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The voting form which is included in this B.B. is for the election of nine members to form the club committee for next year.  There are upwards of a hundred and thirty members in the club, which gives a ratio of one committee member to some fifteen or so members.  Nevertheless, all nine members who form the committee are usually voted on to it by some thirty to forty members who feel public spirited enough to actually vote.

We realise that many members live a long way from Bristol or Mendip and thus hardly know some of the people who put up for the committee, but this still leaves many members who have no such reason for not voting.  Let's try to have a record number of votes this year.

The closing dates for the dinner competitions are now drawing very close indeed.  There is still time to send your entries for the PHOTOGRAPHIC competition to M.J. BAKER, "Morello" Ash Lane, Wells, Somerset before the closing date of FRIDAY 21 of SEPTEMBER and entries for the SONG competition to S.J. COLLINS, 33, Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8 before the 22 of SEPTEMBER.  You may yet win a prize if you hurry!

Finally, the A.G.M. and dinner will be on Saturday, OCTOBER 6th.  The Dinner is at the Cliff Hotel, Cheddar.

Letter

To the Editor, B.B.

Dear Sir,

Cairns in St. Cuthbert’s

In the august 1962 issue of the B.B. a query was raised regarding certain cairns in St. Cuthbert’s Swallet.

Several cairns were built in this cave by human agencies some eight or nine years ago.  Most are situated several yards downstream of the Dining Room.  During some of the lengthier of the early exploration trips, it often happened that one or other of the party had to retire to a quiet corner for a certain purpose. Since the decomposition of organic matter is highly attenuated in the anaerobic conditions prevalent in argillaceous cave deposits, it became customary to mark the spot by building a small cairn with a few stones as a precaution against subsequent disturbance during future defecatory operations.

Although the cairn in question might have an entirely different origin, may I, Sir, humbly suggest that it be treated with the respect due to all such tumuli, and scheduled as a site not to be excavated?

Jack.

Editor's Note:     The above erudite letter was sent in by Jack Waddon.  The practice he refers to was certainly prevalent during the similar early discovery phase of Stoke Lane Swallet.  The Crypt - off the Pebble Crawl - had one such cairn, and got its name from the occasion when Don Coase crept into the crypt etc.

The Bradford Pit

An account of a recent visit by B.E.C. members to investigate an underground rift at Bradford-on-Avon.   (Grid Ref: ST 823613) by S.J.D. Tuck.

A gathering of B.E.C. members occurred at Wine Street, Bradford-on-Avon, Wilts on Sunday, 15th July at 3.15 pm (the fact that they arrived nearly simultaneously, at the same place, three quarters of an hour later than the appointed time indicates consistency if not punctuality).  The object of the gathering was to investigate a "150 foot" rift at the request of Mr. Gorton, in whose garden it existed.  Much speculation regarding the nature of this rift had been aroused mainly along the lines of a gigantic crack across the lawn, or a rather exaggerated trench for the celery.

However, this illusion was dispelled as soon as the help of a neighbour who "knew where the cave was, all right" had been enlisted.  Mr. Gorton being out with his family when we arrived.  The garden consisted partially of a disused quarry of which a number of workings ran quite extensively underground, the former owner - a stone mason - had built delicate arches and gateways at the entrances (one could not help imagining that at least one of them would have taken a turnstile and a ticket window without much modification).

A preliminary shufti around the two mine workings with the most prominent entrances resulted in the discovery of a small passage behind a heap of old bed's (empty) etc, leading downwards at a fairly steep angle, terminating after about 20' or so, and consequently not of much interest.

Owing to the speculation mentioned above, and to the fact that the cave was in inferior Oolite and hence would be 'cleaner' than the Mendip variety, many of the 'gathered' were ill equipped for what eventually revealed itself.

Another reconnaissance revealed, behind what appeared to be a well strawed but roofless stable, a working of considerable dimensions, being between 15 and 20 feet in height and between 20 and thirty feet in width, with a firm floor composed most probably of small chippings and quarry dust, pressed down by the passing of many feet and cemented by the action of sufficient water to keep it moist.

At the far end of the working, which was mainly in the form of an ‘L’ and sloped gently downwards, was THE RIFT!

A considerable quantity of tackle had been brought, which included all the ladder which the B.E.C. could muster at the Belfry, plus a couple of thirty foot lengths of lightweight ladder borrowed from the S.M.C.C. together with a hundred and twenty feet of full weight nylon lifeline belonging to the B.E.C. and Roy Bennett's '120' half weight climbing rope - all of this was assembled at the entrance to the rift, which appeared as a vertical gash in the end wall of the main tunnel.

On a level with the floor of the main cavern, and running more or less horizontally into the rift, were a number of large boulders to form a serviceable platform from which the tackle could be lowered.  Initial inspection of the rift revealed that it went "up", "down" and "on".  In the "up" direction it was blocked after a few feet by loose looking boulders.  The "on" direction was limited by a wall after about fifteen feet due to some form of internal faulting which had caused the line of the rift to have been shifted some three feet to the left.  This piece of information was obtained painfully by Roy Bennett, who, having got his head and chest through a vertical slot at the fault plane, became stuck lower down and had to be relieved of his sufferings by means of a sharp kitchen knife, causing a mixture of consternation and amusement amongst the "gathered" still assembled in the cavern above.

The “down" direction was, of course, the one which we had come to sort out, and after a tether of rope had been secured to a large rock at the entrance of the rift, we lowered the ladder into the pit, relying more on hearsay than on common sense; this being done from a small ledge about six feet below the platform - a point where the rift was about four feet wide, descending for about ten feet at an angle of about ten to fifteen degrees from the vertical to a point where it appeared to get somewhat narrower and to continue along a more vertical line.

Each undulation on the wall, being matched by an impression of complimentary dimensions on the other, the general view was that the most promising track for the ladder would be vertically downwards rather than running over any of the chocked boulders which occurred from place to place in the rift, whose lateral extent appeared to be about thirty feet, running some ten feet or so under the floor of the main cavern.

The ladder having been installed, and with the Franklyn Fraternity deftly plying the lifeline, Roy Bennett descended the hole.  He soon reported that the ladder was all on a heap oh a ledge and that there was enough room at that point for more people.  Garth followed him down, and after a period of apparent loss of contact, a request that some of the ladder be pulled up was made "some" turned out to be an understatement.  I have no idea of the total footage of ladder which had been lowered, but it nearly all came up again, leaving, however, some fifty feet of S.M.C.C ladder in position - which just reached the ledge.

After another brief silence below, I descended the ladder, to find that, as the depth progressed, the rift tended, to get narrower.  The two who were already down were on a ledge of small stones bounded on either side (laterally) by steeply sloping banks of earth and stones.  Along the rift in one direction, was a well defined hole into which one could crawl which had a steeply sloping earthy floor and apparently petered out after a short distance.  The other side of the ledge looked more promising, as the rift, although very narrow from here onwards, appeared to go on.  The way in looked a bit hair raising, as there was a Bennett sized gap full of Bennett who was busy gardening, but from where I was situated he appeared to be removing the support from an otherwise unsupported section of wall which might easily have sealed his doom.

However, after removing a few more chunks of rock, it became obvious that it would only go on as far as chunks could be lifted out - and then we would have to get him out, so we surmised that this represented the limit of rational human penetration and must for all intents and purposes be regarded as the bottom of the rift.  On the way up, we had a good look at the rift and it appeared to be bounded at either end by a ‘T’ junction.  The end rifts were neither as deep nor as wide as the main one.  No sign of water activity was apparent anywhere.

We were met about fifteen feet from the top by the owner of the property, equipped with a rather fine bat wing flamed acetylene lamp and a recently quite immaculate pair of trousers. He declared on ascending after having been about half way to the choke that the ladder was considerably easier than the muddy rope which he had used on a previous occasion, which must have been conducted practically in darkness, his torch having spent a large part of the trip in his pocket.

On finally emerging, and having rolled up the tackle, we were very grateful for being provided with buckets of hot water with which to wash, and for the tea and biscuits with which Mrs. Gorton regaled us.

Notice

B.E.C. Caving Reports.

Our other series of Club Publications - the Caving Reports - have recently taken on a wider scope with the publication of a report in the series written by a non member of the club. For these who wish to collect these reports, their Editor, Bryan Ellis, has sent in a complete list of available reports.

Report Number Nine “Some Smaller Mendip Caves - Volume Two" is now available, price 2/6 or 3/3 including postage.  It contains descriptions and surveys of several Eastern Mendip caves, including Loxton; Ludwell; Coral and Denny's Hole.

The following earlier reports are also available: -

No 4.   "The Shoring of Swallet Cave Entrances"
No 5.   "A survey of helmets & lighting available for Caving"
No 6.   "Some Smaller Mendip Caves - Volume One"

All the above at 2/6 or 3/3 inc. postage.

No 7.   "A second Report on St. Cuthbert’s Swallet" at 3/-
No 8.   "A preliminary Survey of St. Cuthbert's Swallet” at 3/6.

Caving Report No 3, "The Manufacture of Lightweight Caving Ladders” is being rewritten and should be available in a revised form shortly.  Bryan has publications of several other caving clubs for sale, including surveys of several Mendip caves, and will gladly send anyone a list.  Material for future Reports in this series should be sent to him direct.  His address is:-

B,M. Ellis, 41 Fore Street, North Petherton, BRIDGWATER.

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The Axbridge Caving Group & Archaeological Society would like to invite any members of the B.E.C. who may be interested to a lecture on IRISH CAVES by Mr. B.R. Collingridge at the town hall, Axbridge on Saturday, 22nd September at 7.30 pm.

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DON'T FORGET the A.G.M. and Dinner!  6th October at the Cliff Hotel, Cheddar.  Apply to Bob Bagshaw for reservations for the dinner. 

Dinner Preview

Being a bit short of material for this month 's. B.B. (Yes, I know there's always the Caving Log to fill up spaces with, but I have also been on holiday and that takes much longer to type) I thought it might be a good idea to let some of the B.B. readers who are a little out of touch with club goings on have an idea of what to expect if they decide to come to the dinner this year.

It is. never possible to guarantee that an amazing time will be had by all at a club dinner, but the indications are that this year's dinner should rank with last year's as being amongst the best that the club has held.  The photographs; to my mind a great attraction, should be even better than last year and may even include some not taken in Balch's Hole or the Ladder Dig in G.B.

Rumour has it that at least one of the speeches should be rather unusual, and no doubt the usual presentations, will occur.  A rather vaguer rumour hints that perhaps we shall also have a repetition of the very successful mannequin parade which we had a few years ago.

Later, for any musical masochists present, the song competition will be held, while boozing and nattery continue in the other bar.  Three songs have already been received and we are still hopeful of entries from the Giles, Holland and Hallet stables, a reasonable quantity of free ale will be provided by Sett and Alfie - who may be joined by others similarly qualified - to mark their Twenty years on Mendip.

With luck then, the dinner this year should have something for everyone, and should be very worth attending.  See you there!

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The Belfry Bulletin. Secretary. R.J. Bagshaw, 699, Wells Rd, Knowle, Bristol. 
Editor, S.J. Collins, 33, Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8.  
Postal Dept. C.A. Marriott, 7'8, Muller Rd, Eastville, Bristol.