Belfry Bulletin

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The original function of the Belfry Bulletin was, as its name suggests, to report to club members on the progress made on the construction of the club hut – The Belfry.

The last month has seen spectacular progress made on the Belfry site.  The redecoration of the living room is almost compete; the kitchen has been tackled and only requires a few finishing touches; the exterior  of the hut has been creosoted and, joy of joys, we have obtained permission from the Ministry of Town and Country Planning to go ahead with the building of our new stone tackle store and changing room and have lost no time in starting to dig the foundations.

As far as we know, the new stone building will be the first permanent building ever to be erected on Mendip for the purpose of caving, and those of us who remember the old Belfry in its heyday will feel that it is appropriate that this new building should be rising, as it were, from its ashes.

Appeals are not indulged in much in the B.B. nowadays, but we feel that an exception could well be made at this stage to appeal to all members on two counts.  The first is that we now have a nice looking, freshly painted, clean hut.  Let us all try to keep it the best on Mendip!  The second is that the erection of the new hut will take a lot of work. We have never lacked willing hands in the past, who put up the New Belfry and added the extension and porch. Let's get that new stone hut up before the winter!

Finally, a big "thank you" to all members who have sent in material for the B.B. of late. At the moment, we have a surpl¬us, so don't be worried if your article doesn’t appear in this B.B. and don't stop writing!  We use it up very quickly!

" Alfie. "

July Committee Meeting

Arrangements for the redecoration of the kitchen and the creosoting of the outside of the Belfry were finalised at the July committee meeting.  Other matters deal with were the provision of nylon lifelines, Certificates for Hon. Life Members and the provision for a club tie.

The Tackle Officer reported that we now possessed four 20ft and one 15ft standard lightweight ladders.  With two more 20 foot lengths under construction.  It was also agreed, in view of the new decorations, to prohibit the use of paraffin for burning purposes in the Belfry.

Change of Address.

Alfie has now moved to 33 Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8

Annual Dinner.

This will be held at the CAVE MAN RESTAURANT at CHEDDAR on SATURDAY  OCTOBER 4TH, 1958.  The price of tickets will be 10/-.


We must apologise to “Kangy” whose letter would have been printed at this point in the B.B., had it not been lost in the Editor’s recent moving activities.

Make a note of the date of the Annual Dinner & A.G.M. - Oct. 4th!


Caving Log

1st June

Vole Hole.  Digging continued.


St. Cuthbert’s.  Tourist trip to Sump.  Leader N. Petty.

7th June

Swildon’s.  Trip to Sump II.  Leader, Roger Burky.


Beginners Top of Swildon’s from St. Annes Board Mill .  Comments included Yarroo!, St. Michael & all angels preserve us!, Let me get at Falshaw!, Help, help I’m sinking!, HaHaHaHeHeHe! &c.  However, all want to cave again.  Leaders, C. Falshaw and B. Ellis.


St. Cuthbert’s.  Digging in the Tin Mine.  More stal chipped away and a small chamber 2’ high with a stal floor and some straws seen.  Leader Kangy.


St. Cuthbert’s.  Digging in Tin Mine.  With a fair squeeze accompanied with the noise of breaking straws, Vivienne and Chris managed to proceed into a fair sized chamber.  This sloped downwards away from the dig to a streamway.  Upstream was a sump.  Downstream another squeeze was negotiated with the aid of the stream.  The passage then descended to a small pool (not a sump).  Further progress should be possible.  A sketch plan is shown below.  Leader Chris Falshaw.




Stoke Lane.  Leader R. Burky.

14th June

Eastwater.  (Both main routes).  Leader F. Darbon.


Vole Hole.  More digging.  Alfie and Jill.


Ludwell Cave.  Leader R. Burky.

16th June

Hunter’s Hole.  Digging in Railway Tunnel.  Leaders D. Hoskyns and D. Soutar.

20th June

Swildon’s Four.  Leader D. Hoskyns

23rd June

Whitcombe’s Hole.  Leader D. Hoskyns.

25th June

Hunter’s Hole.  Digging in Railway Tunnel.  Leader D. Hoskyns

26th June

Swildon’s.  Trip to Sump I.  Leader D. Hoskyns.


The next entry, dated 26th June, is completely indecipherable and looks like Phantom Swallet.  Could this be Plantation?

28th June

Holwell Cave.  A party of six arrived at Holwell Cave in the Quantocks to explore and survey it.  The cave is a system of small passages forming a three dimensional maze.  In the main passage, some excellent aragonite crystals were observed.  Leader Prew.


St. Cuthbert’s.  A further extension of 20 to 30 feet was forced in the Tin mine Passage.  This is very wet and tight.  Leader Chris Falshaw.

29th June

Vole Hole.  Shoring.  Alfie and Jill.

4th July

Vole Hole.  Shoring.  Alfie and Jill.

5th July

Vole Hole.  Shoring.  Alfie and Jill.


Goatchurch.  Leader Mike Wheadon.


Swildon’s.  Trip to sump I.  Leader Dick Cook-Y


St. Cuthbert’s.  Attempt to pass sump in Tin Mine. Passage.  A large stal flow impeded progress and much water entered the sumping suit.  Mighty Man Sandall then attacked the stal barrier and a sizeable hole was produced.  This was passed feet first, partially floating into a circular chamber 20’ diameter and 20’ high with 3’622 of water and no apparent outlet.  Leader Chris Falshaw.

6th July

Sandford Levvy.  Leader R. Burky.


August Hole.  Leaders Mike Palmer and Mike Wheadon.


Vole Hole.  More navving.  Jill and Alfie.

7th July

Great Oones Hole.  Mr. R. Price and Miss J.P. Rollason inspected this by the light of matches only.  Mr Rees and Mr Collins were unwilling/unable to climb to the entrance, but directed operations form the road.

9th July

Vole Hole.  Alfie, Jill and Bob Price.


Banwell Bone Cave Bone Cave plus Bakers Extension.  Leader Bob price.



12th July

Eastwater.  Beecham Series.  Leader R. Burky.


St. Cuthbert’s.  Coral Series.  Leader C. Falshaw.

13th July

Hunter’s Hole.  Discovery of Sanctimonious Passage (see separate article).


St. Cuthbert’s.  To sump.  Leader Prew.


St. Cuthbert’s.  Maypoling in Hanging Chamber.  Leader R. King.

19th July

Swildons.  To Sump II.  Leader I.A. Dear.

20th July

Eastwater.  Dolphin Pot.  Leader Dave Tattan.


Swildons.  To Sump I.  Leader Dave Tattan.


Hunter’s Hole.  (See separate article).

21st July

Swildons.  Top Series.  M. Tooke.

24th July

Lamb Leer.  Leader D. Willis.


St. Cuthbert’s.  Digging in “New System” which was started by N. petty at the bottom of the entrance shaft.  By removal of several unwanted boulders, it was possible to enter the upper part for a rift passage after negotiating a tight squeeze.  At first the way on was not obvious, the the obstruction proved to be composed of a very soft ochreous stal easily removed to reveal a deep ‘ole in a rift.  The rift was descended to a floor of ochre deposit into which one could ‘happily’ sink to one’s knees.  In the up dip direction, the passage became completely choked.  Continuing down dip for some 20-30 feet brought us to a pretty little grotto to one side of which and Eastwater type bedding passages descends from choked inlets to the region of the grotto.  The passage directly at the back of the grotto is completely choked and digging will ruin the fine decorations.  It is thought that this rift is an upper level of the entrance rift, but this will have to be checked by surveying.  It was decided to call this part of the cave Ochre Rift.  A Grade 1 survey follow: -




Estimated length is approximately 100’.  B.E. Prewer and A. Fincham.

26th July

Eastwater.  Dolphin Route.  Mike Wheadon.


Cuthbert’s.  Ochre Rift.  C. Falshaw.


Eastwater.  At 4.454 pm, Roger Horton ( Wessex) arrived at the Belfry to inform us that a chap was stuck in the squeeze at the top of the 180’ Primrose Pot.  Four B.E.C. members turned out and all the others stood by in case a large party was needed.  On the way to the cave, another member of the Wessex party informed us that medical attention would be necessary.  The M.R.O. were then informed at 5.00 pm.  Three B.E.C. members reached the top of Primrose Pot at 5.10 pm.  Mike Wheadon went through the squeeze and by pushing the bod from behind, while others pulled from above, he slowly came through.  His condition was good, although tired.  After a short rest, the party started towards the surface.  En route for Rift Chamber, M.R.O. arrived.  Whole party was out by 8.00 pm.  On the surface, a large party of cavers from various clubs, including the original party of Wessex, were ready should they be required.  N.B. It was rumoured that “Spike” complete in caving kit, was in this party.



29th July

Swildons.  Leader K. Robbins.

30th July

Cuckoo Cleeves.  Leader E. Lambert.

31st July

Hilliers.  Leader Mike Wheadon.


Hunters Hole

Sanctimonious Passage

On Sunday, 13th July 1958, a party descended Hunters Hole under the misdirection of Ian Dear with the intention of digging at the end of the Railway Tunnel.  Before work was started, an attempt was made to reach a small ledge eight feet up the right hand wall and seventeen feet from the bottom of the main pitch.  Ian had attempted to climb up to this ledge a fortnight earlier but, due to mud covered rock and loose boulders, had been unsuccessful.  On this occasion, a lighter person wearing rubber soled boots was able to make the climb by using another persons back as a start and then, when on the ledge, cleared most of the loose boulders, thus enabling others to climb. It should be pointed out that many of the boulders are still loose and care should be taken when climbing this.

The removal of a few more boulders enlarged a hole at the back of the ledge and it was possible to squeeze through into a boulder floored passage about three feet wide and two feet high.  The passage ends after fourteen feet, but just before the final wall is reached it is possible to squeeze between two boulders which brings one to the edge of a pot six feet in diameter and nine feet deep.  It is an easy climb to the bottom, and a low passage leads off parallel to the Railway Tunnel of the main system.  After thirty feet, including a further squeeze, a small chamber is reached where there is a four foot drop. Near the roof is a small grotto from which leads a small passage which closes down after six feet.

Below the grotto a passage leads off, and after proceeding through a fourth squeeze, the top of another pitch is revealed.  This was named ROVER POT and is eighteen feet deep.  It is probably easy to climb, but a short rope or a ten foot ladder belayed from a convenient spur of rock six feet down makes the climb much easier. At the bottom of the pitch is a fairly large chamber with a passage continuing at right angles to the Railway Tunnel, but unfortunately this closes down after twenty two feet and is blocked by a stal flow.  The final passage is some twenty lower than the bottom of the Railway Tunnel and more than ten feet lower than reached so far in the dig.  It is the lowest part of the cave and approximately 160 feet below ground level.  The total passage length is about 125 feet.

It is probable that readers will wonder about the name given to the new extension.  It so happened that the previous night a visitor to the Belfry had been offended by the lads, and rather than spend a night in such company, had packed his bags and made the 150 mile journey home by car.  It was felt that such gallant behaviour should be commemorated and hence the name!

During the following week, the passage was surveyed Bryan Ellis and Brian Sneddon as part of a survey of the complete cave which is hoped to publish at a later date.  Although the measurements for the survey are made to C.R.G. grade 5, the survey accompanying this screed (or article? See B.B. No. 126!) has only been drawn up roughly, and not more than grade there is claimed.

The following weekend, another descent was made, and after a superb tangle of ropes, caused by Ian’s attempts at directing the lowering of tackle down the main pitch, had been sorted out, digging was started at the terminal stalagmite and the mud filled passage. Both look promising and it is intended to carry out further work at both places in the future.  While this was going on, work was also carried on in Dear’s Ideal.

(We regret that this article has had to be cut short to allow the survey to be included.  A full report will be published in B.E.C. Caving reports at a later date.  Ed.)

To the Editor Belfry Bulletin.

Early this year a B.E.C. party was trapped below the 40' pot in Swildons because a second group took out the tackle believing the first party to be already out of the cave.

The misunderstanding that took place calls for some comment on cave leadership and safety.

1.                  Every party should have a recognised leader responsible for making all major decisions and for seeing his party has got adequate lighting and clothing.  He should also look after the safety of his group and ensure that nobody is persuaded to go beyond his capabilities, and help and advise novices.

2.                  With a party of equal caving experience, this leadership will be rarely exerted, but nevertheless a leader should be chosen and must be able to exert authority if necessary in case of accident, dangerous exploration &c.

Under club rules all trips should have a leader whose decisions must be obeyed.  There is a tendency nowadays to ignore advising novices on carrying equipment and techniques.  A practical training in this is essential and to supplement this letter I shall be submitting an article on caving equipment and methods shortly.

M. Hannam.
Caving Secretary

Open Letter

To those Whom the Cap Fits: -

During the Bank Holiday weekend, some members of the Wessex Cave Club were interrupted in the process of setting off some fireworks etc. outside the Belfry.  This is fair enough and we would be a pretty dim lot if we couldn’t take a joke.  What we don’t think very funny; however, it is the attempted setting off of a detonator on the roof of the Belfry porch.  This could have been dangerous to anyone passing at the time, particularly as there were two expectant mothers at the Belfry that day.  A dim view would also have been taken by our Fire Insurers. In addition, the frivolous use of explosive materials would result in the withdrawing of “bang” licenses.  On top of this, the perpetrators of this joke attempted to light an electric detonator by setting fire to the leads! Obviously anyone so unaware of its use should not be handling a detonator anyway.  We trust we have made our point clear.


The Belfry Bulletin. Editor: S.J. Collins, 1 Kensington Place, Clifton, Bristol 8
Secretary: R.J. Bagshaw, 56 Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol 4




As a result of nearly all the members of the Editorial Board going away on holiday at the same time, an event unprecedented in club history will take place – the B.B. will be coming out before its published date this month, and you should be reading this in June.

It will not be possible to include all the caving log for June, but the remainder will be published in the B.B. for August, along with the log for July.

More than ten years have passed since we last had a page of cartoons – remember “Half Pint’s” page –we have now had a firm promise, and the first of our new series may be included in this issue.

Apologies to all, especially the author, about the announcement of caving Report No. 3.  Owing, as they say, to pressure of work, it has not actually been published yet although the date on the covers says ‘May’.  This matter, as they also say, will receive out early attention.

June Committee Meeting

The plans for the new, stone built, tackle store ands changing room have been passed by the Wells R.D.C. but we still have to wait for approval from the Ministry of Town and Country Planning.  It was agreed that work should go ahead as soon as we had permission.  Arrangements for the redecoration of the living room and kitchen and the job of the creosoting the outside of the Belfry were discussed.  The following new members were elected: -

Albert Francis, Arthur Siddaw, Jim Leigh, Janet Boot, Richard Hartley, Stewart Always, Frank Darbon and Dave Hoskyns.

New members are reminded that back numbers of the B.B. are available, price 3d each, if still in stock. Please apply to the edition or any members of the board.


We have received the following from Claire: -

The large attendance and the spirit shown at the gathering for distribution of Don’s ashes was much appreciated by his mother and myself.  Thank you, everyone.


Bristol Museum

The museum is short of a large number of old copies of the B.B. and wants to make up a complete set. It is not possible to provide the following from stock of back numbers: -

1 to 27, 90, 97, 104, 106, 107, 108. 

If anyone can spare these for donation to the museum, it would be appreciated.

The Maypole Series

The inevitable reaction to a first visit to the Maypole Series, after climbing up what seems to be a never ending series of fixed ladders and chains, is that surely the present end of the series must be near the surface.  Recent work has given an indication of the depth of the series and incidentally clarified thoughts on the structure of the upper part of the Cuthbert's system.

The entrance to the Maypole Series (Ref. 1.) has been known since soon after the St. Cuthbert's Swallet was first entered.  Easier exploration took priority and it was not until the 16th Feb. 1957 (Ref. 2.) that a tentative maypole was tilted at the hole at the top of a twenty five foot pot. The trip failed but the problem was clear and at the beginning of March, a longer maypole enable Don Coase and Tony Rich to climb to the bottom of yet another pot.  More maypoling, under the direction of Rich revealed the series as it is now.  Later mechanization, using two chains, a steel fixed ladder and a crude pulley has made the series readily accessible (Ref. 3.) and it should be restated that the line at Pulley Pitch (Ref. 4.) has been underground in St. Cuthbert's for at least three years and has been used extensively, and is therefore suspect. It is recommended that a tested rope be used to hold the ladder while the ladder is climbed.  The nylon line should be used only to pull the main rope into position.

At the beginning of this year, Norman Brooks was contacted end asked if he would be willing to use radio apparatus of his own design to measure the depth of the final (highest) chamber.  He agreed, and so a C.R.G. Grade 4 survey was started to give an idea of where the final chamber lay in relation to the entrance.  This has been completed.  The next step is to use the apparatus and it is hoped to try this sometime in the summer.

It can be seen from the survey (which will be found on pages 3 and 4 of this B.B.) that the total depth of the bottom of the Maypole Series is 260', the height gained in climbing the series is 175', which gives the depth of the final chamber as 85' below ground level.  Assuming approx. 10% margin of error to cover both human and instrumental errors, the depth becomes 75 - 95'.  This is the same level as Arête Chamber and the top of Pulpit Pitch in the Entrance Series. It also corresponds to the estimated height of the roof of High Chamber.  The lowest point on the section on the survey shows an arrow pointing to Lower Traverse Chamber.  This passage leads to a window in the roof of Lower Traverse Chamber and a drop of twenty to thirty feet to the main stream passage.

The pots in the lower part of the series have been equipped with permanent tackle.  Short Chain Pitch is about fourteen feet and is inclined at about seventy degrees.  Above this pitch are two small, well shaped pots which rise six feet between them. The entrance to the series proper is the largest pot which is vertical and has a twenty foot permanent steel ladder standing on an interesting sill, making a total pot height to the top of the ladder of twenty four feet (Ref. 5).  Long Chain Pitch is twenty feet high and is steep, being about vertical at the top. An awkward Chockstone Pitch, surprisingly exposed at the upper part, to the twenty feet of Pullet Pitch, the final proper pot of the series.  The remaining sixty five feet of vertical height are gained easily over two hundred feet of passage following the major jointing.  It should be noted that a trip can be made more comfortable for a party if the leader dams the stream at the top of each pitch.

The survey was primarily intended to give an indication of the position of the highest point in the Maypole Series.  It can be seen from the survey that point, Escalator Passage, is 140 feet at 610 from the entrance.  In relation to surface detail, this point is about twenty to thirty feet the other side and to the right of the dam in the Cuthbert’s depression.  The Muddy Boulder Ruckle is thought to lie under a small pond filled with tussock grass.  This probably has no particular significance in that the stream from the Maypole, originating in the Muddy Boulder Ruckle, is probably seepage water from the larger area of the depression.

In general, the most striking feature of the series is the rapid gain in height of 110' over the first hundred feet via the succession of pots.  An interesting feature is the pronounced way in which the upper part follows the major jointing of the limestone.  Most possibilities of ways on appear to have been tried but determined effort may be rewarded at (a) ESCALATOR PASSAGE which ends in a narrow rift too tight to force but widening beyond (b) at either of the openings to the left and right of Escalator Passage, though the North East one is excessively loose (c) APPENDIX PASSAGE which ends as a gravel choke or (d) In the MUDDY BOULDER RUCKLE where decaying vegetation may be found after forcing a tight squeeze.

Care should be taken, as always during exploration, to avoid irreparable damage to natural phenomena. It is hoped that a more descriptive account of this series will appear in the next St. Cuthbert’s Report.

Acknowledgements are made to Messrs Fred Davies and Tom Neil who did the majority of the survey work with me, and to some members of the club, particularly Alfie Collins, who helped with much useful advice.


1.                  B.E.C. Caving Report No. 2, Page 8.

2.                  Diaries of Don Coase and Roger Stenner.

3.                  B.B. No 114, July 157.

4.                  B.B. No 119, December 1957.

5.                  B.B. No 125, June 1958


Notes on the Survey.

The instruments used were a prismatic compass, a copper tape in an aluminum case and a clinometer. Time spent on surveying was approximately 22 hours.  The accuracy of the survey will not be known until the end is fixed by radio methods and it is depressing to realize that the circle error at the end of this long open traverse could be of the order of fifty feet radius.

How to Write an Article for The B.B.

It is a fact most wonderful and strange to contemplate that our club consists of some hundred and twenty members, most of whom can read and write.  It can be further be shown (as Euclid, no doubt, would have put it) that it requires two articles of average length to complete the usual 8 page B.B.

We are now in the happy position of being able to draw a conclusion.  If every member wrote an article once every four and a half years, this would be sufficient to fill the B.B. ad. inf.

The next move in this erudite argument is one of extreme subtlety.  Each member must be persuaded to write an article.  Obviously here a snag arises.  One can imagine the reader, aghast at this suggestion, pointing out that it is inhuman to expect each member to produce one article every four an a half years.  “No man,” one can imagine him saying, “Could work at such a feverish rate and retain his sanity!”  This is, of course, agreed.  Fortunately, as the man with the flat back tyre said, a solution is at hand.  Owing to the average stay in the club per member being of the same order as the frequency with which he should write an article.  EACH MEMBER NEED ONLY WRITE ONE ARTICLE during his entire stay in club.  It is generally conceded that this intellectual effort, although still severe, is possible.

At this stage, the reader has, it is hoped, been fired with enthusiasm to take up this fearsome challenge, only to have his aspirations dashed once more to the ground by the next obstacle.  “What,” he asks, quite reasonably, “Can I write the article about?”  Agreed, this is something of a facer.   The equipment needed at this stage by the intending author is known as an idea.  An idea is not easily come by.  In this respect it resembles a clue, and people have been known to go years without either.

Don't despair! You too can have an idea – and remember, you have four and a half years to have it in! A widely held belief asserts that the average bloke can produce an idea in two years, and exceptional individuals, by sheer concentrated effort, have been known to reduce even this fast time. This is, of course, without the benefit of our system.  With the system, an idea is GUARANTEED to occur.  To obtain the full benefit of this amazing system (send no Money!) you have only to peruse the following little questionnaire.  Just read the questions and pick the group most suitable to your circumstances: -


Are you        (l) An active Caver/Climber/Belfry visitor?

            (2) Still alive?


Were you     (1) An active Caver/Climbcr/Belfry visitor?

                   (2) Young once?


Are you        (1) An infrequent visitor to Mendip?

            (2) A Bloke-who-has-gone-to-live-an-ellofalong way away?


You have picked?  Good.  Now read on:-


GROUP 'A'. In your active career you MUST have been on a trip in which something unusual, interesting or amusing happened - just one at least!  Listen to the lines shot at the Belfry, Hunters &c.  YOU probably shot one last weekend!  Write it down.


GROUP 'B'. All the remarks of group 'A' apply to you, but in addition, you obviously know that things arc not what they were (they never are!)  These poor blokes who go caving/climbing/drinking/&c now, never knew what is was really like &c &c.  Tell them!


GROUP 'C'. When you do come to Mendip, what’s it like?  Has it changed?  Any new caves?  What are you doing now anyway?  Anything interesting? What’s your part of the world like?

Of course, it is possible to have an idea without, or in spite of, the system above.  Let us rashly assume that you have an idea of what to write about.  Now you must decide in what form to write it.  The table of weights and measures may be of use here: -


2 Poems

2 Letters

2 Articles

= 1 letter

= 1 article

= 1 screed

Poetry requires fewer words per line than prose and also makes you appear cleverer than you really are. This is obviously worth looking into. A letter is easily written and can always be padded out by telling the editor what a fine magazine he runs. This automatically ensures publication. Only the advanced writer should attempt a screed.

Let us now consider the system in action.  Bert Bodge, who has recently joined, is persuaded down Swildon’s (on which trip some of the ladder rungs slipped while Bodge was climbing back up the twenty) and he later goes down Stoke Lane.  After these two trips, he never goes caving again, but remains in the club and eventually moves to Kerrimuir where he is employed by a ball manufacturer.  Now let us see what Bodge has found to write about: -

B.B. 128

(Sept. 1958)  “My First Caving Trip.”  A novice’s impressions of Swildon’s Hole (article)

B.B. 131

(Dec. 1958)  “A Recent Visit to Stoke Lane Slocker” (article)

B.B. 136

(May 1959)  Letter replying to ‘Geologist’ pointing out that Stoke is different to Swildon’s

B.B. 141

(Oct. 1959)  Letter replying to author on article on tackle about the slipping of rungs.

B.B. 142

(Nov.1959) Poem.  “When you’re climbing up a ladder”

B.B. 146

(Mar.1960) Letter replying to ‘Hydrologist’ pointing out that Stoke is different to Swildon’s

B.B. 148

(May 1960)  Poem.  “Going through the sump in Stoke”

B.B. 174

(July 1962)  “Some interesting fact about Kerrimuir”

B.B. 177

(Oct 1962)  Letter inviting any member to drop in when passing through Kerrimuir.

B.B. 181

(Feb 1963)  “Mendip revisited” (article)

B.B. 190

(Nov 163)  “Early Days in Swildons and Stoke Lane” (article)

It is, you will no doubt agree, surprising to see how much can be written about practically nothing. This article has been written on the same principle just to show how easy it really is.



Caving Report Number 3 “The Manufacture Of Lightweight Caving Ladders, By Bryan Ellis”, is now on sale.  Make sure of your copy.  Price 2/-


Our Congratulations to Mervyn Hannam who, we understand, is shortly getting married.  Also to Roger Stenner for getting his degree.  How did you manage it, Roger?

Second International Congress of Speleology.

This is being held at Bard, Lecce, Salerno this year from the 1st to the 8th of October. The fare will be about £24 return. Any members who are interested should get in touch with Bob Bagshaw.

Cave Research Group Meetings

Northern General Meeting             17th May, Durham (now over).
Southern General Meeting            12th July, Hereford Museum.
A.G.M.                                       8th November, George Hotel, Tideswell, Derbyshire

International Speleological Camp.

In connection with the Brussels International Fair and the Brussels International Colloquium on Speleology (4-6 July) a camp is being organised at Complain-au-Pont, 16 miles from Liege, Belgium.  The camp will be open from 25th June to 31st July to cavers, climbers, walkers etc. Tents will be provided but camper will have to provide their own sleeping gear.  Food will be provided and facilities available for self cooking if preferred.  Tours will be arranged to Belgian show caves and beauty spots as well as to “wild” caves.  Apply to The Secretary, “ Camp Speleo 1958”, Ruo Tanixho, 35 Bressoux, Liege, Belgium.



The Belfry Bulletin. Editor: S.J. Collins, 1 Kensington Place, Clifton, Bristol 8
Secretary: R.J. Bagshaw, 56 Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol 4



This is going to be very brief note this month.  In fact, in the ordinary course of events, there would have been no editorial at all – there being nothing to comment on but seeing that we only have one article to print this month perhaps this will not come amiss.

As we stated when we took over this job, if we got a shortage of articles and contributions, we would just press on by ourselves.  This has occurred this month, and the following B.B. is the result. This is just a gentle hint.


April Committee Meeting

Owing to the unavoidable absence of the Hon. Sec., no new members were admitted to the club. Business dealt with included the decision to sell the old duplicator, the purchase of some wood from the Shepton Mallet Caving Club for the new Belfry kitchen renovations, an approach to be made to the National Smelting Co. about the possibility of getting some slag for the approach to the Belfry, the construction of some more standard ladders for club use, and the provision of a suitable memorial for Don Coase.

Disciplinary action was taken by the committee against those taking part on a Swildons trip on the 21st February.  A letter of apology has been sent by the Caving Secretary to the M.R.O.

Annual Subs.

The Hon. Sec. wishes to remind all members that their subs should now be in.  For the paltry sum of 12/6 you can remain a member of this club for a whole year!  Life Membership, at five guineas (note the high class currency used) is also getting popular.

Coach Trip to Clovelly

We now have a club member who is a fully qualified coach driver!  Any club members and/or friends interested in a coach trip to Clovelly, returning via Lynmouth and West Somerset coast road on Whit Sunday please contract Alfie.  There are about 20 spares seats.  Coach will pick up and return to various points in Bristol and also at the Belfry by request.  The fare will be 19/6, and the driver will be the inimitable Dave Hunt.

Climbing Guide.

A new publication, Climbing Guide to Dartmoor and South West Devon, has been received from the Royal Naval Ski M.C. and is now in the club library.

This guide contains descriptions of climbs on the Dewar stone rocks, 8 miles from Plymouth, Sheep's Tor, Vixen Tor, Morwell Rocks, Hay Tor group and other Tors on Dartmoor.  A visit to these cliffs makes an interesting weekend.  The guide is 8/- per copy and may be obtained direct from the printers:-

Holbrook and Son Ltd., 154-5 Queen St., Portsmouth.

Change of Address

R.J. Bagshaw, our Hon. Sec., will be moving in mid May.  His address will be: -

699 Wells Road, Bristol 4

Summer Holidays

Ian would like to know if any other members were interested in a Youth Hostel tour of North West Scotland towards the end of June.  Write to Ian Dear, 78 Reforne, Portland, Dorset.

Annual General Meeting and Dinner

Since no replies were received in answer to the request in the last B.B., the committee have decided that these shall in future be held on the FIRST SATURDAY IN OCTOBER each year. The next one will be this coming October.  Details will be announced later.


A 10 inch long playing record will shortly be made of the second, third, fourth and fifth of these poems. These are tales of the bloke who put carbide in his beer, the digging machine, the type who made artificial stalactites and the tale of the bloke who found caving dead easy.  It is also hoped to include Oliver Lloyd giving some of his songs to guitar accompaniment.  The records people want an idea of the number of copies that are likely to be sold, so if you want one – the price will be about 25/- - please get in touch with Alfie. It will probably not be possible to re-order once the first lot have been sold.

B.E.C. Abroad

News of some of our roving members.

DENNIS KEMP left London airport on Friday 11th of April, bound for Karachi.  He is one quarter of a British four man expedition who are going out there to climb the Biafo Glacier in the Karakoram range in North Pakistan, and from thence climb and survey any likely looking peak.  Before leaving, Dennis said that he intended keeping his eyes open for caves in any of the limestone regions through which he passes, so there is a possibility of a B.E.C. caving trip in the Himalayas at some time in the future. Better start saving now!

TOM FLETCHER, who came home from Tanganyika early last June for a spell of leave, and promptly went off on a Greenland Expedition, has now returned to Africa.  As he was only in the country for about a week before sailing to tropical lands once more, we were unable to take him on a long promised trip to the bottom of Cuthbert’s.  How about a write up on the arctic trip Tom?

ANGUS and MAGGIE INNES, whom older club members will remember, and who left about two years ago to travel round the world on a motorbike, are now in New Zealand.  We have no details of how they managed to run the bike over all that water!

Rumour hath it that JOHN LAMB will be returning soon from Canada.  TONY RICH is in regular contact with several members, and we should have some more news soon.

We should like to thank the members who have supplied the above information.

Caving Log

5th April         Goatchurch and Rod’s Pot.  Leader ‘Mo’
7th April         Cuthbert’s – trip to sump.  Leader ‘Mo’
13th April       Vole Hole.  Sinking of third shaft begun.  Alfie and Jill.
                     Cuthbert’s.  Maypole Survey.  Survey taken out of Maypole Series
                     and through to Upper Traverse Chamber.  Leader R. King.
                     Swildon’s Four.  Leader Ken Dawe (S.M.C.C.)
                     Cuthbert’s.  Maypole survey completed.  Leader R. King
19th April       Vole Hole.  Shaft No. 2. Alfie and Jill
20th April       Cuckoo Cleeves.  Leader Mike Wheadon
26th April       Cuthbert’s.  Photography and dig at first chain.

Exploring By Camera

..... or how not to take pictures round corners, by Alfie.

I have often wondered whether it would be possible to push a camera round the odd corner in a cave which is too small for the human bod (especially mine!) to wriggle round, and when the film is developed – revealing no doubt some huge chamber richly encrusted with formations, it would then be a worth while matter to call in fuor Price to blast a way in.

On the face of it, the thing looked easy, so easy in fact that I have been tempted to try it. First, a peculiar device was constructed, consisting of a lot of assorted bits of steel rod, with adjustable joints here and there; a clamp for the camera and flashgun, and a whacking long lead for firing the bulb when the crucial moment arrived.

The next stage was to choose some suitable cave where there was an ‘orrid ‘ole too small to admit the human frame.  Luckily my partner in crime on this expedition knew of a cave in the Bristol area which would fill the bill, so without further ado we sallied forth.

The camera was set up on the end of the aforementioned system of rods and joints, the shutter opened, and the camera slowly worked into the ‘orrid ‘ole by the aid of a very dim light.  At once snag number one became apparent.  The ‘orrid '’le, too small to admit the human frame as promised, was also too small to admit the camera and flashgun assembly as mounted.  The camera was slowly pulled back again while two brains worked at high pressure to find solution to this baffling problem.  At last it came!  Like all great inventions, this one was simple.  We turned the camera through a right angle on its clamp and it now went through easily.

Snag Number two, which consisted of the question of what direction to point the camera in when we had. got it round the corner, was partly solved by the solution to Snag No.1. We could only push the wretched thing in one way anyhow.  This we did, and when we found that it was swinging free in space the other side of the ‘orrid ‘ole, we solved the rest of the problem by the simple expedient of ignoring it and just applying an electrical contact to the end of the cable. This should, of course, have caused the flashbulb to ignite.  The camera was slowly pulled back to see what had gone wrong with the bulb.  A loose connection was quickly diagnosed and the camera slowly lowered once more into the ‘orrid ‘ole.

In order to understand the cause of the next accident, it is necessary to describe the way an electrical connection was made at the operator's end of the cable.  This consisted of touching two wires together which had been carefully kept apart while the camera was being slowly lowered in.  As a result of the use of this ingenious method, the bulb fired this time when the camera was being slowly lowered in.  Once again, we were back to square one.

After many such amusing incidents, an exposure was finally made, and Jill and Myself waited impatiently for the thing to come back from Kodak’s.  Imaging our surprise when we found that a correct exposure had resulted! Admittedly, it only showed a rock face very much out of focus over most of the area of the frame, but it's the principle of the thing that counts!

Seriously though, we have found that it is possible to estimate the distance away of objects by noting the focus, and on one side of the frame is a definite indication of a way on. We think the method may be of use, and have learnt a lot, the hard way, about the design of means of holding and moving the camera.

Editor's Note  (same bloke as Author)

After having written the above, Kangy gave me a cutting from the Times of April 21st.  It refers to the exploration of unopened tombs by Italian archaeologists by a similar method.  A small hole is first drilled in the top, and the equipment is lowered in.

Cooking For Cavers

With the recent introduction of more and better cooking facilities at the Belfry, it is now possible for the inhabitants to enjoy a more varied and interesting diet.  With this in mind, we publish a short selection of recipes from that interesting and unusual book, “Cooking for Cavers”, shortly to be offered for sale to the public at a fantastic price.

Baked Beans a la Hobbs.


1 tin Baked Beans
1 bottle Coate’s Triple Vintage Cider.


Stagger from bed.  Cast bleary eye round kitchen.  Locate ingredients.  Imbibe sufficient liquid from bottle to find tin opener.  Open tin.  Imbibe more liquid to fortify constitution.  Wait until floor becomes steady before lighting gas.  Catch sight of beans.  Close eyes, grope for bottle.  Swallow. Repeat as necessary.  Turn beans out carefully into a saucepan.  Finish bottle to settle stomach.  Throw beans into rubbish bin.

Shepton Tea.  (This is suitable for Belfry residents only.)


1 motorcycle
1 Thirst
1 Idle Nature


Start motorcycle and allow to warm gently.  Add pillion passenger to taste.  Travel at moderate rate to the Shepton Hut.  Supervise tea making, beating where necessary.

Cuthbert’s Surprise


6 assorted tins of feeod.


Remove labels and shuffle tins.  Select three tins at random.  Open and pour contents into a saucepan.  Bring to boil and serve.

By following this recipe, it is possible to enjoy an interesting variety of dishes, many of the combinations being refreshingly novel.

On no account should a tin of Carbide be included in this recipe.

Policeman’s Lot


1 Coke Stove
Parafin to light
Any breakfast materials


Pour paraffin into frying pan and light stove by sliding under coke.  When coke has caught, remove frying pan, add cooking fat to taste and place pan on cooking stove with breakfast materials. Light gas.  Dowse resulting flames with washing up water and throw burnt clothing on stove.  Replace pan on cooking stove and cook breakfast until quite black.  Remove from gas and allow to cool in pan.  Beat carbonised breakfast into fat and use to black lead stove.  Gaze hungrily at shining black coke stove and wait for Hunter’s to open.

Caving Reports

Caving Report No.3, on the Construction of Lightweight Tackle, by Bryan Ellis, will be out this month. Price will be fixed when costs of production are known.



It doesn’t seem very long ago that we were celebrating the publication of the hundredth issue of the B.B., and yet here we are a quarter of the way towards our second century. The rather dubious looking heading of this page is supposed to be marking the occasion.

Readers may have noticed a gradual deterioration of the quality of the typing of the B.B. of late. This is not due to the new duplicator, which is behaving very well, but is because this typewriter is in need of overhaul.  In particular, the tops of capital letters are not coming out properly.  We are hoping to have this attended to before the printing of July’s B.B.

The publication last month of Caving Report No.3 has, we hope, accomplished two things.  The first is to convince one and all that we do intend these to appear at intervals – however irregular – and the second and most important is to get some of the methods of tackle construction used on Mendip down on paper.  To our knowledge, in this club alone, at least five types of ladder have been constructed and it is doubtful whether more than a few individuals are familiar with the methods used.  We could do with a few more write-ups on this subject for caving reports.



Dear Mr. Collins,

I was very interested, in Belfry Bulletin No 123 (April 1958), to read the article by Ken Dobbs on 'A cave at Newton Abbott.' This cave is known as Conitor Cave, after the quarry in which it is situated.  There is a brief mention of it in 'Britain Underground' and it is also listed in 'British Caving'.  In so far as there is a main route through the cave, this runs downwards, and is reached by a number of holes that drop down to the right - as mentioned by Dobbs (who must have looked down a difficult one, as there is an easy way down just beyond!)  These holes lead to a roughly horizontal corridor, form which a variety of interesting squeezes which look as if they ought to go on.  Some do, for a short distance, but narrow fissures or cemented boulders have prevented us from getting very far.  There are some very colourful red flows and curtains in these lower Grottos.

I gather from Ken Dobbs' letter that he hasn't come across any cavers in Devon.  Perhaps he would like to get in touch with us some time?

Yours Sincerely

John Hooper
(Recorder & Editor, D.S.S.)

Editor’s Note:    We publish the above for the benefit of any members who find themselves in Devon.  You look as if you’ve got some caving organized, Ken!

May Committee Meeting

The May meeting of the committee dealt mainly with routine matters; the provisioning of the more tackle, the renovation of the club lantern and slides, the arrangements for creosoting the Belfry during the summer.  The date of the next, and subsequent Annual General Meeting and Dinner was fixed, as announced in last month’s B.B., as the first Saturday in October. Discussion on a suitable memorial to Don Coase continued.

The following new members were elected: - G. Todd; D. Soutar; P.C. Wilson (Junior) and A.C. Coase.

Log  for  May  1958

4th  May

Vole Hole.  Digging of the 3rd shaft continues.  Jill and Alfie have now reached half way down again.


Eastwater.  Trip to Primrose Path and Rift Chambers, Leader, “Prew”

4th  May

Cuthbert’s.  Maypole Series Survey.  Also surveyed High Chamber and examined approach to Hanging Chamber. Leader “Kangy.”  (A more detailed account by Kangy follows later in this issue.)

10th  May

Hunter’s Hole.  Rawlbolt fitted for main pitch.  The rawlbolt for the lifeline belay could not be fitted owing to the breakage of hammer!  The trip went on and continued digging at the bottom.  Leader, Ian Dear.


Cuckoo Cleeves.  Trip to end.  Leader, Ian Dear


Cuthbert’s.  A four hour digging trip in the “Tin Mine” in the Rabbit Warren Extension.  A stream can be heard.  Leader, “Prew.”

17th  May

Cuthbert’s.  A photographic trip.  On this trip, a new passage on the left of Lower Traverse Chamber was entered.  A series of oxbows ascending rapidly and eventually joining, the Old Route Stream approx. forty feet above the Water Chute.  Another extension leads to the top of Lower Traverse Chamber.  Leader, Chis Falshaw.  A sketch map is appended below: -


The two trips following are out of chronological order, we apologise for this.

3rd May

Cuthbert's.  Brian Ellis and Chris Falshaw went to Plantation Junction were instruments were set up.  Chris came out and Bryan stayed taking photographs.  Chemicals were put in Plantation Sink and Chris went down cave to Join Ellis.  Continued to sump

4th May

Cuthbert's.  Retrieved apparatus from Plantation Junction.


Further researches in Cuthbert’s
Have now inconclusively shown
That water swallowed in Plantation
It not passed by the Junction alone.

Chris has promised a more scientific account later.  Meanwhile, the editor, who has restrained his poetic outbursts in the B.B. for some months now, can contain himself no longer and inflicts the following on you:-


Chris F. made preparation
For an investigation
To find the destination
Of water from Plantation.
This science application
Had chemical foundation.
To show, by combination,
The water’s percolation.
They hoped to find relation
Of stream configuration
And rate of transportation
By Ionic Migration.
Chris had co-operation
From Bryan, who did station
At lowest elevation,
Himself for the duration.
They waited with elation
And much anticipation   

Then checked their installation
With great exhilaration.
But then, with lamentation,
There came the realization.
There was no correlation.
In fact, complete negation!
This caused great cogitation
And lengthy meditation
Until their cerebration
Reached absolute stagnation.
So if, when on vacation,
You try participation
With gen instrumentation
To find this deviation,
Don't let your new vocation
Cause undue perturbation.
Just stop, and yell “Damnation!”
And try intoxication!


Cuthbert’s  Hanging Chamber

Cavers familiar with the Maypole Series have been aware of the presence of what seemed to be a hole high up in the left hand wall (facing upstream) of Bridge Chamber - The entrance chamber to the Maypole Series, containing the fixed ladder and short chain pitches.

Until recently, the nearest anyone had been to it was at the time of the first maypole attempt on what is now the permanently laddered pitch.

On that occasion, 16th Feb., 1957, R.S. King climbed to a small ledge formed by the stal flow on the wall (indicated by the pin figure in the sketch on the next page).  The stal above appeared to be too steep to climb, and the ledge too small to support a maypole and crew.  This was confirmed by ‘Mo’ Marriott, who climbed to the same spot almost a year later.

During the surveying of the maypole series early this year, it was noticed that it might be possible to examine the hole from the chamber at the bottom of long Chain Pitch.  With this in mind, a party took strong lights and a few weeks later climbed into the narrow inclined rift from this chamber and found that it did indeed overlook Bridge Chamber.  By strange and hazardous contortions, it was found possible to illuminate the hole and with satisfaction, a fine white cascade was glimpsed.  More immediate surroundings contained a narrow, steep sloping, muddy ledge and a small stal ledge.  Both could be utilised during the engineering which must precede access to the hole.

At Whitsun, a party carried exploration a stage further and dropped a ladder onto the muddy ledge from the viewpoint.  It was found possible to step from this ledge to the stal ledge.  From this airy stance, it could be seen that the hole has considerable depth and height and is, in fact, a chamber containing some important formations.  Independent opinions of each of the four in the party give the cascade an estimated height of fifty feet.

The problem is now clear, and materials and a method are available to solve it.



A Pyrenean Picnic or Anglia Abroad

by Tony Johnson.

This long screed may be helpful to anyone looking for a trip abroad which is not infected with G.B. plates and yet is not too far off the beaten track.  When planning our 1957 summer holidays, this was our main thought.

We started out from Bristol at 6.00 on a Friday evening and by 7.30 next morning were safely on the quay at Le Havre.  From our experience, we can safely recommenced the night B.R. service from Southampton.  The “Normani” is one of the post war vessels and is very smooth.  Crossing this way is dearer than the short routes (especially as there is longer bar time) but when you add up the fuel bill down to Dover and through Northern France, I doubt if there is anything in it starting from the West Country. Added to this is the attraction of starting off in France after a good sleep (all berths arc comfortable and cheap).

Our first days run was to be the longest of the whole tour.  Straight south across the Seine Ferry, on through Le Mans, the Mulsanne straight, Tours and Poitiers towards Bordeaux, and the Spanish frontier.  It was a hot sticky day, so we stopped short of Bordeaux on the higher ground.  The Boule D'Or at Barbezieux was our first port of call, 6 pm and 410 miles from the channel!  Dinner was typical.  It lasted most of the evening.  One thing, was different though, the father and mother of all thunderstorms arrived and as we ate and drank, the lights went dim and bright by turns, finally packing up to be replaced by huge candles.  This storm lasted into the night with lightning of every conceivable colour.  We could look at the maps by the light.

Breakfast in the morning, was what was to become typical, ¬croissants and a huge bowl of coffee consumed in the bar.  Then out into the sun in search of a metre of bread, a bottle of wine (3 or 4/-) and a kilo of peaches (6d or 9d) as a basis for lunch.  Back again to settle up and depart.  The Boule D' Or was typical of the hotels we found in the small towns of the main tourist routes with good food and drink - clean and cheap.  A few comments on French hotel technique may not come amiss here to those who, like ourselves, have not had any previous experience.  Firstly, and most important, get a Michelin Guide.  It is far and away the best and most comprehensive guide I have yet found. Hotel proprietors live in fear and trembling of it and if they see you carrying one they will not over¬charge. Next, never be afraid to say the room you are shown is too dear if you think it is.  They will usually show you something cheaper!  Unless you understand what you are ordering (which we didn't) stick to the fixed meal at night; odd special dishes cost a lot more and the normal food is almost certainly very good.  Drink local wine unless you suspect it or have a very strong desire for something special.  It is usually good and very cheap.  Don't bother about garaging vehicles.  They seem to be all right left lying about the place, especially if British. Finally, don't hesitate to add up and check the bill.  It's probably O.K. though; and don't bother about tips except special ones as you have probably paid for them already under the heading "s.t.c."

To resume then, Sunday morning fine and fresh after the storm saw us driving the Anglia down the miles of tree lines straight towards Bordeaux.  Our first diversion came soon.  A large blue coach sat on its backside in the middle of the road.  The two rear wheels had had an argument and parted company, leaving the rest of the coach to slide along without them.  Nobody worried - most of the passengers were picking flowers!

On past the huge Pont de Pierre into Bordeaux in the middle of Sunday morning.  What a scrum!  Rather like a cross between Oxford Street and Petticoat Lane with all the shops going full blast!  Turn left and out again to the south and the hills, but first more petrol - trois mille francs d'essence (super of course) just over 6 gallons for almost £3 - This was before cheap tourist petrol.  From now on, we should need to keep that tank full, we thought, as petrol stations were likely to get further apart.  140 miles later, we arrived in Pan and lunch was due.  From here we saw our first view of the Pyrenees, but this was rather disappointing and rather like the Lake District from the Pennines.

A few miles out of Pan and the off the road and down to a stream for lunch.  You notice off the road.  Don't stop on the road.  If you do, mobile gendarmes appear from everywhere if you don't pull onto the verge. Out, primus stove and water keg; on soup, coffee etc. wine in the stream to cool and off we go.

After lunch, we first got out the sectional Michelin maps of the Pyrenees. Up to now we had navigated on the Michelin road book, but now we were leaving the Houtes Nationals for the yellow, white and dotted roads.

Our route now lay upwards towards the frontiers.  Firstly through pine woods, past numerous hydro electric barrages, then up through the spruce trees until we came out into a long snaking valley above the trees. Huge boulders and cliffs all round us disappeared into low cloud.  Then there was the frontier barrier, 6,400 feet up.  Beyond, we could see the clouds broken up with sunny patches on the rough dirt Spanish road.  The time was 3.30 and we were on the frontier 45 hours and 720 miles from Bristol.  Not fantastic perhaps, but not too bad considering we had done a lot of sightseeing and photography on the way.

However, we weren’t intending to cross over just yet, so back we went down the road beneath the clouds. This was the contrast we were to find a number of times in the next ten days - cloud and paved roads in France (albeit damned "bombee" in places) and sunshine and dirt roads in Spain.  It seems that the clouds pile up against the French side of the Pyrenees.  This accounts for the almost incredible green of the French landscape compared with the scorched appearance of the Spanish side.

It was now 6 o'clock and time to look for an hotel.  Here we made a mistake which we were careful not to repeat.  We picked out a place which turned out to be a shocker. Instead of departing for somewhere more convivial, we persisted.  It was like some vast barracks.  I do believe we were the only people to stay that summer, certainly that night.  So be warned if a place has an air of deserted grandeur about it, it is probably deserted for a very good reason, so steer clear!  French and Belgian tourists aren't fools and they are the main source of income in the Pyrenees.

                                                            (To be continued.)

H.E. Balch

It is with regret that we must record the passing of Mr. Balch, on, we understand, Whit Monday. Mr. Balch was an Honorary Life Member of the B.E.C., and so perhaps we may be permitted to add our own club's tribute to his long lifetime of work on Mendip caves.

For the last three years of his life, he was reluctantly confined to bed, but even then he spent them being through all his caving memoranda and tidying up all the loose ends. We received a letter from him asking several questions about the Redcliffe Cave system in Bristol only a few months ago.

Humour has it that he did a 'top of Swildons' at the age of eighty two!  This was typical of the keenness he showed.

His work at Badger Hole, his books, and his Curatorship of the Wells Museum are well known to all cavers, and he was never too busy to chat to cavers, giving novices and experienced cavers the same courteous attention.

Those who never saw him have missed what every Mendip caver considered to be part of his education - those who knew him will we are sure, join with us in mourning the passing of a great and well-loved caver.


The Belfry Bulletin. Editor: S.J. Collins, 1 Kensington Place, Clifton, Bristol 8
Secretary: R.J. Bagshaw, 56 Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol 4


The Mendip Cave Registry

For some time now, a group of cavers drawn from nearly all the clubs concerned with caving in the Mendip area have been engaged in compiling a Register of information on all Mendip caves.   Members of the B.E.C. are helping with this work, which has now reached the stage at which the officers of the Registry feel that its existence and aims should be brought to the notice of many Mendip cavers as possible.  We feel we can assist by publishing the whole of a recent circular written by the Chairman of the Registry.  This follows below: -

“The desirability of having a central source of information on Mendip caves has become increasingly apparent over the last few years.  It is probably true to say that as much information is being lost to the caving world as is being gained by new exploration.  Some pioneer cavers of the early days of the century have left us, taking with them much useful knowledge and who knows how much information is locked up in the personal diaries of eminent cavers of yesterday?

Several individuals have thought of, or even tried to produce, a complete record of Mendip cave information; but it was not until 1956 that representatives of most of the Mendip caving clubs met to consider setting up a registry. The result of this first meeting was the Mendip Cave Registry.

Since 1956, its officers have met on 17 occasions and have, after a considerable spate of debate and experiment evolved a system which it is hoped dill serve the needs of the¬ Registry for many years to com.

It was recognised at an early stage that the Register must be easily accessible to the caving public and arrangements have been made for it to be permanently available at the Wells County Library and at the Central reference Library, Bristol. It will take the form of a twin lock binder and will no doubt in time, develop into more than one volume.  The Register is based on the 2½ Ordnance Survey maps, and each map will be divided into four quarters; each quarter sheet will form a division of the register, and the information appertaining to each map section will follow the map.

The work of preparing the register will never be complete while cave exploration continues and publications are produced.  It is also inevitable the registrars will miss some references and information may be incomplete in other ways, but the object of preserving information that might otherwise be lost, and of making available to cavers a more complete record of information that at present exists, will certainly be achieved.

The volume of initial work is tremendous and it is bound to be some time before the Registers are placed in the Libraries.  There is already a very keen and hard working team, but the more help forthcoming, the quicker will be the Registry’s progress.  If any reader is willing to offer help whether financial, clerical, or in active research, he or she should write to the Chairman: Mr. Howard Kenny, Tudor Cottage, Beryl Lane, Wells, Somerset

If any club members want to know more about the Registry, the club has two members on its Governing Body, M. Hannam and A. Collins.



At 14.30hrs on Saturday, 29th March, Miss Daphne Anne Collistep Clague was married to Roger Stenner. The Bride, who wore a traditional white wedding dress of sort of lacy stuff, looked well and quite composed. The bridegroom has cleaned his shoes for the occasion and was dissuaded from wearing a striking M.R.A. uniform hat by his determined parents.  The wedding guests were numerous and of three types; relations, college friends and the B.E.C.  At the extremely amiable reception, after innumerable toasts, college friends and the B.E.C. found much in common, more particularly as the college friends were well flavoured and very feminine young women!  The evening ended at approximately 2030hrs as Daphne ands Roger left.

R.S. King

Club Library

The following books and publications are now in the club Library: -

The Caves of Mendip by N. Barrington
Sandstone Climbs in South West England.
The River Scenery of the House of the Vale of Neath
C.R.G. Occasional Publications No.1.  The International Expedition to Gouffre Berger.
Axbridge Caving Club Journal, Volume 1. No. 3
One Thousand Metres Down by Jean Cadoux

March Committee Meeting

The March Committee Meeting was attended by the whole of the committee.  Amongst matters dealt with were the new club duplicator, the provision of mains water and the new Belfry, the club Lantern and Slides, certificates for Honorary Life Members, the state of the club tackle, improvements to the Belfry kitchen, suggestions for a suitable memorial to Don Coase and the appointment of a new M.R.O. representative.  R.S. King was co-opted on to the committee as Climbing Secretary.

Caving Log for March 1958

March 1st:          Swildon’s.  Leader Marriott

                          G.B.  Leader Alfie (Photographic)

                          Cuthbert’s.  Leader Prew (Trip to sump)

March 2nd:          Eastwater.  Leader Roger Burky (Beecham Series)

March 8th:          Eastwater.  Leader Mike Wheadon (Ifold Series)

                          Goatchurch.  Leader Roger Burky

                          Sidcot.  Leader Roger Burky

March 9th:          Lamb Leer.  Leader Roger Burky

March 16th:         Cuthbert’s.  Leader Kangy (Maypole Series survey)

                          Swildon’s.  Leader Prew (Top Series)

March 23rd:         Swildon’s.  Leader Mike Wheadon (To Sump 1)

                          Cuthbert’s.  Leader Kangy (Maypole Series survey)

                          Great Oone’s Hole.  Leader Prew

                          Goatchurch.  Leader Norman Petty (Photographic)

March 30th:         Cuckoo Cleeves.  Leader Roger Burky

                          August Hole.  Leader Ken Dawes (S.M.C.C.)

As will be seen from the above, it has been decided to print a list of trips as entered in the caving log in the B.B. each month.  This will be followed by special articles on any of the trips, as in the past; or extracts from the log where the trips are of unusual interest.  In cases where the leader of a trip is not mentioned, the person who wrote the trip up in the log will be taken to have led the trip.


This month, all the trips were routine type trips, the only unusual occurrence being the remark made by Norman Petty after leading the Goatchurch trip on the 23rd.  He was heard to state that in his opinion, Goatchurch was more dangerous than Cuthbert’s.

In Search Of Snow

It is sad to note that, although some parts of the country had some of the heaviest falls of snow since 1947, none of it fell where it would be most appreciated.  In the first two months of this year, the climbing section made three trips to North Wales in search of snow conditions and drew a blank every time.

The first trip was made on January 18th, in a luxurious hired vehicle and a motorcycle.  The Saturday was so very wet that shopping at Arvon’s in Bethesda seemed the only worthwhile thing to do.  That particular weekend, England was playing Wales at rugby so the next call was at Llangollen where we bought a pint and asked to watch the match on telewele.  No telewele. It was the same at the Brittannia (authentic spelling) The Victoria and the George.  So with no telewele to watch, but with four pints of excuse apiece inside us, we headed back to the hills and a wireless set.  That evening we met in the Bryn Tyrch.

Sunday dawned more reasonably.  Overcast still but snow had fallen; enough to make things look pretty and ruin the roads for driving.  After a brisk walk round, we left early to get clear of the snow bound roads by nightfall. Even so, the motorcycle took 3½ hours to reach Shrewsbury, normally a two hour run.

The next trip was planned for mid February, when we could most expect snow.  Meanwhile we had heard that snow had fallen in the right place on January 23rd.  Some of this lasted until Saturday, but the only good snow was found in Cwm Glaswyn, making gullies on the north face of Yr Wyddfa possible.  By Sunday, the thaw removed even this.

On the 14th February, two new Ford Consuls, with a compliment of twelve, headed for the Promised Land.  Some promise! The only reason why anyone at all went above a thousand feet on Sunday was because Roy and Joan Bennett left early to walk on the Glyders.  Despite protests, Johnny Attwood insisted on dragging us through very heavy rain on an alternative route to the Glyders because ‘The two B’s were out in it.’ The two B’s (an apt appellation this time!) were not ‘out in it’ but by this time had returned without our knowing and were warmly reading in the car.  Our alternative route to the Glyders led us into Cwm Idwal, where we photographed remarkable line squalls blown across Llyn Idwal by eighty to a hundred mile an hour gusts of wind.  Then into the Nameless Cwm where we found one gully with the remains of a fine cornice at its head.  A ceremonial line of steps was kicked up this, and we headed splish-splash for Isaf, Mrs. Griffiths ands the Bryn Tyrch.  Sunday started with a remarkable sunrise and continued with unremarkable trips round Snowdon.

Acting on a hunch (and with ulterior motives) Mossman and King packed crampons, axes, many changes of jerseys, trousers and anoraks and mentally prepared for the unforeseen hazards, drove to North Wales on the 1st March.  Again, snow had fallen during the week and what remained, though only enough to outline the crests of the mountains and cwms, enhanced our appreciation of familiar scenery.

Saturday was bright and dry, with a strong wind which moved loose low cloud formations through the valleys and around the peaks.  No snow, but who cared?  We went to Snowdon and followed the Pyg Track to the foot of Crib Goch where we veered right and followed an interesting path rounding the Red Ridge into Cwm Glas to the foot of the Crib Goch buttress.  Reade’s route was dry.  This route contains a step across, rather like Knight’s Climb at Cheddar, with the added attraction of a rather steep wall with a variety of small holds on it.  At one point it was discovered that one can employ a hold previously un-encountered, this was provisionally named a ‘Right Buttock Hold.’  After this climb, we made a circular tour of our route by climbing Crip-y-Ddsgl and walking back down the Pyg Track.  Evening – Bryn Tyrch for beer and friends.

No one really believed Sunday.  A high bright blue sky with a slight breeze of sufficient strength just to move little wisps of cotton wool cloud along the slopes.  We breakfasted hurriedly.  Fragile feelings were dispelled with aspirin and we set out for a perfect days climbing in glorious weather.  After King and Ulterior Motive  had reached the summit of Craig Yr Isfa by climbing the nine hundred feet of Amphitheatre Buttress, low cloud form the sea could be seen pouring over Pen Yr Olwen and Daffyd to disperse in shreds over Ogwen.  A mist form in the Amphitheatre and suddenly a Broken Spectre with its attendant circular rainbow appeared.

A slow walk back via Afon Llugwy gave us marvellous views of the beautiful cloudscapes and made us quite forget that once again we had not taken our snow and ice equipment from the car.


A Cave at Newton Abbot

The cave is located six feet above the ground level in the of a disused quarry off the Totnes road about one mile from Newton Abbott.  It seems to have been start of a fair sized chamber broken into by quarrying, running in level for about twenty four feet before beginning to rise at thirty degrees or so in a due south direction.

At about sixty feet in, at section ‘f’ a smaller passage runs off downwards at the side of the main passage.  From this, narrow passages drop down on the right following the bedding plane which is at about sixty degrees in a south east direction.  The most likely looking is at 'fa 3' which can be seen to drop about fifteen feet, and almost certainly continues beyond this.  Unfortunately its position, angle and smoothness made it a more than one man job to investigate at the time.  At section ‘c’, a passage runs off to the left, but seems likely to connect back to the quarry lace.  It seems unlikely that the choke at ‘h’ would be worth following up, as it must be getting fairly close to the surface.  I have found one or two other possible holes while I have been down here, but the people I’ve nattered to don’t seem to want to get on close terms with ‘orrid ‘oles.

Ken Dobbs

Editor’s Note.    Most of our readers will remember Ken Dobbs, but for our newer member’s benefit, Ken played a very active part in B.E.C. affairs before he went to live and work in Devon.  Amongst other jobs, new cave which we reproduce below.

Life in Canada

Being extracts from letters written by Tony Rich to Roger Stenner.

Tony Rich asked me to get a B.B. article from his letters to me, and as last month’s B.B. suggested some letters from foreign parts might be of interest, here goes!

Arriving in Vancouver in August, three B.E.C. members, Rich, Lamb and Jenkins, found work out of the question and crossed the Rockies to Calgary – a 29 hour coach journey.  With only 25 to 30 dollars left, things looked grim, but Tony Rich was able to enquire about guitars.

Meeting a man from Kingswood in charge of the only garage in Calgary (a huge place) Tony got a job as a motorcycle mechanic, but was soon promoted to Deputy Sales Manage – they didn’t trust him with the Harley-Davidsons!  The family were they had their digs took them to Banff National Park in the Rockies – a fabulous place where one can walk up to bear and buffalo etc., if one so desires; swim in the hot pools at 80 to 88 degrees F in the open air and small the sulphur – sorry, sulphur.

Tony was then offered promotion to Sales Manage if he would stay on permanently, but refusing to do this, he was put out of work again.  With things again very black, he bought three long playing records and mailed them to me to keep for him.  Money has very loose connections with Mr. Rich!

Soon work came from the Frontier Geophysical Limited, an oil prospecting firm.  In this kind of work, any, including Tony Rich, are expected to do a bit of all kinds of things such as truck driving, surveying, manual work of various kinds, and work in connection with life in the backwoods. Tony was almost at once shifted 120 miles north at 24 hours notice (with an extra five dollars a day for inconvenience) for a rush job working twelve hours a day seven days a week.  Tony had to drive a truck all the way, although he had no licence.

Hard working usually breeds hard living, and Tony can tell many humorous stories as a result.  Rival crews, for instance, lined up in the main street of Ponoka for a real set to, with a very cut gentleman about seven feet tall emerging to make peace, all because of a dance hall incident.

Everything is closed on Sundays, but at a minute past midnight everything opens again!

The weather is fantastic at times.  At one stage, the temperature varied between 14 degrees of frost, with snow at 8 am and 80OF at midday.  This was in September.  By January, the temperature was fairly steady at about 30 degrees below zero.  Drilling 300 feet deep holes, 4½ inches diameter needs plenty of water for lubrication and drivers are supposed to drive as fast as possible between the hole and the nearest lake.  Turning on narrow roads is done simply by reversing fast into the ditches bordering the roads.  Drivers not driving as fast as the rest of the crew (who take hair raising risks) are invited to leave.

In February, the party Tony works with was moved right into the bush from Drayton Valley - and there were moose and caribou in Drayton Valley - further into the foothills of the Rockies, with linx added to the fauna.  The advance party, with Tony, arrived at midnight with the temperature thirty below and with no fuel.  His mattress froze to the bed, and in the morning he spent an hour under the truck with a propane lamp before gearbox could be operated.

The party was hit by bad luck.  Thirty thousand dollars worth of drilling rig burnt out, the centre cog of the crew, the operator, was gassed by carbon monoxide.  Tony crashed a truck, the seismograph failed to work, the cook left and accidents with a drill lost a fifteen thousand dollar contract.

Life in the bush means that the money piles up, and Tony has bought himself a complete set of photographic gear as a result.  Although many things do not appeal to Tony in Canada – he gets tired of being above ground, he likes the life, and claims it has made him very fit.

R. Stenner

Ten Years Ago (or nearly so!)

Having a bit of spare space in the B.B., we thought it would be a good idea to print a short extract from the B.B. of April 1948 – ten years ago, but we found that in fact, no B.B. was published for that month.  Here is an extract from the B.B. for March 1949, by Pongo, who thought that the description of the Natterer’s bat in ‘British Bats’ by Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald was quite applicable to the inhabitants of the Belfry.

“The Natterer has much hair on its face.  It goes into caves for hibernation at the end of September and does not resume activities until the end of March.  There is no segregation of the sexes during hibernation.  The Natterer is very gregarious and sociable, living in large colonies.  It is little affected by the weather, though it dislikes a cold east wind.  The time of its evening flight is very variable. There is much squeaking before emergence.”

Climbing Notes

The loose rock on the pinnacle of Knight’s climb in Cheddar Gorge has become even more unstable since the winter through frost action.  Climbers are recommended to climb the pinnacle from the cleft, taking the inside wall or the pinnacle instead of it’s shattered outside edge.  This will help to keep bits of Cheddar from dropping onto the weegies.

In North Wales, Mr. Williams of Gwern-y-gof-Isar has banned the Wallasey shower from his farm.

The bunkhouse at Gwern-y-gof-Isar needs to be booked well in advance and is 2/- per person per night. Barns and camping are 1/-.  The bunkhouse at Mrs. Jones, Blaen-y-Nant, is available again and seems to be easily booked.

Climbing Secretary.

Climbing Books

These climbing books were missed out of the January B.B. in error.  Our apologies to the climbing fraternity, who will find them below. They were sent to us by the Caving Secretary.

“Selected climbs in the range of Mont Blanc

By E.A. Wrangham, George Allen and Unwin, 216 pages (18/-). Contains descriptions with diagrams over a hundred routes.  This is the first Alpine Guide to be published in English since 1910 and if it sells well, others will be forthcoming.

“Mountain Rescue Handbook.”

Is a must for mountaineers and can be obtained from the Secretary of the Mountain Rescue Council, Hill House, Cheadle Hulme, Stockport, Cheshire.  Price 1/- post free or at a reduced price for larger orders.


The price of the B.M.C. magazine is now 2/- and can be obtained from Mr. A. Coates, Greystead, Milespit Hill, London, NW7.  Copies of this are in the club library.


Secretary:         R.J. Bagshaw, 56 Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol 4
Editor:              S.J. Collins, 1 Kensington Place, Clifton, Bristol 8