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Further Exploration of the Magpie Mine, Derbyshire.

By R.M. Wallis.

In September 1950 I had occasion to report on a visit to the Magpie Mine near Bakewell.  A second visit which I made recently has served to confirm some of the observations which were made before and to make others.

On this occasion I was accompanied by John Pitts.  Les Thompson was to have come up, but discretion apparently proved &c.  Anyway, he didn’t turn up.  Forewarned is fore-armed, they say, so this time we wore as little as possible for the first (wet) part of the trip and carried dry trousers etc. to put on after the worst was over.  We observed in 1950 that the water was cold.  I can confirm this.  I know what it must be like walking about without any feet.  Those who still have the relative B.B. will be able to discover that one enters the mine via the back door (or, maybe, main drain) passing a number of Danger notices &c.  The Danger notice is still there, but the iron-work of rails and so on has now been removed so one steps straight into the water without any preamble.  The ‘Sough’ (drainage tunnel) is artificial all the way and is roughly square section about 8ft. each way, though it varies a bit.  It is also roughly straight though it wobbles about from side to side.  The depth of water varies but at most it is just about waist deep, but it is also clear and the surface so smooth (despite a considerable current) that there was not the slightest difficulty in seeing every detail on the bottom.  We saw a number of fish up to about ¼ mile from the entrance -- possibly trout, and up to about ½lb. in weight.  They seemed to be quite normal, but very tame.  They were mostly swimming head to stream and just maintaining their position and only swam a yard or two when disturbed by our legs.

Most of the water comes in via cross joints, though these are small and few in number.  They are all phreatic joints, the water gushing out on both side of the passage, sometimes under quite a pressure.

Our dining room of four years ago seemed rather changed, so we pressed on a bit further and came upon some apparently quite recently laid drain-pipes, half covered with ‘deads’.  There was only a short length of these and then we went on beside the water on a raised path, where we tried some voice carrying trials.  The walls are fairly smooth, but the limit of intelligibility seemed to be about 75 yards.  The sound was still quite loud at 100 yards but it was so muffled as to be useless.  After going some way along here we came to a wall built up right across the passage but with a small door in it.  We got through, climbed up a couple of short ladders in quite good condition and were immediately in the main mine gallery which extended in both directions.  We explored to the end in one direction (about ¼ mile) and had our lunch and then went off in the other direction when we very soon reached the bottom of the shaft.  The iron ladders seemed to be quite good, though not very firmly fixed, so we didn’t try them.  We could see daylight at the top (Though apparently the top of the shaft was closed, as it was very faint) but it certainly was not 600 feet deep as I reported last time.  The workings extended a further very good ¼ mile before coming to a blank wall and none of the side passages went for any distances.

Some of these had quite interesting deposits.  One, which seemed to be following nothing in particular, had eight 4ft. deep shot holes drilled in the end wall and just left, a newspaper here dated 6th. August 1953.

Taken by and large, it isn’t a very interesting mine, but despite the warning notice at the entrance it seems to be quite safe and in generally good repair.  Although some work has clearly been done since we last visited it there was no evidence of very recent work.

If, repeat, if, I go again, I shall take simple surveying tackle and see which shaft it is one gets to the bottom of.  The survey should be extremely simple, the length of the legs being only limited by the length of the measuring tape.  Of course, if anyone else likes to go and precede me………..!

R.M. Wallis


To R.M. Wallis Esq.,
Private Secretary to his Grace the Duke of Mendip,
The Castle,
The Belfry,

3rd. June 1954

Dear Mr. Wallis

It is with great pleasure that I learn from our letter of 30th. April of the satisfactory impression received by your employer, His Grace the Duke of Mendip on the occasion of his recent visit to the Belfry.

The suggestion made by His Grace concerning the washing down of the cave which had been provide for him at a convenient distance from the Belfry has been duly noted, but I fear that some time must of necessity elapse before adequate arrangements can be made.  The reason for this delay is due to the decision, reached after lengthy discussion, to wash down the walls with beer.  This, we feel, besides cleaning the walls, will impart a pleasant and home-like atmosphere which I am sure your employer will appreciate, besides adding to the efficiency of carbide lamps filled in the cave and to the flavour of the tea made underground.

With regard to the matter of His Grace’s clothing, you will no doubt have noticed that a roof is provided on top of the Old Belfry.  We respectfully suggest that should his Grace deposit his garments thereon, not only will they remain in the immaculate condition which we have come to associate with His Grace’s attire but, owing to the corrugated nature of the roof, a pleasing and novel effect will be imparted to His Grace’s trousers which should greatly enhance the reputation which His Grace already possesses as a leader of fashion on Mendip.

Touching upon the matter of your employer’s Bentley, I wish to assure you that both members of our club who were able to write have been closely questioned on this matter and that every effort will be made to avoid a repetition of this incident.

I remain,
    Yours faithfully,
          S.J. Collins,
Hon. Assistant Caving Sec.

Prehistoric Art at Stonehenge

By Keith S. Gardner.

Although this title may be a little misleading the fact remains that in July 1953, a discovery was made which has startled the Archaeological world almost as much as the Piltdown revelation.  Whilst preparing one of the stones for photography Mr. R.J.C. Atkinson M.A., F.S.A. suddenly noticed the outline of a dagger cut into the surface; on further examination the representation of an axe head was seen and in the days that followed the number of carvings increased until 40 or 50 examples are now known on various stones (all Sarsen).

The interesting point however is not so much the existence of these works but their significance, for in spite of the weathering, the features of the weapons remain very clear.  The pommel is broad and the blade long, straight edged and narrow, the base termination on either side in a short ‘horn’.  These features are not British but are Mycenaean in character; in fact, the closest parallel comes from one of the graves in Mycenae itself.  As no actual specimens of these daggers are known in this country or N.W. Europe, it is assumed that the carving was executed by someone who had been to the Mycenaean region, or rather come from that area, as subtle difference.  In , this type of dagger is dated at 1600 – 1500 B.C. so that it would appear to follow that these particular stones were erected not later than, say, 1470 B.C.

It is interesting to note that axes and identical daggers are to be seen on some stones in Badbury Barrow, Dorset, which by judging by its Wessex type cinerary urns is dated at 1550 - 1400 B.C.

I will now sit back so that the sceptics can tell me that they were carved by Salisbury schoolboys!

Keith S. Gardner.

Change of Address.

A.J. (Tony) Crawford, No.71, 57, Hamilton Road, Golders Green, London, N.W. 11.

Membership list No. 2 1954.

R.J. Bagshaw                           56, Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
Alfie Collins              No.89        27, Gordon Road, Clifton, Bristol.
Brian Dixon              No.282      50, Claremont Road, Bishopston, Bristol.
K.C. Dobbs                               56, Broadfield Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
Mrs. Pat Easdan      No.266      12, Cotham Side, Cotham, Bristol.
Dave England                            16, Springlease, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
Chris Falshaw          No.232      50, Rockside Drive, Henlease, Bristol.
Tom Fletcher            No.269      The Old Mill House, Barnah, Nr. Stamford, Lincs.
Laura Ford.              No.273      Homeland, Sandy Lane, Newcastle, Staffs.

Extra Rations

By Jack Waddon

On a recent weekend’s climbing in North Wales, heavy rain made sleeping out impracticable, so Bob Crabtree and I used a Dutch Barn for sleeping accommodation.

On the first morning, a hen came wandering into the barn, and after much scratching round, finally settled on the sleeping bag of the still dormant Crabtree, where it remained for some time, making odd clucking noises.

Crabtree was eventually awakened by the hen’s jubilant cackling, as it scampered away leaving a monster-sized egg behind for his breakfast.

Since that occasion it was noticeable that the Crabtree sleeping bag was always carefully laid out to present as attractive a resting place as possible, but I regret to report that no further hen-fruit was forthcoming.



Congratulations to Tony Crawford on his marriage to Miss Joan Sayer last September.  I am very sorry this notice is so late but it is only recently that I have heard of his change of status.


The well of inspiration seems to be shortly drying up.  I am having to draw rather heavily on my strategic reserve of material.  Therefore I am asking with rather more urgency than usual for someone to come to my assistance with material for future issues.  As I reminded you in June, Christmas is just around the corner as far as the BB is concerned.



We are looking forward to publishing the first official account of Cuthbert’s very soon now.  This report

is being eagerly awaited by the caving fraternity as being the story of the largest and most important cave discovery on Mendip for some time.



T.H. Stanbury             Hon. Ed. 48 Novers Park Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
K.C. Dobbs Esq:,        B.B. Distribution, 55 Broadfield Road, Bristol .4.
R.J. Bagshaw             Hon. Gen. Sec. 56, Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.