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We start with the most topical news – of the Cuthbert’s rescue trip last weekend…

Cuthbert’s Rescue

A tourist party, leader R.S. King, descended via Pulpit pitch intending to return by the fixed ladders. It was arranged that John Stafford and companion should reverse this route, and carry out the tackle from Pulpit. The two parties crossed in the stream passage below Bypass at approximately 1pm.

Shortly after this, John slipped and fell a short distance from the downstream entrance to Bypass Passage. He suffered head and ankle injuries and was immobilised.  His companion went for help and contacted a party led by R. Stenner.

Meanwhile, Kangy’s party on the way out, checked and found Pulpit still tackled although enough time had elapsed for John to completed this part of the route.  King went straight to the surface to enquire and establish that John was still in the cave.  The time by then was 2pm.  A search programme was then arranged.

At this point, Stenner came out of the cave with the news of John’s position and injuries.  A rescue was organised and a party went to John with medical kit arriving at 2.30pm.  Soon after this, John was roped to the carrying sheet and lifted via Sentry Passage to Upper Traverse.

By this time, pitches were being rigged throughout the Lower Traverse – Pulpit rescue route and the doctor had arrived at Upper Traverse.  At 3.30pm, John began to recover from the initial blow to the head and it was recommended that he should not be transported in the sheet, but should be assisted.

His condition at that stage was that he was badly stunned and unable to stand without assistance. He was put into an exposure suit and his sprained ankle strapped.  A climbing harness consisting of a seat and shoulder sling linked with a karabiner was fitted, and this was used for all subsequent lowering and raising operations.

The remainder of the rescue went very smoothly. The only departures from previously practised drill being that, fortunately, a carrying sheet was not required.  John was able to give some assistance at awkward places; he was hauled up Pulpit without a pulley, two men being stationed on the pitch to assist.  The man belayed at the projecting flake was particularly useful.  On the Entrance Rift, John was clipped to the ladder by his harness and pulled up with the ladder.  He was out of the cave by 8.00pm.

Thanks are due to the cavers and to the doctor, all of whom so willingly helped and made the rescue a success.  The unsung heroes of this rescue should not however, be forgotten – all the members who, in practice rescues, worked out the route, placed the rawlbolts in precisely the right places and familiarised themselves and others with the techniques, thus saving many hours.

R.S. King.

Readers may like to know that the latest report on John is that he is recovering well and will be about again.

Anita – John’s wife, would like to thank all those who took part for getting John out so smartly.

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With springtime just – we hope – round the corner, we think it is a suitable point at which to publish the relevant information about the Ian Dear Memorial Fund for the benefit of younger members who may be starting to plan trips abroad.  You will find this information on the next following page of this B.B.

Spelaeobiology in Cuthberts

Contrary to popular belief, the odd characters one meets occasionally in St. Cuthbert’s kneeling in quiet corners or crouched astride the streamway uttering weird cries are neither disciples of an exotic eastern religion nor are they bewailing the lack of imagination on the part of the Belfry Engineering when it comes to the selection of suitable sites for the location of essential facilities for civilised life.  The likely explanation is that a rare specimen has just escaped the clutching hand of one of the “bug hunters” currently loose in the cave who very much need your help in the mammoth task of locating and studying all the varied species existing in St. Cuthbert’s.

Many people have already given valuable assistance by passing on information about the odd “creepy crawly” they have encountered on their travels, but much more news and many carefully collected specimens are needed before we shall have anything like a bare outline of the lives of the small creatures whose domain we so regularly invade.

Apart from collecting specimens for identification, we want to know where they are, how many exist, and how changes in temperature; humidity and the composition of their environment affect the populations in addition to attempting to answer the perennial question of who eats who or what!

Isolated specimens are always welcome, but they are of infinitely greater value if linked with detailed information and careful observation of the environment and general surroundings.  We must be especially careful to distinguish between the life in the streamways and in areas subjected to flooding and that in isolated pools and remote areas of the cave. In the former case, many of the species found will be from the surface waters and may have only established a temporary foothold after being washed into the cave, or they may have adapted to their new surroundings and established a permanent breeding population.

In the isolated pools and away from the streamway, one is more likely to find the true cave dwellers, many of which are relatively rare and may belong to species only found below ground in very restricted areas.

Conservation is vital, and over collecting and other disturbances to the environment must be kept to the minimum if many of the interesting species are to survive.  We have already lost one well established population of Niphargus, and very care should be taken to avoid contamination of the cave with carbide residues, waste food and discarded clothing – all of which are aesthetically objectionable to the vast majority of cavers and may have fatal effects on many species by polluting the water and disturbing the balance between the differing populations.

Phil Kingston and I are keeping a supply of sample tubes and the various preservatives available at the Belfry and have an established system in operation for obtaining expert identification of all specimens collected, as well as co-ordinating all the information that comes to hand, so if you see; find, or collect anything in St. Cuthbert’s, please let us know before the details are forgotten.

N.L. Thomas.

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ANNUAL SUBS ARE NOW OVERDUE!!!!!

Life membership at the ridiculously low price of £5/5/- saves paying 22/6 every year.  As the treasurer issues over 100 membership cards every year, please send you existing card for endorsement (Not your driving licence!).  A stamped addressed envelope would help no end!

The Ian Dear Memorial Fund

For the benefit of members under the age of 21, the rules governing this fund are set out below: -

1.                  The bequest has been used in accordance with Ian’s will to set up a fund to assist junior members to visit caving or climbing areas of the continent.

2.                  Any members under the age of eighteen may apply.  Members who are over eighteen but under twenty one may be considered in exceptional circumstances. The age of qualification will apply on the first day of July in the year of the proposed trip.

3.                  Applications must be received by the FIRST DAY OF MARCH of the tear of the proposed trip. The applicant must furnish brief details of the itinerary and cost at the time of his application.

4.                  The maximum amount to be allocated in any one year shall be limited to fifty pounds. The maximum amount allocated to any individual shall be limited to ten pounds.

All members to whom this applies are, of course, already aware of the terms of the Ian Dear Memorial Fund, and this notice is by way of a last minute reminder.  You have only a few days left to make a claim on the fund if you are entitled to and have not already done so.

Caving Associations

Cave Research Group of Great Britain.

The Southern General Meeting will be held at Wells on Saturday 18th June, 1966. Members are invited to submit papers to be read at this meeting and/or to be published.

Association of the William Pengelly Cave Research Centre

A symposium is being held this coming Saturday at the British Museum, Cromwell Road, London S.W.7. from 10.30am to 6pm.  The subject is “Living in the Dark” and consists of a series of short lectures and discussion periods.  This is very short notice, but any members who wish to attend should contact Bob on Thursday night on receiving the B.B.

British Speleological Association.

A further reminder that the B.E.C. is officially supporting the meeting to be held in Bristol later this year and will be having a stand in the exhibition.  Alan Thomas has agreed to act as Co-ordinator for this exhibition and all offers of help should be made to him.  The theme of our exhibition is to be “This year’s work in the B.E.C.” and we are going to make every effort to ensure that an impressive amount of work is shown.  Please get in touch with Alan if you have any ideas or can contribute in any way.

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It’s been quite a long time
Since we had the odd rhyme
To fill up these blanks on our pages.
And if YOU sat and wrote
Some short jotting, or note,
We’ll not need another for ages.

Caving & Climbing Log

….for JANUARY 1966……..Edited by Phil Kingston.

January has seen a lot of digging in Cuthbert’s – especially in Mud Ball Chamber dig.  On January 8th, fifty feet of muddy rift passage was found here by Roy Bennett, Tony Meaden and team.  The final choke was pushed on the Sunday, but the passage closed down so digging is continuing in the floor.

Andy MacGregor and Dave Irwin have restarted Mo’s Dig behind the Dining Room and have broken into small air spaces.

The Climbing Section have been active in Cheddar Gorge.  Grime and Mills have put up a 35 foot A.2 and surveyed further and longer artificial Climbs. King is thrutching about in the Frome Valley and news of the sandstone climbs there should soon be forthcoming.

Mines have been popular this month with visits to Box Mines and Dundry Freestone Mines.  A report and survey will be appearing in the B.B. shortly. A new extension found in these mines is thought to be the lost twin pot.

N. Thomas and Phil Kingston have done some collecting trips in Gough’s and Cuthbert’s and have doubled the number of species known in Gough’s.

N Petty has found a small series of passages with good prospects of extensions high above the Cascade in Cuthbert’s.

Trips this month include twelve down Cuthbert’s, four down Gough’s, two down Swildons and one down each G.B., Goatchurch, Denny’s, Fox’s, Box Mines, Hunters, Dundry Mines and Lamb Leer.

Letter

Westhaven School,
Uphill,
Weston-Super-Mare,
Somerset

The Editor, Belfry Bulletin.

Dear Sir,

I read with great interest Dave Irwin’s article on the club trip to Austria.  There was, however, one important omission.  Our Austrian friends informed us that we should not light our cigarettes from carbide lamps, as this causes the teeth to decay.  I’ve never heard of this before but I have since noticed that a large number of the B.E.C. are missing a nearside front tooth – yourself and myself being two excellent examples.  Perhaps a dentist would like to comment?

Alan Thomas.

Editor’s Note:    Alan is not, of course, referring to the type of ‘Dentist’ so noticeable at the Belfry when his turn to ‘flash the ash’ comes round, but the genuine tooth pulling (as distinct from leg pulling) type.  How about it?  We shall have to depend on other clubs here, as we have none of the fraternity to my knowledge in the B.E.C.  As for my tooth, it was a perfectly sound tooth but, owing to an abscess, I had it drilled right through.  This weakened the tooth for subsequent chewing of hard toffee and it came to pieces. I still have there root and am hoping to have it rebuilt one day.

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Have YOU any interesting facts to disclose; grouses to air or views to express?  And enables YOU to speak to the club on (almost) any subject. Why not write and tell us now and again?

Comment

Regular visitors to Mendip may have noticed and absent figure of late around the Mendip scene. Mr Cassey has moved on to Taunton, we understand, after more years ‘On the Hill’ than the Editor cares to think about.

Nearly of all the older hands at the Belfry have their own memories and favourite tales about Mr Cassey. Most of us, at one time or another have been guilty of some minor piece of anti-social behaviour and the understanding but firm way in which such peccadillo’s were pointed out made a lasting impression on more than one high spirited caver.

Cavers of many years ago were a very independent minded group of people who did not as a rule take kindly to outside discipline and it say much for Mr Cassey’s sense of humour , tact and understanding that he made so many friends amongst the cavers of that time.  Many members will remember the time when we invited him to our annual dinner as Guest of Honour, and the typical speech he made on that occasion.  We would like to wish Mr Cassey success in his new appointment, and hope that we shall come to know his successor in the same way.

 “Alfie”

The W.S.G. Dinner

Readers will have noted that caving club dinners are not, as a rule, described in the B.B. as much as was the case some years ago.  After all, we all tend to go to each other’s dinners a lot more than we did, and we all have got to know the Cliff; the Cave Man; the Star; the Swan; and other popular venues so well that description has become rather superfluous.  We make an exception however, of one recent W.S.G. Dinner – held in Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese in Fleet Street last weekend.  The setting was magnificent to start with. The actual dinner was held in a real wine cellar – with real FULL bottles of wine lining every wall – the whole scene lit by candlelight.  After a really hot soup, swiftly and unobtrusively served, the choice was roast beef or the speciality steak and kidney pie of the house.  Whichever was chosen, the helpings were enormous.  This was followed by an equally large helping of the best homemade fruit pie seen for a long day, and when the cheese and biscuits finally came round, most members were too full to tackle them. Second cups of coffee were readily available and the wines were as one might suppose, excellent.

Dave Irwin gave a caving quiz on slides which went down very well and this was followed by readings, recitations, etc.  The official guide told us some very interesting tales of the history of the inn at an earlier stage of the proceedings.  The W.S.G. are to be congratulated for producing such a splendid venue and such a good evening.

Notice

The next meeting of the Communications Committee will be on SUNDAY, MARCH 6TH at 1pm. at Dave Searle’s house.  Prew will be trying out his system on the previous Saturday, and the results will be discussed at the Sunday meeting.  The Chairman – ‘Sett’ – would be grateful if all interested persons could make an effort to attend.  It is most important that at least one B.E.C. Communication system is ready in time to be displayed at the exhibition in September this year.

New Members and Change of Address

Members who would like to keep their list of addresses up to date should include the following…..

NEW MEMBERS.

SAC, Jackman, A. M.R.S., R.A.F. Valley, Anglesey, N.Wales.

C.J. Priddle, 19 Stanbury Rd., Horfield, Bristol.

R. Orr, Flat 4, Brackendale House, Brackendale Rd, Camberley, London.

CHANGE OF ADDRESS

M. Baker, “Morello”, Ash Lane, Wells, Somerset.

App. Cdt. Compton P.F., No218 Course, No1 sqd, R.A.F. South Cerney, Cirencester, Glos.

Members who change their addresses are asked to let Bob Bagshaw and/or Joan Bennett know as soon as possible.  This will avoid B.B.’s being sent to old addresses.