The covers have at last arrived and in addition it is hoped to be able to make this a six page B.B. is getting back to normal.

Some time back, it was suggested that to satisfy both the members who wanted a large but less frequent B.B. and those who wanted a regular monthly magazine, we should from time to time publish a big ‘bumper edition’.  At present this is only done at Christmas and the amount of material received by the editor does not warrant doing this more than once a year. However, if all goes well this year, October should see the two hundredth edition of the B.B. and this seems a very good excuse for large and special B.B.  It would, of course, be followed almost at once by a large Christmas B.B., and so if we are going to do this double ration, plans for it must be laid shortly.  If any members feels that he could write a suitable article of any type – and produced it fairly soon – it will enable us to make a start in putting such a B.B. together.  The article should be such that it doesn’t “date” between now and October and articles with an “historical” flavour might be appropriate for such an edition.  It is rare for a caving journal to reach its 200th edition, so let us have a go at putting the club motto in practice and see if we can “do it to excess!”


Tackle Arrangements

The primary object of this write up is to lay out for all club members, particularly the newer ones, the method of working of the new tackle system, so that nobody can complain that they know nothing about it.

Criticism of this system is already flowing in, but we must remember that the system has only been introduced because the club has been losing tackle faster than the few stalwarts who devote much of their spare time to making our tackle, can replace it. Apart from the unfairness of expecting these people to make tackle just for other members to lose, it seems that a method of controlling tackle is the only way by which the club can steadily build up a useful stock of tackle and ensure that all members can be liberally provided with tackle for caving.  The Committee are quite willing to consider modifications to this scheme, but let us first of all give this scheme a fair trial.

A new lock has been fitted to the tackle store and the keys distributed (a list of names of people holding keys has already appeared in the B.B.)  It is not intended to issue any more keys, as this would cut down the amount of control exercised and thus defeat the whole object of the scheme.

There can be guaranteed to be at least one member with a key on Mendip during any weekend.  Anyone planning a weekday trip will know of this in advance and can easily contact any of the holders of keys, either directly or in writing beforehand.

All tackle has been given an identity tag.  L1, L2, L3 &c for ladders; R1, R2, R3 &c for ropes and T1, T2, T3 &c for tethers.

A log book has been drawn up and is held by the Hut Warden or Assistant Hut Warden or by anyone to whom he may delegate this job, should he not be available.  This log book carries a list of all the tackle on the inside of the front cover, giving the tag number and the respective lengths.

All a person has to do is to obtain the key; take the tackle he requires; lock up the tackle store and return the key (if it is a weekend) and enter, in the columns provided, the date and his signature.  When returning the tackle, it has simply to be signed off in the log book and replaced in the tackle store.

Remember that, until you have signed for the return of the tackle, you will be held responsible for it all and you will have to account for it to the Committee if it is still outstanding when the log book is checked each month.

If at any time, tackle has to be removed for testing or repair, it will be entered for and signed up by the Tackle Officer so that anyone can see what tackle is available at any time, and who has the rest of the tackle.

All this sounds very officious, but please remember that the whole object of this scheme is to ensure that tackle is there when YOU want it.  With a little thought, it should be perfectly possible to make this scheme work, so please co-operate.

M.A. Palmer.  Asst. Caving Secretary.    

Caving Log

February, although a short month, does not seem to have been short of caving trips.  Of all the trips entered in the caving log for the month, Cuthbert’s proves to be the most popular cave by far.

On the first and second of the month, digging was continued at the back of the Dining room, by ‘Mo’ Marriott and Dave Irwin.  More clearing out was done, using a sledge which made it easier to transport rubble along the constricted passages.  On the same date, Brian Reynolds saw a bat on the wall above Lower Mud Hall Pitch while doing a Pulpit Trip.  Does Pete Bird know of this?

On Saturday, 8th February, Phil Kingston and Ron Drake went into Cuthbert’s to look at a hole under the Arête Boulder, a fifteen foot pitch led to a stream passage.  After clearing away small boulders and silt, a tight squeeze was passed which led to a junction.  One of the routes led to a high rift which contained some white stal., while the other, by following the stream, terminated in a very tight squeeze which led to the waterfall opposite the Lower Ledge Pitch (The Showerbath.) As it was not possible for them to climb down, they had to make the return journey.  A sketch is included, drawn by Phil, to illustrate the findings.

On this same day, Nick Harte and Dave Irwin laboured at the top of Pulpit Pitch and provided a Rawlbolt. As a change from Cuthbert’s, Gordon Tilly, Barry Wilton and Kevin Abbey went off to explore mineshafts. Innocently taking 80’ of ladder, they climbed to the bottom of this mineshaft to find that a further 40’ of ladder would be required to bottom the shaft.

Returning to Cuthbert’s, Roger Stenner has done some more survey work which includes Mud Hall to Traverse Chamber and other bits and pieces required to finish off this bit of the survey.

Another trip into Cuthbert’s on February 8th saw Steve Wynn-Roberts, Nick Harte and Jim Giles taking three sections of maypole to the Trafalgar Aven in September Series with the object of climbing it.  The caving log states that a trip was made in January in which Steve succeeded in getting about forty feet up in the aven before he ran out of holds.  On this trip, however, with the aid of the Maypole, Steve succeeded in reaching the top at about 85 feet.  The Aven clamped down and a very small passage led off.

More Rawlbolts have been provided on Upper Mud Hall Pitch and in the Wire Rift by ‘Mo’ Marriott and Mike Palmer and a new chain has been provided in the Wire Rift which replaced the old, worn out, cable.  The tackle on Stal. Pitch has now been removed for renewal and the pitch cannot be used unless tackle is taken.

Digging was continued at Castle Farm on February 8th by Dave Irwin, Dave Smith and Andy MacGregor. Dave Irwin reports that they continued clearing the choke at the bottom of the shaft and that some fair sized boulders were removed.

During the month, many trips to Swildons and Eastwater have been made, but all were either photographic or tourist and so deserve no special mention.

Mathematical Puzzles

by Sett

Here is the solution to last month’s problem.  Up to the time of writing, I have had no correct solutions to either section, although Phil Townsend produced a solution to the Amateurs Section which he had worked out previously, thereby promoting himself to solving the Mathematician’s Section. The answer is as follows:-

A.         Divide the pennies into three groups of four and compare two of the groups.  Two results are possible.

1.         They balance.  Showing that all eight coins on the scale are standard.  Compare three of these coins with three from the third, untried, group.  Again, two results are possible.  If they balance, the final untested coin must be the odd one and it can be compared with a standard count for the final weighing to determine whether it is lighter or heavier.  If they do not balance then the heaviness or lightness of the odd coin is determined.  Which it is out of the three can be found in the final weighing by weighing any two of the three against each other.

2.         They do not balance.  Say the left hand pan is heavier for the sake of illustration. There is either a heavy coin in the left hand pan or a light on in the right hand pan.  All the untested cons must be standard.  Remove three coins from the left hand pan, transfer three coins from the right to the left hand pans, add three standard coins to the right hand pan and reweigh.  Three results are possible.  They balance, the direction of unbalance is the same, or the direction of unbalance is reversed.  These show respectively that the odd coin is heavy and is amongst these 3 removed from the left hand pan; the odd coin is one of the two remaining in the same pan as in the original comparison, or the odd coin is light and is among the three transferred from the right to the left hand pan.  In each case, the final balancing will simply supply the required additional information.

M.        The solution above completely separates twelve counts and this is the maximum number which can be considered in 3 balancings.  If it not required to determine heaviness or lightness of the coins, then a thirteenth coin can be added.  This is not used in any of the balancings and if they all give a balanced answer, then this is the odd coin.  Naturally, the odd coin will be amongst those balanced twelve times out of thirteen and will then be completely determined.

The general solution for the number of coins which can be separated in ‘n’ balancings is given by the expression.   = 1  The extra 1 is used if knowledge is not needed of the type of discrepancy or the odd coin.  The system of balancing is relatively simple to work out, but takes an awful lot of describing.

A complete treatment is given in the Mathematical Gazette 1946 Vol. 30 p.231 by F.J. Dyson

This month’s problem is a practical one which I have not seen treated before.  It concerns the number of races needed to ensure that every car in a group races every other car at least once in a minimum number of races.

A.         Sixteen cars race four times on a four lane racing track.  What is the minimum number of races needed to ensure that every car races every other car at least once?

M.        First solve the A. Section and show that the number of races is the minimum possible. Produce a general solution for the number of cars in a group which can race each other, four at a time, once and once only.  I have not yet found an arithmetical method to show how these races should be arranged, but a solution for the sixteen car problem will be given next month.


COASE, Alan                  53 Broughton Road, Croft, Leicestershire.

COMPTON, Philip           c/o 536932 Compton W., Sgts Mess, R.A.F. Chagi, Singapore.

DELL, Garth                    L/Cpl. G. 23128511, O.P. Omentum, Aden, B.F.P.O. 68.

DAVY, John                    12 St. Annes Road, Skircoat Green, Halifax, Yorks.

FRANCIS, Albert             22 Hervey Road, Wells, Somerset.

HALLETT, Nigel               c/o Martin Inn, Ocean Falls, B.C. Canada.

HANNAM, Mervyn           c/o 14 Vyvyan Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8.

HILL, Jim                       100 Cotham Brow, Cotham, Bristol.

ISLES, M.H.                   89 Broad Walk, Knowle, Bristol 4.

JARMAN, Roger              c/o South Chase Farm, Chase Lane, Kenilworth, Warcs.

KNIGHT                          61 Worton Way, Isleworth, Middx.

BOWDEN-LYLE, Sybil     P.O. Box 477, Durbo, New South Wales, Australia.

PAGE, Pete                    Cpl. P., R.M. 110 Devils Tower, R.A.F. North Point, Gibraltar

PALMER, D.J.                9 Forest Road, Kingswood, Bristol.

REES, C.H.G.                 7 Coberly, Footrshill, Hannam, Bristol.

SLAPP, J.                      10 Thicket Walk, Thornbury, Bristol.

STEWART, P.A.E.          11 Fairhaven Road, Redland, Bristol.


The Caving Secretary wishes to announce that CARBIDE is now on sale at the Belfry.  The cost is 10d per pound.

Notice.  Would anyone who has access to CHAIN or CAT LADDER please get in touch with the Caving Secretary.  This is wanted for improvements to the permanent tackle in Cuthbert’s.



In place of ‘Stalagmite’s’ usual article this month, we print two contributions. The first is a reply to one of his previous articles and the second is an article largely inspired by his column.

            From Geoff Bull, Westminster Speleological Group.

Dear ‘Stalagmite’

Your remarks last month on the S. Wales rescue do a serious injustice to the miners, who played a very important part in the rescue.

Although non-cavers in general are perhaps not much use in cave rescue operations, these men proved an outstanding exception.  The comments made by some of them on the air bore no relation to their performance underground.

The work they did in removing the squeezes and impossible corners was not only difficult – working in confined spaces – but also carried and element of danger.  It was not in fact possible to use explosive (only a few small test shots were fired) and all the work had to be done by compressor drill and sledge.

I am convinced that work could not have been done so well and safely by cavers, for had explosives been extensively used, as we should probably have attempted to do, the probability was of a roof collapse.  Also, only a limited number of cavers would have been able to operate the rock drill effectively or even use a sledgehammer properly.

The operation in fact was an example of how non-cavers can sometimes be of use, even one of the doctors who had never caved before seemed completely at home, despite his Wellingtons.  In no way, though, would one detract from the work of the S.W.C.R.O. who certainly played an important part in the rescue in initial procedure, organisation, supplies and in bringing the injured man to the surface safely and quickly.

Musings in the Mountains 

by an Exile.

The title of this article is misleading.  That was why I chose it.  It stems from the fact that I am surrounding by mountains which would send the climbing members of the B.E.C. into screams of ecstasy, providing that they have webbed feet.  To reach one impressive peak only three miles away involves a journey of three days to avoid the vast amounts of water on the way.  (The three days are on foot as there aren’t any roads.)

I have just received a large number of B.B.’s which have at last caught up with me, and to provided the Hon. Ed. with some dunnage, I have penned this tome, containing my reflections on that August journal.  Regarding ‘Stalagmites’ challenge in June ‘63 to write a song about the S.G.O.T.M.N.R.C.O.T.W.N.H.A.A., it’s so easy that it isn’t even making me sober up.  At an unannounced date, my humble effort will be released on Mendip.

Norman Brooks’s letter regarding drinking habits in the antipodes in July B.B. for last year prompts me to remark on the drinking habits of Canada.  Who even heard of not being allowed to carry a glass of beer across the room, and not being allowed to drink whilst standing?  How else can you tell whether a person is drunk?  In the August issue, Stalagmite’s article wondered if any one could pronounce Llanfairpwllgwyngwllgogerychryndrobwll – llantysilliogogogoch.  Did Stalagmite spell it wrongly or did a slight typing error creep in?  Being big-headed, I’ll state in print that drunk or inebriated, I can say it.

Only one thing puzzles me about the September B.B. I note that Colin Henry George Rees went to Swildons IV.  Could it be that within two months of my leaving Mendip, vandals have so messed the cave without bang etc., that it is possible to ride ones Matchbox and side car all the way to IV?

In October B.B., I see that the A.G.M. was a field day for Mike Luckwill.  He wants to be careful about too much proposing, or the Family will increase yet again.  Also I see that Bob B. is apparently racing Frank Darbon for the favours of insurable companies.  Insurance forms will soon contain the question ‘’Are you, or have you ever been, a member of the B.E.C.?

Which brings me up to date considering the postal service in the backwoods of the world.  Just a passing comment about the place of my exile. 1964 rainfall at 7th Feb is 32.04 inches.

Editor’s Note: - Nigel threatens to be with us again by the time of the Dinner, with new songs etc.


While leaving Stalagmite to comment on the reply from one of the members of the W.S.G. who was on the S. Wales rescue trip, we feel that his remark about the difference between the miners work in the cave and comments on the air is worth further comment here.  One of the sad but true features of cave rescue is the amount of distortion introduced on many occasion by both the press and radio/TV.  With this in mind, members would like to read a factual account of the episode, sent to the B.B. by the W.S.G. to whom we are indebted for permission to print.

Rescue at Llethryd Swallet 9/10th February, 1964

When the call out came through to the S.W.C.C. Headquarters at Penwyllt, the position was, fortunately, that the S.W.C.C. member with the local knowledge; the gen on S.W.C.R.O. procedure and luckily, a member with medical knowledge, had just returned from a dig.  The W.S.G. party had eaten, packed ready to return to London, and was fresh.  Important too was the fact that the entire C.R.O. gear was packed and ready for instant use.  Due to all this, medical aid was on the spot with Butler with 70 minutes of the call out despite the fact that Llethrydd is about 30 miles away form Penwyllt.

The conditions in the cave may perhaps be understated as being tortuous and wet.  Something like Sidcot, only tighter and longer with more ups and downs and with a healthy stream to complicate matters.  A very sporting cave, but impossible to bring out an injured man on a rigid stretcher though.  The stretcher in fact could not be taken straight in places.  One was not impressed by the stability in parts.

When we reached the man, he had apparently fallen awkwardly some 6 to 12 feet and had broken his right thigh in two places near the knee.  It was also discovered that he had cracked ribs, chipped bones in his neck and was suffering from concussion.  Even under Morphia, he was moaning occasionally.  A temporary splint was effected, he was moved to a better spot and the splint remade.

At this time the rescue possibilities seemed to be three fold.  A shaft could be considered as close to the antechamber where the accident happened, is Root Chamber where tree roots can be seen in the roof and the walls.  The depth of the roof below the surface at this point was then thought to be about thirty feet.  Improvements to the original route was a second possibility.  Although this was eventually done, there was more than a slight risk that the route might be blocked entirely if ‘bang’ was used and at least half the 300 to 500 feet of passage involved needed drastic improvement. The third possibility was to make a New Entrance by digging a subsidiary dry swallet a little further upstream. It was expected that this would short cut the tightest parts.

The decision reached on the spot was to concentrate on the shaft, with spare labour employed on improvement work, however the progress of events rather changed ideas.  Meanwhile further supplies were brought in, the telephone set up, and non-essential bods cleared from the cave.  This was about 11 or 12 o’clock.  The depth of the cave at Root Chamber was measured using an electronic method and was found to be a hundred feet.  This was letter checked and verified.

Around 2am, the miners arrived with a compressor and started work on improvements.  By all reports, the N.C.B. and the mine rescue men were surprisingly at home even in the severe conditions encountered.  There were some delays, naturally, of the sort that are bound to arise in any such operation.  The only valid criticism of the miners was perhaps of over caution, but this was a fault on the right side.  The comments that were heard on the air and read in the press were mostly kept for the surface.  It was noticeable that those who did the most work underground were not the most anxious to be on T.V.

At about 3pm Monday, the work was practically finished and the first stretcher party (consisting of cavers) went down while the finishing touches were put to the passage.  Working in relays, with fresh bearers, Butler was brought, still under Morphine, in the remarkably short time of about two hours.

During the time that Butler was having medical attention, his condition deteriorated up to the time that it was decided to give a blood plasma transfusion. It is very likely that this tricky task has never been attempted under such difficult and dirty conditions, and is a great credit to the medics.  It was most unexpected to come across a caver with his sleeves rolled up to the elbows and his arms scrubbed.  When Butler finally reached the hospital, his condition was said to be generally good.

The credit to this operation must go to the S.W.C.R.O., to the miners, the men of Thysons Ltd., the Police, the W.V.S., the farmer and many others.

Editor’s Note:    Members may be interested to know that Llethrydd Cave was discovered by Don Coase, a B.E.C. member.