It is some time since we made any mention of further improvements or alterations to the Belfry bulletin.  It is a sobering (horrid expression, that!) thought that about one in five of the present members of the club were not around before the present Editorial Board took over the management of the club’s magazine, and these people do not remember any of the features of the B.B. of old.  One of these features which we should like to see re-instated is the occasional page of cartoons which older hands will remember as ‘Half Pint’s Page,’ conducted many moons ago by Johnny Dwyer.  We hope to persuade someone to have ago now and then.

Another idea which we are toying with has been requested by several members who are not on Mendip often, or who are temporarily in exile in furrin parts.  This is a regular short column of a ‘personal’ type, giving news of members who are away or who we don’t see very often.  This seams a reasonable idea, but we don’t know whether we should get enough ‘gen’ to keep such a column going.  If any readers feel that this, or any other scheme, is a good idea; we should like to hear from them.


Annual Subscriptions

The Hon. Treasurer would like to remind members who nave not yet paid their subs that these are due. Why not surprise him and pay now?

Changes of Address

Ian Dear is now at: - 70 Redferne, Portland, Dorset

Dave England is now at: - 28b Mendip Road, Bedminster, Bristol 3

New Members

We should like to welcome the following new members: -

392       M.J. Baker, St. Paul’s College, Cheltenham, Glos.
393       J.R. Brown, 13 Alexandra Road, Bath, Somerset
394       Miss V.A. Hudson, 71 Hill View, Henleaze, Bristol

Annual General Meeting and Dinner

A resolution was passed at the last Annual General Meeting recommending that the date of the A.G.M. be changed to some other part of the year when travel arrangements are less likely to be disorganised by weather conditions.  The early part of October has been suggested.  We should like to appeal to all members who hold strong views on this subject to write to the Hon. secretary saying: -

a.                  When they would prefer the A.G.M. to be held yearly in the future.

b.                  When they would prefer the Annual Dinner, if this is to be held separately.

Monthly Film Show.

The next show or slides to be held as part of the winter programme at Redcliffe Hall will be on the 27th of March, and will be on the subject of: -


The talk and slides will be given by Frank  Farley.

Free Beer

Members of the B.E.C. are invited to assist in the consumption of a nine gallon barrel of beer and a cake to celebrate the forthcoming wedding of Roger Stenner and Daphne Clague.  This will be in the Caver’s room at the Hunters Lodge, which has been booked for the evening as a private room for the 22nd of March.  Members should form an orderly queue outside the door at 7 pm.

Library Books

In order to assist in the preparation of an up-to-date list of books in the club library, members are requested to return all books in their possession as soon as they have finished reading them.

Club Officers for 1958.

These are as follow: -

Hon. Secretary and Treasurer

Caving Secretary

Climbing Secretary

Hut Warden and Editor, B.B.

Tackle Officer

Committee Chairman

Belfry Engineer and Assistant Hut Warden

Assistant Librarian and B.B. Board Member

Hon. Librarian

Board Member

Board Member

R.J. Bagshaw

M. Hannam

R.S. King (Kangy) (Co-opted)

A. Collins

N. Petty

R.A. Setterington

B. Prewer

D. England

J. Ifold *

R.J. Rice

Miss Rollason *

(Members with asterisk are not on the club committee)

Extract from the Axbridge Journal. Vol. 2  No. 2  September 1954.

In Henry VIII’s reign, a lead tablet was found at Wookey Hole thought to be one of two commemorating a Roman victory over some Mendippers called ‘Cangi.’  Mr Balch regards them as native Bronze Age stock.

Long years ago, the Roman cads
Did battle with the Mendip lads
And down at Wookey Hole did knock
For six, the native Bronze Age stock.
And when they thought the Cangi dead
They took a whacking lump of lead
(Or maybe two) and promptly wrote
A rather boastful sort of note.

It’s fifteen hundred years or more
Since Roman legions left our shore
The Goths soon pranged the Roman mob
And Vandals finished off the job.
But all the time, the Cangi still
Inhabited the Mendip hill
And thus the modern Kangy may
Be seen upon the hill today.

So after all is said and done
It can’t be said the Romans won!

Letters to the Editor

To the Editor of the Belfry Bulletin

Dear Sir,

In a recent issue of the Belfry Bulletin, you published a list of additions to the club library but all these were club periodicals and in my opinion, a list such as this is of little practical value.  The library is one of the assets of the club, so would it not be possible for the Librarian to prepare an up-to-date and preferably classified list of the contents of the club Library and for this to be published as a supplement to the B.B. before it is out of date?  Periodicals that are received regularly by the club could be given in the catalogue by their title, name of the issuing club, and the date of the earliest number held, e.g.; The Belfry Bulletin (Bristol Exploration Club) Monthly, from No. 123 (April 1958).  It would thus be unnecessary to publish a list of every number received, only of new books, occasional papers and of periodicals that are no longer received, with the date of the last number.  It should not be impossible for you to finds room in the B.B. to publish a shortened list such as this, every one or two months.

Yours, etc.

                        Bryan M. Ellis

Editor’s Note.    This has been taken up by the Committee and an effort will be made to provide such a list.


To the Editor of the B.B.

I should like, if I may, to be allowed a little of your valuable space to express some thanks publicly.

Recently I was required to make a fairly heavy contribution to some favourite charity of the Oswestry Magistrates, for passing through their territory too quickly.  My companions on this climbing trip to North wales; Messrs Mossman, Bonner, Chamberlain, Marriot, Iles and Jenkins voluntarily and generously shared this expense between them.

                                                            Thank you


To the Editor of the Belfry Bulletin

Dear Sir

The recent work on water temperatures by Don Coase, Paul Burt and Norman Petty provides invaluable evidence towards identifying the Plantation Stream in Cuthbert’s Cave. However, I would suggest that a lack of knowledge about the degree of variation in temperature due to changes in cave configuration and evaporation rates renders this method somewhat unreliable at present.

For anyone prepared to undertake it (not me!) a study of factors governing changes of temperature in cave water would surely be a useful and original piece of work for its own sake. Results of this study may lead to a real appraisal of the reliability of the method of stream tracing.

I am at present in a position to carry out quantitative analysis of chlorine, hardness and total alkalinity etc. on water samples and shall be pleased to undertake this job for anyone working on cave water problems.

M.J. Hannam

Editor’s Note.    I have also heard from ‘Digger’ Harris that Prof. Palmer has details of some methods of water tracing which may be of interest to those engaged in this work.

Continuing our Sordid Saga of the Cornish Tin Miness

Four Men in the Cart

From this point, the conversation went something as follows: -

Worried Little Man: “You’ll not get down.”  ( North Country Accent).

Sago: “Oh, Yes we will!”

W.L.M.: “I say you'll not get down.”

Sago: “Oh, Yes we will!  All we have to do is to see the Underground Manage, tell him the tale, and he’ll take us down like a shot.”

W.L.M.  "I still say you’ll not get down.”

Sago: "It's as good as arranged.  You don’t know what you're talking about!”

Worried Little Man drinks up beer and goes.

Friendly Type approaches and says, “You shouldn't have said that you know.”

Sago: “Why not?”

F.T.: “That was the Underground manager.”

We left.

That night, we had rain, storms, hail, sleet, thunder and for all I know snow on high ground.  We curse all weather forecasters as being an incompetent shower of morons.

Some days later, we decided to take a river trip in the mouth of the Helford River.  A craft was hired and we boarded by means of a floating jetty.  At least, it probably would have floated when unladen, but with five men and a boy on it, it was clearly not equal to the job.  Gaff and Sago had their cameras with them and I therefore include the following notes for anyone who takes a photograph on the seas. It appears that cameras which can be thrown, dropped, battered, bent, have cups of tea poured over them and be exposed to sandstorms will just not work if they think they are in a boat. It also appears that exposure meters will never work again of they so much as hear of the mention of ‘boat’. These items one therefore puts in a polythene bag, wrapped in oilskin, coiled in a towel and packed in an anorak until needed for use.

When the great moment arrives, the cameras are produced and the person steering the boat has a problem. He must not put the bow into the tide nor, of course, the stern.  If he gets broadside on, that is the death of all cameras within a thirty mile radius. The boat is held steady but the composition is not right.  From the description they give of the picture they want, the best place is about thirty feet above the rocky outcrop.  You give up.

At this stage, to complete the morning's entertainment, the propeller is fouled by some weeds.  Spike immediately diagnoses the trouble, and because ‘he knows about boats’ and because nobody else wanted to get wet, he hung over the blunt end to free the screw.  We learn that even with the gears in neutral, the screw still turns at fair speed.  Spike withdrew his battered hand to tell us of this.

The return trip was made in three stages. Cornwall – Hartland – Belfry.  (Not a word to Alfie – we ‘forgot’ to mention that we stayed the night in the Belfry). We had a lengthy trip around Bideford to find a Simonds House.  Experience has shown that the local beers are all right for shaving in, boiling telephones, cleaning cars and removing wallpaper, but they should not be drunk.

From all this you might think, serious minded types that you are, that the whole trip was a waste of time. You are probably quite right, but I know three other members who won’t agree with you.

P.M. Blogg

Adventure in Portugal

In August 1957, Nick Barrington travelled to Portugal with a research expedition to visit a little known limestone area.  He has sent us the following account….

Spinnlng in space is a weird sensation.  Here was I being lowered on a rope down a sheer drop in the great cave of Moinhos Velhos - the largest underground system so far discovered in the country.  As the chamber started spinning at an alarming rate, my thoughts flashed back to the preparations of last year.

The original idea had been to carry out exploration of some of the lesser known Czechoslovakian caves. The idea soon caught on and an advertisement in Sennet – the University of London newspaper – and in the New Scientist produced a well balanced team.

Troglodyte Nyte, an all night skiffle dance held in Chiselhurst Caves was organised to raise funds.  About seven hundred people were expected, but by midnight over sixteen hundred had paid for admission, press included!  We certainly earned our money, for only six Elsans had been ordered, so a shuttle service had to be run!

Owing, to the political situation, an alternative plan to Czechoslovakia was then sought, and after research at the Royal Geographical Society, our destination was changed to Minde, in Central Portugal.

A thirty one seater Bedford bus was bought with the earnings of of Troglodyte Nyte and immediately called Lillian – she was a beauty!  A scientific programme of work was evolved and an application for recognition by the Royal Society proved successful – the only caving expedition ever to have received such support to date.  In addition, the expedition, now formally called The University of London Speleological Expedition to Portugal, was also recognised by Portuguese scientific bodies.

July was a hectic period. Examinations played havoc, and we had the job of crating some four tons of equipment.  The last person to join the expedition did so only three weeks before our departure.

August 2nd dawned bright and clear.  On arrival at Dover, we presented our sheaf of documents, only to be told that our CD3 Bank of England Exploration Order was for racing motorists and the spare parts of their cars. Poor Lillian – she did not quite come up to this standard.

Arriving after midnight at Boulogne, we drove until 6 am when we had an offside rear tyre burst.  After seven hours delay, this was repaired and we motored south through France to Biarritz where two further tyres blew out on the hot road and we were stranded.  It was our good fortune that we should be within two miles of the British Consulate General and by the camping site of Chambre d’Amour.

A telephone call to Dunlop in Birmingham brought speedy assistance, and with four new rear tyres we reached our destination one day late.

On arrival, we were nearly arrested on the spot for bringing forty guns into the country.  This, we later found out was their misunderstanding of the word karabiner.  They thought we each had two carbines.  Another link in Anglo-Portuguese history had been forged.

At Mira d’Aire we were officially welcomed.  Instead of camping on a mountainside and carrying water long distances, we pitched our tents on the football ground.  Like lightning, village officials organised tables, electric light and a supply of water (scarce in this district) was piped form a nearby cave. Our hydrologist’s first job was testing it.  Coming direct from a cave he found no mosquito larva or sea monsters present.

Members of the Geological Service, Portuguese Speleological Group and Ministry of Interior and Mines came and camped with us helping in many ways with our basic work and exploration. Our tents were pitched within a few hundred yards of the largest Portuguese cave, in which we were destined to spend over a week of exploration and research.

A complete and accurate survey of the main gallery was produced and a close study of water and air flow in the caves gave us the key to the unusual annual flooding of the valley floor.

In addition to Moinhos Velhos, we made a detailed survey of two other large caves – Pena and Contenda. Our two geologists managed to make a comprehensive geological map of the area which helped us greatly with the geomorphology of the caves.

On conclusions of our time at Mira d’Aire, we went to Lisbon.  We stayed in the four roomed flat of two of our new-found friends, and it was quite a sight to on Sunday morning to see forty of us in their fifth storey flat! We returned to this country after our stay in Lisbon, having taken part in an interesting and profitable expedition.

North Wales

A party of B.E.C. types left the Centre at 7.30 one Friday, bound for North Wales.

We hired a Vanguard shooting brake and everything was going smoothly until about 11 o’clock that night, then it happened.  Fut, Fut….then silence!

We were between Shrewsbury and Llangollen, so we started pushing to the next garage, which was only half a mile down the road.  It proved impossible to wake the owner, even with the help of his Alsatian, so we started pushing again.

Eventually we arrived at another garage, also shut, and decided to wait until the morning.  Some bods slept in the brake, but it was not until 11.30 that it banged (literally) into life.  Bills were paid and thanks tendered and we were on our way again. After only two more stops, one for dinner and the other unprintable, we passed the farm and motored on down to Milestone Buttress.

The evening was spent at Mrs. Griffiths for supper and the Bryn Tyrk for liquid refreshment.  Next morning, we all left for Carneddan. After a little toil up the mountain, Totty and Maurice decided to walk around the top while the rest of us descended to the base of Craig Yr Isfa, where we ascended the Amphitheatre Buttress. The latter proved to be a pleasant hard diff.  Some of the holds of which had been polished over the ages.

We departed and arrived at Mrs. Williams just as dusk was falling.  We all packed up and piled into the brake and left at about six o’clock.  The trip home was uneventful except for the odd half hour spent in changing the near side rear tyre after a puncture.  We arrived back in Bristol about 11.30 on Sunday night after a nice weekend trip.

Russell Jenkins


We are pleased to announce that at last we have got a new duplicator for the Belfry bulletin.  This is the first number to be printed by it, and we hope that it will lead to clearer copies in the future.


Secretary:         R.J. Bagshaw, 56 Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol 4
Editor:              S.J. Collins, 1 Kensington Place, Clifton, Bristol 8