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


Visitors to the Belfry site will know that a splendid looking new Belfry now stands proudly on the site.  That we should be in a position to start occupying the new Belfry within six months of that tragic day when the blackened shell of the Belfry seemed to mark the lowest ebb of the club, is an achievement of which we can take some pride.

Before we wallow in self-congratulation, we should remember that some £200 is still owing, and that – even when this debt has been paid – the total club monies stand at the vast sum of £45.  This has got to run the club.  Our fine new building can become the headquarters of a fine club – or can become a sordid, untidy, ill-equipped modern slum.  In the past, some members have been known to say that there was nothing much left to do in the way of equipping the club.  THERE IS NOW.  There is no reason why EVERY SINGLE MEMBER of the club cannot do something – even if it is only a question of paying his or her sub NOW.  We still need every penny; every willing hand; and every source of supply that we can lay our hands on.  Why not write now to John Riley, at School Farm House, Chew Stoke, Nr Bristol, telling him when you will be free to lend a hand, or asking him what he might want that you can obtain cheaply.  Bob Bagshaw, at 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4, will be glad to receive your subscription for the year plus any other gift of money you can spare.

The B.B.

It will take a little longer for me to get back into the swing of producing a monthly B.B. on time, after two years of not having to worry about the job, and I hope that members will have the necessary patience.

It is hoped that it will be possible to continue publishing a B.B. of the size we have come to expect since Dave Irwin started to edit and produce the magazine, but this will depend to a very great extent on members who produce interesting articles.  During the next month or so, to help catch up with the backlog, it may be necessary to consider reprinting one or two of the best articles from B.B.’s of many years ago, but I hope that a good supply of up to date articles will be coming along.



In future, WEDNESDAY NIGHTS are WORKING NIGHTS at the new Belfry.  Don’t leave it all to the other bloke.  When you come to the official opening on May the Ninth, make sure that it is with a clear conscience.  Apply to John Riley or JUST TURN UP ANY (or better still, EVERY WEDNESDAY).

Could You Run This Club On £68?????

£68 represents ALL the money we have at present for EVERYTHING we have to have to run the club in 1970.  It includes the money we must find for fitting out the new Belfry – it includes buying fuel for next winter, paying all the bills that come in – paying for stationery, postages stamps etc, and all the other items which are necessary for the running of the club.  YOU help can make this sum more like the sum we should have by PAYING YOUR SUBS now if you have not already done so.

Belfry Opening Night and Belfry Changes

Bookings for the Grand Opening Night on May 9th are now being taken.  Sleeping at the Belfry on that night will be for MEMBERS ONLY – and paid up ones at that!  Book NOW with Pete Franklin.  Charges for the new Belfry will be 3/- per member per night and 5/- per visitor per night. These charges will be reviewed after some experience has been obtained in running the new Belfry.  Opening night fees will be 3/-.

Stop The Clock

Books of tickets can be obtained from Pete Franklin.  YOU could sell time for this competition, in which the first prize is a watch worth £25 or the equivalent in other goods from Dembo’s the Park Street Jewellers. There are consolation prizes of bottles of sherry.  Take some books to work with you and SELL for the Belfry.  All further details from Pete.

Belfry Photographs

Historic photographs of the ruins of the Belfry will shortly be ready.  There may be some extra copies, so keep a look out or you will miss your chance to obtain one.

Pyrenees 1970

Members interested in a visit to the Pyrenees on a caving holiday should contact Dave Irwin as soon as possible.

Briefly, the details are as follows: - ‘Kangy’ King is liaising with George Jouzion and other cavers in the Toulouse area to act as guides where necessary and also to obtain information for any areas that need prospecting.  Caves and potholes abound in the particular area that is on the agenda, including systems that will be of interest to both ladder and horizontal men. George has suggested, just to whet the appetite, a pothole having a 240 metre pitch, broken into two pitches of 140 and 70 metres each.  However, the main object of the expedition will be to do original work in this area.

The area is also of interest, as several show caves are within easy reach, as is the world famous Moulis laboratory.  George is willing to arrange for a small party to visit the site if anyone is interested.

Accommodation is being arranged with the local priest, and further details of cost will be circulated to interested members later.  The total cost of a fortnight’s holiday should be in the region of £30.

The dates of the expedition are from 5th to 18th of August 1970.  This is one of the best times of the year to visit the Pyrenees, and the dates have had to be fixed already to enable a cottage to be booked in the village.

The party size will have to be limited somewhat to around a dozen or so members.  All interested should contact ‘Wig’ as soon as possible. Seven people ( five of whom are definite) have already handed in their names.

The Care of NiFe Lamps

by B.E. Prewer

There are now a large number of this type of Nife cap lamps in use, and it may be of interest to those who own such lamps to know how they may be kept in good condition.

General Description.

The NC 113C Nife cap lamp is manufactured by Alkaline Batteries Limited of Redditch.  It consists of three rechargeable cells, each providing approximately 1.2 volts although immediately after charging 1.4 volts may be reached.  The battery of three cells should, when in good condition and fully charged, run a 3.75 watt bulb for 12 hours or a 1.125 watt bulb for 36 hours. These bulbs are the main and pilot bulbs respectively normally found in the headlamp.  The cell electrolyte consists of caustic potash (KOH) plus lithium hydroxide (LiOH) and its specific gravity should be 1.20.

Charging and Discharging

For cells with new electrolyte the charging rate should be 1.75 amps for 16 hours.  For normal cells, the charging rate should be 1.75 amps for 8 hours starting with the cell fully discharged.  It is interesting to note that, unlike the lead-acid battery, the specific gravity of the electrolyte remains constant throughout the charge and discharge of cycle.  The only variation that may be observed is in the voltage that appears across the cell terminals.  This rises on charging to a maximum of approximately 1.4 volts per cell.

When fully charged, a cell is full with ‘gas’, and therefore it is important that the cell filler caps release the pressure that may build up.  The normal caps have built in release valves to allow for the escape of gas. The ‘gassing’ however, will go on after charging has ceased and may last for 12 hours.  If during that time, the cells are accidentally inverted, then some of the highly caustic electrolyte may be forced out of the filler caps. Cells are therefore best left for 12 hours after charging.  This is particularly important for caving, as cells are often inverted, and the author has heard of several cavers who have been badly burnt as a result.

A point worth mentioning at this stage is that of partially discharged cells.  If a cell has been partially discharged, then it is better to discharge the cell completely rather than to attempt to recharge it.  This assumes that the cell is not going to be used again for short periods until it is naturally completely ‘flat’.  If a partially charged battery is recharged, there is a possibility that one or more cells will, over a period of time, become only partially charged.  This means that the light output will drop after only a short period, and in fact it is possible for the cells with greater charge to charge one with less charge in the reverse direction and in this case, the voltage of the cell which has been reversed charged will subtract from the other two, lowering the light output even further.  This condition may be checked by measuring the voltage of each cell individually with a D.C. voltmeter.  The remedy, if this fault occurs, is to discharge completely each cell individually, and then recharge in the normal manner.

Routine Maintenance.

(A) Electrolyte

The electrolyte, as stated before, is made up of caustic potash (KOH) plus Lithium Hydroxide (LiOH). The qualities are as follows, 153gms KOH plus 12gms LiOH plus 500ml of distilled water.  The electrolyte should have a specific gravity between 1.16 and 1.20. If, for any reason, the specific gravity should fall below 1.16, then the electrolyte should be changed.

(B) Topping Up

Top up with distilled water only and always ensure that the plates are just covered with electrolyte. Overfilling should be avoided, as this may cause spillage.  A low level of electrolyte will reduce the cells capacity and will cause premature failure of the light.  Check that the specific gravity is between 1.16 and 1.20 after any topping up procedure.

(C) Cleaning

The tops of the cells should be kept clean and dry and the contacts covered in pure petroleum jelly. The rubber jackets round the cells should also be cleaned and dried and covered with French chalk.


(A) Battery Top and Cable

In the majority of cases, the NC113C headlamps have seen considerable use with the National Coal board and therefore it may not belong before some major fault occurs.  These faults are generally located in the battery lid or the cable.  It is proposed here to give details of how a new cable and contact set may be installed. However, beforehand, it is worth noting some of the faults that may occur in the lid or the cable.

1.                  Damaged wire in cable at the point where it is attached to the terminal post.  This is due to a slow attack on the wire at the terminal post by the electrolyte, or it may be due alternately to wire fatigue at this point.

2.                  Broken spring contact in the lid due to corrosion and/or fatigue.

3.                  Corroded bolts and washers attaching the terminal posts to the spring contact.

4.                  Corroded spring contacts preventing good contact to the battery terminals.

The lid may be dismantled by first removing the fuse and then the three 6BA nuts securing the three rubber sealing pads.  These pads may be discarded if the old type nylon cell vents are to be changed to the later type steel vents, part number 67416.  Two smaller nuts and washers securing the cable terminal should now be removed.  This will now allow the assembly to be removed complete with three insulating washers. The contact assembly (part number 70129) should now come away from the lid, leaving only the insulating sheet and the cable terminal posts.  By removing the cable reinforcing tube and clip, and undoing the cable gland nut; the cable and gland washer may be pulled out.  It is possible to re-use the cable if the damage is close to the terminal posts and the corrosion has not worked its way too far back up the rubber insulation. If more than 2 or 3 inches of cable has to be removed, then a new cable will be needed.  It is possible to use standard black covered (rubber) 5amp 3 core mains cable, and in fact I have had one in use for five years or more.  The correct cable has its insulated conductors tightly twisted inside the black rubber outer sheath too give extra flexibility. If three core mains cable is used, obviously the green wire is discarded.

Re-assembly is fairly straight forward, noting the following points: -

1.                  The red and black wires should be bared of insulation for about ⅛ of an inch and solder into the terminal posts before inserting the cable back into the lid.

2.                  In order to prevent the ingress of water into the lid and cable, black ‘Bostick’ may be used to seal the cable end.

3.                  The 3, 6BA nuts should be replaced with washers and insulating bushes although, as mentioned, the rubber pads may be discarded provided that steel vent plugs are used.

(B) Cells

These usually give little trouble an, apart from keeping the top clean and the terminals free from corrosion, there is little one can do in the event of a failure of a cell.  It is of course possible that the electrolyte level is too low or that the electrolyte has become contaminated in some way or that the specific gravity has gone outside the working limits of 1.16 to 1.20.  The remedy from this has already been discussed in the section on topping up.

(C) Lamps

The two most common faults here, apart from bulb failure, are cable damage at the point of entry into the lamp case, or a dirty or broken switch.  Dealing with cable failure first, the cable gland nut should be undone and the washer and rubber bush removed.

The cable must now be removed from its terminals inside the lamp case having first removed the bakerlite bezel, glass, bulbs and reflector – in that order.  It is possible to use the existing cable, provided that the cable is not made too short after cutting off the damaged section.  The two bared wires should be re-soldered into the lugs. The cable is now reassembled into the lamp case, not forgetting the cable gland, nut; washer and bush.  If the bush is omitted, then it is possible that the cable may be ripped from the lamp case.

Turning now to the switch, failure here may be caused by dirt on the contacts – the remedy is to clean them with a rag, or better still with a small piece of ultra fine carborundum paper.  If the spring contacts are in any way misshapen, they should be reset with a pair of fine nosed pliers.  Broken contacts should be replaced where necessary.

Parts List

Section ‘A’ – Battery and Lid















Contact assembly

Lid with all fixed parts

Cable reinforcing tube clip

Cable reinforcing tube

Cable complete

Fuse plate


Cable gland bush

Cable gland nut for lid

Insulating sheet

Ebonite bush for screw lid












Section ‘B’ – Batteries








Flat connector

Terminal locknut or flat connector nut

Cell complete

Steel vent plate

Seating washer for vent

Rubber sleeve for vent

Cell rubber jacket








Section ‘C’ - Headlamp
















Headpiece (lamp) with bakelite bezel

Bakerlite bezel

Armour plate glass

Reflector washer for armour plate glass

Cable gland bush

Cable gland washer

Cable gland nut for headpiece

Headpiece moulding

Reflector, standard (diffused)

Reflector, spot

3.6v, 1.0amp main bulb

4.0v, 0.3amp pilot bulb

Switch complete

Main contact spring

Pilot contact spring
















The prices quoted have been taken from a price list of about 1967, and so must be taken as an approximate guide.  The list quoted is not complete, but has been picked from the maker’s catalogue as being the most likely list of items which might need replacement.  The parts may be obtained from: -

Alkaline Batteries Ltd.,, P.O. Box 4, Redditch, Worcs., who should be contacted in the event of any other queries.

Monthly Notes Number 31

by ‘Wig’

Balch Scores Again!

The latest round of water tracing carried out by the Mendip ‘Karts Police’ (The Geography Department of Bristol University led by Tim Atkinson and Malcolm Newson) has brought about some very interesting results.  Pine Tree Pot (Nordrach) has been found to resurge at Cheddar, while Waldegrave swallet resurges at both Wookey Hole and Rodney stoke.  Both these results have raised many a caver’s eyebrows, and not without reason.  The point of resurgence at Waldegrave Swallet has been debated for many years, and old Balch appeared to be talking through his hat when he retold of the sink near the Miners Arms taking muddy water that coloured the Rodney Stoke water. 

When experts attempted to trace this water, the results were negative.  Balch never changed his belief.  Now, tracing the stream with lycopodium spores has established a connection between Waldegrave and Rodney Stoke.

The other surprise is, of course, Pine Tree Pot.  This small cave discovered by M.C.G. lies on the north side of the Mendip pericline yet it drains in a southerly direction to Cheddar, whereas the more westerly of the swallets in Nordrach and Burrington drain to the north and resurge at either of the two main resurgences – Langford and Rickford.

Access to G.B. Cavern

The key of G.B. may be obtained form the Hon. Sec. U.B.S.S., Spelaeo Rooms, University Road, Bristol.  At least a fortnight’s notice of the intended trip is required.  As far as is known at the moment, the Ladder Dig extension is still closed due to the dangerous state of the boulder ruckle through which one has to travel to reach Great chamber and Bat Passage.  1/- per head is charged as tackle fee.

Ear to the Ground

A new edition of ‘Caves of Mendip’ will be out later this year by Nicholas Barrington.

Picos de Europa

All unofficial spelaeological expeditions to this area are forbidden.  This ban affects the provinces of Asturias, Leon and Santander. Authorities are empowered to impose a fine on any parties not applying for permission.  All future parties should contact Senor Jose M. Suarez Diaz-Estebanez, Calle Minez 12-2a, Oviedo, Spain, giving full details of their expedition.

Assorted Reminders

The official opening date for the new Belfry is Saturday May 9th.

Wednesday evenings are working evenings now at the Belfry.

The editor could do with any articles, letters, etc.

Have you paid this year’s subscription yet?

Have you sold any time on ‘Stop the Clock’ yet?

Have you given any money back from your sales of the spelaeodes yet?

Have you got anything USEFUL to give to help furnish the Belfry?

Committee Meeting

The February meeting of the Committee agreed the sale of the barn, and the new Belfry insurance at £4,000 for the Belfry, £500 for effects and £500 for the club’s tackle.  Dick Wickens agreed to take over the arrangements for Cuthbert’s trips.  D.R. Jenkins, T.A.V. Brooks, T. Pardee, J. White, Miss G.A. Abell and Miss E. Wilkinson were all admitted to membership of the club.  The remainder of the meeting was taken up with arrangements concerning the fitting out of the new Belfry.

Palaeolithic Cave Art of Naiux

by John Ifold

The great cave of Naiux overlooks a deep valley in the French Pyrenees about three miles form the small town of Trascon-aur-Ariege.  The climb from the road to the cave entrance is about a thousand feet, and we were glad to have a rest at the gate.  One goes through the only entrance into a large passage.  At this end of this is a small gate, and passing through this, one is able to proceed through several chambers until the Salon Noir is reached nearly half a mile from the entrance.  The first thing that impressed me about the Salon Noir was the majesty of its proportions.  The paintings are four kinds of animal – Bison; deer; Horse and Ibex and there are about twenty of these paintings altogether.  The people who painted them took great care over their portrayal, for one bison has its eye drawn so that it appears to be watching all comers.

All of the animals are in black outline, and every drawing expressed movement do that in one, two large bison appear to be charging each other.  On some of the larger animals, spear-like objects are drawn sticking from their sides to convey the impression that the creatures have been wounded.  Some impression of their size of the paintings may be gained by saying that the horses are about four feet high, and bison vary from about three feet six inches to four feet. The paintings are amongst the finest examples of Upper Magdalenian art.

Some of the paintings are ten feet or so from the cave floor, and one can only speculate on how the artist managed to paint at this height.  In addition to the animals, ether are signs of various types – dotted lines etc. – painted in red or black, some of which are probably Mesolithic. Near the entrance, there is something which looks like black manganese seeping from the wall of the cave, and it is this which the artist or artists probably used for paint.

Just a Sec

Owing to the delay in producing this B.B., the regular monthly feature, ‘Just a Sec’ which is written by our Hon. Sec. every month has become very much out of date.  Since this is the fault of the editor, he feels that it is only fair that he should have to write something to keep the series going, and to provided the Hon. Sec. with a little well earned rest.  To start with – and indeed, come to think of it – to fill this month’s short version of ‘Just a Sec’.  Congratulations to our Hon. Sec. and Hilary on their forthcoming wedding, which is to be at Priddy next Saturday.  As most members know, they will be living in Townsend, Priddy and so they will both be very much in the centre of things here on Mendip.

Congratulations, too, to all who have played a part in getting the new Belfry to its present state. It is always risky to quote names, for fear of leaving somebody out who has equally earned the inclusion of his name but, at the risk of sticking our neck out, we should congratulate the B.E.C. Committee in general for all the hard work they have put in – hold weekly meetings at one stage to keep the work running smoothly.  More particularly, the efforts of Bob Bagshaw to keep us afloat financially; John Riley and Pat Ifold who carried out nearly all the liaison work with Fred Owen; Pete Franklin, who has procured useful equipment and run the ‘Stop the Clock’ scheme; Jock Orr who has kept the Belfry flag flying in the stone hut; Brian Prewer, who is organising the wiring and plumbing; Petty Precision Products who are doing their usual workmanlike job, and Alan who has had all the correspondence to deal with.  Let us hope that a lot more names will earn a mention before the building is complete!


We should like to welcome the following new members to the club.  Their addresses are: -

727       W. Cooper, 259 Wick Road, Bristol

728       Miss G.A. Abell, Cleveland Hotel, Pulteney Street, Bath, Somerset

729       T.S. Pardoe, 36 Alexandra Park, Redland, Bristol 6

730       Miss J.Barke, 10 Queens Parade, Bristol 1


Have YOU read all the notices and reminders in this B.B.?  Well, have you?

Penyghent Pot Again

by Martin Webster

During the end of last year, several people suggested that we might arrange a Penyghent Pot trip on our January Yorkshire meet.   Thinking back to our first trip, one year and one month earlier, when only four of us had to transport mountains of equipment along the arduous entrance crawls, we were rather dubious, but at last the end of January came, and a team if nine assembled at the entrance of the pot on a crisp, cold, but sunny Saturday morning.

This time, the loads per person were (to say the least) very much lighter than on our previous encounter, although still the long series of canals at the entrance proved quite interesting technically.  The cave has now become slightly easier as some of the crawls above the first pitch have got larger (due to floods) and a rather nasty canal below the sixth pitch has now become quite a spacious passage.

The bottom of the pot was soon reached and over about twenty minutes the rest of the party, which had got somewhat spread out, slowly trickled in.  Some swimming and splashing about was done in the sump, and a certain amount of interest was shown in the vast amounts of foam liberally distributed on the roof some way overhead!  As we were making our way out, we were met by a lone Yorkshire bod who, it seems, had heard of our trip and decided that would we not mind if he joined us.  (I shudder to think what would have happened if we had missed him and removed our tackle – it rained extremely hard that night!)

After allowing him to bottom the pot, we all made our way out.  He was carrying quite a large proportion of out tackle!  The trip took just over six hours, which was quite good going for a party of this size.  Everyone apparently enjoyed themselves – at least, we are already planning another Penyghent trip, so I supposed we must have!


Members may like to add the following to their last years address list: -

724       G.V. Phippen, Rock Cottage, Rock Road, Wick, Bristol

725       S.J.J. McManus, 10 Ebleton Road, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

726       D.R. Jenkins, 26 Witcombe Close, Kingswood, Bristol

508       A.C. Selway, 15 St. Martins Road, Knowle, Bristol 4

Some Suggestions for Contributors

Appeals for more articles for the B.B. may well fall flat because many people who could contribute something useful may not be aware of the sort of thing we have in mind.  Here are a few suggestions.

We have just had an article on the care of Nife lamps.  Many club members have recently bought Oldhams lamps and might well like to know how to make sure that they get the best lifetime out of them.  An article on the construction and care of wet suits would also be of interest to many members.  An article on the use and care of ladders when caving might also be useful – after all, we do trust our live to them on occasion.  Any member who feels able to write anything on these or allied subject will be doing a useful job.

If you have been caving or climbing in another region, why not write the trip up so that other members may be able to decide what such a trip is likely to be like if they decided to visit the same caving/climbing area?

Letters do not take long to write, and we got very few.  Most people have something they would like to air from time to time, or some comment on what they have read in the B.B.  Why not write to the B.B. about it?

Contributions may be given to ‘Wig’ or ‘Alfie’ or sent directly to S.J. Collins, Homeleigh, Bishop Sutton, Bristol. Remember that a big B.B. every month cannot always be written by the other chap.  If every single club member wrote ONLY ONE article during his entire stay with the club, it would be enough to keep the B.B. running.  Why not do it now?