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List of Members 1949 No. 3.

J.K. Bindon            19, Morse Road, Redfield, Bristol.
P. Daymond          95, Cheddon Road, Taunton, Somt.
F. Seward              38, Uxbridge Road, Slough Bucks.
S.J. Collins            58, Beaconsfield Road, Mottingham, London, S.E.9.
P. Woodroffe          192, Heythorpe St., Southfields, London, S.E.18.
J.L. Hull                 137, Filton ave., Horfield Bristol. 7.
G.S. Treasure        Stoke Lane Poultry Farm, Stoke St. Michael, Nr Bath, Somt.
J.W. Ifold               Leigh House, Nempnett, Throbwell, Nr. Chew Stoke, Somt.
A.J. Needs            62, Callington Road, Brislington, Bristol.
Miss M. Thomas    6, Hill Crest, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
R.A. Ifold               32, Coburg Road, Montpelier, Bristol. 6.
E.O. Howell           4, Compton Drive, Sea Mills Park, Bristol. 9.
M. Hannam            14, Vyvyan Terrace, Clifton, Bristol. 8.
R.E.J. Gough         Camp farm, Elberton, Olveston, Bristol.
E.J. Mason            11, Kendon Drive, Westbury,-on-Trym, Bristol.

Sales to Members

The following ‘Cavers Aids’ are available, and if something not on the list is required such as camping gear, etc., write to Hon. Sec., who will get it for you.

Cap Lamps (gas) complete,
Spares for above (everything except the main water container)
Helmets (two different types and prices)
Miners Caps with lamp bracket,
Y.H.A. Membership Application Forms,
Camping Club Application Forms,

Lamps are usually from stock, other goods except forms in about 10 to 14 days according to makers delivery.  Don’t forget to state size for helmets & caps.

Why not aspire to Fame?????

Send your literary efforts to Hon. Editor.  Tell the Club all about your thrills and spills.  Help to make the BB a NEWS magazine; it’s up to you, so send in contributions large and small.


As we have remarked before, the club is becoming a matrimonial one.  We are delighted to announce the forthcoming marriage of our two members R.T. Humpidge and Miss Freda Chapman on July 16th.  Good luck to both of them.

The Belfry.

There are quite a number of items required to complete the new Belfry.  If anyone knows anyone who could obtain cheaply for the club any of the following list, please let any Belfry Committee or General Committee Member know at once.  We realize that a certain number of these items are obtainable at a price.  We have sunk a considerable amount of our resources into the Hut, and therefore want to obtain them as cheaply as possible.  If any member would care to present some or any of them, the rest of the members would bless his name for ever more.

Most of the list can be classified as ‘fittings’, but it is fittings such as these that will make all the difference between a Slick and a comfortable Headquarters.  We want the Belfry talked about wherever cavers and suchlike bods meet.

A.C. Johnson

Ed. note. Tony means ‘praised’ when he says ‘talked about’.  The old Belfry is already nationally famous (or is it Infamous).

Lengths of 6'1ong weatherboarding.
Lengths of Skirting Boards.
Guttering and Downspouts.
Barrels and/or water butts.
A small trolley or Wheelbarrow for local hauling.
Aluminium Sheets of all shapes and sizes.
A rectangular Kitchen Sink.
Strong Compact chairs, folding or nesting type would ideal.
A strong folding table.
A number of large stew pots, saucepans, kettles, fry pans, water containers, cups, plates, and knives, forks etc.
Curtain material.
Mattresses, Blankets and other bedding,
A bell mounted on a spindle for a Belfry on the roof.
(To summon the faithless to food, Ed.)

Belfry Cooking.

At the last Belfry Committee Meeting the idea was put forward that Calor Gas be installed for cooking instead of the range or primii in the summer.  The advantages are numerous:-there is less risk of fire; it is far cleaner for the hut; it is far more hygienic for the food (fancy stew not tasting of paraffin?) is less trouble.  The initial cost of such an installation has been worked out to be in the region of £12/-/-.  The General Committee when approached turned down the scheme on the grounds of expense at the present time when expenses are so high.  It was agreed however, that providing no objections were raised a levy of 3d. would be put on all Belfry charges, the money so collected being put into a fund for the purchase and installation of the equipment.  Before this levy is imposed we should like the views of members about the matter.  Would any member who does not agree with the proposed levy please inform the Hon. Sec. by 1st. July.  If no objections are received it is proposed to institute the levy from that date.  Any objection received will be considered on its merits before the ‘Tax’ is imposed.


Work on the new hut is going forward in a very fine way.  The internal fittings for the kitchen are under discussion and you are invited to submit schemes for it. The main lining is almost complete, but the ceilings and a part of the Ladies room remains to be finished.  It has been agreed that no internal decoration shall be done until the lining is finished, but the iron-work on the bunks has to be brushed and painted, the outside to be cleaned and creosoted, the site to be levelled and the vehicle park laid down, paths to be laid and surfaced with slag, the old huts to be renovated, cleaned and waterproofed, and converted into changing rooms and tackle store.

You will see from the above list that there is quite a lot left to be done so come along to the Belfries and wade in.  The more you do the less there will be to do.

Trip to Valence

The Hon. Sec. has received a list of 14 names for this trip.  Others would like to have gone but had made previous arrangements.  No details have yet (12th June) been received from M. Ageron, but each person on the list will receive full details as soon as they are available.


Work at Cross Swallet is going with a swing and a vast amount of spoil has been removed from the hole.  If enthusiasm is anything to go by, great things will be happening there shortly. Each time your roving reporter turns up at the site the place is swarming with eager members, each one doing a specific job.  The fact that there are no slackers accounts for the tons of infilling removed.  Caving trips are averaging two and three each weekend, these being undertaken not by just one or two but by considerable parties.

One of the highlights of the month was the conducting of a party of 12 Mormon Missionaries around the Upper Series of Swildons.  The sole casualty was our Hon. Sec. who fractured his left ankle.  This should teach him that Theology and Speleology are not similar sciences.


Our popular member Sam Treasure of Stoke St. Michael has written an article on Stoke Lane which has just been printed in the ‘Somerset Legion News’ the British Legion publication.  He has given us the OK to reprint it in the BB, and this we hope to do in the July issue.


A party from Woking Service of Youth Council are coming to Mendip as our guests on the weekend of July 9th – 10th.  It is hoped that the clerk of the weather will smile on them as this is their first visit to Mendip.  They intend to visit Swildons and/or Eastwater.  We should be glad if members could be available to ‘take them around’ in the usual B.E.C. manner.


From the Hon. Sec’s Post Bag.

From Terry Reed again on the Amazon: - We are steaming cautiously up the south bank of the Amazon which resembles Milk Chocolate.  I have contacted Rio re, caves in the area but am not very hopeful.

From Cerry Orren:- Tomorrow I am sailing for the British Cameroon’s, West Africa, to survey Banana Plantations, so I shan’t be able to join in activities for some two years.  The plantations are at the foot of Cameroon Mountain which is 13,000ft. high.  I don't know if it is of limestone, but any ‘dirty oles’ in the region will be explored and I hope to report t o the BB of anything found.  Best wishes to the Club!

From John Hull lately beside the Bitter Lake and now en route for : -I’ve been lapping up the BB and the new Belfry will be quite a place.  I've read somewhere an article on ‘Caving in ’, I can’t quite remember where could anyone give me any information on that point?

Lascaux-A Commentary’
by A.H. Broderick. (Lindsay Drummond, 15/-)

Reviewed by Pongo Wallis,

The most notable feature of this book is the photographs of the remarkable paintings in the caves; these take up about a third of the book.  The text is divided into three main sections.  The first deals with the discovery of the caves, the second is a brief summary of other painted caves, while the remainder is a description of the paintings and the artists techniques.

The object of the paintings is perhaps the most intriguing part of the subject.  It seems most likely that they have a magical significance.  In many primitive tribes today there is a belief that the possession of a drawing or model of a man gives the possessor power over the subject - photographs have sometimes suffered severely at their hands on this account.  What could be more reasonable, therefore, that making a drawing of an animal will make it easier to catch?  Some hunters went even further - for example, the clay statue of a bear which Casteret found at Montespan, and which was riddled with spear thrusts.

In this connection it is interesting to note the almost complete absence of human beings from the pictures, except occasionally in an extremely stylised form.  This could not be due to technical difficulties, as the standard of the animal drawings is very high.  But unless the Aurignacians were cannibals, and I know of no evidence that they were - there would be little point in drawing men.  Similarly, fauna which were very common and easily killed do not appear to a great extent.

Magic was not needed to hunt them, and primitive people do not use magic unnecessarily.

Although the paintings show a very close observation of the animals drawn, they are almost entirely isolated pictures of animals – there is no story to them, or composed picture.  Of the hundreds of paintings in the caves, only a very few fall into this class.  Of these, two are notable.   One is a pair of bison charging at the viewer, and the other is a wounded bison goring his attacker; whereas the animal is very faithfully portrayed, the man is extremely stylised, rather like a child's ‘match-stick’ drawing,

Whether or not this particular aspect of caves is your particular interest, I should certainly try to have a look at this book, if only at the photographs, which are really outstanding.  The text, I leave to you, but in any case, it is quite short.


Caving in Devon 

by J.V. ‘Menace’ Morris

Pridhamsleigh Cave

Editor’s Note.  John took the hint from the last BB and within a few days of publication this article arrived.

I last told you about the caves called Bakers Pit and Reeds Cavern.  I will now try and give you an idea what Pridhamsleigh is like.

The entrance is very large and is situated in a wood of that name, above the Buckfast-Ashburton road.  A small passage leads off into a real maze, with every bit well supplied with sticky, horrible mud; in fact I can safely say that it beats anything on Mendip as far as mud is concerned.

The first chamber is called the Bishops Chamber, which has many ways leading from it as we found to our cost.

There are three places worth getting to in the Cave, although one can wander for hours.

One is the lake, it is not large as lakes go, but it is very deep, somewhere in the region of 30 feet!  There are some fine formations here and the usual mud.

Another is the Deep Well.  This is really a fine rift 20 feet across, just too wide to chimney, the walls covered in mud, and 30ft. of water underneath.  It is great fun leading across this with the rope.  The best way is to traverse high up on one wall; and just as you make the final dash you slip and fall into the Well.  When this happens the air goes blue and the water boils.  Once across, a passage of good formation is followed to the Sump, either by swimming or chimneying along the roof, taking care not to damage the very fine formations.

The Sump looks quite passable, but I have not yet tried it, and I cannot get anyone to back me up.

The last place of interest is Anemolite Alley.  This is a low ascending tunnel containing some very beautiful pure white anemolites.  When first opened some pre-historic badger dung was found (very pre-historic).

The real job in the cave is to find one’s way out again.  On the last visit it took us three hours to find the way out again.

Any party wanting to visit this cave would be advised to contact Mr. Reed of D.S.S. (Hon. Sec. has address.  Ed.), as this will save a lot of time, and no doubt the D.S.S. would allow them to use their H.Q. for changing Etc.

J.V. Morris


The British Broadcasting Corporation (Television Department) have given the club a donation of £5/5/- for the part we played in making a Television News Reel last Christmas.  Thank you very much B.B.C. for your generosity.  Thanks too, to those individuals both in the club and Broadcasting house (Bristol) who took so much trouble on our behalf.  The donation has been put into the Hut Fund.

Redcliffe Caves

The B.E.C. has received, from the Bristol Corporation, permission to survey and examine the Redcliffe System.  These caves have been purchased from their original owners by the Corpn., but have not yet been handed over.  When they take possession we shall be able to start work.  It is proposed to work there on Thursday evenings as well as weekends, but the dates, there will be meeting at Redcatch will be notified, when possible in the BB.  The caves cover a large area, parts of which have been filled in and blocked off.  Older members will remember trips to Redcliffe a number of years ago when Dan Hassell crawled down an open sewer.

Dr. Wallis of the City museum is giving us all the assistance he can and has put at our disposal a survey of one part of the system.  Any antiquarian finds will of course go to the City Museum.



The Printer Apologises

First for the lateness of the April BB, which was due to matters beyond his control.  Secondly for the bad print of No.22.  His apprentice ‘hadn’t a clue’ how the duplicator worked and did his best in his ‘Bosses’ absence.

Thirdly for the paper in this issue.  We are out of stock of our usual brand and this is all we are able for the time being, to get.  Lastly to those unfortunates who will find that page six has been printed upside down.  This certainly has added a touch of the unusual to the BB, and was due to one of those errors that creep into the best of regulated printing establishments.

J. Caxton

Trip to

Names are rolling in, and though rather early to pass any comment it appears that a really good party will go.  No details, other than those already circulated, are to hand but those whose names have been handed in will be notified as and when the details arrive.  Maps of the area can be obtained from the Automobile Association, Sheet 767 of Michelin Maps is the relevant one, and also sheet 93 The Rhone Valley.

Caving Helmets

Owing to high pressure research work on the part of the Committee we are pleased to announce that we are able to sell caving helmets at a new low price of 6/6.  This is quite a saving on the old price.  They will be ordered each month, with a delivery of about 14 days after the firm’s receipt of order.

Two Cavers Go Climbing

by D.A. Coase.

Having seen and immediately obtained a small booklet entitled ‘Sandstone Climbs in S.E. England’, the first fine Sunday (Jan 30th.) found Geoff Ridyard and the writer boarding a Greenline Bus for East Grinstead.  A two mile walk followed, through delightful country, until, turning up a track, Stone Farm Rocks were reached.

First things first, so we sat on top of one of the rocks and had lunch.  The situation of the rocks couldn’t be better.  The outcrop, which nowhere is above 25ft. high runs East and West and faces South, looking over a wide valley with the infant River Medway beneath (which by the way exhibits some very nice meander loops).  The far side of the valley rises towards Ashdown Forest.

But to business, so we donned our plimsolls, for nailed boots are barred, owing to the damage they would do to the rock, which is a soft, yellowy-brown sandstone.

The first climb we tried ‘East Jordan’, a youngster had blithely danced up whilst we lunched, and Geoff seemed to manage it without trouble, but I found it quite an effort.  Then, our enthusiasm aroused, we started on ‘Key Climb’.  This involved straddling up between two blocks for ten feet, then swinging on to the main rock and climbing a narrow chimney to the top.  The fun was swinging over to get into the chimney.  Geoff, after a struggle got across, but I got stuck completely and had to jump off and start again.  I might add we hadn't a rope, we had discussed taking to clothes line but decided that wasn’t quite the thing.  The second attempt by climbing I found easy.

We then wandered along the outcrop, climbing anything we thought we could manage.  One boulder about 12 feet high gave us fun owing to the overhang at the base, but after trying four or five times and falling off (about 4 feet), we conquered it.

On ‘Inaccessible Boulder’ again we had the same problem, with an overhang to get onto a ledge traversing round the rock about 8 feet up.  It wasn’t until later that we found the easy way up.  From here three routes lead to the top.  Two were immediately dismissed as beyond us, and the third again an overhang, wasn’t so nice.  At last Geoff gave me a shoulder to stand on and once up I saw an obvious handhold that was invisible from below.  Then with my moral assistance Geoff managed it.  Although this climb is graded as an "easy difficult" we both found it quite a problem.

Another climb we tried, involved traversing along a narrow ledge and then climbing the ‘nose’ of the boulder.  In its self, it was quite easy, but to complicate matters a holly tree grew against the face.  As I swung on top of the rock, my posterior pivoted out from the face, straight into the prickliest part of the tree.

To finish up, we tackled a slightly tougher climb.  Quoting the guide book ‘Stone Farm Chimney’ (Easy Severe) Face R.  The tight overhanging portion is made by monkeying up the front flake, A Delightful Climb’.  (The underlining is the writer's).  The chimney starts off about two feet wide, just too narrow to chimney decently then, about ten feet up, it narrows to about nine to twelve inches.  The instructions are to climb the flake, but my caving instincts coming to the fore, I swarmed up in the chimney.  Geoff and I both got up eventually but it was more by BF and BI than orthodox climbing.

So we called it a day, just as the sun set, and walking back in the gathering dusk a very necessary pot of tea, after which we caught the bus back home, two tired but very happy cavers, bitten by a new bug.


The Belfry

New Lining Sheets are being purchased for the Belfry Mk. II, and should have arrived by the time this BB reaches you.  Will all those with time to spare please turn out and help to finish off the interior so that the ‘Painting Squad’ can take over.  The wiring of the interior of the new hut has been completed and points are being provided for such luxuries as electric razors and flat irons.  It is to be expected as a result of these innovations that an entirely new species of Homo Subterraneanis will make his appearance on Mendip complete with neatly pressed overalls and a face as smooth and clean as a baby’s back.

By the way for the benefit of the newer and younger members: -

Do not in any circumstances start or try to start the motor-generator.  The set has been recently damaged by someone whose enthusiasm outweighed his discretion so that having ‘made it go’, he couldn’t stop it and the engine suffered in consequence.  The two batteries are always left charged so that anyone using the hut will have adequate lighting.  Of course if the radio is left on all the time the batteries will discharge faster and members are asked to use their common sense as to how long they use it.  Setterington who is Hut Warden has charge of the generator and he alone, or someone personally delegated by him at the time, has authority to touch it.

As the new hut nears completion, the day for ‘moving in’ draws nearer.  The hew hut will be a very different place from the old one, and the Chairman of the Belfry sub-committee has been asked to draw up a  list of those things which members using the huts are expected to observe.  This list, which will be circulated to all members, will be regarded, as provisional, and we shall welcome suggestions, in writing, please, and/or amendments from all members.

T.H. Stanbury


The most Hectic Caving weekend for some time was undertaken at Easter.  Over thirty persons slept at the Belfries (or is it Belfrys?) and more than fifty members and friends were on Mendip.  The thirty sleepers were per night and not over the period.  All the major Mendip Caves were visited together with a large number of the smaller ones.  The evenings were spent in singsongs and a good time was had by all.  This constitutes a record for the Club.  The previous highest sleeping figure was 25.  Whitsun is just around the corner, and indications so far are that it is going to be even more successful than Easter.

List of Members 1949  No. 2

G. Platten              Hon. Editor, British Caver, Rotherfield, Fernhill Lane, New Milton, Hants.
E.J. Steer              c/o 23, Andover Road, Knowle Park, Bristol. 4.
G.T. Lucy              28, Bibury Cerscent, Henleaze, Bristol. 7.
P.A.E. Stewart       11, Fairhaven Road, Redland, Bristol. 6.
P.T. Reed              53, Dongola Road, Bristol. 7.
R.G. Belamy          5, Heron Road, Easton, Bristol
P. Browne             5, Trinity Parade, Frome, Somt.
A.J. Crawford         10, Elm Close, Hendon, London, N.W. 4.
A.M. Innes,            Hon. Librarian, 246, Filton Ave., Horfield Bristol. 7.
Mrs. Thompsett      Greenhatch, Isle Abbots, Nr Taunton, Somt.
R. Cantle               46, Cherrinton Road, Henleaze, Bristol. 7.
R.A. Setterington,  Hon. Hut Warden, 21, Priors Wood Road, Taunton, Somt.
R.M. Wallis           Briarcroft, Marlborough Close, Latchford, W.O., Warrington, Lancs.
J.M. Thompsett      Greenhatch, Isle Abbots, Nr Taunton, Somt.
E.H. Cole              174, Baginton Road, Coventry, Warwickshire.

From The Hon. Sec.’s Postbag

From Terry Reed at Trinidad

I’ve heard of two caves in this island, both carrying streams.  Both have wide passages, up to the width of a room.

I.                           Is at Point Ballen and is about 45 vertical feet deep.  It is at sea level and has a fresh water stream inside.

II.                          Is at Arema in the mountains.  It is situated on a private coco (Nut or Food? Ed.) and is about 100 vertical feet deep.  There is a stream in the cave which is entered through a 20ft. pothole, the real entrance to the cave being in its side.  In this cave there are many rifts or swallet holes communicating with the surface.

My informant is an old half-caste man so I think he can be regarded as reliable - except as regards distances inside the caves.  He went down the Arema cave when he was a kid.

 I have phoned the Museum at Port of Spain and confirmed that these caves exist and that there are dripstone formations in the one at Point Ballen although they didn’t know if there was stream inside.

I have bought a big bottle of Rum for the Club.  (Sorry to raise your hopes boys.  Put those tongues back in your jaw.  Terry has already handed over the Rum and it has been sampled and disposed of by ‘Thursday-nighters’ long since.  Ed.)


The B.E.C. is living up to its reputation as watch finders.  At G.B. last Saturday another wrist watch was found.  This watch had however, already been reported lost by a visitor who was in the Cave the previous weekend.  We suggest that persons taking watches underground should either make sure that the strap is secure or put it in a pocket where it will be safe.


Stoke Lane Photos are out of stock for the time being.  A new supply will be along soon and anyone who has sent in a request for a selection and has not received any is asked to be patient, they will be sent out as soon as possible.

The Caves of Buckfastleigh, South Devon. 

by  J.V. Morris.

Since I have been stationed at Plymouth I have almost more opportunities for caving than before I was called up.

Practically in the village of Buckfastleigh, which is as far from Plymouth as Priddy is from Bristol, are two caves, Reed’s Cavern and Bakers Pits Cave.  Reeds and Bakers are really one and the same system and there are two connecting passages, one of which is too small to get through, even for Don Coase, (I know because I tried it and nearly ruined myself for life), the other is blocked to prevent people from smashing up the formations in Reeds.

Baker’s Pit is a very fine cave, although all the formations of the less robust kind were destroyed long go.  The Main Boulder Chamber is of considerable size, and in the right hand wall at different levels there are many passages, large and small which go to make up a really fine maze, even more complicated than the one in Goatchurch.

The way into the lower series is down the ‘Great Rift’, but seeing that there are three great rifts, it makes things rather difficult.  There is no mistaking the way however, once the right one is reached and descended, as there is an A.A. notice saying something about ‘Impossible Hill impracticable to motorists’, at the bottom.

The route from the rift lies along the Traverse, ending in a small chamber, with a dirty little hole in the floor.  Then comes the grind, it is a tunnel about the size of the Drain-pipe in Goatchurch; the only difference is that it is on an angle of forty-five degrees, has a right angled bend in the middle, with a two foot vertical step on the bend, and is cut down to three-quarters of the size of the Drain-pipe with ‘Stoke-Laneish’ mud.  Hence the name ‘The Grind’.

At the end of the Grind there is a very high chamber, with a horrid, hole about 18 feet deep at the end, the, ‘ole is a lot easier to climb than it looks.  From there the chamber runs downwards at a fairly steep angle with a stream running down it.  Unfortunately owing to the lack of time, that is as far as we got on the last trip, but I hope to get to the end this weekend.

Reed’s Cavern

This cave although it is in the same system as Bakers Pits, it is a very different kind of a cave.  It is quite a large cave, and for its size it has more formation than any other cave I have seen.. It is literally packed with every kind of formation, ‘pillars, straws, helictites, coral, and dripstone’. Yes, and even cave pearls, in fact I can honestly say, it one of the most beautiful caves I have ever seen.

It was found comparatively recently, although the entrance has been known for years.  It was found by Mr. A. Reed, who is President of the Devon Speleos.  After a good deal of digging they got into Easter Chamber, the main chamber of the Cave.  Luckily, no one can smash the formations as there is a steel door almost hidden under a mass of padlocks at the entrance.

There are about four different levels to Reeds, all of then complicated and full of formation, and on the whole it is a really interesting cave.

Pridhamsleigh Cave

Up till now I have not had the chance to go down this cave, but hope to this weekend.  By what I have been told it is a wet, muddy cave with plenty of tight bits.  It also has a large underground lake in one place 60ft. deep.

There is also a pot in the floor of a quarry just outside Buckfast.  It is a 45ft. overhanging ladder pitch, into a chamber, with some passages leading off.  Not having had it chance to try and kill myself in it yet, I'm afraid I don't know much about it.

I can certainly recommend any member of the B.E.C. who has time, to come down to this area for some really good caving.

J.V. Morris

(Since John wrote the above article much water has gone down the swallets, and we hope that he will send us a further article to bring our Devon information up to date. Ed.).


The Caving tempo of the Club is increasing considerably.  The weekend of 7th-8th May saw four caves visited by four large and independent parties.  Strange as it may seem, the reports reaching Jim Weekes who is Hon. Recorder are in inverse ratio to the number of excursions undertaken.  The Editor has been asked why so few reports ever reach the BB.  The fact is that although members very often come across interesting facts underground, they all seem shy of committing those facts to paper.  Please make every effort to send in these reports.  Let the rest of the club know what you have found, seen or deduced, a very brief note will suffice for routine trips with amplification as necessary.


First a Correction,

In the last BB we announced that Don Coase was supplying photographs for sale by the Club. This should have read Don Coase and W.J. Shorthose are doing the work for the Club.

By the way, these photographs are copyright, and must not be reproduced without their permission.

Apologies to all concerned, for the omission. Editor.


*We have received from the Assistant Hon. Sec.of U.B.S.S. the following letter which we are printing in full:-

Dear Sirs,

Would you be so kind as to bring to your members’ notice the following:

Members of the Bristol University Speleological Society have marked a number of bats in Mendip Caves, in connection with research on the habits of the animals. The bats are marked with a metal tag on one wing bearing the words UBSS and a number.

It is earnestly requested that anyone finding such bats should not injure them or remove their tags. We will however be obliged if the finder makes accurate note of the following details and sends it to the Sec. of the Society.

1. Letters and numbers on band

2. Cave (& part of cave) where bat was found

3. Date of finding

Any such information will be of great value to us.

Bats may also be found bearing tags with the following words on

“Van Schaik- Zool. Mus. Utrecht. Holland" and a number.

Information concerning these should be sent to;

The Zoological Museum,

Or to the Sec of this Society.

Thanking you for your co-operation,

I am.

Yours sincerely,

H. Wright, Assist Hon Sec

The Caves and General district surrounding Burrington Coombe in Hydrology

by P.A.E. Stewart.

Burrington Coombe is one of the finest cave areas on Mendip. In its limestone flanks lie two Master Cave systems whose Hydrology is one of the most fascinating studies that I have yet encountered.

These can be classified as the systems with resurgences at Langford and Rickford.

Taking the Langford Master Cave first, one can include definitely the Swallets of Read’s Cavern, Bos Swallet, Drunkard's Hole, Rod's Pot and Bath Swallet.

Sidcot Swallet is rather indeterminate - the general direction of the cave trends toward Landford, but, however, the present active waterway trends towards Rickford. Sidcot also has not a great altitude above the water table and it is doubtful whether the mechanical erosion of the water would be capable of carrying a passage the distance to the Master Cave (Langford System).

The Rickford Master Cave may be extremely large, taking water from Goatchurch Cavern and the other main sink in Lower Twin Brook, and East Twin Brook Swallet. It must also have taken the drainage from Plumley's Hole, Aveline's Hole, and Foxes Hole as well as the roadside swallets on Burrington Ham when water was flowing down Burrington Coombe.

Mr. Balch of Wells also puts forward the interesting theory that water at the bottom of Cow Hole also issues at Rickford Rising - however, this water may possibly issue at a rising between Ubley and Compton Martin.

Sidcot may again join the Goatchurch waters to emerge at Rickford.

An Analysis cf the Swallets follows:-

Langford Swallets

Read's Cavern. Water issues from the sandstone, crosses, the shale band and sinks naturally at the foot of the cliff on the southside of the track from Burrington to Rowberrow. When there has been little rain the stream sinks further up the valley in a subsidence that may in time become a passable swallet. This water appears in "Z. Alley", sinks again and reappears later in the system.

When there has been more rain, the water sinks at the western base of the cliff, reappears in the present waterway at the western end of the Main chamber and can be followed down through an intricate maze of passages to the "Tee Slot". It was for the purpose of exploring this system that a party led by the author descended the cave on 30/11/47. The "Tee Slot" was reached, but due to size, the author could not penetrate further. Pat Browne then undertook the lead and the exploration was carried on to about the same distance from the entrance to the "Tee Slot". More massive limestones were reached than are obtainable in the Upper cave and water - very probably from the "Z Alley" - was encountered. Numerous choked side passages and sinks were encountered and signs of flooding were noticed. This lower system (which was subsequently named "B-S" System), is more stable than the upper parts of Read's, although a hectic few moments were enjoyed when a bank of scree began to avalanche in the best traditions of the London Escalators. Between the upper and lower systems however there is a zone of highly unstable rock., each rock supporting three or four others and an objective contemplation of the scene roundabout brings on a violent dislike of movement!!

About 300 ft, of vertical depth was obtained at the furthest point - this leaves about another 100 ft. to the water table, leaving one to imagine that the flood marks may be the result of constrictions of the water passages. The horizontal development of the cave is not large and the inference - borne out by other observations in different areas, is that mechanical erosion carries the cave down to the water table in a fairly constant distance, this being proportional to the strata dip.

If this is so, then the Langford Master Cave must be at the present moment in phreatic state fed by vadose swallets.

Bos Swallett ls a tight crawl with little of interest to show hydrologioally.

Drunkard’s Hole is a tight rift development with two small final chambers,

Rod’s Pot, opened in 1944 by R.A.J. Pearce drops from O.D.575ft. at the entrance to about O.D, 390 ft.(scaled from map in U.B.S.S. Proceedings) - this gives over 190 ft. of vertical depth to the water table, although the water table might be perched near this swallet as the impervious rock outcrops close on the 500 ft. contour in Mendip Lodge Wood north of the Pot. There is about 200 ft, of horizontal development in this cave and the terminal chamber is quite large so more may be expected from this system.

Bath Swallet has not as yet been completely opened, one or two chambers have been entered but progress has been very slow.

There are one or two other hollows and digs about the U.B.S.S. Headquarters, but nothing of any size as far as I know, (15/2/49.). Professor Palmer obtained some interesting results in some water table determination tests carried out with the Megger Earth Tester at Link Batch, but these results may be purely local. He has also carried out a search in the region of Warren House on the north side of Dolebury Warren.

Rickford Swallets.

Goatchurch Cavern. This from its structure seems to have been the subject of phreatic development - it has the general lattice structure of the type - it is a bedding plane cave with three (so far) levels of development known. It is supposed to be about 220 ft. aneroid depth, so there is about 80 ft. before one reaches saturation level (in Rickford Rising). Incidentally the stream in Goatchurch Water Chamber was running recently when no water was present outside the Waterworks Enclosure in Twinbrook. This rather knocks on the head various salt tests carried out when water was sinking at the dig half way down the valley. It may be that the water seen in the "Sump" is not encountered elsewhere in the cave.

The Dig that someone has carried out near the rock face in Twinbrook leads to a rift but is still too tight to follow.

The Large Crater near Sidcot leads to Sidcot secondary system - the water possibly leading to Rickford,

Plumley's Hole, This is a vertical shaft in the quarry above Mendip Gate. It is marked on the Ordnance Survey 6" 1931 as “Plumley's Den". This is a misnomer, Plumley's Den being Foxes Hole. This has finally been settled and the new name will probably appear on the latest OS Maps - when they appear!! It may be a natural shaft on a fault, this can be seen in a shaft further up the Coombe above Aveline's Hole, There was no report of any water in Plumley's so It is of no interest in the present Hydrology.

Aveline's Hole has streams apparent at two points. At the far end of the main chamber in wet weather, and also in the lower series. This may be the same stream. Where it goes now is rather dubious - the original cave itself seems to be of strike development and there is much more to find in Aveline's if the general run of the cave is followed. Aveline's entrance is at 400 ft. OD giving 200 ft of depth to saturation level. The source of the stream in Aveline's is also a mystery.

The Shaft above Aveline's has loose earth at the bottom, and if dug may go further - there is no stream - it was probably a feeder swallet in the formation of the Coombe.

Whitcombe's Hole is likewise of no importance.

Smaller Swallets formed at a later date are Tratman's Dig and other minor digs opposite East Twinbrook.

Foxes Hole (Plumley’s Den) is an early formation swallet. In the lower of the three chambers, stalagmite covers a rift down which a small stream flows.

Toad's Hole and Frog’s Hole the origin of these mined shafts is a mystery.

Pig Hole is a mined adit into a rift of bedding plane formation.

A Large Rift in the woods behind Pig Hole.

East Twinbrook Swallet. This cave has three chambers, the third recently reopened by Sidcot Speleos - it is however in loose rock and until it reaches the limestone proper and finishes with the passages beds to the shales, we can expect no large system. This cave has however fine possibilities and should reach more solid rock within about another 300 ft., the small digs on the other side of the road should join the East Twin System. East Twin is on the 500 ft. O.D., so it has quite a depth to go.

The formation of the Coombe is rather a moot point, however we can assume that, unless there has been some massive earth movement or a concentration of the American/Lower Severn Axis movements hereabouts, Mendip top was some thousands of feet higher than at present, from the strats angle. Thus at the time the Coombe was formed there is every chance that it was in the same state as GB is today. Cheddar according to Martel was formed in that way. If so we can put an approximate date to all the swallets in the Coombe. Probably the cycle is is:

1, That the Coombe was phreatic,
2. That the mud filling was washed cut and into tho bottom swallets, e.g. Aveline's;
3. Thiat the surface was eroded and the roof fell in;
4. That the phreatic system was modified by vadose streams;
5. That small vadose systems wore formed.

The fitting of these caves into the hydrogeological formation of the district is largely hypothesis and the rest imagination, with about 10 p.c. field observation - it is like trying to work out a jigsaw from half the pieces present. It is however an extremely fascinating subject.

P.A.E. Stewart.


We are delighted to announce the forthcoming wedding of Reg Hazell and Miss Beryl Herman. They are to be married at St. Mary Redcliffe on Thursday 21st April. Thus two B.E.C, families become linked, Although not a caver herself Beryl is a sister of our popular member Stan Herman.

The Editor has received an anonymous letter signed by "Becite", who will be interested to know that such letters are not considered by the Committee or the Editor of the BB. If any member wishes to make any criticism we shall be only too glad to receive it.

D.R. Hasell Hon. Ed..

Fresh News from the Divers at Peak.

Since the last BB the following information has come to hand:-"Four members of C,D.G. again entered the Buxton Water Passage-and advanced beyond the previous point till after approx. 3,000 ft, a second sump stopped progress. Plans are in hand to tackle this shortly. The dressers who had also passed a duck in Speedwell Water, linked up after 1,500 ft with the Buxton Water Passage. Several side passages await attention". Although the London Section of B.E.C, is 'officially' dormant, it is seen by the above that our members there are certainly going places.


There has been a big run on the Stoke Lane Pictures, but there are still some left. Send in for a selection as soon as you can, and be sure of getting a number to choose from before they are gone.


London Section News

In addition to the splendid news from Peak, the London section in addition to a very full local programme, details of which will be published when available, is planning a week on Mendip the dates being from 23rd July to 1st August. The final details will be printed when I have them.


The following has been received from Pongo Wallis.:-

"The following is taken from the description of 'Natterer's Bat' in 'British Bats' by Brian Veasey-Fitz-gerald. It seems to apply very well to the inhabitants of the Belfry.

The Natterer has much hair on its face. It goes into caves for hibernation at the end of September and does not resume activities until the end of March. There is no segregation of the sexes during hibernation. Hibernation is very fitful as there is much disturbance in the roost, so many occupants are woken before hibernation is really over.

The Natterer is very gregarious and sociable, living in large colonies. It is little affected by the weather, though it dislikes a cold east wind. The time of its evening flight is very variable, on many days in the summer, coming out before sunset. There is much squeaking before emergence.

It alights head up or down impartially. If the latter, it turns a somersault before alighting, but it is not good at this manoeuvre and often misses its foothold. It makes a long and careful toilet?!!

It drinks on the wing, and squeaks continually in flight. The squeaks are loud and can be heard by anyone with normal hearing.

It is found in the vicinity of water, but is not water loving.

It is generally but locally distributed in the West of England.


There are two new Caving Books to be published shortly. Both are on the Laxaux painted caves, Pongo who sends in this information will doubtless review them in the BB at a later date.


Owing to lack of space "The Hon. See's Postbag" feature has had to be held over until a later issue.


The Birmingham Cave and Crag Club have during the last month spent a weekend as our guests on Mendip. They visited Swildons Hole and G.B.


T.H. Stanbury Hon Sec. 74 Redcatch Road; Knowle, Bristol 4,
W.J. Shorthose, Hon. Sec, London Section, 7.Marius Mansions, Rowfant Boad, Balham, London. S.W.17.

To All Members & Friends

There will be held at Valence, in the Rhone Valley, from 22nd to 26th ,August 1949 an international Speleological meeting, with, it is hoped, representatives from all the "Caving minded" countries in attendance.  There will be, to quote:-" Sessions of work, festivities, and excursions" and the week will no doubt similarly organised to that which I spent in Valence in 1948.

The B.E.C, is going to send as large a party as possible to this meeting and those who are interested are asked to send their names to Hon. Sec. By the end of the month (May) so that the preliminary details may be put in hand.

This trip will cost in the region of £20, this figure being based on the expenses incurred last year. This includes the journey from Victoria to Valence and back, but not from your home to London. The fare from London back to London being about £8/15/- (unless B.R. raise the fares). Subject to the party being at least 20 we can I believe obtain a reduction on the fares over the French Railways.

The party will leave Victoria by the morning boat train on Sat. 20th, Aug. and will probably leave Valence on the return journey on the evening of 27th. Aug.

The detailed programme will be circulated to those who have sent In their names as soon as it is received.

The Belfry

Work is going on apace at the new Belfry. Although there seems to have been little actual work done a considerable amount of planning and organising has been done with the result that, we hope to have made the hut really habitable in a few more weeks.

Fatal Accident at Wookey Hole

It is with the deepest regret that we have to report the death of Frogman Gordon Marriot during operations with the Cave Diving Group at Wookey Hole. Although not a member of the Bristol Exploration Club, he will be greatly missed by those members who comprise the Somerset section of the C.D.G., and also those others who met him at the Belfry and listened to his tales of adventure underwater.

It was Marriot’s second trip to Wookey Hole, and his underwater time of 500 hours put the C.D.G. members to shame.

He was returning from the recently discovered 9th Chamber when he was missed; Bob Davies who was following him to base immediately returned in search of him, although his own Oxygen was almost exhausted, and was immediately followed by Don Coase. Graham Balcombe followed shortly afterwards and Marriot was found lying on the bottom. He was taken to an emergency platform in the sixth Chamber and artificial respiration was applied for 1½ hours without avail.

Marriot lost his life because his supply of oxygen, due to a faulty flow meter became exhausted. The equipment that he used was his own property and not the property of the C.D.G.

At the inquest hold in Wells the jury returned a verdict that death was due to anoxaemia, accidentally sustained during diving operations when his oxygen became exhausted due to a fault in the test pressure gauge and added a rider that "all divers, including guest divers should be subjected to the same equipment tests as the members of the Diving Group”.

The party was complimented by the police at the time and at the inquest the way operations were conducted for the rescue of the lost diver. The Bristol Exploration Club extends its deepest sympathy to Marriot’s wife and family in their bereavement.

The Belfry

Work us going on apace at the new Belfry. Although there seems to have been little actual work done a considerable amount of planning and organising has been done with the result that, we hope to have made the hut really habitable in a few more weeks.

Some French Caving Techniques

By Pongo Wallis

I have recently been reading a French Caving Book - 'Underground Climbs" by Pierre Chavalier, being an account of the exploration of the worlds deepest cave (2150 ft) in the Dent de Crolles system near Grenoble. It occurs to me that although the majority of the techniques worked out by Chevalier and his friends are not of great use in this country, they may none the less be of interest.

Light-weight ladder, consisting of steel rope sidelines and light alloy rings were of course used. This is standard French practice, but it is essential under these circumstances in any case, as falrly small parties would not otherwise have been able to carry the considerable lengths of ladder needed. In general, ladders were tethered to pitons hammered into suitable cracks, or grouted into holes drilled in the rock. This of course saved carrying tethering ropes considerable distances through small passages.

A considerable part of the system had to be climbed from the bottom upwards.  As rock-climbing was impossible, a 50ft. long pole was constructed, originally using 3 ft, sections of iron piping, but later using light alloy.  This could be carried to the bottom of a pitch erected, a ladder tied to the top, and propped against the vertical.  As long as a series of suitably large ledges at not more than 50ft. intervals were available, a sort of staircase could be worked by a man climbing up the ladder and then drawing the pole up after him and repeating the operation.  This was naturally a slow and tedious business, but it did make otherwise impossible climbs possible.  Once a pitch had been climbed in this manner a piton and pulley were fixed at the top.  A rope, (generally steel) was then passed through the pulley and left double down the length of the pot.  On subsequent visits a ladder need only be fixed to one end of the rope; by hauling on the other end the pitch was laddered.

At one stage of the exploration, it was necessary to know exactly where the end of a passage (over half a mile long) was in respect to the surface topography, in order that it might be reached by digging from the surface. Under the difficult conditions prevailing in the passage (a small really fit party took 8 hrs. to get along it), a survey was insufficiently accurate. A radio direction-finding method was employed - a magneto and length of wire as aerial were taken down to the end of the passage, and at fixed times, a party on the surface listened for the crackle of the magneto on a radio with a loop aerial. Quite accurate directions could be established in this way, even through 120 feet of limestone.

Incidentally, Chevalier's formula for estimating the depth of a pot may come in useful sometime. If a medium sized stone is thrown down, and the sound of its fall is heard t secs. after letting go, the depth, d is given by:-

d = 115 plus 80(t - 3) feet.

I hope that a translation of Chevalier's exceptionally interesting book will eventually appear in the Club Library.


Caving in , Series 1.

by Roger W.C. Cantle,

Report of a visit to the limestone area around Wuppertal.

Iserlohn.  At the entrance to the town the “Decherhole lies. It is purely a show cave but shows some very interesting formations.  The cave was opened by railway workers in 1868; whilst cutting a new track through the limestone cliff on the eastern side of the town

The Cave consists of about sixteen grottos, and is about 400 meters long.  The temperature is 59.o F. summer and winter. Numerous skeletons of various animals have been found in the clay deposits in many places, in the cave.  Its name is derived from the surveyor Dechen frcn Bonn.

The caves contains some really excellent formations among which are many good curtains.  Some of the finest '''Organ Pipes" I have seen were found in the fourth chamber named "Organ Cave".

In the tenth grotto called “Palamangrotte”, can be found a very fine formation from which the Grotto gets its name.  Cave crystals can be found in the twelfth grotto in small pools. Although the cave is a show cave it has been laid out quite cleverly and the lighting is good,  I would like to add that although most cavers walk around a show cave with their noses in the air, I was quite thrilled to find that there are other "grottes” in the area and that further exploration is definitely warranted.

Editor's note.

Roger enclosed a number of photographs with this short article, they are available at H.Q., should anyone desire to see them.; Parts of this article were translated from the German Guide Book, and Roger apologised for the dis-continuity of it.. Anyone who can translate even one word of Gothic Type, in my estimation should be presented with a medal as big as a soup plate.

Rhodesian Caves

We have received the following from Brian Coase, now in Northern Rhodesia:-

Extracts from Exhibit Notices in the Livingstone-Rhodes Memorial Museum, Livingstone. Northern--

The Broken Hill Cave,

It was in this historic cave, situated on the Broken Hill mine, that in 1881 was found remains of a new, extremely interesting type of man, later as Homo Rhodesienis.

The mine was at that tine working the lead and systematically basting away a Kopjie known as No.2 Kopjie, in which was a cave long known to contain fossilised bones of animals and Stone Implements.

The deposits in this cave had become impregnated with zinc in its upper levels, and in its lower with lead.  It was the latter one that was required, the zinc impregnated material was placed on dumps for use at a later date.

It was while blasting was taking place in the lower levels that the skull together with a complete shin bone, two ends of a thigh bone and a fragment of pelvis were found 90 feet below the cave floor.

Owing to the difficulties in obtaining accurate geological evidence the age and status of the skull is still a subject of dispute. In it's general features, heavy eyebrow reiges, absence of forehead, the great size of the eye sockets, the mouth and, brain capacity, it closely resembles Neanderthal skulls of Europe but differs from them in being pivoted more centrally on the neck. The man must therefore have carried himself more upright than the Neanderthal man and, largely on this account, he is considered to be a distinct species, Homo Rhodesiensis.

The Mumbwa Caves

These caves are situated about three miles S.W. of the Government station at Mumbwa, N.W. of Lusaka, in two outcrops of limestone which stand out from the flat plain around. Cliffs at the base of which are the caves rise to a height of 70 to 80 feet vertically.

The caves are three in number besides several rock shelters showing evidence of having been lived in. Two of the .caves have been excavated and have yielded evidence of three distinct phases of human occupation. After a long period during which the caves were under water and a layer of red clay was deposited, they were occupied by a people who made thin leaf shaped arrow and spear heads showing them to be typical of the people responsible for what is called the Rhodesian Stillbay culture. These people appear to have inhabited the caves for a considerable length of time as the deposit of red earth containing their tools was as much as 4ft. 6 inches deep.

In the layer above this was found the remains of a second stone age culture, characterised by small microlithic tools, crescentic in form, which were used as barbs for arrows as well as blades with a blunted back which were used as knives.

The diet of these people consisted mainly of wart-hog, zebra and various species of buck including Eland, from which it is adduced that considerable skill in hunting had been attained. They also knew how to grind and polish stone. Four rather crudely polish axes have been found and broken fragments of digging stick weights were also probably of their manufacture.  It is interesting that actual remains of the men themselves have been found, showing them to have probably been an early type of bushman.

The third phase occurred when the caves were occupied by bushmen at a comparatively recent date.

From The Hon. See's Postbag.

From Brian Coase in Chingola, N. Rhodesia.

—— This area is well wooded, but I have noticed outcrops of limestone amongst the trees which will bear examination as the opportunity occurs. I am sure there would be plenty of scope for speleologists out here. Whilst passing through the Union and I noticed that the plains and desert were dotted peculiarly alike flat topped hills. It looked like sand stone and I also observed that the strata was exactly horizontal which together with rain and wind erosion would presumably account for the shape.

The geology of the Victoria Falls is very interesting, they having been formed where basalt and sandstone meet. ---------

Hon Sec has had a letter from John Adam and one from John Hull in which they each bemoan their fate. John Hull is on the shores of the Great Bitter Lake and John Adams is in the Navy. Both send their “love” to the club and its members,

From Mrs. F. Moriarty of Meer Cottage Bude.

------- I bought this house 30 years ago and I was told the exit to the passage was in the corner of the garden--------

(the Passage she referred to is the other end of the Smugglers' Cave the Club are excavating at Bude. Ed,)

Cave Research Group.

The CRG General Meeting will be held at Cardiff on 7th May in the National Museum of Wales.  Will all those requiring accommodation please write to J. Davies, 32 Heol-y-Deri, Rhiwbina,  Cardiff at once.  Further particulars of this Meeting can be obtained from Hon. Sec..

Important Notice for London Members

The Club has had a very generous offer from Dr, (Miss) CM, Rendell, of Poplar Hospital, East Dock Road, London E.14. (Telephone East 1876).  She will be travelling to Bristol and returning to London, about one weekend a month.  She will be delighted to fill her car with anyone who would like to come down for the weekend.  Please ring Miss Rendell for further information. Her brother, Oswald Rendell is already known to a large number of his fellow members.

London Section News

A meeting of the London Section was held on 6th March and was well attended. It was decided that the swallets at Water End be investigated further and that all local information about them be gathered.

It was too early to make any definite plans for field work but among the items discussed was Climbing on the sandstone outcrops at Tunbridge Wells and the Group Meet at the Belfry In July.  The first depends on the weather and arrangements will be made by telephone. The trip to Mendip will be from about 11th July until after the August Bank Holiday. Each coming as he or she is able.

There will be no organised program except that the Stoke Lane Survey will be proceeded with and that some digging will be done. John Shorthose says that any suggestions about digging will be welcomed. Also they will be chances to see any of the local types who may be enjoying a spot of leave around that time.

Club Badges

Older members will recall that from time to time the question of small lapel badges for the club have been discussed and turned down on the grounds of cost. We have however in the last few weeks obtained a very reasonable quotation for these badges. They would be in black and silver and would include Bertie Bat our emblem. The cost would be about 2/6. We should be glad if those who would like one would write to the Hon Sec and let him know, so that we see if the expenditure involved would be justified. Send no Money. Just a P.C. to say you would like one if we are able to proceed with the scheme.

List of Members 1949 no. 1

Each Year our list of members alters and extends. The lists printed last year are already out of date. The Hon. Sec is continually receiving letters asking for addresses and the following list and those that will appear in subsequent issues are to help those who require them.

T.H, Stanbury        Hon Sec. 74, Redcatch Road. Knowle, Bristol 4
W.J. Shorthose      Hon Sec. London Section,  7 Marius Mansions, Rowfant Road, Balham, London.S.W.17.
D.H. Hasell,           Hon. Editor Belfry Bulletin, 1 Stoke Hill Cottage, Chew Stoke, Somerset
R. Wallace            32. Springleaze, Knowle, Bristol.4
J.V. Morris             Ye Olde Jolly Sailor Inn, Teignmouth. Devon
J.Beer                   3 Westfield Place, Clifton, Bristol
S.C.W Herman      34 Jubilee Road, Knowle, Bristol,4
R.J. Bagsbaw        11 Hillcrest, Knowle, Bristol,4.  (Life Member).
G.H. Fenn             29 Kinsale Road, Knowle, Bristol 4
L.Peters                21, Melbury Road, Knowle, Bristol, 4
J.C. Weekes          376 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4
R. Woodbridge       384 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4
A.E. Baxter           92, Reditch Road, Knowle, Bristol.4
E. Knight               46. Grafton Street, St. Philips Marsh, Bristol
R. Brain                 10. Weston Ave., Cossham Road, St, George, Bristol 5
Mrs. I.M. Stanbury (Hon, Life Member) 74 Redcatch Road, Bristol4
C.H. Kenney          Vicars Close, Wells, Somerset
A.C. Johnson         43. The Crescent, Henleaze, Bristol
J.D. Pain               "Bibury", Old West Town Lane, Brislington, Bristol 4
D.A. Coase            13 Headington Road, Wandsworth, London.S.W.18.

Programme for March. April and May.1949,

Sat 5th March                     August Hole and Longwood

Sun 20th March                  Eastwater

Sat April 9th                                               Burrington

Sun April 24th                                          Swildons Hole

Note. There will be great activities over Easter. Details from Hon. Sec later

Sat May 14th                                            G.B.

Sun 29th May                     Stoke Lane.

Other trips will of course be run as usual most weekends, details will be fixed on Thursday evenings.

Another Menace Episode.            by J.V. Morris

This article is short and in the form of a letter and should really come under the heading “From the ----------“ but as it is in the Menace’s usual style we think it deserves a better fate. Ed..

I am still in the land of the living and have returned from my climbing trip in one piece. The sole damage, over the trip was a badly sprained ankle on George’s side, and one heel off my climbing boot. The weather couldn’t have been worse, and we climbed under appalling conditions. We climbed the Aretes and Chimneys on Gable and Scafell Pinnacle by Deep Ghyll which is a severe. Under the conditions we climbed I should think it would be classed as an Exceptionally severe, and we were nearly beaten by the big Cave Ditch, which was as wet as the Swildon’s 40ft pitch; with the difference of 400 feet to fall.

We also did all the gullies on Great End, and climbed a new route up the south east Buttress by a series of cracks, chimneys and slabs. It was about the most difficult climb I have done, as the rock was loose, covered with moss and streaming with water. Also included in this course were two Lay Backs and a hand traverse, and there was no break away either side, in fact it was the hardest climb I have done. Incidentally this climb was due to us mistaking the directions in the book of words, and when we enquired about it from the regulars, we found that it had never been climbed direct before, so we have a new climb to our credit, though I cannot imagine it becoming a popular course.

Some Interesting Theories on Stoke Lane Swallett by A.M. Innes

Stoke Lane swallet does not present a very imposing entrance, but there is no doubt that once the first sump is passed, the chambers and passages then revealed are some o f the best in the Mendip series of Caves. In my opinion Stoke Lane Swallet is really formed of two parts, one old and the other comparatively recent.

The old part is that reached after the first sump, but before the second, and consists of the large chambers. This is probably part of a system that a long time ago stretched from the Hunting Lodge Swallet to St Dunstan’s Well, 1½ miles away. However due to some occurrence on the hills, a valley was cut across this cave by the stream which now passes through Stoke Lane Village and into the cave entrance. The valley stretches northward from the village, past Stoke Lane Entrance and Browne’s Hole to Edford.

This naturally destroyed part of the cave and blocked the stream passage, the water which entered at Hunting Lodge Swallet now escaping by some other route. Water, probably an overflow from the Hunting Lodge stream has been known to flow from the entrance to Browne’s Hole, showing that an active system exists behind it. Exactly opposite Browne’s Hole on the west side of the valley is a similar arch now blocked, which is probably the old stream passage and continuation of Browne’s Hole, Pitted on the hillside above this arch are numerous depressions which may prove to be an entrance into the Bone Chamber.

The new system is the crawl stretching from the entrance to the first sump and was probably formed by the stream which formed the valley being diverted into a small passage. This was then enlarged to give us our route to the main cave. The stream entering here combines underground with those from Withy brook and other swallets to flow out at St Dunstan’s Well with a volume many time that at Stoke Lane.

After the valley was formed Stoke Lane II was open to the surface and had an accessible and probably large entrance, large enough in fact for it to have been used for habitation. This is proved by the following fact. Bordering on the Bone Chamber is the Throne Room. This contains two very large stalagmites which have been named the King and Queen. Exactly in front of the Queen and between it and the connecting passage to the Bone Chamber is a small stalagmite about 10 inches in height and 4 to 5 inches in diameter. When this was found in 1947 it consisted of an old stump with a new stalagmite growing on top. Lying nearby was the old top of the stalagmite which had been broken off. Surrounding the present formation and the old stump was a ring of charcoal. The soot marks on the new part shows that the fire had been lit after its formation.

Bearing this in mind it is apparent that persons entered the cave a very long time ago and broke this stalagmite off. Also that comparatively recently the cave had again been entered and that other persons had lit a fire around the stalagmite, and also on a large flat rock in the Bone Chamber.

This I substantiated by the fact that of the bones found on the slope of the Bone Chamber, they nearly all fall into two distinct ages.

The questions which now arise are:-

a.                   Why was the stalagmite originally off) and

b.                   Why was a fire lit around it a long time after ?

The latter of these two incidents may be concerned with some rite or sacrifice, but neither may be answered correctly until the entrance used by these people has been dug and examined to exactly determine its use.

Before the entrance may be dug, however, it has to be located. The recent survey that was made is only provisional and the site of the entrance will remain undiscovered until the detailed survey is complete, unless it is stumbled upon by chance. The detailed survey may not be done before the summer owing to wet weather and bad conditions.

There are only two possible places where the entrance can be,

a.                   in the shake hole adjacent to the stream entrance, or

b.                   on the side of the valley.

If the entrance is on the side of the valley there are two other possible alternatives.

1.                   The Bone Chamber stretches from the valley towards the shake hole, and

2.                   the Bone Chamber lies after the shake-hole having a string of chambers between it and the entrance in the valley side, the shake-hole being formed by one of these chambers collapsing.

If the latter is the case, then the Bone Chamber was the inner recess of the cave and the bones are accounted for by people being trapped in the Bone Chamber when the shake-hole collapse occurred.

Because of the following points I am inclined to think that the entrance is on the side of the valley, not in the shake-hole, and that the Bone Chamber lies between the valley and the shake-hole.

1.                   It is doubtful whether the shake-hole is as old as the new stalagmite in the Throne Room, showing that the entrance is elsewhere. This point may indicate that the Bone Chamber lies after the shake hole.

2.                   Shake hole collapse past the second sump would explain why severe flooding is occurring in the cave. (stream passage past sump partially blocked by fallen boulders.)

3.                   There is no sign in the shake hole of there ever being any entrance large enough to attract even a modern caver.

However, until another survey can be made, and the Bone Chamber pinpointed accurately, digging will be partially dormant, and the above remain as pure theory.

A.M. Innes.

This very interesting article explains, a number of points in connection with Stoke Lane that time alone will verify. There must be several schools of thought on the subject, however, would anyone else like to advance any alternative theories? Ed..


Yet again!  Another member has gone and got himself engaged!  We are pleased to announce that Pat Woodroffe recently became engaged to Miss Margaret Illingworth.

British Caver Vol 19.

Will be ready in March. To the old timers the “B.C," needs no introduction, to those unfamiliar with it, the “B.C.” is the B.E.C, official journal (together with some 16 other societies) and is crammed full with things of interest to cavers.

Copies are 6/6 each or a ream of 10 by 8 paper. Send your orders now to :- G. Platten, Rotherfield, Fernhill Lane, New Milton, Hants.

Cave Diving Group News.

Two members of the London Section, Bill Mack and D.A.Coase, ( wots this, Don, a transfer? Ed,) Working with the C.D.G. Derbyshire Section, after a 380 ft. dive, have come out above water into a large passage with the stream flowing along the bottom, nowhere more than waist deep. This was followed for several hundred feet until time compelled a retreat.

We await further particulars of this splendid piece of work,

The Belfry

The new Belfry stands!!!  The walls and roof are up.  The roof is watertight, and the glazing is done.  BUT there is still plenty to do, so come on you slackers forget the holes on the ground for a weekend or so and give a hand to finish what will be the best Caving H.Q. in .  Thanks are due to the small band who week after week have toiled and strained to get as far as they have.

Articles for the BB

Do you like reading the BB, or do you say what, again? when one comes.  If the latter you won’t read this anyway.  If the former remember the BB is kept alive by the contributions of the members without your efforts it will die.  Anything that interests you will interest us send it in to the Hon  Ed. BB c/o Hon. Sec,.


In the near future a selection of P.C. prints of Stoke Lane will be available price 6d each. We shall be pleased to send a set on approval to any member, who can select those he requires and return the rest with the cash for those selected. If larger prints are required, this can be arranged. Don Coase is doing the work for us and a percentage of each 6d goes into the club funds Please send requests for prints to the Hon. Sec.

Club Library

Since the note in the last BB requesting the return of books, only one member has had the courtesy to return any. If any members who have books do not return them pronto, further steps will be taken to speed up their return.

T.H. Stanbury Hon. Sec

Walking and Climbing Sections.

The response for names for the above sections has been good, and we are pleased to announce that Roy Wallace has consented to take charge of the walking section. Roy is one of our oldest members and is an enthusiastic walker. As many know a small group of BEC Members have been walking for some time now (Getting tired out by now, Ed) and have had some very enjoyable times together. Roy has submitted the following:-

I propose after talking it over with S. Herman and G. Fenn, to go ahead with a programme we are getting up for our own enjoyment this summer, consisting of one evening ramble per week, and a Sunday ramble occasionally. Anyone interested in walking would be welcome to come along and should the numbers warrant some better form of organisation or a fuller programme, I will endeavour to arrange one. I hope this will come about and be the beginnings of a good Walking Club that will give as much pleasure to others as walking gives to me.

Roy Wallace.

A programme will be fixed as soon as the evenings become lighter and will be printed in the BB. Membership of the Walking or climbing section is open automatically to all BEC members, but does not preclude a person joining specifically for climbing Etc.

The Climbing Section has seven names appended to date and we are looking for a suitable tutor. Several names have been suggested, and we hope to make an announcement soon.

Grand Shorts Auction

Remember chaps , the auction of Henry Shelton’s Natty Shorts closes at the end of the month. Bidding is now standing at 27/6. Come on you bods make a beast of yourselves, Who makes a bid of 30/-??

From the Hon. Sec’s Post Bag,

From J.H. Rapley, London.

In the middle ages and during the Roman Occupation of Britain, the Mendips were regarded as a rich source of lead, which occurred in large quantities in cavities in the limestone. These deposits were not discovered by investigating the outcrops of regular lodes or veins, but by their being seen either on the surface of the ground or more particularly in the caves. Where discovered these deposits were followed as far below water level as the primitive pumping apparatus would allow, after which they had to be abandoned. These deposits are distributed irregularly through the limestone and can only be discovered by being exposed (particularly underground) or by geophysical prospecting, which is a complicated and not entirely satisfactory method in the case of small deposits.

From Andre C. Anastasion now in Belfast

I am very impressed by the advancements made by the BEC. I was very pleased to see that my cartoons were received so very favourably by the public at the recent exhibition. Keep up the good work chaps!! Hope to see you all again soon. Andre.

From Terry Reed

We have received from Terry Reed, now on leave in ; two plans. They are of two caves discovered by him whilst on vacation near Coombe Martin. They will be reproduced when our cartographer has finished copying them.

Life Membership of BEC

At the Annual General Meeting the amount of a Life Subs was left for the Committee to decide. At the last Committee Meeting it was agreed that this subs be 5 gns.. Our first paid life member has been enrolled. Who will be the second??

Have YOU forgotten YOUR annual subs ?