried to be really clever and took along a scientific-caver-drinking-type then the club would be holding a regatta on the Mineries.  You just couldn’t win.

Editor’s Note.    It would seem, from Norman’s article that whatever failings we might have as either a caving or a drinking club – our Lifemanship remains superb!

Rob Roy’s Cave

We welcome a new contributor to our ranks, JUG Jones.  Until we received this, we were unaware of his ability to write. It would be interesting to know where he was when he wrote it!

After many unsuccessful attempts (about five in all) my new found potholing mate an I managed to hire a car, and set out on a brilliant summers day last August to explore the little written of ‘Rob Roy’s Cave’.  The cave is marked on the ‘Esso’ map of Southern Scotland; the British Railways map of Loch Lomond and of course the O.S. map of Loch Lomond.  In spite of this, very little appears to be known about it.

As you probably know, Loch Lomond is definitely Rob Roy country.  Slightly to the north of Ben Lomond (3192’) and actually on the lake itself is the original prison where our hero was imprisoned many years ago by the ‘Blooming British’.

We left South Queenferryside on the 22nd August, passing through Edinburgh; Bathgate; Airdrie; Coatbridge and Glasgow.  Leaving there we went though Manyhill; Bearsden; Milngaine; Strathblone and Aberfoyle at the foot of the Trossachs.  We turned the car left there and cruised slowly along a secondary road towards Inversnaid.

What a truly majestic sight awaited us along this road.  With Loch Ard on our left, the waves almost washing against the car wheels, while over to the right and ahead of us appeared the mighty Trossachs – towering to a few thousand feet and standing out blunt and rugged in the August sunlight. One could easily imagine the redcoats soaked in perspiration, wearily searching for the ever elusive Rob Roy. What a hell of a difficult job confronted those very patient soldiers.  Slowly but surely beating the mountainside, searching in the gorse, heather and rocks, trying desperately to find the Scottish hero.  Then perhaps in the harsh winter months methodically retracing their steps, in a vain effort to catch sight of Rob Roy’s tracks in the snow.  Scotland must have seemed to them a very strange and tough country.

We reached Kinlochard (a tiny hamlet of perhaps three houses) and then Inversnaid.  The car was dumped in front of the jetty there directly in front of the hotel’s impressive entrance.  Then we checked our lights; maps; ropes etc and when everything seemed satisfactory, borrowed a ten foot dinghy and pulled out towards the area where we believed the cave lay.

After pulling steadily for half a mile or so, we saw over on our starboard bow an old and rusting landing craft.  This was no doubt left behind by the troops after the last war, as many of the lochs were used as training areas for invasions etc.  Anyway, it served as a good landmark.

Half a mile further north we passed the headland.  At this point I spotted, high on the mountainside, the word ‘CAVE’ daubed in faded white paint.  A knobbled old tree seemed a suitable spot to land, so we pulled ashore and secured the dinghy (Quote)

“You make fast
I’ll make fast
Make fast the dinghy!

After scrambling up the mountainside for about forty feet, we came to the writing that I have just mentioned.  In a direct line with this was the main entrance.  This was about twelve feet high and about six feet wide.  Below this and to the left (north) was a second entrance. This was somewhat smaller but entrance to it was quite easy.  Above and below these two entrances were one or two more, but these were mere crevasses in the rock.

Mike decided to stay outside the cave and raise the alarm if I wasn’t back within the hour.  I selected the main entrance and after climbing over a few boulders I managed to find a reasonable path to follow.  Alas, after some forty feet of fairly easy going it came to be impossible to go further, owing to what seemed a fairly old roof fall.

The second entrance proved to join up with the main one after quite an assortment of weird crawls and crevices, and whilst squirming down one of these, I was horrified to see a HUGE BLACK SPIDER.  My head automatically snapped back in order to avoid this veil looking insect, where upon I saw a further huge black spider; then another, then more.  For a split second I was petrified, yet they held a strange kind of fascination for me.  I looked closer (three pints of bass said I could).  Their bodies were the size of a sixpenny piece and like jet black marbles.  I touch one of them with my lamp.  It swung round and faced me, then raced up the wall and across the low roof towards my face.  In this confined space it seemed HUGE and bent on revenge.  I eased quickly back and as I did so, disturbed more of those evil black MONSTERS.

Shaking all over like a ‘pop’ singer, I fled from this section of the cave in half the time it takes the ink making industry to go on strike.

Along another passage of the cave, I came across a faded name and the date 1937.  I wondered how long it had been since anyone else had come face to face with what I had affectionately named Rob Roy’s Spider (or in the Latin phrase ‘ Draughtus Basserius Spideria’).

Whilst following another passage, I saw that a whole section of the wall appeared to be composed of mica. I broke off a few pieces, hoping somebody more learned than I could verify this.  I was also hoping to find some evidence of this cave having been used as a dwelling place at one time.  Perhaps a niche in the wall for holding a candle driven lantern, or some signs of a charcoal hearth, bit I suppose this would be just as dramatic as finding Rob Roy’s original dirk, since the cave must have been ‘dug’ by archaeologists, historians, locals, students and even American tourists.

It was getting late, and Mick was shouting for my return.  My accumulator was fading (I think one of the cells leaks) and I couldn’t find the way out.  All the likely ways appeared difficult.  I tried to pull myself up a rock face using a clean ‘arms pull’ but alas, the weakened armed Jug collapsed and fell back down again.  Then I saw a small ledge.  I managed to reach this by simple finger and toe grips and soon I was almost out.  I had reached an entrance and poked my head through.  Getting the huge bonce through was only part of the procedure.  I had to perfect a half roll to get my bony shoulders through. Then I gave Mick a call for assistance. We pushed and shoved until I fell free.

I fell feely on top of Mick, who fell back down a ten foot ledge, nearly breaking his leg.  In the truest tradition of the ‘Silent Service’, he screamed back up at me, “You clumsy, clumsy, clumsy awkward b-----, Jug!”

We then left the cave (Mick bemoaning over meeting me) with all the nits, gnats, midges, bugs and every conceivable kind of wandering biting lice in Scotland and after pulling hard for about ten minutes, this army of insects fell back in smart formation, leaving us itching all over.

On the way back, with an acute shortage of cats eyes and far too many trees growing far too close to the road, my mind began to relax.  Then SMACK (it can’t have happened to me!).  The window disappeared, the door caved in and I could feel blood running down my neck.  We groped our way out of the wreckage and finally rejoined our ship six hours adrift.


The following appeals appeared on the Belfry blackboard a few weeks ago.  We thought they were worth reproducing in the B.B.

Owing to the loss of one black kitbag (marked G. Salt) I have been forced to borrow a white kitbag (R.A.F.) which will be returned via Anthony Mr. O’Flaherty.

G. Salt

Owing to the loss of one white kitbag (R.A.F.) I have been forced to borrow a light brown hessian type sack (marked Northern Ireland Whites).  This will be not returned to Mr. Salt.

A. Fincham

Owing to the loss of one light brown hessian type sack (marked Northern Ireland Whites) I have been forced to borrow a black kitbag which I intend keeping.

R.A. Setterington.


Secretary, R.J. Bagshaw, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.
Editor, S.J. Collins, 33 Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8.


Silver Jubilee

This month, the B.E.C. becomes twenty five years old – a quarter of a century; or, if you prefer to express it another way, the B.E.C. has been in existence for 3% of the time which has elapsed since the Norman Conquest!

It is now reasonably safe to say that the average bloke joining the club was not born when the club was founded, and this, we feel, entitles us to have a history of our own. You will find a little of this history in this copy of the B.B.

As well as being sent to club members in the ordinary way, an attempt is being made to send each past member – where we still have his or her address – a copy of this issue.  We hope that it will bring back some pleasant memories of your days in the club.  We send you greetings from all our present members and assure you that we are still batting on.  (Note the clever B.E.C. type pun).

We should also like to send greetings in advance to the Editor of the Golden Jubilee Number and warn him that, as we sit in our bath chairs, we expect to receive a magnificent bound volume all covered in gold leaf!



This month notices will be found somewhat nearer the back of the B.B. – that is if we remember to type them.

The recent M.R.O. experiment in the use of sump rescue apparatus was successful.  Donations are required now to equip the M.R.O. with apparatus of this type.  Send them to Bob.

The Climbing Section are arranging meets during the summer inn the Avon Gorge on Thursday evenings.  Get in touch with Geoff.

March Committee Meeting

What must be a record number of nine new members were elected at this meeting.  They are: -

George Pointing; David Berry; George Blankhorne; R.G. Grace; David Smith; Robert Jones; Trevor Knight and John Flook.

It was suggested by the Hut Warden that large parties should always book bunks before coming, and that very large parties (greater than 10) should, in general, be discouraged.  The Belfry finances are going very well and the first six months of this club year have resulted in 601 bed-nights.  The meeting closed after discussing damaged formations in Stoke Lane.

May Committee Meeting

The May Committee Meeting elected Pam Russell and Derek Ford as full members of the club.  It was decided that all non-members would have to book at the Belfry; that visitor’s fees would be increased to 3/6 with a remission of 1/- if they had done some work; and that the lights out rules should be more rigidly enforced in the future.  The Caving Secretary announced that the memorial to Dan Coase is now cemented in place and the Climbing Secretary announced the start of Thursday meets in the Avon George before club.

A Short History of the Bristol Exploration Club

Based on an account by T.H. Stanbury and others

Since the early records of the club were lost in the blitz during the last war, and since there are very few club members who are accessible and whose association with the club goes back to those days; accounts of the very early years of the club bound to be a little hazy.

The story of the founding of the club is an established part of Mendip folklore by now, but, like most folklore, it is probably greatly embellished.  At any rate, a small group of fellow employees of our founder, “Harry” Stanbury, formed themselves into a caving party in 1953 and visited Goatchurch. The trip was a success, and, after acquainting themselves with the procedures of existing societies; they decided to form a new club.

Initial membership was about a dozen, and an inaugural meeting was called later in the same year at which a set of rules were drawn up and the bat adopted and the emblem of the new Bristol Exploration Club.  The basic phraseology of our present constitution come straight from the initial rules, and it is flattering to think that at least one other caving group – The Westminster – has drawn heavily upon it in formulating their own constitution over twenty years later.

The few years between the founding of the club and the outbreak of war in 1939 found the club constructing tackle – rather differently from the methods we use today – and running trips to most of the caves which existed on Mendip at the time.  The membership remained small and steady, as the club made little attempt to persuade others to join until they felt they had acquired enough experience on Mendip Caves to be able to offer new members a reasonable standard of caving knowledge.

At the outbreak of war, club membership was 15 – a figure which the subsequent call up soon began to reduce, until it was hardly possible to get a caving trip together.  The Emplex Caving Club, composed of employees from the Bristol Employment Exchange, found themselves in a very similar position, and in 1940, the two clubs combined.

Matters continued to get worse, even with the extra manpower provided by the merger and by 1943; the club existed in little more than name.  All its forces members were naturally not available for caving, and the few left behind found it almost impossible to get caving trips organised.

However, at this time, one or two other cavers contacted Harry Stanbury and a meeting was held at which it was decided to renew caving activities.  The club membership numbers date from this meeting, at which “Dan” Hasell, who usually presides over our A.G.M.’s and dinners, was present – his membership number being 4.

The end of the war in 1945 found the club shaky, but still functioning.  On most trips, since most of the early members lived in the Knowle area of Bristol, trips were organised from the Stanbury’s house in Redcatch Road; but on occasion, members would change at Maine’s Barn at Priddy.  It was those visits to “The Barn” which were mainly responsible for the dramatic growth of the club during the next two years from a handful of cavers to one of the major caving clubs of Mendip.

Maine’s Barn in 1945 was the home of a collection of cavers from a variety of sources.  The only club represented was the Bridgwater Caving Club, who were mainly employees of the Puritan Explosive Factory. Don Coase was one of these. Another of the organised groups was a small band of ex-U.B.S.S. cavers which had found the Burrington hut too far from caves of the Priddy district.  This group provided members like “Sett”, “Pongo” Wallis and myself.

As these cavers got to know each other, it became obvious that it would be a good thing if all banded together in one club.  The B.C.C. members realised that, now that the war had ended, their works, and hence their club, must eventually close down.  In the end, all these cavers joined the B.E.C., and this increase in membership was further swelled by returning forces members, some of whom brought friends along with them.  At about this time, the Mendip Speleological Group were also absorbed into the B.E.C. and by the end of 1946, the membership had risen to 80.

The need for a permanent Mendip Headquarters was now becoming of great importance, and accordingly money was lent to the club by some members and a hut purchased.  This was the old Belfry, which started life as a sports pavilion on Purdown and was erected by the club next to what is now the S.M.C.C. tackle shed.  On Saturday 1st of February 1947, Doan Coase spent the first night in the Belfry. Exact records have not been kept, but something approaching 10,000 bed nights have been spent at the Belfries by club members and guests since.

In January 1947, the first issue of the Belfry Bulletin was published – edited by Dan Hasell.  This is number 147, which seems to need no comment.

With the possession of a hut, the club continued to attract more members.  An active group from Nottingham University were among these.  The club now began to play an active part in the discovery of new caves on Mendip.  In 1947, Stoke Lane Slocker was transformed into a large cave by the discovery of Browne’s Passage by Pat Browne, and by the subsequent forcing of the sump by Don Coase, Pat Browne and “Sett”.  In addition to this, club members assisted Les Browne in the digging out of Browne’s Hole, and Withybrook Swallet, in the same area, was entered by the club.

At about this time, the Bridgwater Caving Club was formally incorporated into the B.E.C.  For many years, a B.C.C. membership card and a key hung in the Old Belfry to commemorate this event.

By 1948, membership had risen to 98 and to the club’s activities grew in proportion.  A survey of Stoke Lane was exhibited at a caving exhibition held in Bristol Museum; the Clifton Caving Club were absorbed; a London Section of the club was formed and a new loan amongst members resulted in the purchase of a new and bigger hut.  The original hut was moved and re-erected on the present site and the “New Belfry” built nearby.  Meanwhile the club’s interests continued to expand.  An active climbing section spent most weekends in North Wales and elsewhere; the club supplied most of the Somerset Section of the C.D.G. and club trips began to be organised to France and other European countries.

By 1949, the membership had reached 120 and the original weekly meetings at Redcatch Road had begun to suffer from some overcrowding. The idea of holding meetings on Thursdays was to organise the next weekend.  A room was therefore hired at Redcliffe Church Hall, to which we have now returned after meeting at St. Matthews Hall and the Education Centre in Old Market.

In 1950, the first Club Annual Dinner was held at the Hawthorns Hotel in Bristol.  This year also saw a porch added to the Belfry by the then Belfry Engineer – Tony Jackson.

In 1951, the club ran a stand in the “Our Way of Life” exhibition in Bristol which was held as part of the Festival of Britain arrangements.  The stand aroused considerable interest and members obtained a great deal of fun answering some of the questions asked by weegeees.  In this same year, some changes in the running of the club occurred with the object of distributing the work of running the club amongst a greater number of people.  The present system of club officers and the constitution of the club committee date from this time.

From 1949 to 1952, the membership remained steady at 120.  This period marks the end of the rapid post war expansion of the club.  In 1953 it dropped to 117.  Membership has remained at about this figure ever since, although it looks as if we are in for a further expansion at the moment.

In 1953, accommodation on Mendip was again improved by the addition of a six foot length to the New Belfry, which was used to enlarge the kitchen and the ladies room.  This year also saw the most important discovery the club has yet made.  By permission of Mr. T.C. Cunane, excavation was started during the early part of the summer, and, after a few months continuous work, a cave system was entered in October of that year.  St. Cuthbert’s is too well known to need any further comment.

In 1953 and 1954, the club surveyed the Redcliffe caves in Bristol, presenting a copy of the survey to the City Engineer. In 1954, Hunters Hole was opened.

During 1955, the land on which the Belfries stand came into the market and was purchased by the club in 1956.  The future of the Belfries had been worrying members since the Town & Country Planning Act had come into force, but now the land was the club’s all was well and the redecoration of the New Belfry was put in hand.

During 1957, the ladies room and the men’s room were redecorated, and mains electricity connected to the New Belfry.  A sad event of this year was the demolition of the Old Belfry, to make room for a new building to be built of stone.  Also during this year, the management of the Belfry Bulletin passed into the hands of the present editorial staff; a printed cover was first introduced and the size of the magazine increased.  The club assisted during the digging out stages of the re-opening of Pen Park Hole in Bristol, doing, in fact, about three quarters of the digging required to get in.  After running one tourist trip, the club abandoned its co-operation with the other societies owing to disagreements with “The Management”.  This however was offset by the new discoveries of the Maypole Series, Rabbit Warren Extension etc. in Cuthbert’s.

On January 31st 1958, Don Coase died after an operation.  On the Whit Monday of the same year, “Herby” Balch also died.  He was an Honorary Life Member of the B.E.C. and the father of caving on Mendip.

Much work continued to be done in Cuthbert’s and on the Belfry.  The kitchen was completely remodelled and, later in the year, permission for the new stone hut was granted and the foundations dug.  In the September of this year, the beautiful September Series was discovered in Cuthbert’s.

In 1959, mains water was connected to the Belfry; the new stone hut was half completed, and work was done on Tankard’s Hole and other caves.

This brings us to 1960 and the present day.  The new stone hut might be finished this year; the car park will be extended and the site tidied up; the club’s finances are sound; membership is increasing; we still lots of work to do in Cuthbert’s and we will shortly be combining with the S.M.C.C. in digging out Emborough Swallet.  Our own land and the Belfry is the busiest caving hut on Mendip.

In this account a few people’s names have been mentioned from time to time.  This should not be taken to mean that only those listed have played an exceptional part in the formation and prosperity of our club.  To list all those members whose efforts have made the club what it is today and who have produced by their hard work, the facilities which members now enjoy, would be impossible.  All have helped in some way or other and a full list would have to include items like the writing of the club song – which curiously enough was composed by Hal Perry, a teetotaller!

Chiefly, we owe more still to all those members who have helped to maintain the free and easy democratic good fellowship for which the B.E.C. has always been noted, and in this connection the words of our founder, Harry Stanbury, although written in 1947, are still, we hope, true today.

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


Congratulations to Daphne and Roger Stenner on the birth of their second son on the 19th December. He has been christened Roger Anthony Dunning Stenner and Norman petty is a Godfather.


Future topics to appear in the B.B. will include more on the use of barometers in cave surveying – an article on the formations in Cuthbert’s.  The trip to East Devon at Easter and more of the “Building a Belfry” Series.

Caving Log

For March and April

5th March.  St. Cuthbert’s.  Norman Petty, R. Stenner, Jim Hill, Garth and Pat Irwin. Start made with new wire in the           Wire Rift.  More cement taken to Dining Room.  Also tourist trip via Lake Chamber.  Out by normal route.

Swildons.  An excellent 5½ hour trip to Swildons IV. Uncertain of the way beyond St. Pauls, the party visited the stimulating, unfrequented dead ends that are common, obvious and misleading but convincingly appear to be the way on. The last section from Blue Pencil to IV caused chaos.  The change from head first to foot first in a confined space gave us unexpected joy. The trip was ill-timed.  We got out at 10.10.

              Priddy Green.  Worked for an hour or so removing assorted stones ready for the next bang.  Sybil.

6th March.  Swildons to Sump I.  Geoff Mossman, Pat Irwin, Garth and Sybil.  Long wait above the forty and even longer wait on return journey due to other cavers.  Clinkered boots are fine for caving but hell on ladders.  Geoff and Garth out via Wet Way and it was!

12th March.  Eastwater.  Colin Knight, Trevor, George and Garth.  Trip to top of Twin Verticals.  Returned and went to top of Dolphin Pot.  Wandered around the bedding plane on way out.

              St. Cuthbert’s.  “Mo” and O.W.S.S. party.  Trip to sump via Cascade Chamber and Railway Tunnel.  Returned via the Cerberus Series.

13th March.  Longwood Swallet.  Colin Knight, Trevor, George and Pat Irwin plus two Wessex members did Longwood to Great Chamber and followed the stream until it became too tight.

19th March.  Swildons I.  Leader R. Roberts plus party of 5 B.C.S.S. members.  Collected insects in White Way.

              Goatchurch.  Beginners trip.  Leader Sybil and seven members of Kingston sub-aqua club.  Main entrance so many holes from Boulder Chamber that rocks seem to have grown in many new places since last trip 8 years ago.  Drainpipe for the very few.  Three ‘fatties’ caused much amusement in ‘Bloody Tight’.  Must go down again to inspect the numerous extra holes. Out via the tradesman’s entrance where each member was duly christened with dollop of face mud.

20th March.  Swildons.  Beginner’s trip to top of Forty and out via the Long Dry Way.  Frank Darbon and members of the Kingston sub-aqua club.

              Goatchurch.  Anthony O’Flaherty, Prew, and large party down small cave.  Little purpose was seen by some in thrutching through the Drainpipe only to have to return on discovering the dead end.  Prew’s guidance was appreciated.

26th March.  St. Cuthbert’s.  Bryan Ellis, Nigel and Pat Irwin.  Surveyed from Cascade Passage through Rabbit Warren to Dining Room including all side passages.  A satisfying trip from the surveyor’s point of view.

              Swildons.  Garth Dell, John Flook, and three bods from Leeds went to the Mud Sump but found the way on flooded.  Went on to Sump I and out.

              Heron Pot, Yorkshire.  Trip with small N.P.C./Liverpool U.M.C. party.  Not a large system but interesting sink to resurgence trip.  One flake removed would give a nice through trip. Roger Stenner.

27th March.  Cuthbert’s.  Leader B. Ellis.  Rapid trip to sump via Cerberus Series.  Much enjoyed. Even surveyors can get lost at times!

28th March.  Swildons.  M. Budd, A. Fincham.  Visit to inspect Sump I.  This was found to be functioning very well despite warning notice from Brecknock County Council to the effect that ‘Bathing is not advisable’.

2nd April.  Rod’s Pot & Read’s Cavern.  Garth Dell, Rowena, Richard Roberts, Caroline and 4 theological students.  Trip to bottom of Rods.  Changed in rain at cave entrance.  Walked to Reads in rain.

              Eastwater.  George Honey. The Dolphin Pot is very much shattered. The rest of the cave appears to be stable.

9th April.  Eastwater.  To Terminal Rift via Twin Verticals.  R.O’F, Roger Latimer and Terry King on a laddering trip.  This was the first vertical descent for Terry.  He survived.  Seems to thrive on them.  There is a rope belay at the first vertical.  It will probably be easier to take the rock belay out of the cave than untie the rope belay.  Rawlbolts embedded in rock are the thing.

              Swildons.  Frank Darbon, Terry King and Garth Dell caught up with M.N.R.C. chaps at the forty and continued down to Sump I.  Retuurned to have a look at Trat’s Temple and then out.  Fourth ladder pitch in twelve hours for Terry!

              St. Cuthbert’s.  R. Stenner with four Liverpool University M.C. members and Richard Roberts.  Tourist trip with many diversions for photography.  Enjoyed by all.

10th April.  St. Cuthbert’s.  Photographic trip with Kangy; John E. and John Attwood.  Water in Lake Chamber looks the right height to enable one to float into the passage opposite.

              Swildons.  Photographic and specimen collecting trip to lower series.  Richard Roberts and four.

16th April.  Swildons.  Roger Stenner and Tony Johnston.  Short trip to the forty owing to lighting troubles.

              Eastwater.  Party, Garth Dell, Richard Roberts. Bruce Lynn and Martin Longford.  Down to the top of Primrose Pot after begging an extra ten feet of ladder from the Shepton (thank you!)  Kit was “/-+: heavy.  Descended to the bottom of the pot in three stages leaving Bruce at the top of the “.’): tight squeeze because he was too big.  We all express real thanks to the thoughtful persons who fixed the horizontal bar and eye bolts in the rock.  On arrival at the bottom of the ladder, I found that the ladder was approximately 15 feet too short so finished the pitch on rope.  Whilst climbing back, snatches of vile songs floated down from the squeeze. On the way out, everyone was rather tired.  Note 3 out of 4 went all the way to the bottom.

              Swildons.  Trevor Knight, Norman Brooks.  Photographic Upper Swildons.  Rather wet but well worth it.

18th April.  Eastwater.  Terminal Rift via Twin Verticals.  Nigel Clarke, J. Coote, H. Williams, C. Llewellyn and R. Horton.  Started to go into Beechams Series but the approach of opening time stopped us.

              Swildons.  To Sump I, same party as above.

              Sandford Levvy.  Super Severe trip for the Stenner Family.  Roger, Daphne and Edwin.

              Eastwater.  Terminal Rift via Twin Verticals.  Leader Richard Roberts.

              Reads.  Rowena Lewis and David Kinsman.  General potter around.

              August-Longwood.  Rowena Lewis and David Kinsman.  Bottomed Longwood and August.  Comprehensive trip in Longwood.  Direct Route to water sink in stream passage in August Hole.  Water moderate.

              Swildons.  Sump I and Paradise Regained.  Water lower than Sunday.  Nigel Clarke.

18th August.  Hawkes Hole, Raider’s Rift and New Dig – East Devon.  Party, Sett, Alfie, Jill and Spike.  The party paid a visit to the E.D.S.G. meet at Eastleigh. All these caves are in or near Perry’s Quarry, and have to be approached via a back entrance to the quarry cos the owners don’t like cavers.  Sett, Alfie and Jill visited Hawkes Hole guided by Chris.  This is a small cave by Mendip standards, about half the size of Sidcot including 3 squeezes, some nice salmon pink stal and a bat.  Spike did a dicey climb up the active quarry face for about 40’ to the entrance to Raider’s Rift.  Jill went down it with some E.D.S.G. members and reports a very large entrance and a cave about the same length as Rod’s Pot.  It has a reasonably big main chamber and some bright red stal. Alfie and Jill finally went down the new dig at the east end of the quarry.  It might prove interesting.  R.A. Setterington.

23rd April.  Hunters Hole.  Ian Dear, George Honey and Jim Hill had a general look around and did a little work in Dear’s Ideal which still looks very promising.

30th April.  Black Hole Series – Swildons.  A trip to the second Boulder Ruckle.  Part of it fell nearby.  Carl and Roger Luttmer, A. O’F.  Started down 2 am and came out in the sunshine at 8 am.

              Eastwater.  Primrose Pot. Unsuccessful attempt.  Pam Russell and Pat Irwin the only people to get past the squeeze.  Got so far down and backside wedged firmly.  Peter Smith got further wedging his shoulders at the same point.  Roger Luttmer (42” chest) could not pass the squeeze entrance.  Other members became interested in the Hunters and went out.  Party A. O’Flaherty, Pat Irwin, Pam Russell, Peter Smith, Derek Edge, Ted Smith and R and C. Luttmer.

The Night We Heard The Wild Goose Cry

We always try to include an account of any rescue trip as soon as possible after the event.  Especially one which involves the press, so that members and others can receive a reasonable account of what really happened.  This one has been sent in by our M.R.O. Warden, Keith Gardner.

It is not unknown for false alarms to be sounded in the field of cave rescues but when the Trumpet of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, sounds the alarm, one might perhaps be excused for thinking that it is genuine.

About midday on Monday 2nd May 1960, the RMA at Sandhurst contacted the Somerset Constabulary with a request that they be put in touch with the M.R.O.  Two officers cadets were absent from the academy and it was thought that they had left on Saturday for a weekend’s caving on Mendip.

Howard Kenny, the first warden to be contacted, organised a surface check to see if any clothes or other gear had been left in such places as Maine’s Barn or near the entrances to some of the more popular caves.  When this search failed to produce any results; other parties, including local B.E.C. members, were sent from Wells to Swildons, Eastwater, Stoke Lane and other caves.  The Burrington caves were checked by the U.B.S.S. and the Axbridge Caving Group covered the western extremities of Mendip.

At 8 pm, the B.E.C. were alerted and an initial party of ten warned to stand by.  St. Cuthbert’s had been left open during Sunday and it was considered possible that the two men could have got in without anyone noticing.  Sandhurst gave little useful information in the matter and it was uncertain whether the two men, Barnard and Humble, were experienced or not.

At 1am, the alerted B.E.C. party was awakened and left for Priddy.  The only signs of activity to greet them were a number of police officers looking for Swildons with miniature searchlights.  Having assisted them, and with a growing party, K. Gardner joined B. Prewer and L. Devenish at Howard Kenny’s H.Q. in Wells.  A party consisting of A. Sandall, N. Petty, J. Stafford and R. King were despatched to St. Cuthbert’s, while G. Mossman waited in the Belfry for Ken Dawe and Derek Ford.  This party was to check the verticals in Eastwater.

With the large caves taken care of, H.Q. started to organise parties to check the numerous small swallets and at 5.30 am rang Spike Rees to wish him a bright and breezy “Good Morning”. Spikes reply was unprintable, but was no doubt similar to that he himself received on hammering at Sod ‘Obbs door a few minutes later.  Keith Gardner joined these at the Belfry with a police patrol car and with Dick Hartley, checked over a dozen small caves and some mineshafts between the Belfry and Chewton, radioing the results back to H.Q.

With Tuesday dawning bright and sunny, Anne Gardner got in touch with other B.E.C. members in and around Bristol and members of them, including our secretary, joined the parties at Priddy.  Some of the ex-Cuthbert’s team now centred their attentions on Ebbor, while a Sump IV team entered Swildons.  Support parties were waiting on call in Bristol.  Alfie had ten at the B.A.C. – while offers of help were coming in from our friends in Yorkshire, London, etc.

All over Mendip, every club was co-operating.  By 1pm, ninety of the most likely caves had been searched.  Police radios were humming with reports to and from the new H.Q. set up in Wells Police Station – the biggest ever Mendip Rescue search was on – with no results whatsoever.

Two potential officers from England’s finest O.C.T.U. had disappeared into this air.  Schoolboys could play truant; lesser soldiery desert; but officer cadets!  They would surely have the integrity to contact their unit if humanly possible if they were still alive….if….!

Meanwhile, at H.Q. reports were coming in that they had been seen everywhere from Land’s End to John O’Groats.  Even, said one rumour, in the Channel Islands. But everything had to be checked and so it was eventually learned that a Mrs. Le Masurier of St. Helier who knew Barnard, had seen him in the streets of that town, and had invited him to tea with his friend Humble of Sunday afternoon. At Sandhurst, it eventually transpired that neither of them had drawn caving kit – a fact that could surely have been asserted earlier – and that the suggestion that they had gone to Mendip had been based on the flimsiest of “evidence.” At 1.30 pm, the message was relayed. “Emergency over.”  M.R.O. stand down.

So all that energy – all that lost sleep – all that money was wasted on a wild goose chase.  But perhaps not altogether wasted.  For the first time, a full scale search of Mendip Caves had been made by the M.R.O.  Next time it might be genuine and lessons learned on May 2nd and 3rd may well save someone’s life.

Easter in Cornwall

By “Kangy” King

Roy Bennett and Geoff Mossman combined to hire a chariot of exceeding splendour and infinite capacity in which eleven of them hurtled through the night to Cornwall for Easter.  Numbers at the rendezvous, Porthgwarra, were increased to the unprecedented total of 15.5 by the arrival of Attwood and family, Kangy and Alan and Carol Sandall.

The aristocracy has recently caused to be erected at this cave large “Thou-shalt-not-camp-or-bring-Mossman-again” type notices.  These may be safely ignored as the land is not owned by the local lord, who only hopes to save the peasantry from what he considers to be bad sanitary arrangements. The notices did not engender a gay atmosphere when viewed from the flap of a tent and so the party adjourned to a farm near St. Ives containing the mostest barn it has ever been their pleasure to live in.  It was superb.  Long, large, light, clean and airy and never the sight of a rat.  Sandall has been congratulated and thanked and allowed to throw a few members from one to the other.

Living arrangements completed, recreation began.  The majority were intent on climbing on the sea cliffs.  Inactivity included sunbathing and photography – enjoyed by most, and not exploring tin mines – enjoyed by Norman Petty mostly.  The party got enthusiastically wet on the rainy first day, and sunburnt and fit doing climbs on the other days.  It was nice climbing on granite, which surprisingly required to be treated with care, as Bennett clutching teeteringly at a large loose lump of seagull enwhitened smelly seacliff can testify.

Mention must regrettably be made of an enterprising climb planned and executed by Bennett near Wicca Pillar.  A good looking route of about 800 feet making use of a natural line up a slab.  The climb starts at the right of the dirty black looking slabs behind the pillar.  The first leads to an open corner and belay 15’ horizontally from this corner is a ledge which easily leads to about twenty feet of open slab work, rising on the right to a chimney on the edge of the slab.  The step into the chimney is somewhat similar to the step across on knight’s climb at Cheddar.  Alan Bonner took a couple of photographs which show the route well. 

Attempts to climb at Land’s End were frustrated by the scenery – blonde, mostly.  Cornwall is beautiful at the edge.


The Silly Season.

As the last stencil for the June B.B. has come off the typewriter, this one has followed it.  We try, as a rule, to keep a certain balance, wherever possible, between serious and humorous articles in the B.B.  If this issue – like the, last one – finishes rather too much on the humorous side, we apologise to the more serious minded of our readers.


Old Inns of Bristol

Some time ago a select committee of B.E.C. members decided to conduct an investigation onto the hostelries of the city.  So much has happened during the last year or so around the central parts of Bristol that it was thought visiting members might waste valuable drinking time trying to visit some taverns which may no longer interest them.  For example, that ancient haunt of fiarios “The Rummer” is now a frightfully jolly establishment absolutely oozing with period pieces and historic bric-a-brac.

However, to the beginning of the tour.  The party met at the appointed hour in the upper bar of the Hatchet – that classical black and white timbered ale house in Denmark Street.  The lower bars appear to be somewhat proletariat in character and would not appeal to members except perhaps to those studying the more bizarre side of social anthropology.  The iron studded doors hide pimply faced adolescents with long hair, accompanied by a selection of bottle blondes for whom the prototype would probably be found in the Monroe-Mansfield group.  Upstairs, in the oak panelled lounge, the atmosphere was altogether different filled with gentlemen who – to judge from the walls – were so hard up that they would permit the ends of their old school ties to be removed for the price of a pint. It drips of the mess, chaps, after a jolly game of rugger – or was it hockey?

Leaving this delightful establishment, the party aimed itself in the general direction of the Rummer but one of the members became so stricken with the pangs of thirst on the way that the Drawbridge had to be visited.  Here was witnessed and interesting encounter between a ragged and unshaven gentleman and a barman.  The R. & U.G. was unsuccessfully trying to get a pale ale and a double rum with a pitiful collections of copper coins totalling 1/10½d which appeared to be poor old mans total assets – except for the large roll of crinkly greenbacks held in his grubby left paw out of sight of the barman.

Before venturing forth again, some thoroughly recommended cheese and salad mixture rolls were stuffed into the beer-holes of your select committee.  The Rummer – first licensed in 1241 – has recently set the vogue in steak bars, and amongst the many “smart” bars has an underground vault known as the Smuggler’s Bar.  The bar itself is a lifeboat and draught sherry barrels pour out their golden liquid ‘Shipped from Portugal to the port of Bristol by Bristol ships’.  How nice.

Next to the Rummer is another steak and stilton eatery and a large vault known simply as the Cellar. This has for some inexplicable reason a more genuine atmosphere than the snug ‘Smugglers’.  It is a large vaulted cellar, with a huge fireplace ornamented with muskets and cutlasses – one almost can expect to see Pepys or Sir Francis Dashwood descend the stone stair.  The only discordant note is the surfeit of pseudo-Spanish posters advertising jolly little sessions at some Plaza de Torros.  Viva el Bull!  Perhaps these should be tolerated for apart from draught Sherries they sell a very palatable draught Sauterne at 1/2 & 1/9 per glass which must be Spanish.  The Toby Bar on a higher floor supplies draught Chianti at 2/6 per carafe – about 8d per glass.

The evening ended on a discordant note in the Guildhall Tavern, where having complained about a greasy unwashed knife to the lady in charge, we were greeted with “What!  Five minutes to ten and you want a clean knife!”

                                    (Signed) G.Host, Inn Spectre.

Building a Belfry    Part Seven

(Those of you who are following this sordid epic will note that it tends to come out spasmodically – when we have nothing else to print.  The last episode appeared in the B.B. for March.

Meanwhile, what of the builders?  As the pile of building stone gradually accumulates a layer of moss, old motor bikes, caving gear, etc., do we find them just sitting idly by and doing nothing about it?  We do.

Gradually however, through the haze of tobacco smoke and the stew-fuddled minds of those concerned, an idea slowly seeps out.  Why not ask the local stonewalling expert for advice on the next move?  This is done, and after sorting out the relevant remarks from a mass of non-applicable data such as ‘sidle gently’ or ‘putting up between’ and back this ‘topping’, we arrive at the ghastly truth.

It appears that if we were very skilled – and it is forcibly pointed out to us that we are not – we could build the walls ‘only’ eighteen inches thick.  In our case, they would need to be at least two feet.  Furious calculation now shows that the enormous pile of stone we have collected will only be enough to build a chimney breast or possible a communal three-holer.

Once again, we sit round the stove, twiddling our thumbs with our minds in neutral.  Eventually someone speaks.  We will use concrete blocks eight inches thick and render the outside walls with cement (note how technical terms are beginning to creep in!)  Once this idea has percolated, we are all agog. We will use the stone for the end gables and have a full size Old-Fashioned-Mendip-Pub-Type-Fireplace in one of them.  At the other end of the hut we will have a small room for tackle.  The big room will be for changing in and storing caving gear. We will roof it with a gabled roof of corrugated asbestos to match all the other local houses.

While we are examining this plan for the inevitable snags, the prospective architect plays his master stroke.  With cunning expression he points out that, on suitable occasions, all the caving gear could be removed, a great fire lit in the O.F.M.P.T.F.; crates of the necessary stacked round the walls, and a damn nigh unbreakable, an amazing time could be had by all.  This dual purpose appealed instantly to the better nature of all present.  All that was now necessary was to obtain planning permission and conversations with the planning authority went something like this: -

B.E.C.: “We wish to put up a tackle hut made of concrete blocks with stone gables.  We feel sure that….”

P.A.:     “Hard luck!”

B.E.C.:  “Pardon?”

P.A.:     “Hard luck!”

B.E.C.:  “Why?”

P.A.:     “No concrete blocks.  Only natural stone.”

B.E.C.:   “We could pebble dash it with natural stone chippings.” (Note crafty use of technical terms.)

P.A.:      “No. The outside must be natural stone.”

B.E.C.   “(Thinking rapidly) “Did you say the outside?”

P.A.:     “Yes.”

B.E.C.:   “Then we could build the inside with blocks and the outside with stone?”

P.A.:     (Baffled) “Yes.”

At this stage, the B.E.C. became one up and the conversation gradually ascended to the roof.  It transpired, after cunning negotiation that we could have a corrugated asbestos roof provided it was concealed from the gaze of the ignorant by a suitable parapet.

Our consultant surveyor (Mr. Ifold) was next approached and after many threats was prevailed upon to prepare a plan.  This plan showed a building of hybrid construction which, with a bit of luck, should get future historians completely baffled.

A four page form was completed in triplicate (yes, it actually happens in real life) by the member who could write and was sent off with the plans.  We waited.  They came back passed!  A universal gloom spread over all of us as we realised that we should now have to leave the stove and actually build the place.


Since Roger Stenner wrote his original article on ‘The uses of a Barometer in Cave Surveying’, quite a bit of discussion has gone amongst the more scientific members of the club. We now publish Roger’s latest memo on the subject and a reply by our Scientific Adviser.

Roger writes: a physicist in the N.P.C. reckons by his calculations that a shaft fifty feet high with a waterfall occupying 0.1% of the volume would give a reading out by 50ft, and suggested several pot in Yorkshire where the writer would be well above the 0.1% even in dry conditions.  I tried to get his reasons and he said something about the compressive effect of falling water.  I couldn’t understand the whole of his reasoning which I thought depended on statistics, and would only have an effect when water reached terminal velocity, but he may have something else in mind.  I did however, have a go at winds through an aperture, and having got dug into it, I’ve got something which seems to be reasonable.

Assume limits of pressure change (small) the air is not compressed.  Now consider a restriction of cross sectional area A, length S and a difference of pressure across the aperture of DP.

Assuming a plane front, a mass of air moves across the aperture accelerated from zero velocity to a velocity V along the disturbance S in time t.

If the front of air travels the distance S in time t, the volume of air moved will be AS.

Thus the mass of air moved in time t will be ASr where r is the density of the air.

The force causing the air to move will be F=ma=ASra where a is the acceleration of the mass of air.

But V=at and thus a=V/t

Also S=tV/2

Thus 1/t=V/2S and a=V2/2S

Therefore F=AV2r/2 and dP=rV2/2

A dimensional check on this equation gives a correct result.

Taking a rough value of air density of 0.0013 gm/cc and a wind of 4mph or about 200 cm/sec dP becomes approximately equal to 28 dynes/  I realise that this neglects viscosity and compressibility of air, but it can’t be too far out, unless I’ve got the figures wrong or forgotten something else.

This result as it stands would mean that barometric readings would be seriously disturbed by such a draught, to say nothing of the waterfall effect mentioned earlier.  Our tame scientific adviser has not commented on the waterfall effect, feeling that the information given was not definite enough.  He has, however, sent us in the following about the effect of draughts: -

Let us consider, for arguments sake, a tunnel 2ft in diameter and 10ft long.  This is intended to approximate roughly to the Wind Tunnel in Eastwater.  It is appreciated that longer and narrower tunnels exist, such as the Drainpipe in Goatchurch, but the Wind Tunnel is notorious for the draught which often exists there.  The previous author’s calculation for a 10ft (300cm) tunnel gives a change in pressure of 300x28 dynes.  This is equal to 8.4mb.  Under cave conditions, this corresponds roughly to a change in altitude of 310ft which would amount to a gross error in surveying at a wind velocity of only 4 mph and would probably make you ears ‘pop’.  As the wind velocity through the Wind Tunnel is often appreciably higher than 4 mph, we would certainly have heard ears popping and probably burst eardrums if these calculations were correct.  In fact, investigation shows that the previous author has calculated the pressure drop to produce an acceleration of 4 mph/sec and not the pressure drop required to maintain a steady wind velocity of 4 mph.

It is unlikely that the B.E.C. will ever be rich enough to own a sensitive barometer of its own, and it is virtually impossible that it will ever have two, therefore, with one borrowed instrument, it is wise to choose conditions of atmospheric stability, so that small changes in external barometric pressure can be corrected on the assumption of a linear rate of change with time.

The “Machinery’s Handbook” gives a formula and a set of tables for pressure drop in pipes under steady state conditions and we find from the table that the pressure drop for a velocity of 600ft/sec on our tunnel is 0.0017 ounces/ which cab be translated as an error in height of 2½ inches for a wind of 7 mph.

Apart from the initial assumption of a “standard” tunnel, we have merely proceeded via tables and a little arithmetic to a result which shows that a 7 mph draught can be neglected for all practical purposes.  We must now consider two other factors.  Is a wind of 7 mph high or low for the real Wind Tunnel in Eastwater? And is it reasonable to assume that the real Wind Tunnel is as smooth as a metal air pipe? We feel that in many places underground and that even if the roughness of the cave wall introduces a factor of two or three, this is still only an error of about 6 inches.

Editor’s Note:    It would appear that the use of a single, accurate barometer: provided sensible precautions are taken, has still not been shown to lead to significant errors in cave surveying.  We should be interested to hear from any readers on this subject, as a new type of accurate pressure measuring device will shortly be available, and there is a possibility of borrowing such a device for cave surveying.