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

1990 - 1991 Committee

Hon. Sec.                Martin Grass
Treasurer                 Chris Smart
Caving Sec.             Jeff Price
Hut Warden             Chris Harvey
Tackle Master          Mike Wilson
B.B. Editor               Ted Humphreys
Hut Engineer            Nigel Taylor
Membership Sec.     John Watson
Floating Members     Richard Blake
                               Ian Caldwell
                               Graham Johnson
                               Vince Simmonds


This BB is only a small one, basically because it has to be out before the AGM.  It's mostly composed of officers reports but has a couple of interesting short articles.

Membership Changes

We welcome one new member this time, who is

Andrew John Sanders.  Peasedown St. John, Bath

We also welcome one member who has rejoined. who is

944 Stephen John Plumley, Burrington, Bristol

I also have the following address changes :-

232       Chris Falshaw. Crosspool, Sheffield
1053     Steve Milner, Broadview, Australia
237L     Bryan Scott. St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Cote d'Azur. France
553       Bob White. Wells, Somerset


Ian Dear Memorial Fund

A meeting was held recently between the Caving Sec., Sett and Bobby Bagshaw in order to clarify/update the IDMF rules.  These are as follows:-

1.                    Any applicant must be a fully paid-up member of the Bristol Exploration Club.

2.                    Any monies granted should go towards travel expenses.  This grant can be used worldwide and not just for Europe. Grants can be used for other expeditions, not just for caving.

3.                    All applications must be made to the current BEC committee who with their approval will pass it on to the IDMF trustees for approval.

4.                    The limit of the grant must not exceed one third of the cost of the expedition.

5.                    A full report must be written within three months of the applicants return, for the BB, and must be at least four sides of A4 size paper.

The trustees are the current Caving Sec., the current Treasurer, Mike Palmer and Sett.

Jeff Price.

Hut Engineer's Report

Nigel Taylor

I intend to break with my usual tradition of a long report.  You have all heard my views on those who don't care about the hut, and "can't be bothered to work on it" before.  I have held this post for three years, and I believe that it is time for a change in Hut Engineer.  Most especially so when one hears that other members would like a try at the post, and voice their views to this effect.  I understand that Trevor HUGHES is standing for election, and present committee members Ian CALDWELL and Graham JOHNSON also have their eyes on this post. Please consider this when voting at the A.G.M.

I am generally pleased with the overall state of the BELFRY, but a shortfall in club finances (until the St. Cuthbert's Report enters profit?) really restricts any proper re-vamping of the hut or major improvements.  Money is going to have to be spent on the front porch roof, rear weather-boards and bunk-room fire door in the not too distant future.  The club must decide WHAT and HOW the kitchen area is to be improved, but I leave this to the A.G.M.

At the time of writing, the excellent efforts of Pat CRONIN to install Central Heating are nearing completion.  The oil tanks are up, and full, and if lucky, we may just have a warm hut for the A.G.M. (No puns!).

I would like to thank all those who have helped me on the various working weekends, especially during last Winter/Spring when several members worked all day on five successive weekends in the attic after Jack FROST did his worst.

One of the problems this year has been advertising the working weekends due to the B.B. being issued at different times, but this in no way reflects on the tireless efforts of its editor.  He cannot be expected to bring out an empty B.B. just to advertise a working weekend. Past experience also shows that if you have long term fixed dates, members seem to be away up north, or it rains all weekend.

I should also like to thank all those stalwarts who have worked on their Hut and site, over the last three years, not to ignore those members wives, girlfriends (etc!) who though not always members themselves, mucked in on several occasions and supported their partners and the club.  I personally thank my wife, Vivi, who puts up with absences phone calls and has helped out with catering during my period in office.

I have great hopes that funds will be found in the future to make the improvements this hut so badly needs. I am still standing for election to the Committee, and if successful, would like to have a floating-post should the A.G.M. agree, in order that I can assist in fund raising and long term planning for the BELFRY.  May I offer my successor every helping hand he/she needs!


Membership Secretary's Report

John Watson

This is my fourth year as membership secretary and with each year I naively hope that all members will pay their subs. promptly after the A.G.M. - the due date.

I cannot understand why a small minority but significant number of members cannot or will not pay on time, perhaps like a child the more you nag the more stubborn they become or perhaps they hope they can get away without paying.

All I know is that it takes a lot of hard work by the treasurer to keep the club solvent. Members would soon complain if they did not receive a regular B.B., a costly part of the yearly budget.  I expect and hope subs. will be the same as last year with the usual discount for payment before the end of December.  So all you late payers.  Do your club a favour, pay on time please.  You know it makes sense!

Tackle Master's Report

Mike Wilson

Hello tackle hoarders!!

Having never run a tackle store before, I decided to list the priorities in advance.  They were :- Clear out the store.  Clean up the inner sanctum.  Inventory all the equipment and eventually increase the number of ladders available.  Finally, start collecting weights and components for a drop test rig (for ropes).

All the above objectives have been achieved with the help of "Slug" who cleared out the inner sanctum with me and the "Jake & Blake" ladder team who finished off the ongoing kit and ladder making.  We managed to resurrect the Touralit kit and press it to our advantage.

At the beginning of the year we had 11 ladders and 4 ropes.  The reason for the ladder shortages is 5 ladders permanently not booked out - at one stage 7 not booked out!  There will be 5 more ladders available by October '92 and 2 more in reserve. The Cuthbert's ladder will be scrapped and the 1 SRT rope also.

Unfortunately the frost damage to the Belfry meant that my efforts have not always been directed to the tackle store.  Next year ladder making will continue until we have 20 in stock and hopefully the rope test rig will be constructed.

There will be a car boot sale of B.E.C. kit at the A.G.M.


Caving Secretary's Report

Jeff Price

St. Cuthbert's.

With the St. Cuthbert's report recently published, there has been an increase in trips, particularly guest trips.  I book one party per day in the cave so as not to overcrowd it.  These are mainly weekend trips and this year I'm using BEC leaders I didn't use last year.  To everyone who has taken trips a big thank you for making my job easier.  The overhaul of fixed tackle is more or less complete thanks to Zot.  Mike Wilson and several other people.

Stal repairs. sadly an ongoing job.  I've had problems obtaining a suitable cement, any suggestions???  I've a few ideas and Blitz and myself are going to try them ASAP.

A Cuthbert's leaders meeting will be arranged this coming year.


A meeting recently took place and a new/updatedset of rules will be published in the BB.  Rachel Gregory was granted £100 for China.  A report is on its way to the BB.

Cave Keys.

The Aggie key is for BEC members use only.  The Mendip cave keys are accessible with your hut key (in the same box as the tackle store key) and there is another set in the cupboard for non-BEC parties.  Please book all keys out in the key book and make sure everybody visiting Charterhouse caves has a permit - they are obtainable at the Belfry.

Cave Meets.

These are fairly well supported and I'm arranging next years meets now.  Let me know if you want anything booked.  A list will appear in the BB when dates are confirmed.  We are currently paid up with CNCC and the British Mountaineering Club.  Don't forget your discount when staying in BMC climbing/walking huts!


As usual there has been a wide range of club digs on Mendip.  Wigmore Swallet needs more work on it. Stock Hill's going good and there are numerous other digs.  Read your BB and also the club log book.

Away trips.

Sadly the PSM trip didn't involve any BEC members, maybe next year again.  We've had members in Cuba, Jamaica, Austria, Spain, France, etc. and Graham Johnson's Philippines report should be in the next BB.  Next Easter there's a USA trip planned. See "Mac" for details.


Honorary Secretary's Report

Martin Grass

Another hectic year in the club and a milestone in as much as we don't ask anymore when the St. Cuthbert's Report will be published but when will all copies be sold!  With this in mind we should all continue to push sales when and wherever we can.  Do you know a local bookshop that would like some copies? or some old caving friends. Every copy sold is another £3 nearer to paying off our debts.

The other milestone this year is the installation of central heating in the Belfry. Hopefully this will be working by the A.G.M.

Again the dinner will be at the Webbington.  Some people say this is too far to go or it's too smart.  Please, if you don't like the venue, find another and let me know.  I have visited nearly everywhere and very few venues cater for 160+ people.  I look forward to receiving your suggestions.

The Belfry is now looking in a reasonable state after much hard work by, as usual, a very small number of club members.  Unfortunately this year has seen a large increase in not just high spirits and "actions to excess" but vandalism and I do hope this is NOT a sign of the times but an isolated case which the club has stamped on or will stamp on.

I am prepared to stand for one more year if elected and I am certainly very pleased to see an election this year, the first for a few years.  Maybe, at last, members are becoming interested in who runs the club on their behalf.

Finally, we have held 11 committee meetings this year and attendance has been as follows: -

M Grass            9          N. Taylor           9
C Smart            9          V. Simmonds    5
M Wilson          10         R. Blake            7
J. Watson         9          G. Johnson        7
C.Harvey           9          J. Price             5
E.Humphreys    8          I. Caldwell         5


Librarian's Report


A relatively quiet year in the library - probably because most things are in order and under control. The place looks a bit more like a library now.  By the way, any hardware such as radiators, pumps, window frames, caving equipment, rucksacks and other non-library type stuff will be ejected to the Tackle Store. It's a library, not a warehouse.

Our pressing need is for one or two more cabinets, mainly to house the growing collection of reciprocal Club Journals.  Our reciprocal list is growing steadily and inter-club co-operation in quite rife, so we need somewhere to put them.  All these Journals, Newsletters etc. need tidying up and binding so when we get some spare cash this can be done.  At the same time, the mammoth job of cataloguing can be carried out.  I have not started cataloguing the Journals yet as it seems sensible to do this when they are being bound together to save duplication of effort.

On the book front, I have been quite selective.  I don't see the point of buying every book that comes on the market, with our limited funds.  The new Northern cave guides have been purchased, the new "Gouffre Jean-Bernard" book, the new "Darkness Beckons" and Richard Whitcombe's book on Mendip cave names.  A number of items have been kindly donated, such as some old Wessex Journals, a load of old transactions from the Cave Research Group, a Derbyshire Lead Mining Glossary and some old Shepton C.C. occasional papers.  Thanks to the donators.  The books have been catalogued for some time now and a computer print-out of our book collection (recently up-dated) hangs on the back of the library door.

A radiator has just appeared on the library wall.  I assume this means the Hut Engineer can dispense heater in due course, just to give us a bit more room.

As usual, the annual plea to return all books borrowed after reasonable time.  Our theft rate seems to have decreased a little but a number are still missing.

Richard & Snablet          where is "OVCC Pro. 13"?

Snablet                         where is "Caving Expeditions - BCRA"?

Tim Large                      have you got "Limestone & Caves of Mendip"?

Zot                                where is "SRT", "Dowsing for you"?!

? Williams                     have you got "Speleo Sportive PSM"?, "Descent of PSM"?

We have a computer in the library with a printer.  Jim Smart is custodian but I am sure he would let you use it, if you asked nicely.


BB Editor's Report

Ted Humphreys

Firstly I'd like to say a big thank you to all those who have contributed to the BB.  Without that select band there would be no BB's at all! Also thanks to J'Rat for his help with the distribution.

John Watson complains about late payers and so do I.  They play havoc with my mailing list!  I have to keep on file the particulars of all current members and of all those people who have been members since I became editor three or four years ago.  Some do slip through the net and receive BB's to which they are not entitled.

I had hoped to give up the job this year as I thought it about time someone else had a go. Unfortunately no volunteer was found by the time the voting slips were done so muggins may have to soldier on bravely! However, since then I have had offers of help from Rob Harper and from Alan Turner so things could be looking up. I think the problem is that the editor, these days, needs not only the time and the inclination but also a word processor, printer and mailing list facility.  After all, who would volunteer to write out between 120 and 140 addresses which change every time depending on which BB's J'Rat has managed to hand out.

Cavers Electronic Mail

Rob Harper

For anyone with access to a computer, modem and the appropriate software there is an electronic mail network for cavers based in the USA.

Besides having a fairly extensive set of archives (over 4000 articles) there is a cavers bulletin board where requests for information, local contacts, equipment advice etc. can be posted.

It is accessed via INTERNET which apparently can take up to 2 days to get a message through but so far I have had replies within half-an-hour.

If you wish to join then send some details of yourself and your own e-mail number to:-

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



If you wish to know a little more then leave a message for John Sutter on :-

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Finedon Iron Stone Mines

Clive Betts

It is a little known fact that beneath the green fields of this part of Northamptonshire are several extensive stone mines, which total several miles of passageway.  Alan Downton, Dave Bridges and myself finally found the exact location of one of the obscure entrances in the early part of 1992.

The information we had received regarding the site was that the mine was completely flooded and exploration would require diving equipment.  Our first visit therefore involved Dave and Clive supporting Alan on an initial dive to ascertain the exact nature of the site and also to see if there was any future here.

As Alan sorted his kit out at the roadside one of the locals could contain his curiosity no longer, which was understandable as it is not often you see someone put on a wet suit in the middle of a housing estate and then produce assorted diving kit from the boot of the car.

After the expected inquisitions from our woolly hatted acquaintance we got some interesting information about the area.

The mines themselves had closed at the end of the fifties and as far as our inquisitor knew, the only time anyone had been in was when two children had got themselves lost for a couple of days.  They were found when one of the old miners was called in to search for them as there was a danger of other "rescuers" needing to be rescued because of the complexity of the site.

When we eventually got to the entrance, Clive had a quick look inside while Alan kitted up, expecting to see flooded tunnels extending into the distance.

Alan was most disappointed when a voice drifting up from the depths of the earth told him that a pair of wellies would be more suitable than a wet suit.

What we actually had was a passageway approximately four metres wide and 2.5 metres high with about a foot to 18 inches of water in the bottom with some fairly horrendous looking timber supports.  Alan and Dave went for a paddle in water which was later described as "F ... ing freezing".

On their return after approximately 15 minutes their description of the length of passage explored was much the same as the entrance tunnel but the potential for further exploration was enormous.  As none of us had any sensible kit for exploring in the conditions (eg semi dry-suits get a bit warm without water) it was decided to return at a later date with some sensible kit.

When the later date came, we were extremely disappointed to discover that someone had decided to block all the entrances with a J.C.B ... or had they?  Another possible entrance was noted in the base of the cliff face and we intend to have a look at a later date but with a slightly lower profile next time to avoid undue attention which we guess was the probable reason for the J.C.B. activities.


A Couple Of Small Caves In Scotland

Rob Harper

In May of 1992 Helen and I decided to spend 2 weeks walking in Knoydart in Northwest Scotland hoping against hope that we would be ahead of the midge season.

No such luck!  Not only midges but hordes of D of E expedition parties trampling all over the landscape.  So we retreated to Pean-Meachan, the bothy on the Ardnish peninsula just south of Mallaig for three days.

Whilst wandering around we found two small caves at an abandoned crofting village - Piort an t-Sluicht, (NGR 696813).  As wide open caves these had obviously been explored before and the larger had some old drystone walling to indicate that the original crofters had probably used it as a shelter for their animals.  However we cannot find any reference to these caves in the literature so herewith a short description.

The old crofting village is one of many on the peninsula and lies at the mouth of a small stream at the end of a long deep valley.  Apart from the ruins of the crofts there are the remains of an old jetty reaching out into the sheltered bay which opens into the Sound of Sleat a reminder of the once-thriving fishing industry hereabouts.

The first cave is situated at the head of a small gorge on the true left hand side of the valley approximately level with the inland limits of the shingle beach.  It is a single inclined rift of varying height for much of its length eventually closing down to a small tube at the furthest point, (approximately 30 to 40 m).  The floor is of rounded cobbles which taken with the marshy area outside the entrance indicates that there might have been an active stream flowing through the cave at some time.  The rock is of a dark brown to black colour and differs markedly from the igneous rocks, (granite?) which make up the rest of the peninsula.

The second cave (NGR - as above) is located about 3m higher than the first and approximately 10m down valley.  Its small entrance opens out into a short rift about 17m in length which becomes too tight at the far end.  There are no signs of an active streamway but a fairly steady seepage down the left wall.

A rough survey (not included here) was done using a handheld "Silva" hill walking compass, the inclination was guesstimated and distance assessed by body lengths.

We spent a little while ferreting around in the area but found little else apart from small sea caves.


Caption    Petition

Write a caption for the very topical cave cartoon by REG  appears on the next page.

Win a Cavers Calendar 1993.

"Brewed in the Tackle Shed"

3 calendars to the 3 best entries.

Please send your entries to the editor who will pass them on to REG for adjudication.  The winners and their entries will be published in the Christmas BB.