We feel sure that we can speak for the entire club in congratulating Graham and John on becoming the current holders of the world depth record and look forward to reading about their exploits in the B.B.  It is particularly pleasing to note that both John and Graham are members of the club committee, so that we can claim to have some active committee members, although your editor is, of course, a notorious exception.

Fatal Accident.

Unhappily, we have also to record the death of Chris Murray which occurred during this years Wessex expedition to the Picos - a sad reminder of the dangers associated with caving of this magnitude.  We would like to offer our sincere condolences to our colleagues of the Wessex Cave Club on this tragic occasion.


We must apologise (we presume, not having yet seen the last B.B.) for the horrible temporary covers. Unfortunately, the hand-copied cover took the printing machine by surprise with the result you, no doubt, noticed.  If it is any consolation, at least, if we ever have to do it again, we can prevent the fault recurring.


Many thanks to Mike Wheadon who, in addition to providing material for the B.B. and standing in as Hon. Sec., designed and drew the improved heading on last month's B.B. One small point for perfectionists - for 'faciendus' read 'faciemus'.  The editor will be asking the Hon. Librarian to purchase a Latin grammar at this rate!

Who Wrote What ?

For anyone who likes to know these things, we have analysed the contents of the last complete volume of the B.B.  (Volume 28 for 1974) and it turns out, much as we suspected, that a small number of people write most of the contents.  In fact, four people wrote half the total for individuals.  Figures are given below:-

Total pages in volume






Total Authors Contributions













Dave Irwin     

46 pages





Andy Nichols

13 pages





Bob Cross        

8 pages





Graham W-J

7 pages  










Remaining author’s contributions






It would be nice to think that more people would be involved in the makeup of the present volume. There is still time for you to make your mark on the next list!

All Quiet

Some time ago, we said that the B.B. would keep members aware of what was going on in caving councils, and readers may wonder why there has been a lull in news from this front. As explained in last month's 'Round & About', the N.C.A. have promised to investigate all the viewpoints currently being expressed.  To date, the CSCC is the only council who have actually appointed a member for the proposed 'commission'.  It must be hoped that the delay elsewhere is merely due to holidays etc. rather than to any wish not to participate.  Assuming this to be so, the B.B. is not making further comment while the issue is under investigation.  Should it turn out to be otherwise, the B.B. will, of course, do its best to put all members straight on what is happening.


Club Officer’s Reports - Publication Editor’s Report

The Official report for the Annual General Meeting from the Publications Editor ... Chris Howell

The past year has proved representative of many previous ones as far as Club Publications are concerned namely, lots of work in the pipeline or 'promised' but little in the way of new Caving Reports!

On the credit side, it does seem at the time of writing (and subject to the Treasurer's final figures) that the year has produced record sales income for a year in which no new major work has appeared.  This is despite a prolonged period during which we were unable to offer surveys at the Belfry due to problems with the printers.

Cave Notes '74 (Report No. 18) was published early in 1975 and has been followed by complete survey sheets of Drunkards Hole and Sidcot Swallet.  A similar sheet for Rod's Pot is in the pipeline.  The Withyhill survey also appeared recently.

Work continues on the Cuthbert’s marathon (have you read this before somewhere?) although it is pleasing to report that surveys for Maypole and September Series have been printed and only(!) the text is awaited before this part can go to the printers.

Material is slow in arriving for Cave Notes '75, which report is reserved for reports of original work by Club members (or other interested parties requiring an outlet for their researches).  This does rather sadly reflect on the amount of new work being done, or perhaps rather on the willingness of those concerned to write about it.  I can only crave member’s indulgences in remembering that, being resident some distance from Mendip, it does make progress both difficult and/or costly if I have to keep writing to people.

The ever popular Caves of Burrington is being reprinted and will provide a valuable source of income, if only due to its popularity with the weegees at Burrington Café.

Field work is almost complete on Caves of Western Mendip, and this manuscript should be finished during the coming winter.  The rather long gestation period of this report is due in no small measure to its production having been something of a one man exercise (including the surveying!)

The continuing stocks of back numbers of B.B 's and some reports is a cause of some concern, as it does represent a 'lock up' of valuable funds.  Against this, it must be recognised that stock will to some extent appreciate in value, but nonetheless I would like to remind members that any back numbers they may be missing can be easily replaced in many instances.

Finally, my thanks to those who have assisted in their various ways during the year and, whilst it is often thought invidious to single out individuals, I must refer in particular to Dave Irwin who, if he handed over some pretty chaotic 'stock records', at least produced much valuable help and guidance in the early part of the year.  The Hon. Auditors will no doubt be pleased to learn that with effect from the start of the next financial year a proper stock record will be obtainable!


Letter to the Editor


Dear Alfie,

I have recently received some copies of the B.B. have read with interest the comments regarding the loss various traditional songs and dances that were performed on Mendip many years ago.  I feel I must write to you about a recent encounter I had with the lost tribe of the B.E.C. in Cheshire.

Whilst journeying in these wild and windswept parts I bethought myself to visit the hill country to the west and, crossing the Mersey river, I came presently to the town of Stockuponium, nestling at the base of the mighty Pennine mountains, where it is said that the great peaks touch the skies themselves and that potholes penetrate to the very fires of hell.

One evening, traversing one of the quaint cobbled streets, I became aware of voices singing in a local hostelry.  The words were unintelligible, being in a local dialect, but the tune was vaguely familiar, and soon I recognised the dulcet strains of 'Standing on the bridge at midnight'.

Upon cautiously entering the tavern, I beheld a strange collection of hill peasants playing a variety of weird instruments, one of which somewhat resembled an accordion but for which they used the dialect name 'the teeth'.  They then commenced to play 'The Good Ship Venus' and followed this with 'If I was the marrying kind'.  It was then that I realised, not without, some trepidation, that I had stumbled upon the last B.E.C. tribe of Chestershire.  I say 'trepidation' because of the legend I had heard concerning this fierce mountain tribe who, it is said, periodically come down from the hills to loot and pillage the Southern villages.  (What!  No rape? - Ed.)  More horrifying still are the stories of various southern gentlemen who journeyed in these parts without the protection of a B.E.C. membership card and were never seen again!   However, their attitude to me was cordial, and they told me the following story.

Many years ago, two members of the DCC tribe (pronounced D.C.C.) had made several journeys to the mountains of Mendip, where they had met some members of the B.E.C. namely, Chief Sett and Lord Alfie and others.  After they had completed the tribal rituals of being 'flushed'; swimming the mineries, being thrown naked into the snake infested Belfry stream and using the old Belfry Bog, they were formally made blood brothers of the B.E.C.

After some time, they returned to their own tribe, taking with them part of the B.E.C. culture - which has survived to this day.  I talked to the two original voyagers - one Stangeoca and ½aball and told them tales of modem Mendip.  They listened with awe and after I had related these tales and, upon my completion, took a great horn which they blew to summon other members of the tribe. Some of the multitude that assembled were B.E.C. members and others sympathetic D.C.C. members.  All listen intently while Stangeoca explained the situation.  Then, painting Robinson’s beer on their faces, they elected to raise a large war party and march on Mendip to slaughter and maim weegees and restore the ancient rights of the B.E.C.

This, then, is my account of the lost tribe of the B.E.C.  I am sending this epistle by fast runner who may reward with a pint of rough and orange.

Yours Faithfully,

Soararsis Horribus,


Editor's Note:     Stan Gee, who older members will certain remember as being one of the pair referred to (Arthur B being the other) says, on a more serious note, that there are 5 or 6 B.E.C. members in Stockport who would be very pleased to see any other members who might like to make an overnight stop en route to Yorkshire or the Lakes.  He gives average time from Stockport as follows:-


Derbyshire     (Caving and Climbing)          ½ hour.

Yorkshire       (Settle)                               1½ hours.

N. Wales       (Caving)                              1¾ hours.

N. Wales       (Snowdonia)                       2 hours.

Lakes.                                                    2 hours.

Scotland                                                 3- 4 hours.


Knowing Stan, I can guarantee that any members who like to take him up will be assured of a very fine night in good company.  Get in touch with Angie Dooley for his address - you won't regret it (except, perhaps the next morning)


Club Officer’s Reports - Hut Engineer’s Report

The Official report for the Annual General Meeting from the Hut Engineer ... John Dukes

During the busy weekends at the Belfry, it became apparent that the drains were not functioning properly and needed to be replaced, as the fall from the old toilets to the septic tank was not great enough, which necessitated them being rodded through during busy weekends.  All the drains have now been replaced, as the original ones were installed incorrectly.

We were left with the choice of either raising the level of the toilets or siting them elsewhere. After a number of schemes had been discussed and rejected on various grounds, the finished plan was completed. Eventually, the old toilets will become the Tackle Store, and a workshop - with charging facilities and a general store will be housed in the Stone Belfry.

As there is no ventilation in the hut, during the winter months fungoid growth is rampant throughout the interior, and it is my intention to remedy this by installing air bricks throughout, and one extra off-peak storage heater in the Men’s Dormitory before next winter.  During the winter months, when the storage heaters are in use, members and guests are using them to dry their gear.  THIS PRACTICE IS POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS to both the hut and the heaters themselves and MUST BE STOPPED.

A revised water heating system has been completed and there is now hot water throughout the weekends for 15 showers per day at a cost of 5p per person per shower.  During the week it is still necessary to use the slot meter in the Changing Room which heats ten gallons of water.

Twelve lockers have been built in the main room and are now in use and an Alpine style bunk has been completed in the Men’s Dormitory and would appear to be a success.

Costs are as follows:-

Alterations         £180

Locker                £50

Alpine bunk         £15

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people who have assisted me in my term of office especially Pat Cronin and Keith Newbury, who are not members.  Also Butch and John Widley, who at the time of starting were not members but who have since joined the club and without their assistance the alterations would not be at the stage they are now.

Plan Of Alteration (Not To Scale)


Club Officer’s Reports - Caving Secretary’s Report

The Official report for the Annual General Meeting from the Caving Secretary ... Tim Large

The year started with a flourish with the Caving Sec. arranging a monthly caving programme but, as seems to be the trend of late, there was little demand for club trips. The majority of caving within the club revolves around the Belfry nucleus.  From this group have come trips to Ireland and the Pyrenees.  As usual, the club gets around contrary to some beliefs.  Trips arranged by small groups of club members appear to be more popular.

The vast rise in cost of petrol has restricted member’s visits to the Dales.  Perhaps this will be the dominating factor of future caving off Mendip.  Tourist trips into Cuthbert’s have maintained their steady flow.  Several people have shown interest in Cuthbert’s leadership - both club members and guest leaders - and these will be welcome to supplement the dwindling band of active leaders.

Club members have been active also on the digging and exploration scene.  A surface dig has re-opened the old Waldegrave Swallet, and other digs are in progress at Flowerpot, Ludwell Cave and East Twin sink.  Off Mendip, club members have been involved in the exploration of the recently discovered Otter Hole near Chepstow.

S.R.T. has made rapid strides this year, with many members seen dangling around from odd bits of ironmongery.  As usual, the club maintains its wide and well-informed outlook in the caving field. I am sure we shall continue to do so in the future, but perhaps more caving time will have to be taken up in defeating these beliefs.


The Mohole

Derek Sanderson sends us this description of a trip down this pot, which sounds as if it ought to have been discovered by 'Mo' Marriott.

I had been wanting to visit this cave ever since an account of its discovery appeared in 'Descent' No 13, but it was not until last Whitsun could I persuade Roger Wing and Keith Sanderson that it was a worthwhile trip.  The cave is situated on the South Western end of Gragareth and is relatively easy to get to by parking as for Marble Steps Pot and walking along the Turbary road until one passes through the gate just before the open shaft of Kail Pot.

The Mohole is in a deepish shakehole about a hundred yards to the left of the track, against the wall. The entrance consists of a low, descending passage with an earthy floor (feet first crawling) which leads to a narrow rift formed in rough black-brown limestone.  This is the head of the first pitch - Flake Pitch (55feet) - and there are two convenient rock flakes on the right for belays for ladder and lifeline. However, it is impossible to get directly down the ladder, and a traverse over the pitch is necessary where a drop of ten feet to a ledge leads to a short scramble from whence the ladder can be regained.  The whole of this area is constricted, and we experienced some difficulty in transporting tackle, particularly on the return journey.

Flake Pitch is not in smooth rock, but it is a reasonably pleasant descent which opens out below a ledge half way into a small chamber.  After making sure the double lifeline was running smoothly, we attached a further length of ladder to the previous one and fed it through a tight slot on the left.  This is the twenty foot slit, a pitch formed in much smoother limestone with a very narrow top section which could present some difficulties if approached hastily.

At the base is a second chamber formed in a rift which runs off to the right.  At the far end, the walls close in to form a short section of muddy rift passage with a floor of wedged boulders, the far end of which is the head of Big Blast - a 95 foot pitch.  This is the main obstacle of the cave.  The belay point consists, I think, of a ring bolt on the left. (Roger says we used a boulder in the passage floor).  Unfortunately, we were unable to find a second point for the lifeline, so we used one point for both.

The hardest part of the pitch is the top, where one has to wriggle feet-first over the tight lip of the pot and down for about eight feet only half on the ladder, until the walls begin to move apart.  The lip itself consists of a small boulder wedged in the narrow gap, this rocks ominously if too much pressure is put upon

We abseiled down, and the rift-formed pitch opens out into a good free dry descent.  One end of the rift is a flat wall of dark clay with black flints embedded in it.  The landing is a sloping floor of massive blocks partly coated in calcite and descending steeply to the head of the final pitch - the 20' Calcite Pitch.  We had abseiled down on a new 150' Terylene/Polyester rope so we used the remainder of this as a handline over the unstable blocks and then attached a final length of ladder to it by means of a clogger.  This was to reduce pressure on the rocks, all possible belay points looking unsafe.

The technique of attaching a ladder to the midpoint of a rope by means of a clogger is not normally to be recommended, though we have found it satisfactory on ropes of little stretch and have used it occasionally on the entrance to Marble Steps Pot where only one length of ladder is required midway down a 150' handline.

Calcite Pitch drops into the final chamber formed in the same rift and is floored with more massive boulders.  A climb down between boulders is the deepest paint so far reached.

The Mohole is only given a grade that it demanded quite a high standard in the handling of tackle, and the whole trip must have taken about 4 hours - much longer than we expected. The last chamber I found oppressive, but this is no reason to avoid the place.


Round and About

A Monthly Miscellany

Compiled by 'Wig'

A mixture of success, tragedy and access - three ingredients of caving - form the basis of this column for August.

187.      World Depth Record:  As members will know, the B.E.C. found themselves flashing around the Pyrenees and the French Alps.  Those wandering to the western mountains homed in to the Pierre St. Martin.  During August, various members made a through trip from the Tete Sauvage to the EDF tunnel and others were working locally in the EDF tunnel area.  Meanwhile, the French connected the hole known as M3 to the Pierre, thus increasing its depth range by 90m (295').  Previously, the Pierre was recorded as being about 3,800 feet deep.  At the other side of France, near the Berger, the Jean Bernard and the Luive were connected, displacing the Pierre to Number 2 in the depth records by about 200’.  Then Graham Wilton-Jones and John Dukes, helped earlier by Mike Palmer et al., connected the P.S.M. to the nearby Reseau d’Arphida.  The Arphida being some 110m deeper than the Pierre now increased the depth of the system to nearly 4,400 feet.

No doubt Graham and John will be telling us about their experiences in the B.B. and Cave Notes.  The world depth record smashed three times within a month is quite something.  So is the fact that the present holders are B.E.C. members!

188.      Tragedy in the Picos: The Wessex returned to the Picos to continue their valuable work in that area.  During one of the trips, Brian Woodward, Chris Murray and Pete Moody descended, using SRT techniques.  On the return up a wet, noisy, 150' pitch, Chris Murray was about 30’ up when the rope broke high above him.  Due to an awkward fall, Chris died from severe head injuries.  A rescue mounted by the other members of the party got Chris’s body out of the cave.  He was later buried at Bilboa.

189.      Gouffre Berger: Bob Stevenson and Martin Bishop were two amongst the strong party from Derbyshire to descend this huge system.  No doubt they will be writing about their experiences in the B.B.

190.      Otter Hole: Sump III has now been passed by divers and about six hundred feet of new cave discovered.

191.      G.B. Access problems again: A. unilateral move by UBSS has revoked the 1973 agreement between the member clubs of the Charterhouse Caving Committee and UBSS. This move is on the 'flimsy'-grounds of interpretation of clause 4 of the agreement, which deals with expenses 'incurred by UBSS in lieu of tackle fees.  Not only that, but to add fuel to the fire, it will cost £1 per party (of up to six cavers) to descend the cave PLUS £1 key deposit.  Bookings to be made directly to Oliver Lloyd.  Clubs who are not members of CCC will have to apply to a member club who will in turn have to apply to Oliver for a key.  Only the Hon. Sec. or Caving Sec. may apply on behalf of a club.

About two years ago, the UBSS agreed to distribute keys to the member clubs of CCC so that their members could descend whenever they wished - a great break through in the CCC access agreements.  To cover the UBSS, the CCC paid £24 for the cost of a lock and additional keys - the 'bob-a-nob' being no longer required.  Clause 4 of the agreement covered both the cost of the keys and what would happen should the UBSS incur any further expenses.  The clause read something like this: - 'Application for funds to cover any capital expenditure which might be necessary for the UBSS shall be made annually at the AGM of the CCC.  An initial amount shall be agreed as £24 for 1973.'  The UBSS are now arguing that the £24 was an agreed annual payment.  My comment at the moment is "Come off it, UBSS!  As these rules were tabled before the meeting with a few modifications - hard luck if your negotiators didn't carry out your requirements!" Why haven't the UBSS asked for discussions before invoking clause 12 which enables them to break the agreement should the situation warrant it?  This is the 'Big brother' attitude of wielding the stick and then talking.  At the 1975 AGM of CCC, the UBSS did not send along any representatives nor were there any correspondence or apologies.

Each club that received a key paid £2 for the privilege and the appointed club officer signed to state that he would be responsible for its safe keeping; failure to do so would be to possibly forfeit holding any further keys. It was also agreed that any club, other than member clubs of CCC would apply to key holding clubs for arrangements to descend the cave and not to UBSS, thus reducing their clerical tasks.

The new rules include two dangerous and rather silly clauses that each party descending the cave must not lock the door, and should any other party be met with in the cave, they must leave with the key holders.  Only one party can descend in anyone day.  The second rule is that MRO will not be given a key.  Speaking quite frankly this is bloody stupid.  A moment's thought will highlight the problems.  Who is going to search the cave to ensure that it is empty? If a party DOES lock the door and becomes overdue, does MRO have to drive to Bristol and collect a key from the Hon. Doctor? What if he isn't home and the UBSS are on holiday?  Are the UBSS really so naive as to believe that all clubs and independent cavers will be aware of the rules applicable to the cave and so not descend if they find the cave door open?  I suppose that the clubs are expected to post a guard at the entrance!

At the time of the discussion and the agreement, the BEC were in favour of supporting the right of UBSS to make their own decision regarding access to the cave.  If they were not prepared to distribute keys, then BEC would support their right (this is minuted in BEC Committee minutes and is not a figment of my imagination). However, one imagines that the committee may well think again under the present circumstances.


Focus On The Insurance Policy

Some information following the sub-committee's report

The report of the sub-committee on insurance and allied matters is, perhaps, not easy to follow without some background information.  This article tries to supply it .

To start with, the club's policy is a liability insurance.  This is not the same as accident cover as far as the member who might expect to receive money is concerned.  Personal accident cover (if your policy covers caving/climbing activities) will recompense you against losses you may incur as a result of an accident.  It does not insure you against damages that might be awarded against you if an accident occurred to somebody else as a result of your proven negligence.  It is this type of situation that the club policy is designed to cover.

Thus, the club policy cannot take the place of a personal accident policy.  Caving is, to some extent, a hazardous pastime and accidents through bad luck are much more like than those through actual negligence. Any member should therefore weigh up the odds and take out some form of personal accident cover if at all worried.

So the club policy is there to protect you against the effects of legal action.  It turns out that any trip consisting predominantly of club members would be covered whether officially organised or not.  Even trips which involved trespass might not be ruled out, although each case would be taken on its merits.  On the other hand, a collection of cavers from various clubs engaged in a co-activity - such as NHASA or the Friday Night Club - might not be covered by the insurance policy of any club.

The club policy applies with particular force where a successful action by an outsider could if any fixed tackle failed through the club's negligence in failing to maintain or inspect it.  Without a suitable policy, any resulting damages and/or costs would have to be found by selling all the club’s assets (like the Belfry and its site) and even this might not be enough in some cases.  Members of the committee might find themselves held liable and even ordinary members of the club could be at risk.  Thus, a policy is very necessary, but there is some cause for alarm about the whole situation because it appears that insurance companies are not very keen on this type of insurance for caving and our policy could always be cancelled. In that event, we might well find no other policy available or none so cheap as the present one.  As a result, the sub-committee are proposing a number of things designed to make us look more attractive to our insurers (like a waiver signing away the right of any member to sue any other member).  In addition, a regular inspection of Cuthbert’s tackle is being arranged with a record of checks and maintenance.  A notice accepting no liability will also be displayed at the entrance.

Even so, there remains the possibility that our £250,000 policy might not be enough in some cases, and members are advised to have public liability cover built into their household policies.  Bob White will advise.  Another way of protecting members - but not club property - would be to make the club into a company, but present enquiries show that this is too expensive, as it does not take the place of a policy, but is additional to it.

The club's trustees must also be insured.  At present they are not and now that they know the risk they run, they are likely to resign unless cover is provided.

The above covers briefly most of the main points.  This is a very important subject which will come up at the A.G.M. and members are advised to talk, wherever possible, with members of the sub-committee for further details before the meeting.  It is hoped to have a panel of experts available at the A.G.M. to answer specific questions.




Monthly Crossword – Number 59



















































































3. Three directions and two learners locally. (5)
5. The break up of chrome less a thousand for locally obtained pigment. (5)
6. Upper part of cave perhaps. (4)
7. Correct description of direction missing in 3 across. (4)
9. An exclamation……. (2)
11. ……for example. (1,1)
13. 8 down is light if caver just this. (4)
15. Caving emblem. (1,3)
16. Probing for caves with this can be a boring job. (5)
17. E. and W. on Mendip. (5)


1. Not usually found littered in front of show caves but deep inside Swildons. (5)
2. Document associated with Lamb Leer. (4)
3. Subjectively us. (2)
4. Unstable perhaps. (5)
6. Take it easy? (4).
8. Right, one foot, give this cave feature. (4)
10. Found in G.B., Stoke Lane etc. (2-3)
12. Found in Cuthbert’s (5)
14. He named a pot – gas risings from nothing. (4)
16. Like top of 14 reversed. (2)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword




















































































Club Headquarters

The Belfry, Wells Rd, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Telephone WELLS 72126

Club Committee

Chairman          S.J. Collins

Minutes Sec      G. Wilton-Jones

Members           Colin Dooley, John Dukes, Chris Howell, Dave Irwin, Tim Large, Andy Nicholls, Mike Wheadon, Barry Wilton

Officers Of The Club

Honorary Secretary             M. WHEADON, 91 The Oval, Englishcoombe, Bath.  Tel : BATH 713646

Honorary Treasurer             B. WILTON, ‘Valley View’, Venus Lane, Clutton, Nr. Bristol.

Caving Secretary                A. NICHOLLS, c/o The Belfry

Assist Cav. Sec.                 T. LARGE, 15 Kippax Avenue, Wells, Somerset

Hut Warden                        C. DOOLEY, 51 Ommaston Road., Harbourne, Birmingham 17. Tele :  (021)  427 6122

Belfry Engineer                   J. DUKES, 4 Springfield Crescent, Southampton. SO1 6LE  Tele : (0703) 774649

Tacklemaster                     G. WILTON-JONES, ‘Ilenea’, Stonefield Road. Nap Hill, High Wycombe, Bucks. Tele : (024) 024 3534

B.B. Editor                         S.J. COLLINS, Lavender Cottage, Bishops Sutton, Nr. Bristol. Tel : CHEW MAGNA 2915

Publications Editor              C. HOWELL, 131 Sandon Road, Edgebaston, Birmingham 17.  Tele : (021) 429 5549

B.B. Postal                        BRENDA WILTON  Address as for Barry

Spares                               T. LARGE,  Address already given

Membership Sec.               A. Dooley, c/o The Belfry.  TO WHOM ALL SUBS SHOULD BE SENT.