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November B.B.’s

By this time of year, we have started cutting the stencils for the Christmas number of the B.B., which, as older readers know, we try to make it little larger than average size. With what is laughingly referred to as our spare time, the November B.B. is produced.  All of which seems to us a good enough reason for any evidence of haste which may appear in this B.B.  Nevertheless, if it is below standard, we apologise.

Outstanding Subs.

Some of you, if the Postal Department organised it as arranged, will be getting a memo with this B.B. Our new Postal Dept. – “Mo” Marriott – reports that 180 copies is not now enough for the B.B. circulation. Although the B.B. is run on a shoestring compared to the journals of some of the other clubs, it is still a sad fact that some of you have been getting the B.B. which has been paid for out of other bloke’s subs.  We have kept the list intact up till now, as we hoped to have a drive over the A.G.M. for the remaining subs.  About half of those have now been paid, but, for the rest of you, THIS WILL BE YOUR LAST COPY OF THE B.B. unless something is done before the Christmas issue comes out. We think than in most of your cases, there is still a good reason why you should want to be ‘kept in touch’ – in any caves, we are loath to lose old friends. So write to Bob – and we’ll see you again next month!

Badges and Ties.

Our badges are now available from Bob.  These have proved so popular, that all the first batch have been sold.  Get your name down as soon as possible if you want one and while you are about it, ties will soon be here.  They are on order and a sample bit of material can be seen on application to Alfie.

Letter from Australia

To the Editor, B.B.

At present I am working for the Austral Geo Prospectors as an assistant surveyor.  I am in the Port Keats area, which is 240 miles south west of Darwin, and I have been in the field for six weeks now, prospecting for oil.

The area of Port Keats is an aboriginal reserve of some 5,200 square miles.  We are completely cut off out here and I have no way of sending my club fee which is due, until I get back to Brisbane.  I am receiving my bulletin, as it is sent on from Brisbane for me.

I wish it to be noted in the records that I receive my bulletin here in the Bush – hundreds of miles from anywhere – at the same date as I used to get it when I lived in Bath.  This means that some fantastic calculations have been carried out in the Postal Dept. so that I might have no disruption of habit.  I have that secure feeling of knowing my next month’s B.B. will be waiting on the doorstep whether I am in the Bush 12,000 miles away, or in Bath, 12 miles away!

Seriously, I should like to say “Hats off” to the Postal Department, and to thank “Prew” for his work. It makes quite a difference to us who are along way away.  To his successor, I should like to say how much the punctuality of the Postal Service is appreciated.

                        Bill Benyon

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DO YOU WANT A GOOD THICK CHRISTMAS ISSUE OF THE B.B.?  We have got the paper, the typewriter, the stencils, the covers and the staples. WHAT DO YOU THINK WE ARE SHORT OF? (No prizes for the answer).

Caving in North Wales

By Bryan Ellis

Articles about activities in North Wales have appeared in the B.B. from time to time but, as far as I am aware, there has been very little about caving in these parts.  This is not really surprising because the idea of being able to do any real caving here is a mistaken one; although it does give anyone interested a very good excuse to see the countryside.  Having been exiled to these parts for a few months at the wish of Her Majesty, it was gratifying to look in ‘Britain Underground’ and see that many of the caves were reasonably accessible from my place of exile – St. Asaph – even when completely dependant on shank’s pony and public transport.

Mendip cavers will already have a poor view of the book ‘Britain Underground’ and their opinion will be substantiated if they have to try to find all the caves of North Wales form the descriptions given in this book.  There is, however, one saving grace.  Very little caving has been done here, with the result that only obvious caves are known, and it is very doubtful if any of the cave entrances have been dug.  All that is really necessary is to have a general idea of the locality and then walk round this area until an obvious cave entrance is seen and that will be it. Fred Davies and myself have visited between us all but four caves in the area and it is hoped to publish – in the not too distant future – some form of caving guide which, if nothing else, will at least prove more precise than ‘Britain Underground’.

With two exceptions, all the caves are under one hundred feet in length, the average length being about seventy five feet.  Furthermore, none are difficult and for very few is it necessary, to change other than to put on some dirty clothes over ordinary walking gear.  Helmets, boots etc. are unnecessary and all that is required is some form of lighting.  There is in a few, however, a similarity to some South Devon caves in that they are sheep traps.  The rotting carcass found in Moel Hiraddug was fair enough – in its own sweet way – but the flies were reminiscent of an Edgar Allen Poe tale and caused me to make a very hasty retreat.

The caves are situated over a fairly well scattered area in the counties of Flintshire and Denbighshire, the two “richest” areas being the valleys of the rivers Elwy and Alun. This latter river, for most part of the year, sinks at several points along its course and reappears about three miles away.  Between these two points there is just a deserted river bed and yet, as far as I know, neither the sinks nor the resurgence have ever been investigated by anyone!  Nor is it just a babbling brook that disappears underground, but a fair sized river! The two caves mentioned earlier of any size are Coriog Cave to the south of the area and Cefn Cave to the north.  These two are about four to five hundred feet in length.  The whole district can be likened to Burrington Coombe area on a larger and much less compact scale.  There are caves of a similar nature to Aveline’s Hole and East Twin Swallet – large entrances with little cave behind them – but now and then one does come a cross a much larger cave, much as one does Goatchurch Cavern, though even this is really quite small.  An idea of their size is given by the fact that I managed to do fourteen caves over the Whitsun Holiday without even exerting myself!

Apart from the Elwy and Alun valleys, caves are to be found in both side of the Clwydian Range which runs southward from Prestatyn almost to Llangollen; on the western side around Gwaenysgor and Tremeirchion and on the eastern side near Tardd-y-dwr and Holywell.  (Yes the place names in this area are just as bad as those found round Snowdonia and in the Swansea Valley!) Then there are a few isolated caves such as those at World’s End near Llangollen and the Castell Mawr caves and Cefn-yr-Ogof not far from Abergale.

I have already mentioned that very little, if any, work appears to have been done in the area and in my opinion the reason is not hard to find.  Firstly the caves in the area are not of significant interest to cause a body of cavers to be formed locally and then keep their keenness while digging was done or they were carrying out further surface exploratory work.  Secondly, as no large system has ever been found in North Wales (perhaps it is geologically impossible for any large system to be found) it is unlikely that parties from other districts will spend time and money travelling here to do any work.  In this respect the area differs from Ireland.  It appears that what little work and caving is done in the area by such people as Fred and myself who started caving elsewhere and have been forced to spend a certain amount of time here.  There are definitely places here that need further investigation.  For example, Afon Meirchion Cave, which is a resurgence cave, is active only in the winter months and at other times is blocked after seventy feet by a pool. This should be at least baled or siphoned to see if it goes any further.  Then there are the places where the River Alun sinks, some which take quite large amounts of water.  Finally there is an area near Llangollen which was shown to Fred and myself and has a line of fourteen swallets which have never been touched and two at least would be worth a few digging weekends with lifting tackle and shoring available.

At the present time there might not be much in the area other than an excuse to walk around the countryside – and there is some very nice scenery – but it is very similar to the state of the Mendip caving area at the end of the last century.  Compare that with the state of Mendip today! Goatchurch was then the largest known cave on Mendip, much as Ceriog and Cefn are now in North Wales.

Editor’s Note.    Well, when are we going to have a B.E.C. expedition to this area and some news of important B.E.C. discoveries in North Wales?

Those members who would like a fuller account of the caving possibilities in North Wales are advised to get in touch with the Shepton Mallet Cave Club, who have recently published one of their ‘Occasional Papers’ on this subject.  These papers, and also copies of the S.M.C.C. Journal, are on sale at the Shepton Hut.  They are all written and well worth buying.

New York

By Frank Darbon

R.M.S. Queen Mary docks at Pier 90 in Manhattan, about four to five days after leaving Southampton.  Looking inward from her dock, you see 50th Street directly in front of you, stretching away uptown towards Times Square and Broadway.  New York should feel proud off her wide, well laid out streets. Running parallel with the famous Hudson River are the Avenues (numbered going away from the river) while the streets run at right angles to them.

New York’s traffic is fast and reckless.  Drivers have the priority, and any attempt to cross other than at a controlled crossing is asking for trouble.  The bright, many coloured cabs are the last word in luxury and comfort.  Buses and trains have a standard fare for any distance – you can change trains as often as you wish providing you do not leave the station.  The busses follow the continental pattern, in that you have one door for boarding passengers and another for those alighting.

Smoking is forbidden on trains, buses and in the cinema – which may explain the American fondness for chewing gum.  You can choose your own seat in the cinema, there being just one price which increases as the day goes on – and if you must smoke, you have to retire to the auditorium.

Very popular are the televised boxing matches, and the large number of juke boxes.  New York is also a paradise for shoppers but expensive.  Window shopping is great fun, though, especially at night when the windows blaze with light and neon signs are flashing everywhere.  If you do run out of cash, you can sell a pint of blood – 5 dollars (3/5/10).  But there’s a snag if you want to get rich quick – you have to wait three months between each transfusion.  The general opinion of New York is – very exciting and lots of fun, but expensive to a sailor on shore leave. Why, beer is 10 cents a glass!

(The above article first appeared in ‘Globe’ – Ed.)

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Is YOUR address correct in the clubs list of addresses??

If not – see Bob Bagshaw or ‘Mo’ as soon as possible – otherwise your address is liable to be wrongly printed in the usual list of member’s addresses in the Christmas B.B

Building a Belfry - Part Nine

Somehow, whenever it becomes necessary for concrete to be produced on the Belfry site, the club has always managed to find itself an expert to supervise the mixing and laying. Previous experience had shown that this method had the great advantage of producing concrete – as distinct from a fine grey powder – even if it meant the breaking of half shafts and other assorted gear.

Imagine, then, the mental strain as once more the B.E.C. sits round the stove, their minds in the ‘off’ position, waiting for an expert once more.  Luckily one was forthcoming once again, and under his direction a hut began to rise.

I shall not attempt to describe to ensuing long time as it is too painfully fresh and hasn’t yet finished, but if any prospective Belfry Builder over wants a genuine list of a couple of hundred elementary mistakes to avoid when attempting to put up a stone type Belfry, I shall be pleased to supply them.  For the record, the magic proportions for cement/mortar for such a building are 8 of dust to 2 of cement to 1 of lime – and the best of Mendip luck!

A further hilarious episode will doubtless ensue when our club carpenter and joiner begin to fit the woodwork (Petty Precision Products) to the main structure of the hut which has been built ‘be eye’.  Whether he will have the strength left after this fearsome tussle to be able to write it up remains to be seen.

Let us leave this story with this thought.  If anyone ever asks you to help put up a new Belfry – TAKE STEPS!!  The usual kind will be the most effective.

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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.