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The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Editor: Ted Humphreys

Editorial

The BB is late again. This time it's my fault; I have several articles in hand at the moment (a rarity) and apologize to the authors whose contributions are not included in the present BB.  I'll make sure they're in the next one.

If you have any comments about, or additions to, Oliver’s cave diving article you may certainly send them to me.  I can either print them in the BB, if suitable, or forward them to N.Y. with Oliver's BB.

Please could those who have not already paid their subs, do so at once.  Club finances are very tight this year and late payers cost the club money! Those who do not pay will not get any more BB’s.

I've been asked to point out that the BEC is a member of the British Mountaineering Club which means that members can stay at any of the hundreds of BMC huts at rates similar to the Belfry.

Another date for your diaries: - The Cheddar May Fair and Folk Festival is on Saturday 12th May. One of the events is the world championship of Manx football.  Teams of 10 to make 5.  1(2) goalkeeper.  3 out and 1 reserve in fancy dress can enter for £5 and must get sponsorship towards Telethon.

HTV are filming this and Snablets aerial Morris Jig on High Rock.  Cheddar Gorge (to the tune of Coronation Street) on that day.  Also the MRO have been asked to do a display).

The winning football team will be invited to the live Telethon event two weeks later.


 

Membership Changes

Three ex-members have rejoined the club.   They are: -

620       Phil Coles.        Totterdown. Bristol
582       Chris Hall          Redhill. Bristol
570       Joy Scovell (nee Steadman).       Transvaal. South Africa.

We also welcome two new members who are: -

Sharon BeattIe.              Horfleld. Bristol
Roberst Bragg.              Odd Down. Bath

Eastwater Clean Up

It may nave escaped the notice of a lot or people that the BEC has, as of the early eighties, decided to adopt Eastwater Cavern under the ‘Descent adopt a cave scheme’, whereby the cave adopted is visited on a regular basis (it is, by the way). No clearing trips have been undertaken for a couple of years, however, though small amounts of crap are being carried out on various tourist - digging trips.  The amount of spent carbide and general rubbish in the cave is really quite amazing; three tackle bags full between the crossroads and the entrance, including two odd boots from Dolphin Chimney and unbroken lemonade bottles, several months ago on a tourist trip:  So what?

Well, we're having a clean up trip on Saturday morning the 7th of April.  Tackle bags provided free of charge.  It is time to start these clean up trips on a regular basis before the cave starts smelling and looking like many caves in Burrington.  So please make an effort to be there.

Graham Johnson


 

Waffle

by Caving Sec

The party at the end of the universe was totally wicked!!  Also down Daren Scientists have discovered a hole in the Yohzone, the Rock Steady Crew will look into it next camp.  A date for your personal organizers. Saturday 31st March PRACTICE RESCUE.  Compulsory for all regular Daren visitors.  Also in Wales a discovery in Day-yr-Ogof by Rich Blake and Rob Harper of approx. 600ft. of passage ending in a sump.  Rob will be diving the sump on their return visit.

The BEC in Matienzo lived up to the motto, and also found 100m. of new passage (see the write-up by Blitz).

Lodmore Hole? an EMI (an electronics company - ed.) dig with some BEC helpers was looking very interesting with sightings of new passage but then unfortunately collapsed.  Bowery Corner has a new passage heading down dip called Dipso.  Survey work has been going on in Wookey by Trebor, Ross, Stumpy and Phil Churches and also by the choke busters in Welsh’s Green which is now complete.

Forget S.R.T. now there's T.R.T.  A breed of lemmings in the BEC have started practicing the sport of bridge jumping using the T.R.T. triple rope technique (jumping either backwards or head first off bridges attached to ropes.  Head first is the more advanced and shed spreading method).  Jumps have taken place throughout the country.  There has also been a lightning raid by the EMC/Steigl boot boys on the classic Bridge in the French Alps at Pont de la Caille, just north of Annecy on the main road to Geneva, known as the "Big Ride.

There have been some first Jumps on virgin bridges by BEC/EMC members in the local area. Unfortunately one of the bridges has become a bit dodgy to jump due to a local resident almost having a heart attack when looking out of her window to see what she thought was people committing suicide en mass.  The reason for three ropes is because it feels a lot safer than one and we can't afford ten.

Even while you read this the E.M.C. (myself Included) are mellowing out on a beach in the south of Spain after completing another classic Jump!

Snablet

Bob Lawder

Sadly, we have to announce the death of Bob Lawder of the Wessex Cave Club.  Bob was one of the long standing Hunters characters and most of us have witnessed his fine renditions of the ‘Boatswine’, the "American Bum' and "Mrs O'Flaherty" at various New Year's Eve sessions and barrel nights.  Our condolences to his wife Anne.  Within the next few weeks there will be a memorial service for Bob at Priddy Church possibly followed by a barrel or two and a memorial "sing song' at the pub.

Tony Jarratt


 

New Cuthbert's Leader Form.

A new form for applying to become a Cuthbert’s leader has been issued, available at the Belfry. The qualifications are necessary (recommended by the St. Cuthbert’s leaders meeting and ratified by the BEC committee: -

a)                  It is considered that the applicant is unlikely sufficient knowledge of the cave system in less than 15 trips.

b)                  It is advisable that the applicant is shown around the cave system by as many different routes as is possible, and must cover all known areas of the cave. Particular emphasis be placed upon the forbidden routes to prevent damage to formations.

c)                  The applicant is encouraged to ensure that he or she is shown around the cave system by as many current leaders as is practicable.  This application is likely to be unsuccessful if most of the qualifying trips are signed by one leader.

d)                  Some of the qualifying trips shall be carried out in conjunction with ‘tourist trip parties’ as booked by the Caving Secretary of the Bristol Exploration club or guest leaders of other clubs.

e)                  The applicant must satisfy a nominated leader for his final qualifying trip before his application will considered.  The nominated leader will be selected by the Sec or Caving Sec of the Bristol Exploration Club.

f)                    The applicant must show their current third party liability Insurance certificate to the current Hon. Sec of the Bristol Exploration Club before the application will be considered.

The Good Old Days

From the Yorkshire Rambler's Club Journal Vol VII No 21 .1934.

"The Craven Pot-hole Club camp in 1932 covered the week-ends 24th and 31st July.  Number of descents. 79.  On 27th Fell Beck was in flood.  18 inches up the wench and again on the 29th."

J'Rat


 

Library

The library is coming along slowly generally tidying up, cataloguing and finding out exactly what we've got, so that if they go missing we know about it.  I'm fed up with the books going walk-about.

I’ve assimilated all the BB's and thanks to certain people such as Joan Bennett, Les Peters etc. we've got a load of old BB's for our collection. Out or 450 odd issues I’m missing only 30 or so, which is not bad but if you have any spare copies of the following perhaps you could donate them to complete the set.

10

13

20

21

23

27

28

29

34

39

42

49

50

57

77

84

 

 

 

 

 

(manky)

 

 

 

(manky)

(very manky)

 

 

(very manky)

85

90

97

109

120

143

160

188

199

220

223

263

264

265

266

267

(very manky, trod on)

 

(photo copy only)

(no cover, worn)

 

( no cover)

268

269

279

280

281

290

301

302

338

340

341

342

343

374

398

399

 

 

 

 

 

 

(no cover)

I Know we’ve got an almost complete set of bound BB's but we were so close to another complete set.  I thought we might as well continue - also to help out with Alan's set in the archives.

Trebor

*****************************************

Trebor also included a list of outstanding un-booked in books.  This is virtually identical to the list published last year so I haven't included it except to note that Henry Bennett is now banned from the library - he seems to still have seven books out (all since 1988!).

On second thoughts, I've printed the list on Page 29.  If these Books/Documents have still not been returned you should really try to do something about it.


 

Safety in Cave Diving

by Oliver Wells

The arrival of the Belfry Bulletin is always an agreeable moment and perhaps the efforts of the editor and of the regular contributors are too often taken for granted.  The happy feeling that this is really not my problem was ended rather abruptly in my case when I found myself talking to this hard-working gentleman in the Hunter's Lodge.  He reminded me that as a member of the BEC,  I was expected to put pen to paper and then send the results to him. So I was wondering whether some notes on safety in cave diving might be of interest.  Nothing that I shall say here is new, but I have a special reason for writing this article that I shall describe in a moment.

It has always seemed to me that there are two main schools of thought about training cave divers, depending upon the degree of mental strain that is put upon the trainee.  If you join the army, as many or us had to do in the 50’s, then you will find that the training is a rather 'heroic" process in which the finer sensitivities of the trainee are ignored.  In the same sort of way, when I signed up for an underwater course about ten years ago to see if I could still do it, I was dismayed to find that the instructor seemed to be a frustrated marine sergeant who scattered tanks across the bottom of a really quite deep indoor pool and then expected us to swim from one tank to the next, taking only one breath from a mouthpiece attached to each of them.  I have never been so close to drowning in by life.  I seem to remember that when I was taught to use an oxygen respirator by Jack Thompson and John Buxton in 1954 and 1955, the training was equally no-nonsense but was carried out in a more humane way (apart from the physiological tests, that is.  The dive store that I do business with these days follows the more humane approach also.

Possibly you may have realised by now that I do not like the “heroic” method for training divers, especially from the receiving end.  I prefer a more tranquil approach based on extended periods of time spent underwater gradually becoming acclimatised to the life below.  "Exercises" such as mask removal, mouthpiece exchange and so on can then be accomplished without any worry whatsoever (or can even become agreeable if you are on really good form).

An important question is how often you should practice your basic diving skills.  There are, it is true, certain individuals who have the unfair advantage over the rest of us in being able to perform underwater to perfection without regular practice.  But if you wish to be REALLY on form then you should go below the surface at least once a week.  In the 1950's I met this requirement by swimming in a flooded gravel pit while a helpful colleague rowed a boat from which a nylon rope came down from the sky, as it were.  Before my recent visit to England, I spent well over an hour following a thin nylon line laid between weights at a depth of about 9 feet in a lake behind a friend’s house.  Such has been the progress with diving equipment that neither a boat nor a safety line tied to the diver were needed.  While doing this, I deliberately stirred up the mud and very carefully kept in contact with the line at all times.  A colleague who tried to do this expressed surprise that the line could suddenly vanish completely, obviously you must concentrate your mind endlessly on this point.  After five dives at intervals of about a week I once again felt ready for a cave.  At the very least you should practice underwater within two weeks of diving in a cave.

Another important point is what I call the "safety reflex' of the diver.  If you are an open-water diver, then your idea of safety is the surface.  As a cave diver, your reactions must be totally different.  You should have two simultaneous responses if a sudden problem should arise.  Your first automatic reaction should be to check your back up mouthpiece.  Your second should be to check your contact with the line.  Then you can sort out your problem.

A friend who read the above paragraph points out that the more general idea is of "penetration diving" rather than cave diving if the above ideas are to apply.  His interest is diving on wrecks.  At one dive site, there is a wreck directly below the channel used by large oil tankers that sail by at regular intervals with their propellers churning and so on.  The divers lay lines from the side and employ all of the precautions described above.  (Wreck divers generally carry an independent aqualung supplied from a small "pony bottle' that does not have the duration of the backup system carried by a cave diver.)

Constant practice can pay dividends in many ways.  For example, during my recent swim back from Wookey Nineteen with Bob Drake, it seems that I did not tighten the belt that holds the cylinders around my middle to the degree that is required.  (That steep, restricted. muddy rock slope in Nineteen is not the most comfortable place for putting on cave diving equipment that I have ever been in.)  I knew that I was on good form when I went underwater and the lines appeared to be more "friendly" than the surface. About 15-20 feet along the line and while I was in a fairly compact section of the passage, the tube from the regulator on my right cylinder suddenly pulled tight so that the mouthpiece set off at a brisk speed in the direction of my lower right wisdom tooth (possibly the tube was too short).  It is amazing how fast the jaw muscles can tighten at a time like that. Unexpectedly perhaps.  I did not feel alarmed even slightly, and stopped swimming, checked the backup regulator, checked my contact with the line,  and THEN pulled the cylinder back to where it should have been (for the first of many times that I did so on what was really a very agreeable dive).

Of course, the episode described above was fairly trivial.  This sort of problem occurs to cave divers all the time.  I only mentioned it here to emphasise the need for constant underwater practice if you do not wish to be alarmed by such a thing. The final five chapters in Alan Thomas’ book "The Last Adventure" contain examples of happenings that were more dangerous than the above.  In my opinion and if you want to go cave diving, then you should read these chapters, think about these episodes and then practice underwater until you are confident that you can meet such crises in a totally calm way.  (And even then please do not be in too much of a hurry to “push the limits” until you have been doing it for some time.)

Crises that occur underwater can be all the more terrifying for being unexpected.  Tony Jarratt told me about a diver who was exploring in a mine working underwater, stirring up the mud as he swam along.  When it was time to return, he found that his line reel was jammed, and that he had been pulling the belay block along behind him. There was no line through the muddy water back to the air surface.  Tony tells me that he got out successfully.  It is a terrifying story, but is useful perhaps in emphasising that you cannot be too careful.

By “redundancy” we mean that if the respirator should suddenly stop working (or worst of all release its air) then you can change over to a second mouthpiece on a backup system and reach safety using your own resources alone.  Perhaps it should be emphasised that this is a MINIMUM requirement since such failures can and do happen.  For example, I had a friend In Pittsburgh who lost the O-ring between his cylinder and the regulator at a depth of 70 feet in open water.  In Hawaii.  I was in the boat when a diver emerged with a stream of bubbles coming from his pressure gauge.  About two weeks later, a diver right in front of me suffered a blow-out of some kind from the cylinder valve behind his head and then surfaced in a cloud of bubbles that was larger than any such cloud that I have ever seen.  One day when practicing in an indoor pool with a borrowed regulator, I was surprised when the rubber mouthpiece came off and I was connected directly to the water.  Oddly enough, in the 1950's we dived regularly in caves without any backup system apart from a second oxygen cylinder that fed into the same breathing circuit, and it is not clear to me looking back on it, how we could have felt so self-assured.  A totally independent backup system now appears to be absolutely essential, in my opinion.

In response to a question from a non-caving friend, cave divers nowadays wear a cylinder on each side ("side-mounts" in the current Jargon) with a pressure gauge and a regulator on each of them.  The idea is never to get yourself into a situation where you cannot get out with the backup system.

Head protection was neglected in the 1950's.  Bob Davies wore a beret over the very thin rubber hood on his dry suit with this idea in mind, but the rest of us did not even do that.  Nowadays cave divers always wear a helmet and with reason. The only question is how soon the use of helmets spread to open-water divers also, because even there the diver can (and sometimes does) knock his/her head.

Another question is whether it is safer to dive solo or whether you should maintain close and continuous contact with a second diver at all times.  Obviously it is a good idea to have a second diver not too far away, but it is a delusion to expect that he/she can help you if anything really serious should go wrong.  In fact, the chance of an accident underwater in a cave is probably increased if there is a second diver too closely in contact to delay you and generally cause confusion.  Solo diving can be very agreeable if you are on form (and yet I WAS very grateful to Bob Drake when he appeared out of the murk and unwound the guide wire from around my left regulator on the first of my two trips back from Nineteen --- although to be truthful about it, we were operating separately for all practical purposes until I was delayed at that point).

Here, the reviewer wrote: "All dive certification agencies emphasise the need to dive with a partner.  Your statement will be criticised ..."  Diving with a partner makes very good sense in a very large number of cases, but I still think that in cave diving the problems caused by a companion in continuous close contact in causing delays, stirring up mud and so on can outweigh the advantages.  Having a second diver not too far away can be very comforting, however.

Concerning deep diving when breathing air in caves.  I am against it.  In the late 1950's I went with John Buxton to HMS Vernon in Portsmouth where we went to the equivalent of 200 feet in a pressure chamber in company with some Naval Officers.  We sat on benches along the two sides of a horizontal cylindrical chamber of diameter about 5 feet while a naval gentleman at one end communicated with the world outside by hitting the wall with a noisy blunt object.  We stared at the needle on a depth gauge as it slowly rotated clockwise between us. There was nothing to report down to 170 feet, when nitrogen narcosis came on with about as much subtlety as being hit on the back of the head with a hammer.  It was a ghastly experience.  I felt as if I was being whirled in a centrifuge about ten times faster than I wished to go.  But the plan was to go to 200 feet, so on we went.  By this time the air was so dense that it was a major athletic enterprise to breathe either in or out, in addition to the narcosis.  The Naval Officer told us later about the incredibly stupid things that even experienced divers had done at such depths.  Cave diving, anyone?

(Generally, people who dive deeply in caves either practice endlessly to survive narcosis or use a different gas mixture to avoid its effects.  Dive certification agencies generally prohibit dives below 120 feet. In response to a question from the reviewer, the above took place entirely air.  Presumably it would have been worse underwater.)

Perhaps the final point that I shall make concerns the EXPECTATION of the diver.  Of course, all of us would like to be at the cutting edge of cave diving, and yet nowadays I have been forced by a certain feeling of reality to regard myself as being in the position of a tourist to the Alps who is conducted on an easy rock-climb by one of the local guides.  Of course, this does not excuse from the need to practice my skills, mental attitude and equipment (you cannot escape from this).  But in fact I find it not at all bad to restrict my ambitions in this way, and I find trips such as Three to Nine and the like to be enormous fun.

Oh yes, why did I write this article?  About six month ago I agreed to write a chapter on the history of cave diving (which is more difficult than giving a lecture because you cannot fluff over the difficult bits).  So this article is a partial dry run in an effort to de-confuse my mind on this subject. The style of my chapter will be somewhat different from the conversational tone I have used here.  So if the reader would like to help me by sending me any comments on the above (especially with reference to ORIGINS of these ideas or to alternative points of view) then I shall be very happy to acknowledge any such help in the final version.  Or perhaps the Editor might wish to receive such items directly – I know I would be very interested to read such things in the Bulletin myself.

Cave diving has a great future and it will be interesting to see how it is made safer as it continues to advance in all aspects of underwater exploration by human divers, by remotely controlled vehicles and finally by autonomous computerised devices that will explore and record data at distances, depths, temperatures, etc. that are far beyond anything that can be done now.

 


 

Letter

Chewton Mendip
Bath

15th January 1990

Dear Friends at the BEC,

A belated thank you for the Acetylene cap lamp presented to me on my recent retirement from the Police service.

The BEC has over the years been very kind and helpful to me and the police service in general - in addition to being very hospitable to me, the valuable service rendered at cave rescues has been appreciated.

This working cap lamp will constantly remind of your club and its members.  With every good wish to you all.

Yours sincerely,

Gerry Brice


 

Spanish For Beginners

by   Chris Smart

'Come to Spain Blitz". Rob said.  "It will take your mind off things”.   How little did Blitz realise the truth in that seemingly innocuous remark made over a couple of pints as plans were made for the expedition of the century on the back of a beer mat.

Indeed had Blitz thought back, he, and some of you, might nave remembered the famous (infamous?) Harper and Blitz offensive on the Dachstein in the winter of 1980/81, and things might have been different.  However memories and the Wessex are both short and the BEC Matienzo winter Expedition was born.

Deciding that people might talk if just the pair of our intrepid heroes set forth, to explore caverns measureless to man and to do battle with litres of Rioja, Harper decided to look round for suitable heroes in waiting, men eager for a challenge, the would be conquerors of the Stygian darkness and cavers of the calibre of Casteret, de Jolly and Wormhole.  After a long and fruitless search we had to make do with some of the hardest armchair cavers that the Belfry could muster ­Snablet, Rich Blake, Steve Redwood and that all American, clean living, crew- cut boy Chip Chapman.  They were all easily enticed with carefully edited highlights of previous summer expeditions, kilometres of virgin cave passage and quickly swallowed the bait.  The expedition was launched.

So it was that having played all the usual pre expedition games of; lets hunt for the BEC rope (most of it left in Rumania); lets hunt for the BEC hangers (found some or them); lets hunt for the BEC tackle sacs (succeeded); lets hunt for the BEC surveying kit (still held by the 1988 Black Holes expedition) and lets hunt for Snablets brain (failed); that Boxing Day 2300 hrs saw Rob and Blitz on board the Portsmouth - Le Havre ferry and Boxing Day 2301 hrs saw Rob and Blitz happily ensconced on the after deck clutching a carry out or three and, like two expectant penguins eagerly awaiting the forthcoming adventures.  The other four stalwarts of the team having promised faithfully to follow on the next day.

Midnight saw us pooping on the bivy deck (or something similar) and like two giant comatose slugs we dreamed sweet dreams before emerging butterfly like from our cocoons at six o clock the next morning.  You may be interested to learn that Blitz has lodged a reward with the ferry company in an attempt to find the sadist who seemingly took great delight in standing over his bivy bag at some unearthly hour announcing in a very load voice, and with sufficient volume to wake the dead, that "These two have picked a good spot to sleep in".  On a more serious note a word of warning, if you go to sleep on the Portsmouth - Le Havre cross channel ferry or even blink your eyes for an Instant then somebody will sneak up on you and alter your watch by exactly one hour, and the really odd thing is that they do the same on the way back across the channel.

I understand that 0630 is not the recommended guidebook time to see the sights and experience the delights of Le Havre but our thoughts were not on such tourist attractions but on more alarming necessities such as why wasn’t Matienzo on the signposts and you did bring the loose change for the French motorways tolls didn't you Blitz?

However we were soon on the way and within a few kilometres Dawn’s rosy red fingers were seductively caressing the early morning sky.  Its times like this that a young mans thoughts turn to love, poetry and the answer to life, the universe and Bowery Corner but it only takes a few bars of Meatloaf with “Hits out of Hell” to put the world to rights.  It seemed as it nothing could stop us.  Little did we know!

The morning quickly turned to the afternoon and the thoughts of our two heroes turned to the impending business of lunch.  Pausing only long enough to snatch a hurried three hour gastronomic extravaganza we were soon back on the wrong side of the road and the Pyrenees were looming large on the horizon.  France was soon behind us and Spain lay open and inviting before us.  Within what seemed to be an instant, but was actually a couple of hours in the all encompassing dark of the Spanish night we saw our first road sign for Matienzo.  Not even pausing for a brief smug self congratulatory smile we headed over the pass and drove down into the enclosed Matienzo depression.  The time was 9 pm and the advance guard of the expedition had arrived.

In good BEC tradition we stopped at the first bar and in halting Spanish ordered two beers.  The locals, who all appeared to be extras from a Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western, took it in turns to stare at us.  Blitz had one of those rare and fleeting moments of pure genius and suggested to Rob that a) that if the Brits had been coming to Matienzo for 20 years then one might expect a least a photo or a surveyor some indication to be visible and b) that there might just be another bar further down the road.

Consequently three minutes later we were in the next bar down the road and were confronted with Tony and Roz Williams who had driven up from Portugal to see Pete and Carmen Smith, who have a house in Matienzo, and in order to greet us.  Blitz then had another one of those rare and fleeting moments of pure genius when he announced that this was obviously the correct bar!

Introductions were soon made, food ordered and the wine began to flow liberally.  All too soon with tiredness catching up on everyone we decided to call it a night (i.e. the dark time between successive days) and the final introduction was made.  To those of you who are ignorant of the magical and therapeutic properties of a Matienzo Sol y Sombre then what little we will say is that they consist of approximately equal measures of brandy and anise (Similar to Pernod).  For the sake of common decency and in case anyone of a nervous disposition is still reading this then a veil is probably best drawn over the next few hours.  Suffice to say that by 2am, yes, only five hours after our arrival Rob had been arrested by the local police for having borrowed a car from the roadside, conveniently with the keys left in it, driven in it for half a mile down the road, attempted to borrow another car, had a shotgun fired over his head by two understandably irate locals and had managed to demolish ten yards of barbed wire and several bramble bushes with his bare chest.

The memories that Blitz has add little to these incidents, he will admit that Rob did seem a little merry when they left the bar to go and bivy in the field behind it, but as the night-time stars seemed to want to go round and round in circles, at a breakneck speed, even when he closed his eyes, his memory can be considered a little hazy. The only one event that Rob is adamant that he can remember from the evenings proceedings is apparently being brought to the bar by the two Civil Guardsmen, of them hunting out Blitz cocooned in his bivybag, of them waking him and asking in Spanish "Is this your friend?"  To say that Rob's heart stopped when Blitz replied "Never seen him before in my life" would perhaps be an exaggeration but only a little one. Those of you who know Blitz well must consider carefully whether such a story is fact or Rob's imagination working overtime and Blitz is adamant that it never happened.  What he does remember is of Tony Williams and Pete Smith waking him at 3am giving him Rob's car keys and telling him some cock and bull story that Rob was in prison and we would sort things out in the morning.

The morning soon dawned and Blitz awoke to find himself clutching Rob's car keys and a growing realisation that maybe it hadn't all been a bad dream.  The remainder of the morning was taken up at the local police station where the local inspector, who bore an uncanny resemblance to a short slim Batstone, established the facts of the case.  As Rob had managed to choose the day when the entire Spanish legal system was in the process of change he was unable to be put before a judge and was returned to Laredo jail for a second night’s incarceration.

Blitz and Pete Smith returned to Matienzo and were met by the other four stalwarts of the expedition who viewed the proceedings with some incredulity.  After all weren't Blitz and Rob the two quiet ones - how could they hope to compete against such over the top behaviour?  Snablet was not to be daunted and asked as to what Rob had been drinking the previous evening, and then asked a pint of it!  Four Sol y Sombres later he was not sure what planet he was on, let alone where he was or who he was, (or to put it another way just like a Saturday night at the Hunters).   He found his tent but obviously experienced a little difficulty as the morning found him with his head inside the tent but his body lying in a discarded heap on the grass outside the tent.  His comment that it was a little cold and damp met with some sympathy as fellow sufferers attempted to count brain cells and found several million to be missing.

Rob was finally released on the following morning and approached Matlenzo with some concern. However he was greeted like a prodigal son by the landlady and was subjected to a rib breaking bear hug, the offer of alcoholic refreshment and a voluble torrent of Spanish welcoming him home. Pablo, the landlord greeted him in a similar manor and immediately exhausted his complete vocabulary of English with the classic comment 'No problemo".  It seemed as thought the BEC had arrived.

The expedition having spent a little time on the above soon decided that we should gain some credibility with the locals and that it was about time we put our heads underground. Blitz and Harper opted for Cueva de Lleuva and spent a pleasant three or four hours srt-ing the 10 metre pitch, looking for the ways on and finally wandering about in enormous horizontal passages floored with sand and breakdown blocks.

The hard men chose to visit Cueva Uzueka.  This is a name that is meaningless in Spanish but if pronounced in a Mancunian accent gives some indication as to its charms.  They returned to the camp site about six hours later with tales of needing 4 hours to find their way through the entrance passages (something that does only take 15 minutes when you know where you are going) of a horrendous squeeze, of Darren sized passages (both very large and very small, and of having dug into 200 metres of new passage which reminded them of West End series in Eastwater. The expedition had obviously arrived.

All six of us returned to Cueva Uzueka the following day and while the new passage was surveyed Rob. Blitz and Rich pushed on down the Gorilla Walk.  This is a real collector's item and a previous expedition report describes it as " ... of roughly stooping size in knee deep water, which sets the scene for the next kilometre and is fairly described by its name.  Any gorillas contemplating the trip should wear wetsuits, for in various parts the water occupies more of the available space than the air does".  Needless to say we were in furry suits!  We pushed on deeper into the cave, through the "Near Stomps", 500 metres of wide stream passage floored with huge sand banks and Blitz found the way on at "Obvious Junction", which wasn't, into "Cross Over Passage" and onto the easy walking passage of "Las Playas" (the Beach). Unfortunately the others missed the strongly draughting connecting crawl and continued for an extra half kilometre along 'Far Stomps" before reaching the sump.  However by a stroke of genius we all exited together and returned to base.

It began raining that night at 3am and managed to rain through to 3pm.  Having spent most of the day drinking coffee in the bar we struggled out onto the hill side mid afternoon to search out Cueva de los Emboscados.  This took ages to find but Blitz and Rich Blake finally decided that having looked in all the not a chance places it must be that obvious large entrance.  The cave is only 180 metres long and consists of a single railway sized tunnel passage but contains some prehistoric engravings of the body and heads of deer and horses.

Pablo and family put on a special meal for us to celebrate New Years Eve and it goes with no real exaggeration to say that stomachs were severely bloated by the onslaught or several courses of wonderful food.  I shall gloss over the fact that one member of the expedition chose to await the arrival of the first course before announcing that he did not share our omnivorous eating habits.  On a word of warning to other vegetarians you should be aware that the Spanish do not appear to indulge in eating vegetables and that the word for vegetarian in Spanish is "homothexually".

A day or so later saw the four hard men gong for gold.  Pete Smith has casually told us that, near to end of Cueva Uzueka was a passage called "Shrimp Bone Inlet" which, although 700 metres long, and ending in walking sized passage had not been pushed.  The two old men Harper and Blitz elected to act as selfless sherpas and plodded on in behind the young tigers carrying spare food and kgs of carbide so as to establish a dump.  They made their way into the 'Astradome' which is a magnificent circular aven 30 metres in diameter and in excess of 100 metres high where a single voice sounds like a cathedral choir".  It was a magical place for the sardines and chocolate supper before exiting, with rampant indigestion, after a nine hour caving trip.

Meanwhile "Shrimp Bone Inlet" had been reached, the end survey station found and exploration and surveying conducted into the unknown.  Five hundred metres of relatively easy going passage later they emerged into a chamber with the way on visible as a passage 10 metres up on one of the walls.  The other possibility, a draughting boulder choke, was investigated but found not to go. The four of them exited after 16 hours underground and returned to the camp site where they arrived at 7am to be met by a relieved Blitz and Harper.  Survey calculations show this passage to be heading into a blank area of the map.

All too soon the next day dawned and it was time to pack up and go home.  The nearest town suffered an onslaught of six BEC members all intent on purchasing their own DIY Sol y Sombre kit and stocking up on those little delicacies such as tinned squid and octopus in their own ink, very cheap olive oil and rough vino tinto.  One little gem was attempting to buy some flowers as a gift, for our hosts but I’ll gloss over that one.

In conclusion, and to be serious for a moment.  We can say that Matienzo is well worth a visit and is about a days drive on the motorways from Le Havre or Cherbourg.  You could either go in with the 40 or 50 British cavers who regularly visit every summer (See Blitz for details) or as a small group at any other time.  (There is currently some talk about a return about next New Year).  Indeed the area is worth seeing and although it is not spectacular mountain scenery the locals have that easy going friendly and relaxed approach to life that is found throughout the world in small rural communities and what’s more they appear to enjoy the antics or cavers, even the BEC.

A few facts:

A Matienzo box file will shortly appear in the Library giving the real truth behind the expedition. Our main source of reference was BCRA Transactions Vol 8 No 2 June 1981 Matilenzo, but we now know that we should have consulted the “Report of the 1975 British Expedition to the Matienzo Polje” (Private publication).

The caves are not particularly easy to find but generally allow relatively easy caving.  Permission should be sought from the authorities in both Santander and Barcelona.  This is very important as access is delicate.  No English is spoken in the area so a phrase book and dictionary are essential.  Camping is easily arranged at the back of the bar from which food and drink is available throughout the day.

The weather at New Year varied from two afternoons we were in T-shirts to one morning where there was a centimetre of ice on the tents.

Acknowledgements:

Grateful thanks must go to Pete and Carmen Smith of Santander, Juan Corrin, Tony and Roz Williams and the people or Matienzo.  In particular Pablo, Anna, Cuca and Granddad who made us feel not only like honoured guests but treated us as if we were their family.


 

Puck Suds

EXCAVATIONS AT BOWERY CORNER SWALLET FROM 1937-1989 AND AN ANCIENT MENDIP PLACE-NAME REVIVED.

"In Somerset you must be an expert with "Jelly" and spend your week-ends at the bottom of a sink-hole hopefully endeavouring to blow a way in somewhere."

YORKSHIRE RAMBLERS CLUB JNL Vol VI No 22. 1936

At ST 53135254. Opposite the lay--by in Plummer’s Lane, is a swallet in Lower Limestone Shales which takes a considerable amount or road drainage and run-off from the NW slopes of North Hill.  Recorded in Barrington and Stanton (1) as Bowery Corner Swallet this site has recently been the scene or much digging activity, most of which is here documented.

In 1988 Bob Williams (2) traced the original name of the swallet as mentioned in a manuscript of 1768 and before this in a Judgement of the Chewton Mendip Minery Court dated 1661 (see appendix 1).  It is proposed to reinstate the name Puck Suds for this cave - a suitable addition to such attractive old names as Lamb Leer and Cuckoo Cleeves.

Cavers became interested in this swallet in 1937 when Hywell Murrell and friends looked at the site, though it is believed little work was done.

1960 saw Mike Thompson and Jim Hanwell of the Wessex Cave Club at work here but after digging a deep muddy pit they failed to reach solid rock and gave up.  This was before the main road was re-aligned and there was some confusion as to whether the BEC dig was in the same place.  This was recently confirmed on a visit with Jim.  (The old road still exists as the lay-by opposite).

In 1976 Willie Stanton (WCC) dye tested the stream in reasonably high water conditions using Rhodamine.  This followed an earlier and only partly successful attempt at Fluoresceine testing. The water was proved to feed Cheddar risings with a flow through time of 50 hours under the prevailing conditions.

Tony Jarratt.

The "Group Of Friends" Dig 1982-1986.

This site was visited during 1982 immediately after research brought it to light in Willie Stanton's Complete Caves of Mendip, 1977.  As fortune would have it I was employed by a National company. Whilst working locally I experienced a very heavy downpour of rain.  Looking to the north, thinking of the sink which had been dry earlier that day, I resolved to drive the 16 ton vehicle in my possession to the site.  On reaching the site some water was present in the ditch close to the road and also in the field ditch.  There was a steady stream coming out of the concrete pipe that drained part of the field.  The flow remained the same for half an hour after which it began to increase.  Within another hour the bowl shaped base of the site was under four feet or water.  Marking the levels of the various streams showed they were still increasing though the level above the base stayed at four feet depth.  Not believing my luck that a sink such as this could remain untouched I first went to the farmer, Mr Wesley Voke, and obtained his permission to dig there.  The only rider in the agreement was that the fence be kept in good order to protect his livestock, namely lambs.

Wesley’s farm became our secure materials yard where we stored all our equipment.  It was the first time that I had found that a genuine interest in caves existed in the people that live above them.  Much tea and cake later we realised that the reason he didn’t mind us digging there was because he didn't own it!  Still, as a neighbour he provided us with encouragement.

Further research began into the history of Bowery Corner, though alas some leads were not available to me.  However, Mike Thompson furnished me with first hand information.  When he had dug there (1960 I believe) it had been down through clay with no apparent way on.  It was also noted that some of his contemporaries believed that the Bowery site was not the one that they had dug.  This confusion dates from when the road was under alteration and repairs. Seeking information from the county Engineers Office provided no definite clear plans of “Before and After".  I was happy with what details I had and persuaded Ken James and John Widley to help me. Digging took place on Wednesdays and good progress was made until one wet evening when alighting from my Land Rover we could hear an almighty noise.  Looking over the grass verge we saw that the top of the shaft had a white crown surrounded by bits of vegetation.  The 12 foot shaft had filled completely.  Before we had had a stream almost permanently present but this was something else.  Stopping only to change underwear we went to the bar.

I now checked Willie Stanton's water tracing results of the area (1974) and found that he had received a doubtful trace at the first Cheddar rising after 72 hours.  Estimated flow at the time was 10 gallons per minute. The experiment was repeated in January 1977, using 100cc of Rhodamine W.T. in an approximate flow of 20 GPM, the result was positive at Cheddar.  Wookey, Rodney Stoke (Spring Head) and Rowpits all proved negative.  A rhine draining an apparently unpolluted area of moor gave a consistently high reading in the Rhodamine range.

The effect of the flood that we witnessed was all too apparent on the next visit.  The shaft was previously 12 feet deep and approximately 4 to 5 feet in diameter.  It was now 8 feet deep and 8 feet in diameter.  Both the walls of the shaft opposite the two main streams had been carved away leaving an unstable area.  Over the next month the debris was removed and work recommenced.  The main problem was that there was no limestone to be seen or any hard rock for that matter!  Again and again the sides of the dig collapsed causing great disappointment. We were fearful of Mr Voke or the council complaining that either road or field was fast disappearing.  The digging team’s numbers had now shrunk to one. This meant that progress was painfully slow.  Still working in the area I regularly hijacked the lorry I drove and utilized the road drill and pump to make digging more enjoyable. You haven’t lived until you’ve used a road breaker in a confined space.  Sometime later the company realized that the mileage I was achieving to and from Bristol and Frome was excessive, and on one occasion followed me to the site.  As my foreman made himself comfortable in the back of the lorry for the duration we were interrupted by the nice Inspector man who looked down the hole and asked what I was doing.  Digging was continued through my suspension.  I now had problems with the moving of spoil so the decision was made to involve others of like mind.  The site was offered to both the Severn Valley Caving Club and the Wessex Cave Club. No takers so the L.A.D.S. were shown the site.  Shortly afterwards they joined the B.E.C., where old diggers retire.  With this new blood the enthusiasm infected many.  Once again digging became regular and with this came the installation of concrete pipes for the entrance shaft along with excellent prospects.

Pat Cronin

The BEC Dig  1986-Date.

On 10th October 1986 AJ cleared washed in debris from the six foot long entrance passage which was occupied by a muddy pool.  There was no airspace or draught and there were obvious signs of backing up by floodwater. Other projects then took priority for the next few months.

A major clearing operation took place on 24th May 1987 when the floor of the collapsed depression was lowered and the entrance enlarged and made more "cave-like".  A very low, scalloped bedding passage led off with the stream running away beyond.  It was decided that the site was interesting enough to warrant the installation of concrete piping to prevent total collapse of the adjacent field and roadside edges and to enable the swallet to be used as a spoil dump.  Further clearing took place and on 30th and 31st May PC and ML began construction of a concrete block wall at the cave entrance.  Between the 5th and 7th June the piping of the swallet was completed with help from a large team, the pipes being brought over from the "cave entrance factory" at Mells by DB using a hired trailer. Three lengths of 30” x 36”pipe were lowered into the hole by Land Rover, positioned and backfilled (see appendix 2).

Digging along the stream way now took priority.  The low bedding in shale was enlarged to hands and knees dimensions and spoil hauled to surface by hand.  This necessitated the ejection of the old Tyning's Barrows sheer legs over the entrance on 4th August.  The stream sank in a small hole on the RH side of the passage but it was decided to try straight ahead and this was enlarged for some 15 feet before being abandoned in favour of the sink.

By the end of August there were small lenses of limestone appearing in the shale and chiselling through this was difficult and time consuming.  This problem was solved with the aid of a Kango drill and generator followed up by “banging”.  Fumes were encouraged to leave the cave with the help of a Camping Gaz stove lowered down the entrance shaft to act as a “Fire Bucket”.

By early September, after a lot of hard work, the descending sink passage had been pushed for some 15 feet to a rock pillar blocking the way on.  This was banged on 6th September and when AJ and NS returned to clear the rubble they were amazed to find an open rift passage leading on.  This was some 25 feet long and in one place was large enough to stand up in.  A choked bedding passage led onwards.  The cave now totalled some 50 feet and qualified for the 1987 digging competition.

The next distinct session of digging lasted until November and involved the clearing of the next 30 feet of flat out bedding passage - Skid Row.  This involved hand pumping of the first flooded section and considerable enlargement of the whole length of passage by chiselling out the roof and floor with the occasional bang for good measure.  Periodic flooding curtailed activities as the crawl is not a good place to be in wet weather.  Wet suits were generally worn by those at the face.  An alternating draught was sometimes noted and the stream could be heard running on ahead.  On 29th November another rock pillar was reached and CS and MG surveyed the cave at 80 feet length, the end being just under the main road near the lay-by.

On 30th November the pillar was instantaneously removed and the following day a further 10 foot section of roomier passage entered with a small muddy inlet coming in on the LH side. Unfortunately a deep puddle almost filled the main passage and the onset of winter made conditions here particularly unpleasant.  The site was subsequently temporarily left to its own devices and a concentrated effort put in on the Halloween Rift dig in a vain attempt to win the digging barrel. On very wet days during the winter the amount of water entering the cave was phenomenal - a roaring stream with few signs of backing up.

Work restarted on 6th May 1988 when pumping was attempted at the terminal pool but failed dismally due to blocked pumps and split hoses.  Another attempt on 12th and 13th May was slightly more successful - the pump actually working but being too difficult to operate for any length of time as it was situated at the face where there was little room to manoeuvre. A water valve was inserted on the surface to control stream flow.

Lethargy was about to set in when Tony Blick (Craven P.C.) appeared on the scene with his dowsing rods and promptly predicted that not far beyond the end of the dig would be a small chamber followed by more narrow passage and then an enormous void - some 150 feet across and at a depth of over 200 feet with at least one inlet of about 60 feet width.  Passing motorists over the next few days probably assumed that a mass breakout from Wells Hospital had occurred as hordes of bearded zombies clutching bent welding rods marched across the road in front of them.

On the first available dry weekend (when the stream entering the cave was almost non-existent) the pump was brought into action again and thanks to various refinements by PC (The Digging Plumber) it worked to perfection, the puddle being emptied within an hour after 150 gallons had been hauled to the surface in 5 gallon drums. It was a pity that much of this rapidly returned to the end due to a leaking reservoir.  This was resolved by storing water in a variety of buckets and pouring it away in the field next to the cave.  A little progress was made at the end but it was felt that life would be easier if some of the ceiling was removed.  On the following day, 26th June, a charge was fired to commence this operation and the debris was cleared on the following Wednesday.  It was found that the ceiling could be easily brought down by using a crowbar.

The following five months were taken up with regular weekend and Wednesday night clearing and banging trips, the latter courtesy of NT and AB.  Well over 250 skip loads of debris was removed and some 7 lbs. of explosives used during fifty visits.  Exciting interludes included the flooding of the cave on 9th October when the stream overflowed the spoil heap: the near permanent retirement of ML on 22nd October after he'd breathed in too many bang fumes: the detonation of 4 ozs. directly below the Mendip Farmer's Hunt: several visits by Yorkshire and Belgian cavers; a surface survey by TH and the fitting of a hinged steel manhole cover to the entrance pipe on 12th and 13th November '88.  The fifty feet or so of passage gained during this exercise was typical of the cave, low, wet and developed in shale with the occasional limestone intrusion.  On 27th November the diggers were somewhat put out to reach a minute sump.  Not deterred it was decided to bang over the top of this and on 3rd December the first charge was fired here - upsetting a large frog who had evaded capture!

On January 4th - nine trips, sixty five skip loads and 3lbs. bang later, the sump was bypassed following some eight to ten feet of digging and blasting a mud filled tube at a slightly higher level.  The sump itself proved to be some six feet long and has been preserved as a "feature'.  Beyond, a typical and partly choked streamway led on for at least, ten feet to a low archway. Once again we lost the digging barrel.

The rest of January (eleven trips, fifty skip loads and 4lbs. bang) saw the team some fifteen feet forwards and the inevitable sump 2.  During this episode the indestructible frog was at last captured and liberated.  It had survived six bangs!

February continued in the same manner with several clearing and banging trips until the second sump was turned into a pool and a small chamber created to give the team some working space.  Despite atrocious weather conditions there were six trips.  15 skip loads removed and 14 lbs. of bang laid.

The wet weather kept up throughout March '89 but this did not deter the diggers and the regular Wednesday night sessions continued.  Some fifteen feet beyond "Sump 2" a third sump was reached which in dry conditions dropped enough for a 2" airspace to appear with the sound of the stream running downhill beyond and a good draught.  Much banging and clearing in very wet and uncomfortable conditions was done in an attempt to pass this obstacle and this was eventually accomplished on Easter Monday.  Beyond lay another low, flooded section where more banging was necessary.  During the month there were 11 trips, 60 loads to surface and 2½ lbs. of bang used.

April saw the team continuing as before and it was noticeable that during the first weeks, three new diggers on three separate trips suffered from bouts of claustrophobia. By the 24th "Sump 4" had been reached with a couple of minor side passages nearby.  The noise of falling water had been merely a foot high step in the passage.  It was decided to bang over the top of the sump in a small, mud filled tube.  Over 100 loads removed. 3½ lbs. bang used and 12 trips this month.

Due to the breakthrough at Welsh's Green Swallet, there were fewer diggers available during May.  Even so, some 50 loads were removed and another 2½ lbs. bang vaporised in the course of 10 trips.  A heavy duty bang wire was installed., being pegged to the wall to avoid the sledge run. “Sump 4'”was eventually blown away, being some 5 feet long and running directly below an almost body sized, mud filled tube.  The tiny stream passage beyond this draughted and echoed well.

In June work continued in this tube despite problems with bad air which gave one or two diggers a nasty shock.  A brief pumping and digging session was had at the corner where Skid Row began.  This totally silted tube was opened up for 6 feet or so before enthusiasm waned, even though drain rods could be pushed forwards for a further 15 feet, 6 trips, 76 loads out and ½ lb. bang used this month.

In August the Romanian trip kept several of the team occupied and progress was measured by 3 loads out and 1 lb. bang used on 3 trips.

September saw the commencement of a dig in the right hand passage some 20 feet back from the end of the cave.  The main dig also continued, taking advantage of the exceptionally dry weather conditions. Over 5 trips, 3/4 lb. of bang was used, and 46 loads came out to a rapidly increasing spoil heap.

During 6 trips in October, 52 more loads were added to the pile and another l½ lbs. bang dematerialised. The good weather began to change and the cave got decidedly wetter.  By this time the dig extended to a point beyond the roadside at the edge of the lay-by opposite.

November '89 saw 28 loads out and 3/4 lb. of bang used over 6 trips.  It was obvious that the cave had recently completely filled with floodwater indicating another sump ahead.  Most of the work this month was concentrated on the right hand dig which was opened up for about 15 feet to where a low airspace over the rubble filling was encountered.

Digging here continued in December and on the 10th the writer, clearing spoil at the face broke into an open but small stream passage with a tiny inlet sump to the left connecting back to Skid Row.  To the right this passage continued for some 10 feet and appeared to open up into a larger, body sized tube.  2 lbs. of bang was used during the month with 70 loads to surface and 12 trips undertaken.

During the last three years of work there have been well over 153 digging and clearing trips during which about 900 skip loads of rock, sand, gravel and mud have been dragged out and used to backfill the entrance crater around the pipes.  Over 30 lbs. of assorted explosive has been used at great expense (don't forget the bang fund box in the Belfry!).  Over 60 BEC members were involved as were over 20 from other clubs - notably the SMCC.  A list of diggers to date follows.  Work is continuing in the right hand dig, now christened "Dipso" - it goes down-dip and you have to be a maniac to work there!  A further report will follow as and when the writer deems it worthwhile.

Tony Jarratt   9/2/90

The Diggers

1937

H. Murrell (WCC) et al.

1960

M. Thompson (WCC). J. Hanwell (WCC).

1982 - 1986

P. Cronin. K. James. J. Widley. N. Burns. A. Porter. B. Court(TGOF)

1986 – date

P Cronin. A Jarratt. M Lumley. R Brown. G Jago. D Bradshaw. R Neville-Dove. P Hopkins. C Smart. J Smart. K Jones. T Chapman. S. Macmanus. M. Grass. N Sprang. P McNab (Jnr). P Eckford. R McNair. R Stevens. S Mendes. J Williams. E Humphreys. T. Gould. M. Tuck. G Wilton-Jones. N Gymer. K Gurner. B Williams. J Watson. L Smith. C Harvey. A Sparrow. H Bennett. M van Luipen. S Milner. N Taylor. S MacDonald. A Middleton. R Payne. A.Cave. G Johnson. R Clarke. A Boycott. R Taviner. T Hughes. T Large. I Caldwell. D.Shand. S Lain. J Clarke. R Cork. A Carruthers. R Beharrel. P & S. Rose and kids. G.Timson. C White. P He1lier. A Hollis. T Phillips. R White. A Griffin. J Stanniland. S.Loader. V.  Simmonds. R. Chdddock. H. TuckeL A. Williams. M. MacDonald. (all BEC) T.Edwards (CCG). S Prince (CSS). J Shaw (OS). A Millett (CSS). S Tooms (CSS). S Brown. Wendy. J Thorpe. R North (NCC). J. London. F. Easer (GSAB). E. Bentham (EPC). A. Ward (NWCC). G Newton. M Knapp. K Savory (WCC). N Sims. I Hollis & dog. J Lister, P.Collett. A Edwards. A.& G. Taylor. M. Bareau. G. Douglas (all SMCC). S. Tomalin(GSS). Dave ?( MEG)

References

(1) Stanton - "Mendip - The Complete Caves ... ' 1977 p44

(2) Williams - "Axbridge Archaeological Society Newsletter 107 March/April 1988

 

Appendix 1

SOME UNUSUAL MENDIP PLACE-NAMES

1. -- 'PUCK(S) SUDS'

In this and ensuing notes the writer enquires into a few of the many Mendip place-names which have faded from local memory. 'PUCK SUDS' was mentioned in a judgement of the Minery Court which sat at Chewton Mendip on the 10th February 1661, (SRO.DD/WG); published by Gough (1931,p.45).  In these proceedings the Grand Jury heard the complaint of a William Rudman ‘of great wrongs and abuses done unto him by several disorderly persons as touching a Washing Pond or Pool and another watering place for Cattell both lying and being adjoyning to a place commonly called by the Name of Puck Suds’.  The offenders were local lead miners who used the water for buddling.  The Grand Jury decided that such usage should henceforth only be allowed with the 'Special Licence and Consent of the said William Rudman' and harsh penalties were decreed for any abuses.  Although the place was obviously within the Chewton Mining Liberty, which is clearly defined, no clue was left as to the exact spot.  However, this can be determined by studying the unpublished 'Perambulation of the Royalty and Liberty of the Manor of East Harptree and Richmond, 10th June 1768'. (SRO.DD/WG, Box 14). In this "Froom Barrow" is mentioned and this is the prominent round barrow at the side of the road to the west of the Miners Arms (it is called Castle Barrow on a map of the Chewton Minery which abuts in this area).  The East Harptree Liberty bounds continue westwards ;- "to Toad Mead, the waste of the said ground near to the Swallet Hole called PUCKS SUDS--". This is clearly Bowery Corner Swallet recorded by Barrington and Stanton (1977, p.44) as being an intermittent stream which sinks close to the wall at ST 53135254. (see sketch plan below).

The Mendip miners were very suspicious so could well have believed in the mischievous sprite 'Puck' of English folklore and the word 'suds' was originally used for dregs or muddy water which would certainly suit this area of marshy ground.

Bob Williams.

References.

Barrington, N. & Stanton, W.L 1977 Mendip the complete caves ---.3rd edn.

Gough, J.W. 1931. Mendip Mining Laws and Forest Bounds. Som. Rec. Soc, ‘45.

 

Appendix 2

 


 

Library - Books Overdue

Here is a list of outstanding un-booked-in books in the booking out book (if you get my drift). If you've still got them bring them back.  If you’ve returned them, you should have booked them in.

Culprit

Booked Out

Book/Document

 

Tony Boycott

 

Batstone

 

Wig

 

 

Howard Price

 

Tim Large

 

 

Alan Thomas

 

 

Tim Gould

 

 

Andy Sparrow

 

 

Hippy

 

 

Gonzo

 

Henry Bennett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dave Glover

 

Bassett

 

Alan Griffin

 

Stuart

 

23/10/83

 

23/11/83

 

06/10/84

10/05/88

 

07/10/84

 

08/12/84

25/02/89

 

01/04/86

06/08/89

 

20/04/86

05/12/87

 

07/01/88

20/04/89

 

05/06/88

07/10/89

 

26/06/88

 

01/06/88

03/09/88

11/09/88

11/09/88

02/10/88

02/10/88

02/10/88

 

29/08/88

 

08/09/89

 

01/10/89

 

15/10/89

1975 P3M Report

 

Hants Basin Geology

 

Cerberus. Latest Bulletins

CRG Dio-supplement

 

Pegasus Club Berger Report

 

Cerberus Newsletter 55/56

UBSS Proceedings Vol. 17(2)

 

All Wessex Journals for binding

BB Vol (4)

 

Caves of Bristol region

Cave Explorers

 

Caves of Derbyshire

Pot-holing

 

BB Vol 39 (6 )

Karst Geomorphology

 

West Virginian Caver

 

The Longest Cave

American Caves & Caving

Space Below My Feet

Alone

The Caves of Rouffiqnac

The Descent of PSM

Underground Adventure

 

The Caves Beyond

 

Descent '85

 

Surveying Caves

 

Darkness Beckons

Trebor