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The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Editor: Dave Turner

AGM -10.30am Sat 3rd October at the Belfry

Dinner - 7.30 for 8.00pm Sat 3rd October at the Caveman, Cheddar tickets £8 from Trebor

Dinner Menu

Minestrone Soup with Parmesan Cheese

or

Liver and Bacon Pate with Melba Toast

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Roast Sirloin of Beef Yorkshire Pudding and Horseradish Sauce

or

Prime Roast Turkey with Bacon, Chipolata Stuffing and Cranberry Sauce

 

Brussel Sprouts Buttered Carrots

Roast Potatoes Parsley Potatoes Boiled

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Home Made Sherry Trifle

or

Black Forest Gateaux with Fresh Cream

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Viennese Coffee with Fresh Dairy Cream and mints


 

Annual General Meeting  - 3rd October 1987

Agenda

  1. Election of Chairman

2.       Apologies for absence

3.       Collection of members resolutions

4.       Minutes of the 1986 Annual General Meeting

5.       Matters arising from the 1986 Minutes

6.       Hon. Secretary's Report

7.       Hon. Treasurer's Report

8.       Hon. Auditor's Report

9.       Caving Secretary's Report

10.   Hut Warden's Report

11.   Tacklemaster's Report

12.   BB Editor's Report

13.   Hut Engineer's Report

14.   Librarian's Report

15.   Ian Dear Memorial Fund Report

16.   Election of Committee Posts

17.   Appointment of Hon. Auditor

18.   Any Other Business

Committee changes 1987

There will not be an election this year.

Resigning:         Mark Lumley
                        Brian Workman
                        Tony Jarratt

New Committee members:

            John Watson                 Proposed Tony Jarratt, seconded Steve Milner
            Richard Neville-Dove       Proposed Mike McDonald, seconded Tony Jarratt

Barry Wilton has agreed to stand as Hon. Auditor as Joan Bennett is retiring from the post this year

A.G.M. resolution

The following resolution has been compiled by the Committee and submitted to the A.G.M. as the M.R.O. has requested that the arrangement for the use of the Stone Belfry as the M.R.O. Store be put on a more formal standing.

Proposed on behalf of the committee to the A.G.M.:-

That we instruct our solicitor to prepare a lease or licence, giving the M.R.O. an official standing, regarding their tenure of the present M.R.O. Store, which forms part of the 'STONE BELFRY'. This document is to be prepared with reference to the following guide lines.

1.                  The M.R.O. may not make any external alterations to the building, excluding repairs to the roof or windows.

2.                  Either party may cancel the agreement, on giving 6 months notice of their intention to do so.

3.                  The M.R.O. may make internal alterations to their allotted part of the store, providing that there is no damage to the structure.

4.                  The M.R.O. will have the right of access to the store.

5.                  Any future proposed changes to the agreement may only be passed at a general meeting of the club.


 

Hon. Secretary’s Report

Officers’ Reports

The A.G.M. cometh, once again another year has slipped by.  The Club has again been active throughout the year both caving wise and in the other activities in which cavers indulge.  Membership is still rising slowly and it was nice to see that only a few members did not continue their membership this year.

Last year’s meeting requested that action should be taken to secure a lease on the land surrounding the Cuthbert’s entrance.  Work still carries on here, many letters have passed twixt ourselves, Cluttons (Agents for Inveresk) and the appointed "Inveresk" solicitor.  The progress so far has been; a lease being offered at a nominal rent (£100 per annum) covering a rather larger piece of land than we originally asked for provided that we were prepared to pay the legal costs incurred by the mill in setting up such a lease.  We agreed to pay no more than £150 plus VAT and the ball was returned to their court, and we await their reply.

Whilst on the subject of Cuthbert’s, Dave Irwin has been hard at work on the Cuthbert's Report, and has attended meetings of the Committee to update the Club on progress. With the help of Barry Wilton and a small team of publication producing specialists, he hopes to have it at the printers by Easter next year.

Wind is and always will be a problem at the Belfry, but never so much as one night earlier in the year when a cool Mendip breeze removed a large proportion of the tackle store roof (mainly above the M.R.O. section).  The M.R.O. were evacuated to the library and the tackle to the showers. Obviously the M.R.O. section had to be repaired with great haste if the service was to remain operational in its usual efficient form.  The following agreement was made with the M.R.O.; that the Club would bear the cost of materials to renew the roof and would do the work in their own time.  If the M.R.O. required the job to be done in less time the Club had no objections to them paying a builder to complete the work. The M.R.O. instantly agreed to stand any labour costs and the job was done in double quick time.  It is now for the A.G.M. to decide if they want to collect such monies from the M.R O.

After the above, the M.R.O. realised that they have no formal standing in relation to the rescue store, and asked the club if it would be possible to resolve this.  The Committee saw no reason why this should not be done and has submitted a proposal to the A.G.M. giving guide lines on how they feel this should be done.

The tackle store was built for the Club by "Alfie" and Jill Tuck.  The saddest news of the year was that of Jill's death.  She was well known and liked by the older members and, not long before she died, she went on a trip to the Risca lead mines which her husband Norman and a number of the younger members, who all enjoyed meeting her.  She always had the club's interests at heart and in her will she bequeathed us £1000. The Committee decided to spend this on upgrading the library and dedicating it to Jill.  A tree will also be planted on the Belfry site in her memory.  Norman has now taken up Jill’s membership of the club.

On a brighter note the Club organised the Wessex Challenge this year and again won it.  A substantial sum of money was raised by this event and credit must be given to Andy Sparrow and his helpers for organising the event and to Dany and Brian Workman for the catering.

A sad loss to the Club will be that of its long standing auditor, Joan Bennett is resigning from the position this year after many years invaluable service to the Club.  I am sure she has all our thanks for doing such a great Job for so long.

The Committee will also suffer the loss of three or its number who have worked very hard in the Club's interest.  Brian Workman has been Membership, Sec. for a number of years and has put the Club into the age of the computer with his attempt to regulate the membership lists. Mark Lumley, the committee room will be a quieter place without him.  He has been Caving Sec. for 2 years and the emphasis has definitely been on "caving".  Tony Jarratt leaves the Hut Warden's position so he may get to grips with the new Jill Tuck memorial library.

There is no election this year as three people have left the Committee and two have been nominated, therefore these people are automatically elected.  I have again enjoyed the year's work but. I will tender my resignation now in readiness for the 1988 A.G.M. as I feel that holding a post for more than three years you may become a little fed up and not do the job as well as when you are first elected. Bob Cork, Hon. Sec.


 

Treasurer’s Report

1.                  This year has been a particularly topsy-turvy year with lots of money going in and out of the accounts.  Cash flow, as usual, has been a problem with irregular and sometimes large sums being spent and received.  Members can help by paying Subscriptions and Hut fees on time.

2.                  A feature if this year's income has been the fall off of Bednight income (£1853 as opposed to £2195 last year) and desertion by the Services (Army & Navy) in recent months.

3.                  We made a healthy profit on the Wessex Challenge from Food and the Bar, not intentionally but perhaps we didn't think carefully enough about the cost of tickets and food. I see no reason why we should not make a profit on such events and as it turned out we certainly needed the money, but we ought to set the level of prices a little better next year.

4.                  The electricity bill is another large item which is currently being investigated and the Electricity Board will re-checking the metering for defect in due course.

5.                  Sales of sweat and T-shirts have not been up to expectations and hence we still have a deficit of £214 to erase to break even.

6.                  The Belfry itself has not been self-financing this year principally because we had to spend over £1300 on Act of God repairs on the tackle store roof.  We should recoup some of this expenditure back from the Insurance Company in due course.  If it had not been for this unplanned expenditure then the Belfry would have paid for itself by about  £500.

7.                  The Jill Tuck library fund has now been completely extinguished by the completion of the purchase of new bookcases.  We still need a few more cases to complete the housing of all our material and this will be done as funds arise.

8.                  The Ian Dear Memorial Fund is slouching along slowly.  Our injection of £100 pa from the General Fund is helping to keep the account in the black and as nobody drew on it this year the amount available stands at £298.

9.                  Our priorities this year are recommended as follows:

A)                   Complete the re-fitting of the library

B)                   Purchase caving tackle required by the Tackle Master.

C)                   Complete the numerous Hut jobs, drying room etc.

10.              I recommend that the Subscriptions and the Hut fees remain the same.  The members can help financial planning and cash flow paying subs and hut fees on time.

11.              A major project for 1988 will re the financing of the St. Cuthbert’s Report.

12.              I consider the year financially to have been busy and productive.  We have been able to weather the storm of Belfry fire improvements and roof repairs out of our own funds without the need to borrow. Providing members and guests use the Belfry regularly, remain actively involved in the club and pay all dues on time, we should have a good year in 1988.

M.C. McDonald


 

Hut Warden's Report

The last year has seen regular use of the Belfry by many members and guests.  It has survived numerous barrels, riots and even a visit from the Fire Brigade!  In general the Hut Warden considers that despite everything the place has been kept reasonably tidy by those staying there and wishes to thank the usual hardcore who clean up the mess and all those who were press-ganged into sherpering the dustbins down the track.  The Hon. Treasurer has details of income, expenditure and bed nights.

The present Hut Warden wishes to resign his post at the A.G.M. as he would like to concentrate more on the library during the forthcoming year.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THERE ARE CERTAIN MEMBERS WHO REGULARLY AVOID PAYING HUT FEES.  They all know who they are and if they don’t cough up at the A.G.M., it is likely that they will be banned from the Belfry until they pay up.

A.R. Jarratt 1/9/87

B.B. Editor's Report

I have produced 5 Bulletins since the last A.G.M., somewhere during the year I slipped a month or 2 mainly due to pressure of work rather than lack of material.  As last year I have had a reasonable supply of articles and I thank all members contributing to the B.B.  I could always do with more but would rather publish a smaller B.B. with interesting and relevant articles rather than pad it for the sake of extra pages. The B.B. can only reflect the activeness of the Club and so as long as we keep digging and going to Austria etc. my life as Editor will be reasonably easy.

A couple of the articles published this year have already been published in other clubs journals. In general I try to avoid this, but I will continue to print such material if the information is useful or relevant to the B.E.C. and I apologise to members who find that they have already read an article in another club’s journal.

Last year I commented on the time it took to have the B.B. printed, typically 4 weeks.  I am pleased to say that this year we have reduced this to about 2 days by using a small printer in Frome, thus making the B.B. much less out of date by the time members read it.

Dave Turner 23/9/87


 

Caving Secretary’s Report.

The year got off to a slow start with regards to discoveries on Mendip, diggers plans still being thrown off course by courtesy of the NCC.  However, BEC diggers being resourceful types, crowbars were wielded in more obscure, remote sites where the so called powers that be hadn't poked their grubby little noses.

Wigmore was dug on a regular weekend and Wednesday night basis throughout the autumn and winter and we progressed slowly but steadily through a bedding in the marl.  The site still looks good but attention has been diverted elsewhere for the time being.

Hunters Hole has received a large amount of the club digger’s attention and Sanctimonious Passage has been extended for about 100ft to a tight, wet constriction.  The bad air in this section has turned it into a fortnightly dig in recent weeks (J. Rat's face turned blue from excess of CO2)!

The Cheddar caves contingent of the BEC claimed fame in two ways earlier this year, Andy Sparrow, breaking into 500ft of stream passage in Pierres Pot with the cave family Moody. Meanwhile Chris Castle, made history by being the first man to be rescued from 2 show caves in one day!

In Eastwater 50ft of new passage and the possibility of a new route appeared with J’Rat & Co's discovery of Aven Skavinsky just off Ifold series.

John Watson & Lawrence Smith have been tentatively probing a horrific rift in Manor farm while the Eckford factor has pushed Halloween Rift closer to Wookey Hole.

Meanwhile, the Rock Steady Crew staged a 9 day camp in Daren Cilau and subsequently broke into 1200ft of gruelling passage heading towards the Clydach Gorge.  The club also obtained its own Aggy key and began a long term dig at Midnight Passage.

More recently Andy Sparrow, Tom Chapman and Snablet managed to break into a new chamber in Goatchurch which has a promising site for further extensions.

The Keynsham crowd are determined to get back into caving as soon as the Hunters is drunk dry and there's a race on between the Worcester Boys to see if they can get through Swildons Three before the turn of the century.

One of the major club projects of the past few months has been the stabilising and subsequent push of Bowery Corner Swallet.  The site was in a sorry state when we started, with the loose, shale sided depression threatening to undermine the adjacent field.  With a labour intensive effort under the supervision of Stumpy the Rocksmith we erected a solid, breeze block foundation with a 12ft entrance pitch through three concrete pipes.  The site is now stable and we have mined a passage through the shale for about 50ft into a natural stream washed rift.  Hopes are high for the near future- the way things are going it looks as though the Wexeys will be buying the digging barrel this year!

The club expedition to Austria was a great success this year.  Jagerhohle (last year’s discovery) was pushed to a sump at minus 700m. Orkanhohle is now over 300 metres deep and still going strong while the Croydon’s new discovery, Magnumhohle is down to 200 metres deep with the way on still open.

I shall be in Mexico for 3 months next year; consequently I don’t feel that I will be in a position to do the job of Caving Secretary efficiently.  I'll stand down therefore and wish best of luck to my successor.

Mark Lumley.


 

Membership Secretary Report

Although the post of membership secretary has only officially existed for a year the job has been mine, along with the distribution of the BB's for nearly three years.  In that time I have tried to make the job more accountable in both the recording of membership payments and the cross referencing of that information to the BB address list.

Needless to say any system you care to devise would be open to the complex problems of extracting money and address changes from some of the members within the club.  It is interesting to note that every year it's the same group of members who fall into this category, and I don't believe there’s an excuse that I haven’t heard.

Most methods of getting subscriptions from people have been tried; one I would recommend not to try again is the standing order.  These are always out of date no matter many times you tell some members.

As most of you are aware the address list is now held on a computer, which controls the printing of the address label you find on the envelope of your BB.  Within the file that holds this information a record is kept of the current members (those who have paid their subs before the following April).  This record is used to control the output of labels which means those who will receive a BB!!!

The current membership statistics are listed below and I’ll leave Alfie to produce any trends and caving habits from these in years to come.  A complete listing of members will be available at the AGM to allow any changes to be marked up before the list is published in the next BB.

I'm sure the next membership secretary will want to change the way things are done but I do hope that the link between the membership and the BB distribution is not broken as the BB is for some people the only contact with the club, especially those abroad.

Finally one address change: Brian and Lucy Workman, Catcott, Bridgwater. I’d better make sure I get this one in!

Brian Workman 


 

Tackle Masters Report

This year it has become plain that the club does not possess enough tackle for general use.  In particular we are short of ladder and lifelines.  Situations arise when all of the 19 ladders are used: when places such as the West End, Hunters Hole and other ‘active-spots’ are rigged, when ladders are temporarily withdrawn for dipping and when there is the inevitable borrow-and-forget-to-return ploy there is not enough ladder for either members or visitors to use on a casual basis at the weekends.

To attempt to rectify this situation a ladder making weekend was organised.  With the help of a few and the advice of many, a handful of ladders were made and put into circulation and several were put aside for finishing. This was a happy situation until some old ladders were retired and one of the new ones had a rung slip.  We were back to square one with not enough ladders. I am completing the unfinished ladders and we have purchased 4 more ladders as we simply do not appear to have the time and expertise to make more.

Six 150' lifelines have been purchased to complement the 2 x 150' , 1 x 200' and the 1 x 60' (now missing). All the old tethers have been retired and 10 new ones of various lengths  have been made.

The SRT rope (plus hangers and maillons) are in excellent condition and have been used only on a handful of club Yorkshire trips.  It is still available for use, just get in touch with the Tackle Master and the conditions for use will be described (give plenty of warning).

One or two grumbles; some people do not sign tackle in and out, some return it in a filthy or rusty condition (4 ladders were returned 2 weeks ago in this state).  It is your tackle please look after it!

General.  We have two sets of Suunto Compass and Clino's, these are about to be re-aligned.  We have numerous tackle bags, ice-axes, snow-shoes and digging tackle, all are available for use.  If you can't find anything get in touch with the Tackle Master.

Steve Milner


 

40ft Closer To Wookey,  35ft Closer To Cheddar

Two small but significant breakthroughs have occurred on the digging fronts.  Following another bang in Sanctimonious Passage, Hunters Hole, the writer managed to pass the previous limit to find his supposed sump was merely a 10ft long, 2 inch deep pool.  Beyond this, some 40ft of well decorated passage was explored to a stal blockage. Sadly the passage was not large enough to contain both the formations and the explorer.  A further bang at the end should reveal more cave as there is a good echo.  To make life easier a couple of spoil shifting trips are needed.  Any offers?

At our other promising site, Bowery Corner Swallet, we have recently broken into some 35ft of relatively roomy stream passage degenerating into a low, wet crawl with a floor of mud and stones.  This is being actively dug as the way on seems to be open.  Water runs away easily and there is a traditional "good draught".  Digging takes place on Wednesday nights and weekends.

Wigmore Swallet, Halloween Rift and various sites in Eastwater are awaiting attention.

Tony Jarratt  21/9/87


 

Eastwater - History Of Terminal Rift Digging Efforts

During research on the history of exploration in Eastwater Cavern it was noticed that there was nothing published on the major digging efforts at Terminal Rift during the mid seventies.  I contacted Keith "Ben" Bentham of Eldon Pothole Club who kindly forwarded the relevant information which was clarified and enlarged by Pete Eckford.  For the benefit of future speleo­historians the combined information appears below.  The remains of the "aqueduct" are still lying at the top of the 13 Pots and as the B.E.C. have taken upon themselves to clean up the cave these shou1d be removed when convenient..

Tony Jarratt  18.8.87

On a visit to the terminal rift, Keith Betham (E.P.C.) Pete Eckford (B.E.C.) and Pete Hiscock (S.M.C.C.) noticed that the water was sinking under the right hand wall some 10ft from the pool.  A dig was started in September 1974 with Martin Bishop (B.E.C.) helping on one occasion and Jeff Price (W.C.C.) logged on two trips (Wessex Journal 157).  Excavation of this sink revealed a choked descending 2ft 6ins diameter passage.  Material from the dig was hauled in one gallon paint containers into Sand Chamber where it was stacked using woven plastic bags – a stacking system which, in other digs, has proved very effective.

In October 1974, the water which had previously prevented digging at the site in wet weather was diverted from the Thirteen Pots by using an aerial aqueduct constructed from 6in diameter plastic pipes and tractor inner tube supported on a tightened rope. This carried the stream from Harris's Passage, over the head of the Thirteen Pots, into the Muddy Oxbow.  The pipes came from the old Cuthbert’s Sump One dig.

In November 1974, the dig broke into two avens about 20ft and 30ft high but they were too tight and so digging continued in the floor.  The dig was hampered by tourists treading on the pipe and breaking it, resulting in about half an hour of each trip being spent in bailing the dig. After some 25ft of digging, the passage, alas, ox-bowed back into the Terminal Rift and the Pool flooded into the dig necessitating abandonment of the site.

In the B.E.C. Log Book are recorded five trips by Pete Eckford and Pete Hiscock, three by P.E. and Ben, and two by P.E alone.  All were of the order of five hours duration so treble that figure would give some idea of the man-hours spent on the dig.  There are doubtless many unrecorded trips.  The last trip seems to have been in late 1975 or early 1976 when P.E. and Ben spent two hours bailing the dig.  It is thought that the site has not been investigated thoroughly since.

Ben belatedly wishes to thank all persons who assisted with the dig and to all the Mendip clubs who supplied equipment.

Keith Bentham (B.P.C.)
Pete Eckford (B.E.C.)


 

NHASA invited to Windsor

To devotees of the Somerset and Dorset Railway Windsor Hill is the site of the twin single bore tunnels, but to cavers it is the area in which the first 'pretty' was found on Eastern Mendip, now known as Windsor Hill Quarry Cave.  By the 1970's much had of course been located in that general area, and expectations were high for the Windsor site in particular.  The railway and its associated quarries had closed and general access had become easier.

The Windsor Quarry area is roughly three-quarters of a mile by a half and lies at a mean height of 600ft. The surface streams, where present, drain southwest towards Croscombe passing through Ham Wood.  It is a quiet area, peaceful in its new role as an industrial archaeological site, with the exception of the regular vandal who tries to destroy our winching systems.  The tree that supported our derrick was nearly destroyed by an explosion and several efforts were made to cut it down.  [Unfortunately he has now succeeded and the tree is destroyed - Ed]

As usual, interest was developing from several sources.  The B.E.C. represented by Albert Francis, Mike Palmer and others, dug on the north side of the railway in the late 60's and one would expect, others to have tried their luck as well.  In the early 70's, Hedley Hill, Shepton Mallet Scouts Leader, was looking for a dig site, and his ploy when approached by members of NHASA was to pretend that he was the landlord.  Mike Thompson spotted the site on a walk down the valley and he and Jim Hanwell followed up with a spot of dowsing.  NHASA then adopted it after abortive efforts at Doubleback and Rock Swallet.

The site comprises a little valley whose southern side is a minor scarp slope at right angles to the dip, and the other side is the railway on a small embankment.  At the head of the valley is a culvert emerging from the railway.  The floor drains down to a quarry and there are open holes for the water in the scarp and also adjacent to the embankment.  Our site lay in the valley floor and may have been opened by the railway engineers in the 1870's - now there's a thought for the record books!

Say seven years work, or about 350 Wednesday evenings, and it can all be summarized in a few words. One can write pages of detail but unfortunately it must all be compressed into a few phrases.  We work as a team and each person contributes his or her skills and talents, so it isn't generally necessary to mention any particular name in relation to an incident or bit of kit.

The first stage of the dig was to enlarge the entrance in a downwards direction to expose fully the dominant surface features.  This left us with a hole some ten feet deep, five feet wide and fifteen feet long.  A right turn was taken along the strike in a westerly direction, but this was abandoned after a rock nearly killed our future MBE, Bob Whitaker.  We then attacked the dip in a direct line with the entrance, for ease of hauling, and dug southwards at a 30 degree slope.

The passage exhibited a half-tube in the roof and we dropped the floor to give ease of passage, such that it varied from three to six feet in height, and where necessary the tunnel was wall or roof lined by our building expert, Albert, using S&D coal ash for his concrete.  For some distance there appeared to be a fill between the roof and floor and spoil could be freed with a bar without much trouble, and in one section we gained six feet by entering an open passage.  This bit gave trouble in 1980 when there was a minor roof fall and Albert and Prew were stuck on the far side, fortunately they could come out after a few minutes heaving away at the debris.

We used the traditional Mendip sauceboat for transport to the entrance hole, but not the 'Guss and Crook'.  Spoil was transferred to a simple bucket hoist system to reach the surface.  As time progressed the sauceboat had to be pulled by a winch assisted and pulley-guided method.  It became very labour intensive and it had an enormous drag factor.

The culverted stream caused trouble in winter and many efforts were made to get rid of the water down adjacent beds and holes.  It was an odd experience to divert a large stream and see it sink away.  The chief gardener made us build all sorts of walls and dams to control the flow and at one time we tried to bypass our hole and send the water further down the valley by trenching it and by lining the trench with polythene tubing.  Despite all this there were many occasions when digging was impossible by virtue of excessive water.  With so much quarrying in the vicinity the water carried a good load of silt, and at times it could refill the space that had been laboriously dug the previous week. When diverted down an adjacent hole it could be heard from our dig face and it sounded just like the old forty foot, as we kept telling the youngsters.

Eventually the half tube disappeared and we found ourselves staring at a bedded face with no obvious prospect.  The lure of the water sound led us to deviate eastwards and follow some thin gaps in the beds.  Blasting became necessary to give us a decent height and this was our downfall, for having cleared last weeks debris we had to drill and bang again.  Windsor rock is hard, very hard, and we made slow progress. Plaster charges were tried but they did little work and minds were tuned to alternative procedures.

Windsor Hill was probably the first caving site where a compressor, owned by the diggers, was a regularly used piece of equipment.  It was an intelligent cave, for provision was made for the telephone line, the air line, the bang wire and the spoil transfer system.  One day, at some dig or other, we shall have an injector, and we will have a cement line as well.

The first compressor, to which we had access, was a small model designed for underwater use, and it had a hydraulic action, needing a return as well as a supply hose.  It made a useful hole but was not really man enough for our purposes; neither could we afford to buy one of our own.  So, we ended up with the navvy's friend, the typical noisy but effective air compressed version.  It did us proud and is still a good investment after use at other sites.  Earmuffs are essential gear, for the risks to hearing are well proven.  The hydraulic compressor, with its enclosed oil content, had to be sited close to the entrance and this was a disadvantage to the social life of the dig.  The ideal situation is to find a dig where a compressor can be sited at a reasonable distance.

No measurements were taken, but the length of the main hole, down dip, was about seventy feet when we rebelled at the transport system in use and made the experts do something.  A monorail was devised such that the lengths of timber, say five feet long by six inches by two inches, were fixed centrally in a line down the passage with the six inch measurement being in the vertical plane.  The sauceboat was fixed up with bogies that had one wheel resting on the top of the monorail, which latter was steel-capped to reduce wear, and one on each side. The leverage on these side ones was acute from a loaded boat but the thing worked well.  However, unlike mountain railway systems there was nothing to stop a runaway, and the loaded projectile was potentially lethal, especially as it had pointed ends.  Up top a new winch was provided with two or three handle positions at different gearings to suit various stages of decrepitude.

Our deviated eastern passage gave us a further problem.  The floor was very rough, and solid, and spoil had to be passed bucket by bucket to the main passage.  Eventually a lightweight monorail was suspended from the roof from which the buckets could be hung.  All mod con in fact.

Our final session was on Nov 28th '81.  Everything that had been brought out-the previous week was back in situ again, and we retired disheartened.

The area is still full of Eastern Promise for few sites have been worked.  We all have our own interpretations for failure to find a cave, and it's worth while listing a few, for they can also relate to other sites.

1.                  The theory of open joints.  Perhaps there is no cave.  For a hole the size of Swildons entrance, say 3ft by 3ft, can also be represented on a surface 50ft long by 24ft wide.  If the width contains 9 bedding joints each 1/4 inch wide then the Swildons water can in theory disappear within this area, and limited erosional features can lead to wishful thinking about a theoretical cave.

2.                  Surface disturbance.  At Windsor the stream may have been diverted when it was culverted under the railway, and this happened twice as the line was originally single, then doubled.  Any stream near the quarries would have been used and possibly diverted for steam raising in machinery or for shunting engines.

3.                  Streams that appear to sink in well-established holes within the quarry area may in reality have had a short life.

4.                  If one can't actually follow a stream then the adjacent parallel bed may be too low or too high in relation to the theoretical cave.

5.                  The labour force required to work the dig became too large.  No spoil could be stored part-way to the surface for the stream merely washed it to the bottom again.

6.                  One of the best possible sites was too near a possessive cottager.

Yes, we benefited from this experience.  Our current dig has several localities that can be used as temporary dumps with a small labour force.  All spoil is put into poly bags so that it cannot be washed down again, and we don't have a stream, but that's another story.

There is much more to NHASA than a weekly cave dig may suggest.  Our average age is high, because we have been around for some time, and we are no longer in the first flush of youth.  We don't do epic trips; we just have epic spells of survival between trips.  This aspect of caving is not often mentioned, but we have helped one of our group to overcome severe depression, we have convinced another that there is caving after severe illness, we have helped each other to give up smoking, and we cope with all the ailments to which middle aged gentlemen are prone, like a lack of an excuse to go to the Hunters midweek. Some of us are young, though, and romance can blossom amongst the buckets, boats and compressors.  Brian and Lucy will have many happy memories of Windsor.  We encourage doctors, for we specialize in odd accidents, or how to cut your eye with a caving helmet or burst your thumb with a lump of honest limestone.

It's a rule that in order to attend the NHASA dinner one must do some digging, and it is amusing to note the faces that appear at infrequent intervals.  Some of these people are normally busy at their own digs, others are members of the Craven 'A' team, to whom we play host, and others are noted for their shy and retiring habits.  All are welcome, for we are all equal participants in my last statement .

Wednesday evenings are a period of sanity in a doubtful world, and if we find a cave, well that’s a bonus.

(Note for new cavers) "NHASA", or the "North Hill Association for Speleological Advancement" was formed in the 60's when "NASA" or the "National Aeronautical and Space Administration" was a new and upwardly mobile entity in the USA.

Richard Kenney 07/09/87.


 

St. Cuthbert’s Swallet

Following the gradual clean up of the cave by BEC members and others over the last year or so, the place is looking a lot tidier, especially around the Sump 1 and Gour Hall Rift area.  Eight carbide dumps have been removed together with over 175 assorted pieces of rubbish according to my count.

Now that the place is looking better, it's time to clean and tape the formations.  Past taping has disappeared and a number of nice formations have been trampled over particularly in Long Chamber.  This chamber has now been cleaned and taping is being done imminently.  We'll then move on to Curtain Chamber and September ....... One dirty mud bank recently was accidentally found to actually to be a nice white stal boss!?

Periodic notices will appear in the Belfry or Cuthbert’s Log as to which chamber or part of the cave is currently being spruced up so any help is welcomed.  Tape is available from Trebor, together with sponges and water containers etc.

By the time the Cuthbert’s Report comes out we may have the place in pristine condition again, as its meant to be.

Trebor.