Belfry Bulletin

Search Our Site

The New B.B.

Now that we have a complete magazine (with cover!) out we have been able to listen to some of the comments.  On the whole, these have been favourable, the cover especially being approved of.  One complaint, however, seems to be the smaller amount of material in the magazine.  This is largely an illusion as eight pages of this pne are equivalent to 6.9 pages of the older style.  In spite of this, we agree it does look smaller and so, for this month at least, we are producing a twelve page magazine.


March Committee Meeting

The March meeting of the club committee elected the following as members of the club, and we welcome them to the club: - Mike Holland, Brian Iles, Garth Dell and James Hook. Other business dealt with included the provisioning of spares for the Belfry stove, the purchase of new drinking mugs, the sending by post of the B.B., arrangements for various trips at Easter and Whitsun, the provision of a club badge (again) and the attending of the Axbridge dinner.

March 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.


A trip to Porthwarra ( Cornwall) is being arranged for Easter for climbing, walking, mineshaft exploration etc.  Contact Roy Bennett or Geoff Mossman for further details.

A trip to Speakes Hill is being arranged for Easter.  Contact Keith Gardner for further details.

A trip is being arranged for Whitsun to gaping Gill, and it is hoped to get enough people to hire a coach. Further details may be obtained from ‘Prew’.

Keith Asquith

It is real regret that we have to publish the sad news of the sudden death of Keith Asquith.  He died at Bingley, while returning from Bradford on his motor bike after attending a B.P.C. committee meeting on Tuesday, March 8th. To all his many friends, both in the B.P.C. and on Mendip, we offer our deepest sympathy.  All of us who knew him will miss him very much.

Caving Log

For January and February 1960.

2nd Jan.  Hunters Hole.  Ian Dear, L. Mortimer, Alan Nash, Dave Hoskyns and Nigel Hallett did a five hour trip and removed a roof fall at the end of the dig.

3rd Jan.  St. Cuthbert’s.  Mike Baker led a tourist trip of four to the sump.  A peculiar humming noise was noted caused by water flowing against small curtains and flutings on Stalagmite Pitch.  This noise could be heard from beyond the Dining Room entrance.

10th Jan.  Eastwater.  Mike Palmer led a novice trip in the Upper series.  Down to the two rifts and back up the bedding planes.  A steady, pleasant trip.

10th Jan.  Swindon.  Trip about Upper Series by John Ransom, Pat Irwin and other undecipherable characters led by Tony O’Flaherty.

16th Jan.  Goatchurch.  Photographic trip down this dangerous hole by Jill and Alfie.

24th Jan.  Hilliers Hole.  Alfie, Jill, Prew, Jug and Rowena.  Very wet conditions.  Photographs taken under difficulties.

24th Jan.  St. Cuthbert’s.  Party of people from Gloucester. A full report of this trip appeared in last month’s B.B.

24th Jan.  G.B.  ‘Mo’ led a trip to Main Chamber via the Mud Passage returning to the surface after examining several interesting side passages.  A very enjoyable trip.

24th Jan.  Eastwater.  Leader Ian Dear with Meg Evans, Bryan Clarke and Jim Hill.  Went to the top of Dolphin Pot.  Did not get lost on way through Boulder Ruckle coming out.  Got lost on the way in instead.

24th Jan.  G.B.  Keith and Pete Franklin, Pat Irwin, Jim Hill and ‘Mo’ descended to Main Chamber via Mud Passage and did White Passage and Rumba Alley.

6th Feb.  Gough’s.  A super-severe trip by Alfie, Jill, Colin and Jug.  Guide instructed the party on principles of cave formation.  Party expresses suitable amazement.  It appears they are all formed by water!

15th Feb.  Swildons.  Trip to Breakfast Chamber, but after dinner in Trat’s Chamber the party returned. Wet.  Tony O’Flaherty, Jug, etc.  The time taken was considerable but was not noted in hours, minutes and seconds. It was an enjoyable trip and well organised.

15th Feb.  St. Cuthbert’s.  Keith and Pete Franklin, Frank Darbon, G, Robson, Silcox, G, Harrison, Colin, Alan Sandall and ‘Mo’ did a trip to September Series (went through ruckle both ways with no mistakes).  Some photographs of formations were taken by Frank and several other people spent some time in thrutching about in odd holes.

20th Feb.  Goatchurch.  Party of 5. K.S. Gardner, G. Dell, M. Iles, J, Hill and Lady Chatterbox!  Down to Water Chamber.  G.D. & J.H. through Drain Pipe.

20th Feb. Swildon’s. Ralph Lewis, Anne Kirk, Jim Phillips, Noel, John Holloway plus Sybil.  Short Dry way to 40.  Beginners led out and as expected careered off into Long Dry.  Visit to Straw Chamber on route.  Party divided some going short dry and others wet way. Success!  First trip for 2½ years without ill effects.  (Sybil).

21st Feb.  Eastwater.  Colin Knight, Jug, Jim, Mike and Gloria.  Turned back at the top of the first pitch.

27th Feb.  Eastwater.  Primrose Path.  Jim Hill and Garth.

28th Feb.  St. Cuthbert’s.  Leader Mike Baker.  A tourist trip to the sump and back with the Beechen Cliff Speleos.  Also N. Petty, R. Stenner and Jim Hill went down to the Dining Room with the DON COASE memorial tablet and a supply of cement.  The ladder on the Wire Rift was made more stable. The tablet was inspected in the Dining Room and is still in one place.

28th Feb.  Swildons.  Leader P. Roberts and five Beechen Cliff Speloes.  Tourist trip to Lower Series.

28th Feb.  Priddy Green Swallet.  Removing debris – more bang.  Good results, much more debris to be removed now – Sybil.

Surveying in St. Cuthbert’s

By Bryan Ellis

As far as the author is aware, there are three ‘part surveys’ of St. Cuthbert’s.  The first of those is the survey of one route through the cave from the duck towards the entrance which was started several years age by Don Coase.  This survey progresses as far as the junction of Everest and main Stream passages.  It had been surveyed at Grade 6 and when it has been continued to the entrance, it will form the basis of a survey of this grade. The lower grade surveys of side passages can then be tied to it.

The next survey was one of the Maypole Series made by “Kangy” King.  This has already been published in the B.B.   As King wished to determine the position of the end of the series in relation to the surface, he continued a line survey from Upper Traverse Chamber to the entrance via the Wire Rift.  He only claimed grade 4 for this survey but a clinometer was used and corrections were applied for sloping measurements.

The third survey is one made by Chris Falshaw and myself.  This is a grade 5 survey.  The intention was to survey the Rabbit Warren but, while surveying the ‘T’ Junction Chamber, some very inconsiderate young men came along and opened up Cross Leg Squeeze into the Catgut Series.  The result of this was that the survey was then continued through this series into High Chamber and Upper Traverse Chamber instead.  This enable the survey to be tied in with Kangy’s survey and therefore with the surface.

Recently, I have continued the third survey by surveying Upper Traverse Chamber and down to Harem Passage, into Cascade Passage and from there; a line survey was made to Fingers and down Everest Passage as far as the Main Stream.  This has enabled Coase’s survey to be tied into the other two.

All these surveys were drawn to the same scale by yours truly and fitted together as well as I could. From this drawing (made at a scale of 1/305 or 1mm to 1ft) bearings and distances to salient features were measured and these points re-plotted at a scale of 1/1250 or 105ft/inch.  The “25 inch” map of the area was then enlarged to double the scale and the two plotted on one diagram.  The features between the plotted points were then sketched in.  It will be remembered that parts of the survey were line diagrams only so that shapes of these passages are figments of the author’s imagination.  These parts comprise Cascade Passage, Boulder Chamber and all the route from there to the entrance.  The most important words in the title of the accompanying diagram are ‘sketch of’.  No particular accuracy is claimed – it is probably equivalent to a grade 3 survey only – and I would not be very surprised to find the position of the duck to be a couple of hundred feet from the position shown.

The idea in publishing this plan now is twofold.  First, it shows that some progress has been made on the survey of the cave and secondly, it does give an APPROXIMATE indication of where the cave goes.

Editor’s Note.    Some copies of this B.B. may not have a copy of the plan described in this article.  The circulation of the B.B. has gone up a bit since Bryan asked Jonah to print the plans for this article.  This article is continued on the next page.

Now for plans for the future.  Alfie Collins still hopes – if his health will permit – to continue the high grade survey to the entrance.  For myself, now that the diversion through the Catgut Series has been completed (except for the September Series) I intend to continue with the original plan of surveying the rabbit warren and Extension.  The only change is that, instead of surveying from Continuation Chamber ‘outwards’, the plan is now to survey from Cascade Passage to the main entrance near the Dining Room and then across to Plantation Junction and up into the Rabbit Warren Extension.

The amount of cave surveyed so far adds up to 3,000 – 3,500 feet, so there is plenty let for any leader who feels like who feels like a bit of surveying.  For anyone else who wants to survey, I could always do with an assistant! At the moment the most important piece which requires surveying is to continue the high grade survey at least as far as Kanchenjunga so that the Maypole Series survey can be tied in more accurately.

Finally, if anyone holding any survey data taken in the cave would let me borrow them so that I can plot them accurately, I would be most grateful.  At the moment I have only sketches and working drawing to go on.

B.M. Ellis.

Editor’s Note.    Since I can, and feel I should, write a bit more than a short comment on the above, I shall be publishing my contribution to the present Cuthbert’s survey position in an article next month.

Letters To the Editor, B.B.

Having read Roger Stenner’s article in the Christmas B.B., I am rather wondering which is the quickest and most accurate method of cave surveying.  Certainly taking readings off the aneroid is much quicker than numerous measurements with a steel tape, but which is the more accurate over a whole system.

Surely the barometric method must be, since one is measuring absolute depth from the surface; whereas, with, the conventional method, one is measuring height from a point which may itself be a doubtful position.  If an accuracy of  18” can be obtained, this is a very good method indeed, as is represents an error of only 0.5%.

By the way, hasn’t Sett left out two important ingredients in his article on Belfry Binder? (1) An ounce of dark shag twist baccy (fag ends will do if not obtainable) and (2) A quart of Ben’s best screech!

                        Yours,     George Honey

Editor’s Note.    Unfortunately, in an accurate line survey using any form of theolodite (such as an astrocompass) all the heights ‘come out in the wash’ anyway and you could not measure plan distances with first computing or scaling heights to reduce the slant distances to their equivalent plan distances.  The aneroid however, would give a useful check with, as George points out, an accuracy independent of the number of previous legs in the survey and thus avoid cumulative errors.  It would also be very useful in determining heights before an accurate survey has been done.  This might be useful in the study of gradients of streams etc.

Sett, of course wrote his article as a serious guide to the cooking of Binder.  Some odd things have crept in at times, though, reminds us of the old limerick: -

‘There was once a diner of Crewe
Who found a dead rat in his stew.
Said the waiter, “Don’t shout
And wave it about,
Or the rest’ll be wanting one too.”


Dear Sir,

I have written and article on the formations which I noted when I visited St. Cuthbert’s last July, which you may reproduce in whole or in part in the B.B. if you so wish.  I feel it is rather teaching the proverbial grandmother to suck eggs for a one trip tourist to write an article on this subject for members of the B.E.C., but the fact that I have done so may serve to show that the rip was not entirely fruitless and that the B.E.C. leaders are doing a great job in showing tourist like myself around this fine system.  You may rest assured that at least some of the routine tourist traffic is prompted by a little more than just idle curiosity!

One thing I greatly appreciated may interest you.  St. Cuthbert’s, to say the least of it, is a little strenuous for me and when we had seen most of the big chambers and were touring the Rabbit Warren Extension, I began to get weary.  On reporting this to the leader, Roger Stenner, he at once abandoned the trip to Gour Hall and we went down to the Dinning Room for a rest and a bite.  After this, we came out by the quickest route and I was thus able to make my own way out without any help.  I think that this kind of leadership contributed immensely to making the trip a happy and memorable for me.  It might easily been otherwise if the, “Oh, you’ll be alright, let’s go on,” line had been taken.  I hope this will be of some interest.

                        John H. Tucker.

Editor’s Note.    It isn’t often the club gets thanked by a visitor.  We hope this will put new heart into all leaders.


We have also been sent some extracts of the doings of Tony Rich, who is still in Canada.

I quit the Frontier Goodyside Ltd. in June.  I was out of work for three weeks – worked on an oil rig for three days – fired – and came to the conclusion I was not cut out for a roughneck.  Then worked at Rocky Mountain House for a couple of weeks – quit – and went to work for the provincial government at the Department of Highways at St. Paul in Alberta.  The pay was not bad at 360 dollars a month (just realised I got a $ sign on this typewriter and didn’t use it! – Ed.)  I was a materials inspector working in a field lab testing road building materials and then the road itself when built.  Then they gave me a special job because of my seismic experience.  I had a diamond coring drill mounted on the back of a three quarter ton truck and I drove over Northern Alberta taking samples of various highways with all my expenses paid. This meant, however, that I was without car.  One day while stationed in Edmonton, I decided to drive the ninety miles to Bagshaw to pay the girl friend a visit. Got stuck in the mud and broke the drill getting out.  Women get a guy into more trouble!  I was three weeks out of a job again, during which I went hunting.  Only got 5 pheasant, 6 partridge, 4 duck and 3 grouse. Not enough snow for big game.

I then got a job with a geophysical company as surveyor.  The date was now 16th of December (I think).  I moved up to Fort Nelson on the Alaska Highway 70 miles N.E. of the town.  Colder than hell up here and only four hours of sunlight.  I got stranded the other day forty miles from nowhere, then I hit a snow bank.  While I put chains on, a pair of eyes watched me from the bush – a wolf most likely- they get curious.  Still stuck, so I slept it out until 3.30am.  Seen only one moose so far.  Chased her for half a mile with the trck.  There are cougar tracks around.  Found a bear’s den today.  Kinda scared to take a look.  There’re pretty mean if you wake them up.

(Tony Rich’s address id c/o Box 126, Bagshaw, Alberta, Canada.)

Locals Slide Show

Members may wish to know how the slide show for the locals went the other weekend.  In spite of the heavy snow and bitter cold weather, quite a few people turned up, and we just collected the money to pay for the hall. If the weather had been better, we might have filled it!  Many thanks to all who lent slides and apologies for lateness in returning them. A local newspaper did us proud for the occasion and we reproduce (we hope with their blessing) the account on the next issue.

Every weekend, and on many a weekday too, the cavers come to explore the underworld of Mendip.  Most of the “locals” regard them with some kind of amused tolerance – and never, unless to rescue some lost sheep of calf, venture beyond a yard or two into the entrance of any cave, swallet or other natural fissure.

Sensational scares, made the most by the national newspapers, occasionally publicise underground accidents and difficult rescues, but in view of the hundreds of explorations being made, these misfortunes, are very few.  And of these that do occur the vast majority befall people who lack experience or have had not the good sense to team up with the proper equipped group.

What is the thrill that takes all these people down below, apart from the adventurous call to tackle the unknown?  Well, here’s a chance for us surface types to see some of the wonders of subterranean Mendip from the comfort of a chair in a well warmed hall.  The Bristol Exploration Club, as a reward for all the Mendippers who have helped them in so many ways, are staging a collection of colour slides of the Mendip caves in Priddy Hall tonight (Friday).  For most of you reading these lines, there is still time if you are interested.  The exhibition starts at 7.30 pm.  Admission free – but there will be an opportunity to make a contribution to club funds if you wish.

Some of these colour slides are truly remarkable, and nearly all are spectacular.

                        (from a local paper)


The B.B. files have recently been tidied up and we have found to our horror that THEY ARE NOT COMPLETE. Have you got any of the following numbers of the B.B. that you no longer required?????  If so, PLEASE let us have then to complete the files.

48   103  104   105   107  108   109   110  111   113   114  115   117   138.

If you cannot spare them for us to keep, we have a volunteer who can type them out again.

Odd Items

C.C.P.R. Courses.  Bob Bagshaw has been sent the booklet issued by the Central Council for Physical Recreation and gives complete details of their courses for 1960.  A variety of pastimes from Archery to Weight Lifting are listed.  There is no caving but the Council runs courses on mountaineering and mountain activities.  If any member is interested, he should get in touch with Bob.

Kiwi Wet-Pruf.  We have been sent a letter from the advertising department of the above firm, stating they have been sent a quantity of back numbers of caving journals which they have read ‘with interest and in some cases, amusement’.  They would like to point out that Wet-Pruf would be useful in the care of caving boots.  We pass this on in case it really is.  They said they had enclosed a sample tin, but no tin was received!

Building A Belfry – Part Six

On looking through Tony Johnson’s fine series of articles on “Building a Belfry” which appeared in the B.B. during 1952, it seemed only right to try to bring the series up to date.  The result is below.  Incidentally, you will soon be able to read the original series in B.B. Digest No. 2 which will be coming out this year sometime.

Resume of paper read before the Amalgamated Society of Jerry Builders at their second unbelievable general meeting.

There come a time when even the best hastily assembled, carelessly moved and badly maintained buildings begin to show the first signs of decay.  This will normally manifest itself by some slight symptoms, recognisable only by the skilled builder, such as the compete collapse of the main floor joists.

When this occurs, the best course to pursue is undoubtedly that of deciding to replace the entire building.  By adopting this procedure, any further attempts at maintaining the old building may be dismissed with a suitable gesture as being hardly worthwhile. Meanwhile schemes can be discussed by all and sundry as they sit comfortably round the fire in the New Belfry while the Old Belfry slowly falls to pieces.

A body of opinion could no doubt be found who would contend that the presence of a picturesque ruin adjacent to one’s country seat adds interest to the general surroundings.  It certainly was true of the Old Belfry, as it slowly listed more and more to port (or starboard – depending on which way you looked at it!)  This delightful state of affairs might well have gone on for years were it not for the visit of a local surveyor who, after a cursory glance, pronounced it to be an eyesore.

A group of skilled wreckers (yes, the B.E.C.) at once approached the building and after a few minutes, reduced it to its component parts. This operation was considerably speeded up by the presence of Sago on the roof, who like the captain of his ship, finally went down with the building.

The large pile of wood which remained was rapidly used up in a number of cunning ways.  The Old Belfry door may now be found in the shaft of a small Mendip cave for instance.

For the next move, a tractor and trailer is essential.  These are provided by Johnny Lamb and a hectic weekend, during which gangs of female labour are assembled at the site, results in the transport of a huge pile of building stone to the Belfry site.  This stone, as everybody is most anxious to explain to each other, is for the walls of the new hut.  Everyone agrees this is a fine start and spur on the girls to shifting more stone.

As the months pass, the pile of stone gradually weathers in and becomes part of the general scenery. Grass grows up where the Old Belfry used to be.  Some day, we shall have a new hut.

(to be continued)



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.