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

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

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

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

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

" Alfie. "

July Committee Meeting

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

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

Change of Address.

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

Annual Dinner.

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


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

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


Caving Log

1st June

Vole Hole.  Digging continued.


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

7th June

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


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


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


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




Stoke Lane.  Leader R. Burky.

14th June

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


Vole Hole.  More digging.  Alfie and Jill.


Ludwell Cave.  Leader R. Burky.

16th June

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

20th June

Swildon’s Four.  Leader D. Hoskyns

23rd June

Whitcombe’s Hole.  Leader D. Hoskyns.

25th June

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

26th June

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


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

28th June

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


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

29th June

Vole Hole.  Shoring.  Alfie and Jill.

4th July

Vole Hole.  Shoring.  Alfie and Jill.

5th July

Vole Hole.  Shoring.  Alfie and Jill.


Goatchurch.  Leader Mike Wheadon.


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


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

6th July

Sandford Levvy.  Leader R. Burky.


August Hole.  Leaders Mike Palmer and Mike Wheadon.


Vole Hole.  More navving.  Jill and Alfie.

7th July

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

9th July

Vole Hole.  Alfie, Jill and Bob Price.


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



12th July

Eastwater.  Beecham Series.  Leader R. Burky.


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

13th July

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


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


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

19th July

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

20th July

Eastwater.  Dolphin Pot.  Leader Dave Tattan.


Swildons.  To Sump I.  Leader Dave Tattan.


Hunter’s Hole.  (See separate article).

21st July

Swildons.  Top Series.  M. Tooke.

24th July

Lamb Leer.  Leader D. Willis.


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




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

26th July

Eastwater.  Dolphin Route.  Mike Wheadon.


Cuthbert’s.  Ochre Rift.  C. Falshaw.


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



29th July

Swildons.  Leader K. Robbins.

30th July

Cuckoo Cleeves.  Leader E. Lambert.

31st July

Hilliers.  Leader Mike Wheadon.


Hunters Hole

Sanctimonious Passage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To the Editor Belfry Bulletin.

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

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

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

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

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

M. Hannam.
Caving Secretary

Open Letter

To those Whom the Cap Fits: -

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


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