The A.G.M..

This went off very well, and a goodly number of club members turned up.  You will find an account of some of the proceedings later on in this B.B. It was agreed by some members that the contents of the B.B. have tended to be below standard of late, and we hope that this will result in more members sending in articles, letters &c so that we may even be able to edit the B.B.  What is wanted mostly are articles of a serious climbing and caving nature.

Club Membership.

At first sight, the figures given by the Hon. Sec. did not seem to add up.  He told us that we had 34 new members during the year.  This squares up with the increase in the B.B. during the year – we are now printing 180 copies a month.  However, he then went on to say that the total membership had dropped by 7 to 112.  Could it be that nearly a third of all club members have only been in the club a matter of months?  The mystery was soon solved.  It appears that nearly fifty of you who may be reading this have not yet paid your sub. We are most reluctant to stop the B.B. going to old friends, but a sordid financial note must be struck. How about an associate membership at 7/6 if you are no longer as active as you were but would still like to keep in touch with the club?  If you are amongst those who mean to keep paying their sub but forgot, why not get the whole thing over once and for all?  5/5/- seems an awful lot to fork out all at once, but where could you invest this to bring you services worth 12/6 per year?  It’s not at all bad from a business point of view.  Anyway, if your sub is outstanding, please get in touch with Bob.

1961 Committee and Club Officers.

R.J. Bagshaw           Honorary Secretary and Treasurer

R.A. Setterington      Hut Warden and Committee Chairman

S.J. Collins              Editor, Belfry Bulletin

N. Petty                   Tackle Officer

C.A. Marriott            Caving Secretary and B.B. Postal Department

A. Sandall                Committee Minutes Secretary

C.H.G. Rees            Belfry Engineer

G. Mossman            Climbing Secretary (see under)

B. Prewer                (See under)

J. Ifold                     Honorary Librarian

N.B.  Owing to domestic commitments, “Pew” has not taken one of the main club offices this year.  G. Mossman has had to resign from the 1961 committee owing to heavy demands on his time.  The committee have co-opted Tony Dunn, who has agreed to take his place as Climbing Secretary.  The 1961 committee thus consists of: Bob Bagshaw, Sett, Alfie, Norman, Mo, Alan Sandall, Spike, Tony Dunn and Prew.

1960 Dinner

Although a few complaints about the service were heard, the 1960 Dinner of the B.E.C. went off reasonably well at the Star Hotel, Wells.  It was particularly gratifying for older members to see so many old friends who, unfortunately, can rarely get to Mendip.  An interesting feature of the dinner was the fact that it was not considered necessary to debar any particular persons from attending.  The high spot of the proceedings was undoubtedly the speech of Alan Thomas’s in which he proposed the health of absent friends. The early Victorian potato peeler which only Alan Thomas could have worked into such a speech was particularly effective in operation when it was later put to peeling an apple.  At a later stage of the proceedings, a man recited a poem.

W. Spoon.

Formations in Cuthbert’s

This account is not intended to be a detailed description of all the dripstone formations in this magnificent cave, but a record of some of the more outstanding features and impressions that a newcomer to the cave noticed on his first visit.

It cannot be too highly emphasised that the sheer “wildness” of the cave contributes greatly to the settings of all the formations, which are lovely and interesting.  There are huge blocks and slabs plied on all sides of the boulder chambers; great bedding planes sloping steeply into the gloom and smooth water washed tunnels in the lower sections.

The most striking feature which applies to many of the formation; stalactites, stalagmites, curtains and floor deposits is their translucency.  This becomes nearly transparent in some small curtains at the back of Pillar Chamber.  They are so clear that it seems almost impossible that they are made of calcite.

Many of these translucent formations have a very large crystal growth.  Sometimes almost complete crystals have grown at the edge of the curtains, giving them an irregular “notched” effect.  This should not be confused with the regular serrations of a “coxcomb” curtain.  This large crystal growth may also be seen on stalactites, especially those that are “webbed” to the roof.  It also appears to some extent on stalagmites, when they present a somewhat knobbly outline.  It is probable that these formations grew very slowly out of very pure material. The almost complete lack of large straws from formation groups of this type would also indicate a very slow rate of growth.

Pride of place must go to the stalactite curtains which attaining great size and beauty in this cave. The small transparent examples in Pillar Chamber have already been mentioned.  There are larger example in Boulder and Everest Chambers, some being very thin and transparent and exhibiting banding and having crystals on their edges.  Very fine examples can be found in Cascade Chamber.  One is above the cascade itself and another, lower down on the sloping roof, is over a foot deep and about five feet long.  Of course, the great draperies in Curtain Chamber are the finest in the cave and must be amongst the finest on Mendip.  They total about twenty in number, divided into two groups, one being of creamy calcite with dark bands at the edges and the other of almost pure white calcite with some dark internal banding.  They hang from the sloping roof of the chamber which is probably fifty to sixty feet high.  The curtains themselves cover some twenty to thirty feet of this, and come to within five feet of the ground, being about a foot wide at the bottom. Some are very thin, translucent, and exhibiting the notching referred to above.

There are several large stalactites and similar formations in the cave.  There is the huge “Tusk” about five feet long in Everest Chamber and a nicely proportioned group known as the Fingers.  These are all normal “carrot” shaped formations, but the Cascade contains many translucent stalactites and stalagmites which have notched edges and formed large crystals.  These occur where the massive flow of The Cascade pours over a large step in the bedding plane.

Shapely stalagmites accompany The Fingers stalactites, but on the whole stalagmites tend to be dumpy and not at all spectacular.  Some of the smaller ones, however, are translucent and very pretty.  One group, under a ledge of suspended floor are flat topped with crystalline hollows at the centre.  There is one giant at the bottom of Cascade Chamber about seven feet high, but not very shapely.

Floor deposits abound, and vary from a deep ochreous colour through pure white to the semi-transparent. The Cascade is a fine example of this type, but there are masses of stalagmite flooring in various chambers. In the Rabbit Warren series, there is a small flow of translucent stalagmite which appears to be a very pale blue.  Whether this is due to included material, or to some sort of reflection from the rock is not certain.

St. Cuthbert’s abounds also in the more unusual types of calcite formations which are not often seen, especially when a cave has been used for a long time.  The control which has been kept on access has certainly protected some of these rare types of formation, as well as keeping the cave as a whole clean.  There are pockets of cave pearls.  These, although well polished are not regular in shape and could possible be described as pistoliths.  In the Rabbit Warren is a group of pockets in milky white calcite and some appear to be cemented to the surrounding calcite.  However, it is quite definitely a case of “hands off.”

Rimstone pools are numerous – some full and some dry.  These often contain pointed Dog-tooth saw crystals.  In one place in the Rabbit Warren, a dried up pool has left little muddy pillars with almost cubic crystals on top.  These crystals are between a quarter and half an inch high.

Helictites of the simple hook type are common, usually in grooves along a crack or a minor step in bedding cave roofs.  One such can be found at the top of Cascade Chamber.  Some of the finest helictites, however, occur in the Rabbit Warren.  A group of tightly packed carrot shaped stalagmites has numerous helictites growing from them, like fine roots from the carrots.

All the above formations and many more were noted on a five hour “tourist” trip to St. Cuthbert’s Swallet. There is much scope for serious research and this, of course, will be carried out in time by the Bristol Exploration Club.  My thanks are due to Mr. Peter Miller who organised the trip and to Mr. Roger Stenner who led it.  It is in my opinion that every caver who can should take advantage of the B.E.C.’s hospitality and see St. Cuthbert’s for themselves.  It is a difficult trip for the not so robust, like myself, but well worth it.

John H. Tucker.

Editor’s Note.    John Tucker also sent us a very nice letter thanking the club and the leader of the trip.  This was printed in a previous B.B.


By Tony Dunn

On the weekend of the 21st June, Roy and Joan Bennett, Ron King and myself spent a very enjoyable weekend in Snowdonia.  We camped in the Llanberis Valley about two miles above Nant Beris and we were lucky enough to have weather on both days which was almost too warm for climbing.

Saturday, or rather Saturday afternoon, was spent on Dinas Mot, a four hundred foot cliff only about ten minutes walk from our camp.  None in our party had visited the cliff before, and so there of us set out to do “the cracks” which we thought would make a suitable introductory climb. Joan, meanwhile, had gone off for a walk around the Snowdon Horseshoe.  The cracks did not present much difficulty and, when we were doing it, we saw another party on our right doing something which looked much more interesting.  We finished our climb before they did, so were able to sit at the top and watch them do the last and hardest pitch of “direct” route.  Roy was not too keen on returning to the foot of the cliff to have a go at this thing, and would have preferred to scramble up to the Crib Gogh Ridge but I was all for doing the climb, saying that it would be much less exhausting on such a hot day and much more interesting.  We agreed to do the climb and I was to lead.  Everything went well until pitch 5, the main difficulty which consisted of a nasty little hand traverse in an exposed position.  I made three attempts at it with little success, before suggesting that Roy should lead it, Ron remaining as middle man.  By using brains instead of brawn, Roy did it first go which enabled Ron and I to follow in quick succession.  The last pitch was hard and steep – an excellent finish to a first rate climb. By then it was about six o’clock and we made a leisurely way back to camp well satisfied with the days outing.

On Sunday we did a mountaineering route by way of a contrast.  Central Chimney on Lliwedd which, with an easy route above the great terrace, gave us about 800 feet of jug handle climbing.  Like the motto of a defunct railway “Slow, Easy and Comfortable.”

U.B.S.S. Christmas Term – Sessional Meetings & Tutorials

Sessional Meetings will be held in the New Geography Lecture Theatre on Mondays at 8.15 pm as follows:-

Oct. 17.  Mr. D. Ingle-Smith.  “Introduction to limestone.”

Nov. 7.  Dr. Marjorie Sweeting.  “The limestone country and caves of the Fitzroy area, North Australia

No. 28.  Brian de Graaf.  “Underground diving.”

Dec. 12.  F.K. Anable. “Cunetic and Romano-British townships.”

The A.G.M.

The 1960 Annual General Meeting of the B.E.C. opened at 2.50 pm with 30 members present.  The number was exceeded by quite a few latecomers. Dan Hasell was elected Chairman and the minutes of the 1959 meeting were read and adopted.

The Hon. Sec.’s report followed.  He said that 34 new members had been elected in 1960, and increase of 50% over 1959. However, the total membership had fallen by 7 to 112.  There were about 50 people still on the books that had not paid their sub, and he still hoped that many of these would do so.  Attendance at Redcliffe Hall had continued to be negligible.  There had been no further action to report from The Charterhouse Committee.

During questions, Roy Bennett asked if it was necessary to continue the hire of Redcliffe Hall.  The Hon. Secretary replied that is was useful for the occasional slide show, as a place for housing the library and that it showed a profit.

The Hon. Treasurer’s report reviewed the financial state of the club.  He pointed out that the increased deficit was due to the large amount being spent on the new hut and on the mains water installation.  He said that he would welcome more expenditure on ladders and other tackle.

Mr. C.H.G. Rees asked the Hon. Treasurer to repeat the last statement, whereupon he did.

The Caving Secretary reported an active caving season with 162 trips entered in the log.  He appealed to members to enter each trip and to write legibly.  Alfie asked if some priority could be given amongst active cavers to the water disposal scheme in Cuthbert’s.  This was referred to by the Chairman to the 1961 committee.  Sett asked for the East Devon trip to be included in the Caving Secretary’s report.

The Climbing Secretary reported an increase in activity, especially with the Thursday climbs in the Avon Gorge.  17 people had been to Cornwall at Easter and trips to Norway and Austria had taken place.  Roy Bennett suggested a climbing log.  After some discussion, Roy proposed a resolution that a loose leaf book be acquired and brought to the club on Thursdays.  Garth proposed an addition to the resolution that the log should be published in the B.B. The resolution was carried.

At this point, the Chairman announced the names of the 1961 committee.  A vote of thanks to the three lady tellers was passed.

The Tackle Officer said that we now had seven twenty foot ladders and two more being renovated, which would give us a further eighty feet.  We had two 120 foot nylon lines and a good selection of digging gear. Llew Pritchard asked about the re-shafting of digging tools.  It was pointed out that it was cheaper to buy ex-WD tools than to re-shaft the old ones. Spike asked if we were constructing more ladder.  It appeared that Alan Sandall was organising more dural tube.  Pongo asked why we had no shorter lifelines.  After some discussion, Mo proposed that the club purchase a further 120 feet nylon line and cut it into two halves.  This was carried.

The Hut Warden announced that the bed night total was 1,297 which, in view of the differing totals produced by different people counting in the book, he proposed to call it 1,300. The water levy was now two thirds paid off.  The mains water had improved washing up, but there was still a lot of room for further improvement.  The new hut was progressing and most of the old caving junk had been got rid of. Alfie said that we should arrange a tarpaulin to cover the back wall.  Prew said he might have one.  It was agreed that, if Prew could not supply one, he should get in touch with Dan, who would then arrange for one.  Jill queried the bunk situation and suggested more bunks.  It was agreed to provide those.

The Belfry Bulletin report followed.  The Editor explained our present situation as far as stocks of covers, paper, &c were concerned.  It was agreed to leave these problems to the Editor and suggested that he contact members of the club in the printing trade.  George Honey said that he thought that the contents of the B.B. had been declining in interest.  The remedy it was suggested lay in the hands of the club members and a few people promised to send in articles.  The question of advertising was raised by Terry Marston and others.  Some discussion resulted.

After the adjournment for tea, the Hon. Librarian gave his report.  Terry Marston suggested that a list of club books be published in the B.B. The assistant librarian agreed to produce one and the Editor apologised if he had mislaid the one which was apparently sent to him.

The meeting closed with a discussion on two member’s resolutions, both of which were finally withdrawn.  The first was suggesting the club organised continental tours and the other dealt with the uses to which the extra Belfry levy could be put to if it were continued.

N.B.  These notes are not necessarily exhaustive, and are not official minutes of the meeting.  Ed.

Letter from Cyprus

By Mike Wheadon

Many thanks to the editorial staff for the fact that I still receive the B.B. out here.  I also gather that if I could arrange to write something it would be welcome, so I hope that you might be able to use this for publication.

I have noticed from various papers, and also from the B.B. that the mortality rate on Mendip has once more increased.  I wonder if there is any possibility of spreading even further than the club already does, the points of safety necessary when underground – particularly to the novice – and restricting access to the swallets of Mendip to members of recognised clubs.  This would not eliminate flooding etc. but perhaps might control the caves which can be successfully attempted during adverse weather conditions.

I feel particularly grieved to hear of the Eastwater accident, as many times I have caved all over the ruckle and never encountered anything which I considered dangerous if one gave ten ton boulders the respect which they deserve.  The ruckle must have changed quite a bit.  Another point which I found rather depressing reading in the B.B. is that Hunter’s nights are on the decline and ‘Fings ain’t wot they used t’be’.  This does seem a pity as it was at the Hunters, as a beginner, that I went to try and meet the brethren of cavers.  It was also from visiting the Hunters that I received my first impression of, and desire to join the B.E.C.  What of the young caver who wants to get in touch with the club over a good pint of ale?

I am now stationed on the glorious Mediterranean island of CYPRUS, and a more unlikely place you could never wish to be posted to.  It boasts absolutely nothing except good swimming and a slight prospect of being able to cave in the future if the republic will allow.  We are situated are the eastern end of the island in the middle of a dust desert at DHEKELIA which is one of the sovereign base areas and a look around this particular part of the island shows some of the most amazing contrasts in standards of living that I have seen anywhere.  At one place one has the village of XYLOTAMBOU which I should imagine must be amongst the worst that Cyprus has to offer.  All the houses are extremely primitive and have no sanitation.  They are just slung together in one enormous heap and then a road is picked out to run between them.  Coming into Dhekelia immediately after this squalor, you see an enormous building equal to any modern British building, which rises up, almost shadowing the squalid huts of the Cypriots, who seem to have no ambition to rise above their mode of life, causing one to lose patience with them very quickly.

We also have near us the village of ACANA which was one of the worst villages in Cyprus during the time of the trouble.  Even now, the average British soldier moves through it as quickly as possible and never on foot.  Every Sunday evening it seems to be the custom of the Cypriots to promenade along the main street and there are some nice but very unapproachable young ladies in the local villages which one tends to find a bit disconcerting.

I had hoped to be in touch with the Nicosia Caving Society by now, as I have been here for four months. They seem difficult to locate and I do not believe there is much caving on the island.  I have found a small rock shelter in a valley which, at the moment, is inhabited by millions of mosquitoes and I am intending to excavate it during the cold season.  The only other  prospects here for the climber/caver type is the Mid Eastern R.A.F. Mountain Rescue Organisation, who are trying to recruit climbers from our unit to join their team for climbing training.  The island is faintly volcanic and thus the rock is a bit dodgy for the climbing of, but if there is a chance of going to Greece, then I would not be backward in coming forward.

I should be home in January 1962 and ready to celebrate something or other.  Keep the Hunters open for me!

GB Access

We have received the following from the U.B.S.S.: -

Two clubs, The Cerberus Caving Club and the Shepton Mallet Caving Club, have not yet sent in information that they have taken out the necessary insurance cover and so permission to visit G.B. cave is withheld but dates have been allocated in the expectation that the necessary insurance cover will be completed soon.

Clubs are asked to note a change in the arrangements.  Individual days are allocated to individual clubs instead of weekends.  This change will give each club more visits, but it also implies using the particular days and straddling two days.

Pleas note that there has been a substantial rock fall where the stream passage from the Devil’s Elbow Route meets the Gorge.

The dates allocated to the B.E.C. are Sunday October 30th, Saturday December 3rd, Sunday January 8th.


Following a recommendation by the Committee of the B.E.C., a short course of lectures will be held under the auspices of the Mendip Rescue Organisation on the subject of “First Aid in Cave Rescue.”

They will be delivered by Dr. Bertie Crook at the Medical Lecture Theatre, Bristol Royal Infirmary, at 8 pm on Wednesdays the 16th, 23rd and 30th November 1960.  The party will assemble outside the main entrance to the B.R.I. at 7.55 pm where they will be met by Dr. Oliver Lloyd.  As access to this lecture room is past several wards, it would be appreciated if members would not, for once, wear caving boots.

It is hoped that as many members of this club as possible will attend, particularly as we instigated the whole affair.  The subject matter will be practical first aid of a type which we may be called upon to use before the arrival of a doctor – a period in which a life may either be saved or lost.

K. Gardner.  B.E.C. M.R.O.  Representative.


Secretary, R.J. Bagshaw, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.
Editor, S.J. Collins, 33 Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8.
Postal Dept, C.A. Marriott, 715 Muller Road, Bristol 5.