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Why Not Come Caving?

This was the poster that appeared on the front of a lorry in the recent Frome Carnival.

Three weeks before the Carnival there was a gathering of the Clan of ‘Browne’s Hole’ at which Mr. Browne made his annual suggestion of putting a ‘Caving Tableau’ in the Carnival.  Much to his surprise, everyone agreed.

Several suggestions as to the form of the Tableau were put forward, the one which was finally agreed upon was a reconstruction of ‘Swildons Forty’.

Three days before the Carnival the exhibit was began.  Ladders formed the main support, covered by old sacks sewn together.

Owing to the shortage of materials red dust was used to darken Snowcem, and it was applied by hand (literally).

The waterfall effects were supplied by a stirrup pump and a large tank of water. The water was pumped inside the construction and allowed to fall outside into the tank, forming as continuous cycle. The last paint was applied ten minutes before we left.  We put on normal (?) caving gear and set off six minutes after we were due to be judged.

The whole (Hole) construction was 18 feet and we went under a 17ft. bridge! We arrived at the field nailing the top of the exhibit together, and expecting to be thrown out for bringing such a disgusting tangle of sacks and snowcem.  The diver on the back of the lorry had just soaked the judges when we were awarded first prize of our class (Youth Organisation).

One member of fell off the lorry in his haste to get the prize card.  After being photographed we set off at the head of the procession.  Two days later it was noticed in an evening paper that we had won the ‘Jennings Cup’ for the best exhibit in the Carnival and Official notice was received four days later.

Anyone wishing to hear more about this should come to ‘Browne’s Hole’ any Sunday after 11am or phone Underworld 7.7.7.

D.W. Mitchell
F.H. Nicholson

Letter to the Editor.

1, Kensington Place

Bristol 8.

13th September 1956

To the Editor

Dear Sir,

As Caving secretary of the B.E.C. I should like to take this opportunity of replying to the letter written by Johnny Skinner which was published in BB105.

All the arguments he uses and points which he makes are of long standing, and without boring blokes by wittering for hours and quoting all sorts of guff, I think that the crux of the matter is simply this:-

The general membership of the B.E.C. has shown itself in the past to be very much opposed to any form of organised caving.  This is not necessarily a bad thing.  Over the last four years we have opened up four caves of varying size and one a fair amount of general caving as well.  Whether we want to get organised is, as Skinner has pointed out, a matter for the Club to decide.  The members of the committee exist merely to carry out the wishes of the Club on such points, and not to impose their own theories on the members of the club.

One last point I should like to make.  Any member wishing to find out the feelings of the club on such a subject has only to make a resolution to the effect that the committee be instructed to follow a certain line of action and he can have it voted on at the next A.G.M. If a majority decide in favour, then his resolution becomes the policy of the club on the matter.

Whatever criticisms are levelled at the club, we do pride ourselves on being a thoroughly democratic organisation whose committee acts on the instruction of the membership – a state of affairs which is by no means found in all clubs. Thus any change in the caving organisation of the club is, as Skinner has rightly pointed out, entirely in the hands of the members: -

I shall be interested to hear further on this subject and I am quite prepared to do any organising provided this is wanted.

Yours Sincerely,
‘Alfie’ Collins
Caving Secretary.

University of Bristol Spelaeological Society.

Session October 1956 – March 1957 Meetings.

Tutorial Classes.

‘An Introduction to Prehistory’ by Mr. Arthur M. A. Simon ( Institute of Archaeology University of London)  8.15pm. Fridays October 12, 19 and 25th and November 9th 1956.

These meetings will be held in the Society’s own rooms and will be illustrated by lantern slides.  As accommodation is limited these classes will only be open in general to members. Others may attend by invitation or by application to the Hon. Secretary.

Sessional Meetings.

These will be held on Mondays at 8.15pm in the Geography Lecture Theatre. Anyone interested is welcome to attend. All the lectures will be illustrated by lantern slides.

Entrance along carriage way from University Road, fourth door on left.

October 29th 1956           Professor F.E. Zeuner, D.Sc. Ph.  F.S.A.  F.G.S. F.Z.S.
“The Rock Tombs of Jericho”

November 29th 1956        Mr. H. St. George Gray, O.B.E.  M.A.  F.S.A.
“The Lake Villages of Somerset”

December 29th 1956        Mr. A.D. Lacaille, F.S.A.
“ Caldy Island”

January 29th 1956           Mr. R.J.G. Savage, Ph.D.
“Adam’s African Ancestors”

February 29th 1956          Mr. J.C. Coleman
“ Irish Cave Exploration A Review”

February 29th 1956          Mr. Nicholas Thomas M.A.
“Excavations at Snail Down”

March 29th 1956              Annual General Meeting
Presidential Address
‘Wookey Hole cave’

Climbing Huts in Wales.

The Cread Mountaineering Club has very kindly offered B.E.C. members the use of its Hut in Wales.

The Hut was at one time a Vicarage and is a large stone building standing in its own grounds above the Afon Dwyfer.


O.S. 1” map 107 or 116 grid Ref. 524453.  Turn off the main Caernarvon – Portmadoc Road A4085 at Dolbenmaen.  At Port Gyfyng an under faced road leads off left over a bridge and across a field to the Hut.


Lounge, dining room, two kitchens, drying room, bathroom etc. 5 bedrooms (30 people).  Bring sleeping bags.

Lighting by Tilley lamp, cooking by Calor gas and Primus stoves.

Hot water, coal, coke, wood, paraffin, crockery, pans, cutlery etc. is provided.


3/6 per night.

The address:


Pat Ifold will arrange bookings for those wishing to avail themselves of this kind invitation.

Also there is in the Nant Ffrancon Valley a farmer who is pleased to provide accommodation for B.E.C. members.  A small room and barns and outhouses are available at a charge of 2/- per night. No equipment is provided.

The address: -     (Bookings direct)

Mr. Jones

Please brush floors and leave place tidy as it is a good plan to leave other people’s ‘door-steps’ clean for the next visit.

Pat Ifold.

Preliminary Statement of Pen Park Hole

Sanction has been given by the Corporation of Bristol to excavate Pen Park Hole, the location of which has recently been re-determined by Professor L.S. Palmer. A geo-electrical survey was carried out and the results disclosed the presence of a large cave with several associated passages and with some water in the bottom.  It is proposed to excavate one of the filled-in entrances (probably an old mine shaft) and then to explore and survey the cave.  The possibility of making it a show cave is a matter for further consideration.

At the invitation of the Corporation, Professor Palmer has agreed to organise and direct this work, and he has very kindly requested the Bristol Exploration Club, the University of Bristol Spelaeological Society and the Wessex Cave Club to participate in a joint dig.

To enable the work to be started as soon as possible the following appointments were proposed by Professor Palmer.

Director   Professor                   L.S. Palmer
Assistant Director                     Professor E.K. Tratman
Pen Park Hole Dig Secretary     Mr. R.J. Bagshaw
Co-ordinating Engineer              Mr. P. Dolphin
Equipment Officer                     Lt. T. Shaw

It is intended that the work should be carried out under the control of a leader from each of the three clubs on the basis of the accompanying roster. The leaders would organise the work during their week with Mr. Dolphin as co-ordinating engineer.

To simplify this organisation it is suggested that a party of say no more than six persons would be arranged by the leader from his own club, but could of course ask one of the other leaders for any additional workers required.

Before work could be started ‘Blood Chits’ would have to be signed and it is suggested that the leaders are authorised by their clubs to ask only suitable persons to sign.  The completed blood chits would be forwarded to the Dig Secretary to enable him to keep a record of the persons allowed to dig and to ensure that only one blood chit would be signed by any one person (who would then be considered for the purposes of the dig, as a member of the issuing club only).

At the present time and until appropriate facilities are provided it is not Proposed to invite lady members to take part in the preliminary excavations.

It is suggested that the financial expenses of the dig should be met by the three clubs, but the City Engineer has promised valuable assistance with fencing the site, timbering the shaft etc.  The actual area to be fenced will probably be decided on Wednesday next the 19th September.  It is probable that a small bore-hole will be drilled where the dome of the main chamber is believed to exist.


In the last issue of BB a very interesting article entitled ‘Potholing in Yorkshire’ was submitted by A.J.Dunn.  Apropos of this article I must mention the fact that its trip was organised by the W.C.C. and, in fact, it was through their courtesy that Mr. Dunn was invited to take part on this trip.  I regret that a note to this effect was omitted from the article.


In the interests of safety no person will be allowed down Cuthbert’s unless at least two caves of comparable difficulty have been done previously.

A new lock has been put on the cave and four keys have been cut.  These are held by

R. Bagshaw.
A. Collins
C. Rees
M. Jones; being the four most available people.

The following members are authorised to lead parties: -

N. Petty
D. Coase
R. Bennett
J. Stafford
G. Fowler
B. Prewer
C. Marriot
C. Falshaw
J. Waddon
R. Wallis

In addition to ensuring that no novices are present, leaders should see that consumable stores are replaced and no damage is done to formations or equipment.

The list of leaders will be added to as more experienced people become available.


Arrangements have been made by U.B.S.S. with Axbridge Rural District Council, who own the cave, which allows freer access to G.B.  Each club has been allocated certain weekends for visiting the cave.  Guests who are not members may take part and the club members may visit the cave as guests of any other club if they make arrangements with these clubs.


Arrangements can be made to obtain the key.

A tackle fee of 1/- per head is payable to U.B.S.S.

Dates are as follows.

October 20/21 – B.E.C.
October 27/28 – M.N.R.C.
November 3/4 - Wessex
November 10/11 – Westminster
November 17/18 – Axbridge        November 24/25 – B.E.C.
December 1/2 – M.N.R.C.
December 8/9 - Wessex
December 15/16 – Westminster

Note: - Members wishing to go on trips with the above clubs must contact the secretary of these clubs two weeks before the trip.

Notes From East Africa

I would like to reassure members that despite the remarks of Miss Mudlark in the Feb/March issue of the B.B. companions are again in great demand for genuine caving and climbing trips.  The harvest of 5000 grapefruit from my garden is over and all the game trophies preserved, the latter operation being the tedious process of making glass slides from colour transparencies.  The rainy season has just finished so I am all ready for another round of caving and climbing and general exploration.

The caves in the Tanga area have chambers up to 40ft. in height and system of reasonable length to complete a strenuous afternoon exploration. Unfortunately those caves with large entrances are frequented by thousands of bats, and guano to the depth of 2 or 3 feet occurs in some of the more frequented passages.  This makes life a little tedious when the caves are wet, as a flat mat of guano can conceal a deep pool of water, and an immersion in this medium is not to be recommended.  However in the dry season this difficulty disappears.  On every occasion I have visited this area I have been able to break into new passages and the last time a completely new cave system was explored.

The high temperature and humidity underground demand the minimum of clothing yet some protection is needed.  This problem was particularly acute in exploring some coral caves in Zanzibar Island.  On that particular visit while climbing a small gorge some 20ft. high at the entrance to one of these holes, a swarm of bees demonstrated their objection to intruders in no uncertain manner.  Never have I climbed so fast or crashed through torn bush so regardless of injury in an attempt to shake off my black pursuers.  It is said that the bees of East Africa are more ferocious than any of the game animals and so far I support this view most readily.

Climbing grounds are at hand and a cliff of some 300 ft. high complete with overhang can be seen on the skyline from my home in the Usambara Mountains.  The most successful expedition so far was a 3,000 mile round journey to the Ruwenzori or Mountains of the Moon on the Uganda-Belgian Congo border, when Jerry Smith of the Climbers Club flew out to join me.  We celebrated Christmas Day by making the first ascent of the Great Tooth, 16,090ft. on Mt. Stanley, which was probably the highest unclimbed peak in Africa.  The N.E. ridge of Albert lying in the Belgian Congo was also climbed for the first time.  This is a fine almost perfect mountain lying between 15,750 and 16,730 ft. with the occasional severe rock or ice pitch.   To complete the day we descended to our tent via the N.E. ridge of Margherita, a route that has only been climbed four times before.

Two second and one third ascents of other major routes on Elizabeth, Margherita and Baker were also made.  Nearer to my home, in the chain of mountains 250 miles long running inland from the coast up to Kilimanjaro, there are many wonderful rock faces that I am sure have never been explored by the mountaineer.  While I have been to the top of Kilimanjaro, I have not climbed its subsidiary peak Mwenzi, 16,780ft., with its virgin east face and maybe the odd unclimbed aiguille on the summit ridge.  Mt. Kenya beckons but it is still closed to us for security reasons.

So any B.E.C. members who can work a passage with a B.A.O.C. Britannia on a proving flight to East Africa will find a land rover waiting to take them off on plenty of caving and climbing.  However with a difference – the first with a liberal dosage of bat guano, and the second often approached after cutting a path through the vegetation on the lower slopes in high humidity and a temperature generally greater than to which we are accustomed at home.

Still it is great fun because the route is generally unexplored, and the views from the mountain tops of vast plains with mountains just popping up out of them forcibly demonstrate the vastness of Africa. Remember these three words will find me – Fletcher Amani, Tanganyika, until I return on leave in April 1957 when I want to have a look at long last at St. Cuthbert’s.  Will Mudlark act as a guide then I wonder?

Thomas E Fletcher.

Post-script from Tanganyika (in answer to ‘Mudlarks’ comment in B.B. Feb/March 1956)

I’ve now sold all surplus grapefruit – nearly 4,700 for £17.10.0d. Picking for the year is over except just a sprinkling of grapefruit always getting ripe throughout the year sufficient to keep the house going.  So as I have now bagged all the big game and stiffed it – B.E.C. members may now tale full advantage of my previous offers to show them caves without the possibility of menial tasks.  Admittedly 3 month ago stuffing a medium size elephant was quite a weekends hard work.

Snowdon At Sunrise

The time was 1.30am.  I woke with start, switched on the torch to look at my watch, then prodded John awake. “Well, are we going?” I said.  He gave me a low desperate sort of moan, and with a poor show of enthusiasm rolled over and put his head outside the tent. No excuse.  The sky was without cloud, the air cool, soft and windless. The shadow of Tryfan hung like a dark pall across the paler grey mass of the Carnedds.  The moon was high.

There was no time to be lost.  Yet it was 2.30am – an hour behind schedule – before mind could exert itself over matter and we staggered out of the tent, down to the road, with extra sweaters. Food, and cameras.  Perhaps it had been a mistake to do seven climbs the day before.  We clambered onto the bike and set off.  The moon rolled out from behind the shoulder of Tryfan and looked at us speculatively. Round through Capel Curig, past Pen y Gwnyd we went, the cold air cutting at our faces, and the white mist wisping eerily over the black llyn like elfin fires.

We left the bike at Pen y pass and started on the long slow grind up Crib Goch. Now we were in darkness again, the mountain thrown in jagged relief down in the moonlit Llanberis Pass, but already the sky was paling in the east.  It was 3am.  The air grew very close: we took off several layers of sweaters, and ate oranges. There was no water.  We are on top of the grassy ridge, where grey sheep materialised out of the twilight and scattered from our path.  We were hot, perspiring, and out of breath.  “The trouble with romantic sort of expedition”, grumbled John, “Is that they always turn out to be such a fearful bind”.

Now we had two shadows – from the waning moon of the left, and a slow imperceptible dawn of the right.  Still fighting against shortage to breath (“so this is what it musty be like on Everest”) we surmounted the rock step, and after another nightmarish grind, came out onto the familiar crest.  The sky over the Glyders was now deep purple, changing to orange and pale delicate blue. As we scrambled along the ridge the purple brightened into rose, then orange to yellow, and the blue became more intense.  Now small dark clouds appeared, tinged red underneath, deep as autumn heather.  On to Crib y Ddysgyl, and at last into the burning sky appeared the great arc of the sun, and rested like a flaming ruby on the top of Glyder Fawr, pouring its red rays across Snowdon.  Behind us now, the old black edge of Crib Goch bit like a broken jaw into the glow.  In front, the moon laid her tied yellow face on the grey shoulder of Lliwedd, and to the south and west stretched an endless sea of silver mist where peaks appeared like dim islands as far as the eye could see.

And that was how two dishevelled and dirty climbers came to be leaning against the survey point on top of Crib y Ddysgyl at 5am on a pure still summer morning wolfing bread and cheese and rum.  We hadn’t made Snowdon before sunrise, but it felt that the present horrors of the summit were better missed anyway.  The trouble with climbing Snowdon to watch the sunrise is that you are rendered useless for rock-work for the next twelve hours or so. 

The following day we had both revived sufficiently to lead V.S’s , but now that Everest is being climbed two days running, it seems presumptuous to boast of homely feats in Wales.  Though milestones in one’s climbing career should perhaps be measured not by the stature but the state of their achieving.



An appeal from John Skinner of 12, Hurst Walk, Filwood Park, Bristol. 4.  He says “I still have a few young bloods on hand.  Could you publish an appeal for anyone interested in introducing them to Mountaineering and climbing (locally) and also Judo & self defence to contact me”.  (John Skinner NOT T.H.S.)

Well climbing section members – what about =giving a helping hand.


R.J. Bagshaw,     Hon. Sec. & Hon. Treas.  56, Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol.4.
T.H. Stanbury      Hon. Editor B.B.  48 Novers Park Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.

First of All

It is regretted that the coffers are so low for this our 21st Birthday Celebration Number.  I had hoped to make this yet another ‘double’ number but have been hard pressed to even manage at all.  SO urgent request for copy is sent to one and all, or else THERE WILL BE NO ISSUE NEXT MONTH.


As the only remaining ‘Founder’ member of the B.E.C. and in fact the person in whose whim the maggot of creation first stirred – I never dreamed in 1935 that the tiny caving infant would ever live, let alone grow to the size it is today.

I was very amused to read the account of our birth as suggested at the last Wessex Dinner – The facts are almost as stated except that the ‘Club’ as a name and a group was actually in existence at that time, the offer made was the sinking of our identity in that of W.C.C. as we did not feel that we had the experience required to run as a stable club ourselves.

Be that as it may, we did progress and for the seventeen years that I was Hon. Sec. I saw the Club grow from the handful of young enthusiasts to over 130 strong with contacts all over the world.  At first we were regarded with suspicion and a justifiable wariness, which persisted for several years, but once this obstacle had been surmounted we progresses in leaps and bounds and have been doing so ever since.

The outbreak of war saw all our members (except two) called up.  Myself and Cecil Drummond were left.  We still had faith that the club would continue, despite this crippling blow for then in 1940/1 we rounded the corner.  First we met with the ‘Emplex’ Cave Club on several trips and they decided to sink their identity with ours, as we had hoped the W.C.C. would have done years before – then Dan Hasell and Roy Wallace joined and added to our technical skill and knowledge – Don Coase, Sett, Pongo, Postle and Dizzie were among those that came to us.

We started to look for an H.Q. and my wife found the Old Belfry on a derelict tennis court on Burdown - this was transported piecemeal to Mendip and erected (on a different site to the present one).  We later moved it to the new site and as we grew is became totally inadequate for our needs.  A new hut, on Rame Head in Cornwall was bought and likewise transported and after many months of work became our ‘Belfry’ today.

During this period the ‘B.B.’ was born.  A list of helpers is before my eyes, but it would be unfair to name any without a complete list, but the thanks of the members today are due, firstly, to those committees and secondly to the ‘Rank and File’ of those days, whose unselfish and hard work, plus a lot of long term planning is mainly responsible for the prestige that the Club holds today, and so to the amenities provided for members.  I would refer you to two brief histories of the Club that have been published in back numbers of the B.B. for further details.  If sufficient are interested in this Club history I would willingly report it (and bring it up to date) – let me know if it would be of interest.

Finally I would like to wish the committee and the Club Good Luck on this their 21st Birthday and may the next 25 years be as successful as the last.

T.H. Stanbury.

21st Year Celebrations

Saturday 19th May.

Social evening at the GLOBE INN, WELLS from 6pm to 10.30pm. Light refreshments are available

Lost, Stolen or Strayed

The small petrol stove from the cave rescue equipment has been missing for some time.  Has anyone seen it.

Mike Jones’ waterproof sleeping bag cover is missing from the Belfry, if it is found wandering please return to owner!


Ex Army Prismatic Compasses are available @ 89/6d plus 1/6d postage from: -

Badges and Equipment.
435, Strand.
London. W.C.2.

Can Anyone Tell Me Why?

A few more answers to the question asked in September last BB.

  1. Vibrams are boots with a heavy rubber sole rather like a piece of car tyre.  They have a cork insulating sole between the runner and the foot and were originally designed for use in snow.
  2. The fear of falling experienced by novices, and most advanced climbers, is greatly reduced by the use of a lifeline.  A novice should always climb second to a more experienced climber and that the rope is a great psychological help. (It is sometimes a practical lifesaver as well).  For a novice wishing to practice by himself I can only suggest trying a little ‘rock gymnastics’, tackling technically difficult climbs so near the ground that you can easily step off.
  3. The climbing standard varies considerably above ground, from easy, practically advanced hill walking, to super severe.  I am sure that a day on the rock will overcome a large part of the real and imaginary fears ascribed to ‘young persons’ by the questioner.
  4. I think that is begging the question, I have yet to find a rock face which changes violently in nature as a climb is made.  If the novice starts on some well climbed routes, all the loose stones will have been removed and nothing should come of in ‘is and’.

Carrying Cider To Somerset

 – From a local paper.

Bristol, - This week’s arrival here of a small steamship from France, carrying a cargo of cider for distribution in Somerset, underlines the fact that the county is fast losing its cider-making fame.

The apple growers, generally farmers, have been long dissatisfied with the price they receive from the cider makers; orchards have deteriorated because, the growers say, it has not paid them to prune and spray and to replant. In 1954 and 1955, though neither was a good season, many farmers left their cider apples on the ground for stock to eat.  Even a generous grant from the N.F.U. towards the cost of grubbing up and replanting does not appear to have encouraged much new orcharding.

Letter to the Editor.

Sir, I was most astounded on perusing my Sunday Newspaper to see the above scandalous paragraphs, which seem to be at variance with a statement in the December issue of your magazine on this ‘essential industry’.

The possible effects of this French-brewed hooch are almost too hideous to bear contemplation.  Does this mean, Sir, that, in the not too distant future, we shall quaff our cider by the litre and perhaps eating ‘escargots’ cooked in cider?  I and quite sure that none of your readers would like to see the terraces of the New Inn despoiled by tables with brightly coloured sun-shades and perhaps Weegie Jezebels basking in sun-suits, and could those of us who travel from ‘furrin parts’ master the intricacies of the French spoken by mine host M. Sylvestre?  The eminent composer, Mr. S.J. Collins, would undoubtedly cause an international incident by composing a speleode based upon the ‘Marseillaise’, this could result in the necessity of producing a visa to enter the fair and beautiful county of Somerset; Sir, the whole idea must be stopped before irreparable damage is done.

Surely, Sir, a campaign could be started by your worthy magazine amongst the members of your organisation on behalf of the cider-apple growers before these awful possibilities amongst others, are realised.

I suggest that all-out efforts be made, this coming season, to increase the consumption of this nectar of the gods, where it is guaranteed to be home-produced;  ‘Honking Jackets’, as designed by a well known member of your club, might be issued as an essential part pf the equipment of the well dressed caver, for social evenings in the hostelries throughout the length and breadth of Mendip as a further incentive to greater efforts – lambs wool white for those of limited capacity and sage-khaki for those of infinite capacity.

     I am, Sir,
Yours faithfully,
A. Firkin.
(Col. Rtd.)

The Song of The CC.P.S.

Submitted by ‘Dickie Ray’

(Tune- The Bold Gendarmes)

We’re Cavern keepers disingenuous,
Of Stalactites we take good care,
We never do anything strenuous,
When danger lurks we’re never there.
But if we see a moderate pothole,
Not too far, and not severe.

We rope it in, we rope it in,
We rope it in, we rope it in,
To show the C.P.S. are here.

Some term our duties extra rural,
And little troglodytes we chase,
And when we see formations mural,
We stretch red tape all around the place,
And if we see a natural fountain,

That’s set in nature holy sphere,
We rope it in, we rope it in,
We rope it in, we rope it in,
To show the C.P.S. are here.

‘To lock all caverns’ is our motto,
And save the goodly caves from sin,
But just as we are finished,
Some blighter digs another way in,
But with our rope and tape and placards,
We’ll battle onwards, never fear,

We rope it in, we rope it in,
We rope it in, we rope it in,
To show the C.P.S. are here.


T.H. Stanbury,       Hon. Editor BB, 48 Novers Park Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4..
R.J. Bagshaw,       Hon. Sec. 56 Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.


After a lapse of several months, from May, in fact, I am delighted to be able to resume publication of the B.B.  As I stated in Paragraph One of the may issue, there has been a shortage of material and only now has the position eased sufficiently to enable any degree of continuity.

It has been pointed out that there was a very ambiguous statement in the editorial for the may issue, and when re-reading the particular paragraph I agree. The sentence in question read – First we met the ‘Empex’ Cave Club on several trips and then decided to sink their identity in ours, as we had hoped the W.C.C. would have done years before. In my own mind all was perfectly clear, that the ‘Emplex’ had been absorbed by the B.E.C. as the B.E.C. had hoped to be absorbed by the W.C.C.  So one must amend the sentence to end – as we had hoped the W.C.C. would have done to us years before.  My apologies to all.

A Letter From The Forestry Commission.

Mendip Forest.

Fire at Priddy Pool on 2.4.56.

Dear Sir,

My District Officer has informed me of the valuable assistance which some of your club members gave at the fire at Priddy Pool on 2.4.56.

Would you please convey my thanks to your members listed below: -

Mr. A. Sandall.
Mr. B. Prewer.
Mr. D. Scott.
Mr. D. Gwinell.
Miss Osborne.
Miss Busson.

Such help (as was given in this case) by members of the public is very much appreciated.

Yours faithfully,

A.W. Matthews.
For Conservators of Forests.

Letter to the Editor.

109, Park Hill Road,

Dear Sir,

Whilst I fully appreciate that the research work carried out by Mr. Ellis and his colleagues is complete from the scientific point of view, I wonder if you would be possible to express the results of their work in terms that a Pseudo-scientist such as myself can comprehend?  Perhaps how much battery acid must be added to a pint of water to obtain a drink of a similar ‘pH index’.  Do you think they could be persuaded to carry out this further work on behalf of those who although familiar with an electric iron and even a steam iron have only the vaguest conception of what a hydrogen ion is?

Yours sincerely,

Ian A Dear.


24, Ludwick Way,
Welwyn Garden City,

Dear Sir,

As requested by Mr. Dear, further research work has been done to enable those persons who are only familiar electric and other forms of eating irons to comprehend more fully what a pH of 3.5 is.  Following Mr. Dear’s suggestion, sulphuric acid (or Oil of Vitriol, as it is sometimes known) of the density used for lead accumulators – which is what I assume he means  by the term ‘battery acid’ - was added to water until a hydrogen ion concentration of 10-3.5 was obtained that is a pH of 3.5.  It was found necessary to add 1.5 millilitres of the acid to one litre of water; to convert this to the ridiculous British system of measurement, it would be necessary to add ¼ fluid drachms of the sulphuric acid to one pint of water.

While this will produce a drink of similar pH index, I feel that it would not be identical with Sylvester’s ‘rough’ as the latter contains, contrary to the belief held by many people, constituents other than acid – such things as ethers  and aldehydes.

To save possible further correspondence and also frantic searching of long neglected text and reference books:

8 fluid drachms = 1 fluid ounce.

20 fluid ounces = 1 pint.

Now you can see why earlier I referred to the ‘ridiculous British system of measurement’.

Yours faithfully,

Bryan M. Ellis.

Whitsun Festivities

On Saturday afternoon the Festivities commenced with a fancy dress hunt in Goatchurch.

Use was made (for the first time?) of an interest if somewhat unusual, chemical reaction in order to provide the necessary illumination.  This was found quite effective but the solution was found to react unfavourably with the brass portions of the lamp. 

The clues were laid by a gentlemen wearing the latest type of ‘Helmets Caving Mk.XXVIII.C’  Passers by gained the impression that some late member was being laid to rest in the club vaults.

Those members who had obtained prize chits (either by dint of their caving prowess or by buying a certain member ice cream) were present at the draw held during the club social that evening, at ‘The Globe’, Wells, where mineral waters (Brandy, Whiskey, Rum etc.,) were to be won.  A thoroughly enjoyable evening was had by all.

An early start was made next morning, some members were even seen to leave the Belfry by 11 o’clock.  Small parties were formed to go about their lawful (?) pleasures.  All met again for a sober, but convivial evening at the ‘Hunters Lodge’.

The highlight of the evening was furnished by the ceremonial burning, over a bonfire built from the portions of the Old Belfry, of an effigy of Brian Baru (complete in every detail).  Community Hymn singing and a cabaret of local artist completed the evening’s entertainment.

On Monday morning the squire of Priddy was seen at the Hunt – the hunt for his trousers!  The hunt was called off however when a suitable alternative was found.

A party then proceeded to wells led by a Colonel of the M.R.A. wearing the Regimental Mess Dress.

The main event (and only?) event of the Priddy year, the Whit Fair, was held that afternoon.  A member expressed the intention of entering for the high-jump but, seeing the ‘Speed twins’ were entering, cried off.

Voices were raised in support of competitors and cries of ‘cheat’, ‘chuck ‘im out’, etc., were clearly heard.

An evening at the ‘Hunters’ completed a very enjoyable weekend.

Pro Bono Tomasso.

Letter to the Editor.

12, Hurst Walk,
Filwood Park,
Bristol. 4.

Dear Sir,

I became a member of the club years ago as a youth in search of adventure. I hoped to find it in the B.E.C. - I did not find it, that is why I am writing this letter, in the hope that something may be done to stimulate the spirit, and headline the resources, which I feel are latent in the club.

With about four exceptions, all the trips and expeditions with which I have been associated since becoming a member (they are numerous) have been organised outside of the club.  In fact the entire usefulness of the club lies in the following facilities: -

  1. Use of club equipment and tackle (not accommodation)
  2. Value of membership in trips to closed caves etc.
  3. Library and information service.

As regards to organised caving, with the exception of G.B. parties, I have never seen or heard a club trip advertised.  Whispers do occasionally go around, but I have no wish to butt in on private ‘do’s’.

Behind the smoke haze and mugs of T.V. I can hear the stalwarts mumbling to each other… ‘Ah, but there is the Belfry, Thursdays evening etc., etc.,  I did, regularly for some several months attend weekly evening meetings both in Old market and Guinea Street, but the one sole occasion when anything of interest happened was the showing of slides of a Scottish holiday, by Don Coase.  This was not announced before the evening and it was by pure chance that I happened to be there.  I think you must agree that it is the exception rather than the rule that the evening is organised, or else many more would attend regularly.

Enough of destruction and on to construction.  Many adult organisations with whom I am in close contact, base their future upon their youth.  Are we doing this?  Adventure to the young, and not so young, is the very essence of life, but what are as a club doing to encourage new members and then keep them?  If a new member looks in one evening, is he allowed to stand idly by himself in the midst of chattering groups of pals, is he given a glimpse of the wild and wonderful things to come, things that some of you old hands take for granted?

Does the newcomer go away eager for next week to come around, eager to bring his friends along with him:  is there good opportunity for him to learn and practise caving, mountaineering and all the side interests linked with them?

I am aware that some trips and courses have been tried in the recent past but fell through due to lack of support.  Were they announced several B.B.’s in advance, was it adequately publicised?

Please don’t leave it to the mysterious ‘they’, why don’t WE do something about it.  Some while ago I tried to get a trip fixed up to August Hole, it was a year before the trip took place.  Is the caving Secretary very hard up for leader’s names, if so he can add my name to his list, how about YOURS?  You at the back there, how about a few evenings practical work on geology, or photography or what have you.  Not a series of articles in the B.B. but a practical course?

I believe that the officials of our club are very capable persons, but they are handicapped by lack of support from US.  How about you and me backing them up and making OUR club one to be proud of?

Yours sincerely,

John Skinner.

Potholing in Yorkshire

by A.J. Dunn.

An account of an exploration of Lost John’s Pot, Easter 1956.

A pleasant 4 mile motor-cycle ride from Ingleton, the last being over a very rough track above Keeper’s Cottage, brought us to within a few yards of the cave entrance.  The weather was definitely too good for caving, but we had not travelled over 200 miles just to admire the scenery, so we changed into caving apparel without further ado.

The entrance, being ’tight’ by Yorkshire standards meant that we had to go down on our hand and knees for the first few yards, after which we picked our way along the upper section of a fairly steep rift passage, the route we followed being the New Roof Traverse.

After clambering across two pots we descended the third by rope ladder and after a short horizontal passage we reached the Cathedral Pot.  This entailed scrambling down a steep groove on a rope for 25’ to a ledge where we belayed a 50’ ladder.

This ledge is about halfway down the pot and it makes quite an airy stance for life lining people down the ladder especially when there are 6 bags of ladder and 2 more bodies all standing on an area about the size of a hearthrug.  The party, having descended safely, pressed on willy-nilly down Dome, Candle, Skittle and Battle Axe Pots.  At this point we ran out of lifeline so we returned to the surface having spent about 6 hours underground.

The following day, Easter Sunday, we decided to split up into two parties to speed the proceedings.  I was in the second party and we ploughed our way downwards at an impressive rate, all the hard work of laddering the Wet and Final Pots being completed about 2 hours beforehand by the first party.

The Wet Pot ladder was pitched to hang about 6 feet away from the stance at the top of in order to avoid the worst of the waterfall.  Hence the ladder had to be pulled across to the stance, the intrepid caver would step on, swing out into the pot and descend as fast as possible to try and keep reasonably dry.  This meant, of course, that one of us had to remain at the top of the pitch to pull the ladder over when the party returned, a rather thankless task.

A short winding passage after the Final Pot and we found ourselves in the Master Cave.  This was a roomy passage extending 1,000 feet upstream and about 2,000 feet downstream to a sump that was passed a few years ago to yield another 3,000 feet of cave. We explored the upstream section which terminated in the Lyle Cavern.  I climbed up through a boulder ruckle into the cavern while my companion Rex waited below. In order to get a better view of the main formations I attempted to climb some boulders which appeared to be cemented firmly to one another with ‘stal’.  The next thing I knew I was that I was sliding quickly downwards, close followed by a couple of boulders.  The boulders narrowly missed me and I reached terra firma unhurt.  I shouted to rex, “I am all right”, which he interpreted as, “I’ve broken my leg!”  He shouted back and I replied, the louder we shouted the less we could hear as I was still some way from him.  He was relieved to find me in one piece when I got back to him.

The five of us in the party removed about half the ladders on our ascent, leaving the rest for the photographers who would be busy in Shale Cavern at the foot of Dome Pot on the following day.


R.J. Bagshaw,       Hon. Sec. & Hon. Treas.  56, Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol.4.
T.H. Stanbury        Hon. Editor B.B.  48 Novers Park Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.


The first ‘Report’ (on Survey of Redcliffe Caves) is now available price 2/6d. If there is sufficient demand – Line Die, copies of the Survey (about 20”” x 30”) will be produced – so – write to the Hon. Sec. if you would like one.

Annual Subscriptions

Annual Subscriptions are now overdue, so will those members whose subscriptions are still unpaid please remit to Hon. Sec. as soon as possible.

Funds are still needed for the purchase of the Belfry Site and for a new tackle store – any donations for the above would be gratefully received. Please enclose any such sums with your annual subscriptions.

Clanger Dept.

The Editor has received the following letter: -

Dear Harry,

In my last ‘Derbyshire’ article, printed in the recent B.B. I noticed a few place misprints, most likely due to my rotten writing.  However, I think it would be most misleading to anyone contemplating a Derbyshire trip this year, therefore I hope you won’t mind me taking a liberty, and quoting corrections just for reference.

Cheerio for now and all the best.

Stan Gee.

Oxlow-Marsh Hill-system should read Oxlow-Maskhill system.

Cave of Win Hill should read Cone of Win Hill.

Adins Mine should read Odins Mine.

+  + +  +  + +  +  + +  +  + +  +  +

Sorry Stan,

I should have known better – the mistakes were due to lack of concentration when proof reading.


21st Year Festivities

Beginning Whitsun 1956 The Club’s 21st Year Festivities Saturday 21st May

2.30pm  - 5.00pm  -  HUNT THE BOOZE
This will take place in Goatchurch Cave, Burrington.

5,00pm  - 6.00pm  -  Wash & Brush Up

6.00pm  - 11.00pm  informal buffet & party in Wells

Sunday 22nd May

Serious caving trips will be undertaken down most major cave systems.

Sunday Night - Bonfire

Monday 23rd May

Day of Rest & Recovery

6.00PM  - 11.00PM  -  At The Hunters Lodge Inn.

It is up to you the members of the club to make this a success by turning up on time and joining in!

Change of Address.

A. Collins  - ‘Alfie’                  1, Kensington Place, Clifton, Bristol. 8.

Dennis Kemp.                         c/o Photographic Dept., Brampton Hospital, London, S.W.3.


LABOUR is urgently needed for work on the Belfry Site and for the transport of various materials from various places – so roll up in your thousands there is (I hope) work for all!.

Additions to the Library

The following have been added recently to the Club Library: -

The Geology of Bristol & its Adjoining Counties.
The London Caver.
The News N.S.S. Vol. 13 No. 10  October 1955
The News N.S.S. Vol. 14 No. 1  January 1956
The News N.S.S. Vol. 14 No. 2  February 1956
The News N.S.S. Vol. 14 No. 3 March 1956
Cave and Crag Club Vol. 4  No. 9 October 1955.
Cave and Crag Club Vol. 4  No. 10 November 1955
Cave and Crag Club Vol. 5  No. 1 January 1956.
Orpheus Caving Club Vol. 1  No. 1 November 1954.
The Descent of Pierre Saint-Martin. – N. Casteret.
Cave Science No. 24 April 1955.
C.R.G. Newsletter No. 52 November 1955
C.R.G. Newsletter No. 53-54 December 1955.
C.R.G. Newsletter No. 55 January/February 1956.
C.R.G. Biological Supplement December 1955.
W.C.C. Journal No. 54 January 1956.
B.C.C.C. Newsletter No. 11 December 1955.
N.S.S. Newsletter No. 11 November 1955.
N.S.S. Newsletter No. 12 December 1955.
S.W.C.C. Newsletter No. 14 March 1956.
W.S.G. Newsletter Vol. 2  No. 12 March 1956.
Mendip Cave Group Newsletter No. 9 March 1956.
Brirish Caver Vol. 26 – 1955.
Devon Speleological Soc. Newsletter No. 41 November 1954.

Your Librarian is still Johnny Ifold at Leigh House, Nempnett, Chew Stoke, Nr, Bristol.

List of Members.

Once again the Editor apologises for the delay in publishing this list – pressure of work has again made it impossible this month, but don’t despair – it is in the forefront of his mind but not yet on paper.


Will all Climbing Section Members especially those who instruct new members and the area as a training ground, please note the following: -

Tyro’s Crack, Churchill Rocks.

Whilst climbing here recently, it was noticed that the pitons which were formerly at the end of the first and second pitches had been removed.

There is now no belay on this climb until the trees at the top are reached, and since this is about 140ft. in rope distance from the start of the climb, is of no use when using normal length climbing rope.

Perhaps the next time the ‘Rock engineers’ visit the place, the pitons could be replaced.

Jack Waddon.

Can Anyone Tell Me Why?

More Answers By?

The reason for the continued existence of large fossils after their smaller counterparts in the surrounding matrix have been eroded away is surely due to the fact that large bodies erode or dissolve at a slower rate than smaller bodies of the same material, provided the physical and chemical conditions do not vary greatly.

Imagining the fossils as spheres with an occasional very large sphere (large fossil) imbedded in them, it is easily shown that the surface area, and therefore, the rate of erosion, at the surface of a large fossil, is proportionately much smaller than the area, and erosion rate of a small fossil.  Hence, the larger the fossil, the longer it will continue to exists.

Important Research Work at Priddy

By Brian M. Ellis.

Several weeks ago, on a fine Sunday morning, four cavers made an expedition into the depths of darkest Priddy with the intent on making a very important scientific experiment.  With this end in view, and no other was present in our minds at the time we assure you, the four of us crossed the sacred precincts of the ‘New Inn’ sometime within the legally permitted period of twelve till two in the afternoon. Because it was necessary for the success of the experiment that we had in mind, four pints of ‘rough’ are ordered and in the usual manner of speed by both name and picture we had to wait fifteen minutes for these to be placed on the table in front of us.  At last there were there; three-quarters of each pint were downed and then to work.  The apparatus was assembled and everything prepared, even Mr. Speed sensed the electrified atmosphere – shuffling over to the other side of the table, the better to see what strange going on within his Public House.  Dead silence and the experimenter performed the first highly complex test.  Then a worried look crossed his brow and he consulted his book of pictures (he cannot read) and then went into consultation with his three assistants.  After a very long time it was not agreement but compromise that was reached, the answer lay somewhere between, ‘two and seven’; whatever that might mean.  Undeterred by this lack of correlation the experimenter prepared to make a second and more specific test.  Breathing ceased temporarily in excitement. The apparatus was again set up and the test made.  Another result obtained, the book was again consulted and a conference of expedition’s members called.  Meanwhile, the interested (?) spectators waited impatiently for the result which they were sure would startle the world; would the result be as high as expected? This question, I can assure you, was absent from all minds present – they were all too busy wondering who was going to pay for the next round.

At long last he leaned back with a half-satisfied look on his face and the silence was only broken by the sound of four mugs being drained.  The moment had arrived and he spoke, “The pH of Sylvester’s ‘rough’ is 3.5”.  No one but he even knew what pH meant or did - but what did it matter, it had been a novel excuse for a drink and it might interest someone or other.

Acknowledgements are recorded to the three assistants, Miss A. George, and Mr. and Mrs. T. Neil and whichever one of them it was who paid for the drinks. Thanks also go to the person, unknown, who made the experiment possible, the person who left the set of wide and narrow range ‘Indicator Papers’ lying around in the ‘Belfry’.

Despite everything, the result of pH 3.5 was genuinely obtained; if that means anything to you. In case you don’t know what pH is, it is the logarithm to the base 10 of the reciprocal of the hydrogen concentration.  Better?


R.J. Bagshaw,     Hon. Sec. 56, Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol.4.
T.H. Stanbury      Hon. Editor. 48 Novers Park Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.