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Don Coase’s Log for 1945

Continuing reprints from the Coase log the following gives some idea of how the BEC weekends were spent on Mendip in Victory year – 1945….

Fri. 9th Mar. – Caught train from Paddington to Wells.  Started to cycle to Priddy via Wookey hole.  Arrived at barn approx. 1 o’clock a.m.  Mr.Maine had left milk, wood, bread and eggs.

Sat. 10th Mar.  Was woke at 9 by ‘Shorty’ informing me that tea was ready.  Had breakfast.  Then a general clear up.  Visited Vic. And cycled to G.B. arriving at about 12.30.  Found G.B. locked so Shorty and I went into Read’s Grotto and took a couple of photos.

Came out, found gang had arrived from Bridgwater by car.  They tackled lock on G.B. meanwhile I took Ron and Charles down Read’s Grotto.

Rest had opened G.B. so they went on, Betty, Shorty, Charles and I ate our sandwiches and then didn’t feel energetic enough to do G.B.  However once we were inside the cave we felt better.  Took several photos.  Devils Elbow comparatively dry, 2” or 3” water at the far end.  Met rest of party in Gorge just above Bridge.  So all went to Stalagmite Bridge and sat on it while Shorty and I took a photo of them.  As we were using some flash powder fired by safety fuse that went off with an almighty bang.  Expected someone to fall off the bridge but although, they jumped they didn’t come off.

Then the four of us parted from rest and proceeded to the sump.  Bristol Speleo.  Have done quite a bit of digging there recently.     Then went back to bottom of the Oxbow,  back through the oxbow,  Loop and so to

Rumba alley.  Then we returned to the surface which we reached about 8.15.  It being a pitch dark night.  We cycled back to Priddy in our damp things, feeling rather chilly and went straight to the Vic. Till 10.  Then went back to the barn and started cooking a stew, which we eventually consumed – about 1 am.

Sun 11th Mar.  Got up about 9.  Cooked breakfast, visited Vic. about 12.  Went to Cross Swallet with 2lb. P.E.  Put 1lb. in fissure at bottom alongside some P.E. that didn’t detonate when fired on Sun. 4th Feb.  Whole lot detonated nicely.  The fumes seemed to clear quicker than usual and when I inspected the damage I found an open fissure about 3” high and 2” wide with a fair drought blowing out.

I placed the other 1lb. P.E. in the fissure and fired it.  The fumes again cleared quickly.  I went down again and had a look around and removed one of the two boulders the P.E. had blown out.  Suddenly I heard a boulder crash down several feet and looked around to get out of the way, but nothing in the hole had moved.

Shorty was halfway down and he heard it as well.  It must have been inside the cave again.  Judging by the noise I estimate is was only 2/3ft. away and only about ½ cubic foot. It seemed to roll down a slope for about 3 of 4 ft.

Then I returned to the barn and demolished the rest of the stew and other vittles.  Washed up and put the barn tidy and then it was time for the others to leave for Bridgwater.  I cut myself some sandwiches for the train and packed up my stuff up. My caving clobber I arranged to leave with Mr Maine so I was fairly light loaded to cycle back.

It was then about 8 so retired to the ‘Vic’ where I spent a very congenial evening.  One of the locals told me that in connection with boring in the spring above Swildon’s they put fluorescent in the water and it appeared at Draycott also that some time before the war, the road near green Ore sunk away and he put a concrete slab about 7ft.thickm over the hole which seemed to be 100ft. or more deep.

He also told me the same thing happened in ’41 at the top of Rookham hill on the verge of the road. They dropped stones down which down for some seconds before hitting anything.  They had sent to Wells for some people to explore it (I presume Mr. Balch’s crowd) but nobody came so they covered it with 2 or 3 feet of concrete.

At 10 went back to the barn, settled up with Mr. Maine and set off for Bath. Dry, slight tail wind and dark. Arrived Bath 12.20.  Took 1¾ hours – a record for night time.  Train didn’t arrive till 2.00a.m.  Bloody cold waiting on platform as had no mac. Or coat.  Train packed.  Couldn’t lie down in the corridor as too wet with condensation off windows.  Arrived Paddington 5.30 am and cycled home.