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

Annual General Meeting - 1st October 1988 at 10.30

There will be an election for the Club committee this year and voting forms are being sent with this BB. Please either send them to Bob Cork or bring them to the AGM.

Annual Dinner - 1st October 1988

As everyone already knows the dinner will be held at The Star, High St, Wells - 7.30 for 8.00.  Tickets £11 from Trebor last date for booking is 25th September, choice is veal or beef.  At the last count Trebor has already sold 105 tickets.  The coach from The Hunters ts being organised by Mr. Nigel as usual.

Thanks

Thanks are due to Roger Dors for supplying the sleepers for the Chariot Race and for organising the bar.

Treasurer’s Report 1987/88

Again we have had a very busy financial year with considerable turnover, generated by such events as the Wessex Challenge, Dinner, advance sales of the Cuthbert’s Report and repayment from our insurers for part of the cost of the tackle store roof. Also a ‘donation' from the MRO for their share of their part of the roof.

1. EXPENDITURE

a)       As far as expenditure is concerned, this has mainly involved the purchase of more library units, continued Belfry improvements, the provision of more fire prevention measures and of course the usual bills.  We still have to persuade the Electricity Board to come around and check the equipment for fault to try and explain our high bills.  I suspect we will have to re-arrange and consolidate our electricity system as per Pat Cronin's recommendations to try and get the bills down.

b)       The Belfry has not quite been self-financing, but not far from it.  It shows a deficit of only £184.  Considering we have spent a lot on Library units and Belfry units we've done pretty well and under 'normal.' circumstances it would finance itself quite easily.

c)       Last year the BB cost £753 to produce, this year it is £930, due in part to more BB' s, inflation and the change in printers.

d)       There is only one more library unit to purchase - just as well as they seem to be taking longer and longer to churn out. This large drain on resources will thus soon evaporate.

e)       The telephone cost us £342 this year against £8 income.  This is another slight anomaly which is being investigated.

f)        As set out during the A.G.M. last year, we have spent much more on 'caving' this year i.e., tackle £400 instead of £182 last year.  This was made up of SRT rope bought cheap in America, ladders, ladder making gear etc.

g)       £540 has been 'spent' on the Cuthbert’s Report, that is a transfer of £400 to the account from our General Account to help bolster it up, plus sundry expenses such as computer equipment to allow Dave Turner to set up the production.

h)       Last years expenditure on Tackle Store repairs has been partly offset by an insurance cheque and MRO donation, but we still have a deficit of £625 which will have to be written off.

2. INCOME

a)       On the income side, the main item is of course Hut Sheets/Bednights.  The main problem this year has been the gradual collapse of the Hut Sheet system.  Members seem incapable of filling it in properly.  Names and other detail is either illegible or in 3 ft high letters.  Failing to put 'M' for Member and 'V' for visitor means we cannot monitor increases in bednights and the Hut Warden cannot tally the money in the box with what’s on the sheets.  The situation has not been helped by the change over in Hut Warden or the theft in the Spring when 3 Hut Sheets and at least £100 vanished.

I regret that I cannot therefore return any meaningful analysis on the numbers that have stayed at the Belfry nor the exact monies derived from bednights.  Not exactly satisfactory, i.e., will tighten up the situation with the new Hut Warden.

Bednight income last year was some £2226, this year it is about £1820 (taking into account the theft).  Oddly member and guest bednight income is almost exactly the same as last year (as far as the garbage written on the Hut Sheets can tell us) the difference being the income we don't now get from the Army and Navy who we have succeeded in frightening off.  A salutary lesson?

b)       We made a profit of £18 on the Dinner last year - should we make more?

c)       The Wessex Challenge profit was £188 - an acceptable level?

d)       We sold more Tee and sweat shirts so our excess of original expenditure over income is now down to £92.

e)       I have not included advance sales of Cuthbert Reports here as this 'income' will soon become expenditure in due course when the report is printed.

f)        The St. Cuthbert’s Cave fees only amounted to £22.  Did only 73 people go down this year?

3. IAN DEAR MEMORIAL FUND

This is still bumbling along but no takers in 1988.  The fund is now £308 with another injection of £100 due in November from our General Account.

4.         Our General Fund Building Society Account currently stands at £790.

5.         Our financial priorities I feel are as follows for this year:

a)         Complete drying room.

b)         Sort out telephone and electricity expenditure.

c)         Finance the Cuthbert’s Report.

d)         Sundry repairs and Belfry improvements.

6.         I can find no justification to raise Subscriptions or Hut fees this year. Please, please help cash flow by paying both on time and when required.  The Membership Secretary this year will rigorously enforce the situation this year and Subs are due by Jan 1st 1989.  Non-payers by this time risk having their BB’s withheld - it's only £12 for heavens sake.  Why should we spend money on postage etc chasing non-payers?

 

7.         Advance sales of The Cuthbert’s Report is now £804, including a £400 BEC injection, thus £404 divided by £5 equals about 80 pre-sales.

M C McDonald (Trebor) 6.9.88


 

Hut Warden's Report

Seriously though, in the past few months a great deal of work has been done on the place by the few notable regulars who are prepared to get off their backsides and contribute a bit of hard work to their club, as opposed to the vast majority who just gob-off about the state of the place over a beer in the Hunters and do sweet F.A. to remedy the situation.

Most of Dany's recommendations have been carried out since May along with numerous other jobs.

I shan't be living locally next year and so it's pointless for me to stand as Hut Warden, although I'm quite prepared to take some other post on the Committee... or perhaps I'll just gob off about the state of the place from behind a tankard in the Hunters ... !

Special thanks to Stumpy without whose help we wouldn't have a gas bottle store, a secure key cupboard, 3 working showers, hot water in the kitchen, unblocked drains and someone who's short enough to rest your tankard on their head while gobbing off about the state of the hut in the Hunters.

Gonzo.

Tackle Master's Report 1988

This year, a big thanks must go to Tom Chapman who has looked after the Club's equipment during the months that I have been abroad.  He has also found time to construct some spreaders, tethers etc which were desperately needed to compliment the stock of ladders.

The BEC SRT ropes have been used on a few occasions.  They are freely available for those wishing to cave off Mendip, simply get in touch with the Tackle Master.

Additions to the store are 3 lifelines (various lengths), 4 tackle bags, 100m Bluewater II and as mentioned above, spreaders and tethers.  Andy Sparrow has generously donated a new Lizard SRT rope cleaner.

As usual people simply do not book out equipment and so as usual I am unable to account for the whereabouts of some of the equipment.  Perhaps they will all miraculously re-appear on the day of the AGM (as usual).

The Tackle list is on the following page.

The tackle list is as follows (2/9/88): -

Ladders

 

x 16

(+ 2 retired and 2 missing)

Tethers

 

x 6

(lots missing)

Spreaders

 

x 12

 

Lifelines

120’

x 2

(+ 100’ and 80’ missing)

 

60’

x 1

 

 

100’

x 1

 

Tackle bags (med)

 

x 2

(+ 2 missing)

 

 

 

 

Bluewater II

100m

x 1

)

 

54m

x 1

)

 

40m

x 1

)

 

33m

x 1

)  Held by Tackle Master

 

20m

x 1

)

 

18m

x 1

)

Tackle bags

 

x 5

)

Hangers and maillons

 

x 20

)

Rope protectors

 

x 4

)

Steve Milner

B.B. Editor's Report

I have only managed to publish 5 BBs, including this one, since the last AGM.  I have found it increasingly difficult to find the time to compile and type the material given and this is the reason that I have decided to stand down from the post at this year's AGM.

As in the previous 2 years I have had a lot of support from a number of members who have taken the time either to write articles or to hand me interesting cuttings for me to publish. My thanks again to all the people who have taken the time to contribute - a club bulletin can only be interesting if members actually write for it.

I wish my successor every success and offer my help to get him, or her, started.  I shall now concentrate on working on the typesetting of the Cuthbert's Report.

Dave Turner.


 

Important notice to st. Cuthbert's leaders

I have been asked by the Committee to change the lock on St. Cuthbert's Swallet and issue keys to all leaders.  As the current list of leaders appears to have been lost (Notice how things have gone downhill since I gave up the job!)  I have listed below the names of as many as I can remember.  If you are not on it, please contact me urgently. The new lock will be placed on the cave on Saturday 3rd September.  This will have given everyone plenty of time to read this notice and contact me [You're joking - it’s already 19th September as I key this! - Ed].  A new key will be issued when you send a stamped addressed envelope to:- Martin Grass, 80 White Post Field, Sawbridgeworth, Herts CM21 OBY.

A separate letter will also be sent to all leaders.

Martin Grass.

Club leaders

Dave Irwin

Brian Prewer

Martin Grass

Chris Castle

Ted Humphries

Steve Tuck

Tim Large

Ian Caldwell

Nigel Taylor

Mike Palmer

Tony Meadon

Brian Workman

Dave Turner

Andy Sparrow

Chris Smart

Pete Glanvill

Roy Bennett

Alan Butcher

Greg Villis

Stuart McManus

Mike McDonald

Chris Batstone

Graham Wilton-Jones

Guest Leaders

Alison Moody (WCC); Ken Gregory (CSS); Graham Price (CSS)

Cave Leaders

As the club has gained a lot of new members in recent years I thought it would be useful to publish a list of club leaders for various caves.  If you require a trip please give the leader as much notice as possible.

Dan yr Ogof and Tunnel Cave

Graham Wilton-Jones, Tim Large, Mike McDonald, Martin Grass and Richard Stevenson

Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 1

Graham Wilton-Jones, Greg Villis, Mike Palmer, Richard Stevenson, Martin Grass, Brian Prewer and Dave Irwin

Reservoir Hole

Graham Wilton-Jones, Martin Grass and Dave Irwin

Charterhouse Cave

Jeremy Henley and Chris Castle.

If anyone would like a trip down Ogof Craig y Ffynnon or Peak Cavern I can also organise that.

Martin Grass


 

Letter from Pat Cronin

Enclosed in the last BB was an article about the CSCC AGM.  I took offence at its lack of accurate information.  If that is all you can extract from a five hour meeting of such importance as this one was about perhaps either, you should have attended or sent someone in your place, so as to gain a true record.  What happened will have a direct affect on how Mendip deals with the growth of the commercial interests in the Caving of Great Britain.

[Ed's reply - whilst agreeing with the importance of such meetings I feel it is totally unreasonable to expect the Club's editor to attend them all.  It surely is up to Club members who attend, especially those with strong feelings, to make a report for the BB.  I approached a number of members for a report of the meeting but all I received was as published in the last BB.  The usefulness of the Club's bulletin is in the hands of those who write articles for it - so perhaps Pat you could write a rather belated report for the BB.]

Deepest Hole on earth found in MP

The following extract is from our roving reporter Matt Tuck (who gets Everywhere)

(Cutting from an Indian newspaper)

NEW DELHI - A more than l000-ft­deep hole, claimed to be the deepest in the world, has been discovered in Dewas district in Madhya Pradesh state.

A Hindustan Times reporter quoted Dr V S Vakankar, who discovered the hole, as saying "it is a rare geological phenomenon".  The hole is a natural tunnel about l00-ft-wide and more than 1000ft deep.  'So far no such deep tunnel was reported anywhere in the world" Dr Vakankar was quoted as having claimed.

Dr Vakankar, who died last Monday opined that some miracle must have come from the outer space, hit the space and made the hole.  No geological phenomenon can account for the formation of such a hole.


 

Belfry Bulletin No. 48

A short note by Dave Irwin

In the recently published index of the B.E.C. Publications it stated that Belfry Bulletin No. 48 was not published.  Soon after I received a letter from Roy Poulson, librarian of B.C.R.A., enclosing an incomplete copy of Belfry Bulletin No. 48!  The photo-copy I have has been copied and is now in the Club library.

The BCRA copy, obviously part of the former C.R.G collection, comprises the first two pages. The copy is dated June 1951.  A search of the subsequent Belfry Bulletins (Numbers 49/50, 51 and 52) gave a clue to the summary below.

Belfry Bulletin No. 49/50, a. combined issue, states on page 1 "We would like to apologise to members for the delay in the June issue.  “We are combining the July and Aug. numbers to keep things moving.  We would also apologise for the way we have to split Pongo’s article to finish the last B.B.”  Above this apology was hand-written the following  “PLEASE.  WE HAVEN’T PUBLISHED THE START OF – “FESTIVAL CAVING”. CAXTON.”  It would appear that part 1 of "Festival Caving" was never published.  A manuscript written across the top page states “I’ve sent a copy of this back to Shorty.  Ken.”

The content of the first two pages of Number 48 is as follows:

First page:

Mendip Rescue Organisation

G.B. Restrictions

Caving Section News [including Avon Gorge caves]

Bats by John Ifold

Page two:

Club Library

Inquiry [ Stoke Lane – who was digging in Bone Chamber?]

Some caves near Bristol by Merv. Hannam

However, the notes on M. R. O., Club Library and the note by John Ifold were reprinted in Belfry Bulletin No. 51.

So, it would appear that at least the two pages of Belfry Bulletin No. 48 was printed.  Was it published?  A copy has got into the B. C. R. A. Library.  It is unlikely that this copy was circulated in the usual way as it would not have had the note written by Ken at the top of page 1.  It must be assumed to be an accidental copy, one given to the C.R.G.  Further, so many of the more important notes were printed in Belfry Bulletin Number 51.  I can only come to the conclusion that this is an accidental copy that has' leaked' out of the editors hands at the time. The issue was partially printed but never completed.


 

A letter from abroad.

After reading the many articles of daring exploits of tough cavers enduring hardships in exotic places, I packed my wife into the car, bought a ticket to France, and headed south.  The trial began almost immediately, with the realisation that we were facing a 9 hour crossing to St Malo, but there, I should have read the small print.  No problem I thought as the Ship slid away from the quiet city of Portsmouth into the teeth of a force 9 gale.  I, breakfast and two stomachs later we bumped into France and began a fortnights game of pinball with the French drivers. After assuring my wife that we would not avoid the beaches altogether we arrived near the West coast of France, Nantes.  Very old city, I believe that at one time we [the Brits] owned it, sometime around Henry the Umpteenth.  After spending a very pleasant overnight stop and half the next day around the city we once again went toward the coast, Fouras, La Rochcelle.  The place would make your toes curl, as far as the eye can see you have one of the most attractive tourist traps I've ever seen, steeped in History, after some long siege 5000 were left out of an original 28,000 a bit on the expensive side.  Once my obligations were completed i.e. the seaside bit we left the barest of fronts [kwoo kwoo] for the pleasant climes of the Dordogne. I had no idea where to start, I had with me much info on everything, I was carrying a library to be proud of. What turned out to be the deciding factor was time, we didn’t have a lot left.  So wanting to see some painted caves instead of painted women for a change I settled on the following.

LASCAUX II, MONTIGNAC, BRIVE.

This site is 26 Km Northwest of Les Eyzies.  The centre of the caving area, for those of you who are saying “we know where it is” will have to be patient.  I was advised not to waste my time by several English cavers, but I'm glad I found out for myself.

Montignac comes over as another Cheddar Gorge, fascinating but too many tourists.  It’s here in the centre that you buy your ticket.  The times of the various language tours of the site are listed so if you are early enough you can have your pick of approximately 4 English speaking tours.  I was lucky, no queue, and the next trip was in 2 hours, time enough for dinner.

Lascaux II is constructed in an old shallow quarry 400 yards from Lascaux I, to the right of the car park as you enter.  It was created because of the effect the early developers had not seen in altering various aspects of the entrance of the cave.  The insertion of the staircase into the Hall of the Bulls meant air temperature and flow were no longer anything like the chill environment of the original site.  Likewise when the air ventilation system was installed this brought in the spores from the wood surrounding the site and accelerated vegetation growth within. This was realised early on and steps were taken but it was ultimately decided that until they completely understood how the place could be maintained as close to it's original condition the site would be closed.  So now the only people allowed into Lascaux are scientists dignitaries and politicians.

Lascaux II has been reproduced by taking stereoscopic photographs every 2 inches along the passages. From these wooden profiles were made. Once these were assembled they were checked to see if they were accurate to the shape of the original passage. Having assured themselves that these profiles were correct they were reproduced in steel.  Once these had been set into position, they were covered in steel mesh and finished by having concrete poured into the gaps.  If you like, imagine a passage through a pack of cards, the cards then being spaced apart.  As the concrete was setting "plasterers" worked the surface of the concrete to be as faithful and as accurate as possible, they boast of an accuracy of +-5mm.  The paintings were created using similar styles, materials and techniques as early man. The effect is quite a shock.  The tour begins with a 10 minute talk within the first two airlocks.  From here you step through into the Hall of the Bulls.  See it.  There is still, however a chance to gain access to Lascaux 1, that is to write to the gentleman, whose address appears at the end of this article.  Five, yes five persons are allowed each day, five days a week.  When you write you must also state any professional qualifications and your reason for wishing to see the paintings.  Being a plumber isn’t enough apparently.

Although I'd been impressed by seeing the art of man reproduced, it was still not the real thing so delving into the mobile library I came upon Grotte de Font de Gaume. After Lascaux this is the next best and still open to the public.  It is stated at the entrance that only 340 a day are allowed.  I have my doubts as to how many went in on the day I was present.  At 9am there was a queue some 100 yards long when I arrived, this slowly increased a further 30 yards.  3 hours later everyone had a ticket.  An estimate of around 400 I guess.

GROTTE DE FONT DE GAUME, LES EYZIES.

This site is located at the Eastern end of Les Eyzies on the Sarlat road, at the side of the road. This cave was well worth the visit. The paintings mostly of Bison and deer are quite vivid.  The cave does not have any chambers like Lascaux, so it is difficult to stand back to get a good look at them.  Even so examples such as the bear are quite clear from a distance of 3 feet.  This is without doubt well worth a visit.  Get there for your ticket around 8 am, I mean it, to avoid disappointment.

CARPE DIEM, MANAURIE, LES EYZIES.

The only reason I stopped for this site was that I had never heard of it.  Just West of the road at Manaurie.  It is a small and expensive family business.  The cave consists of a low passage some 300 feet of which is given over as the show cave.  The guide assured us the passage carried on for many kilometres, beyond the squeeze. It is a well decorated cave of I believe some antiquity.  Length of trip 18 minutes for 18 Francs [1.80].

Beyond these torments there’s not much to tell of really other than hardship and privation, in local hotels.  Oh one point of interest was that we ran out of cash whilst in Les Eyzies due to not informing VISA that we were going to use it for cash abroad, don't make that mistake.  You may not be as lucky as Pauline and I in persuading the local Bank Manager into lending yourselves £50 of his own money [with no security] to get you back to the coast.  Was it my pleading eyes or Paulines short skirt or mabye it was because we were in his office for 2 hours and he just wanted to stop Pauline talking?

One last thing I would like express my thanks to all those people who made this trip possible, A R Jarrett, accommodation, illumination & phrase book,  S J J P C McManus, things that you inflate, & and world atlas. Last but not least my employer, who allowed me the time off of work an allowance and who held my position open [snigger] until I returned, me.

Pat Cronin.


 

UBSS Sessional Meetings 1988/9.

I would be grateful if you could publish the following talks in your newsletter and we will be pleased to see any interested persons at these meetings which are held at 8pm at the UBSS Spelio Rooms, Students Union, Queens Road, Bristol (all dates are on a Wednesday).

19th October 1988. 'Cave Diving and Natural History in the Bahamas' by Chris Howes.

30th November 1988. 'A Look at Decorated French Caves' by Andy Buchan.

1st February 1989. 'Caving in China', by Chris Smart.

3rd May 1989. 'Bats- Above and Below Ground' by John Hooper.

The UBSS AGM will be held at 4pm on Saturday, 11th March 1989 and the Guest Speaker will be Andy Currant of the British Museum but his topic is not yet known.


 

The Trans-Exe Canoeing Drink

Kangy, June '88

My experience of the BEC is that it is peopled by people who use impeccable logic.  Like 'I need a drink with whatsistoddy where's the nearest'.

If you are at Dawlish and you have to sort out great things with your mate at Exmouth then a round trip of about 40 miles awaits you and the return trip ought to be made sober. However, just think, it's only a mile across the Estuary.  And the return trip needn't be restricted.

Jonathan and I had dined and wined well with his landlord at Dawlish and thought about seeing Gareth who was running an outdoor pursuits centre indoors at Exmouth and needed to get out.  Jonathan said "We could take the double" and I smiled about all sorts of things.  Wine, sons, alternative points of view, the pleasure of sea canoeing, being afloat at night.

We launched off the beach at Dawlish Warren at 9.30.  It was dark but there were plenty of shore lights to aim for.  We paddled parallel to the coast until we worked out what the tide was doing and then really punched the canoe along until we were warm and happy.  Almost there (it seemed to me) we grounded on a sand bank.  Jonathan towed the canoe and I became concerned about water creeping into my welly-boot.  The shore loomed ahead as a shadowy lighter grey band, the house line was black and lights twinkled.  The water was ankle deep and so I sprinted for shore leaving Jonathan to it.  As I dived into the fast flowing deeper bit, tripped by the bottom falling away, I heard delighted laughter which stopped as I submerged.  I'd failed to realise that the main channel cut us off from the shore and now I had to fight the tide as it gripped, trying to sweep me away.  My embarrassment was made worse by Jonathan's grin but I was lucky, stayed on my feet and swayed forward pushing against the tug of swift water until I could grab the safety of the canoe.  The distance remaining to the shore became obvious as we paddled hard to counter the rip.  Suddenly it was all over and we dragged the canoe up the beach and hid it by a fence.

We made our rendezvous with Gareth at The Deer Leap pub.  (Sitting outside in our wet gear, little skirt-like spray decks about our waists and peering over our buoyancy aids I had an insight about posers, - they wouldn't look at us.)  Had a good drink.  Went back to the beach, launched, said cheerio to Gareth, and two paddle strokes later lost sight of him in the shadow of the shore.

The tide must have been out. We marched over sandbank after sandbank. Fell about pissed.  Launched and re-launched.  Found a lead which we could follow home, enjoyed a flat out burst of speed, sang, and then the lights went out.  Well, we were near enough to make out the outline of the necessary seawall so that was all right and so were we.