Election of the 1965 Committee.

We notice that other organisations are copying the B.E.C. and holding their election in October. As far as the club is concerned the names of candidates have now all been received by the Hon. Sec., and you will be getting your ballot forms shortly by post.

Last year, a write up was published in the B.B. as part of ‘Stalagmite’s’ article for that month. This was, of course, his own opinion. A number of members have asked that we include a write up on similar lines this year, but we felt that perhaps it should be more on imperial lines.  What we have done, therefore, is to state the previous committee work done by each of the candidates who have been on the committee before, on the basis that their work should be sufficiently well known.  In the case of new candidates, we have tried to indicate their main interests briefly.  This does not imply that they have no other interests, or that the previous committee members have done nothing except sit on the committee!  Readers will appreciate, however, that any further elaborations would inevitably bring the write up in to the realms of personal opinion, and this we are trying to avoid.

Candidates are listed in alphabetical order and their last committee jobs are in brackets following their names.

Kevin Abbey.          (Assistant Hut Warden, Minutes Secretary and B.B. Postal Department 1964)  Elected to the committee 1964.

Bob Bagshaw         (Hon. Secretary and Treasurer 1964) Elected to the committee 1952. Hon. Sec. and Treasurer 1952- 1964.

Roy Bennett (Climbing Secretary 1964)  Elected to the committee 1953.  Tackle Officer 1953 and 1954.  Re-elected to the committee 1964.

“Alfie” Collins          (Committee Chairman and Editor, B.B. 1964)  Elected to the committee 1953.  Assist. Caving Secretary 1953 and 1954.  Assist. Hut Warden 1954.  Caving Secretary 1955 and 1956.  Hut Warden 1955-1958.  Editor B.B. 1957-1964.

Keith Franklin.        (New Candidate)  Active caver and climber.  Working on Castle Farm Swallet.

Dave Irwin.    (New Candidate)  Active caver.  Belfry Regular.  Working on Castle Farm Swallet.

Phil Kingston.         (New Candidate)  Active caver.  Belfry Regular.

Mike Palmer.          (Assist. Caving secretary 1964) Elected to the committee 1963.

Norman Petty.        (Tackle Officer 1964)  Elected to the committee 1957.  Tackle Officer 1957-1964.

John Ransom.         (Belfry Engineer 1964)  Elected to the committee 1963.  Belfry Engineer 1963/64.

“Sett” Setterington.  (Served on Committee 1959-63)  Hut Warden 1950 to 1954.  Hut Warden 1959 to 1963.  Chairman of the committee 1950 to 1963.

Alan Thomas.         (New Candidate)  Active caver.  Discovered Hunters Hole 1954.  Interested in Belfry site.  Working on Hunters Hole, Belfry site and Cuthbert’s entrance.

Gordon Tilly. (Hut Warden 1964)  Elected to committee 1964


The annual General meeting and Dinner will be held on SATURDAY OCTOBER 3RD, 1964.  The A.G.M. will be at Redcliffe Hall and the dinner at Fairfax House.  Details will be sent with voting forms.

Thrupe Swallet

An account of early work by the M.E.S.

“Stalagmite” refers in the Belfry Bulletin No. 192 (February last) to the excavations at Thrupe Swallet in 1936.  These excavations were carried out by the Mendip Exploration Society (the Welsh branch of which was later to become the South Wales Caving Club) in co-operation with Gerard Platten.

A regional water survey Committee was formed in 1936 to investigate the Mendip water sources and, for this purpose, Mendip was divided and allocated to five organisations existing at the time – M.N.R.C., U.B.S.S., Wessex, M.E.S. and Gerard Platten’s team.  The territory of the last two was in East Mendip and, to avoid conflict between the clubs, it was agreed that the “Water” areas would serve as the territory of each club for all caving purposes.  It was agreed between the M.E.S. and Gerard Platten that they would work jointly in East Mendip for the purposes of the water survey.

Soon after this territory system was established, Gerard Platten drew attention to the possibilities of Thrupe Swallet and excavations were carried out from September to December 1936.  A small low chamber (about ten feet by five feet by four feet high) was found near the surface and on working through the left hand side of the floor, as small chamber at a lower level was discovered, filled with silt and small stones.  The final depth reached was twenty feet below the surface.  The far wall was solid and well stalagmited, but below and around the remaining sides, nothing but boulders could be seen, and the task of trying to remove these was a heavy one.

The excavations nearly ended in tragedy.  As the last member of the team was crawling back through the small entrance chamber the ceiling – which consisted of a large rock – subsided and would have completely settled down, had not the head of the pickaxe which the member was carrying prevented it (Memo: Always carry a pickaxe through unstable squeezes! – Ed.). He was held firmly between the floor and the ceiling in the space separated by the points of the pickaxe. Gerard Platten and the other members of the team worked frantically to lift the huge rock and release the man who was shocked, but one the worse for the incident.  After this, the entrance of the swallet was in such a chaotic state that it was decided, coupled with the experience of the near fatality, that the team would abandon further work at Thrupe Swallet.

For some time, the jib erected by M.E.S. over the swallet consisting of two long larch poles – one as a mast and the other cabled to it as a swing jib (the pulleys were removed) remained as witness to the excavations.

A report of the swallet appeared in Volume I (1936-7) of the Journal of the Mendip Exploration Society.

Edmund J. Mason.


To the Editor, Belfry Bulletin.

I see that B.B. No. 197 mentions the volcanic eruption of Mount Pelee which destroyed a town in 1902 having a population of over 30,000 in less than two minutes.

Is this a record?

“Worried Chinaman”.


Don’t forget the A.,G.M. and Dinner!  (Saturday: October 3rd)

Caving & Climbing Meets

1.         September 19/20.

Climbing Meet.

2.         October 11th.

Caving Meet.  Stoke Lane Slocker.  Meet at the Belfry 11am.

3.         October 17/18.

Climbing Meet.

4.         November 1st.

Caving Meet.  Eastwater Swallet.  Balch Memorial Trip.  Period Dress to be worn.  Meet at Belfry at Noon.

5.         November 14/15.

Climbing Meet.

6.         November 28/29.

Caving Meet.  Castle Farm Pot.  Digging and/or Exploration weekend.

7.         December 5/6.

Climbing Meet.

8.         December 12/13

Caving Meet.  South Wales Area.  Will those who are definitely interested please contact the caving secretary as soon as possible.  Trips will be arranged to Ogof Ffynnon Ddu; Pant Mawr; Tunnel Cave and possible Dan-yr-Ogof.  There will almost certainly be a limit on the size of the party, so get your booking in early!!!


For further information on climbing meets contact the climbing secretary.  For further information on caving meets contact the caving secretary.  (Climb. Sec. Roy Bennett. Cav. Sec. ‘Mo’ Marriott or successor).

Notes:  For all climbing meets and the South Wales Caving Meet, hut fees are payable in advance. If any person backs out without finding a suitable replacement, his fees will NOT be refunded.  Make sure that you are there.  Please support the meets – after all, you asked for them!

North Wales (13/14 June, 1964.)

Having driven from Bristol in the best of British weather, Tony Dunn, Lionel Williams, Chris Hall and Brian arrived at Williams’ Farm undaunted, and to celebrate arrival, the rain stopped until we had pitched our tents and crawled in – when it immediately started again.

However, Saturday morning was rather better with little wind and plenty of cloud – but no rain and 10.30 saw us off to a quick hike by car to Llyn Ogwen and then by foot over the top of the North side of Carneddau.  The objective was the Western Gully and the Last Ridge.  The Guidebook gave us a very clear start to the climb, which proved to be impracticable so, with the exception of Lionel who decided that it would be quicker to jump – or so we had thought (in fact he was abseiling on a rope that did not appear to be attached to anything – Fantastic!) we scrambled down again and ate lunch looking down the Valley of Echoes (it didn’t) to Bethesda.

After lunch we went right down to the bottom of the crag and started to climb from its correct source. Being a gully climb, we expected conditions to be wet and mucky, but this surpassed all our expectations.  The first few pitches were quite easy and without exception, we reached the stance below the crux rather wetter than when we started.  From this stance, one is supposed to climb up and left into a large mossy cave.  Chris thought he would go up and right and ended up swinging gently on the rope, via the runner.  When he opened his eyes, he found himself on the same level as his second, who was doubtless left with no misunderstandings as to the effects of gravity. Having reached the cave, we climbed out of it again onto a smooth surface, broken only by two jugs and some very thin holds.  By standing on the lower jug, one could mantelshelf onto the higher one.  From there it was “Faith and Friction” and, without really knowing how it was done, we were past it.  All done by combined tactics.  Brave the fellow who went first! 

From there to the top was really nothing more than a scramble and when we got there the sun was shining.    Then, at great speed, we headed for Ogwen Cottage, arriving at it by the formidable looking ridge on the opposite side of the road.  To our surprise we were met by Roy Bennett and Alan Sandall, who had both arrived late on Friday night with wives and children.  Shame on both of them who B. and B.’d “Because it was too wet.” However, back to camp for food and sleep.  How we slept!

Sunday saw us all out to the Gribben where Roy, Tony and Lionel went off to climb Angular Chimney and Chris and Brian tanked off up the Slab Recess Route, showering boulders on the queue who were waiting at the bottom.  Lunchtime arrived, after which we split up again, Tony and Lionel to climb Zig Zag and Chris and Brian to attempt Monolith Crack.  Chris managed it by taking off his boots, which were too big to get into the crack, and most of his clothes.  The language from there on was an education!  Having emerged at the top and belayed, Brian started.  He ended up being jammed in a horizontal position at the mouth of the crack with his foot stuck!  He had to be extricated by the party who followed him up.  So ended the Monolith Crack.

During this ‘entertainment’, Joan and Roy ambled round Llyn Idwal.  The time being nigh up, we all piled into cars and headed back to Bristol, arriving at 11.30, having had a very pleasant weekend.  Roll on the next time.

Chris Ball.


Owing to the need for rapid publication of this issue of the Belfry bulletin, we have no Caving Log this month.  However, Alan Thomas has sent in this snippet which may interest the more statically minded.

On August Bank Holiday Monday, Andy Mac-Gregor (age 23) led a party of five active cavers, whose combined ages made up a total of One Hundred and Eighty years.  The party went down St. Cuthbert’s.  Neither Gordon Tilly nor Alan Thomas were present.

Stop Press.

Cave Preservationists may be interested in a short news item which appeared in today’s Telegraph (Thursday, September 10th).  It appears that a man who broke – or rather, is accused of breaking – a stalagmite at Wookey is being summoned under the Malicious Damage Act of 1861, Section 51 “that he maliciously damaged a stalagmite and thereby did injury exceeding the sum of £5”

This appears to raise the interesting question of what, say, such items of underground scenery as the cascade in Cuthbert’s is worth!

News of the World – Supplied by Alan Thomas.

Tom and Rusty Neil now have a son, Alex, born 5th June in Montreal.

Alan Nash is back in England on a course and hopes to be at the Dinner this year.

Norman Brooks has moved to New Zealand and when crawling around the floor at work, feels nostalgic for Mendip

Jim Simons, Alan Nash and others have formed the ‘Cave Exploration Group of East Africa’ in Nairobi.