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Editorial

Although the Belfry Bulletin has appeared regularly, if perhaps a little late in the month at times, the same thing cannot be said of the rest of our club's publications.

The Caving Reports series were designed to form a record of the more serious work done by the club and the original scheme was to publish them at the rate of approximately two per year, depending, of course, on the amount of such work carried out by the club. This system is still humorously kept going; by the dates printed on their covers, which bear no relation whatsoever to the actual dates of publication.

Up until a short while ago, the reason why these reports were anything up to a year behind the announced date was merely that stencilling them took too long.  We now have an arrangement with the firm that does the covers for the B.B. to get them stencilled and both Caving Reports No 4 and 5 are now being printed.

In addition to this, Bryan Ellis has done a fine job of editing and printing a B.B. Digest.  You will find an advert enclosed with this B.B. The price, incidentally, is 3/6 (not 3/-) and about six have already been ordered.  There are only thirty, so get your order in as soon as possible if you want one.

" Alfie. "

Caving Log

2nd May.

St. Cuthbert's.  A trip by Roger Stenner and Rowena to collect the tripod for modification.  In via Railway Tunnel entrance to Rabbit Warren to Plantation Junction and on to sump, missing a party who had gone through sump.  Back to Entrance Pitch via Everest.  The ladder had been pulled up.  While waiting, Rowena's helmet fell through the hole in the floor and went down to the floor of Arête Chamber.  Mo replaced ladder after a short while.

 

Swildons Hole.  Party of five down to sump, including Tony O'Flaherty and Prew.

 

Cuthbert's.  Party consisting of Mo, Mike Wheadon and Mike Thompson.  Down to first duck via Quarry Corner and Everest Passage.  Went through duck to final sump.  This was examined and digging prospects envisaged.  Returned via Bypass Passage and Lower Mud Hall and missed Roger Stenner and Rowena.

9th May.

Swildons.  Tony O'Flaherty and M. Ware to Sump I.

 

Eastwater.  Roger Burky + 2 B.C.S.S. + 2 females to the Terminal Rift.

11th May.

Swildons.  Paul and Tess, Sid Hobbs, Gordon, William and George Honey.  Spent some time in the top series examining roof for signs of a reported fall.  None fond.

18th May.

Eastwater.  George Honey, B. Windridge, Dave Knight.

30th May.

Alfie's Hole.  Digging by Alfie, Jill, Colin and Barry.  Large rock blocking way on was attacked by Alfie without success but splintered easily when Colin had a go at it (Alfie reckons he softened it up).  Remainder of stone still to be shifted.

31st May.

Emborough Swallet. (see separate article.)

June Committee Meeting

At the June meeting of the Committee, Len Dawes, Phil Davey and Jim Simonds were elected to membership of the club.  Mike Palmer was made a Cuthbert’s Leader.  It was agreed to carry on with creosoting the Belfry, obtaining mains water and arranging a slide carrier for the club projector.  Dave England has agreed to carry on as M.R.O. representative for the time being.  Arrangements for the 1959 dinner have been started.  Ian has delivered two blocks of Portland Stone for the Memorial Tablet to Don Coase.  Bob Price and Chris Falshaw have resigned form the committee.

Emborough Swallet

On Saturday, June 6th, a B.E.C. digging team entered the top of what we hope will prove to be a cave system at Emborough.

Little is known at present about the previous history of the swallet.  It has, almost certainly, been entered before but possibly not by cavers intending to penetrate further.  Certainly its presence has not been known by active cavers for some years.  It does not appear in Barrington’s book and neither the swallet nor the stream which sinks into it are marked on the Ordnance Survey maps of the area.

About five years ago, I was taken to see the swallet by Les Browne and we did a ten minute investigation of the entrance at the tine.  On several later occasions, I tried to find the swallet with no success, and in the end I had to go and see Les who gave me exact directions as to how to get there. I revisited the swallet with Jill on the 30th of May.

During a visit the next day with Frank Darbon, Colin and Jill, we pulled a few rocks away and decided that it should be possible to open up the entrance quite easily.  Permission was obtained from the farmer for the B.E.C. to dig out the cave on Sunday 31st May, and the next day, Jill and myself having the day off, we removed a very dead dog from the entrance and did a further bit of rock moving.

On Saturday, 6th June, a gang consisting of Frank Darbon, Colin, Prew, Alfie and Jill arrived and began to dig out the entrance.  A couple of hours later, we entered through a squeeze between a boulder in the roof and a large rock and found ourselves in a small, low chamber about ten feet long by five feet wide by three feet high, going to the right.  The floor becomes lower at the far end of the chamber, which is in relative solid rock and has an amount of dried mud present which does not seem to get disturbed by the stream.  This part of the cave has a rather stagnant smell.

To the left, another squeeze under a detached bed leads over a small hole between boulders.  This hole drops about six feet and has a washed gravel floor.  Crawling over the hole, another small chamber is entered.  This is part of a boulder ruckle and drops about eight feet down. Digging is at present barred at the bottom of this by a large rock which must be removed.  All the rock in this side of the cave is very clean and water worn. 

On Sunday, 8th June, a rough survey and some photos were taken, during which time Chris Falsahw, Roger Stenner, Colin and Jill dug and probed down in all the most likely places. It was noticed that daylight could be seen in the chamber to the left, so we came out and started to re-construct the cave, pulling down a whole lot of semi-detached rocks at the side of the entrance.  It is hoped to get a direct access to the chamber where we hope to continue digging.

We have left the cave to stabilise after our rock shifting efforts and we must now remove the rock at the bottom and continue digging.  In spite of the unstable appearance of the cave, the chances of further penetration look quite promising.

Alfie

Important

FREE BEER will be provided at the Hunter's Lodge, according to the usual Mendip custom on the 19th June, when Chris Falshaw will be celebrating his forthcoming marriage to Vivienne Hudson.  A further TWO BARRELS will be on tap, on the evening of July 11th.  These will be provided by Mervyn Hannam to mark the occasion of his recent marriage; and by Jill Rollason on her tenth anniversary of caving (known in then club as a ‘decadence’).  All are welcome.

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Apologies to all whose April and May issues of the B.B. were rather late in coming.  A series of misfortunes too complicated to describe overtook the staff of the B.B. and resulted in some of the postal deliveries being all haywire.  We hope you all got the right B.B.’s in the end.

Letters

To the Editor.  B.B.

Dear Sir,

The Caving Report on St. Cuthbert's Swallet is now very much out of date, and rather than publish another Caving Report on this subject, I believe it may be best to publish an altogether grander affair, somewhat on the lines of the S.W.C.C. report on O.F.D.  I have in mind a thick volume mounted in loose leaf from.  This is more expensive than a Caving Report but is a more satisfactory way of providing for alterations and additions.  As a suggestion, I put forward the following structure, more or less an enlargement of caving Report Number Two: -

1.                  Introduction, including a brief description and history of cur club and a tribute to Don Coase.

2.                  The history of the cave, including a brief history of digging in the area, and the relation of the cave to the rest of Mendip.

3.                  The discovery of the cave, not whitewashing or condemning the delay in widening the entrance rift, and the chronological history of exploration.

4.                  A complete survey – small scale.

5.                  Description of the cave, series by series, each section accompanied by a large size map.

6.                  Geology of the cave.

7.                  Flora and Fauna. (Overprinted small scale survey).

The report could also include a loose folded large scale survey, and various photographs.

Although a lot of the necessary work has not yet been done, a start on some of the sections could be made at once if such a publication were to be planned for the not too distant future.

Incidentally, Don Coase wanted to see such a bock as the above published, and it would thus would make a fine tribute to his memory.

R. Stenner.

Editor’s Note.    The compilation of a 'Cuthbert's Atlas' as a tribute to Don was suggested at the tine of his death and discussed by the committee.  It was agreed at the time to wait until an accurate survey (on which the bulk of any such book largely depends) was produced.  When this has been done, the subject will automatically come up again and I am sure your remarks will also be discussed.

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To the Editor, B.B.

Dear Sir,

I feel that I should write and clarify the mystery of "Bertie Bat".  In the early pre-war days of the B.E.C., it was felt that some sort of distinctive emblem was needed for the club; after all, the Wessex had their cave exploring dragon (or Gryphon) complete with candle, so why shouldn't we have something similar?  The committee put their heads together and after an awful lot of brain fag, hit upon that which should have been obvious from the start - a bat.

Bertie - the name was coined about or just after the end of the war - as he was originally drawn, no longer exists.  He died when all the earlier club logs etc were lost during the blitz, but I made an almost exact copy, which, as Tony Johnson states in his letter, was fitted to my car.  This badge, by the way, is still on the car.

From this original, which was in the form of a hybrid bat in flight, have descended all the various versions of Bertie.  The next in line was the original block from which the club notepaper was printed, supplied to us by Gerard Platten.

Tony's bat is, I feel, somewhat different to Bertie Mk II (The car badge) and is nearer to the cloth bat cut out some 14 or 15 years ago by Ken Dobbs, who also made quite fair metal Berties of moulded wood's metal.  These last, however, varied considerably from mould to mould.

I have also a partly completed outline of "Super Bat" suitable for a car badge.  This bat when complete will be six to eight inches across the wings and is more or less a faithful copy of Mark II.

Some years ago, it was the thing for each member to paint his own bat on his hat, but these varied so much that it was anyone’s guess as to what they actually were, varying from flying foxes down to pipistrelles,  few of which resembled the unfortunate bat they were supposed to be copied from.

Incidentally, as will be apparent, the Belfry being a later addition to club assets than Bertie, the Belfry was named after him as being the congregating place of members and not vice versa.

            T.H. Stanbury.

Editor's Note.     Thank you, Harry.  The degree of authenticity of the various bats is now revealed!  The car badge bat, which we have just commissioned, is a version of Tony's loudspeaker cover bat, which is about half way between the older and newer versions of Bertie (His wingspan gets longer as the bats get progressively newer).  We hope this 'Halfway' version will please all, in the tradition of British compromise!

Note to New Members. T.H. (Harry) Stanbury is the founder of the B.E.C. and thus an authority on its early history.

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To the Editor, B.B.

F.G. Drainpipe,
Dept. of Drains,
Elsan Street,

 

Dear Cur,

It has come to my notice that you have a large amount of movement of holes in your vicinity, and this prompts me to enquire whether you have, in searching for moving caves, come across any of my drains (particularly the ten inch variety).

Should you find any, I shall expect you to send them back to the above address as this will save us from shifting any further items to lay our ten inch drains.

Yours Hopefully,
F. G. Drainpipe

Editor's Note.     F.G. Drainpipe is, of course, our old friend F.G. Darbon.  I hope he will forgive me for altering his letter a bit to get it into this space.

Lady Chatterbox’ Cover

The second of a series of articles on the Stately Homes of the B.E.C, by Anne Gardner.

On Sunday 24th May 1959, a more or less intrepid band of idiots in steamingly clean clothes descended upon the new Thomas Residency.  This motley crew consisted of the Henrobel Hobbs, Spike, Digger Gardner and the writer.  It appears that one dark night, under cover of two old tarpaulins and assorted ex-army blankets; the Thomas’s crept into, and proceeded to squat in Clifton.  What is the world coming to when the L.M.F.O.M. is allowed (reformed as he is) to live in the part of Bristol which houses the elite of the B.E.C.?  At least twelve sane and sensible members of the club are going to be forced to search for new homes if this new should leak out!

However, as the second Lord Thomas has installed him¬self and his charming wife, I must keep to protocol and tear his home to pieces.  I have already given Mr. Collin’s palatial home and Mr. Hannam's penthouse the treatment and tradition must be adhered to.

After wending a weary way up 42 steps which went round and round and round, we arrived at a door. Not unusual, you might say, but in the case of the B.E.C., you might.  A half dressed Lord Thomas met us, and in his somewhat boisterous manner, bade us welcome.  The exact words he used cannot unfortunately, be printed.  The rather small hall opens onto all four rooms and proceeding clockwise they are as follows.  The very necessary, containing a barf, a washbasin, a bog and a gleaming highly polished water hotter upper (the Thomas's have not yet decided to have a matching floor covering or mundane lino).  Next door is the kitchen, rather large but without room, I am sad to say, for the Rolls Royce usually kept in most Clifton Kitchens.  The living room is rather larger than at their previous address and had a most pleasant black and gold leaf motif wallpaper.  Next to this is the bedroom and, by squeezing past the bed, a marvellous panorama of Bristol is laid out before your eyes - if you have any.  The upper part of the wall is glass, and any enterprising person with a soapbox could also enjoy the view by standing on it in Lord Thomas's hall.

I did not venture to enquire if, like Mr. Hannam, they have tried to enjoy the view by sleeping vertically as I feared L.M.F.O.M.'s reply.  During the visit, cheese and biscuits were produced and much appreciated.

Special points of note: - You can stand anyone you don’t like on the top step and retire into the bathroom.  By belting out of there at a rate of knots similar to that to get to the Hunter’s first, one can knock the said person flying out of the downstairs landing window. Good fun! - what?  A most interesting decoration was a bottle of milk, and in a B.E.C. household too!  The cupboards in the kitchen are absolutely magnificent affairs capable of housing 22 Poles or 58 Jamaicans (according to Mr. Hobbs, anyway) and we understand that Lord Thomas is seriously considering this.

The Thomas conveyance, carriage or diligence was parked neatly just under the mews entrance to the house and presented an awe inspiring spectacle.  In the absence of further persons to call on, we went our ways homewards. Will any other members intending to reside in this area please let the selection committee know in advance so that detailed plans for sightseers can be made and all that should be hidden, hidden.

Sonnet

For many years, within the Hunter's bar
You'd find him; with a pint of rough or beer
Within his mug, while outside stood his car
Which into drystone walls he'd sometimes steer.
Yes, many pots of ale he'd often sink.
No teeth had he which would impede the flow
Of rough and orange.  T'was his favourite drink,
While in his hand a Woodbine oft would glow.
Alas!  His pot is missing from the shelf
And dentists fashion teeth for him to wear.
'Tis said that he is seldom by himself.
He's neatly dressed, and tidy is his hair.
Quite soon confetti, wedding bells and rice
Will doubtless all command a fancy PRICE

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Don't forget that LAMP SPARES are on sale at the Belfry. 

Apply to the Hut Warden.           Cash on the nail!

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

 

Editorial

Words have been written in this space before now on the desirability of maintaining some sort of balance in the B.B. between the varied subjects appearing in it.  What we would like to see each month is a nice blend of serious articles on caving, climbing, archaeology and other types of scientific nature, mixed with lighter articles and humour.  As it is, we have to print whatever members and others send us and although we try to ration out the material we have, so that too much of anyone type of article does not appear in any one B.B., we cannot always do this. At the moment, we are getting rather too few of the more serious types of contribution and hence the B.B. is becoming unbalanced.  We would sooner continue to print original articles, than have to rely on reprinting from old B.B.'s or other sources, so please, blokes, send in a few learned dissertations for the general uplift of the B.B.

" Alfie. "

Caving Log

1st March

Alfies Hole.  Working party. This included three Hut Wardens (Wally, Mike Holland and Alfie).  Mike Holland uncovered a second crack in the floor of the chamber going straight down (the crack, not Mike Holland!)

7th March.

St. Cuthbert's.  Party including Mike Wheadon, Mike Holland, D. Farr, M. Bywater, Prew and one other.  Descended to Dining Room.  Phone Checked and receiver found D/S. party came out via Bypass Passage, Lower Traverse Chamber and Lower Bud Hall.  Total time 5hrs.  N.B. The telephone was found later to be completely corroded.  The receiver unit has now been repaired and moulded in Araldite.  A new microphone is being obtained.

21st March

G.B.  Club Trip.  Main party of 7 members went in via Devil's Elbow.  Alfie and Jill did a photographic trip.

22nd March.

Swildons.  Top of Swildons by Ian Dear and 2 Weymouth Rover scouts.  Pleasant trip of high educational value to the two scouts.

 

Eastwater.  Tony O'Flaherty and Ralph Lewis.  A pleasant trip.

26th March.

Eastwater.  Tony O' Flaherty, Ralph Lewis and 4 members of B.C.S.S.  Dolphin route to second bold step.  Introduction of 4 to ladder work.  Went a different way through Boulder Ruckle.  7 minutes from Boulder Chamber to the surface.

27th March.

Swildon's IV.  Dave Hoskyns, Barry Tiddler and Ray from Liverpool.  Water conditions very good but found high flood level in 4.

28th March.

St. Cuthbert’s.  Alan and Carol Sandall.  High Chamber, Curtain Chamber, Everest, Fingers, Cascade and out.

 

St. Cuthbert’s.  Roger Stenner, Tony O’Flaherty, Rowena, Mike Baker and two others.  As above without High Chamber.

29th March.

Cuckoo Cleeves.  Keith Gladman and Martin O’Neill.  Went on until it got too tight.

 

St. Cuthbert’s.  Bryan Ellis and Chris Falshaw.   Spent four hours surveying in Upper Traverse Chamber without any startling new discoveries being made.

 

St Cuthbert's.  Tourist including Catgut and September Series.  Out via Lower Traverse Chamber and Lower Mud Hall.  It seems the telephone reception is perfect in the dining room and nil in the Belfry.

1st April.

Swildons.  Tourist trip by Mike Baker - closely followed by Tony O'Flaherty.

5th April.

St. Cuthbert's.  Al Francis, Gerry Wright and Mike Wheadon.  Went to find Coral Series.  Not quite sure what we did find.

 

Hunter's Hole.  Leader, Ian Dear.  Party included Chris Falshaw, Prew, Vivienne Pre-Falshaw and Jill (by permission of Alfies Hole Inc.) Chris and party pressed on in Dear's Ideal until prudence decided them to let the boulders settle down for a while.  Digging then continued in the Railway Tunnel.

11th April.

Swildons.  Dave Hoskyns and party of 12 visited the sump and upper grottoes.

12th April.

St. Cuthbert’s.  Surveying Trip starting from entrance.  Alfie, Jill, Dave Hoskyns and Colin. St. Cuthbert's.  Leader Roger Stenner.  Via Cascade through to the fingers.  Back to Quarry Corner, Everest Passage and the Dining Room.  Tried to ladder Stal Pitch - ladder too short.  On way out, amazing straw noted in Pillar Chamber.  P.S. Nife Cells are a nuisance.

18th April.

St. Cuthbert's.  Leader Alan Sandall.  Tourist trip with Cathedral Caving Club to most of the main features.  N.B. Nife Cells are wonderful for use in St. Cuthbert's.

19th April.

St. Cuthbert's.  Trip to September Series led by Mike Wheadon.  Via Sentry Passage, Stream Passage to Dining Room, Rabbit Warren, Catgut, September Series and out via High Chamber.  The profusion of formations in the September Series was really staggering.

 

St. Cuthbert's.  Leader Norman Petty.  Party from Clifton School.

26th April.

Goatchurch.  A party led by Tiddler and consisting of Mo Marriot, Colin Smith and Ian Dear spent three hours rediscovering the intricacies of this delightful cave.

 

Hunter's Hole.  Leader, Ian Dear.  Further work in the Railway Tunnel and examination of Dear's Ideal which looks very promising.

Archaeology

Keith Gardner, our tame Archaeologist, is the Secretary of the Clevedon arid District Archaeological Society, and sends us this note, which may be of interest to readers of the B.E.C..

Cadbury Camp, Yatton

Excavation will commence on the morning of Saturday 9th May (O.S. Grid Ref. ST/440.650.)  The camp occupies the summit of a limestone hill, is defended by a double (?) line of ditch and bank, and is presumably early Iron Age in date.

Many Roman remains have been discovered round the hill, and in 1877, a Roman burial, a coin, Samian Ware, Castor Ware, and roofing tiles were found on the North side of the hilltop. The latter particularly, were regarded as suggestive of the presence of a substantial building.

An attempt will be made to locate this building, and also to gain evidence of the Iron Age occupation, by making a series of small cuttings over a large area.

Work will continue over May and early June, and arrangements can be made for those wishing to camp. Facilities are available for those who would like to fly the site.  The cost will be 7/6 per person.

Letter to the Editor

U.S.S.R. Siberian Salt & Nut Factory,
Spelaeological Society,
Siberial,
Russial.

Dera Sur,

With regard to the letter published in the B.B. from the Kornish Kave Klub, I would like to clear up the darkness regarding the ownership of the cave in question.  In the manner of the imperialistic clubs throughout the world, this club is guilty of enticing away of the cave from the U.S.S.R. Only three months ago, a party of cavers from the above factory went out in the usual weekend way to spend their leisure hours in this old established Russian Cave and found to their horror that it had gone.

We believe that it was coaxed and cajoled away by means of subversive propaganda regarding lighting and concrete floors and hope that it will be returned to us without delay. Will you please therefore send our cave back parcel post at your convenience, within the next week or so. We hope to receive it in good condition, that is, without damage caused by the bloated capitalist boots of your members.  If, however any damage is found on inspection, we shall claim through the Cave Insurance Co of the U.S.S.R.  The Red Flag for ever, Up Checkov.

I am, sur,
The Servant of the state,
Ivan Ivanovitch Ivanovitchsky Popolofshichechipolishzxi.

The above letter, in spite of its formidable signature, comes in fact from Anne Gardner

The K.K.K.

The letter last month from the Kornish Kave Klub seems to have provoked the young ladies of our club to reply.  Here are letters received from two of them, one on the previous page:-

The Editor, Belfry Bulletin.

Ignoring Mr. Dawe's remarks about the origin of St. Cuthbert's Swallet, which are absurd, I must protest at the slighting reference to 'faithless Englishwomen' in his recent letter.  (Incidentally, the word “English” is written with a capital E and Mr. Dawe may like to note the shape of this letter, which is obviously new to him.

Englishwomen are usually faithful to their menfolk, and Mr. Dawe should not generalise from a particular case.  Any unfortunate English maiden espoused to a Kornish Cing, and no doubt tormented by piskeys, should not be blamed if she prefers to return to her natural level of culture and elope with one who reminds her of a worthy Englishman.

The conditions in the small territory across the rivulet whose name escapes me at present, but which debouches (*) into Plymouth, may be imagined from its place-names, such as Hells Town, Lost-with-all, and Foulmouth which still survive in a modified form.

Kornwall is notorious for its wild animals, which have remained wild since they were first included in the rites of the furry dance.  If Cing Arthur refused even to be buried there, he could scarcely expect his wife to live amongst those primitive and uneducated barbarians, next door to the Untied States.

It is surely not praiseworthy to accept inferior standards when one can raise oneself to a better level and I feel that Guinevere was fully justified in her flight towards a less rude domicile.     

Yours Respectfully,
Jill Rollason.

(*) Debouch. c.f. Debauch, v.t. Debauchery n.  These words became confused by the Early English who came frequently into contact with the Trans-Tamarian aborigines.

Personal

We hear on good authority that JOHN LAMB will shortly be back amongst us for a visit.

Mervyn Hannam was recently married, Ian Dear acting as best man.  Congratulations, Merv.

SID HOBBS has offered to make a collection of limericks for the club.  If any member thinks they know one that Sid won1t have heard, he would be obliged if they would get in touch.

Committee Meeting

The April Meeting of the B.E.C. Committee gave Mo their permission to continue to buy lamps and spares from the cash already received.  This will ensure that a supply of these is always available.  An offer has been received for the making of club car and bike badges which will be taken up.  The doors are now fitted to the kitchen cupboards.  It was agreed to urge the obtaining of mains water for the Belfry.  Nigel Clarke and Rowena Lewis were elected as full members of the club.

Sonnet

For full a dozen years I've often sat
Beside Ben's table in the cavers bar.
Played Hunter's Bridge on it, or stood a jar
Of ale to rest upon its surface flat.
With Beer and Screech t'was impregnated deep
No wood worm could attack its innards tough
Around it we would play at Card'nal Puff
While Johnny Lamb would underneath it creep.
Alas!  Last week a dreadful thing befell.
Quite suddenly, for everyone to see
The table split across from A to B,
Upsetting glasses, bods and booze as well.
I wonder if the table's final role
Will be to act as shoring in a hole?

Odd Reminders

Lamp spares are now on sale at the Belfry.  Apply to the Hut Warden for details.

The club's offer of free colour file for taking pictures of caves for the club's use still stands. The club will also pay half the cost of a film taken on a one-for-me-and-one-¬for-the-club basis. Impecunious gentlemen will have to make their own arrangements with Mr. Bagshaw about the cost of flashbulbs.

The club tent is available for hire by the weekend or longer periods.  Norman Petty is the chap to see about this.

HAVE YOU PAID YOUR SUB???  SEND IT STRAIGHT TO BOB.

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

 

Editorial

Firstly, an apology for the lateness of this B.B.  This is due entirely to slackness and mismanagement on the part of the Editor.

We mentioned, in January that during the course of this year, we would be experimenting with various changes in the B.B.  The reason we mention this again is that we are now in a state where we can put forward a definite suggestion to all members on this subject.  Some of you will have seen the new shape we are thinking of making the B.B. into.  Those that haven't may like to know that it is half foolscap (8" x 6½") and that we are going to have a “fancy” cover to go with it - starting next year. All the members who have seen the specimen so far are in favour of it, but please, if anyone has any objections, write in and let us know.  The new shape has a lot of advantages, one of which is that we shall be able to print it on paper like this issue of the B.B.  Compare this number with previous month's B.B's and you will notice that - like some of the detergents - we have extra whiteness (as well as extra opacity).

We don’t intend to bore readers by mentioning this subject again, unless we receive any complaints. We realise that those members who have a nice thick file of B.B.'s will find the new shape spoils their arrangements, but hope that they will put up with a change which we are certain will result in a B.B. next year which will compare favourably with the journals of most other caving clubs.

 “Alfie”

Dr Eric Houghton

All club folk will have been shocked to hear of the death of Dr Eric Houghton in a climbing accident in North Wales on 21st February, and will wish to offer our sincere condolences to his family in their tragic loss.

A man of such personal charm and talent will be missed wherever he was known, and to us who enjoyed his company during the last four years, he will always be remembered as a lively, humorous and. sympathetic friend, who cannot be replaced.

The above tribute was sent to us by Johnny Attwood.  Eric was well known to B.E.C. climbers, and frequented the "Waggon" on most club nights.  A fund to assist his dependants is being organised by his fellow doctors, and a set of forms was sent to us for inclusion in the B.B.  We decided, however, not to include them, as most members would prefer to send any gifts to the club, who could then make our contribution. Should any member wish to send separately, the address is: -  Lloyds Bank, Regent Street, Clifton, and cheques made payable to the “Houghton memorial Trust.”  Other donations may be sent to the club secretary, the Editor, or any member of the B.B. Board.

Annual Subscriptions.

The Hon. Treasurer wishes to remind members who have not yet paid their 1959 subs, that these SHOULD HAVE BEEN PAID BY NOW.  Full members 12/6; Junior and associate members 7/6.  Why not become a life member?  Five guineas is a bit of a drain but you might live to be a hundred!  In that case you will, on the average, receive 900 copies of the B.B. during the rest of your life.  By that time, the annual sub will be about a fiver anyway! Besides, think of the shock to our Hon. Treas.!

The British Caver.

Volume: 30 of this publication will be out by about September, price 7/9 Post Paid.  To book a copy, write to:- G. Platten, "Rotherfield", Fernhill Lane, New Milton, Hants.

Assorted Clangers.

The S.M.C.C. Coach party to Yorkshire, which was given in the B.B. as being held at Easter, is in fact being held at WHITSUN.  Sorry for this, but it gives you more time to arrange to go.

Roger and Daphne’s address was given as Clevedon.  The rest of the address is all right, but it should be PORTISHEAD.

G.B. Dates.

March 21/22, B.E.C.; Easter, Wessex; April 4/5, Westminster; April 18/19, Axbridge; April 25/26, B.E.C.; May 9/10, Wessex; May 16/18, S.W.C.C.; May 30/31, Westminster; June 6/7, Axbridge: June 13/14, B.E.C.; July 4/5, Wessex; July 11/12, Westminster; July 18/19, Axbridge; July 25/26, B.B.C.

More Gen about the trip to Yorkshire at WHITSUN.

The coach will leave Friday evening.  It may be possible to return on Monday evening, if a majority agree.  Picking up points will probably be Wells and Bristol.  There will be a winch down G.G. arranged by the Bradford Pothole Club which anyone can use for a small fee.  Ken Dawe's address is:- 7 Widcombe Crescent, Bath, Somerset.  He can also be contacted at Beechbarrow (The Shepton Hut) when on Mendip.

Caving Log

4th Jan.

Cuthbert's.  Photography in main route.  Shots of Arête Pitch, Gour Hall and passage.  Entrance Pitch very wet.  5 hours.  Kangy.

10th Jan.

Cuthbert’s.  BOULDER REMOVED FROM CUTHBERT’S ENTRANCE RIFT.  Party: - B. Price, Ken Dawe and Prew

11th Jan.

Cuthbert’s.  Photographic trip to Maypole Series.  One hour's work resulted in one multiple flash shot of the first half of the Maypole Series taken from Upper Traverse Chamber (We hope!) Party: J. Etough, Anne Jenkins and Kangy.

17th Jan.

Swildon’s.  C.R.G.  Diving Operation.  An account of this trip appeared in last month's B.B.

18th Jan.

Tankard Hole.  Survey and photographic trip by R. Stenner, P. Miller and D. Dolan.  The survey was completed and a meal cooked.  A slow exit, partly due to photography, was taken.  Difficulty was experienced in getting the large packs out of the cave.  We came out two hours after the estimated time out and we are sorry for inconveniencing to two members who stood by until the party returned.

31st Jan.

Alfie's Hole.  Trip down to inspect results of the recent heavy rain.  Shoring etc. mainly O.K. Way through boulders still visible at bottom.  Party, Alfie and Jill.

7th Feb.

Goatchurch.  dreaded, the. Alfie and Jill on photographic trip to test new camera.  Time taken two hours including tea at the Mendip Gate Cafe.

 

Swildon's.  Descended cave at 10 p.m. in order to lifeline the sherpa party up the 20' pot.  Task completed by 1.30 a.m.  Party; Prew, Mike Wheadon.

15th Feb.

Cuthbert’s.  7 Axbridge Caving Club members, led by Roger Stenner.  Tourist trip to Curtain Chamber, Cascade, Railway Tunnel, Upper Traverse Chamber, Fingers and out.  Time 4¾ hours.

21st Feb.

Swildons (Top).  Dave Hoskyns, Frank Darbon and four others.  Photographic trip.

 

Alfie's Hole.  Alfie, Jill, Wally and Mike Thompson.  Rock shifting until one of the largest rocks in the cave was tackled.  This was beyond the capabilities of the team but was hauled up simply because nobody dared to drop it.  The party then collapsed exhausted.

28th Feb.

Eastwater.  To terminal rift via Dolphin route.  Descended by Muddy Oxbow inadvertently and had to scale the thirteen pots.  Time taken, 3 hours.  Party, Tony O’Flaherty and M. Ware.

Letter To the Editor, B.B.

A few years ago, the question of the club's badge was raised, and then it was generally agreed that the pattern used for the sign on the Belfry door was the correct size and shape for the bat.  This is the same as the pattern of bat used for the small lead badges that are still to be seen occasionally.

Daphne Stenner then used this pattern, and carved a master pattern to scale, into a block of wax to enable two sizes of bats to be cast in plastic mixed by Tony Rich.  A number of such badges were made and distributed, but proved to be very fragile.  Tony countered this by embedding one in a disc of clear P.V.A., the prototype being given to Sid Hobbs.  Owing to Tony going to Canada, no more were made.

Shortly before his departure, Tony showed me perfect casts of both sizes, both carefully cleaned up with the intention of using them to make casts for better masters than would be possible by carving into wax.  The badges were to be made in two stages, first casting the bat and then embedding the bat in plastic.

I am sure Sid would agree with me that a better Motor Vehicle or rucksack badge would be hard to find, and if means of making more can be found, either commercially or by the help of members, the original wax master and the cleaned up casts are available.

In the meantime, a small grumble.  It’s a pity that the proper club bat cannot to used on the B.B.

Roger Stenner.

Editor's Note.     I'm afraid you're stuck with the present bat on the B.B. until 1960!  All this year's covers are printed.

Tankard Hole

by Roger Stenner

In January 1958, a brief report on Tankard Hole was printed in the B.B.  Since then, there have been several new developments, and because of them I am writing this second interim report, bearing the fact in mind that a full account will appear in a future B.E.C, Saving Report.

The stability of the entrance is rather in question.  When members of the B.E.C. were given the 'go ahead' by Wessex diggers in June 1956, the entrance was blocked by a roof fall and a good digging session was needed to get small cavers in, followed by a bigger digging session to get bigger sized caver into the cave.  At this stage, the shoring beyond the shaft was rather comic in a horrifying fashion, and, despite the care that was obviously needed, by September 1956, a would-be exploration party again had to start digging before the cave could be entered. Most of the shoring had fallen, and debris was still coming down spasmodically, the debris being a mixture of mud, gravel and assorted boulders causing the party to run the gauntlet in an unpleasant fashion.  In the spring of 1957, the entrance was still open, but in August 1957, when Pete Miller first did a Tankard trip, the entrance again needed digging out, but when dug, had remained substantially the same as before.

Between August 1957 and August 1958, a really big change took place, and an hour and a half had to be spent removing boulders.  Daylight was visible beyond the shaft.  The following day we found that the way on from the first chamber no longer existed, and no trace could be seen of the rope which led from this chamber to the eighteen foot pitch.  As I had a wife to support, Pete Miller was persuaded to pioneer a new route and soon a familiar spot was reached, and there was the old rope, leading up into a jumble of boulders.  In the last trip, a large boulder was seen to have shifted in the entrance, and this part of the cave is now in a really unstable condition.  The only solution is a new shaft, dug in a different position instead of the obvious place at the lowest part of the depression, the new shaft should be nearer the side.  In the meantime, the top of the present shaft will be repaired and relocked.  Keys to the lock are in the possession of B. Prewer (B.E.C. and Wessex.) Mr. A. Fincham (B.,E.C. and Wessex) and myself (Holding Mr A. Rich's key.) Tankard is not to be recommended for pleasure trips, except to people with a very strange idea of pleasure.

Except for the passage leading to the dig, where progress is most likely, the cave has been surveyed for the Caving Report using a clinometer, prismatic compass and steel tape. The depth to the rift leading to the bottom of the lowest chamber is 148'. Passage length is 455', 190' of which is made up of side passages.  The survey took five trips, and totalled 21½ hours, progress being impeded by the number of short legs that were needed.  In the main passage of 265', there were 50 legs in the survey. Triangulations were made to test the accuracy of the instruments under these conditions.

The nature of the cave is basically a spiralling boulder ruckle, the side passages tending to be vertically above one another five in one place and four in another.  Because of this, a satisfactory way of presenting the results is hard to find.  The C.R.G. method would be guaranteed to get even Tony Rich completely muddled.  To add to the difficulty, larger chambers are difficult to show because of the lack of symmetry.  Some photographs have been taken, but they only seem to make the understanding of the shape of the cave worse.  If anyone knows of a survey of a boulder ruckle 148' deep, I would be grateful if I could see a copy.

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We hope that Roger and Pete will not mind the Mick being taken in the article which follows.  The survaye of Tankard must have been a tricky job. - Editor.

It Went That-A-Way

The exploration and surveying of a hole like Tankard presents some interesting and unusual problems. A typical trip starts, for instance, by sending a man out in advance of the rest of the party to find the entrance. A method often adopted consists of going to where the entrance was on the last trip, and starting a systematic search from there.  It is hoped eventually to be able to publish a book of tables showing the probable position of the entrance on any particular day, taking into account the phases of the moon and high tide at Weston-super-Mare.

Once into the cave; the survey continues.  An interesting addition to normal practice here is the use of a stopwatch, as not only the distance and bearing, but also the time must be noted.  A survey reading taken at, say, 4.55 p.m. cannot be drawn on the same plan as one taken at 4.56.

The naming of parts of the cave system presented some degree of difficulty, and a completely new system had to be invented.  Such names as “45 Second Chamber” are typical.  A part of the cave called “10th of December Grotto” does not mean that it was discovered then, so much as it actually existed on that date, rather than on the 9th or the 11th.

Everywhere there is the suggestion of movement.  Places such as Upper and Lower Mud Hall in Cuthbert's would be come called Ascending and Descending Mud Hall if they were in Tankard.  All equipment for the trip has to be carried around, as putting anything down anywhere means a later trip to find out where that portion of the cave has moved to.

Will Tankard ever get to Wookey?  We must be careful to define what we mean here.  If we mean will passages one day be discovered leading from Tankard to Wookey Hole, the answer is almost certainly ‘no’, but if we mean the whole issue, entrance and all, finish up one day in the Wookey area, the answer is that we wouldn't be the least surprised.

Where did Tankard come from? Places as far apart as Bodmin Moor and Newcastle-on-Tyne have been suggested.  Again, your guess is as good as mine.  The only fact we can be sure about is that at present, we have it with us on Mendip - at least we did last weekend and it is presumably up to us to make the most of it (whatever that may mean in this case) before it outdistances us.

Germanium at Lyme Regis

by Jack Waddon.

It may be of interest to those of our members who are concerned with electronics (and there are quite a few of them!) to learn of the occurrence of Germanium in the West Country.

Germanium is a comparatively rare element, which has become increasingly important as the principal constituent of most types of transistor - the crystal device which is being used more and more instead of the radio valve.

In the lower lias of Dorset, isolated fragments of lignite are frequently found embedded in the limestones and shales of marine origin.  A walk along the beach between Lyme Regis and Charmouth is invariably repaid by the discovery of many of these easily recognised fossil wood specimens.  They vary from a few inches to several feet in length.  On a recent visit, I found a good specimen of a soft coniferous wood, in which the grain and various knots could clearly be seen, in boulders of a soft whitish limesttone strewn along the beach.

According to an interesting report which has recently been published (*) various samples of lignite were collected from Lyme Regis, burnt, and a spectrographic analysis made of the ashes.  Of the samples taken, the ash was found to contain a mean concentration of 1.48% germanium, representing a mean concentration in the lignite of 0.18% germanium.

Although this occurrence of germanium is of no economic importance (germanium salts being produced as a by-product of certain mines in the Belgian Congo) there is no doubt that, had it been known some years ago, it would have aroused some considerable interest, as at that time, the principal sources of germanium was soot in chimneys of factories where the coal from certain seams were burnt.,  Indeed, it was just over ten years ago that I remember R.A. Setterington getting spectrographic analyses made of various samples of dross etc. from the Mendip Mineries in the hope that some germanium might be present, but although all sorts of other interesting elements appeared to be present, there existed not the faintest trace of germanium.

 (*) A. Hallam and K.W. Payne.  “Nature”, Vol. 131, No 4G14, pp 1008-9. (April 5, 1958.)

Sonnet

This automation lark is here to stay.
Not very long ago, two bods would write
Each bloke's address by hand, till, late at night,
T'was done; and all by post were sent away.
Now each B.B., with most astounding speed,
Is passed through our Addressograph machine
Which neatly prints on every magazine    Its destination - plain for all to read.
But not content with this, we lately found
An automatic stapling device
And every B.B.’s cavers – in a trice -
Will finish up identically bound.
One last machine we’ve needed now for ages
To write some articles to fill our pages.

Useful Adressess

R.J. Bagshaw: Hon. Secretary and Treasurer, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.

R. Bennett: Caving Secretary.  37 Queens Road, Ashley Down, Bristol 7.

S.J. Collins: Hut Warden and Editor. 33 Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8.

P. Ifold: Climbing Secretary. "Sunnyside", Rectory Lane, Compton Martin, Somerset.

Marriott (Mo): Lamp Spares. 718, Muller Road, Eastville, Bristol 5.

B. Prewer: B.B. Postal Dept. 14 Egerton Road, Bath, Somerset.

 

Editorial

After a busy Easter, during which it was pleasant to see some of our friends from northern parts again, the summer will soon (we hope!) be here and with it, an increase of our caving activity.

During the last few months, we have had little material to print in the B.B., but we hope that, with the caving tempo increasing, we shall soon have new work and discoveries to report. We are pleased to be able to include this month, an article on the September Series in Cuthbert’s – the last major discovery in that cave system.  It was hoped to include some photographs, but these will have to follow in a later B.B.

In spite of our hope of having more caving news to report, any articles on more or less any subject, are always welcome.

“Alfie”

Cave Research Group of Great Britain.

The Southern General Meeting will be held in the Museum, Wells on the 2nd of May 1959, by courtesy of the Hon. Curator Professor L.S. Palmer, at 5.0 p.m.  Members wishing to present papers at this meeting are asked to contact the Hon. Sec. P.N. Dilly, Anatomy Department, University College, Gower St, London, WC1.  The U.B.S.S. are the group's hosts on this occasion and are arranging caving trips over the weekend.

University of Bristol - Archaeology.

A series of six public lectures will be given on the subject of STONEHENGE by R.J.C. Atkinson at the Reception Room of the University on Tuesdays April 21 to May 26 at 7.30 p.m.  The fee for the lectures is 10/- payable to the Department of Extra-Mural Studies, 20a Berkeley Sq. Bristol 24161, Ext 203.

B.E.C. Caving Trips.

Sunday 24th May. Novices Trip.  Leader Prew.  Meet at Belfry 11 am.  13/14 June. Agen Allwedd.  Details from Norman petty.  The next G.B. Trip is on April 25/26.

New Building.

Work is going to start again, beginning next weekend.  All offers of help will be appreciated by the Foreman.

Is This Your Last B.B.?

It may well be if you don't pay your 1959 subscription within the next week or so.  According to the usual custom, no May B.B. will be sent to those who are not paid up by the end of this month.  It's only 12/6 for full membership and 7/6 for associate. Bob Bagshaw's address will be found at the end of this B.B.

Lost and Found Dept.

A ladder, not belonging to us, has been found in the Belfry and has probably been there since the Swildon's rescue trip.  Has anyone any idea whose it is?

Cuthbert's

September Series.

Following directions from Chris Falshaw, a new series of passages were discovered below the ruckle which leads to the Catgut Series in St. Cuthbert's Swallet.

This ruckle is easy to cave through, and the way is rapidly becoming plainer.  From the ruckle, entry is gained into a fairly large chamber. This has been called Cone Chamber owing to the large cone shaped stal boss.  At the far side of this chamber, the wall drops away to a stream passage which may be followed for about a hundred feet downstream to a sump. Theory is that this is the top end of continuation chamber sump.  Upstream, the stream appears from under a stale flow which is covered with a layer of black substance containing lead, iron and manganese.

From Cone Chamber, following the upstream direction, a climb of about ten feet gives access to another chamber roughly a hundred feet by twenty five feet by twelve feet high which we have called Illusion Chamber.  This is the last place from which the stream enters.  Another short climb under some curtain formations leads into a small chamber called Paperweight Chamber and doubling back almost to the entrance of this chamber, a climb heavily coated with brown stale flow leads up into a fairly large unnamed chamber.  Above this chamber is the major discovery of this extension.  This is a chamber comparable in size to Quarry Corner with a similar floor and roof.  In the corner are some extremely pretty formations which are among the best to be seen in Cuthbert's.  At the far side of this chamber is an aven visible upwards for about fifty feet. Also from this side of the chamber, a passage may be followed for about five hundred feet to a 'T' junction from which there is no apparent way on.

From the lower end of September Chamber, a small hole in the floor leads into a low bedding plane at the bottom end of which is a small chamber.  A squeeze in the floor gives access to Victory Passage - a large old stream passage about fifteen feet high by about ten to twenty feet wide.  The floor of this passage is covered with dripstone and broken straws.  After roughly a hundred feet or so, a ‘T’ Junction is reached.  To the left the passage closes down after only a few feet, but to the right, however, the passage continues in a high rift for two hundred feet.  At various points along this passage ¬- The Strand - can be seen some excellent helictites, one is over three inches in length.  The strand ends in a low crawl in which some fine examples of 'soapflakes' can be seen.  There is a high level passage here, but it has been found to end by Kangy, who succeeded in climbing into it.

The whole series was named September Series, and it is hoped to be able to publish some photographs of formations at the top of September Chamber.  We should like to express our thanks to Jonah, who has kindly offered to print them for us so that they can be included in a future B.B.

Mike Wheadon and Prew

 

A sketch nap of some of the September Series appears on the opposite page.  Ed.

Letters

7 Widecombe Crescent
Bath

Somerset

To the Editor, B.B. Dear Sir,

Re-Tankard Hole and St. Cuthbert’s Swallet

I find it necessary, on behalf of the K.K.K., to contact the B.E.C.  First, I must refute certain arguments made in the infamous Belfry Bulletin last month where it was postulated that Tankard Hole had travelled to its present position from Bodmin Moor.  This is complete and utter nonsense.  From considerations of the faecal nature of the kave, Tankard Hole is undoubtedly the child of an unholy alliance between Eastwater Boulder ruckle and the Belfry Detailer.  Q.E.D.

This now brings me to the second, more important item which, once more on behalf of the K.K.K., I find it necessary to bring to public notice.  The true story of St. Cuthbert’s Swallet!

For many years, learned members of the K.K.K. have been of the considered opinion that the above mentioned cave is, in fact, the long since lost Dozmory Pool Swallet from Bodmin Moor.  This opinion has now been brilliantly confirmed by the discovery of the Dozmory Pool Scrolls by Prof. Wanchor-Scramp, Professor of Celtic Archaeology, Camborne School of Mines.  A detailed analysis of these important historical documents occurs later.  The evidence upon which the K.K.K. based their original assumptions is as follows: -

(1)     The rift like entrance shaft to the system is typical of the eroded portions of granite extrusions that from the tors on Bodmin Moor.

(2)     The existence of the Tin Mine in St. Cuthbert's.

(3)     The marked resemblance between the white formations in the September Series and Bodmin Moor sheep.  In the opinion of no less an authority on such sheep that the president of the K.K.K., these unfortunate animals accompanied the kave on its journey from near Dozmory Pool.  Being the only true subterranean inhabitant at that time, the witch of Wookey was so enraged as to turn the sheep into stone.  However, justice and retribution were at hand, and the saddened soul of the dead Kornish wizard, Merlin, retuned from beyond the Styx and transformed the witch into stone herself. The popular local fable attached to the witch is all spherical.  To confirm this theory, the K.K.K. intend visiting the September Series wearing wellington boots.

Now the letter discovery of Dozmory Pool Scrolls finally pieced together the whole tragic story, which is summarised below: -

Apparently, in the year of our Lord one thousand, seven hundred and absolutely nothing, King Arthur and his knights of the round detailer held court at Tintagel. Unfortunately, his queen, Guinevere, being English, was faithless and had disappeared to Amesbury with King Arthur’s henchman, also of English birth, Sir Lancelot.  This incidentally, provided further evidence in support of the theory that all born east of the Tamar are, like policemen, illegitimate. However, in an attempt to win back his erring bride, King Arthur caused Dozmory Pool Swallet to be removed form its place and taken to his queen as a reconciliatory present.  With a cry like unto a member of the B.E.C. at closing time, Queen Guinevere tossed the kave out of her boudoir window and it fell to earth in its present position.  The queen was a strong wristed woman.

It is therefore the considered and unanimous opinion of the K.K.K. that the B.E.C. should return what is now termed St. Cuthbert’s Swallet to its rightful position on Bodmin Moor. The rejection of the gift by Queen Guinevere meant that the kave was never successfully given away, and so remains the property of Kornwall.  Since relationships between the B.E.C. and the K.K.K. have, until now, been extremely kordial, it was decided that no action by the K.K.K. would be taken provided that the kave is returned on or before midsummer’s night's eve.  If this be not done, then the armed forces of the K.K.K. will cross the Tamar hand in hand and march on Priddy.  The Belfry will be razed to the ground and the whole of the B.E.C., including women and children, will be put to the sword. Dozmory Pool Swallet will then be re-instated in its proper place in the great and glorious Duchy.

You remain, Sir,
My humble and obedient servant,
Signed, Kenneth Dawe.

(President, secretary, Treasurer, hut warden, Committee and member of the Kornish Kave Klub.)

Editor's Note.     The above letter is the first we have ever received from the Kornish Kave Klub. Indeed, it is thought to be the first they have ever written.  Previously it was believed that no member of the K.K.K. could write.  They can, of course, count sheep!

*****************************************

To the Editor, B.B. Dear Sir,

As the original perpetrator of "Bertie" on the Belfry sign, I was very interested and flattered by Roger Stenner's letter in last month's B.B. but you know, really, I couldn't claim that the shape of it is the "authentic B.E.C. bat". The saw just happened to cut the thing out that way.  Anyway, there is nothing sinister about the shape one way or the other, is there?

If you want to find a more authentic version, I think you will have to search far back into the club's history, perhaps even to pre-war days.  Wartime club trip cards and notepaper had a B.E.C. bat embossed on them. Also, Barry Stanbury's car at that time sported a bat car badge.  Perhaps Dan Hassell could throw some light on the subject, after all, there is his badge of office - that should be authentic!

Now that moulds appear to be available, I hope that someone will be able to mass produce an acceptable club badge – enough people have tried in the past without success so far.

One last point, though. Plastic badges on rucksacks. Ouch!  Think of the weight!

                        Tony Johnson.
 

Torridon Sandstone

by I. A.  Dear

On top of the oldest rocks in Britain, the Lewisian Gneisses (pronounced nices) one thousand million years old, was laid in pre-Cambrian times a great layer of sandstone.  These old gneisses form the Hebridian islands and are found in an intensely folded and metamorphic state in North West Scotland.

It is not, however, these old hard rocks which make the mountains of North West Scotland but the great thickness of Torridon Sandstone which is capped with the hard white quartzite just as the limestone in Yorkshire is capped with the resistant Millstone Grit. This great belt of sandstone has only been slightly folded but much eroded by air, water and ice to from great steep sided mountains of a beautiful red sandstone.  These mountains extend from the southern part of Skye to north of Ullapool.

In the midst of these, at Inveralligan, on the edge of Loch Torridon, is a youth hostel which is the nearest approach to the Belfry I have yet seen.  It does not boast of electricity but has piped water from a stream. The warden visits it once a day to collect the dues, but leaves you to your own devices.

Behind this hostel are Beinn Alliganm, Liathach, Bein Eighe - well over 3,000 feet with miles of hill walking country and I believe many climbs.  In front is Loch Torridon and on the other side of the loch is the Applecross Forest.  The mountains here look like great contour models due to the prominent horizontal stratification.  They can be reached by a ferry operated by the warden, as are all the business enterprises in Inveralligan.  Around the coast through fine Gweis lies the fishing hamlet of Diabial.  In the evening light this makes a fine picture.

While touring Scotland, I have stopped here for a few days but never long enough to do justice to the really serious hill walking this area demands.  This year I hope to stop longer and I am wondering if anyone would care to join me.

I have chosen early June for this when the weather may be at its best but before the midges reach their peak.  It is also the time when the day is longest.  While we were there last year it was light from 3.30 am to 11.30 pm.

The great disadvantage is the distance.  At least 450 miles from Bristol. It can be reached by train to Achnasheen (via Inverness) and then by hostel bus - no trains on Sunday. You can take your car to a Scottish youth hostel.

Other disadvantages are the “nearest” is 15 miles away and closes at 9.30 and all day Sunday.  The lack of fresh food (the butcher calls once a week at 10.30 PM and careful planning of your menu is thus necessary).

However, this is a great country, the finest that I've yet seen (not that I’ve seen much) and I hope that some of you will have the pleasure of visiting this area some day.

*****************************************

No Sonnet This Month – Too Busy – Shakespeare

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

 

It is with deep regret that we record the death of John Wallington, a caver from Bristol who died whilst acting as a sherpa on the Cave Diving Group’s recent operations in Swildons on the seventeenth of January.  To his family and friends we offer our sincere condolences.

Editorial

When the Belfry was first opened in 1947, it was agreed that the basic charge per member per night would be one shilling.  Over twelve years have passed since then, during which the prices of many everyday articles have doubled, and we can thus take pride in the fact that the basic Belfry charge is still a shilling and seems likely to remain so.

This has only been possible because of the large number of people using the Belfry – a figure greater than that of any other caving club on Mendip.  The figures for 1958, which have just been completed, show that all records have been broken by a handsome margin and an astronomical total of 1,416 bed nights have been record for the year.  This represents an increase of 334 over 1957, which itself was a record year.

Although factors such as the exceptionally bad summer played a part in boosting the 1958 figure to this size, the indications are that it would have exceeded 1957 in any case.  If we can keep the bed night total high, we shall be able to continue to provide ourselves with the best facilities on Mendip at the lowest cost.

 “Alfie”

Committee Meeting

At the January meeting of the Committee, Colin Smith was elected to membership of the club.  Other business dealt with included the progress on renovations to the Belfry kitchen, the state of the club tackle, the new building, arrangements for the provision of mains water, the club tent, the club stretcher, the possibility of providing club car or motorcycle badges and ties, and repairs to the Belfry.

Cuthbert’s Map

St. Cuthbert’s Swallet is undoubtedly the most complex system yet discovered on Mendip, and new portions are being added continually to the known cave.  Owing to the complexity and for various other reasons, it will be some time before a full survey can be published and meanwhile, it is hoped that readers will find the ‘tube map’ on the next two pages useful in placing new discoveries and connections as they are found in the future.

To draw such a plan, which is only designed to show the routes through the cave, some liberties have had to be taken with the relative position of some parts.  The plan does show however, the order in which places are visited on any particular route through the system.

The map was prepared form an analysis of all the published information on the cave system, and checked with members who are especially conversant with some of the lesser known series.  We are especially indebted to Roy Bennett (Rocky Boulder Series and Coral Series) Chris Falshaw Rabbit Warren Extension and Catgut) ‘Kangy’ King (Maypole Series) and ‘Prew’ (September Series).

No indication is given on the plan as to the relative sizes or difficulty of any of the passages shown. The dotted line on the Rabbit Warren Extension side of the plan is the probable stream connection.  The other dotted lines are places where connection is visual but should not be travelled over.

 

Most members will have read accounts in the national press of the recent Swildons trip in which a Bristol caver lost his life. Some of theses accounts were inaccurate in detail, and it is felt that members who were not on Mendip at the time would appreciate an account in the B.B.  The following general account has been obtained from various club members taking part in the trip and subsequent rescue operations.

Swildons

The C.D.G. operation started in the morning when the sherpa parties and the diving party entered the cave. After they had gone down, heavy rain added to the effect of a sudden thaw and the stream rose considerably. In the afternoon, the parties down the cave realized that it would be impracticable to attempt the diving operation (which was to get a party of divers into Swildons VI) and began to make their way out.

Meanwhile, on the surface, it was thought that the caving party might need some assistance and in consequence the M.R.O arranged for cavers to stand by in readiness.

In the early evening, the first members of the sherpa parties emerged from the cave and reported that the journey out, although severe, was quite practicable and that the remainder of the members of the sherpa parties were coming out in good order. It was thought that the diving party was also on the way out (which was, in fact, not the case) although the first cavers to emerge were not in a position to confirm this.  At this point, it was decided to send a rescue party into the cave with the object of rendering any assistance which might be necessary at the later stage of the trip.

Several members of the diving and sherpa parties experienced difficulty on the ladder at the Forty owing to cold hands which had lost their grip on the ladder rungs and also due to the force of the waterfall.  One man, with a sprained wrist, required help and two others (one of whom was Wallington) were suffering from the cold and wet conditions; came off the ladder and were held by the lifeline.  In Wallington’s case, he caught a foot in the ladder and had to be freed from below.

Other members of the diving and sherpa parties, coming out one by one, kept rescue workers higher up in the cave and on the surface continually informed of the situation at the Forty.  As it became apparent that further assistance might become necessary, more cavers who had been standing by in readiness were sent down to reinforce those already helping.

By this time, John Wallington had been assisted up the Forty and was in the hands of the first rescue party at the top.  The water was subsiding but, as his helpers were about to take him through to dryer surroundings, cold and exhaustion took effect, and he died.

Although a high percentage of the more experienced and active Mendip cavers were in the cave for the diving operation the rescue arrangements on the surface worked smoothly and the transport of fresh cavers to Priddy was rapidly organized.  The first of these was ready to descend when the first members of the diving and sherpa parties started coming out of the cave. Adequate supplies of caving equipment were available and the widespread use of exposure suits, as well as greatly increasing the comfort and effectiveness of those wearing them, made it possible for later rescuers to use kit which members of the diving and sherpa parties had taken off.  A fire and supply of hot drinks were ready at Maine’s Barn in time for the first arrivals from the cave and a continuous check was kept on the whereabouts of all members of the diving, sherpa and rescue parties.

Wallington’s body was brought to the top of Jacob’s ladder at which point later parties took over, bring it to the surface at about 11 pm, by which time all the rest of the diving and sherpa parties had emerged safely from the cave.

Personal

Congratulations to Tony Johnson and his wife, Mary, on the birth of their son, David Anthony.

SPECIAL MESSAGE to Terry Marston of the Bradford Pothole Club – ‘You’re a member of the B.E.C. now, Terry!’

What’s this we hear about E.T.B.C.O.M.?

Notices

The club are prepared to by Kodachrome and supply it to any photographer who will take cave pictures for the club slides.  We would prefer complete reels, but arrangements can be made for anyone who will take ‘one for himself and one for the club’.  Arrangements for payment for flashbulbs will also be considered.  For details see Bob Bagshaw.

KEN DAWE, Exploration Secretary of the Shepton Mallet Caving Club, is organizing a coach trip to Yorkshire at Easter.  Cost will be approximately £2.  Make your own arrangements for food and shelter.  All B.E.C. members welcome.  Ken’s address will be printed in next month’s B.B., but meanwhile write to Bob Bagshaw.

This Month’s Sonnet

What was it that produced a total great
(One thousand and for hundred and sixteen)
Of bods who stayed in 1958
Within the Belfry? What makes them so keen?
Perhaps it is the great Romesse stove
Which in the winter glows red-hot with coke
(The bills for which are sometimes known to roam
And all get paid in by some other bloke!)
At any rate, the Shepton Mallet lot
Are putting in a paraffin affair
And rumours that, at Hilgrove cavers plot
To have their own Romesse, fill the air.
The Belfry for the summer now must cater
And be the first with a refrigerator.

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Maybe you have noticed a certain ‘sameness’ about the contents of this month’s SIX (now 5) PAGE Belfry Bulletin?  That is because the whole thing has had to be written by one bloke (me).  If YOU wrote for the B.B. as well, that would make two of us!

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Would YOU buy a car or bike badge or a club tie if you could?  How much (or little) would you be prepared to pay for it?  Let any member of the committee know your views on this, so that they can get at least some clue!

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