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Nominations Forms.

Since there are a large number of new members who have not yet attended an Annual General Meeting than we usually have, it is probably worth while repeating the usual preliminary warnings.  The A.G.M. and Dinner is held at the beginning of October.  In next month’s B.B., you will find the voting forms for the 1961 committee – that is, if there are more than nine nominations are received. Members of the existing committee are automatically nominated for the next unless they wish not to stand again. Apart from that, it’s up to you to nominate people that you would think would make good committee members for 1962.


Caving Log

For May, June and July

6th May.   Lamb Leer.              R. Roberts and a party of nine B.C.S.S. did a short trip to the main chamber and side passages.

8th May.  Cuthbert’s.                Leader, Steve Tuck.  Trip to September Series.

21st May.  Goatchurch.           John Ransom, Trevor Knight, Jug and Pat Irwin.  Trevor and Pat went through the drainpipe.  John stuck at commencement and Jug got psychologically wedged. Quite a pleasant trip.

21st May.  Sidcot.                     Same party as above.  Went a third of the way in but Jug was leading and didn’t like the look of a squeeze, so the party turned round.

21st May.  Avelines.                 Same party as above.  Complete tour of the cave.

22nd May.  Swildons.               Garth, John, Jug, Pat, Bruce and Martin. Trip to sump.  Assisted member of another party who was nadgered and had a duff leg.  Got him up the 40’.  Otherwise an eventual trip.

22nd May.  Swildons.               Party, Nigel, Jim Borchard, John Downe, Llew Pritchard.  Quiet trip down Short Dry to Sump I, then back out the Wet way.  John laughed like a drain when he got wet.  Perverted?

28th May.  Cuthbert’s.             Party, Prew, George, Pat, Richard, Paddy and David.  Went as far as the Dining Room.  Went via Everest and back through the Railway tunnel.

29th May.  Sidcot.                     Party, Garth, Pat, Jim, George, John and Trevor.  A two hour trip in Sidcot.  Trevor, Jim and Garth tried to emerge from the triangle after descending the thirty foot, but found it too small.  A tour of Goatchurch also took place.

4th June.  Cuthbert’s.              P. Flood, Sandra, Jim Hill, Fred Holloway, led by Roger Stenner.  September series plus a bit of Catgut by accident.  Out via harem Passage, Railway Tunnel and normal route.

6th June.  Eastwater.              Garth, Roger, Jim and Sandra.  To Terminal via Twin Verticals.  Roger was a menace because he didn’t like the cave. Jim vanished at the top of the first vertical and was unfortunately found in the Boulder Ruckle.  We washed off in the Mineries.

11th June.  Swildons.              Frank Darbon, Pam Russell, Tony James, Ivan Crow, and Nigel Hallett.  A quiet trip to sump.  Back via Tratman’s Temple.

12th June.  August Hole.         Garth, John and Llew.  We intended a trip to Longwood but called it off because of a very recent fall.  We did August instead.  It was the first time down for the three of us.  We went as far as two hundred feet from the bottom of the downstream passage.

18th June.  Vee Swallet.         Digging in the tunnel of Vee Swallet. The water is about one foot deep! M. Ward and P. Miller.

18th June.  Swildon’s             Jim Hill, Pat Irwin and Anne Ritcher. Down the Wet Way to the Forty.  Turned back at the top of the Twenty.  Met a party of Wessex cavers at the top of the Forty (were they besides themselves with fright? – Ed.)  came out the Long Dry Way.  Anne’s first ever ladder pitch.  A steady, pleasant trip enjoyed by all.

19th June.  August-Longwood.           Llew Pritchard and Jim Borchard.  Down to the ‘S’ squeeze after the Great Rift.  More water than last week, but still fairly dry.

22nd June.  Cuthbert’s            Mike Baker, Mike Holland, Derek Ford. Tourist trip to Rabbit Warren.

26th June.  Swildons.              Frank Darbon, John, Richard, Jock and Jug.  Good enjoyable trip to Sump I.  Very little water going over the Forty.

26th June.  Cuthbert’s.            Norman Petty, Frank Darbon, Nigel Hallett, John Gallagher and six bods from Redland teachers training college. Lower Mud Hall, down Water Chute to Dining Room. Then out.

26th June.  Eastwater.             Twin Verticals.  Fab Eyles, Charlie Brown, Tony Davidson and Bob Grace.  Good trip leaving time for a swim in caving gear in the Mineries.

26th June.  Swildons.              Party, Sybil, Garth and a party of pupils from Sybil’s school.  Trip to top of 40 and out the Dry Way.

3rd July.  Cuthbert’s.               Leader, Kangy.  Party, Mike Holland, Derek Ford, Kit, John Downie, Jim Borchard.  Prospected Lake Chamber intending to float across it.  Horrid shocking dry.  Out via Rabbit Warren Extension and Catgut.  Mike Holland made it.  Weegee baiting in the Mineries followed.

3rd July.  August-Longwood.  Llew Pritchard, Don Luker and Pat Irwin.  Bottomed the swine.  All excepting the last hour’s tight squeeze.  We decided it wasn’t worth going on if the passage stayed the same. A party of schoolboys caused some delay on the way out, from the two ten foot pots onwards.  Don seemed to enjoy his first trip.

2nd July.  Emborough Swallet.          Much boulder shifting and much removed by a joint party of B.E.C. and S.M.C.C. as a return match after a similar joint effort of Priddy Green the weekend before.  (This trip got left out of the log).  Casualties numbered one bruised foot (unknown) one cut finger (Alfie) another cut finger requiring hospital treatment (Eric Fowler) and one bruise spine (Mike Thompson).  Watch for the next instalment of this gory tale.

3rd July.  Fernhill Cave.           This is a new hole – the fourth – in fairy Cave Quarry.  Alfie, Jill and Garth on photographic trip, down the fairly small hole opened a fortnight earlier by quarry blasting.  Entrance is an amazing rift forty feet deep by about sixty feet long, covered in stal curtains.  Very nice formations generally.  Taken round by Jack Hill (president of Cerberus C.C.)

5th July.  Eastwater.                Fab Eyles with a party of novices. Down to Rift Chambers to give them a good insight into the character of the cave.

9th July. Swildons.                   Nigel Hallett + 3 W.S.G. members.  A very quiet trip to the top of the Forty.  Hauled some idiot’s ladder up the Forty for them as they had taken it down with them to the Twenty.

9th July.  Swildons.                  John Gallagher, Ben Boyle and Alan Read.  Upper Swildons for the Forty.  Alan Read’s first.  Returned via the Wet way.

10th July.  Swildons.                To Sump I with a party who were either too shy or unable to write their names in the caving log.  An easy trip with little water.

10th July. Goatchurch.            Fab Eyles, Bob Grace and a schoolboy party of six spent a pleasant couple of hours exploring Goatchurch.

10th July.  Hunters Hole.         A weekend’s work from the 7th – 10th. Ian Dear, L:es Mortimer and Jim Hill. Laddered the cave of Friday night.  Two working parties went down on Saturday and Sunday consisting of Llew, Mo, Keith and Pete, Pat, Jug and Garth.  Dear’s ideal deepened by at least five feet and looks promising.  The Railway Tunnel dig extended by four to five feet in what looks like the termination of a rift.  Next instalment in a month’s time, all being well.

11th July.  Swildons.                Leader, Keith Galdman.  Party, Fab Eyles, Bob Grace, Tony Davidson and John Lane.  Good trip down to Sump I.  Keith and Fab went through to Duck I.  No mishaps.

13th July.  Cuthbert’s.              Kangy retrieved a bag from Stafford’s Boulder Problem.

14th July.  Swildons                 Bob Grace, Fab Eyles and seven Q.E.H. boys to Sump I.  Fab Eyles went through for a second time this week.  Good trip.  Ladders by courtesy of Derek Ford.

14th July.  Swildons                 Keith Galdman, John Lane and Nick Lechmere (Mr Maine’s nephew) did a quick Upper Swildons.

16th July.  Swildons.                Richard Roberts and party.  Trip to Barnes Loop for photography.  We intended to visit St. Pauls but a hold up on the Forty prevented this.  Party were fairly wet and decided to return to the surface.

23rd July.  Cuthbert’s.             Leader Frank Darbon.  Party Nigel Hallett, Richard Roberts and Tim Smith. To High Chamber and had a look at a passage known by Richard.  Through Lower Mud Hall to sump via Cerberus Series and Lake Chamber. Returned via Rabbit Warren to the surface.  Very good trip.

23rd July.  Cuthbert’s.             Leader John Satfford with John Attwood and three Q.E.H. bods.  Sightseeing trip to Cascade, Curtain Chamber and Gour Hall.  Back out via Cerberus Series and Lake Chamber. No water in Lake Chamber.

24th July.  Cuthbert’s.             Leader Kangy.  Party John Downie, Beryl Ifold, Don Luker, Steve, Llew Pritchard, Alan, Jim Borchard, Dave Radmore, Norman Petty, Roger Stenner and John Etough.  This was a large party which split up for caving and photographic purposes.

25th July.  Eastwater.              Pam Russell, John, Michael, Ralph, Marcus, Brian and three others.  An easy trip to the top of Primrose Pot.  Three members of the party went through the squeeze to the top of the pot.  A dry comfortable tip.

26th July.  Fernhill & Fairy Caves       Pam Russell, Fred Davies and Phil Davy.  Fred Davies descended Fairy Cave and Phil and myself went down Fernhill.  A voice connection was found between the two.  The points are the very end of Fernhill and the second boulder ruckle in Fairy (surely she means Hilliers? – Ed.).  Fernhill has some beautiful curtains and stal.  Pam Russell.

30th July.  Hunters Hole.         Ian Dear, No Marriott, Peter, Keith, Llew, Guy (pronounced Gi, from France) and George Honey.  Pitches laddered, at considerable opposition from a rotten cow’s afterbirth at the bottom of the shaft.  This was pushed through and fell onto the floor of the main chamber, contaminating the ladder on the way.  The first pitch then became S.S. on account of the smell.  Digging in Dear’s Ideal.  Large rock fall cleared many boulders, but way on not too promising. Dear’s Ideal is not to be renamed Placenta Pot.

30th July.  Eastwater.              Four cavers, understood to be from Bristol Tech were returning from a trip down Eastwater when the leader, Alan Hartnell, lost his grip by the waterfall at the bottom of the Boulder Ruckle by the start of the 300’ Way, owing to loose rock and fell.  More rock fell onto him and, although he was not trapped, he was badly injured.  At 10 pm, the accident was reported at the Hunters – having been reported earlier at the New Inn.  B.E.C. members got rapidly changed and assisted the party from the New Inn, together with Luke Devenish and other members of the M.R.O. and a doctor from Cheddar. The operation went very smoothly and quickly, and he was brought up through the ruckle carefully yet quickly in a semi-conscious condition. By 11.15 he was out of the cave, taken to the ambulance on the club rigid stretcher and on his way to Bristol Hospital.  It is recorded with deep regret that he died early the next morning.  We extend our sincere sympathy to his friends and relatives, and assure them that every care and prompt action was taken by the rescue team. (Editor).

30th July.  August-Longwood.            Pam Russell and Tom Sage.  Longwood was fairly dry and the trip was completed without incident. August Hole was very wet.

31st July.  Cuthbert’s.             Roger Stenner led a trip with Pam, Tom Sage and Garth.  Tourist trip to September Series.

31st July.  Cuthbert’s.             Mike Baker led a trip of seven members of the Crewe caving Club.  Tourist trip to the sump and back.

31st July.  Cuthbert’s.             Dave Raine introduced to a Mendip cave by Bryan Ellis.  A very quick trip to the sump and back.  Dave was very impressed by the cave and wishes to take it back to Yorkshire Bryan didn’t think he was capable of doing this trip so fast, but there were two pints at stake.

31st July.  Cuthbert’s.             George Honey.  Down with Roger’s party.  Trying to use bubble sextant for vertical surveying.  Seems reasonable.  Results must be processed before any conclusions can be drawn.


Mattresses and Blankets.  The Belfry mattresses and blankets are showing signs of wear and some must soon be replaced.  Please turn out your attics.  Gifts of these items are urgently required.

Sheet Sleeping Bags.  In order to preserve the Belfry bedding the committee have decided that sheet sleeping bags – a la Y.H.A. – must be used by members who do not bring their own sleeping bags.  All members please note and pass this on to intending visitors.

Car and Motor Cycle Badges.  Bob Bagshaw is now taking orders for these.  The badge itself is 8/6 or 14/-.  Do not miss this great bargain!  Seriously – they do look very nice and are well worth it.

G.B. Guest Days.  The next trip is on Sunday, September 4th, meet at three o’clock at the barn.

C.R.G. Annual General Meeting.  This will be held at Sheffield University on the 12th of Nov. this year.

Donations to Club Library.  The following books have been kindly donated by John Etough. Anapurna by Maurice Herzog. Undersea Adventure by Phillipe Diote. Climbs in the Canadian Rockies by Frank S. Smythe.


To the Editor of the B.B.

I was highly interested in the article “A short history of the B.E.C.” which appeared in the Silver Jubilee Edition.  Unfortunately, strange as it may seem, I have never heard our esteemed club song.  I wonder if it might be possible, therefore, for the sake of newer members and uneducated specimens like myself, to print a copy of the club song in the B.B.?

                        Cheers for now
                                    Alan Nash.

By all means Alan.  We hope, however, that you didn’t expect the club song to be full of references to caving or anything like that!  It goes: -

We are the exploration Club
We roam around from pub to pub.
To die of thirst we have no fear
As long as we have lots of beer.
So raise your tankards high
And drink them down until they are dry,
We are the Exploration Club
We roam around from pub to pub.

While we are on the subject of club songs, we have the author’s permission to print a version of the Wessex Club song, so we might as well go the whole hog…

We are the Wessex Cave Club
No ruddy use are we.
We drink a half of cider
It affects us more than tea.
And when we’re down in Swildons
And haven’t got a light,
We stand above the Forty
Beside ourselves with fright.

The B.E.C. they help us
Through every pitch and squeeze.
We like the way they do it
With such consummate ease.
And when we are much better
At caving – we agree,
It is our one ambition
To join the B.E.C.

Some Thoughts on the Leader System

By Roger Stenner

Among cavers, there is a real and important differences of opinion about the importance of the leader, ad in particular what has been called the leader system.  That is, the system by which access to a cave is limited to parties led by one of a number of selected cavers.  This is the system used to limit access to St. Cuthbert’s Swallet, and certain caves in South Wales.  I must admit here that my knowledge of the cave situation outside Mendip and South Wales is scant. I think it must be agreed that all parties must have a leader who is responsible for the safety and conduct of the, members of the party in the cave.  There is no argument about this; it is the Leader System which is often attacked.

One objection to the Leader System is the inconvenience it causes.  It usually involves writing to someone several weeks in advance, and it may difficult for some people to plan very hard ahead.  On the other hand, a visitor from another part of the country, haven written in advance, will be sure of the company of someone who knows the cave well.  Just a tourist trip through a cave can be made a real pleasure by a leader who can tell his party things of interest connected with the history of the exploration of the cave.  Beside being invaluable on trips made for a specific purpose, the leader is bound to save time which may be valuable.  The main objection is that the Leader System kills initiative and leads eventually to stagnation.  Whether the B.E.C. or S.M.C.C. can be called stagnant clubs is very much a matter of debate!

The value of the Leader System lies in the prevention of damage to formations.  It is natural that if all parties visiting a particular cave have leaders who are responsible for the protection of all amenities of the cave, then vandalism, accidental or deliberate, will be kept to a minimum. In fairly easy caves not protected by such a system, such as was the case at one time in Hilliers and G.B., formations have fared very badly.  It would have been thought that the entrance series of Stoke Lane would have kept out all but the keenest cavers. Spent carbide has been tipped in most chambers; the Main Chamber is littered with tins; and even Queen Victoria has got quite muddy.  Damage of this kind, in a cave protected by a long miserable entrance and a sump is far worse than in O.F.D. or Cuthbert’s.

It may be said that I am placing undue emphasis on the importance of formations, but those few people who have done a great deal of important exploration seem to be the people who most strongly believe that caves should be left untouched as much as possible.  The S.W.C.C. had much discussion before it was decided to remove an insignificant stalagmite boss that would have really hindered a party in a hurry because of the rising floodwater in O.F.D.  Again, it is sometimes said that formations can hinder exploration.  Tratman’s Temple is quoted as an example.  Against this, some once wanted to climb the cascade in Cuthbert’s but was restrained from doing so.  Eventually somebody else got into the passage leading from the cascade by another route. Without the means of restraint provided by the leader system, the Cascade would have been permanently and uselessly damaged.

There are people who are interested only in exploration, and who think that the extension of caves is the only worth while thing of the sport.  Some argue that because they can quite easily bash on into the final sump, of a large cave without the aid of any leader; the Leader System is unnecessary. Such people are, to my mind, merely very selfish; forgetting that there is more to caving than the discovery of a bit more passage.  As the Editor pointed out, they themselves depend on the strenuous and thankless work of diggers, work that is so often fruitless.  The Leader System does seem to be the only effective way of checking vandalism while still allowing reasonable access to the cave.  If only from this point of view, it is justified in caves containing formations of great beauty.

Editor’s Note.    We think it is a good thing to print articles forcibly expressing different points of view from time to time.  Any replies or comments will be printed.


An Ode to the Bats of Bristol’s Belfry – On the Anniversary of the Initiation of two Colonials into the Strange and Mystical Rites of Mendip at Midsummer.

Those who were at present at the Midsummer barbecue last year will remember the two yanks who were so impressed with our civilised Mendip customs.  At this year’s barbecue, one of them, Geoff Movious, sent the following to Keith Gardner.  The instructions were duly complied with.

(To be read at the height of a glorious bonfire at Midnight)

All Hail Bristol revellers, ye worthy sprites!
Praise to you as you scale great Bacchus’ heights.
May there never be a dearth of hills for climbing,
May you all be catastrophically wining.
Whether lost in revelry of summer so profound
Or mucking all about for underground.
Our fondest hopes and wishes you attend
We pray you now a precious moment lend
To our Ode upon Midsummer’s night –
Before the eastern sky begins to light.

Twelve months have flown away across the year
Since last two “Damned Colonials” were here.
You took them in and cidered them completely
Inebriating them – yet passing sweetly.
The rubber suited race across the pond;
The theft of hats which firemen had donned
But quickly doffed before our awesome crew,
Ho raged around consuming jugs of brew;
The ceremony of the roaring fire,
(Perhaps the punch itself burned slightly higher)
These memories and visions truly bright
Go forth to you upon this glorious night.
May your Midsummer’s Dream be blessed with wine,
May wenches serve you with it as you dine.
With this last wish we make our solemn parting,
(Exit Colonials – who to pubs are departing).

Building a Belfry - Part eight

It now becomes obvious, even to the meanest intelligence, that foundations must now be dug. Accordingly, we drive four pegs in to mark the corners of the trenches and check them with a surveying tape. After a little adjustment, the lengths agree.

We are just about to out the first sod when some other ditto suggests that – just as a check – we measure the diagonals.  This is done. The resulting parallelogram is then played about with on the ‘left hand down a bit’ principle until, by some fluke, the diagonals are the same length.  We breathe a collective sigh of relief and pick up our spades again.

Some idiot now suggests that – just as a check – we measure the sides again.  This is done.  We agree that a trapezoid hut, although novel, is not what we really had in mind. Eventually both the sides and the diagonals ate made equal.  At this point, the ghost of Euclid and Pythagoras stop revolving in their respective graves.  Exhausted by this mental effort, and pausing only to make sure the pegs are firmly in, we stagger from the scene.

A few pints later, with the determination and tenacity for which none of us are noted, we return to the dig trenches.  Then comes the blow.  Our wholesale suppliers arrange for lorry loads of concrete blocks and heaps of limestone dust to be delivered.  This is too much.  Stunned by the enormity of what we have done, we stagger automatically to the Hunters – broken men.  Will we ever recover, you doubtless ask?  No.

(This nauseating tale will be continued at spasmodic intervals).


Congratulations to “Kangy” and Ann on their wedding which took place over August Bank Holiday.

Congratulations to “Spike” and also to Alan Sandall on reaching their ‘decadence’.


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.