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Rash Prophesies Department

We made ourselves look pretty silly last month, didn’t we?  Bragging about the new cover and stapling machine when it turned out that neither were ready for last month.  In fact, we had to hold last month’s B.B. back but even so, the printers let us down.  Anyhow, after a false alarm, here actually is the new cover.  We hope you like it because you’re stuck with it for at least eighteen months.

Cuthbert’s

When a caving incident receives national publicity, we feel bound to follow with a description of our own, if only to let absent members and other cavers know what actually did happen. In this particular case, the knowledge is first hand, and the account in this month’s B.B. is largely that given to the M.R.O. by Marriott, who led the party involved.

Once again, we sadly note the numerous errors and the distortion of the facts towards melodramatic indulged in by many of the national dailies.  In particular, the bit about communication not being established, which appeared in at least one account, can be refuted by Ken, Prew, and myself, who were in touch with one another by means of a writing pad in a tin, for the whole time.

Silver Jubilee

This is the club’s Silver Jubilee Year.  In this issue is a letter by Tony Johnson on this subject.  It would be a good thing if some of the older members could give a bit of thought to any sort of article describing the early years of the club!                                                                                                       “Alfie”

February Committee Meeting

The February meeting of the committee was held at the Belfry on the 7th.  The following new members were elected and we take this opportunity to welcome them to the club.  M.H. Evans, B.G. Clark, R.C. Hawkins, R.J. Roberts, W.F. (Jug) Jones, and George and Shirley Weston.  The last two are Joint Full members and all the others full members.

Other business dealt with included a discussion on the recent incident in Cuthbert’s, and suggestions for further increasing the safety aspects of this cave, the provision of fluorescent lighting in the Belfry, the proposed film to be made of the B.E.C., and the usual monthly reports given by the officers of the club.

Cuthberts

(A report on the incident in St. Cuthbert’s Swallet on Sunday, 24th January, 1960)

The party consisted of thirteen members of the Gloucester Speleological Society, plus K. Franklin and myself acting as guides.

The party entered the cave at 1.00 pm, noticing a small amount of water running into the entrance rift, which caused two of members of the Gloucester party to turn back and return to the surface.  The remaining thirteen of us pressed on, meeting a party led by Mike Palmer when we reached Mud Hall.  Since one of the Gloucester part had experienced some difficulty in negotiating the Wire Rift, he decided at this stage to return to the surface with Mike Palmer’s party.

The remainder of our party, now reduced to twelve, went on and did the usual “Weegee” trip.  On the return journey it was decided to split the party at Upper Mud Hall, and since three of the Gloucester people had previously visited the cave, they went ahead with two others while K. Franklin and myself followed with the slower people.  The object of this move was to avoid the delay which accompanies a party of this size at the bottom of the entrance rift.  When this point was reached by the slower portion of the party, at approximately 6 pm we found that two members of the first party had succeeded on climbing the rift against a considerable volume of water while the others were waiting for us, owing to lack of and non-functioning electric lights.

I then offered to climb the rift next and give the rest of the party illumination and assistance with the rope if necessary from the top.  This suggestion was agreed to, and I then climbed the rift.  On reaching the top, I began to encourage the next chap who, by this time, was nearly halfway up by giving him a heave on the rope.  At this stage, his light went out and he became to be a trifled worried.  It became obvious that he would have to return to the bottom and be assisted by fresh people on the line.  I therefore advised him to return while this could be organised and meanwhile get out of the water.

Meanwhile, at the Belfry, the first members of the party had reported the heavy water flow down the Entrance Rift and Rowena offered to change and go as far as the bottom of the Rift, to let the rest of the party know that assistance was available if required. Rowena met me at the top of the Rift, and volunteered to go down to check if the second man had got down all right. I then returned to the Belfry to call out assistance.

Alfie was getting into a Goon Suit as I arrived, and informed me that he had contacted Ken at the Shepton Hut by phone, and that Ken was standing by and changing.  As Alfie left for the cave, Prew arrived and was put in touch with events.  He immediately formed a party to attempt to make the dam more effective, but it was soon agreed that little immediate reduction of water was possible by this means. Ken and Alfie then entered the cave, and, on reaching the top of the Rift, Ken went down after agreeing a code of signals on the rope and promising to come straight back and report on the condition of the rift and the party below.  He soon returned and reported that the party were in good hearty, but that it would not be advisable for them to come out just yet, as they were a little tired after their trip and rather wet.  He suggested that he return to the bottom to reinforce the party there. Alfie returned to the Belfry and, with the others, got hot tea, dry clothes &c together to be lowered down the Rift.  This was done and the M.R.O. called out.  They brought enough Goon Suits to equip each caver still at the bottom with one, and organised the Fire Brigade to come up an pump the pond out into Plantation swallet.  The M.R.O. call went through about 8 pm.

Prew, Mike Holland, Alfie &c then started lowering the supplies down to the people below. Contact with the party at the bottom was originally carried out by Ken and Alfie shouting to each other, but this was soon replaced by the use of a message pad and pencil which could be lowered up and down on the rope.  A point to note here.  Light articles, such as clothing, will not go down the Rift easily in polythene bags and a bag full of stones was improvised to give the bags enough weight.  The supplies ware organised form the Belfry and the Shepton Hut were soon reinforced with Goon Suits by the M.R.O. and supplies of chocolate, cigarettes &c which Brenda and Jill organised from the local shop.

The M.R.O. arrived on the scene very quickly, and also the Fire Pump which, by 9.45 was pumping the pond out at a very impressive rate.  At about this time, a veritable horde of reporters, photographers (moving and still) and general hangers-on descended on the site like a swarm of locusts. By 10.45 the water flowing down the entrance rift had considerably decreased and the first of the people below came out.  Further pumping stopped the flow completely & the last man form the Gloucester party reached the surface by 1am.

Kit was then recovered from the cave and taken to the Belfry, where utter confusion appeared to reign, owning to the fact that thirty or forty people plus a vast amount of kit were all crammed into the building.  However, this was all gradually sorted out.

One unfortunate aspect of this affair is that it was not discovered until we were actually in the cave that two of the party were novices (from a caving point of view) although one was an experienced climber and the other had had considerable experience in old iron workings.  It was one of these people who failed to climb the Rift on the first attempt.  In view of this, it would have been inadvisable to have encouraged him to make a second attempt immediately after his failure. Fortunately, and perhaps due to this prudent attitude, the situation at no time got out of hand and, thanks to the prompt assistance of the M.R.O., the Police and the Fire Brigade, the whole operation was carried out very calmly and smoothly.

                                    From an account by C.A. Marriott.

Letters to the Editor

333 5th Street
Shawinigan Falls
Quebec

Dear Hon. Ed.

Reading the Christmas number of the B.B. which has just reached me by a rather roundabout way, I see a notification for change of address.  Here is my present one, but please keep the one which is at present ‘on the books’ as my permanent address.

Although my copy of the B.B. is not quite hot off the press, I find it very interesting.  I see from the address list that Tony Rich is now in Calgary.  That is only 2,000 miles from here!  Quebec is inhabited by ‘frogs’; and Shawinigan is only 5% English speaking.  Thus I am trying to learn French as fast as possible on the principle of when in Rome doing as the Romans do!

I have a job with Shawinigan Chemicals in the Technical Service and Development Department on Vinyls and other plastics.  Only a few of my fellow technicians can speak English.  It is rather like living in a sort of Americanised France.  In the hills near here (locally termed the ‘bush’) there are many lovely lakes surrounded by forest.  They are wonderful for boating; swimming; water skiing or fishing in the summer.  At the moment, most of these lakes have many inches of ice and in the north where the temperature drops to -40 of -60oF, several feet of ice are formed.

There is plenty of snow here.  We had the first of it in the middle of October.  I have been skiing every weekend since before Christmas.  I’ve been to New York twice and seem “My Fair Lady” the last time.

How’s the dig on Priddy green?  Still draining the cowsh from Maine’s Barn to Swildons?  Whilst the rest of you are all draining the Hunters dry, I suppose!

                        John Pegram

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To the Editor, B.B.,

Dear Sir,

Where are they now? Where are the people who have helped over the years to build the B.E.C. up to what it is now?  Some of us are still circulation, some tragically are no longer with us, but very many have just disappeared into the shadows.

I wonder where ‘Andre’ is now.  Before the B.B. was ever dreamed of, way back in the early 1940’s, Andre was by way of being a club chronicler in cartoon.  Unfortunately, few of his efforts survive.  What of Johnny “half Pint” Dwyer that cussed but intrepid pillion rider of the Cantle motor cycle.  What of Roger himself?  I believe he is to be found rushing round Gloucestershire in a radio controlled car – a ‘respectable’ married man.  Thinking of climbing and North Wales, I wonder where that diminutive Merseyside dynamo Bob Crabteree is yarning these days.  Others of the climbing fraternity, Ron “Holler-in-the-Night” Newman and Johnny “Menace” Morris more fortunately have not completely gone and may still be seen at club now and again.

John Bindon is another to have departed, and his exceptionally fine tenor voice is no longer heard in the Hunters.  Of similar vintage, who can remember Tim Kendrick flying into Cuthbert’s depression one summers day?  This would go on forever.  Postle and Dizzie and their famous chariot “Sue”, Tony Bamber, “Foulmouth” McKee and many more.

Luckily some of these old stagers ate still going strong.  Dan Hasell springs to mind at once.  I don’t think he would like to be known as the wise old man of the B.E.C., but his experience has been invaluable to us on more than one occasion.  He probably doesn’t remember, but he was the first to take me up on Mendip and the Hunters.  Sett seems to go on and on.  Sett, for whom Hal Perry once wrote (after one of his prangs which he indulged at the time)

Now there’s Sett of battered face
Likes to fester on apace,
Taking corners over faster
Often leads him to disaster.

There are dozens more. Some known to the present population, some rarely mentioned names, stretching back almost into prehistory; when the B.E.C. was vastly different form its present prosperity.  I can remember long discussions during those happy evenings with Harry at 74 Redcatch Road when in fear and trembling we decided to sink everything and bog (was it £25?) and buy a hut to use as a Mendip Headquarters. How this hut is no more and a stone one is rising in its place.

As a gesture on the Silver jubilee of the club, I wonder if it would be possible to send a complimentary copy of the B.B. to those old but lost friends whose addresses are not too out of date.  Even if some never find their final recipient, I feel that some at least might be glad to know that the old club is still alive and kicking and perhaps renew their acquaintance.  You never know.

                        Tony Johnson

Editor’s Note.    At the risk of a wildcat strike in the Postal Dept, I think this could be arranged.  We do owe these members quite a lot, and this would be a nice way of reminding then that they are not quite forgotten.

British Overseas Caving Expedition.

A preliminary notice appeared in a recent B.B.  We have now been sent more information.  The expedition will be arranged for 1961 and it is desired to know a little known caving area in Europe, so as not to duplicate the work of earlier such expeditions.  If any member has any definite knowledge of an area fulfilling those conditions, he is asked to get in touch with: -

                        Alan Fincham
                                    The University,
                                                LEEDS.

Or via the club secretary. Further notices will appear in the B.B. on this subject from time to time.

Subscriptions.

It seems absurd to suggest it, but there are still some of this year’s subs outstanding.  Why not astound the secretary abet actually paying them?

Use of a Barometer

Roger Stenner has written to point out that the conclusions printed at the end of the article ‘Use of a Barometer in Cave Surveying’ which appeared in the recent Christmnas B.B. were not these which, in fact, he supplied.  This is true and we should like to may it quite clear that this is not our usual practice.  There are, however, reasons which will be sent to the author.  Should he not agree, a further article on this subject will be printed in the near future.

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The Hut Warden would like to remind you that kit is left at the Belfry at YOUR OWN RISK.  Old caving and other gear is liable to be turned out periodically and may be destroyed.  Don’t let this happen to you!

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THE BELFRY BULLETIN. February 1960.  No. 144.
Secretary, R.J. Bagshaw, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.
Editor, S.J. Collins, 33 Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8.
Postal Dept, B. Prewer, 14 Egerton Road,, Bath, Somerset.