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Don Coase

It is with extreme regret that we must announce the death of Don Coase which occurred on Friday January 31st 1958 following an operation.  To his wife Clare and his small son we offer our deepest sympathy

The passing of Don Coase represents a great loss, not only to his family and friends, but to the club as a whole and the entire caving world.

Don joined the B.E.C. in 1946, after an active career with the now disbanded Bridgwater Caving Club, and at once became one of our club’s most active members.  In June, 1947, he became the first man to dive the sump in Stoke Lane Slocker, and thus discovered the large system beyond.

An enthusiastic club member, he played a major part in the erection of the original Belfry; becoming the first club member to sleep there.  He became its first Hut Warden until his work took him to London.

In spite of the distance, his interest in caving remained as great as ever.  He organized, with John Shorthose, a B.E.C. London Section which became very active and continued the work in Stoke Lane, the survey of which was largely carried out by Don.  A draughtsman by profession, his surveying work was always of a very high order.  In addition to his work with the London Section, he took every available opportunity to visit caving areas, and many of us will remember ‘Rasputin’, his motorcycle, on which he travelled a remarkable number of miles.

About this time, he became interested in the Cave Diving Group and rapidly became one of its most skilled divers.  In 1949, he discovered, with Bill Mack, the Water Passage at the far end of Peak Cavern in Derbyshire.  He was also well known for his diving work in Wookey Hole, in connection with the Somerset Section of the Cave Diving Group.  Other cave discoveries included that of Llethrid Cave, South Wales, in 1949.

Although he preferred the practical side of caving, he could always be relied on to help out with the organization of the club and thus in 1951 and 1952, he became Editor of the Belfry Bulletin, jointly with John Shorthose.  In 1953, married and back again in Bristol, he became Caving Secretary.

It is difficult to think of any branch of caving in which he did not actively participate.  A keen photographer, he was author of the chapter on cave photography in 'British Caving', which was sponsored by the Cave Research Group, in which he also took an interest.  As Caving Secretary, he helped to construct much new tackle, including the hand climbing line or ‘Knobbly Dog’.  He took an active part in the Mendip rescue Organisation being a Warden and was elected a Registrar of the Mendip Cave Registry.

In 1953, be began his last and greatest piece of cave exploration in St. Cuthbert’s Swallet and devoted hundreds of hours leading its exploration, surveying, photographing and erecting permanent tackle in the cave.  He collaborated in writing the first report of this work, and has been working and writing on this cave ever since.  At the time of his death, he was interested in the problems of water flow in the cave system.

While in no way minimising the teamwork which has gone on into many of these projects, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the club owes a great deal of its present position to the leadership, work and enthusiasm of Don Coase.  He will be greatly missed.


The news of the death of Don Coase arrived after this B.B. had been, stencilled.  We scrapped pages one and two as a result.  We are sure that readers will forgive the appearance of the B.B. under the circumstances.  A few of the notices and other items may be able to be squeezed in somewhere.  There may be a lack of joining of this new page 2 with the original page 3.  Again we apologise and will try to straighten out matters in our next issue.


Water Temperatures

A further letter has been received on this subject:-

The testing of Thermistors involves the continuous and accurate measurement of temperatures, so if anyone wants any thermometers checked against certificated standards, we will be pleased to do it.

Secondly, I have a thermometer reading to 1OC, which I will lend on indefinite loan to a responsible person.

Back in 1950, I wrote a report on a Hermiston combined thermometer-hygrometer.  This was designed for normal atmospheric observations. With a little thought and redesign, it could probably be made to cover the ranges 7.5 to 12.5 degrees C, and 95 to 100% relative humidity.

As you will realize, this will be a piece of electrical equipment and will be rather delicate and will require a water proof container.  I can probably find a meter and all the other gear, but what I need to know before I go ahead is, would such a piece of equipment be useful, and would the ranges suggested above the best?  If not, can you tell me what you want?  To complete the picture, the meter I have in mind has 50 divisions which would enable you to read temperatures of air or water to 0.1OC and relative humidity to 0.1%.  I hope this information can be of use.


Thanks for the offer and information, Sett.  Dealing with the first two points, Mervyn Hannam has calibrated and given Norman two thermometers, so we will keep your offer open until they have been broken.

The combined thermometer-hygrometer sounds a very useful bit of apparatus and we will certainly take you up on this one, providing it can be made reasonably robust.  You know the kind of treatment it would be liable to! As to scales, I would suggest a slightly wider range for humidity; say from 90 to 100 percent.

The only snag is that the readings would not cover the range of temperatures and humidities at or near the surface.  These could be taken with ordinary instruments.  The advantage with this combined instrument would be if the detector element was separated form the meter.  One of the disadvantages of a sling physcometer is that, when you stop whirling it to take a reading, the wet bulb temperature alters quite quickly and may give rise to a false reading.  The same thing applies to a lesser extent when removing a thermometer from a stream to make a reading.

D.A. Coase


Johnny Ifold, our Librarian, got up and complained, quite rightly at the A.G.M., that we never seem to be able to get a list of new publications in the club library.  This is the latest list received from Johnny: -

Speleon.  Volume 7. Numbers 1, 2, 3 & 4.
Cave Science.  Volume 4.  Number 28.
British Caver.  Volume 29.
Speleolog.  Volume 4.  Numbers 3 and 4.
The Speleologist.
N.S.S. News.  Volume 15.  Numbers 9, 10 and 11.
Mountaineering.  Volume 3.  Number 2.
                        South Wales Caving Club.  No. 21.  November 1957.
                        Cave and Crag Club.  Volume 6.  No. 4. November 1957
                        Oread Mountaineering Club.  Vol. 5.  No. 1. November 1957.

The Dinner

The Eighth Annual Dinner of the Bristol Exploration Club was held at the Cliff hotel, Cheddar.  This year, being sober all the evening, I was actually able to observe the proceedings - a thing which has not previously been possible, and I came to the conclusion that, in the time-honoured manner, a good time was had by all.

After a preliminary canter round the hotel bars, we got down to dinner itself.  The food was adequate and promptly served.  The after dinner speeches were enlivened by a very fair mannequin display, organised by Kangy (Hartnell) King, in which Gaff Fowler came on in a boiler suit of incredible whiteness, and other costumes for the coming season on Mendip were also displayed.  The company were most impressed by the summer layabout outfit modelled by Russ, who seemed to have a natural flair for the part.  The Hunter’s drinking suit we much admired, and looks like being in great demand.  The gaunt figure who entered later demonstrated the latest bathing wear.  Dress conscious cavers will note that only one caving boot is being worn with the swimming costume this year.

The entire show was recorded for posterity by one Cecil B. de Price helped by his assistant, J Arthur Rees who took a genuine H certificate type film of the show.  Mr. Ellis, proposing the toast of ‘Absent Friends', read out a letter from Tony Rich, explaining that he was now down to ‘A moose or two’, and this was followed by a Spelaeode from Alfie, which I think was a new one.  The company then made their way to the bar next door.

Soon a skiffle school, two sing songs, and various groups of blokes conversing arose.  At one stage, Dan Hasell called for hush and made a speech of thanks to Bob Bagshaw.  We all drunk his health and gave him three cheers.

A goodly selection of old timers were present.  I can't name them all, as I can’t remember some and don't know others, but Postle and Dizzie were present, Jonah drove all the way down from Newcastle, and of course Dan Hasell was there wearing his chain and badge of office.  I noticed that no note was passed to Dan this year and that the Hasell waistcoat, although startling, was eclipsed by that worn by Roger Stenner.

A good dinner on the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

       (Name supplied)

Last month, we published an account of a trip to South Wales to vist O.F.D.  We now have an account of the same trip by another of the people who took part.  We thought it would be a good idea to print this one now, to see if their stories tally!

Caving in South Wales

While at the South Wales Caving Club’s dinner in Cardiff, I was able to meet the secretary, Mr. David Jenkins. As a result, he gave permission at very short notice, for a party of B.E.C. members, not exceeding 6, to stay at their headquarters and arranged to find a leader to take us to see some of Ogof Ffynon Ddu.

Daphne and I thus arrived at the S.W.C.C. cottage on the evening of Friday, 29th November after a pleasant ride from Cardiff. After a delay because of fog, the a delay while a few pieces which had been mysteriously knocked off the Velo, were brazed back on, Norman Petty arrived with Russell Jenkins (complete with a bag of corned beef sandwiches) and only 14 hours late.  Had not the driver been Norman (No-prang-since-1950) Petty, the appearance of the Velo may have led the observer to believe that the machine had been laid down, perhaps after cornering too fast on a bald front tyre.

After an evening at the Gwyn, during which Russell tried with no success to give away some of his corned beef sandwiches, a rather chilly night was spent in the S.W.C.C. visitors cottage.

Next day, Bill Little and a friend took Norman, Russell (with his corned beef sandwiches) and myself into the cave.  Bill gave us an extremely interesting running commentary complete with any relevant history or anecdote, while we went through the entrance series to the stream, up into the escape route, through the Rawl Series, up the Waterfall series to the Crystal pool Chamber where a maypole party was just packing up.  After helping to get the gear out of the series, we met another party that had just been doing some work in the Boulder Chamber.  A new series now leads off bypassing the collapse under Starlight Chamber, and several hundred feet of passage, with three sumps large enough for divers, have been found so far.  That day a new extension had been found to go back to with an arms length of a point where Dai Hunt and Peter Harvey had given up digging five years ago.  The trip ended with a pleasant paddle back down the stream passage.

After an autopsy by Bill Little with the help of the survey, Norman and Russell (with a battered packet of corned beef sandwiches) left for Bristol while Daphne and I went back to Cardiff after a very pleasant weekend.

Roger Stenner

A Technical Survey of Current Methods of Mining Tin in Cornwall

by P.M. Blogg

I had to call it that because I thought it stood a better chance of being printed, but a better title would be: -

Four Men in the Cart

Or possibly, “Not me…….I did the washing up yesterday.”

On Friday, 2nd August 1957 four distinguished idiots with the best of intentions and the least of money, set forth from Bristol to explore the Cornish tin mines.  On Saturday, 17th August – 15 days, 1,000 miles, 40 gallons and innumerable pints later, they returned not one scrap wiser.

Before leaving, knowing that we would be using (in the main) ex-W.D. tinned food, I asked if anyone had thought of bringing a tin opener.  Yes, we were all right.  Spike had one, Gaff had one and Sago (who tells us that he has been caught before) had several.

We drove overnight to Penhale Sands near Newquay and arrived about 2.30 to spend the night.  We chose a likely spot and were just thinking of getting out when two gentlemen in khaki suits, wearing boots and carrying loaded sten guns, ran towards us shouting.  We left.  It appears that the army runs a holiday camp there.

Before passing on next day we visited the lost church of St. Piraws.  We got lost. Whilst deciding on the way out, it was agreed to have breakfast.  The cookers were prepared and it only remained to bring out the tin openers and get cracking.  We had breakfast in a café.

That afternoon we drove to Coverack determined to relax for a day or so before starting on the serious side of our trip.  Suitable accommodation had to be found, and it was to that end that we enquired at a garage.  This garage was undoubtedly the most dirty, broken down collection of wooden huts ever thrown up at any roadside by anyone anywhere.  The owner, a middle aged chap of about ninety five, grudgingly gave us fuel and even more grudgingly, our change.  It was in such an attempt to see what held the roof of this poverty stricken service station off the ground that Gaff and Spike tripped over the two most immaculate and highly polished Rolls Royce’s that they could ever wish to see. The owner told us that he only kept the big one ‘to take his wife to market’.  He said that Roils had offered him £4,000 for her.  We said that we felt that this was a fair price for his wife.

We were recommended to a Mr. Mason.  ‘First on the right at the bottom of the hill.’  The hill descends almost vertically for about five hundred feet and ends in the sea.  There were no turnings left or right.  Mr. Mason was eventually found, and we enquired after barns, stables, outhouses, sheds, haystacks, silos, pigsties etc.  Mr. Mason was pessimistic.  He had nothing fit for human habitation.  We explained that we were hardly human and could thus dispense with this proviso and at length, and with profuse apologies, he showed us his 'Old Barn'.

We thought that we knew all about barns, but this one was admittedly unusual.  For a start it had a telephone.  It also had electric light (with switch), a radio (working) an electric kettle (serviceable) and running water (cold) (very!).

It was one evening there that we decided to go into a nearby village for a drink.  This village was about two miles cross country and about nine by road.  There was a well marked track on the map, and we agreed to use this.  The start of this track gave us no trouble (except to courting couples who didn’t see the joke) and the first half mile of moor land was simple and the track easy to follow.  It was when the M.T. disappeared into a clump of bushes, that we had our first clue that all was not well.  Sago had the map and said it showed quite clearly that we were going in such and such a direction with relation to a set of radio masts which we could see to our front.

Very slow progress was made over rough ground when Spike suddenly staggered us with one of those cool, clear headed, far seeing, all embracing yet concise statements for which he will one day be famous.  He reckoned that we were lost.  I agreed with him.  Gaff and Sago agreed to the extent that we didn't know where we were (which was something) but pinned their faith on those radio masts, so clear for all to see. However, it seems that the Air Ministry, with a complete disregard for our well-being, had erected an identical set of masts directly behind us.  We admitted defeat and retraced our tracks back to the road.

It was that evening that we were defeated at our own game.  It happened this way.  Sago was buying the beer (surely this is a mistake? - Editor) and noticed on the landlord's shoulder what at first sight appeared to be a grasshopper.  About two inches long; it was coloured dull green and seemed to move about.  It was so lifelike that it was obviously a rubber imitation.  The temptation was too great.

 “Excuse me, I hope you don't mind me asking but what's that on your shoulder?"

The answer, in a patronizing tone, “A grasshopper, sir,” caught us all on the wrong foot.  Sago quickly replied, “Oh yes.  I forgot it was Tuesday (it wasn’t) and the damage was done.

The weather was set so fine, and the forecast so sure that we should have rainstorms, hail, sleet, thunder and perhaps snow on high ground, that we decided to camp.  I use the royal 'we', actually they decided. We set the site near St. Just amongst the surface buildings of the disused Levant mine.  We were in what a camper would refer to as a sheltered spot, protected from the rough sea winds by nothing whatever.

On the door of the old engine house was a notice “The property of the Cornish Engines Preservation Society,” and a note to the effect that the key could be obtained at Truro.  The door finished about a foot clear of the ground and about a ton of boulders had been piled in to fill the gap.  Truro seemed a long way off and so in no time at all we had an entrance three feet wide, one foot high and extremely wet.

The beam engine was small by Cornish standards, though its beam was about twenty feet long.  It was of traditional Cornish design, with the valve gear operated by the beam.  The boiler was housed in a separate building which is not now standing.  The beam was pivoted in the middle, one end being connected to the proverbial wheel (about fifteen feet in diameter) which drives the winding gear and can be slowed adown and perhaps stopped by large planks of wood which bear on the rim.  This engine is in an excellent state of preservation and well worth a visit.

One bright evening, after we'd had a few pints for supper, we were returning to the camp when a car closed up behind the Rover, and doubtless presuming we were locals and hence knew the road, drove on sidelights about 3 inches away.  As it happened, we didn’t know the road and after crossing two halt signs at high speed, turned a nasty bend without slackening the pace. We never saw our companion again. This corner was later named ‘Rhubarb Bend.’  It is a galloping bend which tightened up on the way round and just where the average goon would run out of roads is a patch of Rhubarb.  Good solid local stuff about eight feet high with enormous leaves.

It was at this stage that Sago took over the moral leadership of the party.  We had, in his view, come over to see a tin mine and here we were camped next to one and doing nothing.  He was going to see about getting us down.  Usual method.  Ask at the local garage.  Yes, the tin mine was working.  All the men were on holiday and we would have no trouble getting down with the maintenance teams.  All we would have to do would be to see the Underground Manage who drinks at the North Inn and all would be well.

We find the pub, buy beer, and survey the situation.  On the mantelpiece is a lump of rock.  We examine it and Sir Mortimer Fowler tells us that it is a common sample of the tetragonal prisms of Cossilerite, with the terminal pyramids complete, in a schist of ferruginous silica.

A worried little man in the corner corrects him.

 “No, no zur.  That be a lump of tin ore what we mine down yer.”

 “Oh, yes,” say sago.  “We know. We’re going down the mine tomorrow.”

And here we must leave them for now.  Will they get down the tin mine?  Will they heck!  We will continue this next month. – Ed.


To Beryl and Pat Ifold, a daughter at last!  LORNA JANE. Weight 7lbs, 1½oz.  Height 21”.  Born Saturday, 18th January.


Do Not Miss an illustrated talk by Oliver C. Lloyd   U.B.S.S.

Thursday, 20th February ’58 at 7.30PM

St Mary Redcliffe Church Hall


Editor: S.J. Collins, 1 Kensington Place, Clifton, Bristol 8
Secretary: R.J. Bagshaw, 56 Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol 4
Printers and Distributors: C. Rees, 2 Burghill Road, Westbury-on-Trym
: (new address will be published shortly)
R.J. Price: 70 Somermead Road, Bedminster, Bristol 3
Miss J. Rollason: 157 Pen Park Road, Southmead, Bristol