This is the first number of our Second Volume of the BB.  I think that we have fulfilled our purpose in bringing out the B.E.C. Mag., and I hope in 1948 to have a much greater number of contributions from Members.

So, to all Members of the B.E.C, Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year's Caving.


Minutes of 1947 Annual General Meeting

Minutes of 1947 Annual General Meeting held at 74.Redcatch Road, Bristol 4 on Saturday, November 29th.

Meeting opened at 6:35 p.m. there being present:-

T.H. Stanbury, Mr.& Mrs. Tompsett, A. Needs, G. Fenn, M. Hannam, W. Hucker, G.T. Lucy, J.A. Dwyer, J.V. Morris, D.A. Coase, A. Johnson, J.C. Weekes, J.Pidyard, Miss M. Thomas, P. Wallace, J.D. Pain, A.M. Innes, S.C.W. Herman, P.A.E. Stewart, Miss P. Richards, F.A. Edwards.

R.A. Setterington was representing B.E.C. at the C.R.G. Annual General Meeting and arrived at this (BEC) one at its (CRG) close.

It was proposed by J.C. Weekes that D.A.Coase be elected Chairman for the meeting. This was seconded by J.A. Dwyer and carried.

The 1947 Committee having resigned, the following were elected to represent the club in 1948:-

T.H. Stanbury,   (Hon. Sec.& Hon. Treas.)
D.H. Hasell,       (Hon. Editor, B.B.)
D.A.Coase,       (Hut Warden & Hon. Equip. Officer)
A.M. Innes,       (Hon. Librarian)
J.C. Weekes.

Hon Sec, asked if he might have an assistant Sec. appointed for such routine work as making up BBs etc.; this was agreed to and J.C. Weekes, was appointed to the job.

Hon Secretary’s Report

Hon. Sec reported that:- Owing to the colossal number of small trips taking place, no accurate records could be kept as in previous years, but 42 large scale trips have been organised, and in these, 536 persons went underground. Besides these, there were two and sometimes three smaller trips every weekend.

The year has brought the important discovery of Lower Stoke Lane, of Brownes Hole, entered a fortnight ago, and the initial penetration of Withybrook Swallet. A good week's sport was had in Derbyshire, and several weekends in , together with one in Cornwall, were greatly enjoyed by all concerned.

The Club Library, thanks to the generosity of various persons, has been greatly extended and now boasts of 195 volumes of various kinds. No opportunities have been missed to purchase books suitable for inclusion.

(These are the main and most interesting items from the Hon. Sec's Report. Space will not allow his complete report to be printed, or a complete itemised Financial Report. These may be inspected at Redcatch Road. Ed.).

Arising from Hon. Sec's. Report:-  D.A.Coase suggested that a loose leaf log book be used after January 1st next. This was agreed to by all.

Hon. Treasurer’s Report

During 1947 the Club income was;- 79/7/8
Whilst expenditure was:-                 69/16/6½,

Arising from Hon. Treas. Report:- D.A.Coase proposed that the, 1/- sleeping fee for the Belfry, should cover fuel for the fire as well as for lighting and cooking. This was seconded by S.C.W. Herman and carried.

Hut harden and Hon. Equipment Officer's Report

Hut harden and Hon. Equipment Officer's Report: The major item in this report is the Belfry, which has certainly proved its worth. The erection of the Belfry last winter was done under conditions of considerable difficulty in the midst of blizzards etc., but on February 1st it was officially opened for sleeping.  The Hut is now weather tight, although one gale threatened to remove it entirely.  A large part of the main hut is now lined inside, and the electric lighting has been installed.

The generator is at the moment fitted in the "married quarters", and although a lean-to has been constructed at the back for it, it is proposed to leave it where it is for the winter.  The lean-to being used meanwhile for storing firewood, timber, etc.

Unfortunately we have erected the Belfry rather near the farmhouse with the result that we have received one or two complaints about noise late at night and I would stress the importance to all that ALL unnecessary noise is taboo after 10p.m. and that anyone entering the lane with M/T after this time should be as quiet as possible.

The major source of difficulty has been the emptying of the detailer.  I can’t order anyone to do it, or rather enforce the order, I can only appeal to them.

Another point is cleaning up the Belfry. This is done by the game old regulars, and although they use the place more often than the others it is time that some of the other perishers did their share.

Now for some facts end figures. Since December 1st 1946, the Belfry has slept altogether a total of over 400 members, 50 visitors, and 30 members of B.C.C., a total of well over 500.  The Hon. Treas. has already given you the figures for the Belfry a/c, but I would remind you that in just a year the Belfry has paid for itself and shows a profit of 4/6/-.  To date the Belfry has cost 37/15/-.

One trouble with the Hut is that at times it is too small. At August Bank Holiday, we had 17 people sleeping in the Belfry and several more had to go to main’s Barn at Priddy. Although the hut will sleep 12 in comparative comfort, the room available for living in is rather cramped with more than 6 or 8.

Equipment.  The tackle has periodically been tested, and the two 35 ft. ladders we took over from the B.C.C. have been scrapped.  The rungs have been salvaged and one ladder has been made up with new ropes.  The other one has been made up but has not yet been completed.  Two ropes, a 40 and a 60 ft., have been scrapped as well.  The 40 ft. dural. ladder is reported to have frayed on one wire, but is still down Stoke Lane together with a 20ft. ladder, a 60 ft. rope and some tools.  Anyone feeling energetic can retrieve these and return them to the Belfry.

Digging implements have been in great demand this year, and the small shovels made by Les Peters proved very effective.  A few more large spades, a pick-axe, and a bucket should be useful however.

The Belfry is now fairly well stocked with equipment although with regard to sleeping gear, a few more blankets, and mattresses would be useful.  Also another Primus, half-a-dozen knives, and especially a water container, would prove their worth.


Arising from above:-  J.C. Weekes questioned the desirability of (a) running about nude in the vicinity of the Belfry, (b) Drunkenness, (c) Questionable behaviour.  After lengthy discussion it was declared, that there should be a general tightening up of behaviour generally.  R. Wallace proposed that the matter be reviewed at the end of three months by the Committee.  This was seconded by Mrs. Tompsett and carried.

J.C. Weekes proposed that a Swear Box be instituted, the fine imposed to be 1d. per word, "household language” excepted, The box to come into operation on January 1st, and the proceeds, if any, to go to Wells' Hospital.  After much hilarious discussion as to what was meant by "Household Language', the motion was seconded by G. Fenn and carried.

R.A. Setterington proposed that the following be entered in the minutes:- “That no member of B.E.C. Committee can serve on the governing body of any other Cave Club”!

An amendment by J.M. Tompsott that:- “No B.E.C. Committee member may be on the Committee of, or hold any official position in any other Caving Club at the same time, without the permission of the Committee of the B.E.C.” was seconded by J.C. Weekes and carried.

Omission from Rule Sheet. Hon. Sec. proposed, in view of the agreement at the 1946 A.G.M. not to change the Rule sheet for 3 years, that the rules omitted be left out permanently, and that the Annual Subs become due on the anniversary of the member's date of joining. This was seconded by S.C.W. Herman, and carried unanimously.

The principle of the B.E.C. having a Banking account was discussed and agreed to by the meeting, the details to be worked out by the Committee, This was proposed by J.C. Weekes, seconded by Mrs. Tompsett, and carried unanimously.

Hon. Sec. Presented to Mr. D.A. Coase, the membership card for 1940 won by him in the BB X-word competition.

J.V. Morris told the meeting that the Devon Speleo Society have given an open invitation to the Club to use their HQ etc whenever in the area.  A proviso being, that an adequate notice be given of such trips.  Hon. Sec. asked Mr. Morris to convey the thanks of B.E.C. to D.S.S. and to tell them that of course we are delighted to offer similar facilities to D.S.S. whenever they should be on Mendip.

A resume of the C.R.G. A.G.M. was then given by R. Setterington, after which the meeting broke up.

Although the shortage of fats, etc. made the usual "after A.G.M." feed impossible, cake etc, was consumed in large quantities.

The thanks of the club are due to the work done by the lady members and especially to Hon.  Secs.’s wife who had the arranging of the room and also the clearing up to see to.

At our Belfry on the Hill

The following outburst was probably caused by the remarks at the A.G.M. concerning Belfry Behaviour. (Possibly there are other causes).

Rather obviously to be sung to the tune of "Much Binding in the Marsh".

At our Belfry on the Hill,
The Purity campaign has really started.
At our Belfry on the hill,
From swearlng and bad manners we've departed,
We're fixing up a Swear Box on the table by the wall,
And Don must pay a shilling if he lets his fig-leaf fall,
In case the Bristol Brownies should decide to pay a call
At our Belfry on the Hill.

At our Belfry on the Hill,
Politeness is the order of the day there.
At our Belfry on the Hill,
In fact It's really quite a strain to stay there.
Our dear old maiden aunties couldn't blush at what is said,
And fairy tales and fables are the only stories read,
At night we say our prayers and then we toddle off to bed,
At our Belfry on the Hill.

At our Belfry on the Hill,
We used to talk of motor-bikes and caving,
At our Belfry on the Hill,
But now we're concentrating on behaving,
You can bring your little sister and your favourite blonde up too,
They wouldn't mind our language, but they mightn't like our stew,
But if they start complaining, well, they know what they can do,
At our Belfry on the Hill.

At our Belfry on the Hill,
We're sure you'll like our tablecloth and flowers.
At our Belfry on the Hill
We sit and knit to pass away the hours.
Quite early Sunday mornings we go off to church in twos,
But first we clean our teeth and comb our hair and shine our shoes,
And if we're offered pints of beer, we, graciously refuse,
At our Belfry on the Hill.


Eastern Mendip - The Discovery of Withybrook Cave.

By P.M. Browne

Withybrook Swallet, in the hamlet of Withybrook, is a walled in depression upon the North side of the main road between Stoke Lane and Oakhill, about half a mile from Stoke. The stream which is usually flowing in to the swallet is conveyed under the road in two concrete pipes.

Discovery and Exploration.

The system was opened by Messrs. P.M. &.L.M. Browne with Mr. Sam Treasure acting as Engineer.  A sloping shaf, some 8ft. in depth, was excavated through sand, gravel and boulders, until on September 10th 1947, the first open passage was struck.  Beyond, the two explorers could see their goal, made inaccessible merely by one massive rock, wedged across the way.

Many hours were spent in a vain attempt to force a way through, but finally it was decided to clear the obstruction by blasting.

On September 10th two plugs of explosive were used on the obstinate boulder, which fell with a crash into the chamber beyond - Withybrook Cave was open!  Great flakes of shattered limestone had to be cleared from the jagged opening before the cavern could be entered, but at last the discoverers crept through, and on into the unknown.

Description of the Cave.

Beyond the bottom of the entrance shaft, a sloping rift chamber about 14ft. long, 5ft. wide and 8ft. high with a very unstable, roof, goes off to the East.  Suddenly a stream course appears and the whole system begins to follow the dip of the strata, running North, at an angle of about 45 degrees for about 40ft.  Here the way becomes choked with mud and boulders.  Above the sink, a promising, but at present inaccessible, passage leads away.  Another interesting passage, running West for 20ft., terminates in to small rift chambers.  The second of these runs due South.

Geology and Water.

Geologically speaking this small system is very interesting, for inside it is possible to study the curious system of intersecting rifts and bedding planes, of which the whole district seems to consists.

Although inaccessible to man this ' fissure system' must hold many hundreds of gallons of water, (in wet seasons) at a high pressure.  The stream, which enters the swallet, I believe to unite with the waters of Stoke Lane Slocker and to reappear at St. Dunstan's Well some distance below.

P.M.B. 1947.

Caving in Palestine

Yes, believe it or not, in spite of the troubles in the Holy Land, The heat, and the apparent impossibility of finding a suitable 'orid 'ole, a BEC member stationed with the Army near Haifa has been successful in discovering a cave.  So Greetings to Terry White, and may he soon be wallowing in the cooling waters of Mendip!!  Below are extracts from his letter giving a description of his tour through the Goat shelters of Palestine.

'We are stationed in a camp just outside of Haifa, and life at the moment is not too bad.  At the back of the Camp there is a small range of hills.  I have been over them many times, but up till November I have found nothing startling in the way of caves.  There are numerous small holes dotted here and there, but none of these call for a prolonged stay, for at some time or other they have been inhabited by goats, and that speaks for itself.

One cave did turn out to be a little interesting though.  The entrance of this one must have been too small for the goats to get in, for we found no traces of them whatever.  The first thirty yards we did crawling on our stomachs.  The roof then rose until we were able to stand upright.  Taking a left and then a right turn, we walked until we were brought up by a very narrow passage.  Through the passage we came to a small cavern, its floor littered with well gnawed bones, evidence that animals had once lived there.  The thought that the animal, or animals, might still be lurking in the rear of the cave, made us sweat a little more. I forgot to mention that the cave was very hot, the hottest cave I have ever been in.

In the left hand corner of the cavern was another small passage, bearing around to the left.  Continuing on through we came upon another cavern the same size as the last one, and much to our relief it was devoid of any living creatures, although there were plenty of bones to show they had been, none human, thank goodness.

Whilst in here we noticed a tight squeeze, through which we emerged to find ourselves by the entrance again. I was disappointed by the finish, but we were lucky to find a cave at all, especially in these regions. The formations in the cave surprised me, although very poor by our standards.  I did not expect to see any with such a dry climate.  I could not form an opinion as to the type of rock it was, but it looked to me to be of a volcanic nature".

The elephant or so it seems.

An elephant escaped from the Bristol Zoo last week unnoticed by the Keeper.  A woman in Clifton, who had never seen an elephant before, discovered the animal in her garden.  She rang up the police and said:- "Hello, There is a strange animal in my garden, and its pulling up all my flowers with its tail".  Is that so, Madam? Then what is it doing with them?" "You wouldn't believe me if I told you", she answered.

Adventures of the Menace. Episode 2.

Pridhamsleigh Cave. South Devon.

We started out for the cave at the ungodly hour of 0930 hours, in pouring rain.  I had been told that it was a very muddy cave, but when I saw the large clean entrance I began to doubt it, not for long, however, for it soon dwindled down to a filthy 'ole something like the upper ox-bow in Stoke Lane, and we quickly became plastered from head to foot.  On making some choice remarks about the cave in general, Squeek said "Oh, you haven’t seen anything yet, wait till you see the Deep Well".  The Deep Well was what we intended to cross, Imagine a high rift with 30ft. of water in the bottom. 21ft. long and just too wide to chimney, there you have the Deep Well.

Squeek said "Well, what do you think of it?" I Said, "Personally I don't, but you can only die once". No, I didn't fall in (pity Ed.) but by becoming a contortionist, I got safely across. From there we pressed on regardless, until we came to the so-called end, a sump, with deep water.  I was just making up my mind to dive it when Frank pointed out a hole up in the roof.  So up I went, and managed to get through to the other side of the sump.  I carried on chimneying till I found myself in a pot above another sump, with the passage clearly continuing about two feet under the water, which was about 20ft. deep.

Unfortunately as I was climbing down to get a closer look I slipped and fell head first into the water.  I thought I would freeze to death and even my language didn't warm the water up.  The bind was that I could not climb back and had to swim back through the sump. All the others could do when I surfaced was laugh.  From there we took a high level route which we found back to the Deep Well, re-crossed it and carried on to the lake. It was not bad as lakes go, and quite impressive, it is 60ft. deep in the middle.  Here accident No.2 happened.  We decided to take some photos, and trying to light the, flash powder I must have touched it directly with the candle. All I knew was that there was a loud bang and I was blind for the next half hour.

After that I staggered out behind the rest, and arrived at the surface after six hours underground.

We then strolled down through the village and were met by cries "SPIVS", from the local inhabitants, so we beat a hasty retreat to the hut.


Further List of Publications available in the BEC Library

Earlier list appeared in BB 3 & 6


Pennine Underground                            N. Thornber.
Cave Science No 2                                BSA


List of Ancient Monuments.                   H.M.S.O.


The Astronomical Horizon                      Sir J. Jeans.


Log of the Fortune                                 T Lindley
Life and explorations of Dr Livingstone
A scamper through mercie                     T.S. Hudson
The Great gold Lands of South Africa      S. Haver
S.W. Shetland
Beautiful Britain

Local Interest

History of Clifton Suspension Bridge
A Short history of Malmsbury                 N. Piddick.


Legends and Stories of Ireland
River Legends                                       R. Fargesson
Summer Time in the Country                  R. Willmott
Manual of Botany                                  P. Brown
Legs and Wings                                    T. Wood
The Common Objects-of the Sea Shore
The Fisheries of the World
Popular Scientific Recreations.
Pictorial Chronicle of the Mighty Deep


The Food of the Gods                            H.G. Wells