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Spring Dance

The Social Committee of the B.E.C. announce that a Spring Dance will be held in ST. MATTHEW’S CHURCH HALL, REDFIELD, BRISTOL, on FRIDAY, APRIL 14th. from 7.30 to 16.30, Tickets, price 2/6 are obtainable from Hon. Sec., A.C. Johnson, Miss Pam Richards, Johnny Pain, and Johnny Bindon. The success of this dance depends on the efforts of ALL, and we ask all members to make an effort to sell tickets. Each member's efforts will be reflected in the result, so let us make an all-out effort.

There is one point of difference between this dance and the last one. There will be no re-admission for anyone after 9.45, even club members.

All profits will be devoted to the Hut Fund.

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We are please top announce that two more Club members have taken the awful step!! Congratulations to Henry Shelton and to Bobbie Bagshaw who have both recently announced their engagements.

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We are now in a position to supply members with carbide at 9d. a pound. Please bring your own tin. This cannot, of course, be sent by post. By the way, the prices quoted for lamps, etc., are ‘collect’ prices. Please add postage if delivery is wanted.

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Anyone who wishes to fill in a Saturday on Mendip, get in touch with Hal Perry, who is always willing to organise a ‘last minute’ trip. You can contact him on Thursdays, or at 20, Northfield Ave., Hanham, Bristol

South Devon Episode.

Being a few brief notes culled from sundry sources on a trip to uncivilised parts on the last weekend in Feb.

Four M/Cs travelled down on Friday night together with John Pain and John (Menace) Morris in the latter’s car loaded with kit. They arrived at the ‘Jolly Sailor’ Teignmouth just before closing time, after a very wet journey. The sleeping arrangements were rather staggering to the usual Belfry Types. Through the kindness of Mrs. Morris four bods had the unusual luxury of sleeping between clean sheets for the weekend. The others were comfortably ensconced in fug-bags about the house. It is to be noted that Mr. Morris made sure that the Bar Door was securely locked before turning in. Breakfast was taken in style at a café across the road.

After the usual M/C repair session the party started out for Bakers Pits at Buckfastleigh, where a happy and muddy time was had by all. (I am given to understand that the caving reports will be arriving in the form of another article in a few days. Ed.) George was the star performer of the day, winning a suitable prize for crawling backwards up a dirty 45 degree drainpipe.

The party then returned by ones and twos to T’mouth, some to fry eggs and sausages all over Mrs. Morris’ gas stove, others to advise. They found Pam Richards and Tony Johnson well entrenched in front of a roaring fire having had a very wet journey down by M/C. Tony reports that he acted as a human spark-plug most of the time, when his ht lead got wet. In the evening after the gathering of the clans, visits were paid to the local high spots. Many and various were the songs sung until a late hour, when all trooped off to get some shut-eye.

Next morning came too soon, but what a morning, just like summer. The most amazing part of the trip was that more than half of the party were to be seen walking along the beach soon after 9 o’clock. Unfortunately, a carefully laid plan to fetch Pam & Marlene (John Morris’ sister) out of bed at an unearthly hour ran adrift for we heard nothing of it; still, better luck next time.

After another filling breakfast a move was made towards Torquay. The convoy set off round the coast road, but a diversion up a precipice known as Squeeze Belly Lane caused a bit of excitement although John M. stalled the car’s engine.

After a short stop by the harbour during which some of our climbing brethren did some natty traverses round the end of the jetty on a two inch ledge. (Would they have been so keen if they knew there was a 30’ depth of water below them?). The next stop was on the marine drive from where the party walked to Anstey’s Cove. Here everyone tried to outdo each other in deft antics, some heavy waves adding to the fun. From here to ’s cavern and then a return to Teignmouth, from where a start home was made at about 6.00.

One member had a blow-out by Star Cross. Six stayed to cope with it and the others pressed on. After many mendings and pinchings they gave up and bought a new tube. Whilst this was going on, a fry of Bacon and Eggs and Sausages were made on the top of the petrol tanks of the local garage where operations were conducted.

All at various time had a most welcome cup of hot coffee at Sett's house in Taunton for it was a very cold night.

All members who went south are very grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Morris for all the trouble they took to make our weekend so successful. Everyone who went agreed that is was as good as weekend as they had ever spent. One again, thank you ‘Jolly Sailor’. We all hope we shall see more of you.

List of Members 1950. No.1

T.H. Stanbury, Hon. Sec. 74. Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
D.H. Hassell, 1. Stoke Hill Cottage, Chew Stoke, Somt.
R. Wallace 32. Springleaze, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
J.V. Morris Ye Olde jolly Sailor Inn, Teigmouth, Devon
S.C.W. Herman 34. Jubilee Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
R.J. Bagshaw 11. Hillcrest, Knowle, Bristol. 4. (Life Member)
G.H. Fern 29. Kinsale Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
L. Peters 21. Melbury Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
J.C.W. Weekes 376. Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
R. Woodbridge 384. Wells Road, Bristol. 4.
A.E. Baxter 92. Baywatch Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
E. Knight 48. Grafton Street, St. Philips Marsh, Bristol
R. Brain 10. Weston Ave., Cossham Road, St. George, Bristol. 5.
Mrs. I.M. Stanbury 74, Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
C.H. Kenney 5. Vicars Close, Wells, Somt.
A.C. Johnson 48. The Crescent, Henleaze, Bristol. 66478

These list appear for the information of members, so that they can contact those who live near them.

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Today we welcome an old friend, Andre Constantine Anastasiou better known as just, Andre, has sent us the following drawings. These reproduced are, of course, tracings, but they make a welcome change.

Thanks a lot Andre, lets be having some more. For the newcomers who have not had the pleasure of meeting Mad Andre, he is a bearded joyful type who has emigrated to the He is a fine cartoonist and several books of his drawings on caves exist. Some, alas have been Swiped by the unscrupulous, but several remain intact.

We still need articles for the BB, having received only ONE since the last issue. Come on chaps. Cough up! and so save the Editor going completely grey!


The Programme.

All members will, by now have received their Programme Cards for the coming Three Months; these are only a few of the trips to be undertaken by the club during that time. Other trips, organised by members or groups of members will take place almost every weekend, and it is to your advantage to attend the Thursday Meetings and also to go to the Belfry at weekends so that you may know of these trips. Members will appreciate the utter impossibility of running a three months programme where every weekend is filled, as although many members can guarantee to lead a trip once or twice during this period, they could not of course tell if circumstances would prevent them if they volunteered more often. We should be very pleased to hear from anyone who would care to lead parties during the three months of June, July and August. Just send in your name and date you can manage, the name of the Cave (or Climb) and the time to Frank Young, whose address you will find at the end of this BB.

Sales Service

We have been fortunate to obtain a small number of water-tight steel boxes size 9” x 4½” x 2½”. They have a carrying handle, and are rubber gasketted. They would be ideal for cameras, etc. and we are selling them at the colossal price of 1/6 each. First come, first served.

We also have for sale: -

Club Bats printed on calico, for caving Clothes, at 3d. each; Huwood Helmets, Cromwell Helmets, Premier Lamps and spare parts for same, Carbide containers for Premier Lamps complete with screw cap for carrying a spare charge of carbide easily; Prickers for Premier Lamps. We can also supply members camping and caving wants at reasonable prices, send in your ‘wants list’ to frank Young.

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Visitors to London are ensured of a welcome at John Shorthose’s. Give him a ring; BALham 7545 is the number, the address is below.

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Articles for the BB are still in urgent need. PLEASE tell us about your trips and excursions. The Hon. Sec. says that his well of effort is almost exhausted. (Loud cheers from all!!)

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T.H. Stanbury, Hon. Sec. 74, Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
F.W. Young, Hon. Assist. Sec., The Barton, Stanton drew, Nr. Bristol
W.J. Shorthose, Hon. Sec., L.S., 26, Gateside Road, Upper Tooting, S.W. 17.
A.M. Innes, Hon. Librarian. 246, Filton Ave., Horfield, Bristol. 7.

Personal

Congratulations to Johhny Pain and Miss Pam Richards on their recent engagement. You’re a lucky guy, John.

Future Programmes

At a recent Committee meeting it was decided that the following members would be responsible for the arranging of trips and the distribution of the Programme Cards:- F. Young, J.C. Weekes, R. Cantle, R.J. Bagshaw, and K. Dobbs. If you have any ideas for trips contact any of the above or send them to F. Young, whose address will be found at the end of this BB.

Poem

It’s a long time since the poets of the Club did their stuff !! If this should be called poetry the Editor hasn’t a clue, but, here, for what its worth is an Epic entitled:-

Binder.

Binder, which makes the Caver wise,

And fit for holes of every size,

Is that delicious brew that Sett transmutes,

From water, paraffin and cavers’ boots;

That hateful liquor, with its gruesome hue

Ruins the taste and turns red Litmus blue.

Anon.

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A very Happy New Year and a good year’s Caving to our members and friends all over the world.

Redcliffe Caves by. R. Brain.

Mr Harford the owner of Redcliffe Wharf prior to their purchase by the railways, said that the caverns were well known to him, and he has explored them to an immense distance. He said that they had been used at an early period for smuggling, and worse purposes, i.e., hiding kidnapped people for slave dealing. He believed they had been originally dug for sand pits.

In 1812 the owner of some adjoining property, Mr Thomas King, claimed the portion of the caves under his land, and built a wall to separate the estates.

A door in one of the sheds of the waterside depot led to an outer tunnel from which, after a short distance, other passages were seen to branch off.

On the occasion of the visit in 1906, taking a turning to the right, a series of ramifications were met, with galleries forking off from each other with apparently no set design. As they were about seven feet in height, they afforded ample room, but many were filled to the roof with barrels of oil. At points the visitor could see four or more tunnels branching off from that in which he was standing.

Having turned newly back to the entrance, a second set of excavations (rather nearer Bristol Bridge than the first set) was seen. They varied from the other in that the excavation had been carried out more systematically, so as to cut away all the rock except the portion left to form the great natural columns supporting the roof.

In one part of the caves, there is one compartment octagonal in form, 45 ft in diameter and seven feet high. The roof is supported on eight columns at equal distances, and a ninth in the centre has a well bored through it, (no doubt some BEC types will remember this from a previous visit). To reach this section turn to the left into a tunnel leading off the main gallery, just after leaving the entrance.

In late 1695, 120 Dutch Naval Seamen were brought to Redcliffe and imprisoned either in the crypt of St Mary Redcliffe, or, according to Latimer, in the caves, and were transferred in April of the following year to Chepstow Castle. The only record of this event is a corporation account for supplying a bed of straw and fifty bed mats for their use.

This information was gleaned from a book published in 1909 by the Western Daily Press called “Bristol as it was and as it is”, and is comprised of articles from the Daily Press published around the turn of the Century and earlier.

Although there is still no definite news of the starting date for work in Redcliffe, negotiations are still proceeding between ourselves, the Bristol Corporation and the Railway Executive, and we hope to be able to make an announcement very shortly.

T.H.S.

Bristol Explorers Club

Has anyone any information about the Bristol Explorers Club? This organisation is nothing to do with Bristol Exploration Club, and has apparently been recently formed, and anyone with any information is asked to contact the Hon Sec..

Another Episode in the Precarious Life of:- The Menace
Climbing in Cheddar by J .V. Morris

Before going into the description of the climbing, I would like to offer a few words of advice.

I take it most of you know the meaning of the terms “pitch”, “Belay”, “Stance”, etc, as they are all used in caving. The cliffs of Cheddar are not very suitable for rock climbing; The strata runs the wrong way, producing an overlapping boiler-plate slab structure. Many of the cracks and chimneys and ledges have weathered off to a rounded form, calling for delicate climbing. The sharp edges, flakes, etc., should be treated with caution as they are generally rotten.

The fact that a lot of the holds are loose is only of secondary importance. Even a loose hold if treated the correct way, that is, with a steady downward pull, is quite safe. This does not of course apply to all holds.

Some of the harder climbs consist of tricky cracks and mantle shelves which require “handjams” and “press-ups”, and other advanced techniques.

On the whole the climbing in Cheddar is either “Difficult”, or “Very Severe “ with not much in between.

The Climbs.

Starting at the bottom and of the Gorge on the highest side.

No,l. The Knight’s Climb

This starts from just above the charabanc park. Walk up to the big grassy Terrace and a fairly deep chimney will be seen.

Pitch 1. 50 feet, Climb the chimney by bridging until about 10 feet from the top, then climb its loose right wall to a tree belay and grass ledge.

Pitch 2. 60 feet Climb this similar chimney, the top outside wall of which is a pinnacle. A rather awkward movement is made to get out of the chimney on to the pinnacle. This is rather exposed and loose but a good belay and stance is found on top.

Pitch 3 Length ?, The next move is rather sensational and rather tricky, but quite safe. Stand on a small hold on the pinnacle. Step across the top of the chimney on to the wall. Up the wall on small awkwardly placed holds to easy rocks, scrabbling to the top.

This climb was first done by The Climbing Club and owing to its rather zig-zag nature was named after a move in chess. The standard is probably “Difficult” but the last part of pitch 2 and pitch 3 is “Very Difficult”.

Next walk along the top to the exit of the Greay Gully, This is no more than a muddy scramble and it’s the best way off the cliffs. Descend Greay Gully for about 150 feet and on the left wall will be seen a clean buttress.

There are two routes on this; One consists of a traverse up the wall which bounds the Gully. Then up a little chimney to a good stance. A continuation of the chimney, very shallow, can be followed to the top, Standard Moderate, or straight up the w all. Very Difficult, exposed and rather trying.

The other route is up the face of the buttress. It is Very Severe and not to be recommended.

From the top, walk along until a peculiar pinnacle with a hole through it is seen. On this are two climbs: Digramers and Thisbe, (this is the only way of translating brother Morris’s writing. Ed.)

Digramers

The first starts with an upward traverse to a chimney formed by the hole. On the left up the chimney and through the hole finishing by a chimney the other side.

Thisbe

The other follows the chimney on the right side, or harder up a line of slabs. They are both about Difficult Standard, with the right-hand one the harder.

On the right of the pinnacle are two Aretes. The first is climbed up the left wall until the unsound nature of the rock forces one out onto the edge of the arete. A fairly clean finish is made to the top. Standard Difficult, Rather bad rock. The Second is climbed by the obvious and impossible looking narrow curving crack on its left wall. A tricky exit is made on to the face of the arete and a direct line taken to the top. Standard, Hard Very Difficult, steep and exposed. Good Rock.

Between this and the Greay Gully is a new route called Gates of Babylon. Standard, Severe, which I have not done yet.

As you can see, most of the routes start from the upper terrace where the rock is most weathered. The lower part o f the cliff is too overhanging and has too much vegetation.

I hope that this rough guide will be of some use. Great care should be taken by the way not to dislodge stones on to the road.

By taking care and using all possible belays it will be found that the climbing in Cheddar is not as dangerous as many people imagine.

Personal,

As reported from our roving London Reporter :-

“Alfie and Jean Collins have provided themselves with a bouncing daughter on 19/12/49. Mother and infant are progressing very well.“

Congratulations to you both, Can we send you a Membership application form for her??

Caving in the Pyrenees. No 2, Grotte de Gargas. By Iris and Harry Stanbury

You will remember that last month’s BB I threatened to inflict you with more episodes from our holiday. Last month by Error I omitted the “Better Half‘s” name. As those notes are compiled from her diary it is only fair that she should share in the title.

Upon reaching the Pyrenees our first call was at the house of Norbert Casteret, who gave us a splendid welcome. He took us up to his “study-cum-workroom” at the top of the house and we were able to see the wonderful collection that he has there. The choicest formations from Cigalere, a wonderful collection of books, maps and drawings; equipment of various sorts, bats, and a host of other interesting things.

From here we set out for the Grotte de Gargas, stopping on route for lunch, at a small town called Montrejeau. A short drive from Montrejeau along a side road brought us to the Cave which is situated in the foothills. Like most similar places, the cave was a show one and a small generator set was chugging away at the entrance. Here also was a small stall where we bought our tickets for the cave and also post cards of the interior.

Casteret then led the way to an archway with a door, and, unlocking it he led us into the cave. The entrance was comparable to that of Wookey Hole for size, and immediately inside the entrance the cave opened out into a large chamber with a unique flat roof.

This roof reminded me greatly of the freestone workings at Bath, and I have never before seen such an “artificial looking” ceiling to a cave. The walls, with their thick coloured deposits, of course reminded us that the place was natural, and we followed Casteret over duck boards further into it. The entrance chamber has yielded bones of Cave Bear, but the main wonder (we hasten to assure those who are picking up their pens to complain about the French pun, that it is unintentional) of Gargas is of course the hand prints.

Casteret told us that there were about two hundred of these prints, some made by covering the hand with colour, and placing it on the wall and others by painting around the hand instead. Most of the hands that made the prints were mutilated, the theory being that the owner suffered a mutilation every time he was bereaved. Some of the prints were those of children and some had only the stumps of all the fingers remaining. In one place there were pre-historic engravings and paintings, and although we saw vague marks and scratches, we could not, personally, make head or tail of them. How different those were to those of Niaux, the proximity of the entrance doubtless having the effect of causing the paintings to fade due to variations in temperature, humidity etc.

Beyond the “Room of the Bears” as the entrance chamber was called, and which contained a very fair stalagmite like a kneeling camel, there were abundant formations, some of which were very beautiful.

Only a small portion of the cave is now open to the public. During the war years the wooden stairways and electric lighting have rotted away. Rotted is the right word, Casteret took us up stairways that shuddered and shook, along duck-boards that crumbled and down places where there were only the remnants of ladders.

The Inner Series and the Salle Casteret are reached through an excavation in a very deep infilling. The head-room above this filling is in places was only inches, with the cutting deep enough to give head room for visitors. The Salle Casteret is a fair sized chamber (by Mendip Standards), that falls away into a deep pit in one corner. Visitors used to be able to climb down on to a boulder at the edge of the drop, but this was not possible when we were there, as the ladders were so bad that there was only a crumbling outline of what once had been a staircase. At the entrance to this chamber was a very fine curtain, pure white against the darker background, and in the Salle itself there were some good stalagmites.

We returned along the route followed on the inward journey, up the crumbling staircases, and through the cutting in the infilling, to the main chamber, reaching daylight by a different route, gaining access to the open air through a door much higher up the hillside. We returned down a steep path to the cars and then returned to The Casteret Home at St. Gaudens.

Our route was different to that taken on the outward journey, and we passed through the ancient village of St. Bertrand-de Comminges. Here we could see the remains of the Roman settlement there, but the name of the village was sufficinet proof of its age, the province of Comminges not being In existence for some considerable time.

Crossing the Garonne, we reached St. Gaudens shortly afterwards and here said goodbye to M. Casteret and his daughter, who shook hands with everyone and wished us all the best of luck during our stay in the mountains.

Club Loss

Since out last issue the club has suffered a loss. Mrs. Betty (Iln) Corpe passed away at Webbington House, Loxton on Dec. 19th.

She will be greatly missed by all thos who knew her, especially those who use the Belfry often, as she was a frequent vistor there.

Carbide Spares

For those members with Acetylene lamps there is a new spare part available. We can supply new carbide containers complete with a spare cap so that a charge of carbide can be very easily carried. These cost 2/3 complete with cap.

AGM note

Although this issue will reach you after or about the date of the AGM you will appreciate that it is not possible to include a report as the editorial wheels gring exceeding slow, A detailed report will be included in the next issue.

Report of Annual General Meeting 1949.

The AGM for 1949 was held at Redcatch Road Co-operative Hall, Bristol on Saturday, 14th. January 1950, there being present 36 members.

The following is a brief precis of the meeting:-

1. Mr D.H. Hasell was elected as Chairman for the meeting.

2. Hon Sec. read the minutes of the 1948 AGM

3. Hon Sec’s Report for 1949. He-said that on Dec 31st the club membership was 120 of which 48 were new members. We had during the year unfortunately lost 25 members, the majority of which had been forces members. He explained that this was the first year that forces members had to “rebook” their membership which would account for the large number of defaulters, as some of these had not been heard of for some considerable time. He touched on the Trip to Valence, and reported that the Stoke Lane Survey was complete as far as the Sump. The Climbing section was progressing and had had one very successful trip to N. Wales. Other points mentioned were the number of lectures given to outside organisations, the work at Cross Swallet and the staggering number of caving trips undertaken during the year.

4. Mr. Geoff Ridyard gave a report on the London Section. He said that regular meetings had been arranged in Tooting, that excursions had been arranged to Swallow Holes in Herts, climbing trips had been organised, and that a very fine week had been spent on Mendip. He said that another Mendip week was being arranged and that he had brought a copy of the S/L survery for examination.

5. Mr Setterington as hut warden gave the Annual Belfry report, he said that during the last year there had been a lot of work done at the huts. He gave a resume of the progress made and said that over August Bank Holiday over 30 different persons slept there. Over 1,000 men-nights had been spent there during the year. A calor-gas cooker had been purchased and there were now three good primusses available.

6. The financial report was read. This has been circulated to every member. It was proposed by R.M. Wallis and sec by G. Ridyard that the reports be adopted.

7. The list of Basic Committee for 1949 was read this is :-
Hon Sec & Treas TH Stanbury
Hon Hut Warden RA Setterington
Hon Librarian AM Innes
DH Hassell
JC Weekes,

8. The proposal that “the committee be increased to 9 members, and should include one lady member to represent the ladies, and one member to represent the London Section. The other two new committee members being a Tackle Officer and an Assist. Lon. Sec.” Was carried.

9. The second part “If the motion be carried that an election for these posts be held on the spot” was discussed and three different proposals were made. After the withdrawal of one of these the original proposal was carried by eighteen votes to 14.
Nominations were then called for and the following were nominated:-
Ladies Miss Sybil Bowden-Lyle & Miss Jill Rollason
Tackle Officer G.T. Lucy; R Cantle; A.C. Johnson
Asst. Hon Sec A.C. Johnson; F Young, R.J. Bagshaw
When voting took place Miss Bowden-Lyle was elected as lady member by 19 votes to 11,
F Young was elected Asst. Hon Sec. with 25 votes.
G.T. Lucy was elected Tackle Officer with 19 votes.
The Hon Sec was directed to ask the London Section to consider the matter of Committee at their earliest convenience.

9b. The motion of A.C. Johnson re the new belfry comittee as stated in the Agenda was defeated.
It was proposed by H. Shelton and sec. by R. Brain that the whole business of Belfry Committee be left to the General Committee. This was carried.

9c. A proposal by A.C. Johnson “there shall be at least 7 members present before a committee meeting can be held” was withdrawn. R. Woodbridge proposed that this be amended to read 15 members and not 7 as in the withdrawn proposal. This was sec by R. Brain and carried.

10. It was proposed by T.H. Stanbury that a Chairman be elected annually to preside when necessary. This was sec by J. Steer & carried.

11. It was proposed by T.H. Stanbury that “and Extra-Ordinary General Meeting can be called within one month, by submitting a request in writing signed by as least 15 members, to the Hon. Sec.” this was sec by H Perry.
An amendment by R.A. Setterington and sec by Miss Richards, proposed that 15 per cent be inserted instead of 15 persons. When voted on, the original proposal by T.H. Stanbury was carried.

12. A proposal that in Rule 5 be inserted ”Subscription for Life Members to be £5/5/-“ by T.H. Stanbury was sec by R.M. Wallis and carried.

13. It was proposed by R.J. Bagshaw that the club take advantage of the Scientific Societies Act, which would make the Belfry exempt from rates. This was sec by G.T. Lucy. Mr Bagshaw explained the Act and it was agreed that the Committee revise the rules as necessary so that the constitution of the Club would conform to the conditions laid down. So that if required advantage could be taken of it.

14. It was proposed by R. Cantle and sec by J. Bindon

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The Magnetism of Caving and Climbing, with special reference to the BEC. by Observer

Caves and cliffs are like magnets - they either attract or repel! The investigator either shuns them after his first visit or gets bitten by the germ of enthusiasm which is almost impossible to cure.

Persons of all ages, from all walks of life are attracted, chemists, clerks, engineers, students, very few trades or professions have members who are not interested in this “Kin Of Sports” in one form or another.

What is the reason for this strange fascination? It may be any one (or more) of quite a considerable number of things. In the case of the B.E.C. - The club itself has such a varied appeal that a person would have to be dull or extremely narrow-minded not to find amongst the many different paths to be trodden, one that would suit his own temperament and desires.

To enumerate a few :-

1. Caving itself can be subdivided into very many headings - sporting caving; digging in and for caves; surveying; photographing; biological and archaeological work to name only a few.

2. Archaeological and antiquarian work other than in caves. –This gives those members who so desire, the opportunities, (although, alas, few), of adding to the knowledge of the past.

3. Rock-climbing, which is indulged in by a growing number of our members, is a sport, (and a very exact one, too) that requires steady hands and nerves and like caving an absolute trust in one’s companions.

4. On the social side, many members enjoy the free and easy and easy meetings both during the week and especially at the Belfry. For those who like a friendly pint at the Hunters Lodge or other hostelry, or those, who do not partake of the “strong waters”, there is an equal welcome. - A friendly hand is outstretched to all, irrespective of age or status, and this can doubtless be regarded as one of the main reasons for the strange “magnetism” that we as club members find so noticeable.

Of course, like every large organisation, many different temperaments can be found, but we as a club have always been free from those “rifts in the lute” that so frequently seem to split other organisations of a similar nature. Why is this? The writer believes that it is due to the intimacy and understanding between all the members, which has always been a basic point in the unwritten code of Club conduct.

Let us always be sure, therefore, that our club, the BEC shall not only keep its place amongst the foremost clubs of England, but shall be an outstanding example of that Club spirit and co-operation for which we have for so long been noted.

Caving Programme

In accordance with the decision taken at the AGM, the Caving programme will not in future be printed here in the BB. Each member will receive a card for his pocket with the trips for the next three months in it. This is a reversion to the system in use a few years ago. The cards are awaited from the printers and will be distributed to each member when they arrive. Until you receive them, turn up on Thursdays at St Matthew’s Hall or at the Weekend at the Belfry – there is usually a trip of some sort being run.

Editor’s Note

The Editor thanks all those who have so nobly responded to his call for material for the BB, but would remind members that the rate of usage exceeds that of receipt, so churn up your horrible part and let us know about it.

From the Hon. Sec’s. Post Bag:-

From Pongo Wallis, Caving in North Wales

------ Last weekend I went out having a look at some North Wales caves.- Ones in the region of Nidd in Flintshire, near the village of Maeshafn. It is wonderful limestone country and rather unexpectedly heavily wooded. Very few of the holes are named which makes identification awkward. I had a look at one normally called “Maeshafn Cave”. It starts off as a fine passage, about 4-6 ft wide and 10-12 feet high, with a lot of dripstone - but as is so common in that region, it is all dead and so looks very poor. After about 150 feet or so, a mine passage leads off, and the rest of the cave is filled with the spoil from the mining. A band of unknown heroes has cleared the top part of the passage for a very considerable distance so that one can penetrate further than one could a year ago, though progress is slow and painful. It really is an amazing effort at digging, as they have just about doubled the length of the cave. My party had a sporadic effort at continuing the good work, for the cave still goes on, but unfortunately we didn’t get far enough to be able to go on ourselves.

After this we went on to the hamlet of Pothole, where there are a number of mines and shafts - some very deep. We went down one mine, which was a straight passage - still with the rails in place for a lot of the way, connecting up a series of natural caves.

The mine passages in themselves were dull and formed caving in comfort - strolling along with one’s hands in one’s pockets. There were however several things of interest. Firstly some extremely good calcite veins with large crystals. Unfortunately, we had nothing with which to get any out.

Page 32/6 – To Do

The Club Dance

The Club Dance, held on October 21st at St. Matthew’s Hall, Redfield, was an unqualified success. Congratulations are the order of the day all round. To Pam and her band of stalwarts who did the arrangements, and to those who gave refreshments and officiated over boiler and washtub in the kitchen. The combined efforts of all, gave those who attended a really fine evenings entertainment. The cry now is “Let‘s have another one”. As a result of this dance the sum of £15/2/3 has been paid into the Hut Fund account.

T.H.S.

Christmas Cards and Calendars

You will remember that last year we were able to offer members Xmas Cards. This year in addition to the cards (of which there are eight different designs), you can obtain (also in any one of Eight designs) a mounted calendar of picture size 8 x 5½ on a mount 12 x 9½ inches.

These are being sold at 6d each the postcards and 2/6 each the calendars. The cards all have “With the season’s Greetings” across the bottom. The following are the eight photographs from which you can choose:-

a.         The Throne Room, Stoke Lane Swallet.

b.                   Fluted Column, Stoke Lane Swallet.

c.                   Queen Victoria and Page, Stoke Lane Swallet.

d.                   Harvard Plane in Flight (Tim Kendrick’s kite).

e.                   Queen Victoria, Stoke Lane Swallet.

f.                     The Bone Chamber, Stoke Lane Swallet.

g.                   The New Belfry being erected.

h.                   The Planners at work. Coase and Ridyard get down to it.

All orders to Hon Sec as soon as possible please. A percentage of the cost of each is going to the club funds. John Shorthose is churning these calendars and cards out so thanks a lot John.

News Flash by Dicky-bird Special

What two B.EC members went snogging in the entrance to GB a few weeks ago? I know, Do you????

Ivor Sawrem,

Thanks Squire for the Spuds. A lofty gift from a - - - - - -Person and to Mrs Corpe for the Blankets and Eiderdown.

J.N.B.

News from the London Section

The L.S. had a meeting a couple of weeks ago, and last Sunday we investigated a rumour about some holes near Merstham, Surrey. Unfortunately it rained like it does on Mendip and we drew somewhat of a blank. The holes had definitely been filled in, although we got reports confirming that we had found the right spot. Quite the usual story, actually somebody‘s drive falling in during the night and so on.

We shall be doing something pretty soon, unless we start on a real winter of floods. We see a report about an underground chamber in the chalk at Godmersham, , and that might be worth looking at.

W.J.S.

Caves in the Pyrenees Nol, Niaux, by T.H, Stanbury.

As most of you know my wife and I, had a very enjoyable holiday this year in . We visited various caves and many well known beauty spots, and I am going to write a series of articles, each devoted to one cave. This then the first, is about the Cave at Niaux.

Niaux is situated a short distance from Tarascon-sur-Ariege and is a small village situated on a road that further up the valley peters out under the Pyrenean peaks. In our party was Win Hooper, Pat Cahill, Trevor Shaw and John Hampton all of the W.C.C..

We met our guide at the foot of the path leading to the cave. He was a short fat man, who lit a large acetylene lamp and then started off up the path at a very fast pace! The night was very dark and the path was steep; with a surface of loose gravel! We each had our own lights and I was reminded of the stories that I had read about smugglers and bandits in the mountains as we zig-zagged up the narrow path.

The climb to the cave entrance from the road took about half an hour and we were all very hot when we reached the end of the path. The guide, who hadn’t uttered a word so far, threw himself down by a rock face and lit a cigarette. We all stretched out to cool off and rest, and then he chuckled and started to speak about the climb and the cave. He had a very harsh voice and it was very hard for me to understand him. Not a guide in the usual sense of the word, he was a caver belonging to a society who were working in the cave, and also in others in the district. After a ¼ of an hour we picked ourselves up and followed our guide to the entrance of the cave, a very insignificant slit in the mountainside.

E,A. Baker in “Caving” mentions a waist-deep pool immediately inside the entrance, but owing to the dry summer, this pool was dry, to our great delight and relief, and we were soon walking through a huge system, the largest that I have ever seen. From the entrance a huge tunnel with a floor composed of small “gours” led into the mountain, the tunnel becoming in a very short time, an immense chamber. Following the left-hand wall we entered a passage. This was comparable in size to the main chamber of GB, although the roof was lower and everywhere the rock was smoothed and polished by the water. There was one other difference too, the GB floor slopes down steeply, whilst here at Niaux the floor was level, or almost so.

A short distance along this passage a rock fall had made a barrier, and on top of this had been built a wall, in which was a steel barred gate that was locked. Unlocking the gate, our guide ushered us all through and then carefully relocked it again. Descending a flight of rough steps we found ourselves in a continuation of the same passage. The floor, here still almost level was of gours and sand, and in places there were dried out pools, the crystals that had formed under water shining in the light of our lamps.

All at once we saw a small railed-off enclosure. We crowded around and were shown some red stripes painted on the rocky walls. Some had black dots between them, as though the pre-historic artist had covered the tips of his fingers with pigment and then pressed them on the rocky surface. One theory as to what part these stripes played in the life of the community in the cave, was that they were placed where there was danger nearby, and acted in a similar manner to our modern red flags along the road. They were to be found in the cave in places where there was deep water close by, and our guide said that this was the only theory as to their use. Further along the same passage were other similar enclosures, some of which had very faded outlines of animals in red or black, whilst others guarded engravings cut into the stone or traced on the mud floor.

The tunnel, still of the same immense size, went on and on, and then suddenly the roof rose and the walls fed away and we found ourselves in an enormous chamber, The Grand Carrefour, our lamps became tiny spots of light in space. , A great mound or mountain of sand rose on our right and its flank vanished into the darkness.  We traversed along the side of this sloping mass and eventually reached its top, to see on our right the famous Rotunde des Gravures.

Here are displayed bison, bearded horse and deer.  Each one as perfect as though the artists had just completed them, instead them being 20,000 years old.  Jet black, against the creamy limestone background, there were dozens of them, all protected by a thin film of transparent stalagmite.  On the flanks of some of those animals were red painted arrows.  Doubtless these drawings were made to propitiate the gods of the chase, the painted arrows showing how the sorcerers wishes their victims to be wounded.

Here too, were traces of drawings in the mud of the floor, but unfortunately many more had been destroyed by the careless feet of sightseers. Once again the peculiar habits of Freach sightseers were apparent. Some of those priceless relics of the past were defaced, and other drawings had been superimposed over the originals.  Names and dates were everywhere, and although the enclosures and the gate now protect the paintings, there has been great damage done.

Beneath the paintings we sat, in one place the footprints of the artist, who all those thousands of years ago had squatted there and created these animals of the past for us to marvel at. These drawings were made further back in time before the Pyramids, than the Pyramids are before our time, yet there in the mud of the floor we could see the outlines of the feet of one who not only lived 30,000 years ago, but who had such artistic sense that he was able to draw true to life, those animals with which he came in contact.

Leaving the paintings and return to the “Sand Cavern”, we were taken into another passage quite as large as the first, and here too, in several places were paintings and engravings. The most interesting thing, to me, that we saw, was a discovery made only the week before, and we were the first, outside of those who made the discovery, to see it.

Behind a pile of rocks, and on the mud floor was a jumble of child's footprints. In the main passage a few yards away was a painting on the rock wall. It is believed that the child crept into hiding and peeped out to see the ceremony being enacted either when the painting was made, or later on when some rite was being followed at the painting itself.  Whilst waiting, the child became cold and jumped up and down so keep warm. There, in the mud of the floor is the story for all to see.

This passage ended in a sump, which had been opened by the drought and columns of stalagmite could be seen beyond the archway. It was too late for us to even think about investigating any further, and so, after investigating a couple of side passages we returned to the “Sand Cavern”, passing on the way a part of the passage where red, green white and peach coloured marble are each clearly defined and within a few feet of each other.

From the “Sand Cavern” we retraced our steps to the entrance arriving back there about 11.30 p m. The distance that we walked underground was about 3 kilometres and there were many other side turnings that we had to leave unexplored. None of the paintings were near the cave entrance, the Rotunde des Gravures being 800 metres from the entrance. We returned down the path to the cars and took the guide back to Tarascon and then drove back to the very nice barn near Niaux where we were to spend the night.

From the Hon. Sec’s Post Bag.

From Gerry Orren on the Likomba Plantation B.W.A., :-

------- The plantation is situated about ten miles from the coast on the Tiko plain, which is low-lying and a network of creeks, islands and mangrove swamps. About 18 miles inland rises the great Cameroon Mountain, an active 13,350 foot volcano which is due to erupt sometime in the next year or two. I havn’t heard of any caves yet and I suppose that the chances of finding any in volcanic rock are small. But I believe there are some old craters up-country which should be worth a visit. About 60 miles away there is supposed to be a crater lake, and you have to climb down almost sheer rock faces to got to the water level. It is reputed to be a “ju-ju” lake though. The local populace are very “ju-ju minded” and say that the mountain is rules by a “mountain-master” - a strange bod who is half made of flesh and half of stone!! Any volcanic tremors and eruptions are put down to his doings. There is also another volcano in the chain “Little Cameroon” some 5,000 feet. It has the most regular cone-shape I have yet seen and looks like a mountain from a fairy-tale. It is reputedly almost unclimbable and has been scaled by an expert German mountaineer. Two other Germans attempted it but never came back! We hope to climb the main mountain at Xmas though, so I hope to have an epistle for the BB then.

We work very hard here, usually from 6.30 a.m. to 3.0 p.m, and have very few social amenities. Our main amusements are reading, playing shove ha’penny and the “bottle”.

From John Hull at Mackinnon Road, Kenya.:-

I should like to begin this letter with an account of the Primary Exploration of a cave “up country” by Mr R. de P. Bealon, a National Park Warden with whom I am in contact.

“I explored an interesting cave in the Jumpi River country in the Keriho District. It can only be entered when the river is at low water, I penetrated for about half a mile, but there was a labyrinth of passages, bat and snake infested in the majority of cases. I only had an old hurricane lamp and had some trouble in finding my way out again.”

Now for some doings of my own. Last weekend two others and myself climbed Kasgaro, 5,000 feet. I was on the lookout for caves, but had to be content with a few picturesque but uninteresting rock shelters in one of which I found a krake, one of the poisonous snakes of the region. Fortunately for me he was not in an hungry mood.

Caving in this region is a far more risky business than in , for whereas in the Mendips the discovery of leopard bones is a matter of interest, when in this place the bones are attached to flesh and blood the interest involved becomes anything but academic.

Now to the climbing of this mountain. It turned out to be, from the sporting angle a rather boring graunch, The chief interest to me was the tremendous variation in scenery which was met whilst climbing. We started off in a typical African bush. Then we trudged though typical English forest and finally finished up sitting a pile of stones in the middle of a fog-bound moorland with only a few patches of grass and rushes to be seen.

From Terry Reed “Off the Amazon”

While in Curacoa I was able to locate and discover a cave, its called the Grotto and is near Mato Airport. I suggest it be called “Cliff Cavern”. This cave has been known for a long time, and I believe that parties of visitors are sometimes conducted through it. I surveyed it for approximately 200 feet, but my torch failed, and I was forced to grope my way out; very difficult to obtain candles on the island. - - - - - I intend to explore and survey this cave very thoroughly on my return to Curacoa, I’ll forward you the survey as soon as possible.

Have a specimen of Vampire Bat; cavers, female, frightening for the purpose of!

It’s queer how a feeling of loneliness gets you over here when you’re underground. Psychological reasons probably, among which are the absence of English speaking people and anyone with caving knowledge. This causes a sub-conscious drag of worry lest you be trapped – which might mean curtains. I’ve felt that way in most of the nooks and crannies I’ve wormed into on those coasts. There’s a tremendous amount to do out here, and I believe that I’m almost, perhaps the first caver down this way. Mendips now seem pleasantly small.

T.H. Stanbury Hon. Sec. 74 Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.

W.J. Shorthose, Hon, Sec. London Section B EC 26. Gateside Road, Upper Tooting, London, SW 17