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Hon. Sec: A.R. Thomas, Westhaven School, Uphill, Weston s Mare, Somerset.
Temporary Hon. Editor: - S. Collins, Lavender Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Bristol

During the Temporary Editorship.

Articles may be submitted to the temporary Hon. Ed., or, as previously to D. Irwin, 23 Camden Road, Bristol 3 or give to any committee member for onward delivery


Mike Luckwill

Readers will find in this B.B., a tribute to Mike Luckwill, whose tragic accident in North Wales has robbed us of our new editor for the B.B. Mike had great plans for our club magazine, and the fact that he will never now carry them out is our loss.

Situations Vacant!

As you have probably guessed, I have agreed to go back to my old job of B.B. editor for a short period, while we find a new permanent Editor.  Dave Irwin, after two years of showing us just how good a magazine the club can produce, now finds that the volume of work on our other series of publications – the Caving Reports is taking up all of his time.  You don’t want me for another spell of eleven years, and so I am appealing to members to think seriously about becoming new permanent editor of the B.B.

You don’t have to be able to type, although learning is not as bad as you might think.  What you DO have to do is to produce a regular monthly B.B. by getting the material in from club members and others.  You have a reasonably free hand with layout, contents, etc., but you must be prepared to do the job for a few years.  How about it blokes?  Somewhere in the club, a budding editor lurks – come out into the open – fame awaits you!

Caving Ethics

After the letter from John Riley, and the Editorial in the Christmas B.B. on this subject, the Committee have decided to express their official views on the allied subject of access to caves. The Committee feel that a policy of gating, provided that this is coupled with a system of providing ready access to all accredited cavers, is the only policy which makes sense these days of mass caving.  The need to reduce accidents due to sheer inexperience; to preserve underground scenery and, in some cases, to allow scientific work to be carried out, all require some form of controlled access.  This is the policy which the BEC have adopted in Cuthbert’s attempting to throw the cave wide open to all interested cavers is consistent with the above aims.  We seem, whether we like it or not, to be entering a decade in which ‘cave politics’ will play an increasing role in the affairs of cavers.  We hope that men of common sense will draw a reasonable dividing line between complete anarchy and over rigid control.




Annual Subscriptions.

PLEASE let the Hon. Treasurer, R.J. Bagsahw, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4, have YOUR subscriptions as soon as possible. It has been a tradition in the BEC to delay payment of subs, but, in building the new Belfry, WE ARE DESPERATELY SHORT OF MONEY and every sub received makes a difference!

Gift of Rope.

The Committee would like to acknowledge the gift of rope from Garth Dell.

New Belfry.

Our fine new hut is almost complete.  Have YOU made any special contribution towards it?  Every type of contribution is welcome;  Money;  Furniture (see Alan Thomas);  offers of help (see Jok or John Riley) or ideas for raising money (see any committee member)

January Committee Meeting

The meeting, which was attended by Bob White, discussed club insurance at some length.  Progress on the New Belfry, and on the financial state of the club was also discussed.  Arrangements were made for continuing the B.B. in the absence of Mike Luckwill.

Alteration of Survey Price.

The survey of O.F.D. mentioned in Monthly Notes No.30 is now 30/-

Wookey Hole.

As most members will know, on Jan 3rd 1970, during a C.D.G. meet, John Parker and Brian Woodward entered 2,000 feet of very large new passage rising some 2  – 300 feet and ending in a boulder choke.  This passage is well above the two main systems feeding Wookey – Swildons and St. Cuthbert’s.  Further developments are awaited with extreme interest.


Little Neath River Cave

by Colin Priddle

Friday night after diving practice.

Pete: “Do you want to come down to Little Neath on Sunday to do some surveying and exploring afterwards?”

Colin: “Yes, I’d love to. Where shall I meet you?”

“Outside the Spelaeo Rooms. 8 o’clock.”

“8 o’clock! Well……..oh…..O.K. then, 8 o’clock.”

Saturday night at the Hunters.  Thinks. ‘8 o’clock!  That means getting up at 7 if I’m to have some breakfast before I go.  That means sleeping in Bristol.  It’ll be quite impossible to get up before 6 on Mendip.  Suppose I drive back tonight.  That means I can’t get drunk now.  Daft of me to say that I’d go.’

The Spalaeo Rooms. Ten past eight Colin turns up.  By twelve minutes past, we were loaded up. By ten past nine we had collected John in Pontypool and by ten o’clock we were at the cave.

The river was ‘a little high but O.K. for divers as long as it does not rain, should be O.K. for sherpas.’ After putting a block of fluorescence in a stream about a mile from the cave entrance, we went back to wait for the sherpas.  They came. Nine of them.  Three sherpas per diver!

With Pete hurrying everyone up, we were all in the cave by 11.30am with each of us carrying a bag and hurrying towards sump II.  The Canal Bypass was used although it was much longer than the duck (1500ft instead of 300).  The Canal had only three inches of airspace – good enough reason for going the long way.

Soon, Pete, John, and Colin were crawling into Sump II, each still carrying a pack.  One of the packs was huge; it contained six caving boots and a large line reel containing about 900 feet of line.  After a hundred and thirty feet of large sump, we appeared in a sizeable passage which however disappeared after a few yards into another sump very similar to the first but two hundred and thirty feet long. Emerging from Sump III we made our way (weighted down, wearing fins and walking over boulders in a passage with a fast flowing river is not easy) to sump IV which is similar to the others and a hundred and seventy feet long.  Then we were in Little Neath River Cave V.

John took his diving kit with a spare bottle through Sump V and left it at Sump VI for a dive there later in the day.  Returning from Sump VI, he joined Pete and Colin who had made their way into the high level passages (it should be pointed out that the high level passages bypass Sump V so that John did not have to dive Sump V again).

We then started surveying a small dry passage which led to a stream passage.  We were apparently the second party into this particular passage and only the tenth party beyond the sumps.  After we surveyed the stream passage downstream to a sump and upstream to a boulder choke, we looked at a couple of side passages for easy ways to find new cave.  These side passages all had one pair of boot prints (Dave Savage’s) in their sandy floor. The passages were about two feet wide and six feet or more in height and were very twisty.  At one point we saw a large black space at the end of a small passage, and, after moving a couple of small rocks, we were able to squeeze into a huge passage only to find that we were about sixty feet from where we started surveying.  Somewhat disappointed by our ‘huge discovery’, we went off to look at another passage off recently surveyed stream passage.  This virgin passage split into two (no comment – Ed!).  We went left for sixty feet to a large aven which Pete climbed for sixty feet.  He did not, however, get into a passage.  Pete then decided it was time for him to get into another inlet passage where he expected to see the fluorescence that was going to be put into the stream at 3pm. We arranged that John and Colin would look at the left hand path of the passage and then try diving Sump VI.  After this, they would go back to meet Pete who wanted to look at some passages above Sump IV.

Leaving Pete, Colin and John went along this passage to a chamber.  One way on led to a stream passage about fifteen feet long, ending in a sump both ways.  It was thought that the upstream sump was the sump to which we had surveyed earlier.  A couple of short passages led off from the chamber but all closed down.  One passage, going up at about eighty degrees led into a small horizontal passage and, after about forty feet, to a rift fifteen feet deep.  It looked easy to slide down but going up would be a different matter.  It was proved to be possible, however, for one to get back up after going down.  The passage left went for fifty feet or so to a difficult looking muddy tube going upwards, so we went back to the right. We went along a winding passage about two feet high and fifteen feet wide.  A fork to the right led into a chamber about thirty foot square with no easy way on.  To the left, the passage got bigger and bigger until when it came into a chamber it was ten feet wide.  Up over a few boulders and another chamber was found after a short passage.  From this chamber, fifty feet by twenty feet by ten feet high, one small passage though boulders was found which led to another two large chambers.  We must have been fairly near the surface as we were going upwards quite rapidly.  All the chambers and passages we had been in were quite dry with fine sandy floors.  We reckoned we had explored nearly a thousand feet of cave, but as the time was now short we returned to where we had started the original survey and where we has left some of the gear.  Pete had left a message saying that it was after five o’clock when he left (he was now two hours late) so we decided to miss diving Sump VI and hurried off down a passage to collect the diving gear at the terminal sump.  Near the sump, John realised that as there was only on set of diving gear, it would be easier for one to dive back through sump V to Sump IV instead of going over the high level route with diving gear. The plan that was that Colin should go back to the gear left in the high levels and I meet John at Sump IV.  Colin got lost!  After an hour or so, John, who had been in the cave several times before, got a bit worried while waiting at Sump IV.  Pete dived through the sump to the sherpas and told them to wait.  It so happened that the sherpas were an hour and a half late and so didn’t mind waiting.  John easily found Colin who had failed to find what John called the obvious way on, and eventually we all met the sherpas.  Colin and John were only two hours late.

The sherpas who had stayed in the cave had surveyed their time away, 3 of them waiting for John and Colin to arrive whilst earlier sherpas had taken Pete’s diving gear out, so we were able to make good time to the entrance.  After the really gruelling entrance passages, everyone was out of the cave by 10.30pm.  An excellent day’s caving.

The excellent sherpas were all U.B.S.S. members.  Many thanks. The divers were Pete Standing (C.D.G. and U.B.S.S.), John Parker (C.D.G. and Cwmbran) and Colin Priddle (C.D.G. and B.E.C.)

Some data on the cave follows: -

Found originally by diving (U.B.S.S.) January 1967.

Dry Way in found.

Sumps II, II and IV passed March 1967.

Estimated passage before sumps 15,000 feet.

Estimated passage after sumps 9,000 feet.

Number of trips through sumps. 10.

Total length of cave.  Over 4 miles.

A sketch survey of the portion of the cave described in the article is below.  This has been reproduced from the survey and is published by kind permission of the C.D.G.


Monthly Notes Number 30

by ‘Wig’

The 1970 C.R.G. symposium is on the important subject of cave surveying, and is being held at Vaughan College, University of Leicester on March 7th.  The programme is as follows: ‘History and Practice of Surveying in Northern England’ (D. Brook); ‘Speed Surveying in O.F.D. II’ (P.O’Rielly); ‘The Surveying Unit – equipment in use on Mendip’ (B. Ellis); ‘Presentation of Surveys of Complex Systems’ (D. Irwin); ‘Maps to assist the Caver’ (S. Collins); ‘Radio Location as an aid to Surveying’ (B. Smith); ‘Underwater Surveying’ (Dr. O.C. Lloyd); ‘Computer use in Surveying’ (J. Wilcock and K. Hanna); ‘ Survey interpretat on and uses’ (A. Waltham).  More details later.

Ogof Ffynon Ddu Survey

The survey, accompanied by a 66 page booklet, has been published by the South Wales Caving Club. The survey is on two sheets each measuring 48” x 24” and drawn at a scale of 1:1250.  The survey is available coloured or uncoloured.  The booklet contains 18 photographs; numerous diagrams, and a pullout diagram of the area.  The vertical depth of O.F.D. is 870 feet and it is over 20 miles in length. Cost: uncoloured £1 post free; coloured £2 post free and the publication may be obtained from P.M. O’Riley, 1 Le Mayals, Owl Lodge Lane, Mayals, Swansea, South Wales.

Latest From Cuthbert’s

Since the end of November, Cuthbert’s II has been sealed off to cavers and little further exploration has been possible other than two very short trips made late in November to maypole the high level holes above the streamway.  Although they had looked extremely promising, the vast majority were simple phreatic pocketing, and only went for a few feet before sealing off completely.  The temporary dam and pipes that that were laid through the sump in an attempt to keep the system open worked in principle, but unfortunately the dam leaked so badly that the amount of water flowing through it swamped the soakaway. However, a permanent dam is being constructed and should be finished early in the new year, so it is hoped that time will be on the side of the explorers.  An early attempt is to be made on sump II and two digs started again. One is just inside the new passage on the left and the other to the left of Sump I itself.


In an attempt to ‘fault find’ the M.R.O. exposure bag made by Paul Allen, a practice rescue was held in Swidlons II on November 8th 1969.  Various people were wrapped in the bag and taken through Duck II and Sump I both as practice for the divers and also too observe the condition of the ‘victims’.  A full discussion of the rescue is to be found in the December issue of the S.V.C.C. newsletter (copy in the B.E.C. Library).  Surprisingly good material for such a juvenile publication.

Amendments to the Club List of Member’s Addresses

(See October 1969 B.B.)


Kevin Barnes

24 Missile Regiment, R.A. Paderborn, B.F.P.O.16


A. Bonner

14 Monkseaton Drive, Whiteley Bay, Northumberland


D.M. Bryant

The Shakespeare, Lower Redland Road, Bristol 6


D. Byers

301 Cressex Road, High Wycombe, Bucks.


J. Carter

149 Finch Road, Chipping Sodbury, Bristol


P. Coles

2 Eastfield Road, Cotham, Bristol


A. Cullen

68 Stoke Lane, Patchway, Bristol


I. Daniels

Hansworth, Pilgrims Way, Chilham, Canterbury, Kent


Frank Darbon

Apt. 4, 4706, St. Vernon, British Columbia, Canada


C. Falshaw

23 Hallen Grange Crescent, Lodgemoor, Sheffield


K. Franklin

Flat 5, 234, Kent Street, New Farm, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia


P. Godley

AOTS, R.A.F., Church Fenton, Nr Tadcaster, Yorkshire


S. Hobbs

Hokertsone Cottage, Townsend, Priiddy, wells, Somerset


P. Ifold

The Cedars, Blackford, Wedmore, Somerset


U. Jones

Marsh Farm, Askam-in-Furness, Lancs.


On Climbing


One piece of information, shared by climbers and cavers alike, is the whereabouts and name of the local ale house.  Frequently the name of an inn will  give one a good indication of the type of district one is in, even if it does not tell one exactly where one is.  One thinks of “The Hunters” and “The Miners Arms”.  Obviously their proximity indicates a country mining area.  Using this sort of deduction, the reader should have no difficulty in placing the two signs on this page, and he should be able to place them within a few square miles. A black mark if you can’t even guess the guess the country correctly.  Many readers will, in fact, have frequented both these pubs, as they are situated in an area which,  a few years ago,  used to be a regular rendezvous at Easter and Whitsun.  Whilst the Belfry was temporary inhabited by “foreigners” from Yorkshire, South Wales and the like, the “regulars” set up headquarters in the upper storey of a large barn.  The pride and joy of this barn were a large mattress and a double bed spring: usually these were ‘bagged’ by “someone on the committee”, but occasionally an early arrival established ownership to someone else.  I have no doubt that several readers are not likely to forget those sleeping arrangements.

“The Tinners Arms”


More Amendments to the Club List of Member’s Addresses

(See October 1969 B.B.)


J. Lamb

Broadmeadows, Padstow Road, Wadebridge, Cornwall


J. Laycock

41 Woodlands Park. Quedgley, Glos.


G. Moore

17 Elmsgrove, Redland, Bristol


K. Murray

17 Barrington Gardens. Kensington, London SW7


H. Oakley

45 Groveway, Stockwell, London SW7


R. Orr

School Farm House, Chew Stoke, Nr. Bristol


A.E. McR Pearce

5 Colmer Road, Yeovil, Somerset


J. Pearce

6 Lyvenden Road, Blackheath, London, SE3


Miss D. Ranford

c/o Homewood, Plantanenstrasse 8600, Dubandorf, Zurich, Switzerland.


R. Richards

704 Helderberg, Joel Road, Berea, Johannesburg, South Africa


G. Rowles

27 Wedmore Vale, Bristol BS3 5HQ


A. Sandall

43 Meadway Avenue, Nailsea, Somerset


Stream Passage Pot

by Martin Webster

The main entrance is situated some three hundred yards south west of the gaping Ghyll main shaft in a small depression with a stream sinking in one corner.  It was Saturday the 29th of November when a party consisting of Martin Mills, Bob Mayhew, Tim Large, Dick Tye, Brian Woodward and myself descended this pot hole, which is one of the entrances to the Gaping Ghyll System.

A Sheet of snow lay in a thin layer over the wind swept moor as we struggled over the fells with our heavy loads.  The entrance was eventually found and, after a quick look at the G.G. main shaft, we started off down the tight entrance and were very soon in a small chamber with a tiny stream flowing through it.

The first pitch is found a short way down a tight rift and is only twenty feet deep although it has an awkward take off.  The drop is part of a small chamber which has two waterfalls entering it – one from the entrance rift and another larger one from the far wall of the chamber.  Both waterfalls had diminished somewhat since our last attempt on this pot hole in April 1969, when the first pitch was almost impassable and the second pitch of eighty five feet has so much water going down it that the trip was abandoned.

From the twenty foot pot, a meandering stream passage was followed for some way until the eighty foot pitch was reached.  The best way of tackling this by traversing up into the rift passage which overlooks the pitch.  This means however, as someone found out, a rather strenuous climb on the return trip.

The bottom of the climb is a large water worn chamber.  A quick climb across boulders brought us to the head of the next hundred and ten foot pitch.  As there was a small ledge some twelve feet down, the laddering was done from there rather than direct from the top.  The climb turned out to be quite easy and it was possible to climb most of the way without the ladder.  The bottom was a vast spray-swept rift with a passage leading over loose boulders.

The final pitch is seventy five feet deep and can be done in a number of places.  Finally, a drop which seemed a little direr than the rest was selected.  The pitch turned out to be quite different from expectation, as the ladder tended to be caught behind large flakes of rock.  The team were soon down, and we set off along the stream passage and suddenly emerged into a large tunnel-like passage.  The main Gaping Ghyll System had been reached.

Of out travels in G.G., little need to be said except that  a lot of passage was visited in a comparatively short time, and the huge main chamber with its waterfall cascading down from the moor is still as awe inspiring as ever!

The return trip was carried out without too much difficulty except for some tiredness towards the end. It was dark and very cold when we eventually staggered out of the cave, so little time was lost in starting back to the van.  Unfortunately, we got lost!  Just as we found the track again, one of the tackle bags was dropped and of course, rolled down a slope, so more time was wasted while the offending article was recovered.  The final problem came when we were getting changed.  We found that our caving gear had frozen solid so, after a lot of tearing of wet suits and cutting of bootlaces, we all piled into the van, heading in the general direction of the pub, drove off into the night.


Fatal Accident

A brief account of the trip which resulted in the death of Mike Luckwill follows, written by his companion on the trip – Tony – with additional detail kindly supplied by his wife Val…

We arrived at Bettws-y-Coed at 7.45pm where we had coffee in the local coffee bar.  We got to Pen-y-Pass at 8.30 and erected the tent and sorted out our gear.  When we set off at 9pm, the weather was clear and fine, with a little wind.  We set a course at 260 degrees along the pyg.  At first we tried to adjust our course without using our lamps, but we found it impossible to do this as we were well down in the valley.

It also proved inadequate when walking with just one of our lamps going and our concern was that our batteries would not last the trip.  However, Mike had a spare set of batteries and we agreed to use the batteries in rotation.  This proved highly satisfactory, and it was only when judging depth over long distances that our power of sight was impaired.

We arrived at the junction of the pyg and horseshoe routes (M.R. 633553) at 10.45 approximately. The going had not proved too difficult, but care had to be exercised in following the track, which had become a little vague in places.

Compared with the pyg, the way over Crib Gochb was abundantly clear, and at no time between M.R. 633553 and Snowdon summit was any difficulty in route finding encountered.  Indeed, Crib Goch and Crib Yddysgl ridges were accomplished without any delays. Snow and ice lay on the flanks of the ridge, but the ridge itself was ice free.  The night was cold and still clear and the wind blew hard in occasional gusts.  There was no moon.  A few black clouds which presented themselves on the horizon made us fear that snow was coming, but we were well prepared and, indeed, expected snow.  No snow fell that night, however.  Excepting for the lack of moonlight, conditions were perfect, and by the time we reached Snowdon at 2am, we were feeling very pleased.  The seed of overconfidence were beginning to germinate which were in my opinion, to lead to tragedy.

At the summit, we stayed for fifteen to twenty minutes, and Mike recorded the temperature as being -8 degrees C.  We sheltered by the hotel and enjoyed a chicken leg each, with chocolates and biscuits with coffee brewed on my primus.  We left the hotel at 2.10.  We were in fine, confident mood and felt that the hardest part was behind us.  We were slightly chilled and anxious to get moving again.  We were both quite familiar with the Watkin Path from previous summer experience and so we elected to leave the summit and to cut across diagonally to join the Watkin. The initial downward slope did not give the impression of steepness, there was considerably hard packed snow and we took our axes out for the first time.  The slope began to increase in steepness, but there was not thought of crampons or roping up.

About two hundred feet down from the summit, we were travelling side by side, about ten feet apart. I turned round to adjust my mittens, I think, when I heard a slight scuffle but no cry.  I turned back towards Mike but there was no sign of him. I stood and shouted out but heard nothing.  It was then that I assumed that Mike had fallen.  I advanced a few paces with the intention of going down to him.  In front of me, the slope became even more steep, so I crossed the snowfield for some distance horizontally and then started descending.  In my attempt to descend as quickly as was possible, I slipped and fell something like two hundred feet.  I came to rest on broken scree, cut and very bruised, and almost immediately began to stiffen up.  I called again for Mike but heard nothing.  As a result of the fall, I had lost my axe, map, com pass and torch batteries. I realised that my only course now would be to climb back up to the summit which I managed to do with great difficulty and then followed the railway track down to Llanberis and alerted the police at 5.30am.


The Mountain Rescue went out in a helicopter, and the body was found and taken to the Caernarvon and Anglesey Accident hospital.  Tony later identified the body and, after being X-rayed and treated for cuts and bruises, was discharged.  No treatment for shock was given and, in fact, Tony then returned to get the tent and drive Mike’s car back to his own home.  After coping with all this, delayed shock took over and he was a few days recovering.  Tony missed the inquest as a result, which may account for some of the coroner’s remarks. It is thought that Mike’s fall was about 300 feet.


Mike Luckwill commenced caving in the mid-fifties in South Wales until introduced to Mendip, where the caves appeared small.  He joined the B.E.C., became a Cuthbert’s Leader and regular contributor to the B.B. on many varied subjects.  He discovered Canyon Series and was a member of the Anneschacht expeditions 1967 – 69.  He caved in Morocco with Alan Thomas, and climbed in the Alps, Snowdonia, Skye, Ben Nevis and many other places. He was interested in cave photography and surveying; particularly in the subject of survey accuracy, where his interest and skill in mathematics led him to work on the establishment of the survey accuracy of the St. Cuthbert’s survey.  He was a member of the Ian Dear Memorial Committee 1966-1969; elected to the B.E.C. committee 1969, took over the editorship of the B.B. in 1970, which he planned to improve in many ways.  His interest in so many aspects of caving – geomorphology; geology; surveying; photography and exploration made him an all round caver.


Cuthbert’s Leaders Meeting

Roy Bennett; Bob Craig; Bryan Ellis; Jim Hill; Tim Hodgson; Dave Irwin; Tony Meadon; Brian Prewer; John Riley; Steve Tuck and Dave Turner were present.  Dave Irwin was elected a chairman.  John Riley and Dave Turner were elected as leaders.  It was agreed that the Mud Hall Pitch ladder should be removed, repaired and replaced by John Riley before the end of the year, as had been done for the Arête ladder.  The stal pitch hand line was to be replaced in its original position by Tony Meadon before March 1970.

Steve Tuck and Brian Prewer agreed to replaced missing drainpipe in the run to the bottom of the concrete entrance pipe before the end of the year.  The pipes at the start of the run are to be raised three inches to minimise the ingress of silt.  Steve Tuck and Brian Prewer agreed to make contact with Mike Calvert and arrange dates for bug hunting trips in the Maypole Series.  These dates will be published, and anyone wishing to see the series can join in.  If nothing is arranged and takes place within  a reasonable time, the matter will be dealt with by the club committee.

Dave Turner agreed that, before the end of the year, he would provide protection to the stal flow at the top of Chain Pitch, and for the flow above Continuation Chamber and would place a wire across the passage at the start of the Snowflake Pool to ‘prevent’ access.  He also agreed to try to clean the flow above Chain Pitch.  It was agreed that leaders should remove all pieces of telephone wire found lying in the cave.  The desirability for a permanent telephone installation was again agreed.  Bryan Ellis agreed to supervise the installation. Details to be agreed by Bryan Ellis, Brian Prewer and Steve Tuck.  Jim Hill, Dave Turner and Tim Hodgson agreed to assist.

It was reported that further work was required to make the sump safe.  For at least three months tourist parties should not be taken into II. Leaders visiting II should do so in company with those conversant with the dam system.

It was agreed that legal difficulties regarding insurance had been raised.  When this has been sorted out, there would be no difficulty in opening the leader system to all clubs.

More Amendments to the Club List of Member’s Addresses

(See October 1969 B.B.)


Mrs Sandall

43 Meadway Avenue, Nailsea, Somerset


R. Sell

51 Swiss Road, Ashton Vale, Bristol 3


P.A.E. Stewart

11 Fairhaven Road, Redland, Bristol 6


M. Thomas

5 Woolcat Street, Redland, Bristol 6


A.P. Tringham

North Longwood, Beggar Bush lane, Failand, Bristol


S. Tuck

27 Woodbury Avenue, Wells, Somerset


S. Tuttlebury

24 Victoria Road, Fleet, Aldershot, Hants


R. Wallin

174 Bryants Hill, Bristol 5


E. Welch

18 Station Road, Filton, Bristol


A. Williams

34 Crossways, Roggiett, Newport, Mon.


G. Wilton-Jones

17 Monkhams drive, Walton, Thetford, Norfolk


R. White

9 St. Cuthbert’s Villas, Haybridge, wells, Somerset


P. Allen

7 Westbourne Place, Clifton, Bristol 8


Miss S. Bowden-Lyle

P.O. Box 15, Iganga, Busoga, Uganda

Just another reminder about paying your subs.


Book Review

by Tim Hodgson

‘Pioneer Under the Mendips’ – Herbert Ernest Balch.  A short biography by W.I. Stanton.  Published by Wessex Cave Club Occasional Publications Series 1 number 1.

Without doubt this biography deserves a place on the bookshelf of caving on Mendip.  No doubt it will also appeal to many others who are interested in B.E. Balch the archaeologist and man.  It is outstandingly well produced, containing many very good photographs and drawing which have hitherto not been published.

The author of this short – and one must emphasise short – biography, quite rightly devotes much more space to B.E.B.’s work as an archaeologist than to his caving activities. He also provides us with much fascinating information about his early and private life.  Most people know that B.E.B. was a man of many interests, but perhaps it is not generally realised that his interest were quite so diverse, what with the church, gardening and his other more publicised pursuits.  It would seem that B.E.B. never had a dull moment.

As I said in the previous paragraph, most of this biography is devoted to Balch’s work as an archaeologist, and constantly criticises it.  This is one of the points about which I take issue with the author. Generally, the criticism is valid in the light of present day knowledge, but we must remember, as the author himself points out, that B.E.B. was an amateur archaeologist.  Even so, his methods were similar to those of the professional archaeologists of his time and indeed, he worked very closely with Prof. Boyd Dawkins, who must have exerted a tremendous influence on him.  Because of this, I think it is unfair to labour on criticism of his methods which were only common practice at that time.  No doubt, future archaeologists will criticise present day methods, but I hope they will not be quite so hard on our generation of archaeologists.

The author is also critical of B.E.B.’s caving methods.  Again, this is justifiable but, in my opinion, carried too far.  To be fair to the author, he does point out that B.E.B. was a most cautious man, who insisted upon taking vast amounts of unnecessary equipment with him on his caving expeditions and that if present day caving parties were similarly equipped, they would quite possible achieve no more that B.E.B.

More than half the book is devoted to five appendices, and an index which was compiled by Howard Kenny. I was slightly disappointed by this arrangement as I would have preferred more space to have been devoted to the biography.  However, these appendices are all interesting and worthwhile, particularly the fifth, which is a facsimile of a previously unpublished (in this country) by B.E.B. entitled ‘The Caverns and Subterranean Waterway of Mendip’.  I can understand the excitement of the opportunity to publish an almost unknown work by B.E.B. written in 1904, but in my opinion, it would have been better to have printed the manuscript.  An example of B.E.B.’s very good handwriting is no doubt interesting, but 47 pages of it is hard graft.  The manuscript has also had corrections and footnotes added to it by Dr. B.A. Baker.  Unfortunately, his handwriting is not as clear as B.E.B.’s and for this reason, and also because the reproduction is not as good, the footnotes are almost impossible to read.

Despite these few failings, I am sure that most people will agree that this publication is well worth the 12/- asked for it.