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The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Som.  Telephone: Wells 72126.

Editor: D.J. Irwin, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Somerset.  Telephone: Priddy 369.

News in brief

Congratulations to John and Sue Dukes who were married this month at the Shepton Mallet Registry Office. The formalities were followed by a 'Folk' evening at the Priddy Village Hall.

Descent - the next issue will see another price rise - it will cost you 75p…….

ADDRESS CHANGES: - Jim Watson, c/o 15 Farm Grove, Southfields, Rugby, Warwickshire.

New Member: - 971. Colin Houlden, c/o HM Prison, Shepton, Mallet, Somerset.

BCRA 1980 Symposium at the Renold Building, UMIST, Manchester - Subject SRT.  The symposium will consist of lectures all day Saturday in the Renold Building, followed by a practical session on Sunday in the University Gymnasium.

This will be held on March 8 and 9th.  Lecturers include: Dave Elliot, Andy Eavis, Daye Brook, Steve Foster, Brian Smith, Paul Ramsden and John Forder.  Application to the 'Bookings Manager’ Dr. R.G. Picknett, 28 Potters Way, Laverstock, Salisbury, Wilts, SP1 1PX – tickets are £1.50 each (non-members of BCRA) and £1.00 (members).  Members of member clubs are able to purchase tickets at member’s rates - BEC is a Member club.

Swildons Sump 1 is given as 5ft (Mendip Underground); 6ft 6ins ( Complete Caves) and now, under relatively dry conditions, 30 inches.  This length of 2½ft has been thought to be the general length of the sump.

Banwell Bone and Stalagmite Caves: - Key from Steve Redwood, 11 West St., Banwell.  Telephone: 823867.

Stop Press

Following the very successful weekend caving in Belgium all arrived back on Mendip very late on the Sunday night.

Next day Martin Bishop rang Stu McManus, “I did get my caving gear out of your car and leave it by the gate did I?”

“Yes,” said Mac. “Shit, the dustman’s taken it!”

Bristol Exploration Club - Membership List February 1980

828 Nicolette Abell               Michaelmas Cottage, Faulkland, Bath

20 L Bob Bagshaw               699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol, Avon

392 L M. Baker                    10 Riverside Walk, Midsomer Norton, Bath, Avon

295 Arthur Ball                     4 Charlotte Street, Cheadle, Cheshire

818 Chris Batstone               8 Prospect Place, Bathford, Bath, Avon

390 L Joan Bennett               8 Radnor Road, Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol

214 L Roy Bennett                8 Radnor Road, Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol

860 Glenys Beszant             13 Granville Road, Luton, Bedfordshire

731 Bob Bidmead                 Valley Way, Middle Street, East Harptree, Bristol

364 L Pete Blogg                  5 Tyrolean Court, Cheviot Close, Avenue Rd., Banstead, Surrey

336 L A. Bonner                   Crags Farm Close, Little Broughton, Cokermouth, Cumberland

145 L Sybil Bowden-Lyle       111 London Road, Calne, Wiltshire

959 Chris Bradshaw              9 Coles Road, Wells, Somerset

868 Dany Bradshaw              7 Creswicke, Bristol

967 Michael Brakespeare      7 Red Pit, Dilton Marsh, Westbury. Wiltshire

751 L T.A. Brookes               87 Wyatt Road, London, SW2

891 Neil Raynor Brown          25 Lingfield Park, Evesham, Worcs.

956 Ian Caldwell                   44 Strode Road, Clevedon, Avon.

955 Jack Calvert                   4 The Hollow, Dilton Marsh, Westbury, Wiltshire.

965 Gary Childs                   Wheels, Southwater Street, Southwater, Nr. Horsham, Surrey

785 Paul Christie                  7 The Glen, London Road, Sunninghill, Ascot, Berks

782 Pat Christie                   7 The Glen, London Road, Sunninghill, Ascot, Berks

655 Colin Clark                     186 Cranbrook Road, Redland, Bristol

211 L Clare Coase                The Belfry, 10 Shannon Parade, Berkeley-Vale, New South Wales, 2259, Australia

89 L Alfie Collins                  Lavendar Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Nr Bristol, Somerset

377 L D. Cooke-Yarborough   No known address

862 Bob Cork                       25 The Mead, Stoke St. Michael, Somerset

827 Mike Cowlishaw             14 Plovers Down, Olivers Battery, Winchester

890 Jerry Crick                     Whitestones farm, Cheddar Cross Roads, Compton Martin, Nr. Bristol

680 Bob Cross                     42 Baynham Road, Knowle, Bristol

870 Gary Cullen                   47 Eversfield Road, Horsham, Sussex

405 L Frank Darbon              PO Box 325, Vernon, British Columbia, Canada

423 L Len Dawes                  The Lodge, Main Street, Minster Matlock, Derbyshire

449 Garth Dell                      BLD 47 (Press), COD Donnington, Telford, Salop.

164 L Ken Dobbs                  85 Fox Rd., Beacon Heath, Exeter, Devon

830 John Dukes                   Bridge Farm, Dulcote, Wells, Somerset

937 Sue Dukes                    Bridge Farm, Dulcote, Wells, Somerset

847 Michael Durham             11 Catherine Place, Bath

322 L Bryan Ellis                  30 Main Road, Westonzoyland, Bridgwater, Somerset

269 L Tom Fletcher               11 Cow Lane, Bramcote, Nottingham.

947 Phil Ford                       CPO’s Mess, RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset

404 L Albert Francis             22 Hervey Road, Wells, Somerset

569 Joyce Franklin               16 Glen Drive, Stoke Bishop, Bristol

469 Pete Franklin                 16 Glen Drive, Stoke Bishop, Bristol

265 Stan Gee                       26 Parsonage Street, Heaton Norris, Stockport.

648 Dave Glover                   c/o Leisure, Green Lane, Pamber Green, Basingstoke, Hampshire

860 Glenys Grass                13 Granville Road, Luton, Beds

790 Martin Grass                  13 Granville Road, Luton, Beds

432 L Nigel Hallet                 62 Cranbrook Road, Bristol

104 L Mervyn Hannam          14 Inskip Place, St Annes, Lancashire

4 L Dan Hassell                    Hill House, Moorlynch, Bridgwater, Somerset

935 Lynne Henley                 10 Silver Street, Wells, Somerset

917 Robin Hervin                  12 York Buildings, Trowbridge, Wiltshire

952 Robert Hill                     32 Ridings Mead, Chippenham, Wiltshire

905 Paul Hodgson                15 Cromwell Terrace, Chatham, Kent

793 Mike Hogg                     32 Birchley Heath, Nuneaton, Warks

898 Liz Hollis                       1 Bugle Cottage, Milborne Wick, Nr Sherborne, Dorset

899 Tony Hollis                    1 Bugle Cottage, Milborne Wick, Nr Sherborne, Dorset

920 Nick Holstead                Little Maplecroft, Bath Road, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire

387 L George Honey             Droppsta, 19044, Odensala, Sweden

971 Colin Houlden                c/o HM Prison, Shepton Mallet, Somerset

770 Chris Howell                  131 Sandon Road, Cadbsoton, Birmimgham

923 Trevor Hughes                Wardroom, HMS Bulwark, BFPO Ships, London

855 Ted Humphreys              Frekes Cottage, Moorsite, Marnhull, Sturminster Newton, Dorset

73 Angus Innes                    18 David’s Close, Alveston, Bristol, Aven

969 Duncan Innes                 0

540 L Dave Irwin                   Townsend Cottage, Townsend, Priddy, Somerset

922 Tony Jarratt                   Alwyn Cottage, Station Road, Congressbury, Bristol

51 L A Johnson                    Warren Cottage, Station Rd., Flax Bourton, Bristol

966 Pete Johnson                 R & IT Section, HMS Daedelus, Lee-on-Solent, Hants.

560 L Frank Jones                103 Wookey Hole Road, Wells, Somerset

285 U. Jones                        Woking Grange, Oriental Road, Woking, Surrey

907 Karen Jones                  Room 63, New Ednd Nurses Home, New End Hospital, Hampstead, London NW3

567 L Alan Kennett               9 Hillburn, Henleaze, Brsitol

316 L Kangy King                 22 Parkfield Rank, Pucklechurch, Bristol, Avon

542 L Phil Kingston              9 Lingfield, St. Mansfield, Brisbane, Queensland, 4122, Australia

413 L R. Kitchen                  Overcombe, Horrabridge, Yelverton, Devon

946 Alex Ragar Knutson       21 Milford Street, Southville, Bristol

874 Dave Lampard                Woodpeckers, 11 Springfield Park Road, Horsham, Sussex

667 L Tim Large                   53 Portway, Wells, Somerset

958 Fiona Lewis                   53 Portway,  Wells, Somerset

930 Stuart Lindsay               5 Laburnum Walk, Keynsham, Bristil

574 L Oliver Lloyd                 Withey House, Withey Close West, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

58 George Lucy                    Pike Croft, Long Lane, Tilehurst, Reading, Berks

495 L Val Luckwill                8 Greenslade Road, Sedgeley hill, Dudley, Worcs.

550 L R A MacGregor           12 Douro Close, Baughurst, Basingstoke, Hants

725 Stuart McManus            33 Welford Avenue, Wells, Somerset

106 L E.J. Mason                 33 Bradleys Avenue, Henleaze, Bristol

957 Dave Morrison                27 Maurice Walk, London NW1

558 L Tony Meaden              Highcroft, Westbury, Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset

963 Clare Merritt                   9 Pipsmore Road, Chippenham, Wiltshire

704 Dave Metcalfe                10 Troughton Crescent, Blackpool, Lancs.

308 Keith Murray                  17 Harrington Gardens, London  SW7

936 Dave Nichols                  2 Hartley Road, Exeter, Devon

880 Graham Nye                  7 Ramsey Road, Horsham, Surrey

938 Kevin O’Neil                   99 Forest Road, Melksham, Wiltshire

964 Lawrie O’Neil                 99 Forest Road, Melksham, Wiltshire

396 L Mike Palmer               Laurel Farm, YarleyHill, Yarley, Wells, Somerset

22 L Les Peters                    21 Melbury Rd., Knowle Park, Bristol Avon

499 L A. Philpott                  3 Kings Drive, Bishopston, Bristol, Avon

961 Mick Phinister                4 Old Mill Lane, Inverness, Scotland

337 Brian Prewer                  East View, West Horrington, Wells, Somerset

622 Colin Priddle                  PO Box 14048, Wadeville 1422, South Africa

481 L John Ransom              21 Bradley Rd., Patchway, Bristol, Avon

452 L Pam Rees                  No Known Address

343 L A Rich                        Box 126, Basham, Alberta Canada

672 L R Richards                  PO Box 141, Jacobs, Natal, South Africa

945 Steve Robins                 16 Hillcrest, Knowle, Bristol

970 Trev Roberts                  67 Mendip Road, Yatton, Avon

921 Pete Rose                     2 The Beacon, Ilminster

832 Roger Sabido                 15 Concorde drive, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

941 John Sampson               8 Hillcrest, Knowle, Bristol

240 L Alan Sandall               43 Meadway Ave., Nailsea, Avon

359 L Carol Sandall              43 Meadway Ave., Nailsea, Avon

760 Jen Sandercroft              5 Eastcroft, Henleaze, Bristol

237 L B. Scott                      Merrymead, Havestock Road, Winchester Hants

78 L R.A. Setterington          4 Galmington Lane, Taunton, Somerset

213 L R. Setterington            4 Cavendish Road, Chiswick, London W4

915 Chris Smart                   10 Arnold Road, Woking, Surrey

851 Maurice Stafford             28 Rowan Close, Sonning Common, Reading, Berks.

1 L Harry Stanbury               31 Belvoir Road, St. Andrews, Bristol

38L Mrs I Stanbury               74 Redcatch, Knowle, Bristol

575 L D. Statham                 The Bungallow, North Barrow, Yeovil, Somerset

365 L Roger Stenner             18 Stafford Place, Weston super Mare, Avon

865 Paul Stokes                   32 Manor Way, Bagshot, Surrey

968 James Tasker                281 Canford lane, Westbury-on-Trym, Brsitol

772 Nigel Taylor                   Whidden Farm, Chilcote, Nr Wells, Somerset

284 L Allan Thomas              Allens House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Somerset

348 L D Thomas                   Pendant, Little Birch, Bartlestree, Hereford

571 L N Thomas                   Holly Lodge, Norwich Rd., Salhouse, Norwich, Norfolk.

876 Nick Thorne                   20 Hawkers Lane, Wells, Somerset

699 Buckett Tilbury               15 Fernie Fields, High Wycombe, Bucks

700 Anne Tilbury                  15 Fernie Fields, High Wycombe, Bucks

80 J.M. Postle Thompsett     11 Lodge Avenue, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex

74 L M.J. Dizzie Thompsett   11 Lodge Avenue, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex

381 L Daphne Towler            7 Ross Close, Nyetimber, Bognor Regis, Sussex

157 L J. Tuck                       33 Crown Rise, Llanfrechfa, Cwmbran, Gwent, Wales

768 Tony Tucker                   75 Lower Whitelands, Tynings, Radstock, Avon

769 Sue Tucker                    75 Lower Whitelands, Tynings, Radstock, Avon

678 Dave Turner                   Moonrakers, Brewery Lane, Holcombe, Bath

912 John Turner                    Orchard Cottage, 92 Church lane, Backwell, Avon

635 L S. Tuttlebury               28 Beacon Close, Boundstone, Farnham, Surrey

887 Greg Villis                     The Oaks, Round Oak Road, Cheddar, Somerset

175 L D. Waddon                 32 Laxton Close, Taunton, Somerset

949 John Watson                 113 Abbey Road, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

953 Jim Watson                   c/o 15 Farm Grove, Southfields, Rugby, Warks.

397 Mike Wheadon               91 The Oval, Bath

553 Bob White                     Cedar Hall, Henley Lane, Wookey, Wells, Somerset

878 Ross White                   PO38389Y, 5 Troop, B. Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, Northern Ireland, BFPO 802

939 Woly Wilkinson              17 Kings Street, Melksham, Wiltshire

940 Val Wilkinson                17 Kings Street, Melksham, Wiltshire

934 Colin Williams                Whitestones Farm, Cheddar Cross Roads, Compton Martin, Bristol

885 Claire Williams               Whitestones Farm, Cheddar Cross Roads, Compton Martin, Bristol

559 Barry Wilton                  Valley View, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol

568 Brenda Wilton                Valley View, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol

721 Graham Wilton-Jones     24 Redland Way, Aylesbury, Bucks

850 Annie Wilton-Jones        Cwm Dwr, 110 Pierce Avenue, Olton, Solihul, West Midlands

813 Ian Wilton-Jones            Cwm Dwr, 110 Pierce Avenue, Olton, Solihul, West Midlands

943 Simon Woodman           Link Batch, Burrington, Nr Bristol, Avon

914 Brian Workman              11 Moreland, 11 New Bath Road, Radstock, Bath

772 Nigel Taylor                   Whidden Farm, Chilcote, Nr. Wells, Somerset

919 Tom Temple                   3 Larch Close, Lee-on-Solent, Hants.

284 L Allan Thomas              Allens House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Somerset

348 L D Thomas                   Pendant, Little Birch, Bartlestree, Hereford

571 L N Thomas                   Holly Lodge, Norwich Rd., Salhouse, Norwich, Norfolk.

876 Nick Thorne                   20 Hawkers Lane, Wells, Somerset

699 Buckett Tilbury               256 Cressex Road, High Wycombe, Bucks

700 Anne Tilbury                  256 Cressex Road, High Wycombe, Bucks

692 Roger Toms                   18 Hoton Road, Wysemold, Leicester

803 R.S. Toms                     18 Hoton Road, Wysemold, Leicester

80 J.M. Postle Tompsett       11 Lodge Avenue, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex

74 L M.J. Dizzie Tompsett     11 Lodge Avenue, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex

381 L Daphne Towler            7 Ross Close, Nyetimber, Bognor Regis, Sussex

157 L Jill Tuck                      48 Wiston Path, Fairwater Way, Cwmbran, Gwent, Wales

328 Steve Tuck                    Colles Close, Wells, Somerset

768 Tony Tucker                   75 Lower Whitelands, Tynings, Radstock, Avon

769 Sue Tucker                    75 Lower Whitelands, Tynings, Radstock, Avon

678 Dave Turner                   Moonrakers, Brewery Lane, Holcombe, Bath

912 John Turner                    Orchard Cottage, 92 Church lane, Backwell, Avon

635 L S. Tuttlebury               28 Butts Road, Alton, Hants.

887 Greg Villis                     The Oaks, Round Oak Road, Cheddar, Somerset

175 L D. Waddon                 32 Laxton Close, Taunton, Somerset

397 Mike Wheadon               91 The Oval, Bath

861 Maureen Wheadon         91 The Oval, Bath

553 Bob White                     Weavers Farm, Binegar

878 Ross White                   30 Curley Hill Road, Lightwater, Surrey.

916 Jane Wilson                   University Laboratory of Psychology, Park Road, Oxford

559 Barry Wilton                  Valley View, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol

568 Brenda Wilton                Valley View, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol

721 Graham Wilton-Jones     Ileana, Stenfield Road, Nap Hill, High Wycombe, Bucks

850 Annie Wilton-Jones        Cwm Dwr, 110 Pierce Avenue, Olton, Solihull, West Midlands

813 Ian Wilton-Jones            Cwm Dwr, 110 Pierce Avenue, Olton, Solihull, West Midlands

738 Roger Wing                   15 Penleaze Gardens, Harold Hill, Romford, Essex

877 Steve Woolven               21 Three Acres, Horsham, Sussex

914 Brian Workman              11 Moreland, 11 New Bath Road, Radstock, Bath



Trappiste As Newts - A tale of the B.E.C. in Belgium

Belgium was the January meet for the Belfry regulars….

By Tony Jarratt

The weekend of 18th - 20th of January heralded yet another historical assault on the continental mainland by the forces of British imperialism.  In the hirsute and motley forms of the Belfryites and the Geriatric Cave Club.  The advance party (with their uniforms and pennant bedecked staff car) of Macannus, Barry Wilton, Colin Dooley and Martin Bishop established themselves in various bars in the village of Hochefort on Friday evening.  Meeting up with Pieter Staal, and his Speleo Nederland irregulars, Edmond and Josh.  With fervent dedication to the cause, they all got swiftly arseholded.

The bright and calm morn that followed was marred for the inhabitants of the Ardennes by the arrival of another carload, fresh from the hill - Alan Thomas (straight out of retirement) Trefor Roberts and the Uglies (sometimes known as Dany and Bob).  Also, direct from a huge Belgian refrigerator, masquerading as a caving hut, came the remainder of the Expeditionary Forces:- Buckett Tilbury, Graham Wilton-Jones, Jeff Price, J'Rat and organiser of the whole issue Big John Watson.

After a series of cock-ups regarding rendezvous, Belgian cavers, etc., the team sample some local ale, got a cheap visit to the caving/archaeological museum at Han-Sur-Lene and eventually got underground.

Led by one Dominique, we were taken into the impressive Grotte de Pierre Noel for a two hour trip. Hydrologically part of the long and fascinating Grotte de Han system, the cave consists essentially of a roomy breakdown tunnel with white columns, bones and curtains - all on a grand scale and, in a reasonable state of repair considering the muddy path through the cave and grotty fingerprints on the lower pretties.  We were informed that a film was being made here in anticipation of the site becoming a show cave in the near future.

Barry, Buckett and Bassett photographed the place to death while the rest pottered about the place comparing it with Otter Hole, the Bergerete.  A short and easy cave but well worth a visit.

Intending to buy Dominique a beer for his troubles, all were prepared for an onslaught on the nearest bar. This became unnecessary when it was found that Trappiste (local nonentity brewed high Octane Newcastle Brown) and Stella Artois could be purchased cheap at Dominique’s club hut!

Refreshment was duly obtained, B.E.C. sticker emplaced and the entourage moved off for a vast meal of sauerkraut, mash and donkeys dickwurst provided by the Dutch lads at their cosy wooden hut (behind a caravan site and almost underneath a motorway!) Much of the rest of the evening has been pieced together from others memories.  Extreme field trials of various brews and-octane ratings washed down with Frog speleos wine have forever erased it from the writer’s memory. A packed bar in Hochofort emptied exceedingly fast on our arrival - as did the little bowls of peanuts provided by the landlord.  Two Belgian lorry drivers looked on bemused.  The local monks worked overtime on Sunday…..

Dawn - 10am. Those staying in the fridge (amidst bits of French carrot and tomato skins) were up early and across to the Dutch hut, where the others were still in their pits. What they did that day is doubtless another story but Graham Wilton-Jones, Jim Watson, Jeff Price, Buckett Tilbury and J'Rat managed a trip into the Grotte de Fontaine River with a mixed team of Belgians.  Again, a short and well decorated cave but very notable for its huge, deep lake at the end where the wet suited Englishmen played for some time, all but one oblivious to the fact that a Belgium caver they had rushed past when he fell in the water had a dislocated shoulder.  !Great fun.

Back to the Whiteman’s country - on the Sunday night boat - hangover, knackered and broke.  An excellent weekend.

Our thanks to Big Jim for arranging it all, to our Dutch colleagues for the grub and the hospitality, our drivers.  Belgium cavers and a bunch of monks somewhere who remain oblivious to the havoc and moral decline that they caused.



By Tim Large our Hon. Secretary

Everyone receiving this B.B. is now a paid up member.  There are 147 of us. Hopefully some of these who are perpetually late payers will pay their sub sometime in the near future.  It does make the Treasurer’s job more difficult as we cannot finally calculate haw much money is available for various needs.  This was part of the reason for altering the club year in the new constitution.  Perhaps another change in the constitution will encourage members to pay up earlier. Suppose we had a £5 joining fee besides an £8 subscription.  Then once the latest date for payment of subs had past, lapsed members would have to reapply and pay the £5 joining fee the same as new members.  This should also increase the clubs income - Any comments?

TACKLE: - As you all should know most of our ladders, lifelines etc., are stored in the new Tacklestore/Workshop.  Minimal tackle is kept in the wire basket in the showers for midweek caving by those who occasionally come to the Belfry.  Those caving on a frequent basis can apply for a tackle box key to enable access to the main supply.  Since the introduction of the system all seems to be working well, except that some members are taking tackle from the store, but on finishing their trip are leaving it in the showers.  It is important to put the tackle in the store even if you do find it in the showers. Only 1 ladder, 1 lifeline and 1 tether shall be kept in the showers also please complete the tackle book in order that we know where all our tackle is and what usage it gets.

SHATTER CAVE ACCESS:- In the January B.B. (The ODD NOTE) written by Wig he mistakenly published that we now have 2 leaders to Shatter Cave. This is incorrect.  At the present time Chris Batstone and myself are being assessed by the Cerberus S.S. along the same lines as to our leadership system for St Cuthbert’s.  Once this is completed we have to wait for the C.S.S. decision as to whether we qualify as leaders.

LIBRARY: - has recently purchased copies of the following: -

'Complete Caves of Mendip'

'Mendip Underground'

'Lead Mining in the Pea District'

The two Mendip Guidebooks are for reference at the Belfry only and on no account be taken away.

The Lead Mining book has been compiled by members of the Peak District Mines Historical Society, and makes very interesting reading.  It covers the history and geology of many mines.  Those of particular interest are Knotlow, Magpie, Hillocks and Odin Mines.


Camping Trades Exhibition 1979

To start the year Chris. Bradshaw, our friendly shopkeeper of Rocksport has sent in this report of the …

For those who are not familiar with this show, it is the event of the year where the camping, climbing and now the cave trade can see new wares displayed by manufacturer’s and wholesalers.  It is held at the exhibition centre in Harrogate, but is not open to the general public.

It would be impossible to review all the items on display (or even see them in the four days available) so I will give a brief description of a few of the items of interest. No attempt is made at evaluation and most items will not be available until 1980.

Bonatti Self Locking Descender.

This is based on the single Petzl type descender, but the lower roller is connected to an arm which rotates it by about 20% of its circumference.  This is then connected by an arm to a brake block acting against the fixed, upper roller.  The action of the rope on the rotating roller operates the brake unless a handle, which runs from it, is held against the body.

Down and Out Descender/Ascender.

On show as a prototype only, this is yet another self-braking descender.  This time working on an off-set cam trapping the rope when the 'deadman's handle' is released.  The really interesting feature, however, is that the device can be turned, upside-down, and the rope fed straight through to form an ascender.

CMI 'Shorti' Ascender.

From the same stable (Colorado Mountain Industries) as the '5000' Ascender, this is a non-handled jammer type ascender.  It is made from a super-strong extruded and machined body, but still has the very weak spring that has caused so much trouble on the '5000'.  When this problem is solved, it will be a useful tool, as it is easily chest mounted, and the cam can be removed for cleaning etc, and reversed if required to give either left or right hand operation.


In the same year that Bridon Ropes and Fibres have launched a direct copy of the Clog Fig. 8, marketed under their brand name of 'Viking', Clog have revamped the principle to bring out a simple descender that need not be unkrabbed to get on or off the rope. Comparable in cost to their Fig. 8, it usefully doubles a Knuckle-Duster when getting to the bar for that last drink!

They have also introduced a new lock for their spring gated krabs.  Available as a very expensive option, it is a pull and twist operation, which makes locking the gate fast and automatic.  Whether a good dose of mud will destroy it remains to be seen!

'Sprung-Rung' Ladder

At present the only commercially available ladder is either pin and araldite (which is expensive) or pressure bonded, which is finished so badly that it tears clothing to pieces. The new 'sprung-rung' ladder uses the well tried taper pin fixing, then the rung end is spun over to give a smooth finish.  Cost is similar to the pressure bonded ladder, with 25ft, 3mm wire with 10" rung spacing.

'High-Efficiency' Caving Lamp Bulbs.

As cavers generally tend to break, loose or otherwise destroy their bulbs before enjoying the 350 hours that should be expected from a mining lamp bulb, a new concept will be introduced to cavers.  This bulb is designed to give a life expectancy of 100 hours, and so can be burned with a proportionally higher efficiency.  Three versions will be available: 2.4v, .6amp and 4v, .6amp., which more or less retain the light output of the normal 1amp bulbs, but almost doubles the burning time of NiCads, 3 - cell Nifes, and Lead Acid batteries, and a 2.4v 1amp which burns brighter on NiCads.  They are sold, however, with the warning that they must be expected to occasionally 'blow' underground, so a spare must be carried or a pilot bulb relied upon.  Also, they should not be turned on within about six hours of the battery being charged, as the extra voltage will overload them too much.  The price is about 70p each.


Brendan Brew, who manufactures under the trade name of 'Mole’, is having his own specification polyester tape made.  Rumour has it that it is to be called ‘Mole-ester' .


The 8th November, saw the official launch in this country of Goretex Mk.II.  It is claimed that it requires a less rigid standard of cleanliness to keep it working - someone has heard of cavers?

Raw Material Prices

Leather is still increasing rapidly in price.  Italian boots more susceptible than others, but DOWN is DOWN.  February should see the first shipments of Chinese made Duvets (under £40) and vests (about £17.50) to join the already cheap sleeping bags on the market.  This makes them competitive with 'hollofil' which is up in price!


The usual people displayed their usual wares, the 'Hi.Pakker' and 'Mountain' from Saunders being of interest and obvious 'winners' to join their range.  The real stir of the show was not actually in the show itself, but tucked away in the basement of the Majestic Hotel.  This was the 'Hi-Tech' range of tents from a company called N.R. Components.  These are lightweight tents (from 4lb. 6oz for Z-man) which have hollow fibre glass poles permanently fixed to the outside of the tent.  The fixing is by a patented, hinged mounting, connected to a tough rubber tube which holds both fly-sheet and inner tent.  The tent is unrolled, pegged out around the edge, the half holes connected and then the tensioning straps at front and rear tightened. It takes 45 seconds.

There are three basic models, two man, large two man (90 seconds to erect) and a big rhomboid which will seat 10 to 12 people (120 seconds to erect!)  They are due to be in the shops from February 1980, at about the same time as a spot on the BBC TV programme 'Tomorrows World'

Shinabro Stoves

By sheer co-incidence, Blacks are importing these stoves from Korea, which have a remarkable resemblance to the Optimus 8R (petrol) and OO (paraffin).  The price is, about £10 cheaper in each case.


Survey Of Wookey Hole

Reproduced by kind permission of C.D.G.

Radio Location Of Wookey 24

A general article for the uninitiated!

The published surveys of the far reaches have been put to the test by 'Prews' transmitting equipment and found, in some instances to be up to 30 degrees in error.  After the valuable work in the cave by Bob Cork and Dany Bradshaw the story can now be told………..

by Bob Cork and Alan Thomas

The radio-location of Wookey Twenty Four was part of a continuous programme to fix a survey point in each dry section of the cave necessary because of the inaccuracy of underwater surveying.

In order to radio-locate an underground point the transmitter, with its coil or aerial and its batteries, must first be taken to that point.  The coil must be laid out in an approximate circle as horizontally as possible.  The point located will be the centre of the circle.  The surface apparatus consists of the receiver and a box aerial used in the vertical plane.  Once the signal is received this aerial is rotated until minimum strength is achieved. Two stakes mark its direction. The aerial is moved to another position, usually at 90 degrees, and another direction obtained.  Where they converge is an approximate fix.  The process is repeated.  This time a silent point is obtained which is the exact fix. This point is marked with a stake and the aerial carried, and slowly rotated in the vertical plane, until a second silent point is found; the distance between these two points is the depth of the location underground.

Our practical problem was the physical effort of two divers transporting the transmitting apparatus and sufficient air to get them to Wookey 24 and back safely.  There was no lack of willing helpers as far as Wookey 9!

Accordingly, Bob Cork and Dany Bradshaw took in the coil and set it up in Wookey 24 on 27th September 1979. This proved to be an all-day trip which they found very tiring and they were somewhat pleased to find that Alan Thomas, who had no knowledge of the time they had dived or how long they would be, arrived in Wookey 9 at the same time as they returned to help them out with their gear.  The advantage of setting the coil up in advance was that the surface workers knew where it was located and had a clue where to await the signal.  To further lighten their burden for Saturday they took two 50 cu.ft. air cylinders to Wookey 22 on Friday night.  This was only a forty minute trip, what you might call resting up for Saturday.

The next morning the intrepid divers met at Wookey Hole car park with the surface party which comprised such distinguished figures as Brian Prewer, Oliver Lloyd, Dan Hasell and Alan Thomas (?Ed) together with others no less distinguished but too numerous to mention. After much discussion, muttering, eating bacon butties, drinking coffee etc., the divers were persuaded to don their soggy wetsuits and sort out their equipment.

The usual rig for diving at Wookey seems to consist of individually valved, side mounted, twin air cylinders (usually 40, 45 or 50 cu.ft. capacity) a wetsuit and a helmet such as children wear skate boarding to which is attached a pair of aquaflash underwater torches and the business end of a NiFe cell.  No additional lead is needed by most people.  For this dive they had a total of 140 cu.ft. of air each including the bottles already in the cave, sufficient for the return journey and allowing the 100% safety margin demanded by good cave diving practice.

Bob and Dany enjoyed the walk to the cave for once someone else was carrying their gear.

Watches were synchronised in Wookey 9 and the two divers submerged at 10.45am, the arranged transmitting time was to be 12.30pm.  The dive from Wookey 9 to Wookey 20 is in a large submersed passage in the conglomerate for the first 250ft after which they are in limestone.  The total dive to Wookey 20 is about 500ft and going to depth of 75ft.  There are few constrictions, even a tight section of bedding about two-thirds of the way, known as the Slot, presenting little problem even with luggage if the bottles are held horizontally.  The passage continues uphill after The Slot to the Wookey 20 sump pool.  Here it is possible to transfer to the Wookey 22 line without surfacing, though on this occasion the divers surfaced under the Spiders Web, as the multiplicity of lines in Wookey 20 is affectionately known. They had felt under some pressure from the surface party and wanted a breather to sort themselves out.

From Wookey 20 to Wookey 22 the dive is about 600ft and goes to a depth of 70ft.  Leaving the Spiders Web they went down through boulders to a depth of 15ft, turning north into an open passage twenty to thirty feet wide. The divers line was followed along the right hand wall to a depth of about 60ft where the passage levels out and after some distance enters a large chamber where even in the conditions of perfect visibility that day, the side walls could not be seen.  At the far end of that chamber the passage ascends rapidly to the Wookey 22 sump pool.  Here the fun began because it is necessary to leave the water and start caving.

The sump pool is at the bottom of a conglomerate rift some sixty to eighty feet high; the way on is up a steep slippery slope and a traverse to the right where the floor levels out, where it is littered with very sharp debris and large boulders.  At the far end of this section a twenty-five foot descent through boulders leads to a muddy squeeze into a large chamber. A further difficult climb down over sharp boulders leads to the Wookey 22 sump pool which is static.  Here, there is a permanent iron ladder in the pool to facilitate the return journey; how the ladder was got there is a story in itself and perhaps in the distant future when the 'fixed aids' debate is again in full swing someone might bring it out through Cuthbert’s.  The Static Pool is smooth-sided and the water can be twenty feet down.  The divers, of course, were still carrying their equipment.  Before continuing from Wookey 22 they had changed their partly used 45’ for the dumped 50's.  At the Static Pool they kitted up again removing boots and replacing fins etc.

The dive from the Static Pool is 360ft long and 60ft deep descending rapidly from the surface to a silted-up passage which narrows to a slot which is passed on the left.  The passage then gradually rises to surface in a muddy pool in Wookey 23.  Like this one the following sumps are static under normal conditions but ripple marks in the mud suggest that it is an overflow in time of spate.  These static sumps hold silt in suspension for a long time so the return journey is like diving in cocoa and not very pleasant even if you like cocoa.

The divers clambered out of the mud-walled sump pool by kicking their toes into the soft mud and inching their way up the slope, pausing only occasionally to fall back in. Once out of the water in Wookey 23 they were in a wide muddy floored passage along which they stumbled and made their way to the 30ft diameter lake at the far end, where a duck led them into a small pool from which it was difficult to get out.  A lower passage brought them to Sump 23 which was only 15ft long and roomy.  Thus they surfaced in the large passage which is Wookey 24.

They de-kitted, emptied the water that had seeped into the transmitter box, fortunately doing no harm, and continued to the two connected chambers where they had laid out the coil on the previous Thursday.  It was now 12.25pm.  The apparatus was quickly assembled and the transmission began only a few minutes late. The arrangement was that they would transmit for one hour.  However, watching a small needle flip up and down can be very boring and as they had noted on a previous trip potential side passages they decided to go exploring. At the northern end of the second chamber the roar of water can be heard.  A 25ft climb over large boulders and a traverse along a narrow rift-like passage leads to a point above the foaming torrent of the River Axe which here disappears into a boulder choke.  Upstream the active streamway passage enlarges; traversing above the water becomes difficult and it becomes necessary to swim.  A line assists the caver from here to Sting Corner, the right-angle bend in the streamway, just beyond which it becomes possible to walk again. Their first attempt at climbing the wall opposite Sting Corner where a void could be seen at a height of about 30ft ended in double splash as a Bob and a Dany both plummeted back into the streamway.  They did not like this place!  And moved on.

Beyond Sting Corner the water is twelve to fifteen feet deep and about ten feet wide.  With a strong current, a hauling line is very useful. The whole passage is in conglomerate, with thick slippery manganese deposits on the walls.  Further on the passage becomes shallower and the water faster flowing, continuing eastwards to Sump 24.  The going now, becomes harder.  At one point along the streamway it is possible to climb up about 50ft on the left hand side and enter an oxbow, the other end of which is only a few hundred feet from Sump 24.

Here the two divers made their second attempt at finding new passage.  They entered a hole at the western end of the oxbow and followed a three foot wide fifteen foot high rift which became blocked with debris after 150ft. They managed to remove a boulder from the top of the blockage and thus get by.  The way on was no wider but increased in height.  After 200ft a climb over two large boulders brought them to the head of a rift about 50ft deep for which they would have needed tackle. Having none they then traversed along the rift for about another 50ft to where it became impassable.  The only way on would be below.  Stones dropped down the rift could be heard bouncing beyond the visible bottom.  As they returned it seemed obvious that the passage floor along which they had come was formed by boulders jammed in the rift.  They then carried a rough line and compass survey.

They returned to their radio location station without incident.  The transmitter had been transmitting for one and quarter hours and the meter was reading a low output.  It was nearly two o'clock so they turned off the transmitter and packed up.

The journey out was uneventful except for occasional problems such as Dany playing with the coil halfway through the static sump 22 in nil visibility on the pretext that it had come undone.  And Bob, having descended and entered the last twenty feet of the Wookey 22 dry slope faster than he intended and entered the water in a most inelegant manner midst a clatter of cylinders, was not amused to hear "that’s one way to do it youth" followed by a loud guffaw.

From Wookey 22 they could have had a relatively easy trip out carrying only the radio-location gear and leaving the spare (now empty) cylinders to be recovered later.  But with characteristic whole heartedness they decided to carry the lot and have done with it.  They had little trouble in the good visibility and the desire to get out overcame the drag caused by the extra gear.

They were relieved when they surfaced to find a fair number of the surface party waiting in Wookey 9, not only to carry the gear but to tell them of the success of the operation.

The story of the surface party is soon told.  Leaving the cave as soon as Dob and Dany had dived they returned to the car park to fetch the receiver equipment.  They assembled in a field to the west of Green Lane where the residents, mainly horses and cattle seemed to think that radio-location was the most interesting thing that had happened for a long time.  Naturally everyone confidently predicted where Wookey 24 would prove to be. Naturally all were wrong.  The signal was soon received very clearly and Brian Prewer, designer and builder of the apparatus led them eastwards towards Green Lane.  The point was finally found to be in a field belonging to Madame Tussauds on the other side of the lane.  The whole operation had taken place in very pleasant sunshine and when completed they adjourned to the Hunters before returning to the cave to meet the divers.


Derbyshire News in Brief

Miss Nellie Kirkhom, the well known mines historian, died in May 1979; Eldon PC are digging at the end of Pilgrims Way in Oxlow in the hope that it will lead them straight into Peak Cavern; Carlswark - Big Dig has gone and about 1,500ft of new stream passage discovered; Masson Complex, Matlock is to be closed for two years whilst blasting is carried out nearby.  They will be re-opened to cavers; Giants Hole - owner charging 45p per caver, call at farm. No access to cave during April and May during lambing season.