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To All Members & Friends

There will be held at Valence, in the Rhone Valley, from 22nd to 26th ,August 1949 an international Speleological meeting, with, it is hoped, representatives from all the "Caving minded" countries in attendance.  There will be, to quote:-" Sessions of work, festivities, and excursions" and the week will no doubt similarly organised to that which I spent in Valence in 1948.

The B.E.C, is going to send as large a party as possible to this meeting and those who are interested are asked to send their names to Hon. Sec. By the end of the month (May) so that the preliminary details may be put in hand.

This trip will cost in the region of £20, this figure being based on the expenses incurred last year. This includes the journey from Victoria to Valence and back, but not from your home to London. The fare from London back to London being about £8/15/- (unless B.R. raise the fares). Subject to the party being at least 20 we can I believe obtain a reduction on the fares over the French Railways.

The party will leave Victoria by the morning boat train on Sat. 20th, Aug. and will probably leave Valence on the return journey on the evening of 27th. Aug.

The detailed programme will be circulated to those who have sent In their names as soon as it is received.

The Belfry

Work is going on apace at the new Belfry. Although there seems to have been little actual work done a considerable amount of planning and organising has been done with the result that, we hope to have made the hut really habitable in a few more weeks.

Fatal Accident at Wookey Hole

It is with the deepest regret that we have to report the death of Frogman Gordon Marriot during operations with the Cave Diving Group at Wookey Hole. Although not a member of the Bristol Exploration Club, he will be greatly missed by those members who comprise the Somerset section of the C.D.G., and also those others who met him at the Belfry and listened to his tales of adventure underwater.

It was Marriot’s second trip to Wookey Hole, and his underwater time of 500 hours put the C.D.G. members to shame.

He was returning from the recently discovered 9th Chamber when he was missed; Bob Davies who was following him to base immediately returned in search of him, although his own Oxygen was almost exhausted, and was immediately followed by Don Coase. Graham Balcombe followed shortly afterwards and Marriot was found lying on the bottom. He was taken to an emergency platform in the sixth Chamber and artificial respiration was applied for 1½ hours without avail.

Marriot lost his life because his supply of oxygen, due to a faulty flow meter became exhausted. The equipment that he used was his own property and not the property of the C.D.G.

At the inquest hold in Wells the jury returned a verdict that death was due to anoxaemia, accidentally sustained during diving operations when his oxygen became exhausted due to a fault in the test pressure gauge and added a rider that "all divers, including guest divers should be subjected to the same equipment tests as the members of the Diving Group”.

The party was complimented by the police at the time and at the inquest the way operations were conducted for the rescue of the lost diver. The Bristol Exploration Club extends its deepest sympathy to Marriot’s wife and family in their bereavement.

The Belfry

Work us going on apace at the new Belfry. Although there seems to have been little actual work done a considerable amount of planning and organising has been done with the result that, we hope to have made the hut really habitable in a few more weeks.

Some French Caving Techniques

By Pongo Wallis

I have recently been reading a French Caving Book - 'Underground Climbs" by Pierre Chavalier, being an account of the exploration of the worlds deepest cave (2150 ft) in the Dent de Crolles system near Grenoble. It occurs to me that although the majority of the techniques worked out by Chevalier and his friends are not of great use in this country, they may none the less be of interest.

Light-weight ladder, consisting of steel rope sidelines and light alloy rings were of course used. This is standard French practice, but it is essential under these circumstances in any case, as falrly small parties would not otherwise have been able to carry the considerable lengths of ladder needed. In general, ladders were tethered to pitons hammered into suitable cracks, or grouted into holes drilled in the rock. This of course saved carrying tethering ropes considerable distances through small passages.

A considerable part of the system had to be climbed from the bottom upwards.  As rock-climbing was impossible, a 50ft. long pole was constructed, originally using 3 ft, sections of iron piping, but later using light alloy.  This could be carried to the bottom of a pitch erected, a ladder tied to the top, and propped against the vertical.  As long as a series of suitably large ledges at not more than 50ft. intervals were available, a sort of staircase could be worked by a man climbing up the ladder and then drawing the pole up after him and repeating the operation.  This was naturally a slow and tedious business, but it did make otherwise impossible climbs possible.  Once a pitch had been climbed in this manner a piton and pulley were fixed at the top.  A rope, (generally steel) was then passed through the pulley and left double down the length of the pot.  On subsequent visits a ladder need only be fixed to one end of the rope; by hauling on the other end the pitch was laddered.

At one stage of the exploration, it was necessary to know exactly where the end of a passage (over half a mile long) was in respect to the surface topography, in order that it might be reached by digging from the surface. Under the difficult conditions prevailing in the passage (a small really fit party took 8 hrs. to get along it), a survey was insufficiently accurate. A radio direction-finding method was employed - a magneto and length of wire as aerial were taken down to the end of the passage, and at fixed times, a party on the surface listened for the crackle of the magneto on a radio with a loop aerial. Quite accurate directions could be established in this way, even through 120 feet of limestone.

Incidentally, Chevalier's formula for estimating the depth of a pot may come in useful sometime. If a medium sized stone is thrown down, and the sound of its fall is heard t secs. after letting go, the depth, d is given by:-

d = 115 plus 80(t - 3) feet.

I hope that a translation of Chevalier's exceptionally interesting book will eventually appear in the Club Library.


Caving in , Series 1.

by Roger W.C. Cantle,

Report of a visit to the limestone area around Wuppertal.

Iserlohn.  At the entrance to the town the “Decherhole lies. It is purely a show cave but shows some very interesting formations.  The cave was opened by railway workers in 1868; whilst cutting a new track through the limestone cliff on the eastern side of the town

The Cave consists of about sixteen grottos, and is about 400 meters long.  The temperature is 59.o F. summer and winter. Numerous skeletons of various animals have been found in the clay deposits in many places, in the cave.  Its name is derived from the surveyor Dechen frcn Bonn.

The caves contains some really excellent formations among which are many good curtains.  Some of the finest '''Organ Pipes" I have seen were found in the fourth chamber named "Organ Cave".

In the tenth grotto called “Palamangrotte”, can be found a very fine formation from which the Grotto gets its name.  Cave crystals can be found in the twelfth grotto in small pools. Although the cave is a show cave it has been laid out quite cleverly and the lighting is good,  I would like to add that although most cavers walk around a show cave with their noses in the air, I was quite thrilled to find that there are other "grottes” in the area and that further exploration is definitely warranted.

Editor's note.

Roger enclosed a number of photographs with this short article, they are available at H.Q., should anyone desire to see them.; Parts of this article were translated from the German Guide Book, and Roger apologised for the dis-continuity of it.. Anyone who can translate even one word of Gothic Type, in my estimation should be presented with a medal as big as a soup plate.

Rhodesian Caves

We have received the following from Brian Coase, now in Northern Rhodesia:-

Extracts from Exhibit Notices in the Livingstone-Rhodes Memorial Museum, Livingstone. Northern--

The Broken Hill Cave,

It was in this historic cave, situated on the Broken Hill mine, that in 1881 was found remains of a new, extremely interesting type of man, later as Homo Rhodesienis.

The mine was at that tine working the lead and systematically basting away a Kopjie known as No.2 Kopjie, in which was a cave long known to contain fossilised bones of animals and Stone Implements.

The deposits in this cave had become impregnated with zinc in its upper levels, and in its lower with lead.  It was the latter one that was required, the zinc impregnated material was placed on dumps for use at a later date.

It was while blasting was taking place in the lower levels that the skull together with a complete shin bone, two ends of a thigh bone and a fragment of pelvis were found 90 feet below the cave floor.

Owing to the difficulties in obtaining accurate geological evidence the age and status of the skull is still a subject of dispute. In it's general features, heavy eyebrow reiges, absence of forehead, the great size of the eye sockets, the mouth and, brain capacity, it closely resembles Neanderthal skulls of Europe but differs from them in being pivoted more centrally on the neck. The man must therefore have carried himself more upright than the Neanderthal man and, largely on this account, he is considered to be a distinct species, Homo Rhodesiensis.

The Mumbwa Caves

These caves are situated about three miles S.W. of the Government station at Mumbwa, N.W. of Lusaka, in two outcrops of limestone which stand out from the flat plain around. Cliffs at the base of which are the caves rise to a height of 70 to 80 feet vertically.

The caves are three in number besides several rock shelters showing evidence of having been lived in. Two of the .caves have been excavated and have yielded evidence of three distinct phases of human occupation. After a long period during which the caves were under water and a layer of red clay was deposited, they were occupied by a people who made thin leaf shaped arrow and spear heads showing them to be typical of the people responsible for what is called the Rhodesian Stillbay culture. These people appear to have inhabited the caves for a considerable length of time as the deposit of red earth containing their tools was as much as 4ft. 6 inches deep.

In the layer above this was found the remains of a second stone age culture, characterised by small microlithic tools, crescentic in form, which were used as barbs for arrows as well as blades with a blunted back which were used as knives.

The diet of these people consisted mainly of wart-hog, zebra and various species of buck including Eland, from which it is adduced that considerable skill in hunting had been attained. They also knew how to grind and polish stone. Four rather crudely polish axes have been found and broken fragments of digging stick weights were also probably of their manufacture.  It is interesting that actual remains of the men themselves have been found, showing them to have probably been an early type of bushman.

The third phase occurred when the caves were occupied by bushmen at a comparatively recent date.

From The Hon. See's Postbag.

From Brian Coase in Chingola, N. Rhodesia.

—— This area is well wooded, but I have noticed outcrops of limestone amongst the trees which will bear examination as the opportunity occurs. I am sure there would be plenty of scope for speleologists out here. Whilst passing through the Union and I noticed that the plains and desert were dotted peculiarly alike flat topped hills. It looked like sand stone and I also observed that the strata was exactly horizontal which together with rain and wind erosion would presumably account for the shape.

The geology of the Victoria Falls is very interesting, they having been formed where basalt and sandstone meet. ---------

Hon Sec has had a letter from John Adam and one from John Hull in which they each bemoan their fate. John Hull is on the shores of the Great Bitter Lake and John Adams is in the Navy. Both send their “love” to the club and its members,

From Mrs. F. Moriarty of Meer Cottage Bude.

------- I bought this house 30 years ago and I was told the exit to the passage was in the corner of the garden--------

(the Passage she referred to is the other end of the Smugglers' Cave the Club are excavating at Bude. Ed,)

Cave Research Group.

The CRG General Meeting will be held at Cardiff on 7th May in the National Museum of Wales.  Will all those requiring accommodation please write to J. Davies, 32 Heol-y-Deri, Rhiwbina,  Cardiff at once.  Further particulars of this Meeting can be obtained from Hon. Sec..

Important Notice for London Members

The Club has had a very generous offer from Dr, (Miss) CM, Rendell, of Poplar Hospital, East Dock Road, London E.14. (Telephone East 1876).  She will be travelling to Bristol and returning to London, about one weekend a month.  She will be delighted to fill her car with anyone who would like to come down for the weekend.  Please ring Miss Rendell for further information. Her brother, Oswald Rendell is already known to a large number of his fellow members.

London Section News

A meeting of the London Section was held on 6th March and was well attended. It was decided that the swallets at Water End be investigated further and that all local information about them be gathered.

It was too early to make any definite plans for field work but among the items discussed was Climbing on the sandstone outcrops at Tunbridge Wells and the Group Meet at the Belfry In July.  The first depends on the weather and arrangements will be made by telephone. The trip to Mendip will be from about 11th July until after the August Bank Holiday. Each coming as he or she is able.

There will be no organised program except that the Stoke Lane Survey will be proceeded with and that some digging will be done. John Shorthose says that any suggestions about digging will be welcomed. Also they will be chances to see any of the local types who may be enjoying a spot of leave around that time.

Club Badges

Older members will recall that from time to time the question of small lapel badges for the club have been discussed and turned down on the grounds of cost. We have however in the last few weeks obtained a very reasonable quotation for these badges. They would be in black and silver and would include Bertie Bat our emblem. The cost would be about 2/6. We should be glad if those who would like one would write to the Hon Sec and let him know, so that we see if the expenditure involved would be justified. Send no Money. Just a P.C. to say you would like one if we are able to proceed with the scheme.

List of Members 1949 no. 1

Each Year our list of members alters and extends. The lists printed last year are already out of date. The Hon. Sec is continually receiving letters asking for addresses and the following list and those that will appear in subsequent issues are to help those who require them.

T.H, Stanbury        Hon Sec. 74, Redcatch Road. Knowle, Bristol 4
W.J. Shorthose      Hon Sec. London Section,  7 Marius Mansions, Rowfant Road, Balham, London.S.W.17.
D.H. Hasell,           Hon. Editor Belfry Bulletin, 1 Stoke Hill Cottage, Chew Stoke, Somerset
R. Wallace            32. Springleaze, Knowle, Bristol.4
J.V. Morris             Ye Olde Jolly Sailor Inn, Teignmouth. Devon
J.Beer                   3 Westfield Place, Clifton, Bristol
S.C.W Herman      34 Jubilee Road, Knowle, Bristol,4
R.J. Bagsbaw        11 Hillcrest, Knowle, Bristol,4.  (Life Member).
G.H. Fenn             29 Kinsale Road, Knowle, Bristol 4
L.Peters                21, Melbury Road, Knowle, Bristol, 4
J.C. Weekes          376 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4
R. Woodbridge       384 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4
A.E. Baxter           92, Reditch Road, Knowle, Bristol.4
E. Knight               46. Grafton Street, St. Philips Marsh, Bristol
R. Brain                 10. Weston Ave., Cossham Road, St, George, Bristol 5
Mrs. I.M. Stanbury (Hon, Life Member) 74 Redcatch Road, Bristol4
C.H. Kenney          Vicars Close, Wells, Somerset
A.C. Johnson         43. The Crescent, Henleaze, Bristol
J.D. Pain               "Bibury", Old West Town Lane, Brislington, Bristol 4
D.A. Coase            13 Headington Road, Wandsworth, London.S.W.18.