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Editor’s Note

We must start this month by apologising for the standard of duplication of some of the pages of last month’s B.B.  As we explained last month, our great need at the moment is paper, and we were given some last month.  Unfortunately that paper had a slight glaze on the surface, leading to the rather mucky result which some of you had to put up with in the April number.  We now have found a source of cheap but suitable stuff which should help in the future, but gifts of paper still will be very useful.  It must be the “blotting paper” type – otherwise it cannot be used.

This month we again have eight pages and we hope that this will prove to be the future minimum size!  The articles this month are mainly a continuation of last month’s topics.  The article of desilverisation of lead has cause some comment outside the club, and we have received a gift of some money as a result to help the B.B..

We are hoping to inaugurate further improvements to the Belfry Bulletin next month.


April Committee Meeting

Arrangements concerning the Belfry site were again discussed.  It was agreed to proceed with the redecoration of the women’s room.  Rawlbolts have been laid in the Wire Rift and at the top of the Maypole Pitch in Cuthbert’s.

Report of the Lamb Leer Trip

by Don Coase.

A good response was had to the announcement in the March B.B. of a visit to Lamb Leer; 12 members and 3 visitors going underground for an easy trip.  In actual fact, some of the party found the climb back up the 65’ pitch from the main chamber rather a sweat.  (Rather an alcoholic sweat from the previous night’s celebration of Mike Jones’ forthcoming wedding).  It was felt that some of the party might still be in the cave, but for the strong arms of the lifeline party.  Jack Waddon’s wife, Dorothy represented the fair sex, it being her first cave pitch and afterwards she was heard to remark that it was easier than a 20’ mineshaft Jack had taken her down the previous day for practice.

Roger Stenner provided the remark of the day.  He didn’t like the pitch.  “The opposite wall was too far away”.  A word of warning for any future trip – the timber floor at the head of the pitch is getting rotten, so mind your step!

Most of the party visited the ‘Cave of Falling Waters’ and found the inscription ‘T.W. – 1864’ was still carved in the stalagmite bank.  Incidentally, how many people know that the inscription was not carved by Thomas Wilcox, but by H.E. Balch in 1895.

Back in daylight once more, several of the more mud plastered members were greeted by a most emphatic ‘UGH – DIRTY!’ from Coase junior.

Climbing News

We have no news from the Climbing Section this month, but climbing types will find a fair amount of climbing type writing elsewhere in the B.B. – Editor.

Notices & Reminders

New Members.

We should like to welcome Dick Yarborough and John Barnes to our ranks.  Addresses will follow later.

Grim and Dreadful Warning!

The Hon. Sec. wishes to remind members of Rule No. 18.  “The membership of any individual who fails to pay his or her subscription by the 30th of April shall be deemed to have ceased.”  Or, in the words of the poet: -

“Annual subs must all be in
Ere the month of May begin
Any bloke who fails to pay
Doesn’t get B.B. in May”

Redcliffe Hall.

Many members are going straight to the ‘Waggon’ on Thursdays and it is becoming difficult to keep Redcliffe Hall going.  In view of this, the committee have authorised the Hon. Sec. collect money from members at the ‘Waggon’ on a voluntary basis.


To remind members that the collection of books now kept at Redcliffe Hall and are available for borrowing any Thursday, also lamp spares and caving reports.

Desilverisation Again

Further Comments - by Keith Gardner.

The method of desilverisation of lead by cuplellation must have come to this country somewhere near the beginning of the Christian Era.  Caesar, in ‘De Bello Gallico’ makes no comment of silver when referring to the economic values of Britain, and indeed Cicero, when writing to a friend says, “It is well known that there is not a pennyweight of silver in the whole of the island.”  Nevertheless, according to Strabo, silver was one of the main exports of Britain by the time of Augustus.

On Mendip, lead was mined for its own value in early Iron Age times, and it was common enough for it to be used as fishing net sinkers in Glastonbury Lake Village.  This was not desilverised.  I believe that Dr. H. Taylor found a small amount of lead in a Bronze Age barrow outside the U.B.S.S. hut, but it took the Roman brain to organise the Mendip mines into a really large concern.  These were under imperial control within a few years of the Claudian invasion of 43 A.D.

Whether the practice of extracting silver was a common or widespread one in Roman times is not yet known, much smelting having been carried out in villas and other sites.  Gaff and I are hoping to carry out a survey of dateable lead samples from such sites in order to get a clearer picture of the situation.  Lead occurs in the Feilena – Clevedon ridge and it is hoped to reveal whether there was a minor industry there too.

For the ‘iggerunt:            Cicero – Roman orator. 106 – 43 B.C.
                                    Strabo – Greek Geographer b.63 B.C.
                                    Augustus – 27 B.B. –

G.B. Trip.

The G.B. guest day trip during May, as announced in B.B. No. 110 is being organised by Alfie to whom names should be given at least one week in advance.  A form will be sent to the U.B.S.S. in plenty of time and last minute names will probably be acceptable up to the day of the trip.  Members are advised to give their names to Alfie in case the total gets too big, as it will have to become “first come – first served.”

Jehu’s  Welsh  Journey

..the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimishi: for he driveth furiously.

                                                                                                II Kings 9, 20.

Sooner or later in every aspiring mountaineer’s life – if his home is in the West Country – comes the ordeal by hired brake.  Beside this fearful initiation rite, even “brain-washing” recedes into insignificance for savage efficiency in breaking a strong man’s nerves.

A hired brake is a four wheeled vehicle.  It has an engine and van type body.  That is all.  Such refinements as brakes, steering and lights exist in token form only.  To nurse such a vehicle along deserted roads in broad daylight at 20mph for short distances, would give sporting odds of reaching one’s destination without mishap.  On a climbing weekend, however, something like four hundred miles has to be covered at an average speed of over 30mph if one hopes to have time for climbing at all, and all this by night.  Furthermore, to make the proposition an economic one, the more bodies carried the better, up to a maximum of eight.  (Breathe it not on Lawrence Hill!).  In short, an eight berth coffin, piloted by some Jehu or other, hurtles through the night towards Wales.

On this particular occasion, we were running light:  there were only six occupants together with sleeping bags and other gear.  For a short while the driver takes the measure of his vehicle, getting the feel of her; how many turns of the wheel before the slack is taken up; is it better to drive with the lights dipped or not, and so on.  The sparring is over; the driver gets down to the job in hand.  Gingerly speed is increased.  With the jubilant exultation of completely reckless maniac, he attempts to overtake a large lorry.  He makes it, with thumping heart, and the passengers begin to sing; in hope or in desperation the diver muses.

Some hours, some miles, some pints later, and the brake is really motoring.  The passengers doze off – all nervous energy spent, and the harsh grinding of an engine worn out some fifty thousand miles to go produces a strange soporific numbness.  In such a state we roared on towards the “First in England”, the hairpin bridge over the river Ceirriog, Wales………and destruction!

The “First in England” flashed by on the left, unseen by anyone including the driver.  A split second later and we were round the hairpin and on the bridge.  Then, for some unknown reason instead of straightening out, we carried on turning to the right in an ever decreasing circle, with the same disastrous result as a similar manoeuvre executed by the notorious bird.  Dozers awoke with a jerk as we slid broadside on along the bridge – tyres screaming.  The offside wheels lifted oh so s-l-o-w-l-y while crew and equipment floated gently off the floor into midair.  There was a horrible grind and a shower of sparks, and we were there – completely over onto the roof, nose facing back towards Bristol and on the wrong side of the road.

Deadly silence followed for a short time, then we begun to stir.  One of the occupants only was hurt – temporarily stunned by a blow on the forehead.  Unfortunately nothing was known of this, so that when the door was opened he fell out and hit the back of his head on the road.  He was then deposited on a heap of gravel, revived, and left while salvage operations were carried out.  During these operations, he must have lost consciousness again, for he found on recovering that he had a mouthful of gravel.

The next step was to get the rake upright again: a step considerably accelerated when we saw our precious petrol dripping onto the road.  The five fit members of the party performed this feat, assisted by an airman believed to be hitchhiking.  When offered a lift in return for his services, he insisted that he lived a short distance up the road and vanished at the double!  One heave and she was back on her side, with a loud crash and a tinkling of broken glass.  Another heave, and she was upright again and pushed onto the verge.

The situation was now as follows: - The roof and one side of the brake were smashed in; all the windows were gone on this side and the door was solidly welded in.  The rear doors, having stubbornly refused to open till now, refused with equal stubbornness to close.  The windscreen was badly cracked and the nearside wheel badly buckled.  Much oil and water had been lost, but mercifully, very little petrol.  Last but not least, two bottles of beer loose within were still intact and were later consumed.

Peering over the parapet of the bridge, one saw a deep murky abyss, from which sounds of swiftly flowing water rose.  The parapet was quite low and the thought that we could have easily gone through or over it was a disturbing one.  A few yards up the road a sign read “Welcome to Wales”!

The weekend’s climbing came something of an anticlimax after this and the rest of our motoring proved draughty.  It could have been worse.  It might have rained!

The owner of the brake was very annoyed when it was returned despite the inside having been swept out in an attempt to mollify him.  Before any reader endeavours to hire out a brake for a climbing trip, there is one good firm not to approach!

Firms willing to hire brakes to climbers are rapidly becoming extinct, so get your excuses ready – sick aunts in Anglesey, ships to meet at Holyhead, bridge repairs at Menai, sign painting at Llanfair P.G. etc.

Ron Newman.


Small “snippets” to fill up spaces such as this one.  A brief verse, a limerick (providing it is printable!) or any witty type writing.  Send it to any member of the Board.

It’s Easy to Ski!
…Or “How to get an extra three week’s holiday.”

By Norman Brooks.

Having long felt that need to learn to ski, I at last got down to it during the final two weeks of February.  The result was one of the best holidays from some time – so enjoyable that I should like to recommend any other members of the club who can afford the time to have a go themselves.

Karl Fuchs, an ex-Olympic skier and expert instructor, has been running his “Austrian” ski school in the Cairngorms, based on his hotel in Carrbridge, Invernesshire, for a few years now; but this is the first time that the hotel proprietors at Carrbridge have got together to enlarge the scheme, together with the Scottish Council for Physical Recreation.  They have ambitious plans for the future, but at the moment all they have to offer is the snow, the skis and the instructor plus plenty of good company good food and good beer: and what more can any thinking person desire?

Physical dexterity not being my strong point, I did rather better when learning to ski that I expected; which leads me to suggest that if I can do it, anyone can though possibly the miles I have ridden on icy roads on a motorcycle with defective steering may not have been wasted.  Of course there were those who developed a technique of skiing based on a sort of untidy laying down posture early on and then found great difficulty in changing over to the more conventional stance, but I shouldn’t think that any B.E.C. member would do a thing like that!

The sun shone from a blue sky five days running the first week, though the weather was not quite so good the second week.  The effect was almost alpine and the active part of the holiday worked out very well, in spite of the fact that the snowfall was less than at any time for the last 25 years.

When we arrived at the hotel of our choice, Rowan Lea, the proprietor said, a little severely I thought in case we should disagree with him.  “We use Christian Names here, I’m Jimmy.”  And we were treated in many ways like friends of the proprietor.  Sometimes it was difficult to realise that there would be the need to pay the bill eventually.  As residents, you are not troubled by that blight of a pleasant evening, the call of “Time!”, so things used to go on and on, with one or other of the guests occasionally giving a little hand behind the bar.

There is a most fiendish and dangerous method used for loosening up after skiing, a sort of barbaric ritual known as Scottish Dancing.  It is encouraged of course, to enhance the bar takings, since it introduces a powerful thirst for beer, also a need for something stronger to steady the nerves.  Don’t think you can avoid it.  If you had seen my 13 stone being whirled round the floor by one of the girls, and seen the dazed amazed look of an innocent being passes around like a parcel in a party game by the experts, then you might think it better to stay out – but don’t; it’s better to come quietly!  Indeed, you may even get keen.  When my companion – a staunch member of the Bar Propper’s Union, whom I had never before seen enticed onto a dance floor, led a party of the local amazons into the bar to rout out more men for dancing; he delivered a shock to my system from which I have not yet recovered.

It may appear obvious to even the moist initiated novice that rocks do not make satisfactory skiing surface, but I am afraid that I underwent an enforced absence from work and Mendip as a result of trying to utilise such a surface!

Odds  &  Ends

Hot Rocking at High Rocks

It is reported that B.E.C. members were present when a large quantity of food and alcohol was consumed one Saturday evening at the High Rocks Hotel near Tunbridge Wells.

It is suspected that this accounted for the sounds of revelry issuing from this place until the early hours, and the unusual sight of frenzied figures clambering and swinging on the masses of ropes and ladders the following day.  Could this most enjoyable weekend have been the Westminster Speleological Group’s Annual Dinner?


From our Social Correspondent.

A goodly collection of B.E.C. members turned up to Horfield Parish Church to see Mike and Judy get married, and to add their high social tone to the excellent reception which followed.  Several members went down to Temple Meads to see the happy couple off to their honeymoon while others repaired to a local café and consumed black coffee.  Alfie had to be restrained from drinking his champagne immediately on receipt of the same, and at one stage the bridegroom was heard to remark, “I think the drinks must have run out – John’s hands are empty!”   ……a very enjoyable time was had by all.

Easter on Mendip

This Easter was a quiet one compared with the usual Easter weekend.  This was partly due to the fact that many members spent Easter on Exmoor, although when one member of the club was asked where he was going by one of the “stay at home” types outside the Hunter’s, he said, “Dartmoor!” – Well, it could be!  Saturday night was spent in the Hunter’s as usual, and afterwards most of the types repaired to the Shepton Hut where music and tea were provided by the inhabitants.  Among the skiffle tunes played was one which was thought to be the S.M.C.C. club song – it was called, “There’s a Crack in this old Building.”

A largish party went down August Hole, and others worked in Hunter’s and Alfie’s.  A certain amount of creosoting was done by club types and local lads to the outside of the Belfry.

A new innovation is the slab of concrete provided by Messrs Rich and Thomas on which it is possible to park one motorbike.  It is also the right size for laying out any members who happens to feel unwell and should prove very useful.

Caves of Mendip.

Nick Barrington’s new book is now out.  It is written on the same lines as “Britain Underground” but contains a much fuller and more up to date description of Mendip Caves.  It is hoped to be able to make a review of this book shortly, but meanwhile it is a good buy and a useful addition to the Caver’s bookshelf.

Useful Addresses.

R.J. Bagshaw,            Hon. Secretary and Treasurer.  56 Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.
D.A. Coase,               Caving Secretary.  “Batsford”, Lower Failand, Nr. Bristol.
S.J. Collins,                Hut Warden and Editor, B.B.  I Kensington Place, Clifton, Bristol 8.
R. King,                     Climbing Secretary.  1 Lynmouth Road, Bristol 2.
Mrs. Jones,                Ladies’ Representative, 389 Filton Ave, Horfield, Bristol 7.
N.J. Petty,                  Tackle Officer.  12, Bankside Road, Brislington, Bristol 4.
R.J. Price,                  B.B. Editorial Board.  70 Somermead, Bedminster, Bristol 3.
C. Rees,                    B.B. Editorial Board.  2 Burghill Road, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol.
A.J.E. Sandall,           Assistant secretary. And B.B. Editorial Board.  35 Beauchamp Rd., Bristol 7.
R.A. Setterington,       Chairman.  69, Kingston Road, Taunton, Somerset.

(C. Rees is also assistant Hut Warden and Belfry Engineer).