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The A.G.M..

This went off very well, and a goodly number of club members turned up.  You will find an account of some of the proceedings later on in this B.B. It was agreed by some members that the contents of the B.B. have tended to be below standard of late, and we hope that this will result in more members sending in articles, letters &c so that we may even be able to edit the B.B.  What is wanted mostly are articles of a serious climbing and caving nature.

Club Membership.

At first sight, the figures given by the Hon. Sec. did not seem to add up.  He told us that we had 34 new members during the year.  This squares up with the increase in the B.B. during the year – we are now printing 180 copies a month.  However, he then went on to say that the total membership had dropped by 7 to 112.  Could it be that nearly a third of all club members have only been in the club a matter of months?  The mystery was soon solved.  It appears that nearly fifty of you who may be reading this have not yet paid your sub. We are most reluctant to stop the B.B. going to old friends, but a sordid financial note must be struck. How about an associate membership at 7/6 if you are no longer as active as you were but would still like to keep in touch with the club?  If you are amongst those who mean to keep paying their sub but forgot, why not get the whole thing over once and for all?  5/5/- seems an awful lot to fork out all at once, but where could you invest this to bring you services worth 12/6 per year?  It’s not at all bad from a business point of view.  Anyway, if your sub is outstanding, please get in touch with Bob.

1961 Committee and Club Officers.

R.J. Bagshaw           Honorary Secretary and Treasurer

R.A. Setterington      Hut Warden and Committee Chairman

S.J. Collins              Editor, Belfry Bulletin

N. Petty                   Tackle Officer

C.A. Marriott            Caving Secretary and B.B. Postal Department

A. Sandall                Committee Minutes Secretary

C.H.G. Rees            Belfry Engineer

G. Mossman            Climbing Secretary (see under)

B. Prewer                (See under)

J. Ifold                     Honorary Librarian

N.B.  Owing to domestic commitments, “Pew” has not taken one of the main club offices this year.  G. Mossman has had to resign from the 1961 committee owing to heavy demands on his time.  The committee have co-opted Tony Dunn, who has agreed to take his place as Climbing Secretary.  The 1961 committee thus consists of: Bob Bagshaw, Sett, Alfie, Norman, Mo, Alan Sandall, Spike, Tony Dunn and Prew.

1960 Dinner

Although a few complaints about the service were heard, the 1960 Dinner of the B.E.C. went off reasonably well at the Star Hotel, Wells.  It was particularly gratifying for older members to see so many old friends who, unfortunately, can rarely get to Mendip.  An interesting feature of the dinner was the fact that it was not considered necessary to debar any particular persons from attending.  The high spot of the proceedings was undoubtedly the speech of Alan Thomas’s in which he proposed the health of absent friends. The early Victorian potato peeler which only Alan Thomas could have worked into such a speech was particularly effective in operation when it was later put to peeling an apple.  At a later stage of the proceedings, a man recited a poem.

W. Spoon.

Formations in Cuthbert’s

This account is not intended to be a detailed description of all the dripstone formations in this magnificent cave, but a record of some of the more outstanding features and impressions that a newcomer to the cave noticed on his first visit.

It cannot be too highly emphasised that the sheer “wildness” of the cave contributes greatly to the settings of all the formations, which are lovely and interesting.  There are huge blocks and slabs plied on all sides of the boulder chambers; great bedding planes sloping steeply into the gloom and smooth water washed tunnels in the lower sections.

The most striking feature which applies to many of the formation; stalactites, stalagmites, curtains and floor deposits is their translucency.  This becomes nearly transparent in some small curtains at the back of Pillar Chamber.  They are so clear that it seems almost impossible that they are made of calcite.

Many of these translucent formations have a very large crystal growth.  Sometimes almost complete crystals have grown at the edge of the curtains, giving them an irregular “notched” effect.  This should not be confused with the regular serrations of a “coxcomb” curtain.  This large crystal growth may also be seen on stalactites, especially those that are “webbed” to the roof.  It also appears to some extent on stalagmites, when they present a somewhat knobbly outline.  It is probable that these formations grew very slowly out of very pure material. The almost complete lack of large straws from formation groups of this type would also indicate a very slow rate of growth.

Pride of place must go to the stalactite curtains which attaining great size and beauty in this cave. The small transparent examples in Pillar Chamber have already been mentioned.  There are larger example in Boulder and Everest Chambers, some being very thin and transparent and exhibiting banding and having crystals on their edges.  Very fine examples can be found in Cascade Chamber.  One is above the cascade itself and another, lower down on the sloping roof, is over a foot deep and about five feet long.  Of course, the great draperies in Curtain Chamber are the finest in the cave and must be amongst the finest on Mendip.  They total about twenty in number, divided into two groups, one being of creamy calcite with dark bands at the edges and the other of almost pure white calcite with some dark internal banding.  They hang from the sloping roof of the chamber which is probably fifty to sixty feet high.  The curtains themselves cover some twenty to thirty feet of this, and come to within five feet of the ground, being about a foot wide at the bottom. Some are very thin, translucent, and exhibiting the notching referred to above.

There are several large stalactites and similar formations in the cave.  There is the huge “Tusk” about five feet long in Everest Chamber and a nicely proportioned group known as the Fingers.  These are all normal “carrot” shaped formations, but the Cascade contains many translucent stalactites and stalagmites which have notched edges and formed large crystals.  These occur where the massive flow of The Cascade pours over a large step in the bedding plane.

Shapely stalagmites accompany The Fingers stalactites, but on the whole stalagmites tend to be dumpy and not at all spectacular.  Some of the smaller ones, however, are translucent and very pretty.  One group, under a ledge of suspended floor are flat topped with crystalline hollows at the centre.  There is one giant at the bottom of Cascade Chamber about seven feet high, but not very shapely.

Floor deposits abound, and vary from a deep ochreous colour through pure white to the semi-transparent. The Cascade is a fine example of this type, but there are masses of stalagmite flooring in various chambers. In the Rabbit Warren series, there is a small flow of translucent stalagmite which appears to be a very pale blue.  Whether this is due to included material, or to some sort of reflection from the rock is not certain.

St. Cuthbert’s abounds also in the more unusual types of calcite formations which are not often seen, especially when a cave has been used for a long time.  The control which has been kept on access has certainly protected some of these rare types of formation, as well as keeping the cave as a whole clean.  There are pockets of cave pearls.  These, although well polished are not regular in shape and could possible be described as pistoliths.  In the Rabbit Warren is a group of pockets in milky white calcite and some appear to be cemented to the surrounding calcite.  However, it is quite definitely a case of “hands off.”

Rimstone pools are numerous – some full and some dry.  These often contain pointed Dog-tooth saw crystals.  In one place in the Rabbit Warren, a dried up pool has left little muddy pillars with almost cubic crystals on top.  These crystals are between a quarter and half an inch high.

Helictites of the simple hook type are common, usually in grooves along a crack or a minor step in bedding cave roofs.  One such can be found at the top of Cascade Chamber.  Some of the finest helictites, however, occur in the Rabbit Warren.  A group of tightly packed carrot shaped stalagmites has numerous helictites growing from them, like fine roots from the carrots.

All the above formations and many more were noted on a five hour “tourist” trip to St. Cuthbert’s Swallet. There is much scope for serious research and this, of course, will be carried out in time by the Bristol Exploration Club.  My thanks are due to Mr. Peter Miller who organised the trip and to Mr. Roger Stenner who led it.  It is in my opinion that every caver who can should take advantage of the B.E.C.’s hospitality and see St. Cuthbert’s for themselves.  It is a difficult trip for the not so robust, like myself, but well worth it.

John H. Tucker.

Editor’s Note.    John Tucker also sent us a very nice letter thanking the club and the leader of the trip.  This was printed in a previous B.B.


By Tony Dunn

On the weekend of the 21st June, Roy and Joan Bennett, Ron King and myself spent a very enjoyable weekend in Snowdonia.  We camped in the Llanberis Valley about two miles above Nant Beris and we were lucky enough to have weather on both days which was almost too warm for climbing.

Saturday, or rather Saturday afternoon, was spent on Dinas Mot, a four hundred foot cliff only about ten minutes walk from our camp.  None in our party had visited the cliff before, and so there of us set out to do “the cracks” which we thought would make a suitable introductory climb. Joan, meanwhile, had gone off for a walk around the Snowdon Horseshoe.  The cracks did not present much difficulty and, when we were doing it, we saw another party on our right doing something which looked much more interesting.  We finished our climb before they did, so were able to sit at the top and watch them do the last and hardest pitch of “direct” route.  Roy was not too keen on returning to the foot of the cliff to have a go at this thing, and would have preferred to scramble up to the Crib Gogh Ridge but I was all for doing the climb, saying that it would be much less exhausting on such a hot day and much more interesting.  We agreed to do the climb and I was to lead.  Everything went well until pitch 5, the main difficulty which consisted of a nasty little hand traverse in an exposed position.  I made three attempts at it with little success, before suggesting that Roy should lead it, Ron remaining as middle man.  By using brains instead of brawn, Roy did it first go which enabled Ron and I to follow in quick succession.  The last pitch was hard and steep – an excellent finish to a first rate climb. By then it was about six o’clock and we made a leisurely way back to camp well satisfied with the days outing.

On Sunday we did a mountaineering route by way of a contrast.  Central Chimney on Lliwedd which, with an easy route above the great terrace, gave us about 800 feet of jug handle climbing.  Like the motto of a defunct railway “Slow, Easy and Comfortable.”

U.B.S.S. Christmas Term – Sessional Meetings & Tutorials

Sessional Meetings will be held in the New Geography Lecture Theatre on Mondays at 8.15 pm as follows:-

Oct. 17.  Mr. D. Ingle-Smith.  “Introduction to limestone.”

Nov. 7.  Dr. Marjorie Sweeting.  “The limestone country and caves of the Fitzroy area, North Australia

No. 28.  Brian de Graaf.  “Underground diving.”

Dec. 12.  F.K. Anable. “Cunetic and Romano-British townships.”

The A.G.M.

The 1960 Annual General Meeting of the B.E.C. opened at 2.50 pm with 30 members present.  The number was exceeded by quite a few latecomers. Dan Hasell was elected Chairman and the minutes of the 1959 meeting were read and adopted.

The Hon. Sec.’s report followed.  He said that 34 new members had been elected in 1960, and increase of 50% over 1959. However, the total membership had fallen by 7 to 112.  There were about 50 people still on the books that had not paid their sub, and he still hoped that many of these would do so.  Attendance at Redcliffe Hall had continued to be negligible.  There had been no further action to report from The Charterhouse Committee.

During questions, Roy Bennett asked if it was necessary to continue the hire of Redcliffe Hall.  The Hon. Secretary replied that is was useful for the occasional slide show, as a place for housing the library and that it showed a profit.

The Hon. Treasurer’s report reviewed the financial state of the club.  He pointed out that the increased deficit was due to the large amount being spent on the new hut and on the mains water installation.  He said that he would welcome more expenditure on ladders and other tackle.

Mr. C.H.G. Rees asked the Hon. Treasurer to repeat the last statement, whereupon he did.

The Caving Secretary reported an active caving season with 162 trips entered in the log.  He appealed to members to enter each trip and to write legibly.  Alfie asked if some priority could be given amongst active cavers to the water disposal scheme in Cuthbert’s.  This was referred to by the Chairman to the 1961 committee.  Sett asked for the East Devon trip to be included in the Caving Secretary’s report.

The Climbing Secretary reported an increase in activity, especially with the Thursday climbs in the Avon Gorge.  17 people had been to Cornwall at Easter and trips to Norway and Austria had taken place.  Roy Bennett suggested a climbing log.  After some discussion, Roy proposed a resolution that a loose leaf book be acquired and brought to the club on Thursdays.  Garth proposed an addition to the resolution that the log should be published in the B.B. The resolution was carried.

At this point, the Chairman announced the names of the 1961 committee.  A vote of thanks to the three lady tellers was passed.

The Tackle Officer said that we now had seven twenty foot ladders and two more being renovated, which would give us a further eighty feet.  We had two 120 foot nylon lines and a good selection of digging gear. Llew Pritchard asked about the re-shafting of digging tools.  It was pointed out that it was cheaper to buy ex-WD tools than to re-shaft the old ones. Spike asked if we were constructing more ladder.  It appeared that Alan Sandall was organising more dural tube.  Pongo asked why we had no shorter lifelines.  After some discussion, Mo proposed that the club purchase a further 120 feet nylon line and cut it into two halves.  This was carried.

The Hut Warden announced that the bed night total was 1,297 which, in view of the differing totals produced by different people counting in the book, he proposed to call it 1,300. The water levy was now two thirds paid off.  The mains water had improved washing up, but there was still a lot of room for further improvement.  The new hut was progressing and most of the old caving junk had been got rid of. Alfie said that we should arrange a tarpaulin to cover the back wall.  Prew said he might have one.  It was agreed that, if Prew could not supply one, he should get in touch with Dan, who would then arrange for one.  Jill queried the bunk situation and suggested more bunks.  It was agreed to provide those.

The Belfry Bulletin report followed.  The Editor explained our present situation as far as stocks of covers, paper, &c were concerned.  It was agreed to leave these problems to the Editor and suggested that he contact members of the club in the printing trade.  George Honey said that he thought that the contents of the B.B. had been declining in interest.  The remedy it was suggested lay in the hands of the club members and a few people promised to send in articles.  The question of advertising was raised by Terry Marston and others.  Some discussion resulted.

After the adjournment for tea, the Hon. Librarian gave his report.  Terry Marston suggested that a list of club books be published in the B.B. The assistant librarian agreed to produce one and the Editor apologised if he had mislaid the one which was apparently sent to him.

The meeting closed with a discussion on two member’s resolutions, both of which were finally withdrawn.  The first was suggesting the club organised continental tours and the other dealt with the uses to which the extra Belfry levy could be put to if it were continued.

N.B.  These notes are not necessarily exhaustive, and are not official minutes of the meeting.  Ed.

Letter from Cyprus

By Mike Wheadon

Many thanks to the editorial staff for the fact that I still receive the B.B. out here.  I also gather that if I could arrange to write something it would be welcome, so I hope that you might be able to use this for publication.

I have noticed from various papers, and also from the B.B. that the mortality rate on Mendip has once more increased.  I wonder if there is any possibility of spreading even further than the club already does, the points of safety necessary when underground – particularly to the novice – and restricting access to the swallets of Mendip to members of recognised clubs.  This would not eliminate flooding etc. but perhaps might control the caves which can be successfully attempted during adverse weather conditions.

I feel particularly grieved to hear of the Eastwater accident, as many times I have caved all over the ruckle and never encountered anything which I considered dangerous if one gave ten ton boulders the respect which they deserve.  The ruckle must have changed quite a bit.  Another point which I found rather depressing reading in the B.B. is that Hunter’s nights are on the decline and ‘Fings ain’t wot they used t’be’.  This does seem a pity as it was at the Hunters, as a beginner, that I went to try and meet the brethren of cavers.  It was also from visiting the Hunters that I received my first impression of, and desire to join the B.E.C.  What of the young caver who wants to get in touch with the club over a good pint of ale?

I am now stationed on the glorious Mediterranean island of CYPRUS, and a more unlikely place you could never wish to be posted to.  It boasts absolutely nothing except good swimming and a slight prospect of being able to cave in the future if the republic will allow.  We are situated are the eastern end of the island in the middle of a dust desert at DHEKELIA which is one of the sovereign base areas and a look around this particular part of the island shows some of the most amazing contrasts in standards of living that I have seen anywhere.  At one place one has the village of XYLOTAMBOU which I should imagine must be amongst the worst that Cyprus has to offer.  All the houses are extremely primitive and have no sanitation.  They are just slung together in one enormous heap and then a road is picked out to run between them.  Coming into Dhekelia immediately after this squalor, you see an enormous building equal to any modern British building, which rises up, almost shadowing the squalid huts of the Cypriots, who seem to have no ambition to rise above their mode of life, causing one to lose patience with them very quickly.

We also have near us the village of ACANA which was one of the worst villages in Cyprus during the time of the trouble.  Even now, the average British soldier moves through it as quickly as possible and never on foot.  Every Sunday evening it seems to be the custom of the Cypriots to promenade along the main street and there are some nice but very unapproachable young ladies in the local villages which one tends to find a bit disconcerting.

I had hoped to be in touch with the Nicosia Caving Society by now, as I have been here for four months. They seem difficult to locate and I do not believe there is much caving on the island.  I have found a small rock shelter in a valley which, at the moment, is inhabited by millions of mosquitoes and I am intending to excavate it during the cold season.  The only other  prospects here for the climber/caver type is the Mid Eastern R.A.F. Mountain Rescue Organisation, who are trying to recruit climbers from our unit to join their team for climbing training.  The island is faintly volcanic and thus the rock is a bit dodgy for the climbing of, but if there is a chance of going to Greece, then I would not be backward in coming forward.

I should be home in January 1962 and ready to celebrate something or other.  Keep the Hunters open for me!

GB Access

We have received the following from the U.B.S.S.: -

Two clubs, The Cerberus Caving Club and the Shepton Mallet Caving Club, have not yet sent in information that they have taken out the necessary insurance cover and so permission to visit G.B. cave is withheld but dates have been allocated in the expectation that the necessary insurance cover will be completed soon.

Clubs are asked to note a change in the arrangements.  Individual days are allocated to individual clubs instead of weekends.  This change will give each club more visits, but it also implies using the particular days and straddling two days.

Pleas note that there has been a substantial rock fall where the stream passage from the Devil’s Elbow Route meets the Gorge.

The dates allocated to the B.E.C. are Sunday October 30th, Saturday December 3rd, Sunday January 8th.


Following a recommendation by the Committee of the B.E.C., a short course of lectures will be held under the auspices of the Mendip Rescue Organisation on the subject of “First Aid in Cave Rescue.”

They will be delivered by Dr. Bertie Crook at the Medical Lecture Theatre, Bristol Royal Infirmary, at 8 pm on Wednesdays the 16th, 23rd and 30th November 1960.  The party will assemble outside the main entrance to the B.R.I. at 7.55 pm where they will be met by Dr. Oliver Lloyd.  As access to this lecture room is past several wards, it would be appreciated if members would not, for once, wear caving boots.

It is hoped that as many members of this club as possible will attend, particularly as we instigated the whole affair.  The subject matter will be practical first aid of a type which we may be called upon to use before the arrival of a doctor – a period in which a life may either be saved or lost.

K. Gardner.  B.E.C. M.R.O.  Representative.


Secretary, R.J. Bagshaw, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.
Editor, S.J. Collins, 33 Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8.
Postal Dept, C.A. Marriott, 715 Muller Road, Bristol 5.



The Club Year.

The club year ends on the 8th of October this year, on which day the Annual General Meeting and Dinner will take place.  You will find elsewhere in this issue of the B.B. the necessary voting forms, dinner application forms, agenda and financial statement for the year.  This, for many members is not only the day on which everyone gets his chance to have a say in the running of the club.  So please fill in your voting forms and send them, or present them at the A.G.M. and please turn up for the A.G.M.  We have had to wait for a quorum to appear for the last few years.  Lets get this one off to an early start!


As usual, you will find accounts of the two trips which had to be organised in Swildons and Cuthbert’s in this B.B.  As usual, some sections of the press tended to exaggerate, but nevertheless, it must be admitted that the frequency of such occasions would appear to be increasing. The exceptional weather is, of course, mainly to blame.  Even so, and in addition to the steps taken by Mr. Maine in Swildons and the steps proposed to increase the flow into Cuthbert’s, we may well have to revise our estimates of what constitutes reasonable caving weather for trips down the wetter of the Mendip caves.


September Committee Meeting

At the September meeting of the Committee, Lesley Margetts and John Davey were elected as members of the club.  It was agreed to draw up an up to date list of Cuthbert’s Leaders and rules.  Norman agreed to complete the installation of the Coase Memorial.  The club agreed to buy six new mattresses for the Belfry, and to send more blankets to be cleaned.  All seven 20’ club ladders are present and ropes.  The Tackle Officer is fitting new handles to the sledgehammer and pickaxe. The club badges have been ordered and the arrangements for the club tie have at last been finalised. Arrangements for more stone have been made and the final arrangements for the dinner and speeches.


Sheet Sleeping Bags.

Now we have clean blankets and are shortly to have new mattresses, the rule about sheet sleeping bags becomes even more important.  While the Hut Warden would not like to have to penalise any member or guest, he has the Committee’s authority to do so.  Thus, if you do not use a personal sleeping bag – or if you are inviting a guest who has none, BRING A SHEET SLEEPING BAG WITH YOU.

New Building.

We must get this up before the frost nadgers it.  Spike and Alan have agreed to lay the floor.  Norman has agreed to do the necessary woodwork.  Alfie and Jill will continue to be responsible for the main structure, but MORE HELP is now required.  Preferably, we want two of three people who will make themselves responsible for completing the rear wall.  Most members will be quite happy to use it when it is finished.  Come and lend a hand NOW!

Caving Clothes.

Until the new building is in a state to use, there is very little room for caving clothes.  It will not be possible to leave them in the new hut while the floor and fitting are being installed.  Please take all gear home.  You may run the risk of losing it otherwise.

Swildons & Cuthbert’s

Based on accounts by Llew Pritchard, Bryan Ellis and Alan Nash.

Editor’s Note.    Bryan Ellis was in charge of the party who were in Cuthbert’s on the occasion described; Alan Nash was running the B.E.C. party down Swildons and Llew Pritchard was one of the few people concerned in both rescue operations.

At approximately 1 pm on Saturday, 27th August, a torrential thunderstorm broke over the Mendip Hills and continued for about four hours, during which time over two inches of rain fell over the catchment areas of Swildons and Cuthbert’s.  Owing to the waterlogged state of the ground, the rain practically ran straight off the ground into the cave systems, rising water levels to exceptional heights.

At about half past one, Bryan Ellis and Bill Kitchen entered Cuthbert’s to do some surveying in the Rabbit Warren.  Finding the entrance pitch dry in spite of the rain, they decided to carry on with the trip.

Alan Nash’s party, consisting of himself; Tom Logan; Pat Muckley and Terry Taylor, entered Swildons at noon before the rain commenced.  The object of this trip was to photograph, mainly in Barnes Loop. They made good progress to the Loop. Although the last three of the party were new to ladder work and were therefore slow on the Forty and Twenty.  They had taken food, which they ate in the Loop before commencing the return journey at about 3 pm.

The first hint of rising water came at the Double Pots where Pat dropped his lamp into the water, which swept it away.  Alan then attempted to climb the Pots and was able to reach a ledge above them but not to complete the climb or to get back.  Tom had an unsuccessful go at joining Allan, but dropped the food box into the water and had to give up.  Terry then managed to join Alan on the ledge, dropping his lamp into the stream as he climbed.  Meanwhile, Tom had managed to climb onto a ledge about eight feet above the water, but Pat had disappeared.  The noise of the water made conversation between Tom and the two on the other ledge impossible, although the ledges were only ten feet from each other.  Alan and Terry presumed that Pat had gone back downstream to find a drier spot, and were not unduly worried as they knew that other parties were in the cave.  In fact there were Bob and Ann Lorder, Dave Berry and four others Wessex type in one party; Mike Boone with a party of two and Frank Darbon with a party of two.  The first of these parties joined up with Alan’s party at about 5.45 pm and told them that Pat had been pushed back by the water.  One of the party joined Alan and Terry on their ledge, while the rest went back to Barnes Loop with Pat.  They waited at their respective places for about the next six hours.

Meanwhile, the Cuthbert’s party stopped their surveying at about 3.30 pm, as they had changed their plans. On reaching the Main Stream, they found it a muddy torrent and realised that heavy rain must have fallen and that the Entrance Pitch might prove awkward.  They left the Dining Room at 4 pm, taking the drum of food and the stove and saucepan as far as Pillar Chamber, where they dumped it with the intention of returning there if the upper part of the cave proved too wet to negotiate.  They arrived at the bottom of the Entrance Rift at 4.30, to find a sheet of water descending.  They then decided to leave as much of the kit behind and attempt to climb the rift. They agreed that, if only one managed to get out, he would go and alert a rescue team, who would send another man down to keep him company.  Bryan went first and managed to get up.  He signalled to Bill and waited for about ten minutes, then went to alert a rescue team.

In Swildons, the Mike Boon and Frank Darbon parties, who had started back before, was met by a party consisting of George Pointing, Norman Tuck, Derek Ford and David Farr, who realised what a storm would do and entered the cave at about 2 pm to contact the parties underground and get the cave cleared before the water had a chance to rise too far.  This party met the other two parties in the Upper Series and after warning them of what was happening to the surface water, went on to the Forty to try to contact those below.  This they found to be impossible.  They were between the Keyholes when the water started rising in earnest.  George describes the rise as being like a tidal wave.  We know that boulders nearly a foot in diameter were going over the Forty when the water was at its height and it is possible that some of these got jammed in the bottom Key Hole, thus raising the level rapidly between the two Keyholes.

One of the party managed to get through the top Keyhole, but it became an impassable sump before everyone could get out.  The water rose to within two feet of the roof, and it must have been an extremely unpleasant experience before the water began to subside again.

The parties with Mike Boone and Frank Darbon set out for the entrance after meeting the warning party. They got over the waterfall and reached a point within ten feet of the entrance.  There they had to stay for a few hours, unable to get through the sump which had formed at the entrance or to get back over the waterfall.  At this stage there was three feet of water covering the entrance.  Eventually, Mike Boone managed to get through.

The Rescue Operations; Cuthbert’s

As soon as Bryan Ellis got out of the cave, he went to the Shepton Hut and alerted Ken Dawe.  Ken volunteered to go down the rift if necessary and join Bill Kitchen at the bottom.  Bryan then returned to the cave and tried to contact Bill by means of a message lowered in a tin.  This was unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, Ken called in at the Belfry on his way to the cave and alerted the B.E.C. at 5.45 pm. Prew and Alfie got changed and the party went in at five past six.  Ken went down the rift, having agreed on a series of signals with Prew, who positioned himself in the water at the top of the rift.  Alfie went to the squeeze, from which he could contact either Prew or the surface.  Sett began investigating the state of the surface water and started re-enforcing the dams.

By 6.30, it was decided to call out the Fire Brigade, as this was the only method by which the water could be lowered.  They arrived at ten past seven, and were pumping water into Plantation Swallet at the rate of 500 gallons a minute by half past.

Although the level slowly dropped, the people down the cave reported that there was very little effect at the top of the pitch.  Good communication existed with the two at the bottom, and supplies were passed down to them. They reported to the surface that they were in good spirits and not too cold.

In an effort to help the work of the pump, a temporary dam was built across the western exit from the pond.  This had some effect, but not as much as had been expected.  At 10.45, it was discovered that, although less water was pouring down the rift, the pump was only just keeping pace with the water coming into the pond.  This meant that the water coming in was increasing and it was agreed that if Ken and Bill could not get through at this stage, they might have to wait for several more hours and perhaps all night.  They were told of the situation and agreed to ascend as soon as possible. To help them further, a second bit of damming was carried out at 11.40 to stop the flow into the pond for a few minutes.  By 12.15 Bill had got out, followed fifteen minutes later by Ken.  The pump was then manhandled back to the Shepton track and taken from there to help in the Swildons operation.

Rescue Operations, Swildons.

After the original alerting party had gone down, Oliver Lloyd had arrived at the entrance.  Since the entrance was impossible to negotiate, he and others waited until Mike Boone was able to get out and report the situation in the cave to them.  The M.R.O. was then got into action, the alarm going out at 5 pm.  The first job was to get the water level down and the Bristol Waterworks were contacted who started their pumps which pump from above the cave.  This enabled the parties near the entrance to get out.  By about 8 pm, rescue parties had reached the Forty and were able to pass supplies to those below.  The party below had set off for the Forty and hence had got into contact with the rescuers. They were told to go back down the Twenty and wait.  Eventually rescuers were able to get down the Forty and a station was set up between the 40 and 20 where hot drinks, goon suits were supplied to those still without them.  The people below were then brought up the Forty and then out of the cave, the whole operation being completed by about 4.30 am.

Stately Homes of Clifton

By Lady C.

On Saturday, the 20th of August, the dreaded Gardners went to the “Flicks” and there espied the equally dreaded Stafford’s, who invited us around for coffee.  We went, and here is your correspondent’s report on their domicile. Upon entering, one is struck by the novelty of a series of porch type window boxes, growing amongst other things there saucepans and a pair of gumboots.  The hall is large and the Stafford’s have a large sitting room furnished in Stafford and “it went with the flat” taste.  A huge wardrobe cum chest of drawers cum relic of the flight out of Egypt period takes up a fair amount of space.  There is a huge stove full to the brim with B.E.C. solid fuel (i.e. old fag packets and dog ends etc.)  The bedroom or sleeping alcove is neatly curtained off from the main room and sports a fine Ali Baba wicker work washing, snake and lodger hiding basket, that could also be used to keep a large supply of empty fag packets in if necessary.

The kitchen is a long narrow room with hundreds of shelves and could be made into a really good doss house, with the addition of ladders to enable inmates to reach the top ones. There is a toaster situated on the window ledge beneath a fan, the idea being that if the toast pops up burnt one switches on the fan and Hey Presto!  Neatly trimmed and scraped toast.

I should have mentioned that from the main room one can throw things onto the bed with no appreciable effort.  If Staff is late getting up in the morning, a plate of eggs is neatly tossed to him as he lies a-sleeping.  Somewhat messy but certainly effective.  We were treated to excellent coffee and cheese bits on toast, mit biscuits, which my old man decimated as usual.

Up till now, this has been the best equipped for cutlery and china that we have seen in the B.E.C.  I did not inspect the bog and barfroom as I did not need to.  I ‘ad me barf on Friday and did not want anything else.  Ah well, next victim please.

Editor’s Note.    Club members intending to live in Clifton should note that their chances of keeping this a secret from Lady Chatterbox are extremely small.


The following was received at the Belfry, addressed to Sybil, Garth and others.

Dear friends,

I expect that you will have heard the sad news; that our friend Alan received fatal injuries in a rock fall in Eastwater.

We should like to thank yourselves and all members of your club for their prompt assistance and also for the understanding and hospitality which you showed at the Belfry after our return to the surface.  Thank you all, very much.

                        Yours sincerely.
                                    K. Helmore.
                                    P.H. Boothroyd.
                                    T. Baxter


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


The Silly Season.

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


Old Inns of Bristol

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                    (Signed) G.Host, Inn Spectre.

Building a Belfry    Part Seven

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

P.A.:     “Hard luck!”

B.E.C.:  “Pardon?”

P.A.:     “Hard luck!”

B.E.C.:  “Why?”

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

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

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

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

P.A.:     “Yes.”

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

P.A.:     (Baffled) “Yes.”

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But V=at and thus a=V/t

Also S=tV/2

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

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

A dimensional check on this equation gives a correct result.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Nominations Forms.

Since there are a large number of new members who have not yet attended an Annual General Meeting than we usually have, it is probably worth while repeating the usual preliminary warnings.  The A.G.M. and Dinner is held at the beginning of October.  In next month’s B.B., you will find the voting forms for the 1961 committee – that is, if there are more than nine nominations are received. Members of the existing committee are automatically nominated for the next unless they wish not to stand again. Apart from that, it’s up to you to nominate people that you would think would make good committee members for 1962.


Caving Log

For May, June and July

6th May.   Lamb Leer.              R. Roberts and a party of nine B.C.S.S. did a short trip to the main chamber and side passages.

8th May.  Cuthbert’s.                Leader, Steve Tuck.  Trip to September Series.

21st May.  Goatchurch.           John Ransom, Trevor Knight, Jug and Pat Irwin.  Trevor and Pat went through the drainpipe.  John stuck at commencement and Jug got psychologically wedged. Quite a pleasant trip.

21st May.  Sidcot.                     Same party as above.  Went a third of the way in but Jug was leading and didn’t like the look of a squeeze, so the party turned round.

21st May.  Avelines.                 Same party as above.  Complete tour of the cave.

22nd May.  Swildons.               Garth, John, Jug, Pat, Bruce and Martin. Trip to sump.  Assisted member of another party who was nadgered and had a duff leg.  Got him up the 40’.  Otherwise an eventual trip.

22nd May.  Swildons.               Party, Nigel, Jim Borchard, John Downe, Llew Pritchard.  Quiet trip down Short Dry to Sump I, then back out the Wet way.  John laughed like a drain when he got wet.  Perverted?

28th May.  Cuthbert’s.             Party, Prew, George, Pat, Richard, Paddy and David.  Went as far as the Dining Room.  Went via Everest and back through the Railway tunnel.

29th May.  Sidcot.                     Party, Garth, Pat, Jim, George, John and Trevor.  A two hour trip in Sidcot.  Trevor, Jim and Garth tried to emerge from the triangle after descending the thirty foot, but found it too small.  A tour of Goatchurch also took place.

4th June.  Cuthbert’s.              P. Flood, Sandra, Jim Hill, Fred Holloway, led by Roger Stenner.  September series plus a bit of Catgut by accident.  Out via harem Passage, Railway Tunnel and normal route.

6th June.  Eastwater.              Garth, Roger, Jim and Sandra.  To Terminal via Twin Verticals.  Roger was a menace because he didn’t like the cave. Jim vanished at the top of the first vertical and was unfortunately found in the Boulder Ruckle.  We washed off in the Mineries.

11th June.  Swildons.              Frank Darbon, Pam Russell, Tony James, Ivan Crow, and Nigel Hallett.  A quiet trip to sump.  Back via Tratman’s Temple.

12th June.  August Hole.         Garth, John and Llew.  We intended a trip to Longwood but called it off because of a very recent fall.  We did August instead.  It was the first time down for the three of us.  We went as far as two hundred feet from the bottom of the downstream passage.

18th June.  Vee Swallet.         Digging in the tunnel of Vee Swallet. The water is about one foot deep! M. Ward and P. Miller.

18th June.  Swildon’s             Jim Hill, Pat Irwin and Anne Ritcher. Down the Wet Way to the Forty.  Turned back at the top of the Twenty.  Met a party of Wessex cavers at the top of the Forty (were they besides themselves with fright? – Ed.)  came out the Long Dry Way.  Anne’s first ever ladder pitch.  A steady, pleasant trip enjoyed by all.

19th June.  August-Longwood.           Llew Pritchard and Jim Borchard.  Down to the ‘S’ squeeze after the Great Rift.  More water than last week, but still fairly dry.

22nd June.  Cuthbert’s            Mike Baker, Mike Holland, Derek Ford. Tourist trip to Rabbit Warren.

26th June.  Swildons.              Frank Darbon, John, Richard, Jock and Jug.  Good enjoyable trip to Sump I.  Very little water going over the Forty.

26th June.  Cuthbert’s.            Norman Petty, Frank Darbon, Nigel Hallett, John Gallagher and six bods from Redland teachers training college. Lower Mud Hall, down Water Chute to Dining Room. Then out.

26th June.  Eastwater.             Twin Verticals.  Fab Eyles, Charlie Brown, Tony Davidson and Bob Grace.  Good trip leaving time for a swim in caving gear in the Mineries.

26th June.  Swildons.              Party, Sybil, Garth and a party of pupils from Sybil’s school.  Trip to top of 40 and out the Dry Way.

3rd July.  Cuthbert’s.               Leader, Kangy.  Party, Mike Holland, Derek Ford, Kit, John Downie, Jim Borchard.  Prospected Lake Chamber intending to float across it.  Horrid shocking dry.  Out via Rabbit Warren Extension and Catgut.  Mike Holland made it.  Weegee baiting in the Mineries followed.

3rd July.  August-Longwood.  Llew Pritchard, Don Luker and Pat Irwin.  Bottomed the swine.  All excepting the last hour’s tight squeeze.  We decided it wasn’t worth going on if the passage stayed the same. A party of schoolboys caused some delay on the way out, from the two ten foot pots onwards.  Don seemed to enjoy his first trip.

2nd July.  Emborough Swallet.          Much boulder shifting and much removed by a joint party of B.E.C. and S.M.C.C. as a return match after a similar joint effort of Priddy Green the weekend before.  (This trip got left out of the log).  Casualties numbered one bruised foot (unknown) one cut finger (Alfie) another cut finger requiring hospital treatment (Eric Fowler) and one bruise spine (Mike Thompson).  Watch for the next instalment of this gory tale.

3rd July.  Fernhill Cave.           This is a new hole – the fourth – in fairy Cave Quarry.  Alfie, Jill and Garth on photographic trip, down the fairly small hole opened a fortnight earlier by quarry blasting.  Entrance is an amazing rift forty feet deep by about sixty feet long, covered in stal curtains.  Very nice formations generally.  Taken round by Jack Hill (president of Cerberus C.C.)

5th July.  Eastwater.                Fab Eyles with a party of novices. Down to Rift Chambers to give them a good insight into the character of the cave.

9th July. Swildons.                   Nigel Hallett + 3 W.S.G. members.  A very quiet trip to the top of the Forty.  Hauled some idiot’s ladder up the Forty for them as they had taken it down with them to the Twenty.

9th July.  Swildons.                  John Gallagher, Ben Boyle and Alan Read.  Upper Swildons for the Forty.  Alan Read’s first.  Returned via the Wet way.

10th July.  Swildons.                To Sump I with a party who were either too shy or unable to write their names in the caving log.  An easy trip with little water.

10th July. Goatchurch.            Fab Eyles, Bob Grace and a schoolboy party of six spent a pleasant couple of hours exploring Goatchurch.

10th July.  Hunters Hole.         A weekend’s work from the 7th – 10th. Ian Dear, L:es Mortimer and Jim Hill. Laddered the cave of Friday night.  Two working parties went down on Saturday and Sunday consisting of Llew, Mo, Keith and Pete, Pat, Jug and Garth.  Dear’s ideal deepened by at least five feet and looks promising.  The Railway Tunnel dig extended by four to five feet in what looks like the termination of a rift.  Next instalment in a month’s time, all being well.

11th July.  Swildons.                Leader, Keith Galdman.  Party, Fab Eyles, Bob Grace, Tony Davidson and John Lane.  Good trip down to Sump I.  Keith and Fab went through to Duck I.  No mishaps.

13th July.  Cuthbert’s.              Kangy retrieved a bag from Stafford’s Boulder Problem.

14th July.  Swildons                 Bob Grace, Fab Eyles and seven Q.E.H. boys to Sump I.  Fab Eyles went through for a second time this week.  Good trip.  Ladders by courtesy of Derek Ford.

14th July.  Swildons                 Keith Galdman, John Lane and Nick Lechmere (Mr Maine’s nephew) did a quick Upper Swildons.

16th July.  Swildons.                Richard Roberts and party.  Trip to Barnes Loop for photography.  We intended to visit St. Pauls but a hold up on the Forty prevented this.  Party were fairly wet and decided to return to the surface.

23rd July.  Cuthbert’s.             Leader Frank Darbon.  Party Nigel Hallett, Richard Roberts and Tim Smith. To High Chamber and had a look at a passage known by Richard.  Through Lower Mud Hall to sump via Cerberus Series and Lake Chamber. Returned via Rabbit Warren to the surface.  Very good trip.

23rd July.  Cuthbert’s.             Leader John Satfford with John Attwood and three Q.E.H. bods.  Sightseeing trip to Cascade, Curtain Chamber and Gour Hall.  Back out via Cerberus Series and Lake Chamber. No water in Lake Chamber.

24th July.  Cuthbert’s.             Leader Kangy.  Party John Downie, Beryl Ifold, Don Luker, Steve, Llew Pritchard, Alan, Jim Borchard, Dave Radmore, Norman Petty, Roger Stenner and John Etough.  This was a large party which split up for caving and photographic purposes.

25th July.  Eastwater.              Pam Russell, John, Michael, Ralph, Marcus, Brian and three others.  An easy trip to the top of Primrose Pot.  Three members of the party went through the squeeze to the top of the pot.  A dry comfortable tip.

26th July.  Fernhill & Fairy Caves       Pam Russell, Fred Davies and Phil Davy.  Fred Davies descended Fairy Cave and Phil and myself went down Fernhill.  A voice connection was found between the two.  The points are the very end of Fernhill and the second boulder ruckle in Fairy (surely she means Hilliers? – Ed.).  Fernhill has some beautiful curtains and stal.  Pam Russell.

30th July.  Hunters Hole.         Ian Dear, No Marriott, Peter, Keith, Llew, Guy (pronounced Gi, from France) and George Honey.  Pitches laddered, at considerable opposition from a rotten cow’s afterbirth at the bottom of the shaft.  This was pushed through and fell onto the floor of the main chamber, contaminating the ladder on the way.  The first pitch then became S.S. on account of the smell.  Digging in Dear’s Ideal.  Large rock fall cleared many boulders, but way on not too promising. Dear’s Ideal is not to be renamed Placenta Pot.

30th July.  Eastwater.              Four cavers, understood to be from Bristol Tech were returning from a trip down Eastwater when the leader, Alan Hartnell, lost his grip by the waterfall at the bottom of the Boulder Ruckle by the start of the 300’ Way, owing to loose rock and fell.  More rock fell onto him and, although he was not trapped, he was badly injured.  At 10 pm, the accident was reported at the Hunters – having been reported earlier at the New Inn.  B.E.C. members got rapidly changed and assisted the party from the New Inn, together with Luke Devenish and other members of the M.R.O. and a doctor from Cheddar. The operation went very smoothly and quickly, and he was brought up through the ruckle carefully yet quickly in a semi-conscious condition. By 11.15 he was out of the cave, taken to the ambulance on the club rigid stretcher and on his way to Bristol Hospital.  It is recorded with deep regret that he died early the next morning.  We extend our sincere sympathy to his friends and relatives, and assure them that every care and prompt action was taken by the rescue team. (Editor).

30th July.  August-Longwood.            Pam Russell and Tom Sage.  Longwood was fairly dry and the trip was completed without incident. August Hole was very wet.

31st July.  Cuthbert’s.             Roger Stenner led a trip with Pam, Tom Sage and Garth.  Tourist trip to September Series.

31st July.  Cuthbert’s.             Mike Baker led a trip of seven members of the Crewe caving Club.  Tourist trip to the sump and back.

31st July.  Cuthbert’s.             Dave Raine introduced to a Mendip cave by Bryan Ellis.  A very quick trip to the sump and back.  Dave was very impressed by the cave and wishes to take it back to Yorkshire Bryan didn’t think he was capable of doing this trip so fast, but there were two pints at stake.

31st July.  Cuthbert’s.             George Honey.  Down with Roger’s party.  Trying to use bubble sextant for vertical surveying.  Seems reasonable.  Results must be processed before any conclusions can be drawn.


Mattresses and Blankets.  The Belfry mattresses and blankets are showing signs of wear and some must soon be replaced.  Please turn out your attics.  Gifts of these items are urgently required.

Sheet Sleeping Bags.  In order to preserve the Belfry bedding the committee have decided that sheet sleeping bags – a la Y.H.A. – must be used by members who do not bring their own sleeping bags.  All members please note and pass this on to intending visitors.

Car and Motor Cycle Badges.  Bob Bagshaw is now taking orders for these.  The badge itself is 8/6 or 14/-.  Do not miss this great bargain!  Seriously – they do look very nice and are well worth it.

G.B. Guest Days.  The next trip is on Sunday, September 4th, meet at three o’clock at the barn.

C.R.G. Annual General Meeting.  This will be held at Sheffield University on the 12th of Nov. this year.

Donations to Club Library.  The following books have been kindly donated by John Etough. Anapurna by Maurice Herzog. Undersea Adventure by Phillipe Diote. Climbs in the Canadian Rockies by Frank S. Smythe.


To the Editor of the B.B.

I was highly interested in the article “A short history of the B.E.C.” which appeared in the Silver Jubilee Edition.  Unfortunately, strange as it may seem, I have never heard our esteemed club song.  I wonder if it might be possible, therefore, for the sake of newer members and uneducated specimens like myself, to print a copy of the club song in the B.B.?

                        Cheers for now
                                    Alan Nash.

By all means Alan.  We hope, however, that you didn’t expect the club song to be full of references to caving or anything like that!  It goes: -

We are the exploration Club
We roam around from pub to pub.
To die of thirst we have no fear
As long as we have lots of beer.
So raise your tankards high
And drink them down until they are dry,
We are the Exploration Club
We roam around from pub to pub.

While we are on the subject of club songs, we have the author’s permission to print a version of the Wessex Club song, so we might as well go the whole hog…

We are the Wessex Cave Club
No ruddy use are we.
We drink a half of cider
It affects us more than tea.
And when we’re down in Swildons
And haven’t got a light,
We stand above the Forty
Beside ourselves with fright.

The B.E.C. they help us
Through every pitch and squeeze.
We like the way they do it
With such consummate ease.
And when we are much better
At caving – we agree,
It is our one ambition
To join the B.E.C.

Some Thoughts on the Leader System

By Roger Stenner

Among cavers, there is a real and important differences of opinion about the importance of the leader, ad in particular what has been called the leader system.  That is, the system by which access to a cave is limited to parties led by one of a number of selected cavers.  This is the system used to limit access to St. Cuthbert’s Swallet, and certain caves in South Wales.  I must admit here that my knowledge of the cave situation outside Mendip and South Wales is scant. I think it must be agreed that all parties must have a leader who is responsible for the safety and conduct of the, members of the party in the cave.  There is no argument about this; it is the Leader System which is often attacked.

One objection to the Leader System is the inconvenience it causes.  It usually involves writing to someone several weeks in advance, and it may difficult for some people to plan very hard ahead.  On the other hand, a visitor from another part of the country, haven written in advance, will be sure of the company of someone who knows the cave well.  Just a tourist trip through a cave can be made a real pleasure by a leader who can tell his party things of interest connected with the history of the exploration of the cave.  Beside being invaluable on trips made for a specific purpose, the leader is bound to save time which may be valuable.  The main objection is that the Leader System kills initiative and leads eventually to stagnation.  Whether the B.E.C. or S.M.C.C. can be called stagnant clubs is very much a matter of debate!

The value of the Leader System lies in the prevention of damage to formations.  It is natural that if all parties visiting a particular cave have leaders who are responsible for the protection of all amenities of the cave, then vandalism, accidental or deliberate, will be kept to a minimum. In fairly easy caves not protected by such a system, such as was the case at one time in Hilliers and G.B., formations have fared very badly.  It would have been thought that the entrance series of Stoke Lane would have kept out all but the keenest cavers. Spent carbide has been tipped in most chambers; the Main Chamber is littered with tins; and even Queen Victoria has got quite muddy.  Damage of this kind, in a cave protected by a long miserable entrance and a sump is far worse than in O.F.D. or Cuthbert’s.

It may be said that I am placing undue emphasis on the importance of formations, but those few people who have done a great deal of important exploration seem to be the people who most strongly believe that caves should be left untouched as much as possible.  The S.W.C.C. had much discussion before it was decided to remove an insignificant stalagmite boss that would have really hindered a party in a hurry because of the rising floodwater in O.F.D.  Again, it is sometimes said that formations can hinder exploration.  Tratman’s Temple is quoted as an example.  Against this, some once wanted to climb the cascade in Cuthbert’s but was restrained from doing so.  Eventually somebody else got into the passage leading from the cascade by another route. Without the means of restraint provided by the leader system, the Cascade would have been permanently and uselessly damaged.

There are people who are interested only in exploration, and who think that the extension of caves is the only worth while thing of the sport.  Some argue that because they can quite easily bash on into the final sump, of a large cave without the aid of any leader; the Leader System is unnecessary. Such people are, to my mind, merely very selfish; forgetting that there is more to caving than the discovery of a bit more passage.  As the Editor pointed out, they themselves depend on the strenuous and thankless work of diggers, work that is so often fruitless.  The Leader System does seem to be the only effective way of checking vandalism while still allowing reasonable access to the cave.  If only from this point of view, it is justified in caves containing formations of great beauty.

Editor’s Note.    We think it is a good thing to print articles forcibly expressing different points of view from time to time.  Any replies or comments will be printed.


An Ode to the Bats of Bristol’s Belfry – On the Anniversary of the Initiation of two Colonials into the Strange and Mystical Rites of Mendip at Midsummer.

Those who were at present at the Midsummer barbecue last year will remember the two yanks who were so impressed with our civilised Mendip customs.  At this year’s barbecue, one of them, Geoff Movious, sent the following to Keith Gardner.  The instructions were duly complied with.

(To be read at the height of a glorious bonfire at Midnight)

All Hail Bristol revellers, ye worthy sprites!
Praise to you as you scale great Bacchus’ heights.
May there never be a dearth of hills for climbing,
May you all be catastrophically wining.
Whether lost in revelry of summer so profound
Or mucking all about for underground.
Our fondest hopes and wishes you attend
We pray you now a precious moment lend
To our Ode upon Midsummer’s night –
Before the eastern sky begins to light.

Twelve months have flown away across the year
Since last two “Damned Colonials” were here.
You took them in and cidered them completely
Inebriating them – yet passing sweetly.
The rubber suited race across the pond;
The theft of hats which firemen had donned
But quickly doffed before our awesome crew,
Ho raged around consuming jugs of brew;
The ceremony of the roaring fire,
(Perhaps the punch itself burned slightly higher)
These memories and visions truly bright
Go forth to you upon this glorious night.
May your Midsummer’s Dream be blessed with wine,
May wenches serve you with it as you dine.
With this last wish we make our solemn parting,
(Exit Colonials – who to pubs are departing).

Building a Belfry - Part eight

It now becomes obvious, even to the meanest intelligence, that foundations must now be dug. Accordingly, we drive four pegs in to mark the corners of the trenches and check them with a surveying tape. After a little adjustment, the lengths agree.

We are just about to out the first sod when some other ditto suggests that – just as a check – we measure the diagonals.  This is done. The resulting parallelogram is then played about with on the ‘left hand down a bit’ principle until, by some fluke, the diagonals are the same length.  We breathe a collective sigh of relief and pick up our spades again.

Some idiot now suggests that – just as a check – we measure the sides again.  This is done.  We agree that a trapezoid hut, although novel, is not what we really had in mind. Eventually both the sides and the diagonals ate made equal.  At this point, the ghost of Euclid and Pythagoras stop revolving in their respective graves.  Exhausted by this mental effort, and pausing only to make sure the pegs are firmly in, we stagger from the scene.

A few pints later, with the determination and tenacity for which none of us are noted, we return to the dig trenches.  Then comes the blow.  Our wholesale suppliers arrange for lorry loads of concrete blocks and heaps of limestone dust to be delivered.  This is too much.  Stunned by the enormity of what we have done, we stagger automatically to the Hunters – broken men.  Will we ever recover, you doubtless ask?  No.

(This nauseating tale will be continued at spasmodic intervals).


Congratulations to “Kangy” and Ann on their wedding which took place over August Bank Holiday.

Congratulations to “Spike” and also to Alan Sandall on reaching their ‘decadence’.


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


Erratic Publications Dept.

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

Silver Jubilee Number

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


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


Lady Chatterbox

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

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

C.A. Gardner.

Pine Tree Pot

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


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

Fings Ain’t Wot They Used To Be

By Norman Brooks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rob Roy’s Cave

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

G. Salt

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

A. Fincham

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

R.A. Setterington.


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